Sunday, February 10, 2008

AryAM abhayAmbAM-Bhairavi

I hate to accept this sometimes, but yes..I have become an emotional idiot and a sentimental fool these days. Today I was listening to this amazing krithi "sarasa souvIra rasavAdakaraNa" in souvIram (47th mEla) sung by SK and I was just blown away. Tears have rolled down my cheeks the entire evening as I sit and continue to loop and drown myself in this ocean of ecstasy. My colleague took me out for a nice drive today evening. I drove a car after a gap of around 20 months. I have not been able to play my guitar as much as I would like to because I suffered a fracture on my left hand a few weeks back. Now, I am truly experiencing the statement "kai odanja maadhri irukku".

For the past month and a half, I have been some nice music sessions with bala sir (a great professor and a wonderful friend from REC,Trichy). Last week, I got introduced to another friend, Vasumathi Sridharan through bala sir. She has adopted SK and myself as her kutti thambis :). Over the last month, I also observed that I am getting increasingly detached from this world. For the good or the bad, nothing except dIkshithar seems to run in my mind. Music has consumed me and has pervaded my soul completely. Hopefully this urge, passion and bhakthi will drive me towards improving myself and becoming a better devotee of this art. shrI gurubhyO namah:

I will continue my discussion on the abhayAmbA vibhakthi krithis by taking up "AryAm abhayAmbAm"; yet another masterpiece from dIkshithar composed in bhairavi rAga set to tripuTa tALam. This krithi has been composed exclusively in the dvitIyA vibhakthi (second/accusative case). The basic construct of every sentence is of the form "She, Who..". The first thing you will notice about the sAhityam of this krithi is the antyAkshara prAsam throughout the pallavi, anupallavi and charaNam with every word ending in either "IM" or "AM". Also observable in this krithi, are the long-winding word constructs of the charaNam, a pattern which reaches its climax in the kEdAram krithi "ambikAyAH abhayAmbikAyAH". The pallavi starts off with the famous "bhajarE, tyaja rE" rhyme scheme.

AryAM abhayAmbAM bhajarE rE citta santatam
avidyAkAryAkalanAM tyaja rE
AdimadhyAntarahitAM shivasahitAM

dIkshithar starts off by addressing the mind ("citta") and commands it as "Oh mind!! Always ("santatam") worship ("bhajarE") Goddess abhayAmbA, the revered and honourable one ("AryAM"). Abandon ("tyaja") everything attached to and resulting from ("kalanAM") deeds ("kAryA") of ignorance ("avidyA"). She, Who is the one without ("rahitAm") any beginning, middle or end ("AdimadhyAnta") and the companion ("sahitAm") of Lord Shiva."

The "N; N D P" start at AryAm makes your bones tingle and serves as a clear indication of what is to come. dIkshithar sings of the Goddess's praise as the one who has no beginning or end once again reiterating the fact that the supreme soul is the origin of everything in this universe and hence becomes the final destination too. Hence, dIkshithar addresses the mind to shed all attachments to this material world and effectively use the bhakthi mArgA to worship and realize God. The small madhyamakAla sAhityam in the pallavi serves as a perfect knock-out punch :). Moving on to the anupallavi,

sUryAgnicandramanDala vAsinIM
sukhatara pravartinIM svEtaranivAsinIM
AcArya sishyAnugraha karaNa shakthi pradApAra karuNAM
caryAdi catushTaya vitaraNa samartatara caraNAM aruNAM

dIkshithar describes the Goddess as "the one who dwells ("vAsinIM") in the orbital planes ("manDala") of Sun, fire and moon. The one who bestows ("pravartinIM") bliss ("sukha") and the one who resides ("nivAsinIM") in herself and all others ("svEtara"). She is the one, who, with unlimited ("pAra") mercy ("karuNAM") is granting ("pradA") the power ("shakthi") that manifests in the form of guru's ("AcArya") grace ("anugraha") for a student ("sishya"). The one, whose lotus feet ("caraNAM") is adept in bestowing ("vitaraNa") the four-fold ("catushTaya") path for religious austerities beginning with caryA ("virtuous conduct") and She is red hued one ("aruNAM")."

What an amazing anupallavi. Writing about this krithi made me listen to the anupallavi once again and I was completely bowled over as usual. To start off, dIkshithar brings in advaita fundas addressing the Goddess as the one who resides in herself ("paramAtma") and all others ("jIvAtma"). The point at which dIkshithar describes the Goddess as the sublime power behind the guru-sishya relationship, the goosebumps start to run up your skin and the rasika reaches heights of bliss when the AchArya-charyA rhyme scheme hits him..just beyond words. In this beautiful few lines, dIkshithar beautifully shows the bhaktha that the Goddess is the supreme soul ("svEthara"), the medium ("AcArya") and the path itself, consisting of virtuous conduct ("charya"), acts of worship ("kriyA"), yOgA and the culminating knowledge ("gnAna"). This is perhaps the greatest reason for rasikAs like me who are not professionally trained musicians to surrender to these masterpieces and sing these krithis as a definite path towards salvation.

nandanavanotpAdana puSpamAlikAM
vandanAlayAdi prasthApana divya-
candanAkarSaNa sthalashuddhikaraNa-
vandana stotrAdi paThana bhaktasevAnAm
mandadhIharaNa caryAyuta mAnavAnAM dharmamaya-
svacchandashivasAlokya dAyaka caturatarahara naTabhairavIM
mandasmita vilasita mukhAravindAM guruguhAmbikAM
mukundasodarIM mahAtripurasundarIm AnandalaharIm

Let me take a deep breath before starting off with the caraNam. My friend was asking me about tongue twisters in carnatic music and I ended up telling him about dIkshithar's brilliance quoting the sAhityam of krithis like this. I will try my best to explain these long words using the limited english language but I have to accept that the interpretation and explanations will definitely fall short of conveying the complete meaning. The caraNam is basically a description of the various austerities a bhaktha must perform to obtain the complete blessing of the Goddess like gathering flowers from the garden, making garlands for Her, grinding sandal paste, cleaning the place of worship, prostrating before her, chant sacred hymns and sing devotional songs in praise of Her. dIkshithar captures these details completely in the caraNam.
dIkshithar continues to describe the Goddess as "the one, who wears the garland of flowers (
"puSpa mAlikAm") from the heavenly garden ("vana") of nandana. The one, who is served ("sEvAnAm") by devotees ("bhaktha") who are engaged in austere practices like building ("prasthApana") temples ("vandanAlaya"), grinding sandal paste ("candanAkarSaNa"), cleaning ("shuddhikaraNa") the place of worship ("sthala"), prostrating ("vandana") and chanting ("paThana") divine hymns ("sthOtrAdi"). The one, who is the dancing ("nata") Goddess bhairavi and the one who is adept in destroying ("haraNa") ignorance ("mandHI") bestowing ("dAyaka") upon the ones who perform the virtuous acts ("caryAyuta mAnavAnAm") , the righteous ("dharmamaya") path of becoming one ("sAlOkya") with Shiva ("Shivasayujya") according to one's own will ("svachanda"). The one with a lotus-like face ("mukhAravindAM") and a gleaming ("vilasita") smile ("mandasmita"), the mother of guruguha ("guruguhAmbikAm"), the sister ("sOdarIM") of mukunda. She is mahAtripurasundari, the deluge ("laharIM") of bliss ("Ananda")."

In the caraNam too, dIkshithar seems to reinforce thoughts of bhakthi, surrender and finally becoming one with God. Through these lines, he says that the first step towards self-realization is bhakthi. Bhakthi eventually leads to complete surrender, total detachment from material possessions, practice of good conduct. By serving God, the bhaktha finally sees him"self" as the jyOthi and becomes one with it, never to return to this birth-death cycle. Look at how carefully dIkshithar chooses his words to keep the rhyme scheme intact and the tripuTa tALam gallops along majestically. He beautifully incorporates the rAga mudra by describing the Goddess as the dancing Bhairavi. The madhyamakAla sAhityam flows beautifully and brings the same "mandasmita" on the face of the rasikA. :). On the whole, an absolute treat and a quality gem. It is extremely sad that even though professional artists seem to have beaten bhairavi to death by singing it in almost every concert, no one takes up krithis like AryAm abhayAmbAM or cintaya mAkanda or dEvi jagadIshwari. Everyone is happy singing the same old bAlagOpAla or upachAramu or tanayuni brOva. I really hope that artistes take it upon themselves to look outside the rigmarole and start singing krithis like this.

I will next take up girijaya ajAya, the tritIyA vibhakthi krithi composed in shankarAbharaNaM. This krithi too has an amazingly long construct with the charaNam consisiting of just two words running for 5 lines. The first word is 86 syllables long :O :O. I am going to be pretty free tomorrow and day after and I will hopefully post 2 or possibly 3 krithis over the next few days :). Till then, keep listening and keep drowning!!


Vasumathi said...

Tambee, just noticed the mention!! Many thanks and feels so special to be mentioned in such a masterpiece of a blog!!

U Rock!!

Musical Scientist said...

Dear Vasu Akka..adiyaen bhaagyam to be associated with such wonderful people :). My pleasure. Please keep posting your comments as and when you find time :)


Nanda said...

Dear Sir,

I am greatly impressed by your review on Deekshitar song. This song is my favourite too!! I have one doubt regarding the krithi. You have mentioned that the song is exclusively written in dvithiya vibhakti. can you please brief more on this?

Besides this i want this article to translated into my language(Kannada). I require your permission to post translated version of your blog in any of the Kannada forum. Hope this will not be any problem for you. Kindly reply.

Thanking you,

Musical Scientist said...

Dear Nanda sir,

Thanks a lot for your words of appreciation. The krithi is composed in the second case (accusative-dvitiya vibhakti) and that is what I wanted to convey.

And please go ahead and post the translated version of my blog (this post and any other ones you want to). If more of your friends who understand kannada can benefit from this translation, I would be really honored. Thank you.


Nanda said...

Thank you sir for granting permission :). I will intimate you once i translate and post in kannada forum.

Thanking you,

Aham said...


I came across this blog because I was searching for the meaning of the Aryam-Abhayambham kriti. Thanks for the meticulous and detailed exposition of this kriti, nice to know that there are many other nut-jobs roaming on this planet, I feel a sense of belonging.

Can you also point me to a good and complete link of this song from which I can learn this kriti ? I have not been able to get a good recording online so far, by good, I exclude slick, trendy, fast-paced renditions, prefer a really quiet, slow and un-rushed rendition. So much for asking a favour, I know.