Magic Flute

For more than four decades. two songs haunted me. They are set in the same rAga, sindhubhairavi. Whenever I listen to them, I feel like listening to them again and again and again …. It is possible to do so nowadays on the computer.

Krishna plays the magic flute. The call of his flute is always fascinating. The old, the young, the men and the women forsake all that they were doing and rush to the banks of yamunA. The dark Lord enchants everyone and everything, the living and the dying. He casts a magic spell and who can escape it? What is the meaning of this life when another life is calling?

The first song is from the film mIrA by Subbulakshmi. Who has not heard this song and who was not moved by it? What lyrics by kalki, what music by SV Venkataraman and what a song by MS? This is timeless, ageless and peerless.

kaaRxRxinilE varum geetham
kaNgaL panitthiDa po~ggum geetham
kallum kaniyum geetham
kaaRxRxinilE varum geetham

The melody comes floating in the breeze and immediately the eyes are moistened and a veil of mist forms before the eyes. The heart leaps and inert objects come alive.

paTTamara~ggaL thaLirkkum geetham
paNNoli po~ggiDum geetham
kaaTTu vila~ggum kETTE maya~ggum
madhuramOhana geetham
~ne~jjinil inbakkanalai ezhuppi
~ninaivazhikkum geetham
kaaRxRxinilE varum geetham

Leafless trees begin to sprout as if it were spring time when the waves of the melody engulfs them. The ferocious forest animals become subdued when they hear the melody. It stokes a sweet fire in the heart and removes all traces of past memory.

sunai va~nduDan sOlaikkuyilum
manam kuvi~ndhiDavum
vaanaveLittanil thaaraa gaNa~ggaL
thaya~ggi ~ninRxiDavum
Ayan solvEn maayappiLLai
vE~gguzhal pozhi geetham
kaaRxRxinilE varum geetham

As the birds that happily twitter when the rivulets are full after the rains and as the galaxy of the stars in the sky stand still, the enchanting music of the magic flute flows on.

~nilA malar~ndha iravinil thenRxal
ulaaviDum ~nadhiyil-
~neela ~niratthu baalagan oruvan
kuzhal oodhi ~ninRxaan
kaalamellaam avan kaadhalai eNNi
urugumO en uLLam--
kaaRxRxinilE varum geetham

As the breeze blows on the wavy river in the moonlit nights, the dark Lord is standing there playing the magic flute. Thinking of him and his love, my heart melts and I can spend like this the rest of my life.

காற்றினிலே வரும் கீதம்
கண்கள் பனித்திட பொங்கும் கீதம்
கல்லும் கனியும் கீதம்
காற்றினிலே வரும் கீதம்

பட்டமரங்கள் தளிர்க்கும் கீதம்
பண்ணொலி பொங்கும் கீதம்
காட்டு விலங்கும் கேட்டே மயங்கும்
மதுரமோஹன கீதம்
நெஞ்ஜினில் இன்பக்கனலை எழுப்பி
நினைவழிக்கும் கீதம்
காற்றினிலே வரும் கீதம்

சுனை வந்துடன் சோலைக்குயிலும்
மனம் குவிந்திடவும்
வானவெளித்தனில் தாரா கணங்கள்
தயங்கி நின்றிடவும்
ஆ, என் சொல்வேன் மாயப்பிள்ளை
வேங்குழல் பொழி கீதம்
காற்றினிலே வரும் கீதம்

நிலா மலர்ந்த இரவினில் தென்றல்
உலாவிடும் நதியில்-
நீல நிரத்து பாலகன் ஒருவன்
குழல் ஊதி நின்றான்
காலமெல்லாம் அவன் காதலை எண்ணி
உருகுமோ என் உள்ளம்--
காற்றினிலே வரும் கீதம்

The second song that casts its spell always is the Kannada song Krishana koLalina kare. I am not sure how many among you have heard this song. This is rendered in her mellifluous voice by Srirangam Gopalaratnam. It is from the film subbASAstri. This movie based on a drama “aashaDhabhUti” (which itself is based on a play of Moliere) has some excellent music. Other songs in this movie are by Balamuralikrishna. This is the only film for which Veena Doraiswamy Ayyangar directed music. The lyrics, I believe, are by PT Narasimhachar.

When the magic flute calls, you leave everything and rush to the place from where the music is emanating. You don’t care for children, husband (wife), your wealth and ornaments. That music is like a ray of light in the dark.

kRuShNana koLalina kare
kRuShNana koLalina kare
tvare tvare

Attention, listen to the melody of Krishna’s flute. Quickly!

toTTalina hasugoosa mare mare
pakkada gaMDana tore tore
bRuMdaavanake tvare tvare
kRuShNana koLalina kare

Forget about the newborn child’s cries in the cradle and the eagerness of the spouse in the bed. Run to the brindAvana to listen to the melody of Krishna’s flute.

muttina kuppusa haraLole
mallige jaaji muDi maale
hejjeya mEvura gejjeyapilli
maretE baMdEve maneyallE sakhi
kRuShNana koLalina kare

Friend, in my hurry I have forgotten to wear fine clothing, the garland of flowers and the jingling anklets leaving them all behind in the house.

hottaare hore gelasa mikkare migali
pakkada nerehore nakkare nagali
bRuMdaavanadoL aalisi gOmuraLi
kRuShNana koLalina kare

I don’t care a jot about the mountain of household chores. I am not going to worry about what my neighbours are going to talk behind me. I am running to brindAvana to listen to the melody of the flute played by Krishna before the cows.

nEsara kiraNa aagasadiruLa toreyisuva reeti
muraLIdharana muraLI maayadi mana biTTide bheeti
innaayite preeti innaayite preeti
kRuShNana koLalina kare

As the first ray drives out the darkness in the sky, the fear in me has been uprooted by the enchanting call of the flute. There is love and only love in my heart now.

ಕೃಷ್ಣನ ಕೊಳಲಿನ ಕರೆ
ಕೃಷ್ಣನ ಕೊಳಲಿನ ಕರೆ
ತ್ವರೆ ತ್ವರೆ

ತೊಟ್ಟಲಿನ ಹಸುಗೂಸ ಮರೆ ಮರೆ
ಪಕ್ಕದ ಗಂಡನ ತೊರೆ ತೊರೆ
ಬೃಂದಾವನಕೆ ತ್ವರೆ ತ್ವರೆ
ಕೃಷ್ಣನ ಕೊಳಲಿನ ಕರೆ

ಮುತ್ತಿನ ಕುಪ್ಪುಸ ಹರಳೊಲೆ
ಮಲ್ಲಿಗೆ ಜಾಜಿ ಮುಡಿ ಮಾಲೆ
ಹೆಜ್ಜೆಯ ಮೇವುರ ಗೆಜ್ಜೆಯಪಿಲ್ಲಿ
ಮರೆತೇ ಬಂದೇವೆ ಮನೆಯಲ್ಲೇ ಸಖಿ
ಕೃಷ್ಣನ ಕೊಳಲಿನ ಕರೆ

ಹೊತ್ತಾರೆ ಹೊರೆ ಗೆಲಸ ಮಿಕ್ಕರೆ ಮಿಗಲಿ
ಪಕ್ಕದ ನೆರೆಹೊರೆ ನಕ್ಕರೆ ನಗಲಿ
ಬೃಂದಾವನದೊಳ್ ಆಲಿಸಿ ಗೋಮುರಳಿ
ಕೃಷ್ಣನ ಕೊಳಲಿನ ಕರೆ

ನೇಸರ ಕಿರಣ ಆಗಸದಿರುಳ ತೊರೆಯಿಸುವ ರೀತಿ
ಮುರಳೀಧರನ ಮುರಳೀ ಮಾಯದಿ ಮನ ಬಿಟ್ಟಿದೆ ಭೀತಿ
ಇನ್ನಾಯಿತೆ ಪ್ರೀತಿ ಇನ್ನಾಯಿತೆ ಪ್ರೀತಿ
ಕೃಷ್ಣನ ಕೊಳಲಿನ ಕರೆ

To the above two, I must add another, a poem by the Telugu poet pOtana from his bhAgavata. There is practically none who knows Telugu and still is ignorant of its existence. The gOpis go to the brindAvana heeding the call of the flute. But where is he? He is not to be seen. They ask the trees and the plants whether Krishna is hiding there somewhere.

nallanivADu, padmanayanaMbulavADu, kRupArasaMbu pai
jalleDuvADu, mauLiparisarphitapiMChamuvADu, navvu rA-
jilleDu mOmuvA DokaDu chelvala mAnadhanaMbu decche nO
malliyalAra mI podalamATuna lEDu gadamma chepparE

He is dark and handsome and his eyes are like lotus petals.
He is quite compassionate and he has a peacock feather on his head.
His face is always lit with smiles and he has stolen our hearts
Is he by chance hiding in this flower bush?
O you tender jasmine flowers,
Would you be kind enough to inform us about his whereabouts?

నల్లనివాఁడు, పద్మనయనంబులవాఁడు, కృపారసంబు పైఁ
జల్లెడువాఁడు, మౌళిపరిసర్ఫితపింఛమువాఁడు, నవ్వు రా-
జిల్లెడు మోమువాఁ డొకఁడు చెల్వల మానధనంబుఁ దెచ్చె నో
మల్లియలార మీ పొదలమాటున లేఁడు గదమ్మ చెప్పరే

I am only sharing my thoughts with you. I never studied Tamil or Kannada in the school. Please pardon me for any mistake. If you inform me, I’ll edit this with the corrections.
Here are the youtube links to the songs –
kATrinilE varum gItam - The first one is by MS and the second one by Sudha. Do not forget to appreciate the rangOli in the background Smile
Krishnana koLalina kare -

Here is a rangOli with the flute (This is a rangOli forum, right). While playing with the bamboo, Krishna must have arranged them in his own way and discovered the svAstika symbol as in the left-hand picture. Of course for the rAsakrIDa, hexagonal format is better suited Smile The background is deliberately made dark to reflect Krishna’s complexion (not the anemic blue popularised in cinema and drama).

M S Subbulakshmi
Srirangam Gopalaratnam
Subba Sastri
Magic Flute - magic flute.jpg


lakshmiraghu's picture

mOhanaji what good deeds bamboo should have done to go on to the lips of God a sense the godess Lakshmi dwells in bamboo.what a song...i remember one more song..muraliya nadhava keeli...thanks for sharing.

jayamohan's picture

No song yet to beat MSS's 'Kaatrinile varum geetham'!
We call it our family song! It is also branded as Rajamma's song as she sings it for all infants the family!

Lata's picture

Yes, we (my family and I) enjoyed this post a lot. I checked the first 2 links. Nice to see the dark background in your rangolis, as you've mentioned - the blue ones seen in most of the commercialized versions of Krishna are misleading. My daughter Aarushi listens to these type of songs a lot; through CDs, through computer, and through her ipod. She prepared a write up on Smt.DK Pattamaal, (after coming to know of this singer's demise), which I was not able to post yet.

rajamma_2's picture

mOhanaji, M.S. Subbalakshmi's 'Kaattrinile varum geetham' is very close to my heart. Whenever I hear this song I go to a different world.I use to sing this song to all the new born children in our family to make them sleep.I like to hear good songs but this I enjoy singing also.The lyrics, music and the rendering of M.S .Amma in her melodious voice filled with Bhakthi and Bhaavam... all contribute in making it timeless...ageless and peerless!
mOhanaji, thanks for sharing this.

anirudh's picture

very nice mOhanaji... thanks for sharing MSS gems.

Subbashastri had many more songs on Lord Krishna and i think the movie was shot mainly at Melukote Lord Cheluvanarayana's abode.

One more song i could remember was KoLalanUdi KuNivapriyane Baaro ...

jkmrao's picture

This is the right link to koLalanUduva from subbA SAstri. The one given is from another film.

Regards! - mOhana

jkmrao's picture

Indeed the movie was shot at mElkOTe near maMDya. I had never been to Melkote. But I have fallen in love with this place and have so many pictures collected from the internet. It is a very picturesque place. It is also of great historical and religious significance. It is wrong to conclude that there were no religious conflicts in India before the Muslim conquests. There was always hatred between the followers of Siva and Vishnu. In fact, rAmAnujAchArya was literally driven out of SrIrangam and spent twelve to thirteen years at Melkote as a refugee! He lived in a village near this town. Interestingly, it is while he was here that he introduced the singing of tiruppAvai during dhanurmAsam. Sadly this conflict between the followers of two principal gods in Hinduism exists even today! Having lived in Madurai for nine years, I know quite a few Vaishnavites who will worship mInAkshI and walk away without bowing their heads before sundarESvara. Returning to Melkote, the kalyANi (a large temple pond) is a very beautiful sight. A view of the surrounding areas from the top of the hill, where there is a temple for narasiMhasvAmi, is also breathtaking. I am also fascinated by the legend behind the akka-tangi koLa (elder sister younger sister ponds). There are two identical tanks side by side. The akka tank's waters are salty whereas the tangi tank's waters are sweet. This photo essay on Melkote is quite nice:
subbAsAstri is a very good movie and must be available in the Indian stores. It may cost less than 100 Rupees in India and about five dollars here in the US. I would recommend it for viewing.

Regards! - mOhana

Lata's picture

The pictures in paintedstork are very nice.
We got some idea of the hatred between the followers of Siva and Vishnu last year from Mr. Kamalhasan's movie called Dasavathaaram (he played 10 roles in that movie).

anirudh's picture

Yes mOhanaji, you should visit, very nice place and its pleasant to see beautiful & handsome Cheluvanarayana. Many kannada(benkiya bale, aNNaya, many more), tamil & even in some hindi (hum paanch) movies you can see this place. If you have seen Padiyappa, the panchant scene is picturised here.

There is also an interesting story behind the Ustava Murthy (the idol taken for prosessions). Somehow the idol was with Delhi Sultan and Ramanujacharya got it back. But the idol was very much loved by the Sultan's daughther bIbi Laachimar. When Ramanjujacharja got it back, she left food, sleep and followed him to Melukote. Seeing this bhakti of her, even today there is a small idol her near the feet of the Lord and she is called bIbi Naachchiyar. Even though we see the hatredness among the followers, we see another face, the bhakti & love of a Muslim girl towards the Lord.

jayamohan's picture

Anirudh, I've heard the same story for Srirangam Ranganatha also. Even today daily offer of roti to Bibi Nachiyar is a must here!

aarushik's picture

Kaatrinile Varum Geetham happens to be one of my favorite Carnatic compositions! I've always been enthralled by the ways in which music composers incorporate raagams into their albums. Some of my personal favorites in Raga Sindhu Bhairavi are Maargazhi Thingal from Sangamam, Paadariyen/Mari Mari Ninne from Sindhu Bhairavi, and Jiya Jale Jaan Jale from Dilse. I'm also quite fond of Venkatachalanilayam (especially M.L. Vasanthakumariji's version) composed by St. Purandara Dasa. I really wish that the film music industry would incorporate raagams into their music more often. As a diehard fan of music from the '40s to the '90s, I sometimes feel stuck in the past. It's saddening that Carnatic music isn't playing as much of a role in film music, but at least we can still relish the evergreen hits whenever we feel nostalgic!