Monday, October 8, 2007

hiraNmayIm lakshmIm-Lalitha

It has been really long since I blogged :(. The past few weeks were a little hectic at work and I used to feel really tired after coming home. Sangeethapriya moved all the files from sangeethamshare and hence I had to work on the dIkshithar website and had to do some major coding too..hence the hiatus :(. But we had some really beautiful music sessions over the past two weeks. The dIkshithar brigade continued to drown me in the ocean of music. I am grateful to SK for singing some really rare krithis like "rAmE bharathapAlita"(jyOthi) and "shrI vaTukanAtha"(dEvakriya). He continues to amaze me with his immense knowledge, showcasing some special dIkshithar krithis. The past few weeks have been a little tough for me to endure as I find myself getting homesick very often these days :(. When I listen to more music, eat good food etc, I start missing home even more badly :(. Some wonderful friends help me maintain my sanity.

However, all this homesickness as helped me surrender myself to God even more. I am finding my meditative powers are increasing everyday and I am able to experience some beautiful and enlightening visions these days. Sunday mornings are extremely serene and after the weekend meditation sessions at the Self-Realization Fellowship, I find myself completely recharged and rejuvenated to face yet another grueling week. God answers all my doubts, prayers, everything. For example, unable to listen to my own incompetent vocal chords singing the gems of dIkshithar, I decided that I will henceforth stop singing. And so I did not sing in the last 2 weeks of september. However, music was always running in my mind and my soul. It became too much to heart and soul wanted to sing but my mind told me otherwise. And so I meditated and asked God what I should do. And he answered the very next sunday at the SRF meditation center. In the lecture that day, the reader quoted the beautiful words of Paramahansa Yogananda-"God does not listen to the tonal quality of your voice. He listens to the divine vibrations of love emanating from your soul". A few drops of tears rolled down my cheeks..the feelings were overpowering. My Guru had answered and cleared all my doubts in just one simple sentence. shrI gurubhyO nama:.That is the power of meditation. Anyway..I will now take up the beautiful krithi "hiraNmayIm LakshmIm" in rAgA lalithA.

Ever since the april fools' day session of the dIkshithar brigade, the session that well and truly brought us closer together, lalithA has become one of those rAgAs which are extremely close to my heart, for, in that session, I cried for the first time listening to SK's rendition of "agasthIshwaram", yet another masterpiece of Lord dIkshithar. I have always thought of lalithA as a rAgA very close to vasantA and all the sangathis that used to run in my mind were entirely based on this perception. However, my discussion with SK the other day proved to be a revelation when he showed me how the rAga is beautifully associated with its mother, mAyAmALavagowLa. Though vasantA and lalithA are janya rAgAs of MMG, somehow when SK sang lalithA after MMG and explained to me, it struck a new bell and revealed some beautiful phrases to me..thanks pa SK. The mandira stAyi madhyamam of lalithA never fails to stir my soul and make my tear buds wet. Ok ok..enough rambling..moving on to the krithi now. As I had mentioned in my blog on "bAlagOpAla", this krithi was composed at the rAjagOpAlaswamy temple in mannArdguDi. The pallavi goes like:

hiraNmayIm lakshmIm sadA bhajAmi
hInamAnavAshrayam tyajAmi
dIkshithar sings "I forever("sadA") worship("bhajAmi") the golden("hiraNmayIm") Goddess, Goddess Lakshmi and renounced("tyajAmi") the association of("Ashrayam") of mean, materialistic persons("hIna"+"mAnava")."

At first glance, the pallavi looks so simple. However, a slightly deeper look reveals the beautiful message dIkshithar wants to convey in these opening lines. He says that he worships Goddess Lakshmi, the giver of wealth but he stays away from rich people who are materialistic. It is a suggestion of how the mind of a righteous man should worship and long for the grace of bask in the sunlight of the permanent, true and ever-new bliss which God gives and not be merely satisfied with the earthly things and sensual pleasures of this mAya we are all living. From a musical point of view, the grandeur characteristic of all dIkshithar krithis is once again very evident in these few lines itself. The scope for sangathis and improvisations are immense. I love the "D M G R" start at "hiraNmayIm" makes you stop whatever you are doing and totally grabs your attention and thoughts. Moving on to the anupallavi,

chiratara sampatpradAm kshIrAmbudi tanayAm
harivaksha sthalAlayAm hariNIm charana kisalayAm
karakamaladhruta kuvalayAm marakatha maNivaLayAm
dIkshithar describes the compassionate, merciful Goddess as "She bestows("pradAm") her devotees with uncountable and imperishable("chiratara") wealth and treasure("sampath")". Now dIkshitar starts to describe the physical beauty of the Goddess. He sings "She is the daughter("tanaya") of the ocean("ambudi") of milk("kshIra"). She resides("AlayAm") in the heart("vakshasthala") of Lord Hari. She is the pure one("hariNI") and her feet("charanam") are like tender leaves("kisalayAm"). She possesses("dhruta") in her Lotus-like hands("karakamala"), a blue lotus("kuvalayAm"). She is adorned by bangles("vaLayAm") studded with emeralds("marakatha maNi").

dIkshithar starts the anupallavi with the beautiful "G M M D" phrase at "chiratara" and beautifully builds up to the "D S N D" phrase at "kshIrAmbudhi". Even before you notice it, the tempo smoothly shifts to madhyamakAla dIkshithar beautifully incorporates 4 shadjamams at "harivakshasthala". The madhyamakAla sAhityam is an absolute treat. I love the "M G R S, R G R S, R G M" ending at "marakatha maNi vaLayAm". It beautifully fuses into "hiraNmayIm". It is at instances like these that one wants to give up this mundane life and surrender. Notice how dIkshithar employs two different words for lotus-kamala and kuvalaya in the same word and brings in the alliteration. Also notice the amazing prAsam in the entire anupallavi with each word ending with "yAm". Yet another display of genius. And he is not done yet..infact, he does so much arAjagam with the charanam that it consumes you and leaves you yearning for more.

shwEta dwIpa vAsinIm shrI kamalAmbikAm parAm
bhUtha bhavya vilAsinIm bhUsura pUjitAm varAm
mAtaramAbja mAlinIm mAnikya Abharana dharAm
gItavAdhya vinOdinIm girijAntAm indirAm..(san-)
shItha kiraNa nibha vadanAm shrita chintAmaNi sadanAm
pIthavasanAm guruguha mAdhula kAnthAm lalithAm
dIkshithar describes the Goddess as "the one who lives("vAsinIm") in the white lotus("shwEta dwIpa"). She is the supreme, eternal spirit("parAm"), Goddess kamalAmbA. She makes both the past("bhUtha") and future("bhavya") resplendent("vilAsinIm"). She is worshipped("pUjita") by celestials("bhUsura") and blesses the righteous people("varAm"). The divine mother("mAtaram") is ornamented("Abarana dharAm") with garlands of lotus("Abja") and other precious stones("mAnikya"). She is mAlinI, the creator of all garlands. She rejoices("vinOdinIm") in the music from the vocal chords("san-gIta") and from instruments("vAdhya"). She is Goddess Indira who enjoys the company of girijA(pArvathi), the daughter of the mountain God himavAn. Her delicate face("vadanAm") resembles("nibha") the soft rays of moonlight("kshIta kiraNa"). She is chintAmaNi(meaning of this word explained(rather attempt to be explained) a few lines below) for the her devotees("shrita-Ashrita jana"). She is adorned with yellow("pItha") silk robe("vasanAm"). She is the consort("kAnthAm") of Lord VishNu, the maternal uncle("mAdhula") of Lord guruguha. And She is the elegant one("lalithAm").

As I mentioned earlier, the charanam totally usurps the listener and leaves the rasika in a state of sublimity and serenity. dIkshithar describes the Goddess as chintAmaNi. chintAmaNi is a special gem which is supposed to be decorating the floor of vaikunTa. It is also a very powerful stone which is supposed to have the ability to grant anything one desires. And so, dIkshithar aptly uses the word to describe the Goddess as the wish-yielding gem for all Her devotees. The last line of the charanam is just too amazing. He beautifully brings in both the composer's mudra as well as the rAga mudhra. dIkshithar cleverly uses the fact that Lord vishNu is the uncle of kArthikEya and brings in the mudra effortlessly. But definitely, dIkshithar finishes the charanam with a bang when he describes the Goddess as lalithA and hence fusing the rAga mudhra.

Musically, the "S R S S S" start to the charanam is absolutely sedate and the "N S R S, R G G M" phrase at "shrI kamalAmbikAm parAm" is soul-stirring. The "S N D M D N" phrase at vinOdinIm is beauty personified and so is the "n s R G M; D M D N S" phrase at "shrita chintAmaNi sadanAm".

As usual, I am just lost and helpless and I am not able to point pout a single aspect of beauty in this krithi. It is a gem studded with beautiful, precious stones in the form of amazing sAhityams and laced together with bhakthi and prAsam. The one thing evident throughout the krithi is the scholarly working of the mind of a genius. We have all heard of hitting 2 birds with one stone. dIkshithar seems to always extend this theory and he hits atleast 5 or 6 birds with just a small pebble. He once again proves that he is a phenomenon. If the question "Was dIksithar a genius?", a math problem, using any method(proof by theory, proof by contradiction, etc..), anyone will come to the only conclusion, the universal truth that this was the avatAram of music itself which descended in flesh to this world. Whatever little God has given me, even that I totally surrender..sarva samarpaNam to dIkshithar. I will stop my ramblings here as I have to go and cook dinner now.

I am listening to an amazing kAmbOji AlApana sung by SK now..beautiful. God bless you SK on your star birthday. I love october :) yippeee!! After listening to Hari playing the last 2 lines of "amba nIlAyatAkshi" last week, I totally gave up. To continue on the dEvi krithis theme, I will hence take up this beautiful krithi in nIlAmbari in my next post. And hopefully I will find time to post it this weekend. Happy navarAtri everyone. Have a wonderful time..I am missing home :(. Give me strength Oh divine mother, shrI kamalAmbA jayathi!!!