Yaar Enna Sonnalum

Hare Krishna!
This is a song that is very dear to me. I learnt it from a girl whom I have known since she was a little kid (and who is also responsible for this post). The song is sweet and I got to discuss its meaning with my mother and my soul’s reflection. Corrections are welcome. Here is Maharajapuram Santhanam rendering it in his voice.

Raga: Manirangu
Tala: Aadi

Lyrics follow interspaced with an approximate translation. The usual way of employing “zh” while transliterating Tamil is dropped in favour of the “yy” which is closer to the actual way of pronouncing it. Stick your tongue-tip to the roof of your mouth and say “yuh”.

Yaar enna sonnalum, anjaadhey nenjhamey
Aiyan karunaiyai paadu.
Raaga aalaapanamudanum paadu – mudinthaal
Adavodum jathiyodum aadu.
Arumai-ena vandha piraveegalo pala
Aayiram sonnalum varumo – aadhalin
Yaar enna sonnalum, anjaadhey nenjhamey
Aiyan karunaiyai paadu.

No matter what anyone says, fear not
And sing the praise of Lord Krishna.
Sing with (the right) raga and aalaapana – and if you can
Dance with suitable adavus and jathis.
Dear have been the myriad creations
But shall there ever be a creation like This – Hence,
No matter what anyone says, fear not
And sing the praise of Lord Krishna.

(I am not sure what Oothukkaadu Venkatasubba Iyer meant when he wrote “Dear have been the myriad creations/But shall there ever be a creation like This”. There are two interpretations I can think of now. One, that amongst all the creations that this Earth has beheld, Lord Krishna is the most beautiful of all. Second, that there are many creations on this earth but we are fortunate to be created like this (and like none other) in order to sing the praise of Lord Krishna.)

Naarada naadhamum vedamum naana (some places naadhamum is replaced with gaanamum)
Gnaana kuyyal ondru oodhuvaan.
Neeradhar kayyalaada, gopiyarum paada.
Vegu naer naerena solli thaanaaduvaan – andha (naer is pronounced nearly as nay-r)
Aiyan karunaiyai paadu.

Narada’s music and the vedas are debunked (when compared to)
(The beauty of) Narada’s music and the Vedas shy (in comparison to)
The Divine music he plays on the flute.
His anklets would tinkle, the gopikas would sing
And he would unabashedly ask them to dance with him – Such
A Lord Krishna’s praise you should sing.

(Again, the meaning of “Vegu naer naerena solliThiruttu paiyyan thaanaduvaan” is open to interpretation. Vegu means “very”. Naer means straight, direct. “Solla” or the brahminical “cholla” means to speak/say. “Thaan” sorta means himself. “Aaduvaan” means would dance. It might seem silly to translate that as “Lord Krishna would say things to the gopikas directly and then dance away” although one could interpret that as “Lord Krishna would directly (free to) say anything to those (besotted) gopikas and (be casual enough to) dance away!” and indicate the freedom and impishness that he was allowed. I chose the meaning above, which might not necessarily be the one intended. Please refer to comments section for explanation. Naadhamum and gaanamum (in the 1st line) mean the same so I will wait for Oothukkaadu Venkata Subba Iyer to descend and clarify.)

Thoalai arindhu, kani doora erindhu (thoal rhymes with coal)
Verum thoalai thunindhu oruvan thandhaanallavo?
Melai pidi avalai, venumendrey therindhu
Virumbhi oruvan thandhaanallavo?
Kaalamellaam thavam irindhu kanintha kani
Kadiththu suvaithu oruval thandhaanallavo – indha
Gnaalamum aayiram sonnalum naam adhai
“Namarka edharkku” endru solli
Naamamum aayiram solli solli
Aiyan karunaiyai paadu.

Discarding the fruit, after peeling the rind
Didn’t one (devotee) offer him just the rind?
A fistful of flattened rice, didn’t the all-knowing one
Eagerly receive it from the one who offered it?
After bearing the penance of ripening didn’t
(She) further test and taste them before offered it to him? – This
World might say a myriad thing but
We should respond with “Why should I care”,
Recite his thousand names and
Sing the praise of Lord Krishna.

(This stanza makes reference to the stories of Vidura, Kutchela and Sabari, though the latter is to do with Lord Rama. I suppose Oothukkaadu Venkata Subba Iyer (OVSI) funnels all the gods and distills them into Lord Krishna, such was his devotion for Him. Vidura is fabled to have once received Lord Krishna in his humble abode. He was so moved and touched by the Lord’s arrival that he pulls a bunch of bananas and proceeds to prepare them for the Lord. He peels them, discards the pith and offers the peels to Lord Krishna. The Lord smiles and eats every one of the peel. When Vidura’s wife brings Vidura to his senses and Vidura realises his mistake, he offers the pith to Krishna to which the Lord replies: “But the fruit is not as sweet!”
Kutchela was Krishna’s childhood friend who was very dear to Him. Kutchela was very poor and always remained so while Krishna went ahead to enter royal palaces and lived in opulence. Nevertheless, Krishna never lost his love for Kutchela. Once Kutchela decides to pay his childhood friend a visit and reaches the court of Krishna. Kutchela walked all the way and only managed a handful of flattened rice (go here and search for aval) as a gift for Krishna. Krishna, the all-knowing, rushed to greet him and washed Kutchela’s feet and pampers him. Krishna grabs the rice that his friend has brought for him and relishes it as if enjoying a banquet for kings.
Sabari’s story is part of the Ramayana. Sabari, an old lady, is overwhelmed to see Lord Rama arrive at her doorstep. She ambles away to collect some sweet berries but doesn’t offer all of them to Lord Rama. She nibbles at each and offers only the sweet ones to him. Such was her devotion and love that she doesn’t even consider it an offense to treat the Lord with partly consumed food.
What OVSI tries to bring to notice is that, Lord Krishna who has been so kind to such simple demonstrations of devotion should not be forgotten no matter anyone says. He strictly advises singing His praise as the only way to be close to Him.
It is not about whether one agrees with OVSI (or Thiagaraja, Bhakta Ramadas, et al) or not. His devotion is unquestionable and it brought him peace and Divine gifts which don’t belong to us. Whether what he says will work or not is a question that arises in the minds of all but the devout. It doesn’t matter whether it will work or not for he was able to leave us with this gem of a composition.)

Sarvam Sri Krishnaarpanamastu


10 thoughts on “Yaar Enna Sonnalum

  1. when I hear about lord krishna, I immediately picturise brindavan.The description was awesome.The last photo was a delight.It depicted my imagination of brindavan so well.The post makes me hum a different song I knew. Though that song is for a different deity, but the lines suit well for krishna..

  2. E,I think the <>Arumai-ena vandha piraveegalo pala/Aayiram sonnalum varumo<> line has a meaning related to the cycle of births. Not exactly sure about the meaning.“vegu nEr nEr” would be more like a sabAshi expression. Like saying “Good! Good!” as they dance. Debunk might not be a good translation for “nAna”. The word actually means shying. and yes, nAdham and gAnam – nAdham is sound that emanates while gAnam is song. For example, you would say the nAdham that came from the mrudangam or vInA while the gAnam that was sung by Yesudas.Hope I’ve not made too many mistakes in these interpretations! 🙂

  3. Dear P,🙂Dear S,Glad you found it so…Dear S,Which song were you humming? Glad you liked the pictures and description…Dear A,You are indeed a boon to Tamil literature. Honestly, I really hope you write large collections and receive what is duly yours. Thanks for the interpretations. I didn’t know about “Vegu naer naer”. That makes sense now. I got the meaning for Naana as shying but I couldn’t (then) think of how I would introduce it. Let me rethink. Regarding the cycle of births, it is a possible interpretation but it would defy the claim that one who sings the praise of Lord Krishna has no rebirth!! 🙂 Hence, I didn’t include it. Thanks for the clarification regarding Naadham and Gaanam. Will make the changes…

  4. Awesome post. Just landed up here as I googled for Y E S of OVSI.

    Dear Agnibharathi,
    Nadham means sound simply, while ganam means the tune (can't be compared to as the song of Yesudas etc), hence as you said, Narada Ganam is correct i.e. Narada's tunes (aka compositions).

    For Naana, though the literal meaning is shy, I think E was right by saying debunked. Literal meanings don't help in such poetries. The point of OVSI was that the Narada ganam and vedic knowledge had to bow out before this musical wisdom (gnana[for vedas] kuzhal[for narada]) that emanates from Sri Krishna's kuzhal. Basically OVSI says that those are exaggerated but when compared with Sri Krishna's kuzhalisai, can't stand even as a comparison.

  5. Dear N,
    Welcome to this blog. Glad you found it so. Thank you for your input. There is no pleasure than besting Agnibharathi in Tamil!! 😉

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