Krishna - The artiste's muse

Kannadasan found Krishna within


Kannadasan   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Krishna consciousness seeps through the works of Kannadasan

In literary terms, if Kannadasan’s bond with Krishna could be compared to that of Bharati, his passion could match that of Andal. “Yes, his love was no less than that of the Nachiyar,” asserts Gandhi, the poet’s son. “Kannan was his friend, guide and god. How else can you explain his extraordinary outpouring,” he asks. The family of staunch Saivites found Kannadasan’s Krishna bhakti rather unusual, he says.

Muthiah chose ‘Kannadasan’ as pseudonym, on the spur of the moment, which in a way was prophetic. “Pen name was a must and ‘Dasan’ was a trend. Appa’s random choice turned out to be a brilliant stroke of destiny,” says Gandhi. Because, Kannadasan went on to pen hundreds of songs with Kannan or Krishnan as the theme.

He wrote many songs on other gods — ‘Yugangalellam Maari-maari sandikkumpodu un mugamalarin azhagil mattum mudumai varadu... Kumara...’ ‘Solla solla inikkudada’ could be the sweetest song written on Muruga, not to forget ‘Raman Ethanai Ramanadi’ on the previous incarnation. But it is with Krishna that the poet takes liberties and identifies himself.

Call of a woman

There is no mood that Kannadasan’s Krishna has not seen. For instance, ‘Kannaaaa... Karumai Nirakkanna...’ (Naanum Oru Penn)the heart-rending call of a young woman spurned for her dark skin. ‘When you, with your dark complexion, is loved and celebrated, why am I being despised...’ goes the lyric, in Susheela’s haunting voice. ‘Gangai Karai Thottam Kanni Pengal Koottam...’ (Vanambadi) could be a reflection of Meera’s anguish and the state of delirious ecstasy. “Is the Ganga flooded with water or tears of women, Is your heart made of stone, Brindavan’s Krishna,” asks this heroine of Lakshmi Kalyanam (‘Brindavanathirku Varuginren’), the flute simply piercing the heart. Love triangle? We have ‘Punnagai Mannan Poovizhi Kannan’ (Iru Kodugal).

Kannadasan’s favourite picture

Kannadasan’s favourite picture   | Photo Credit: Gandhi Kannadasan

In Kannan, there is hope and deliverance. ‘Kannan Vandan... Ezhai Kanneerai Kandadum Kannan vandan...’ (Ramu) — he is a simple god that responds to a poor man’s prayer. ‘Adaiyada Kadavirukkum Sannidanam, anjada sollirukkum sannidanam... Kannan sannidanam’ — the shrine, whose doors never close. A later echo is ‘Kaettadum Koduppavanae Krishna Krishna...’ (Deiva Magan) Again hope pinned on Gitacharya.

‘Aattuvithal Yaaroruvar Aadadhare Kanna... Aasaiyenum thottililae aadadare Kanna...’ (Avanthan Manithan) — one of the many that melted hearts — the golden trio — Kannadasan, MSV and TMS. “This can be traced to Tirumurai,” says Gandhi. “The sixth. How he found the time to read the volumes and picked up the line so aptly, we have no clue,” he marvels. With his deep knowledge of the scriptures, the poet never failed to draw from them, especially the Mahabharata. In this song, he alludes to Panchali, who asked for garment, to save her modesty. In ‘Neeyum naanuma...’ (Kauravam) the context is the Kurukshetra battlefield. The Vamanan is also neatly tied up in this flow of imagery.

Of course, Kannadasan had already given the best ever song on the Gita in Karnan. If ‘Maranathai Enni Kalangidum Vijaya’ sums up the message, ‘Ullathil Nalla Ullam,’ finds Krishna seeking pardon from Karna, to defeat whom, Pandavas’s Messenger played several wicked tricks.

With child Kannan as the mediator this couple seeks to resolve their differences — the man expressing his disappointment and the wife her helplessness. If a song can encapsulate a script, ‘Valarnda Kalai Marandu Vittal...’ does (Kathirunda Kangal).

Kannan is the caressing lover in ‘Kannan Ennum Mannan...’ (Vennira Aadai) and the soothing minstrel in ‘Kannan Varuvan Kadai Solluvan...’ (Panchavarnakkili)

Want one on the romantic Krishna in Radha’s company? ‘Radha Kadhal Varada...’ (Naan Avan Illai) is a lyrical riot, aesthetics reigning supreme as Rasleela unfolds in all its subtlety.

“Appa finished writing the songs of ‘Sri Krishna Ganam,’ in half a day,” informs Gandhi of the magnum opus. “Appa was soaked in Krishna consciousness. On the one side of his bedroom wall was a picture of his parents. On the other was an adorable picture of child Krishna. He woke up looking at these images,” recalls Gandhi.

Personal idol

The idol that Kannadasan worshipped

The idol that Kannadasan worshipped   | Photo Credit: Gandhi Kannadasan

“He never missed a Krishna Jayanti,” he adds. A statue that Kannadasan had in his room would be moved to the front part of the house. “Fresh after a bath in the evening, appa would do aarti to his beautifully decorated idol. He would do it endlessly. To my amused mother he would say, ‘It’s between Him and myself.’”

The lyricist, who described Srikrishna of Guruvayur, Andal’s Kannan, Gokul’s darling, Radha’s sweetheart and Dwaraka’s ruler, never travelled far. “Apart from the Krishna temple close home, he did not undertake journeys. He was too busy. Besides, he found Krishna within,” observes Gandhi.

Yes, Krishna was his Muse, who shone the light of Wisdom all through Kannadasan’s life, which spilled over as songs. Melodies that Time won’t be in a hurry to delete.

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Printable version | Jul 8, 2020 8:25:40 AM |

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