Om Tat Sat

November 20, 2018

(Posted in Facebook on 10th August.)

When Vinoba composed the inter-religious hymn Om tat sat, did he have to take permission from the cultural authorities or issue apologies? Thankfully, no. We first heard this at the Vedchchi ashram of Narayan Desai, sung by about 30 people of various nationalities, languages, colours and races. Later we’ve been hearing this at all Gandhian meetings. This is a huge legacy of the Gandhian movement. Our daughter taught this song to our village kids and it is one of their big favourites. Here is her rendition. Posting this in solidarity with all artists who refuse to cow down to abuses and threats.

Thirukkural Isaithamizh – music to the mind

July 16, 2010

‘Thirukkural Isaithamizh’ is a wonderful attempt to bring Thirukkural to life in musical form. Tamil Maiyyam, after producing Illayaraja’s masterpiece, Thiruvasagam, has embarked on its next musical journey into ancient Tamil literature.

The tunes are contemporary but mostly unoriginal. The excellent kural-selection, symphonic orchestration (Nellai Jeyaraj) , some soulful singing, a variety  of musical genres and quality of recording make up for the familiarity of the tunes – these folks have definitely made use of their learning from the making of Thiruvasagam. Overall, a compelling presentation in 6 CDs with many songs  still ringing in my ears.

In any case, setting aside all positive and negative criticism, this is not just about music, is it? It is a great way to introduce Thirukkural to the uninitiated and, more importantly, to kids. Aruna Sairam, singing ‘Yaathanin yaathanin’ mesmerisingly, is the standout singer and is already my 19-month old daughter’s favourite.

I liked the kural-selection as well. It had a good mix of the familiar chapters from the text books and some hidden gems on love from Kaamathupaal (Book of Love). For those, who have never read Kaamathupaal, these songs introduce a completely different facet of Kural: Thirukkural is not just a discourse on morals but a comprehensive commentary on Tamil culture 20 centuries ago.

I will now look forward to more from Fr. Jegath Gasper Raj. Hopefully, he will continue to focus on Tamil literature and not religion.

Taking 2 days off to visit Tamil conference at Coimbatore was made completely worthwhile, since, more than anything, it helped us discover this unusual combination of music and literature, soaked in catchy modernity.


5 months after this post, the 2G spectrum scam casts a shadow of suspicion over Tamil Maiyyam and Jagath Gasper.  They seem to be guilty, and I will be sad, if they are. Two of my all-time favorite albums (Thirukkural and Thiruvasagam) are produced by them. I liked them and I enjoyed them – whatever happens now cannot change the past joy. Hope this nagging doubt and persistent anger, doesn’t take away anything from my listening experience in future.

More on Music

December 23, 2006

Today I was watching Sudha Raghunathan on jaya TV’s Maarkazhi Utchavam. Like many other s from the Carnatic fraternity, she was asserting with great pride and conviction that Carnatic Music will remain the same forever.

Can’t help pondering if Carnatic Music will ‘remain’ if it remains the same. Why is there is such resistance for change? Why do the songs have to be in a language alien to the common man? I can understand that there will be intricacies beyond the comprehension of non-experts but why should even the language be far removed from the ground. There are so many laymen like me, who are willing to listen to vocal music, even if we can’t understand ragas behind it, if only we can understand the lyrics.

Cricket evolved from a ‘gentleman’s game’ to the common man’s religion only after efforts were made to reach the common man through shorter version of the game. Otherwise the game could have died a slow death.

Hope Carnatic Musicians learn this before it is too late.

I am sure there is no dearth of Tamil poets who can compose lyrics within the boundaries of Carnatic Music and probably even extend the boundaries. The subject of music need not be restricted to God and spirituality. There is more to music than just God. Love, society, nature,….

May the music flow…


July 17, 2005

I am not a music freak. Music is not an integral part of my daily routine.
I am not relegious. Hymns hardly move me.
Nevertheless Thiruvasagam is running non-stop on my laptop for the last 24 hours. It is nothing short of a miracle. A musical marvel. Madhipariya Manickam.
Illayaraja dreams of achieving immortality with this rendition. It is not a wayward dream.

Last when I was glued to the music system, was when I listened to Raja’s Bharathi. I thought that was his best. This is even better.

If a godless creature like me can see the divinity in his music, I can imagine the tears flowing down the eyes of the profusely pious. It is bliss.

This just goes on to show that given great lyrics, Raja can transcend to a different level. It is a pity that he has got nothing better than the Vaalis and GangaiAmarans for the most part of his musical journey. It is a pity that he fell out with Vairamuthu, when both of them were at the zenith of their skills.

Now that Bharathi and Thiruvasagam have shown him a path, tread often by others awfully, but transformed into a terrific terrain by Raja, he should bring out the hidden gems of Tamil literature in a way only he can do.

Immortality guarenteed. For the lyrics and the music.