Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Janani Ninnuvina

Raga Reetigowla, 22 Karaharapriya janya
Aa: S G2 R2 G2 M1 N2 D2 M1 N2 N2 S Av: S N2 D2 M1 G2 M1 P M1 G2 R2 S

Taalam: Mishrachaapu



jananī ninnu vinā amba
trilōka dikkevarammā jagamulōna gāna

manasija mānasa sammōdini vinavō nā manavini vini nannu brōvumu

niravadhika sukha dāyaki yanucu
vini ninnu cāla goliciti
niratamuga tanayuni moralu vini nī valanē brōcuṭaku evarika dharalō
vinumā idi ghanamā taruṇamidi
kṛpa salupa durusuga
sarasīruha lōcani suvāsini
tāmasamu sēyakane brōvumu

varadāyaki kadā okkani
brōva karudā daya rādā
nera nammina nātō vādā
sarasija bhava hari haranuta pāda

karuṇānidhi nīvu vēganē vacci
karuṇatō nannu brōvu
girirāja kumārivainavu paritāpamula
nella pariharicēvu

vanajāyata nētri kumāra janani
kāmitadātri ghana pāpa latālavitri
sanakādi munulella sannuta pātri

English verse:

Mother of the three worlds! Save You,
To whom would I turn to?

You caused Love's heart to flutter,
Hear my plea; save me,- come hither.

Who else is my savior in the world?
Who lends an ear to my pain unfurled?
Do I wear You thin?
But, this is the moment!
Grant without delay!
O lotus eyed graceful Goddess!
Save me this day!
As You bestow limitless pleasure;
My faith's upon You in full measure.

O Benevolence, cease mulling!
Save this single soul, can You not?
Pity me who swerves not!
Even the Trinity's at Your feet, hailing.

Ocean of compassion! Rush to me!
With Your grace, save me!
Child of the Mountain King,
Out of Your limitless mercy,
May I atone for each travesty.

Lotus eyed Mother of the boy fierce!
You grant all our desires!
Cleanser of great sins of the ages!
Adored of the Four and all the sages!
O Mother! My sole refuge!

Manasija: Literally, "mind born". Hence, Kama, the god of love, or love personified as in the verses. Sarasija: He who was born on a lotus. Brahma was born in a lotus arising from Vishnu's navel. Parvati was once born the daughter of Himavan, the king of mountains or the Himalayas personified. She married Siva as the fruit of her severe penances. Her penances were so intense that for a time, she survived by consuming not even a leaf' hence the epithet, Aparna. She is also called Gauri, "the fair" and Devi, the goddess. In the main, she represents Shakti, that is energy or vital force. 'Boy fierce':Kumara or Subhramanya, is considered the commander of Siva's hosts and a handsome youth. 'The Four': The four sages, mind born sons of Brahma, led by Sanaka, whom we have encountered earlier. In this song, we see that this composer takes his chosen deity, Devi or Shakti, from her element as Parvati the consort of Shiva, and sees her as the Goddess above all else. This is in line with the Hindu praxis we saw earlier.

This song is a staple of the mainstream concert repertoire. The composer Subbaraya Shastri studied with all three of the Trinity of music. I thought it might be a nice break to see a song that "came after" Tyagaraja. We have seen one or two that preceded him. In terms of musical detail, we can see that the kriti form of songs has by now developed fully, due to the Trinity's works. This was one of their key contributions, particularly Tyagaraja's. This kriti, for instance, has an elaborate structure, with several charanas and the swarasahitya-chitteswaras, all of which predetermine many of the elements of its final embellished rendition.

Meter and Rhyme: As a change from the familiar couplets and stanzas I use on this site, in this poem, although I have still rhymed, I have moved a bit closer to free verse. This was first by accident and then by intent. I have mentioned 'lyrical imprint' in my introductory post. This pertains to how much poetical strength is there in the original kriti, that can be transferred into English well, in a faithful and 'word order preserving' rendering like mine. When I started writing this song, I noticed that without taking a lot of license or ripping up the word order and the order of allusions in the kriti, I could not write it in my usual style. So, in line with my objectives on this site, I chose faithfulness over style and symmetry, and let the flow of the kriti guide the English rendering. This is how the poem developed. To me, for one, it was an interesting contrast.

Extra Comments:
This song wasn't originally intended to be featured on this site. It was posted upon a request from a reader. Requests for songs are welcome at lyricaltyagarajablog@gmail.com

I know that the formatting is a bit off for the kritis and verses. The longer a kriti, the more terrible blogger's formatting gets. Somehow it doesn't seem to like nested tables in this template. I will find a fix soon. But first, I want to fix the orphaned "pronunciation guide".



  1. first let me thank you for this meaning ful work.but i think implied meaning (dwani)of words are ignored or omitted in many parts .Kumara must not be translated as fierce.kumara janani implies that to Devi even the first born was not for her selfish love but for the welfare of world.more over kumara is generally presented as a soumya(soft natured) God even though he is Velaayudha,
    Thanks. vmgirija

  2. @vmgirija:

    Thanks for your comments. Here is something discursive. I can see where you are coming from, but there are several overarching things going on here actually:

    1) This song should actually be part of the Requested Songs page. It is not part of the Tyagaraja work and the same ultra-precise methods are not applied here. When this song was put up four years ago, there wasn't even the Requests page. Like the Dikshita yati song Tyagarajayogavaibhavam it is just here by happenstance.

    2) It is by and large within the principles of translation we give in the Intro pages. To be honest, while we do try and portray Tyagaraja's message as realistically as possible, we didn't go all out for this song. However, there is no discrepancy from the original nor omission. The original lyrics convey a plea. Our poem does the same, generally word-for-word.

    3) We do take some poetic license given how far apart English is from Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil. We also want to cater to ALL readers, even those unfamiliar with Indian culture let alone Carnatic music. Many such, general readers, pros, students etc. do use this site. So, we refer to Tyagaraja's mudra or self-reference generally as Bard, Lakshmi as Wealth (personified) and so on, and explain this in the notes for each song and in the introductory pages.

    4) Another is that we go by canonical sources than popular sources. For example, we try to be historically accurate and avoid legends that can't be verified.

    5) 3) and 4) above gives us the explanation for terming Kumara as Boy Fierce. The worship of Kumara is mainly a South Indian thing, particularly popular in the Tamil country. The mythology known there is different from the typical Puranic sources taken as canon by most people, like the Ganesha legends of Maratha country. In canonical sources, Kumara is mostly known as the commander of the hosts of heaven and the variegated exploits popular in the South, are not known. In the notes though, we explain that he is a handsome youth. What matters in this line is the maternal nature of the goddess. Not Kumara, which term is clearly brought in for alliterative ease with "kamita datri" which is what the composer wants - his desire for grace or salvation being fulfilled. The load is on that. Here is another catch. Many other gods are also called Kumara, and even Ganesha is known as youthful. We could justify other offspring of Devi just as well - you know, fancy footwork in interpretation or translation.

    We don't stretch things ever, but even so, there is a little more intricacy to our technique of translation than people might expect at first glance.