"Heard of your receiving the Rashtrapathi award. You would have walked on a red carpet, and been honored in a gathering of eminent persons. But me, I have made you walk on stones and bush and made you sit in a dinghy room. "Why I called you is, I long have had a desire to listen to 'Shri Subrahmanyaya namasthe' rendered perfectly. On hearing you are around, the desire has re-surfaced. Perfect rendition means both the music and the lyrics (sangeetham and sahityam). Many people disfigure the words of Sanskrit and Telugu kirtanas to the extent that we wish they never sang. "The music part (swaras), the rhythm part and the 'sahitya chandas' – what is called 'chandam' in Tamil - would be given for most songs.
"Even in this song 'Shri Subrahmanyaya namasthe', we have a line 'guruguhayagnana dwanta savithre'. This must be split as 'guruguhaaya agnana dwanta savithre' i.e. 'the one who is the sun for the darkness of ignorance'. Some sing it as 'guruguhaya..... gnana dwanta savitre', ' one who is the sun for the darkness of knowledge'!
this line) to give the intended meaning. If we really cared, we can, even without proper training, sing with proper meaning. Those I mentioned above also sing properly. But those who do not care, stretch the 'parama' and then sing 'dwaita sthapana leelam', converting the Advaita Acharya to Dwaita Acharya! (laughs heartily for a long time)
"No doubt, in music, there is no Dvaita - Advaita difference. Only music is important. And music makes the mind of the singer into unison with the song - the protagonist of the song. That is why, 'Shri Subrahmanyaya namasthe' is attached to you - a Vaishnavite - or you are attached to it! I have heard you sing that song. I do not have to say anything about your musical ability; and the sahitya part too you do correctly. Which is why I have called you here. "In my dharbar there is only stones and bushes. There is no accompaniment, not even sruti. But please do sing that kriti for me, in spite of all these.” When Paramacharya stopped his torrent, Ariyakkudi was in tears. He prostrated once again, and said "there is no other prestige for me than to be asked by 'periyava' to sing, and singing for periyava. I have no words to express the magnanimity of Periyava, considering me as somebody and giving me this chance. Periyava’s grace has to fill in for the sruti and accompaniment and enable me to sing to the level I am expected to” and readied himself to begin the song.
Then why the name 'Kambhoji'? "I have a thought here - there is another place called 'Kambhojam along India's northern border. Kalidasa, no ordinary poet and quite knowledgeable too, tells Yasha to go this way and that in his 'megha sandesam' – good enough to plot a map! In his Raghuvamsam, describing Raghu's invasions and victories, he has mentioned one 'Kambhojam', beyond the Indus and along the Himalayas. From this, we deduce that, within the extended India (akand Bharat), there was one Kambhojam near the Hindukush mountains. May be our Kambodhi raga was from this place? "Many ragas are named after places, right? Sourashtram, Navarasa kannada, even Kannada, Sindhu Bhairavi, Yamuna Kalyani, like this Kambodhi might have come from Kambhojam region.
"Researchers say ragas like Mohanam and Kambhoji have been around in most civilizations from time immemorial. Later, may be the raga was given the name of the place that 'polished' it well.
“Kedaram is a place in the Himalayas - you know Kedarnath. Gowla – Gowda region - Bengal. We have ragas in both names, and even Kedaragowla. But all three ragas have been in South Indian music - how? May be the names came from musicans who 'specialized' in these ragas and came from those regions?
People in general, musicians in particular, are referred to with their native places. For instance Ariyakkudi means you! From this, can we say that some of these rags - Kedaram, Gowla, Kannada, Kambhoji etc. - were popularized by musicians from these regions? "Are you interested in research into ancient music?" Ariyakkudi replied "Not much". "But you have set Tiruppavai to tune! But unlike for Devaram songs, tunes have not been specified for Tiruppavai songs, and those whose who recited, did not use a tune. Since only Brahmins have been reciting Divyaprabhandham songs, they have recited only with a kind of up-down delivery (Ethal-Irakkal prasam).
too. "One more point about musicians. You should sing the Telugu and Sanskrit kirtanas fully aware of their meaning. It is not fair to say that Tamil songs alone are enough. Great composers in this country have created hundreds of Telugu and Sanskrit songs of much musical and lyrical beauty. If we ignore them, the loss is ours. Do not defend by saying, 'I do not understand them!' - if only we desire, do we not spend time and energy on all sorts of useless things? If musicians dedicate themselves to pure music and proper rendition of words without losing the 'osandha artha visEsham', language can not be a barrier. Now that you are #1 in the music world, do your best towards this. May Subrahmanya's Grace be with you in this endeavor."
NB : Acharya’s commentary for the Kriti is available with me. Those who are interested please let me know.