Saturday, November 3, 2007


First of all, I want to confess that I have become extremely lazy these days. :(. Work has been a little busy too but that is no excuse for not blogging :(. The past few weeks have been pretty peaceful and enlightening. Thanks to my dear friend SK, I was exposed to two beautiful krithis of dIkshithar. shrI suganthi kuntaLAmbikE in kuntaLam(61st mEla) is an intriguing composition with some absolutely blissful sangathis. The other krithi, shrI mAtA in bEgaDA totally swept me off my feet and made me lose sleep over it for a week. I thought that tyAgarAjAya namastE was the best bEgaDA but this krithi is just mind-blowing. dIkshithar never ceases to seize me with his brilliance. :).

Yesterday evening, SK re-introduced mAnji to me by singing it in was just too much to take and we both gave up on life. The shades of Ahiri when mAnji is sung in madhyamam is just beautiful and makes life worth living :). To add to what was already an amazing day, I listened to yet another beautiful dIkshithar composition in shrIranjani-"bAlAmbikayA kaTAkshitOham"..the chittaswaram in this krithi just made my world stop for a few seconds..amazing stuff from thalaivar. The swarams pattern reminded me of some typical lAlgudi varnams. If you have not listened to this krithi, I suggest that you do it right away even before you continue reading this post.

I was going to blog about ambA nIlAyatAkshi but SK told me that while we are at lalitA, why not finish off agastIshwaram. This beautiful krithi in lalitA is extremely close to SK's and my heart. The emotions evoked by this krithi are soul-stirring and the first time I heard SK's second sangathi at jagajIvEshAkAram in the anupallavi, tears just rolled down my cheeks and I started crying like a kid. The words, the sangathi, the emotions..just too much to take. This krithi was composed by dIkshithar at tiruvArUr praising agastIshwara(Lord Shiva), appropriately named so because He was worshipped ardently by sage agasthya. The pallavi is a simple salutation to the Lord which goes like:

agastIshwaram ArAdhayEham haram saccidAnanda vallIsham

dIkshithar sings "I salute and worship("ArAdhaya:+aham") Lord agastIshwara. He is Hara, the destroyer and He is the husband of sundaravalli("vallIsham")". This can also be interpreted as "the greatest epitome("vallIsham") of truth-consciousness and bliss("sat+chit+Ananda") in this world." The word vallIsham has many interpretations. vallI in general means creeper. Hence, the Lord can also be visualized as the divine creeper of satchitAnanda. vallI in the general can also be used to refer to the earth. So vallIsha could also be interpreted as "Lord of the earth".

The simple opening lines of the pallavi as usual can be filled with exquisite beauty and dumbfounding sangathis and there have been times when have found SK's rendition of the pallavi alone to be a comprehensive lalitA. As I mentioned before, the feelings evoked are extremely solemn and hair-raising. It sets up a nice platform on which the anupallavi and the charanam are built by dIkshithar with pristine quality which takes a rasika to that pinnacle of ecstasy.

jagajjIvEshAkaram jananavilayakaram nagajAhlAdakaram nandIsham shaHNkaram

dIkshithar starts off by describing the Lord as "The embodiment("AkAram") and ruler of all the life on this earth("jagajjIvEsha")." Now this is where the brilliance of dIkshithar's grammar comes into play. He does a complete volteface when he describes the Lord as "the one who is responsible for the dissolution("vilayakaram") of life("janana")" in the very same line. dIkshithar keeps reiterating the fact that Lord Shiva holds an important key to the gateway of life and death and by worshipping Him, we can choose to end this cycle of birth and death. He describes the Lord as "the one who delights and pleases("hlAdakara") the one born of the mountain("nagajA"-referring to Goddess pArvathi as the daughter of himavAn, the mountain God)."

dIkshithar then uses two beautiful and carefully chosen words to describe the Lord. He describes Him as "nandIsha". We all know that nandI, the bull is the primary attendant of shivA and hence Lord shivA is addressed as the ruler of nandI. nandI also literally translates to joy, happiness and welfare and hence Lord Shiva is beautifully described as the Lord of all these beautiful things which a human soul wants to experience. dIkshithar then uses the word shankara to directly address the Lord. Lord Shiva is the dispeller("hara") of all our doubts("shanka") and hence the name. He is also sankata haran, the destroyer of all our miseries and difficulties.

dIkshithar uses the word shankaram as a beautiful bridge between the anupallavi and the pallavi of the krithi. This reminds me of a similar set-up in the beautiful dEvagAndAri krithi, vadAnyEshwaram when he uses shankaram at the end of charanam to beautifully loop back to the pallavi. dIkshithar is God..thats all. As I mentioned earlier, the sangathis SK sings at "jagajjIvEshAkAram" is just amazing and absolutely soul-stirring. The emotions are too powerful and overwhelming. As if the araajagam is not enough, dIkshithar continues to take the krithi to a whole new level in the charanam.
jalanidhipAnArttham kalashajEnArchitham
jalajanAbhAdinutham jAhnavIdaram satatam
kalikalmashApaham kamanIyavigraham
sulalitaguruguhajanakam rakshitadhanikam
jalaruhAptachandrAgnidR.sham jaTAjUTamIshAdrIsham
valaripuvanditajagadIsham vAnchithArthadAyakamanisham

Let me take a breath before the charanam..too much to take this is. I am literally taking a 5 minute break now because it is getting too much to bear. I will be back :).
Ok..I am back. dIkshithar starts off with an old imagery typical of the tamil poets of 18th century once again showing his versatility. He uses a double reference in the first line of the charanam alluding to sage agasthya even without mentioning his name. All that dIkshithar wants to convey in this line is that "Lord shivA was worshipped by sage agasthya". dIkshithar chooses events relating to sage agasthya's birth(sage agasthya was born out of a sacred vase as the son of mitra-varuNa and hence is called by various names like kalashaja, kumbhaja, kumbha-muni, kalashOdbhava etc) and sings kalashaja+EnA+architham(worshipped). There is also a story in which sage agasthya drank the ocean at the bidding of the dEvAs when the asurAs were hiding beneath it. dIkshithar hence refers to sage agasthya as the one who drank("pAna") the ocean("jalanidhi").

dIkshithar then describes the Lord as the one who is worshipped("nutham") by Lord viShNu("jalajanAbha") and others and as one who is eternal("satatam"). The next word is perhaps the best display of thalaivar's greatness in this krithi(perhaps one of the best ever). He describes Lord Shiva as "jAhnavIdaram". However you split it, this word is beautiful. If you split the word as jAhna vidaram(I dont know if this split is correct), it once again conveys the meaning that Lord Shiva is the dissolver("vidara") of life("jAhna") on this earth. If you split the word as jAhnavI daram, Lord Shiva is addressed as the one who bears("dara") of the river ganges("jAhnavI"). The story behind this is that when Lord Shiva wanted to bring down the river ganges from heavens to the earth, the river was forced to follow an ancient king jAhnu because he was the ruler of the northern plains and the king safely guided the river's course in return for a promise of the perennial inundation of his plains. Hence river ganges is also known as jAhnavi, the daughter of king jAhnu. dIkshithar is God!!!

dIkshithar then portrays the Lord as "the destroyer of all the sins of the degenerate kali yuga("kalikalmashApaham")" and continues to describe the Lord's beauty as the one who has a beautiful, desirable("kamanIya") appearance("vigraham") and as the very pleasing("sulalita") father("janaka") of guruguha. " Lord shiva is also described here as the bestower and protector("rakshita") of all the riches("dhanika").

The beautiful madhyamakAla sAhityam gallops like a horse adding beauty to mishra chApu. dIkshithar continues to describe the physical beauty of the Lord as "the one with lotus-like("jalaruha") eyes("dR.sham") of chandra(signifying shAntam) and agni("signifying the ugra rasa and the third eye of the Lord)." dIkshithar describes Lord Shiva as "the one with the curly locks of hair("jaTAjUTam") and as the Lord("Isha") of the mountains("adrIsha")." SK beautifully explained this word to me the other day indicating the possibility of multiple explanations. Lord Shiva is called the Lord of the mountains either because of Him being the king of kailAsha or by the virtue of being the husband of Goddess pArvathi, the princess of the mountains.

dIkshithar once again refers to him as "the Lord("Isha") of the world("jagath") and as the one worshipped("vandita") by the enemy("ripu") of the demon vala, Lord Indra." Lord Indra is the ruler of dEvas and the 5 elements are his attendants. The majestic Lord Indra himself worships Lord Shiva and hence he becomes the Lord of the 5 elements and hence the universe. dIkshithar concludes the krithi aptly by praising the Lord as "the one who always("anisham") grants("dAyaka")the boons and wishes of all the things his devotees desire("vAnchitArta")". dIkshithar signs off as if instructing us to worship Lord Shiva and get all our desires fulfilled.

Regardless of whatever aspect you are looking at; be it musical richness, grammatical perfection, bhakthi, etc ; this is an extremely wholesome and comprehensive krithi in which dIkshithar beautifully portrays the Lord in all his greatness. And what a beautiful choice of rAga for the krithi..Just like Goddess shakthi adds beauty and splendour to Lord Shiva, lalitA adds a solemn beauty and fuses wonderfully well with the sAhityams describing the Lord of the universe. As I wrap up, I am still left with that incomplete feeling as I always get at the end of trying to explain a dIkshithar krithi. I am happy that I try my best to explain everything that this kutti brain can understand. I will continue with dEvi krithis now and in my next post, I will try to explain ambA nIlAyatAkshi..that beautiful, rAga-defining krithi in nIlAmbari. Forever, shrI guruguhasya dAsOham!!! :)

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