Crank’s News: Classical language status for words in Harris Jayaraj songs

Karunanidhi writes to the Central Government

Chennai: Even though less than 24 hours may be left for the Assembly election results to be out in Tamil Nadu, it has not prevented the DMK government from writing to the Union Government seeking to confer separate classical language status to the quaint words that are so unique to the songs of the music composer Harris Jayaraj.

The plea of the Tamil Nadu government is that though Harris Jayaraj’s Tamil songs are in Tamil, they are not Tamil. ‘Some of the words used in his compositions are so unique that they deserve a separate classical language status,’ said a State government source.

The source also said that the Manmohan Singh is likely to put off the Empowered Group of Ministers meeting to discuss the possible hike in petro products prices and instead take up this matter of national significance.

It is also learnt that the music-liking, poetry-loving daughter of Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, Kanimozhi, will personally hand over the State government’s letter to the Union Government in New Delhi. ‘She is in New Delhi in this regard only and not because of any court summons in the 2G case as is being irresponsibly speculated by some sections of the media,’ a highly-placed functionary of the DMK revealed here.

Meanwhile, according to Tamil savants and scholars, whether you read the classical Tamil grammar treatise Tholkappiyam or hear Harris Jayaraj’s songs, the feeling is the same: You can’t understand the meaning of the words in vogue in both of them.

‘In fact, you need more linguistic skills to understand the quaint words in Harris Jayaraj’s compositions than you may need to comprehend the terms in, say, Seevagasinthamani,’ they pointed out.  Descriptions like Hassili Fissili or Dhimu Dhimu, or Oyaayiye Yaayiye, or O Magazeeya, or Randakka have stumped every language expert.

The descriptions in Harris Jayaraj songs are already a rage in Tamil academia. ‘On the very face of it, the words and terms in those songs may seem meaningless. But as serious researchers we can confirm that only after undertaking assiduous research using huge government grants. If those words are given a separate classical language status it will go a long way in helping our research as the grants will be higher,’ said a Tamil professor in the Madras University.

In the Madurai Kamarajar University, there are research scholars who are attempting Ph D dissertations like: Neological Implications and Freudian Significance of Hassili Fissili. And the more popular one: O Magazeeya: The Lost Continent of Lemuria and its Language.

Meanwhile, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister has written an impassioned letter to his party functionaries on his efforts to get the classical language status to a few words in Harris Jayaraj songs.

‘Thanks to my unstinted efforts in being part of the Union Ministry, Tamil became a classical language some years ago. Tamilians world over are able to reap the unmistakable benefits of that now,’ Chief Minister began in his letter.

‘Tamilians, irrespective of whichever part of the world they are in, have now begun to understand that the beauty of Tamil lies only in Tamil.  Classics like Manimegalai, Silapathikaram, Ponnar Shankar have been possible only because Tamil is a classical language. But let us also not forget the fact that it’s not Kambar or Ilango Adigal or Thiruvalluvar who fought for getting the classical language status to Tamil. The whole world knows who was instrumental for that and let me not bring myself into this again, lest the world begins to say that Karunanidhi is always talking of Karunanidhi’, he quipped in his typical style.

Striking a sombre note by recalling his trying childhood days in Thiruvarur, Karunanidhi said: ‘Those were hard times. We could not listen to Harris Jayaraj then.’

But today, thanks to my government, youngsters are able to tune into Harris Jayaraj songs any time. ‘However, my abiding regret will be there is no Periyar or Anna to listen to those exotic words in the numbers tuned in by Harris Jayaraj. Of course, I have the satisfaction of ensuring social justice, dreamt by Periyar and Anna, by helping hitherto obscure and unaccepted descriptions enjoy equal footing with the established language generally used by the elite (forward community) ’.

He also asserted: ‘My love for Tamil can be gauged by the fact that I chose to be born as a Tamil in Tamil Nadu and not in Karnataka as some others’.

Karunanidhi said that the demand for classical language status for the words in Harris Jayaraj songs was based out of conviction for language and heritage. ‘It’s a question of culture. If the Central government puts us in a situation where we have to resign en masse from the State government, we will not hesitate to do that. We will resign irrespective of whether we are in power or not ,’ he concluded.

Elsewhere, Dravida Kazhagam chief K Veeramani applauded Karunanidhi for steadfastly safeguarding music from the claustrophobic clutches of Brahmins. ‘Classical language status for some words in the songs of a minority community composer ensures the defeat of oppressive upper class forces’, he pointed out sagaciously.

(Disclaimer: A R Rahman songs may also get the same distinction on the day when somebody actually manages to hear the lyrics beyond the music)