I am finally finding time to blog a little frequently. If I am able to do this for the next few months, I will be really happy :). First of all, I hereby want to wish my wonderful friend, Ramaa Ramesh, a very happy and successful student life at XLRI, Jamshedpur :)..all the very best to one of the best ever :) !! Coming to music, I am really happy with the way the new thyAgarAja website has come out. It looks really professional and we have come a decently long way in designing websites now :). With the help of Bala sir, we should be able to upload 300 more krithis of Saint thyAgarAja even as a proposed Shyama Shastri website is waiting in the wings. I feel truly blessed to be in the good company of such great friends with whom, I am slowly realizing the purpose of this life.
Looking back on the past 1.5 years, ever since I started blogging, I am wondering how come I never blogged about one of my most favourite rAgams, suruTTi (affectionately called as "folder" by our session gumbal due to obvious reasons). A few weeks back, Hari, SK and I chanced to listen to this beautiful chouka kAla suruTTi varNam from SSP sung by Prof. SRJ maama. As usual I was in tears and Hari started calling me an azhu moonji :). Irrespective of the size of the gumbal, the members present or the number of krithis/ragams discussed about, no session closes without atleast a brief suruTTi :). An amazingly beautiful rAgam which soothes one's mind. "shrI vEnkaTa girISam AlokayE" is perhaps the first dIkshithar krithi I learnt to sing (thanks to hari). This krithi is on the fav list of many of my fav people (Hari, Aishu etc) and hence is very close to my heart :).
Regarding the kSEtram at which this krithi was composed, there are a few controversies because both the tirupathi temple and the pulivalam/gOkarNa temple get mentioned. Many people believe that this krithi was composed at the tirupathi temple praising Lord vEnkatAchalapati. There is another group of people who believe that this krithi was composed in pulivanam/ gOkarNa temple. In the maNipravALa krithi, vEnkatAchalapatE in karnATaka kApi, dIkshithar seems to be alluding to the legend linking Lord vEnkatAchalapati to the deity at pulivalam in the last lines of the anupallavi reading "mangaLam porundiya pulivalathil viLaNgum" in sundara tamil :). Since dIkshithar seems to have visited both temples and has composed on both deities, we can only guess where this was composed. Moving on to the krithi now,
shrI vEnkaTa girISam AlOkayE vinAyaka turagArUdam
dIkshithar demands the attention of the Lord in the pallavi- "Behold ("AlOkayE"), auspicious ("shrI") Lord of the vEnkaTa hills!! The one seated on the powerful Garuda ("turagArUdam"), the king ("nAyaka") of all birds ("vi")."
These first lines of the krithi always strike me as a beautiful display of the divine romance between the bhakta and the Lord. Look at how dIkshithar, the bhakta, is demanding the attention of Lord vEnkaTeshwara, the protector of all the worlds. Musically, the "rmgr" prayOgam at "shrI" to open the krithi bowls the rasikA over straight away. dIkshithar employs the beautiful "psndp" phrase at "girISam" followed by the "ndpmgm;mgpmr" phrase at "A;lOkayE". dIkshithar caps off the pallavi with "rmpndp; pmgm;rmgs" at "turagArUdam" thereby bringing out the entire beauty of this rAgam in just one line. The beauty of the pallavi is its simplicity. Notice that, dIkshithar does not even use the mandira or the tAra sthAyis in these opening lines. The entire pallavi is structured simply in the madhya sthAyi extracting the rAgA's essence to the fullest. Moving on to the anupallavi,
dEvESa pUjita bhagavantam dinakara kOTi prakASavantaM
gOvindam natabhUsura brindam guruguhAnandam mukundam
dIkshithar describes the Lord with devotion as "the one who is worshipped ("pUjita") by Lord Indra ("dEvESa"-Lord of the dEvAs) and the one who is as resplendent ("prakASavantam") as crores ("kOTi") of suns ("dinakara"). He is gOvinda, the one who is saluted ("nata") by groups ("brindam") of virtuous people ("bhUsura"). He is Mukunda, the one who delights ("Anandam") Lord guruguha."
dIkshithar uses hyperboles inorder to give an idea of the magnitude of greatness he is talking about while describing the Lord. The last line of "guruguhAnandam mukundam" can be literally translated as explained above. If we dive a little deeper, we will find dIkshithar, the yOgi coming out. Mukunda, the name of the Lord means "the one who releases". As I have explained before, guruguha could be a yogic reference to a teacher ("guru") residing in the heart caves ("guha") of the disciple. So, this line can also be translated as " He is mukunda (the one who releases(the soul from this world)), the one who brings bliss ("Anandam) to the disciple's heart by being the divine teacher".
Musically, the anupallavi is rich in phrases that define suruTTi. I love the "SnSR" phrase at "dinakara" and the "pRSnn" phrase "prakASa". The "mpnsr; grsnrsndp" at "gOvindam; natabhUsura brindam" gives the madhyamakAla sAhityam its beauty and grandeur :). The charaNam has perhaps the most beautiful starts ever, one for which, I might give up my life :).
alamElumangA samEtam ananta padmanAbham atItam
kaliyuga pratyakSa vibhAtam kanjajAdi dEvOpEtam
jaladhara sannibha sundara gAtram jalaruha-mitrAbja-Satru nEtram
kaluSApaha gOkarNakSEtram karunArasapAtram chinmAtram
dIkshithar continues to describe the Lord as "the one who is in the company ("samEtam") of Goddess alamElumangA and the one who is the supreme ("atItam") ananta padmanAbha swAmi, the lotus naveled. The one who shines forth ("vibhAtam") as the omniscient one ("pratyakSa") in this yuga of kali and the one who is surrounded by ("upEtam") by Lord Brahma ("kanjaja") and other dEvAs. The one whose body ("gAtram") is beautiful ("sundara") like the black rain-bearing ("jaladhara") clouds ("sannibha") and the one whose eyes ("netram") are the sun ("jalaruha-mitra"-friend of the lotus) and the moon ("abja-Satru"). He is the one who removes ("apaha") all the sins ("kalusha") and resides in the kshetram of gOkarNa. He is the one who is the repository ("pAtram") of mercy and compassion ("karunArasa") and the embodiment of pure consciousness ("chinmAtram")."
There is nothing much to explain in the charaNam. dIkshithar keeps the sAhityams simple. But the beauty of the charanam is something that is to be experienced. Also, look at how he brings in the sun and the moon. He refers to the sun and the moon with reference to the lotus and uses mitra and shatru in the same word :). One must listen to Balaji Shankar's or SSI's rendition to get a good feel of this beautiful krithi :). The reference to alamelumanga thAyAr makes one's heart melt with devotion and is heavily inundated with bhakti rasA. Musically, the "rmpp" start for the charaNam followed by "M N" swarAksharam at "man"gA are truly mind-blowing. And finally to add spice, dIkshithar uses explicitly flat notes in the madhyamakAlam to expose the fast, racy aspects of the rAgam. The madhyamakAlam starts as "rpmpmpnd; Pmg pmR" and ends up with the "pmgrmgs" phrase at "chinmAtram" setting it up smoothly for the pallavi to take off :).
As I end this post, I am listening to an amazingly well rendered osOsi padam by Aishwarya Vidya Raghunath who seems to be a name to look out for in the future. In my next post, I will take up the krithi "bAlasubrahmaNyam bhajEham" once again in suruTTi making it a double punch :). Hopefully I can squeeze in time in the next two days or so and post the next krithi :). I hope you guys enjoyed reading this :). Catch you all in the next post..shrI gurubhyO namah: