Archive for category Tamil Nadu

The lion among poets – Sri Vedanta Desika

The sandals (paduka) which adorn the Lord, which help in the attainment of all that is good and auspicious, which give knowledge, which cause the desire (of having the Lord as one’s own), which remove all that is hostile, which have attained the Lord, which are used for going and coming from one place to another, by which all places of the world can be reached, these sandals are for Lord Vishnu.

This incredible verse which uses just one vowel (a) and one consonant (ya)- infused with imagery, love, devotion and poetic sense- is taken from the Paduka Sahasram, an epic poem of 1008 verses praising the footwear of Lord Ranganatha of Srirangam. Verses like the above are created only with beautiful Sanskrit as a powerful tool, with a thorough knowledge and understanding of the real truth, and with a poetic mind that is also devoted to the supreme. And, definitely, despite being an expert in Sanskrit, only incarnations of the divine are capable of producing such striking work of word-play. Of course, the paduka sahasram was written by the unparalleled mulitilingual poet and VisisthAdvaita philosopher – Sri Vedanta Desika. Read the rest of this entry »


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The Trinity of Karnataka Sangeetam

Music is an integral part of an Indian’s life. Classical music indeed brings peace and harmony to the soul. Musical renditions have the power to lift man from depression into ecstasy, especially when sung with a devotional note. In an earlier post on Hindustani music, we had seen the contribution of the legendary Pandit Bhatkhande in helping to sustain the survival of Hindustani classical music. Hindustani music is to northern India what Karnataka Sangeetam (Carnatic Music) is to South India. Like the former, Carnatic music is also highly systematized. In fact, classical Carnatic music is one of the world’s oldest and richest musical traditions. In the modern era, three musicians had seminal influence on the evolution and popularization of Carnatic music – Saint Tyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri. They were the Trinity of Carnatic music. They were each prolific composers with unique styles and were contemporaries who lived during the period between 1760 and 1850 in the Kaveri delta of Tamil Nadu. Even today songs written by them constitute an integral part of Carnatic music concerts. This post will narrate short anecdotes from each of this trinity’s life. Read the rest of this entry »

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Millenia ago, a succession of devotee-poets took birth in the Tamizh country. They celebrated the glories of the Lord through mellifluous poetry. The Vaishnava poets amongst them are called alvaars, literally meaning those who are immersed in God. There were twelve Aalvaars in total, and today we recount the story of Aadaal – the only female mystic finding place in this list.

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Most of us who have learnt Tamil/speak Tamil have heard of SilappadhigAram. If that does not ring a bell, then surely seeing Kannagi’s statue on the Marina Beach would. The story of Kannagi continues our grand narrative of dharma as it is interpreted across centuries of different lands of BhArat varSha. Its outward manifestations might change – The PanTHa(s) (path, sect) might be different, the language employed may be varied – but the inner core symbolizing eternal dharma remains constant.

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“Sapo Aham”

I start this blog with a very sweet story from the life of the great sage Patanjali.

There was a sage who went to the banks of a river everyday to perform his daily prayers. One day, as usual this sage was praying in the river, and he took some water in his cupped hands and then closed his eyes. After the prayer, when he opened his eyes, the sage was terrified by the sight of a snake in the water in his palms. He trembled and fearfully asked “Kor BhavAn ?” (He would have said “Ko Bhavaan” – meaning Who are you?)

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