Singer Saketharaman and Simson Raja to present some of Thiruvalluvar’s couplets

Singer Saketharaman and pattimandram speaker Simson Raja join hands to present some of Thiruvalluvar’s couplets set to Carnatic ragam while also decoding them

author_img Vaishali Vijaykumar Published :  15th December 2021 03:01 PM   |   Published :   |  15th December 2021 03:01 PM
Lending kural to Thirukkural

Lending kural to Thirukkural

Karka kasadara karpavai katrapin nirka adharkuth thaga (Let a man learn thoroughly whatever he may learn and let his conduct be worthy of his learning). With the couplets being quoted by leaders in the global diaspora, Thiruvalluvar’s Thirukkural has made a comeback in the past few years with initiatives that aim at reviving it with modern interpretations. All in an effort to bring the best out of the worldly wisdom it imparts for the generations to come. One project that’s determined to simplify and present a handful of the couplets to today’s audience, in a musical format, is Irukuralil Thirukkural. The video series will be brought out by Carnatic vocalist Saketharaman and pattimandram speaker Simson Raja.

Isai rasigargaluku isai irukum, ilakiya rasigargaluku kural irukum — music lovers will get to enjoy mellifluous tunes, and literature buffs will get to learn new kurals,” begins Raja, offering us a glimpse of what to expect from the series. They have shortlisted 15 kurals for the series. While Saketharaman will render them in suitable ragas, Raja will break them down into sizable chunks for easy consumption of viewers.

Timeless lessons

Explaining the incident that seeded the idea behind the initiative, Saketharaman shares, “I lost my father this August. One of our well-wishers wrote these words as a tribute — Makandhandhaikku aatrum udhavi ivan thanthai ennotraan kol enum sol. It means, The help a son can render to his father is to make the society ask ‘What penance the father made to beget such a son.’ I was touched by its in-depth meaning. And laer when I presented the kural in a ragam-thanam-pallavi format at a concert, it was well-received. I decided that I wanted to bring out a series and only Raja sir, with his intellect and humour, can help me take it to this generation.”

The tricky part in the execution of the series comes with pairing the kural with a complementing ragam. For instance, the kural Anbilaar ellam thamakkuriyar anbudaiyaar enbum uriyar pirarkku (Those who are destitute of love appropriate all they have to themselves; but those who possess love consider even their bones to belong to others). These verses are composed in ragam Bageshree which symbolises love and affection. “The beauty about Thirukkural is that it can be performed for one minute or even for an hour when sung in appropriate ragams. But, while every kural imparts a life lesson, it may not be practically possible to integrate each couplet into a song. This is what makes the whole process cumbersome and challenging,” explains the singer.

The duo is planning to release these episodes in two formats. The shorter one will be a minute-long reel like a teaser. The full version of the same video will be four to five minutes; with Saketharaman singing the kural and Raja decoding it to viewers. “Thirukkural has been way ahead of its time. Thiruvalluvar packed some important moral values in just seven words which aptly suits the attention span of this generation. One of my favourite kurals Aghi endra arivu ennam yarumattum brehi veriya sei talks about helping people with your knowledge without expecting anything in return. The topic of bribing was discussed 2,000 years back! Like this, when you spend time and read even one kural a day, it will stay with you for a lifetime,” notes Raja.

One couplet at a time

The duo wants people to introspect on how many kurals they are aware of, what are the intentions behind reading them, and how often we implement these sayings in our daily life. “As a student, I mugged them up for marks. While climbing the social ladder, I sought them for advice. Now, as an orator, I’m amazed by the versatility every time a speaker quotes these verses with its meaning on stage. Through music and Margazhi season, Saketharaman can take these messages to a larger audience across the globe.” notes Raja.

Saketharaman has been teaching Thirukkural using Carnatic music to around 250 students in his music school Kala Siksha. Saketh feels Thirukkural when presented in the form of music has a profound impact. “I’ve tuned and presented Thirukkural in mainstream Carnatic music concerts as ragam-thanam-pallavi before and I will be doing it this year. If this can kindle the curiosity of even a handful then I will be happy. Music is one of the best ways to get these kurals registered in the mind,” he says.

Depending on the response from their fans and well-wishers, the duo plan on extending the series. “Thirukkural has been translated into various languages and respected by people worldwide. We need to pass on this treasure to the coming generations. The 1,330 kurals can prepare you for all kinds of obstacles in life,” sums up Raja.

‘Irukuralil Thirukkural’ will be launched by the duo on December 16. For details, visit his YouTube channel Saketharaman Sings For You.