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Balamukundashtakam is a collection of 8 Samskrta shlokas that describe some episodes from the childhood of Krishna. Although the first of the eight shlokas is found in Bilwamangala’s (also called Leelashuka) work Krishnakarnamrta, the rest of the shokas are not to be found there. I’m not aware if there is a agreement on the authorship of this work. Anyway, the ashTaka is very attractive, to say the least.
Here is the text in dEvanAgari script:
करारविन्देन पदारविन्दं मुखारविन्दे विनिवेशयन्तम् ।
वटस्य पत्रस्य पुटे शयानं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥१॥
संहृत्य लोकान्वटपत्रमध्ये शयानमाद्यन्तविहीनरूपम् ।
सर्वेश्वरं सर्वहितावतारं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥२॥
इन्दीवरश्यामलकोमलांगं इन्द्रादिदेवार्चितपादपद्मम् ।
सन्तानकल्पद्रुममाश्रितानां बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥३॥
लम्बालकं लम्बितहारयष्टिं शृंगारलीलांकितदन्तपङ्क्तिम् ।
बिंबाधरं चारुविशालनेत्रं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥४॥
शिक्ये निधायाद्यपयोदधीनि बहिर्गतायां व्रजनायिकायाम् ।
भुक्त्वा यथेष्टं कपटेन सुप्तं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥५॥
कलिन्दजान्तस्थितकालियस्य फणाग्ररंगे नटनप्रियन्तम् ।
तत्पुच्छहस्तं शरदिन्दुवक्त्रं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥६॥
उलूखले बद्धमुदारशौर्यं उत्तुंगयुग्मार्जुन भंगलीलम् ।
उत्फुल्लपद्मायत चारुनेत्रं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥७॥
आलोक्य मातुर्मुखमादरेण स्तन्यं पिबन्तं सरसीरुहाक्षम् ।
सच्चिन्मयं देवमनन्तरूपं बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि ॥८॥
The shokas are notable for the extra-ordinary lilting quality, that makes even a simple reading of it makes you feel like you’re listening to a song! Such a delicate structure, does not make it an easy target for translation, and it is hard for any translation to make full justice to the original.
Anyway, I had made an attempt to translate this ashTaka into Kannada a while ago. I see a translation as a means for someone who doesn’t understand the original to get some familiarity and exposure. That translation features in my book Hamsanada as well.
Recently I made a renewed attempt to update the translation to follow metrical rules, thanks to Padyapaana – and here is the result. It is set in choupadi meter (4 liners):
ಕೈಯ ತಾವರೆಯಿಂದ ಕಾಲದಾವರೆಯನ್ನು
ಬಾಯ ತಾವರೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇರಿಸಿದವನ
ಮಾಯದಾ ಶಿಶು ಆಲದೆಲೆ ಮೇಲೆ ಪವಡಿಸಿದೆ-
ಳೆಯ ಮುಕುಂದನ ನಾನು ನೆನೆವೆನಿಂದು ||೧||
ಜಗಗಳನೆ ಕೊನೆಗೊಳಿಸಿ ಆಲದೆಲೆ ಮೇಗಡೆ ಮ-
ಲಗಿಹಂಥ ಕೊನೆಮೊದಲು ಇಲ್ಲದವನ
ಮಗುಮುಕುಂದನ ನಾನು ನೆನೆವೆ ಮನದಿ ||೨||
ಕನ್ನೈದಿಲೆಯ ನೀಲ ಕೋಮಲಾಂಗದ ಹರಿಯ
ಮುನ್ನ ಇಂದ್ರಾದಿಗಳ ಪೂಜೆವಡೆದ
ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ಆಸರೆಯಲಿಹರನ್ನು ಕಾಯ್ವಂಥ
ಚಿನ್ನ ಕಂದನ ನಾನು ನೆನೆವೆ ಮನದಿ ||೩||
ಮುಂಗುರಳಲೆಸೆಯುವನ ಸರಗಳಲಿ ಮೆರೆಯುವನ
ಸಿಂಗರದಿ ಮೂಡಿರುವ ಸುಲಿಪಲ್ಲ ಚೆಲುವ
ತೊಂಡೆತುಟಿಯಲಿ ಕೊಳಲ ನಾದವನು ತುಂಬಿರುವ
ಚಂದಚನ್ನಿಗ ಮುಕುಂದನ್ನ ನೆನೆವೆ ||೪||
ಚೆಲುವೆ ಗೋಪಿಯರೆಲ್ಲ ಮನೆಹೊರಗೆ ಹೋಗಿರಲು
ನಿಲುವಿನಲಿ ಹಾಲ್ಬೆಣ್ಣೆ ಮೊಸರೆಲ್ಲವನ್ನು
ಸುಳಿವು ಬಿಡದೆಲೆ ತಿಂದು ಕಪಟದಲಿ ಮಲಗಿರುವ
ಖಳನಿವನ ಮುಕುಂದನನೀಗ ನೆನೆವೆ || ೫||
ಕಾಳಿ ಯಮುನೆಯೊಳಗಡಗಿರುತಿದ್ದ ಕಾಳಿಯನ
ಏಳುಹೆಡೆಗಳ ಮೇಲೆ ಕುಣಿಯುತ್ತಲವನ
ಬಾಲವನು ಹಿಡಿದವನ ಚಂದಿರನ ಮೊಗದವನ
ಬಾಲಕನ ಮುಕುಂದನ ನಾನು ನೆನೆವೆ || ೬ ||
ಒರಳುಕಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಬಿಗಿದು ಕಟ್ಟಿರಲು ಶೌರಿಯಿವ
ಅರಳಿರುವ ಕಮಲ ಹೂದಳದಗಲ ಕಣ್ಣಿರುವ
ಪೋರನಿವ ಮುಕುಂದನ ನಾನು ನೆನೆವೆ ||೭||
ಮೊಲೆಹಾಲ ಕುಡಿಯುತಲಿ ತಾಯಮೊಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಂ-
ಡೆಳೆನಗುವ ನೋಡುತಿಹ ಕಮಲಾಕ್ಷನ
ಅಳವಿರದ ಮೊದಲುಕೊನೆಯಿಲ್ಲದಿಹ ಚಿನ್ಮಯನ
ಎಳೆಯನ್ನ ಮುಕುಂದನ ಮನದಿ ನೆನೆವೆ ||೮||
While in the original ashTaka, all the shlokas end with the same pAda – बालं मुकुन्दं मनसा स्मरामि – in the translation they are all changed but in line with the rest of the content of the shloka. Otherwise, I have tried to be follow the original as much as possible.
Your comments & feedback welcome!
Rajyotsava. Novermber 1st. A day no Kannadiga would forget. Last year, on Rajyotsava, I posted this video of Vidwan Ragavan Manian singing a varna in Kannada language that I composed. That varna had the sAhitya taken from a well known vacana of Basavanna – ನಾದಪ್ರಿಯ ಶಿವನೆಂಬರು. You can click here for the notation of that varNa in rAga nAgaswarAvaLi.
This year too, I am posting another composition of mine which I did a while ago, since it has gone through some “quality testing”! This too is a varna with lyrics in Kannada. No audio or video this time, because I don’t have one worthy of posting :-).
This varNa in rAga Madhuvanti, and set to Adi tALa. And, this time, the sAhitya lines are mine, although indirectly, they are inspired by a shloka of Bilvamangala in his classic Krishna Karnamrta.
Varnas generally have very limited sAhitya, and often have romantic themes. This one is also not an exception, and you could think the lines as being said by one gopika girl of Gokula to another.
ಗೋಕುಲವೆಲ್ಲಾ ಕೊಳಲಿನ ಇನಿದನಿಯಲಿ ತುಂಬಿದನೇ ||
gOkulavellA koLalina inidaniyali tumbidanE
(Translation: He filled Gokula with the melodies his flute)
ಅನುಪಲ್ಲವಿ: ಆಕಳ ಮಂದೆಯ ಕಾಯುತ ಗೋಪಿಯರ ತಾನು ಗೆಲಿದನೇ || ಗೋಕುಲವೆಲ್ಲಾ||
AkaLa mandeya kAyuta gOpiyarellare gelidanE
(Translation: The cowherd, won over the hearts of all gopis)
ಚರಣ: ಮಾತೇ ಮಧುವಂತಿದೆ! ಸಖೀ, ಇವನ || ಮಾತೇ||
mAtE madhuvantide! sakhi ! ivana || mAte||
(Translation: His speech is like honey! Oh my dear!)
The charaNa line was totally my imagination, to include rAga name “madhuvanti”
Here is the notation of the Varna for those interested:
A-Varna-in-Madhuvanti (Kannada version)
A-Varna-in-Madhuvanti (Notation in English)
Today is January 6th – Tyagaraja attained Samadhi at Tiruvaiyyaru 163 years ago this day.
Sort of to keep the tradition, I translated a kriti of Tyagaraja on this special day. You can see my earlier translations in the following links:
The composition I chose for translation is a somewhat less-heard one, set in the raga called Sruti Ranjani. Tyagaraja was indeed a great innovator, and experimented with new melodies. He was the first composer to use hundreds of raagas, that were not known before his time. Sruthi Ranjani is one such raga. A different version of this composition in a very close rAga called Kantamani is also available. Often such different versions have sprung up in different lineages of students of Tyagaraja.
Here is the original sAhitya – Thanks to V Govindan’s wonderful Tyagaraja resource:
E dAri sancarinturA ika palkarA
SrI-d(A)di madhy(A)nta rahita
sItA samEta guN(A)kara nEn(E dAri)
anni tAn(a)nu mArgamuna canaga
nannu vIDanu bhAram(a)ni(y)ADedavu
nannu brOvu dAsa varadA(y)aNTE ( alternately, nannu brOvu rA sadA yanTE as sung in the link below)
dvaituD(a)nedavu tyAgarAja nuta (E dAri)
You can listen to the composition here.
Here is a translation in Kannada. As with my earlier translations, I have tried to keep the sing-ability of the composition :
ಆವ ದಾರಿಯ ಹಿಡಿಯಲೋ? ಒಮ್ಮೆ ನುಡಿಯೋ! ನಾ ||ನಾವ ದಾರಿಯ ಹಿಡಿಯಲೋ||
ಸಿರಿಯೀವ ! ಕೊನೆ-ನಡು-ಮೊದಲಿರದ
ಸೀತೆಯೊಡನಾಡಿ ಗುಣದ ಗಣಿ ನಾನಾ ||ವ ದಾರಿಯ ಹಿಡಿಯಲೋ ||
ನನ್ನಲೇ ಎಲ್ಲವೂ ಇಹುದು ಎನಲು
ಎನ್ನ ಸಲಹ ಬಾರೋ ಎಂದೆನ್ನಲು
ನಿನ್ನೇ ಬಿಟ್ಟೆ ಎನುವೆ!** ತ್ಯಾಗರಾಜನುತ || ಆವ ದಾರಿಯ ಹಿಡಿಯಲೋ ||
In this composition, Tyagaraja asks Lord Rama to show the best path to reach him. If he followed the Advaita doctrine that preaches oneness with the Almighty, then Rama might say Tyagaraja has not still come out of the state of self-pride. On the other hand, if he followed the Dvaita doctrine (dualistic), then Rama might say that Tyagaraja has separated from him. So, either way, Tyagaraja thinks he is in trouble, and asks Rama to show him the right path.
As I was reading a subhAshita toady, I was stuck by the resemblance between that verse and a vacana of Akka Mahadevi, a Kannada poet-saint from 12th century.
Here is the subhAshita I am referring to:
छिन्नोपि चंदनतरुः न जहाति गंधं
वृद्धोपि वापणपतिः न जहाति लाभं ।
यंत्रार्पितो मधुरतां न जहाति चेक्षुः
क्षीणोपि न त्यजति शीलगुणान् कुलीनः ॥
ಛಿನ್ನೋಪಿ ಚಂದನತರುಃ ನ ಜಹಾತಿ ಗಂಧಂ
ವೃದ್ಧೋಪಿ ವಾಪಣಪತಿಃ ನ ಜಹಾತಿ ಲಾಭಂ |
ಯಂತ್ರಾರ್ಪಿತೋ ಮಧುರತಾಂ ನ ಜಹಾತಿ ಚೇಕ್ಷುಃ
ಕ್ಷೀಣೋಪಿ ನ ತ್ಯಜತಿ ಶೀಲಗುಣಾನ್ ಕುಲೀನಃ ||
The Subhashita tells that how noble men (or women) do not drift away from their good nature even when they are facing bad times. I just could not stop using two lines from AkkamahAdEvi’s vachana “chandanava kaDidu koredu tEdoDe” (ಚಂದನವ ಕಡಿದು ಕೊರೆದು ತೇದೊಡೆ) to bring this subhAshita into KannaDa, for they make such a perfect match!
ಚಂದನವ ಕಡಿದು ಕೊರೆದು ತೇದೊಡೆ
ನೊಂದೆನೆಂದು ಕಂಪ ಬಿಟ್ಟಿತ್ತೇ?
ಕುಂದಿದಾ ದೇಹದ ಮುದಿವ್ಯಾಪಾರಿಯೂ
ಸಂದು ಸಂದು ಕಡಿದ ಕಬ್ಬನು
ತಂದು ಗಾಣದಲಿಕ್ಕಿ ಅರೆದೊಡೆ
ನೊಂದೆನೆಂದದು ತಾ ಸವಿಯ ಬಿಟ್ಟೀತೇ?
ನೊಂದರೂ ಕುಂದಿದರೂ ಶೀಲಗುಣಗಳನು
ಒಂದೇ ಮನದಿ ಕಾಯುವರು ಅಗ್ಗಳರು!
(ಮಹಾದೇವಿಯಕ್ಕನ ಎರಡು ಸಾಲುಗಳನ್ನು ಸಾಲ ತೆಗೆದುಕೊಂಡಿರುವೆ – ಅಂತ ಸೊಗಸಾದ ಸಾಲುಗಳನ್ನು ಬಿಡಲು ಮನಸಾಗಲಿಲ್ಲ – ಆ ವಚನ ಚಂದನವ ಕಡಿದು ಕೊರೆದು ತೇದೊಡೆ ಎಂದೇ ಆರಂಭವಾಗುತ್ತೆ )
July 18th happens to be the birthday of Jayachamarajendra Odeyar, the last ruler of Mysore. He was born on this day in 89 years ago (1919).
(Photo: From an article in Hindu written by Sriram Venkatakrishnan)
Jayachamarajendra Odeyar (JCW) is considered as one of the prominent composers of Karnataka Sangeetha in the 20th century. In addition, he was an accomplised exponent of Western classical music as well.
Here is a speech by well known musicologist (and Vainika) Prof R Satyanarayana. The original speech was in Kannada, and translated by yours truly. This is probably a speech from the late 1970s or 1980s. Even though it is not a word-to-word translation, I have tried to retain the original flavor of the speech.
Prof R Satyanarayana’s speech on Jayachamarajendra Odeyar:
It was JCW who conceived the idea of starting a music college at the University of Mysore. When efforts were put in that direction for the first time, it had to be shelved because of the mutual jealousy of some musicians. Later, with the foresight for starting college of lalita kalA institution, JCW left a large sum of money as a donation (datti) to the Mysore University. That was the seed money from with this great institution was started from. There is a special relation between Mysore University and the Maharaja. It was indeed here where His Highness attended the classes just like a commoner, and got his degree. Mysore University should be congratulated and thanked for teaching a member from the royal family along with common people and make a scholar out of him.
Before considering him as a composer, let me tell a few things about his expertise in music. Even when he was very young, he took on interest in western music with his father’s influence. Many people may not know that JCW stood first in the extremely difficult music examinations from Cambridge and Trinity colleges in London. He was an excellent piano player. His sisters were also experts on the piano. JCW was invited to Europe and America several times not because he was a King, but because of his expertise on the piano, and his insight into Indian ‘darshana’s. He has performed on the piano at a large number of prestigious halls, and spoken in front of elite audience in many of these countries.
Apart from this, JCW’s vision and understanding of Indian music had a great depth and width. Before he was crowned, he did ‘shishyavritti’ with Sri Vasudevachar (in vocal music), and also with Veena Giriyappa (for Veena) for a short term. The music he learnt from these teacher-duo (even though it was for a very short time) flowered and bore wonderful fruits. We can see an example of his critical abilities and knowledge of music in his address at the Music Academy’s annual conference. This inaugural address at the Music Academy’s annual conference, which he delivered in the year when Mysooru Chowdayya was the President of the conference proceedings, was so sparkling that it made all the earlier conference addresses seem very dull. This showcased Maharaja’s internal vision into the shAsrta aspects, darshana, Vedanta aspects, and the expertise he had in lakshya. The examples and suggestions he gave to fellow musicians to reach their goals, was so inspiring then, and is so even now.
I can talk a lot more about him, but it is not the right time. I would now like to concentrate on the specialty of his vaggeyakaratva. Vaggeyakara is a technical term used to indicate a person is one who provides the mAtu, and rAGa and tALa (svara laya bandha) for a composition; there were two reasons for him to become a vaggeyakara. The first one was the breadth and depth of musical the practical experience viz the music which he had imbibed from his gurus like Venkatagiriyappa and Vasudevachar; the influence and exposure to hindustani music which he got from his uncle that can be seen in his compositions in rAgas like mAnd, and his practical and theoritical expertise in Western music.
When he started composing there was one more major influence in his compositions. If you look at the invitation you have received, in the first page, you can see it starts as “jayaratna jayachamarajendra oDeyar”, where it compares the great qualities of 9 great kings with that of JCW. Many of these kings were from Karnataka. That’s why he is called navaratna jayachamaraja oDeyar. When I was writing this, I felt it would be just to add one more quality that is missing in the list here. I wanted to make it a list of 10 qualities. There is one extremely rare quality which JCW had, and that wasn’t there in any other king before –That is his accomplishment in srIvidye. In addition to the background and inspiration from the sangIta, srIvidya was also instrumental in bringing out these compositons. These compositions were a just vehicle to express his inner spirit’s longing for mOkSha and the enormous effort it was going through in aligning it in that direction through the mode of musical expressions. While composing he took some suggestions from Vasudevachara, and sometimes from Venkatagiriyappa for appropriate suggestions, and he would give a final form to the compositions considering their inputs. Often he played the kritis on Piano and gave a final shape to a composition.
Let me tell you how he became Srividya upAsaka. Sri Siddhalingaswamy, who was a very known sculptor from Mysore initiated JCW to Srividye. Odeyar indicates Siddalingesha as the svagurunAma (Siddhalinga Swami). His guru, (Guru of Siddhalinga Swamy) was Odeyar’s parama guru nanjunda yOgIndra. Odeyars parameshTha guru was nAgalinga yatIndra (Guru of Nanjunda Yogindra). We can see JCW remembering these gurus in many of his kritis. JCW also indicates the influence of his father’s music on him by the word narakanThIrava. kanThIrava means lion. narakanThIrava means narasimha. Chitprabhanandanatha was his deeksha name given to Odeyar by his guru Siddhalingaswamy. Normally JCW includes the name chitprabhanandanAtha along with his ankita Srividya. Getting a dIksha nAMa is the first step to initiation into Srividye. He has used this name ‘chitprabhAnandanAtha’ in many kritis. I hope singers note this point while singing his kritis.
JCW made chamundi as the aradhya dEvi for Srividya upAsane. Chamundi was the kuladiava of Odeyars. However, in yaduvamsha, Chamundi wasn’t the only royal diety. They worshipped Shiva as well. If there ever was a royal dynasty that could be termed secular, it was the oDeyars of Maisooru. They were staunch followers of Brahmatantra parakAlaswamy, the Shankaracharya of Sringeri, and also of Veerashaiva mathas.In short, Odeyars pracitioners of ‘Sarva dharma samanvaya’- equality of all religions- principle. Even though his ancestors were shiva worshippers, JCW became an upasaka in the shaktipradhANa kAdi mArga dakshiNAmoorti tradition of SrividyA upAsane.
One interesting fact about his compositions is that they are all are in Samskrita. They all follow the pattern, and style of muttuswAmi dIkshIta’s compositions, who was also a Srividya upAsaka. They use similar technicality of muttuswAmi dIkshita’s compositions on Srividya. Another notable feature of his compositions is that he has used as many as ragas as are his compositions. This is a very rare thing, and no other vaggeyakara has done this feat in the entire world of Indian music. In doing this he has used ragas like kOkilapriya, supradIpa, gambhIranATa, vijayavasanta, nIlavENi, kOkilabhAShaNi, mALavi, vagadhIshwari, pratApavarALi, nAmanArAyaNi, shuddha tODi, amrtavAnini, hamsavinOdini, bhogavasanta, nadabrahma etc – rAgas that are new, or rAgas that had only one or two earlier lakshya examples. He created laksyha for ragas like amRutavAhini and pratApavarALi, which had only example from Tyagaraja. This is something we have to be proud of.
All the 94 or 96 kritis are about SrIvidye. You may ask how I’d explain to say his compositions on Shiva and Ganesha. Even Ganesha and Shiva are considered as the dieties that open the door of Srividya. He made chAmunDi as srRmAte. In Chamunda is the seventh mAtRuka in the second chakra called trailokyamOhana chakra, in the prathamAvaraNa of Srividya worship. JCW often uses the word mAtRuka again and again in his kritis. There is shlEsha in that, I will take an example in a kriti and explain later.
JCW not only reached the pinnacle in musical capabilities. If we include his contribution to music, we have to invent a new word- Ounnatya shaTka- ‘six fold-pinnacles’ to describe him, because he was an extra-ordinary man who reached the difficult-to-attain ‘ounnatya panchaka’ – the ‘five-fold pinnacles’. There are only a few, who have reached this ounnattya panchaka.
He attained kAyOnnati – Whoever had seen him can vouch for the truth of this fact. His tall stature, and build that indeed was befitting the golden throne he was occupying. Next one in the unnati panchaka is mAnOnnati. It does not just mean he was abhimAnashAli.It has a much deeper meening. ‘mAna’ means to measure; If you have to create a new measure to evaluate someone or something, that shows the greatness of the insights and personality of him or her. All of us develop measures according to our own capability. JCW created new units of measuring for evaluating all worldly qualities. In addition to his, he also had manOnnati and vidyOnnati. He was a great scholar and a dArshanika. If you read his book, ‘D attatreya- A Study’ you can appreciate and understand his deep insight and scholarship in the darshanas. To top it all, he also reached AtmOnnati, thus completing this unnati panchaka. When you add his sangItOnnati, it indeed becomes ‘unnati shaTka’.
JCW was thus a great soul who attained these pinnacles in contemporary times. But unfortunately, I feel sad that our generation does not seem remember and recognize contributions the kings of maisUru like mummaDi Krishnaraja Odeyar, nAlvaDi Krishnaraja Odeyar and Jayachamaraja Odeyar made specifically to our music and to our society in general.
(I’d like to thank Sri Rajachandra, who gave me the audio recording of this speech.)