Sudhamayi Sudhanidhi

kadri-gopalnathWhat a great loss we Carnatic Music lovers have had this past week! Kadri Gopalnath, the saxophonist par excellence, is no more. A man who bent his will over the saxophone such that it blew to his tune, a man who paved an untrodden path to show that the saxophone is an instrument of choice for Carnatic Music, a man of immense talent that we have all admired over many years, he is a man who will never be forgotten. I dedicate this post to this man and his music. May he play his sax in celestial spheres for evermore.

In selecting a song to honour Kadri Gopalnath, I have chosen a devi kriti. Navaratri has passed by without my having made a single post.  This is my first miss for Navaratri since I started this blog in 2011. I cannot believe that one year I had even managed nine kritis for the nine days of Navaratri! So very belatedly, I am presenting this beautiful song to honour Goddess Ambika. This song is particularly suitable as the poet-composer Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar describes the Goddess as being ornamented with beautiful ragas. A post to honour a musician who created beautiful music and a Goddess who is adorned with the same is a good match, don’t you think! I also felt that a raga which is called Amrutavarshini or ‘she who showers the ambrosia of immortality’  is a good choice to honour a man whose music will remain immortal. At times, when I have listened to his music, when notes follow cascading notes, I have felt bathed in the beauty of music. The man who made the music has passed as I too will one day, but I imagine those moments of beauty remaining suspended little gems floating in the atmosphere for eternity.

Out of nostalgia, I am presenting a rendition from an old recording of Kadri Gopalnath from 1985, a rendition which is so very familiar to me.

Alternate link : Click here 

For a vocal version, I have chosen a recording from the same era. I have always had a great liking for Maharajapuram Santhanam who sings Sudhamayee with an effortless charm which I am sure you will appreciate.

Start video at 45:11.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar
Raga : Amrutavarshini
Language : Sanskrit

सुधामयी सुधानिधि सुमशरेक्षु कोदण्डे

विधीन्द्र नुत विमले सलहौ वेद सारे विजयाम्बिके

सरसिजाक्षि जगन्मोहिनी सरसराग मणि भूषणी
हरिकेश प्रिय कामिनी आनन्दामृत वर्षिणी (alt: कर्षिणी )

sudhAmayI sudhAnidhi sumasharEkshu kOdanDE

vidhIndra nuta vimalE salahau vEda sArE vijayAmbikE

sarasijAkshi jaganmOhinI sarasarAga maNi bhUshaNI
harikEsha priya kAminI AnandAmRuta varshiNI (alt: karshiNI)


O Goddess (implied) who is imbued with (-mayI) and is a reservoir (nidhi) of nectar (sudhA), O Goddess (implied) who holds a bow (kOdanDE) made of sugarcane (ikshu) with arrows (shara) of flowers (suma).

O Goddess Vijambika who is praised (nuta) by Brahma (vidhi) and Indra, O Pure  One (vimalE)! O Goddess (implied) who is the essence (sArE) of the Vedas! Protect me (salahau – this word is in Kannada, not Sanskrit)!

O Lotus-eyed one (sarasija-Lotus, akshi-Eyes)!! O Goddess (implied) who fascinates (mohini) the whole world (jagat)! She who is decorated (bhUshaNI) by the gems (maNi) of beautiful (sarasa) ragas. The loving woman (kaminI) who is dear to (priya) Lord Shiva (harikEsha which is also the poet’s signature), She who showers (varshiNI) us (implied) with the ambrosia of immortal (amRuta) bliss (Ananda) [I’m unsure of the translation of the alternative version]

Note about translation : The lyrics were easy to translate except for the word Salahau. I looked up multiple dictionaries but could not find this word. Is it a typo, I wondered. Or perhaps a declension of some other word? Checking declension tables did not help. I searched for other uses of this word, but only MB seems to have used this word in his kritis. There was no trace of this word in kritis by any other composers. How odd, I thought! I have had a cataract operation only day before yesterday and am still struggling with my eyesight so all this computer work made me quite dizzy. I was almost giving it up after more than 2 hours of searches when I finally found a mention in an old article in Carnatica that this word is in Kannada and the Bhagavatar has often thrown in a few Kannada words into his Sanskrit compositions. Finally the mystery was resolved! All of you Kannada speakers are no doubt wondering at my ignorance!


Filed under Compositions in Sanskrit, Kadri Gopalnath, M.L.Vasanthakumari, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Muthiah Bhagavatar

11 responses to “Sudhamayi Sudhanidhi

  1. indigoite

    A fitting tribute to one of the stalwarts of Carnatic music. Popularising a new instrument in what is a very traditional field is not easy at all. The saxophone in this genre of music is almost synonymous with him. There are not many other players now and it would be a pity if others fail to build on the maestro.

    We don’t often appreciate how difficult it is to play the sax for a 3 hour concert. It’s physically taxing. He did it with aplomb. The last time I heard him, he struggled a bit, but we had no inkling that he was physically on the decline.

    Being a Kannadiga, he was extremely popular in Bangalore. In the Ramanavami concerts, it was not unusual to see the pandal capacity of 3000 being filled up for his concert. He , Kanyakumari, Harikumar and Nakod on the tabla was the usual team. It never failed to be an inspiring concert.

    I wanted to make this comment just on Kadri Gopalnath, in tribute, but I cannot help adding a word about your diligence. The effort you go to , for finding a single word’s meaning is astounding. Your post is often a scholarly work, which is why we love this blog so much.

  2. Ramachandran Narayanasamy

    an excellent write up. A beautiful song. Thanks a lot. Already it is raining here. I pray let the playing of this song brings more rain.

  3. Rs Ramaswamy

    Very nice post .

  4. Padma Ramani

    Dear Suja
    Yes was looking forward to a post from you during Navaratri 😊
    The news of the untimely passing away of Kadri Gopalnath ji was a shock
    Had heard him live in feb 2018 at Pune ..
    Reverberating music .. was an amazing experience to listen to him in an open air stage sitting under the moon lit sky
    Sad we are losing such musical genius so soon
    This rendition of Sudha Mayee is beautiful..
    one of my favourite krithi too for my Navaratri singing 😊
    Thanks for sharing
    Cheers and with love

    • All of us who have had the pleasure of listening to Kadri Gopalnath live should count ourselves as being privileged! It is indeed a sad time for us music lovers.
      Cheers. Suja

  5. ” …moments of beauty (which are like) suspended little gems floating in the atmosphere for eternity …”.
    A beautiful writing moment!

  6. Ravi

    Suja, thank you so much for the link to Maharajapuram Santhanam’s YouTube video.

    I noticed that Raju Asokan, who posted that video, has posted numerous other rare videos/audios of concerts by renowned artists. I’m sure you know that already, but for others who may be interested, here’s the link:

    I just finished listening to an old Chembai concert. One of Jon Higgins’ concert is also posted. His rendering of Endaro Mahanubhavulu is quite remarkable, considering he was from the West (US). I remember you had posted Higgins’ rendition of a kriti a while back.

    Thanks, again.

    • Hi Ravi, It’s been a while since I’ve seen you comment, welcome back 🙂 Yes, Raju Asokan has a good channel with some really good music/ This concert is available in Sangeethapriya site as well if I remember correctly. I admit I don’t really listen much to Higgins, just rarely so. There is so much music available nowadays that listening time is at a premium!
      Cheers. Suja

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