A very Happy Navaratri to all my readers! Like other South Indians, I celebrate the Goddesses Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati during these nine days. This year, I would like to make this Navaratri a festival of thankfulness, to express my gratitude to the Goddesses for their presence in my life.
I make my bow first to Shakti. She is the Goddess of Power worshipped in many forms. She is Durga, the peaceful and benevolent Goddess just as she is Kali, the terrifying and vengeful one. She is beautiful and alluring as Meenakshi just as she is frightening as Bhairavi. How can we reconcile these opposites and focus our minds on Her ?
As always I shall resort to analogies to demonstrate the perfection of who She is. Shakti is incarnate in this world as power and energy wherever you see. She is there, for example, in the bonds which hold the sub-atomic particles together. Without Her, the building blocks of this physical world would collapse. In that form she is benign, life-supporting. But innate in those very bonds is the possibility of nuclear power of an intensity which can destroy all. In this form the same power becomes terrifying. So too are Durga and Kali one and the same. She is both the benign ocean current and the terrifying tsunami. She is the energy of the magma which warms the earth from below, She is the destructive power of the lava from erupting volcanoes. She is light-giving electricity, She is the lightning which strikes to kill. She is everywhere around us and in us, from the physical power which holds the atoms of our body together to the psychic power of the Kundalini which holds our soul tied to this body.
It seems to me that our Goddesses fit well into Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. I see Shakti’s domain as the foundation as it is She who makes life possible. She is the energy in our cells, in our limbs, in our heartbeats, in our Spirit, in the world which sustains us. Without her all else fails. So today I thank Shakti for her presence in our midst.
To celebrate her, I am offering a song in her praise which is set to the melodious Hindolam raga, written and composed by the great musician G.N.Balasubramaniam (1910-1965). It is not a prayer, but an invocation; the poet demands nothing, he remembers, he acknowledges and he pays obeisance. He calls her ‘an abode of limitless greatness’ and ‘an expert granter of boons’. For lyrics and translation, see footnote. If you would like to know more about the raga, click here.
To present this song, I have a rendition by the remarkable young vocalist Abhishek Raghuram. Since I heard it, it has become my favourite version of this song. I hope you enjoy it as well. I have loaded only the kriti (21 mins). If you want to listen to the alapanai as well click the alternate link given below.
Alternate link : http://vimeo.com/26805640
Language : Sanskrit
साम गान लोले सललित गुण जाले अम्ब
सोम बिम्ब वदने निस्सीम महिम सदने
सामज मृदु गदने काम दान निपुणे अम्ब
कोमलाङ्ग कामेश्वर वाम भाग सदने
नाम भजित साधु जन पाप कूट मदने
तामसादि गुण कल्पित तापत्रय शमने
तेम दया रस पूरित दाम कमल नयने अम्ब
sAma gAna lOlE, salalita guNa jAlE amba
sOma bimba vadanE nissIma mahima sadanE
sAmaja mrdu gadanE kAma dAna nipuNE amba
kOmalAnga kAmEshwara vAma bhAga sadanE
nAma bhajita sAdhu jana pApa kUta madanE
tAmasAdi guNa kalpita tApatraya shamanE
tEma daya rasa pUrita dAma kamala nayanE amba
She who longs for (lOlE) the music (hAna) of the Vedas (sAma), She who is a lattice (jAlE) of pleasing (salalita) qualities (guNa).
She whose face (vadanE) is an image (bimba) of the moon (sOma), She who is the abode (sadanE) of limitless (nissIma) greatness (mahima). She who arises from the Sama Veda (sAmaja), She who speaks (recites, gadanE) softly (mrdu), She who is expert (nipunE) in bestowing (dAna) our wishes (kAma).
She whose limbs (anga) are delicate (komala), She who resides (sadanE) in the left (vAma) part (bhAga) of Shiva (kAmeshwara). She who embraces (madanE) the heap (kUta) of sins (pApa) of the good people (sAdhu jana) who revere (bhajita) Her name (nAma). She who puts an end to (shamanE) to the threefold suffering (tApa traya, the three being adhyAtmika=caused by one’s own self, adhibhautika=caused by those around one, adhidaivika=caused by the Gods) caused by the qualities (gUna) such as Tamasa. She who is full of (pUrita) moist (tEma, implying perhaps melting?) merciful (dayA) feeling (rasa). She whose eyes (nayanE) is like a garland (dAma) of lotuses (kamala).