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Fanciful ideas about breaching embankments (6)

Guest article by Ashwin Bhandarkar

(The regular readers of SoY are aware that Ashwin Bhandarkar is a BITS Pilani and IIM Calcutta alumnus and is an IT professional based in Pune. What makes him exceptional is that he has had over ten years of formal training in Hindustani classical music. This (Pun)dit (Pun)-e-kar, in a befitting यथा नाम तथा गुण, is also blessed with incorrigible punny bones which we have seen in plenty in his previous posts.

Ashwin continues his penchant for combining the profound with the light with the Title of this post which is a cleverly crafted convoluted conundrum, which you can crack only if you are a cruciverbalist. Oh no, this is not how I write! This post must have infected me with a bug which you encounter in the very first sentence, and which permeates the entire article. You don’t have to specially look for it, you can’t miss it as it comes. But make no mistakes; Ashwin’s matter is never mundane, his mastery over music is magnificent, and the melody is always absolutely mellifluous.

Lastly, a little information about Ashwin’s perseverance with this post. He first appeared as a guest author on this blog over three years ago, and this post is also as old, because right then he had placed his handkerchief to reserve this topic for himself. After reading it, I can imagine why it has taken him so long. Now the hanky goes back to its holder until he or another guest author puts it to reserve a seat for another topic. Thanks a lot Ashwin for another superb post. – AK)

Andal's dream_Painting by S RajamI’m sure that cryptic crossword buffs amongst SoY readers would have cracked the crossword clue that is the title of this post. Let me solve it for the others:

‘Dams’ is a synonym of ‘embankments’. In crosswords, ‘about’ is the cryptic clue for ‘Re’, the short form for the reference line in formal letters. ‘Breaching’ between ‘about’ and ‘embankments’ indicates that the solution is an anagram of ‘Re Dams’. Now, what is a 6-letter anagram of ‘Re Dams’ that means ‘fanciful ideas’? ‘Dreams’, of course! And, songs about dreams are what this article is about.

Some of you might accuse me of being an attention seeker for coming up with this click-bait of a title. Guilty as charged! But then, there was another reason for the choice – a weird or unconventional title will ensure that readers will remember the post for a long time to come, even if they do not recall the contents, especially if the contents do not measure up to the high standards of SoY posts. And I am sure that something similar was running through the minds of the makers of films with such unforgettable titles as Raja Rani Ko Chaahiye Paseena, Murde Ke Jaan Khatre Mein, Allah Meherbaan To Gadha Pehelwaan and so on. So in a way, I am only following in their illustrious footsteps. And in my defence, while I am not sure whether the contents of the afore-mentioned movies had anything to do with the respective movie titles or not, in the case of this article, the post does have everything to do with its title, or rather the cryptic meaning of the title!

With that little matter having been taken care of, and in keeping with SoY convention, let me devote some space to the topic of dreams per se before moving on to songs about dreams.

Humankind has been aware of dreams for a long time now, and dreams have found a place in the mythology, religion, philosophy, literature and arts of practically every culture over the ages. To cite but one example – in Hindu mythology, the whole of creation is said to be nothing but Vishnu’s dream. The underpinning of this myth is the realization that all creation is impermanent and hence illusory (Maya), like a dream. Almost every culture from the ancient Egyptians and Mesopotamians to the ancient Indians and Chinese and from the Native Americans to the Aboriginal Australians has attempted to interpret dreams, usually to presage future events. Legend and literature across the world abound with stories in which dreams foretell the future. One well-known example is the dream that the Buddha’s mother (coincidentally, her name was Maya) had about a six-tusked white elephant entering her which meant that she had conceived a child who would rule the world or become a Buddha. Another is Calpurnia’s nightmare about Caesar’s assassination in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. In fact, if one does a Pareto Analysis of sorts of Hindu legends about dreams, I am sure that 80% of such legends will have either the birth of a great personage or the location of an idol of a deity being foretold/revealed in the dream – I have cited some examples in the latter portion of this post. In modern times, Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung made the analysis of dreams one of the cornerstones of modern psychoanalytic theory and practice. Dreams have also led to great scientific breakthroughs – August Kekulé famously discovered the structure of the benzene molecule after having a day-dream of a snake seizing its own tail and it was in a dream that Nobel Laureate Otto Loewi got the idea for the experiment that led to the discovery that transmission of nerve impulses is a chemical phenomenon. The seeds for great works of literature and art have been sowed in dreams – the source for the idea for ‘Frankenstein’ was a dream (nightmare?) that Mary Shelley had and the basic tune for ‘Yesterday’ came to Paul McCartney in a dream. Last but not least, the word ‘dream’ also has the meaning of ‘cherished aspiration, ambition or ideal’ or ‘fanciful ideas’, depending on one’s perspective, in most languages. Thus we have such gems as Martin Luther King Jr’s ‘I have a dream’ speech.

With all of what I have stated above, it is no surprise that humankind has sung about dreams through the ages and continues to do so. So now on to the songs! As usual, I will cover Hindi film songs first before moving on to other genres of Indian music. I have divided the film songs into several categories based on the meanings of the lyrics. Akin to the ‘management best practice’ of breaking bad news before giving good news, I will begin with songs that are sad and laden with despair, and then move on to the happier, peppier ones.

1. Shattered dreams/Dreams that were too good to be true

Pride of place in this category goes to Geeta Dutt’s first hit song – Mera sundar sapna beet gaya. She was Geeta Roy then and still in her teens when the movie was released. The song never fails to move me whenever I listen to it, not only because of the feeling that she has poured into it but also because the lyrics seem to mirror the tragic story of her life after she became Geeta Dutt.

One revelation that I had while listening to the song – the tune of the mukhda is almost identical to the tune of the line Mere sainya ko sandeswa laiyo ja from Chanda re ja re ja re from Ziddi, which was released a year after Do Bhai was released.

1.1 Mera sundar sapna beet gaya by Geeta Roy (MD – SD Burman, Lyricist – Raja Mehdi Ali Khan), from Do Bhai (1947)

The next song in this category is a Lata Mangeshkar song from Anokha Pyaar, which was released a year after the release of Do Bhai. There is another version of the song in Mukesh’s voice but for once, the version in the female voice is more appealing – at least to me, if not to others. I will never cease being bewitched by the sweetness and innocence in Lata’s voice during the first few years of her career, so much in evidence in this song.

1.2 Jeevan sapna toot gaya by Lata Mangeshkar (MD – Anil Biswas, Lyricist – Zia Sarhadi), from Anokha Pyaar (1948)

Next, we savour the silken vocals of Talat Mehmood in a song, the lyrics and tune of which create a feeling of wistfulness and poignancy. The character in the song, played by Talat himself, seems to have resigned himself to his fate.

Please note the ghoda gaadi beat of the song – one more example of the influence of this signature OP Nayyar-rhythm on the work of his contemporaries, a topic that has been discussed earlier on this forum.

1.3 Raat ne kya kya khwaab dikhaaye by Talat Mehmood (MD – Salil Chowdhury, Lyricist – Shailendra), from Ek Gaaon ki Kahaani (1957)

The last ditty in this category is from a Dev Anand drama about diamonds and depicts a distraught damsel, distressed by a demolished dream, in a dinghy. What a masterpiece of a composition!

1.4 Rula ke gaya sapna mera by Lata Mangeshkar (MD – SD Burman, Lyricist – Shailendra), from Jewel Thief (1967)

2. Dreams as a metaphor for the mysteries that are life and death

Hindi film lyricists have often drawn parallels between the illusory and evanescent nature of dreams on one hand and the ambiguities of right and wrong, and the impermanence of all things in life, including relationships, on the other. The following two all-time classics are perhaps the best examples of this. In the second song, the reference to dreams takes the form of Janam maran ka mel hai sapna, yeh sapna bisra de in the second antara.

2.1 Zindagi khwaab hai by Mukesh (MD – Salil Chowdhury, Lyricist – Shailendra), from Jaagte Raho (1956)

2.2 Man re tu kaahe na dheer dhare by Mohd.Rafi (MD – Roshan, Lyricist – Sahir Ludhianvi), from Chitralekha (1964)

Now, let’s move on to some other types of song categorization. An interesting insight yielded by the exercise of song categorization that I did for this article was that dreams have been personified in all three grammatical persons – first, second and third – in Hindi film songs. What follow are examples of songs in each of these three categories.

3. Personification of dreams – First person

It would be the height of hubris for a hero to declare to his heroine, “I am your dream come true, so better love me”, but in the following song, we have the exact opposite situation – a dude who is depressed and who descends to the depths of Devdas-like despair while delivering a doleful ditty that goes “I am a dream, don’t love a dream”.

Main to ek khwaab hun by Mukesh (MD – Kalyanji-Anandji , Lyricist – Qamar Jalalabadi), from Himalay Ki Gode Mein (1965)

4. Personification of dreams – Second person

In this delightful ditty in drut tempo, the dashing and debonair Dev deludes each of the devis at the dance-do into believing that it is she to whom he is putting the question, “Are you a dream? Are you for real?”

Khwaab ho tum ya by Kishore Kumar (MD – SD Burman, Lyricist – Majrooh Sultanpuri), from Teen Deviyaan (1964)

5. Personification of dreams – Third person

In a supremely sweet-sounding ‘surrogate song’ (please refer to AK’s article on surrogate songs for the meaning of this AKism) of sorts, the singer sings of her sweetheart showing up as a sapna. I have termed it a surrogate song since Suraiya must have seethed at having to stand silently and have a Lata song picturised on her. Not to be missed is Premnath’s perfunctory percussion playing, totally out of sync with the song’s rhythm .

Sapna ban saajan aaye by Lata Mangeshkar (MD – Jamal Sen, Lyricist – Kidar Sharma), from Shokhiyaan (1952)

Let us now proceed from personification-paaTTus* to pads on pipedreams, classified based on the possessive pronoun (my/our/your/their) used by the person singing the paaDal**.

* & ** – Tamil for ‘song’

6. My dreams

In this lovely song, it is the first person plural possessive pronoun (hamaare) that is used but it is apparent that the dreams being referred to are those of an individual.

Sudhir Phadke, the composer of this song, was not very prolific in Hindi films but gave some memorable songs, the best known undoubtedly being Jyoti kalash chaalke.

Aise hain sukh sapan hamaare by Lata Mangeshkar (MD – Sudhir Phadke, Lyricist – Narendra Sharma), from Ratna Ghar (1955)

7. Your dreams

The heroine in the following song is euphoric that her beloved has realized his dreams but for some reason, he is pensive and preoccupied. In my opinion, the onomatopoeic usage of ‘chik chik chik cha cha chhai’ is what lends this song its charm. My hunch is that the tune for the song was inspired by the tune of Rabindranath Tagore’s Chhinna sikal paye niye but I have not been able to find anything on the Internet to corroborate this. I am sure that SoY sage Mr N Venkataraman will confirm this one way or the other.

7.1 Sach hue sapne tere by Asha Bhosle (MD – SD Burman, Lyricist – Shailendra), from Kala Bazar (1960)

7.2 Chhinna sikal paye niye by Asoktaru Bandyopadhyay (Lyrics & Music – Rabindranath Tagore)

8. Our dreams

The overwhelming majority of Indian films are stories of romantic relationships and since shared dreams are an integral part of such relationships, it follows that there ought to be songs about them in Hindi films. Here are two very well-known ones, both from the magic baton of SD Burman and from films starring Dev Anand, who seems to have become a mascot of sorts for this article.

8.1 Tere mere sapne by Mohammad Rafi (MD – SD Burman, Lyricist – Shailendra), from Guide (1965)

8.2 Hey maine kasam li by Kishore Kumar & Lata Mangeshkar (MD – SD Burman, Lyricist – Neeraj), from Tere Mere Sapne (1971)

9. Their dreams

This is a null set as far as I am concerned. One, because in Hindi, ‘Unke sapne’, for example, always has the meaning ‘Dreams about them’ rather than ‘Their dreams’. Two, because even the one or two songs that came close to conveying the meaning that I was looking for were so horrible that I thought it would be good maintain a healthy social distance between these songs and my article.

10. Queen/girl of my dreams

My first exemplar in this category is an iconic song in which the hero serenades the heroine, who is travelling on the Toy Train of Darjeeling, and calls her the queen of his dreams. The song is so evergreen that it is difficult to believe that more than half-a-century has passed since it hit the screen!

10.1 Mere sapnon ki rani by Kishore Kumar (MD – SD Burman, Lyricist – Anand Bakshi), from Aradhana (1969)

My second choice is the title song from an eponymous film starring the Dream Girl of Hindi films.

10.2 Dream Girl by Kishore Kumar (MD – Laxmikant Pyarelal, Lyricist – Anand Bakshi), from Dream Girl (1977)

I did find a couple of sapnon ka raja songs but did not find them worthy of inclusion in this curation.

11. Rendezvouses/conversations in dreams

This category abounds with songs and my Lata-bias resulted in my picking the following two songs with contrasting sentiments. Both songs have been picturised on Madhubala. In the first one, the nayika eagerly anticipates the arrival of her lover whereas in the second song, she is wistful and recalls the bitter-sweet moments of her encounters with her beloved. Unfortunately, I was not able to find the video for the second song, so we will have to make do with just the sound track.

11.1 Mere sapne mein aana re by Lata Mangeshkar (MD – Shankar-Jaikishan, Lyricist – Shailendra), from Raj Hath (1956)

11.2 Sapne mein sajan se do baatein by Lata Mangeshkar (MD – Madan Mohan, Lyricist – Rajendra Krishna), from Gateway of India (1957)

12. Dreams from our youth

Most people have fond recollections of their jawaani ke din and jawaani ke sapne and so does the character played by Waheeda Rehman in this song.

12.1 Sapne suhaane ladakpan ke by Lata Mangeshkar (MD – Hemant Kumar, Lyricist – Shakeel Badayuni), from Bees Saal Baad (1962)

That brings me to the end of the Hindi film song section of this article… well, almost … because the article would be incomplete without a mention of the famed dream sequence from Awara. Several years ago, I had chanced upon this excellent write-up (link given below) on this landmark work. It is from a blog dedicated to how India’s traditional dance forms have been portrayed in Indian cinema, documentaries and archival footage, and it is run by Cassidy, an American lady. The blog is a treasure trove and so is every article in it, including this one. I really do not have anything to add to what has been stated therein, so all that I will do is to request SoYers to read the article, which also has a link to the video of the song sequence.

12.2 On the Awaara Dream Sequence

Let us now take a quick dekko at a few film songs in other languages. To ease the transition, we will begin with the Bangla version (or was it the original?) of a Hindi song.

13. Amar swapna tumi ogo by Asha Bhosle & Kishore Kumar (MD – Shyamal Mitra, Lyricist – Gauriprasanna Mazumdar), from Anand Ashram (1977)

Next is a devotional from a Kannada film. The song has nothing to do with the subject of this post but I have loved the song from childhood and my justification for sneaking it in is that the title of the film means ‘Two Dreams’. I hope this inclusion will earn me some brownie points with SoY enthusiast Dr. Shetty, which I will redeem on my next visit to Mangalore, the place where I hail from.

14. Poojisalende hoogala tande by S Janaki (MD – Rajan-Nagendra, Lyricist – Chitnahalli Udayashankar), from Yeradu Kanasu (1974)

Next, we have this Tamil film song considered to be a classic. It uses the Raga Chandrakauns and its sharp (shuddha) nishaad to great effect to convey the poignancy of the sentiments in the lyrics which contrast the unrealistic promises of dreams with the harsh realities of life. It seems Ilaiyaraja has cited this song as a major influence on his career.

15. Maalai pozhuthin mayakatthile naan kanavu kanden thozhi by P. Suseela (MD – Viswanathan-Ramamurthy, Lyricist – Kannadasan), from Bhagyalakshmi (1961)

To round off the film song section, we have this Marathi song sung by the least-known of the Mangeshkar siblings – Meena. An interesting personal note – Lata used to have a bank account with the Syndicate Bank branch in Kolhapur, of which my grandfather-in-law was the manager, so he was an invitee to Meena Mangeshkar’s wedding. He attended the wedding along with my mother-in-law, who was a teenager at that time.

16. Mani base ti swapni dise by Meena Mangeshkar (MD – Vasant Desai, Lyricist – P Sawlaram), from Kanchan Ganga (1954)

The following bhavgeets, based on ragas, make for a good bridge to the songs in the classical music section. The first – one of the earliest bhavgeets sung by Lata – is based on Raga Darbari Kanada. It was a great favourite of my late maternal grandmother, who used to sing it beautifully. The second song, sung by Asha, is based on Raga Gaud Sarang.

17. Tuza swapni paahile re gopala by Lata Mangeshkar (MD & Lyricist – Datta Davjekar)

18. Kaala paahile mee swapna gade by Asha Bhosle (MD – Shrinivas Khale, Lyricist – Yogeshwar Abhyankar)

We now sample a couple of bandishes on the topic of dreams from the world of Hindustani Classical Music. We begin with a rendition of the early morning raga Lalit recorded by the great Bhimsen Joshi for HMV. The lyrics of the vilambit bandish are as follows:

Sthaayi: Raina ka sapna ri main kaase kahoon ri apna
Antara: Sovat sovat aankhen khuleen jab, kou na paayo apna

19. Raga Lalit by Bhimsen Joshi

Next on is the rendition of Sapne mein aaye, a drut bandish in the early evening raga – Puriya – by DV Paluskar, whose brilliant career was cut short by his tragic and untimely death. The lyrics of the composition are attributed to Sadarang, the nom de plume of Niamat Khan, the prolific khayal vaggeyakara attached to the court of Mohammad Shah Rangeele in the 18th century.

20. Raga Puriya by DV Paluskar

Carnatic Trinity_Painting by S Rajam

We now move to the world of Carnatic Music. Carnatic Music would not have been the grand tradition that it is today had it not been for the magnificent compositions of the Trinity – Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastry. Coincidentally, they were all born in Tiruvarur, a village located in the Kaveri delta and well-known for its Shiva temple, within a span of 13 years in the late 18th century. While doing research for this article, I came to know that dreams played important roles in the life events of each of these great vaggeyakaras, and that the incidents around these dreams have been referred to by them in their compositions. For example, legend has it that the birth of Dikshitar was foretold in a dream to his father, Ramaswami, by the Goddess Balambika, following the propitiation of the Goddess by Ramaswami, and this has been alluded to in the two lines starting from bhaavaraagataala in Dikshitar’s kriti in Raga Kalyani, Bhajare re chitta Balambikaam. The following rendition of the kriti is by S Sowmya, a Sangeeta Kalanidhi with a doctorate in Chemistry to boot, among other accomplishments.

21. Bhaja re chitta Balambikaam (Raga Kalyani, Composer – Muthuswami Dikshitar) by S Sowmya

(The song starts at 10:02.)

Dikshitar was a polymath and a veena player besides being a singer and a composer. His kritis, a majority of which are in Sanskrit, reflect the extent of his astounding polymathy. Of particular interest to followers of SoY will be the fact that, with the help of his violinist brother, Baluswami, he incorporated Western tunes into Carnatic Music, leading to a set of compositions known as Nottuswara (‘Nottu’ being the Tamil apabhramsa of ‘note’) and the violin finding a place in Indian Classical Music. He also sojourned to Kashi and learnt dhrupad and adopted Hindustani ragas such as Jaijaiwanti into Carnatic Music. The influence of the dhrupad ang can be seen in several of his compositions

Another incident in Dikshitar’s life has the Goddess Lakshmi appearing to him in a dream and telling him that he will never know material poverty. He then composes a song, Mangala devatayaa, in Her praise in the Raga Dhanyasi. Here is a rendition of this song by the veteran Seetha Rajan. Do note how Dikshitar, who used the nom de plume of Guruguha, ingeniously incorporates the name of the raga (ragamudra) into the sahitya of the kriti, splitting the name across two words (vibhakti) in the line Daridra dukkhaadi moordhanyaa Shiva nigrahayaa. This is a common feature in most of his kritis.

22. Mangala devatayaa (Raga Dhanyasi, Composer – Muthuswami Dikshitar) by Seetha Rajan

Let us move to Thyagaraja now. According to the legend, Lord Shiva in his form as Thyagaraja, the presiding deity of the temple in Tiruvarur, appeared to Thyagaraja’s father in a dream and told him that a son would be born to him and that he should be named Thyagaraja. Thyagaraja was born in 1767 and he composed hundreds of songs (some say over twenty two thousand but so far the count of known compositions is in the range of 700 – 800, depending on the source) during the course of his life. Most of these compositions are in Telugu and are on Lord Rama, his ishtadevata. Accounts of the life of Thyagaraja, who is venerated as a saint in the South, are full of many miraculous incidents and many of these provide the context for specific compositions. There is an incident in which his brother, incensed at the lack of Thyagaraja’s interest in amassing wealth, throws the idols of Rama, Sita and Lakshmana that Thyagaraja worships into the Kaveri, which is in spate. Thyagaraja is beside himself with grief and does not know how to find the idols till the Lord appears in a dream and tells Thyagaraja where to find them. An elated Thyagaraja retrieves the idols and composes the following song, in which he exults about having beheld the Lord. The rendition that I have selected is by the legendary Balamuralikrishna.

23. Kanugontini sri ramuni nedu (Raga Bilahari, Composer – Thyagaraja) by M Balamuralikrishna

In Giripai Nelakonna, which is believed to have been the last song that he composed, Thyagaraja sings about having a dream in which he saw the Lord standing on a hill and in which He promised Thyagaraja moksha. Thyagaraja attained samadhi a few days later. Let us listen to an instrumental rendition of this kriti. The artiste is the legendary violinist, Lalgudi Jayaraman.

24. Giripai nelakona ramuni (Raga Sahana, Composer – Thyagaraja) by Lalgudi Jayaraman

Finally, we come to Syama Sastri, the senior-most of the Trinity by age. As staunch a devotee of Devi as Thyagaraja was of Lord Rama, Syama Sastri was also an ordained priest of the Bangaru Kamakshi Amman Temple in Thanjavur. It is said that he was once asked by an elderly brahmin to visit Madurai and sing in praise of Goddess Meenakshi, the presiding deity of that ancient town. This person reappeared, this time in Syama Sastri’s dream, and reminded the latter about his request. Thereafter Syama Sastri went on a pilgrimage to Madurai and composed the Navaratnamalika, a set of nine Telugu compositions in praise of Goddess Meenakshi. Here are two of these compositions, respectively rendered by DK Pattamal, and MS Subbulakshmi, two of the Trinity of path-breaking women musicians in Carnatic Music, the other being ML Vasanthakumari.

25. Mayamma (Raga Ahiri, Composer – Syama Sastri) by DK Pattammal

26. Sarojadalanetri (Raga Sankarabharanam, Composer – Syama Sastri) by MS Subbulakshmi

(The song starts at 15:05.)

I will end my article with songs by three women, among the greatest mystics of India. The first one is a vachana by ‘Akka’ Mahadevi, a Veerashaiva mystic who lived in the 12th century. Akka, which means ‘elder sister’ was the honorific given to her by other Veerashaiva mystics/saints. Her story is similar to that of Meerabai. Besotted by Lord Shiva in His form of Chenna Mallikarjuna from her childhood, she is not able to come to terms with her marriage (to a king, according to some accounts), so throwing social norms to the winds, she leaves him to become a wandering ascetic. She becomes so engrossed in the thoughts and the worship of her chosen One that she even forgets to wear clothes. Her non-conformism is very evident in her more than 400 vachanas, all of which are in simple Kannada but have deep philosophical meaning. Here is a rendition of one of her well-known vachanas, tuned to Raga Pahadi by the great Mallikarjun Mansur, and sung by the brilliant Venkatesh Kumar. In it, she speaks about a dream in which her hand is taken by Chenna Mallikarjuna, who is visiting her to seek alms, dressed as a tribal.

27. Akka kelavva naan ondu kanasu kande by Venkatesh Kumar (Lyrics – Akka Mahadevi)

The second mystic poet whose work I feature here is Andal, the Tamil saint-poet of the 8th century. She is counted as the only woman in the list of 12 Azhwar saints of the Vaishnava tradition of Tamil Nadu, and is in fact worshipped as a Goddess. ‘Andal’ (pronounced AaNDaaL) means ‘she who ruled’ and refers to how Kodhai, which was her given name, ruled the heart of Lord Ranganatha (Vishnu), the presiding deity of the temple at Srirangam. It is believed that she was found under a tulsi plant by the Azhwar saint Periazhwar, the priest at the local Vishnu temple in the village of Srivilliputtur, and that he adopted her. According to legend, he catches her wearing the garland meant for the deity and he scolds her for her act but the Lord appears in his dream that night and instructs him to use only the garland worn by Andal for His worship. When she grows up, she insists on marrying Ranganatha and no one else and the Lord instructs the priests at the Srirangam temple to prepare for the wedding. When Andal’s palanquin arrives at the temple, she jumps out of it and runs to embrace the idol and becomes one with it. Andal is credited with two great poetic works in Tamil – the Thiruppavai and the Nacchiyar Thirumozhi. Both of these are full of her outpourings of love for the Lord. While the first-mentioned is very popular and is recited/sung by one and all during the month of Margazhi, the latter work is not sung so widely, possibly because of the erotic nature of some of the verses. The 143 paasurams (verses) of the Nacchiyar Thirumozhi (The Divine Sayings of the Goddess) are grouped into 14 thirumozhis, each of which is about an effort to hasten her union with Ranganatha. The 6th thirumozhi is made up of 10 verses in which Andal relates her dream to a thozhi (sakhi). The dream is about her wedding to the Lord and she describes the wedding in elaborate detail. The translation of this specific set of verses by Aurobindo can be found at The entire work is supposed to have come to Andal in a dream and therefore the 6th thirumozhi can be described as a dream within a dream!

The Nacchiyar Thirumozhi has been set to tune by the renowned senior musician, scholar and Sangeeta Kalanidhi, R Vedavalli, and the 6th set of verses can be heard from 40:51 to 45:34 in the recording below.

28. Nacchiyar Thirumozhi by R Vedavalli (Lyrics – Andal)

Bringing this post to a close is a work by Meerabai. Inarguably, the most well-known mystic poetess in India, she was a rebel who did not cow down in the face of the opposition to her Krishna-worship. In the following song, rendered by Lata, Meerabi tells her mother about a dream in which she marries the Lord. Incidentally, it seems Lata likes this song a lot since it has references to her father’s name (Deenanath) and to the name used by most to address her mother (Maai).

29. Maai mhano supnam paranyare dinanath by Lata Mangeshkar (Lyrics – Meerabai, MD – Hridaynath Mangeshkar)

With that, I come to the end of a post that took more than three years to translate from idea (dream?) to reality. I cannot believe I had SoYaed over the topic for so long but good sleep is a prerequisite for sweet dreams, so I guess it was all for the good. For now I am glad I can take back the virtual hanky that I threw in to reserve this topic… or maybe I will ask AK to reuse it as a place-holder for yet another topic for an SoY post….

1.    ‘The Times of India’ for the cryptic clue that is the title of this post.
2.    The site for the weird movie titles.
3.    My friends, V Siva Subramaniam and Venkatesh Panchapagesan, for the Tamil film song and the Ilaiyaraja-related information about it.
4. for S Rajam’s painting of the ‘Carnatic Music Trinity’ (used at the beginning of the section on Carnatic music).
5.    Muthuswami Dikshitar by TL Venkatarama Aiyar, National Book Trust for the information on Dikshitar and Bhaja re re chitta balambikaam.
6.    An uncredited PhD thesis on the Shodhganga online archive for the information on Mangala devatayaa.
7.    Thyagaraja Aradhana Souvenir, a publication of Sruti, The India Music & Dance Society, Philadelphia for the information on Thyagaraja and Kanugontini.
8.    My friend, Sriram V, for the selection of Giripai nelakona ramuni and the information about it, and for reviewing the portion of the post pertaining to the Trinity.
9.    That longing for Mother by Rama Kausalya from ‘The Hindu’ for the information on Syama Sastri.
10.    Wikipedia for the information on Akka Mahadevi.
11. for the meaning of Akka kelavva
12.    My friend, Sushruti Santhanam, for her inputs on the Nacchiar Thirumozhi.
13. for S Rajam’s painting of ‘Andal’s Dream’ (Picture at the top left hand corner).

The song videos have been embedded from the YouTube only for the listening pleasure of the music lovers. This blog does not claim any copyright over these songs which vests in the respective owners, such as Saregama India Limited and others.

This post first appeared on Songs Of Yore - Old Hindi Film Songs, please read the originial post: here

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Fanciful ideas about breaching embankments (6)


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