Monday, June 23, 2008

bAlasubrahmaNyam bhajEham- suruTTi

On this extremely hot and sultry sunday evening here at Round Rock, Texas, I am chilling out with a nice mug of hot apple cider and some bajjis I made in the evening :). As we all know, coffee or tea would have been more blissful but somehow I wanted to try out this combination. It actually does taste real good but stands nowhere in comparison to the bajji+coffee combo. :). I am mixing up my decent culinary skills nicely over the past few days. It has ranged from authentic south indian to mexican :). Anyway..coming to music, we have been having some fun-filled music sessions as usual and yesterday night, K L Kaushik once again graced our gumbal with some divine music. As SK rightly said, carnatic music is safe in the hands of such brilliant people :).

As some of you would be knowing, Shri Sanjay Subrahmanyan sir has started a new blog where he talks about carnatic music. He has started a podcast series in which he speaks about specific musicians and some fine aspects of music for about 30 minutes. The first episode was on thanjavur S Kalyanaraman sir and two of the pieces that Sanjay sir plays in the podcast (tODi and yAgapriyA) are mind-blowing to say the least. I humbly suggest all carnatic music rasikas to benefit from this series.

I have been totally swooning over suruTTi for the past 2 or 3 days after listening to SRJ maama's lecdem on gamakAs. The suruTTi that he sings for a brief 7 minutes in that recording is sheer bliss. Please check out the lecdem page on sangeethapriya and look out for the gamakAs lecdem. The sedate chouka kAla varNam of subbarAma dIkshithar provided with notation in SSP is intoxicating to say the least..azhagu_max. I have also been listening to thalaivar's masterpiece "shrI vAnchanAtham bhajEham" and have been completely engulfed by the beauty of this rAgam. So it is only appropriate that I blog about this beautiful krithi on the cute, kutti Lord bAlasubrahmaNya in this post :).

This krithi is sung as a dhyAna krithi before the kamalAmbA navAvarNams. It has a meditative aspect associated with it. The krithi has some divine power associated with it and is known to grant the wishes of the devotees who sing it with their soul, a facet captured by dIkshithar in the pallavi of this krithi. It is said that dIkshithar even instructed his disciples to meditate on the lyrics of this krithi and they obtained all that they wished for. Shri A. Sundaram iyer in his dIkshithar kIrtana mAla says " Those bereft of the bliss of having a child will do well to recite the appropriate mAla or mantra with this song". These are some of the specialities of this beautiful composition. Moving on to the krithi itself,


bAlasubrahmaNyam bhajEham bhaktakalpabhUruham shrI


dIkshithar sings "I ("aham") chant ("bhajE") the name of the auspicious ("shrI") bAlasubrahmaNya, the divine wish yielding tree ("kalpa bhUruham") for all the devotees ("bhakta")".

Lord bAlasubrahmaNya's name itself has a deep meaning. bAla means young, su is a prefix for indicating something is good/pure and brahmaNya is something that is associated with brahmaN, the undivided supreme self. So the name itself represents something pure and filled with consciousness and auspiciousness. As I mentioned, in these few lines in the pallavi, dIkshithar clearly captures the fact that by singing this krithi and meditating on the Lord, a devotee can obtain all that he wishes for. From the musical standpoint, I love the "S ndp" and the "S nsRsndp" sangathis sung at "bAlasu" and the "npmrr" at "bhajEham". Moving on to the anupallavi,


nIlakaNTa hr.dAnandakaram nitya-shuddha-buddha-muktAmbaram


dIkshithar describes the Lord as "the one who brings happiness ("Anandakaram") to the heart ("hr.d") of blue-black necked ("nIlakaNTa") Lord Shiva and the one who has permanance ("nitya"), purity ("shuddha"), knowledge ("buddha") and liberation/freedom ("mukta:") as his clothes ("ambaram")".

Look at how beautifully dIkshithar captures Lord bAlasubrahmaNya's essence in the word "nitya shuddha buddha muktAmbaram". As I mentioned earlier, Subrahmanya is associated with brahman, the infinite self. Thus, He is the origin of everything and is hence permanent, pure ("su+brahmanya"), a repository of knowledge and is the liberated one. Now the word ambara has two meanings. Depending on the context it could be interpreted as "clothes" or "sky". We all know that the Lord wears no physical dress as kutti bAlasubrahmaNya. And hence, these 4 things become the Lord's ambara. Actually, in this sense, the Lord actually wears ambara (the sky) as his ambara (clothes). Brilliance from dIkshithar as always. The "nS; nd; pn; mrmpn" phrase at "nitya; shudha; buddha; muktAmbaram" flows melliflously and brings in that beautiful invisible thread to tie in the 4 qualities as explained above. :)


vElAyudadaram sundaram vEdAntArta bOdachaturam
phAlAksha guruguhAvatAram parAshakti sukumAram dIram
pAlita gIrvANAdi samUham panCabhUtamaya mAyAmOham
nIlakaNTavAham sudEham niratishayAnanda pravAham


dIkshithar describes the Lord as "the one who carries ("daram") the spear weapon ("vElAyuda"). The one who has a beautiful form ("sundaram") and the one who is intelligent and skillful ("chaturam") in explaining ("bOda") the inner meaning ("arta") of vedAnta. The one who incarnated ("avatAram") as the teacher ("guruguha") to Lord Shiva, the one with an eye ("aksha") on his forehead ("phAla"). The one who is the valiant ("dIram") noble son ("sukumAram") of the supreme ("parA") Goddess Shakti. The one who protects ("pAlita") the community ("samUham") of Gods led by Brahma ("gIrvANa"). The one who created this illusory world ("mAyAmOham") pervaded by ("maya") the five elements ("panCabhUta"). The one who has the blue-necked peacock ("nIlakaNTa") as his vehicle ("vAham") and the one who has a beautiful body ("sudEham"). The one who is a never-ending ("niratishaya") stream ("pravAham") of bliss ("Ananda")."

What a beautiful charaNam :). Very easy to understand. One might wonder why Lord SubrahmaNya, even as a kid carries a spear. The story goes that when He went to fight tArakAsura,
Goddess Shakti (His Mother and ours too :)) made a weapon out of her amsha and this is the divine vElAyudam that the Lord carries. We know how Mothers carry their sons/daughters and Lord Subrahmanya has divine honour of carrying his Mother :).

dIkshithar describes the Lord as "vEdAntArta bOdachaturam", the one who is adept in explaining the vEdAntAs. Here is where dIkshithar the yOgi surfaces. To those ardent devotees who are on the path of self-realization, He becomes guruguha and explains the purpose and the inner meanings of the scriptures. The term "pancabhUtamaya mAyAmOham" has an interesting philosophical interpretation. mAyA is the counterpart of brahman who creates the physical universe composed of the five elements (panCabhUta); traditionally conceived as a female. She is also the mother of shUrapadma the asura. Lord SubrahmaNya was unable to defeat him in battle since mAyA was helping her son by recreating him everytime he was destroyed. Finally He uses his spear (vEl) and aims it at mAyA who swoons (mOham) and shUrapadma gains the ultimate knowledge to be relieved of the mortal coils. Hence it is traditionally claimed that Lord SubramaNya is the ultimate to be prayed to get over the illusions of prapancha.

As I mentioned before, this beautiful krithi richly deserves its prime position as one of the dhyAna krithis sung before the grand kamalAmbA navAvaranams. In my next post, I will follow up with one more krithi on Lord SubrahmaNya, the melodious "swAminAtha paripAlayAsumAm" in calanATTai (sung popularly in nATTai). I will try to post it in the next few days. See you all in the next post. shrI gurubhyO nama:


ಹಂಸಾನಂದಿ Hamsanandi said...


AFAIK, MD does not differentiate between nATa, and calanATa. They are one and the same.

Musical Scientist said...

You are abs right on that one hamsanandhi. I just wanted to point out that the krithi is sung without the deivatham these days.

Shreekrishna said...

Apple Cider with Bajji? Not kewl man, not kewl :(

Musical Scientist said...

Hahaha :D :D..Yes SK..not kewl at all..bajji with coffee dhaan best..hands down :).

none said...

1) Bajji??? Nice! Bajji with anything goes well. If you like the drink, you can eat and drink in tandem. If not, finish off the drink and then start the bajjis. Its very important taht the bajji's taste stays on your palates in the end ;)

2) Beautiful Krithi. As you said, it is relatively easy to understand :) Murugar also happens to be my kuladevam :)


Musical Scientist said...

Dr. Bhaskar:

1. Absolutely right. I will take that into firm consideration when I eat bajjis next time (which would probably be in india in a few months ;)).

2. If I am not wrong, I remember that your first name is actually muthukumar or something. I guess your parents named you after the deity at vaitheeswaran kovil, which is how dIkshithar was named MuthuswAmi too :). So, you have got perhaps the best name ever :D.


Anonymous said...

It 'was' SaiP it 'was' :( Thanks to a bunch of North Indian jerks (during my school days)who mispronounced it, I had to cut it off. A day I will always regret. But yes, Vaitheeswaran Koil Muthukumaraswamy is our kuladevam and thats whom I was named ater fondly :)

I also heard from a 'reliable source' that you will be coming to ATL sometime. See you then ;)


Musical Scientist said...

vaithIswaran kOvil muthukumAraswAmi is your are special Dr. Bhaskar :). And your "reliable source" told you, I am coming to ATL for labor day. I somehow forgot to tell you that when we talked to last time..See you in a few weeks :D :D

ஜீவா (Jeeva Venkataraman) said...

ஆகா, பேஷ், பேஷ், விளக்கங்கள் ரொம்ப நல்லா இருக்கு!

Musical Scientist said...

Mikka Nandri thiru Jeeva avargale :). ThangaLiN varigaiyai indha blogspot varaverkiradhu :)

Rajesh said...

How do you get these translations?
Work from home

Musical Scientist said...

Dear Rajesh,

I just try to put down in words whatever comes to my mind about a krithi..thats how I have written each and every post. When I have doubts, I do my own research and also borrow some knowledge from my friends. I hope you find these posts useful :). Thanks for visiting.