petervas

The sighting of Sita – N. J. Nandini

In Music on October 24, 2012 at 10:57 am

 
 
 

The story of Sita’s abduction by Ravan, a demon king, is one of lust.  In the epic Ramayan, Soorpanaka, Ravan’s sister, lusts after Ram and loathes Sita his dutiful wife.  She tricks her brother Ravan into abducting Sita to Sri Lanka, so Ram will distance away from Sita on grounds of infidelity and make way for Soorpanaka’s advances.

At least, this is Soorpanakas’s plan and it backfires tragically.

Sita is abducted by Ravan.  Ram is heart broken and he searches for Sita but cannot find her.  It is Hanuma that sights her in Lanka.  He is overjoyed at this.  He spends considerable time, assessing if this is the Sita that he is searching for.  Finally concludes it is her, by giving her Rama’s ring that she recognizes at once and is overjoyed.  He then proceeds to get back to Ram and give him the message that he has been dying to hear:

 
 

 
 


The Carnatic vocalist Nandini, dramatizes Hanuma’s sighting of Sita in Lanka to Ram. The first word that he expresses is almost of disbelief that he has actually sighted Sita there. That abrupt expression (a single word meaning ‘I have sighted’) of joyous disbelief is the genius in this rendition.

Why is this song more popular with the female vocalists, even though this is Hanuma’s point-of-view?

Hanuma’s poetry conveys Sita’s abject sadness at being distanced from her beloved Rama. The message is so poignantly conveyed that the messenger disappears and the poetry seems to emanate directly from Sita herself.  Hence popular with female vocalists. They are best suited to give voice to Sita’s yearning and therefore soul to this song. The messenger in showing his intense loyalty to Ram and to Sita, once again effaces from his own message.  In any event, they are permanent residents of his heart.

The colloquial versus the literary

Embedded in this song are the words that Sita uses in disgust at Ravan’s advances. Those two words do not belong in this literary poetic piece. But they do color her rage like no other two words can. The poet mixes with great ease the colloquial with the literary. They are ‘che che’ which defines the dirt that Ravan is.  The dirtbag is after all in close proximity to the divine.

Nandini’s vocals are at times abrupt and choppy. This goes well with the storyline. Hanuma is exhausted from the search but his message needs to be conveyed decisively (hence he repeats the sighting three times in quick succession lest the point be missed!) but also in a tone that calms Rama.  ‘Do not worry, I have sighted Sita’ is what he needs to convey through his breathlessness and exhaustion.

Hence the vocalist’s mildly quivering style behooves this drama.

Reference

Sita, interrupted
NJ Nandini’s blog
 
 

Other poems and songs
stairway raghu pieta
Stairway to Heaven Calling Muruga Pieta Carnatic

 
 
 
 

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