Ullathil Nalla Ullam

I have rarely liked Tamil cinema, though I have thoroughly enjoyed the music therein. Nevertheless, exceptions exist, and this particular one is brilliant in what is depicted, as well as in the music woven into this scene. Shivaji Ganesan was at one of his best performances in this movie. What I liked in this scene (and Karna is one of my favourite characters in the Mahabharata) is the sheer arrogance that Karna portrays when he is unfazed at the departure of his charioteer. NTR was always the best Sri Krishna in cinema (so much so, that I am told he was actually worshipped in AP where people would offer him an aarti every day or so it goes). I would like to thank sandycec for sharing this. The song’s (sung in the raspy voice of Seergayyi/~zhi Govindarajan) meaning is as follows (thanks to my dear friend for sharing this with me): (Corrections welcome)

Ullathil nalla ullam
Vallavan vaguthadhadaa, Karna
Varuvadhai edhirkolladaa.

The most beautiful amongst souls
Shall never fall to the fatal tell of time
Thus, say the greatest of men, Karna
Prepare for the fate that shall be thine.

Thaaikku nee magan illai
Thambikku annan illai
Oor pazhi etraayadaa
Naanum un pazhi kondenadaa

You aren’t a son unto your own mother (referring to Kunti’s desertion)
And not a brother to each of your sibling (the Pandavas)
Oh! How you bore the insinuations!
I too shall be your sinner by my cunning. (The ploys Krishna uses to bare Karna)

Mannavar paNi erkum
KaNNan paNi seyya
Unnadi paNivaanadaa
Manniththu arulvaayadaa, Karnaa

He who is served by the greatest kings
(That) Krishna, to serve you, is ready
By bowing to your magnanimity.
Karna, will you grace me with mercy?

Senjotru kadantheerka
Seraatha idam sairndhu
Vanjaththil viyinthayadaa, Karna
Vanjakan, Kannanadaa

To repay the hand that fed you
You pledged your loyalty to the vile Kauravaa
And fell in the trap of great deception, Karna.
(Though) the greatest knave is the son of Vasudeva.

The roles of Karna and Krishna have always amazed me and leant me fodder for several clever debates with religious fanatics as well as those who love calling themselves atheists (such merriment one finds in hopping on either side of the debate!! 😀 ). For all the virtue that Krishna claims (point is, he never claimed any of that!), he was the greatest liar on the “good” side and for all the filth thrown his way, Karna was the purest drop of gold in the “evil” side (Bhisma pitamaha was duty bound and faltered when facing Shikandi. Not done!!). The Mahabharata is one of the finest epics with so many sub-stories within it, that an entire movie industry could thrive on adapting them into movies (but our industry is busy copying each other when we are tired of copying from Hollywood).
Neither Krishna nor Karna were working towards setting an example for posterity. Krishna was aware of how the world was supposed to go and did just that. Karna was aware of what he was supposed to do and he did just that. Now who is to measure the greatness of each of them? Karna was the absolute measure of a man’s worth. What a man can ever aspire to be, he was. His charity knew no bounds while he never asked anything from anyone. When Duryodhana offered him his friendship, the young man who was shunned by everyone as a charioteer’s son, was overwhelmed and he embraced this friendship. Duryodhana was not conniving when he offered him his friendship as it was too early for him to know Karna’s true worth. But people mocked their friendship. Karna lived through it all on the power of his mettle and inner core. When people and fate deserted him, he walked on and did what was expected to be done in his position. He lied but once (to his teacher, the great Parashurama) and paid heavily for it. His was a life filled with suffering and denial. He was never given his due and even Krishna who knew it all, never openly supported him or took care of him (well, he is the Param-dhama). Arjuna symbolised the fate of one who is protected disproportionately by the partial Lord. Karna symbolised the fate of he who has such a strong core, that the only way the Lord can maintain His station is by bring that soul to his knees. Ullathil nalla ullam, urangaadhu.


26 thoughts on “Ullathil Nalla Ullam

  1. Nice – The song, the music, the movie, the lyrics and of course Sivaji Ganesan and NTR.# But the subject of the post “Karna” is such, that it deserves many more thousands of words than you have seemingly-in-a-haste-bestowed-on-it here, to do justice to it.

  2. Dear P,I agree with you. Point is, my knowledge (and as is the case with most people) about the characters and the story of Mahabharata is based on what was depicted in Amar Chitra Katha, TV and movies. I suppose this calls for a debate based on a shaky ground, but come on! there is fun in debating such notions too, isn’t there?

  3. Hi! Eroteme!Oh..Karna and his principles…A totally different kind of a post from you! So,you do have a collection of them?Art…Wow !I agree with whoever said that –Art is the window to man’s soul.Plz do give me more info about that painting…I know am troubling you 🙂Thank you (*_*) UmaI have rarely liked Tamil cinema, though I have thoroughly enjoyed the music therein…??same here 😦Find it very tough to follow the news in Tamil …:(Are you into greek mythology too?Btw…is it okay to share these likes and dislikes here?

  4. Dear Anon-U,When the blog prefers variety, who am I to act differently!? 🙂Well, its not just art (as in paintings), but a lot of pictures, sketches and abstract designs (fractals, etc.) that form a part of the collection. If a picture impresses me, I would sit back to think whether it would ever be a part of a story/poem/piece. If it promises me that, I add it to my coffers!! 😀 So be it with words. For instance, I was recently stuck with the word <>pultrude<> and thought it was too esoteric to need my attention. But I couldn’t take my eyes off it. What it means is: <> make (a reinforced plastic article) by drawing resin-coated glass fibres through a heated die<> the noun form being pultrusion. This is an uncommon word and doesn’t find inclusion in MS Word’s dictionary. But think of how a confidant or a mentor could have an effect on an individual’s conscience. Think how he could influence and wear out the protagonist’s energy with strong words and ideas for which the protagonist has lost all interest (though he once fervidly believed in them) in. Can’t we describe a late evening conversation where the mentor pultrudes the protagonists conscience and heart over the fragile sophistry of ideas whose worth is never to be realised? Hence, that word was added to my kitty!! 😀Not sure about Art being a window to a man’s soul. You might want to read this recent article: http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/04/off_the_shelf_psychology.htmlThough it speaks of books, the same can be said of art!! 😉 I will surely get you the info, but when? I cannot answer! I don’t even venture to listen to the news in Tamil (and most other languages). It is not the difficulty of the language as much as the absence of artistic depth that nudges me away from Tamil cinema. The old ones were good and rare ones in recent times interests me.Am I into Greek mythology? Not really into it, though I do read it once in a while… I think it is fine to do a lot of well meant things in the comments section. 🙂 As long as you aren’t spamming or instigating hostilities, I think it is fine… 🙂

  5. Eroteme.. Enjoyed the song very much!! Took me back to the days we ate Thair saadam and Vatha kozumbu on the terrace listening to paty’s stories.. (this was definately a favourite).. We were 6 kids in the joint family and there was not a single dull moment!!Thx

  6. http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/books/2007/04/off_the_shelf_psychology.htmlAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHi ! Eroteme !Yes, variety is the spice of life…Thanks for the explanation and the link……pultrudes the protagonists conscience? Now we [your blog pals] will have to wait for it’s inclusion in one of your stories. Ofcourse, someone’s “eckalectic” [haha] taste in books gives just a glimpse into their many facets…and we cannot deduce much.It is so difficult to understand our own self…how can we understand someone else through their writing /painting/other forms of Art? Soul is a tough word, who knows the meanng anyway?. Looks like, the words Soul and Art have baggage :(…I mean the religious associations.Okay, I do understand your love for the language…but, Fractals!!Well dabbled in some Fractal softwares like Apophysis etc …am no expert 😦Have a great day(*_*) UmaYes…sometimes what you see is not what you get .This is diverting from “Karna”.The ecstatic outpourings of the ISKCON devotees sometime mesmerize me.

  7. Tamil and you got me! 😛Just wanted to add a few more observations from this movie. Have you watched the famous “sithaRiya muththukkaLai edukkavO eduththa muththukkaLai kOrkkavO” (“Shall I gather the fallen pearls? Shall I string them together?”)scene with Ashokan? Also after this song, you saw the scene where Kunti cries for Karnan openly? The sequence that follows is sheer genius. Check this.1. Kunti is crying for the dead Karnan. Suddenly a divine woman appears and chides her saying “nI En ammA azugiRAy? unakkuth thAn ainthu piLLaigaL irukkinRanarE. enakkenRu ivvulagil iruntha orE magan iRanththathaRku nAn allavA aza vENdum.” (Why are you crying? You have five sons left still. It is I who have lost my only son in this world who should cry.) When Kunti asks her who she is, she replies, “nAn thAn nIthi thEvathai” (I’m the goddess of justice)2. Arjuna is distraught at having killed his brother. He chides Krishna for having tricked him into killing Karna. He repeats “en aNNanai nAnE konRu vittEn” (I killed my own brother) multiple times. Krishna replies very sarcastically “Arjuna, Karnan was killed first by Parasurama when he cursed that the Bramhastra will fial him, then by the Brahmin who crused that his chariot will fail him in the hour of need, then by Indra who robbed him of ihs kavasa kundalam, then by Kunti who got a boon saying the nagastram will not be used twice against Arjuna, then by Salliyan (the charioteer) when he deserted him, then by me when I pressed the chariot down preventing the nagastram from hittng you. After all these people had killed him, you are now claiming the glory of killing Karna.” “ippadi ellArum avanaik konRa piRagu, seththa pAmbai adiththu vittu nAn konREn nAn konREn enRu En vIrAppu pEsugiRAy?”Will add more later (If I’ve not already crossed limits) :P.

  8. This is one of the most moving songs ever and you have provided an excellent translation. Mahabharata fascinates me everytime and touches the soul.

  9. When anyone hear this song, we will all cry without realizing ourself…that is true Dharmam Thalai Kakum…till the time Karnan transfers all his Dharmam to Kannan…no one was able to kill Karnan….Vanjagan Kannananada….

  10. whenever i see video of this great song my eyes is filled with tears because of the lyrics, acting, song, situation and the great hero karna of mahabaratha who is really
    victim of fate. i love this song for ever which moves my heart .

  11. Thank you for the translation which I was searching for after someone sent me the YouTube link of Gowtham's emotional rendition of the song on Vijay TV.
    Kannadasan is a Genius.


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