Some historical snippets of BN – Part 9 – Javali and Kannada Javalis

Ajanta mural depicting the Mahajana Jataka (painted in the 4th-5th century). The court scene with dancer and musicians dancing in front of the royal couple. (Note the coiffure, costume and jewellery of the dancer, also the Tribhanga in the pose) 

For new readers, here are the links to the previous posts (part1part2part3part4,part5, part6, part7, and part8).

Continuing the theme from our earlier post, I will touch upon on one more article on Javali and move to a narrow topic of Kannada Javalis.

Jhavali” written by Y. Satyanarayana Rao from Vijayawada is published in the Journal of Music Academy of Madras in 1964.

Disclaimer: I have attached the link to the pdf of the lecture as part of this post. I am not really quite sure of the copyright, although the website had no mention of it anywhere. So, I will remove the document if anyone points to any copyright infringement.

Here again, he goes at length speculating the etymology of the word Javali. Quoting from the article:

It is pronounced both as Jhavali and Jhavadi in Kannada, The Marathi word Jhavali means a gesture of the eyes in the language of love…In the Telugu language its etymological source may perhaps be traced to the word Java meaning speed or vega or quickness

My good friend, Atul says

In saMskRta, the word java (जव) means swift, and comes from the verbal root ju (जु or जू). This word appears in the Rgveda, which means this word has been around for many centuries.

[On a side note, there is a place called Javali (also spelled as Jaoli or Jawali) in Satara District of Maharashtra. The pronounciation of the village is the same as the musical form]

One interesting point the author mentions that Javali was used as a curtain raiser for some of the dance dramas, specifically in Yakshagana, one could see today, that Javali provides relief after a tense situation in a drama. In Ushaparinayam of Kuchipudi, while narrating her dream to the sakhi, Usha the heroine performs to the Javali “Emee mayamu chesi poyene”.

Some of the composers of Javali listed are also listed in the previous post. In addition,

  • Bellary Rajarao
  • Venkatagirippa
  • Tacchur Brothers (I am not sure if they are the same as Taccuru Singaracaryulu Brothers-Pedda Singaracaryulu and Azhaga Singaracaryulu)
  • Dasu Sreeramulu (1846-1908) was a lawyer by profession
  • Gali Subbarao
Dasu Sreeramalu

Dasu Sreeramalu

As to the popularity of Javalis in the early 20th century was due to the fact that unique blend of Carnatic and Hindustani styles, classical and light hearted. The author adds

It is no wonder that a hundred years ago Javali enjoyed the same popularity as some of the more popular lyrics in the films now (1964) enjoy.

At the end of the article there is a honest plea where he says

This fine composition should not be allowed to slip into oblivion

I think and I am sure you agree too that his prayers have come to fruition since Javalis have a mass appeal even in current Bharatanatyam performances. 🙂

So far, we have seen Javalis mostly in Telugu and some in Tamil. However, Javalis were written in Kannada as well. This is logical since the etymology of Javali points to the word Jhavadi in Kannada. There are two articles published back to back in 1974 issue of the Journal of Music Academy of Madras. The first one is titled “Javalis in Kannada – Ramanna – A Kannada Javali Composer” by Vidwan N. Chennakeshavaiah. The second one is titled “Kannada Javalis” by B. V. K. Sastri, Bangalore. Since the theme is identical for both articles, I will discuss them together here.

Disclaimer: I have attached the link to the pdf of the lecture as part of this post. I am not really quite sure of the copyright, although the website had no mention of it anywhere. So, I will remove the document if anyone points to any copyright infringement.

Similar to Y. Satyanarayana Rao’s argument, B. V. K. Sastri mentions that Javalis

may be considered as the light music or even something corresponding to the Film music of a by-gone era, by its wide popularity in all sections of the society

The Kannada Javali composers listed are:

  • Kappani/ Kappanna (?), wrote songs dedicated to Nanjundeswara of Nanjangud near Mysore
  • Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar (1794-1868) of the Mysore Wodeyar/Wadiyar dynasty, his mudra (also known as the composers’ signature in the lyrics) was Chamundeswari
  • Aliya Lingaraja (Urs?), (1823-1874) son-in-law of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar
  • Anandadasa from Surapura
  • Kolar Chandrasekhara Sastry, (1867 – ?) who like Dharampuri Subbaraya and Pattibiramaiah was employed in clerical service, and was not a professional musician. His mudra was Balachandra and composed Javalis in Telugu.
  • Sosale Ayyasastry whose mudra was Garapura
  • Jayarayacharaya whose mudra was Jayanarahari
  • Salem Shatkala Narasayya
  • Sarpabhooshana Sivayogi
  • Aiji Venkataramanacharya
  • Venkatadri Shama Rao
  • Bellary Raja Rao
  • Honnali Bhimesadasa
  • Hullahally Ramanna, (1854-1918) was born in the village Hullahalli/Hullahally, about 9 miles from Nanjangud. He started his life as a teacher in the Primary School. He did Harikatha as a hobby and later earned palace recognition, under the rule of Sri Chamaraja Wadiyar X (?). Of his two sons, the eldest Venkataramaiah became a Harikatha performer, while the youngest became an engineer. Ramanna’s mudra was Trinapureesa, Trinapureeswara, Trinapuradhama, Trinapura Kava Varada, etc. Interestingly, Hullahalli/Hullahally’s equivalent word in Sanskrit is Trinapuri. He has composed numerous songs in praise of many divinities in most of the popular ragas. Some of his popular songs are “Neerajadalanayane” in Khamas and Chapu Tala, “Marasundaranekebara” in Surati and Rupaka Tala, “Baropriya” in Desitodi and Rupaka tala.
  • Sangitam Venkataramanaiyya, from Bangalore used the mudra Mangalapurisa
  • Veena Seshanna, composed a Hindi Javali “Naina Tere Madake Bhare” in Jinjuti/Jenjuti.
  • Venkataramaiah (Not sure if the eldest son of Hullahully Ramanna and this composer are the same)

Maharaja Mummadi Krishna Raja Wodeyar
Image Courtesy:

Apart from these, there are other composers who were instrumental in propogating the Sringarapadas in Kannada. They were Akkamahadevi (who identified herself as the wife of Mallikarjuna of Srisailam temple), Sripadaraja of Mulbagal Mutt, Vyasaraja (1447/60-1539) the rajaguru of Krishnadevaraya and today dancers identify him as the  composer of “Krishna nee Begane Baro.

The composer Kappani/Kappana, listed above, was known more for his Vairagya Javalis. Meaning that they describe the human level interactions and at the same time have an admonishing tone. Something like giving a warning to the ignorant. For example, a translation of one of his lyrics goes like

Worship and embrace a Sivalinga with all ardour and devotion or hold on to the firm breasts of a buxom woman;

Sing the praise of the lord with all fervour or flatter the charms of a woman and listen to her love-talk;

Enjoy the prasadam of a Sivalinga or enjoy the nectar coming out of the lips of a woman.

I am sure that the readers would identify with the composer’s line of thought of dedicating one’s life to Siva via pure Bhakti. Dr. Pappu Venugopala Rao also says

The only non-love oriented compositions are the Kannada vairagya javalis of Kappana.

As another musician R. K. Srikantan recalls in an interview:

Srikantan has given lecture-demonstrations on Kannada javalis on AIR Bangalore. He recalls how beautifully Ariyakkudi used to sing ‘Mathada Baradeno’ (Khamas) and how delightfully Balasaraswathi would dance to it. According to him this Kannada javali has the original tune, but for some Kannada javalis, the original tunes are lost.

An interesting anecdote that B. V. K. Sastri shares in the article is that his friend K. V. Achar had toured most part of Karnataka and has collected about 300 Kannada Javalis. In total there are 40 mudras seen in these lyrics, however it doesn’t mean that there were 40 composers, instead the problem is compounded by the fact that two or more composers had used the same mudra.

To think that, Javalis were indeed used to provide relief in a tense situation or they were the light music songs in those days, I guess these two multi-language Javali would bring a smile to you 🙂 after reading this heavy post!!!

Based on the mudra “Sivaramuni” used these are composed by Karur Sivaramayya (1798-1820). The multi language Javali was called as Chaturbhasa Javali, since it has English, Tamil, Telugu and Kannada words mixed all throughout.

The first one supposedly goes as:

O my lovely lalane eelane pommanti
ittuvanti step is fit to take, sit a while here.
Let me convince you. Evari vaddanu,
Don’t be angry – Sivaramuni padamulu padu

The second one is mentioned in the Davesh Soneji’s book titled “Bharatanatyam: A reader“. The chapter is titled “Salon to Cinema – The distinctly Modern Life of the Telugu Javali

my dear come varuvai i vela 
ninnujuci cala divasa ayite manna ni na manasu impaina
kalaharanaminca for me now belatingalu bisallavayite
kuluku talakugala come birana well I shall sing Sivaramuni songs

The translation is

my dear come, come here now! Many days have passed since I have seen you. O King! fill my heart with your sweetness
Why do you delay for me now? Months have passed, it all seems a waste
With all your charms, come quickly, well I shall sing Sivarama’s songs.

3 responses to “Some historical snippets of BN – Part 9 – Javali and Kannada Javalis

  1. Shivakumar via
    “very informative,I have afeeling that like these information should be brought under publication again to reach today artistes “

  2. where can get a rendition of the chaturbhasha javali- “my dear come varuvai i vela ” I searched everywhere on the internet but in vain..

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