Saturday, September 02, 2006

The Story Behind नको देवराया

By the time I had turned music composer, a variety of songs had become part of my system. Some of them were songs in my mother tongue. One of the songs was नको देवराया, an abhanga by Kānhopātrā.
Although the Anandaghan version is quite exquisite in its own way, I always felt that there was something amiss in the song. For a long time, I could not place what it was. Then as I began to understand a few things of poetry I discovered that there was a problem with the metre of the song. And that was the issue that had foxed me. Take any abhanga. It will have a rhyme (यमक) in the second and third phrases.

देह शुद्ध करोनि भजनी भजावे
आणिकांचे नाठवावे, दोषगुण
नको नको मना, गुंतु मायाजाळी
काळ आला जवळी, ग्रासावया

But in case of this song –

नको देवराया अंत अता पाहु
प्राण हा सर्वथा जाऊ पाहे

पाहु and सर्वथा just did not make sense to me. Where was the rhyme? How could Kānhopātrā make such a simple mistake? Or if she had done it on purpose what was the purpose? You may choose not to believe me, but these questions tormented me for days. I was certain that Kānhopātrā had written something else and this was not the original representation of the abhanga. All the bhaktigeet books corresponded to the abhang in the same manner as had been represented by Anandaghan. I then asked Shri Shankar Vaidya – the man to turn to in such difficulties – but he too could not recollect the correct words. He advised me to look up the abhanga in the Sakal Santa Gātha. I did just that and was pleasantly surprised at the outcome. My hunch proved right. The words had been tweaked to turn it into the song. Here is the abhanga as Kānhopātrā wrote it.

नको देवराया अंत पाहु आता
प्राण हा सर्वथा फुटो पाहे॥

हरिणीचे पाडस व्याघ्रे धरियेले।
मज लागी जाहले तैसे देवा॥

तुजविण ठाव न दिसे त्रिभुवनी।
धावे हो जननी विठाबाई॥

मोकलोनी आस, जाहले उदास।
घेई कान्होपात्रेस हृदयात॥

The right words suddenly shed light on a number of mysteries. The song by Lata Mangeshkar is of a slow pace. I surmised that the tune of the song must have come before the words were put and hence the words must have been changed. Note that फुटो पाहे has been replaced with जाऊ पाहे. This has a direct effect on the intensity of the statement. प्राण हा सर्वथा फुटो पाहे is much more intense an expression than प्राण हा सर्वथा जाऊ पाहे. After the right words fall into place one also realises the significance of हरिणीचे पाडस व्याघ्रे धरियेले। मज लागी जाहले तैसे देवा॥ and its intensity.
Now I had to set the abhanga to a new tune – a tune that would justify the words as they were. The tune came to me in Raag Kirwani and I had composed the song before I knew it!
A few months later when Gajendra Ahire narrated me the screenplay of the film Not Only Mrs. Raut for which I was composing the music, I found a place in the story where this abhanga would really lift the situation. Gajendra also approved of using the abhang for the film. I recorded the song with Sanjeev Chimmalgi. I have put up my version of this terrific piece of poetry at Here is the link.
Please listen to it and do post your comments.
© Kaushal S. Inamdar, 2005