KalpataruDo you know the story of the time when the Gods and Demons churned the primeval ocean of milk? No? Well, you’ll have to wait for another time, for I know exactly which song I wish to write that story for! Today I shall write of one of the gifts the ocean gave forth when churned, the wish-fulfilling tree called a Kalpavriksha or Kalpataru. This tree was taken by the King of the Gods, Indra, and planted in heaven.

I quite like the fact that trees and plants have a sacred place in Hinduism; I am quite fond of trees! We have of course the Banyan tree, which is ideal for meditating under. We use various leaves and flowers for worship, like the Tulasi leaves for Vishnu or the Bilva for Shiva, the Hibiscus for Shiva and Lotus for Vishnu.  But the most special plant of all is the mythical Kalpataru. This wish-fulfilling tree has been mentioned both in our ancient Puranas and in the Mahabharata. One has but to sit under this tree and wish, and our wishes will be fulfilled immediately!

But what a dangerous tree it would be! We, who have so much difficulty in controlling our minds, could we possibly trust that no stray bad thoughts come when we are under that tree? And even if we make what we think to be a good wish, what do we know of the repercussions? For a couple of decades now, knowing that my wishes turned out at times to be a bad choice, I have stopped praying for anything concrete. The well-being of my family and friends, peace and good health and most of all the guidance and wisdom to choose the correct path seem more than enough to wish for.

I was reminded of the Kalpataru by my song choice of today. The poet-composer, Muthuswami Dikshithar (1775-1835) sings the praises of Lord Shiva in the form of Sadachaleshwara, the deity of Tiruvarur.  ‘Like a Kalpa tree, He is always a refuge  for everyone including the celestials who seek sanctuary’  the poet-composer says.  He goes on to say that ‘Like a bee  which hovers over a lotus, He hovers over the hearts  of good people who are tranquil and self-controlled…’.  What use a Kalpataru for those who are neither tranquil, nor self-controlled? They will only harm themselves, will they not? So the good Lord Shiva is a Kalpataru only for those who have learnt to control their senses. This beautiful song set to Raga Bhoopalam is beautifully crafted and will not fail to touch your heart, so I believe. To know more about the raga, click here.

To present this song, I have selected a nice rendition by Nithyasree Mahadevan; the brisk kalpanaswarams after the kriti are especially enjoyable. Click here to listen.

Thanks to a reader, I have just been introduced to an excellent rendition by the Hyderabad Brothers, which I have now included for your listening pleasure.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language – Sanskrit

सदाचलेश्वरम् भावयेऽहं चमत्कारपुर गेहं गिरिजा मोहम्

सदाश्रित कल्प वृक्ष समूहं शरणागत  देवता समूहं
(मध्यमकाल साहित्यं )
उदाज्य कृत नामधेयवाहं चिदानन्दामृत प्रवाहं

चमत्कार भुपालादि प्रसाद करण निपुण महालिङ्गं
छाया रहित दीप प्रकाश गर्भ गृह मध्य रङ्गं
समस्त दुःखादि हेतु भूत संसार सागर भय भङ्गं
शमदमो पवृत्यादि संयुक्त सादुजन हृदय सरसिज भृङ्गं
(मध्यमकाल साहित्यं)
कमल विजयकर विधृत कुरङ्गं करुणारस सुधामव तरङ्गं
कमलेश विनुत वृषभतुरङ्गं कमल वदन गुरुगुहान्तरङ्गं

For notation, click here.


sadAchalEshvaram bhAvayEham chamatkArapura gEham girijA mOham

sadAshrita kalpa vRksha samUham sharaNAgata dEvatA samUham
udAjya kRta nAmadhEyavAham chidAnandAmRta pravAham

chamatkAra bhUpAlAdi prasAda karaNa nipuNa mahAlingam
chAyA rahita dIpa prakAsha garbha gRha madhya rangam
samasta duhkhAdi hEtu bhUta samsAra sAgara bhaya bhangam
shamadamO pavRtyAdi samyukta sAdujana hRdaya sarasija bhRngam
kamala vijayakara vidhRta kurangam karuNArasa sudhAmava tarangam kamalEsha vinuta vRshabhaturangam kamala vadana guruguhAntarangam


I meditate (bhAvayEham) on Lord Sadachaleshvara, He who has his abode (geham) in Chamatkarapura, and is the beloved (moham) of Girija.

Like a Kalpa tree (vrksha), He is always (sadA) a refuge (Ashrita) for everyone(samUham=group), including the  celestials (dEvatA  samUham) who seek sanctuary(sharanAgata = literally, they who come to His feet), he who is known (nAmadhEya, literally titled) as the one who turned water (uda) to ghee (Ajya), he is like a flow (pravAham) of nectar (amrtam)  of bliss (chidAnanda).

He is Mahalinga (shiva) who causes (karaNa) the well-being (prasAda) of king (bhUpAla) Chamatkara etc (Adi). His shadow-less (chAyA rahita) sanctum (garbhagRha madhya rangam=the inner room in the middle of the house) is lit by a lamp (dIpa prakAsha).  He removes (hetu bhoota, literally causes to be past) all sorrows (dukha) etc (Adi) and removes fear (bhaya bhanga) of this ocean (sAgaram)  like life (samsAra). Like a bee (bhRnga) which hovers (implied) over a lotus (sarasija), He hovers  over the hearts (hrdaya) of good people (sAdu jana) who are tranquil (shama) and self-controlled (dama), senses etc (unsure: cannot findpavrti in dictionary)  in unison (samyukta). His lotus-like (kamala) victory-giving (vijaya kara) hands (implied) holds (vidhRta) a deer (kurangam), he is like a nectar-filled (sudha maya) wave (taranga) of compassion (karuna rasa). He is worshipped (vinuta) by Vishnu (kamalesha), he is mounted (turangam) on a bull (vRshabha), he is dear to the lotus-faced (kamala vadana) Guruguha (subrahmanya).


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Nithyasree Mahadevan

9 responses to “Sadachaleshwaram

  1. Suja

    Did you listen to the rendition of Hyderabad brothers (Album: Tribute to the Trinity; Music Today)? If not, please send me your e-mail ID. I can share it with you.

    I was quite intrigued by the phrases “udAjyakRta nAmadhEyavAham” and the “chAyA rahita dIpa prAkaSa garbhasgRha madhyaraMgam”. I guess, that’s part of the folk-lore associated with the Achala temple in the Tiruvarur temple complex. I don’t have to believe in them to be enchanted by such things, right? 🙂

    And of course, the ever pleasing antyaprAsas that are the hallmark of Dikshitar composions…

    BTW, any plans to change the white on black template of yours? 🙂


    • Hello Srinivas,
      Like you, I too was intrigued by the two phrases you mention! After all, who doesn’t like a good miracle 🙂 The first phrase about water turning to ghee is in reference to an episode from the Nayanar Nami Nandi Adigal. You can read the story here. The second reference to a sanctum where lamps dont cast shadows is supposed to be from a story in the Skanda Purana but I cannot find any good references. Lord Shiva was said to have appeared before kind Chamatkara and said that lamps will not cast shadows in the garbhagrha. And no, you dont have to believe in them to enchanted by such stories 🙂

      No, I haven’t heard the Hyderabad brothers, I would love to do so. My email is I have a short rendition by Sanjay Subrahmanyan which I like but with no kalpanaswarams. I listened to a number of young artists as well but Nityasree’s version appealed better.

      Now what do you have against my nice white-on-black template? I’ve had it since I started and have become quite attached to it!
      Cheers. Suja

      • I just shared my music folder with you.

        Nothing against your nice white – on – black template. Just that it’s a little hard for me to read. Normally, I highlight the text and read it. You can keep it this way, of course.

  2. Ramesh

    Your take on the dangers of every wish being fulfilled is true of course. It would be a dangerous boon to have !! As you say, all we can wish for is to have the guidance to do the right thing.

    A nice thing about your blog. Even though this krithi and the ragam is not one of my favourites, the post is a thought provoking and enjoyable one. Ahh, the beauty of different tastes.

    • You don’t like Bhoopalam? oh! It sounds so good early in the morning! 🙂 But as you correctly say, thank God for different tastes. A world of clones would be a sad, boring and lonely place, lonely because what use interacting with others if they mirror your own mind? 🙂

  3. Filmbuff

    I second Srinivas’s suggestion on changing the background and text colour as it is difficult for us old folks to read white on black!

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