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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Sindhu Bhairavi: Connecting India

It seems Sindhu Bhairavi is in the soul of India. Indian classical music would be incomplete without this absorbing Raga which has the ability to take you to the innermost tranquility. With the name Bhairavi in Hindustani classical music and Sindhu Bhairavi as its Carnatic counterpart, there seems to be absolutely no language barrier, with all of the Indian languages having embraced the raga as their own. Some of the most devotional compositions in each of the Indian languages have been set to this Raga, and one can never get tired of listening to its soothing and soulful renditions for hours together. Here is an attempt to bring together some of the most well known renditions of the Raga, from across multiple languages (one per language for the time being):

1. The most famous composition ever in the Raga has to be the Sanskrit composition "Venkatachala Nilayam" by Saint Purandara Dasa, known as the Pitamaha of Carnatic Music, sung here by the legendary Smt. M. L. Vasantha Kumari:

2. Saint Purandara Dasa must have been a great patron of Raga Sindhu Bhairavi, as he has set many of his compositions in this raga. Probably even the second most famous rendition in this Raga would have to be his  composition, the Kannada song "Tamburi Meetidava", rendered here by Smt. Sudha Raghunathan:

3. Up next in my list is the Tamil composition by Anai Vaidyanatha Iyer, "Chandrashekhara Eesha", sung by Nityashree Mahadevan here:

4. Maharastra has had its own set of great saints and one of the most well known ones among them was Samartha Ramadas. Here is his Marathi composition "Kalyan Kari Ramaraya":

5. When you move onto Hindi, Surdas Bhajans, Bharat Ratna M. S. Subbulakshmi and Sindhu Bhairavi become inseparable:

6. And here is a powerful Bengali Durga Stuti sung by Aruna Sairam, "Jago Tumi Jago":

7. And the well known Punjabi anga "Bhavani Dayani" sung by Parvin Sultana:

8. So, it is no surprise that the iconic video of national unity created by Doordarshan years ago, "Mile Sur Mera Tumhara", was mostly tuned to Bhairavi and Sindhu Bharavi:

Well, that is it for now, and I hope to come back and share more renditions of this raga, including my personal favorite, "Govinda Gopala Gopika Vallabha"...

Saturday, 16 November 2013

A Tribute Through Sanskrit Verses: Sachin, The Sun God?

Here is an amateurish attempt to write shleshartha shlokas (carrying multiple meanings) in praise of the Cricketing God, newly crowned Bharat Ratna and freshly retired Sachin Tendulkar. There would be incorrectness here and there in these verses as this is one of my early attempts to write in Sanskrit, but want to share it on my blog nonetheless, as a tribute to arguably the best cricketer the country has seen.

So here are the verses:

वन्देऽहम् जगदाधारम्
वल्लभारोहितम् सुरम् ।
राहुलाञ्छनविक्रमम् ॥

शतानिलम् पिङ्गलाद्यम्
लक्ष्मणार्ककुलाश्रयम् ।
सचिन्तम् प्रणमाम्यहम् ॥

Meaning: Version 1:
These verses carry two meanings, one version obviously praises Sachin, so, here's what I have tried bringing in. Every line below corresponds to the English translation of the corresponding line in the Shlokas:

  • I bow to him, the "God" (जगदाधार:)
  • The idol who likes a heavy (भारः) bat (वल्ल),
  • The one who taught (all about batting) to Saurav (Ganguly) and others (प्रवक्तार:),
  • The one who set / stretched (आञ्छन) World Records (विक्रम:) for Rahul (Dravid to aim at)

  • The first one with 49 (ODI) and 51 (Test) hundreds (Anila = 49; Pingala is the 51st of the 60 Samvatsaras of the Hindu calendar),
  • The one who was prior (अर्क) to Laxman (in the batting order) and on whom the whole (Indian cricket followers') community depended (for wins),
  • The one who obtained leadership (Captaincy of the Indian team) during a time it was composed of impurities and danger (match fixing scandals),
  • Sachin, to him, I bow. (सचिन् तम्)

Meaning: Version 2:
The other version praises the Sun God, worshiped as the one responsible for ensuring sustenance of life on Earth:

  • I bow to him, the one who support the entire world,
  • The Sun God, who rides on (the chariot of) horses (वल्लभ आरोहितम्),
  • The one who comes announcing (प्रवक्तार:) divinity (सौर) and wisdom (वादि) (every day during sunrise),
  • The one who overcomes the stain / mark of ignominy of Rahu (eclipse) (राहु-लाञ्छन),

  • The one who is made of many a gases and has a golden (पिङ्गल) beginning (during the sunrise),
  • The one who is seen as the source of the lineage of Lakshmana's elder brother (अर्क) (Rama - Suryavamsha),
  • The one who removes (अपनेतॄ) all the sins one has collected through many births,
  • To that thoughtful being (सचिन्तम्), I bow.

Even before I started thinking about these verses, I wanted to implement a bit of Dattapadi in this. For the uninitiated, Dattapadi is an art in Avadhana where given a few words, a verse is to be created using them. Usually, those words will not have any connection to the topic on which the verse must be created. In this case, I have tried using the names of Sachin and other legendary cricketers of his generation: Saurav, Rahul, Anil and Laxman. Also present is the pretender to the throne, the newest Mumbaikar in the Indian test team, Rohit.

I have used all but Rohit and Anil with their original meanings in the Sachin version of the verses and in completely different meanings in the Sun version.

For those interested in the gory details, it took about 6 hours to come up with these verses.

Finally, today is about Tendulkar, so, here's wishing him a great life outside of cricket too, and congratulations to him on winning the Bharat Ratna.


The above verses were tuned to Raga Charukesi and sung by my colleague Mekhala Hiriyanna as part of her concert on 31st December 2013, at the School of Ancient Wisdom, Banglaore. Here is a video collage:

VandEham JagadAdhAram from hmvprasanna on Vimeo.