‘Please protect me!’ begs the poet-composer Subbaraya Shastri, ‘I have placed my trust in you, who else is there for me?’. Did the Mother Goddess listen to his entreaties? Listening to the beautiful composition in Raga Ritigowla, I think that even the hardest of hearts would melt at his words.
Subbaraya Shastri (1803-1862) was the son of Shyama Shastri and went on to become the disciple of Tyagaraja. He also worked with Muthuswami Dikshithar, and thus was in the enviable position of having learnt from all the members of the Carnatic Trinity. He also learnt Hindustani music from Maratha musicians who lived in the South. He composed only 20 or so kritis but there are gems amongst them, such as Janani Ninnuvina. He was a great devotee of the Goddess and his bhakti bhava (devotional mood) is very evident in this slow and restful composition. When the body or spirit needs healing, this is the song I reach for.