Thursday, June 25, 2009
Guruguha vibhakti kritis
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: