Saturday, June 28, 2008

Vallamai Tharaayo

My interest in tamil poetry stems primarily out of Bharatiyaar lyrics I learnt as songs that my Sir expained beautifully in trying to make us feel "it" and express the emotion when we sang them.
Hampered greatly by my limited knowledge of the literary style of the language (some will argue that my spoken style isn't great shakes either....though I vehemently disagree!), I find that other stuff takes me forever to comprehend.
Anyway, I am going to rave in this post about one of Bharatiyaar's most famous songs, engraved in the collective conscience of tamil movie audiences by a despodent looking Kamal Hassan singing it in Varumaiyin niram sigappu. Nalladhir Veenai seidhe is a wonderful song that is essentially devotional. Bharathi asks the goddess Sivasakthi to grant him some "things" and what is most striking is not just the "things" he asks for but the tone , which is almost as if he demands that she give him what he is asking for.
nalladhor veenai seidhe - adhai
nalam keda puzhidhiyil erivadhundo ?
solladi sivasakthi - ennai sudarmigum
arivudan padaithuvittai
Having made a beatiful Veena-
would you throw it to dust and let it rot?
Tell me oh Sivasakthi-
Why have you bestowed me with sparkling wisdom?
vallamai thaaraayo - intha
maanilam payanura vaazhvatharke
solladi sivasakthi -
nilachumayena vaazhnthida puriguvayo ?
Give (me) skill so this society
may live a fruitful life
Would you rather, Oh Sivasakthi ,
that they spent it being a burden to the land they tread?
visaiyaru pandhinai pol - ullam
vendiyapadi sellum udal kaettenn
asaiyuru manam ketten - nitham
navamena sudar tharum uyir kaetten
I ask for a body that does the bidding of my soul
much like a ball
I ask for a clean heart and a spirit that is kindled
anew each day
dasayinai thee chudinum
siva sakthiyai paadum nal agam kaeten
asaivaru mathi kaetten - ivai
arulvathil unakkaethum thadaiyullatho ?
I ask to be able to sing your praise
in the most difficult times (when my skin is on fire)
I ask for unshakeable wisdom
Tell me Oh sivasakthi- what stops you from bestowing on me all this?
I love how it starts...ok I love it all. The imagery is so powerful and I think thats what makes most of his poetry so inspirational. Here its almost as if he is chiding the Goddess. He says - Does it make any sense to you that someone would put all that energy into crafting this beautiful Veena and then just throw it in dust? Well if that doesn't make sense to you then all this energy you have put into creating this beatiful Veena that is the human form is a waste if you don't also give me all these other things. Without them , my existence is a burden on this land.
And then after a long list of things he wants, in one sentence he summarises the pride he feels in this human form, the admiration he feels for the almighty that crafted it and his perception of the enormity and omniscient presence of this entity when he says "What stops you from granting me all this?" meaning that while all this will enhance my already beautiful form so that I will also be useful to myself and others....I don't see how you could have missed my creator, you who knows everything and you, for who this new list of demands is not a big deal.
While higher being like Bharathi have more abstract demands, all I am asking for at this point is the will to keep awake and not goof off :)