Thursday, July 23, 2009

shrI gurunA pAlitOsmi - pADi

I have been trying to publish this post for the last two weeks but unfortunately there was a huge line fault in my locality and I did not have access to the internet for nearly 10 days. Finally after fighting with the BSNL employees, the internet connection was restored yesterday. Also, in the last 34 days, I have had 4 trips to Chennai and 1 trip to yercaud. Looks like I am regaining my old REC form when I used to travel pretty much every weekend from my college in trichy to my house in Chennai :). In my last 2 trips to Chennai, I have been able to meet two of my dearest friends for the first time. I met Maythini Sridharan ( :)) at Kapaleeshwarar temple on July 7th and spent a memorable few hours with her :). Somehow, we both did not feel like it was a first meeting at all and she was cho chweet just like her usual self (I know you are reading this Maythi :)). And then, at flute Ramani sir's concert, I got to meet Bhaand a.k.a Bharathwaj who has over the years perhaps become the most popular rasika in the carnatic music circles :). And I got to meet him for the second time a few days back at Ramakrishnan Murthy's concert. Other than the fact that Ram did not sing any dIkshitar krithis in that concert(and he has a valid reason for it too as was later explained to me by Prasanna and Bhaand), I thoroughly enjoyed the 2 hours and got this feeling that he is going to be the next big thing in the CM field. I guess a more apt name for him would be Rama"nAd"krishnan Murthy :). Anyway, I am extremely happy that I have met quite a few members of our beloved nAdOpAsana gumbal. I still have a few more of the junta to meet and I am sure I will get there soon :).

It looks like many of my friends are getting married/engaged in batches over the next 4 or 5 months. So, I guess I still have atleast half a dozen trips to Chennai left in this year. I had a weird dream a week back in which I was at Vaitheeswaran kovil. In that dream, I was walking around the prAkAram, I came to the angAraka sannidhi and saw an image of dIkshitar with his veena sculpted above the Sannidhi(though in reality, there is no image of dIkshitar here). Looks like another trip to the kumbakonam belt seems probable :). Coming to the krithi I am planning to take up today, shrI gurunA pAlitOsmi in rAga pAdi set to rUpaka tALa and composed exclusively in tritIyA vibhakti (Instrumental case), one can clearly see the genius of dIkshitar unfold as he handles a pretty uncommon rAga such as pADi. Characteristic phrases such as "dpmrs" and "pdpns" are quite frequently used throughout the krithi and dIkshitar manages to capture the identity of the rAga in its entirety. Also, the spiritual progress and experiences of dIkshitar comes to the forefront. The kriti goes like,


shrI gurunA pAlitOsmi
saccidAnanda nAthEna


dIkshitar sings "I am protected by ("pAlitOsmi") the auspicious ("shrI") guru, the one who is the ruler/embodiment ("nAthEna") of truth-consciousness-bliss ("sat-cit-Ananda")."

In the pallavi itself, dIkshitar firmly establishes the fact that Lord SubrahmaNya is perhaps the most ideal guru for He is known to have taught His father, Lord Shiva, meaning of praNava mantra. Once again, dIkshitar is completely justified here in taking such a Lord who dwells in knowledge and consciousness as his own guru. He starts off with the deivatham and incorporates the characteristic phrases of "dpmrs" followed by "pdpns" at "shrI gurunA" and "pAlitOsmi" respectively. The highlight of the pallavi is the rAga mudra at "pAli"tOsmi (la and Da and interchangeable). As I mentioned before, this set of krithi is something special for any dIkshitar bhakta simply because of the fact that one can clearly see how dIkshitar progresses as a composer, as a yogi and as a bhakta :). Moving on to the anupallavi,


AgamAdi sannutEna akhila viSva vanditEna
tyAgarAja vibhAtEna tApatrayAtitEna


dIkshitar describes the Lord/guru as "the one praised by ("sannutEna") the Agamas and worshipped by ("vanditEna") all the worlds ("akhila viSva"). The one who shines ("vibhAtEna") because of Lord tyAgarAja. The one who is beyond ("atItEna") the three mental afflictions ("tApatraya")."

The greatest beauty of this set of krithis is perhaps the intricate way in which dIkshitar salutes both his guru as well as the Lord, a perfect example of "One stone, two birds". Ofcourse there are times when he hits even 4 or 5 birds with 1 stone :). For eg, here in the anupallavi, he refers to the Lord as one who is praised by the Agamas. Agamas are aspects described in the vedas which deal with rituals and their importance. These rituals in the vedas were originally conceived by the great sages(gurus themselves) in the first place and hence the Lord/guru by the virtue of being praised by other gurus attains a "super guru" kind of status. He further establishes this fact by bringing in the "swAminatha" amSa of Lord guruguha when he defines the Lord as "the one who shines because of Lord tyAgarAja". Also, if one assumes the other meaning of vibhAta which is "to respect", Lord Shiva will obviously have a lot of respect for both Lord SubrahmaNya as well as any enlightened guru and here dIkshitar scores yet again.

And he finishes the anupallavi by highlighting once again that by ardently following the guru, a yogi can become one with the supreme consciousness who is beyond the three afflictions of tApa namely AdyAtmika (physical and mental pains), Adibautika (pains caused by other animate and inanimate objects in this world) and Adideivika (supernatural
interruptions by spirits existing beyond this plane). Musically, the plain panchama start for the anupallavi creates a serene platform on which dIkshitar builds a beautiful edifice with phrases like "Rssnp" and "RmPp" at "sannutEna" and "vanditEna" respectively. The beautiful "dpmrmp" phrase at the end of the anupallavi serves as a nice loop back to the pallavi. Moving on to the caraNam,


vEdAntArtha vEdyEna vikalpa rOga vaidyEna
nAdAmrta supAdyEna nava nAthEnAdyEna
sAdAkhya kalA karENa sadASivAvatArENa
nAdAnta vihArENa nava cakrAdhArENa
pAdAmbujEna parENa bhEdAdi vidArENa
Adiguruguha varENa kAdi matAnusArENa


dIkshitar continues to describe the significance of the Lord/guru as "the one who has completely understood ("vEdyEna") the inner meaning of the vEdas ("vEdAnta artha"). The one who cures ("vaidyEna") the disease ("rOga") of confusion in the mind ("vikalpa"). The one who rejoices drinking ("supAdyEna") the sweet nectar of nAda ("nAdAmrta"). The one who is an embodiment of the nine ("nava") nAthas since "The beginning" ("adhyEna"). The complete one who represents the sAdAkhya kala. The incarnation of ("avatArENa") SadaSiva, the eternal supreme consciousness. The one who resides ("vihArENa") in the very essence ("anta") of nAda. The one who forms the basis of the 9 cakras of the shrIcakra. The supreme one ("parENa") with lotus-like feet ("padAmbujEna") and the one who removes/destroys ("vidArENa") all discriminations ("bhEdAdi"). The distinguished guha who is the first ("Adi") guru and the one who followed ("anusArENa") the path of kAdi mata."

In the caraNam, one can clearly see the prAsam revolving around the "Ena" and "ENa" scheme. Also, what stands out in the caraNam are places where dIkshitar clearly differentiates between descriptions attributed to the Lord and those attributed to the guru. There are descriptions such as "the one who is an incarnation of SadaSiva, the one who is an embodiment of the nine nAthas" etc which clearly are descriptions of the Lord. There are other descriptions like "the one who cures the disease of mental delusions" etc which are more appropriate if associated with the guru. Ofcourse, the very essence of this set of krithis is to see the Lord as the supreme consciousness (the goal/final destination itself) as well as the guru (the path/the guide) and to illustrate the fact that dIkshitar has achieved this harmony perfectly, I am trying to separate the two attributes to make things clear. In order to preserve that harmony in my explanation too, I guess I will refrain from further dissociation of the meaning implied. Finally, to perhaps imply what I just meant, dIkshitar himself describes the Lord "as the guha who is the first guru" @ "Adi guru guha varENa". This one line, IMHO, summarizes the theme of this set of krithis brilliantly.

The navanAthas referred to here could either be the 9 elements based on which this universe was created. It could also be a reference to the sect of 9 saints who are believed to have come in a lineage starting from dattAtrEya. I am not very sure of which one of these interpretations to take. The Shakti path of worship is also beautifully interwoven in this krithi as dIkshitar refers to the Lord/guru as the embodiment of sAdAkhya kala and the one who follows the kAdi mata path. The practice ("mata") of kAdi is quite symbolic throughout this series of krithis and this path is considered one of the highest matas in principle. The yogic import of sAdAkhya kala is something which I dont want to delve in as it could get too complicated and boring and eventually this post will become too long hence losing its punch. In a nutshell, the sahasrAra cakra is the principal center of worship for samayins and the bindu at the center of the sahasrAra is the sAdAkhya kala and it symbolizes the union of Shiva and Shakti. This samaya worship is brought to the forefront in this krithi by dIkshitar.

As I conclude this post, I have a sort of incomplete feeling simply because there are still so many aspects that I have left untouched. I could discuss in detail about the nAda and more in detail about the sAdAkhya kala but,unfortunately, these aspects could get a little too scientific and might not appeal to the general mass. I hope I have done enough justice to atleast make a scratch on the surface of this beautiful composition. The greatness of this krithi is that, even if one doesnt delve too deep, the musical content and lyrical rhythm carry the rasika to a paradise land which in itself is an unique experience. If there are any performing musicians who are reading this blog, I sincerely request you to learn this krithi and perform..such precious gems shouldnt be lost to the ravages of time.

In my next post, I will take up "guruguhAya bhaktAnugrahAya" in sAma, a beautiful piece that sort of has joyous tilt to it and takes away the seriousness that would have set in after this composition in pADi. If there are no further disruptions in my internet connection, I will try my best to post the next krithi in a few days. Till then, keep listening and enjoying :).