Monday, June 14, 2010

Pariyaachakama maata

Raga Vanaspati , Mela 4
Aa: S R1 G1 M1 P D2 N2 S Av: S N2 D2 P M1 G1 R1 S
Taalam: Rupakam


pariyācakamā māṭa? padigurilō pogaḍinadi

verapuna nanu mānambuna vesanambuna nē kōri
śaraṇāgata rakṣaka! ninnu santatamunu śaraṇanaga 

oka munikai draupadi dvārakā nilayā! śaraṇanaga
oka māṭaku vibhīṣaṇuḍu ōrva lēka śaraṇanaga
sakalēśvara! prahlādu  jālicē śaraṇanaga
hitakaruṇḍai brōcitivē tyāgarājuni māṭa
English verse:
Do I seem the droll of the shire,
As I sing of You at the town square?

Refuge of All! In pain, fear and doubt,

I ever seek refuge at Your redoubt!

Has not Your Hand from afar, reached,

The queen, as before the sage, she winced?
When upon a single taunt,
Brother fled brother's haunt,
And when a prince cried out in grief,
Did You not take them to Your fief?
And yet, O Lord of all, 
Are my words alone,
Mocked and left alone?


Incidents from  the Mahabharata, the Ramayana and the Bhagavatam are serially referred to here. 

Queen ... sage: When the Pandavas were exiled to the forest, Duryodhana and his cronies bade the irascible sage Durvasa, an incarnation of Shiva, to visit them at their hermitage. The sage was known for his ready curse and ravenous appetite. Duryodhana contrived that the sage would arrive with his retinue at the hermitage after the Pandavas had had their meal of the day, and there was no food left. Durvasa was expected to run into a rage and wreak great curses upon the Pandavas. Draupadi, upon the sage's arrival, prayed to Krishna who was at the time, across the country, in Dwaraka. Krishna, with His divine powers, came to her aid and forestalled the sage.

Brother fled brother's haunt: Vibheeshana, the youngest brother of Ravana, counseled him to turn over Sita to Rama and seek his refuge. In response to Ravana's anger at this counsel, Vibheeshana defected to Rama's side and was crowned the king of Lanka after the war.

Prince cried out: Prahalada, though the son of an evil demon, somehow grew up to be a devotee of Vishnu and after repeated attempts on his life, by his father, the terrible Hiryanakashipu, who was protected by a boon from Brahma that made him all but immortal, was saved by Vishnu, in his most terrifying incarnation, as the Narasimha or man-lion. The incarnations of Vishnu are detailed in the Bhagavatam, where details not in the Ramayana or Mahabharata, may be found. Tyagaraja alluded to Prahalada several times, as he is a symbol of the "Bhakti marga" or the path of personal devotion, that is considered accessible to all, irrespective of birth and creed. Prahalada, though an Asura or demon, was expressly saved by Vishnu. This is in fact, the only case in Hindu mythology, when a major incarnation interceded solely to deliver an Asura. Tyagaraja, of course, composed the Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam, an entire cycle of songs about the Prahalada events.

Vanaspati is one of the seventy two  melakarta or foundational ragas, and one of the forty that includes vivadi swaras or dissonant notes including R3, G1, D3 and N1, in the notation scheme we use. There is some controversy between certain quarters about whether such ragas should be used in the Carnatic system or not. In reality, it reflects the development of the theory of Carnatic music over time, rather than whether these ragas can produce elaborate, consistent and pleasant melodies or not, into which debate the controversy somehow turned.

The regular reader might find that the verse translations are far too frequently in couplets. This could indeed get tiresome. The sole reason for the frequency of couplets is that, while generally preserving word and sentential order in the original, I also try to match Tyagaraja's flow. Due to his particular, music composition style, Tyagaraja's lyrics, when rendered into readable English, just naturally fall into couplets. I have my own style of writing poetry, as would anyone, but it is quite clear that anyone else writing a verse translation that tries to match the flow of the original, would also use couplets.

A COMPARATIVE STUDY: Here is a piece from Philip Massinger's 1624 play, The Bondman, which quite succinctly captures both the idea behind the path of Bhakti Yoga or Marga, and Prahalada's own ascent. As might be expected from a Renaissance playwright, the original thought is from Horace. But, it has been handled more directly and so, effectively, by Massinger here. The Sabaeans of Horace's time, were a people from the south of the Arabian peninsula, who had become wealthy from trading in fragrances, particularly frankincense and myrrh, which was indigenous to the area.

                                 The immortal gods
  Accept the meanest altars, that are raised
  By pure devotion; and sometimes prefer
  An ounce of frankincense, honey, or milk,
  Before whole hecatombs, or Sabaean gems,
  Offered in ostentation.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Raka Shashi Vadana

Raga Takka, 15 Mayamaalava janya
Aa: S G3 M1 P M1 G3 M1 D1 N3 S Av: S N3 D1 M1 P M1 G3 M1 R1 G3 S
Taalam: Adi



rākā śaśi vadana! iṅka parākā?

nīkāguṇamu kārādavanīkānta!

nammiyunna nija dāsulaku
nammikalanosagi maṛaturā!
tammi kanulanoka pāri nanu
daya jūḍa rādā? mariyādā ?

pāri pāri ninnanudinamukōri
kōrina vārini yīdāri brōcitivā?
māyādhāri! rārā! ēlukōrā!

nīvē telusukonduvanucunu
bhāviñcucunu nēnu nī pada
sēva jēsiti mahānubhāva!
English verse:

Does it befit You to lack in grace,
O Lord of the moon-like face?

Does it befit You to break Your word,
Lord of the Earth of infinite mercy,

To forget the faithful and clemency?
Deny me Your gaze and turn untoward?

Was such the refuge given,
To we who daily prayers proffered?
Fount of all worldly illusion,
Hasten, hasten, raise me heavenward.

Sure was I, as I served at Your feet,
That ere long You would note,
O Mighty Prince, at Your feet,
Lay one You must now dote.

There is not much to note in this song except that this is again in a raga in which Tyagaraja contributed a single song that we know of. In fact, no other songs in this raga are known in the common concert repertoire. But, the odd thing is that it is not a neglected or nascent raga in his time, one that Tyagaraja successfully deciphered like most of the other ragas where he contributed a single song. In fact, it is an ancient raga with more popular cognates and descendants. It was found in different parts of India and today is found both in the Northern and Southern systems. It is supposed that it takes its name from the peoples of the ancient Takka country, which the Rajatarangini by Kalhana, which chronicles the kings of Kashmir, considers to be outside ancient India and therefore possibly a northwesterly country in Persia or Central Asia, though nothing else is known about them other than this reference. Ragas named after ancient peoples are considered to have moved with them into different parts of the country. But, the Rajatarangini is from roughly around 1000 C.E., though Takka strains seem to have been known much earlier even in the remote south of India. 

"Earth", here, is the earth personified as Bhudevi, one of the consorts of Vishnu. It is line with Tyagaraja's specific Vedantic doctrine to hold all the world as an illusion and the Supreme Self as the only reality.

As we have seen earlier, the very first verses of the Ramayana describe Rama as most compassionate and having a full moon like face indicates the compassion expected of a ruler according to Indian astrology.

Extra Comments:
If I were to speculate, I would think that the Takkas referenced here, were a Turkic people who lived to the north west of the kingdom of Kashmir. It is known from the Rajatarangini that some other Turkic peoples served the kings of Kashmir.

This is not a frequently heard raga or song. We shall revisit some details about the musical terms associated with different peoples later.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sri Narada Naada

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

Taalam: Rupakam



śrī nārada! nāda sarasīruha 
bhṛṅga! śubhāṅga!

dīna māna rakṣaka! jagadīśa! 
bheśa saṅkāśa!  

vedajanita varavīṇā-vādana tatvajña!
khedahara! tritāparahita! khecara vinuta!
yādava kulajāpta! sadāmoda hṛdaya! munivarya!
śrīda! tyāgarāja vinuta! śrīkara! mām pālaya!
English verse:

As a bee finds nectar, O rector, O sage!
To music, your blessed visage!

Prince of men, by you, save face,
The meek, by your moon-like grace.

From the Word, came the strings,
From you their art was found,
Your virtue the demigod sings,
Gone be the pains that hound.

Blissful kin to the divine Cowherd,
Bounteous sage most honored,
Might my prayer be heard,
Your refuge be rendered.

This song is again reflective of Tyagaraja's Nadopasana or music as worship school of thought. Since the divine sage Narada, is considered the originator of the musical arts, he is Tyagaraja's patron saint and ideal. Tyagaraja constantly strives to emulate Narada, who attained the highest enlightenment through his music and not by tapas or penance as other sages did. Narada would also lose himself in paroxysms of joy while singing of the gods and Tyagaraja aspired for such bliss through his own music. Narada was generally venerated but not especially worshiped. He was seen as the finest devotee. Tyagaraja however, sees Narada as his savior and worships Narada, for having shown him the path of music as worship. No other composer has left behind so many songs to Narada. Although a beloved character in the Puranas and the Epics, he is not of any special veneration or adoration in daily praxis and is rarely featured along with the principal deities in temples, although he does appear in the panel art such as in the pillars or the walls surrounding the sanctum sanctorum. That Tyagaraja alludes to Narada routinely is itself a mark of his Nadopasana approach.

Note that Narada is not considered the originator of music per se, as it is said to arise from the Vedas, which of course are held part of the eternal and revealed scriptures. Narada was chiefly a votary of Vishnu. If we look for parallels elsewhere, we find that Narada somewhat fulfills the role of Orpheus in showing the ascent of man through music and the role of the Muses in furthering the musical and other arts, such as inducing Valmiki to compose the very first poetry in the form of the Ramayana or bestowing Tyagaraja with long lost sacred knowledge of music, as we saw in an earlier song. Able to travel through the universe at will, he is also a frequent intercessor in both epics and in several Puranas, where his arrival always results in mischief, which however, leads to a pleasant resolution and fulfills some important purpose. A number of musical works, some verses in the Rg veda and a work of aphorisms on perfect devotion, the Bhakti sutras are all ascribed to him.

Jagadisha is one of those strange adjectives. When applied to a divine being, it means, the lord of all that exists; when applied to a king, an emperor or high king and here, when applied to a sage, it signifies someone who transcends all men. Narada was born a human in some legends and rose to divinity by penance and by the power of his music and this allusion brings that to mind. Generally, he is considered a son of Brahma and a deva or celestial, by birth. The strings: the veena is considered the generating instrument of Carnatic music, and its sounds are said to arise directly from the Vedas or the Word. The Vedas were "heard" by the first sages, were eternal and were revealed. The Sama Veda in particular, the Veda that is sung and not chanted, is considered the source of music. The Gandharvas are a class of celestial beings, somewhat below the Devas in the pantheon and are associated with music and other fine arts. They are considered the court musicians of the Devas. "The pains that hound": Human distress, as meant here by the term tritaapa, is said to be of three kinds- arising due to oneself, from others and by the divine hand. Narada, constantly sings the praises of the lord and is therefore always in a state of bliss. The divine Cowherd is of course Krishna, Who was raised in stealth among cowherds, but belonged to the princely Yadava clan by birth.

We can understand Tyagaraja's Nadopasana thought a little more by comparing his perspective of Narada with that of the different schools of Vishnu worship, that arose during the Bhakti, or resurgence of personal devotion movement in the North and East of India roughly during the 13th-16th centuries. These schools arose from teachers such as Vallabhacharya and Chaitanya, and can today be found in some numbers in such places as Bengal, Orissa and Mathura. They are primarily devoted to Krishna and hold "Nama Sankeertan" or singing of the lord's glory alone, as the true path that exceeds all other requirements such as the study of scripture, meditation, inquiry and observance of religious rites and duties. Naturally, they see Narada as the perfect devotee, for he is always singing the lord's praises and so, has risen to be forever close to and dear to Vishnu. To them, the Bhakti Sutra aphorisms ascribed to Narada are therefore particularly important. However, it is only his constant and rapturous "Nama Sankeertan" that they seek to emulate, and do not concern themselves with his other aspects. Tyagaraja, who sees Narada as his patron saint and guru, does agree with this view of Narada being a paragon of Bhakti. In line with his Nadopasana approach, which is more involved than the simplistic "Nama Sankeertan" approach where the simplest song suffices when offered truly, Tyagaraja additionally finds that Narada, as the greatest exponent of Nadopasana, has unlocked the mysteries of the universe through his study of music and has thus attained divine knowledge and enlightenment, in addition to being one with Vishnu. Tyagaraja seeks to emulate both, his adoration in song, and his theological attainments through the inquiry and art of music. That is why, it is of some import that Tyagaraja consistently sees Narada as a guru and a philosopher whose penance was his music, and not just as the ideal devotee. Tyagaraja also consistently sees music as containing the essence of the universe, having arisen from the primordial sound of the Onkara and the Vedas, and as having endowed the gods with their divine powers. The other schools do not venture into such involved details, as they find penance, observances, study and inquiry much less valuable than simple psalms of worship. As mentioned elsewhere, in such a system of Nadopasana, we can find some parallels with Pythagorean thought, as here too music becomes an all pervasive and potent mechanism. We may further note that while Orpheus is a far more frequent subject in the music and opera traditions of the west, than Narada, who is his counterpart in certain aspects, is, in all of Indian music save that of Tyagaraja.

This song too is reflective of Tyagaraja's preferred structure to his lyrics- a premise being stated firstly,  followed by a restatement and a bhashya or an exegesis like development of the premise in the charanas. We can also note yet again, how different Tyagaraja sounds in his Sanskrit songs compared to his Telugu songs. He is clearly more studied. There is again not as much reflective detail and emotional fervor and the lyricism here borders almost on the impersonal, that we cannot uniquely tie this song to Tyagaraja based on its words alone, as we could a number of his other songs like nagumomu kanaleni or sri narada muni, where he clearly indicates a personal experience and possibly even an immediate experience that is reflected in song with spontaneity. Beyond this, some commentators tend to draw the line that Tyagaraja's diction in his singleton songs was intentionally simpler, as he considered them to be pedagogical, whereas his musical plays were more stylish as they were considered higher performance art. I am yet to be convinced about major distinctions. In many cases, we could extend the generalization on language even to the underlying musical structure. The adventurer and innovator more frequently, though not necessarily, rings through in the Telugu songs. When we get down to the tiny business of musical detail in some time to come, we shall study these variations also.  

Extra Extra Comments:

Some concepts mentioned above, have already been encountered in other songs. They are repeated here for the sake of completeness, as I prefer each song be self-contained and allow easy reading.

Most authors will render Jagadisha as lord of the world or of the universe. This also happens when music scholars translate Tyagaraja's songs and all the main books including TKG's do that. The justification given when a being lesser than Vishnu or Shiva or the Brahman is so addressed, is that the lesser being is seen as a part of the Supreme Being, pars pro toto, unlike other unenlightened beings and hence worthy of such appellation. However, it is easier and more fitting to simply consider that the meaning of Jagadisha can vary by context. Here for example, we know that Tyagaraja sees Narada as a patron saint, guru and savior and not as Rama Himself. Therefore, the meaning I have read, follows. The other possibility that looms, is that the text might have elided over time, absent a contemporaneous printing and it may not have read Jagadisha at all. Alternate meanings can be derived for Jagadisha other than these common meanings. But, we know from his body of work, that Tyagaraja's technique and inventiveness lie elsewhere and that he was not given to word play or summoning up obscurities. We can even surmise that Tyagaraja turned hyperbolic, as poets often do and recall that he is not considered the most precise of the Trinity. Why am I splitting hairs on such a small point? Only to illustrate how we are often working with double blindfolds without a contemporaneous printing and how we may tackle such questions. Internal consistency is the main tool that helps us.

I tend to use exclamation marks to delineate the different epithets with which the composer addresses the subject, generally Rama and in this case, Narada. This is a convention used in Prof. T. K. Govinda Rao's book, as well as some prior works. It is one of the few prevalent conventions retained here. Technically, one could argue that it is not really a clean practice for Indian languages, as these norms of punctuation are based on western scripts and methods. In our case, it is useful to adopt, because we focus so much on lyricism and expression. 


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Vandanamu Raghunandana

Raga Shahana, 28 Harikamboji janya
Aa: S R2 G3 M1 P M1 D2 N2 S Av: S N2 S D2 P M1 G3 M1 R2 G3 R2 S
Taalam: Adi



vandanamu raghunandana!
sētubandhana! bhaktacandana! rāma!

śrīdamā! nātō vādamā?
nē bhēdamā? idi mōdamā? rāma!

śrīramā hṛccāramā!
brōvabhāramā? rāyabhāramā? rāma!

viṇṭini nammukoṇṭini
śaraṇaṇṭini rammaṇṭini rāma!

ōḍanu bhakti vīḍanu
orulavōḍanu nīvāḍanu rāma!

kammani viḍemimmani
varamukommani paluku rammani rāma!

nyāyamā? nīkādāyamā?
inta hēyamā? muni gēyama rāma! 

cūḍumī kāpāḍumī
mammu pōḍimigā kūḍumī rāma!

kṣēmamu divya dhāmamu
ēmamu rāma nāmamu rāma!

vēgarā karuṇāsāgarā
śrītyāgarājuni hṛdayāgra rāma!
English verse:

Son of Raghu! To You,
In prayer my hands lock.
As you bridged the ocean's lock,
So you lavish upon your flock.

Must we in argument lock?
"We aren't one", do you mock?

Even Wealth flows from You;
Will this charade amuse You?

In Wealth, Your ken;
Is saving me a burden?
Another plea from me,
Must you hearken?

Of You, having heard,
I meekly surrendered;
All my trust I duly kept.
"Come!", in prayer wept.

Never shall I fail, nor falter;
Nor ever leave Your altar;
Another I shall not entreat,
Bound am I to Your feet.

Bid me draw near,
Betel leaves in honor,
As befits that sweet essence,
Grant of Your munificence.

Is it at all fair? Or a gainful affair?
Such ill will? In You of sages' trill?

With a glance, save me;
Rightly consort with me.

Shelter and shrine are found,
By Your name profound.

Hasten to my side, Most kind!
Ever in my heart and mind!

This song is another from the Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam cycle. Its simple structure, rhyme and metrical symmetry make it suitable for group singing in a call-response form as well as normal rendition by a single performer.

The fastidious may note a mythological anachronism in this song. As it is from the Prahalada cycle, we can surmise that it appears to Tyagaraja that Prahalada prays thus to Rama. However, in commonly held mythology, Prahalada figured in the fourth incarnation of Vishnu, that of Nrsimha or the Man-Lion. Rama was the seventh incarnation and was born ages after Prahalada's time. Even the line of the Raghus had not yet been founded. This song too, thus shows Tyagaraja's propensity for Ishta Devata Aradhana, or worship of a personal deity, a concept discussed elsewhere. This concept makes the seeming anachronism consistent, for we next encounter the reference to Wealth being His consort, rendering this as a case of pars pro toto.

Extra Extra Comments:
In my opinion, Shahana is one of the gems of the Carnatic system. It is not easily imparted and needs some maturity for an exposition, but it can convey extraordinary emotional content. There is a tradition in many parts that this raga must not be taught by a teacher lest the tutelage would break prematurely. It is often postponed to the end of the training period.
As can be concluded from its complex ascent and descent schema, it may not be easy to compose such simple lyrics and music for it as in this song without oversimplification. From personal experience too, I think it can sometimes be hard to compose in it. Compare this with the song emaanticchevo, which we shall soon cover. That is a more mature work in terms of sustention of phrases, shows the complex layers of Shahana more and contains rich emotional expression.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Rama as the Ramayana describes Him- Alakallalalaadaga Part 2

Knowing the context of the Ramayana is essential to understanding Tyagaraja and thence, Indian culture and its place in world culture. In the Ramayana, Rama was described as the ideal man. The Ramayana begins with Valmiki, the poet, asking the celestial sage Narada who was the best of men. Narada replies that it was Rama and then details Rama's life to him. Rama was most just, virtuous, heroic, wise, strong and exceedingly handsome. Rama and his brothers were together, an incarnation of Vishnu, with Rama claiming half the divinity. 

Rama as depicted in the Ramayana: We concern ourselves with poetry a lot at this site. The Ramayana, called the "Adi Kavya" or the Original Poem, was the first work of poetry in Sanskrit and the oldest epic poetry extant today. The parallels with the first classical epic of the west, the Iliad, are obvious. The Ramayana which does seem to be the older, is much more complete as a work in plot and detail. It also contains far more science, history, ethics, philosophy and theology, as the poet does not merely chronicle, but also develops his subject. Such observations of course fall within such realm as we find when we torture comparison between the two works, as there are great differences too. In the Iliad, Helen eloped. Sita was abducted and remained the paragon of virtue as she spurned Ravana continuously. The Illiad chiefly celebrates valor. The Ramayana on the other hand is much more profound. It does not celebrate any one exploit or attributes. Instead, it celebrates the ideal of Man. In fact, it begins with the poet Valmiki musing about who was the ideal man, who was worthy of his poetic labors. And the omniscient sage Narada appears before him and describes Rama's many virtues. This was the ideal man.

Here are the verses from the Ramayana where Narada first introduces Rama to Valmiki. These verses describe Rama's attributes and virtues in full.

Valmiki asks:

ko nvasminsāmprataṁ loke guṇavānkaśca vīryavān |
dharmajñaśca kṛtajñaśca satyavākyo dṛḍhavrataḥ ||1.1.2||

cāritreṇa ca ko yuktaḥ sarvabhūteṣu ko hitaḥ |
vidvānkaḥ kaḥ samarthaśca kaścaikapriyadarśanaḥ ||1.1.3||

ātmavānko jitakrodho matimānko'nasūyakaḥ |
kasya bibhyati devāśca jātaroṣasya saṁyuge ||1.1.4||

"Who in this world now, is goodly, valorous, righteous, thankful and truthful and has fixity of purpose?
Who is of sound character and the benefactor of all beings? Who is wise and capable and whose kindness makes him a pleasant sight to all?
Who is assured, calm and radiant and has no envy? Whose wrath do even the gods fear in war?"

And Narada replies:

bahavo durlabhāścaiva ye tvayā kīrtitā guṇāḥ |
mune vakṣyāmyahaṁ buddhvā tairyuktaḥ śrūyatāṁ naraḥ ||1.1.7||

"Many are the virtues you speak of, O sage! Listen, as I describe to you a man of such qualities.
ikṣvākuvaṁśaprabhavo rāmo nāma janaiḥ śrutaḥ |
niyatātmā mahāvīryo dyutimāndhṛtimānvaśī ||
He arose in the line of Ikshvaaku and he is called Rama. He is disciplined and has great courage. He is radiant and resolute and also has temperance.

buddhimānnītimānvāṅgmī śrīmāñśatrunibarhaṇaḥ |
vipulāṁso mahābāhuḥ kambugrīvo mahāhanuḥ ||
Intelligent, just, articulate and auspicious, he is the queller of foes. He has broad shoulders, big arms, a conch like stout neck marked by three lines and high cheek bones.

mahorasko maheṣvāso gūḍhajatrurarindamaḥ |
ājānubāhuḥ suśirāḥ sulalāṭaḥ suvikramaḥ ||
Barrel-chested, a great archer and muscular, he destroys foes. He has long arms dipping to his knees, a well proportioned head and a  wide forehead and is quick of step.

samaḥ samavibhaktāṅgaḥ snigdhavarṇaḥ pratāpavān |
pīnavakṣā viśālākṣo lakṣmīvāñśubhalakṣaṇaḥ ||
Of good proportions and similar limbs, lustrous and valorous, stout chested, wide eyed and handsome,- such are his auspicious features. 

dharmajñaḥ satyasandhaśca prajānāṁ ca hite rataḥ |
yaśasvī jñānasampannaḥ śucirvaśyaḥ samādhimān ||
Discerning of righteousness, truthful, seized of his subjects' welfare, famous and learned, he is immaculate and focused.

rakṣitā jīvalokasya dharmasya parirakṣitā |
vedavedāṅgatattvajño dhanurvede ca niṣṭhitaḥ ||
He protects all beings and the world and is the guardian of righteousness. He is versed in the principles of the Veda and the Vedic auxiliaries and in science of archery.

sarvaśāstrārthatattvajño smṛtimānpratibhānavān |
sarvalokapriyaḥ sādhuradīnātmā vicakṣaṇaḥ ||
He knows the purport and essence of all scriptures. He knows tradition and laws and acts in accordance with them. He is loved in all the worlds, gentle, high minded and discriminating.

sarvadābhigataḥ sadbhiḥ samudra iva sindhubhiḥ |
āryaḥ sarvasamaścaiva sadaikapriyadarśanaḥ ||
Ever approachable to the pious as the ocean is to rivers, the honorable one treats all equally and is ever a fond sight to all.

sa ca sarvaguṇopetaḥ kausalyānandavardhanaḥ |
samudra iva gāmbhīrye dhairyeṇa himavāniva ||
Kaushalya's joy is so endowed will all virtues. He is as deep as the ocean and as firm and steady as the Himalayas.

viṣṇunā sadṛśo vīrye somavatpriyadarśanaḥ |
kālāgnisadṛśaḥ krodhe kṣamayā pṛthivīsamaḥ ||
Like Vishnu in bravery, and charming like the moon, he is like the apocalyptic fire in anger and in patience, equal to the earth.

dhanadena samastyāge satye dharma ivāparaḥ |
tamevaṅguṇasampannaṁ rāmaṁ satyaparākramam ||
In giving, he is like Kubera, the lord of wealth and unsurpassed in being true like Dharma, the lord of righteousness and death. Such are the virtues of Rama, the truly valorous." 

Here is something in great contrast to other incarnations of Vishnu and other gods as described elsewhere. Narada describes a man of superlative qualities, but a man nonetheless. Nowhere does he say that Rama was a god and so wrought miracles or that Rama claimed any divinity for Himself. Rama is described as the ideal man throughout the book who wrought miracles by virtue and by perspiration. We are told elsewhere that Rama and His brothers were indeed incarnations and shared divinity among them. But, we are also clearly told that Rama even if divine, never exercised nor claimed any divine powers and lived and perspired as an ordinary mortal. That is, Rama was a model for men to aspire to, far more than being a deity to worship. Rama represents the ascent of ordinary man to divinity through virtue and merit. Such is what we gather from the Ramayana.

It is possible to view the attributes mentioned here, as being those of the Supreme Self. This is how several commentators view it, finding an inner meaning to these verses. However, I have, in conformity with the theme of the "ideal Man" in the original text, alluded to them as humanly virtues.
For an interesting comparison, here is R.T.H. Griffith's rendition of the same verses from the late 19th century, when the world was a very different place and western sensibilities to the east, were nascent and sometimes ill-founded. Much study of the east and of Hinduism, Buddhism and such subjects took place, though often, not with the noblest intent. Yet, even over a hundred years later, for better or worse, Griffith, Max Mueller and other translators of their times have stood on in the west. Griffith who also wrote the first Rg and Sama Veda translations for the West, chose to write a verse translation of the Ramayana. While this was an admirable objective and his scholarship in the classical languages of the West and the East, and English, was vast, personally, I find novelty but not the poet's mark in these verses. I find the job adequate but not very highly competent.

Then Nárad, clear before whose eye
The present, past, and future lie,
Made ready answer: 'Hermit, where
Are graces found so high and rare?
Yet listen, and my tongue shall tell
In whom alone these virtues dwell.
From old Ikshváku's  line he came,
Known to the world by Ráma's name:
With soul subdued, a chief of might,
In Scripture versed, in glory bright,
His steps in virtue's paths are bent,
Obedient, pure, and eloquent.
In each emprise he wins success,
And dying foes his power confess.
Tall and broad-shouldered, strong of limb,
Fortune has set her mark on him.
Graced with a conch-shell's triple line,
His threat displays the auspicious sign.
High destiny is clear impressed
On massive jaw and ample chest,
His mighty shafts he truly aims,
And foemen in the battle tames.
Deep in the muscle, scarcely shown,
Embedded lies his collar-bone.
His lordly steps are firm and free,
His strong arms reach below his knee;
All fairest graces join to deck
His head, his brow, his stately neck,
And limbs in fair proportion set:
The manliest form e'er fashioned yet.
Graced with each high imperial mark,
His skin is soft and lustrous dark.
Large are his eyes that sweetly shine
With majesty almost divine.
His plighted word he ne'er forgets;
On erring sense a watch he sets.
By nature wise, his teacher's skill
Has trained him to subdue his will.
Good, resolute and pure, and strong,
He guards mankind from scathe and wrong,
And lends his aid, and ne'er in vain,
The cause of justice to maintain.
Well has he studied o'er and o'er
The Vedas and their kindred lore.

Well skilled is he the bow to draw,
Well trained in arts and versed in law;
High-souled and meet for happy fate,
Most tender and compassionate;
The noblest of all lordly givers,
Whom good men follow, as the rivers
Follow the King of Floods, the sea:
So liberal, so just is he.
The joy of Queen Kaus'alyá's heart,
In every virtue he has part:
Firm as Himálaya's snowy steep,
Unfathomed like the mighty deep:
The peer of Vishnu's power and might,
And lovely as the Lord of Night;
Patient as Earth, but, roused to ire,
Fierce as the world-destroying fire;
In bounty like the Lord of Gold,
And Justice self in a human mould.

Extra Comments:  
I write all translations from the Sanskrit or Telugu originals afresh for this site. Neither R.T.H. Griffith, nor anyone else are sources for the translations presented anywhere in this site, unless explicitly mentioned as such. The Griffith translation here is a free translation and is not literal or word-for-word. Also, I favor a "from the source" approach in order to be close to the original. I seldom touch commentaries, even ancient ones, to present the subjects here, unless it is necessary. On occasion, the reader might find I deviate from common readings slightly. This will generally be because, I have, in my opinion, tried to remain as close to the original as possible.

In order to develop the themes and rationale of Tyagaraja further by touching upon the virtues of Rama, I have continued the commentary of the last song, than belabor a new one. This note on Rama pertains to all the songs on this site and helps to understand how Tyagaraja saw Rama in his mental image.

Extra Extra Comments
Your servant's grandfather left behind in manuscript, his very fine translation of the Ramayana. This remains as yet unpublished, mainly because I haven't gotten around to redacting it. He was my first Sanskrit teacher and though I was only a few years old at his passing, he remains an inspiration to me. The least one can do, is befit one's legacy and not belie it. 

On anonymity: I had comment that I had not named my grandfather above and any wish to preserve my privacy may not be offset by including just his name in tribute. This is true to a degree. However, as some readers who have corresponded with me know, I have retained anonymity here only because I am not yet sure of the final form the matter here- as book, newsprint, audiovisual or new media or just this website. I am also not sure if and when I will complete this venture as it is planned to run to over 3000 pages and cover not just Tyagaraja but music, Indian culture and Comparative Literature to the extent possible and meaningful, as suited for the modern reader,- a key consideration being that much literature written on these topics including Tyagaraja is either antiquated by now, or presumes a well informed and invested reader of a certain background or both, whereas my approach here makes no such assumptions of the reader. It is accessible to the modern reader of both kinds- those new to these subjects and to those well versed in it. Our purpose here, is not to just provide a compendium of all Tyagaraja songs or a selection. As the final form and extent are still unknown, I am also not actively promoting this website at various print and online forums. However, it has little to do with privacy and more to do with completeness. I do identify myself as needed, in correspondence I receive on this site. When the final form and extent of the content here is known, I will of course publicize as necessary, this website and any accompanying books or the like and affix my name to the whole as being the party responsible for all its shortcomings. I will at such time, identify my ancestor as well as those readers and fellow scholars and students of these subjects, who provided suggestions and insightful comments and the one or two who provided reference or other resources to aid in this work. Until such a time comes to pass, I don't think it is necessary to "name names".

An aside: This now comes to mind. Nirad C. Chaudhri, in his Continent of Circe, made the unfounded and hilarious suggestion, albeit in all seriousness, that Rama was a Persian prince and the siege of Ramayana happened on an island in ancient Persia.


Monday, April 26, 2010


Madhyamavati Raga , 22 Kharaharapriya janya
Aa: S R2 M1 P N2 S Av: S N2 P M1 R2 S
Taalam: Rupakam



alakalallalāḍaga kani
yarāṇmuniyeṭu poṅgenō

celuvu mīraganu
mārīcuni madamaṇacē vēḻa

muni kanu saika telisi
ṣiva dhanuvunu viricē samayamuna
tyāgarāja vinutuni mōmuna rañjillu

English verse:

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)


Friday, April 23, 2010

Mokshamu kalada

Raga Saraamati, 20 Natabhairavi janya
Aa: S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N2 S Av: S N2 D1 M1 G2 S



mōkśamu kaladā bhuvilō jīvanmuktulu gāni vāralaku (mōkśamu kaladā)

sākśātkāra nī sadbhakti saṅgītajñāna vihīnulaku (mōkśamu kaladā)

prāṇānala samyōgamu valla praṇava nādamu saptasvaramulai paraga
vīṇāvādana lōludau śiva manōvidhamerugaru tyāgarāja vinuta  (mōkśamu kaladā)

English verse:

Seek not to rise heavenward;
When bereft of love for the Maker,
And unwise of musical strains.
Salvation for the Freed, remains.

The first sound with fire finds,
The notes of the seven kinds;
O Lord, of this they know not,
Nor of the bliss Siva enjoys,
In the strings of His fancy;

And from You are ever barred.

This is another song where Tyagaraja extols "Music worship". The goal for the pious in Hinduism is salvation of the individual and merging with the Lord. It is not for example, eternal life in Paradise. This is Moksha. The Freed refers to Jivanmukhtas. They are liberated souls who have by virtuous deeds, expended their stock of Karma, or demerits accrued over their souls' previous manifestations. They are freed from the cycle of life and death and shall not be born again. Great souls who have attained the stage of Jivanmukhti will live out their normal lives. At the end of this life they will rise to heaven. In the Mahabharata and in works based on it, Jivamukthas are described as inhabiting a level of the heavens and shining as celestial bodies. Although a Jivanmuktha may be liberated from transmigration or the cycle of births, he may not yet be worthy of Moksha or eternal liberation and merging with the Lord. 

Prana is considered the life-breath, life-force or vitality of a living being. Anala, literally fire, in this song, but not always, signifies the energy or active force. In the human body, Anala is the fire of the gastric system or the digestive juice. Prana and Anala, together with the primordial sound generated by the mystic syllable, Om, are said to create the seven notes of the octave. "Strings of His fancy" refers to the veena. The allusion to Siva and a veena hearkens to various episodes where His devotees, including Ravana, the demon king, so pleased Siva with skillful veena play, that He bestowed upon them boons of limitless power. Rama is not directly mentioned, but it is He who is being invoked. Siva's association with music, Om and the Sama Veda are mentioned by Tyagaraja in several songs. 

The reader new to Hindu culture may find the practice of choosing a personal deity (ishta devata aradhana) as seen here, interesting. In Hindu praxis, as is consistent with the concept of Brahman, the Supreme Self being manifested as the various divinities and as all else, the faithful each choose a personal deity for daily worship in line with their antecedents and milieu. The personal deity, irrespective of the deity's position in the pantheon, then subsumes all attributes of all the gods and becomes the Great God in daily worship. Laymen might be far removed from the concept and pursuit of the Brahman in daily worship and solely identify themselves as devotees of Rama or Krishna or Shiva and so on but would not be fully correct as the manifestation of the Brahman as such, is a constantly upheld notion in Hindu scriptures. Thus, though according to Hindu lore, Rama was born a mortal, was only an incarnation of Vishnu, one of the Trinity, and certainly not equal to one of the Trinity, and prayed to Shiva on numerous occasions Himself, here and elsewhere, He is alluded to as the causer (correctly materialize) of the world and as a transcendent divinity, subsuming the functions of all others. This may seem inconsistent according to mythology at the outset, but it is certainly consistent with Hindu theology.  Interestingly, when western scholars started studying Hinduism in the 19th century, this practice caused some bewilderment among them.

Extra Comments:
The keen reader may note that in the verses, I have swapped the positions of the pallavi and anupallavi. However, the color coding should clarify the word and line order.

It is quite possible to see too much in this song, given the lofty reference to Moksha with which it starts and one or two authors have done this. However, in terms of the actual lyrics and sentiments in the song, it completely in line with other songs and has little novelty in this regard. However, as we do not know the exact order in which all the songs were composed, we cannot say if this song echoes others that are in this vein, or if other songs hold reflected light.

For the keen reader, many details on historicity, accuracy and rigor, as adopted in this site, are given in this essay.


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.


Friday, January 8, 2010

Our New Address:

I am glad to tell you that we have a new URL for this blog, that will be easier to remember and find. Please update your bookmarks and also tell your friends and family who read this blog or may be interested. The present URL will also work. In time, we plan to clean up this site and move it from blogger to our own servers. Hopefully, this day will come soon. Our new address is:
On Updates to the site: I have received a lot of emails asking why I am not updating the site regularly and am not posting new songs. Sadly, ill health and other professional troubles have prevented me from writing new material for some time. But, this website remains uppermost in my thoughts. The first chance I get, I will resume writing this site and will put our music archive online. Some readers have most kindly offered to help me, in the time I am unable to write. I am unable to avail of such help because of the nature of this site. The perspective of music I develop on this site is quite different. So, I have to write it to keep up the continuity of theme and coherence. Besides, it is most enjoyable to write this. I just hope I get some respite soon and am able to write extensively.


Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Ennadu Jutuno

Raga Kalavati , 15 Chakravaham janya
Aa: S R1 M1 P D2 S Av: S D2 P M1 G3 R1 S
Taalam: Adi



ennaḍu jūtunō? inakula tilaka!

pannagaśayana! bhaktajanāvana!
punnama candurubōlu mukhamunu

dharaṇijā saumitri bharata ripughna vānarayūdhapativaruḍāñjanēyuḍu
karuṇanu okarikokaru varṇimpa
nādaraṇanu bilicē ninu, tyagarajārccita!

English verse:

When ever will I see You, when?
Finest of the sun-kings! When?

Reclined on the great snake,
You tend to Your flock's sake.
The bright full moon's wake,
Your visage shall soon atake.

In Your retinue, each sings
Of all that Your grace brings,
As kindly You draw each to Your side,
My worshipful Lord, glory betide!

The context of this song, in popular legend, is Tyagaraja's desperate search for the missing idol of Rama. The idol of Rama with Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, that was part of his daily worship, went missing one day in his middle age. In common legend, this is held to be the handiwork of his jealous brother. Tyagaraja lapsed into a state of shock, fearing that he had been deserted by his beloved Rama as punishment for some unknown trespass. In the months that followed, before he retrieved the idol from the banks of the Cauvery, came an outpouring of many of his most moving songs, as he pleaded with Rama to reveal Himself and not torture his devotee so. This song is one of the finest from that period and among the most moving of all of Tyagaraja's lyric poetry. The simple familiarity with which he begins, "When ever will I see You?", is most direct and most touching. It clearly conveys the theme that he was once one with Rama, and though removed from Him now, shall some day reunite with Him; there is neither doubt nor distance, only hope held for some remote day. Cf. with the notion in the hymn, Amazing Grace:
    "I once was lost but now am found.
    Was Blind but now I see."
It is true that great many questions are raised about the historicity of many of the events popularly attributed to Tyagaraja. This song however, due to its power, seems to be, by itself, proof that Tyagaraja might well have lost his Rama, agonized long and eventually found Him again.

The slow and soft plaintive notes to which he has set the underlying melody, most naturally fit the lyrics and its situation. Few other choices could have existed. Due to its simplicity and appropriateness, I have even wondered if he might have just burst forth into the song and much later, worried about the musical structure he had given. Emotion might well have preceded method, much in the tradition of lyric poetry.

About the verses: I have mirrored the simplicity of the original lyrics in my verses. The only thing to note is "Rama's retinue". In most iconic representations of Rama with His retinue, Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman are included. Here, Sugriva, king of the apes, Bharata and Shatrughna are also mentioned among the retinue. Incidentally, one of the icons of Tyagaraja's daily worship, is still preserved by some of his descendants, in the southern city of Thanjavur.

What makes a poet, one? As the legend goes, Tyagaraja felt that Rama, displeased with his service, had walked out of his home in anger. Penitence and plea filled Tyagaraja as he desperately searched for Rama and his outpouring showed a poet's extraordinary sentiment and sensitivity. This fineness of vision is not given to all. It is the sole preserve of the poet. A poet, one may say, sees the world very differently. It is far more panoramic to him.
There is depth, color, beauty and reason to every speck and sparkle a poet sees. And so, we find Tyagaraja missing his Rama and seeing Him with His retinue, vividly in his mind's eye. Another would merely have had another idol made and invested it for worship the next day, as customs demand that a family icon must be replaced immediately. But, no, not to Tyagaraja. It is this gift of a unique vision, that empowers a poet with creativity and spontaneity.

Yet, there are times when even the most ethereally inclined poet, realizes that some in his audience might be of different turn of mind, and chained to the mundane.
He then finds the need to reconcile the world as he sees it, with the colorless world that others without the gift of poetic vision and sensitivity, might see, for only when it reaches them too, can he really trumpet the transcendence of his art.

A comparative study: We have seen that Tyagaraja's songs often reflect how far away and above the world he was. Yet, here is a case where Kalidasa, the king of poets, wants to reconcile with the mundane and justify himself. One of the finest poems in Sanskrit, and indeed, in all of world literature, is his Meghadutam or "The Cloud Messenger". It contains some of the finest imagery ever written by man. Meghadutam tells the tale of a Yaksha (a celestial being akin to a demigod, who typically serves Kubera, the god of wealth), who has been exiled from the Yaksha city of Alakapuri in the Himalayas to the south of the country. He is separated from his beloved who is in Alakapuri, and convinces a passing cloud to carry a profession of his lasting love to her. Realizing it to be a beautiful but very unique conception, Kalidasa finds the need to justify himself. How can such a thing as a message carrying cloud be? From the first canto of Megadhutam:

    dhūmajyotiḥ salilamarutāṁ sannipātaḥ kva meghaḥ |
    saṁdeśārthāḥ kva paṭukaraṇaiḥ prāṇibhiḥ prāpaṇīyāḥ ||

    ityautsukyādaparigaṇayanguhyakastaṁ yayāce|
    kāmārtā hi prakṛutikṛupaṇaścetanācetaneṣu||

    Whither a cloud,- a mess of lightning, water and wind! Whither the meaningful message of an articulate being!

    Yet, with immeasurable anxiety did the Yaksha beseech the cloud. Verily, only the lovelorn fail to differentiate between the sentient and the insentient!

And so, we learn that it is not the poet who is flighty in making a messenger out of a cloud! No, it is his lovelorn subject who enlists the cloud. It is the Yaksha's fault! It is the fault of love itself.

Many such accounts of extraordinary messengers of love exist in Sanskrit literature. For example, in the older Mahabharata, Nala and Damayanti had a swan for a messenger. There were several imitations of the Meghadutam itself in the centuries that followed.

Extra Comments:
I am sorry for the long absence. It was triggered by acute illness and computer and other problems. But I simply couldn't resist writing something on the occasion of the Tyagaraja Aradahana at Tiruvaiyyar.

This post is dedicated to reader Karthik S., who sent some rousing comments from Gandhigram. We do get notes of appreciation and congratulations off and on, but none has been as profuse or as uplifting. It is always a pleasure to write for the discerning reader. His comments prompted me to write today about poets and their unique ways. Here are the gentleman's comments:

" I read your blog and I must say that I am a fan of yours. You have a deep knowledge of Western and Indian poets. I am reminded of Tilak's great work Gita Rahasya wherein which he effortlessly brings the work of Spencer, Mill and Kant and other Western philosophers to match with the Eastern philosophy of Vyasa, Valmiki, and other vedic seers.

Also you possess a poet's heart which makes the reading even more fantastic. The joy that you must have felt when translating his work should be unmatched and need no other trophies for it. May Sri Rama who gave such an ecstcasy to Sri Thyagaraja and Mahatma Gandhi (I am currently on the banks of Sabharmati, very near the Ashram sanctified by his feet - Ahmedabad) bless you ! "

He continued in another email:

"Was very happy to hear that your guru had been at the ashram and even also a freedom fighter. I am eagerly looking forward to your write up on Bhaja Govindam and MSS. I believe that your writings are simple and beautiful, very soon you will get a publisher and great reception for your writings... As you have included Mahakavi's work on the blog, similarly I am looking forward to read all the great Indian writings from Kabir's Andar Ram, Bahar Ram jahan deko vahan Ram to Appar's Kunitha puruvammum , Kovai Sevvayum !

Please continue your service, it's a great contribution to Indian Literature !
Dorakuna ituvanti seva !"

Thank you Karthik S., and to others who wrote. Thank you all, and do keep writing.