Thursday, January 31, 2008

abhayAmbA jagadambA rakSatu-kalyANi

I started typing this krithi last weekend itself. However, my mind has been a little troubled over the past couple of days. I am being haunted by some nostalgic thoughts from my REC days too. The lonely and barren life I have been leading for the past 8 months at lifeless Round Rock has got me recounting those wonderful 4 years at Trichy. The weekdays used to be filled with classes, chatting with friends, going to the gate and eating at the dhaba. Friday nights used to be amazing fun watching films in our college theater and then ofcourse travelling home to chennai almost every weekend. Compared to that, the life I am leading here is filled with idleness and inactivity. However, a few precious friends and ofcourse music (why fear when thalaivar is there) are keeping me alive. Apart from that, it has been a normal week..the same old routine stuff.

Last weekend, SK and I had a session on the account of thyAgarAja swAmi's ArAdhana. Sk sang four of the five pancharathnas. After the session, I sang "E vasudhA" in sahAnA and "vEnugAna loluni" in kEdAragOwLa. I have been completely bowled over by Sanjay sir's rendition of "sAmbasadAshivAya namastE" in kAmbhOji. The krithi is embellished with such pristine beauty by dIkshithar and Sanjay sir has brought out every ounce of it. I have been listening to it over and over again for the past few days. Its been a while since we had a nice gumbal session and I am really looking forward to it. Hari and I have not had a session for sometime too and hopefully, all of these bad streaks will come to an end this weekend :).

Continuing with the abhayAmbA vibhakthi krithis, I will now take up the beautiful krithi in kalyANi in which dIkshithar mesmerizes everyone including the Goddess. "abhayAmbA jagadambA rakSatu" is completely set in the prathamA vibhakthi (Nominative case/First case) and hence all places at which dIkshithar says "She", he refers to the Goddess. Set to Adi tALam, the krithi just gallops along beautifully. With every word in the anupallavi and charaNam ending in "nI or NI", the prAsam is the invisible thread that keeps the rasikA spell bound. The rAga bhAva just effuses in this krithi. Mother kalyANi herself will be extremely proud of this krithi and as dIkshithar very appropriately sings in the charaNam "bhAvarAgatALaviSwAsini", the Goddess will indeed be delighted in the music filled with bhAva, rAga and tALa. Now moving on to the krithi, the pallavi starts off as:


abhayAmbA jagadambA rakSatu AtmarUpapratibimbA madambA

dIkshithar sings "May Goddess abhayAmbA, my mother ("madambA") and the Mother of the entire universe ("jagadambA") protect me ("rakSatu"). She is the reflection ("pratibimbA") of the supreme self ("AtmarUpa")."

Look at the devotion which he cries out to his mother. He calls the Goddess as his own mother. Imagine what puNyam dIkshithar's soul must have done to be able to portray Her as his mother. The "SNDP" start to the krithi is beautiful. The pallavi sets up the kalyANi mood very nicely so that the rasika can get ready to experience the beautiful anupallavi which in my opinion is perhaps one of the best anupallavis a krithi in kalyANi could have. The anupallavi goes as


ibhavadana shrIguruguhajananI IshamAyUranAtharanjanI
abhayavaradapANI alivENI Ashrita mAvANI kalyANI

dIkshithar describes the Goddess beautifully in the anupallavi with very simple, yet meaningful descriptions. He starts by saying "She is the mother ("jananI") of the elephant-faced ("ibhavadana") Lord Ganesha and guruguha". Beautifully portraying the sthalam of mayilAduthurai, he describes abhayAmbA as "the one who delights and is loved ("ranjanI") by the Lord mAyUranAtha". The anupallavi ends in one of the most prAsam laden lines ever composed by dIkshithar. In the mini madhyamakAla sAhityam, he embellishes the Goddess by describing her as "the one whose hands ("pANI") offer ("varada") shelter and protection ("abhaya") to Her devotees". dIkshithar continues to sing "She has braids of hair ("vENI") as dark as bees ("ali"). She is attended ("Ashrita") by Goddesses Lakshmi and Saraswathi ("mAvANI"). She is kalyANI, the ever auspicious one."

The presence of both the composer mudra as well as the rAga mudra in the anupallavi clearly shows the significance of it in this krithi. I personally recommend rasikas to listen to the anupallavi sung by Prof. S.R.J mama. Some of the sangathis he sings at "abhayavaradapANI alivENI" are just amazing and the bliss is something that should not be missed. dIkshithar once again emphasizes that Goddess abhayapradAmbA is worshipped and served by Lakshmi and Saraswathi, which inturn means that by praying to Goddess abhayAmbA, you will get the wealths of prosperity as well as fine arts. The "N M D" phrase at kalyANI followed by the subsequent take-off gives me goosebumps all the time. The anupallavi creates a longing in the rasika..a longing which is more than satisfied by the exquisite charaNam.


bhakta nAgaliNga paripAlinI bhAsamAna navaratna mAlinI
vyakta samastha jagadhvishAlinI vyadhi karaNa haraNa nipuNa shUlinI
rakta-shukla-mishra prakAshinI ravikOTikOTi saNkAshinI
bhukti-mukti-mAnasa nivAsinI bhAvarAgatALa viSwAsinI
bhukti phalaprada dakSa mrDAnI bhakti prada nipuNatara bhavAnI
shaktisampradAyaka sharvANI bhukti mukti vitaraNa rudrANI

dIkshithar sings "She was the protector ("paripAlinI") of her devotee ("bhakta") nAgaliNga. She is adorned by sparkling ("bhAsamAna-bhA(stars)+samAna(equivalent)") necklace studded with nine gems ("navaratna"). She is the one responsible for illuminating ("vishAlinI") the entire ("samastha") manifested ("vyakta") universe ("jagadh"). She holds the trident ("shUlinI") and is adept ("nipuNa") in destroying ("haraNa") the dualities and their corresponding disturbances ("vyadhi"). She scintillates ("prakAshinI") with a blend ("mishra") of red ("rakta") and bright white ("shukla") colours. She shines ("saNkAshinI") like crores and crores ("kOTikOTi") of suryA dEvAs. She resides ("nivAsini") in the hearts and minds ("mAnasa") of devotees seeking liberation ("mukti"). She rejoices ("vishwAsinI") in the music filled with bhAva, rAgA and tALa. She is mrDAnI (consort of mrDA), the one who is adept ("dakSa") in bestowing ("phalaprada") different types of enjoyments ("bhukti"). She is bhavAnI ("consort of bhava"), the one adept ("nipuNa") in granting ("prada") devotion ("bhakti"). She is sharvANI ("consort of sharva"), the one who shows the traditional path ("sampradAya") of shakti worship. She is rudrANI ("consort of rudra"), the bestower ("vitaraNa") of worldly pleasures ("bhukti") and the one who helps transcend ("another meaning for vitaraNa) these pleasures to attain mukthi".

The reference to the devotee nAgaliNga has been a topic which has intrigued many musicologists. There are no stories or folklores showing the Goddess to have protected a devotee called nAgaliNga. The same devotee has been referred to in the Anandabhairavi krithi "abhayAmba nAyaka harisAyaka" composed in praise of Lord mAyuranAtha at the same kSetra. There could be some absolutely different interpretation to the phrase too. I dont know :(. Experience the current of prAsam beginning at the anupallavi and flowing beautifully through the charaNam. Also look at the adhyAkshAra prAsam in the charaNam as the two words in the same line start with the same consonant ("bha, vya, ra" etc).

dIkshithar uses the words mrDAnI, bhavAnI, shUlinI and rudrANI to address the Goddess. All these names are found in lalitA sahasranAmam. As I always say, dIkshithar's krithis are like beautiful sugar-coated toffees of all the scriptures rolled into one. Though not strictly classified as a upAsana krithi (unlike the navAvarNams for shrIchakra), the abhayAmbA vibhakthi krithis are no doubt, masterpieces of bhakthi and being inundated with direct references to the lalitA sahasranAmam, these krithis are ideal for dEvi upAsana. How can dEvi refuse to come to you if you call Her with all the devotion and address Her as your own mother like dIkshithar does. For a complete absorption of the rich gait in this krithi, please listen to kalpagam swAminAthan maami's rendition. Incidentally, I am listening to SK's rendition of kamalAmbAm bhajarE as I am finishing this blog. :) Looks like today is going to be a kalyANi day :).

Continuing with the abhayAmbA series, I will next take up the graceful "AryAm abhayAmbAm" set in dwitIyA vibhakthi ("accusative case"). The krithi, in my opinion adds an entirely new dimension to bhairavi. Hopefully I will be able to resolve the serpentine charaNam in time so that I can post this krithi this weekend :). Till then, keep listening and keep drowning in the ocean of musical bliss.

shrI kamalAmbA jayathi!!

1 comment:

MAHESH said...

This is one of my favourite krithis in Kalyani. The raga itself is my favourite, and for that matter every krithi in Kalyani brings out a different facet of this ragam, as endless as the aspects of the Divine Mother who is Kalyani. That said I love listening to Kaaru Velpu of Thyagaraja Swami, Kamalambam Bhajare of Dikshithar, Raave Parvata Rajakumari of Shyama Shastri and Kailasapathe of Mysore Vasudevachariar, which bring out the majesty of this raga like nothing else.

A couple of striking points about Dikshithar's tunesmanship of Abhayamba Jagadamba - the prescence of plain notes to be sung without gamaka, in the charanam, particularly when singing Vyadhikarana Harana Nipuna Shoolini, which give it a special charm, and the line Ravi Koti Koti Sankaashini, which when sung, really enables the attuned listener to imagine and perceive the Divine Mother as having a lustre of a crore of suns. I never fail to get emotional on hearing that line.