Tuesday, March 25, 2008


The past weekend, I felt really homesick after a long time. I had some random dreams of lying in my mother's lap and listening to anna sing a beautifully sahAnA ;(..how I long for those days. Eating good food, listening to good music, enjoying the comforts of being at home and being showered with love..what more could a human being ask for :(. Anyway, on a more cheerful note, the music session we had yesterday was pure bliss. The star of the day was our gumbal's baby, shAmbhavi, the cute kid with an amazing voice and a heart filled with warmth :). Her renditions of mAnji and sucharitra have completely consumed me since yesterday..just amazing..thanks a lot GB!!! >:D<. In this post, I will continue to explore the majestic abhayAmbA vibhakthi krithis by taking up "abhayAmbAyam" in sahAnA set to tripuTa tALam composed entirely in the sapthami vibhakthi (seventh/locative case) by the great nAdhajyOthi. With the masterpiece kEdAram krithi I discussed in the previous post, I guess dIkshithar reached the pinnacle of his meditative trance and decided that he will keep the last three of the abhyAmbA krithis relatively simple. This beautiful krithi in sahAnA (perhaps my most favourite rAga ever) is a short samASTi charaNam (the only one in this vibhakthi series) in which dIkshithar still manages to grasp the rAga by the throat and bring it to life :) . dIkshithar addresses the Goddess in various forms in this krithi thereby giving all of us a chance to sing the name of the Goddess and thereby gain some puNyam. The antyAkshara prAsam adds to the grace and completely mesmerizes the rasika. Moving on to the krithi, Pallavi:
abhayAmbAyAM bhaktiM karomi
saccidAnandarUpAyAM svasvarUpAyAM shrI

dIkshithar sings "I offer my devotion ("bhaktiM karomi") to Goddess abhayAmbA, the one who is an embodiment ("rUpAyAm") of truth/existence-consciousness/knowledge-happiness/bliss ("sat-chit-Ananda"). She is the auspicious one ("shrI") with the form of the unified, supreme self ("svasvarUpAyAM")."

The "PMG" start to the krithi straight away brings sahAnA's core essence of shringAra rasa to the forefront. He follows this up with the "PMD; N;S" phrase at "bhaktiM karomi" and hence more or less covers the entire scale of the rAga in one line :). dIkshithar brings in vEdAnta in the pallavi itself by referring to the Goddess as the unified, supreme self. Moving on to the samASTi charaNam,

abhedapratipAditAyAM AdiguruguhaveditAyAM
sabheshamoditanaTanAyAM sAyujyapradacaraNAyAm

dIkshithar praises the Goddess in many names in the charaNam. He addresses her as "mantriNi, the one who is an expert ("nipuNa") in bestowing ("vitaraNa") many riches and powers ("vibhava")"; as "daNDini, the one who is adept ("nipuNatara") in granting the causes/skills required ("kAraNa") for victory ("vijaya")"; as "mAlini, the one who is an embodiment of the five elements ("bhutakiraNa") beginning with the sky ("viyat")" and as "shUlini, the one who is an expert ("nipuNa") in destroying ("haraNa") confusions and difficulties ("vikalpa")."

dIkshithar beautifully slips into the madhyamakAla sAhityam here. He describes the Goddess as "the one who is completely understood ("pratipAditAyAm") by a clear mind without any distinctions ("abheda") and the one realized ("vEditAyAm") by guruguha." He finishes the krithi sweetly by describing the Goddess as "the one whose dance ("naTanAyAm") delights ("modita") Lord Shiva, the Lord of the dance court ("sabEsha") and she is the one whose feet ("charaNAyAm") bestow ("prada") sAyujya mukthi on her devotees."

The subtle sahAnA is handled very delicately in this krithi by dIkshithar. The " SPM; NDPM DNS" at "abhEdapratipAditAyAm" is one of my most favourite lines in sahAna ever :). dIkshithar once again clearly emphasizes in this krithi that by surrendering to the dEvi, one will be bestowed with all siddhis and happiness and finally given salvation, thereby bringing a purpose in living. I am planning to visit the mAyUranAtha temple in this november. When I go there, this will perhaps be the first krithi I sing there :). Somehow I am not finding any flow to write today. :( I think this is by far the worst post till date on this blog. My mind is a little troubled I guess..I will surely make it up in my next post, in which I will handle "dAkshAyaNi abhayAmbikE", the amazing krithi in tODi. All of you have a wonderful weekend :). shrI gurubhyO namah:

Sunday, March 16, 2008

ambikAyAH abhayAmbikAyAH-kEdAram

I wanted to finish the abhyAmbA vibhakthi krithis by this weekend, but unfortunately, work has been very interesting and hectic and hence I have not been able to blog for a couple of weeks now :(. Hopefully I will be able to post the last 4 krithis (including this blog) in the coming week and finish the series off before the next weekend. But I must confess that some new things at work have completely engrossed my mind for the past few days and I have made some really wonderful progress. :). Musically, I have been consumed by kannada gOwLa thanks to thalaivar's masterpiece, "nIlOtpalAmbikayA" rendered beautifully by Vedavalli maami. If you have not heard this krithi, please do so immediately. It is perhaps the most mind-blowing kannada gOwLa ever composed.

I will now take up "ambikAyAH abhayAmbikAyAH", perhaps the most grandest composition among the abhayAmbA vibhakthi krithis in kEdAram set to Adi tALam. This krithi is composed extensively in the shashTi vibhakthi (sixth/genitive/possessive case). In this krithi, dIkshithar completely exploits the beauty of this rAgam. In the pallavi itself, dIkshithar brings the essence of this rAga to the forefront. But more than the musical aspect, I would say that it is the grammatical brilliance displayed in this krithi which overshadows musical beauty. The adhyakshara and antyakshara prAsams in the anupallavi build-up to the 86 syllable word in the charaNam which runs for 5 lines. And the esoteric yogic and tAntric references in the charaNam are way beyond description. A careful rasika will be able to completely imagine the highly meditative state of surrender and devotion dIkshithar must have been in when he composed this amazing krithi. As always, I will make yet another humble attempt and try to explain this great work of a genius. If there are any mistakes, please pardon me and correct me. If the explanation is incomplete, please post your comments and help me learn. Moving on to the krithi now,

ambikAyAH abhayAmbikAyAH tava dAso.ahaM AdijagadambikAyAH


dIkshithar sings " I am the servant ("dAso.ahaM") of you ("tava"), Goddess ambikA, the one who provides shelter ("abhayAmbikayAH") and the one who is the primordial mother of the universe ("AdijagadambikAyAH")."

The "PMGP" start for the krithi wakes the rasika up and issues a clear command to get ready for a treat. The typical "PSNP, MGR; SSMG;R" kEdAram phrase at "tava dAso.ahaM" brings out the beauty of this rAgam in its entirety. The pallavi ends with a small madhyamakAla sAhityam. Other than that, there is nothing much to explain here..yet another simple pallavi which provides infinite scope for improvization.

shambarAriharishashikuberapramukhopAsitanavayoginyAH sAMkhyatArakamanaskarAjayoginyAH shivabhoginyAH bimbapratibimbarUpiNyAH bindumaNDalavAsinyAH svarUpiNyAH

dIkshithar describes the Goddess as "the one who is an embodiment of the nine yoginIs ("navayoginyAH") who are worshipped ("upAsita") by great/significant Gods ("pramukha:") like cupid ("enemy of Lord Shiva-shambarAri"), Lord Vishnu ("hari"), the moon ("shashi") and kubera. The one who is beyond the 3 stages of enquiry ("sAMkhya") of the mind ("manaska") leading to liberation ("tAraka") and the one who is established in rAja yOga. The one who delights ("bhoginyAH") Lord Shiva. The one who is of the form ("rUpiNyAH") of the light, image ("bimba") and reflection ("pratibimba"). The one who dwells ("vAsinyAH") in the bindu maNDala and the one who manifests as her"self" ("svarUpiNyAH")."

What an amazing anupallavi. The anupallavi of this krithi itself shows what a masterpiece this is. dIkshithar directly jumps into the yogic and tAntric stuff. For a yogi, dIkshithar depicts the Goddess as the ideal source of light who is beyond all doubts and questions a human mind could ask. dIkshithar follows this up by describing Her as the one who delights shivA. Apart from taking the direct meaning of the dEvi being the consort of Lord shivA, one can also interpret this description of the Goddess as "the one who delights the still mind of the yOgi, the still soul, shivA. To consolidate this, dIkshithar brings in direct advaita vedanta by describing Her as the source ("paramAtmA") as well as the reflection ("jIvAtmA"). dIkshithar finishes the anupallavi by describing Her as the one who resides in the bindu maNDala. The bindu maNDala or third eye is a five pointed star at the seat of the eyebrows. It is supposed to be a blue dot (hence the name bindu) and dIkshithar once again emphasizes that surrender to Goddess abhayAmbikA is a sure step towards jIvana mukthi.

The greatness of this anupallavi, in addition to all the esoteric meanings as explained above, is that it sets a wonderful platform on which dIkshithar builds perhaps the magnum opus of all charaNams ever composed by dIkshithar in terms of grammatical mastery. The charaNam is a monstrous display of dIkshithar's skill in handling meter, grammar, musical succinctness, esoteric vedAntic references and what not. I once again salute him and pray to him to give me the strength to try to interpret this complex charanam.

yamaniyamAdyaSTAN^gayogaviSayAdinigrahakaraNa- mUlAdhAramaNipUrakAdyabjabhedanasphurakuNDalinI- sahasradaLabrahmarandhrasthakamalAntargatashivasammeLana- gaLitaparamAm.rtabindusecanasamujj.rmbhita- nADImukhavikAsakaraNanijAnubhUtiyoginyAH amoghavarashivasArUpyAnandAnubhavapradAyinyAH aprameyaguruguhAdijananyAH brahmAdipa~ncakakAriNyAH

dIkshithar beautifully describes the ways in which one can truly realize and experience the existence of ("nijAnubhUti") the Goddess as the yogini ("yoginyAH"). dIkshitar sings "by contemplating and practicing ("nigrahakaraNa") the essence of ("vishaya")eight fold path of yoga ("aSTAN^gayoga") beginning with yama, niyamA (self-restraint and penance); by awakening the kundaliNi ("coiled snake") and making it pierce through ("bhedana") the quivering ("sphura") chakras/lotuses ("abja") starting with mUlAdhAra and maNipura and going all the way upto the brahmarandra seated at the sahasrAra, the
thousand petalled lotus ("sahasra dala kamala) and thereby bringing about a great harmony, causing union ("sammeLaNa") with shiva which causes the oozing flow ("galita") of eternal ambrosia ("paramAmr.ta") which makes the third eye ("bindu") to become resplendent ("secana") and make the energy engulf ("samujrambita") the nerve centers ("nADimukha") and enervating ("vikAsa karaNa") them, thereby making the yOgi experience the truth ("nija") and realizing the divine existence of ("anubhUti") the Goddess as the yogini."; thus ending the 86 syllabled word..perhaps the biggest ever word written in sanskrit.

dIkshithar ends the charaNam by continuing to describe the dEvi as "the one who bestows ("pradAyiNyAH") the rare and immeasurable boon ("amOghavara") of experience of bliss ("Ananda anubhava") by merging and identifying the soul with Lord Shiva ("shivasArUpya"). The mother of ("jananyAH") the immeasurable ("apramEya") guruguha and the cause of the 5-fold acts ("panchaka-kArinyAH") beginning with brahma."

What an amazing charaNam :O :O. I completely surrender to dIkshithar. One can very clearly see the deep meditative state he must have reached and must have been marinating in to express in such great detail, the purpose of a human being and the spiritual progress he should make. dIkshithar explains the essence of the propagation of the kundaliNi through the chakras in the astral body and how one can achieve this by meditating on the Goddess. And how beautifully he explains the dynamics of this practice, enunciating the way and the end result..opening of the 2 million nerves of the body and experiencing the bliss of merging with "the one", the supreme light. And to put such vEdanta in a musical form with unimaginable meter shows the greatness and the genius of the musical yogi, the great nAdhajyOthi. I salute and lie prostrate at the feet of him, shrI guruguhasya dAso.aham.

There is nothing more to write about this krithi. My mind has gone blank because of the exhaustive charaNam and I am vibrating with pure bliss listening to shrI vijay shivA's rendition of this krithi. I have not discussed the musical aspects of this krithi owing to the sheer volume of explanations which would add more complexity to the already convoluted composition. I leave it to the rasika who (I hope) should have been able to understand the krithi better after reading this blog, to listen and appreciate this masterpiece..trust me, it will add more beauty and value to your life..just listen to it.

I will next take up the beautiful "abhayAmbAyAm" composed in sahAna. I am hoping to find time today and tommorrow and finish this krithi and probably the next one, thereby leaving me with only the maNgaLa krithi to write about inorder to complete the set. Signing off with a deep sense of surrender to dIkshithar, shrI gurubhyO namah:

Thursday, March 6, 2008


I once again apologize for the delay in posting this krithi. The last few weeks have been very hectic. Office work has been getting a little too heavy for poor me. On the weekends, music sessions take the entire morning and afternoon and ofcourse I have the other chores to do. So, its been konjam crazy, the past few weeks. Last weekend, my dear friend and college junior, Harsha Nagarajan came to Austin to give a concert. It was wonderful to meet him after such a long time. The concert (needless to say) was awesome. The beautiful shankArabharaNam main still rings in my ears. Dr. BhattachArya, a professor in Texas A&M university also came along with Harsha and he performed on the sarode. The soul stirring kIrvANi and jOg he played were just too much to take.

These days, I have started to sit down, sing and properly practice. Hopefully I will be a decent enough singer to sing thalaivar krithis. The 15 years or so I have wasted since childhood have to be made up. There is nothing beyond human effort and as SK and I always recall, we should draw inspiration from Paramahansa Yogananda's words of wisdom- "You must not let your life run in the ordinary way; do something that nobody else has done, something that will dazzle the world. Show that God's creative principle works in you." What an amazing thing to say.

Anyway, continuing with the abhayAmbA vibhakthi krithis, I will take up the mellifluous "abhayAmbikAyAH" in rAgA kEdAragOwLa composed exclusively in the panchami vibhakthi (fifth/ablative case). This krithi, in my humble opinion is perhaps the best ever kEdAragOwLa composed. The beauty, scope and depth of the rAga is beautifully brought out and completely exploited by dIkshithar. The entire krithi (especially the charaNam) is rich in tAntrik references and vedantic allusions. The pallavi itself is a comprehensive display of the rAgam.


abhayAmbikAyAH anyam na jAnE
ajHnAnadhmAnE aparOksha jHnAnE


dIkshithar sings "I know ("jAnE") of none other ("anyam na") than Goddess abhayAmbikA, the one who removes ("dhmAnE") all ignorance ("ajHnAna") and the personification of limitless ("aparOksha") knowledge ("jHnAnE")."

The pallavi brings out the majestic as well as the gentle natures of this beautiful rAgam. The "S S rsndp" start at "abhayAmbi"kAyAH straight away takes you to seventh heaven and promises no return :). And the highlight of this krithi is the mind-blowing "S ndp" phrase at "anyam". The chill it sends down my spine each time I listen to it or sing it is just indescribable. "S ndp-mgr" phrase at "ajHnAnadhmAnE" and "nd, dp, mg, rmpnsr" at "aparOksha jHnAnE" are the final nails in the coffin. There is absolutely nothing more to do in kEdAragOwLa..dIkshithar takes the entire juice out of the rAgam in the pallavi, in one stroke..just amazing. If you are reading this blog without having listened to the krithi, please immediately rush to the website and listen to this masterpiece..thats all I can say.

The anupallavi ofcourse has to live up to the billing after such an explosive start, which it more than does :).


ibharAjagatyAh IshvaryAh jagatyAh
nabhOmaNi gatyAh nAdalayagatyAh


dIkshithar describes the Goddess as "the one who has the majestic ("rAja") gait ("gatyAh") of an elephant ("ibha") and the supreme Goddess ("IshvaryAh") of the universe ("jagatyAh"). In the madhyamakAla sAhityam, dIkshithar sings "She is the one who makes the sun ("nabhOmaNi"-star/gem of the sky) shine ("gatyAh") and the one who is embodiment ("gatyAh") of sound ("nAda") and beats ("laya")."

Look at the prAsam in these few lines of the anupallavi. dIkshithar plays around with different meanings for the same word "gatyAh". True to the sAhityams, the krithi itself just gallops along with that majestic gait. The "r R mg, rsndp" phrase at "nabhOmaNi gatyAh" and "P mgr, rmpns" phrase at "nAdalaya gatyAh" to finish the anupallavi and beautifully take off at the pallavi once again shows how well dIkshithar has handled this rAgam. He literally toys around with all the different sangathis and creates that magical effect as usual. How carefully he has woven the thread..look at that "rmpns" ending for the anupallavi (a proper ArOhaNam) culminating in the pallavi. One is reminded of John keats' words- "Beauty is truth, truth beauty"..what else can I say. I shut up and move on to the charaNam


bAlAdi nAmadhEya prakAshinyAh
kAlAdI tatvAnta prakAshinyAh
mUlAdi dvAdashAnta prakAshinyAh
sthUlAdi maunAnta prakAshinyAh
trailOkya mUlA prakRtyAh svashaktyAh
sAlOka sAmIpya sArUpya muktyAh
mAlinImantra mAlAdi tantrOktyAh
shUlinI guruguha svAnubhava gatyAh

dIkshithar sings of the Goddess as "The one who shines ("prakAshinyAh") in various manifestations like ("nAmadEya") bAla, etc. The one who shines forth ("prakAshinyAh") as the philosophy ("tatva"), beginning with time ("kAla"). The one who radiates ("prakAshinyAh") from the twelve ("dvAdasha") nerve centers ("anta-inner parts") starting with mUla ("mUlAdi"). The one who manifests as ("prakAshinyAh") various forms starting from the gross ("sthUlAdi") and ending with the esoteric/subtle ("maunAnta")."

The galloping madhyamAkAla sAhityam unfolds where in he describes the Goddess as "The one who is the primordial force ("mUlaprakrutyah") responsible for the creation of the three worlds ("trilOkya") and the self-propelling force ("svashaktyAh"). The one who gives all the four types of liberations ("muktyAh"), namely, sAlOkya, sAmIpya, sArUpya and sAyujya. The one who is the essence of ("uktyAh") of tantric works like mAlini and mantamAlA. The one who bears the trident ("shUliNi") and the one who is the self experience ("svAnubhava") of guruguha."

What an amazing charaNam..look at the prAsam ;(. dIkshithar's references to tAntric philosophy and vEdAntAs are perfectly showcased in the charaNam. He refers to the dEvi as the one who transcends everything from the gross physical plane to the subtle astral and the esoteric causal planes. For the yogi, She is the one who resides in the 12 nerve centers of the body, starting with mUlAdhAra chakra at the base of the spine and extending upto the sahasrAra, the thousand petaled lotus at the top of the head. Thus, by pleasing the Goddess and praying to Her, one can meditate on Her and make the kundalini move up the spine thereby reopening the nerve passages from these chakras and hence attaining supreme consciousness.

dIkshithar gives the Goddess the ultimate compliment by saying that She is the one who gives the four types of liberation, sAlOkya mukthi (Being in the same plane of God consciousness-Co-located with the Lord), sAmipya mukthi (Being close to or near God consciousness-Being in the vicinity of God), sArUpya mukthi (Attaining the same form as the parabrahman) and sAyujya mukthi (union with the Lord, this is the final stage of liberation). It has taken me five lines to (in)completely sketch one word of dIkshithar..such is the depth, profoundness and brilliance of this genius.

Musically, the charaNam starts off with the "r R" phrase which is overflowing with beauty. The "S ndp" phrase at "kAlAdi" and the "r M m g R" phrase at "tatvAnta" brings the rasikA to life and kills him/her once again..such is the beauty. The "p m pN S r r" at "mUlAdidvAdasha" is perhaps one of the best ever take-offs composed by dIkshithar. By this stage of the krithi, the rasikA is sure to have given up on life and closed his/her eyes, peacefully floating in the ocean of bliss. The madhyamakAla sAhityam literally flows to give that crescendo effect. The "gr rmp" ending to the charaNam leading to the "R S rsndp" take-off at the start of the pallavi completes the masterpiece, making this krithi, perhaps my most favourite krithi of the abhayAmba series. Such beauty and bliss is impossible to describe and it must be experienced by every human being with an ear for carnatic music.

I am now listening to the recording of varadarAja avAva in gangAtaraNgini (33rd mELa) in which SK and I completely gave up and went gA gA. I suddenly become extremely senti as I close this post listening to this recording. If it was not for the satsangam of friends like SK, hari and many more, my life would have continued along less meaningful paths. Anyway, I will next take up "ambikAyAh abhayAmbikAyAh" in kedAram, perhaps the studdest gem among this set of krithis. Till then, keep listening and as usual drown in the ocean of nectar :). shrI gurubhyO namah: