Alaipaayudhey - The Waves of Love

ALAIPAAYUDHEY is a soulful song composed by the prolific poet, Venkata Subramanium, (1700 – 1765), who was born in Mannargudi (Thiruvaroor district), to the Tamil Smaartha couple, Subbu Kutty Iyer and Shrimathi Venkamma. During his childhood, the family moved to Oothukaadu, a village near Kumbakonam. Young Venkata was an ardent devotee of Lord Krishna. He was inclined towards music from a tender age and aspired to learn music in a traditional manner from a Guru. But for reasons unknown, several teachers refused to be his mentor. Since he was not able to find a Guru, he appealed to Lord Krishna and requested the Lord to be his Guru. It is believed that he had received the initiation from the Lord Kalinga Narthana Krishna, the presiding deity in the Oothukadu Temple. This is evident through his 15 compositions, wherein he hails the greatness of his GURU, LORD KRISHNA. He was devoted to the ‘Kalinga Narthana Krishna’ of Oothukadu, and has composed hundreds of songs in praise of Lord Krishna. Hence, he was fondly known as Oothukadu Venkata Kavi.

Venkata Kavi composed songs in Tamil and Sanskrit. He wielded complete mastery over the science and art of music, in all spheres like, Melody, Rhythm, and Lyrics. His songs were replete with in-depth meaning that invoked emotions. He was proficient in several forms of music like Krithis, Thillanas, Javalis, Kaavadi sindhu and Natangams. He has composed songs in rare ragas such as, Bala Hamsa, Rasa manjari, Maalavi, Umaabharanam, Lalitha Gandharvam and Deepaaram. He also ventured into scarcely attempted Talas (rhythmic cycles), such as Khanda Dhruvam (17 beats per cycle) and Sankeerna Madhyamam (20 beats per cycle). His lyrics were simple, but through the lyrics Venkatakavi was able to paint pictures of Lord Krishna’s life and His Leelas, which the listeners were able to visualize and savor. Some of his popular compositions are, Sri Vignarajam Bhajey, Paal vadiyum mugam, Thaayey Yeshodha, Kuzhaloodhi, Aadaadhu Asangaadhu, Asaindhaadum mayil and Swagatham Krishna.

The song, Alaipaayudhey Kanna, is an iconic one, composed in the Raaga, Kaanada and Aadhi Tala (a rhythmic cycle of 8 beats). Kaanada Raaga is a Janya Raaga, derived from the 22nd Melakartha, Karaharapriya. This Raaga gives ample scope for Aalaapana (musical elaborations) and Gamakas (minute nuances). The raaga oozes with Bhakti (devotion) and Karuna (compassion) Bhavas. It also is majestic and invokes Veeram (Valor). This raaga is believed to cure insomnia. The soothing combination of swaras is therapeutic for sleep disorders.

The renowned classical compositions in this raaga are, Mamava Satha Janani by Swati Thirunal, Sukhi Evvaro by Thyagarajar, Enna Solli Azhaithaal by Ambhujam Krishna and Alaipaayudhey Kanna by Oothakaadu Venkata Kavi. The movie songs based on this Raaga are, Mullai malar meiley (Uthama puthiran), Poo maalai Vaangi (Sindhu Bhairavi), Kalyaana Thaen nila (Mounam Sammadham) and many more.

In the song, Alaipaayudhey, the composer has created an amazing Potpourri of all emotions such as, Love, Yearning, Fascination, Anxiety, Joy, Sorrow, Anger, Grief and Sublimity. Let us also enjoy the various fragrances this aromatic Potpourri offers.

The song commences with the Love filled mind which is restless and Yearning for Lord Krishna.

My mind is cascading like waves, O! Kanna (Krishna) while listening to the joyful, alluring music of your flute. My mind is all aflutter.

I stand transfixed, in Fascination, like a statue, oblivious of the passage of time, oh! Mysterious bearer of the flute.

The crystal-clear moon is scorching me like the midday sun. My eyebrows are straining and looking towards your direction with Anxiety. The lilting music from your flute is wafting through the breeze, towards me. Listening to this music, my eyes feel drowsy and a novel feeling cocoons me.

Come and bless me with your Lotus feet, and fill my heart with rapturous Joy. Embrace me in the lonely woods, and take me to an ecstatic state. Come and give me anklets, which are shimmering like the rays of the sun on the dancing waves of the sea. Here I am wailing in Sorrow, in a heart melting manner, while you are rejoicing with the other women. In sheer Anger I ask you, ‘Is this fair? Is this Proper? Is this your Dharma?’ Just like your earrings are dangling as you play your flute, my heart is swaying with Grief. Oh! Kanna (Krishna), the enchanting music of your flute, transfers me to a Sublime state.

This composition is a fine example of Viraha Bhava (the poignant pain and anguish of separation). This song can have a myriad interpretations. It can be as if it is sung by Radha, expressing her love for Lord Krishna, or as the Gopis (female-cowherds of Brindavan) pining for their Lord, or as the composer himself craving for the union with his Lord, or even the Rasikas yearning to be one with the Lord. Just as Radha and Gopis beg for Union with Lord Krishna, in the same manner, the composer and the rasikas beg for Moksha (release from the cycle of birth and death), and also to attain His Lotus Feet. Whenever the rasikas listen to this rhapsodic composition they feel elated.

Yamuna is a resident of Coimbatore and is pursuing Hindustani vocal music under the tutelage of Shri Kedar Karatji . She also teaches bhajans and conducts English Grammar classes for school children . Her other passions are writing travelogs , playing keyboard , gardening , going on pilgrimages and exploring & enriching her knowledge through travel.