Sunday, December 31, 2006

Sri Naadhadhi Guruguho

It was a wonderful, peaceful day. Being Vaikunta Ekadeshi, I spent sometime praying to the Lord and abstained from eating rice, onions and the like. I finished learning "Jagadhanandhakaaraka" in raga "naatai" and was able to play the complete song on my guitar. I felt like blogging and so here goes..This is going to be a really long blog as the krithi I am going to talk about demands that respect and treatment.

As the title of the blog indicates, I am going to discuss about Dikshithar's first krithi, "Sri Naadhaadhi guruguho" composed beautifully in the raga "MaayamaalavaGowlai". I will try my best to explain the meaning of each line of the song and some intricacies I observed. Being Dikshithar's first krithi, it is pretty simple though filled with a lot of references to vedas and upanishads. Dikshithar basically portrays Lord Subrahmanya as the Lord of the Universe in this krithi. Alright..enough talking..lets get down to business..

Sri Naadhadhi Guruguho Jayathi Jayathi
Sri Chidaananda Naathohamithi
Santhatham Hridini Bhaja

Victory("Jayathi") to Lord Guruguha, who is adorned("bhaja") by all Gods("Santhatham") beginning with Lord Vishnu("Sri Naadhadhi"). Oh mind!!("Hridini"), constantly contemplate("Bhaja") that("ithi") you are the infinite consciousness and infinite bliss("chidaananda").
Anyone who learns carnatic music will be taught "Maayamaalavagowlai" as one of the first ragas as it is a simple and symmetric raga and will be easy for a beginner to grasp. Sri Dikshithar aptly composes his first krithi in this raga. Further, the first line of the pallavi is a simple "Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Ri", that is, the ascending and descending parts of the raga(aarohanam and avarohanam) itself and covers 3 kaalams(3 speeds)..This is the essence of all Dikshithar krithis..simple yet extremely powerful and soulful.

Naanaa Prapancha Vichithrakaro
Naamaroopa Pancha Bhoothakaro
Agnyaana Dhvaantha Prachandha Bhaaskaro
Gnyaana Pradhaayako Maheshwaro
Madhyamakala Sahithyam:
Dheenavanodyuktha Divyatharo
Divyaughaadhi Sakala Deha Dharo
Maanasaanandakara Chathuratharo
Madh Guruvaro Mangalam Karothu

He is the originator of different (“naana”), diversified (“vichithra”) forms (“aakaro”) of the worlds (“prapancha”). He manifests (“roopa”) as the five (“pancha”) elements (“bhootha”) and as the named (“naama”) and famed ones. He is the mighty sun (“bhaaskaro”) destroying (“prachandha”) the darkness (“dvaantha”) of ignorance (“agnyaana”). He is the bestower (“pradhaayako”) of spiritual knowledge (“gnyaana”). He is the almighty("Maheshwara").
He is the divine (“divya”) Kalpaka Vruksha (“vanodyuktha”) for the afflicted (“dheena”) ones. He bears("deha dharo") the sacred rivers("divya ugaadhi"). He is adept in granting happiness to the heart("manaasaanandhakara") of His devotees. May my Guru("Madh guruvaro") bless me (“mangalam karo”).

Maaya Maya Visvaadhisthaano
Maathmakathadhi Mathaanusthaano
Maalini Mandalaantha Vidhaano
Mantraadyajapaa Hamsa Dhyaano
Maayaakaarya Kalanaa Heeno
Maamaka Sahasra Kamalaasino
Maadhurya Gaanaamruta Paano
Maadhavaadhyabhaya Vara Pradaano
Maayaa Sabalitha Brahma rupo
Maarakoti Sundara Svarupo
Madhimathaam Hrudaya Gopura Dipo
Matthra Suraadi Jayaprataapo
Madhyama Kala Sahityam:
Mahipathi Pujitha Pada Pradesha
Maadhavaadyamara Brunda Prakaasha
Maheshasya Mahaarthopadesha

He (who) is the substratum (“adhisthaano”) for this illusory (“maayaa maya”) world (“vishwa”). He (who) is to be invoked through mantra (“mathaanusthaano”) beginning with “Ka” (“kaadi”), ending with “ma” (“maathmaka”). He (who) resides (“vidhaano”) in the center (“mandalaantha”) of the Malini-Chakra. He (who) is to be meditated (“dhyano”)upon as the swan (“Hamsa”) representing the Ajaapa Mantra. He who is an expert in obliterating (“hino”) the result (“kalana”) of Maaya, the illusion. He resides in my heart which is like a thousand (“sahasra”) petalled lotus (“kamalaasino”). Who enjoys the nectar (“amruta”) of mellifluous (“madhurya”) music (“Gaana”). He provides (“pradhaano”) sheltor (“abhaya”) and boons (“vara”)to Maadhava and others. Whose Brahmasvarupa is veiled (“sabalitha”) by Maaya. Whose beauty (“sundara svarupo”) excels that of crores (“koti”) of Cupids (“mara”). Who shines as the light (“deepo”) atop the tower (“gopura”) like the heart (“hrudaya”) of his devotees (“mathimathaam”).He who vanquished the proud (“matta”) sura and others (“adi”). His place of abode is worshipped by the kinds (“mahipathi”) of Mayamalavagowla Desha. Who shines (“prakaasha”) as surrounded by Vishnu (“maadhava”) and other Gods (“brundha”). Who impounded (“upadesha”) the real truth (“mahaartha”) of Pranava to His father, Mahesha.

We can clearly see the Raga mudhra in the madhyamakala sahithyam of the charanam. Also, one can notice the numerous references to upanishads, veda parayanas and yoga shaastras. Especially in the charanam, he talks about the paramaathma(Lord) residing in the astral body of the humans(Jivaathma), thereby enforcing the thought of advaitha. By the reference to the Swan("Hamsa") in the charanam, Dikshithar alludes to the yoga shaastras.
The Hamsa represent perfect union, balance and life. A constant repetition of the word "hamso" changes it to "Soaham", which means "That I am". Hence the hamsa is often identified with the Supreme Spirit or Brahman. The flight of the Hamsa also symbolizes the escape from the cycle of samsara. The bird also has special connotations in the monistic philosophy of Advaita Vedanta - just as the swan lives on water but its feathers are not wetted by water, similarly an Advaitin tries to live in this material world full of Maya, but is unsoiled by its illusionary nature. Also, Dikshitar refers to the "sahasradhaara chakra", the thousand petaled lotus which is believed to be the chakra near the heart/mind of the astral body, which when enlightened with the energy from the kundalini("coiled snake") enrichens the soul and elevates the person to realise the God within himself(him"self").

Thus, we can see the richness and puranic lore incorporated into dikshithar's krithis. I have tried my best to explain the meaning and the content of dikshithar's first krithi. I am sure there is much more meaning and depth in what "thalaivar" wants to convey. But being a mere mortal(unlike Nadhajyothi) and not being fortunate enough to be steep enough in knowledge, this is the best I could do and I hope my fellow mortals reading this are satisfied.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sri Gurubhyo Namaha

I,being an avid carnatic music lover and a Muthuswamy Dikshithar fanatic, thought it would be most appropriate to start my first blog with my salutations to the great musical genius(if not the greatest ever)..Nadhajyothi Shri Muthuswamy Dikshithar. So here i begin with a small introduction about the man behind the music.

On 25th March,1775 on a beautiful day in Panguni maasam, krithikka Nakshathram, God of music descended on earth in the form of dikshithar, the youngest of the trinity, to etch his name forever in the history of music and give us the pleasure of listening to all of his wonderful compositions. He came from a family of distinguished musicians. His father, Ramaswamy dikshithar was a great scholar and he is believed to have created the raga Hamsadhwani. His brother, Baluswami Dikshithar is believed to have been the first to adapt the violin to carnatic music.

Coming from a family with such rich heritage, Muthuswamy learnt music and different languages from his father. He was spiritually inspired by Chidambara yogi who took him to Varanasi, where he learnt Tantric Yoga, Sastras and the Dhrupad style of singing. Muthuswamy Dikshithar composed his first krithi after having a vision of Lord Subramanya and henceforth adopted the mudra of guruguha. He composed the Vara krithis, which are seven in number, one for each day of the week. These are set to the Sooladi Sapta talas. Drawing inspiration from Oothukadu Venkata Kavi, he also composed the Navavarana krithis in praise of Devi (Kamalamba), one for each of the nine days of the Navarathri festival. These Navavarna krithis, written in all the eight declensions show his prowess in sanskrit. His songs are normally slow in tempo and bring out the depth and beauty of the raga using ornamentation (gamakas). He also used what is known as Madhyamakala(medium tempo) Sahithya very effectively in his compositions.

He mostly composed in Sanskrit and a few krithis in telugu. He has also composed Manipravala krithis which are a mixture of the four primary languages, namely, Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada. He set out on a mission to revive dying ragas like Narayanagowla, samantha, andhali, salaganaata etc. From the middle of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century, the members of the Dikshitar descent, known as the 'Dikshithar Pentad' made rich and varied contributions to what may be called the Periclean age of Carnatic Music. These comprise of hundreds of compositions, 14 Ragamalikas including 2 of the longest, in South Indian music, Pada varnams suited to dance, darus and nottuswara sahityas, based on captivating English band tunes. All the 72 Raganga ragas introduced by Venkatamakhin have been covered by this illustrious family.

Finally, quoting Smt.Sulochana Pattabhiraman "Dikshithar's greatest service to Carnatic Music was that that he gave body and shape to nearly 200 ragas of Venkatamakhin. He has employed 191 ragas for 460 compositions, out of which 219 have been printed with notation by Subbarama Dikshithar in his monumental "Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini". The raga and thala mudras woven skilfully into the krithi fabric are exclusive to the songs of Dikshithar. No other composer has written so many group kritis in such a planned, orderly, meticulous fashion. He was a cosmopolitan, so far as deities were concerned and he fully deserved to be called the "Shanmata Sthapanacharya", after Adi Shankara. There is such an incredible wealth of astrological details, mantra sastra data, Puranic lore, Sri Vidya philosophy and temple rituals in his songs, that it is an education by itself to study them. "

Every year, around Deepavali, coincidinq with the mukthi thithi of Dikshithar, an annual series called guruguhanjali is conducted in an effort to thank and honour the invaluable contributions of the great composer. Sri Gurubyo Namaha. Henceforth, I will share my thoughts and whatever little bit of knowledge I have about carnatic music and in my upcoming blogs, I will try to shed some light on some of those wonderful compositions in carnatic music with a "Dikshithar"(I fondly refer to him as "thalaivar" meaning "captain/king") bias ofcourse.