Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Sri Lakshmi Varaham

The sun is shining beautifully with a cold breeze making my hair go crazy. It is a wonderful day at Ann Arbor. I am listening to a beautiful "Ninnu joochi" in raga Sowrashtram rendered by my brother in one of his concerts. I have a class to attend in 2 hours giving me ample time to put in a small blog on a beautiful krithi in one of my favourite ragas composed by the Nadhajyothi.

As titled, I am going to talk about the krithi "Sri Lakshmi Varaham" in the raga "Abhogi". Dikshithar composed this krithi when he visited the Lakshmi Varaha Swamy temple in Kallidaikurichi on the banks of river "Taamaraparani"(the river named so because it was supposed to be filled with lotuses). Incidentally, this is my grandmother's birthplace(and in some sense becomes mine too). It is a beautiful small village named aptly as kal+idai+kurichi translating to "town sandwiched between hills". The Lakshmi Varaha Sannidhi here is a world famous one and the sannidhi for Lord Kubera is supposed to be very special. With this introduction, I will start off with translating the entire krithi and explaining certain subtlities as I progress.
Shree Lakshmi Varaaham Bhajeham
Shree Lakshmi Sahitham Srithajana Shubha Pradham
Dikshithar sings "I worship("Bhaja"+"aham") Lord Lakshmi Varaha, who is in the company("Sahitham") of Goddess Lakshmi and gives happiness and proseperity("Shubha pradham") to those who take refuge in him("Srithajana")."
Once again we can observe the simplicity of his composition. The pallavi goes as "Sa Dha Ma Ga Ri Sa" which is the descending part(avarohanam) of abhogi raga scale. Also, the "Sa Dha Ma" notes are sung flat and simple but the sangathi sounds so beautiful and ornamented. That is the beauty of the great composer. The pallavi is a wonderful introduction to the song. In the Anupallavi he embellishes the Lord further.


Neela Megha Ghana Shyamala Gaathram
Neela Bhudevi Sthuthi Paathram
Neelakanta Shiva Guruguha Mithram
Nikhila Bhaktha Jana Bhayaarthi Daathram

Dikshithar beautifully describes the Lord as follows: " Whose body("Gaathram") is a dark blue-black("Shyamala") colour resembling the dark rain-bearing clouds("Neela Megha"), who is the object of praise("Stuthi Paathram") of Niladevi and Bhudevi. He is the friend("Mithram") of the blue necked("Neela kanta") Lord Shiva and Lord Subrahmanya. He removes("Daathram") fears and miseries("Bhayaarthi") of all his devotees("Nikhila Bhaktha Jana")."

In the anupallavi, there is an explicit reference of the Lord's skin colour to the dark rain clouds. We may also interpret this as an implicit reference to the Lord's love which he showers on his devotees just like rain from the clouds. Further, we can observe the mudhra "guruguha" beautifully intertwined as he refers to Lord Subrahmanya.


Mangalaalayaa Abhogi nutha Padam
Pungava Budhajana Natham Vedanutham
Shankara Priya karam Kubera Pratheeshtitham
Shanka Chakra Dharam Krupaakaram


Pankajaasana Pramukha Sevitham
Pankaja Mukha Bhaargavee Bhaavitham
Bhanga Hara Thaamraparnee Theerastham
Sankata hara Sadaananda Sahitham


He refers to the Lord as One who's feet("Padham") is ornated by the auspicious("mangalaalaya") Raga Abhogi, as one praised by the Virtuous and knowledgable("Budhajana") and the Vedas and scriptures. He pleases Lord Shankara("Shankarapriya karam") and enriches the wealth of Lord Kubera. He is also the bearer of the conch and the divine disc("Shankachakradhara"). Worshipped and served("Sevitham") by Lord Brahma("Pankajaasana"-the one sitting on lotus) and other important Gods("Pramukha"); Meditated upon("Bhaavitham") by the Lotus-faced("Pankajamukha") Goddess Lakshmi("Bhargavi"). Along the banks of the river Tamaraparanee, the Lord removes("Hara") all the obstacles and worries("Sankata") and is always("Sadha") filled with("sahitham") bliss("aanandham").

The charanam is brilliant description of the Lord. Dikshithar beautifully brings in the Raga mudhra in the first line of the charanam and refers to the auscpicious quality of the raga. He also makes sure he includes the reference to the special sannidhi to Kubera swamy in the temple. The madhyamakala sahithyam is another good vocal exercise to the singer. On the whole, the krithi is filled with simplicity but beautiful at the same time, a quality of all Dikshitar krithis.

I have one more hour to go for my class. My interest to learn control systems is forcing me to sit through this class though I graduated a few weeks back. The breeze is still blowing and is an unusually beautiful winter day at Ann Arbor. I think I will enjoy sitting under a tree now and listen to a wonderful "Ramaabhi Rama" in raga "Darbar" by my brother in one of his All India Radio broadcasts. Next, I am planning to take up some popular krithis on Lord Ganesha like "Vaathapi" in Hamsadhwani and "Mahaganapthim" in Naatai by thalaivar Dikshithar. These krithis are popular invocations without which no concert begins. Salutations to the great "Nadhajyothi"-Vaazhga Thalaivaa!!


SLAN said...

machi too good da.. keep it up.. gettin sumthin useful to read. u r goin 4 control systems classes is it??? lik ur thalaivar dikshitar in music its cs 4 every branch in engg da... waitu po.

think will give out kubera a visit as i am runnin short of funds every month..;-)

Musical Scientist said...

Thanks a lot da Slan..Control Systems sure is very interesting..am loving it. This book by Ogata is awesome :) And Lord kubera..haha.same here..hope he shines some grace on us soon :)

Aparna said...

good post. u've done a good analysis about the entire song. and i'd like to point one variation in the lyrics in the anupallavi.
i've heard 2 versions actually
1.neela megha jitha syamala gathram
2.neela megha jaya syamala gathram

plz check it

Musical Scientist said...

Hey Aparna..thanks a lot for that clarification. I checked it up and it is Neela megha Jaya Shyamala gathram. Keep those comments coming :)

MAHESH said...

The name of the river Taamaraparani if spelt this way certainly means a water body full of lotuses, as you have pointed out. However, the correct intonation of the name is Tamraparani, which is an indication of the copper deposits in the river (Tamra is the sanskrit word for copper), picked up from it's origin in the Podhigai hills near Azhwarkurichi - Kadayam.

Musical Scientist said...

Wow..thanks a lot for that info mahesh..never knew that :). Please keep posting such wonderful comments :)

Aparna said...

hey I went to a Sanjay's concert today and he sang an excellent alapana of Abhogi followed by Sri Lakshmi Varaham. I remembered your post only immediately :) Read your post again jus now. Beautiful kriti indeed.

Musical Scientist said...

Hi Aparna..sooper po..must have been a great time listening to Sanjay sir sing it. I learnt the krithi from his rendition only :). Posting Amba nIlAyatAkshi in a few hours..do read when you get time :)

MAHESH said...

Interestingly, there are not too many krithis of either Thyagaraja or Muthuswamy Dikshithar in Abhogi, which are well known today - one can only think of Manasu Nilpa or Shri Lakshmi Varaham respectively of these composers. Still, this raga is quite in vogue and very popular which is as much a testimony to the raga as to every composer other than the Trinity who have composed in this raga - the persons who immediately comes to mind are Gopalakrishna Bharati and Papanasam Sivan. There are more popular krithis in Sriranjani than Abhogi which are in vogue today.

Musical Scientist said...

Indeed very true Mahesh..Even the sangItha sampradAya pradarshini has a few krithis listed under shrIranjani but rAga AbhOgi has not even mentioned. I dont know why :(.

Shobha said...

Saw this blog only today forwarded by my sister in Fiji ! God Bless her ! I was looking for the lyrics of Sree Lakshmi Varaham and here it is ! I got it also from another site yesterday but the interpretations given here make it far more worth it ! Congratulations ! I shall hereafter regularly visit this blog ! Yes, the simplicity of the song, the simple understandable Sanskrit lyrics make this song, indeed very awesome ! At the same time, the essence of Abhogi is shown in a distilled manner !
Interested !

Musical Scientist said...

Dear Shobha,
Thanks a lot for your kind words of appreciation. I am extremely happy to note that you found this post useful. Please do visit the site regularly and share your thoughts. Thank you.


MAHESH said...

I learnt the varnam Evari Bodhana in Abhogi last year. This is another wonderful composition in Abhogi in that the composer, Shri Patnam, has captured the raga swaroopa very beautifully, through constant emphasis on the phrases rgmd and dmgr in many places. When you learn to sing that varnam, you actually feel confident of producing manodharma in Abhogi, even if you have never sung this raga earlier.