Monday, December 24, 2007

cEtah shrI bAlakRSNam-jujAvanti

On this beautiful Sunday, I would like to wish everyone a merry Christmas :). I went to yet another blissful sunday morning meditation session at the Self-Realization Fellowship and we all payed our respects to the great guru, Jesus Christ. I spent most of last week looking forward to this weekend. But I must say it was a kind of weird situation because, I wanted a break but had nothing to do during the break anyway. Even though I have no one to talk to or have fun with here at Round Rock, a nice long weekend such as this one always opens up avenues for listening to and playing/singing more music :). Ofcourse, there are some wonderful friends with whom I have had the pleasure to catch up over the last 2 days :).

I started off on Saturday morning with a very peaceful skype session with my good friend(more like a kutti sister), Shambhavi in Chennai. The afternoon and the evening were well-utilized in practicing and learning stuff from Hari, to whom, I am grateful for life. He is a wonderful friend and a great guru :).
But by far, the best thing that happened in the last 2 days is that my close friend, Shreekrishna a.k.a. SK is coming here and is going to stay with me in what promises to be a magical 3 days of pure, unadulterated carnatic music with 2 dIkshithar maniacs entertaining each other with discussions on music, life and everything else :).

Coming back to jujAvanti and dIkshithar's treatment of this rAga, cEtah shrI bAlakRSNam is perhaps the best ever krithi composed in this rAga. The way dIkshithar employs the scale of the rAga and fuses it with the sAhityams is so unbelievably carnatic that a rasika would not even know it is an hindusthAni rAga. The slow, chouka kAla composition just exudes with soukhya rasam and the bhakthi and beauty are indescribable. Lord Krishna, the shyAma sundaran he already is, his beauty is further embellished by this wonderful krithi. I dont know at which kshEtra dIkshithar composed this krithi. If anyone who reads this does, please share the information with me. I personally recommend the extremely slow and sweet version of the krithi sung by TMK to feel the beauty of the krithi. Also, simply because of the amazing swarams, I recommend rasikas to listen to the version by SSI. Both these krithis are available at our dIkshithar website. The pallavi goes like:

cEtah shrI-bAlakRSNam bhaja rE rE
cintitArttha-prada-caraNAravindam mukundam

dIkshithar instructs every human soul- "Oh mind("cEtah"), worship and sing the praises("bhaja") of Lord bAlakRSNa. He is Mukunda("the bestower of freedom") and by worshipping his lotus-like("aravindam") feet("caraNa"), his bhaktAs will be bestowed with("prada") all the boons they can think of("cintita-arttha")."

The "R, R ,R" start for the krithi in itself tells you what a masterpiece you are looking at. The "m p d S" prayOgam at "prada-cara" exposes the beautiful link existing between jujAvanti and yadhukulakAmbOji. Look at the words dIkshithar uses to command..the sAhityams obviously demand an esoteric interpretation. Here, he is addressing Lord Krishna as Mukunda, the one who gives his devotees freedom from this cycle of birth and re-birth. The slEsham here is that mukunda is the name of a precious gem. The third eye located between the eyebrows is sometimes referred to as Mukunda maNi, the blue bindu encompassing the penta-pointed star which the yOgi sees when he meditates. This is why dIkshithar addresses the citta(consciousness) and the cEtah(mind) here and in these few lines of the pallavi, stresses the importance of bhakthi and yOga and how discipline and devotion are keys to the path of kaivalyam. The pallavi sets it up nicely for the vocalist/instrumentalist to buckle up and be ready for the amazing rides in the form of the anupallavi and the charaNam.


nUtana-nIrada-sadRsha-sharIram nanda-kishOram
pIta-vasana-dharam kambu-kandharam giri-dharam
pUtanAdi-samhAram puruSOttamAvatAram
shItaLa-hRdaya-vihAram shrI-rukmiNI-dAram

dIkshithar describes the physical beauty of the Lord by using metaphors. He says that the Lord's body("sharIram") is as dark("sadRsha") as a new("nUtana"), rain-bearing cloud("nIrada"). He sings "The young boy("kishOra") of the nanda clan is adorned("dharam") with yellow("pIta") silk robe("vasana"). He has a conch-shaped("kambu") neck("kandharam") and He lifted the govardhana mountains("giri")". Time and time again, I have always wondered what kind of a pure soul dIkshithar must have been to be able to visualize the Gods and Goddesses and describe them with such pristine depictions and to do that in their own language("dEvanAgari-Language of the Gods"). He definitely was a puNya Atma. The smooth transition from keezh Shadjamam to mEl shadjamam at nUtana nIrada is pure bliss to sing/play and the slow " n s d" at sharI"ram" is amazingly beautiful.

In the madhyamakAla sAhityam, dIkshithar sings "He destroyed("samhAram") the demon pUthana and others. He is an incarnation("avatAram") of the supreme soul, the most supreme among men("purushOttama"). He resides("vihAram") in the tender and soothing("shItaLa") hearts("hRdaya") of his devotees and He is the spouse("dAram") of the auspicious Goddess Rukmini".

Even in the madhyamakAla sAhityam, dIkshithar beautifully preserves the traditional gait he introdoced at the starting of the krithi. The similarity in structure between "nUtana" and "pUtana" with respect to prAsam as well as the swarasthAnas is a classic example of dIkshithar's mastery. He once again brings in the yadhukulakAmbOji effect by using the "p d s" phrase at "shrI" rukmini and perfectly blends the end of the anupallavi "r m g s" at "dAram" and the rUpaka tALam thattu to take-off at Rishabham for the pallavi. Just amazing. The Rishabham at "cEtah" is as if dIkshithar is cajoling the soul. These effects must be heard, felt and experienced and cannot be described in limited language. The "am" prAsam continues to flow through the charaNam and it acts like a beautiful thread embroidering the already well-printed silk cloth.


navanIta-gandha-vAha-vadanam mRdu-gadanam
naLina-patra-nayanam vaTa-patra-shayanam
nava-campaka-nAsikam atasI-sumabhAsakam
natEndrAdi-lOka-pAlakam mRga-mada-tilakam
navatulasI-vana-mAlam nAradAdi-muni-jAlam
kuvalayAdi-paripAlam guru-guha-nuta-gOpAlam

Actually, whenever you think of Lord Krishna as a kutti kid, what instantly comes to your mind is a physical form which is young, beautiful, energetic, mischievous and all that sorts. Hence, very appropriately, dIkshithar continues to talk about the physical beauty of the Lord and describes Him as "the one whose face("vadanam") smells("gandha") like("vAha") fresh butter("navanIta") and one whose speech("gadanam") is soft and tender("mRdu")". The physical descriptions becoming extremely descriptive as dIkshithar sings "His eyes("nayanam") are like petals("patra") of the graceful lotus("naLina") and he rests("shayanam") on a banyan("vaTa") leaf("patra"). His nose("nAsikam") is like a fresh champaka flower("nava-champaka") and a wonderful fragrance("suma bhAsakam") of tuLasi("athasI") emanates from his body. He is worshipped("nata") by Indra and other lOkapAlakAs. He wears the kastUri("mRgamada") tilakam."

The madhyamakAla sAhityam goes like "He is adorned with garlands("vana-mAlam") of fresh("nava") tuLasi leaves and he is served("jAlam") by nArada and other sages("muni"). He is the protector("paripAlam") of all the worlds("kuvalayAdi") and He is worshipped("nuta") by guruguha and He is gOpala."

The charaNam is, for the lack of better words, beautiful and very soothing. If you observe, he describes the tender features of the Lord so beautifully with all the tender and soft phrases of jujAvanti. The " s n d p" at "mRdu" is in itself so mRdu and touching. The "r g m p" phrase at "naLina" is just too much to take and your heart melts there and the dIrga "g r s" complementary phrase at "vaTa" shows how smooth the rAga flows while going up as well as going down the scale, just like how soft and smooth the Lord's body is. The "p p G R" take off at "nava-champaka" is perhaps the best transition to the tAra sthAyi ever..aahaa..what beauty. And ofcourse, the "nd,dp,pm,gmr" at "mR-ga-ma-da" is the epitome of beauty. The madhyamakAla sAhityam begins with the incorrigibly goosebumping "r g m p d" phrase and ends with yet another beautiful pattern of " rs, nd, dp" at "guru-guha-nuta".

On the whole, it is a krithi to be submerged in and the exquisite beauty is beyond description. The krithi leaves you haunted and wanting for more. As a rasika, I am just spellbound each time I listen to this krithi. I am not able to comprehend how it is humanly possible to compose such masterpieces and as ever, I console my mind with the "dIkshithar is God" funda. I am going to end this post abruptly because I find myself at an absolute paucity of words. If you have not heard this krithi, you are missing something wonderful in life and hence I request you to please listen to it at the earliest. I will now peacefully take up the abhayAmbA vibhakti krithis and over the next month, I will try and complete the entire set. Happy Holidays to everyone..stay warm and have fun.
vAzhga dIkshitharin pugazh, vaLarga karnAtaka sangIthathin mahatthuvam!!

Monday, December 17, 2007


Its been really long since I blogged on consecutive days. :) Hopefully this is just the beginning of such happenings :). I had a really nice, kutti session with Hari yesterday night and we played a couple of rAgAs together :). Today morning, I finally heard the voice of a very close online friend, Sujatha from Mumbai. We had an hour long arattai and it was really nice talking to her :). I have been in major jujAvanti/dwijAvanti mood since the time i woke up today morning. I was trying to play akhilANDEshwari on my guitar and have been looping TMK's cEtahshrI for the past 4 hours..just amazing. I find that this rAgA exhudes a kind of intimacy and has a romantic, soft feel. I experience the same feeling when I try to play or sing kAnaDA.

Since, I was in total juju/dwiju mood today, I thought I will take up this krithi and blog today. Further, I was chatting with my good friend Aparna in the morning and incidentally she asked me to take up this krithi and to her surprise I told her that thats exactly what I plan to do today :). I found a new friend in Maythini Sridharan (a disciple of TNS) and have been some really nice discussions with her over the past few days. She too told me that she just finished singing akhilANDEshwari. Hence, I declare today akhilANDEshwari day and it is only appropriate that I take up this krithi today and pay my tributes to the divine mother.

First of all, there are many controversies surrounding this krithi and the rAgA. The rAgA as mentioned in most of the texts including the SSP is pronounced as jujAvanti. Since the rAga mudrA in this composition goes as jujAvanti, I will hence refer to it by that name. Most purists say that this krithi was not composed by dIkshithar simply because of the way he has handled jujAvanti in his masterpiece, cEtah shri-bAlakrishNam. A lot of other musicologists claim that there are some grammatical imperfections in this krithi and such errors could not have been committed by the nAdajyOthi. I tend to believe otherwise. Though I am in no way qualified to make such a statement, I firmly believe that akhilANDEshwari is a dIkshithar krithi simply from some of the observations I have made.

Proof by theory: I am using some stuff quoted by V.V. Srivatsa in one of his lec-dems.
If you notice, dIkshithar has effectively used many hindusthAni rAgAs such as lalithA, hindOLam(mAlkauns), karnATaka dEvagAndAri(bhImplAs), kAsirAmakriyA(pUrya dhanashrI) etc. In all these rAgAs he has composed two krithis, one showing the adapted carnatic version and the other showing touches of its hindusthAni counterpart and Dr. Srivatsa calls these as the maDi and ammaDi versions respectively. He sights examples like
gOvardana girIsham and nIrajAkshi kAmAkshi in hindOLam (mAL kauns), pancAshaTpITa rUpiNi and kAyArOhanEsham in karnATaka dEvagAndhAri (bhImpLAs), rAmanAtam bhajEham and srI sundara rAjam in kAsirAmakriyA (pUriyaA dhanasrI) and 'hiraNmayIm lakshmIm' and 'agastIsavaram' in lalitA as the 'maDi' and 'ammaDi' pieces respectively. From this point of view I tend to believe that jujAvanti which is again a hindusthAni rAgA, has been handled in the same way and 'cEtahshrI bAlakrishnam' and 'akhilANDEshwari' are the maDi and ammaDi pieces respectively.

Proof by Contradiction: Let us assume that cEtahshri is the only krithi in jujAvanti composed by dIkshithar. Again, if you notice, dIkshithar has incorporated rAga mudrAs in all of his compositions except those in tODi, asAvEri and erukulakAmbOji. Further, if dIkshithar has composed only one krithi in a rAga, he most certainly puts the rAga mudhra in that krithi.(this, I think, applies all his one rAga krithis) Hence, if cEtahshri is the only jujAvanti krithi composed by dIkshithar, then it should have the rAga mudra; but it doesnt. This leads us to believe that either akhilANDEshwari(which has the rAga mudra) is a dIkshithar composition or dIkshithar composed some other krithi in jujAvanti which was lost over time. I have to give the benefit of the doubt to the former case and accept it.

Anyway..irrespective of whether it is a dIkshithar composition or not, whether it is dwijAvanti or jujAvanti, it is an amazing krithi filled with some beautiful prayOgams. That intimate feeling and devotion it evokes is beyond words. So, I shall stop with the argument here and move on to the krithi itself. This krithi has been composed in praise of the Goddess at tiruvAnaikkAval near trichy. A beautiful temple where jambukEshwara(varuNa lingam) is the presiding deity and akhilAndEshwari is the Goddess. I have had the pleasure and have been fortunate enough to visit this temple a couple of times when I was studying at REC,trichy. An absolutely mesmerizing experience which everyone must experience. The pallavi goes like:


akhilANDEshwari rakSamAm Agama sampradAya nipuNE shrI

dIkshithar sings "Oh auspicious("shrI") Goddess akhilANDEshwari(akhila(every)+aNDa(world)+Ishwari(ruler/queen)), the scholarly expert("nipuNE") in all traditions("sampradAya") and vEdAs and scriptures("Agama"), please protect me("rakSamAm")."

I love the start to this krithi and I adore the N N D D P phrase at rakSamAm. Over the years, the sangathis that I have listened to have increased by many folds and after mahAgaNapathim in nATa and vAthApi in hamsadwani, perhaps this is the third most popular dIkshithar krithi. The smooth transition from "s s s" at Agama to "S S S"(mel sthAyi) at sampradAya is awesome and the kick I get when i play it on the guitar is indescribable. A very simple pallavi which when subjected to improvisation yields some amazing prayOgams of the rAgA.

Characteristic of most dIkshithar krithis, the anupallavi contains some beautiful descriptions of the dEvi.


nikhila lOka nityAtmikE vimalE
nirmalE shyAmaLE sakala kalE

dIkshithar describes the Goddess as " the one whose form completely pervades("nityAtmikE") all("nikhila") the worlds("lOka")." He further embellishes her physical form by describing her as "pure("vimalE"), sublime and blemishless("nirmalE"), dark complexioned("shyAmaLE") and adept in all("sakala") arts("kalE")". Feel the prAsam that runs through these few lines of the anupallavi. dIkshithar has used really simple words to describe the Goddess and this might be one more reason for the purists to believe that this is not a dIkshithar krithi. I love the "N D, D P, P M, M G" start to the anupallavi and look at how beautiful it blends with the sAhityams as "ni, khi, la, lO". The "R G R S" at shyAmaLE is very cute and soothing :). Moving on to the charaNam,


lambOdara guruguha pUjitE lambAlakOdbhAsitEhasitE
vAgdEvatArAdhitE varadE varashailarAjanutE shAradE
jambhAri sambhAvitE janArddananutE jujAvanti rAganutE
jallI maddaLa jhar jhara vAdya nAdamuditE jHnAnapradE

The charaNam incorporates both the composer mudra and the rAga mudra. dIkshithar refers to Lord Ganesha as lambOdara here, ("lamba+udara=big+belly") and sings about the dEvi as "She is the one who is worshipped("pUjitE") by Lord Ganesha and guruguha". dIkshithar then describes the beauty of the Goddess as "the one with lustrous("bhAsitE") long plaits of hair("lambAlaka") and a beautiful smile("hasitE")". dIkshithar continues as " She is the one worshipped by vAgdEvi("Saraswathi-the Goddess of speech"), the bestower of all boons("varadE") and the daughter of the mighty("vara") God of the mountains("shaila rAja"-HimavAn"). She is shArada and the one worshipped by Lord Indra("jambhAri"-enemy of JambAsura) and Lord janArdhana. She is praised through rAga jujAvanti and she delights("muditE") in the music("nAda") produced by instruments like jallI, mardara and jharjhara. She is the bestower of all knowledge("jHnAnapradE")."

The "M D P M M G M G G R G S" phrase for the start of the charaNam is fabulous. One of my most favourite phrases is the plain "R G M P M G M R G S" at "shAradE". Extremely beautiful..what else can i say. And the madhyamakAla sAhityam just overflows with exquisite beauty and takes the rasika to a totally different plane. The "R M R G R, S N D P R" pattern at jambhAri sambhAvi, the "P S P R R" at jallI madhala and flat " R G M P M G M" notes at jharjhara are just overwhelming and pure ecstasy. On the whole, the krithi exhudes soukhyam and is rich with bhakthi and beauty. akhilANDEshwari forever will remain one of the sweetest krithis and I can perhaps say that this krithi was one of the very first dIkshithar krithis I heard..hence it is special :).

Now, since I talked about the maDi and ammaDi versions of rAgAs and since I knowingly or unknowingly already handled one such pair("hiraNmayIm" and "agastIshwaram"), I am going to push the abhayAmba vibhakthi krithis a little more and instead take up The most brilliant and beautiful composition in jujAvanti ever, cEtah-shrI bAlakrishNam. in my next post. I cried 3 times today listening to cEtah-shrI..some prayOgams are just mind-blowing and the beauty and bhakthi is too too much to take. Before you read my post, if you have not heard the krithi, I request you to go to our dIkshithar website and listen to the SSI and the TMK versions I have uploaded there..a must listen. I will try to squeeze in time during the weekdays after I come back home from work and hopefully I will post it by this weekend. Till then, keep drowning yourselves in the ocean of bliss. shrI gurubhyO nama:

Sunday, December 16, 2007

ambA nIlAyatAkshi-nIlAmbari

I feel extremely bad to say this but I accept with a lot of shame that I have become too lazy these days :(. I have blogged just two posts in the last 2 and half months :(. This is absolutely unpardonable and I will make it up by being more regular in my posts from now on. The last month in short was punctuated with a trip to the beautiful west coast and some amazing fun with a few friends of mine at Sunnyvale, California. We went to the livermore temple where I had the pleasure of singing a few krithis at every sannidhi :). Work has been going good. A little hectic, but nothing out of the ordinary. Music has suffered a bit because of my laziness mainly. I dont know the reason, but I suddenly am missing home and people a lot more than usual which makes me less enthusiastic to sing or do anything useful. Anyway..I hope it is just a passing phase and I will revert to my usual self soon :).

Speaking of laziness and sleep brings me to the krithi I am going to discuss about today, the slow, serene and beautiful ambA nIlAyatAkshi in nIlAmbari. A masterpiece that is one of the best krithis in nIlAmbari showcasing some amazing and unbelievable prayOgams of this beautiful rAgA. The richness and the divinity pervading the krithi is indescribable. It is to be sung/played and experienced. I highly recommend listening to the TNS and DKJ versions of this krithi to get an idea of how beautiful dIkshithar has composed it. This krithi was composed by dIkshithar at the famous kAyArOhanEsha- nIlAyatAkshi amman kovil when he visited nAgapattinam as he clearly mentions in the krithi at "shivarAjadhAni" in the starting of the charanam. Please click here for more details on this puNyasthalam. Lord Shiva is called kAyArOhanEsha at this temple because of a story according to which, pleased by a sage's penance, Lord Shiva embraces him and liberates him of worldly bondages-kAya(body)+arohana(embracing)+Esha(Lord). A must visit temple filled with pure vibrations which cannot be explained.

Coming to the krithi, the already beautiful nIlAmbari (the one covered in resplendent blue) is embellished beyond words in this krithi by dIkshithar. To describe the shAnthaswarUpam of nIlAyatAkshi ambAl, dIkshithar aptly chooses the slow-flowing, peaceful nIlAmbari rAgA and portrays the shAntha and bhaktha rakshaka characteristics of the Goddess. The pallavi goes like:

ambA nIlAyatAkShI karuNAkaTAkShi
akhilalOkasAkShi kaTAkshi


dIkshithar addresses the Goddess as Mother("ambA"). He describes her eyes("akshi") as filled with mercy and compassion("karuNA"). Making full justice to the "ambA" he used in the first line, referring to the Goddess as the mother of all creations, he describes her as " the one who bears witness("sAkshi") to all the happenings in the worlds("akhilalOka")." dIkshithar seeks the blessings and the refuge of such a Goddess and asks her to shower her blessings("kaTAksha") on everyone.

Musically speaking, he starts off with this beautiful "s r M p m g m" phrase which sounds like falling at the feet of the Goddess and induces a feeling of complete surrender. Some of the prayOgams are extremely intricate and I unfortunately dont have the technical expertise to write them down. It is a krithi to be experience and a rAgam to be imbibed. The prAsam dIkshithar brings in at the pallavi continues and grows in strength through the anupallavi and the charanam.

Coming to the anupallavi,

bimbAdhari citpratibimbAdhari bindunAdavashaHNkari shaHNkari
ambujAramaNasOdari Adhari ambari kAdambari nIlAmbari


As I mentioned in the beginning itself, this krithi is completely describing the beauty and the compassionate nature of the ambA. dIkshithar beautifully describes the Goddess as "one with sweet lips("Adhari") which are red like the bimbA fruit". bimbA also means moon. So, it could also be interpreted as "the one wearing("dhari") the moon". Looking at the esoteric aspect of this line, if we can imagine the human souls to be images("bimba") of God
, then we can interpret this word as "the one who is responsible for these bimbas". dIkshithar further describes the Goddess as "the consciousness("chit") and its reflection("pratibimba")". I think dIkshithar is referring to the knowledge that accompanies consciousness when he says "pratibimba".

This is where dIkshithar brings in the deep, yogic text references when he says that the Goddess is "captivated("vashankari") by the sound("nAda") and the blue dot("bindu")". The first sound to have ever resonated on this earth is the mantra "Om". Thus, we associate this sound with God, the blessed supreme spirit Himself. The third eye between your eyebrows is the doorway thru which the yogi looks within himself and finds him"self". This third eye is represented as a 5 pointed star in a blue dot called the bindu. The Om mantra is the bIja mantra of the bindu which activates this third eye. Thus, when dIkshithar says that the Goddess is captivated by the nAda and the bindu, he is telling us that the only way to reach and captivate the heart of the Goddess is by using the nAda to activate the bindu. Now this is the beauty of dIkshithar's compositions.. It has taken me nearly ten lines to "try" to explain what dIkshithar is saying in one word and even after these ten lines, I am pretty sure I have not even scratched the surface..just amazing.

Ofcourse, since the Goddess is the consort of shankara, dIkshithar addresses Her as shaHNkari. The small madhyamakAlam employed in the anupallavi adds more beauty. dIkshitar describes Her as "the sister("sOdhari") of Lord viSHNu("ambujA("Goddess Lakshmi")+ramaNa("husband")") and the cause and reason("Adhari") for this world."

dIkshithar continues to describe Her beautifully as "ambari- the one who covers(pervades) all universe", "kAdambari-the one who loves the fragrance of the kAdambara flower and is garlanded with it" and "nIlAmbari- the one who is adorned with blue silk("nilAmbara")." dIkshithar thus effortlessly brings in the rAga mudhra here while describing the Goddess's beauty. It is just mind-boggling when you wonder how he chose his rAgams to sing on a particular deity..a topic which in itself deserves a few doctoral researches. The "G, m P sn P M - M P M, R G" phrase at "kAdambari nIlAmbari" is just too much to take.

As I mentioned in the pallavi, the prAsam keeps flowing throughout the krithi. The pallavi is filled with all "KShi"'s, the anupallavi is embellished with "ari" rhyme scheme and now comes a monster of a charanam adorned with "ini" patterns.

shivarAjadhAnIkSEtravAsini shritajanavishvAsini
shivakAyArOhaNEshOllAsini cidrUpavilAsini
navayOginicakravikAsini navarasadarahAsini
suvarNamayavigrahaprakAshini suvarNamayahAsini
bhuvanOdaya sthitilaya vinOdini bhuvanEshvari kSipra prasAdini
navamANikya vallakI vAdini bhavaguruguha vEdini sammOdini

In the first line of the charanam, dIkshithar names the place where he composed this krithi, nAgapattinam as "shivarAjadhAnIkSEtra-the place under Lord Shiva's rule" and describes the Goddess as the one who lives("vAsini") here. To portray the trust of Her devotees which She always upholds, dIkshithar sings "the one who protects those devotees("Ashritajana") who take refuge in her("viSvAsini")". dIkshithar once again employs a beautiful portrayal of the Goddess as "shivakAyArOhaNEshOllAsini". This can be interpreted in two ways. One is the physical, gross meaning as " the consort of kAyArOhaNesha". The other( in my mind a better) interpretation would be to see this description as "the one who shares her body("kAyA") with Lord Shiva(the supreme spirit) and shines in resplendence("rohanE") as his consort and power(the shiva-shakthi concept which is the quintessence of all creation)". What perception and devotion dIkshithar should have had to write this word..aahaa.

dIkshithar continues to praise the Goddess as the "form("rUpa") in which consciousness("chit") dwells("vilAsini")". Further yogic references (characteristics of most charanams of dIkshithar krithis) ensues when he describes the ambA as "the one who is seated("vikAsini") in the shrI chakra along with the nine yOginis". For detailed explanations on the yOginis, the shrI chakram and how the divine mother is the embodiment of all this, please refer to my posts explaining the navAvarNams in general and on the 11 navAvarNams themselves in particular. dIkshithar, in my opinion gives the highest compliment to the Goddess by describing the beautiful smile ("hAsini") She wears("dhara") on her face as one that reveals all the 9 rasAs(aesthetics) of shrngAram(love), hAsyam(pleasantness), karuNam(compassion), raudram(anger), vIram(valour), bhayAnakam("terrifying/fear inducing"), bIbatsam(odious/hate), adbutam(wonder/marvel) and shAntam(peace/tranquility). dIkshithar further describes this smile("hAsini") as resplendent as gold("suvarnamaya") and he describes the Goddess's beauty by saying that her form("vigraha") scintillates and shines("prakAshini") like gold.

Till now, the guruguha mudra has not come in the krithi. The madhyamakAla sAhityam delivers that final punch to this krithi which leaves you in tears and on your knees yearning for more. dIkshithar continues to describe Her as "the unique one("vinOdhini") who is responsible for the creation("udaya") and sustenance("sthithilaya") of this world("bhuvana") and thus the Queen/ruler("Ishwari") of this world". dIkshithar portrays the sweet, motherly love which She gives to all her children by saying that "she is very easily("kshipra") pleased and delighted("prasAdini")" and thus shows how compassionate and merciful She is.

dIkshithar possibly recalls a divine vision when he describes the Goddess as "the one who is playing("vAdini") the vallakavINA which is adorned with nine gems("navamAnikya")." dIkshithar incorporates the composer's mudra in the last word of the charanam by singing " She is understood completely("vEdini"-possible to interpret as the one from whom the vEdAs originated??) by the supreme spirit("bhava") and guruguha and she is always happy and at peace("sammodini")".

The phrases employed in the charanam are just beyond words, especially phrases like "G M P N D N" at bhava guruguha is just too much to take as a rasika. You practically give up on whatever you have imagined as beauty till that instant..just amazing. Yet another masterpiece and somehow, this blog post seems to leave me with that incomplete feeling as usual. I hope dIkshithar, looking down from the heavens is pleased with whatever small explanations this mere mortal is trying to give to his gems such as this. If not, I beg for his forgiveness.

After listening to and researching on the abhayAmbA krithis, I feel that I am now equipped with decently enough knowledge to take up the abhayAmbA vibhakthi krithis which are marvellous creations of the genius. I will start off with the dhyAna krithi in my next post and with God's will and Gawd's blessings, I will be able to go through the entire set pretty soon. Since I have been very lazy in posting only 2 krithis(now 3) in the last 3 months, I am going to start off with the abhayAmba krithis tomorrow itself. Till then, keep singing/playing/listening and learning the divine art. shrI gurubhyO nama:

Saturday, November 3, 2007


First of all, I want to confess that I have become extremely lazy these days. :(. Work has been a little busy too but that is no excuse for not blogging :(. The past few weeks have been pretty peaceful and enlightening. Thanks to my dear friend SK, I was exposed to two beautiful krithis of dIkshithar. shrI suganthi kuntaLAmbikE in kuntaLam(61st mEla) is an intriguing composition with some absolutely blissful sangathis. The other krithi, shrI mAtA in bEgaDA totally swept me off my feet and made me lose sleep over it for a week. I thought that tyAgarAjAya namastE was the best bEgaDA but this krithi is just mind-blowing. dIkshithar never ceases to seize me with his brilliance. :).

Yesterday evening, SK re-introduced mAnji to me by singing it in was just too much to take and we both gave up on life. The shades of Ahiri when mAnji is sung in madhyamam is just beautiful and makes life worth living :). To add to what was already an amazing day, I listened to yet another beautiful dIkshithar composition in shrIranjani-"bAlAmbikayA kaTAkshitOham"..the chittaswaram in this krithi just made my world stop for a few seconds..amazing stuff from thalaivar. The swarams pattern reminded me of some typical lAlgudi varnams. If you have not listened to this krithi, I suggest that you do it right away even before you continue reading this post.

I was going to blog about ambA nIlAyatAkshi but SK told me that while we are at lalitA, why not finish off agastIshwaram. This beautiful krithi in lalitA is extremely close to SK's and my heart. The emotions evoked by this krithi are soul-stirring and the first time I heard SK's second sangathi at jagajIvEshAkAram in the anupallavi, tears just rolled down my cheeks and I started crying like a kid. The words, the sangathi, the emotions..just too much to take. This krithi was composed by dIkshithar at tiruvArUr praising agastIshwara(Lord Shiva), appropriately named so because He was worshipped ardently by sage agasthya. The pallavi is a simple salutation to the Lord which goes like:

agastIshwaram ArAdhayEham haram saccidAnanda vallIsham

dIkshithar sings "I salute and worship("ArAdhaya:+aham") Lord agastIshwara. He is Hara, the destroyer and He is the husband of sundaravalli("vallIsham")". This can also be interpreted as "the greatest epitome("vallIsham") of truth-consciousness and bliss("sat+chit+Ananda") in this world." The word vallIsham has many interpretations. vallI in general means creeper. Hence, the Lord can also be visualized as the divine creeper of satchitAnanda. vallI in the general can also be used to refer to the earth. So vallIsha could also be interpreted as "Lord of the earth".

The simple opening lines of the pallavi as usual can be filled with exquisite beauty and dumbfounding sangathis and there have been times when have found SK's rendition of the pallavi alone to be a comprehensive lalitA. As I mentioned before, the feelings evoked are extremely solemn and hair-raising. It sets up a nice platform on which the anupallavi and the charanam are built by dIkshithar with pristine quality which takes a rasika to that pinnacle of ecstasy.

jagajjIvEshAkaram jananavilayakaram nagajAhlAdakaram nandIsham shaHNkaram

dIkshithar starts off by describing the Lord as "The embodiment("AkAram") and ruler of all the life on this earth("jagajjIvEsha")." Now this is where the brilliance of dIkshithar's grammar comes into play. He does a complete volteface when he describes the Lord as "the one who is responsible for the dissolution("vilayakaram") of life("janana")" in the very same line. dIkshithar keeps reiterating the fact that Lord Shiva holds an important key to the gateway of life and death and by worshipping Him, we can choose to end this cycle of birth and death. He describes the Lord as "the one who delights and pleases("hlAdakara") the one born of the mountain("nagajA"-referring to Goddess pArvathi as the daughter of himavAn, the mountain God)."

dIkshithar then uses two beautiful and carefully chosen words to describe the Lord. He describes Him as "nandIsha". We all know that nandI, the bull is the primary attendant of shivA and hence Lord shivA is addressed as the ruler of nandI. nandI also literally translates to joy, happiness and welfare and hence Lord Shiva is beautifully described as the Lord of all these beautiful things which a human soul wants to experience. dIkshithar then uses the word shankara to directly address the Lord. Lord Shiva is the dispeller("hara") of all our doubts("shanka") and hence the name. He is also sankata haran, the destroyer of all our miseries and difficulties.

dIkshithar uses the word shankaram as a beautiful bridge between the anupallavi and the pallavi of the krithi. This reminds me of a similar set-up in the beautiful dEvagAndAri krithi, vadAnyEshwaram when he uses shankaram at the end of charanam to beautifully loop back to the pallavi. dIkshithar is God..thats all. As I mentioned earlier, the sangathis SK sings at "jagajjIvEshAkAram" is just amazing and absolutely soul-stirring. The emotions are too powerful and overwhelming. As if the araajagam is not enough, dIkshithar continues to take the krithi to a whole new level in the charanam.
jalanidhipAnArttham kalashajEnArchitham
jalajanAbhAdinutham jAhnavIdaram satatam
kalikalmashApaham kamanIyavigraham
sulalitaguruguhajanakam rakshitadhanikam
jalaruhAptachandrAgnidR.sham jaTAjUTamIshAdrIsham
valaripuvanditajagadIsham vAnchithArthadAyakamanisham

Let me take a breath before the charanam..too much to take this is. I am literally taking a 5 minute break now because it is getting too much to bear. I will be back :).
Ok..I am back. dIkshithar starts off with an old imagery typical of the tamil poets of 18th century once again showing his versatility. He uses a double reference in the first line of the charanam alluding to sage agasthya even without mentioning his name. All that dIkshithar wants to convey in this line is that "Lord shivA was worshipped by sage agasthya". dIkshithar chooses events relating to sage agasthya's birth(sage agasthya was born out of a sacred vase as the son of mitra-varuNa and hence is called by various names like kalashaja, kumbhaja, kumbha-muni, kalashOdbhava etc) and sings kalashaja+EnA+architham(worshipped). There is also a story in which sage agasthya drank the ocean at the bidding of the dEvAs when the asurAs were hiding beneath it. dIkshithar hence refers to sage agasthya as the one who drank("pAna") the ocean("jalanidhi").

dIkshithar then describes the Lord as the one who is worshipped("nutham") by Lord viShNu("jalajanAbha") and others and as one who is eternal("satatam"). The next word is perhaps the best display of thalaivar's greatness in this krithi(perhaps one of the best ever). He describes Lord Shiva as "jAhnavIdaram". However you split it, this word is beautiful. If you split the word as jAhna vidaram(I dont know if this split is correct), it once again conveys the meaning that Lord Shiva is the dissolver("vidara") of life("jAhna") on this earth. If you split the word as jAhnavI daram, Lord Shiva is addressed as the one who bears("dara") of the river ganges("jAhnavI"). The story behind this is that when Lord Shiva wanted to bring down the river ganges from heavens to the earth, the river was forced to follow an ancient king jAhnu because he was the ruler of the northern plains and the king safely guided the river's course in return for a promise of the perennial inundation of his plains. Hence river ganges is also known as jAhnavi, the daughter of king jAhnu. dIkshithar is God!!!

dIkshithar then portrays the Lord as "the destroyer of all the sins of the degenerate kali yuga("kalikalmashApaham")" and continues to describe the Lord's beauty as the one who has a beautiful, desirable("kamanIya") appearance("vigraham") and as the very pleasing("sulalita") father("janaka") of guruguha. " Lord shiva is also described here as the bestower and protector("rakshita") of all the riches("dhanika").

The beautiful madhyamakAla sAhityam gallops like a horse adding beauty to mishra chApu. dIkshithar continues to describe the physical beauty of the Lord as "the one with lotus-like("jalaruha") eyes("dR.sham") of chandra(signifying shAntam) and agni("signifying the ugra rasa and the third eye of the Lord)." dIkshithar describes Lord Shiva as "the one with the curly locks of hair("jaTAjUTam") and as the Lord("Isha") of the mountains("adrIsha")." SK beautifully explained this word to me the other day indicating the possibility of multiple explanations. Lord Shiva is called the Lord of the mountains either because of Him being the king of kailAsha or by the virtue of being the husband of Goddess pArvathi, the princess of the mountains.

dIkshithar once again refers to him as "the Lord("Isha") of the world("jagath") and as the one worshipped("vandita") by the enemy("ripu") of the demon vala, Lord Indra." Lord Indra is the ruler of dEvas and the 5 elements are his attendants. The majestic Lord Indra himself worships Lord Shiva and hence he becomes the Lord of the 5 elements and hence the universe. dIkshithar concludes the krithi aptly by praising the Lord as "the one who always("anisham") grants("dAyaka")the boons and wishes of all the things his devotees desire("vAnchitArta")". dIkshithar signs off as if instructing us to worship Lord Shiva and get all our desires fulfilled.

Regardless of whatever aspect you are looking at; be it musical richness, grammatical perfection, bhakthi, etc ; this is an extremely wholesome and comprehensive krithi in which dIkshithar beautifully portrays the Lord in all his greatness. And what a beautiful choice of rAga for the krithi..Just like Goddess shakthi adds beauty and splendour to Lord Shiva, lalitA adds a solemn beauty and fuses wonderfully well with the sAhityams describing the Lord of the universe. As I wrap up, I am still left with that incomplete feeling as I always get at the end of trying to explain a dIkshithar krithi. I am happy that I try my best to explain everything that this kutti brain can understand. I will continue with dEvi krithis now and in my next post, I will try to explain ambA nIlAyatAkshi..that beautiful, rAga-defining krithi in nIlAmbari. Forever, shrI guruguhasya dAsOham!!! :)

Monday, October 8, 2007

hiraNmayIm lakshmIm-Lalitha

It has been really long since I blogged :(. The past few weeks were a little hectic at work and I used to feel really tired after coming home. Sangeethapriya moved all the files from sangeethamshare and hence I had to work on the dIkshithar website and had to do some major coding too..hence the hiatus :(. But we had some really beautiful music sessions over the past two weeks. The dIkshithar brigade continued to drown me in the ocean of music. I am grateful to SK for singing some really rare krithis like "rAmE bharathapAlita"(jyOthi) and "shrI vaTukanAtha"(dEvakriya). He continues to amaze me with his immense knowledge, showcasing some special dIkshithar krithis. The past few weeks have been a little tough for me to endure as I find myself getting homesick very often these days :(. When I listen to more music, eat good food etc, I start missing home even more badly :(. Some wonderful friends help me maintain my sanity.

However, all this homesickness as helped me surrender myself to God even more. I am finding my meditative powers are increasing everyday and I am able to experience some beautiful and enlightening visions these days. Sunday mornings are extremely serene and after the weekend meditation sessions at the Self-Realization Fellowship, I find myself completely recharged and rejuvenated to face yet another grueling week. God answers all my doubts, prayers, everything. For example, unable to listen to my own incompetent vocal chords singing the gems of dIkshithar, I decided that I will henceforth stop singing. And so I did not sing in the last 2 weeks of september. However, music was always running in my mind and my soul. It became too much to heart and soul wanted to sing but my mind told me otherwise. And so I meditated and asked God what I should do. And he answered the very next sunday at the SRF meditation center. In the lecture that day, the reader quoted the beautiful words of Paramahansa Yogananda-"God does not listen to the tonal quality of your voice. He listens to the divine vibrations of love emanating from your soul". A few drops of tears rolled down my cheeks..the feelings were overpowering. My Guru had answered and cleared all my doubts in just one simple sentence. shrI gurubhyO nama:.That is the power of meditation. Anyway..I will now take up the beautiful krithi "hiraNmayIm LakshmIm" in rAgA lalithA.

Ever since the april fools' day session of the dIkshithar brigade, the session that well and truly brought us closer together, lalithA has become one of those rAgAs which are extremely close to my heart, for, in that session, I cried for the first time listening to SK's rendition of "agasthIshwaram", yet another masterpiece of Lord dIkshithar. I have always thought of lalithA as a rAgA very close to vasantA and all the sangathis that used to run in my mind were entirely based on this perception. However, my discussion with SK the other day proved to be a revelation when he showed me how the rAga is beautifully associated with its mother, mAyAmALavagowLa. Though vasantA and lalithA are janya rAgAs of MMG, somehow when SK sang lalithA after MMG and explained to me, it struck a new bell and revealed some beautiful phrases to me..thanks pa SK. The mandira stAyi madhyamam of lalithA never fails to stir my soul and make my tear buds wet. Ok ok..enough rambling..moving on to the krithi now. As I had mentioned in my blog on "bAlagOpAla", this krithi was composed at the rAjagOpAlaswamy temple in mannArdguDi. The pallavi goes like:

hiraNmayIm lakshmIm sadA bhajAmi
hInamAnavAshrayam tyajAmi
dIkshithar sings "I forever("sadA") worship("bhajAmi") the golden("hiraNmayIm") Goddess, Goddess Lakshmi and renounced("tyajAmi") the association of("Ashrayam") of mean, materialistic persons("hIna"+"mAnava")."

At first glance, the pallavi looks so simple. However, a slightly deeper look reveals the beautiful message dIkshithar wants to convey in these opening lines. He says that he worships Goddess Lakshmi, the giver of wealth but he stays away from rich people who are materialistic. It is a suggestion of how the mind of a righteous man should worship and long for the grace of bask in the sunlight of the permanent, true and ever-new bliss which God gives and not be merely satisfied with the earthly things and sensual pleasures of this mAya we are all living. From a musical point of view, the grandeur characteristic of all dIkshithar krithis is once again very evident in these few lines itself. The scope for sangathis and improvisations are immense. I love the "D M G R" start at "hiraNmayIm" makes you stop whatever you are doing and totally grabs your attention and thoughts. Moving on to the anupallavi,

chiratara sampatpradAm kshIrAmbudi tanayAm
harivaksha sthalAlayAm hariNIm charana kisalayAm
karakamaladhruta kuvalayAm marakatha maNivaLayAm
dIkshithar describes the compassionate, merciful Goddess as "She bestows("pradAm") her devotees with uncountable and imperishable("chiratara") wealth and treasure("sampath")". Now dIkshitar starts to describe the physical beauty of the Goddess. He sings "She is the daughter("tanaya") of the ocean("ambudi") of milk("kshIra"). She resides("AlayAm") in the heart("vakshasthala") of Lord Hari. She is the pure one("hariNI") and her feet("charanam") are like tender leaves("kisalayAm"). She possesses("dhruta") in her Lotus-like hands("karakamala"), a blue lotus("kuvalayAm"). She is adorned by bangles("vaLayAm") studded with emeralds("marakatha maNi").

dIkshithar starts the anupallavi with the beautiful "G M M D" phrase at "chiratara" and beautifully builds up to the "D S N D" phrase at "kshIrAmbudhi". Even before you notice it, the tempo smoothly shifts to madhyamakAla dIkshithar beautifully incorporates 4 shadjamams at "harivakshasthala". The madhyamakAla sAhityam is an absolute treat. I love the "M G R S, R G R S, R G M" ending at "marakatha maNi vaLayAm". It beautifully fuses into "hiraNmayIm". It is at instances like these that one wants to give up this mundane life and surrender. Notice how dIkshithar employs two different words for lotus-kamala and kuvalaya in the same word and brings in the alliteration. Also notice the amazing prAsam in the entire anupallavi with each word ending with "yAm". Yet another display of genius. And he is not done yet..infact, he does so much arAjagam with the charanam that it consumes you and leaves you yearning for more.

shwEta dwIpa vAsinIm shrI kamalAmbikAm parAm
bhUtha bhavya vilAsinIm bhUsura pUjitAm varAm
mAtaramAbja mAlinIm mAnikya Abharana dharAm
gItavAdhya vinOdinIm girijAntAm indirAm..(san-)
shItha kiraNa nibha vadanAm shrita chintAmaNi sadanAm
pIthavasanAm guruguha mAdhula kAnthAm lalithAm
dIkshithar describes the Goddess as "the one who lives("vAsinIm") in the white lotus("shwEta dwIpa"). She is the supreme, eternal spirit("parAm"), Goddess kamalAmbA. She makes both the past("bhUtha") and future("bhavya") resplendent("vilAsinIm"). She is worshipped("pUjita") by celestials("bhUsura") and blesses the righteous people("varAm"). The divine mother("mAtaram") is ornamented("Abarana dharAm") with garlands of lotus("Abja") and other precious stones("mAnikya"). She is mAlinI, the creator of all garlands. She rejoices("vinOdinIm") in the music from the vocal chords("san-gIta") and from instruments("vAdhya"). She is Goddess Indira who enjoys the company of girijA(pArvathi), the daughter of the mountain God himavAn. Her delicate face("vadanAm") resembles("nibha") the soft rays of moonlight("kshIta kiraNa"). She is chintAmaNi(meaning of this word explained(rather attempt to be explained) a few lines below) for the her devotees("shrita-Ashrita jana"). She is adorned with yellow("pItha") silk robe("vasanAm"). She is the consort("kAnthAm") of Lord VishNu, the maternal uncle("mAdhula") of Lord guruguha. And She is the elegant one("lalithAm").

As I mentioned earlier, the charanam totally usurps the listener and leaves the rasika in a state of sublimity and serenity. dIkshithar describes the Goddess as chintAmaNi. chintAmaNi is a special gem which is supposed to be decorating the floor of vaikunTa. It is also a very powerful stone which is supposed to have the ability to grant anything one desires. And so, dIkshithar aptly uses the word to describe the Goddess as the wish-yielding gem for all Her devotees. The last line of the charanam is just too amazing. He beautifully brings in both the composer's mudra as well as the rAga mudhra. dIkshithar cleverly uses the fact that Lord vishNu is the uncle of kArthikEya and brings in the mudra effortlessly. But definitely, dIkshithar finishes the charanam with a bang when he describes the Goddess as lalithA and hence fusing the rAga mudhra.

Musically, the "S R S S S" start to the charanam is absolutely sedate and the "N S R S, R G G M" phrase at "shrI kamalAmbikAm parAm" is soul-stirring. The "S N D M D N" phrase at vinOdinIm is beauty personified and so is the "n s R G M; D M D N S" phrase at "shrita chintAmaNi sadanAm".

As usual, I am just lost and helpless and I am not able to point pout a single aspect of beauty in this krithi. It is a gem studded with beautiful, precious stones in the form of amazing sAhityams and laced together with bhakthi and prAsam. The one thing evident throughout the krithi is the scholarly working of the mind of a genius. We have all heard of hitting 2 birds with one stone. dIkshithar seems to always extend this theory and he hits atleast 5 or 6 birds with just a small pebble. He once again proves that he is a phenomenon. If the question "Was dIksithar a genius?", a math problem, using any method(proof by theory, proof by contradiction, etc..), anyone will come to the only conclusion, the universal truth that this was the avatAram of music itself which descended in flesh to this world. Whatever little God has given me, even that I totally surrender..sarva samarpaNam to dIkshithar. I will stop my ramblings here as I have to go and cook dinner now.

I am listening to an amazing kAmbOji AlApana sung by SK now..beautiful. God bless you SK on your star birthday. I love october :) yippeee!! After listening to Hari playing the last 2 lines of "amba nIlAyatAkshi" last week, I totally gave up. To continue on the dEvi krithis theme, I will hence take up this beautiful krithi in nIlAmbari in my next post. And hopefully I will find time to post it this weekend. Happy navarAtri everyone. Have a wonderful time..I am missing home :(. Give me strength Oh divine mother, shrI kamalAmbA jayathi!!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


2nd post within a day. Well, today's not been the best day. The news that (a) I might not be able to go to India in December and (b) one of my close friends is going away to her hometown for good, was not the best start and rendered me sulky very early in the morning. But thankfully, another of my closest friends was with me to cheer me up, and I feel much better now, no-thankfully. Also, what with all the activity on in our DIkshitar gumbal, with all that raving about navarOju and my repeated listening to gajavadanA in tODi, which brings back fond memories of times at LA, not much work is getting done. I thought that a blog on Priyanka's suggestion of vAgadheeshwarI couldn't help me at a better time.

vAgadheeshwarI is the 34th mELakarta rAgam and the 4th rAgam in the Rutu chakram. It is what I would characterize as a pseudo-vivAdi rAgam, because many of the rakti prayOgams in the rAgam do not involve the vivAdi swaram. vAgadheeshwarI is composed off Sa-ShaTshruti RuShabham (R3) - antara gAndhAram (G3) - shuddha madhyamam (M1) - Panchamam - Chatushruti daivatam (D2) - kaishiki niShAdham (N2). The vivAdi tag is evidently earned due to the presence of R3.

It is pertinent here to describe the nomenclature of the Rushabhams. It is not mere coincidence that we have a shuddha Ri, chatushruti Ri and then a ShaTshruti Ri. The Ri's themselves form something like a sub-octave scale, comprising off Sa, shuddha Ri, trishruti Ri, chatushruti Ri, panchashruti Ri, ShaTshruti Ri. tri, chatu:, pancha, shaT are the sanskrit terms for 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th. However, with respect to the human ability to sing these notes, trishruti and panchashruti are subharmonic, and can be best rendered as gamakams. The trishruti RuShabham, as a gamakam, can be seen best in asAvEri. The panchashruti, well, I am not aware.

Hence, the RuShabham contained in vAgadheeshwarI would be the highest permissible harmonic a Ri can have - ShaTshruti. While this adds a lot of "zing" to the rAgam, it is inappropriate to center a rAgam in vAgadheeshwarI solely about R3. It is however necessary to include here, that R3 perhaps "defines" vAgadheeshwarI, and hence is a very vital swaram. The sanchArams and prayOgams in vAgadheeshwarI are pleasing, for lack of a better word. The pUrvAngam evokes excitement, and the uttarAngam provides quiescence and peace. As such, vAgadheeshwarI = vaak (speech, verbal skills) + adheeshwarI (the goddess), means the goddess of speech, verbal skills and so on. It could mean saraswatI (vAgdEvI), it could also mean lakShmI, as even LakShmI is hailed as "vAgabhimAnI" in "AmbhRuNI sooktam" of the rigvEda. I would like to look at it as a part of both :)

The two compositions that I am aware of in this rAgam are (1) paramAtmuDu veligE by tyAgarAja and (2) bhOgachChAyanATakapriyE of Dikshitar in bhOgachChAyanATa, the 34th asampoorNa mELakartam, which is not very vastly different from vAgadheeshwarI. Between themselves, I would say, these two song pretty much qualify the rAgam wholly.

While it is indeed a tendency to overdo the vivAdi in any vivAdi rAgam, it must be realized that the potential sanchArams scale beyond this. The n2-s-r3-s-r3-g3-m1 is quite a trademark sanchAram of vAgadheeshwarI, at least from the point of view of Dikshitar's school, since rAgachooDAmaNi doesn't permit this usage. (Note - rAgachooDAmaNI and rAgavardhani are vastly different!). It doesn't come as a surprise that but for the usage of r3, the sanchArams would be very chakravAka-ish. For instance, consider the charaNam of paramAtmuDu. "gaganA anila tEjO jala bhoomaya maku" (another magnificent way to bring in the panchabhootAs - I was telling Sai about Dikshitar bringing in the panchabhootAs in SrI kALahastIsha (husEni) as pAkAri-vidhi-hari-prANamaya-kOsha-anilAkasha-bhoomi-salilAgni-prakAsha shiva - this will be sung in praise of when Sai or I write about SrI kALahastIsha). The sangatIs in gaganAnilatEjOjala.... are very typical chakravAkam. "pa pa pa ... ma pa n2 d2 m g3 m1 p... n2 d2". Thought it is tempting to draw a parallel to HarikAmbhOji, we have to exercise caution, because the character of the niShAdham in vAgadheeshwarI is completely unlike that in harikAmbhOji - consider for instance the pallavi in "chani tODi tEve... p d2 n2 s p m1 r2 g3 m1"... the n2 is flat and bland. There is NO gamakam, for any gamakam on n2 in harikAmbhOji could bring it scarily close to kAmbhOji. In general though, a gamakam on n2 in harikAmbhOji is permitted, but perhaps sufficient data does not exist of the same. (Even dinamaNi-vamsha has a lot of flat n2-s ; of course, not as flat as in kEdAragowLam or nArAyaNagowLam, but flat nevertheless).

The uttarAngam is hence best compared to chakravAkam. the p-d-n-s has the form of d2 being pretty much attached to pa, and branching off with a nokku (jerk) to n2, which now happens to be kissing the mEl-shaDjam. Then, why is it not the same as hEmavatI ? I would attribute it to the existence of another p-d-n-s methodology. In this, the n2 has a kampitam (an oscillatory character with affiliation to d). The latter dominates in hEmavatI, while the former dominates in chakravAkam. The best example of this would be in the charaNam of veeNApustaka-dhAriNi "karAravindAm-kalyANadAm-bhAshAm". Of course, from the wholesome view, the uttarAngam is certainly a weighted average of chakravAkam, harikAmbhOji and hEmavatI, just the weight is more towards the chakravAkam character, later perhaps followed by the other two. The point I want to convey here is this. By virtue of this affiliation or I'd say, commonality of the uttarAngam with these three rAgams, there is a LOT of scope for various sanchArams with different characters, more so with an occasional appearance of R3. So, the sanchArams do NOT have to be centered around or be very prominent in R3 for it to be vAgadheeshwari.

This is best illustrated with the second line of the pallavi of bhOgachChAyanATakapriyE - mudam dEhi brihadeeshajAyE - d2 n2 s .. n2 d2 n2...s n2 r3 s n2 d2 p m1 g3 m1 p n2 d2 - bhOgachChAyA..... Observe that R3 is used only once and that suffices to make the whole sanchAram typical vAgadheeshwarI. It does NOT always have to be of the form "surulaTa narulaTa - n2 s r3 r3 m1 g3 r3 r3 s". Another example is "mriga-khaga-naga-tarukOTlulalO - p s .. (mRuga) s n2 d2 n2 d2 p (khaga) p d2 n2 d2 n2 d2 d2 p (madhyama speed) (naga)....m1 g3 r3 s n2 n2(taru..) n2 s r3 g3 m1 p m1 p (kOTlulalO)" and by the line following that "sagaNumulO vigUNamulO - n2 d2 n2 d2 ... d2 ... | p d2 n2 d2 p m1 p n2 d2 d2 p d2 p .. m1 (some in madhyama kAlam)" ... This classic spot has NO vivAdi character and still one can tell it apart from the way it is sung that it is vAgadheeshwarI and not harikAmbhOji, because it has that little harikAmbhOji character. Then, again, how close is kharaharapriya (KHP) ? Not very. the uttarAngam of KHP has d2 closer to n2 than to panchamam - something that is not very profoundly seen in vAgadheeshwarI. I urge one to listen to recording of the charaNams of veeNapustakadhAriNi and paramAtmuDu to get a feel for the similarities and subtleties.

Moving "down" to the pUrvAngam, this is what makes vAgadheeshwarI majestic. The R3 has a lot of "weight" in it. This can be best realized by observing a vaiNika play it. The amplitude of oscillations imparted to the string while plucking it to produce R3 is the maximum of the three Ris, and naturally so, owing to its distance from ShaDjam. This distance from ShaDjam, hence provides immense gamakam capacity to R3, especially the kampitam. Even the Sa-Ri3 usage is to be sung with a lot of weight put in into the prayOgam. One can't quite get away with singing Ri3 lightly. There is no bland ascent from Sa to Ri3. If it exists, it is a recipe towards a discontinuous breakage in the rocky ascent from Sa to Ri3. The ascent is anything but smooth. The gradient from Sa to Ri3 is immense and the gamakams fill up the white space with a lot of beautiful color. While the aarOhaNam resembles nATa in character, the avarOhaNam, with the absence of p-m1-r3, carves out a place for itself, with the serenely beautiful p-m1-g3-r3.

A word needs to be added about G3. Amongst the 3 gAndhArams, G3 is the one which has the least character for a gamakam. This is a GOOD reason why MMG wins the race between MMG and hEmavatI for a starting rAgam, even with symmetry in both of those (ref - last post). G3 has hardly any gamakams, while G2 hardly has no gamakams (at least in hEmavatI). The rather bald character of G3 is what makes it beautiful. After the heavy Sa-Ri3 ascent, the "be-ing" at G3 is something that flushes calmness and composure into one. One can "park" at G3 forever, without having to worry about gamakams and the like. This makes G3 a very preferred spot for an anchor during AlApanam or during koruvai. Further, even M1 is pretty bland, and is another very calm place to rest peacefully upon. The G3-M1 pair however, does not resemble the one in MMG, for the G3 in MMG has a quasi-M1 character many a time. vAgadheeshwarI perhaps stands alone here. In my opinion, G3-M1 in the other chakras don't quite have the capacity to just exist merely, and always are aided by gamakams. However, the M1-G3 descent does portray a lot of gamakam. M1-G3 ~ M1-P-M1-M1-G3. Taking Ri3 from G3 almost happens accompanied by a dip to ShaDjam and a rise back to Ri3. The bland M1-G3-R3 is hardly seen. However, where there is no dip-rise character, the G3 itself has a lot of Ri3 character, and almost resembles a jaaru (slide) from m1. This can be seen in the pallavi of bhOgachChAyanATakapriyE.... ChA...yA = m1 g3 p m1 r3 r3 almost, with perhaps a small scent of G3. The other kind of a descent I would like to point out is a more 'agitated' descent, of the kind "m1 g3 p m1 g3 r3 r3" in "Ta a a a a a a" of "muchchaTa" in paramAtmuDu. And all these are distinctly different from nATa.

Next, I'd like to highlight the characteristics of the transition piece - uttarAngam to poorvAngam (da2-pa-ma1) and (ni2-sa-ri3). The d2-p does always portray a slide from n2 to d2 as a start up, which is again pretty expected because of the character of the uttarAngam as already discussed. Analgously, the ascent from ni2 to sa will emanate from the daivatam and stagnate at ri3, due to the inability of G3 to support any gamakam. DhATu prayOgams such as n2-r3, n2-g3, n2-m3 add value, but just that in these cases the niShAdham is mostly anchored at ShaDjam, rather than at d2, or at times, stands alone.

Finally, the pUrvAngam to uttarAngam transitions (ri3-sa-ni2) and (m1-p-d2). The m1-p-d2 transition is fully chakravAkam in nature, and the dhATu m1-d usage doesn't appear so chaste or appealing, but sparing usage should add value, especially in a patterned usage such as "m1-p.. m1-d2...m1-n2...m1-sa-ni(w/ sa gamakam)-ni(w/ da gamakam)-d2-d2" or such. The ri3-sa-ni2 prayOgam starts at r3 again, with no overshoots, while the termination could be at either of the three possibilities - n2 w/ sa anchor, n2 w/ d2 anchor or n2 alone. The standalone n2 is not usually the best, and the other two come across rather beautifully.

As such, it is always difficult to express the multifaceted character of a wholesome raga like vAgadheeshwarI using text, especially with the existence of the fully packed uttarAngam and the spicy pUrvAngam with Ri3. This is but a humble attempt to do some justice in sketching out a potrait of the ragam without using curves but using a-b-c-d.

The divinity of vAgadheeshwarI is in the beautiful way the rAgam builds up and then smooths out to poise and equilibrium, again, pretty much like the pure gangAdEvi, who starts off with a lot of momentum at gangOtrI and flows down calmly to feed a good part of northern India. The beauty of the rAgam is indeed akin to that of saraswatI herself, with her being the Goddess of learning and all that, and still a mother of the world. There is serious stuff you can approach her for - be it jnAnam, sujnAnam, vijnAnam or whatever, and there is also protection and love you can go to her for. This hence is perhaps aptly named after the goddess of learning, for indeed yes, singing vAgadheeshwarI would strengthen and enable to learn, a good set of rAgams, including, but not restricted to, chakravAkam, hEmavatI, those of Rutu chakram, also perhaps a bit of nAsikabhooShaNi, certainly a good deal of vAchaspati, and also teaches to exercise control from slipping into nATa, which will never look more enticing.

My next post would mostly be on the 2nd navagraha krithi chandram bhaja mAnasa and asAvEri, while Sai's post on hiraNmayeem lakShmIm is eagerly awaited.

vagarthAviva sampruktau vagarthapratipattayE
jagata: pitarau vandE pArvatIparamEshwarau

SrI kamalAmbA jayati

Shreekrishna (9/18/07)

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

On HEmavatI ......

Sai's blog on hEmavatI put me on a high. The high led me to call him up and then we had a 2 hr discussion session on the brilliance of MuthuswAmi Dikshitar. The lyrical genius of the man, sorry, Gawd, requires a different blog altogether. However, I felt so into "hEmavatI" reading Sai's blog in the afternoon that I thought I should blog on hEmavatI, as a rAgam, as a portrayal of divinity. The other reason is that hEmavatI is a rAgam that is very very dear to Sai, Aishwarya and me, and to my beloved late grandfather, discussing hEmavatI with whom is still clearly etched out in my memory. Of course, my mom loves hEmavatI too! I also find that this kinda post would give a break from appreciating krithis and instead aims at appreciating, more fundamentally, rAgams.

HEmavatI is the 58th mELakarta rAgam, and is called dEshi-simhAravam in the Dikshitar school. The name hEmavatI- the one which is golden, itself symbolizes all that the rAgam stands for. I've always opined that hEmavatI is a feminine rAgam, with its delicate gamakams and inimitable beauty. The rAgam essentially thrives on the beauty of the r-g synchrony, m-p synchrony and the d-n synchrony. The transition from one note to another in the rAgam is so smooth, full and pure. Also, very interestingly, it is the 1st rAgam that has NO non-Sa, non-Pa note common with mAyAmALavagowLam (one of my personal favorites).

The prayOgams in hEmavatI, as mentioned earlier, are on the "feminine" side. There are no eccentric brighams, no sudden nokkus.... it all flows. It flows like how gaNgA flows from Lord Shiva's jaTA. While the "p s n d" phrase always gets overdone, I find the following prayOgams remarkably beautiful - (1) "p-m-g-r", with a jaaru from ma to ga (2) "p-m-g"-r" with g" sung as r-g-r, giving the effect of "p-m-r-g-r" (3) a simple, serene "p-d-n-s". In fact, looking at it, the quarter progression {s-r-g-m, r-g-m-p, g-m-p-d, m-p-d-n, p-d-n-s} and the corresponding avarOhaNam, in itself captures all the beauty of hEmavatI, without having to resort to hackneyed usages. Referring to Dikshitar's SrI kAntimatIm, it may be seen that it is "this" usage that so "embellishes" (Aishwarya's usage!) the rAgam. The "sparing' usage of "p s n d" in "shuka-shaunakAdi" only appreciates the beauty of the rAgam. (Overdoing this is something that I'm known to be picky about :|)

I need to remark here about the octave symmetry that exists in hEmavatI. The pUrvAngam (s-r2-g2-m2) is perfectly symmetric to the uttarAngam (p-d2-n2-s). It is a very simple exercise to show from this symmetry, that vakuLAbharaNam is a grihabhEda derivative of hEmavati (More on this later!). Symmetry is one of the reasons that MMG is chosen as the initiation rAgam, of course, in addition to the capability of MMG to support bland notes. On the contrary, symmetry is one of the reasons hEmavatI is difficult to sing chastely, because not only are the notes merely symmetric, but the way they are sung (with the gamakams) are also so. For instances, just as s-r and g-m form a pair of pairs that stick close to one another and emanate-terminate in/into each other, so do p-d, n-s. It is hence "perfectly" symmetric, probably a wee bit more perfect than MMG itself. It is not too surprising that this symmetry leads to the beautiful emotions of peace and harmony that it evokes, for nature, in my opinion, uses symmetry as a means of portraying harmony and equilibrium.

The rasa (emotion) that hEmavatI largely evokes is shAnta rasa (peace and harmony), and hence probably finds very well appreciated. But then, a good rendition of the rAgam can portray karuNa rasa (sympathy), especially with repeated usages of "r2-g2-m2", with lesser r2 than the others. On the whole, the rAgam seems very self-equilibrated.

The popular songs in this rAgam seem to bring forth this fact very well. SrI kAnthimatIm so aptly fits into hEmavatI, and I am sure Dikshitar's choice of hEmavatI and kAnthimatI were not coincidental. (The former means - the golden one, the latter - the lustrous one!), and immediately, he follows in by shankarayuvatIm, which so perfectly portrays the equilibrium in hEmavatI (or i'd better use the word "saukhyam" - well-being). This is just an example. Consider "hariyuvatIm hymavatIm". An uncanny resemblance to "SrIkAnthimatIm shankarayuvatIm", in terms of the saukhyam and the lyrical structure. To me, this all signifies the divine equilibrium portrayed by the divine father-divine mother, and how that divine equilibrium sustains the world.

To me, hEmavatI has always been synonymous to dEvi, in her full brilliance, and in the most peaceful form, with an ever-smiling countenance, signifying "abhaya" (perfect natural harmony by assurance that she will protect us all). The s-r-g-m phrase in hEmavatI, to me, is something that signifies motherly love. I've always thought so. May be I am a little jerky here, but sing it repeatedly and see the comfort that you get - something synonymous to motherly love. On the contrary p-d-n-s to me, has somehow been synonymous to a more robust form of comfort, perhaps fatherly! I, in certain terms, see the shiva-shakti unison in this beautiful symmetry of hEmavatI, just that shakti is the dominant character here (as opposed to MMG, which I'd opine is slightly more "masculine"). The shiva-shakti unison is that which is analogous to the prakriti-purusha equilibrium in nature. You could also compare it to the jeeva-jada (active-passive) character in the world. The pUrvAngam and the uttarAngam, in my opinion, in the light of the above discussion, has perhaps a nice philosophical interpretation. There seem different yet there are one (advaita). On the other hand, they seem one, but they are still different (dvaita). To me, this is nAda, that which clearly transcends philosophies (logical thought in philosophy). To me, this is also seeing the divinity of the universe in nAda, in what hEmavatI holds together so beautifully, woven in each of its sanchArams and prayOgams.

The wholesomeness of hEmavatI heralds itself with keeravANi and vakuLAbharaNam as its mElakarta grihabhEdam derivatives, while amRutavarShiNi, mEchabouLi, bhoopAlam are some of its non-mELakarta grihabhEdam derivatives. I rather not write anything about keeravANi here, for if I start, I fear I'll hijack the topic altogether! Within these rAgams, ALL emotions but for bheebatsa (extreme shock - as a poor translation) and raudra (extreme fear) seem to be scaled. This is again perhaps for the reason that the divinity of the rAgam keeps away the two emotions that we don't seek. In a sense, the saukhyam continues. Also notice the different moods during a day, that can be captured with this set. Remarkable ain't it ?

The final point I want to make is about the nature of the prati madhyamam in hEmavatI. Of all the prati madhyama rAgams, it is perhaps only hEmavati (and varALi) that NEVER employ an "as is" prati madhyama prayOgam by default. In other words, m2 lacks clear definition, in a scalar sense. But then, therein lies the beauty. The non-existence of a bland m2 and n2 is the "basis" of all the symmetry I've been bragging about. Had the prati-madhyamam and/or the kaishiki-nishAdham been bland, the gAndhAram would have to be blandly defined as well (Sing it to see), as a necessity to maintain aesthetic continuity in the rAgam. And as it is very well known (though not always well executed), the gAndhAram and the madhyamam and the connecting gamakam, pretty much control the dynamics of the pUrvAngam (lower half of the madhya sthAyI), while the da-ni transition piece controls those of the uttarAngam. The "p-s-n-d" wouldn't be half as beautiful, if it were not for the accentuation on ni2. In short, in my opinion, the non-static beauty (Ok, I'm going bonkers here, but again, the prakriti/jeeva/active beauty) of the prati madhyamam is what infuses infinite beauty into the soul of hEmavatI, in conjunction with the symmetry. (This is the result of a discussion with my mom and grandfather long long ago, about what swaram is most important in hEmavatI, and my justification for choosing madhyamam over gAndhAram).

I could write much much more about hEmavatI, not that I know any more, but because of how dear and divine this rAgam happens to be to me. But lest it become a case of "You-say-it-is-cabbage-but-it-is-actually-garbage-and-I-don't-give-a-bloody-damn-to-your-nonsense", I would stop here. I know I have a tendency to correlate anything musical to divinity, but I believe that that is what "nAdOpAsana" is all about - to see divinity in nAda - even in the bare "sa-pa-sa", and more importantly, to "attempt" to see divinity through nAda, like how the great godly personalities such as the trinity and haridAsAs (purandaradAsa and others) did. And this is what this blogspace is all about - nAdasudhArasa - a means to experience the sweet nectar of nAda - just that, this time, the attempt is thru rAgasudhArasa :)

nAdalOluDai brahmAnanda-mandavE ! manasa ! (tyAgarAja)

SrI kamalAmbA jayatI

Shreekrishna (9/18/07)

Friday, September 14, 2007

gajAnanayutham and shrI kAnthImathIm

Here I am..finally blogging after 3 weeks. I had been to Los Angeles and I had perhaps the best 2 days of my stay in the US in the past 2 years. Meeting Aishu, SK and Vijay was a privilege and a pleasure. Aishu, SK and I had this wonderful chemistry..a sort of bonding which you can find only in the story books. The fun we had was just amazing and the beautiful session we had on Saturday, September 1st will never be forgotten. The synchronization that resonated in that room was phenomenal. Aishu's house had this unique atmosphere..serene and full of divine vibrations..cha..I really, really miss them a lot..kutti Aishu and kutti SK..hope to meet you both very very soon once again and relive those moments of sheer bliss :).

Last weekend was peaceful. I had a very nice session with SK and his amma. Her voice sounded just like Vedavalli and her renditions of the ghaNTA navAvarNam and shrI shukra bhagavantham are still ringing in my ears. Day before yesterday I had the wonderful opportunity of listening to SK in full flow. It started with the beautiful kAmbhOji navAvarNam in which SK showed me more of dIkshithar's brilliance as to how thalaivar had split aTa tALam perfectly in the middle and made it symmetric, went all over the 72 mELAs and culminated with the amazing ghaNTA navAvarNam once again. We had an extremely wholesome discussion for an hour and 40 minutes on the phone and came to the only logical always..dIkshithar is GOD!! :)

I am going to take up gajAnanayutham first..that beautiful vEgavAhini which has become to be known as an extremely auspicious invocation song. With today being Vinayaka chathurthi, it is extremely apt that I am starting off with this krithi. It is a small samAshTi charanam with just 10 words :). I am taking up this kutti krithi just to show that dIkshithar doesnt spare any rAgA..he exploits vEgavAhini's beauty to the core in this krithi. Infact, the smaller the dIkshithar krithi, more the power of the punch packed in that small dynamo..It sounds sweet and refreshing. The pallavi goes like:

gajAnanayutham ganEshwaram bhajAmi sathatham surEshwaram
dIkshithar starts off with a small salutation-" I constantly("sathatham") sing the praise of("bhajAmi") of Lord Ganesha, the elephant-faced one("gajAnanayutham") and the Lord("Eshwaram") of all dEvAs("sura")."

This krithi was composed by Dikshithar when he visited the Uchchi Pillayar temple in trichy. I have heard many versions of the krithi but perhaps the best ever would be that of SSI. I vividly remember the rAga chAya he brings into the krithi and sings amazing sangathis in these few lines of the pallavi. This krithi is perhaps most beautiful because of its
simplicity. These lines provide ample scope for improvisation and the rAgA's beauty is completely brought out in these few lines. The samAshTi charanam which follows makes the krithi symmetric with both the pallavi and charanam containing the same number of words.
ajEndrapUjitavignEshwaram gaNadisannutapadapadmakaram kunjarabanjanachaturatarakaram guruguhAgrajam praNavAkAram Meaning:
DIkshithar describes Lord Ganapathi as "the one who is worshipped("pUjita") by Brahma and Indra("ajEndra")" and "the remover of all obstacles("vignEshwaram")" and "the one whose lotus-like("padma") hands("karam") and feet("padam") are worshipped("sannuta") by Ganas("hence the name, ganapathi-Lord of the Ganas"). dIkshithar continues to describe the Lord as "the one who destroyed("banjana") kunjara and showed his skill and cleverness("chaturataram"). He is the elder brother ("agrajam") of guruguha and is in the form("AkAram") of the Pranava mantra".

The madhyamakAla sAhityam is beautiful as usual and he brings in the rAga mudhra without any trouble as usual. :). He finishes of the charanam by saying that Lord Ganapathi is in the form of the pranava. For depictions and detailed explanations about this reference, please read the post on vAthApi ganapathim by me(one of my earliest posts). Other than that, there is nothing much to talk about. A fairly simple krithi which is usually taught to beginners as it will lay a solid ground for their fundamentals.

Now I will move on to "shrI kAnthimathim", an amazing piece in hEmAvathi, the 58th mELA, which has offlate become one of my most favourite rAgAs. dIkshithar composed this krithi when he visited tirunelveli which is shown in the sAhityam "shuddha tAmpraparni thata sthithAm". The krithi has a soul in it which creates a sort of very intoxicating and sullen mood and it leaves you wanting for more. And once again, the SSI version of the krithi is beautiful and something to be experienced. Goddess kAnthimathi(Parvathi) is saluted and depicted with great care by dIkshithar. Every word has its beauty and infinite possibilities to showcase the beauty and scope of this rAgA.

shrI kAnthimathIm shankara yuvathIm
shrI guruguha janani vandEham

dIkshithar sings "Goddess kAnthimathi, the young wife("yuvathIm") of Lord Shiva("shankara"), I prostrate before you and worship("vandEham") you, the mother("janani") of guruguha."

Simple sAhityams as usual provide the flexibility required to sing beautiful sangathis. The "R; G M P D P" start is amazing and the "R; G R R S" take-off for "shrI guruguha" is just mind-blowing. It sets the tone of the krithi and establishes it as a masterpiece. I also love the "N D P M G R S" which people sing for "vandEham". The pallavi in itself completes hEmavathi according to me. The first time I heard the pallavi, I thought "what could be more beautiful and comprehensive than this?" and dIkshithar answered me immediately with the charanam of the krithi..he makes a statement basically. No one ever will handle hEmavathi like this and no one needs to :).

hrImkAra bIjakAra vadanAm hiranya maNImaya shobhA sadanAm
pAkashAsanAdi dEva vinuthAm parashurAma natha himashaila suthAm
shukha shounakAdi sadArAdithAm shudhatAmpraparnI thata sthithAm
shankAdhyashTOtthara sahasra kalashAbhishEka modhAm surahithAm

dIkshithar gives the ultimate salute to the Goddess by saying "she has the form("AkAra") of the hrIm bIja mantra." Just like Om(the father), hrIm is yet another powerful mantra and is considered the mother of all sounds on earth. hrIm is also the bIja mantra of the supreme sahasrAra chakra( the thousand petalled lotus) at the top of the brain in the astral body. By reciting the hrIm mantra and proper meditation, souls attain kaivalyam. And dIkshithar seems to be referring to the sahasrAra chakra when he refers to the dEvi as "She resides in the lustrous("shobhA") golden("hiranya") palace("sadanAm") filled("maya") with gems("maNi")".
dIkshithar sings "She is praised and worshipped("vinuthAm") by Indra("pAkashAsana") and other("aadi") Gods("dEvAs"). She is worshipped("nutha") by ParashurAma and is the daughter("suthAm") of the God of the mountains("hima shaila")."

The madhyamakAla sAhityam is the climax of this great piece. He takes it to a new level with the "P S N D P M" phrase at "shukha shounakAdi", the jIva phrase of hEmavathi..amazing only!!! dIkshithar continues to praise the Goddess "She is worshipped("ArAdhithAm") by shukha, shounaka and all the other saints and yOgIs. She resides("sthithAm") on the banks of("thata") of the pure("shudha") tAmpraranI river. She is bathed and her feet washed("abhisheka") with divine water from the pitchers("kalasa") containing the waters from all the 1008 divine sthalams of Lord Shiva ("ashTOtthara sahasra") and conches("shankA"). She is benevolent("mOdhAm") to the celestial Gods("surahithAm")."

And the sAhityams just beautifully fit with the mood he creates. He once again uses the "PSND" phrase at "sahasra" and goes up to the "S M G R" in the thAra sthAyi at "kalashAbishEka" and then peacefully comes down for "mOdhAm surahithAm" as if to emphasize the merciful, benevolent side of the dEvi. And it beautifully blends in with the start of the pallavi to complete the epic :). Sometimes, this hEmavathi is so intoxicating and compelling that it keeps me drowned and helpless for weeks together. On the whole, the best ever krithi in hEmavathi and who else can do such justice to the rAga and beautifully using "hEmavathi"(another name for the dEvi) itself to describe shrI kAnthimathi..amazing stuff yet again from the God of music :).

As SK continues his beautiful portayal of the navagraha krithis, I will take up some more dEvi krithis as per the request of my friend and well-wisher, Priyanka. So, I will discuss one of her favourite krithis, "HiranmayIm lakshmIm" in lalitha. The mood the rAga and the krithi evoke are too much to handle for me and I eventually end up breaking down most of the time. Lalitha holds a special place in my heart because of the araajagam SK did with "AgasthIshwaram" in our epic Fools' day session. The sangathis he puts at "jagajIvE" in the first line of the anupallavi are too much to take. Anyway, All of you have a great week and I will be back very soon with the next gem of dIkshithar..the greatest creation of God ever..shrI kamalAmbA jayathi!!!