Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Durmarga chara

Raga Ranjani, 59 Dharmavati janya
Aa: S R2 G2 M2 D2 S Av: S N3 D2 M2 G2 S R2 S
Taalam: Rupakam



duṛmārgacara adhamulanu
dora nīvana jālarā!

dharmātmaka! dhanadhānyamu
daivamu nivaiyuṇḍaga

paluku boṭini sabhalona-
patita mānavulakosage
khalula neccaṭa pogaḍani
śrīkara! tyāgarāja vinuta!
English verse:

Not for me to call him master,
Not the villain of evil ways!

Wealth and grain come after,
A touch of Your upright grace.

Speech, ne'er shall I barter,
Where fiends hold court.
Nor nod to another's sale,
O Lord of wealth and vale!

This is not a commonly heard song; nor is it involved in musical or lyrical detail. But, the thoughts Tyagaraja expresses in it, tell us a lot about his path in life and why he composed such music and such poetry. Cf. with the famous "Nidhi Chala sukhama" song we saw earlier, where he denounces wealth. Here, he is critical of serving the base for pecuniary benefit and considers this a taint upon the learning of men. Speech personified as here, refers to Sarasvati and to learning. Such revulsion for wealth was common among men of learning of his time. Learning was considered an aid to illumination and the Highest and not as a path to wealth. While Tyagaraja was perhaps the most austere of the Trinity, none of them served the great kings of the time as court musicians nor sought extensive royal patronage.

Such renunciation among the pious and scholarly is peculiar to his culture. In the west, we find a starkly different case. Many of the great masters of the classical music there, did not fight shy of wealth and some did acquire it. Mozart, a figure comparable to Tyagaraja in the West, predated him by only a few decades. Much is known about his various patrons and his considerable fees for composition. It has been of some interest whether he died a pauper or not. The Pythagorean notion of finding the sublime in music had long been dead in his time.

Unlike in the west, learning itself was and is considered sacred in his culture and profiting from learning is considered sinful. Tyagaraja's brother who too lived in their ancestral house was said to be highly covetous and eventually, fell out with him. Tyagaraja's devotion to Rama was his sole avocation in life. To his brother's chagrin, Tyagaraja considered wealth as precluding his quest for Rama. So, we hear of the episode alluded to in the earlier song, in which his idol of Rama was lost and found. Such abhorrence of wealth and comforts as pollutants is an ancient and consistent teaching in Hinduism. It is held that they cannot be sought and attained without the debasement of the individual self.

Extra Extra Comments:
Resumption of this website and changes to style:
Friends, I think it is time to resume this website. However, based on the feedback from readers and a review of the new approach I use here, I am making two key changes. Previously, I used to write one song each day and planned to write up to five, so that I covered most of Tyagaraja's oeuvre quickly. Now, subject to health and other vagaries, I plan to write no more than 2-3 songs a week. But, the commentary on the songs will be much more elaborate and comprehensive. I think this will serve the purpose of this website more, as my intent is not to merely provide a compendium of the songs, but to impart, clarify and augment the songs and the wealth in their lyrics.

Final form of this website:
I receive many requests for the book form of this site (Volume 1) and also some questions. I used to send out what was mainly a download of this site, as a pdf document. I have been revising this book form into a much more readable actual book. I will start sending this revised 'Volume 1' out, once it is ready. Once I am sure that I have covered most of thematic content in the songs, on this website, I do fully intend printing this new approach as a serious academic work, as a book set in two volumes.


1 comment:

  1. Friends,

    Numerous changes have been made to the website. Please check out the new introductory pages in the left sidebar explaining our new approach to music, how to use the website and how I develop the various themes in the songs. I have also started writing new songs.

    Check out:
    1) New approach and user guide
    2) Themes in the songs

    As always, please email back with any comments and thanks for reading.

    Your servant,
    Lyrical Tyagaraja Blog.