The Phone call to God

God belongs to everyone 

And so does his telephone! 

Each of us can dial in to him,

Whilst some do, others otherwise 
The call is feeble
Often disturbed by the noise –

Of ego;

Of lack of faith;

Of anger;

Of contempt;

Of many more noises : strangely that can reach the soul ! 
One needs strong signals of course;



Surrender and

Love !
His is one line,

That is always busy and yet always available,

For everyone needs Him and He’s there for everyone !
As difficult as it is, it is interesting and replenishing :

The Phone call to God ! 


Ushering Margazhi : South India’s Daylight saving !¬†

It’s here !

Krishna, the Gitacharyan proclaims that among the twelve months I am Margashirsha – Dhanurmasa or our very own Margazhi !

To me this month spills spiritual and musical celebration ! Fuelled by the enthusiasm my revered Paati has to this day, at the ripe and wrinkled age of 82, I can not but deny that I owe it all to her! 

I can recollect, during my childhood how we would be up for the suprabhata Seva at the Andavan sannidhi in the Srinivasa temple at Sripuram, North Bangalore. Now the word north is interesting to note as anyone from Malleshwaram – Sripuram would have visited this temple. 

Growing up : the point of time when one starts identifying practices that become an inseparable part of one’s life : Margazhi was sure to be! Margazhi is in the sound of the early morning temple bells and pasuram recitations, in the pleasant breeze of the December month, in the beautiful kolams / Rangolis, with embellishing ash guard flowers in the centre, in the sweet music of the world famous Chennai Music season, in the intellectual discourses, in the lovely words of Andal’s flower- worded garland to the Lord : the Thiruppavai, in the lip smacking Pongal Prasadam, in the dignified recitation of the NalayiraDivyaPrabhandham during the Pagalpattu-Rapattu Adhyayanothsavams and in the blissful Aandal kalyanam that marks the culmination of this most auspicious month ! 

One can’t forget offering obeisances to that little girl who celebrated this month and her elder brother who brought it into tradition. Andal, a daughter Periyazhwar had every reason to feel proud of and her elder brother ; Swami Ramanuja ! 

Margazhi is like a refuelling month; the zeal  I derive from this one month of all the temple and Sabha fun keeps me going until the next 11 months; by then there is the next Margazhi to bring back more joy again. 
Andal Thiruvadigale Sharanam

Emperumanar Thiruvadigale sharanam 

Why GOD is man’s best friend

Some say 

Dog is man’s best friend

I say God

The Dog, remains; God sent though ! 
Look around people

And look to(wards) God

You wish for you

What you like

God wishes for you 

What is good !
When you have nothing, you will have no people

When you have no people, you will have nothing

When you have nothing, you will still have God

When you have no one, you will still have God

You’re never alone, with God !
People come and people go

But God is who remains
You don’t have to prove anything to God

And how will you lie to God ? 

Isn’t the absence of pretence, truest friendship ?
God brings hope, God is trusting

God is forbearing, God is accepting

God is for one, God is for all 

Wrong, revulsion and ridicule

God does end.

Then isn’t He, your best friend ?
Some say 
Dog is man’s best friend

I say God

The Dog, remains; God sent though ! 


Vivaadi Dosham : a consequence of minority appeasement 

The word forbidden always draws more attention than what one ought to do.The Vivaadi swaras and ragas of Carnatic music draw my curiosity for the same causes, and for the first time  I’m writing a blog on the grammar of Carnatic music – which might not interest devout adsorption; it might strike some chords to a learner, listener and practitioner; though.

We are aware of the seven swaras and how shadjam(Sa) and panchamam(Pa) are invariant. The Rishabham(Ri), Gandharam (Ga), Daivatam(Da) and Nishada (Ni) have three variants each and Madhyamam (Ma) has two variants.

Take the simplest example of Rishabham and Gamdharam. 


R1 – Shudhha Rishabham 

R2 – Chatushruthi Rishabham same as G1 – Sadharana Gandharam

G2 – Shudha Gandharam same as R3 – Shatshruthi Rishabham 

G3 – AntarGandharam

Likewise with Daivatam variants and Nishadam variants as well.

In the listing above, the highlighted swaras are the Vivadi Swaras, which were added to complete the Melakarta scheme and we have 72 melakartas (parent scales). Of the 72 Janaka/ Melakarta ragas, 40 contain Vivaadi Swaras. The lesser-in-number : Vadi-Samavaadi Swara patterns take priority. That’s the bit of minority appeasement in Carnatic music!

What leads to these Vivaadi ragas (such as Varali, GangeyaBhooshani, Chandrajyothi, Gaanamurthi… ) being deemed negative is rather interesting. The Vivaadi swaras are placed very close to other swaras in Raga. Take the case of Chamdrajyothi, the Raga has Shuddha Rishabham and Sadharana Gandharam: the sadharana Gandharam is very close to the Shudha Rishabham. The very close proximity of Swaras makes the ragas difficult to sing, comprehend and play on a instrument. The choice of introducing Gamakas is uncertain and highly dependent on the Raga. The Shudha Gandharam in Chandrajyothi doesn’t need a gamaka, while in Varali it does. 

Ragas paint a colour of emotions. Vivaadi swaras bring about negative emotions like fear, anxiety, revulsion and hatred, possibly one of the reasons that Vivaadis are frowned upon. This tone of the Vivaadis has been exploited even outside the Carnatic circuit : whilst a bounty of pieces of saint composers expressing their grief is available in Vivaadi Ragas : I shall end with a citation from a song from the Telugu movie Arjun, starring Mahesh Babu. The Dum Dummarey song has some interesting excerpts of the Sadharan Gandharam becoming conspicuous : inducing fear in those Sangatis. The music director Mani Sharma does a great job with the amount of thought given to smartly craft swaras to suit the situation. 

These days artists present Vivaadi ragas as main items as well, while traditional artistes refrain from it. In the meantime as  the yes-no debate continues, this is some food for thought. 



Faith is a mighty thing

It can make the mute sing

Faith is a mighty thing

Amidst dismal, joy it shall bring

Faith is a mighty thing

With it, fear shall be ending

To Faith, all ought to cling

For, Faith is a mighty thing ! 


The give and the take of devotion

Kartika masam and Rohini Nakshatram marks the Jayanthi of Thiruppan Azhwar : who derives his name from the instrument he played, soaked in devotion to the Lord. Azhwar is considered the manifestation of the Lords Srivathsa, the insignia of Mahalakshmi as a golden streak on His chest. 

Born to the Panar community in Uraiyur on banks of the Kaveri,Azhwar could have not missed the lofty Rajagopuram of Srirangam. I keep saying it every now and then, and it gives me immense joy in visualising this : three DivyaDesams : Uraiyur, SriRangam and UttamarKovil – are located in a line. Whilst Uraiyur and UttamarKovil are on either sides of SriRangam, on the banks of the Kaveri; SriRangam itself is on the island garlanded by the Kaveri.

Azhwar visits SriRangam, knowing that he was forbidden from entering the temple, he sat beside the river immersed in meditation. Having completely fallen into a trance, Lokasaaranga : the priest was delayed as Azhwar was blocking the way to fetch holy waters to start of the Abhishekam. Irked the priest pelted a stone at the Azhwar : whose reaction is simply amazing. Any layman would cry and curses in pain and ego, the Azhwar gave way regretting that he had delayed the divine service to the Lord. The story goes on about how the priest was rebuked by His Lordship, and how remorsefully Lokasranga carried the Azhwar back to the Temple where Azhwar attained Siddhi. 

A simple lesson for me: you give your body, mind and soul to God; with no expectations in return. That is the give and take of devotion. If one expects something in return of devotion, one might as well be a businessman. About what one deserves, isn’t it best for Him to choose ?

Amalanadipiran, is the 11 stanza work of the Azhwar in pleasant and divine Tamizh. Azhwar pours his hear in eulogies of the Lord of Tirumalai and the Lord of SriRangam. He concludes in the last verse thus : having seen my Lord(for the the very first time in fact ), the embodiment of elixirine bliss, I wish to see no more. These were in fact the last words of the great saint. He saw no more than his Lord !

Such sublime devotion might be quite difficult to comprehend, leave alone practise. Spending more time on thoughts of these great souls is in fact the most refreshing and educating means to raise surging questions on how we connect with God.

A very humble dedication to the great saint.

Thiruppan Azhwar Thiruvadigale Sharanam ! 


He taught me that devotion is not necessarily mellow ! 

The Azhwars from Tamizh Nadu are among those who inspired Swami Vivekananda to quote ” While in the rest of the world, people fall in love; in India, people rise in love“.

These mystic poets are known for their madenning love for their Lordship and profound knowledge of the Vedas and Shastras, supreme control over the Tamizh language and the prolific genius to say the most complicated  Vedic postulates in Sanskrit, in the simplest of Tamizh words.

While each of the 12 Azhwars are above caste, creed, genders and society; every one of these twelve deeply devout (hence Azhwar : Azham in Tamizh is deep) saints has touched me in distinguished modes and today being Thirumangai Azhwar’s Thirunakshatram : I dedicate this writing to his very lotus feet. 

This is not the biography of the Azhwar; but a very personal outlook. Thirumangai Azhwar was a feudal Chief of the city of Thirumangai : which went on to become his identity. We know from many works that it was his consort,Sri Kumudavalli Nachiyar who initiated the Azhwar into SriVaishnavism. 

Such was his dedicated act of charity that he wasn’t left with any treasure to account taxes to the King. With nothing left, the Azhwar indulged in robbery : he stole from the rich to perform Thadiyaradhanai to the poor. By divine intervention, the Azhwar was born out of the stealing feudal chief . 

The Six masterly works of the Azhwar are considered the very 6 angas of the Vedas. The tone of his thoughts continues to amaze me to this day. He has sung to His Lordship as a beloved, as the beloved’s mother and friend, as a devotee, as a Kinkara (servant), and much more. 

Thirumangai Azhwar can easily paint a picture of words of beauty of each DivyaDesam :be it the majestic Kaveri of Srirangam, be it the canopied Thiruvallikeni, the lush green Singavelkundram, the crescendoed Kanchi, the snow capped Salagramam : nothing escapes Azhwar’s skill. One cannot miss the number game Azhwar plays  in his Pasurams : that earns him the title of Chitrakavi

Coming to the very distinguishing impact left behind by Thirumangai Azhwar, it is his demanding debonair; which is very arresting. He can start off by pleading with the Lord, a little of coaxing follows, a plane request and eventually the Lord is held at the end of a dashing knife, if not the razor sharp words of the Azhwar himself – in fact his oneness with the Lord, is a joy to read, listen and learn. He has enjoyed the privilege of biting the divine toes of the Lord of Thirukannapuram, in one of the transcendental ploys.

While the feudal chief put the soul in the scorching sun  and body in the shade, Azhwar put the soul in the shade and body in the scorching sun – so goes a lovely saying in Tamizh. 

The third prakaram of the Srirangam temple complex will continue to remind one and all of this great saint : who could put his all to stake for His Lordship. His heroism will remind me forever, that whilst all earthly belongings are transient, the Lord belongs to one and to all. 

Thirumangai Azhwar thiruvadigale Sharanam!