Thursday, September 27, 2007

An Ode to Art by SiriVennela

I am usually drawn more by music, than by words. Not to demean the beauty of wordplay as such, but for me, lyrics come after the music. But when good music is laced with some exceptionally beautiful poetry, the song is complete by all respects. This is the reason why songs from 1950s, 1960s and to some extent few of the numbers from 1970s appeal to me completely.

This post of mine is aimed at highlighting the lyrics of a song, instead of music, which i usually do. Quite surprisingly, the composition is by my favourite, Ilaiyaraaja. But i wish not to talk about the musicial genius in his song. instead, through this post, i want the readers to pause and take a note of wonderful imageries created by the lyricist, Sirivennela Seetha Rama Sasthry.

The song is from the film - 'Swarna Kamalam'. The song is 'Sivapoojaku chigurinchina siri siri muvva'

If you remember this film 'Swarna Kamalam', the hero is a worshipper of art(dance) and literally coaxes the heroine to take it up more seriously. She, on the otherhand, is fascinated by worldly pleasures. She wants to breakfree from the shackles. She dreams of materialistic pleasures. She says in one scene - "the world is marching ahead at a rapid pace but we are still stuck somewhere else".

This song is like an argument between both of them in a duet. It's a challenge for the writer to potray both the schools of thought, of hero and heroine, and in a way that both have a valid point to make. The writer didn't just manage, but actually came out as a winner in potraying profound thoughts wonderfully.


Siva poojaku chigurinchina (blossomed/sprouted) Siri Siri muvva (anklets used by dancers)

mrudu (soft) manjula (pleasing, beautiful) pada (words) manjari (spring out) poochina (to flower) puvvaa

yatiraajuku (the best of the ascetics) jati swaramula (the musical-swaras used for dancers) parimaLamivva (give the fragrance)

naTanaanjalito (dance offering) bratukunu (life) tarinchaneevaa (fulfill)

The above paragraph means - your anklet-bells have blossomed to offer pooja to lord Shiva (through Dance). These soft-pleasing words springing out are like flowers. Wont you lure the best of ascetics with the fragrances of these dance-swaras(ascetics cannot be lured by anything, ideally…so, here he says even Yatiraj could be lured by dance)…wont you fulfill your life by dance-offering!

It's great imagination to bring the concept of yatiraj in a line..yatiraj is referred to as the best ascetic, who is not lured by any worldly pleasure (typically represented by women, money, things which fragrances)..but here, he says even yatiraj could be lured by one fragrance..called dance..


parugaapaga payaninchave(do travel) talapula(of thoughts) naava(o boat)

keraTaalaku(to waves of sea) tala(head) vanchite(bow down) taragadu trOva (your path wont pass)

edirinchina(against) suDi gaalini (strorm) jayinchi(win) raavaa(come)

madi(mind) kOrina(desired) madhu(sweet) seemalu(land/regions) varinchi(conquer) raavaa(come)

O boat of my thoughts, do travel further, if you bow down to the waves of the sea, you can never cross your paths, come, win over the storms against you…and come, lets conquer the sweet lands desired by your mind.
I just loved the lines - 'madi korina madhuseemalu varinchi raava' ; infact every line is a classic.


paDamara(west) paDagalapai(on the hoods) merisE(shining) taaralakai (for the stars)

raatrini(night) varinchake(don't choose) sandhyaa sundari (o evening beauty)

toorupu(of east) vEdikapai(on the stage) vEkuva nartakivai(becoming a dance of the dawn)

dhaatrini(earth) muripinche(delight) kaantini(light) chindani(let sprinkle)

Nee kadalika(your movements) chaitanyapu(of consciousness) sreekaaram kaani (let them be an initiation for)

nidurinchina (slept) hRudaya (heart) ravaLi (eeshwara) Okaaram kaani (let it be Omkaaram)

For the sake of shining stars on the hoods of the west(heroine wants to go to foreign country in this film), don't embrace the night(darkness) o evening beauty; on the stage of the east, by becoming a dance of the dawn, do delight the earth by sprinkling light; let your movements be an initiation for consciousness; let the sleeping eeshwara (lord of dance) in your heart become an omkaaram (symbol of piousness, god, ultimate)

Watch the way he maintained the rhyme - 2nd line ending is 'sundari' and 4th line ending is 'chindhani'..its not just endings but even beginnings; 2nd line beginning is 'Raathri' and 4th line beginning is ''Dhaathri' …and he conveyed such profound thought


tana (her) vELLE(roots) sankeLLai (hand-cuffs or chains) kadalalEni (which cant move) mokkalaa (like a plant)

Aamanikai (for the spring season) eduru choostu aagipOdu ekkaDaa (it wont stop anything waiting..)

Avadhi lEni (no barriers) andamundi (there is beauty) avaniki (on earth) nalu dikkulaa (in 4 directions)

aanandapu (of happiness) gaali vaalu (breezes) naDapani ninnilaa (let them drive you along)

prati rOjoka (everyday) nava geetika (a new song) swaagatinchagaa (let it welcome)

vennela (moonlight) kinnera gaanam (song of river kinnera) neeku tODugaa (will be your companion)

A plant chained to the ground by her own roots; wont wait for the spring; there are boundless beauties on earth everywhere; let the breezes of happiness take you there; let a new song welcome you everyday; let the moonlight and songs of kinnera (free flowing rever) be your companion
The words 'avadhi'; 'andamu' ; 'avani' all have phoenetically similar sounds


Lalita (playful) charaNa (feet) janitam (cause) nee sahaja (natural) vilaasam (way of life)

Jwalita (embers) kiraNa (rays) kalitam (filled with) soundarya (beauty) vikaasam (grow, blossom)

nee abhinaya (expression, act) ushOdayam (dawn) tilakinchina (watched) ravi (sun) nayanam (eyes)

Gagana (sky) sarasi (lake) hRudayamlO (in heart) vikaSita (bloom) Sata (100) daLa (leaves) Sobhala (of beauty) suvarNa kamalam (golden lotus)

Let your natural way of life be caused by your playful feet; like the embers which blossom into beautiful rays; even the eyes of the sun watched the dawn of your expressional dance; in the hearts of sky and the lake; a hundred leaves shall bloom on the beautiful golden lotus.

Again, every word in 1st rhymes with everry corresponding word in 2nd line. and It takes a genius to write 'nee abhinaya ushodayam thilakinchina ravi nayanam

He: SwadharmE midhanam shrEyaha para dharmO bhayaavaha (from bhagavadgeetha)

Meaning: It is better to die while following one's own faith rather than adopt other's faith; the latter shall lead one to disaster

In my opinion, this song is perhaps one of the best writings of Sirivennela. Because the song not only captures lyrical splendour, but touches the intellectual depths too, overcoming the challenge of speaking two minds in the same song, without disturbing the flow of language.

Interesting to note that Ilaiyaraaja composed this song in Raaga 'Kalaavathi' (Kala=art, Kalaavathi=a lady who is impeccable in art). Was it intentional? or coincidental?
The thoughts of film-maker (K.Vishwanath), Lyricist (seetha Rama Sasthry) and Composer (Ilaiyaraaja) melding together to create a phenomenal song, stands as an example of what intellectual team work is.

And as the song itself summarizes, Art preceeds (and even supercedes) any mundaneness (work).
I am glad to be a art Lover.


ilayaraja said...

very well written.. prati padaartha taatparyam thoti masth raashnav :)

Sirivennela, in his own words, about this song -

Neha Nair said...

Amazing!....Tomorrow is world music congrats n keep up the good work

Bhanu said...

Aakarsh...good to see a post from you. Any thoughts on Sunny?...I especially think 'Sayankaala' song in the movie is quite good.

I will come back to read this post more carefully...but as you may be aware, Swarnakamalam songs were composed to words rather than the tune first.

Random Walker said...

I'm actually feeling pretty bad writing a 4th comment on this post. But I am immensely glad that you did write this post... we always are amazed every time we hear (or remember) this song... I can tell you I am struggling between a life of sivapooja (which I think is whatever that helps one to reach an understanding of this universe/man/god/nature through a human mind/body) and parugaapaleni payanam (the inexorable grinding of everyday life). I find it amazing that you are able to do this.. and you know what.. I will do my part too... in at least reading through these which are the only things that should matter ultimately.

Aakarsh said...

Actually, it is just a prathi padaartha thaatparyam, as said in the 1st comment. Infact, Kedar did a better work in writing an article about the same song. I wish he posts it.

Bhanu--> I listened to Sunny and only few snatches/portions of some songs are good. I couldnt find a completeness in any single song. However, 'Saayankaala' had that 90s IR shade, in tune and 'Adharam Adharam' too had some good pieces.

Gandaragolaka said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Musically Me said...

One of the few telugu songs that stands out and deserves a tribute.... great article

Naveen said...

@musically me

One of a few? beg to differ :)

Neha Nair said...

Hey.. I think you should post such articles in newspapers and music related much of information would definitely be of great use to music lovers.

Neha Nair said...

Hi again .. the last time you heard my song .. u said I has nasal tinge in it.. I have uploaded another audio ... please do check it .. and tell me how has it turned out .

Cosmic Voices said...

Great Post.....

I hope you post more such articles on lyrics....

Ravi said...


Came to your blog through Google, Just want to congragulate you for an amazing post, Very impressive ...

Anonymous said...

Hi.thanks for the post.But I have a question..
I think you broke the senence(and meaning) at ravi nayanam.I dont think that was the intention.
you need to take the last line in one stride.

Sreedu said...

Excellent.. Very inspirational song.. very nicely explained.. keep up your good work :)

sree gowtham j said...

thanks a lot for the explanation:) this poem has germinated a desire in my mind to get a BA in telugu

pushpa said...

I am out of words to express my feeling after reading these amazing lyrics. Thanks alot for your explanation:)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I have been looking for the meaning of this song and I am glad I found it.

Just a small correction: SwadharmE Nidhanam.

More information on this Gita Sloka:

Anonymous said...

Dear Kamal, My sincere request to explain the lyrics of Jilibil palukulu Chilipiga Palikina song from sitara. I am a telugu guy but stayed away from telugu lands for 30 years but understand its beauty. Please I want to sing it but without understanding it I may not do justice to it.

Please said...

Excellent write up.we hope to find many more such explanations by u of sri sastry garu's songs

Anonymous said...

In case anyone is interested: The Carnatic equivalent of raga Kalavathi is Valaji.