Sunday, June 28, 2009
Anyway, as I near the end of this job hunt tunnel, it seems that more opportunities exist for me as a mechanical engineer in Chennai which is slowly developing into the automobile hub of the country. However, since my family is in Bangalore, I am still buying time from some Chennai employers and am trying my best to find a job here in Bangalore so that I can be at home with my mother. (Un)fortunately I dont think its going to work out that way and most probably, it looks like I might end up moving to Chennai in a few more weeks. I cannot crib about moving to a culturally vibrant place like Chennai. With the galore of kutcheris that happen all through the year, I couldn't have asked for a better place away from home. So, I guess its all for the good :).
Coming to today's krithi, I will take up the second composition of the guruguha vibhakti series, mAnasa guru guha rUpam in Anandabhairavi set to rUpaka tALa and composed exclusively in dvitiyA vibhakti (accusative case). After starting off his composing career on a high by aptly composing the first krithi of this series, shrI nAthAdi guruguhO in MMG, dIkshitar perfectly chooses the rAga Anandabhairavi to set the mood of this series. As the name of the rAga suggests, it creates a divinely blissful mood and eliminates all the agitations and disturbances in the rasika's mind. dIkshitar continues on "the salutations to the guru" theme as below,
mAnasa guru guha rUpam bhajarE rE
mAya-maya hRttApam tyajarE rE
dIkshitar straight away instructs the mind to strive for higher goals- " Oh mind!!("rE mAnasa") meditate on ("bhajarE") guha, the form of guru and abandon ("tyajarE") the delusionary ("mAya-maya") sorrows and afflictions of the heart/mind ("hRttApam")."
dIkshitar adopts a commanding/instructive tone throughout this krithi and seems to emphasize the importance of a guru by directly addressing the mind. He repeatedly commands the mind to abandon all illusions in this world (which in itself is an illusion) and strive for greater spiritual progress. One can actually see that by stressing the significance of a guru, dIkshitar himself assumes the post of a guru and commands the mind just like how a guru commands, strictly adhering to obedience and austerity. What a genius he must have been to choose such a profound word (guruguha) as his signature at such an young age, a mudra with which he continued to compose till he shed his mortal coils.
In the opening lines of the pallavi itself dikshitar makes the idea/theme behind this set of krithis crystal clear. He straightaway equates a guru as a form of the Lord Himself and commands the mind to worship him and meditate on him. Musically, dIkshitar has inundated this krithi with nokkus and he starts the krithi off with a nokku on madhyamam and then heading to the panchamam at "mAna"sa following it up with the characteristic "mgrgm" phrase at "guruguha". The "Nnsnmgr" at "mAya-maya" and the final "grgrgm" at "rE rE" loops back beautifully to the beginning of the pallavi. Moving on to the anupallavi,
mAnava janmani saMprAptE sati
paramAtmani niratiSaya sukham vrajarE rE
dIkshitar sings "Having obtained ("saMprAptE") the human ("mAnava") birth form ("janmani"), go,take the path ("vrajarE") and try to attain the unsurpassed bliss ("niratiSaya sukham") associated with the supreme consciousness ("paramAtmani")".
dIkshitar once again emphasises the purpose of this birth and the gift of attaining a human form which enables to soul to discern, choose the right path and unite with the supreme consciousness, the source. This krithi in particular and dIkshitar's life in general, in my humble opinion, serves as a lesson on how to lead one's life, stop running this rat race and strive for the real purpose of coming to this play pen. I really admire the silky smooth way in which dIkshitar climbs the madhya stAyi by using "S p p S" at "mAnava" and hits the tAra stAyi madhyama employing the "smgrs" phrase at "janmani samprA"ptE. The beautiful oscillatory phrases around the pdn area at para"mAtmani niratiSaya sukham" using the beautiful Shuddha deivatham is something which you cannot find in any other Anandabhairavi krithi. The beauty and brilliance clearly shines through and this can be clearly observed and experienced in DKP's rendition of the krithi.
satva guNOpAdhi sahita sadASivaM
svAvidyA samEta jivOdbhavam
tatvam tAmasa yuta viSva vaibhavaM
natvA shrI guru caraNaM kRtvA nAmasmaraNaM
jitvA mOhAvaraNaM matvA tvadEka SaraNam
In the caraNam, dIkshitar describes the Lord as " The form of everlasting consciousness ("sadASivaM"), the one endowed with ("sahita") with qualities of ("guNOpAdhi") satva. The one from whom all the living beings ("jIva") are born ("udbhavam") as a result of their own ignorance ("sva avidya"). His greatness ("vaibhavaM") symbolises the truth ("tatvam") that lies beyond this world ("viSva") filled with tamasic qualities ("tAmasa yuta"). He is tArakEswara, the Lord who helps cross this ocean of samsara. He is the form of Anandabhairava, radiating ever-lasting bliss".
The madhyamakAla sAhityam will probably resonate till this world ends in which he says "Worship ("natvA") the feet ("caraNam") of the auspicious preceptor ("shrI guru"). Chant and meditate on his name ("nAmasmaraNam"). Conquer ("jitvA") the sheath/veil ("AvaraNam") of delusion/desire ("mOha"). Surrender to him as the sole ("twadEka") refuge ("SaraNam")."
Wow..what a caraNam!! I still cannot believe that someone can be so complete in just his second composition ever. He repeatedly hits the same note, ridiculing the ignorance of the human mind and how it succumbs to these alpa,tamasic pleasures when there exists a royal,sAtvic path to eternal happiness. dIkshitar also seems to have used this set as proving grounds for his rAga mudra usage skills. The prAsam in the krithi and especially the madhyamakala sAhitya brings a rich gait to the composition.
The caraNam is a musical masterpiece in the sense that even if there was no sAhityam, the mellifluous flow of the notes rich with sphurita and kampita gamakAs itself would grant the caraNam, a superstar status. Some of the highlights would be the "sGmP" phrase at "sadASivaM" followed by perhaps the best ever shuddha deivata usage in Anandabhairavi that dIkshitar brings about by employing the "SndPdp" phrase at "svAvidya". The beauty of these phrases once again comes to light clearly in DKP amma's version of this krithi. Oscillations at the niSAda at jI"vOdbhavam" and the "PSsmgrgrs" phrase at "tatvamtAmasayuta" serve as lessons for "how to extract maximum beauty out of this rAga". These are real eye-openers for anyone who wants to get a good grip of this rAga.
dIkshitar then builds up a nice crescendo using smooth, curvaceous and captivating phrases like "Sndnp; sPdnp" at "tArakEsvaramAnanda"bhairavaM. Once again DKP amma brings out the best here. The beauty of these delicate usages cannot be expressed in mere words..they are definitely to be cherished and enjoyed. It definitely leaves the rasika with that "AhA" feel. Finally, to top it all, what a madhyamakAla sAhityam. The arAjagam he does reaches the pinnacle at "natva shrI guru caraNam". It is extremely hard to believe that he has used just a single swara (Sadja) for these 4 words. What a genius. The slight tinge of the niSAda is implicit while the Sadja dominates. No one else can even imagine employing such audacious phrases. I get goosebumps when I listen to these last two lines everytime. The grammar, the prAsam, the musical content..it just gets a little too much to take. To end the krithi, dIkshitar rounds it off nicely with "GM dpm grgm" at "matvA twadEka SaraNaM" to loop back to the pallavi.
On the whole, a complete krithi which pretty much establishes dIkshitar's status as a phenomenon that seems to have reached its peak in just his second composition. If you still haven't listened to this masterpiece, I can assure you that you are missing something beautiful in your life and urge you to listen to it right away :). I will next take up the wonderful krithi "shrI gurunA pAlitOsmi" in rAga pAdi composed exclusively in tritiyA vibhakti. After trips to Chennai for a couple of interviews followed by a trip to yercaud with some of my best, old school friends :), I shall be back with my next post very soon. Till then, keep listening and keep enjoying. shrI gurubhyO nama: !!
Thursday, June 25, 2009
Over the last two weeks, I have been bombarded with quite a few interview calls (phew..finally!!). I have had 5 interviews in the last 10 days and I already have two jobs in my kitty. I still have a few more interviews to go and probably by the third week of july, I will come to a decision as to which organization to join :). I guess the market has finally started showing signs of recovery and thats definitely the reason for this flurry of calls. I have been travelling quite a lot and have been shunting between Chennai and Bangalore in the last ten days (with two more trips to chennai yet to come in the next 10 days) and hence have been quite tied up preparing for interviews and such which have held me back from good things like blogging and contributing to the sahityam wiki :(. Cha..how I wish that someone would pay me something so that I dont need to work and I can keep blogging about dIkshitar :). Anyway..thats life :).
Since I am beginning to blog about the guruguha vibhakti set of kritis, I thought I will start with a small post giving an introduction to this series and the story behind the beginning of perhaps one of the greatest composers this world has ever witnesssed. This is the first set of krithis that the great nAdajyOti composed and there are so many things that this series reveals about the man behind the compositions. Since dIkshitar pays rich tributes to his guru in all the 8 krithis of this series, I will give small introduction to his spiritual guru, Shri Chidambaranatha yogi of Benaras. Muthuswami dIkshitar's family was invited to Manali (near Madras) when a family friend, Muthukrishna Mudaliar visited tiruvArUr. Upon repeated requests, the family shifted to Manali and Muthuswami was about 15 years old at this time. Ramaswami dIkshitar (Muthuswami's father) was given shrI vidyA dIksha at tiruvArur by Chidambaranatha yogi. On the yogi's way to Kashi from tiruvArUr, he stopped at Manali and spent a few days with the dIkshitars.
Muthuswami took a liking to the yogi and used to sing and play the vINa during the yogi's pUja. The yogi also developed a liking to the young boy and requested the boy's father to send Muthuswami with him to kAshi. Sensing this as a rare opportunity and considering the immense benefits that his boy would gain from the association with the yogi, Ramaswami reluctantly agreed. After reaching kAshi, the yogi initiated Muthuswami in Sri vidya, taught him the shodashAkshari mantra and taught him yoga and vEdanta. This disciplined and austere life must have been the main reason for dIkshitar acquiring a perceptive intellect capable of delving into spiritual matters and turned him into a great bhakta and an aspiring yogi. He spent around 4 years at kAshi and probably had an opportunity to listen to hindustani music which helped him evolve musically, the influences of which can be clearly seen in quite a few of his compositions in hindustani ragas.
And it is during this stay with the yogi that he went for a bath in the ganges and a vINa came floating into his hands with "rAma" inscribed on it and with an upturned yAli. The great chidambaranatha yogi then instructed dIkshitar to return to Manali, follow Lord SubrahmaNya as his natural guru and told him that he will soon realize the purpose of his birth. So saying, the yogi bid farewell to his disciple and attained jala samadhi in the ganges. His body was later recovered and is now buried at Hanuman Ghat which this humble devotee plans to visit very soon.
After coming back to Manali and spending time with his parents, dIkshitar found a great urge to go to tiruttani, one of the 6 Arupadai veedus of Lord SubrahmaNya. The shrine is beautifully located on a hill top on the way from Madras to tirupathi. This is believed to be the place where Lord SubrahmaNya defeated the asura sUrapadma and married Valli and deivAnai. Lord SubrahmaNya's idol bears a circular hollow in the center of His chest which legends believe is because of a disc thrown at Him by one of the asuras. It is an extremely ancient temple with references in some of the literary works of the sangam era. Just like swAmimalai which has 60 steps(each step denoting 1 year of the tamizh calendar), tiruttani has 365 steps (each step denoting 1 day of the english calendar year). After reaching tiruttani, dIkshitar decided to do penance and meditate on Lord SubrahmaNya for a mandala (40 days).
On the 40th day, while was dIkshitar was meditating, an old man came to him and asked him to open his eyes. He then put a sugar candy in dikshitar's mouth and disappeared. This was Lord SubrahmaNya himself in the guise of an old man and overwhelmed with joy and devotion, dIkshitar immediately burst into his first krithi, the first of the 8 krithis in this set, shrI nAthAdi guruguhO in mAyAmALavagowLa. To get this blog going, since this was dIkshitar's first legitimate composition (humbly side-stepping the nOttu swara sAhityams), my first post was about this krithi. Not withstanding the fact that this was his first composition, it was technically flawless, artistically mature, refined and aesthetic, grammatically perfect and philosophically profound. Ofcourse, he expressed his brilliance straight away adopting the guruguha mudra, incorporating the rAga mudra and began his composition in a traditionally way by composing in MMG, the raga in which music lessons are begun to this day. And the fact that he begins this composition with the ArOhaNa and avarOhaNa of the rAga, set in all the 3 speeds of kAla pramANams shows that he was a genius. He was around 25 years old, putting most of other 25 year olds like me to shame :).
Each of the 8 krithis in this set is unique and brilliant in its own sense. The common theme of all these 8 krithis, each kriti composed exclusively in the 8 declensions of Sanskrit language, is to glorify the guru, exhalt the importance of a guru and showcase the supreme truths and show the way for a yOgi in his spiritual progress. As I mentioned before, these krithis perhaps reveal the making of a great phenomenon called Muthuswami dIkshitar whose name and krithis will ring in this universe as long as it exists.
This set of krithis is used by dIkshitar as a sort of a training ground. Filled with references to vEdAnta, yOga, adopting the guruguha mudra, employing the rAga mudra, playing with grammar, etc, dIkshitar pretty much sets this mould which became the trademark of his compositions and his greatness. The ease with which he handles rare ragas such as pADi, pUrvi, balahamsa and bhAnumati is astounding. He has employed the rAga mudra in each of the 8 kritis in this set and the genius clearly is on display the way he beautifully weaves the rAga mudra into each kriti. ;(. Just amazing. Each kriti has its own rare speciality, for eg, guruguhAya bhaktAnugrahAya in sAma (4th kriti in the series) is the only dIkshitar kriti that employs two guruguha mudras to my knowledge.
Over the next month or so, I will have the pleasure and privilege of taking up each of these gems and will try my best to uncover the brilliance of dIkshitar and his compositions. Since I have already blogged about the first kriti in this set in my first post, I will take up "mAnasa guru guha" in Anandabhairavi in my next post. There is so much to be written and explained and I cant wait to begin :). I will be back :). Shri gurubhyO namah:
Monday, June 1, 2009
I have not been sleeping well for 3 days now after listening to Shri Ramnad Krishnan's music. His bEgaDa, malayamArutham, mukhAri, sahAna etc have been ringing in my ears continuously and I have slept only 4 hours or so in the last 3 days. Tears run down my cheek when I realize how under-rated he has been. I know I am setting fire to a hornet's nest, but just like many other greats such as MDR and Tanjore S.Kalyanaraman sir, Ramnad was not even given a Sangeetha kalanidhi. How cruel..yet another victim of nasty politics :(. Anyway, his brilliance will shine forever. His music has completely captivated me and as many say, he is a true musician's musician.
Coming to the krithi I am taking up today, shrI mAtR bhUtam holds a special place in my heart, probably because I did my B.Tech at Trichy where this krithi was composed by dIkshitar at the famous rock fort temple. Trichy has some wonderful temples nearby like tiruvAnaikkAval, Srirangam etc. The rockfort is perhaps the flagbearer of this city. In the olden days, Trichy was called Trisirapuram because an asura by the name trisiran worshipped Lord Shiva here. Ofcourse, the other version is that there are 3 peaks on the rockfort hill occupied by Lord Shiva, Goddess Parvathi and the famous Uchchi pillayar. Because of this, rockfort is also called tri-shira-giri.dIkshitar beautifully incorporates many facts and stories about this temple. In the pallavi itself he brings out the location by addressing the Lord as tri-shira-giri-nAtha.
The Lord Himself gets His name as mAtR bhUtESwarar because he is known to have appeared as a mother. A devotee of Lord Shiva belonged to the Chettiar caste and she used to cross the Kaveri river everday and come to worship Lord Shiva at this temple. She continued to do so even when she became pregnant and on one such visit, the kaveri was flooded and she was not able to cross back over to her village after darshan. She suddenly developed labour pain and Lord Shiva Himself came in the disguise of that devotee's mother and helped her in delivery. Since Lord Shiva took this motherly form, He is known as mAtR bhUtESwarar here and in tamizh, He is referred to as thAyum-Anavar (translates as "One who is also a mother"). dIkshitar summarizes this whole episode in just one word in the caraNam when he describes the Lord as "vaiSya jAti strI vESa dharaNam" (the one who came in the disguise of a vaiSya woman). Anyway, moving on to the krithi now,
SrI mAtR bhUtaM tri-Sira giri nAthaM hRdi cintayE
sugandhi kuntaLAmbA samEtam
dIkshitar straight away advices "to meditate in one's heart ("hRdi cintayE") on Lord mAtRbhUtESwara, the Lord of tri-Sira giri and the one who is in the company of ("samEtam") Goddess kuntaLAmbA, the one who has a naturally fragrant ("sugandhi") hair ("kuntaLa")."
In the pallavi itself, dIkshitar effectively brings the whole sannidhi and the temple in front of your eyes by describing Him as the Lord of Trisiragiri, the three peaked hill and bringing His consort, KuntaLAmba into the picture. The amsha of pArvati here is always described as one whose hair has a natural fragrance. The locals call Her as "maTTuvAr kuzhali" which compares Her locks of hair to the drops of honey which bring fragrance to flowers. Yet another interesting observation I have made is the similarity in structure between the pallavi of this krithi and the pallavi of the beautiful krithi in raga kuntaLam composed aptly on Goddess kuntaLAmba which starts as "shrI sugandhi kuntaLAmbikE" and proceeds along similar lines as "hRdi cintayE". But the similarity ends there :).
Musically, the serene gAndAram is once again used by dIkshitar to mark the beginning of the krithi. With phrases such as "GMDp" and "gmrs" at "shrI mAtRbhutam" and "dnsdsp" at "kuntaLAmba", he spreads the canvas for a beautiful picture to unfold upon, not to mention the thatu and take-off of miSra cApu which he has employed so well throughout the entire song. Moving on to the anupallavi,
sOma sakhaM nata Suka sanakaM
naLa kAmAdi vijaya kamanIyAngaM
sOmaM SirO-dhRta sUrya gangaM kOmaLa kara dhRta kurangaM
guru guhAntaranga lingam
dIkshitar describes the physical form of the Lord in the anupallavi as "The friend of ("sakham") the moon ("sOma") and the one worshipped by ("nata") sages Suka and sanaka. The one whose beautiful appearance ("kamanIyAngaM") conquers ("vijaya") Nala and Manmatha. The one who is with Goddess Parvathi ("sa+umam") and the one who wears on His head ("SirO-dhRta"), the calotropis flower ("sUryagangaM"-arka flower or erukkam poo as they call it in tamizh). The one who holds a deer ("kurangaM") in His tender hands ("kOmaLa kara"), the linga form that resides in the innermost caves ("guhAntaranga") of the meditative mind of a guru (the realized one)."
Wow..what a brilliant anupallavi. IMHO, this anupallavi takes the krithi to a whole new level and sets it up to be turned up yet another notch in the caraNam that ensues. dIkshitar captures the entire beauty of this raga by using the deivatham at the very beginning of the anupallavi. It is hard to believe that for the entire part of "sOmasa"kham, dIkshitar has just used the deivatham. As if to show the symmetry in the rAga, he uses symmetry in his words too..sOma sakham nata suka sanakam naLa and in the process incorporates the rAga mudra at sana"kam naLa"(La and Da can be used interchangeably). What a genius!!
Again at "sOmam" he uses his understanding of the raga to the fullest by employing the deivatham yet again. The ranchana that brings in is immeasurable. He then flaunts his grammatical repertoire by using something as contrary as "sOmam" and "sUrya" to describe the Lord and in the process he uses the two words to convey two entirely different meanings, i.e, sOmam here stands for "the one with Uma" instead of the typical meaning of the "moon" and sUrya as a part of sUrya gaNgam referring to the flower. What can one describe this act except as an audacious display of brilliance :). He finishes the anupallavi off with a word to the yOgis to meditate on Him, this form of the linga which is an embodiment of a guru who shines to drive away the ignorance. The "gmdp gmrs" end to the anupallavi facilitates an easy looping back to the gAndAram start for the pallavi. As I always say, I guess the beauty is a bit too much to explain by mere words :). Helplessly moving on to the caraNam,
vAsavAdi dEva vandita caraNaM
vaiSya jAti strI vEsha dharaNaM
vAsu dEva mahitaM bhava taraNaM
dara hAsa tri-purAdi haraNaM
dAsa jana santOsha karaNam
suvAsita nava javanti pushpa -
vikAsa priya hRdayaM sadayaM
mAsa varsha pakshOtsava vibhavaM
sadASivaM parama Sivam
dIkshitar continues to describe the Lord as "The one whose feet ("caraNam") are worshipped by ("vandita") Lord Indra ("vAsava") and other dEvas. The one who took the form/disguise ("vEsha dharaNam") of a woman ("strI") belonging to the vaishya community. The one revered by ("mahitam") by Vasudeva and the one who assists in crossing ("taraNam") the ocean of life ("bhava"). The one (on whom by meditating) who puts an end ("anta karaNam") to all the karmic remnants ("vAsanAdi") (in the yOgi's mind). The one who has a smile ("hAsa") as bright as a white conch ("dara") and the one who destroyed ("haraNam") the three floating cities ("tripurAdi") of the asuras. The one who wears the snake ("vAsuki") as His primary ornament ("pramukhAbharaNam") and the one who is covered in new ("nava") robes ("AvaraNaM") that are as bright as the stars ("bhA-samAna"). The one who delights ("santOsha") his followers/devotees ("dAsajana")."
In the madhyamakAla sAhitya, dIkshitar continues to describe the Lord as "the one whose heart ("hRdayam") is fond of ("priya") the freshly ("nava") blossomed ("vikAsa") fragrant ("suvAsita") chrysanthemum flowers ("javanti pushpa"). The ever-compassionate one ("sadayam"). The omni-present one ("vibhavam") whose festivals ("utsava") are celebrated on a fortnightly ("pakSa"), monthly ("mAsa") and yearly ("varsha") basis. The one who is the ever-present and supreme consciousness ("sadASivam and paramaSivam")."
As I mentioned before, he pretty much sums up the story behind this sthalam in one word, "vaiSya jAti strI vEsha dharaNam". dIkshitar once again uses the gAndAra to establish a strong base in the first few lines of the caraNam and this enables him to bring in that killer deivatham once again on which he repeatedly stresses at "vAsu"dEva and "vAsu"ki to perhaps make this krithi a great dedication to this wonderful rAga. He employs similies at "dara hAsa" and "bhAsamAna" to highlight the Lord's beauty.
And as always, he never forgets to emphasize on the astral planes for the yOgi. dIkshitar describes the Lord as the one who destroys the vAsanAs. These vAsanAs are impressions which a soul accumulates over its countless cycles of rebirths as it gets entwined in the materialistic pleasures and pains that this world has to offer. For eg, when you lust for something/someone or when you judge a person, these form strong impressions or vAsanAs which get stored in the mUlAdhAra chakra as a signature. These vAsanAs accumulate in each of your births, thereby disabling the soul to progress. The only way to escape this cycle is by meditating and following specific techniques to help the soul regain its purity and destroy these impressions. Hence, for spiritual progress, dIkshitar yet again insists praying and meditating on Lord mAtRbhUtESwara.
And for all you wonderful devotees, the next time you pay a visit to this temple, buy some fresh sevanthi flowers and offer to the Lord as dIkshitar states that it pleases Him :). Finally, dIkshitar completes this masterpiece with reference to the festivals celebrating the Lord's greatness. The madhyamakala sAhityam is yet another treat with the words just dancing along with the tALa and thus ending the krithi on a happy, festive note :).
Please listen to MMI's and SSI's versions of the krithi to enjoy some prayOgams to the maximum. In my next post, I will take up one of the vibhakti series of krithis and hopefully will complete the entire series over a month or so. Salutations to the great gurus.