Thursday, 11 December 2008

Music and Poetry-Spark or Fire?

Once I had written that poets and music have a lot of things in common.
When we read a great poetic work, we say it is musical.
When we listen to great music, we say it is poetically beautiful.

Are all musicians poets?
Or are all poets musicians?

Not really!

There are exceptions though..

It is a well-known fact that the gentleman who is the raison d’etre of this community is not only a great musician but a good poet as well.

But not many know that one of the greatest poets in tamizh-whose 126th birthday is being celebrated today-was a good musician too.

Yes..I am referring to Subramaniya Bharathiyar!

Subbiah alias Subramanian was born in a place called Ettayapuram in Titunelveli district.

He learnt music at a very young age and was invited to the court of the King of Ettayapuram when he was just around 11.

Scholars ‘tested’ him in the courtand he was able to compose poems and music spontaneously.

Amazed at the talent of the young boy, the court conferred him the title ‘Bharati’(meaning Saraswati, the Hindu Goddess of Knowledge).
This name would remain forever and we all now know only Bharati and not Subramanian or Subbiah!

The turning point in his life was his meeting with Sister Nivedita-spiritual daughter of Swami Vivekananda- at VaraNaasi in the year 1905.

The meeting transformed him as a person.

Bharati was a multi dimensional person and a poet.

He sang on Nationalism, Tamizh language, Philosophy, Bhakti, Emancipation of women..

He took lot of liberty with Kannan and ‘made’ him his servant,master,disciple,teacher,lover(in masculine form as feminine form-the feminine form of Kannan being Kannamma).

He also authored three major texts in poetic form-Kuyil Paattu, Paanchaali Sabatham, and Suya Sarithai(autobiography).

In 'Paanchaali Sabatham', he symbolised Paanchali(draupathi) as Bharat Mata herself and her vow was to extricate herself from the clutches of British Raj(Dharmaththin Vaazvuthanai Soodhu Kavvum, Dharmam maRupadi Vellum)!

Of course, there are lot of similarities between Bharatiyar and Raaja sir and I had also compared the two in some of the posts in the ‘Ragaranjani' blog.

Let us now move on to today’s Rare Gem.

Talking about Bharati’s philosophical works, there is one poem of his that is often quoted by many.

What makes this poem unique and beautiful?

It is short, sounds very simple, follows a rhythmic pattern and most importantly conveys a lot of meanings.

He also coined a new word-Aggini Kunju(very difficult to translate this into English.Maybe one could say ‘fiery fledgling’).

He says,’I found a fiery fledgling and placed it in a forest hollow. The Forest was burnt (and cooled down).Is age a factor in valour or fieriness?’
(a very loose translation as it is very difficult to depict the feel of this poem in any other language).

It can be interpreted in many ways.

Positive- A small spark will destroy all bad, unwanted thoughts.Discover that spark!
Negative-Any misdeed(small or big) can destroy us!
There is also a school of thought that says that he meant Abhimanyu,the son of Arjuna since he says ‘is age a factor in valour or fieriness?’

I welcome members of this community to give their own interpretations.

This poem is also one of my most favourite Bharati’s poems.

While reciting this poem, I had often wondered as to how it would sound if it was set to music.

I had also thought that it would spoil the essence of the poem.

This was until the year 2000.

When I listened to the song from the tamizh movie Bharati, I was stunned.
A very simple tune, a very soft voice, a very great composer..

Poetically Musical..Musically Poetic..

Two great legends..Two Geniuses..

Spark in their thoughts, Spark in their action, Spark in their eyes..

And that is Agginikkunju!

No comments: