Category Archives: Nisha Rajagopal


Sri Yantra 4So what are these fourteen worlds that our ancient scriptures talk about? Are these other inhabited planets somewhere in the universe?

Happy Navaratri once more! Today I continue with the fourth Navavarana kriti of Dikshithar in my series for Navaratri. If you want to play catch-up, the first of the series starts here. These kritis are in honour of Kamalamba (Goddess Lotus-Mother) who is worshipped in the form of a symbol – the Sri Chakra. So far we looked at Dikshithar’s background in Shakti worship, the use of esoteric symbolism and it’s relevance in today’s world and the symbolism of the Lotus as it is the name of the Goddess and it is part of her symbol. Today we continue with the next kriti which is in honour of the next enclosure called the सर्व सौभाग्य दायक चक्र Sarva Saubhagya Dayaka Chakra. It is represented by fourteen triangles which stand for the fourteen Lokas (worlds) of Hindu mythology as well as the fourteen Nadis in our bodies.

With my liking for science fiction, I confess I always thought of the fourteen worlds with the visuals supplied by Star Trek, Star Wars and Asimov’s worlds!  Our Puranas name these worlds as Satyaloka, Tapaloka, Janaloka, Maharloka, Suvarloka, Bhuvarloka, Bhuloka, Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Rasatala, Mahatala, Sutala and Patala. Those who recite the Gayatri will recognize some of these names. Our Puranas describe these worlds as being inhabited with some beings having the ability of inter-Loka travelling.  There is an interesting article here analysing the references in the Puranas. The theory is that these Lokas are physical areas occupying the same space. There is another theory elsewhere that they occupy alternative universes.

Another explanation of the fourteen Lokas is that they are specific regions of our bodies. The seven upper Lokas occupy the position of the seven Chakras; the seven lower ones are in the lower parts of our bodies.

A third theory is that Lokas are planes of consciousness. Bhu is physical consciousness, Bhuva is vital consciousness, Suva is the world of the mind. Maha is the world of an idea, Jana the world of creation, Tapa the world of spiritual consciousness (chit), Satya the world of true bliss. The three higher worlds are the equivalents of Sat-Chit-Ananda or Existence-Consciousness-Bliss.

Lots to ponder about, isn’t it? I am not sure which theory I subscribe to. In the Sri Chakra, the fourteen Lokas are represented by 14 triangles. This chakra is presided by Goddess Tripura Vasini supported by 14 Devis called the Sampradaya Yoginis. Dikshithar’s kriti in honour of this chakra is set to the beautiful raga Kambhoji. Listen below the to the very talented young Nisha Rajagopal singing this kriti.


Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Muthuswami Dikshithar
Raga : Kambhoji
Language : Sanskrit

कमलाम्बिकायै कनकांशुकायै कर्पूर वीटिकायै नमस्ते नमस्ते

कमला कान्तानुजायै कामेश्वर्यै अजायै
हिम गिरि तनुजायै ह्रींकार पूज्यायै
कमला नगर विहारिण्यै खल समूह संहारिण्यै
कमनीय रत्न हारिण्यै कलि कल्मष परिहारिण्यै

सकल सौभाग्य दायकाम्भोज चरणायै
संक्षोभिण्यादि शक्ति युत चतुर्थावरणायै
प्रकट चतुर्दश भुवन भरणायै
प्रबल गुरु गुह सम्प्रदायान्तःकरणायै
अकळङ्क रूप वर्णायै अपर्णायै सुपर्णायै
सुकर धृत चाप बाणायै शोभनकर मनु कोणायै
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
सकुङ्कुमादि लेपनायै चराचरादि कल्पनायै
चिकुर विजित नील घनायै चिदानन्द पूर्ण घनायै


kamalAmbikAyai kanakAmshukAyai
karpUra vITikAyai namastE namastE

kamalA kAntAnujAyai kAmEshvaryai ajAyai
hima giri tanujAyai hrImkAra pUjyAyai
kamalA nagara vihAriNyai khala samUha samhAriNyai
kamanIya ratna hAriNyai kali kalmasha parihAriNyai

sakala saubhAgya dAyakAmbhOja charaNAyai
samkshObhiNyAdi shakti yuta chaturthAvaraNAyai
prakaTa chaturdasha bhuvana bharaNAyai
prabala guru guha sampradAyAntaHkaraNAyai
akaLanka rUpa varNAyai aparNAyai suparNAyai
sukara dhRta chApa bANAyai shObhana kara manu kONAyai
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
sakunkumAdi lEpanAyai charAcharAdi kalpanAyai
chikura vijita nIla ghanAyai chidAnanda pUrNa ghanAyai


Salutations, salutations (namastE) to Kamalambika who is clothed (anshukA) in gold (kanaka), who chews (implied) betel leaf (vITikA) flavoured with (implied) camphor (karpUra).

To She who is the younger sister (anujAyai) of the one beloved (kAntA) to Lakshmi (kamalA) (=Vishnu), to Goddess Kameshwari, to She who is unborn (ajAyai), to the daughter (tanujAyai) of the snow-capped mountain (hima giri), to She who is worshipped (pUjyAyai) by the sound hRIm (hRImkAra), to She who dwells (vihAriNyAyai) in the Lotus-city (kamala nagara), to She who destroys (samhAriNyAyai) all the wicked people (khala samUha), to She who is garlanded with (hAriNyAyai) beautiful (kamanIya) jewels (ratna), to She who repels (parihAriNyAyai) the sins (kalmasha) of the age of Kali.

To She whose lotus (ambhoja) -like feet (charaNAyai) are granters (dAyaka) of all (sakala) good fortune (saubhAgya), to  She who is of the fourth (chaturtha) enclosure (AvaraNaya) connected with (yuta) the Shaktis such as (Adi) SamkshObhiNi, to She who sustains (bharaNAyai) the fourteen (chaturdasha) manifest (prakaTa) worlds (bhuvana), to She who is the soul (antaHkaraNAyai) of the famous (prabala) tradition (sampradAya) of Guruguha (Kartikeya, also composer’s signature), to She whose form (rUpa) and colour (varNa) is flawless (akalanka), to She who is known as Aparna (she who performed severe penance without even eating a leaf), to She who is known as Suparna, to She whose lovely (su as a prefix) hands (kara) holds (dhRta) a bow (chApa) and arrow (bANa), to She who resides (implied) in the glorious (shObhanakara) triangles (kONAyai) (of this chakra),  to She who is anointed (lEpanAyai) with auspicious(su-prefix) kunkuma, to She who is the creator (kalpanAyai) of all which moves (chara), all which doesn’t move (achara) etc (Adi), to She with hair (chikura) which triumphs over (vijita) dark (nIla) clouds (ghana), to She who is the solid form (ghana)  of consciousness (chit) and bliss (Ananda).


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Nisha Rajagopal

Rama Rama Guna Seema

Rama! You are the most virtuous of all! Rama! You are the delight of our hearts! Sita’s Rama! Your face  is like the moon! You are deeply dark ! Your clothes are golden! You are the cessation of enemies!

Happy Ramanavami to all my readers! How did you celebrate this occasion? I am sadly negligent; my festival days go by simply, with just a mental marking, an acknowledgement when I say my prayers. Is that enough? Should that not be enough?

I feel a twinge of guilt. I remember my childhood when my family would wear new clothes, go to the temple and then have a lovely feast to eat. Yet I ask – when we mark a festival with a feast, is it God we please or our own selves ? When we buy and wear new clothes, whom are we trying to please?

I guess you know what I think! Yet, these ways of marking festivals have an important part to play. In my childhood, because my parents bought me new clothes only for festival days, I didn’t even realise one could buy clothes for no reason! In a way, it made each garment I wore a kind of ‘prasAda’, a blessing from above. Now that my clothes are bought whenever I please, they have lost their specialness. Likewise, my mother prepared certain dishes only on certain feast days. The dishes somehow became enhanced by that. They became ‘prasAda’, a gift from God. By marking these feasts, we silently thank God for all that we have.

I have prepared no feast today. Instead, the prasAda that I prepare today is this post. One of my very favourite songs, it is very simply a list of ‘identifiers’ for Lord Rama. Nothing is asked, not even blessings. An acknowledgement, that is all it is. It is written in Sanskrit by Swathi Thirunal and set to raga Simhendra Madhyamam. To know more about this raga, click here.

I am especially fond of Sikkil Gurucharan’s rendition in his CD December Season 2005. It is available in Musicindiaonline; click here for the Alapana and here for the Kriti. In fact, I recommend that you buy this track from whichever online store you use, keep it on your mp3 player and listen very often! In the meanwhile, I found a rendition from this exceptionally talented young man in youtube, which I present to you here. Note the superbly talented S.Varadarajan on the violin; I really admire this young man!

Another young artist, Nisha Rajagopal, has also given a find rendition which I enjoyed very much. Listen below, Alapana from 16:25 and Kriti from 23:42.

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Swathi Thirunal
Raga: Simhendra Madhyamam
Language : Sanskrit

Note: This kriti has three charanams but I have heard only the third one sung. Therefore only that charanam is transcribed here.  Also note that the singers usually use the long A at the end of musical phrases. eg. dhAma is often sung as dhAmA. Lyrics are verified aurally, but I cannot guarantee correctness.

राम राम गुण सीमा राम ह्रुदयाभिराम सीता

सोमानन घनश्याम हेमाम्बरारि विराम –पट्टाभि (alt: लोकाभि)

दीनबन्धो मामव दश मुख विदलन विनत कल्पतरो वारिज नाभ
मुनि मानस धामा मृगमद सुललाम अवनिजापाङ्ग सुदाम वैदेहि सकाम


rAma rAma guNasImA rAma hrdayAbhirAma sItA

sOmAnana ghanashyAma hEmAmbarAri virAma –paTTAbhi (alt: lOkAbhi)

dInabandhO mAmava dasha mukha vidaLana
vinata kalpatarO vArija nAbha
muni mAnasa dhAma mrgamada sulalAma
avanijApAnga sudAma vaidEhi sakAma


Rama! You are the most virtuous of all! (guNa=virtue, sImA=boundary). Rama! You are the delight (abhirama=delightful) of our hearts (hrdaya)! Sita’s Rama!

Your face (Anana) is like the moon (sOma)! You are deeply (ghana) dark (shyAma) ! Your clothes (ambara) are golden (hEma)! You are the cessation (virAma) of enemies (ari)! O consecrated one (paTTAbhirAma) ! (alt: O the one loved by everyone! (lOkAbhirAma))

O my friend (bandhu) of the wretched (dIna)! You are the destroyer (vidalana=tear asunder) of the humbled (vinata) Ravana (dasha mukha=ten faced)! You are like a wish-fulfilling tree (kalpataru)! You have a lotus-navel (vArija nAbha) (also signature of Swati Thirunal)! You dwell in (dhAma) in the minds (mAnasa) of sages (muni)! You have a kasturi tilaka (su lalAma=beautiful mark on your forehead, mrga mada=deer musk)! Sita (vaidEhi), who is born from the earth (avani ja), looks at you, the one who gives bountifully (sudAma) with sidelong glaces (apAnga) filled with love (sakAma).


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Nisha Rajagopal, Sikkil Gurucharan, Swathi Thirunal

Rangapura Vihara

O inhabitant of Rangapura! Victory to you who incarnated as the warrior Rama in the Raghu dynasty, wielding the bow Kodanda. O beloved of Ramaa, you are the father of cupid.  You are swift like king of deers in giving boons to the to celestials. You who have Garuda as your mount, you are dark-skinned, whose sidelong glances  are compassionate, who is present in good company.

SrirangamThe summers of my childhood were heralded by an annual migration to the South. Once schools closed, we would board the train – my mother, my sister and I – with a large number of steel trunks, bed rolls and food to feed an army. I always looked forward to these 2-night train trips. There would be yummy treats and kalanda sadam to eat, window seats and books and berths to be fought over, interestingly named stations to be stared at, vendors shouting ‘chai…garam chai’ and selling foodstuff to be drooled over and the varied landscape of  India to be viewed from the window.

Our destination was Chennai, our maternal grandmother’s home. There in the heat of the Tropic of Cancer our summer would pass idly by. Until our father came for a visit.

That meant packing again and heading off to Srirangam to visit my paternal grandparents. This induced terror to the point of hysteria in me!! My grandfather was a fearsome man who would have put Atilla to shame. My grandmother was a sweet lady but was a silent presence, probably to try and escape the household autocrat’s gaze! The house itself was fear-inducing. The granary with its huge sack of rice reaching the high ceilings was the hiding place of scorpions.  The bathroom was outside, in the backyard by the well and that was where my sister once surprised a giant cobra in a pail of bathwater! Needless to say, after that I trembled at the though of bathing!

This home was in the agraharam surrounding the most important temple for the Vaishnavas, the devotees of Vishnu. This enormous temple spans 156 acres, surrounded by 7 concentric walls, with 21 Gopurams (towers), a 1000 pillared hall  and over 50 shrines! It is ancient; it has been praised in literature from the 6th century onwards but the oldest inscriptions are from the 10th century. After being badly damaged by Muslim invaders, it was rebuilt by successive rulers of Vijayanagara and Nayak dynasties between the 14th and 17th centuries.

On those summer days years ago, we would visit the temple morning and evening and I have played in its grounds without realising its importance. My grandfather passed away when I was 10 and after that my grandmother lived in my uncles’ homes and our home in turn. I never went back to Srirangam.

My song choice of today is in praise of the Lord of Srirangam; a song which transports me back to the summers of my childhood. Note how beautifully the composer Muthuswami Dikshithar (1775-1835)  has used alliteration; the repeated sound ‘nga’ and ‘nka’ adds a most pleasing effect to the lyrics. It is set to the wonderful raga Brindavana Saranga. If you would like to know more about this raga, click here.

The song is strongly associated with late M.S.Subbulakshmi, surely you have already heard her rendition many times over? Today I present a very nice rendition by Nisha Rajagopal.

Alternate Link : Click here and select song 2 (needs free membership to


Footnote (Lyrics) :

रङ्गपुरविहार जय कोदण्ड रामावतार रघुवीर श्री

अङ्गज जनक देव बृन्दावन सारङ्गेन्द्र वरद रमान्तरङ्ग
श्यामळाङ्ग विहङ्ग तुरङ्ग सदयापाङ्ग सत्सङ्ग (रङ्गपुरविहार)

पङ्कजाप्त कुल जलनिधि सोम
वर पङ्कज मुख पट्टाभि राम
पद पङ्कज जितकाम रघुराम
वामाङ्ग गत सीता वर वेश
सेशाङ्ग शयन भक्त संतोष
एणाङ्क रवि नयन मृदुतर भाष
अकळङ्क दर्पण कपोल विशेष
मुनि सङ्कट हरण गोविन्द वेङ्कट रमण मुकुन्द
सङ्कर्षण मूल कन्द शङ्कर गुरुगुहानन्द

For notation, click here.



raNgapura vihAra jaya kOdaNDa rAmAvatAra raghuvIra shrI

angaja janaka dEva bRndAvana sArangEndra varada ramAntaranga
shyAmalAnga vihanga turanga sadayApAnga satsanga (rangupura)

pankajApta kula jalanidhi sOma
vara pankaja mukha paTTAbhirAma
padapankaja jitakAma raghurAma
vAmAnga gata sItA vara vEsha
sEshAnga shayana bhakta santOsha
ENAnkaravinayana mRdutara bhASa
akaLanka darpaNa kapOla vishEsha
muni sankaTa haraNa gOvinda vEnkaTa ramaNa mukunda
sankarshaNa mUla kanda shaNkara guruguhAnanda

Translation :
O inhabitant of Rangapura! Victory to you who incarnated as the warrior (vIra) Rama (ramavatAra) in the Raghu dynasty, wielding the bow Kodand.

O beloved (antarangA) of Ramaa (name of Laxmi), you are the father (janaka) of cupid (angaja).  You are swift (implied) like king of deers (sAranga indra) in giving boons (varada) to the to celestials (deva). (Some translators thing it has a reference to Gajendra moksham). You who have Garuda (vihanga) as your mount (turanga, literally horse), you are dark-skinned (shyAmala anga), whose sidelong glances (apAnga) are compassionate (sadaya), who is present in good company (sat sanga).

O moon (soma) of the ocean (jalanidhi) which is the Sun Clan (pankaja apta kula, literally friend of the Lotus, as the lotus blooms on seeing the sun)! O Rama who was consecrated as King (pattabhirAma), face (mukha) blooming like a lotus (pankaja)! O Rama of the clan Raghu, you vanquished cupid (jita kAmA) (implied: in beauty) by the lotus-like (pankaja) beauty of his feet (pAda) alone!  You who are dressed as the bridegroom (vara Vesha) of Sita who is on the left (vAmana anga) ! You who recline (shayana) on the great serpent Sesha !  Delight (santOsha) of devotees (bhakta)! Your eyes (nayana) are the Sun (ravi) and the moon (ENanka)! Your are soft spoken (mrudutara bhAsha)!  Your forehead (kaPola) is like an unblemished (akaLanka) mirror (darpaNa)! O Lord Govinda, you are remover (hara) of the sufferings (sankata) of sages (muni)!  Venkataramana! Mukunda! Sankarshana! O Primordial being (literally mUla=source, kAnda=stem/trunk)! You who provide joy (sham kara)! You who make Subramanya (=Guruguha, His newphew, also signature of the composer) happy (ananda)!



Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Nisha Rajagopal