We Indians have always associated rain with joy. Not for us the associations of the Western world which link rain with cold, gloom, threat and generally bad times. Quite the opposite for us, isn’t it? We associate rain with joy, exuberance, hope, growth and prosperity. In Australia, an immense land with low water resources, the Western association seems like nonsense. Here, we too look gladly at rain, so this song is very appropriate.
The composer, Muthuswami Dikshitar, prays to the Goddess saying ‘you who captivates us into a nectar like joy, shower us with nectar like rain’. He goes on to praise Her compassion, entreating Her to bring us rain. Legend says that Dikshithar was on his way to Ettiyapuram to see his brother. Arriving at a place under severe drought, Dikshitar sang this song. When he came to the part ‘Salilam Varshaya Varshaya Varshaya’ a heavy downpour started which went on to relieve the drought. It is said that many agnostics and atheists became theists on seeing this.
I love the sound of Amrutavarshini. To learn more about the raga, click here. I have heard talented artists bring forth the patter of rain on roofs with their kalpanaswarams, sometimes the gentle tapping of a spring shower, sometimes the furious drumming of a torrential downpour. I personally prefer brisk renditions as the scale seems to become even more joyful with rapid execution. Here are a few renditions that I particularly enjoy :
First, click below to listen to Aruna Sairam’s brisk rendition (7 mins) which is a tattoo of sounds reminiscent of the subject matter; it is a thundershower in summer, beating out all thought but the music.
Next, listen to a more elaborate version (19 min) by the Hyderabad Brothers with a nice alapanai leading up to a brisker kriti and kalpanaswarams; much like a long afternoon of interspread light and heavy showers.
And third, listen to this fantastic violin interpretation (9 mins) by Lalgudi Jayaraman which is very lyrical and reminds me of peacocks dancing to spring showers in lush surroundings.
Footnote (Lyrics) :
The composition is in Sanskrit.
आनन्दामृताकर्षिणि अमृत वर्षिणि
हरादि पूजिते शिवे भवानि
श्री नन्दनादि संरक्षिणि श्री गुरुगुह जननि चिद्रूपिणि
सानन्द हृदय निलये सदये सद्य सुवृष्टि हेतवे त्वाम्
सन्ततं चिन्तये अमृतेश्वरि सलिलं वर्षय वर्षय वर्षय
For lyrics in Southern languages, click here.
AnandAmrutAkarshiNi amruta varshiNi
harAdi poojitE SivE bhavAni
sree nandanAdi samrakshiNi sri guruguha janani chidroopiNi
sAnanda hrudayE nilayE sadayE sadya suvrushti hetavE tvAm
santatam chintayE amruteshvari salilam varshaya varshaya varshaya
O Bhavani, you who are adored by Shiva and other Gods, who captivates us into a nectar like joy and shower us with nectar like rain.
You who are the protector of the son of Lakshmi (Kama, possibly referring to when Shiva revives Kama by request of Parvati after burning him to ashes), you who are the mother of Guru Guha (Karthikeya), you are a form of the intellect/spirit, you who dwell in hearts full of joy, you who are compassionate, give us (be the cause of – from noun hetu) good rain soon, I think of you always O embodiment of nectar, shower us with rain, shower us with rain.