Hiranmayim Lakshmim


On this fifth day of Navaratri (Panchami), I continue to pay homage to Goddess Lakshmi. Those who pray to Goddess Lakshmi hope to be blessed with material wealth and prosperity. Even her image is shown as pouring gold from her hands. Here the poet-composer Muthuswami Dikshithar (1775-1835) describes Lakshmi herself as being golden (Hiranmayeeem); she is the gold that he aspires for. There is an interesting story behind this song.

One day, it is said, Dikshithar’s wife longingly asked for some golden jewellery. Dikshithar was not in the financial situation to provide these for his wife. One of his disciples suggested to Dikshithar that if he were to go to the court and sing in praise of the king, the king would give him enough to buy some jewellery for his wife. Dikshithar refused and said that he would sing only in praise of his Goddess, never for a man! Then he created this beautiful composition, calling his Goddess the Golden One. That night, Diskhithar’s wife dreamt of the Goddess who came and poured gold on her and said, ‘there, are you satisfied?’. On waking up she apologized to Diskshithar for ever wanting any material wealth  when they were so blessed with Divine wealth.

For lyrics of this beautiful song, see footnote below. The song is set to Raga Lalita (see footnote).

To enjoy this beautiful song, here’s a performance by the young vocalist Sikkil Gurucharan.

For an instrumental version, listen to this beautiful performance on the Sax by the incomparable Kadri Gopalnath.

Edit : A few years have passed since I wrote this post. There is a version which I admire tremendously and hear often. It is T.M.Krishna’s version which you can listen here. His pace is leisurely and deeply meditative. I love Lalita in all forms but like this she is just exquisite. Lalita is also lovely in the mellifluous voices of Ranjani and Gayatri which I also urge you to listen here.


Footnote (Lyrics):


हिरण्मयीं लक्ष्मीं सदा भजामि |
हीन मानव आश्रयं त्यजामि ||


चिरतर संपत् प्रदां क्षीरंबुधि तनयां |
हरि वक्षथलालयं हरिणीं चरण किसलयां |
कर कमल धृत कुवलयां |
मरकतमनि मय वलयां ||


श्वेत दीप वासिनीं श्री कमलंबिकां परां |
भूत भव्य विलासिनीं भूसुर पूजितां वरां |
मातरं अब्ज मालिनीं माणिक्य आभरण धरां |
गीत वाद्य विनोदिनीं गिरिजाम्तां इन्दिरां ||
सीता किरण निभ वदनां श्रिता चिन्तामणि सदनां |
पीत वसनां गुरु गुह मातुल कान्तां ललितां ||

For transliterated lyrics, translation and notation click here.


Footnote (Raga) :

The scales of Raga Lalita are as follows :

Aarohanam (Ascending) : S R1 G3 M1 D1 N3 S’
Avarohanam (Descending) : S’ N3 D1 M1 G3 R1 S

15-2 Lalita

Lalita is a janya raga, derived from Mayamalavagowla (see below), 15th on the Melakarta scale. This is not related to the Hindustani Lalit. Nannu Brovu Lalita by Shyama Shastri  is another composition in Lalita which I enjoy very much.

15 Mayamalavagowla

Note : The 12 notes in the octave are named as below. Please note that C is used as Sa for the sake of simplicity as the scale is relative in Carnatic Music. Also note that the scales paint only a superficial picture of the raga as the gamakas(ornamentations) are a very important part of a raga.



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Ranjani Gayatri, Sikkil Gurucharan, T.M.Krishna

10 responses to “Hiranmayim Lakshmim

  1. Srini

    What is the G3, N3 in Carnatic scales? Normally, we have Sadharana Gandhara (G1), Antara Gandhara (G2), Kaishiki Nishada (N1) and Kakali NIshada (N2). Where are the two extra swaras coming from?

    • Hi Srini, Sorry for the late reply. We have
      -three Rishabas-Shuddha, Chatushruti and Shatshruti
      -three Gandharas-Shuddha, Sadharana and Antara
      -three Dhaivatas-Shuddha, Chatushruti and Shatshruti
      -three Nishadas-Shuddha, Kaishiki and Kakali.
      If you look at the bottom of the post, I show the position of the swaras in the scale.
      Cheers. Suja

  2. This is one of those songs which keep ringing much later ….

    The TMK version is very good and a fav of mine too. But, imo (my taste?), it is a tad bit slower that makes it a bit dragging. The line between a majestic gait of an elephant and a coaxed step of a reluctant kid heading to school is an extremely thin one, isn’t it?

    I thought you wd mention the version by DKJ somewhere which is so very captivating. Unfortunately, I cannot provide a link to it (accompanied by T Rukmini and J Vaidyanathan) since it was aired in the Carnatic Music forum of Facebook last Friday from a private collection and is not available after it is aired.

    • Hello! You are right, once I listen to even a snatch of Hiranmayim..or Lalita..it just goes round and round in my head forcing me to listen non-stop to it for the rest of the day 🙂 Now, you are talking to a TMK fan, not of his new-fangled ideas but of his amazing, out-of-the-world voice and musicality. When he sings swarams, they are so exciting – it is as if he is showing me new ways to see ragas I have known forever…So I shall defend his music and say no, his slow gait appeals to me very much, and makes me appreciate Lalita in a new way which I had not seen before. That said, I also like MDR very much indeed so perhaps I have a leaning towards slow music..

      Oh I missed the DKJ version on Facebook! Was it good? I have heard other versions and yes, I have enjoyed some of them very much. My problem often with the old masters music is that the recording quality fails and so instead of appreciating the music, I’m just get annoyed with the poor quality..
      Cheers. Suja

      • I am with you on TMK music and partially in agreement with his ideas but not all of them! I have no issues with his taking CM to kuppams or rather welcome it. After all, Sri Ramanujacharya himself is reputed to have revealed to the world from the rooftop the ‘ashtakshara’ mantram (even if some ultra-conservatives now refute that story!)

        I have been an MDR fan for decades and I like his slow gait. But my point is not the slowness per se in TMK’s rendition but it seems to cross the usual tempo and is going extra-slow or as in cricket super slo-mo! As they say in Tamil ‘alavu meerinaal amrthamum nanju’ (anything in excess is poison), imo, (or to my taste) TMK has gone a wee bit overboard here. Ofcourse it is just me and I do not expect or entreat you to agree with me.

        The curators (admins) of the Facebook group Carnatic Music do a splendid job of sharing Tuesday to Friday some excellent concerts and most of them are of excellent audio quality. So the usual distraction (exasperation in my case!) with disturbing and poor quality audio does not happen!

        If you are not a member of this closed group already I will tag you. Your presence and sharing views would greatly enrich the group further. The good news is the curator, Sheela Raman, had promised DKJ’s daighter in law that she wd air the concert once more in future and so you might be able to catch Hiranmayeem by DKJ then! 🙂

      • ‘If you are not a member of this closed group already I will tag you’ – I have sent in a request to join the group, it is still pending approval.

  3. oh! I am not an admin but I can recommend. My trying to ‘Invite’ “Music To My Ears” is not being taken readily by Facebook! 🙂

    Hence I have provided a link to your blog and tagged a few admins there.

  4. Guha

    Vid.Gayatri Venkataraghavan’s rendition

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