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!!!