Karnatik for Kids

For kids to enjoy and appreciate Karnatic music : a South-Indian Art Music Form

In Srimad Bhagawatham, Lord Sri Krishna remarks Maasaanaam Maargasheershoraham which means Lord Krishna is Margazhi among the months.

Three of the highly divine kaavyams that , when recited with utmost bhakti in this month will be extremely fruitful are –

  1. Andal’s thiruppavai
  2. Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi and
  3. Narayana Teerthar’s Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini

Andal’s thiruppavai

Sri Andal or Kodhai(7th or 8th century) was found by the childless Vishnuchittar(Periyazhwar) as a golden hued baby near a Tulasi plant in a garden inside Sri Ranganathar temple. She was raised as an ardent Krishna devotee and ever since her childhood sincerely served the Bhagawan through vaachikam(speech), kaayikam(limbs) and maanasam(mind). When she attained the marriageable age, her desire to attain the Lord through premai became intense. In the month of Margazhi(Dhanur maasam), she along with the young girls of her village observed “paavai nombu” waking up in the brahma muhurtham (before dawn) and singing the praise of Lord Sriman Narayana. The thirty pasurams that she composed are said to contain the summary of Upanishads and invoke the lord as Kesava, Madhava, Narayana, Damodhara et al. In these verses, Goddess Godha describes certain do’s and dont’s in the worship of the Lord; teams up with the other young girls, imploring them to wake up and; taking them with her, arrives at the temple before finally seeking His blessings.

Though she completed the nombu successfully, she was worried that the Lord had not come asking for her hand in marriage. People in their village joked that she and her father were dreaming about her wedding with the Lord while Godha had a dream that the Lord Ranganatha was coming with the Devas in a 1000 beautiful elephants to seek her hand in marriage. Godha’s dream did come true and the Lord took her with Him to the Srivilliputthur temple where both the Lord and her merged into the sanctum. The recital of Sri Andal’s pasurams with true devotion is said to fulfill all desires in the devotee’s heart and hence is important for every music student.

Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi

Sri Jayadeva(born ~12th century) composed 24 ashtapadis – songs with eight verses each in praise of Lord Krishna residing in Brindavana doing raasa-leela with Radha and the other Gopikas. Jayadeva, along with his wife Padmavathi are said to have performed these ashtapadis at Puri Sri Jagannath temple with Jayadeva singing the song while his wife danced to the lyrics. In each of these songs, Sri Jayadeva invokes the Lord by unique names such as Saamoda Damodaraha, Aklesha Keshavaha, Mukta Madhusudhana, Snigdha Madhusudhana, Saakanksha Pundarikaaksha, Dhrista Vaikuntha, Nagara Narayana, Vilakshya Lakshmipati, Mukta Mukunda, Chatura Chaturbhuja, Saananda Govinda, Supreeta Pitambara in these verses.

The ashtapadis begin with a picturization of the DashAvathAram and go on to describe the love play between Krishna and Radha as one gets upset and the other tries to console. There is viraha (deep pain of separation) felt by Radha when Krishna doesn’t come to her and at times there is a sakhi(female friend) of Radha who acts as a messenger between the Lord and her explaining her condition to him and passing his messages to her in response. These compositions which come across as erotic to the limited imagination, are not to be taken in their literal sense and are to be experienced as the play between the soul immersed in the love of God and the God Himself. Sri Jayadeva, in his concluding ashtapadi, describes the union of Radha with Sri Krishna and the singing of all the 24 ashtapadis are considered equivalent of performing Radha Kalyanam. To the music student, these songs are a delightful way of experiencing the Divine Love of Lord Sri Krishna.

Narayana Teerthar’s Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini

Sri Narayana Teertha(17th century) was a sanskrit and music scholar. It is said that he once suffered from an incurable stomach pain. He was directed to walk several miles to the south where a wild boar led his path into a temple in a village then known as BhoopathirAjapuram in ThanjAvur. Teertha was instantly cured of his illness and thus was born the masterpiece called Krishna Leela Tarangini. This village later came to be known as Varaahur. Tarangini comprises of 12 tarangams totalling 153 songs, 302 slokams and 31 choornikas.

In the tarangams, Teerthar sings about Sri Krishna’s bAla leela, rAsa leela, kamsa samhAram, dwArakA shrushti and culminates in Rukmini Kalyanam. Sravanam and keerthanam are the forms of worship that the saint’s sankeertanams prescribe.

Underlying message in these creations-

Andal’s thiruppavai concludes with the divine union of Sri Andal with the Lord or Andal Kalyanaam as visualized by her and to this day, the paavai nombu is prescribed for young girls desiring to attain a groom of their choice. Similarly, Ashtapadis conclude with Radha Kalyanam and Krishna Leela Tarangini concludes with Rukmini Kalyanam. In a deeper philosophical sense, all these works speak of the union of the soul with the Lord and are each are complete forms in themselves of worshipping and attaining the Lord.

Pics courtesy : https://upload.wikimedia.org, www.freepicspot.com and www.thehindu.com