Muralidhara Sri Purandara Vittala

Whenever you hear any song in a concert with the above mudra or signature, you should know that it is a translation by M. Balamuralikrishna of a composition of Purandaradasa. Balamurali has translated a few of the bard's songs into Telugu and a solitary one into Tamil. When he himself sings any of these songs, he does so first in the original Kannada (or Sanskrit) and then follows up by singing his u-translated versions. This enables Telugu-speaking audiences particularly to understand Purandaradasa better and enjoy his compositions more for it. I remember two such — one in Bhairavi raga and the other in Abhogi — in Balamurali's concert at Vijayawada.

Satyavantari kidu kaala valla (Satyamuna kidi kaadu manchi kaalam in the Telugu version) is a song which suggests that the bad days of Kali-yuga had started even during the time of Purandaradasa some 450 years ago. As Purandara tells it, the truth had no place then, and the times were no good for god-fearing people but profitable only to criminals. Everyone of the translated lines as sung by Balamurali was applauded — for their meaning as well as melody. Again, in the Abhogi song Anu kaalavu chinte jeevake manasa (Rrathukantha chinte jeeviki manasa in the Telugu version),

Purandaradasa has graphically described life as a cluster of problems {chinte), as for example, a life with a wife, a life without a wife* and a life with a wife without brain — all problems for a mind that forgets god. But for a mind which does not forget god, it is nischinte (sans problems), concludes the song. Balamurali used to digress during this song. He would sing: Satiyunnaa chinte (To have a wife is a problem) Sati lekha chinte (to have no wife is again a problem). Mati lent satito manugada chinte (To pull on in life with a brainless wife is difficult) and then stop to tell the audience: "If a lady musician were to sing in my place, she can slightly alter the words and sing: Patiyannaa chinte, pati lekha chinte, matileni patitho manugada chinte". And the auditorium would come down with thunderous applause.