Sunday, May 11, 2008

sArasa daLa nayanA- khamAs

Ages..Its been Ages since I wrote anything here :(. This has by far been the longest hiatus ever :(. There were primarily 3 reasons for me not posting anything for the past 1 month. First, my computer crashed thanks to that "wonderful" operating system called "Vista". I had some major issues removing vista and "downgrading" to XP. Second, work has got so hectic that I no longer even remember the projects I am working on..there are atleast 20 projects running at the same time and I am rarely able to find time for even listening to music ;(. And finally, because of the above two reasons, I have not been able to mentally connect with music for the past 1 month :(. I have not been able to enjoy music sessions and all these issues kind of added up and reduced my interest and inclination towards carnatic music ;(. But this also made me realize how meaningless life becomes without music and now I am back with a refreshingly new passion :). And this month, I am going to make up for the month of may and post as many krithis as I can.

The last week has been awesome..thanks to some wonderful music sessions with Hari, SK and Lavanya. Our session gumbal has exploded in numbers and we have around 50 members I suppose. The weekend sessions are buzzing with amazingly talented musicians from all over the world and it has been an absolute pleasure to listen to all these wonderful people. Thanks a lot makkaLE. For the last two days, the tanukIrti bug has bitten me. I have been totally captivated by the rAgA's beauty and thalaivar's "cidambara naTarAjamUrtim". Moving on to the krithi, khamAs was actually one of those earliest rAgams I could recognize as a kid :). And this krithi was definitely one of the very first I heard. I tend to always associate this rAgam with my dear friend Ramaa Ramesh. Her numerous renditions of mAthE malayadhvaja in this rAgam have enriched my understanding of it :).

From what I have noticed, when dIkshithar really falls in love with a kshEtram, he composes two krithis at the same temple in the same rAga. That seems to be the case here..dIkshithar has composed both sArasa daLa nayanA and santAna gOpalakrishNam upAsmahE in khamAs at the same mannArguDi kshEtram. This rAjagOpAlaswAmi temple seems to have been showered with some amazing dIkshithar krithis with shrI rAjagOpAla in sAvEri capping it all off as the numero uno. Now, starting with the pallavi,

sArasa daLa nayanA sankaTa haraNa harE gOvinda mAm pAhi

dIkshithar seeks the refuge of the Lord in the opening lines of this krithi and starts off by addressing the Lord as "Oh gOvinda!! The one with eyes ("nAyana") like lotus petals ("sArasa daLa") and the remover ("haraNa") of all obstacles ("sankaTa"). Please protect me ("mAm pAhi")."

dIkshithar starts the krithi off with a swarAksharam. The opening phrase of "S; dndsdP; P nd M Gm; dnp DNS" at "sArasa daLa nayanA" followed by the MGM phrase at "sankaTa" completely captures the beauty of khamAs and pretty much sums up the entire scale of the rAga. This krithi is more of a nAmasmaraNam according to me. He brings in all those beautiful names of God like hari, gOvinda, mukunda, mAdhava etc. The pallavi is extremely simple and easy to understand. Moving on to the anupallavi,

nIrajAsanAdi pUjitAnga shrI ramAntaranga shubAnga
murahara abhayaprada mukunda yAdavakulabhUshaNa mAdhava

dIkshithar describes rAjagOpAlaswAmi as "the one worshipped ("pUjitAnga") by Lord Brahma ("nirajAsana"-seated on the lotus) and others. The one who resides in the heart ("antaranga") of Goddess Lakshmi ("ramA") and the one whose form is auspicious ("shubAnga"). The one who vanquished ("hara") the demon named mura and the one who provides ("prada") protection and refuge ("abhaya"). The one who liberates ("mukunda"), the pride jewel ("bhUshaNa") of the yAdhava clan and he is mAdhava, the Lord of knowledge."

The anupallavi is where the rAgam blossoms completely. The beauty of tripuTa tALam comes to the forefront. dIkshithar shows his brilliance once again with swarAksharams at nIrajA"sanAdi" employing the "SND" phrase. Look at the antyAkshara prAsam in the first line of the anupallavi. I love the "DPmp Dnd; PNDP" phrase at "pUjitAnga". To finish the anupallavi on a high note, dIkshithar uses some kutti yet amazing prayOgams like "SSGR" at "murahara" and "DNSR-N" at "prada mukunda". Grammatically and spiritually speaking, as you can clearly see, this krithi is pretty simple. dIkshithar is not trying to play with words or show his yogic brilliance here. Moving on to the charaNam,

mAghamAsotsava prabhAva mAnita guruguha vandita bhava
gOkula janapAla gOpikAmanOhara gOvardanadhara

dIkshithar sings "The one who is honoured ("prabhAva") during the festivities ("utsava") held in the month ("mAsa") of mAgha (March-April). The one who is worshipped ("vandita") by the esteemed and respected ("maanita") Lord guruguha. The one who protects ("pAla") the cowherd clan ("gOkula jana"). The beloved ("manOhara") of the gOpika damsels and the one who held ("dhara") the gOvardhana mountains in His hand."

What an amazing charaNam. dIkshithar kills 3 birds with one stone in the first word of the charaNam. First, he incorporates one of the most beautiful rAga mudrAs ever at mA"ghamAs"otsava. Second, he brings in one of the most beautiful swarAksharams ever at "maghamA"sotsava. And finally by talking about the utsavam held during the magha mAsa, dIkshithar has pretty much given a good identity of the kSEtram. The tiruvizha held at the rAjagOpalaswAmi temple is a grand event for which huge number of people gather from all the villages around mannArguDi. Symbolizing Lord krishna's liking for the butter, the "vennai-thAzhi" and the "thiruthEr" festivals are extremely famous. What a genius..look at that rAgamudra..cha ;(.

dIkshithar continues with his swarAkshara arAjagams in the charaNam by using the "MND" phrase at "mAnita". If the anupallavi was filled with antyAkshara prAsam, in the charaNam, dIkshithar shows that he is equally adept with adyAkshara prAsam with all the words of the first line of charaNam starting with "mA" and all the words in the second line starting with "ga". The madhyama kAla sAhityam gives the krithi its completeness and brings to end, one of the most soothing khamAs's ever.

In my next post, I will take up the beautiful sAma masterpiece, annapUrnE. As I end this post, I am listening to a majestic lathAngi sung by Sanjay sir. Check out these two videos on youtube- lathAngis sung by Sanjay sir and SRJ maama. Absolute treats :). I will surely post the next krithi tomorrow itself in my attempt to make up for this 1 month gap :(. Till then, signing off..shrI guruguhasya dAsOham.

Friday, May 2, 2008

rangapuravihAra-bRndAvana sAranga

I have taken up a new oath this week and that is to listen to atleast one concert a day :). What could more enlightening and invigorating than listening to some great musicians. I also found out that a combination of heavy workload and fever could be devastating, mentally and physically. At the end of the day, all I need is some good food, good music and good rest. The absence of the first and second factors seem to have a heavy influence on the third. It makes me mentally tired and so I get a good amount of "sleep" but not good rest. Anyway..I hope to bring all of this to an end very soon :).

I will now take up the beautiful masterpiece in bRndAvana sAranga, "rangapuravihAra" composed by the nAdhajyOthi at the enchanting shrIrangam kSEtra. As I had mentioned in one of my earlier posts, in almost all of the rAgAs which dIkshithar adopted to carnatic music, he has composed one krithi keeping the hindustAni style intact (ammaDi) and one krithi sketching out the adapted carnatic version (maDi). In the case of bRndAvana sAranga, dIkshithar's soundararAjam (refer to earlier blogs for explanation on this gem) is the maDi version while rangapuravihAra seems to be the ammaDi, hindustAni variant. The rUpaka tALam flows brilliantly in this krithi, pretty much in sync with the lapping waters of the kAveri. As is the case with most rasikAs, I always attribute this krithi to MS amma. Her mellifluous voice and the melodious gamakAs she employs are truly mind blowing. Moving on to the krithi now,

ranga pura vihAra jaya kOdanDa-rAmAvatAra raghUvIra shrI

dIkshithar directly addresses the Lord "Lord RanganAtha!!The one who resides ("vihAra") at rangapura, victory ("jaya") unto thee. The one who incarnated ("avatAra") as bow ("kodanDa") wielding Lord Rama. The warrior ("vIra") of the raghu dynasty."

What a beautiful start to the krithi. One of those starts which definitely has a bang attached to it. The "R S" beginning for the krithi is haunting to say the least. And look at how beautifully dIkshithar loops the shrI at the end of the pallavi to the ranga beginning thereby giving the kSEtram. The incomprehensible beauty this line of the pallavi exudes will reverberate forever. The "psnrnsp; mnpmrs" phrase at "rAma;avatara" oozes with rAga chAya. It is because of krithis like this that I tend to become too biased and make statements like dIkshithar is the one who defined classical music best. Anyway, moving on,

angaja janaka dEva bRndAvana sArangEndra varada ramAntaranga
shyAmaLAnga vihanga turanga sadayApAnga satsanga

dIkshithar continues to describe the Lord with references to mythology as "The father ("janaka") of Cupid ("angaja"). The one who protected the celestials ("dEva") and Gajendra, the Lord of Elephants ("sArangEndra") in the forest ("bRndAvana"). The one who grants boons ("varada") and the beloved one ("antaranga"-intimate) of Goddess Lakshmi ("ramA")".

The beautiful madhyamakAla sAhityam continues "The one with the bluish-black ("shyamaLa") body ("anga"). The one who has the divine Garuda ("vihanga") as his vehicle ("turanga"). The one who is full of mercy and compassion ("sadayApAnga") and the one who is always in the company of noble-minded men ("satsanga").

The hindustAni face of the rAga is clearly brought in the first line of the anupallavi with the "rPnmp" phrase at "angaja" followed by the "SsnpsNS" phrase at "janaka dEva". The "P R" take off at bR"ndA"vana makes one's hair stand up and this is where the goosebumps really start getting too much to handle. Similar to "soundararAjam", dIkshithar once again uses the reference to Lord gajendra to bring in the rAga mudra. The madhyamakAlam in the anupallavi is one of my all time favourites. dIkshithar explores the complementary phrases in this rAga which goes as "PSnRs;NP;MnpmR;SRnS" at "shyAmala;anga;vihanga;turanga".

Throughout this krithi, one can see the simplicity in the structure and usage of sanskrit grammar which is very simple to understand. Further, the absence of any yogic or vedantic references makes this krithi a demonstration of beauty and bhakthi straight from the heart of the bhakta in dIkshithar. He does not intend on bringing in any science here. It is a plain description of the Lord and the rasika can easily relate to a heart pouring out with pure bhakthi and surrender, captured completely by dIkshithar. The charanam continues in that same tone set by the pallavi and anupallavi,

pankajApta kula jala nidhi sOma
vara pankaja mukha paTTAbirAma
pada pankaja jita kAma raghurAma
vAmAnka gata sItA varavEsha
SEshAnka Sayana bhakta santOsha
EnAnka ravi nayana mRdu-tara bhAsha
akaLanka-darpaNa kapOla viSEsha muni-
sankata haraNa gOvinda vEnkata ramana mukunda
sankarSana mUla kanda shankara guruguhAnanda

dIkshithar beautifully describes the Lord as "the one who rose as the moon ("sOma") in the ocean ("jalanidhi") dynasty ("kula") of the sun ("pankajApta"-friend of the lotus). The revered one ("vara") with a lotus-like ("pankaja") face ("mukha") and the one who was coronated as king ("paTTAbhirAma"). The one with the lotus-like ("pankaja") feet ("pada") who surpasses ("jita") the beauty of the cupid ("kAma") as Lord Rama of the raghu clan; the one who beautifully appears ("vEsha") with the revered ("vara") sItA seated gracefully on His left lap ("vAmAnka gata"). The one who reclines on ("shayana") AdiSEsha, the serpent and the one who delights and pleases ("santOsha") His devotees ("bhakta"). The one who has the sun and the moon ("EnAnka ravi") as His eyes ("nayana") and the soft-spoken one ("mRdu-tara bhAsha"). The one who has cheeks ("kapOla") that shine like a blemishless ("a-kaLanka") mirror ("darpaNa"). He is Govinda, the one who destroyed ("haraNa") all the troubles ("sankata") for the munIs. The one known by many names like vEnkataramaNa and mukunda. The one who bestows auspiciousness ("sankarshana") in His primordial form ("mUla kanda"). The one who delights ("Ananda") Lord Shiva ("shankara") and Lord guruguha".

What an amazing charaNam ;(. Just beautiful. dIkshithar plays with the word "pankaja" in the first few lines of the charaNam. And see how he maintains the prAsam throughout the krithi right from the first word (r"anga") to the last word (sh"anka"ra). That is why I keep saying that he is He!! Genius ;(. I actually am deeply emotional now thinking about this charaNam and have nothing more to say. I am just at a complete loss of words sitting here with tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my skin. I am not even equipped or qualified enough to talk about the charaNam and hence I stop right here. Musically, there are too many beautiful phrases in the charaNam for me to point out and it would end up as more like "notations for the entire charaNam" kind. Hence I feel it is better for the rasika to listen and experience personally. Just amazing how big a genius he should have been. ;( has to go on. If you have not already, I would highly advise watching Ranjani and Gayathri render this beautiful krithi on youtube; one of the purest renditions of this krithi I have heard.

I will take up yet another of my favorite krithi about which I have been wanting to write for a long time now, "sArasa daLa nayanA" in khamAs which happens to be one of the very first dIkshithar krithis I listened to :). As I sign off, I am listening to SSI taking mukhAri to a whole new level in the famous airport concert . I would rate this concert as one of the very best I have heard in my whole life. Please listen to it if have not already. shrI gurubhyO namah: