Tuesday, May 28, 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 178 (Vol # 6) Dated 28 May 2013

DEIVATHIN KURAL # 178 (Vol # 6) Dated 28 May 2013

(These e-mails are translations of talks given by PeriyavaaL of Kanchi Kaamakoti Peetam, over a period of some 60 years while he was the pontiff in the earlier part of the last century. These have been published by Vanadi Padippagam, Chennai, in seven volumes of a thousand pages each as Deivathin Kural. Today we are going ahead from page No 1234 of Volume 6 of the Tamil original. The readers may note that herein ‘man/he’ includes ‘woman/she’ too mostly. These e-mails are all available at   http://Advaitham.blogspot.com updated constantly)

992.        Ambikai who is very considerate of other's          feelings, despite having a very sweet voice, till now appreciated the singing and playing on the VeeNa only by nodding her head.  Now, when she tried to say a few words of encouragement, it caused Saraswathi to bend her head in shame.  In this we can discern the greatness of both.  Saraswathi thought, "Like showing the way to the Sun with a lighted candle, I have tried to show off my musical prowess in front of AmbãL who has such a sweet and wonderful voice!  The Tamil proverb, 'பெற்ற தாயிடம் கற்ற வித்தை!' has become true in my case!"  With that she bent her head in shame!

993.        That was how Saraswathi felt under the situation.  But what happened to the VeeNa?  This Kachchapi VeeNa did not pull its head inside as the tortoise can do when needed.  Having lost to AmbãL badly, this Kachchapi VeeNa should have withdrawn its head inside, isn't it?  When somebody has declared himself a pauper, he has to face social / legal ostracization, the very word evolving from the bird of the deserts Ostrich I suppose, which faced with unavoidable danger, hides its face in the sand!  Similarly the one who has lost in business or sports will cover his head and face and vanish from the scene.  I am talking about the adage, 'தலையை துணியால் மூடிக்கொண்டு ஓடினான்'!"  (PeriyavãL squeaks in a joke about himself saying, "We are Sanyãsi-s and we are required by Sãstrãs to always cover our head.)

994.        Saraswathi decided that, this VeeNa which has been soundly beaten, 'literally soundly', should not be seen outside.  She is a true and sincere person.  So, though AmbãL was appreciating her music, she tightly pulled the covers over the VeeNa.  Vocal singing can be abruptly stopped.  The sounds of the strings are not like that.  Even when the strumming has been stopped there will be some 'anuraNanam' – 'अनुरणनं' meaning resonance will remain for some time.  This will be easily noticed in the VeeNa wherein once you twang a string and stop, the reverberating sounds will keep on echoing for some time.  This can also be noticed in huge bells, there will be a continuous 'doing…ng…ngng…ng', as it finally fades away!  Stringed instruments are like that only.  So, the moment Saraswathi heard AmbãL's 'sãdhu vachanam', as she closed her mouth, the VeeNa would not have done!  So, as though telling it to 'shut up', she enclosed the instrument in its cover!  Thus we can imagine variously.

995.        Another idea also occurs to me.  AmbãL did feel happy, nodded her head and uttered some words of appreciation, alright.  But, did she do all that only about the music of Saraswathi? Or, what else could it be?  All that Saraswathi had sung were about Easwara Leela.  Instead of giving attention to the music, but concentrating on the words of the songs, thinking about her husband's various exploits, AmbãL could have been feeling happy, nodded her head and even said something in appreciation.  May be she could have been appreciating the literary merit of the songs.  Saraswathi also, the instant she heard the superlative quality of her voice could have thought, "With such wonderful musical voice, AmbãL could not have enjoyed my music at all!  Her appreciation, nodding of her head and words of praise are meant for the intrinsic greatness of Easwara's actions or for the literary value of the songs only.  Like a fool, I have been going on and on, thinking that she is appreciating my singing and playing!  Let me just shut up and close this 'doing, doing sound' of my VeeNa!"  She could have thought like that, which would have increased her feeling chastened, many times!

996.        All said and done, it is a wholesome drama that goes on scene by scene; AmbãL's Sannidy; Saraswathi's singing and playing on the VeeNa; the singing describing and enlarging the various adventures of Easwara; AmbãL feeling thrilled, nodding her head; her saying something in appreciation; the unique sweetness of her voice; Saraswathi feeling chastened and hanging her head in abashment; her putting the VeeNa quickly in its encasement; a drama to be re-enacted in our minds sequentially!
997.        'Cholena' means by the cover.  In this word 'Choli', the ' l, L', that is ' & ' in Tamil and ' & ' in Sanskrit are inter-changeable, that becomes 'choli or choLi'.  In Tamil, this word is 'உறை', which means a cover as well as a scabbard for swords or pillows or spectacles even.  'Choli' thus is a shirt or blouse worn by women in general, in most of the Indian languagesThere is one cereal corn which is called 'சோளம்' in Tamil because many individual grains are nicely stacked up on a stalk and then the whole thing is enclosed by layers of coverings, each a 'Choli'!  Then the capital of the 'ChoLa' Kingdom was known as 'உறை + ஊர் = உறையூர்'!

998.        As the poet goes on describing the beauty of AmbãL's body, after the face, fore-head, eyes, ears and mouth; he has sung this sloka in adoration of her sweet and mellifluous voice, for us to imagine and enjoy!  He reminds us all that by her Anugraha, we may also be blessed with expertise and skilfulness in music and poetry.

கண்ட ரேகையில் கண்ட மும்மை; ஆணின் வெண்மை, பெண்ணின் செம்மை
The Three Lines of the Neck; Man's Whiteness &
Women's Redness

999.        Relating AmbãL to music there is another sloka in Soundarya Lahari – No 69.
गले रेखास्तिस्रो गतिगमक गीतैकनिपुणे
gale rekhãstisro gatigamaka geetaikanipuNe
विवाह व्यानद्ध प्रगुण संख्या प्रतिभुव: |
vivãha vyãnaddha praguNa sakhyã pratibhuva: |
विराजन्ते नानाविध मधुर रागाकर भुवां
virãjante nãnãvidha madhura rãgãkarabhuvãm
त्रयाणां ग्रामाणां स्तिथिनियमसीमान इव ते ||
triãNãm grãmãNãm stithiniyamaseemãna iva te ||

1000.      From this sloka we get to know as to how broad, deep and exhaustive was the knowledge of classical Music that our ÃchãryãL had, who was known as the 'Sarvagna' – the Omniscient!  In this sloka, words such as Gati, Gamaka, Gita and Grãma are all musical technical terms.  These are known only to musicologist experts who have studied the theory and not just singers.  The end part of Bharata's 'Nãtya Sãstrã', Sãrnga Deva's 'Sangita Ratnãkaram' and Venkata Mahi's 'Chaturdandi Prakasika' are some of the books that can be referred for greater understanding.  In this what I have gathered is rather limited.  So, my telling you about that may end in quite a bit of confusion.  Hence I will try and keep my talk as simple as possible.

1001.      I hope you all know that there are a number of Ragas in classical music with seven notes known as Swaras, forming the musical octaves.  The Swaras are 'Sa', 'Ri', Ga', Ma, 'Pa', 'Da', 'Ni' and 'Sa' again.  These Swaras are known by their names as Shadjam, Rishabham, Gãndharam, Madhyamam, Panchamam, Dhaivatam, Nishadham and again the higher Shadjamam.  Within these Swaras too there can be variations as listed below: -
s  - Shadjamam
r1 - Sudhdha Rishabam
r2 - Chatusruthi Rishabam
r3 - Shatsruthi Rishabam
g1 - Sudhdha Gaandhaaram
g2 - Saadhaarana Gaandhaaram
g3 - Anthara Gaandhaaram
m1 - Sudhdha Madhyamam
m2 - Prathi Madhyamam
p  - Panchamam
d1 - Sudhdha Dhaivatham
d2 - Chatusruthi Dhaivatham
d3 - Shatsruthi Dhaivatham
n1 - Sudhdha Nishaadham
n2 - Kaisiki Nishaadham
n3 - Kaakali Nishaadham
Now Ragas are defined and formed by the variations in the specific Swaras they contain in the ascending and descending order known as ArohaNam and AvarohaNam.  These are fixed and not variable.  So within these fixed parameters of Shruti, Raga and its fixed Swaras, variations depend on the singer's imagination and reach and that is the 'freedom within discipline' that gives the Carnatic classical music its unique charm.  The Ragas differ from each other depending on the Swaras. 'Gati' means variations in the beat based on the number of time between beats as 'Tisra', 'Misra' or 'Kanta'.  Gati in Tamil is 'Nadai'.  'Gamakam' as we understand is to shake some Swaras instead of pulling them for long periods without any variations in the vibrations of the Swara, which is known as 'Karvai'.  In Thodi Raga for example the 'Gãndãram' is given a shake and in SankarabaraNa it is the Rishabham given Gamaka.  Gitam is the song, as we know.  (KTSV adds: - This is just a bare minimum introduction only.  Please consult an expert in this line, if you wish to understand this paragraph and this sloka more clearly.)

1002.      In this sloka ÃchãryãL is calling AmbãL as – 'gati-gamaka -gita-eka-nipuNe', meaning 'she is incomparably the one who is the maestro in Gati, Gamakam and Gitam'. But these words are not exactly in the meaning that we know of but in subtle technical sense as known to experts in this art.  So, Gati indicates the 'Marga' or way and 'Desi', means the way with variations.  That is, if you take 'Marga' as comparable to the movement of a train on the rails, 'Desi' can be compared to the movement of auto mobiles!  Gamakam is the trilling of the voice and in that there are five variations based on timing.  Gitam means singing the Sahityam and the Swaras for it.

1003.      In music there are three 'Grama-s' (occurring in the third line of the sloka).  It is a grouping of the Ragas as Shadja, Madhyama and Gandhara Grama-s, as Sa-grama, Ma-grama and Ga-grama.  It seems all three are in the heavens and on earth only the first two grouipings were present and Ga-grama has never been known to exist on the earth.    This is the information from Lakshmidhara who wrote a Bhashyam for Soundarya Lahari some six centuries back.  When I asked some present day musicologists they sang and demonstrated that between the lower base Swara Shadjamam and the higher Shadjamam, Panchamam comes exactly in the centre and that we can say that in practice we have only the Sa-grama.

1004.      Sangitam that is music is born at the 'Kantam' or throat only, from the 'sound-box' isn't it?  So, in AmbãL's throat itself, these three Gramas are present as three lines, says our ÃchãryãL.  These three lines will be there in the throat of all women.  Because AmbãL had that and to demonstrate that they are all her replicas, it is there in all women too.  All men have a protuberance in the throat, which women do not have.  It is called the 'Adam's Apple'.  Adam is the first man who ate the forbidden apple which caused Kãmam (desire / infatuation) from which all human beings proliferated says Christianity.  Some apple got stuck in his throat and all subsequent generations of males are having this 'Adam's Apple' in their throat, they say.

1005.      As per our Sãstrãs, Parameswara had swallowed the Kãlakoota poison as though it was a toffee.  Then AmbãL caught the neck by her hands and caused the poison to remain at the throat like a spherical marble.  So to indicate that the indwelling Ãtma in all human beings is him, we all have that projection the size of goose-berry in our throat.  Both the stories somehow indicate that for all of us there is a common origin and all human beings are brethren in some way and inter-related undoubtedly!  When Man is the root of all existence on the world stage, the nice, fragrant, sweet and nourishing apple; gives health, vim and vigour as they say, 'An apple a day keeps the doctor away'.   At the same time all our health and wealth, vim and vigour are also the reasons for our proliferation of divisions of, isms, schisms, caste, creed, internecine quarrels and hate!  With Easwara as the root of all existence, the bitter and destructive poison also becomes harmless and beneficial for all life forms!

1006.      All males are Easwara in human form.  All women are the same, AmbãL being the archetype. That is indicated by the Adam's apple in all males and the three lines in the neck of all women!  Appar came to Thiruvaiyaru and saw pairs of elephants, birds and other animals and saw all of them as the primordial couple of Easwara and AmbãL singing, "கண்டேன் அவர் திருப்பாதம் கண்டறியாதன கண்டேன்".  If we also turn our minds towards devotion a little bit, we will also have the darsan of the Siva-Shakti pair, in all that we see wherever we may turn our eyes to!

(To be continued.)




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