THE SACRED SONGS OF INDIA encom-
passes selections from the lifework of ten
mystic musician-saints of India, spanning
twelve centuries. These poet sages came
from different regions of India and sang in
different languages, but the theme central to
their songs is love and devotion towards
their favourite Deity: Krishna, who is also
Rama. The songs of Andal, the daughter of
the south Indian temple priest who lived in
the 7th century A.D. and of Meera, the
Rajasthani princess who lived in the 16th
century are both suffused with bridal mysti-
cism. The songs of Vidyapati and Jayadeva
are similar in their erotic imagery of the love
of Radha and Krishna. Tulsidas, who sang in
Varanasi in the north and Tyagaraja, who
sang in Tiruvaiyar in deep south, in different
languages and in different centuries were
similar in their approach to their darling
Deity, Rama. Surdas, Tukaram and
Purandharadasa felt themselves to be the
servants of their Master: Krishna. Kabir,
while he sang of the glory of Rama, also
philosophised about the transience of
material life and the permanence of the
Almighty. . 7
Andal sang in Tamil, Tyagaraja in Telugu,
Purandharadasa in Kannada, Tukaram in
Marathi, Jayadeva in Sanskrit and the
others in various dialects of Hindi, but the
thread of God-intoxicated devotion binds
The SACRED SONGS OF INDIA will be
an inexhaustible repertoire for any
musician, singer, choreographer, dancer or
drama and ballet groups.
It will also be a source of inspiration,
spiritual and aesthetic, to all Indians, wher-
ever they may be, in the continents of
Euro-Asia, Africa or the continents across
Vadakaymadom Krishnaiyer Subramanian
(b. 1930, Kerala) is an eminent Indian scholar,
whose life mission is to present to the world
the treasures of ancient Indian literature and
cultural heritage. He has already translated
several ancient texts into English. These
include: Saundaryalahari, Sivanandalahart, Sri
Rudraprasna, Maxims of Chanakya and Siva-
Subramanian has a universalistic taste
and is a prolific writer on a variety of subjects
ranging from astrology to art. He has also
written a few works of fiction.
A retired officer of the Indian Audit and
Accounts Service (which he joined in 1953),
Subramanian is also a reputed painter, who
has held twenty-two one-man shows. His
paintings have won wide acclaim from leading art critics of India.
Subramanian, who has travelled
extensively in India, now lives in the United
States of America.
The sacred songs of India, included in this book, are an arbitrary,
incomplete, whimsical selection, spanning twelve centuries and
covering various regions of India.
The only running thread in these songs is devotion to the chosen
Deity: Krishna who is also Rama.
The saints who have composed these songs were all mystic poets who
dreamed of their beloved deity in uninhibited imagery.
Both Andal—who was born in the South in the seventh century, the
daughter of a temple priest—and Meera, the royal princess of
Rajasthan who lived in the fifteenth-sixteenth centuries—desired
union with Krishna and sang of Him as the Lover.
Jayadeva, the Orissan poet of the 12th century and Vidyapati, the
Bihari saint of the 14th century, infused their songs with profuse
eroticism about the love of Radha and Krishna—joy in union and
sorrow in separation—Radha and Krishna being symbols of the
individual soul and the Supreme Spirit.
Purandharadasa, Surdas and Tukaram treated themselves as the
servants of the Lord and sang of the glories of their Master.
Kabir’s songs are more philosophical in content, though rich in
Tulsidas and Tyagaraja blindly adored their Rama and sang of His
glories with unparalleled intimacy.
The beauty of these songs has transcended the barriers of language,
region and time.
Andalsangin Tamil, Jayadevain Sanskrit, Purandharadasain Kannada,
Tukaram in Marathi, Tyagaraja in Telugu and the others in various
dialects of Hindi.
Jayadeva’s songs are sung in the temples of Kerala as also in the
palace precincts of Rajasthan.
Meera’s bhajans and Tukaram’s abhangs are sung by Carnatic
musicians of South India in their music concerts.
I consider these songs as great integrating factors and am proud to
present them on a common platter to be read, sung and heard, and
choreographed and danced by artistes and appreciated by people of
all countries, whatever be their religion, race, language or nationality.
**Contents and Sample Pages**
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