Sunday, October 11, 2009

Alaipaayuthe Kanna

Raga Kanada , 22 Kharaharapriya janya
Aa: S R2 G2 M1 D N2 S Av: S N2 P M1 G2 M1 R2 S
Taalam: Adi



alaipāyudē kaṇṇā! e maṉammiga alaipāyudē!
uṉ āṉanda mōhaṉa vēṇugāṉamadil (alai pāyudē)

nilai peyarādu en uḷḷam silai polavē niru
nēramāvadaṟiyāmalē miga
viṉōdamāṉa muraḷīdharā! E
(alai pāyudē)

theḷinda nilavu paṭṭappagal pōl eriyudē - uṉ
dikkai nōkki e
iru puruvam neriyudē
kaṉinda uṉ veṇugāṉam kāṟṟil varugudē
kaṇgaḻ sorugi oru vidamāi marugudē

kaḍitta maṉattil urutti padattai
eṉakku aḷittu magiḻtta vā!
oru ta
itta vaattil aṇaittu eṉakku
uṇarcci koḍuttu mugiḻtta vā !

aikaḍal alaiyiṉil kadirava oḻiyeṉa
iṇaiyaṟu kaḻal e
akku aḷittavā!
kadaṟi ma
amuruga nā azhaikkavō !
idara mādarudaṉ nī kaḷikkavo!
idu thagumō? idu muṟaiyō? idu dharmam dā
kuḷalūdiḍum poḷudu āḍiḍum kuḷaigaḻ pōlavē
adu vēdaai migavodu (alai pāyudē)

English verse:

Aflutter, O Lord! My mind is all aflutter!
As your joyous flute strains come hither!

Rooted like a statue stood I, spellbound,

Knowing not the sun was homeward bound,
For, the piper of intrigue hath me in thrall!
Now, even cool moonbeams singe my all,

As the sun at high noon; my 'brows are knit searching,
As your mellow strains, in the breeze come wafting.
My eyes droop; into an unknown trance I step.
To an elfin grot, embrace and take me in step.

And there, my heart, now fallow,
Fill with feelings of love's halo.
Heal and gladden my rent heart!
Grant, so we may never part!

As sunlight on the wind tossed waves of the sea,
Are the peerless twin jewels you gave to me!

Must I weep, and heartbroken, call out to you?
Cavorting with other maidens, are you?
Is this form? Is this upright, your caper?
Leaving me wan, is this proper?

To your flute when I dance, as much my tresses thresh,
So much my mind flutters, as pangs of love enmesh.

For a change of pace, let's sample a very popular song on Krishna, by Oothukkadu Venkata kavi. This kriti describes a woman, perhaps a gopika, or a cowherdess, pining for her beloved, Krishna. Venkata kavi composed in Tamil and Sanskrit. One detail is that he predated Tyagaraja, though it is uncertain by how much and led a life of obscurity by choice. He composed mainly on Krishna. This particular kriti is very reminiscent of the Gita Govinda of Jayadeva, popularly called Ashtapadi or 'Eight footed' or 'Eight stepped'. Separation from and entrancement by Krishna's music is a frequent theme in compositions dedicated to Krishna, particularly in the bhajans of the north of India.

A comparative study: I chose to evoke the famous literary ballad, "La Belle Dame sans Merci" by Keats here, because its underlying theme is mortal love, experienced once, that is now unattainable. Allegorically, the artist too, once he has seen art, can no longer make do with the mundane, nor can he relapse into the reverie of his first experiences with art. Similarly, in this song, we encounter a more chaste and subliminal divine love, experienced once, that now seems far away. Like an English ballad, this song too ends abruptly. There is no signing off, or 'resolution' for the thematic tension (parallel to musical tension and resolution), like you see in a Tyagaraja kriti, where he usually signs off with his stamp or mudra.

I considered rewriting my poem with the structure of a ballad, but eventually decided to leave it as its, as it fits the lyrical narrative better. You may find several references to Keats' poem here, such as "hath me in thrall", "elfin grot", unknown trance and being left wan. Since Krishna is considered a great deceiver in his play with the gopis, I have paralleled Keats' fairy's mystique in calling him a 'piper of intrigue' ('vinodamana muralidhara') who entranced the gopi. While Keats' knight was taken to an enchanted place, here, the gopi would like to be taken to a grove where she can be alone with Krishna. Of course, Keats' fairy seems to have been a negative character; whereas Krishna, was God the Perfect and such enchantment, abandonment and an eventual union, were all considered part of his Leela or Divine pastime. So, I retain all elements of the original and dally no further with the more mundane and baser pathos of Keats' theme. It is however an interesting study to compare the two ballads. They were composed not more than fifty to seventy years apart. Keats wrote his in 1821. Venkata Kavi is thought to have been most active in the first half of the 18th century.

You may also find that I have blended and used several meters here, including the iambic, as a trimeter, rather than the common 'iambic pentameter'. Note also that the penultimate verse closely follows the questioning last charanas, and can be read at the raised tempo of the song, as it moves towards the tension in the finale, that is
characteristic of Venkata kavi. I have however, "resolved" the verses partially in the final foot.

Keats' ballad is too long to post here. So, here is a link to La Belle Dame sans Merci.

Word meanings: 'Kanna' is Krishna. 'Thanitta vanam' literally means a private grove. So, in the sense of an exotic or enchanted grove with the bewitching Krishna, I have given Keats' 'elfin grot'. 'Kanaikadal' loosely refers to "the febrile, fervid sea with lashing waves", or the "the darting, battering wave-filled sea". 'Kaḻal'
in the next line means a toe-ring or anklet. However, this meaning is questionable. If it is taken as a toe-ring, that signifies the interlocutor's marriage with Krishna, and that she is now a forlorn wife, separated from Krishna. Yet, from the sentiments expressed in the Charanas, the interlocutor's being the wife of Krishna is very plausible. "Venu gaanam" or music from the flute- cf. "murali ravam" in the charanas from 'Manasa Sancharare'. That song however conveys a Bhakti bhava or devotion, and not a saki(companion) or gopika's viraha taapa bhava (emotion of separation and longing). I shall spare you any more details on bhava.

Tamil Transliteration details:
In the romanization, note the hard "ṟ" sound as in "atrium", the unique ḻ sound as in Tami, the hard "ḷ" sound as in Glamorgan, the "ṅ" as in "bang", the "ñ" as in "banjo" and the soft ṉ sound as in "Great Dane", apart from the short and long u and o sounds, all not present in Sanskrit. The romanization is according to the National Library of Calcutta standard, as ISO 15919 doesn't cover these four cases. This standard will be reused for other Tamil kritis also.

I am not certain about the lyrics. I don't have a reliable print source for this song handy.

Extra "Extra" Comments:
Oothukkaadu is not far from where your servant's forebears hail. Your servant shares Venkata kavi's gifts of solitude, anonymity, poverty, frugality and absence of an audience of any form; but in your servant's case, these gifts were certainly not sought! :)


1 comment:

  1. One of your best 'translations' considering the vernacular nature of the song...great to see!