A Thousand Ways to Praise
By Shri P.K Sundar
Most of the songs Venkata Kavi composed on his favourite God Krishna are part of an opera; the songs are composed as though sung by various gopis, in manner, tone and mood of what they saw Krishna as. Some are lamentations in not getting his attention, some are praising his prowess and some are scolding him for his antics. By adopting this style, Venkata Kavi has very cleverly provided himself with a plethora of emotions there by increasing the variety of ways in which he can reveal his adoration to Krishna.
This is rather an unusual tactic adopted by a composer. Most songs in the Carnatic world are prayers, description of the God or in praise of Him or Her. Very few composers play around with such a variety of emotions and use them to express their love for their favourite God. Venkata Kavi also uses his fertile imagination and builds songs around an event which perhaps existed only in his mind. Many songs revolve around mundane events in the life of gopis but ultimately focused towards Krishna and their love for him.
The following song, obviously sung by a gopi, extols the virtues and prowess of Krishna. Venkata Kavi pulls out all stops in praising Krishna. The song is embellished with some exquisite rhyme and a racy madhymakalam bit.
சங்கராபரணம் மிஸ்ர சாபு
அருளாளன் திறம் எல்லாம் சொல்வதென்றால்
நாவு ஆயிரம் வேணுமடி
சொன்னால் ஆடவும் தோணுமடி (அருளாளன்)
திருவார் பசுந்துலப மணி ஆடும் இளந்தோளன்
ஒரு குழல் இசை கொண்டே உலகாளும் மணவாளன் (அருளாளன்)
ஒரு காலினில் உலகினை அளந்து
பல மாமறை விதியோடு பணிந்த
கரு மாமுகில் இதுவென கனிந்த
மழை போலவும் பொழிந்திடிடுவான்
இரு குழை ஆடவும் பொன் துகில் பறந்து
மிசை ஆடவும் பல பல மாதர்கள்
இசை பாடவும் என்னே என்னே (அருளாளன்)
தாக்கும் சின்ன சகடம் தள்ளிய பதம் கொண்டு
தலை மேலே நடமாடும் தரம் சொல்லவோ
மலை தாங்கும் திறம் சொல்லவோ
பசேல் என்ற நிறம் சொல்லவோ
எங்கும் நிறை பரம் அல்லவோ (ஒரு காலினில் அருளாளன்)
ஆக்கும் இறைவன் இங்கே அஞ்சி அஞ்சி வந்து
அடியினை பணிந்த அதிசயம் சொல்லவோ
குழலிசை நயம் சொல்லவோ
கொள்ளையிடும் வயம் சொல்லவோ
சொன்னால் இன்ப மயம் அல்லவோ (ஒரு காலினில் அருளாளன்)
To talk of the skills of the Graceful one, one would need a thousand tongues; and such a task would also make one feel like dancing.
He is the one who wears a garland made of thulasi. He conquers the world with the music from his flute.
He measured the world with just one foot. The Vedas bow to him. He is also as kind as the rain brought about by dark clouds.
As the two ear-rings dangle and as his scarf floats in the wind, women sing along, how do I describe the scene?!
How do I describe the feet which kicked the demon who came in the shape of a wheel and which danced on the snake (kalinga)? Or talk about his ability to bear the weight of a mountain? Or describe his green colour? Is he not the omni-present one?
How do I describe the fear with which the Creator (Brahma) bowed to him? Or the skill with which he plays the flute and conquers everybody’s hearts? To describe all this brings sheer joy.