Enna Thavam Seithanai – The Sublime Penance

The song ENNA THAVAM SEITHANAI, is an adorable song that portrays the lovingly entwined relationship between the PARABRAHMAM (LORD KRISHNA) and His doting mother Yeshodha. The composer of the song is PAPANASAM RAAMAYYA SIVAM (1890-1973). He is fondly known as THAMILZH THYAGAIYAR. He was born on 26.9.1890 in Polagam, in Thanjavur district, which was the home to the Musical Trinity. He has composed several songs in Tamil. His compositions are simple and appeal even to those unversed in music. He used to visit the temple at Papanasam and compose and sing his compositions in the temple premises. Hence people referred to him as PAPANASAM SIVAM. His Tamil compositions such like, Naan oru vilayattu bommaiya, Kaana kan kodi vendum, Devi neeye thunai, Pirava varam, Maname kanamum, were not only a like a honey stream flowing into the ears, but they also had in-depth meaning, which touched the souls of the Rasikas (listeners). Since most of his songs were in luculent Tamil, they are a double treat to his audience. As they savor the sweet music and also comprehend the meaningful lyrics.

He is well known for leading and popularizing the early morning processions through Madras Mylapore streets during the month of MARGAZHI, which is carried on by eminent artists even now. He has penned the lyrics for many Tamil movies like, AMBIKAPATHY, CHINTAMANI, HARIDAS, SIVAKAVI and many more.On October 2020, SIVAN FINE ARTS ACADEMY celebrated his 130th birth anniversary, and 130 musicians from across the globe rendered 130 songs composed by him.

For the song ENNA THAVAM SEITHANAI, the composer has aptly opted for the raga KAPI. He has set it to AADHI TALA (a rhythmic cycle of 8 beats). KAPI raga may be likened to the ever overflowing AKSHAYA PATRA. The arrangement of the swaras (notes) and the musical contours, both exhilarate and intrigue the listeners. This raga exudes with Bhakti Bhaava. The beauty of this raga can be fully experienced, when rendered in slow or medium speed. The Rasa of this raga is Devotion, sprinkled with droplets of Pathos. This raaga also invokes a feeling of imploring and yearning.

The songs, Saare jahaan se accha and Raghupathi Raaghava Rajaram, which have gained national Prominence, are also composed in this raaga. Classic movie songs like Nandhabala (Meera), Senthamizh thean mozhiyal (Maalayitta Mangai), Kadhal siragai (paalum pazhamum), Andha sivagami maganidam, (pattanathil bhootham) and also evergreen melodies such like, Yeh paadal ondru (Priya), Mukunda mukunda(Dasavatharam), Kadhal rojave (Roja), Kanne kalaimane (Moondram pirai), Aalankuyil koovum rail (Parthiban Kanavu), are all based on this raaga. Kaapi has also been utilized in many ragamalikas (a composition comprising many raagas) such as, Bhajagovindam, Kurai ondrum illai, Maithrim bajathey and Chinnanjiru kiliye.

”ENNA THAVAM SEITHANAI YASHODA, ENGUM NIRAI PARABRAHMAM AMMA ENDRAZHAIKKA.” The poet commences the song with a tone of astonishment, and asks Mother Yeshodha, what Tapas (penance) and sacrifice she has done in her previous births, for the SUPREME GODHEAD, the All Pervading PARABRAHMAM, to address her as MOTHER.

The song ENNA THAVAM SEIDHANAI, brings forth the enchanting frolics of Balakrishna. This Composition throws light on the sublime affectionate bonding between the PARABRAHMAM (LORD VISHNU, KRISHNA) and His mother Yeshodha. LORD KRISHNA is Parabrahmam, the SUPREME ABSOLUTE.

Mother Yeshodha is unaware that her son is the ULTIMATE REALITY(Almighty). She treats Krishna just like any other mother would treat her child. Hence, she loves, protects and disciplines her child in the same manner. She is oblivious to the fact that Krishna, the protector of the universe, needs no protection. The composer is amazed and reiterates, “what penance have you done? O! mother!”

In the anupallavi(2nd verse), the composer is astounded at how Yeshodha was so fortunate, to carry in her arms, cuddle, caress, feed and sing a lullaby to the one, who has created the 14 worlds. He is wonder struck, and exclaims, ”O! Mother! What penance have you done?”

Even Brahma and Indra were envious of Mother Yeshodha, due the power and control she wielded over KRISHNA, the COSMIC MANIFESTATION. They were baffled how mother Yeshoda could tie LORD KRISHNA to a mortar, silence Him by asking Him to cover His mouth with His hands and make Him plead for mercy.

In this verse the poet recounts an anecdote from The Bhagavatham. Once, when little Krishna broke the butter pot, mother Yeshodha wanted to discipline Him. Hence, she wanted to tie Him to a mortar, but each time she tried to tie Him, the length of the rope was two inches insufficient. Yeshodha joined several pieces of ropes but miraculously it was always two inches shorter. Seeing the dejected Yeshodha weep, Lord Krishna voluntarily allowed Himself to be bound. This symbolizes that the Lord will surrender Himself only to Bhakti(devotion). This was how the Lord got His divine name DAMODHAR (the one who has a rope tied to his waist) (dama…rope or cord, udhara…waist).

After she succeeded in tying Krishna, she continued performing her household chores. Krishna toddled And reached the orchard, dragging the mortar behind Him and got it stuck between two Arjuna trees. He tugged hard and the trees got uprooted and fell down on the ground with a thunderous sound. The trees were none other than Nalkuber and Manigriv, the sons of Kubera who were turned into trees by a curse. By the Lord’s divine grace, they got liberated from the curse and left for their heavenly abode.

In the concluding stanza the lyricist is stupefied that even great sages like Sanaka had to go through rigorous penance, yoga and make prodigious efforts to reach the Lord, whereas, Yashoda seems to enjoy having Krishna always dancing to her tunes. Hence, he poses a query to her” O! pious Mother Yeshodha, what penance did you do to achieve this.“

The poignant irony in this lyric is that the listeners are aware of the omnipotence of Krishna, whereas Mother Yeshoda in her innocence plays with Him as if He were just her son. The Bhaava (the emotion and mood) of this song is similar to the Kannada song JAGADODHARANA, composed by Purandharadasar. Both the songs are composed in Kapi Raaga.

This composition illustrates a tableau of images depicting Mother Yashoda with her beloved son. It is a popular song rendered in many concerts. The enchantment of this song transports the Rasikas to a stage of euphoria.

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.