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.



  1. That comment brought me a chuckle. I respect the visitor's comment, and say why not, but I never thought Cliff Notes was one direction for this site to develop towards.

  2. An anonymous reader asked this: (rephrased for clarity)

    The word hrdayagra in the last charanam is different in your text. It is given differently in the main text books.

    "śrītyāgarājuni hṛdayāgra rāma!"

  3. Well, I am aware that I have differed from a couple of books. hṛdayāgra is a Sanskrit word, that means "close to my heart" or "next to my heart". It means Rama is always in Tyagaraja's heart here. It is a loanword in Telugu and in the particular path it followed in the loan, it retained its form. So, this version, which is a correction of common texts, is more appropriate.

    There are several such changes that one may find through out this site. I take a good balance of academic rigor and commonsense in choosing to subscribe to one version or the other. If someone makes a better case for another version, I would certainly revise myself. Some special cases like the k and g in transliterations are discussed in the introductory pages to both this site and the book form. However, I try to remain consistent.

  4. Here is a comment from a reader:

    'Sri Tyaagaraaja hridayaagaara!' (as a samaasa) and as sambodhana) seems to be more apt, compared to 'hridayaagra'. The former means 'dwelling plce', whereas 'agra' indicates 'treating as most important'. Moreover, this 'aagara' rhymes better than 'agra' with the word 'saagara' of the earlier line. - K. Satya Rama Prasad

    Now, as indicated in the previous comment, there are different versions of this line. As symmetry in rhyming is the simplest possible notion, I am inclined to agree with this comment. The trouble is, back when I was writing the commentary for this song, I couldn't corroborate hrdayaagara in our primay lyric sources, and could only corroborate hrdayagra, and gave only this text here.

  5. Sikkil Gurucharan's rendition of this song in the album Soulful Ragas is by far the best. Its a must listen!

  6. Can you plz share carnatic notation for this song.

    1. Please send an email and we'll send it you privately. It is not correct to post directly from some textbook on to this site. We don't have our own version for it, so we can't post it here....