Tuesday, August 21, 2007

sUryamUrtE namO&stu tE

kAshyapEyam mahAdyutim |
tamO&rim sarva-pApaghnam
praNatO&smi divAkaram ||

"My salutations to the sUrya (divAkaram praNata: asmi) , he, who is like the flower of meditation (japA-kusuma-sankAsham), the son of kashyapa (kAshyapEyam (=kashyapasya ayam)), he who is of greatest brilliance and brightness (mahAdyutim), he, who is the enemy of darkness and evil (tama: arim), and he, who is the destroyer of all sins (sarva-pApaghnam)."

The first of the navagraha krithIs is on sUrya, who is the source of all the dynamic energy for the existence of life and the 9 planets and exerts control on all the elements within the solar system. The grandeur and the power of sUrya is seen in innumerable instances in the hindu mythological literature, and his position as the primary sustainer of life on Earth is undisputed. He is also hailed as the incarnation of nArAyaNa, in the form of savitA (Note - savitA is a masculine term and not feminine), to whom, since the vEdic ages, arghya is offered by brahmins thrice a day (during intersticial moments in the period of the day - sandhi) and thru whom prayers to the Goddess gAyatrI are routed, as can be seen in the gAyatrI mantram.

Lord sUrya is also said to be the trimUtris incarnate as described by -
udayE brahmaroopO&yam madhyAhnE tu mahEshwara: |
antyakAle swayam viShNu: trayI moorti: divAkara: ||

"sUrya is a qualitative incarnation of the three forms - brahmA, viShNu and shiva. He is like the creator, brahmA at rise; he is like shiva at noon, with his brilliant rays portraying the cosmic energy of shiva as shall be seen during laya; he is like viShNu at sunset, portraying the poise and calmness of viShNu, and the one whose energy during the day shall maintain "sthithi" till the rise".
Worshiping sUrya is hence equivalent to worshiping these three big-guns.

It is only apt that such a central deity be worshiped and sung in praise of, in the rAga saurAShTram, which is a bhAShAnga janyam (a sub-scalar rAgam permitting alien notes) of sUryakAntam, the 17th mELakarta rAgam, which literally means "Brilliance of the sun". The rAgam saurAShTram however possesses the delicate kaishiki niShAdham, the judicious usage of which perhaps provides a wave of comfort and grace due to sUrya, who is in more than one sense, the cause of existence and sustenance of life as we know it.

dIkShitar sings in praise of sUrya thus -


sUryamUrtE namOstu tE | sundara-ChAyA adhipatE ||

Hey Surya, salutations to thee (namO&stu tE), the one who is espoused to the beautiful ChAyAdEvi ....

{The story of ChAyAdEvi
in Hindu mythology is that one which is commonly told about in the context of the sun's brilliance. ChAyAdEvI is apparently hailed to be the shadow cast away by sUryA's wife, sanjanA (also referred to as sanjnA dEvI, sandhyA dEvI), unable to bear his incendiary rays during his prime in the day. The son of sUrya and ChAyAdEvI is shani. This relation is highlighted in the navagraha krithi on shani - kalpita-ChAyAdEvi-soonum divAkara-tanujam - There is hence very clear reference to ChAyAdEvI being a kalpita (in loose terms), conjured, form of sUryA's wife, sanjnA, and shani being their son.}


kArya-kAraNAtmaka-jagat-|-prakAsha-simharAshyAdhipatE |
Aryavinuta-tEjasPhUrtE ArOgyAdi phalada-keertE ||

.... The one who is a form of kArya (activity/effect) and kAraNa (cause) (kArya-kAraNAtmaka)
(The one who is responsible for the cause as well as effect in nature),

.....The one who provides light and enlightenment (secondary meaning) to the world (jagat-prakAsha)

..... The adhipati of simha rAshi (simha-rAshyAdhipatE) .....

..... The one who is sung in praise of by the erudite (Arya-vinuta), the one with abundant tEjas, (tEjasphUrtE), (tEjas = mystical brilliance, roughly)

The one who bestows good health and all prosperity (ArOgyAdi-phalada-keertE)...
............. To you, sUryA, I salute (sUryamUrtE namO&stu tE).


sArasamitra-mitra bhAnO | sahasrakiraNa-karNasoonO |
kroorapApahara kRushAnO | guruguhamOdita-svabhAnO |
soorijanEDita-sudinamaNE | sOmAdi-graha-shikhAmaNE |
dheerArchita-karmasAKShiNE | divyatara-saptAshwa-rathine |
saurAShTrArNa-mantrAtmanE sauvarNa-swaroopAtmanE |
bhAratIsha-hariharAtmanE bhakti-mukti-vitaraNAtmanE || (sUryamUrtE)

To you, one who sustains lotuses (and other water beings, and is hence their friend - sArasamitra), mitra! (sUrya - not to be misunderstood as friend here), bhAnu! (yet another synonym for sUrya)...........

(The word mitram in sanskrit, which is of neuter gender means a friend. Addressing a friend would hence be hE mitram/mitram, while the term mitra used as a masculine noun form denotes the Sun, and is one of the 12 AdityAs (so called since they are offsprings of aditi - adityA: apatyam pumAn iti Aditya: - Aditya is the one who is male child of aditi).

........... The one who is the source of infinite number of brilliant rays (sahasrakiraNa)

[Note that the term sahasra does not literally carry the meaning "thousand". Such references are common in literature. One classic example may be quoted from puruShasooktam which starts off as "sahasra-sheerShA puruSha: | sahasrAksha: sahasrapAt" - talking about the supreme force of the universe - puruShOttama - the highest and the most perfect amongst all masculine forms - explaining his physical appearance of countless (sahasra) number of heads (sheersha:), eyes (akSha:), limbs (pAt); hence the verbatim meanng is not to be taken)]

....... The one whose son karNa is = the father of karNa (karNasoonu:)

[Here again, the term karNasoonu: can be misleading. It is not to be interpreted as karNasya soonu: = karNa's son (which is in sanskrit grammar, an example of tatpuruSha samAsa in the sixth case (ShaShThI). The interpretation should be karNa: soonu: yasya sa: = One whose son karNa is (which in Sanskrit grammar, would be an example of bahuvreehi samAsa)]

....... The one who can incinerate all evil, all vices and all sins (krUrapaapahara - kRushAnO) .....

[kRushAna: is another synonym for agni, the God of fire in Hindu mythology. Other synonyms would be anala:, pAvaka: etc. The split here would be krUrapaapahara: kRushAna: - a samAsa which "qualifies" the capacity of someone/something - karmadhAraya samAsa]

....... The one who brings happiness to guruguha (Lord subrahmaNya), the one who generates energy in a self-sustained manner (swabhAnu) ..........

[The concept of swabhAnu makes me opine that our ancestors had information regarding the mechanism of generation of solar energy. The fact that the term swabhAnu has been used liberally in Hindu mythology could signify knowledge of nuclear fusion as the source of sustained mass-energy conversion that occurs in the solar core. This is only a conjecture and there is nothing evidential.]

........ The one who is praised by the erudite intelligentsia (sUrijanEDita), one who is noble and virtuous (su) and the jewel of the day (dinamaNE).......

......... The one who governs and exerts control on the moon and other planets and is the jewel in the crown of the solar system (somAdi-graha-shikhAmaNE)
[Note the ambivalence of the statement, depending on how the samAsam is interpreted]

The one who is worshiped by the wise (dheerArchita), the one who stays witness to all karma (karmasAkShiNE)........

The one who rides in a chariot pulled by seven very auspicious horses (divyatara-sapta-ashva-rathinE) ......

The one whose benevolence and grace is essential for a land to be prosperous (saurAShTrArNa-mantrAtmanE) ......

The one who shines and glitters as gold, both physically and also in terms of varchas and tEjas (mystical brilliance and intellectual brilliance) (sauvarNa (gold)-swarUpAtmanE (possessor of the form of)) ......

.......... The one who possesses and adorns the form of the trimUrtIs (bhAratIsha - brahma, hari, hara = shiva) (Ref back to the shlOkam - udayE brahmarUpO&yam etc...)

.......... The one who instills in mortals, devotion and positive energy (bhakti), the one who is responsible for eternal bliss (mukti) ......
............... To you, sUrya, I bow.... (sUryamUrtE namO&stu tE).

There are a few interesting points I wish to make about the metric in the song. The krithi is set to chaturashra jAti dhruva tALam, which is a 14 beat cycle, consisting of 1 4-beat laghu, 1 2-beat dhrutam (flat palm + flipped palm), and then 2 more 4-beat laghu cycles. This is the grandest tALam, in that, for a given jAti (composition of laghus), dhruva tALam is the longest. It is but natural that sUrya, the source of all energy in the solar system, deserves to be sung in praise of in this grand a tALam.

With reference to the 14 beat structure, there is a rather uncanny correlation, as regards the cases employed in the song. The song runs exclusively in the sambOdhana prathamA (case of addressing) (something like a pseudo-1st case) and the chaturthI vibhakti (), the 4th case. Could there be a correlation between cases used (1 and 4) and 14 ? A nice thought, but the conjecture fails to hold for chandram bhaja mAnasa - the krithi on chandra. Yet, nice symmetry :)

To comment on the krithi is impudence. To opine is foolishness. What is in my capacity is to enjoy, live, cherish and get consumed by the krithi and the sheer wholesome brilliance and energy radiated by the song. There's nothing in the song that can go unnoticed and unenjoyed. The immaculate rhythm and meter (For eg., the metric structure employed by Dikshitar in the faster temporal sangatIs in the krithi are, for lack of better vocabulary, majestic), the usage of Sanskrit in terms of the grammatical beauty and structural well-definedness and smoothness, are all the consequence of Dikshitar having let his lyrical and musical flamboyance flow unhindered like the rays of sUryA. Such brilliance, such precision in meter, such a choice of rAgas, such craftsmanship in weaving together the choicest of saurAShTram into an irresistible platter, all this only lets one hungry for more.

And more, shall come, in the form of chandram bhaja mAnasa in asAvEri in the next post on navagraha krithis.

Till then,
kurvannEva iha karmANi |
jijeevishEt shatam samAh ||
Evam tvayI na anyathEtO&sti |
na karma lipyatE narE ||
- (IshAvAsyOpanishat - 1.3)

|| SrI sUryanArAyaNArpaNam astu ||
|| SrI kamalAmbA jayati ||

Shreekrishna (Aug 31st 2007)

navagraha krithIs - Preface

guru: brahmA guru: viShNu: guru: dEvO mahEshwara:
guru: sAkShAt parambrahmA tasmai SrIguravE nama: ||

The navagraha krithis are amongst the most esteemed krithis in carnatic music as well as musicology. In addition, they are great pieces of sanskrit literature and encapsulate almost all of vEdic astrology. Neither these krithis, nor their composer, SrI muthuswAmi dIkShitar, need any introduction. It is just apt to say here that there are very few krithis with the grandeur of the navagraha krithis, and almost none to equal dIkShitar, save the trinity and perhaps, the dAsAs.

This and the next 9+ posts on the navagraha krithis would be a humble and sincere attempt towards achieving 3 tasks.
  • Explanation and substantiation, within the domain of human limitation, of the lyrical and musical extravaganza in the navagraha krithis.
  • Exposition into the musicology with respect to the rAga in which the krithi is composed.
  • (This is more of a selfish motive.) Realization of how much mortal we all are and how incomparable my life and knowledge, if any, is, with respect to the infinitude of the divine art, as presented by dIkShitar towards the moral and spiritual uplift of the ignorant humanity.
I would also like to add here that what I would write about, is that which I've attempted to understand with this "human" brain of mine, by the grace of God and dIkShitar and blessings of my parents and guru, and encouragement of my good friends. By virtue of being a mere minion, what I can write is, but highly limited, with near zero cross-section, relative to what dIkShitar has desired to convey. Additions and comments will most surely necessitate, and are more than welcome.

IshAvAsyam idam sarvam
yat kim cha jagatyAm jagat |
tEna tyaktEna bhU~njIthA:
mA gRudha kasyasvit dhanam ||
IshAvAsyOpanishat (1.1)

SrIguru-preeyatAm preeyatO bhavatu
SrI kamalAmbA jayati

Sunday, August 19, 2007


A peaceful week at work followed by a nice, relaxing weekend. I got a lot of time to spend with music. Last week, I was exclusively in hEmavathi mood. Thanks to the infectious enthusiasm passed on by Aishu, I played and recorded a decent AlApana and was very satisfied with the outcome :). On friday night I had a really nice session with Vijay and shAmbhavi. We discussed some nice rAgams and my love for lathAngi, chakravAham and saraswathi grew to an obsession :). Especially the r R P M R S n d p phrase in saraswathi :) Total range it is. Today has been exclusively a tODi day. I started the day off by listening to koluvamaregatha sung by Sanjay sir. Also listened to some nice cine songs from the film bheemA and a low-budget film called Amirtham. IlayarAjA's compositions in this film are mind-blowing. A beautiful rIthigowLa and an enchanting naTabhairavi filled my saturday. So, musically it has been a nice week :). I am also feeling a lot confident playing the guitar these days as I am able to understand completely what I am playing..some definitely positive steps in the right direction for me :).

Coming to the krithi bAlagOpAla, it is a masterpiece which leaves me a little confused about what aspect of the krithi to praise and rave..whether the beauty of bhairavi or the brilliance of sAhityams or the divine bhakthi flowing through the krithi. I can see that dIkshithar himself is very proud about this composition because he ends the charanam with an authoritative reference to himself as "vainika gAyaka guruguha". Since I was in tODi mood today, I was singing the krithi in tODi :). It was funny but I was able to find some beautiful sanchArAs and prayOgams.

The krithi was composed by dIkshithar in praise of the Lord at the beautiful rAjagOpAlaswamy temple at mannArguDi. This puNya sthalam was visited by dIkshithar and he has further embellished the temple's beauty with 2 other masterpieces..shrI rAjagOpAla in sAveri(perhaps the best sAveri ever) and hiranmayIm lakshmIm(perhaps the best lalithA ever). mannArguDi is called "dakshina dwArakA" and is equivalent to being the birthplace of Lord Krishna. This shrine's specialty is that if you spend 1 night at this sthalam, you get the puNyam equivalent of giving a 1000 cows as dhAnam. Pulasthiyar explains this to bhIshma in the mahAbhAratha as "thathrOshya rAjanImaikAm go-sahasra balam bhavEthi". The famous OothukADu compositions are also in praise of the deity here.

Coming to the krithi itself, the pallavi is as usual a shtud one-liner in which dIkshithar captures the rAga bhAva in its entirety. The simple sAhityam fused with the rAga gives an artiste infinite scope to improvise and show all his/her skill and knowledge in just the pallavi itself.

bAlagOpAla pAlayAshu mAm bhaktavatsala kripAjaladhE hari

"Oh Lord bAlagOpAla, protect("pAlayashu") me("mAm"). You are the ocean of compassion and mercy("kripAjaladhE") guiding all your devotees and children("bhaktavatsala")."

Just a simple start from dIkshithar as usual. I can visualize this as if he is entering the temple and just throwing himself at the feet of the Lord seeking refuge. The kalAnidhi("treasure-house of arts") surrenders to the kripAnidhi("ocean of compassion"). A wonderful " S n S G R" start and when DKP sings this in her baritone, it is just pure bliss. Moving on to the anupallavi(which happens to be yet another of my favorites :))

nIla nIrada sharIra dhIratara nIrajakara nirUpamAnandakara
lIlaya gOpa vEshadhara muraLIdhara shrIdhara dAmOdara vara

dIkshithar starts of the anupallavi by describing the Lord and hence bringing Him right in front of your eyes. He sings "Your body("sharIra") is in dark blue colour("nIla") just like the rain-bearing clouds("nIrada") and you are the wisest("dhIrathara"). Your lotus-like("nIraja") hands("kara") bestow("kara") infinite, supreme and incomparable("nirUpama"-formless) bliss("Ananda"). The one who incarnated for the folklore("lIlAya") disguised as("vEsha dhara") as the cowherd("gOpa"). You are the one holding the flute("muralIdhara") and the one adorned by Goddess Lakshmi("shrIdhara"). You are dAmOdara, the precious one("vara")."

The beauty of the anupallavi according to me is the tight rhythm maintained by the exquisite rhyme scheme of the sAhityams which just fuse into the rAga and the rendu kalai Adi tAlam gets its own beauty in these lines :). dIkshithar once again displays his grammatical acumen and authoriy with metaphors while describing the Lord's body and rhythmic patterns by repeatedly employing kara and dhara. The phrase "muraLIdhara shrIdhara dAmOdara vara" becomes a sort of unintended madhyamakAla sAhityam and the word "dAmOdara" is sung in such a beautiful way which signifies the meaning of the name. dAmOdara(367th name of the Lord in viShNu sahasranAma) has different explanations regarding the origin. Many believe it is a reference to mother yashOdA tying the Lord with a cord("dAma") around his waist("udara"). Spiritualists define the name's origin as "one who can be recognized only through a mind purified("udara") by means of self control("dAma"). The way the rAga bhava is brought out when dAmOdara is sung is as if someone is tying with a rope, completely signifying the action and the name. What can we say..life has to go on and hence I move on to the charanam :)

chAnUra mallahara nipuNathara charana nihata shakaTAsura murahara
mAnikya makuTa hAravalayadhara mathebha kumba bhEdana patutara
vANIsha architha pIthAmbaradhara vaijayanthi vanamAladhara
ANavAdi vijaya mAnasakara apahata kamsAsura nathabUsura
drONakarna duryOdhanAdhihara draupadI mAna samrakshanakara
vainika gAyaka guruguha nutha pura vairivihita gOpikA manOhara

dIkshithar portrays the ugra face of the Lord in the first lines of the charanam by describing him as "the one who skillfully("nipuNathara") destroyed("hara") chAnUra and malla, the one who destroyed shakaTAsura with his foot("charana nihata") and the one who killed mura." dIkshithar then describes the Lord's beauty as "the one who is adorned by("dhara") by a crown("makuTa") studded with ruby("mAnikya"), necklace("hAra") and bracelet("valaya")". Then dIkshithar beautifully brings in the divine aspect of the Lord which every devotee seeks..the Lord as the end and means to the search of the ultimate truth, by singing "He is adept in breaking open("bhedana") the pot-like head("patutara") and liberating the mind of the intoxicated("mattebha") elephant("kumbha")." Here dIkshithar is referring to the omni-pervading mAyA in this world and the Lord reveals the truth to the mind and unveils a human's delusion. dIkshithar continues "He is worshipped("archita") by Goddess Saraswathi("vANI") and he is adorned by the yellow,silky veil("pIthAmbara") and the victorious garland of forest flowers("vaijayanthi vana mAla"). He is the embodiment("AkAra") of the divine mind("mAnasa") that conquers("vijaya") arrogance("ANava") and other bad thoughts("Adi"). He is the one who destroyed("apahara") demons like kamsa and he is the one who is worshipped("nuta") by all the kings and celestials("bhUsura")."

The madhyamakAla sAhityam is a real gem which of taut sAhityams fused in a mellifluous bhairavi. It goes like "He is one who killed("hara") drona, karna and duryOdhana. He is the one who saved("samrakshana") the honour("mAna") of draupadi. He is praised and worshipped("nuta") by all the veena players("vainika"), singers("gAyaka") and Lord guruguha. He is equally disposed("vihita") with friends and foes("vairi") alike and he is the heartthrob("manOhara") of all the gOpikAs."

The charanam, filled with prAsam, bhakthi and vEdAnta, according to me could have very well been a small krithi with a samAshTi charanam on its own. I have even heard that there is a version in which there are 2 more lines in this krithi which was found by Ambi dIkshithar in the later years and added to the krithi's charanam but by then the version which is sung now had become popular. The TNS and DKP versions of this krithi once again present some interestingly different facets of the krithi and both are beautiful in their own ways.

Due to my current obsession with hEmavathi and chakravAham, I will take up two cute, kutti krithis of the nAdhajyothi in my next blog- "shrI kAnthimatIm" and "gajAnanayutham"( an enchanting vegavAhini). In less than 2 weeks I will be meeting some of my most wonderful and cherished friends in LA- aishu, vijay and SK and ofcourse we will have some nice live sessions :) :). I also will get to go to the self-realization fellowship temple :). My boss had gone there for the past 2 weeks and he has bought me this wonderful gift- A 2 volume epic called "God Talks with Arjuna" in which shrI paramahansa yOgAnandA beautifully explains the bhagavad gIta :). The next few weeks are going to be filled with bliss for body, mind and soul :) and I cant wait. Wishing you all a very happy, fun-filled week ahead too. Take care, God bless and always remember "shrI kamalAmbA jayathi"!! :)

Monday, August 13, 2007


I cannot believe it has been 2 years since I came to the US. I landed at Detroit on the 11th of August with all those "great american dreams" which most of the people who come to the US have. Looking back over the past 2 years, professionally and academically, it might not have been the best choice. But as a person and a human being, I have matured a lot(living alone some 10000 miles from home teaches you a lot responsibility and makes you realize what all you took for granted back home). And ofcourse, by far the biggest gains added to my life after coming to the US are carnatic music(dIkshithar in specific-food for mind and soul) and cooking(my culinary skills have reached a peak now..chief chef sai-food for the body :)). I have gained so many wonderful friends, brothers, sisters and other relationships which will stay with me forever making my life even more wonderful :).

The past week and weekend have been beautiful for me. It was a really nice week at work and I learnt a lot. So, professionally I was really happy. And then, the musical side of me also blossomed the past week. I have been singing a lot these days and I have started feeling that I am slowly getting a grip over my voice. I know what I am singing now :). The weekend has been really relaxing. On Saturday morning, I had this mega session with shambhavi. She started the day off with a beautiful kalyANi followed by thyagu's gem "nidhichAla sukhama" which has motivated me to handle thyagu's krithis from now on too. :). I gave a mini lec-dem for her discussing fine points about a lot of dIkshithar krithis. This gave me a wonderful opportunity to sing and play for 2.5 hours and ofcourse talk about the one thing I love, the genius who occupies my thoughts 24x7 these days. I am usually a quiet guy but dIkshithar is one topic on which I would love to talk till I drop dead.

I bought an acoustic guitar on ebay for 1 dollar :). It sounds pretty good and I am having a nice time seasoning it. Further, I have added another contributor to this blog, my good friend shreekrishna a.k.a, S.K. For me, he has been one of those God-sent people in my life who has opened my eyes and drowned me in this sAgara of bliss :). He is much, much more qualified than me to discuss about carnatic music in general and dIkshithar in particular. We are all going to have a wonderful time reading some of his posts. He will take up the Navagraha krithis. Thanks a lot S.K..It is an honour and pleasure to share this blogspace with you :) shrI gurubhyo namah :)

Coming to the krithi, ranganAyakam is a masterpiece composed by dIkshithar to show to the world how a beautiful rAgA like nAyaki is to be handled. Trust me, if you learn this krithi properly and sing it, you will never be confused about nAyaki and darbAr. It will be etched in your mind..period. ranganAyakam is one of the shrIranga pancharathna krithis composed by the nAdhajyothi. The other 4 krithis are "shrI ranganAthAya(danyAsi)", the famous "rangapuravihAra(brindAvana sArangA)", "shrI ranganAtham(pUrnachandrikA)" and the majestic "shrI bhArgavI(mangaLa kaishiki)"..all real gems. nAyaki is a very, very soft rAgA and dIkshithar beautifully uses it to portray the soft, delicate side of ranganAthaswAmy :). The essence of the rAga is captured in its entirety in the pallavi itself. A single line of sAhityam which melts the heart of a rasikA and makes the brain of the performing artiste to work hard :). It is a real charm to hear DKP's version of the krithi. The pallavi goes like,

ranganAyakam bhAvayEham shrI ranganAyakI samEtham shrI

The sukha and soukhyam aspect of music resides in these lines. Just amazing and I cant describe in better words..some things are to be experienced and I leave it there. dIkshithar sings "I meditate("bhAvayEham") on the Lord ranganAyaka(the hero of shrIrangam), who is accompanied on the side("samEtham") by the auspicious ranganAyakI thAyAr."

These lines bring the beautiful shrine and the sannidhi right in front of your eyes..aahaa..pure bliss. The " R P M P R" start for the krithi is just too beautiful and when it comes to the "P D" phrase in nAyakI, you are literally in tears with scintillations all over your body. How can someone fuse a rAga mudhra so beautifully without spoiling the musical aspect or the sAhityam aspect of the krithi. He is a genius. The smooth flow of the krithi is just amazing and the feelings induced are just indescribable. The looping type of sAhityam makes the entire krithi so much more tight and beautiful. I am including SK's thoughts here. Quoting SK "
RanganAyakam is one song that is indeed very very close to my heart. To me, the slow enchanting melody of nAyaki resonates with the serene waves of the kAvEri who is washing the lord's feet eternally, as he relaxes with grandeur. She is just so fortunate !!

I would like to add to the content, the aptness of the choice of nAyaki for the song. Musicologically, nAyaki is very very devoid of brighams and is a rAga which flows ever so beautifully. Reminds me of the small ripples on kAvEri again. It is that rAga which is most serene to capture the "ananthashayana" posture of SrI ranganAtha, which in my opinion, portrays the "sthithi" of the universe. There is no better rAga to capture the infinite beauty in even the sleeping posture of God, wherein he just "is", than nAyaki, which is so ethereally beautifully, again by just "being"." What a beautiful way to put it SK..amazing pa!!

Reluctantly I move on to the anupallavi,

angaja tAtamanantham athItham
ajendrAdhya amaranutham sathatham
utthuNga vihaNga turaNgam
kripApANgam ramAntharangam shrI

dIkshithar beautifully describes the Lord in the anupallavi as "He is the father("tAtam") of cupid("angaja"). He is the infinite and endless one("anantham") and the rare one who transcends everything("athItham"). He is praised("nutham") by the immortal celestials("amara") like Lord Indra("ajendra") and others. He is the eternal one("sathatham"). He has the majestic, superior bird("utthuNga vihaNga"), Garuda, for his vAhanam("turaNgam") and his eyes("pAngam") are filled with compassion and mercy("kripA"). He is the innermost, the closest to the heart("antharangam") of ramA(Goddess Lakshmi)."

The anupallavi is a treat for a musician to sing. It is slow and nAyaki just takes complete shape. The rendu kalai Adi tAlam is a charm for the percussionist to play and ofcourse it is a real treat for the rasikA..you can take my word for it :) :). In the anupallavi, dIkshithar brings in folk lore and Hindu mythology as usual. He refers to the Lord as the father of manmatha. shrI ranganAthar is supposed to be much more beautiful than manmatha and he gave cupid a part of his beauty to take this form. Time stops at "anantham" for me. An epic charanam follows,

pranavakAra divya vimAnam prahlAdAdi bhakthAbhimAnam
ganapathi samAna vishvaksEnam gaja turaga padAdhi senam
dinamanikulabhava rAghava-arAdhanam mAmaka videhamukthi sAdhanam
maNimaya sadhanam shashi vadhanam phanipathi shayanam padma nayanam
aganitha suguna gananatha vibhIshanam ganatharakoustubha maNi vibhUshanam
gunijanakritha vedapArAyanam guruguhamudhitha nArAyanam shrI

The charanam is a beautiful monster and makes the krithi a complete epic. It is filled with purAnam and yogic allusions. dIkshithar sings " The Lord's divine vehicle("divya vimAnam") is in the form of("AkAra") the pranava mantra". This pranava mantra reference is from the eleventh canto of the epic called bhAgavatham(click here for the canto) in which the Lord himself describes on how to meditate upon Lord Vishnu for moksham. The pranava mantra is a vehicle which the yogi uses to visualize and ultimately reach the Lord. dIkshithar continues "He is respected and revered("abhimAnam") by devotees("bhaktha") like prahlAdA. Similar("samAna") to how Lord Ganapathi is the primary deity for shivA, vishwaksEna is for Lord ranganAtha. His army("sEnam") consists of elephants("gaja"), horses("turagam") and infantry("padhAdhi"). He is worshipped("ArAdhanam") by Lord rAghava who is born of the solar dynasty("dinamaNi") race("kula"). He is my source and path("mAmaka") for attaining("sAdhanam") salvation("mukthi"). His abode("sadhanam") is filled with gems("maNimaya") and his face("vadhanam") is beautiful like the moon("shashi"). He rests("shayanam") in the serpent bed("phanipathi") and his eyes("nayanam") are like lotus("padma"). He is worshipped by vibhIshana, one who possesses infinite("aganitha") good("suguna") virtues("gananatha"). He is ornamented by("vibhUshanam") countless("ganathara") kausthuba gems("maNi"). His ardent devotees("gunijana") keep reciting and propagate("pArAyanam") the vedAs. He is sriman nArayaNa, the eternal delight("mudhitham") of guruguha".

It is just one amazing charanam and I am lost..I dont know where to start and what to talk about now :). The first half of the charanam is completely a yogi's perspective of the Lord and shows the yOgi in dIkshithar. The next half is an ardent bhaktha's perspective describing the Lord's beauty and compassion. dIkshithar displays his mastery of the sanksrit language yet again with usage of similar sounding words, a sort of alliteration- like, vishwaksEnam and sEnam, sAdhanam and sadhanam, etc. On the whole, it is yet another charanam packed with punch and a beautiful krithi that is sure to be added to any rasikA's top krithis list.

Since this post has already become too long, I will stop my rambling here :). I will take up the beautiful bhairavi krithi "bAlagOpAla" next. It is one of my personal favourites and I just love the krithi :). I listen to DKP's and TNS's versions of the krithi..simply mind-blowing and entirely different styles of rendering the same krithi. I guess S.K. will take up the navagraha krithis and post them as and when he finds time. Have a wonderful week ahead people. A proud dIkshithar dAsa signs off!! :) :)

Monday, August 6, 2007

soundararAjam AshrayE-brindAvana sArangA

I have been humming brindAvana sArangA for the past few days and I am in the best mood to write about this wonderful krithi. The week was pretty good at work. It was not hectic and at the same time I was not bored either. I booked tickets to go to Los Angeles for the Labor day weekend. I am extremely elated as I am finally going to meet some wonderful friends of mine at LA..Aishu, Vijay and SK..here i come :)..we will put live sessions finally!!! I am also happy that after 2 years in the US, I am at last going to the beautiful west coast. I would also get a chance to see the exquisite Self-Realization Fellowship temple at LA. Yesterday I had good sessions with Ramaa and shAmbhavi and that made my day a memorable one. And I also finally had the pleasure of hearing Aparna's voice for the first time :)..we have been chatting for more than a year now.

Now before I start off with this krithi, I would like to share some interesting correlations to recent happenings. This krithi adds a new dimension to the already multi-faceted dIkshithar..one of a scientologist :). The disastrous tsunami that hit the coramandel coast on 26th december, 2004 has a unique correlation to dIkshithar and tyAgarAjA. They both were known to have visited nAgapattinam, a temple town along the coast, which was one of the towns that was the hardest hit by the tsunami. In tyAgarAjA's beautiful krithi in sAveri, "karmamE balavanda mAyA", he sings "vAridi madi garvinchi yIvasudhaku tA rAnEnanchi ninnu" which means "when the sea spurred by arrogance, threatened to attack the land, you humbled his onslaught". And the great nAdhajyothi, in this krithi "soundararAjam AshrayE" sings "ambudhi garva nigraham" which means "suppressed the pride of the ocean". I dont know whether there was a similar tsunami in the late 1700's or early 1800's(highly unlikely), but both the geniuses have talked about the mighty ocean threatening the town..maybe there were huge cyclones. Nevertheless, an interesting info and I thought I will share it with you all :)

Going to the krithi itself, as I mentioned it was composed at the soundararAja perumAl swamy temple at nAgapattinam in the praise of Lord SoundararAja. The krithi is heavily loaded, capturing the expanse of this rAgA in its entirety. The pallavi starts off with a wonderful R M R S phrase and the rendu kalai rUpakam gets its beauty in this krithi. Every word falls beautifully in the samam and it is a real treat to sing. Please visit http://tributes.sangeethapriya.org/dikshithar to listen to DKP's and Seshu's versions of this krithi. The rich gait is fully displayed by DKP's rendition and Seshu in his usual style presents a beautiful brindAvana sArangA including the kAkaLi nishAdham in his rendition and ofcourse the beautiful kalpanaswaras at the end of his rendition are just mind blowing.(typical seshu :))..real treats for the rasika.

SoundararAjam AshrayE gaja brindAvana sarAngA varadharAjam

DIkshithar sings "I seek the refuge("AshrayE") in Lord SoundararAja, the one who protected Lord Gajendra("gaja") in the beautiful forest("brindAvana") of elephants("sAranga") and the one who is the most superior("rAjam") in the bestowing boons("varadha")."

I would say it is one of the most toughest pallavis to sing. Though it may look like just one single line, the infinite scope with each word having so many sangathis and the single line running for 2 octaves makes the pallavi really tough to sing. It may take 3 to 5 minutes to sing all the different prayOgams for the pallavi which otherwise tends to leave a feeling of incompleteness. The repeated S N phrase at rAjam is just too good and it feels as if time stops there, giving a dhrupad effect of this hindustAni rAga :). Ofcourse, needless to say, dIkshithar once again shows his grammatical brilliance by beautifully bringing in the rAga mudhra in the very first lines of the krithi. If the pallavi doesnt give you the kicks, which I am sure is not the case, wait for the beautiful anupallavi and charanam that follow.

Nanda nandana rAjam nAgapattana rAjam
sundarI ramArAjam suravinuta mahi rAjam
mandasmitamukhAmbujam mandaradara karAmbujam
nandakaranayanAmbujam sundaratara padAmbujam

DIkshithar describes the Lord as "He is the dear son("nandana") of nanda and the ruler("rAjam") of nAgapattinam." He continues as "He is the husband("rAjam") of he beautiful("sundarI") Goddess Lakshmi("ramA"). He is the one worshipped("vinuta") by all the Gods("sura") and the master("rAjam") of the universe("mahi")." In the madhyamakAla sahityam (one of my favourites), dIkshithar beautifully describes the Lord as "The one whose lotus-like face("mukhAmbujam") is lit with smiles("mandhasmitha") and the one whose lotus hands("karAmbujam") holds("dhara") the mandara mountains. The one whose lotus-like eyes("nayanAmbujam") gives happiness and pleasure("nandakara") to everyone and the one who possesses beautiful("sundarathara") lotus-like feet("padAmbujam")."

An exquisite anupallavi..isnt it :). dIkshithar repeatedly uses the word rAjam in the first two lines employing the different meanings of the same word such as husband, ruler, superior etc. He then follows a similar pattern in the madhyamakAla sAhityam comparing the face, hands, eyes and feet of the Lord to the lotus flower and hence portrays Him as a very soft and delicate God :). The P M S N P M R M P phrase at "mandhasmithamukhAmbujam" is too good :). Simple and beautiful anupallavi is followed by a sweet and rich charanam.
shambhara vairi janakam sannuta shukha shounakam
ambarIshAdi viditham anAdhi guruguha muditham
ambujAsanAdi nutham amareshAdhi sannutam
ambudhi garva nigraham anritha jada dukhApaham
kambu vidambana kaNTam khaNDI kritha dashakaNTam
thumburunutha shrIkaNTam durithApaha vaikuNTam

DIkshithar as usual fills the charanam with lots of references and metaphors. He sings about the Lord as "the father("janakam") of the enemy("vairi") of Demon Sambhara ("shambhara")" referring to the incident in which Lord Krishna's son, Pradhyumna was kidnapped by SambharAsura and later vanquished by Pradhyumna himself. He continues to describe the Lord as " He is worshipped("sannuta") by shukha and sage shaunakha. He protects("viditham") devotees like ambarIsha, etc. and he epitomizes the eternal("anAdhi") joy("muditham") of guruguha. He is worshipped("nutham") by Lord Brahma, the one who is seated on the Lotus("ambujAsana") and others("Adi"). He is praised("sannutam") by Lord Indra("amaresha") and other celestials. He suppressed("nigraha") the pride("garva") of the ocean("ambudhi") and he is the destroyer("apaham") of all miseries("dukha") arising out of falsehood("anrutha") and ignorance("jada")." In the madhyamakAla sahityam, he starts of by describing His beauty as "the one whose beautiful neck("kaNTam") equals the beauty of a conch("kambu vidambana")". He portrays the fearsome face of the Lord when he says "he destroyed("kaNDikritha")the ten headed("dashakaNTam") rAvanA." dIkshithar finishes the charanam by singing "He is Lord shrIkaNTa, the one praised("nutha") by sage tumburu. He removes("apaha") all sorrows("duritha") and resides in vaikuNTam."

Ever since I was a kid, brindAvana sArangA has fascinated me. I first heard the rAgA in the form of the mahAbhAratha teleserial's title song and theme music. Ofcourse the other dIkshithar krithi "rangapuravihArA" is another masterpiece :) and when MSS sings it with all that devotion, I have seen people crying. A beautiful rAga completely portrayed and further beautified in this wonderful dIkshithar krithi. Though it is supposed to be a hindusthAni raga, dIkshithar has handled it so beautifully(especially with the extensive usage of the kaishiki nishAdham") that one doesnt get that feeling at all. He has made it completely carnatic. :). This will remain one of my all time favourite krithis forever.

I will take up the brilliant ranganAyakam composed in nAyaki next. That krithi does something to me each time I listen to it. The slow, subtle feel brought in each word of the krithi is just amazing..yet another gem from the great dIkshithar :)Thalaivar that he is..he never fails to satiate my hunger for rich, pure carnatic music :). shrI gurubyo namaha indeed!!