Monday, November 3, 2008

Akka Kelavva, a haunting melody

అక్క కేళవ్వAkka kelavva, a haunting melody

I was almost addicted to radio and was used to listening all kinds of things till late in the night. I owe my taste in music and languages to radio!
One night I happened to listen to this song.. I was ignorant about the Vachana Sahitya in Kannada and the information that these Vachanas are sung by great masters. Saivite saints, starting with Basaveswara wrote these Vachanas and they are profusely sung by classical vocalists Akka Mahdevi is another saint who wrote great Vachanas and her works are examples of bridal mysticism. It is a rare thing that free verse poetry existing at that time. They called them Vachanas and not poetry. It is also rare that they are sung to classical ragas. In Telugu there are Vachanams. I don’t know if any musical renditions are there for them.

I was looking for the song everywhere, but could not find it.
This ocean called internet made things easier and I could once again listen to the wonderful rendition of the Vachana by .

Mallikarjuna Mansoor, a master singer of Karnataka who has made Hindustani Music all the more enjoyable.
I was told that he used to ride pillion on bicycle to the Radio station in Dharawad to perform a concert. You look at him, and you will never think that this is the man who can mesmerize people with his song!

I am a life time fan of Mansoorji and the song Akka kelavva.
I can understand a little bit of Kannada no doubt. But, to understand the philosophy of these Vachanas I read a lot about them.
Ultimately it so happened that I had to write a review of a book of translations of Vachanas into my mother tongue, Telugu.
The translation was by a great poet Sri K. Siva Reddy who also happens to be a friend.

Here I bring you the translation.
The original idea appears very simple. But as you understand there is a lot to it that evades our simple imagination. It is a wonderful example of bridal mysticism, I feel.

Literature of any genre has to be understood and enjoyed just like one enjoys a song. If a particular work is available in both forms the enjoyment is much more.
To me, the Vachanas as the word itself means appear nit exactly meant for singing. But the scholars of music having seen the value in them, made them immortal by rendering them musically.

అక్కా విన్నావా, నేనొక కలగన్నా
బియ్యము, వక్కా, తమలపాకూ, (తాటాకూ, కొబ్బరికాయా)చూచా,
చిన్నచిన్న జడల, (సుందర దంతాల)
గొరవడు, (ఇంటికి) భిక్షానికి రావడం చూచా,
మితిమీరిన మోహంతో (అతన్ననుసరించి,
పాణిగ్రహణం చేశా,)
చెన్నమల్లికార్జునుని చూచి, కళ్లు తెరిచా

Oh! Sister listen, I have seen a dream
I have seen rice, beetle nut, Beetle leaf, Palmyra leaf and coconut
With little plaits and beautiful teeth,
I have seen the Gorava come home for alms
With exceeding lust i have followed him and took his hand,
After seeing Chenna Mallikarjuna, I have opened my eyes.

Thus goes the translation. But, when I listen to the song, I find that there is redundancy of words in the translated version. I know that the translators were not exactly experts in Kannada. One of them did not even know the language. This translation was done in a workshop where a lot of material was given to them. They have mostly depended on an interpreter. That is how there are differences. I have searched for the Kannada script of this particular item. I failed. The words that I found redundant are kept in parenthesis. I look for some information on the matter.
I am sure people with musical ear will enjoy the song wholeheartedly. Please listen to the song.

Enjoy Great Music!


Viji said...

Hello Loka,
Thanks for posting akka kelavva.. This mansur piece has mersmerised many a people, from laymen to guru. The rendition never ended wiothout a mositened eye. thanks for postin the same

నాగస్వరం said...

చాల కష్టపడి ఎన్నో ఆణిముత్యాలను ఆపాతమధురాలను సేకరించారు.
మీ కృషి అద్భుతం.
దీనికెంతో ఓపిక కావాలి.
మీకు కృతజ్ఞతలు.


Unknown said...

Its one of my favorite songs . I have heard live, the maestro singing in a concert..Truly mesmerised by his humility and his voice . His presence is magical .