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: