Saturday, October 4, 2008

Akka Paatti's Godliness!

From when I can remember, my extended family (my mother has 11 siblings!) would gather everyday of the Navrathri pooja, and sing a set of 30 songs composed by Akka Paati. From the youngest toddler to the oldest thaatha and paatti, everyone knows and sings these songs even today. I never knew anything about Akka Paati until a few days ago, when my mother narrated her story to me, all choked up.

Akka Paatti was my maternal grandfather's mother's elder sister. Since my great grandmother called her 'Akka' (elder sister), my mother, aunts and uncles called her 'Akka Paatti' (elder sister - grandma). Since my grandfather's mother died at a young age, he and his siblings were all brought up by her.

Akka Paatti lived an ordinary life of a traditional housewife. But it seems like she lived an extraordinary life of a bhakta (devotee). At nights, my mother would hear her sing devotional songs, which she would ask my mother or my grandmother to write down the following morning. In her lifetime, Akka Paatti composed close to 500 songs in Tamil and Kannada in different ragas and talas, out of which only about 100 remain in print. The rest have been forgotten.

One day last week, I was there to be part of the ritualistic group singing. As we came to the 29th song in Madyamavathi ragam, I choked.

"poruthharuLvaai ippo, en thaaye poruthharuLvaai ippo

alatchiyamaaga seida abaraadatthai mannitthu,
ariyaa chiruvargalai anbudan kaakka vendum (poruththaruLvaai)

siriyOr seitha pizhayay sinandu nee koLLaamal
naan pandu pol aaraadikka paangudan veetriruppai (poruththaruLvaai)"

Mother, Please bear with them.
Forgive them for their ignorant mistakes, and protect them.
Love and forgive these children who know not what they are doing.
Don't leave in anger.
Stay here with all your grace for me to worship you everyday.

Akka Paatti knew about her death exactly 15 days before it, and asked for her son to take her to spend her last days with him. But while on her death bed, her daughter in law abused her endlessly. Akka Paatti composed this song (her very last) asking for forgiveness for her. Such extreme compassion that she was capable of speaks volumes of her goldliness! I am getting ready to learn some of her other compositions where she talks about the madness of the material world, the illusion created by the mind, and pleads God to help her dissolve her ego and its arrogance and simply surrender!

When I was young, singing Akka Paatti's songs along with my cousins used to be nothing more than a fun ritual. As I grew up, singing her songs took on newer meanings for me. This time, it was a deeply devotion-filled experience. I really felt like I bathed in her divine energy!


Anonymous said...

sooper.. good one..

enga appava contact pannu. he has some stories to tell if u r interested. not only that song. most other compositions( or all!!?) are really good ones.

karuna sagara moorthie nee indha kayam irukkum podhe smarippai.

here kayam means the physical body. kayam irukkum podhe implies that though i'l experience u or die in u after this body goes, do show up b4 this body goes.

innum paaraa mugam(y)eno? dhayavudan vandhennai tharkaatharulvai.

tharkaappu is self defence/protection. when does YOU defending/protecting ME become tharkappu? when u become me or vice versa. here the essence of vishistadvaita is told.

dharaniyulake dhana dhaanya sampathgalaniyu neeve pradhana magizhchi. this shows how she perceives the Thaayar.

and she's good poet too.

bhakthi ennum palagai serthu,
parisutham ennnum kodikai mooti,
sradhai ennum sangili maati naan
sitham urugi paniya oonjal aadinal..

aadithan udhithan pol kanaga aabaranangal thulanga vedha vedhanthangalum vinnorgalum kaana mudiyadha pangajavalli thayar. trying her best to share her 'experience with Thayar'.

innum neraiya irukum. jus typed whatever i cud type now.

also there is a book (published by Raghavan thatha i suppose) having 'songs by Srivara Mangaithayar'.(songs by srivaramangai thayar herself. this is what is printed in the book. humility)

was nice to read the blog. bout our akka paatti.

lots of lov,

Sangeetha Sriram said...

Thanks Arun for that comment. Yes, I should speak to your dad about her. And I didn't know about that printed book. Will take a look at it. Didn't know you had taken so much interest and done so much research into Akka Paatti's songs! Will talk more later.

Sangeetha Sriram said...

I found her picture too!