I once again apologize for the delay in posting this. I am finally getting some time for myself after two months of rigorous work. Over the last month, I have not been able to listen to a lot of music. However, those few sessions with hari have as always kept me alive :). I have bought a nice guitar processor which has some patches that enhance the tonal quality of my guitar. Some of these patches have even made me wonder if it is actually me playing the guitar ;). Thanks to my friend Ashwin Iyer (one of the toronto brothers), I listened to their rendition of sAmi yEntani dElpudura, the amazing chouka kAla varNam in suraTi composed by SubbarAma dIkshithar. A masterpiece rendered beautifully by the brothers..thanks a lot guys!!
I will be booking tickets to India in this week. I am planning to go home on October 18th. Everyone at home is really excited about me coming back. I was talking to my anna yesterday and he told me that he will teach me vocal music starting from the very basics after I come home. I am extremely happy because of that and hopefully with God's blessings, I will put in all my heart and soul and learn how to sing properly.
Now coming to the krithi, swAminAtha paripAlayAsumAm is a cute, kutti krithi in nATa. It was sung pretty frequently by the great GNB and I have heard some mind-boggling swarams sung by him for this krithi. There is a chitta swaram popularly sung by musicians at then end of the samASTi charaNam even though there is no chitta swaram given in the SSP for this krithi. dIkshitar composed this masterpiece at the beautiful swAmimalai, about 5 kms from kumbakonam. The temple's significance is pretty much expressed in the picture above. Being one of the Arupadai veedus, I thought I will give some information about the temple and the legend associated with it. However, I came across this beautiful post by Sriram V, the gentleman who along with shrI Sanjay Subrahmanyan, started the sangeetham.com portal (which sadly was closed down ;() in 1999. In this post, Sriram sir comprehensively talks about everything one needs to know about this magnificient temple and some of the greatest compositions extolling the greatness of the Lord at this kSEtra. Hence, I promptly move on to the krithi.
svAminAtha paripAlayAshu mAm svaprakAsha vallIsha guruguha dEva sEnEsha
dIkshithar addresses the Lord- "Oh Lord Swaminatha, the self-resplendent ("svaprakAsha") guruguha and the Lord of Valli and dEvasEna, please protect ("paripAlaya") me ("mAm")."
The speciality of the Lord at swAmimalai is the legend associated with His name. It is at this location that Lord SubrahmaNya is believed to have taught his father, Lord Shiva, the meaning of the praNava mantra Om. As symbolized by the picture I have posted above, the small kid taught his own father, the great Lord Shiva and hence is addressed as swAminAtha. Thus, the Lord here is a gnAna-rUpam and Lord Shiva becomes Lord SubrahmaNya's disciple and accepts Him as the guruguha, the teacher ("guru") who dispels the darkness of ignorance from the heart caves ("guha") of the disciple. Since the Lord is glowing with all that knowledge at this kSEtra, dIkshithar precisely captures this amsha by using the words "svaprakAsha".
Lord SubrahmaNya's two wives, Valli and dEvasEna have been included in the pallavi thereby giving us a complete darshan of the main sannidhi. I would like to mention a few things about Lord SubrahmaNya at this point. Everything associated with Him has its own significance. Goddess Valli, the famous girl from the hunter's clan signifies Icha shakti or the power of desire. Goddess dEvasEna is the daughter of Indra and She signifies kriyA shakti, the power of action. In addition, Lord SubrahmaNya's spear, shaktivEl signifies gnAna shakti, the power of knowledge that removes ignorance. Lord SubrahmaNya uses the peacock as his vAhanam. The peacock, whose behaviour is unpredictable and has mood swings depending on external factors such as weather conditions, signifies the ego, the unpredictable behaviour occupying the mind of human beings. Hence Lord SubrahmaNya is the Lord of all these powers, desire, action, knowledge and control of ego.
Also, since one of the Lord's amsha is portrayed as Lord Muruga, the one who waged wars to kill demons, He is also the commander-in-chief of the army of Gods and hence the unavoidable reference to the other meaning of the word "dEva sEnEsha (Lord of the divine army)". In spiritual terms, this could also be interpreted as the Lord of the divine army of the soul consisting of the Lords of good senses and thoughts. An army which is ready to trounce the evil ego and its army which have taken over the senses of a spiritually un-enlightened human being. From the musical stand point, dIkshithar starts the pallavi off with the ArOhaNam "S r g m p n" at "swAminAtha pari". The pallavi ends with a beautiful madhyama kAla sAhityam at "vallIsha guruguha dEvasEnEsha". Moving on to the samaSTi caraNam,
kAmajanaka bhAratIsha sEvita kArttikEya nAradAdi bhAvita
vAmadEva pArvatI sukumAra vArijAstra sammOhitAkAra
kAmitarttha vitaraNa nipuNacaraNa kAvyanATakAlaHNkAra bharaNa
bhUmi jalagni vAyu gagana kiraNa bOdharUpanityAnandakaraNa
dIkshithar describes the Lord as "He is kArthikEya, the one who is worshipped by Lord Brahma ("bhAratIsha"-husband of Goddess Saraswati) and Vishnu ("kAmajanaka"-father of the cupid) and the one held in high esteem ("bhAvita") by sage nArada and others. He is the distinguished son ("sukumAra") of vAmadEva (Lord Shiva- explained below) and Goddess pArvatI. The beauty of his form ("AkAra") is captivates ("sammohita") even the cupid ("vArijAstra"-explained below). His feet ("caraNa") is adept ("nipuNa") in granting ("vitaraNa") boons as desired ("kAmitarttha") by devotees. He embellishes ("bharaNa") epics ("kAvya"), dramas ("nATaka") and the shastra of alankAra. He illumines ("kiraNa") the 5 elements, earth("bhUmi"), water ("jala"), fire ("agni"), wind ("vAyu") and ether ("gagana"). He is the embodiment of knowledge ("bOdharUpa") and bestows ("karaNa") eternal bliss ("nityAnanda") on his devotees."
dIkshithar portrays the delicate side of Lord SubrahmaNya in the caraNam. He directly associates this by describing the Lord as the son of vAmadEva, one of the 5 aspects of Lord Shiva. It is supposed to represent the female manifestation of the Lord and vAmadEva literally translates to beautiful God. Thus, being born out of the female manifestation of Lord Shiva and his consort pArvathi, Lord swAminAtha inherits those qualities. He describes His physical beauty as captivating and surpassing that of the Cupid. dIkshitar has some unique ways of referring to Gods. Apart from general stuff we have seen before like "kAmajanaka" to refer to Lord Vishnu and "bhAratIsha" to refer to Lord Brahma, dIkshithar uses "vArijAstra" to refer to the Cupid. "vArija" means flower in general and lotus in particular. Astra means arrow. kAmadEva is known to strike with his arrow of flowers and dIkshithar uses this to describe cupid. The madhyamakAla sAhityam in this krithi is one of my favourites. The way it gallops and flows is amazing. dIkshithar maintains the prAsam throughout the krithi and especially in the madhyamakAla sAhityam, he uses both adyAkshara as well as antyAkshara prAsam. And thats how the krithi ends, leaving the rasikA yearning for more as always.
In my next post, I will take up a krithi composed by dIkshithar in praise of Lord guruguha's brother, the beautiful sAvEri masterpiece, "karikaLabha mukham". I have been wanting to blog about this krithi for a long time too :). I will make sure that I post the krithi within a day or two :). See you all in a while!!