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!! :) :)