Aa: S R2 M1 P N2 S Av: S N2 P M1 R2 S
mārīcuni madamaṇacē vēḻa
muni kanu saika telisi
ṣiva dhanuvunu viricē samayamuna
tyāgarāja vinutuni mōmuna rañjillu
As His curls gracefully swayed,
How the sagely heart swelled.
As He rent evil Maricha's pride;
All limits His charms did elide.
As curls His face lighted,
The royal sage delighted.
And so, the sage winked "Now!"
Lo! He'd rent the Great Bow!
This song about Rama's valor and beauty is a fine example of Tyagaraja's poetry. He visualizes the scenes of Rama's conquering pestilential demons and breaking the great bow under Vishvamitra's tutelage. Through the eyes of the sage, he marvels at the beauty of Rama which shone through even whilst performing such exploits. Throughout the common concert repertoire, we seldom encounter the vivid images and emotional expression of Tyagaraja's songs. This sets him apart as the artist among composers. Then comes the fine musical detail. Tyagaraja's songs, like this one, belong as much to the musician as to the poet. If you hear this song sung softly, you will see how both the cadence of the lyrics, and the musical scheme, imitate the gentle tossing of forelocks in the wind. It takes extreme skill to concurrently create such music and poetry- simple, yet graceful.
Vishvamitra, unlike other sages of the highest rank (Brahmarishi), had originally been a king. Against the entreaties of His father, King Dasharatha, this sage took Rama and Lakshmana away into the forest with him, under the pretext of subduing the demons who destroyed his penances and sacrifices at his hermitage. The king thought Rama was too young. But, his guru, Vashishta, foremost of sages and Vishvamitra's former adversary, counseled the king that Vishvamitra was well capable of subduing the demons by himself. There must have been some ulterior motive, to Rama's benefit, that made him demand Rama to guard him. And there was indeed. The sage first invested Rama with celestial weapons and two powerful chants, Bala and Adibala that made Rama impervious to hunger and thirst. Rama subdued several demons, among whom was the conjurer Maricha, an uncle and vassal of Ravana. He reappeared as the golden buck that Rama chased as Ravana abducted Sita. Rama's travels with Vishvamitra culminated in his shattering the Great Bow of Shiva at Janaka's court, and claiming Sita for his wife. This song alludes to those famous episodes. Even in times of performing such feats, Rama's countenance was exceedingly beautiful, as his shining curls tossed about, as Tyagaraja tells us. As Tyagaraja himself and other sources tell us, He was still in His teens and yet He remained calm and assured when fighting powerful demons like Maricha. When attempting what so many great kings had failed at, He showed not the slightest fear or hesitation and strung and shattered the Great Bow of Shiva. How do we find such counter-intuitive and precocious greatness of character in Rama? The Ramayana describes His many virtues. (..contd in the next post)