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ನೆನ್ನೆ ಬಸವ ಜಯಂತಿ ಅನ್ನುವುದರ ಮೇಲೆ ಇವತ್ತು ಧ್ಯಾನ ಬಂದಿತು. ಕೆಲವು ತಿಂಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ ಬಸವಣ್ಣನ ವಚನವೊಂದರ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯವನ್ನು ಬಳಸಿ ನಾನು ರಚಿಸಿದ ವರ್ಣವೊಂದನ್ನು ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಕೊಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇನೆ.

ನಾಗಸ್ವರಾವಳಿ ರಾಗದಲ್ಲಿ ನಾನು ರಚಿಸಿದ ಒಂದು ವರ್ಣ, ಬಸವಣ್ಣನವರ ವಚನದ ಸಾಹಿತ್ಯದೊಂದಿಗೆ

If you do not read Kannada, here is the notation for the Varna in English:

-neelanjana

Today is Basava Jayanti – The birthday of Bhakti Bhandari Basavanna.

Basavanna is one of Karnataka’s earliest social reformers – and his writings are known as vachanas (sayings). There is a very strong likelyhood that the later day haridAsas of Karnataka were influenced by the vachanas of Basavanna and others of the 12th century.

Here are some of my favorite vachanas written by Basavanna, with some of my own very rudimentary translation :)

The first one tells about the desperation and longing Basavanna had for Shiva, the lord of kUDala sangama ( A place in Karnataka, where river malaprabha joins river krishna).

ಚಕೋರಂಗೆ ಚಂದ್ರಮನ ಬೆಳಕಿನ ಚಿಂತೆ
ಅಂಬುಜಕೆ ಭಾನುವಿನ ಉದಯದ ಚಿಂತೆ
ಭ್ರಮರಂಗೆ ಪರಿಮಳದ ಬಂಡುಂಬ ಚಿಂತೆ
ಎನಗೆ ಎನ್ನ ಕೂಡಲಸಂಗಮದೇವನ ನೆನೆವುದೆ ಚಿಂತೆ!

The partridge bird
worries about moonlight
The lotus flower
worries about the sunrise
The bee only worries
about drinking fragrant nector
My only worry is to be
reminiscing about you
Oh my lord of kUDala sangama!

Watch Dr Vasundhara Doreswamy dance to this vachana (Pandanallur stlyle of Bharatanatya). The haunting chakravAka / Ahir Bhairav raaga greatly accents the mood of this vachana.

The second vachana talks about the likes and dislikes of his lord Shiva:

ನಾದಪ್ರಿಯ ಶಿವನೆಂಬರು ನಾದಪ್ರಿಯ ಶಿವನಲ್ಲ
ವೇದಪ್ರಿಯ ಶಿವನೆಂಬರು ವೇದಪ್ರಿಯ ಶಿವನಲ್ಲ
ನಾದವ ಮಾಡಿದ ರಾವಣಂಗೆ ಅರೆಯಾಯುಷವಾಯ್ತು
ವೇದವನೋದಿದ ಬ್ರಹ್ಮನ ಶಿರಹೋಯ್ತು
ನಾದಪ್ರಿಯನೂ ಅಲ್ಲ ವೇದಪ್ರಿಯನೂ ಅಲ್ಲ
ಭಕ್ತಿಪ್ರಿಯ ನಮ್ಮ ಕೂಡಲಸಂಗಮದೇವ!

They say Shiva loves music;
No, he doesn’t.
They say Shiva loves the learned;
No, He doesn’t.
Ravana, who made wonderful music
did not lead a full life.
Brahma, who learnt all the Vedas,
had to lose his head.
Neither is he fond of music
Nor is he fond of the Vedas
Our good lord of kUDala sangama,
is fond of devotion!

Those who know the composition of Purandara dAsa : kELanO hari tALano, can’t but fail to notice the similarity between the two.

Listen to this vachana here: nAdapriya SivaneMbaru

The third one goes even further. Basavanna calls his body as the temple where Shiva dwells.

ಉಳ್ಳವರು ಶಿವಾಲಯವ ಮಾಡುವರು
ನಾನೇನು ಮಾಡಲಿ ಬಡವನಯ್ಯ?
ಎನ್ನ ಕಾಲೇ ಕಂಬ ದೇಹವೆ ದೇಗುಲ
ಶಿರವೇ ಹೊನ್ನ ಕಳಸವಯ್ಯ!
ಕೂಡಲಸಂಗಮ ದೇವ ಕೇಳಯ್ಯ
ಸ್ಥಾವರಕ್ಕಳಿವುಂಟು ಜಂಗಮಕ್ಕಳಿವಿಲ್ಲ!

Rich build temples for Shiva
What can I, a poor man, do?
My legs are pillars
My body is the temple
My head makes the golden cupola
Oh, Lord of kUDala sangama
The standing will perish
The moving will stay on.

Watch Nachiketa Sharma sing uLLavaru shivAlayava mADuvaru, in rAga madhuvanti:

I will end with another of Basavanna’s vachana that deals with music.

ಎನ್ನ ಕಾಯವ ದಂಡಿಗೆಯ ಮಾಡಯ್ಯ
ಎನ್ನ ಶಿರವ ಸೋರೆಯ ಮಾಡಯ್ಯ
ಎನ್ನ ನರಗಳ ತಂತಿಯ ಮಾಡಯ್ಯ
ಬತ್ತೀಸ ರಾಗವ ಹಾಡಯ್ಯ
ಉರದಲೊತ್ತಿ ಬಾರಿಸು ಕೂಡಲಸಂಗಮದೇವ!

And here is the tranlation:

Make my body the fretboard,
Make my head resonator
Make my nerves into the strings
Sing those thirtytwo rAgas
Play intensely
Oh the lord of kUDala sangama!

I could not find a link for the audio or video. If you happen to know a link, please pass it on!

And, if you are keen on reading more vachanas, but do not know kannaDa, here is your best bet – A collection of vachanas tranlated in English by Prof A K Ramanujam: Speaking of Siva

-neelanjana

Whenever I listen to certain Indian flautists (like Hariprasad Chaurasia or S Shashank),  I hear a thur-thur-thur sound in the way they blow.  This normally happens at the drut – or fast phrases. I have no better way of  describing it!   Listen to this short recording of Hariprasad Chaurasia on youtube. You can distinctly hear the sound I am indicating by the phrase thur-thur-thur at several places. As just couple of examples, I would mark around the the  2 min 25 second, and 5 min 6 second  mark, just to tell you what I am talking about.

I was thinking this was a  novelty of some flautists (because I don’t think every flautist uses such a technique).  That was only till I came across a song  that was written more than five centuries ago! Oh boy, How wrong our inferences could be!

This is a song written by Purandara Dasa, acknowledged as a pioneer in Karnataka Sangeetha. The title of this blog happens to be the opening line (pallavi) of one of his songs. It goes like

tutturu toorendu battisa raagagaLannu chittaja janaka tanna koLalallUdidanu

“Krishna, the father of Manmatha,  played 32 raagas on his flute with a sound of ‘thur-thur-thur’

Now do you see why I said this technique could not be all that new? Krishna is described by Purandara as playing his flue this way. Nobody has seen Krishna playing his flute. But Purandara must have see other flautists around his time ( 1480 AD – 1564 AD) producing such sounds on their flutes, and this of course, he has attributed to Krishna. So far so good.

But this song is also significant in other ways. Purandara dasa is said to have composed hundreds of thousands of compositions. Now, we have just over a thousand of his compositions available. Although Purandara Dasa is called as the “pitAmaha of Karnataka sangIta”, most of his original tunes are lost.  There is pretty little information available on how many of his compositions were sung. However, being the musician he was, some of his compositions talk about various musical aspects, although indirectly.  And this song, tutturu toorendu, is one of them.

For a long time, Indian music was supposed to have 32 major rAgas. This has showed up even prior to Purandara dAsa. Basavanna, a social reformer from Karnataka (1134-1196 AD) has this in one of his vachanas (saying):

ಎನ್ನ ಕಾಯವ ದಂಡಿಗೆಯ ಮಾಡಯ್ಯ
ಎನ್ನ ಶಿರವ ಸೋರೆಯ ಮಾಡಯ್ಯ
ಎನ್ನ ನರಗಳ ತಂತಿಯ ಮಾಡಯ್ಯ
ಬತ್ತೀಸ ರಾಗವ ಹಾಡಯ್ಯ
ಉರದಲೊತ್ತಿ ಬಾರಿಸು ಕೂಡಲಸಂಗಮದೇವ!

Here is the text transliterated:

enna kAyava daMDigeya mADayya
enna shirava sOreya mADayya
enna naragaLa tantiya mADayya
battIsa rAgava hADayya
uradalotti bArisu kUDalasangama dEva

And here it is translated:

Make my body the fretboard,
Make my head resonator
Make my nerves into the strings
Sing thirtytwo rAgas
Play intensely, Oh koodalasangama dEva*!

* : Koodala sangama – A place at the confluence of Krishna and Malaprabha rivers in Karnataka.

It is the same 32 raagas which Purandara dasa refers to in this song “tutturu toorendu’ too. – “Krishna played 32 rAgas”. (battIs = 32).  However, he does not list out all the 32 raagas in this song. How unfortunate for us?

First lets see what he says in one of the stanzas of tutturu toorendu:

ಗೌಳ ನಾಟಿ ಆಹೇರಿ ಗುರ್ಜರಿ ಮಾಳವಿ ಸಾರಂಗ ರಾಗ ಕೇಳಿ ರಮಣಿಯರತಿ ದೂರದಿಂದ

ಫಲಮಂಜರಿ ಗೌಳಿ ದೇಶಾಕ್ಷಿ ರಾಗಗಳನು ನಳಿನನಾಭನು ತನ್ನ ಕೊಳಲಲೂದಿದನು

gouLa nATi AhEri gurjari mALavi sAranga  rAga kELi ramaNiyarati dUradinda
phalamanjari gauLi dEshAkSi rAgangaLanu naLinanAbhanu tanna koLalalUdidanu

“When the maidens from listening from afar, the one with a lotus in his navel, played raagas like gouLa, nATi, AhEri, gurjari, mALavi, sAranga, phalamanjari, gouLi and dEshAkShi”

So, we have the following  9 distinct rAgas listed in this song. However, it falls  short of the required 32!

1. gouLa
2. nATi
3. AhEri
4. gurjari
5. mALavi
6. sAranga
7. phalamanjari
8. gouLi
9. dEshakshi

Luckily for us,  there are at least two other songs (that I know of) in which he lists out some of the raagas (melodies) that were vouge in his time.

Here is a stanza from another song that starts as ನಳಿನಜಾಂಡ ತಲೆಯ ತೂಗಿ – “naLinajANDa taleya toogi”:

ಮಾರವಿ ದೇಶಿ ಗುರ್ಜರಿ ಭೈರವಿ ಗೌಳಿ ನಾಟಿ ಸಾವೇರಿ ಆಹೇರಿ ಪೂರ್ವಿ 
ಕಾಂಭೋಜಿ ಪಾಡಿ ದೇಶಾಕ್ಷೀ ಶಂಕರಾಭರಣ ಮಾಳವ
ವರಾಳಿ ಕಲ್ಯಾಣಿ ತೋಡಿ ಮುಖಾರಿಯರಳಿ ವಸಂತ ಬೌಳಿ ಧನ್ಯಾಸಿ
ಸೌರಾಷ್ಟ್ರ ಗುಂಡಕ್ರಿಯ ರಾಮಕ್ರಿಯ ಮೇಘ ಕುರಂಜಿಯು ಪಾಡಲು ನೋಡಿ!

mAravi dEshi gurjari bhairavi gauLi nATi sAvEri AhEri pUrvi 
kAmbhOji pADi dEshAkSi shankarAbharaNa mALava 
varALi kalyANi tODi mukhAriyaraLi vasanta bauLi dhanyAsi 
saurASTra guMDakriya rAmakriya mEgha kuranjiyu pADalu nODi

Now, let me list out the rAgas from here, discounting the ones that have been listed before:

10. mAravi
11. dEshi
gurjari
12. bhairavi
gouLi
nATi
13. sAvEri
AhEri
14. pUrvi
15. kAmbhOji
16. pADi
dEshAkshi
17. shankarAbharaNa
18. mALava
19. varALi
20. kalyANi
21. tODi
22. mukhAri
23. vasanta
24. bouLi
25. dhanyAsi
26. sourAShTra
27. guMDakriya
28. rAmakriya
29. mEgha
30. kuranji

Whew! We are so close to the magical number 32!

Now, to conclude, here is a stanza from the last song – which starts as ಅಂಗನೆಯರೆಲ್ಲರು ನೆರೆದು – ’anganeyarellaru neredu’

ಪಾಡಿ ಮಲಹರಿ ಭೈರವಿ ಸಾರಂಗ ದೇಶಿ ಗುಂಡಕ್ರಿಯ ಗುರ್ಜರಿ ಕಲ್ಯಾಣಿ ರಾಗದಿ ತಂಡ
ತಂಡದಲಿ ನೆರೆದು ರಂಗನ ಉಡಿಯ ಘಂಟೆ ಘಣ್ ಘಣ್ ಘಣ್ ಘಣಿರೆಂದು ಹಿಡಿದು ಕುಣಿಸುವರು

pADi malhAri bhairavi sAranga dEsi guMDakriya gurjari kalyANi rAgadi taMDa
taMadali neredu rangana uDiya ghaNTe ghaN ghaN ghaN ghNirendu hiDidu kuNisuvaru

If you look carefully, you’ll notice there is only one name that has not appeared before.

31. Malahari

So, the internal evidence from these compositions is giving a list of 31 rAgas (probably out of the legendary 32 – this is but my speculation) that were in vogue in the 15th-16th centuries. The set of 32 rAgas was not a static list, and over the centuries, new rAgas gained popularity, and some went outdated. The evidence from these three compositions also shows that the rAga kalyANi, was adopted by composers like Purandara Dasa , although the text writers continued to shoo it away because of its foreign origins, and kept saying that the rAga is not fit for compositions for another two centuries!

But the golden rule in Music is “If it is melodious, it stays“. Kalyani has passed the test of time. Composers who came in the 18th-19th centuries explored all facets of this rAga, and today it has became one of the major rAgas of Karnataka Sangeetha .

-neelanjana

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Ramaprasad K V

Ramaprasad K V

ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ. Musicphile. Bibliophile. Astrophile. Blogophile. Twitterphile.

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