Sri Kamalambayah

Sri Yantra 5

In the Bhagavat Gita, it says :


The One who is able to withdraw his senses from sense objects, as the tortoise draws its limbs within the shell, is firmly fixed in perfect consciousness.

To achieve self-realisation and attain divine consciousness, says Lord Krishna, one needs to control one’s senses. We are advised to abandon the desire for all kinds of sense gratification. What are these senses that the Bhagavat Gita talks of?

Continuing on my series of posts on the Navavarana kritis, we come to today’s kriti in honour of the fifth Avarana of the Sri Chakra. To start from the first of these posts, click here. This Avaranam is seen in the form of ten triangles and is called the सर्वार्थ साधक चक्र Sarvartha Sadhaka Chakra (Accomplisher of Everything). It is presided by Tripurasri and the Kula Yoginis.  These ten triangles are said to the represent the five Pranas (life force, vitality) -Prana, Apana, Samana, Udana, Vyana and the five Upapranas (auxiliary pranas) – Naga, Krkara, Kurma, Devadatta, Dhanajaya. Between them they regulate the functioning of the body.

The ten triangles are alternatively said to represent the five Jnana Indriyas (Organs of Perception) Chakshu (eyes), Karna (Ears), GhrAna (Nose), Jihva (Tongue) and Tvach (Skin) and the five Karma Indriyas (Organs of Action) – Vak (organ of speech), Pani (hands), Pada (feet), Upashtam (reproduction), Payu or Guda (excretion). I have chosen to focus on this second representation. Though the Sri Chakra is worshipped directly, I would rather look for meaning and understanding. It seems to me that each enclosure is like a layer one needs to unravel before being able to approach the central bindu which represents the Goddess. And one of the steps of this quest is the control of the senses.

To present this song, we have the very young duo of Anahita Ravindran & Apoorva Ravindran.  This is set to raga Bhairavi.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Muthuswami Dikshithar
Raga : Bhairavi
Language : Sanskrit

श्री कमलाम्बायःपरं नहिरे रे चित्त
क्षित्यादि शिवान्त तत्व स्वरूपिण्याः

श्री कण्ठ विष्णु विरिञ्चादि जनयित्र्याः
शिवात्मक विश्व कर्त्र्याः कारयित्र्याः
श्रीकर बहिर्दशार चक्र स्थित्याः
सेवित भैरवी भार्गवी भारत्याः

नाद-मय सूक्ष्म रूप सर्व सिद्धि प्रदादि दश शक्त्याराधित मूर्तेः
श्रोत्रादि दश करणात्मक कुळ कौळिकादि बहु विधोपासित कीर्तेः
अभेद नित्य शुद्ध बुद्ध मुक्त सच्चिदानन्द-मय परमाद्वैत स्फूर्तेः
आदि मध्यान्त रहिताप्रमेय गुरु गुह मोदित सर्वार्थ साधक पूर्तेः
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
मूलादि नवाधार व्यावृत्त दश ध्वनि भेदज्ञ योगि बृन्द संरक्षण्याः
अनादि मायाऽविद्या कार्य कारण विनोद करण पटु-तर कटाक्ष वीक्षण्याः


SrI kamalAmbAyaH paraM nahirE rE chitta
kshityAdi shivAnta tatva svarUpiNyAH

shrI kaNTha vishNu virinchAdi janayitryAH
shivAtmaka vishva kartryAH kArayitryAH
shrI-kara bahirdashAra chakra sthityAH
sEvita bhairavI bhArgavI bhAratyAH

nAdamaya sUkshma rUpa sarva siddhi –
pradAdi dasha shaktyArAdhita mUrtEH
shrOtrAdi dasha karaNAtmaka kuLa –
kauLikAdi bahu vidhOpAsita kIrtEH
abhEda nitya shuddha buddha mukta –
sachchidAnanda maya paramAdvaita sphUrtEH
Adi madhyAnta rahitApramEya
guru guha mOdita sarvArtha sAdhaka pUrtEH
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
mUlAdi navAdhAra vyAvRtta dasha dhvani –
bhEdajna yOgi bRnda saMrakshaNyAH
anAdi mAyAQvidyA kArya kAraNa vinOda –
karaNa paTu-tara kaTAksha vIkshaNyAH


Note: I did not have the time to translate myself as I do normally. This is the explanation as published in The Hindu. I will do the translation in the coming weeks.

The word Sadhaka denotes accomplishment. It can also mean ‘aspirant’. The tone and complexity of the compositions gently builds with each Avaranam. Dikshitar brands all his compositions with references to his deity – Kamalamba. In Shree Kamalaambikaayaa, in Bhairavi raagam, he reaches a threshold in his worship and his devotion for the goddess.

The composition begins and ends with the phrase – There is nothing and none beside Kamalambika. The rest is mere detail and metaphor.

She who is sound in essence, whose body is garmented with the lustre of Advaitha wisdom, the supreme lustre of Satchidananda, free from Maya, free from difference, and imperishable. She who is who is certainly approachable by the Sadhanas, whose powerful side-glance will dispel cause and effect. A fascinating concept – the “sidelong glance of the goddess”. Even in the depths of esotery, the poet can’t let go of his aesthetics.


Filed under Anahita Ravindran, Apoorva Ravindran, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar

4 responses to “Sri Kamalambayah

  1. Ramesh

    Another young artiste(s) I had never heard of. This series is proving as illustrative on new artistes as on the Avaranam itself ! I could google the Hindu series and see it on YouTube, but that would spoil the fun and surprise 🙂 So I await your daily post to see who’s the new person I should listen to !!

    Its so hard , and almost impossible, for lesser mortals to follow the theme you have outlined ; that of abandoning sense gratification. And your alternative explanation of the ten triangles appeals to me too, although I must confess the philosophy is way too deep for me !

    • Hehe, I salute your self-control in not looking ahead 🙂 I listened to all of them in 2012, but now, to enjoy the surprise myself, I am only looking day by day 🙂

      Ramesh, this Sri Yantra worship has such deep ideas and meanings within meanings that it is quite beyond most of us ‘normal’ human beings. Me, I am curious, so I read and then blindly spout what I have read. That is very far from understanding or bringing into one’s life the philosophies spouted!
      Cheers. Suja
      BTW Thank you for reading everyday, I know it is quite a time commitment!

  2. Brilliant blog post with wonderful explanations.. Though I very much admire the sisters’ talent, I am irked by their explicit pronounciation of the visargam in anupallavi.. Being a dikshitar fanatic makes it tougher to look past that mistake..

    Not sure if you have blogged about OVK’s Kamakshi Navaavarnam… If you haven’t, please do blog about that.. Its another series which in some aspects would sound like an inspiration for Kamalamba Navaavarnam..

    • Thank you very much! I definitely have the intention of doing posts on ovk’s kritis; God willing next Navaratri. I too get annoyed with poor pronunciation of Sanskrit. In fact I wrote a diatribe about it a couple of years back 🙂 I wish both gurus and students put some more effort in this area.
      Cheers. Suja

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