Tuesday, August 12, 2008

karikaLabhamukham - sAvEri

I am typing this as I listen to a wonderful kAmbhOji sung by SRJ maama. As I listen to this amazing piece of music with unabated tears running down my cheeks, I feel an overpowering force that is making me just fall at his feet. A dIrga sAshTANga namaskAra to this great nAda yOgi. What a rAgam and what a rendition ;(. However I am a little angry with SRJ maama after listening to his interview on Worldspace Shruti in which he declares that according to him, the 3 greatest composers with reference to lyrical content are PurandaradAsa, annamAchArya and thyAgarAja swAmi. Ofcourse, anyone who reads this blog will know why I am angry with maama for not including the great nAdhajyOthi. Everyone knows that I am biased towards thalaivar ;) but still!! However, I am sure that he has his own reasons for that. Anyway..without a shadow of a doubt, they were all great nAdOpAsakAs and I humbly salute them all.

My close friends and room mates (read "brothers") with whom I spent my grad life at Ann Arbor are visiting me this coming weekend and I am really excited about getting to meet them. We are planning to drive to Houston, go to Goddess mInAkshi temple, eat nice Indian food and go to Galveston island in the Gulf of Mexico (pretty much what we did when SK visited me last december). On another note, thanks to Bala sir and Dr. VGK sir, I have added around 315 new krithis to the thyAgarAja swAmi website and updated it. Hopefully the sangeethapriya moderators update the website within this weekend. Coming to the krithi now, karikaLabhamukham is believed to have been composed by dIkshithar when he visited one of the temples in mAyavaram/mayilAduthurai. The only DhuNDhi gaNEsha I have heard about is the one in kASi where the Lord is red in colour and holds an axe in His right hand. Hence, I am not very sure about the kSEtra. If someone can throw any light on this, please do :).

Having completely exploited 30 janya rAgas of mALavagOwLa, we can very safely conclude that dIkshithar is/was and forever will be the king of MMG and its daughters. His two compositions in sAvEri, karikaLabhamukham and shrI rAjagOpAla are classics. While in karikaLabhamukham, dIkshithar makes use of almost all nuances of this beautiful rAga, shrI rAjagOpAla with its rich gait and grandeur stands out as perhaps one of the top 5 compositions of dIkshithars (IMHO). As SK often says, shrI rAjagOpAla is the toughest and the most demanding of all dIkshithar krithis. Anyway, coming back to karikaLabhamukham, the first thing that strikes me about this krithi is the brilliant usage of that enchanting gAndhAram by dIkshithar at some of the most beautiful places. It is sad to note that this krithi is not included in the SSP though :(. The pallavi of the krithi goes like:


karikaLabhamukham DhuNDhi gaNEsham bhajarE rE citta
kAvErI taTasthitam sAvErI rAganutam


dIkshithar instructs the mind - "Oh mind! ("rE citta"), worship ("bhajarE") the one who has the face ("mukham") of a young elephant calf ("karikaLabha"), DhuNDhi gaNEsha, the one who resides ("sthitam") on the banks ("taTa") of river kAvEri and the one who is praised ("nutam") by the rAga sAvEri."

dIkshithar starts off beautifully with a swarAksharam with the tAra sthAyi "G R" at "kari", arguably, one of the best starts to a krithi ever. I have heard a few people sing a "MGR" or even a "DGR" at "kari"..simply beautiful. He brings in the rAga mudra in the pallavi itself. Though it is a direct usage of the rAgam's name and not one of his brilliant, slEsha based rAga mudras, the prAsam effect it creates because of the rhyme scheme employed ("kAvEri, sAvEri") is awesome. Some stalwarts like GNB have sung some exceptionally improvised sangathis in the pallavi. Other than that, there is nothing much to explain or elucidate on. Moving on to the anupallavi,


harihayAdi sakaladEvatArAdhita padAmbujam
girijA tanujam vijita manasijam guruguhAgrajam


dIkshithar describes the Lord as " the one with the lotus feet ("padAmbujam") worshipped by ("ArAdhita") Lord Indra ("harihaya") and all the other ("sakala") devas. The son ("tanujam") of pArvati ("girijA"-daughter of the mountains), the elder brother ("agraja") of Lord guruguha and the one whose beauty surpasses ("vijita") that of the cupid ("manasija"-born out of love/embodiment of love/God of Love)."

The anupallavi starts off with a very serene "S R M P" at "harihaya" but the highlight of the anupallavi is the amazing madhyamakAla sAhitya. dIkshithar once again employs the "G R" swarAksharam at "giri"jA. How did dIkshithar follow the GRS phrase at "girijA" with NPD at "tanujam"? What beauty and brilliance..it just makes my hair stand. dIkshithar completes the murder with "D S DM; P D S" phrase and the wickedly tantalizing "R G R M Pdpd" phrase at "vijita manasijam" and "guruguhAgrajam" respectively.

Look at how beautifully dIkshithar uses 3 indirect allusions consecutively to the Lord in the madhyamakAla sAhityam. He describes Lord Ganesha by referring to Goddess pArvati, Lord SubrahmaNya and kAmadEva. In my extremely humble opinion, the krithi's start and the anupallavi's madhyamakAla sAhityam pretty much make this a masterpiece. dIkshithar establishes his Godliness once again (which was never in doubt in the first place :)). Moving on to the caraNam,


mUlAdhAra caturddaLa paHNkaja madhyastham
mOdakahastam munijana hRt kamalastham
phAlacandram sumukham karuNAsAndram
pAshAHNkushadharam padmakaram sundaram
nIlagrIvakumAram nIrada shObhAharam
pAlita bhaktam dhIramapAram vAram vAram


In the caraNam, dIkshithar starts off with his yogic references by describing Lord Ganesha as "the one seated at the center ("madhyastham") of the four petalled ("caturdaLa") lotus ("paHNkaja") of the mUlAdhAra chakra." dIkshithar continues to describe Him as "the one who has modakas in His hands ("hasta") and the one who dwells ("astham") in the lotus-like ("kamala") hearts ("hRt") of sages ("munijana")."

dIkshithar describes the physical beauty of the Lord as "the one who wears the moon ("candra") on His forehead ("phAla") and the one with a pleasant face ("sumukham") filled with ("sAndram") grace and compassion ("karuNA"). The one who bears ("dharam") the noose ("pAsha") and the goad ("aHNkusha") and the one who is beautiful ("sundaram") with lotus-like hands ("padmakaram")."

In the madhyamakAla sAhityam, dIkshithar portrays the Lord as "the son ("kumAram") of the blue-necked ("nIlAgrIva") Lord Shiva and the one who is like the rain-bearing clouds ("nIrada") in radiating mercy ("shObhAharam"). The one who protects ("pAlita") His devotees ("bhaktam") and the one who has immeasurable ("apAram") courage and intelligence ("dhIram"), unto Him I pray again and again ("vAram vAram")."

Look at the serenity with which the caraNam starts.."M M P mpdP" at "mUlAdhAra". I love the "D N D M G R GRS" at "kamalastham" and the "P mpdP; MPdpmG" phrase at "phAlacandram" followed by "d r; dpmG" phrase at "sumukham". The prayOgam that always blows my mind away while listening to this krithi is "G R S N dMDS" at nIlA"grIvakumAram" which GNB brings out so beautifully in his rendition (followed by that amazing neraval and swaram at harihayAdi).

The sublime caraNam is pretty simple in terms of the word-by-word meaning involved and there is nothing much for me to elucidate upon. In a lec-dem by Vedavalli maami, I heard her say that this krithi employs almost all of the beautiful phrases that give sAvEri its grandeur. I hope this post helped in bringing out some facets of the same standpoint expressed by Vedavalli maami.

I have been listening exclusively to TMK's "paradEvatA brhatkuchAmba" in dhanyASi for the past 2 days. A beautiful krithi sung majestically by TMK. Hence, I will take up this krithi in my next post and attempt to bring to light the brilliance of this composition. Until then, tata :) :D


ಹಂಸಾನಂದಿ Hamsanandi said...

Musical Scientist,

Take a deep breath :) Sri SRJ has said it regarding "lyrical" content - not musical content. Right?

I do not understand much Telugu, but I think the lyrical content of Purandara Dasa (whom I understand very well), and Annamayya is much better than Tyagaraja too.

Musical Scientist said...

Dear hamsAnandi,

SRJ maama's research and knowledge is way beyond my comprehension. I am sure he made those statements based on his vast experience and knowledge. But still..thalaivar is thalaivar :).

Padma said...

I am not eligible to comment on SRJ mamas comment. All i can say that i have been waiting all along for this post and the way you have described it just bought tears...GNBs rendition is a master piece...I don't need to add anything as sai says right in the beginning that MD brings the beauty in the first phrase with a swara aksharam...I can just go on and on about this krithi..One of my favs in Saveri....As my guru in Saveri Sa ve ri than...I hope you get...

Musical Scientist said...

Dear Padma,

thanks a lot for your words :). Extremely glad that you liked the post..Yet another masterpiece from dIkshithar :).I will post the next krithi in a few hours :)

Vidya said...

There is indeed a big Ganesha referred to as Dhundhi Ganesha in Mayavaram just outside, near a tree of some sort as you step outside of the Abhayamba shrine. Most kshetras in the South have the repetition of the Kashi leifmotif in some form in their sthalapurana(As effective as going to Kashi,Dakshina Kashi or as at times part of a tale to elevate a local legend etc) and have reproductions of images and names of deities at Kashi. There is even a Kashi Vishvanathar shrine the vimana of which is structurally similar to the one in Kashi etc.
The DhuNDhi Ganesha is one such.

Musical Scientist said...

Oh wow..Thanks a lot for that information Vidya. Outside the mAyavaram abhayAmbA-mAyUranAtha temple is it? Thank you for sharing :)