Padams

Miscellaneous topics on Carnatic music
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vgvindan
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#1

Post by vgvindan »

My god, you liar, you cheat!

Eroticism and god go together in the Telugu poetry of Ksetrayya and other 15th century masters. This book offers excellent English translations of padams, those love poems that sit awkwardly in the sanitised southern music tradition

In recent years, Brinda and Muktha have been great exponents of padam singing. Granddaughters of the great Veena Dhanammal, they sing this love poetry with all its special embellishments.

The eroticism of the padam places it awkwardly in the larger tradition of south Indian music. Padams are short musical compositions of a light classical nature, often used in dance. Inspired by the south Indian bhakthi cult, the genre reached its zenith in the hands of the Telugu masters of the 15th century. Padams are written in other south Indian languages as well.

Padams were part of a devadasi's repertoire and she sang them when she performed at temples and the royal court. With the devadasi tradition falling into disfavour, padams moved into the larger cultural milieu. Today many of these songs are sung at Bharatanatyam performances.

A K Ramanujan, Velcheru Narayana Rao, and David Schulman have transalated in this book some of the representative poets of the age.

Ramanujan first translated the vachanas of the 12th century Kannada shivasharanas. In Chicago, where he taught, he embarked on the project of translating Telugu padams. He took the help of two other scholars, and the result is this collection of excellent verse.

The main focus of the book is Ksetrayya, chosen because of his bold subversion of the standard bhakti themes. From an eroticism that has to be spiritually interpreted, we move to poetry that uses spirituality to explore eroticism.

In fact, when Ramanujan spoke to some great dance exponents, they sang the padams but refused to express them in movement.

Muvva Gopala, Venugopala, Venkatesvara and Konkanesvara are gods of love. And the women are the devadasis, skilled in love-making. The gods are gods only in name. They are customers of the veshya, the seducers of wives, cunning lovers of innocent girls.

Some of the love poetry here rivals Neruda, as in this Ksetrayya piece:
Ever since we parted
...
I'm like a lone woman
in a forest
after sunset,
soaked through by the rain
in the heavy dark
unable to find a way (pg 78)

But it isn't just the imagery that is striking. The exploration of the man-woman relationship, or what modern scholars call sexual politics, is a major concern.

Explicit descriptions don't have the tackiness of, say, a Kamala Das at her worst.

When lustily I jump on top
and pound his chest
with my pointed nipples, he says
"That girl Kanakangi is very good at this." (pg 91)

Note the context. A woman is angry and jealous that her lover is looking elsewhere for passion. This game is played and replayed in every poem. The god/lover woos a woman, takes her to bed, gets bored with her and then begins to look elsewhere.
You opportunist,
you excite them from moment to moment
make mouths water,
show them love to make them surrender,
drown them in a sea of passion,
and by the time the morning star appears-
you get up and vanish. (pg 98)

Every woman who enters the relationship is aware of the rules of the game. She doesn't expect fidelity. At times she resists, but she cannot hold out against his charm. Often she sells herself. Whatever the nature of the transaction, from the woman's side there is adoration, if not love. She might crib about his numerous affairs, but his return is always eagerly sought, even if it is only to the bed.

There is no mushy sentimentality, no pining away for these heroines. Muvva Gopala is the supreme lover, Kama personified.

So where does god come into this? These poems equate devotion with erotic sentiment. The supremacy of the sensory experience is proclaimed everywhere. You live, love and pray fully only with the body. The master of the heart must first be "master of my bed."

Don't read this as devotional poetry. Refuse to be apologetic about the blatant sexuality of some of the poems. You don't need the veneer of god to discuss something that is so intrinsic to you.

And even if you want to get spiritual, start from the premise the translators give you in their comprehensive and well-written introduction: "Loving god, like loving a human being, is not an easy thing."

Parvathy P B

When God is a Customer
Edited and translated by
A K Ramanujan
Velcheru Narayana Rao
David Schulman Oxford University Press
Rs 150
http://www.themusicmagazine.com/bookmar00.html
Last edited by vgvindan on 05 Oct 2007, 22:25, edited 1 time in total.

rshankar
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#2

Post by rshankar »

The interesting thing for me is that all of these compositions are by men. I am not aware of a single woman who composed padams like the ones described here. To an extent, I am amazed at the temerity of these men to write about these thoughts from the female point of view entirely.

vgvindan
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#3

Post by vgvindan »

rs,
Your point is valid; but that is a larger social issue. For example there is not a single woman lyricist in Tamil or Hindi Films - (Was Maya Govind a lyricist or music director?). Wasn't that 'mAmbazham' song written by Kannadasan, sang by a woman and acted by another woman?

Why that much? The review (of the book) writer is a woman - unless it is a man masquerading with the pseudonym of a woman.

As regards CM, Kshetrayya was an icon - and what an icon! Where are the iconoclasts?
Last edited by vgvindan on 06 Oct 2007, 23:58, edited 1 time in total.

Ponbhairavi
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#4

Post by Ponbhairavi »

Was it "mambazham" or "elandapazham"?

knandago2001
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#5

Post by knandago2001 »

An interesting commentary and a translation of Ghanam Seenaiyya's "Sivadeeksha paruraalanuraa" by Lalita Mukherjea:
http://lalitalarking.blogspot.com/2007/ ... sects.html


Viewpoint from a student of dance who cautions against the "danger of falling into traps - where the body fails to 'speak' but only 'shows off", Ashwini Bhatt is remarkably forthright: http://craftrevivaltrust.org/voiceDetails.asp?Code=16


And far removed from the padam, javali and thumri traditions, Dante's beloved Beatrice leads him to Paradise:
http://www.wisdomportal.com/Romance/Dante-Beatrice.html

vgvindan
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#6

Post by vgvindan »

When he was a child of nine, Dante met Beatrice Portinari and loved her from that moment on. Although he married another woman and she married another man, he continued to love her from afar and dedicated many poems to her. She died when she was only 24. In The Divine Comedy, she appears to him in Canto XXX of Purgatory, wearing a white veil and crown. Out of love for him, she rebukes him harshly until, in Canto XXXI, he confesses his guilt as a sinner. She then acts as his guide, leading him into Paradise.
http://www.cummingsstudyguides.net/Guid ... neCom.html

People like Kshetrayya and Ghanam Seenayya might have actually repented for their sins and reached 'paradise' - assuming one such thing exists; probably the the modern votaries of padams - a vestige of Devadasi Tradition taken over unabashedly by CM- would like to repent at leisure. Then why this facade of Aradhanas and Unchavrittis?

Pure music indeed!!
Last edited by vgvindan on 12 Oct 2007, 10:13, edited 1 time in total.

knandago2001
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#7

Post by knandago2001 »

Muthu Tandavar - father of the Tamil Padam tradition:
http://www.chembur.com/carnatic/page06.html
Pure music indeed!!

knandago2001
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#8

Post by knandago2001 »

Smt. Padma Subramanyam on how temple sculptures depict what was really in vogue (great example of true scholarship):
http://www.tamilnation.org/culture/dance/padma.htm


“bhoga tyagesa anubhogam seiyya vaa kitteâ€

vgvindan
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#9

Post by vgvindan »

The nayika challenges the other woman thus:
You can never embrace him publicly, you woman.
Come on, defeat me it you can get the Lord's favour.
How can you forget your trickery and how can you change into a noble lady
Who can get any pleasure from you.
You boast idly that you will capture the love of the Lord, all of asudden.
Ha, Ha!
http://www.chembur.com/carnatic/page06.html
Pure Music Indeed - It looks like WWWF
Ha Ha!
Last edited by vgvindan on 12 Oct 2007, 14:57, edited 1 time in total.

vgvindan
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#10

Post by vgvindan »

Muvva Gopala, Venugopala, Venkatesvara and Konkanesvara are gods of love. And the women are the devadasis, skilled in love-making. The gods are gods only in name. They are customers of the veshya, the seducers of wives, cunning lovers of innocent girls.

So where does god come into this? These poems equate devotion with erotic sentiment. The supremacy of the sensory experience is proclaimed everywhere. You live, love and pray fully only with the body. The master of the heart must first be "master of my bed."
See Post # 1

'bhoga tyagesa anubhogam' fits snugly in the criteria laid down. Surely name of God is only a euphmism to get public acceptance for what otherwise is vulgar.

knandago2001
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#11

Post by knandago2001 »

as the originator of the thread you are welcome to your opinions. however, the tone of your posts smack of condescension towards composers and practioners of the art form which is totally uncalled for. should you decide against further discourse let us all move on.

"tanakku taane tona vendum allar oruvar taan solli.." another padam in Sankarabharanam!

braindrain
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#12

Post by braindrain »

For those who have missed this, here is an article from the Hindu newspaper , today on the same subject..

http://www.hindu.com/fr/2007/10/12/stor ... 750300.htm

vgvindan
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#13

Post by vgvindan »

high-priestess of padams
braindrain, You have quoted through the Hindu page, a very apt phrase.

It is a pity that persons like Thyagaraja, MD, SS, OVK etc did not pay court to such high priestesses of their times; if they had done so, they would have been shown the shortest cut possible to reach God singing padams of unabshed sexuality. They all toiled unnecessarily practising bhakti, Sri Vidya etc.

Sure, the high priests of Indian True Secularism - The Hindu - can expect to promote padam tradition and debunk bhakti in CM - particularly now that they are in the commanding height of CM. According to the book cited in post #1, debunking bhakti was the aim of persons like Kshetrayya and others.
Last edited by vgvindan on 13 Oct 2007, 10:43, edited 1 time in total.

uday_shankar
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#14

Post by uday_shankar »

vgvindan

I don't see how singing Carnatic music can help one "reach God" any better than any other occupation.

The cart is ahead of the horse here.

The refrain that the trinity or OVK "reached God throught music" is nonsense. They reached God via their Bhakti (i.e., they lost their egos), not through music. Therefore their songs can be considered outporings, often spontaneous, of that experience. If instead of Carnatic music they had excelled in painting, they might have produced exquisite art.

That's the reason why their music has that eternal life in them whereas when lesser mortals try to compose it ends up without any life.

Anybody else with similar Bhakti, but with ZERO knowledge of Carnatic music, can similarly reach God and will be none the worse for his/her lack of musical knowledge. There must many tone-deaf or even completely deaf people who have reached God.

So why waste breath over padams ? It's just another art form.

vgvindan
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#15

Post by vgvindan »

Anybody else with similar Bhakti, but with ZERO knowledge of Carnatic music, can similarly reach God and will be none the worse for his/her lack of musical knowledge. There must many tone-deaf or even completely deaf people who have reached God.
Uday,
I am in total agreement with what you say.
The refrain that the trinity or OVK "reached God throught music" is nonsense.
This, I am afraid, is not true, because Nadopasana has been commended by our elders as one of the sure modes of reaching Godhead. Please refer to Thyagaraja Kriti 'nAdOpAsanacE' rAga bEgaDa.
However, here 'Nada' does not mean only musical notes. The Nada that is root of even sapta svara is meant. The Saiva Agamas and even Sri Vidya - to some extent is Nadopasana only. http://www.bhagavadgitausa.com.cnchost.com/SOUND.htm

What I highlighted was the terminology 'high priestess' - http://www.aeclectic.net/tarot/learn/me ... tess.shtml

It is not musical methodology involved in Padam singing that is questioned, but the content. If padam singing is indeed such an essential part of CM tradition, how vulgarity came to be attached with this art form? Or is it the contention of the advocates that padams cannot be sung without explicit sexual content?
Last edited by vgvindan on 13 Oct 2007, 17:07, edited 1 time in total.

arasi
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#16

Post by arasi »

VG,
Your knowledge of (and devotion to) Tyagaraja's compositions is exemplary. What puzzles me is your statement that the Trinity and OVK 'toiled' over their songs while practising bhakti.

Uday_shankar,
I am repeating what you say. I agree with you. You state their songs can be considered as outpourings, often spontaneous, of their experience of bhakti. If instead of CM had they excelled in painting, they might have produced exquisite art.
I also agree that even completely deaf people and others who did not ever hear CM have not been denied the grace of divinity.

As a composer, I feel that I do not want to say anything on the topic of the lyrics of padams (it has been discussed enough). I can only say that I have not composed any and do not approve of their crude lyrics, though I cannot deny them their musical merit.

If I shut my mind's (and heart's) windows to every element big and small that opens on to the world of CM, I would end up the loser--disabling myself from listening to the music I love because of the quality of lyrics, the personality of a performer who is very professional on stage but may possess his own foibles off stage (no business of mine) and so on...
Last edited by arasi on 13 Oct 2007, 21:12, edited 1 time in total.

vgvindan
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#17

Post by vgvindan »

arasi,
I said
They all toiled unnecessarily practising bhakti, Sri Vidya etc.

arasi
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#18

Post by arasi »

I see. Did you mean, it has all been to no avail, in a general sense??

vasanthakokilam
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#19

Post by vasanthakokilam »

Arasi: I think vgv is being sarcastic.

VGV, this is not to address your personal feelings about the padams themselves but to address what seemed to me like you were wondering how padams with explicit lyrics got into CM. I think the answer to that is in the history, who patronized music in those times, who really were the guardians of CM without whose efforts both Bharathanatyam and CM may not have survived. I think that complex historical facts need to be considered to reconcile how bakthi soaked trinity compositions and padams and javalis came to use the same CM based musical forms. That is the pre-text and context of how they all got integrated into one common concert repertoire. I thought I will write this since you mentioned in this thread "padams....a vestige of Devadasi Tradition taken over unabashedly by CM". There is no 'take over' by CM. That is part and parcel of CM as our history points out.

I understand it comes as a shock to people when the prevailing opinion about CM is all about bakthi and then these varnams, padams and javalis, carrying the highest levels of music have lyrics that go against that bakthi grain. It just takes a while to get used to and to accept them for what they are. The problem is in ourselves and our expectations. Another point to consider also is that for some reason English translation of these pieces makes it a lot more raw. The nuances, subtlties and the inherent humor lose their lusture. As I wrote earlier in another context, in a Bharathanatyam arangetram, the MC's translation to English made it very unsophisticated. But hearing it in Tamil directly with music and dance was quite exquisite.

This gives us a huge spectrum..

At one end we have Harikatha on Thyagaraja where you get to hear thyagaraja krithis sung with full bhava as required by the lyrics ( e.g Visakha Hari available on youtube ) along with the explanation of the bhavam. That probably comes closest to what VGV expects in a public performance. And on the other end, you have these Padams and Javalis which are very rich in musical content but you may not find the lyrics to fit your expectations. In between and including these bookends, there is a huge ocean for us to pick from that suits our own tastes and requirements. That fact just speaks to the richness, depth and vastness of CM.

vgvindan
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#20

Post by vgvindan »

arasi and vk,
I am afraid that we are addressing the issue as if our age group people are only the ones involved. I do not know about vk but, I am a grand parent and, if my understanding is not wrong, arasi is also a grand parent.
This topic is not about ourselves - not even about our children - but about our grand children. We are introducing the culture of music at the youngest age possible.

I will illustrate with one example. A first generation beggar will have a bad conscience about his begging but a second or third generation child grown in that (begging) environment will have no compunction about begging at all. Same goes everywhere. What you get used in your childhood, one takes them for granted.

I would like to address this issue against this backdrop. It is all very nice that we consider this as another art form and forget it. I wish the matter ended there.

Let us deal with issue keeping the values we want our grand children to cherish.

From the review of the book quoted in post #1, a deliberate attempt has been made by Kshetrayya and others to subvert bhakti content from CM. Notwithstanding all their efforts, they so far have had marginal effect because the language, mostly, is Telugu, which neither Tamil musicians nor audience do understand deeply. Some times, I feel that Telugu has been deliberately chosen as the language of most of Padams with the assumption that the musicians and the audience might not care about wordings.

Now that things are getting exposed, it is incumbent on the well-wishers of CM, that they take a look at the Padams and evolve a broader and longsighted approach.

btw, vk is right, my words were meant as sarcasm.
Last edited by vgvindan on 14 Oct 2007, 00:13, edited 1 time in total.

arasi
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#21

Post by arasi »

kOkilam kUvitRu!
The cuckoo has sung...

vgvindan
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#22

Post by vgvindan »

That probably comes closest to what VGV expects in a public performance.
vk, I would like to clarify a bit. I long for kRti of tyAgarAja to be sung the way he would have felt when he sang it. It is a very difficult order, but not impossible. In English we call it intonation. A sentence where a bhava is involved, if not properly intonated, conveys a wrong meaning. That's all - proper intonation. For this the musician has to understand the diction, the meaning, the bhAva, the places to be emphasised or highlighted and where the climax lies.
I may add, some times, Alaapana seems to be more relishable than the kRti itself because, behind every svara, their lies an emotion which is exclusive to the listener and he puts (adds) words to the svaras. I do indeed, but they are like a dream sequence which are not cogent but in the same mood.

arasi
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#23

Post by arasi »

VG,
You are right. I am a grandmother who wants nothing but the best for my grandchildren, and for the all the grandchildren everywhere in the world.
How I wish the slaying of the 'padam demon' would take care of all the ills in the world that might corrupt the young ones! Television is more intimidating, I would say.

From the very beginning, the world has seen violence and other unwanted ills all along. Life on earth is a miracle and a joy too, teeming with hope. We can make our grandchildren see all that too, in our nurturing them.

VK is far too young but he is wise, as we grandparents are supposed to be. I am working on that...:)

Ponbhairavi
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#24

Post by Ponbhairavi »

Suppose Padam rendition is exclusively reserved for instrumental music would it help in NOT depriving us from enjoying the sheer musicality of it without being disturbed by the lyrics? Would this be a compromise service to CM?. I doubt whether Our youth who enjoy light english music ever discern any single phrase.
I think Saint ARUNAGIRINATHAR's Thirupugazh lyrics also contain a good dose of crudity though used as a contrast to obtain salvation.

vgvindan
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#25

Post by vgvindan »

I think Saint ARUNAGIRINATHAR's Thirupugazh lyrics also contain a good dose of crudity
ponb,
You are right, but they cannot be called 'crudity' because they are - 'self-depreciation', auto-biographical in nature and also because of redeeming factor as you have brought out. Persons who opens his life-story in public cannot be quoted back; You may find such instances in the kRtis of Sri Tyagaraja also.

Such poems come in the category of 'Atma garhaNa' as described by Dr V Raghavan, in his Introductory Thesis to the book ‘The Spiritual Heritage of Tyagaraja’ by Sri C Ramanujachariar. Please visit the following wesite to know about ‘Atma garhaNa’ –
http://www.ibiblio.org/sripedia/oppilia ... 00037.html

Unfortunately padams do not belong to that category. They are voyeuristic in nature - couched in God's names.

If the musical method of padams is so nice, then all that is needed is to weed out the lurid contents.

vasanthakokilam
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#26

Post by vasanthakokilam »

then all that is needed is to weed out the lurid contents.
Anyone who manages to do that will be referred to as the 'Rukmini Devi of CM'. :) Depending on who you talk to, it can be good or bad.

BTW, VG, what is your take on Jayadeva's Ashtapadi along these lines? I think he sets quite the high water mark of mixing the two subjects. Granted it is a high-brow stuff from a literature and poetic point of view and it is held in high regard by CM community.

vgvindan
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#27

Post by vgvindan »

vk,
Parīkṣit Mahārāja said: O brāhmaṇa, the Supreme Personality of Godhead, the Lord of the universe, has descended to this earth along with His plenary portion to destroy irreligion and reestablish religious principles. Indeed, He is the original speaker, follower and guardian of moral laws. How, then, could He have violated them by touching other men's wives?
Please visit http://srimadbhagavatam.com/10/33/en to read the answer of Sage Suka for the aforesaid question.

In tirukkuRaL, there is a verse -

guNam nADi kuTramum nADi avaTruL
migai nADi mikka koLal

For evaluating a person, one should consider his qualities and disqualities and find what he has more and treat him accordingly.

If I say anything about Jayadeva, it will be branded as 'subjective'. Let people make their own assessments.

I am giving hereunder an episode in the Life of Meera which might answer your question indirectly and to some extent -
The Only Man In Brindavan.
There is a fascinating story connected with Mira's life in Brindavan. There were many saints in Brindavan. Jeeva Goswami was prominent among them. He followed a very strict vow. He would not allow even the shadow of a woman to touch him. So women could never go and see him. Having joined Chaitanya Dev's Bhakti Movement he was spreading the cult of Bhakti.
Having a high regard for saints and sages Mira went to see this great man. At the very entrance of the hermitage she was stopped by a disciple of Goswami. He said, "The Swamiji will not see any woman."
Mira only laughed at this and said,"I thought the only man in Brindavan is Sri Krishna. Now, I see there is a rival to Him." These words pierced the heart of Goswami like a sharp pointed lance. He came out of his cottage and walked up barefooted and conducted Mira into the hermitage with all honor.
In the Bhakti cult the love of the wife for her husband is said to be the best form of devotion. According to this all are women in this world. God is the only Man. In Brindavan the only man is Sri Krishna. All the rest, the devotees, are Gopis. There is no distinction of sex among devotees. They should imbibe the feeling that God is their husband. If a devotee has this feeling he cannot obstinately refuse to see women. Knowing this, if he behaves with the presumption of being a man, it amounts to being a rival to God.
For Complete Life story of Saint Mirabai, please visit –
http://www.denverindians.com/personality19.asp

Please also see MD kRti - 'kRSNAnanda mukunda' wherein he says 'tRSNA rahita gOpI jana vallabha'.

Thyagarja has created dance drama 'nauka caritra' which also has many passages which - a non initiate - will call lurid.

In Saundarya Lahari there are verses which one may consider lurid.

The whole of Sri Vidya is a frontal attack method on sex. But people would call it lurid.

There were two friends who were looking at a beautiful woman. One was appreciating her beauty and other was in a contemplative mood. When asked, he answered, 'If this woman is so beautiful, how her mother would be'.
Now we may take this either as lurid or as contemplative about that Universal Mother whose form are all women.


Let others answer your question.
Last edited by vgvindan on 15 Oct 2007, 21:50, edited 1 time in total.

jukebox
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#28

Post by jukebox »

Mr. Vgvindan, in general, many of your topics/posts strike me as being deliberately chosen to offend some section of rasikas. In your attempt to sound moralistic, you are actually betraying yourself to be too straitjacketed in your thinking, without taking into consideration the huge gamut and all-encompassing nature of our culture.

>>From the review of the book quoted in post #1, a deliberate attempt has been made by Kshetrayya and others to >subvert bhakti content from CM.

Your assumption that Kshetrayya and others have deliberately attempted to 'subvert bhakti' from CM actually reflects an enormous amount of presumptuousness on your part wherein, you imagine that you KNOW what their intention was! Whereas, in your own posts in the OVK thread a few weeks ago, you say:

"It was not about 'elevation' or 'downgrading'; these personages about whom we are discussing have, IMHO, risen beyond the stage of recognition etc. Should they be alive to-day, they would be sitting in judgment about the capabilities of these very individuals who are 'nominating' for 'title' of 'Trinity' or 'Quartet' or Quintet'. Who should judge whom? It is like son nominating his father as 'father'."

Now aren't you commiting the same mistake of sitting in judgement about Kshetragna's intentions? Or does Kshetragna not quite qualify for your list of 'greats'?

>>Notwithstanding all their efforts, they so far have had marginal effect because the language, mostly, is Telugu, >>which neither Tamil musicians nor audience do understand deeply. Some times, I feel that Telugu has been >>deliberately chosen as the language of most of Padams with the assumption that the musicians and the >>audience might not care about wordings.

Excuse me, but I have never seen a more pathetic attempt at self-righteousness. When he chose Telugu for his works, I'm sure the crafty Kshetragna foresaw that Chennai would be the centre for major musical activity in the 20th and 21st centuries, and that he can pack his kritis with eroticism so that Tamil musicians will not understand nor care about the words. What he did not foresee was that there would be a few Telugu-speaking, 'unscrupulous' musicians too like Balamuralikrishna, Nedunuri, Voleti and the Hyderabad Brothers who would sing his compositions even if they understood it. Bad, bad Kshetragna!

I seriously think Vasantakokilam is wasting her time and words trying to dignify your posts with her wise answers.
Last edited by jukebox on 15 Oct 2007, 22:14, edited 1 time in total.

vgvindan
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#29

Post by vgvindan »

jb,
The main focus of the book is Ksetrayya, chosen because of his bold subversion of the standard bhakti themes.
I did not say - the reviewer said.

Thanks for your epithets.
Last edited by vgvindan on 15 Oct 2007, 22:20, edited 1 time in total.

jukebox
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#30

Post by jukebox »

vgvindan wrote:jb,
The main focus of the book is Ksetrayya, chosen because of his bold subversion of the standard bhakti themes.
I did not say - the reviewer said.
My bad. Let me amend that to say that the original author's quote, and subsequently your posts along similar lines show the same underlying spirit wrt this point.

I rest my case.

arasi
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#31

Post by arasi »

Jukebox,
As another member who airs his (her?) views on the so-called 'padam demon', you raise some valid points. I like your sense of humor too--the premeditated crime on the part of the king of padams to corrupt the minds of chennai dwellers and practitioners of CM, and the gall of the andhra performers in perpetrating that criminal activity!
Wish a good sense of humor gets added to the list of desirable qualities in a human being!

Govindan,
You are used to my 'neraval' on 'open-mindedness' which is not to be confused with libertinism. Heaven forbid! Live and let live is what it is all about.
What does not conform to one's idea of chasteness does not automatically turn into immorality. It is like saying that if something is not white, it is black.

Jukebox,
The spring cuckoo here on the forum is not of the female variety!

ponbharavi,
It is true that when padams are played on instruments, they do not raise all the questions that we are discussing here.
Last edited by arasi on 15 Oct 2007, 23:56, edited 1 time in total.

Always_Evolving
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#32

Post by Always_Evolving »

Sri vgvindan: I should preface this post by saying I am no scholar, either of language, music or compositions. I am a rather uninformed and lay listener but with a taste for bhava, rakti-ragas, emotive content of music etc.

C-music encompasses a spectrum of themes and emotive content – from the most esoteric tantric Navavaranam to Advaitic to Bhakti to Hasya to Sringara. Is there any authority who says that c-music should exclusively be used to convey only bhakti or any specific rasam? Vasantakokilam made an excellent post on the historical context of these musical forms.

Many classical art forms, literature, painting, poetry etc. include a similar variety of themes including the erotic. After reading your posts and apparent outrage at the “subversionâ€

vgvindan
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#33

Post by vgvindan »

if you were to present arguments, with enough examples to show that Padam lyrics represent a retrograde value-system that is insulting to women, that might dilute my appreciation for them.
AE,
Kindly refer to Post #1 which has an example of portraying woman as an object of sex - I do not want to repeat it here.

If that is not enough then the example about 'compunction of second or third generation beggar' stands vindicated.

Arasi,
This is not Parliment where laws are made - we project and discuss points of view. Having done that, my job is over. My having 'open-mindedness' is relevant only when I am to 'decide' on issues affecting others. I am not doing that. Even for projecting points of view, if one has to be analyse pros and cons with 'open mind', then there will be no points of view. Has there been any such point view which was not contradicted?

Who can stop a musician from singing a padam or a Rasika demanding one? Things will happen the way they do.

By all means celebrate sex - but, there is somthing called 'integrity' of human character. Conducting unchavritti on the occasion of Aradhana is totally hypocritic and a facade. Let us not mock at our elders whose value systems we do not subscribe to.

vk,
You have, in another thread raised a question about temple worship. There is the story of King who was coaxed by some 'master weavers' to believe that the cloth they produce is so fine that no one can even feel it. The king used to 'wear' the cloth and go in procession. It took the courage of a child to call the King 'naked' because the King had ordered that those who commented adversely about his clothing to be beheaded and no one dared to talk.

The child who asked you that question is telling a truth - he is confused about all these 'formalities' of our life - be it religion or any other field. We seem to have lost the spirit of questioning - exploring - which is the essence of Upanishads.

'namami bhajami' generation has nothing to say when someone asks why I am 'namaming' and 'bhajaming'. We simply mimic those who did truly 'namami' and 'bhajami'.
Last edited by vgvindan on 16 Oct 2007, 10:43, edited 1 time in total.

ramakriya
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#34

Post by ramakriya »

arasi wrote:Jukebox,
The spring cuckoo here on the forum is not of the female variety!
For that matter, any spring cuckoo, either in the forum, or outside is always male. Except one artist who was named Vasantakokilam, by her parents unknowingly ;)

-Ramakriya

arasi
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#35

Post by arasi »

:)

arasi
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#36

Post by arasi »

Govindan,
I am open minded enough to agree that we all have our points of view and are entitled to them...

arunk
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#37

Post by arunk »

ramakriya wrote:
arasi wrote:Jukebox,
The spring cuckoo here on the forum is not of the female variety!
For that matter, any spring cuckoo, either in the forum, or outside is always male. Except one artist who was named Vasantakokilam, by her parents unknowingly ;)

-Ramakriya
Really? Is there a academic/zoological reference to this? Web-searches seem to not indicate so (?).

I am NOT referring to cuckoos who can do the recognizable calls :) But to say there are no female spring cuckoos - that seems like a stretch (although I am willing to be corrected)
Last edited by arunk on 16 Oct 2007, 19:50, edited 1 time in total.

Suji Ram
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#38

Post by Suji Ram »

arunk wrote:I am NOT referring to cuckoos who can do the recognizable calls :) But to say there are no female spring cuckoos - that seems like a stretch (although I am willing to be corrected)
female cuckoos are those which recognize those recognizable callers ;)

And also they are clever...they lay eggs in crow's nest so the chicks are taken care by the crows. (is this true?)

Now this is a thread on padams I recognize
Last edited by Suji Ram on 16 Oct 2007, 22:19, edited 1 time in total.

ramakriya
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#39

Post by ramakriya »

arunk wrote:Really? Is there a academic/zoological reference to this? Web-searches seem to not indicate so (?).

I am NOT referring to cuckoos who can do the recognizable calls :) But to say there are no female spring cuckoos - that seems like a stretch (although I am willing to be corrected)
This is what I have been told from the time I was in pre-school ;) May be someone with zoology/ornithology can clarify.

Many of the singing birds are male - and also the subhAshiTa kAkaH kRiShNaH also refers to the koel (indian cuckoo) in masuline ( But that is not 100% foolproof I agree, since in Samskrita the gender of a word, and gender of the object does not have to match; As an example, jAyA (a synonym for wife) has a masculine gender)

For those not knowing this verse here it is:

kAkaH kRishNaH pikaH kRiShNaH kO bhEhO pika kAkayOH
vasanta kAlE saMprAptE kAkaH kAkaH pikaH pikaH

The crow is black; The Koel is black;
What difference exists between the two?
When the season of spring arrives, you'll know
crow is a crow ; koel is a koel

-Ramakriya

p.s: excuse me for the digression
Last edited by ramakriya on 16 Oct 2007, 22:06, edited 1 time in total.

vasanthakokilam
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#40

Post by vasanthakokilam »

>Now this is a thread on padams I recognize

>p.s: excuse me for the digression

It is not that big a digression from the padam talk in this thread.... ooch :P

arasi
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#41

Post by arasi »

Suji,
You are right. The crow, though not a glamorous bird (clamorous it is), it has stirling qualities such as sharing and caring. Cuckoo (of the avian kind!) sings prettily, lays its eggs in other birds' nests and flies away from its parental responsibilities. The crow is commonly mentioned as the 'foster' mother bird.

arasi
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#42

Post by arasi »

VK, One 'padam' (foot) away from the padams isn't a bad idea!

vgvindan
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#43

Post by vgvindan »

crow, though not a glamorous bird ...
Beauty is in the eye of beholder - If I were a crow, I would have taken you to Court for slander :)
Last edited by vgvindan on 17 Oct 2007, 08:43, edited 1 time in total.

arasi
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#44

Post by arasi »

So, is it just the way one LOOKS that matters?
I didn't call the crow names, just praised it for its sharing and caring qualities. Surely, the kind crow would understand that much and NOT take me to court!

vgvindan
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#45

Post by vgvindan »

So, is it just the way one LOOKS that matters?
That is the tragedy of our times. Skin seems to matter more - otherwise how do you account for all those sexploitative ads - some times one wishes that he were born blind and deaf.
My uncle used to explain about the Hindu tradition of 'bindi' - on the forehead of women. It acts as a magnet in diverting attention to itself thus deflecting the effect of beauty. But now-a-days women wear red on their lips inviting more attention. Our forefathers devised methods to control and channelise human instincts.
But when women (seem to) stoop so low as to run after AXE effect in droves - I am referring to the ad now prominent in our TVs - where is the redeeming factor?
Last edited by vgvindan on 17 Oct 2007, 10:30, edited 1 time in total.

sbala
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#46

Post by sbala »

vgvindan sir,
You remind me of my tamizh teacher who claimed he never saw movies/TV but was able to tell every detail of the Sunday movie and the ads during our Monday class. No offence meant. Just kidding :)

Ponbhairavi
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#47

Post by Ponbhairavi »

Geetha govindam is rarely used in CM more common in dance (particularly kuchipudi) and the totality of them (24) are indispensable mainstay of Radha or Sithakalyanam in Bhagavatha Sampradayam which is entirely religious in purpose !
can I reiterate my earlier suggestion to exclusively reserve them for instrumental carnatic music
Can we think of sensoring and giving "A" certificate to certain types of music concerts?

vasanthakokilam
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#48

Post by vasanthakokilam »

From the review of the book quoted in post #1, a deliberate attempt has been made by Kshetrayya and others to subvert bhakti content from CM
I got the book "When God is a customer" from the library. I did not fiind anything in the book that would suggest tha the authors contend that Kshetrayya made a delibrate attempt to subvert bhakti content from CM. The only point they make is, a hypothesis really, that others later on added on the bhakti interpretation to them when the padams were used in song and dance outside of the Devadasi community and more interestingly, for these padams to survive the anti-nautch movement of the late 19th century. They say not much is really known about Kshetrayya as a historical figure. There are lots of unveriable folklore about him, connecting him to some divine miracles ( like normally told about kalidasa ). The book's contention is that those were needed for wider societal acceptance since such stories achieve dual objectives: Divinity as well as a place in high literature.

The author chose the padams with high adult content ( atleast PG-13 ) and it is a huge stretch to connect them with any form of divinity. Some of them just do not make any sense if we connect them to the traditional bakthi as we know it. The authors make that point very strongly and it is hard to argue with that. It is best to accept them for what they are, then it is much easier.

BTW, the authors make other theories and some of them can be quite controversial even in the Devadasi context ( like the equivalence of God, King and anyone with money, meaning the song can be about any of these three ).

The one thing I did not appreciate is the Authors' penchant for connecting things. For example, they try to depict a picture of a continuum of love poetry from Nammalwar, thru Annamayya to Kshetrayya. May be as a thesis it may have academic merit but it seems to be devoid of the cultural context. To create the continnum, Annamayya is necessary since his songs fall into the traditional bakthi love as well as more earthly Shringara rasa. They try to create a timeline covering many centuries using three data points ;) and show the transition. I do not think many of us will buy that, though those who may only know Annamayya's bhakti songs and consider him a 'muTRum thuranda' ( who do you translate this to English? ) saint will come to know the Shringara rasa side of his repertoire and have to readjust their mental model. It is not a big adjustment in the case of Annamayya but if anyone thought Kshetrayya as a saint travelling from temple to temple singing the praise of God, they have some shock and surprise coming.

Anyway, I do not think this changes the debate we had here or changes the individual's positions but since I read the book, I thought I will provide this clarification.

The translation itself, as the authors themselves admit, is quite crude and the beauty of Telugu words are lost. They only provide the starting Telugu line. It will be good for someone who knows Telugu to read the book and tell us if the aesthetics conveyed in the translation is in the same ballpark as what you get with the original telugu.

arasi
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#49

Post by arasi »

VK,
I would translate 'muTRum tuRanda' as one who has given up all worldly attachments...

vasanthakokilam
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#50

Post by vasanthakokilam »

Thanks Arasi.

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