Wednesday, August 5, 2009

guruguhAya bhaktAnugrahAya-sAma

The last few weeks have been a bit rough. It started off well with a wonderful concert of Sanjay sir. His RTP in nIlamaNi was an invigorating experience, especially with respect to laya aspects. The ease with which he changed nadais in the pallavi between trishram, chaturashram and khaNDa served truly as a lesson in pallavi singing. A few days after the concert however, I fell ill with severe stomach pain. After lab tests, it was finally diagnosed as gastritis, allevating my mother's fears that it might something serious like jaundice. To actually tell the truth, I havent recovered completely from it and I still feel a bit weak. On the professional front also, I haven't got a break yet. After 10 long months of sitting at home, I have pretty much given up hopes that I will find that elusive dream job. After much contemplation, I have started applying for some Ph.D openings in Europe. From the way things are going, I guess I will go back to school once again. On the brighter side of things, it was nice to celebrate Krishna Jayanthi at home after a long time. Also, I got to meet Mr. Thiagarajan sir, a fellow music rasika and an online friend from orkut and from this blogspot. It was a pleasure spending those few hours with him and listening to his wife producing divine music on her veena.

Coming to the krithi that I will be taking up today, guruguhAya bhaktAnugrahAya in sAma set to Adi tALam is composed exclusively in the caturthi vibhakti (fourth/dative case). The manner in which dIkshitar addresses the Lord as "kumArAya" in the pallavi melts ones heart. The pallavi goes like,


guru guhAya bhaktAnugrahAya kumArAya namO namastE


dIkshitar sings "I offer sincere prostrations ("namO namastE") to guruguha, the one who bestows grace ("anugrahAya") upon His devotees ("bhakta"), the ever youthful one ("kumArAya")."

dIkshitar starts off with that hanging deivata note that straight away rings bells in your brain to qualify the status of this composition as a masterpiece in this raga. He neatly captures the entire essence of the raga by employing the "s R r" phrase at "anugrahAya" followed by the "dsrmgr" phrase at "kumAraya". Other than that, there is nothing much to explain about the pallavi. The simplicity of the pallavi encourages musicians to embellish and improvise with their own sangathis and over a period of time, the pallavi of this krithi has undergone some transformation with additional sangathis. Moving on to the anupallavi,


guru guhAya bhaktAnugrahAya guNAtItAya rUparahitAya

hariharavirinci rUpAya saccidAnanda svarUpAya SivAya


dIkshitar describes the Lord as "the one who has transcended ("atItAya") all the qualities ("guNa"), i.e, satva, rajas and tamas. The formless one ("rUparahitAya") and the one who is an embodiment of viSNu-Siva-Brahma ("hariharavirinci") all rolled into one. The one whose natural self ("svarUpAya") is truth-consciousness-bliss ("saccidAnanda") and the one who is the ever auspicious consciousness ("SivAya")."

As far as I know, this is the only dIkshitar krithi in which he uses the guruguha mudra twice. Though, lyrically I cant quite figure out why he uses it in the same context, conveying the same meaning in both the pallavi and anupallavi, musically, dIkshitar clearly justifies the usage. Just like how he uses the sAhityam "guruguhAya bhaktAnugrahAya" in the pallavi to capture the beauty of the avarOhaNa prayOga of "dpmgrsRr", he uses the same sAhityam to exhibit the majestic ArOhaNa prayOga of "srmPpDPM". One might argue that dIkshitar could have used a different set of words all together but I feel that the very fact that he uses the same sAhityam to incorporate two different kramAs not only shows his genius but also the flexibility of this rAga sAma which surprisingly is an extremely classical and traditional rAga believed to have originated from the songs and hymns sung in villages.

dIkshitar once again emphasizes the advaita doctrine by describing the Lord as the embodiment of hari,hara and virinci all combined. It is extremely clear that dIkshitar was a strict advaitin in the fact that irrespective of whether it was his beloved Lord guruguha or Goddess Shakti, the principal deity of shrI vidya upAsana, there are many instances in which he sees the divine supreme consciousness. There are quite a few instances such as the reference in this krithi and the bhairavi navAvarNam in which he describes Goddess kamalAmba as "shrIkaNTa-viSNu-virincAdi-jananyitrAyAH" for instance to reinforce this belief. To further establish the supreme state of bliss in which dIkshitar was meditating, he describes the Lord as a unified consciousness whose natural self shines forth as saccidAnanda., thats what I call a brilliant anupallavi in which dIkshitar explains a massive concept such as advaita in very few words. And to do something like this in just his fourth ever composition clearly shows that dIkshitar was a phenomenol genius. The final master stroke perhaps comes at "SivAya" where he uses "srmm" to further embellish the anupallavi and grant it what I call "superstar status" :).


sakalAgama mantra sAragnyAya satsampradAya sarvagnyAya
sakaLaniSkaLa prakASakAya sAmarasya sampradAyakAya
vikaLEbhara kaivalya dAnAya vikalpahInAya vignyAnAya

SukavAmadEva vandita padAya SukavAmadEva mukti pradAya


dIkshitar continues to pay rich tributes to the Lord by describing Him as "the essence ("sAragnyAya") of all Agamas and mantras. The one who is omniscient ("sarvagnyAya") and who is well-versed in the path of noble traditions ("satsampradAya"). The one whose resplendence ("prakASakAya") is the cause of existence of all sentient and insentient matter ("sakaLa niSkaLa") in this universe. The one who is knowledgeable in the doctrine ("sampradAyakAya") of sAmarasa (the unity of Shakti and Siva). The one who is the embodiment of knowledge ("vignyAnAya") and the one who bestows ("dAnAya") vidEha mukti, i.e, liberation from the body ("vikaLEbhara kaivalya"). The one whose feet ("padAya") were worshipped by ("vandita") sages Sukha and vAmadEva and the one who granted liberation ("mukti pradAya") to them."

In the caraNam, dIkshitar pretty much describes Lord guruguha as the supreme soul residing in all creations, living and non-living. Here, he once agains uses adjectives and descriptions that could be in reference to his guru as well as the Lord himself. There are some descriptions such as "satsampradAya" and "sAmarasya sampradAyakAya" which would more aptly suit the guru. Ofcourse,
the same words can indeed be used to describe the Lord Himself since the guru himself is a subset of the Lord :). Perhaps the highlight of the caraNam is the way in which dIkshitar uses the rAga mudra by referring to the yogic path of sAmarasa. In his own inimitable style, he embeds the rAga mudra not only without disturbing the flow of the krithi but by conveying a doctrine which clearly expresses the emotions he was going through. Those unique blissful experiences a yogi visualizes when the kundalini shakti moves through the cakras and reaches the sahasrAra- these experiences are granted and governed rightly by guruguha (the Lord as well as the guru).

As we move into the madhyamakAla sAhityam, dIkshitar portrays the Lord/guru as the path and ultimate destination that grant mukti. I also fail to understand why dIkshitar uses the names of the sages Shuka and vAmadEva twice in the last lines of the caraNam. There seem to be quite a few repetitions in this krithi from the beginning to the end, the reason to which eludes me. Musically, there are many beautiful phrases in the caraNam that delights the rasika. The "sdSr" opening for the caraNam followed by prayOgams such as "dpdMdD" at "sakaLaniSkaLa" and "sdpmMggrR" at
"sAmarasya sampradAyakAya" are not only pleasing to the ear but also helpful for learners to grasp the subtleties of the rAga. The madhyamakAla sAhityam is pure bliss to listen to. Especially, the 4-2-2 akshara split of Adi tALam in the madhyamakAla creates a rich, majestic gait. And as a final measure to establish the clear usages, dIkshitar has appended a beautiful citta swaram to this krithi which unfortunately has got lost over time and has disappeared pretty much. He embellishes the swarams with jArus and janta prayOgams in sync with the pattern he follows in the madhyamakAla sAhityam. All-in-all, this krithi is yet another masterpiece that adds more beauty to this already mind-blowing set of krithis.

In my next post, I will take up "guruguhAd anyam na jAnEham" in balahamsA which in my opinion is a kind of a trendsetter krithi in many aspects. Until we meet again, ciao!!