Kamalamba Samrakshatu

Sri Yantra 1Let me start by wishing you all a very Happy Navaratri! May the Goddesses be with you!

Navaratri is celebrated with so many different religious and social rituals, isn’t it? I remember in particular the many musical presentations – of varying quality to be sure – that I have listened to in front of golus. So if I celebrate Navartri with a musical presentation in this blog, it seems very appropriate, doesn’t it? This year I shall be featuring the famous Navavarana kritis of Muthuswami Dikshithar. I shall be featuring the performances featured by The Hindu in 2012.

As this is the first of the nine posts, I will give you a small introduction to the kritis being featured. The नव आवरण (nava-AvaraNa) or the ‘Nine Enclosures’ kritis are in honour of the Goddess Kamalambika of Tiruvarur. These are arguably the most important sets of compositions by Muthuswami Dikshithar. These kritis are laced with the tantric knowledge of Sri Vidya upasana into which Dikshithar had been initiated by the yogi and tantrik Chidambaranatha. In his youth, he had accompanied the yogi to Kashi and other teerthas and stayed with him for a number of years.

The worship of Sri Vidya is a deeply mystical and esoteric form of worship. The Goddess is worshipped in the form of Lalita Tripurasundari (The Beautiful One of the Three Realms).  She is represented in the form of a mystical diagram called the Sri Chakra or Sri Yantra where she resides in the centre as a bindu or dot. She is enclosed in a series of nine concentric layers formed by squares, lotuses and triangles which are called Avaranas. Each Avarana is guarded by a presiding deity and other attendant deities. Dikshithar’s kritis are in honour of each of these Avaranas.

The first Avarana is called Bhupura (earth) and consists of the three outermost lines which are in the form of squares with ‘entrances’. It is also called the त्रैलोक्य मोहन चक्र Trailokya Mohana Chakra (That which enchants the three realms).  These lines are guarded by Devis who bestow worshippers with both worldly and spiritual wealth. Our song today is in honour of this Avarana and is set to raga Ananda Bhairavi. It is presented by Vidya Kalyanaraman (starting at 06:31).


Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Muthuswami Dikshithar
Raga : Ananda Bhairavi
Language : Sanskrit

कमलाम्बा संरक्षतु मां हृत्कमला नगर निवासिनी अम्ब

सुमनसाराधिताब्ज मुखी सुन्दर मनःप्रियकर सखी
कमलजानन्द बोध सुखी कान्ता तार पञ्जर शुकी

त्रिपुरादि चक्रेश्वरी अणिमादि सिद्धीश्वरी
नित्य कामेश्वरी क्षिति पुर त्रैलोक्य मोहन चक्रवर्तिनी
प्रकट योगिनी सुर रिपु महिषासुरादि मर्दिनी
निगम पुराणादि संवेदिनी
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
त्रिपुरेशी गुरु गुह जननी त्रिपुर भञ्जन रञ्जनी
मधु रिपु सहोदरी तलोदरी त्रिपुर सुन्दरी महेश्वरी


kamalAmbA saMrakshatu mAM hRtkamalA nagara nivAsinI amba

sumanasArAdhitAbja mukhI sundara manaH priyakara sakhI
kamalajAnanda bOdha sukhI kAntA tAra panjara shukI

tripurAdi chakrEshvarI aNimAdi siddhIshvarI
nitya kAmEshvarI kshiti pura trailOkya mOhana chakravartinI
prakaTa yOginI sura ripu mahishAsurAdi mardinI
nigama purANAdi samvEdinI
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
tripurEshI guru guha jananI tripura bhanjana ranjanI
madhu ripu sahOdarI talOdarI tripura sundarI mahEshvarI


O Mother (amba) kamalAmbA who resides (nivAsini) in the lotus-city (kamalA-nagara) of the heart (hRt), protect (samrakshatu) me (mAm)!

She is the lotus-faced One (abja mukhI) who is worshipped (ArAdhita) by the pure-minded (sumanasa). She is the companion (sakhI) who pleases (priyakara) the mind of Lord Sundareshwara (sundara). She is the happy One (sukhI) who has the knowledge (bOdha) of the Bliss of Brahman (kamalajA=Brahma, Anada=Bliss). She is the lovely parrot(kantA shukhI) who lives in the cage (panjara) of Omkara (tAra).

She is the Goddess (IshvarI) of the chakra beginning with (Adi) Tripura. She is the Goddess (IshvarI) of the siddhis beginning with aNimA. She is the deities such as Nitya Kamaleshvari (the deities of this chakra). She is inherent in (vartinI) in the Trailokya Mohana Chakra, the entire earth (kshitipura). She is the manifest (prakaTa) yoginI. She is the slayer (mardinI) of Buffalo-demon (mahisha asura), the enemy (ripu) of the Devas (sura). She has the perception (samvedinI) of the sacred literature (nigama), epics (purAna) etc (Adi). She is the Goddess (IshI) of the three realms (tripura). She is the mother (jananI) of Guruguha (Kartikeya, also signature of composer). She is the One who pleases (ranjani) the destroyer of the three realms (tripura bhanjana). She is the sister (sahOdari) of the enemy (ripu) of Madhu (=Vishnu). She is slender-waisted (talOdari = abdomen (udara) the size of a palm of a hand (tala)). She is the great (mahA) Goddess (IshvarI) Tripurasundari.

(Notation is available here : http://meerascarnatic.blogspot.com/2016/03/navavarnam-anandha-bhairavi.html)


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar

4 responses to “Kamalamba Samrakshatu

  1. Ramesh

    May the Goddesses be with you too.

    For somebody to whom even the concept of नव आवरण is a revelation, I shall learn much over the next nine posts. This is a sort of “blog marathon” by you – thanks for all the enormous effort that will go to writing each of the nine posts. Hope it doesn’t detract too much from your celebration of Dushera (in either the Australian or Swiss tradition !!)

    Ananda Bhairavi is truly Anandam 🙂

    • I had done nine posts for Navaratri a few years back and it was very…demanding, yes 🙂 But this time, I know exactly which songs and which performances as they are all from the same festival so it will hopefully not be an endurance run! In Switzerland, there is not much going on for Navaratri. There is a Durga Puja celebration about 100 kms from here and another about 250 kms away but as they fall on weekdays I am not sure we will be able to go. These blog posts remain my only Navaratri celebration. It is not as sad as it sounds for I have the beautiful French alps laid out in front of my windows, a large 580 m2 lake glinting like a million jewels, the skies turning moody and Ananda Bhairavi giving me Anandam 🙂 My goddesses are easily pleased 🙂
      Cheers. Suja

  2. I am a late comer here. But did the next best thing. Reading all 9 posts and listening to all the compositions at one go. (In the reverse order – 9 to 1!) And that gives me an idea of the work you had to put in. Great idea and well executed. Your modern interpretation of the ‘chakras’ and other concepts is really interesting and illuminating. We all should be thankful to you for this.

    • Oh wow, all the nine posts at one go? That would have taken quite some time! Thank you for reading, and thank you also for your very kind words 🙂 Cheers. Suja

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