Thursday, October 8, 2009

Bantu reeti kolu

Raga Hamsanadam, 60 Neetimati janya
Aa: S R2 M2 P D3 N3 S Av: S N3 D3 P M2 R2 S
Taalam: Adi



baṇṭu rīti koluviyyavayya rāma

tuṇṭa-viṇṭivāni modalaina
madādula koṭṭi nēla kūla jēyu nija

rōmāñcamane ghana kañcukamu
rāma bhaktuḍane mudra biḷḷayu
rāma nāmamane vara khaḍgamivi
rājillunayya tyāgarājunikē

English verse:

O Lord Rama, as an orderly sentry,
Into your service, may I gain entry,

For, so shall I strike and blow to pieces,
Lust, arrogance and all of the six vices!

With fine armor that leaves one tingling,
'His devotee', the seal on my signet ring,
The power of your name, my sword transcendent,
Thus may I serve you truly, always resplendent.

This is again a beloved kriti, that is mostly the reason that its raga has become known. Prior to this Tyagaraja song, it was only known through a lakshana-gita i.e. a didactic or demo piece. Hamsanadam literally means 'call of a swan', or more figuratively, a 'swan song'. The six vices are lust, anger, greed, delusion, arrogance, and envy. In the lyrics, they are indicated as the vices 'beginning' from lust, as in the canonical order. Cf. Sangita Jnanamu, the previous kriti posted, where too, similar sentiments are expressed, but in the context of Nadopasana or worship through music. Here the context is 'Rama Bhakti' or devotion to Rama. There is some significance to the power of Rama's name or "Rama nama". Its mere utterance is said to be a 'taraka mantra' or 'life saving prayer' or 'liberating prayer' in itself, precluding the need for any other worship. Tyagaraja in particular, is said to have been formally initiated into chanting it daily, and is said to have done so millions of times in his life. 'His devotee' signifies 'Rama's devotee'- for Tyagaraja admitted no other deity to his most devoted worship.

Extra Comments:
"Signet ring" is used with some license for more literally an "identifying disc", which could be a badge, seal, standard or any royal token.

Lust is again figuratively mentioned in terms of the 'sugarcane bow' wielder or Kama. Cf: Heccharikaga ra ra, "green bow" wielder, incidentally, a favorable mention. In Telugu, there are a number of epithets for Kama that mention his bow.



  1. Nice. I'm not sure why, but over the lyrics "tunta-vintivAni" I see a bunch of boxes over the "u" "i" and "n" I see them also on other characters as well. Do I need to dload a special font to see them properly?

    By the way, thank you so much for this. I love Thyagaraja and am excited to see his works being translated in this way. To the best of my knowledge there is no other lyrical translation available on the internet. Thanks again.

    - Krishna

  2. Thank you for your kind words. Please visit often, or sign up to "follow" the blog and offer more and more feedback.

    Also, regarding the boxes you see: This is a rare problem. We don't use special fonts. The original lyrics with the diacritics use only the Georgia font. The character encoding is set to the Unicode encoding, UTF-8. On most browsers this shouldn't pose a problem. They will probably be configured for UTF-8 encoding or to "auto detect" the encoding on the web page. Most probably your browser isn't taking Unicode and is reading the page as some other encoding. If you reconfigure it to read Unicode encoding, and/or to accept the encoding in the page, you should be fine. If this still doesn't work, you can email me your browser settings and other computer details like operating system etc, and I will look into it.


    1. sir..can you pl. explain the charnam part..word by word

    2. @Unknown:
      I do give word-by-word translation in the verses. You can easily work it out. Please see detailed multi-part reply to @OMS below. Since this is a Lyrical beauty i.e. poetry site, I don't give word-for-word meanings separately like a plain translation would. But, you can see how the charanas break down below. But, note that this is not an exact literal translation but comes close. It does convey the meaning fully. Elsewhere on the site, you can see retouched verse translations which do not maintain word and line order like this:
      rōmāñcamane - that leaves one tingling,
      ghana kañcukamu - With fine armor
      rāma bhaktuḍane - 'His devotee',
      mudra biḷḷayu - the seal on my signet ring,
      rāma nāmamane - The power of your name,
      vara khaḍgamivi - my sword transcendent,
      rājillunayya - always resplendent.
      tyāgarājunikē - Thus may I serve you truly,

    3. With respect, I would like to submit:
      Some researchers have felt that the words 'ghana kanchukamu' and 'mudra billa' denote the following -
      The literal meaning of kanchukamu is a shirt or wrap over the body. Ghana denotes thickness.
      'Ghana kanchukamu' means the shirt (made of thick cloth) worn by a peon at a government office and 'mudra billa' denotes the government emblem that he carries along with a band over the shirt. Both these formally declare that the person is the servant of an authority. For example, we can see such uniforms even at present in courts where the peons accompanying judges wear them. Going by the rest of the lyric, this explanation appears to fit well. It is said that Europeans had just started making their presence felt in India around that time and this lyric shows the influence that had on Tyagaraja.

    4. @VSV: (Comment revised for typos etc. from Feb. 14, 2019 version)

      Sri VSV, I absolutely LOVE your comment, whoever you are. It is one of the finest I have received in 10 years of this site - and yes, millions of visitors. It spawns such nice discussion.

      Let's start with your hypothesis. Yes, ghana kanchukamu can mean also thick shirt. Both are loan words into Telugu from Sanskrit. Ghana means heavy i.e. weighty, worthy, great etc. like Ghana-ragam. Kanchukam means any closely fitting garment, including mail, armor etc. "Mudra billa" - again mudra is a loan word, known from ancient times, including as in Mudraarakshasa - the play. Billa is just any bit, token etc., roughly a "piece", i.e. a token of identity. Not much to decipher there. So yes, we can say, Tyagaraja is thinking as you say, about a mace-bearer who carries the ceremonial mace of judges.

      But, is this valid?

      Here are my disputations to your comment. I disagree entirely due to the following points of logic, scripture and history. Given we do not have Tyagaraja's own notes about his intent in this song, we can only deduce it from this song and the rest of his oeuvre, his fairly consistent techniques in writing lyrics etc.

      a) Tyagaraja is forever visualizing Rama as an ancient, divine king, not as a king of the day. So Tyagaraja would only see him in such garb as portrayed in the Itihasas and Puranas. Or, even more likely, as described in the Agamas which guide temple architecture and sculpture, on whose model, the icons used for worship in one's home shrine - such as the eka-peeta vigraha so central to Tyagaraja's life, were made. Tyagaraja clearly wants to be a dwara-palaka or sentry. Literally, he says bantu or servant, but he also talks about a sword - so the armed servant follows. It is the dwara-palaka who has permanent access to the Lord. So, Tyagaraja is likely to be thinking about how the dwara-palakas are dressed.

      b) Why do you think, thick shirts or armors, and signet rings came only with the Europeans? We have had all these from ancient times, and definitely centuries before Tyagaraja. For example, how were the Vijayanagara kings dressed? How do contemporaneous sculptures show them? Would you not call Shivaji's shirt as seen in most common portraits, a kanchukam, as opposed to a loose garment? Weren't Shivaji's raids of Tanjore in the 17th century? And why specifically think about mace-bearers? Royal standards and standard-bearers have existed in many cultures for a long time. If you talk about violins, pianos and clarinets, arriving with the Europeans, I can understand.


    5. @VSV .. 2

      c) The biggest problem with what you put forth, lies in the last point. "The Europeans had just started making their presence felt..." This is totally wrong. The Europeans, particularly the British, had long been established in these regions. The educated, particularly those with some connection to the court - after all, Tyagaraja's family was a beneficiary of a land grant from the Tanjore court,- and those who received many travelers from distant lands as Tyagaraja did, could hardly not know the state of affairs.
      First of all, the British were late entrants to establishing a colonial empire in India, though, they conquered the whole land. The Portuguese, Dutch, French and Danish had already acquired several parts of India. The Battle of Plassey was in 1757, before Tyagaraja's time. Swati Tirunal, who is reputed to have invited Tyagaraja to his court, grew up in British protection. Serfoji II, himself, was a pensioner of the British. Madras had been founded in 1640, by the British, for calico trade. As the guest of Kovur Sundaresa Mudaliar, Tyagaraja stayed in his mansion in Bunder Street in the Georgetown area of Madras. Tyagaraja's father was patronized in the Tanjore court, and Tyagaraja was familiar with the court. The point is, British paramountcy was so long established, that their customs and practices, or European practices in general, couldn't have been new to him.
      How can there be any novelty in the garb of a bearer of the British, that he would react to it in his lyrics?

      d) Also, Tyagaraja preferred remaining oblivious to most happenings of the day, leading a life of piety, Bhakti and music. At least, he did not comment on such things in his lyrics and gave few mentions of commonplace things. Specifically, Tyagaraja has not commented on any other newnesses the Europeans or British brought with them. So, why should he comment on this uniform alone?

      Occam's razor applies. I just do not see any reason to take the interpretation you give, even though it is linguistically possible.

      P.S.: I think I need to add that this was one of the earliest songs put up on this site. In the first five songs, only the verse translations were given, with some explanatory comments. It's only later that the new style of exhaustive commentary was adopted. That's why there is not much detail in the commentary here.

  3. Thanks for the meaning. Please let me know if it is possible to get the meaning of individual words. For example, I know mudra means seal. But I don't know what bantu means.

    1. Bantu means servant

    2. @Anonymous of October 8, 2015:
      We do explain that in the comment below. Bantu means servant in general, but, as noted below, in this context, Tyagaraja wants to guard Rama's door as a dwara-palaka, i.e. orderly or sentry is more appropriate than a generic servant. Note that we give lyrical translations here capturing Tyagaraja's essence, and not plain verbose translations. So, such details of style exist.

  4. As you may see in the mission statement and introductory pages available from the left side bar, the verse translations generally maintain word order. That is, they are in general word-for-word, which is quite difficult to do considering this is poetry and Telugu and Sanskrit are very different from English.

    So, to get the word meanings, simply follow the English order. Here, the first line says, "O Lord Rama, as an orderly sentry". Ignoring the obvious phrase "Lord Rama", "orderly sentry" matches "bantu" in the Telugu lyrics. That's all. "Bantu" means an orderly or a servant; here, more precisely it means sentry as Tyagaraja wants to be Rama's dwara-palaka.

    You can continue this process in all the lines and in all the songs. Very rarely only the word or line order is changed. In those cases too, it is obvious as to what has been differently ordered. When a different English word has to be used to keep the English poetry more appealing, such as using "Lust" in the Anupallavi for "Sugarcane Bow Wielder", it is always mentioned in the notes below, as is the case here.

    So, if you read through the English verse side-by-side with the original, you will always find the word-for-word meanings too.

  5. I have always liked this song, but I was not very sure of the lyrics. When I downloaded this, the bonus was the meaning and interpretation in the form of comments. I feel blessed to have accessed this. I am a 'bantu'



  6. I have always liked this song, but I was not sure of the lyrics. Today when I downloaded, it was not just the rich lyrics I got, but had a bonus in the form of its meaning in English and interpretation in the form of comments. I feel blessed.


  7. The song personifies shri tyagaraja. Each word and swara has soothing effect.

  8. Could you please give word to word meaning of anupallavi.....i tried hard but couldnot get it in sequence...
    Tunta = piece
    Vintivani= person with bow (rama ...if am not wrong)
    Modalaina = etcetera
    Madadula = arishadvargas
    Kotti nela koola jeyu nija bantu reeti koluvu...

    Trying to understand why did he use vintivani in all i was able to understand.....
    Please clear my ignorance......

  9. @ Anonymous of July 26, 2014:

    You are nearly there with the word-for-word. "Tuntavintivaani" indicates wielder of the sugarcane bow, literally, "he of the piece-bow", i.e. Kama, the god of Love, or more correctly, taking the negative sense here, the god of Lust. Tuntha means piece, and Tuntacheraku means sugarcane, because it looks like a lot of pieces pasted together. Vinti-vaadu is archer. Hence, Tuntavillukaadu or Tuntavintivaadu is Kama, the god of Love, where Tunta is used like a metonym for a sugarcane. Tyagaraja is asking to be taken into the Lord's service so that, he can overcome ("kotti-nila-kula-jeya"), or literally, beat and make fall to earth, the six principal vices. Modalaina- those starting with, and Madadula - those including arrogance (or also), where "those" means the six vices. The Six Vices are Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada, Maatsarya, or Lust, Rage, Avarice, Delusion, Pride and Envy.

    In the "Extra-comments", we mention the "sugar cane" bow. This was one of the earliest songs posted here; so it has only a brief commentary, unlike the later songs. A little more is now added to the Extra Comments section. Thanks for asking.


  10. A reader's comment this morning inadvertently got deleted. We are reposting it here and using this seemingly negative comment as an excuse to explain a bit more about this work :)

    Reader oms posted the following comment at August 17, 2014 at 5:23 AM

    This blog is a great service to all music lovers.
    But it looks like you must know Telugu to understand the word for word meanings even though you claim that you can match the left side with the right side to find the meanings of the words
    For millions of the music lovers like me who know some sanskrit but do not know Telugu this blog does not do full justice.
    Banturiti koluviyyavayya rama does not match at all word for word with O Lord Rama, as an orderly sentry, Into your service, may I gain entry.
    To me both the left side and the right side look like two different verses of poetry.
    But if you say that this blog is meant only for people who know Telugu then I have no complaints.


    Our reply:


    Thanks for your honest comment. As we say often here, negative comments are more useful, as they prompt more discussion. But, it looks like your comment is made after reading one single song. This is like reading one chapter of "A Tale of Two Cities" or "War and Peace" and thinking you have read the whole. This matter has already been discussed in the comments to Nagumomu Ganaleni and in the intro pages. This website is about the Art of Poetry. It is not a plain-translation site. As we explain frequently, we are not giving a compendium of translations here. Sriman TKG and others like TSP, have done that already and we adequately laud them even on this site. While it is enough to say you should be more meticulous in working out the word-for-word in line with our principles of translation, since it would be quite informative, let's take an in-depth look at your complaint, in 3 parts below.

  11. @OMS Contd. - 1/3:

    1) Absolutely no knowledge of Telugu, Sanskrit, or any Indian language or even Indian culture is presumed. In fact, many people new to Indian culture and Carnatic music use this website, such as graduate students of Music from western colleges. If we presume knowledge of Telugu, why give extensive translation detail, comment on linguistics or use Sanskrit-based transliteration schema?

    Lakhs of people from all over the world,- so many of whom have little to do with Indian culture, let alone Carnatic music, Sanskrit or Telugu, have been able to enjoy Tyagaraja through this site in the past 5 years. Since it is not a plain translation, but, is meant to show the hidden beauty in Tyagaraja's lyrics, you need to "work out" a little, with the way we write songs here. Once you get the hang of it, it is fine. The word-for-word is sometimes directly there, and sometimes indirectly, but, it is there.

    When we say the site is accessible to professional musicians, students, general readers as well as people outside Indian culture, we mean that each group can take away different things from it as suits them. Word-for-word for instance, is only meaningful and enjoyable to those familiar with Carnatic music and its cultural context. But, since we explain everything from scratch, someone new to Indian culture, if they read the songs in order, with the intro pages, will still be able to get the whole story. And indeed, all groups - professional musicians, students, explorers of Indian culture - have used this site.

    So, the question arises. Who will want to know word-for-word? The involved reader/listener who already has heard the song many times and now wants to fully understand the song, and the serious student who wants to perform the song better. Of the other classes of readers - professional musicians will already know all this, while it would be too much, if you are new to Indian culture and music. So, the question is, can the serious reader and the serious student get at the word-for-word meaning sufficently, from the way we do it?

    Firstly, to either person, it is the keywords in the lyrics, where the musical depth and beauty lie, that matter the most; and not every preposition and particle. Our word-for-word works if it can point out these keywords in English. For either person, we may also count on an amount of intuitive awareness, as they are already fairly familiar with the subject.

  12. @OMS Contd. - 2/3:

    2) With such a preface, the word-for-word is matched to the extent necessary. Our detailed translation conventions are given in the intro pages, and in the songs themselves - if you read in order and not at random, you find them. Recall that this website is a sampling of a much larger book. Read the songs in order, as we develop the subject, keeping our conventions in mind, and you will see how the word-for-word works. If you join in the middle, or pick a song at random, it may not be apparent. If you don't believe this, go over to the comments to Nagumomu Ganaleni, where too this matter was discussed, and I gave a word-map to show how the word-for-word tallied. You just need to work it out. If you look elsewhere on this site, you will see the two Yatis of Tyagarajayogavaibhavam (Sanskrit) by Dikshita, presented in English with the same yatis.

    This website is about the Art of Poetry. It is not a plain-translation site. That pretty much explains the case. Even so, some of the oldest songs were written in a different style; and this was one of the older songs. We explained the change of style when we made it, in the comments section - if you check the chronological order and addendum to the mission statement. The two styles are distinguished by how elaborate the commentary is and how we started including comparative studies. With the change of style, our poems also got tighter, with the word-for-word fitting tighter. But, even for the older songs like this one or Nagumomu Ganaleni, you have the color-coding to help you. Pallavi is in red, Anupallavi in blue and Charanam in green, and each line is also matched up. So, you can work it out without actually knowing the language. As a linguist, I can say if something can be worked out or not, by the reader unfamiliar with the language but familiar with the general context, purely from the material given in the text. This is rather like speakers of different Indian languages recognizing some elements when they read or hear something in Sanskrit, or speakers of European languages recognizing elements of Latin. So, even though this is just a website and not a formal publication, we are actually, quite methodical with all this.

    3) Digging into this song, you specifically complain about the pallavi. But, don't you see that the Anupallavi and Charanams do tally quite well? "Mudra", "Kanchukam", "Khadgam" and so on, allowing just for the inversion we mention in the notes and comments? Now, what about the Pallavi itself? "Bantu reeti kolu.." - we explain this in reply to an earlier comment. Let's continue the process:

    baṇṭu rīti koluviyyavayya rāma : O Lord Rama, as an orderly sentry, Into your service, may I gain entry,

    Step 1: Remove the obvious phrase "O Lord Rama" from English and rama from Telugu.
    baṇṭu rīti koluviyyavayya : as an orderly sentry, Into your service, may I gain entry,

  13. @OMS Contd. - 3/3:

    Step 2: Now watch the punctuation on the right for the phrases and how we split words or leave them unsplit, according to the conventions we have described elsewhere. The first word is bantu on the left. The first phrase marked by the comma is "as an orderly sentry". We say the verses should be read aloud and even discuss rhyme and metre elsewhere. This way, you can intutuively realize the keywords in each phrase in the lyrics and in the poem; and we comment on phrase inversion earlier. Alternatively, if you know Sanskrit as you state, you would already know that's where riti comes from; thus, speakers of several Indian languages would similarly be able to intuitively discard riti as not being the loaded word here. So, Bantu locks on to sentry.

    Step 3: "Koluviyavayya : Into your service, may I gain entry," is now left. Ayya, lord, sir, is generally Rama, and He is being addressed, as shown by the Rama following, and the vocative "O Lord" we add. Sure, koluviya doesn't tally exactly word-for-word at first glance if you are unfamiliar with Telugu and there was originally one big word on the left, but, two phrases marked by commas on the right. But, these are not the keywords here necessary to the serious reader or student, - whose objective is to learn the song, not learn Telugu. Koluvu means service; iya is give or grant. So, it is "grant that I may join you in such service", where the manner of service is that of sentry. Similarly, all the keywords may be found by following our conventions.

    When Tyagaraja uses figurative expressions, sometimes we go word-for-word, sometimes we beautify, sometimes we take license. And sometimes when Tyagaraja is plain, we are figurative, as it suits our poem. All this is to bring out the beauty there, and get the message accurately. A good example of this, is the previous question on "thuntavintivani". Here is an expression unique to Telugu. To the serious reader and serious student, who is presumed to not know Telugu, it is more important to know that Lust and Kama are referred to, than the exact origin of the figurative expression for the sugarcane-bow. So say our principles of translation, and we apply that in our verses, and add some comments to explain, than clumsily retain the original expression that doesn't export well out of Telugu. Then, you have some readers who haven't even seen a sugarcane, let alone know of Kama, but, can understand that Lust is a vice the virtuous want to overcome. And everything falls into place.

    The point is, we are showing the poetry in the song, not teaching Telugu and Sanskrit. Yes, connectives, pronouns, declensions and such things could vary, or even be chopped, due to the distance between Telugu and Sanskrit, and English. But, the keywords necessary to understand the song will always match up; if there is license taken or alteration we explain that. In the later songs, we get tighter than the older songs in the word-for-word correspondence.

    A clear parallel I can give, for such principles of translation as ours, is in the world of Opera. The bulk of the standard repertoire is in Italian, German, French and some Russian. Most singers and listeners won't be fluent in all of these languages. But, what do singers do to learn and perform the songs in an emotionally correct sense, and listeners do to know exactly what they should look for in their listening experience? If you look at how translations of libretti and scores intended for such purposes are laid out, you'll see something like we do.

    So, we think more than a literal translation like those already there, the Art of Poetry and the way we write these poems, convey Tyagaraja's message more truthfully. May be we are making a long story here of simply saying, "Sometimes word-for-word is implicit and not explicit and should be extracted." But, the keener reader might find the discussion useful.


  14. Appendix:

    And now, to conclude the discussion on the word-for-word translation. Reader OMS wrote back:

    Thank you very much for the quick response.
    Your detailed painstaking reply shows how greatly and sincerely dedicated you are to this blog and how much you value the reader’s views.
    My comments were due to my eagerness to know the meaning of the song fully without any doubt whatsoever.
    I am generally used to Sanskrit text translations into English (Bhagavad Gita, for example) where firstly word for word meanings are given, then the sentences made by the words are given, followed by the real ( poetic or artistic) detailed explanatory meanings .Your blog is close to this procedure but not fully so.
    You are right when you say that I should have passed the comment after going through all the songs, but my comment was naturally due to the first impression the blog created, which you may please excuse.
    May your contribution to the world of Carnatic music continue.


    And, our response:

    Don't worry about it. I've been asked many times about word-for-word, and each time I explained a bit more. This time, I used your comment to give more detail and tie in the bits-and-pieces from different places.

    There is an important reason why I give the word-for-word indirectly - I want the Art of Poetry to be understood, as I am developing Tyagaraja's message through successive songs. So, it is not a set of standalone songs, but, one continuous work. In fact, we'd translate Lakshmi as such in the earliest songs (to help newcomers to Indian culture), then, switch to "Wealth personified" in the later songs and so on, kind of like introducing characters in a novel or a drama, such that it fits our purposes. It would have been just as easy for me to give a word-for-word each time. But, merely giving a translation is not our purpose. We aren't doing a direct translation. TKG, TSP and many others even before, have already done it.

    Since you are familiar with typical Sanskrit-to-English translation books, you can actually see the inverse of this case, on the site itself, here. In that case, I write a direct translation of the opening verses of the Ramayana, whereas the RTH Griffith translation of the 1870s, is poetic. And we can see that he has merely versified. There isn't much art or readability to his poetry - at least according to modern tastes. More than that, he doesn't try to stick to line-order, word-order etc., like we do in our poems. So, though the meaning is carried, the shlokas and the English lines aren't that tightly linked.

    And if you think your comment was critical: This work has evoked a wide range of reactions. Most readers say they love it. But, some people have written in saying that they have been moved to tears by this site, kept on reading for days and so on. But then, some people have gotten downright abusive - while they could criticize or question respectfully. Check out this page.

    In fact, if you scroll down to the section titled "Another misguided soul's take", i.e. the comment on Jagadanandakaraka, you will see it is quite horrifying. Naturally, I too reacted strongly. But, in general, I like respectful critical or questioning comments, because, they help further the discussion on Tyagaraja's message. I say this in many places on the site. HTH.

    P.S. I will soon try to combine the 5 comments in this discussion and the previous questions on finding word-for-word meanings into a single page.

  15. All the Great vocalists are non-telugu knowing people. Thygaraja songs are relates to Rayalaseema language which is a part from Andhra Pradesh. Unless we know the Rayalaseema language, we may not understand the complete meaning of lyrics. In this song also, one should sing like Bantu Reethi Koluveeya vayya Rama and not Bantu Reethi Kolu Veeya Vayyya Rama. Koluvu means a job for him,
    v.v.janardhana rao hyderabad

  16. @v.v.janardhana rao - 1/3

    This is quite a useful comment that brings up many points for discussion. I agree with certain points and disagree with others. Let's see why. In 3 parts.

    "All the Great vocalists are non-telugu knowing people. "
    --Obviously, knowledge of Telugu doesn't determine who's a great vocalist. But, the larger point that to be a great and authentic vocalist, one must know the lyrics one sings, must, really must, be taken to heart. Here, we have a good example to emulate from the world of opera. The standard opera repertoire includes operas in Italian, German, French, some Russian and so on. European tenors, sopranos and the like, from places like UK, Italy, Russia, Germany etc. tend to be multilingual. American singers on the other hand tend to be more monolingual. Most of the major opera-houses in the west therefore have language or even dialect coaches who specialize in the different languages to teach the lyrics to their singers, and ensure they render it correctly on stage. Our singers do have a burden to take learning the lyrics correctly. They must take this burden seriously. Sadly, only some do. Our repertoire is in Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada etc. Historically speaking, a hundred years ago, musicians used to simply pick up their non-native languages as part of their "field experience", as they developed their art. Today, due to a more anglicized, westward-looking culture, such assimilation cannot be presumed. So, singers, and even other performers, must make a conscious effort to get sufficient command of the lyrics they perform. I have known native Telugu speakers not having a sufficient hold over Telugu lyrics, Tamil speakers without a hold over Tamil lyrics like Appar pathigams or Alwar pasurams and so on. So, everybody must learn the lyrics of their repertoire really well to authentically render them. One of the purposes of this Lyrical Tyagaraja work, and this site, is to help with that.
    --That said, I'm sure M. Balamuralikrishna and a host of great male and female singers speak Telugu as their primary language. And most of the older masters who did not speak Telugu as their primary language, were sufficiently fluent in Telugu to master the songs. I also have come across glaring examples of old and recent masters butchering even basic Telugu/Sanskrit/Kannada/Tamil lyrics because of learning songs by rote - even on studio recordings and not just concert or concert tapes.

  17. @v.v.janardhana rao - 2/3

    "Thygaraja songs are relates to Rayalaseema language which is a part from Andhra Pradesh. Unless we know the Rayalaseema language, we may not understand the complete meaning of lyrics."
    --As a linguist/historian/Indologist/theorist, I seriously dispute these statements on the following grounds. Let's look at a bit of the history. Tyagaraja's forefathers of the Kakarla clan, had transplanted to the Tanjore kingdom generations before his time. How much of their original dialect remained intact with them, is questionable. Then, there are other historical facts. At the time of Tyagaraja, the Tanjore kingdom where he lived, was ruled by a Maratha king. One of the kings of his time, Serfoji II, was in fact, multilingual and fluent in many Indian and European languages, and had been educated by a Danish missionary. Yet, the court language of this kingdom, as with many kingdoms of the region, at that time, was Telugu. Sanskrit was the scholarly language. Tamil was the regional language. Therefore, many composers composed their lyrics in Telugu and Sanskrit, no matter their own antecedents. But, the lines across these languages were quite thin. Tyagaraja's education and experiences derived from such a society and such a culture. Tyagaraja, of course, traveled to Kanchi, Tirupati and Madras (Tiruvottiyur) and other places, while musicians and scholars from many lands visited the Tanjore kingdom and some, of whom, many did meet him. Tyagaraja does show many influences in his lyrics. More than the dialect of Telugu, the thing about Tyagaraja is the level of Sanskritization in his lyrics. With all this, we cannot unreservedly ascribe dialects, nor easily judge his lyrics. What's even more painful to the historian or music-historian, is that, though Tyagaraja lived in fairly recent times - 19th century, we do not have direct records of his lyrics or music or even his life and times. We know him from indirect sources. Contrast this with, say, Beethoven, who is from a similar age. As is well known, Beethoven lost his hearing in his middle age, and still composed. In his last years, he used notebooks to communicate. Visitors would write questions in them, and Beethoven would respond. These notebooks were published some decades ago. Such is the level of direct historical record available. Whereas, with Tyagaraja, we have so little to go with. So, we can't really be certain that a certain thing is exactly what he wrote and how he set to music - even for well known songs. Many modern textbooks - irrespective of the era they come from and the location printed - often disagree on the lyrics based on the traditions they hail from. So, when we come across such cases, on this site and work, with all the modern tools we have at our command - historical references, some philology, internal consistency, data mining and so on - we work backwards to authenticate lyrics and include notes to that effect. Even then, we can only be fairly confident, but not certain. Finally, unlike the great counter-example of Dikshita, and many other composers, Tyagaraja's lyrics are generally quite uncomplicated and show a general unity and coherence of thought in the lyrics of a given song, that we don't need to worry about dialect and context much.

  18. @v.v.janardhana rao - 3/3

    "In this song also, one should sing like Bantu Reethi Koluveeya vayya Rama and not Bantu Reethi Kolu Veeya Vayyya Rama. Koluvu means a job for him,"

    --You won't believe how much I squirm at having to butcher lyrics in order to transcribe them in English/Roman script in a familiar form. As you may find in the "Intro Pages" to this site, it is not advertised anywhere, and can only be found through "web searches", as you did. To make these pages easily searched, I have to give lyrics and titles of songs in the most common way in which people spell them, even if I don't agree with such spelling. Take even the title or url: "Lyrical Thyagaraja". "Thyagaraja" is wrong. It is "Tyagaraja". The problem continues even in the more proper transcription with diacritical marks given in the lyrics and occurs in the Telugu, Sanskrit and Tamil song(s) on this site. I try to explain and clear up the lyrics as much as possible.

    As regards Koluvu, I think there is little to argue. "Entering into service" is a polite way of describing taking a job at court. Tyagaraja regularly, and appropriately, describes Rama in the manner of a king holding court. To help with our cross validation, he does use the same word in a similar sense in other songs too.


  19. Unfortunately, Baraha software is not compatible with Google. If this is made compatible, then it would be very easy to type each syllable exactly as pronounced, as it gives cent per cent scope of typing each and every syllable. It uses both unicode as well as phonetic mode of typing.

  20. @ G. Rajgopal Rao:
    Interesting comment. TY. Not being a Baraha user, I can only comment that I have had my own struggles with typing Indian languages - chiefly Sanskrit, over the last 2-3 decades. And contributed my mite to auto-typing Sanskrit, machine-reading ancient Indian texts etc. OCR for Sanskrit has interested me quite a bit. It could greatly empower the Indological community if it clicks fully... For all the tools and technologies and apps available today, for our languages, nothing ever truly works, does it, to the extent it works for English, and for the Roman script?

  21. Tunta = One meaning of this is "SUGAR CANE"(Another meaning is piece)
    Vintivani= person with bow
    Tunta Vintivani = The person who has a bow made out of sugarcane. That's obviously refers to Manmadha (Kama is one of six Madaadulu which is being created by Manmadha)

    1. @ Anonymous (Dec. 31, 2016 12:17 AM)

      Thank you for your comment. Please refer above in the comment thread above, to my reply on July 30, 2014, to a query from a reader dated July 26, 2014. I give a full explanation of how to arrive at Kama or Madana from "tuntavintivaani" in the song. Also, in our exposition of the song above, in the "Extra-comments" section, we mention the "sugar cane" now, and compare with the green bow referred to in a Yadukulakamboji song. Also, to be precise although at the risk of sounding pedantic, Kama is only responsible for inciting Lust and not the other vices. Different deities are associated with different vices. HTH.