another wonderful Kannadasan song

August 23, 2006


From the film “SooryakAnthi” (Sunflower)

paramashivan kazhutthilirunthu pAmbu kEttathu garudA soukkhyamA irukkum idatthil irunthu kondAl ellAm soukkhyamE garudan sonnathu– athil arttham uLLathu

The snake, from its place on Shiva’s neck, asked GarudA: “GarudA, are you fine?” GarudA replied: “When one is one’s appointed place, all is always well”…(those words) have (profound) meaning.

uyarntha idatthil irukkum pOthu ulagam unnai mathikkum  un nilamai konjam irangi vanthAl nizhalum kooda mithikkum

When you are in a high position the world respects you If your position comes down a little, even your shadow will step on you

Well…the rest of the lyrics are available on the net….

But these are the  lines that I love…

For my non-Indian friends…the Garuda (the celestial eagle) and Paambu (the snake) are eternal enemies, and the kite/eagle (...a little birding aside here...what bird, exactly, is the garudan?... and don't say grey-headed fishing eagle...I think it seems to be the brahminy kite, am I right?) always preys upon snakes.

And Shiva (parama shiva = ulitmate shiva) is a god who wears snakes as ornaments. On the god’s body, of course, they are protected from GarudA….

I love the saucy enquiry about GarudA’s health by the snake, from its place of safety, and GarudA’s philosophy about the ways of the world, where  it is not enough for one to be a human being; other marks of power are what are needed for respect….

The image of a shadow, that perennial symbol of subservience, stepping on one is so powerful.

As usual, KaNNadAsan puts it across so very pithily…poetry is when the fewest possible syllables and sounds touch one’s heart.

And what ultimately occurs to me…how many languages there are in the world, each with its own songs, and poetry…how many treasures lie in each, unknown to me…! What sort of imagery do they have, with what cultural references? What an amazing thing language is!