Thursday, November 13, 2008

kanjadaLAyatAkSi-kamalA manOhari

As I type this post, I am listening to a wonderful, heart melting mukhAri that my brother is singing in the next room and munching on yummy "maavu urundais" cooked by amma. He is practicing for his audition next week for a higher grade in AIR, bangalore. It is at moments like these that I feel extremely happy to have done what I did..leave the US and come back home. However, the flip side of the decision is that I have lost touch with so many close friends in the US (SK, gurunathars) mainly because of the time zone difference ;(. Goddess kAmAkSi should show mercy and show me the way to have the cake and eat it too.

I am leaving on a small pilgrimage to the kumbakonam belt next tuesday for a week. The highlights of the trip would be visits to the Srirangam temple, the navagraha temples, mannArguDi rAjagOpAlaswAmi temple, nAgai SoundararAja perumAl temple and the grand tiruvArur tyAgarAja swAmi temple with visits to the houses of the trinity. As any reader of this blog can imagine, I am eagerly awaiting that minute when I step into dIkshithar's house (his memorial mandapam). I will care less if my soul escapes the realms of this earth after that moment. I have been planning my schedule to cover all these places in addition to many more temples in this region. As I mentioned above, these are a few blissful moments that this soul has been waiting to experience for an entire lifetime :). At the end of the trip, I am going to chennai for the music season :) :). The next 4 weeks should be filled with fun indeed :). I would also like to take this opportunity to wish my good friend Vachooo akka a wonderful marriage and a very happy married life. I am extremely excited about meeting Bala sir and Vachoo too :).

Moving on to the dikshithar krithi for today, I will be taking up "kanjadaLAyatAksi" in rAga manOhari, a beautiful composition embellishing Goddess kAmAkSi of kAnchi. Goddess kAmAkSi is considered as a representation of shrI vidya. The idol and the meru at this temple are carved out of Salagrama and is believed to have been consecrated by sage Durvasa. Legend has it that the Goddess performed severe penance under a mango tree at kAnchi and worshipped a shivalingam made out of sand, inturn gaining Lord Shiva's hand in marriage. The dEvi here sits in a majestic padmAsana posture signifying complete control over the universe. The original kAmakSi amman temple, where Adi Shankaracharya is believed to have worshipped the Goddess and established the shri chakra. Initially, the Goddess here was a ugra form (an amsha of anger). After Adi Shankara's worship, the Goddess is said to have become peaceful and attained Her present day Shanta swarUpa. The new kAmAkSi amman temple was built in the 12th Century. More details of the temple and controversies on the authenticity of Adi Shankara sculptures at this temple can be found here

With this small introduction, I will move on to the krithi now. According to the SSP, manOhari is classified as an upAnga janya of the 33rd mELa gangataraNgiNi with the scale "Sgmpns; sndpmgs". dIkshithar straightaway employs the avarOhaNam in the opening line of the krithi,


kanja daLAyatAkshi kAmAkshi

kamalA manOhari tripura sundari


dIkshithar directly addresses the Goddess "kAmAkSi!! The one who has large eyes ("akSi") like lotus ("kanja") leaf ("daLa"). The one who is dear ("manOhari") to Goddess Lakshmi ("kamalA")-Goddess tripurasundari!!"

dIkshithar beautifully brings in the raga mudra in the pallavi itself. This rAga has become so famous exclusively because of this krithi that people refer to the rAga itself as kamalamanOhari. As I mentioned above, the krithi starts off with the avarohaNam-"sndpmgpmg" at "kanjadaLAyatAkSi". The final oscillating gAndAram here gives the krithi a wonderful flavour. He immediately follows this with the ArOhanam-"sgmpn" at "kAmAkSi". The gAndAram seems to carry a really nice tone that gives this raga the identity and dIkshithar has repeatedly emphasized the usage of this gAndAram in this krithi. Moving on to the anupallavi,


kunjara gamanE maNi maNDita manjuLa caraNE
mAmava Siva panjara Suki pankaja mukhi
guru guha ranjani durita bhanjani niranjani


dIkshithar describes the Goddess in detail- "The one who has a majestic gait ("gamanE") like an elephant ("kunjara"). The one who has beautiful ("manjuLa") feet ("caraNE") adorned with ("maNDita") gems ("maNi"). Please protect me ("mAmava")!! The one who is the parrot ("Suki") encaged in the cage ("panjara") of Siva. The one who is lotus ("pankaja") faced ("mukhi"). The one who captivates ("ranjani") guruguha. The one who destroys ("bhanjani") all afflictions ("durita") and the one who is blemishless ("niranjani")."

dIkshithar employs a majestic madhyamakAla gait to describe the Goddess's gait in the anupallavi. The pallavi begins with a "nsgsgGM" phrase. The entire anupallavi gallops in madhyamakAla. The "nsgsg" phrase seems to be a pretty significant sangathi as dIkshithar repeatedly uses it to bring out the rAga bhAva. He once again employs the "nsgsg" phrase at "mAmavasiva".

dIkshithar alludes to the Goddess as the parrot in the cage of Siva. One can easily derive a much deeper meaning for this reference. The body will become a lifeless lump if there was no soul to move to physically, mentally and spiritually. Similarly, there is no point in any form ("Siva") to exist if there is no life force ("Shakti"). Thus, dIkshithar beautifully refers to the dEvi as the soul/driving force encaged within the body. dIkshithar closes the anupallavi with an amazing "psnd,pdpm,mgmpn" phrase at "durita bhanjani,niranjani". In my humble opinion, the anupallavi of this krithi serves as a websters dictionary for this rAga.


rAkA SaSi vadanE su-radanE
rakshita madanE ratna sadanE
SrI kAncana vasanE su-rasanE
SRngArASraya manda hasanE
EkAnEkAkshari bhuvanESvari
EkAnandAmRta jhari bhAsvari
EkAgra manO-layakari SrIkari
EkAmrESa gRhESvari Sankari


dIkshithar continues to describe the dEvi's beauty as he addresses Her as "the one whose face ("vadanE") is like the full ("rAka") moon ("SaSi") and the one with beautiful teeth ("su-radanE"). The one who rescued ("rakSita") cupid ("madanE"). The one who is in a bejeweled ("ratna") peeta ("sadanE") and the one who is adorned with ("vasanE") auspicious ("Sri") gold ("kAnCana"). The one who has a beautiful tongue ("su-rasanE"). The one whose beautiful smile ("manda hasanE") is filled with shringAra rasa."

In the madhyamakala sAhitya, dIkshithar continues to describe the Goddess as "the one who is embodiment of single and multiple syllabled ("Eka-anEka-akshari") mantras. The one who rules the universe ("bhuvanESwari"). The one who is like a waterfall ("jhari") of blissful ambrosia ("EkAnandAmrta") and the one is resplendent ("bhAsvari"). The one who brings auspiciousness ("Srikari") to those who worship her with steadfast devotion ("EkAgra manOlaya"). The Goddess who rules the house ("grhESwari") of Lord EkAmrESwara and the one who symbolizes auspiciousness ("Sankari")."

dIkshithar emphasizes the fruits of staunch devotion in these few lines. Look at the details he has observed in his meditative state of mind including the beautiful teeth and the graceful smile of the dEvi. The Goddess's smile once again reinforces the fact that She is no longer a "ugra" amsha of Shakti. There is a chitta swaram in this krithi which I love :). If you havent heard the swarams, I strongly urge you to look at the SSP for this krithi.

I am already excited about my train journey to Kumbakonam and my visit to all the other temples in the region :). Hence I conclude this post here. In my next post, I will post pictures of all the temples I was privileged to go to and write a few lines about my trip in brief. Watch out for some exclusive pictures of dIkshithar's house (now converted into a small temple for the trinity). Hoping to see you all on the other side of this pilgrimage as a much better human being :) !! Shri gurubhyO namah.