Monday, January 21, 2008

sadAsrayE abhayAmbikE-chAmaram

I once again apologize for the nearly one month hiatus between the posts. It was holidays here and so I relaxed a lot. Oh ya..Wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2008. A little late..but its ok :). My dear friend SK had come home during the christmas and New Year's holidays. We spent a fortnight together and had an awesome time. SK's music reached some great heights and profound depths in those 2 weeks. I was absolutely blown away by the manOdharma his music is built on. Apart from the music, the sweetness and charm of SK still pervades my apartment :). We rented a car and drove to Houston. We went to Galveston island and the beautiful meenakshi temple. I really hope I get to meet SK atleast one more time before I leave the US.

Coming to the abhayAmbA vibhakthi krithis, I would like to start off with the story behind the kshEtra at which these krithis were composed by dIkshithar. After the guruguha vibhakthi krithis, the abhayAmbA series was the next set composed by dIkshithar. Goddess abhayapradAmbA and Lord mAyUranAtha reside at the famous temple at mayilAdudurai or mAyavaram. According to the legend, king dAksha did not invite his daughter(dAkshAyaNi-Goddess pArvathi) and her husband, Lord Shiva to yagnam he was performing. Inspite of Lord Shiva's strict instructions, Goddess pArvathi went to the event uninvited and She was ignored and insulted. Meanwhile, an injured peahen that came that way ran to Goddess parvathi and took shelter. Unable to bear these insults, Goddess pArvathi took the peahen and entered the sacred fire. In her next birth, She came incarnated as the peahen and came to the same place and did severe penance. Pleased by this Lord Shiva, came down from the heavens, assumed the shape of a peacock and did the gowri tAndavam dance and accepted the peahen as his wife. Hence the name of the sthalam(mayil-Adu-thurai). Since the Goddess gave shelter to the peahen, she is known as the Mother(ambA) who gives shelter(abhayam) and hence abhayAmbA.

The abhayAmbA vibhakthi krithis is a set of 10 krithis; 1 dhyAna krithi, 8 main krithis for each vibhakthi and 1 maNgaLa krithi. Unlike the kamalAmbA navAvarNams which glorify the Avaranams, this set does not deal with shrI chakra. One more significant difference is that unlike the navAvarNams where dIkshithar uses simple sentences with profound meanings, the abhayAmbA krithis consist of long-winding sentences which convey high thoughts;some words running for 5 or 6 lines(like the charaNam of the krithi in kEdAram). Some similarities between the two sets would be the usage of main rAgAs like shankharAbharaNam, tODi, kalyANi, kAmbhOji, Bhairavi etc.

Some musicologists believe that "sadAshrayE abhayAmbikE", the krithi in chAmaram (56th mELa in the asampUrNa scale) does not meet all the requirements of a dhyAna krithi and hence substitute "dAkshAyaNi abhayAmbikE" in tODi instead and treat the chAmaram krithi as the eighth vibhakthi krithi. Also, this substitution would bring the set in line with the navAvarNams which also has its dhyAna krithi in tODi. However, I am going to stick with the more popular belief and treat the chAmaram krithi as the dhyana krithi. One more interesting fact is that, apart from "AryAm abhayAmbAm" in bhairavi, none of the other abhayAmbA krithis are showcased in SubburAma dIkshithar's "sangItha sampradAya pradarshini(SSP)".

Since these krithis are once again filled with deep, esoteric meanings and kundalini yOgic references, I will try my best to explain them. Please pardon me if something is wrong and please correct me if you find something you know better about. The chAmaram krithi is set completely in the sambhOdhana vibhakthi(eighth/vocative case) where dIkshithar addresses the Goddess directly as "hE abhayAmbikE". The pallavi goes as:


sadAshraye abhayAmbike sannidhehi
sadAshraye tvAmambike bhadraM dehi


dIkshithar starts off as "Oh Goddess abhayAmbA!! I always ("sadA") bow to you and seek your shelter ("AshrayE"). You, who ("tvAm") are the Mother ("ambikE") of all goodness ("sadAshrayE"), please appear before me ("sannidEhi") and bestow ("dEhi") all auspiciousness ("bhadram") upon me."

dIkshithar as usual, starts off by showing his brilliance and mastery over music and grammar. He starts off with beautiful swarAksharams of sa, dA at "sadAshrayE". To see his precision in grammar, look at how he uses the various meanings of the same word (sadAshrayE) in the pallavi. The symmetry is also clearly visible in the pallavi. Both lines start off with sadAshrayE, have "ambikE" in the middle and end with "dEhi"..simple yet powerful constructs. The alliterations, multiple meanings for the same word and the prAsam continue through to the anupallavi.


cidAshraye cidambaracandrike ehi
cidAshraye shivama~ncake natavArAhi
mudAshraye bhuktimuktipradamArgaM brUhi
mudAshraye mAyAdhInaM dInaM mAM pAhi


dIkshithar addresses the Goddess as "the dwelling place of consciousness ("cidAshrayE")" and continues to describe her as "the moon ("candrikE") in the sky ("ambara") of consciousness ("cid"). Please come near ("ehi"). You are the one who dwells in chit and the one who rests on the seat ("ma~nchakE") which is shiva. You are worshipped ("nata") by vArAhi. You are the abode of bliss ("mudAshrayE"). Teach ("brUhi") me the path ("mArgaM") of liberation ("mukthi") and enjoyment ("bhukthi"). I approach you with happiness ("mudAshrayE"). Please save me ("mAm pAhi"), the one who is helpless ("dInam") and caught up in this delusion ("mAyAdhInam")."

The anupallavi sets the tone. Once again, dIkshithar employs multiple meaning for cidAshrayE and mudAshrayE by playing with the samAsA's once again displaying his grammatical prowess. The AdyAkshara prAsam (commencing alliterations such as sadAshrayE, cidAshrayE) and antyAkshara prAsam (terminating alliterations such as ehi, vArAhi, brUhi etc) bring that rhyme scheme which makes the sAhityams flow with poetic gait.

Just like most dIkshithar krithis, the charaNam of this krithi is big, prAsam inundated and provides the climax. The rAga mudra and the composer mudra are also featured in the charaNam. In the anupallavi, dIkshithar asks the Goddess to show him the path to liberation and accordingly, he sings about the nAdabindu in the charaNam.


gaurI mAyUranAtha mohanakara shakte
shaurIsha-vidhIndrAdi-sannuta parAshakte
nArImaNyAdyarcita nAdabindu yukte
shArIrakAdi vidyAsiddhAnta yukte
sUrijanopAsita caraNanalina yukte
vANImA-karadh.rta cAmara sevAsakte
dUrIk.rta durita vedashAstrAdi prasakte
vArIshAdi lokapAla nuta guruguhabhakte
dAridrya duHkha bha~njanakara shaN^karA vibhakte
shukasanakAdi devatA sevite paradevate
vArijamukhi varadAbhayahaste namo namaste


dIkshithar sings " Oh gowri!! You are shakthi, the one capable of delighting and pleasing ("mohana kara") Lord mAyUranAtha. You are the supreme power ("parAshakthi") worshipped by Vishnu ("shaurIsha"), Brahma ("vidhi") and Indra. You are worshipped ("arcita") by women and others ("nArimaNyAdi") and you are in the primordial OM form ("nAdabindu"). You are the embodiment of divine knowledge ("vidya") and shArIraka
specified in the scriptures, the end result of all siddhis.
You delight in the sounds from instruments like bhEri, maddaLa and vINa. Your lotus-like ("naLina") feet ("charaNa") are worshipped ("upAsita") by all the dEvAs ("sUrijana:"). Goddess Saraswathi and Goddess Lakshmi are holding ("dhruta") the fan ("chAmara") in their hands
("kara") and are giving you the royal service ("sEva").
You are famous for being the reason ("prashaktE") for the establishment of the vEdAs and other shAstrAs and you drive away ("dUrIkrita") the troubles and sufferings ("durita") of your devotees. You are attached to guruguha and worshipped by Lord Varuna ("vArIsha") and other dikpAlakAs (the protectors of all the directions). You are the companion ("vibhaktE") of shankara and you are destroyer ("bhanjanakara") of poverty ("dAridhram") and sufferings ("dukha"). You are worshipped ("sevitE") by shukha, sanaka and other celestials. You are the supreme Goddess ("paradEvatE"). You have a lotus-like ("vArija") face ("mukhi") and your hands ("hastE") are in the posture of granting boons ("varada") and providing shelter ("abhaya"). I prostrate before you again and again ("namO namastE")."

dIkshithar brings in the rAga mudhrA beautifully employing the literal meaning of the word chAmara. One can very well see the similarities in lalitha sahasranAmam in which we can see "sachAmara ramA vANI savyadakshiNa sEvita". dIkshithar employs the same concept in a few of his other krithis too, for eg., "shrI ramAsarasvatI sEvitAm shrI lalitAmbAm" in nAsAmaNi. dIkshithar addresses the dEvi as the primordial OM bIja mantra, the nAdabindu ("the dot or point from which all sounds originated"). Compared to other dIkshithar krithis, I would say that though the charaNam is long, it is not very profound and can be relatively easily interpreted. I would highly recommend listening to the kalpagam swaminathan maami's rendition of this krithi for the rasikas. Other than that, nothing much to be said.

I will next take up the prathama vibhakthi krithi, "abhayAmbA jagadamba", a beautiful krithi in kalyANi. Just like the kalyANi navAvarNam, this krithi is also embellished with some amazing phrases and is an absolute treat. Hopefully I will post this krithi within the next few days. I am concluding this post as I am enjoying the beautiful bhAnumathi sung by dear friend SK. shrI gurubhyO nama:


Mayth!! said...

Aah! Finally, a post! What took you so long?

Came. Enlightened.

Musical Scientist said...

Thanks a lot Mayth!!! :). Ya..sorry for the delay. I am working on the next krithi..should be up tomorrow :) Keep reading :)

Chiroti said...

Nice post.

However, you mention that this krithi is composed in chamaram, 56th mela in asampurna scale. I have learnt this in chamara (shanmukhapriya raga) which is a sampurna raga. How come you mentioned this as a asampurna scale?

Musical Scientist said...

Dear Chiroti,
Thanks a lot for visiting my blog. You are right..cAmaram is indeed a sampUrNa, rAgAnga rAga. What I wanted to mention was that it was called cAmaram in this school of rAga classification which follows the asampUrNa system. Sorry if it was misleading.
Keep sharing your thoughts and comments.

Chiroti said...

Thanks for clarifying. :) Sure, I will go through rest of the posts. Nice blog.

Musical Scientist said...

Thanks a lot Chiroti :).I am going through some of your posts slowly..very very well written. Wonderful to read :)

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!