Thursday, December 30, 2004

A shared insecurity...

The Indian Minister for Science and Technology, Mr. Kapil Sibal, has said the Centre would soon initiate measures to put together a system that would provide advance warning for tsunamis.
When we are in distress and anguish, we would feel like doing many things in future either to avoid the unfortunate events that have caused our sufferings or to lessen the harmful impact of such calamitous events. It is one of the basic survival instincts of living beings. But a civilization, a country, or a community cannot be sustained only by such instincts. Instincts should lead to ideas that could be implemented in a given situation. This needs a plan. This does need graded programmes to achieve it.
Let us look into the warning messages(*) that were transmitted to tsunami warning centres in the Pacific Region between 26 and 27, December 2004. The first message was issued by Pacific Tsunami Warning Center at 06h44(IST) on 26th December. It was reported that an earthquake had occurred at 06h29(IST) near the west coast of Northern Sumatera with magnitude 8. The evaluation of this quake was as follows:
The second message was issued at 07h34(IST) i.e. fifty minutes after the first message. The magnitude was revised to 8.5 and it was mentioned clearly the possibility of a tsunami. The evaluation in this second message was like this:
The wall of seawater hit the chennai coast around eight in the morning. If tsunami buoy, bottom pressure recorder, and other instruments had been deployed in the Indian Ocean, we could have possibly received the warning fifteen minutes after the occurrence of the earthquake. We would still have only an hour, or maybe two, to initiate actions either to prevent or to reduce the loss of lives and property. Do we have, at present, the infrastructure to communicate such warnings to the coastal areas? Building such an infrastructural system may not be difficult with the technological power the country has. What offers more challenge is the logistics problem of evacuating people under strict time contraints in populous India. In this respect, the statement, "As with any natural hazard, education and warnings are essential", of the first chairman of Tsunami Hazard Mitigation program, Dr. Eddie N. Bernard, cannot be underestimated. Evacuation cannot be done efficiently without the cooperation of the concerned community.
The government may also have to initiate many parallel programmes to create a good infrastructure that can use the warning messages to prevent the loss efficiently. This needs money apart from a resolute willingness. But we also have a responsibility.
Do we, the people, have the ability to cooperate under stress?
Do such warnings still cause huge losses due to stampedes?
If a shared insecurity cannot motivate us sensibly, what else will?
* You can read the actual warning messages here.

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 004

(Excerpts from the Presidential Address by MS at the Music Academy, Madras, 1968.)

...At a time like this when a woman is called upon to preside over this Conference, it is but natural that the memory of her mother should come before her mind's eye. In my case, my mother was not merely my mother - She was also my music teacher. What little knowledge of music I possess today, I owe, in the first instance, to my mother, the late Veena Shanmukhavadivu of Madurai. Before her, both as mother and music teacher, I prostrate and pray for her soul force to come to my aid...
...Next I remember with gratitude the late Sangita Vidwan Srinivas Iyengar of Madurai. It was he who commenced my music tuition in the traditional manner by breaking a coconut and taught me music upto the stage of Varnam. After that, as I was unable to go to a music teacher for advanced tutions, I continued to learn from my mother. In later years, I had the good fortune to learn from several great musicians. Among them I must mention Sri Musiri Subramania Iyer and Sri Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer. I acknowledge with gratitude the knowledge they are giving me even today. Considering them as Gurus, I salute them...
...The blessings and good wishes of several great musicians have contributed to my progress in the musical world...
...Bhakthi is nothing but the devotion that we show to the Divinity that resides within us. Once we regard the Divinity within us with devotional fervour, we are bound to develop the same affection towards everything outside...
...I request students of music to devote their attention to the acquisition of purity in voice and sruthi. To achieve this, it is essential that they should practise voice culture assiduously. One should not be content with possessing a sweet voice; in the manner in which land is ploughed to yield a good crop, the voice should be cultivated in order to get the best out of it...

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Ocean of tears all around

Tragedy does not respect the scale. It does not matter if it occurs in a grand scale or a much smaller level. It always brings immense pain and suffering. Familiarity does not mitigate the misery either. Humans have either heard or seen or read about death for millions of years. Death due to natural causes. Death due to calamities. Death due to age. Due to violence. Due to illness. Due to other's faults. Due to ideologies. Still it haunts our psyche. Still our body shivers when we hear about it. When a tragedy happens at a massive level, its impact on our consciousness is so huge that we fail to think about anything else other than the ephemeral nature of our lives.
Tsunami has struck.
Water. It is considered to be sacred and it is. Which is not sacred in this universe? When water becomes the reason for so much grief, one sees a different shade of its nature. The shade which we are afraid of. The shade which we do not want to see again. Earth shrugged. Water gushed forth. Hearts broke. Ocean of Tears all around. And humans cried. Many lost their loved ones. Many died without even knowing that none has been spared in their family. Many lost their life-long earnings and became homeless and moneyless in few minutes. How many fathers, mothers, daughters, sons, and their pet animals, would have died? How many future plans would have been submerged? How many desires and ambitions would have been sunk? Statistics will never gauge the emotions. Let the survivors have enough strength to face this tragedy and to get on with the thing called Life. Let's pray for them.
Tsunami Warning System is not installed in the Indian Ocean as this region is not prone to tsunamis. Let us now hope governments will initiate steps to install them.
You can read the news here.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

அரவம் ஆட்டேல்

ஔவையாரின் ஆத்திசூடியில் "அரவம் ஆட்டேல்" என்று இருக்கிறது. இதற்கு பொருள் என்ன? சிலர் அரவம் என்பதை பாம்பாக அர்த்தப்படுத்திக் கொண்டு பாம்புடன் விளையாடாதே என்று பயப்படுத்தும்படியாக பொருள் சொல்கிறார்கள். ஆனால் அரவம் என்பதற்கு வேறு பல அர்த்தங்களும் உள்ளன.
1. ஒலி
2. குழப்பமான சத்தம்
3. மணிகளுள்ள கொலுசு
4. நகரும் படையின் ஆர்ப்பரிப்பு
5. ஆசை
6. வில்லின் நாண்
7. இராகு-கேது

ஆக, இப்படியும் நாம் பொருள் கொள்ளலாமா?

சத்தம் செய்யாதே, ஆசைப்படாதே, நாணேற்றும் போது அசையாதே, படையினர் மாதிரி ஆர்ப்பாட்டமும் ஆரவாரமும் செய்யாதே, கொலுசை ஆட்டி கேட்பவர் நெஞ்சத்தில் ஆசையையோ அல்லது பயத்தையோ உருவாக்காதே, அதிர்ந்து பேசாதே, இராகு-கேதுவை கோபப்படுத்தாதே - அதாவது ஜோசியம் கேள்.

கற்பனையை தட்டி விட்டால் இன்னும் பல அர்த்தங்களை உங்கள் எண்ணங்கள் வெளிகொண்டு வரலாம்.

தமிழ் அறிஞர்கள் என்ன சொல்வார்களோ?

Saturday, December 25, 2004

M.S.Subbulakshmi - 003

(Thanks to my friend Hariharan for allowing me to give a link to MS photograph in his webpages. He, in turn, likes to thank The Hindu from where he downloaded this)

M.S. Subbulakshmi
(September 16, 1916 - December 11, 2004)

Friday, December 24, 2004

M.S.Subbulakshmi - 002

(From the unpublished book Memoirs of a reticent heart written by Shencottah)

....though I know that MS has not been keeping well for more than a year, the effect of this loss seems to be overwhelming. The knowledge of the transient nature of our lives does not help us either in such situations. I always tell my friends about MS as 'Age does not wither her beauty'. She looks divine in her young age, in her old age, in glory, and in suffering. But now, we can sense all that only in our memories and through abstraction. I have been listening to her songs again and again since sunday morning. It's difficult to believe that the voice that created those emotions does not exist anymore on earth. Though I have read people criticising her music, I feel she takes Viswarupam before me as a person whenever I read about her charities, her kind gestures, her dedication, her lovable nature, and the innate goodness. Add all these to her singing with bhakthi, with emotions. Loss seems to be too much for me to handle. All the feelings that have come to me over the years since I first read about her years ago seem to have gathered momentum and struck me at once. I feel I am blessed to know her existence. I feel I am also now cursed not to see her again in flesh and blood. The shadow of death flies all around us silently without leaving its mark but strikes when the destiny desires....

Thursday, December 23, 2004

kuRai onRum illai - குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை

(A Tamil poem by Rajaji. Transliteration and English notes by Shencottah)
1. குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை
2. மறைமூர்த்திக் கண்ணா
3. குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை கண்ணா
4. குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை கோவிந்தா

1. kuRai onRum illai
2. maRaimUrththik kaNNaa
3. kuRai onRum illai kaNNaa
4. kuRai onRum illai gOvinthaa

1. I have no unfulfilled desires
2. My Sweet Lord Kannaa (Krishna), The Lord of Vedas
3. I have no unfulfilled desires, Kannaa
4. I have no unfulfilled desires, Govindaa

5. கண்ணுக்குத் தெரியாமல் நிற்கின்றாய் கண்ணா
6. கண்ணுக்குத் தெரியாமல் நின்றாலும் எனக்கு
7. குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை மறைமூர்த்திக் கண்ணா

5. kaNNukkuth theriyaamal niRkinRaay kaNNaa
6. kaNNukkuth theriyaamal ninRaalum enakku
7. kuRai onRum illai maRaimUrththik kaNNaa

5. Kannaa, You dwell (exist, stand) where I cannot see you with my mortal eyes
6. Though You reside where I can't lay my mortal eyes on you
7. I have no unfulfilled desires, My Sweet Lord Kannaa, The Lord of Vedas

8. வேண்டியதை தந்திட வேங்கடேசன் நின்றிருக்க
9. வேண்டியது வேறில்லை மறைமூர்த்திக் கண்ணா
10. மணிவண்ணா மலையப்பா கோவிந்தா கோவிந்தா

8. vENdiyathai thanthida vEngkatEsan ninRirukka
9. vENdiyathu vERillai maRaimUrththik kaNNaa
10. maNivaNNaa malaiyappaa gOvinthaa gOvinthaa

8. Lord Venkatesha! Since you are there to give me the things I need
9. I have no pleas whatsoever, My Sweet Lord Kannaa, The Lord of Vedas
10. Manivannaa (One who is like a sparkling gem) , Lord of the Hill, Govindaa, Govindaa

11. திரையின் பின் நிற்கின்றாய் கண்ணா - உன்னை
12. மறை ஓதும் ஞானியர் மட்டுமே காண்பார்
13. என்றாலும் குறை ஒன்றும் எனக்கில்லை கண்ணா

11. thiraiyin pin niRkinRaay kaNNaa - unnai
12. maRai Othum njAniyar mattumE kaaNpaar
13. enRaalum kuRai onRum enakkillai kaNNaa

11. Kannaa, You stand on the other side (of this mortal-immortal ocean of existence - samsAra sAgaram; beyond this veil of Maya)
12. Only Realized Saints, who chant Vedas, can perceive you
13. Even then I have no unfulfilled desires, Kannaa

14. குன்றின் மேல் கல்லாகி நிற்கின்ற வரதா
15. குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை மறைமூர்த்திக் கண்ணா
16. மணிவண்ணா மலையப்பா கோவிந்தா கோவிந்தா

14. kunRin mEl kallaaki niRkinRa varathaa
15. kuRai onRum illai maRaimUrththik kaNNaa
16. maNivaNNaa malaiyappaa gOvinthaa gOvinthaa

14. Oh Varathaa! You stand as a stone on the Holy Hill
15. I have no unfulfilled desires, My Sweet Lord Kannaa, The Lord of Vedas
16. Manivannaa, Lord of the Hill, Govindaa, Govindaa

17. கலிநாளுக்கிரங்கி கல்லிலே இறங்கி
18. நிலையாக கோவிலில் நிற்கின்றாய் கேசவா
19. குறை ஒன்றும் இல்லை மறைமூர்த்திக் கண்ணா

17. kalin-ALukkirangki kallilE iRangki
18. nilaiyaaga kOvilil niRkinRaay kEsavaa
19. kuRai onRum illai maRaimUrththik kaNNaa

17. In this benighted age of Kaliyuga , You have invoked yourself in the stone out of compassion
18. Kesavaa! You stand in the Sanctum Sanctorum forever with steadfast love
19. I have no unfulfilled desires, My Sweet Lord Kannaa, The Lord of Vedas

20. யாதும் மறுக்காத மலையப்பா - உன் மார்பில்
21. ஏதும் தர நிற்கும் கருணைக் கடல் அன்னை
22. என்றும் இருந்திட ஏது குறை எனக்கு
23. ஒன்றும் குறை இல்லை மறைமூர்த்திக் கண்ணா
24. மணிவண்ணா மலையப்பா கோவிந்தா கோவிந்தா

20. yaathum maRukkaatha malaiyappaa - un maarbil
21. Ethum thara niRkum karuNaik kadal annai
22. enRum irunthida Ethu kuRai enakku
23. onRum kuRai illai maRaimUrththik kaNNaa
24. maNivaNNaa malaiyappaa gOvinthaa gOvinthaa

20. The Lord of the Hill, who never denies anything I ask - In your Heart
21. Mother Lakshmi, The Compassionate, is waiting to grant me anything I request
22. And since you both are eternally there, what regrets (pleas, unfulfilled desires) I can have
23. I have no unfulfilled desires, My Sweet Lord Kannaa, The Lord of Vedas
24. Manivannaa, Lord of the Hill, Govindaa, Govindaa

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

M.S. Subbulakshmi - 001

When M.S. Subbulakshmi received Bharat Ratna in 1998, The Hindu said in its editorial, "...the tribute to M.S. Subbulakshmi is truly a homage to the spiritual potency of music."