I just finished watching a nail-biting T20 game between India and New Zealand. After a very ordinary batting performance, the Indian team recouped and gave the kiwis a hard fight. However, Brendon McCullum's heroics took NZ past the finish line in the very last delivery of the match. I hope the IPL this season will feature more of such cliffhanger games :)
As soon as I finished my previous post, I was thinking to myself what should be my next post. I just opened the dIkshithar's sAhityam pdf on my computer and browsed through to see what would be a good choice. I immediately came across this beautiful krithi in sahAnA about which I should have written probably 1.5- 2 years ago. "ISAnAdi SivAkAra maHnCE" is a beautiful piece in sahAnA and around april 2007, it had a huge impact on me and fellow members of our music group, nAdOpAsana. One of the members passed on the recording and as it made the rounds in our circle, the gmail group mails started flooding my inbox. There were around 150 e-mails exchanged within a few hours suggesting different levels of surrender to the musical genius, the phenomenon, Muthuswami dIkshithar after hearing two krithis, one of which was this beautiful masterpiece in sahAnA. The sahAna portayed and captured by nAdajyOthi in this krithi is so incredible and pure that it finds itself in the sangIta sampradAya pradarSini along with the sahAna navAvarNam as the two krithis composed by him.
One thing I never understood was why the SSP classifies sahAnA as a bhAshAnga janya of shrI rAga, the 22nd mELa. I can see how it is classified so but I dont quite understand why. If someone can please throw some light on it, that would be really helpful :). Anyway, I will move on to the krithi now.
ISAnAdi SivAkAra maHnCE
SivakAmESwara vAmAnkastE namastE namastE gaur(I-SAna)
dIkshithar describes and offers his salutations to the Goddess in the pallavi lines. He sings "I offer my prostrations again and again ("namastE namastE") to Goddess Gauri, the one who is seated on the throne ("maHnCE") of Lord Shiva, he who exists in 5 forms ("AkAra") such as ISAna and others. The one who sits embraced on the left side ("vAmAnkastE") of Lord SivakAmESwara."
I must confess that this krithi has perhaps my most favourite pallavi. It is a beautiful construction to say the least. As I mentioned in my previous post, I have a special liking for these "double namastE" krithis. In the very first word of the pallavi, dIkshithar incorporates the rAga mudra thereby showing his brilliance yet again. While referring to the ISAna amsha of Lord Shiva, he serves the dual purpose of bringing in the Lord's name as well as the rAga's name. It definitely takes someone so special as him to do such a daring act in the very first word of a krithi.
ISAna is derived from the root "IS" which means "the force that drives the universe" and the one who possess this power is called "ISAna". ISAna symbolizes that face of Lord Shiva which corresponds to the subtle ether force or the AkAsha. dIkshithar makes use of this reference and starts the krithi as "ISAnAdi" bringing in all the 5 amshas (fire,water,air,earth and ether)..what brilliance. As many would know, Lord Shiva is depicted with 5 faces corresponding to these 5 elements that govern the universe. The ISAna face of the Lord points upward towards the outer space. This face has a profound effect on Vasthu Sastra and out of ISAna was born the term "ISAnya diSa" which represents the northeast direction signifying prosperity.
dIkshithar uses the "SivAkAra maHnCE" and the "SivakAmESwara vAmAnkastE" phrases in quite a few krithis to refer to the different forms of Goddess Shakti . The most noted of these and perhaps the most closest to my heart is the usage of the same words in the pallavi of "Sri kamalAmbA jayati", the majestic Ahiri navAvarNa where he sings "SivAkAra maHnCasthitha Siva kAmESAnkastha". One can also clearly see the ArdhanArISwara reference as dIkshithar describes the dEvi as the one who is on the left side ("vAmAnkastha") of Lord Shiva.
Finally, if all this havent got your tear buds wet, dIkshithar gives the final death blow when he loops the sAhitya back to the beginning of the pallavi. And he does it in great style. The pallavi ends as "gauri" and it begins as "ISAnAdi" and dIkshithar structures the pallavi so well that the two words merge in as "gaurISAnAdi". And to top it all off, the "rI" which combines the 2 words to form gau"rI"SAnAdi is a swarAksharam..what a genius ;(. The rAga Sahana itself could not have asked for more. How can we even measure this great man's brilliance? Forget it!! I will move on to the caraNam
shrI SArada samsEvita pArSva yugaLE
SRngArakaLE vinata SyAmaLA bagaLE
durASApaha dhurINatara sarasija pada yugaLE
murAri gurughAdi pUjita pUrNa kaLE sakaLE
pASAnkuSEkSu kArmuka panCa suma bANa hastE
dESa kAla vastu rUpa divya Cakra madyastE
dIkshithar describes the Goddess as "the one who is served by ("samsevita") the pair ("yugaLE") of Goddess Lakshmi ("shrI") and Goddess Saraswati ("SArada") seated on either side ("pArSva"). The one who is an embodiment of SRngAra and the one adored/worshipped by ("vinata") Goddessess SyAmaLA and BagaLa. The one whose pair of lotus feet ("sarasija pada yugaLE") are adept in removing/destroying ("dhurINatara") evil desires/thoughts ("durASApaha"). The one who is worshipped ("pUjita") by the enemy of mura ("murAri"-Lord Vishnu) and Lord Guruguha. The one who is complete and the one by whom the universe is complete ("pUrNa kaLE sakaLE"). The one who holds the noose ("pASa"), the goad ("ankuSa"), the sugarcane ("IkSu"), the bow ("kArmuka") and arrows ("bANa") fitted with 5 flowers ("panCa suma") in Her hands ("hastE"). The one whose form ("rUpa") represents space ("dESa"), time ("kAla") and all things ("vastu") in this universe and the one who resides in the center ("madhyastE") of the auspicious Sri Cakra."
To understand how beautiful dIkshithar has described the dEvi in this krithi, please look at the picture I have uploaded in this post and read the CaraNam. He virtually brings the Goddess in front of your eyes. After setting the tempo in the pallavi, dIkshithar continues to milk sahAnA of all its beauty in the samaSTi Caranam. He begins with a flat "R S" for "shrI sA"rada which, according to SRJ mama is "the best defining phrase to start a sahAnA Alapana". The rishabham is completely exploited at various places throughout the krithi, especially at "sam"sevita. dIkshithar slowly goes up the ArOhaNam with beautiful phrases like "Gmp" and "n d p" at "se" and "vita" and the "rgrs" at the end of the first line ("yugaLE") brings tears to one's eyes. Every nokku and gamaka in this krithi is lilting and soul-stirring and if I start to write down the notations, it would probably require another new post :). Further, I think the listening experience is much much more rewarding to a rasika. So, I request you all to go to the dIkshithar website and listen to really peaceful rendition of this krithi by G.Ravikiran sir.
That being said, I cant restrain myself from writing a few more phrases in this post. dIkshithar winds up the scale slowly and sets things up nicely for a crescendo. The climax probably begins at "murAri guruguhAdi" with dIkshithar entering the tAra sthAyi as "s r r, p m g rgrs". Ofcourse, the madhyamakAla sAhityam rocks, beginning with a swarAkshara at "pASa"nkuSEkSu. dIkshithar beautifully uses the tAra sthAyi once again at "karmuka panCa suma bAna hastE" and slowly winds down in the last line of the madhyamakAla to loop back to the pallavi. As I mentioned before, it would make more sense for the rasika to listen and enjoy this brilliant composition rather than me listing these various phrases.
dIkshithar strikes yet again..what else can I say. I request the readers to please listen to the krithi and share your thoughts in the comments section. I dont know what will be the next krithi that I will be writing about. Hopefully I will post it within the next few days :). All of you take care and have a nice, relaxing, fun-filled weekend.