First of all..congrats to my dear friend Aishwarya on successfully graduating from UCLA..Really proud of you Aishu!!! :) and second of all, I am really missing home after reading the reviews of thalaivar's film Sivaji and my inability to watch it in theaters :( :( But nevertheless, yesterday was the most enchanting evening of my life in the US. I was obsessed with mukhAri yesterday..just totally captured by the beauty of the rAga and I was fully experiencing the feelings it stirs within you. Listened to 4 krithis in 3 different languages-"KshInamai" sung by Sikkil Gurucharan, "Endraikku Shiva kripai" and "kAru bAru" rendered by Sanjay and ofcourse the wonderful dIkshithar krithi "pAhi mAm rathnAchala" sung by DKP. What i observed was that mukhari evokes a sense of deep longing for love and people. It reminds you of a lot of things in your life. Sometimes, it evokes happiness too. So, a kind of extremely versatile rAga. And today has been a complete sAveri day..I have drowned myself in the authority the rAga imposes. I am listening to a beautiful "karikaLaba mukham" rendered by GNB(another thalaivar). Meanwhile, I have also been wondering about why would dIkshithar choose rAgAs like Ghanta and punnAgavarALi for his navAvarNams. We all know that he composed in various "rare" rAgas like "nArAyanagowla" and "gurjari" and he wanted to revive these rAgAs. So choosing ghanta could be because he thought this would be the best way to revive it..by giving it that much identity as a kAmbhoji or a bhairavi by composing a navAvarNam in it and thereby obviously displaying his greatness and versatility once again. If someone can think of a better reason, please tell me.
I just have one word to describe the punnAgavarALi navAvarNam..exquisite. dIkshithar could not have chosen a better rAga to compose this navAvarNam because it perfectly conveys and carries the devotion in the central idea of the krithi "kamalAmbikAyAH bhakthA"("I am the devotee of Goddess kamalAmbA"). The krithi, written in sixth case("shashti vibhakthi") deals with the sarvarakshAkara chakra("the one which protects all") in the srI chakra.It consists of the inner set of ten triangles("anthardashAra").
shaNkaryAH shrIkaryAH saNgItarasikAyAH shrI
Dikshithar sings "I am("aham") the devotee("bhaktho") of Goddess kamalAmbika. She, the beloved("aryAH") of shaNkara, is the one who bestows auspiciousness, prosperity("shrIkaryAH") and She is the one who enjoys("rasikA") divine music("sangItha")".
A majestic opening to this krithi which aptly evokes the bhaktha rasa is visible. In these lines dIkshithar seems to request the Goddess to accept his devotion in the form of the divine music he is composing in Her praise. Moving on to the anupallavi,
sumasharekShu kodhaNDa pAshANkusha pANyAH
athimadhuratharavANyAH sharvANyAH kalyANyAH
ramaNIyapunnAgavarALi vijitha veNyAH shrI
Dikshithar starts to beautifully describe the Goddess as "She is the one who possesses flower("suma") arrows("shara"), sugarcane("kodhaNDa"), the noose("pAsha") and the goad ("ankusha") in her four hands("pANyAH"). Her speech("vANyAH") is excessively sweet("athimadhura"). She is the wife("ANyAH") of shivA("sharva") and she is kalyANi, the eternally auspicious one. Her braided hair("veNyAH") is superior to("vijitha") the lovely("ramaNIya") black bees("varALi") that swarm around the puNNaga tree".
The highlight of the anupallavi is the beautiful "slesham"(double meaning) employed by dikshithar to fuse in the rAga mudhra and at the same time use a simile to directly compare the Goddess's beauty to the black bees. It is these small(or large-depends on the way you see it) things and intricate details about dIkshithar's pAndithyam that makes him so special and he yet again proves that he is the undisputed king of sanskrit grammar. As usual, the charanam that follows is intricately woven and it clearly reverberates with that "dIkshithar effect" and leaves you amazed as usual.
dashakalAtmaka vahniswarUpa prakAshAntardashAra-
sarvarakShAkara chakreshvaryAH tri-dashAdhinutha-
kachavarga dvayamaya sarvaj~nAdhi dashashakthi sametha-
mAlinIchakreshvaryAH tridashaviMshadhvarNa garbhiNI kuNDalinyAH
dashamudrA samArAdhitha kauLinyAH
dasharathAdhinutha guruguhajanaka shiva bodhinyAH
dashakaraNa v.rtti marIchi nigarbhayoginyAH shrI
Dikshithar goes into the kundalini yoga mArga and talks about the vedanthic and spiritual aspects governed by the Goddess in the charanam. He sings "She is the one whose essential nature("swarUpa") is the light of the ten-fold("dashakAla") fire("vahni"), manifest("parAkAsha") in the sarvarakShAkara("all protective") chakra consisting of the inner ten triangles("anthardashAra"). She is the goddess governing the mAlinI chakra, worshipped("nutha") by the thirty deities("thridasha") residing in the chakra which has the ten shakthis including sarvAj~nya and others("Adhi") representing the ten alphabets("dvaya maya") of the "ka" and "cha" groups("varga"). She is kundalini, encompassing the 50 letters("thridasha vimshadh varna"). She is Goddess kaulini who is worshipped("samArAdhitha") by the ten("dasha") mudhrAs. She is worshipped("nutha") by Dasharatha and others and is the one who imparts knowledge("bOdhiNyAH") on the nature of Shiva, the father("janaka") of guruguha. She is the one who is hidden("yOgiNyAH") in the manifestations("nigarbha") which constitute the functioning("vr.tti") of the ten senses and motor organs("dashakarana" 5 j~nanendriyAs and 5 karmendriyAs)."
Apart from the kundalini yoga and scriptural references, the beauty of the charanam lies in the exquisite meter dikshithar employs with the sAhithyams falling nicely in place for the rUpaka thAla. Also, one can notice the intelligence of dIkshithar as he refers to rAmAyanA implicitly(or explicitly-depending on how one sees it) in one line when he says She is worshipped by Dasharatha and beautifully brings in the word "janaka" which stands for father here but in rAmAyanA, king janaka is the father of Seetha. On the whole a charming krithi for any artiste to render and ofcourse a real treat for the rasikA.
I am now listening to a beautiful Abhogi varnam played by guitar prasanna which is inspiring me to take my ax and start playing right now :). But before that I would have to shop for groceries to keep me running for the coming week. In my next blog, I will take up my second favourite navAvarnam("first being the Ahiri navAvarnam"), the scintillating sahAnA navAvarnam-perhaps the best sahAnA defining krithi i have heard. Till then, keep singing the praise of the Nadhajyothi and ofcourse his krithis!! Shri gurubhyo namaha.