Bhakti Song 2 – Come Down My Lord

Though I respect all forms of music, I like Carnatic and Hindustani music the most. My mother and I like when the singer uses a lot of ‘swaras’ in the song. In the early days, even though I heard a few lyrics in the evangelical circle, I never heard a single song with ‘swaras’.

Since I am not trained in a traditional way, I cannot use ‘kalpana swaras’ for my songs. But I finally fulfilled that desire by using the ‘sitta swara’ composed by Mysore Vasudevachariya to one of his famous songs ‘Broche va revarura’ in Telugu. I don’t know Telugu, but this song become very famous after it appeared in the Telugu film Sankarabaranam.

Since I saw the film several times and listened to the songs often, I quickly memorized that ‘sitta swara’. I then used it to write a song when I was travelling from Dharmapuri to Marandahalli in 1981 in my heart, and when I reached Marandahalli, immediately I completed that song with swaras.

‘Sitta swaras’ is composed originally by the author of the lyrics along with the song and in principle the singer has to use the same swaras when they sing that song. Whereas in other songs, they have the freedom to use their ‘kalpana swaras’ that suits to that particular raga.
2.      இறங்கி வாரும்

நீயே வேகம் இறங்கி வாரும், முக்தேசனே ராஜனே
நின் சரணம் புகலடைந்தேன்–என் பாவம் நீக்கிக் காக்கவே– இங்கு நீயே…
வல்லமையான ஆவி ஊற்றி வாழ்வில் வளம் பொங்கச் செய்ய
நின் கருணையாம் ஊற்று, பெருகிவந்து என்னையும் ஆட்கொள்ள- இங்கு

ஸ-ஸநிதபத நிசநிநி ததபத பாதமா, க-ம-ப-த-நி-ஸநீதபம, நிதாபம, கமபதமகரிஸ;
ஸமாகமபதமா, பதநி-ஸஸரிநி-நிநிஸதா-ததநிபாத, மபதநி, ஸநிதப-மகம
நிதநிபதமா-பதநி, ஸமாகரிஸ; ரி-ஸ-நி-த-ப–ஸ–நி–த–ப–ம–கமபதநி–நீயே…

கல்வாரி நாதா நின்கருணையே அண்டி ஓடிவந்தேன்
பாவிதான் நானையா, உன் உதிரத்தால் இங்கு மீட்புத் தாரும்
பார்த்திபனே உன் பாதம் பணிந்திடும் பாவியேன் என்னை நோக்கிப் பாரும்
தஞ்சம் என்று எங்கும் செல்ல வழி அன்றி நின்ற என்னை மீட்க இங்கு

ஸ-ஸநிதபத நிசநிநி ததபத பாதமா, க -ம-ப-த-நி-ஸநீதபம, நிதாபம, கமபதமகரிஸ;
ஸமாகமபதமா, பதநி-ஸஸரிநி-நிநிஸதா-ததநிபாத, மபதநி, ஸநிதப-மகம
நிதநிபதமா-பதநி, ஸமாகரிஸ; ரி-ஸ-நி-த-ப–ஸ–நி–த–ப–ம–கமபதநி–நீரே…

 

English Translation:

2.  COME DOWN
You quickly come down O Muktesa the King
I took refuge at your feet and to remove my sin and redeem me you come
down quickly
To pour your mighty Spirit to make my life very useful and
To overcome me by the flow of your fountain of grace, you come down quickly

Sa-sanidapa nisanini dadapada paadamaa, ga-ma-pa-da-ni-saneedapama,
nidaapama, gamapadamagarisa; samaagamapadama,
padani-sasarini-ninisadaa-dadanipaada,
Mapadani, sanidapa-magama nidanipadamaa-padani, samaagarisa;
ri-sa-ni-da-pa-sa-ni-da-pa-ma-gamapadani…..

O the Lord of the Cross, I came to you seeking your grace
I am a sinner, give me redemption through your blood
O the Lord of the World, look unto me, the sinner who bows at your feet
Knowing no other refuge, I stand at your feet; come quickly to redeem

 

Comments

Later when I was studying at UBS at Yavatmal in 1982 for the annual day, I taught this song to a Marati class mate and we both performed it before the college audience. Later one Tamil student came and appreciated it very much and told others that I wrote and composed this song.

Although he was not familiar with Carnatic music and didn’t know about the original song, I never tried to correct him that I was not the composer, though I wrote the lyrics.  I did this because when there was so much objection to every form of Hindu culture and tradition among the evangelicals, I knew either he or others would not take it well if they knew I simply copied the composition of a Hindu.

But to my surprise later I found a few Tamil lyrics written using several Hindu song forms. Dr. Savarirayan Yesudasan of Kristukula Ashram, Tiruppathur in North Arcot District, Tamilnadu wrote several songs verbatim taking from Ramalinga Swami’s Arutpa and Tayumanavar. In the introduction he wrote:

The way Western Hymns are rudely translated ignoring the Indian ragas and grammar procedures as ‘Pamalai Songs’ and ‘Gospel Songs’ might become pleasing to the Christians who are familiar with them from their childhood, yet they will look mere ‘Loud noise’ to the people of our land. To witness that the True Bhagavan [his own term] Christ is not alien but our own is the desire of the Christians, then is it good to do like this?  However it sounds revival for us, if it becomes stumbling block for others, won’t it then become selfishness?  Does not our worship become an ‘alien language’ for our country men? Regarding this I want to quote what my father Y.T. Savarirayap Pillai wrote sixty one years before (1860):

I don’t know if there anyone who is fond of music like Hindus in other countries….This being the truth, how sad it is to use the kind music which drives them away from us than attracting? In one book published by Hindus to oppose us, describing the mark of Christians they mock us by saying,  ‘once in a week they gather and shout as if the roof will collapse!— Ashramap Pamalai (Ashram song book), 8th impression, July, 1961, Kristukula Ashrama Press, Tiruppathur. pp. i-ii

Dr. Savarirayan also mentions how the word OM is used by Vedanayagam Sastriyar1 and Rev. Samuel in their poems (pp. 3-4). He also mentions that Pandit Narayan Vaman Tilak danced while singing by tying anklets on his leg in Maharashtra (p.4). He mentions that he took two songs from Arutpa by Ramaliga Pillai and changed a few words for Christians to sing (pp.58-59).

In this collection songs 107 and 108 are by Thayumanavar (who lived at Trichy and worshiped Siva). Song 300 follows the ‘Nindastuti’ form of Tamil poems in which the poet will praise the deity by using criticising and condemning him.

The reason for me to share this is that even a hundred years before, efforts were made to use Indian music and lyrics to worship the Lord. Strangely for me, several Hindu ‘converts’ also oppose our/my efforts to write and compose songs using our own musical form.

I still remember the way one Hindu bhakta in our group, when he came to see us for the first time was shocked the way I composed the music for Brahmabandhap Upadhyaya’s Sanskrit song ‘Upachita’. He said that it sounds like he is again listening to ‘Mahishashura Mardani sloka’ which was sung in the same tune. It took a long time for him to understand our approach. I will later share other Tamil songs which I wrote and composed resembling some famous songs.

When I met Sri Gopal at Salem in Prasad’s house, he enthusiastically shared several of his songs which he wrote and composed imitating even famous film songs. Since he received opposition, he never used them in his house church. He asked me “Is there any music called ‘Film music’ exclusively?” In response I said, “No. Music is music and it is common for all. In several films they used pure Carnatic music. So you have every right to use their music for your songs. Just ignore who oppose you.”

Then on my request he wrote and composed ‘Sandam’ which we often sing. Sandam is a kind of generic music form in which several poems are composed. One such famous song is ‘Kanda Shashti Kavasam’ sung by the Suramangalam Sisters. Gopal’s Yesu Sandam almost sounds like that. I feel that we have every right to use which belongs to our common heritage.
7-5-14

 

Endnotes

1. The following notes from Pakyamani will give more on Vedanayagam Sastriyar:

It looks strange to note that Sastri called the bridge as ‘Indirani’ (Marriage song 1.75) and bride-groom as ‘Indiran’ (Marriage songs 1.142), and ‘Harishchandra’ (Marriage song 1.142) using Hindu religious deities.—Dr. A. Pakiyamani, Vedanayaga Sastriyar Padaippuhal oru Thiranaivu (The Writings of Vedanayam Sastriyar—a Critical Review) Nagarcoil, (1991) second revised edition, 2001, p. 149

[Note that Pakiyamani fail to recognize that Harishchandara is not the name of Hindu deity.  Below he mentions the names that Sastriyar used for God like Allah, Siva, Sadasivam etc.  This being the truth, why it looks strange for using ‘Indira and Indirani’ for human bride and bridegroom?—db]

All these names which are found in these songs [(Aaranaadindam, Jnanppadal. Jebamalai)]: Allah, Suda, Kuda, Sivan, Sadasivam, Prabrahman, Yehweh, etc. are accepted by Sastri—p. 193