Category Archives: Muthuswami Dikshithar

Arunachala Natham

A man who travelled 200km to save his parents’ bushfire-threatened home in Bobin on New South Wales’ mid-north coast (fire pictured in the town earlier this month) has claimed he was fired from his job for taking time off work. Picture: Peter Parks/AFP.The worship of fire and the worship with fire has been a part of ancient religions across the world. If the Adityas and then Agni were primary deities in the Vedas, the Zoroastrians saw fire as the light of Ahura Mazda. The Vestal Virgins of ancient Rome worshipped the Sacred Fire of Vesta, the Greeks bowed to Hestas and Hephaestus, the Aztecs had Chantico, to name just a few. Although I light a lamp every morning and evening at my home altar, although I have seen and participated in innumerable Hindu rituals where the homa fire stood as witness, I have always seen Agni as some remote God of the Vedic people quite unrelated to my own beliefs. I even saw the deification of nature as somewhat primitive, preferring to think of it as symbolic.

But lately I have become much more sympathetic to the idea of nature worship. My change of mind comes from, of all things, the Solar Panels we installed earlier in the month. ‘What?’ You are thinking, aren’t you, ‘Whatever is Suja going on about today?‘. So, here’s the thing. Since the installation, I have become so much more aware of the power that is that ball of fire we call the Sun. A slowtop, that’s what I am! One goes through life with blinkers on, doesn’t one, not even noticing the extraordinary which is within all those ordinaries around us! Our new solar panels produce so much electricity that we can run all our appliances during the day including a washing machine, dishwasher, induction cook top, fridges, vacuum cleaner, electric mop, TV and computer (to just name just a few) and still have extra to export to the grid. Is that not simply amazing? We don’t have a battery so we do use electricity from the grid when solar production is not sufficient but we are net positive.  I confess; all these years I have paid electricity bills without once glancing at consumption. Now suddenly I am hyper-aware and am just blown away by the wonder of solar energy. The fire so far away in the skies has so much power that even the most insignificant, miniscule part of it which falls upon our roof is enough to run our home! I know, this is something even school kids would know. But there is knowing and there is truly experiencing. It doesn’t feel primitive at all to respect that fire and call it a God, it is that awe inspiring.

But we Hindus have one more factor amongst our Gods and Goddesses. We realise that they have both benevolent and malevolent aspects to them. A kindly Durga and a threatening Kali are but two sides of the same, as are Shiva and Bhairava. That kindly solar fire which runs my home has also caused the most destructive havoc in Australia, my home country. Wild bush fires are all consuming, voracious in their appetite for more destruction. The earth is parched with drought and people are suffering. The temperatures across Australia are reaching record highs. We are a nation scorched. We need rain, rain which quenches the thirst of a parched land. But that is a prayer to Varuna, another God, and another post.

Today my musical choice is dedicated Shiva in his manifestation in the form of an Agni Lingam, am emblem of fire. Arunachala Natham, set to raga Saranga, belongs to a set of compositions by Muthuswami Diksthar called the Panchabhutalinga Kshetra Kritis. Many years ago I had featured Ananada Natana Prakasham in Kedaram which belongs to the same set of compositions. In my song choice of today, Dikshithar describes Shiva as resembling a crore of rising suns but also as a source of mercy. My land of Australia needs that mercy now.

Listen below to Sikkil Gurucharan’s meditative rendition of this song. The focus is on the purity of the composition; a fact which rather appeals to me. See if you enjoy the repeated use of sound ङ्ग (nga) in the charanam as much as I do!

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation)

Language : Sanskrit

अरुणाचल नाथम् स्मरामि
अनिशम् अपीत कुचाम्बा समेतम्

स्मरणात् कैवल्य प्रद चरणारविन्दम्
तरुणादित्य कोटि सङ्काश चिदानन्दम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
करुणा रसादि कन्दम् शरणागत सुर वृन्दम्

अप्राकृत तेजोमय लिङ्गम् , अत्यद्भुत कर धृत सारङ्गम्
अप्रमेयं अपर्णाब्ज भृङ्गम् , आरूढोत्तुङ्ग वृष तुरङ्गम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
विप्रोत्तम विशेषान्तरङ्गम् , वीर गुरु गुह तार प्रसङ्गम्
स्वप्रदीप मौलि विधृत गङ्गम् , स्वप्रकाश जित सोमाग्नि पतङ्गम्


aruNAchala nAthaM smarAmi
anisham apIta kuchAmbA samEtam

smaraNAt kaivalya prada charaNaravindam
taruNAditya kOTi sangkAsha chidAnandam
karuNA rasAdi kandam sharaNAgata sura vRndam

aprAkRta tEjOmaya lingam atyadbhuta kara dhRta sArangam
apramEyam aparNAbja bhRngam ArUDhOttunga vRsha turangam
viprOttama vishEshAntarangam vIra guru guha tAra prasangam
svapradIpa mauli vidhRta gangam svaprakAsha jita sOmAgni patangam


I constantly (anisham) remember/recite the name of (smarAmi) the Lord (nAtham) of Arunachala together with (samEtam) Goddess Apitakuchamba – mother (ambA) with unsuckled (apIta-literally undrunk) breasts (kucha).

The God who (implied) grants (prada) release from the cycle of birth (kaivalya) simply (implied) by His lotus-feet (charaNa aravinDam) being remembered (smaraNat),  who resembles (sangkAsha) countless (kOTi, literally a crore) young (taruNa) suns (Aditya). He who is blissful (Ananda) consciousness (chit) incarnate (implied), He who is the original (Adi) root (kandam) of compassion (karuNA rasa) towards the flocks (vRndam) of learned men/divinities (sura) who seek refuge in him (sharaNAgata).

He whose emblem (linga) is extraordinarily (aprAkRta) brilliant (tEjOmaya) (note: refers to the story of Shiva manifesting himself as an unmeasurable column of light at Arunachalam), He who holds (dhRta) a very (ati) wonderous (adbhuta) deer (sArangam – note this is the name of the raga as well) in his hand (kara), He who is unfathomable (apramEyam), He who is the lotus (abja) to the bee (bhRngam) who is Parvati (aparNA), He who is mounted on (ArUDHa) a tall (uttunga) and speedy (turangam) bull (vRsha), He who is especially (vishEsha) intimate (antarangam) with the best of the (uttama) learned men/Brahmins (vipra),  The savior (tAra) to whom the heroic (vIra) Subrahmanya (guruguha, also the signature of the composer) is devoted (prasangam) , He who bears (vidhRta) Ganga as an ornament (pradIpa) of his own (sva) top-knot (mauli), He whose own (sva) luminescence (prakAsha) surpasses that of (jita, literally wins) the moon (sOma), fire (agni) and the sun (patangam).

(A Notation is available at this site :




Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Sikkil Gurucharan

Chetah Sri Balakrishnam

Krishna baby on leafI’m home! What a busy month I have had! At the start of September, my friend and I went to Moscow and St Petersburg for 9 days. Russia was so very impressive! Then there was a bit of local tourism in Switzerland before setting off for a 10 day driving tour in Italy. We’ve been to Italy many times, but we always find something new to savour and enjoy. As we drove about 2700 km, there was enough time to listen to music – but it was all Hindi film songs, Ghazals, Bhajans and Qawwalis. No Carnatic Music (CM) at all. I do enjoy all these forms but how I missed CM! You can well imagine what I have been doing since I am back to my normal routine since Wednesday…  It was only when I let the sounds of CM seep into my soul that I felt truly home.  It is indeed my ‘ishTa gAnam’ !

That was not always the case. I have often mentioned in this blog that I was brought up in a family where CM was like a playback track to life. But in my teen years, the music that I chose for myself was mostly Hindi film music. I did like CM, but it was limited to just a few artists…and I preferred instrumentals mostly. I did love Bharatanatyam and enjoyed dance music. When my father played his favourite tapes of Semmangudi and Madurai Mani Iyer on his Grundig, I would moan complainingly! What an asamanjam (ignorant idiot+++) I was! I am so ashamed of my teenage stupidity! This week, as I have been listening obsessively to Semmangudi, I look back to those days and wonder why I didn’t have the musical maturity to appreciate such an extraordinary musician… How is it that some young ones already have such a developed taste? Do the learnings from one life pass on to the next? Would I have a more discerning taste in my next life?

In this week of my obsession with Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, I have chosen to feature a song which he sang very often and with great beauty. This wonderful composition by Muthuswami Dikshithar extols the qualities of Balakrishna in the charming raga Dwijavanti. The composer says that ‘His lotus like feet bestow all dreamed about objects of desire’. When I listen to this song, I like to think of what dreams I would like to lay on His feet…One that I would like Him to consider is my wish to be born as a Carnatic Musician in my next life. I am still working out the details of the dream, the voice of Bombay Jayashri if I am born a woman or TMK if I am a man, the amazing sweetness and grace of Lalgudi’s creative mind, the bhakti bhava of MS, the flamboyant flair of GNB’s renditions……all this would be nice, but it is the lighting fast, brilliant musical mind of Semmangudi which would be the essential ingredient! Listen to my selection below and see how amazing his kalpana swarams are..

Alternate Link : Click here and download track 8 (free membership to Sangeethapriya required)

If you like this kriti, then you are in luck as there are many good renditions of this song by very many artists. A couple that  I have enjoyed this week are :

Track 3 in this concert by K.V.Narayanaswamy (free membership to Sangeethapriya required). The leisurely pace suits this song very well.

The first song in this concert by T.M.Krishna. The video is not good but don’t be put off; the audio is fine.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

चेतः श्री बाल कृष्णं भज रे
चिन्तितार्थ प्रद चरणारविन्दम् मुकुन्दम्

नूतन नीरद सदृश शरीरम् नन्द किशोरम्
पीत वसन धरम् कम्बु कन्धरम् गिरि धरम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
पूतनादि  सम्हारम् पुरुषोत्तमावतारम्
शीतल  हृदय विहारम् श्री  रुक्मिणी दारम्

नवनीत गन्ध वाह वदनम् मृदु गदनम्
नळिन पत्र  नयनम्  वट पत्र शयनम्
नव  चम्पक नासिकम् अतसी  सुम भासकम्
नतेन्द्रादि  लोक पालकम् मृग मद तिलकम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
नव तुळसी वन मालम् नारदादि मुनि जालम्
कुवलयादि परिपालम्  गुरु गुह नुत गोपालम्

Transliteration :

chEtaH shrI bAla kRshNam bhaja rE
chintitArtha prada charaNAravindam mukundam

nUtana nIrada sadRsha sharIraM nanda kishOram
pIta vasana dharam kambu kandharam giri dharam
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
pUtanAdi samhAram purushOttamAvatAram
shItala hRdaya vihAram shrI rukmiNI dAram

navanIta gandha vAha vadanam mRdu gadanam
naLina patra nayanam vaTa patra shayanam
nava champaka nAsikam atasI suma bhAsakam
natEndrAdi lOka pAlakam mRga mada tilakam
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
nava tuLasI vana mAlam nAradAdi muni jAlam
kuvalayAdi paripAlam guru guha nuta gOpAlam

Translation :

O Mind (chEtah), revere (bhaja) the child Lord Krishna (shrI bAla krishNam), also called Mukunda, whose lotus like (aravindam) feet (charaNam) bestow all dreamed about (chintita) objects of desire (artha).

He is the young boy (kishOra) of Nanda, the One whose body (sharIram) looks like (sadrRsha) fresh (nUtana) rain clouds (nIrada), the One who wears (dharam) yellow (pIta) garments (vasana), the One whose neck (kandharam) is like a conch (kambhu), the One who holds up (dharam) a mountain (giri).

He is the incarnation (avatAram) of Purushottama (=the supreme being). He is the One who destroyed (samhAra) Putana etc (Adi), the One who resides in (vihAram) in calm (shItala) hearts (hRdaya), the One whose wife (dAram) is Rukmini (or does it mean He is the consort of Rukmini? Unsure).

He is the One whose breath (vAha, literally air) from the mouth (vadana) smells of (gandha) butter (navanIta), the sweet (mRdu) talking (gadanam) One. He is One whose eyes (nayanam) look like lotus-leaves (naLina patra), the One who sleeps on (shayanam) the leaf of a banyan-tree (vaTa patra). He is the One whose nose (nAsika) looks like a new (nava) Champaka flower, the One whose complexion (implied) appears like (bhAsakam) the Atasi flower (suma) (a blue flower), the One bowed to (nata) by Indra and the guardians (pAlaka) of the world (lOka), the One who wears a mark on the forehead (tilaka) with the deer-musk (mRga mada=kastUri).

He is the One who is garlanded (mAlam) with new (nava) clusters (vana) Tulasi leaves, the One who has ensnared (jAlam) sages (muni) like Narada etc (Adi), the One who is the protector (pAlakam) of the worlds (kuvalaya Adi = bhUlOka etc). He is Gopala, praised by (nuta) Guruguha (signature of the composer).

(Notation is available here :


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer

Sri Kamalamba Jayati

Sri Yantra 9Durga








Happy Navami everybody! These nine days have flown past, haven’t they? This Navaratri I have been featuring Dikshithar’s Navavarana kritis. It has been an intense nine days for me, reading about the philosophy, examining the ideas behind it and charting my own take-homes. Today we have arrived at the culmination point, the kriti dedicated to the ninth Avarana, सर्व आनन्दमय चक्र Sarva Anandamaya Chakra (Suffused with Complete Bliss). The presiding deity is Tripurasundari. Here reside Shiva and Shakti, unified as one and are represented by a bindu (dot). This bindu represents the sum total of all possibilities of the Universe. 

In this celebratory kriti, Dikshithar says प्रीति युक्त मत् चित्तं विलयतु  ‘Intent upon Her love, let my mind dissolve’. If you have reached this stage of the Sri Yantra upasana, there is no more philosophy, no more logic, no more ritual, nothing but the merging of your mind into the absolute. So let us immerse ourselves in our own musical upasana as we let our minds seek Kamalamba.

This kriti is set to the deeply meditative raga Ahiri, perfect for quieting our minds. It is beautifully presented to us today by Sumithra Vasudev (from 7:16). What a lovely song, and what a lovely way to finish this series! May the Goddesses be with you!

Footnote (Lyrics) :

श्री कमलाम्बा जयति अम्बा
श्री कमलाम्बा जयति जगदम्बा
श्री कमलाम्बा जयति शृङ्गार रस कदम्बा मदम्बा
श्री कमलाम्बा जयतिचिद्बिम्ब प्रतिबिम्बेन्दु बिम्बा
श्री कमलाम्बा जयति
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
श्री पुर बिन्दु मध्यस्थ चिन्तामणि मन्दिरस्थ 
शिवाकार मञ्च स्थित शिव कामेशाङ्कस्था

सूकराननाद्यर्चित महा त्रिपुर सुन्दरीं
राज राजेश्वरीं श्री-कर सर्वानन्द-मय –
चक्र वासिनीं सुवासिनीं चिन्तयेऽहम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
दिवाकर शीत किरण पावकादि विकास-करया
भी-कर ताप-त्रयादि भेदन धुरीण-तरया
पाक रिपु प्रमुखादि प्रार्थित सु-कळेबरया
प्राकट्य परा-परया पालितो-दया-करया
श्री मात्रे नमस्ते चिन्मात्रे सेवित रमा हरीश विधात्रे
वामादि शक्ति पूजित पर देवतायाः सकलं जातम्
कामादि द्वादशभिरुपासित कादि हादि सादि मन्त्र रूपिण्याः
प्रेमास्पद शिव गुरु गुह जनन्यां प्रीति युक्त मच्चित्तं विलयतु
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
ब्रह्म-मय प्रकाशिनी नाम रूप विमर्शिनी
काम कला प्रदर्शिनी सामरस्य निदर्शिनी


shrI kamalAmbA jayati ambA
shrI kamalAmbA jayati jagadambA
shrI kamalAmbA jayati
shRngAra rasa kadambA madambA
shrI kamalAmbA jayati
chidbimba prati-bimbEndu bimbA
shrI kamalAmbA jayati
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
shrI pura bindu madhyastha chintAmaNi mandirastha 
shivAkAra mancha sthita shiva kAmEshAnkasthA

sUkarAnanAdyarchita mahA tripura sundarIm
rAja rAjESvarIm shrI-kara sarvAnanda-maya
chakra vAsinIm suvAsinIm chintayEham
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
divAkara shIta kiraNa pAvakAdi vikAsa karayA
bhIkara tApa trayAdi bhEdana dhurINa tarayA
pAka ripu pramukhAdi prArthita sukaLEbarayA
prAkaTya parA-parayA pAlitO-dayA-karayA

shrI mAtrE namastE chinmAtrE
sEvita ramA harIsha vidhAtrE
vAmAdi shakti pUjita para dEvatAyAH sakalam jAtam
kAmAdi dvAdashabhirupAsita –
kAdi hAdi sAdi mantra rUpiNyAH
prEmAspada shiva guru guha jananyAm –
prIti yukta maccittam vilayatu
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
brahma maya prakAshinI nAma rUpa vimarshinI
kAma kalA pradarshinI sAmarasya nidarshinI


May Kamalamba be victorious (jayati)! O Mother (ambA)! May Kamalamba be victorious! O mother of the world (jagat ambA)! May Kamalamba be victorious (jayati)! My (mad) mother, who is the sum total (kadambA) of the pleasure of love (shRingAra rasa)! May Kamalamba be victorious! The image (bimbA) of the spark (indu) of reflection (pratibimba) of the form (bimba) of consciousness (chit)! May Kamalamba be victorious! She who resides (sthita) in the bindu (dot) in Sripura, in the middle (madhyastha) of Brahma’s (chintAmaNi) temple (mandira) (I think it implies our body, as it is the temple created by Brahma for the soul), sitting (sthita) on pedestal (mancha) which is the body (AkAra) of Shiva, situated (-stha) on the lap (anka) of Shiva, the Lord of Love (kAma Isha).

I meditate upon (aham chintayE) on the great (mahA) Tripurasundari, the ruler of all rulers (rAja rAjeshwari), the respected one (suvAsinI), who is worshipped by (archita) by Varaha (sUkara), etc (Adi) (I don’t know what Anana means),  the one who causes prosperity (shrI kara), the one infused with (-maya) complete (sarva) bliss (Ananda). By She who causes (karayA) growth(vikAsa) to the sun (divAkara), moon (shItakiraNa), Agni (pAvaka) etc (Adi).  By She who is charged with (dhuriNa tarayA) relieving (bhEdana) fear (bhIkara), the three (traya) afflictions (tApa) (=physical, mental, supernatural). By She who has the beautiful su-) form (kaLEbara) worshipped by (prArthita) the chief (pramukha) enemy (ripu) of Paka (=Indra), etc (Adi). By she who is manifest (prAkatyA) as both past (para) and future (apara). By she who is compassionate (dayAkarayA) to those who cherish (pAlita) her.

Salutations (namastE) to the auspicious (shrI) mother (mAtR), the mother (mAtr) of consciousness (chit). The Goddess (ramA) Mother (vidhAtrI) worshipped (sEvita) by Vishnu (hari) and Shiva (Isha). The Shakti worshipped by (pUjita) by Vama etc (Adi), from whom was born (jAtam) all other (para) Gods (dEvata) (unsure about this). Honoured (upAsita) by the twelve (dvAdasha) like Cupid (manmatha) etc (Adi) (dont know what is abhi). The embodiment (rUpinI) of the mantras starting with ka, ha, sa, etc. The seat (Aspada) of love (prEma) of Shiva, the mother (janani) of Kartikeya (guruguha, also signature of composer). Intent (yukta) upon Her love (prIti), let my (mat) mind/consciousness (chittam) dissolve (vilayatu). She who shines (prkAshinI) suffused (-maya) by the Brahman, the ultimate consciousness. She is the imparter (vimarshinI) of all names (nAma) and forms (rUpa). She is displayer (pradarshinI) of the art (kalA) of love (kAma). She is the knower (nidarshinI) of essence (rasa) of Sama veda.  


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Sumithra Vasudev

Sri Kamalambike Avava

Sri Yantra 8Happy Ashtami everyone! We continue with the Navavarana kritis of Muthuswami Dikshithar, a series which I started last week from this post. Today’s song is devoted to the eighth Avarana, the triangle within which the bindu, representing the Goddess, resides. The three corners of the triangle are said to represent a number of different things – the three gunas (sattva, rajas, tamas), the three powers of the Goddess (inclination, knowledge and activity), the three dimensions of the soul (AtmA, antarAtmA, paramAtmA), the three processes of creation (sRshTi, sthiti, samhAra), the three shaktis (Rudra Shakti-Parvati, Vishnu Shakti-Lakshmi, Brahma Shakti-Saraswati) and a few other ideas as well. It is clear that there are many ideas in sets of three in Hindu thought!

The name of this eighth chakra is सर्व सिद्धि प्रद Sarva Siddhi Prada Chakra (That which gives all accomplishments) and the presiding deity is Tripuramba. Yesterday I suggested that all of us who are nor that spiritually adept examine the chakras to set ourselves long term spiritual self-improvement goals. I also suggested short-term measurable targets so that we can monitor our progress. Therefore today, prompted by the name of the Chakra, I ask ‘What gives us all accomplishments?’ .

The answer flashes easily. First there has to be a seed, a wish to accomplish. This is triggered by something deep within us, our souls. Next there is the growth of the plant, the slow gathering of knowledge and skills. This is controlled and directed by the mind. Then finally the tree bears the fruit of accomplishment which can only come with the blessings of the Divine. Unknowingly, I have landed on the AtmA-antarAtma-paramAtmA symbolism after all!

This chakra tells me to strengthen the soul-mind-God connection so that it can work as a unit in our physical or metaphysical improvement (long term goal). Let us examine ourselves for the seed of one accomplishment, however small, which will give us joy. Let us find an inspiration before the end of this year (short term target). Let us then diligently take action to accomplish it next year and pray that our actions will bear the fruit of accomplishment.

This kriti in honour of the eighth Avarana is set to raga Ghanta. This is presented to us by Amritha Murali.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

श्री कमलाम्बिके अवाव शिवे कर धृत शुक शारिके

लोक पालिनि कपालिनि शूलिनि
लोक जननि भग मालिनि सकृद्
आलोकय मां सर्व सिद्धि-प्रदायिके
त्रिपुराम्बिके बालाम्बिके

सन्तप्त हेम सन्निभ देहे सदाऽखण्डैक रस प्रवाहे
सन्ताप हर त्रिकोण गेहे सकामेश्वरि शक्ति समूहे
सन्ततं मुक्ति घण्टा मणि घोषायमान कवाट द्वारे
अनन्त गुरु गुह विदिते कराङ्गुलि नखोदय विष्णु दशावतारे
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
अन्तःकरणेक्षु कार्मुक शब्दादि पञ्च तन्मात्र विशिखाऽत्यन्त
राग पाश द्वेषाङ्कुश धर करेऽति रहस्य योगिनी परे


shrI kamalAmbikE avAva shivE kara dhRta shuka shArikE

lOka pAlini kapAlini shUlini lOka janani bhaga mAlini sakRd-
AlOkaya mAm sarva siddhi pradAyikE tripurAmbikE bAlAmbikE

santapta hEma sannibha dEhE sadAkhaNDaika rasa pravAhE
santApa hara trikONa gEhE sakAmEshvari shakti samUhE
santataM mukti ghaNTA maNi ghOshAyamAna kavATa dvArE
ananta guru guha viditE karAnguli nakhOdaya vishNu dashAvatArE
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
antaHkaraNEkshu kArmuka shabdAdi pancha tanmAtra vishikhAtyanta
rAga pAsha dvEshAnkusha dhara karEti rahasya yOginI parE


(sourced from temporarily. I will do a word for word translation as soon as possible)

Kamalambika protect me, protect me.The auspicious one! The one who holds the parrot and the maina-bird* in her hands.

The protector of her worlds, the bearer of the trident. The consort of the bearer of the skull. The mother of the worlds. The one who is the garland of sweetness. Glance at me. The giver of all powers! The one known as tripurambika and balambika.

The one whose body is splendorous like molten gold, the one who always is an everflowing bliss, the one who dewells in the triangle with kAmeshwari and other shakthis.The one whose gate from which the bell of mukti beckons one to salvation. The one known to the eternal guruguha; the one who produced the 10 incarnations of Vishnu out of her 10 finger-nails. The one who resides in the mind, as the form which holds a sugarcane, the 5 tanmatras as the arrows, desire as the noose, hatred as the goad; The secret yoga power.


Filed under Amritha Murali, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar

Sri Kamalambikayam

Sri Yantra 7Happy Saptami to all of you! I started this series of posts on Prathami, trying to follow and understand Dikshithar’s Navavarana kritis which are based on the worship of Sri Yantra. Over the last seven days, I have read many texts and tried to understand Avarana after Avarana, giving you a summary in my posts. The texts all seem so complicated and convoluted! Yesterday I gave up, considering this quite beyond me. It is a veritable mountain of ideas in which I am quite lost.

Yet mountains too are climbed just one step at a time. So my question to myself today is simply this : what steps can I take today so that one day, in some future life, I will finally be upon the right path? Can we set measurable and achievable targets? Focusing only on the names of the Avaranas, I propose the following :

  1. Bhupuram : Trilokya Mohana Chakra, the outermost layer. Tied to the earth, as the name Bhupuram suggests, I prefer to think of it as the physical preparatory layer. Mountain climbers train, acclimatize. Olympians practice. Those on the quest of the Goddess should surely start with training their bodies and minds with discipline, yoga and meditation (long term goal). Let us all try and do yoga at least twice a week and meditate at least once a week (short term target).
  2. Sarvasa Paripooraka Chakra , the chakra where all desires are fulfilled. Is it ever possible to fulfil all desires? Isn’t the wish to fulfil all desires itself a desire? Desires come from discontent, if we remove discontent from out lives, all our desires will be fulfilled, will they not? So for me, the lesson of this chakra is to learn to be content (long term goal). Every morning, let us thank God for just one thing which makes us content with our lives; let us count our blessings (short term target).
  3.  Sarva Samkhsobhana Chakra, the chakra which agitates all. The law of inertia states that ‘An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.’ If we want to be different, we have to start doing something different! ‘Shake it up’ says this chakra to me, ‘start seeing the world with different eyes, the eyes of those on a quest’ (long term goal). Every month, let us teach ourselves one new thing in the spiritual realm from any religion of the world (short term target).
  4. Sarva Saubhagya Dayaka Chakra, the chakra which bestows all prosperity. What if we are not meant to be the receivers but instead are the providers? What is prosperity – health, wealth, happiness? We cannot provide physical health to others, but we can provide mental health by being loving, supportive, understanding and accepting. We cannot provide everyone with wealth but we can try and be generous and charitable (long term goals). We cannot make everyone happy but let us try and bring a little smile to someone, somewhere every single day – be it a text to a friend, a small charitable act, a lovingly cooked meal..anything (short term target).
  5. Sarvartha Saadhaka Chakra, the chakra which is the accomplisher of all objectives. Our schooling, our work, our life all tells us to set objectives and work towards achieving it. Let me tell you my experience : this is a whirlpool from which you will never emerge. Every objective achieved only paves the way for the next objective; it is an unending cycle. It tells me one thing very clearly – the objectives I am setting are wrong ones, they breed dissatisfaction, not satisfaction. So the lesson from this chakra is to set our objectives for those things which will bring us long time joy (long term goal). Let us think for the rest of this year and make a list of those things which will give us long term happiness (short term target).
  6. Sarva Rakshakara Chakra, the all protecting chakra. Protecting what? I ask myself. What is worth protecting in me? What is not already tainted? This is a hard question for it seems that all that is good within me has already been soiled by this life.  The lesson for me from this chakra is to protect diligently all that is worth protecting in all of us – honesty, honour, charitability, kindness, patience, gentleness, peacefulness, nobility etc..(long term goal). To do that, we must first go through mentally of all we have done by which we have let ourselves down and then forgive ourselves for those things (short term target).

    So we come to today’s Avaranam :

  7. Sarva Rogahara Chakra, the chakra which removes all diseases. ‘What is it which is diseased within me?’ I ask myself. Life sets the rot within us, does it not? Let us all examine ourselves, determining that which has started to rot in us and then heal ourselves, with kindness, with patience, but with determination as well (long term goal). Every third month, let us stop one bad habit, behaviour, or thought pattern which leads to the disease in our body, mind or soul (short term target).

Now this kind of practical steps sit much more easily with me than talk of worshipping hundreds of shaktis and yoginis with mantras and puja vidhi! Dikshithar’s kriti in honour of the seventh chakra is set to raga Sahana. It is presented today by Sikkil Gurucharan, an excellent young artist.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

श्री कमलाम्बिकायां भक्तिं करोमि
श्रित कल्प वाटिकायां चण्डिकायां जगदम्बिकायाम्

राका चन्द्र वदनायां राजीव नयनायां
पाकारि नुत चरणायां आकाशादि किरणायाम्
ह्रींकार विपिन हरिण्यां ह्रींकार सु-शरीरिण्यां
ह्रींकार तरु मञ्जर्यां ह्रींकारेश्वर्यां गौर्याम्

शरीर त्रय विलक्षण सुख-तर स्वात्मानुभोगिन्यां
विरिञ्चि हरीशान हरि-हय वेदित रहस्य योगिन्याम्
परादि वाग्देवता रूप वशिन्यादि विभागिन्यां
चरात्मक सर्व रोग हर निरामय राज योगिन्याम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
कर धृत वीणा वादिन्यां कमला नगर विनोदिन्यां
सुर नर मुनि जन मोदिन्यां गुरु गुह वर प्रसादिन्याम्


shrI kamalAmbikAyAm bhaktim karOmi
shrita kalpa vATikAyAm chaNDikAyAm jagadambikAyAm

rAkA chandra vadanAyAm rAjIva nayanAyAm
pAkAri nuta charaNAyAm AkAshAdi kiraNAyAm
hrImkAra vipina hariNyAm hrImkAra susharIriNyAm
hrImkAra taru manjaryAm hrImkArEshvaryAm gauryAm

sharIra traya vilakshaNa sukha-tara svAtmAnubhOginyAm
virinchi harIshAna hari-haya vEdita rahasya yOginyAm
parAdi vAgdEvatA rUpa vashinyAdi vibhAginyAm
charAtmaka sarva rOga hara nirAmaya rAja yOginyAm
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
kara dhRta vINA vAdinyAm kamalA nagara vinOdinyAm
sura nara muni jana mOdinyAm guru guha vara prasAdinyAm


I give my devotion (bhaktim karOmi) to Kamalambika, to Her who is a a garden (vAtikA) of wish-giving trees (kalpa) to her worshippers (shrita), to Her who is Chandika (a rudra form of the Goddess), to Her who is the mother (ambikA) of the world (jagat).

To Her with a face (vadana) like the full moon (rAkAchandra), whose eyes (nayana) are like the lotus (rAjIva), whose feet (charaNa) are worshipped (nuta) by the enemy (ari) of the demon pAka (=Indra), who radiates (kiranAy) the skies (AkAsha) etc (Adi), who is the doe (hariNi) in the forest (vipina) of the sound hRIm, whose noble (prefix su) body (sharIra) is the embodiment of the sound hRIm, who is like the cluster of blossoms (manjara) of the tree (taru) called hRIm, who is the Goddess (IshvarI) of the sound hRIm, who is fair-skinned Goddess (gaurI).

To Her who enjoys (anubhOga) her own (svAtma) blissful self (sukha tara) which is manifold (vilakshaNa) and beyond (implied) the three (traya) bod-states (sharIra) (the causal, the subtle and the gross), who is the secret (rahasya) Yogini known (vEdita) to Brahma (virinchi), Shiva (Isha) Vishnu (hari) and Hayagreeva (harihaya), who is the embodiment (rUpa) of the deity (dEvata) of speech (vAk), who is differentiated (vibhAga) as Vashinis (deities of the 8-triangles, representing alphabets, pa ra etc (Adi)), who is the Raja Yogini who  removes (hara) all (sarva) communicable (chara-Atmaka, moving nature)diseases (rOga) causing good health (nirAmaya) , who plays (vAda) the Veena she holds (dhRta) her hands (kara), who takes pleasure (vinOda) in the Lotus-city (kamalA nagara), who delights (mOdin) the Gods (sura), men (nara) and sages (muni jana), who graces (prasAda) Kartikeya (guruguha, also signature of composer) with boons (vara).


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Sikkil Gurucharan


Sri Yantra 6

Happy Shashti to all of you! I continue my posts on Dikshithar’s Navavarana kritis (Nine Enclosures) and we have come to the sixth one today. As we unfold one Avaranam (Enclosure) after another, it is clear that each one is one further step in reaching the state of oneness with the Supreme Consciousness which resides in the centre. A true worship is not just revering this chakra, but in exploring the meaning of each consecutive state and training our minds to reach that state. It is all so complicated! So what of us ‘normal’ people with limited abilities? Are we to just blindly worship the symbol without any follow through? Are we to resign ourselves to the fact the we are just not capable?

Here, Dikshithar comes to help with the very first line of today’s kriti. He addresses Kamalambika as sangIta rasika, She who loves music and says that he, Dikshithar, is Her devotee. It is only that one sentence that I cling today, telling myself that surely She who loves music will be present every time I play this beautiful song…

The sixth Avarana is called the सर्व रक्षाकर चक्र Sarva Rakshakara Chakra (All Protecting Chakra). Let us forget meaning, let us forget prescribed forms of worship, let us forget everything except that She who loves music IS music itself, that our love for music is in fact a worship it itself. This kriti is set to Raga Punnagavarali and is presented to us today by K.Gayatri.

Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

कमलाम्बिकायास्तव भक्तोऽहं
शङ्कर्याः श्रीकर्याः सङ्गीत रसिकायाः श्री

सुम शरेक्षु कोदण्ड पाशाङ्कुश पाण्याः
अति मधुर-तर वाण्याः शर्वाण्याः कल्याण्याः
रमणीय पुन्नाग वराळि विजित वेण्याः श्री

दश कलात्मक वह्नि स्वरूप प्रकाशान्तर्दशार सर्व रक्षाकर चक्रेश्वर्याः
त्रि दशादि नुत क च वर्ग द्वय मय सर्वज्ञादि दश शक्ति समेत मालिनी चक्रेश्वर्याः
त्रिदश विंशद्वर्ण गर्भिणी कुण्डलिन्याः दश मुद्रा समाराधित कौळिन्याः
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
दश रथादि नुत गुरु गुह जनक शिव बोधिन्याः दश करण वृत्ति मरीचि निगर्भ योगिन्याः श्री


kamalAmbikAyAstava bhaktOham
shankaryAH SrI-karyAH sangIta rasikAyAH shrI

suma sharEkshu kOdaNDa pAshAnkusha pANyAH
ati madhura tara vANyAH sharvANyAH kalyANyAH
ramaNIya punnAga varALi vijita vENyAH shrI

daSa kalAtmaka vahni svarUpa prakAshAntardashAra sarva rakshA-kara chakrEshvaryAH
tridashAdi nuta ka cha varga dvay maya sarvajnAdi dasha shakti samEta mAlinI chakrESvaryAH
tridasha vimshadvarNa garbhiNI kuNDalinyAH dasha mudrA samArAdhita kauLinyAH
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
dasha rathAdi nuta guru guha janaka shiva bOdhinyAH
daSa karaNa vRtti marIci nigarbha yOginyAH shrI


Note : As I did not have time to do the translation, this is as available on  I will do a word by word translation as soon as I am able.

I am a devotee of you, kamalambika. The auspicious, the harbinger of prosperity, the connoisseur of music.

The one who holds bow of sugarcane, arrow of flowers, the noose and goad, the one with the sweetest voice, the consort of sharva; the auspicious, the one whose tresses are blacker than the bees in the punnaga trees.

The controller of the Sarvarakshakara chakra with ten petals ; The controller of the Malini chakra which has the ten shaktis beginning with Sarvagna the shakti represented by the ka series & ca series and praised by the devas;
the one who is kundalini which is embodied in the 50 letters; The kaulini devi worshipped with the 10 mudras, the perceptor of shiva – the father of guruguha; The one adored by dasharatha; the one who has taken the form of yogini power who holds in herself hearing and all activities of the 10 indriyas


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, K.Gayatri, Muthuswami Dikshithar

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) :

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


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) :

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

Sri Kamalambikaya

Sri Yantra 3

What is the significance of the lotus in Hinduism? Today is the third day of Navaratri and I continue with the Navavarana compositions of Dikshithar. If you have just landed on my blog, you can find the first of the series here.

Today’s kriti is dedicated to the third Avarana (enclosure) which is an eight petalled lotus. Have you noticed how often the lotus appears in Hindu symbolism? We have Brahma, the creator, who emerged from the lotus. We have Vishnu, the protector, from whose navel the lotus emerged. We have Lakshmi who is seated on a red lotus and Saraswati who is seated on a white one. Vishnu Purana describes the earth itself as a lotus. We describe the eyes of Gods and Goddesses as lotus-shaped – rAjIva lOchana. We describe the faces to be lotus like – kamala vadana. We describe their feet to be lotus like – pAda kamala. Wise ones sit in padmAsana or the lotus-position in meditation. The Chakras in our bodies are said to be lotus-like, ending with the Sahasrara, the thousand petalled lotus associated with Supreme Consciousness. The soul is said to be in a lotus inside our hearts. And of course we have the Sri Chakra with two of its Avaranas symbolised as lotuses. What is this obsession with lotus?

The lotus is quite a remarkable flower. Interestingly, the plant has the ability to regulate the temperature of it’s flowers (ref.), somewhat like warm-blooded animals.  As a viviparous plant, it generates offsprings attached to the parent, as a child is attached to the womb. It has remarkable longevity – it’s seeds can live up to 1300 years! In fact it’s genes have the ability to repair diseases and can withstand environmental stress (like freezing) (ref.).  And it is so very beautiful! No wonder it has become one of most important symbols of Hinduism.

One oft used symbolism is the flower’s purity despite it’s origins in mud. Though it’s roots are in mud, it rises far above, untouched by the mud or the water. In the Bhagavat Gita, it is said that “One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus leaf is untouched by water.” (5:10). The way it closes at night and sinks to rise again in the morning, and its regenerative qualities mimic the cycles of life and soul. Its amazing fecundity makes it a symbol of fertility and even immortality. I need to do more research into this; the lotus seems to be interwoven into our texts in so many different ways.

So we come to today’s song Sri Kamalambikaya set to raga Shankarabharanam dedicated to the Goddess of the third Avarana called सर्व संक्षोभण चक्र Sarva Sankshobhana Chakra (All Churning Chakra). I wonder at the name – is it because by the time you reach this stage, your world is totally churned up? The presiding Goddess is Tripura Sundari. Let us think of her while listening to Kunnakudi M.Balamuralikrishna presenting this song for us.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

श्री कमलाम्बिकया कटाक्षितोऽहं सच्चिदानन्द परिपूर्ण ब्रह्मास्मि

पाकशासनादि सकल देवता सेवितया
पङ्कजासनादि पञ्च  कृत्याकृत्भावितया
शोक हर चतुर पदया मूक मुख्य वाक्प्रदया
कोकनद विजय पदया गुरु गुह तत्-त्रै-पदया

अनङ्ग कुसुमाद्यष्ट शक्त्याकारया अरुण वर्ण संक्षोभण चक्राकारया
अनन्त कोट्यण्ड नायक शङ्कर नायिकया अष्ट वर्गात्मक गुप्त तरया वरया
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
अनङ्गाद्युपासितया अष्ट दळाब्ज स्थितया धनुर्बाण धर करया दया सुधा सागरया


shrI kamalAmbikayA kaTAkshitOham
sachchidAnanda paripUrNa brahmAsmi

pAka shAsanAdi sakala dEvatA sEvitayA
pankajAsanAdi pancha kRtyAkRtbhAvitayA
shOka hara chatura padayA mUka mukhya vAkpradayA
kOkanada vijaya padayA guru guha tat-trai-padayA

anangakusumAdyashTa shaktyAkArayA
aruNa varNa samkshObhaNa chakrAkArayA
ananta kOTyaNDa nAyaka shankara nAyikayA
ashTa vargAtmaka gupta tarayA varayA
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
anangAdyupAsitayA ashTa daLAbja sthitayA
dhanurbANa dhara karayA dayA sudhA sAgarayA


I (aham) have the grace (kaTAkshita=looked at with the corner of the eye) of Kamalamba. I am (asmi) the Brahman filled with (paripUrNa) the bliss (Ananda) of existence and knowledge.

By the one served by (sEvitayA) he who chastised (shAsana) Paka (=Indra) etc (Adi), by the one contemplated upon (bhAvitayA) by he who is on the lotus (pankaja) seat (Asana) and performed (kRit) the original (Adi) five tasks (pancha-kRitya) (=Brahma), by the one whose feet (padayA) are skilled (chahatura) in dispelling sorrow (shOka hara), by the one who bestowed (pradayA) speech (vAk) to the eminent (mukhya) dumb one (mUka) (ref.), by the one whose feet (padayA) outdoes (vijaya) the lotus (kOkanada), by that embodiment (implied) of those (tat) three (trai) words (padaya) of Guruguha (Kartikeya, also signature of composer).

By the cause (kArayA) of the eight (ashTa) powers (shaktyA) starting with Anangakusuma, by the cause (kArayA) of the reddish (aruNa) coloured (varNa) Samkshobhana chakra, by the  consort (nAyikA) of the Lord (nAyaka) of the innumerable (ananta) crores (kOti) of worlds(aNDa literally egg), by the embodiment (implied) of the one consisting of (Atmaka) eight (ashTa) secret (gupta) parts (varga) (this chakra is made of eight petals), by the surpassing one (tarayA) (unsure of this), by the best (varayA), by the one worshipped by (upAsitayA) cupid (ananga) etc (Adi), by the one seated on (sthitayA) on the eight (ashTa) petalled (daLa) lotus (abja), by the one who has hands (karayA) holding (dhara) a bow (dhanur) and arrow (bANa), by the one who is an ocean (sAgarayA) of the nectar (sudhA) of compassion (dayA).


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Kunnakudi Balamuralikrishna, Muthuswami Dikshithar

Kamalambam Bhajare

Sri Yantra 2So tell me, when you see a strange esoteric diagram and are told that each layer of it is guarded by so many deities, do you secretly think that this is all weird mumbo-jumbo? Do you tell yourself that yes, there may well be a God, but all these strange tantric ideas are not quite your thing? That you are too scientific or practical minded to think that the Goddess is in a bindu surrounded by nine layers in a diagram, each layer guarded by many more deities?

I am, of course, talking of the Sri Chakram that I referred to in my first post for Navaratri yesterday. The thing is, I quite sympathise with you if you find it a bit difficult to relate to.  I too am of a scientific bent with a questioning, logical and rational way of thinking, with a mind which is often taken aback at some concepts and ideas which are well within these diverse set of beliefs which we call Hinduism.  But let me offer you something to think about today. I present to you the PluChakram below where there are seven Avaranams (enclosures) guarded by 94 gupta (secretive) devis who Plutoniumare forever moving.  At the centre are 94 Shaktis, matched by 150 Shivas. When separated, they become their rudra or angry form capable of destroying the earth. Well, what do you think? Am I talking mumbo-jumbo? Not really. This is just the structure of Plutonium (reference) described with a bit of artistic license! I am, of course, talking of electrons and orbits, of protons and neutrons and nuclear energy.  Is it any less of a truth just because it is thus presented? I just want to make the point that the Sri Chakra too is a diagram representing a powerful force. Perhaps we don’t understand it too well but that doesn’t mean we should reject it either.

So we come to today’s kriti, in honour of the second Avaranam, a lotus shaped enclosure with 16 petals called the सर्वाशा परिपूरक चक्र Sarvasha Paripooraka Chakra (the fulfiller of all desires). The presiding deity is Tripureshi and there are 16 Devis who rule this Avarana. Dikshithar’s kriti in honour of this Avarana is set to the very beautiful Kalyani raga. Presenting this kriti is the young Sriranjani Santhanagopalan (from 8:57).


I would also like to present U.Srinivas’s beautiful rendition in his memory; his loss weighs heavily on my heart.

Alternate link : Click here


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

कमलाम्बां भजरे रे मानस कल्पित माया कार्यं त्यज रे

कमला वाणी सेवित पार्श्वां कम्बु जय ग्रीवां नत देवां
कमला पुर सदनां मृदु गदनां कमनीय रदनां कमल वदनाम्

सर्वाशा परिपूरक चक्र स्वामिनीं परमशिव कामिनीं
दुर्वासार्चित गुप्त योगिनीं दुःख ध्वंसिनीं हंसिनीम्
निर्वाण निज सुख प्रदायिनीं नित्य कल्याणीं कात्यायनीं
शर्वाणीं मधुप विजय वेणीं सद् गुरु गुह जननीं निरञ्जनीम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
गर्वित भण्डासुर भञ्जनीं कामाकर्षिण्यादि रञ्जनीं
निर्विशेष चैतन्य रूपिणीं उर्वी तत्वादि स्वरूपिणीं


kamalAmbAM bhajarE rE mAnasa kalpita mAyA kAryaM tyaja rE

kamalA vANI sEvita pArshvAm kambu jayagrIvAm nata dEvAm
kamalA pura sadanAm mRdu gadanAm kamanIya radanAm kamala vadanAm

sarvAshA paripUraka chakra svAminIm parama shiva kAminIm
durvAsArchita gupta yOginIm du.Hkha dhvamsinIm hamsinIm
nirvANa nija sukha pradAyinIm nitya kalyANIm kAtyAyanIm
sharvANIm madhupa vijaya vENIm sad guru guha jananIm niranjanIm
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
garvita bhaNDAsura bhanjanIm kAmAkarshiNyAdi ranjanIm
nirvishEsha chaitanya rUpiNIm urvI tatvAdi svarUpiNIm


Worship (bhajarE) Goddess Kamalamba and abandon (tjajarE) all that is the imaginary (kalpita) result (kAryam) of illusion (mAya) , O Mind (mAnasa)!

She is paid homage to (sEVita) by Lakshmi (kamalA) and Saraswati (vEnI) beside her (pArshvam).  The beauty (implied) of her neck (grIvAm) surpasses (jaya) that of a conch (kambu). She is bowed to (nata) by the Devas. She resides (sadanAm) in Kamalapura, the lotus-city.  Her speech (gadanaAm) is gentle(mRdu). She has beautiful (kamanIya) teeth (radanAm). Her face (vadanAm) is like a lotus (kamala).

She is the mistress (svAminIm) of the Chakra which fulfills all desires (sarVasha paripUraka chakra). She is beloved to (kAminIm) to supreme (parama) Lord Shiva. She is the secret (gupta) Yogini worshipped by (archita) by Sage Durvasa. She is the destroyer (dhvamsinIm) of sorrow (duhkha). She contains the universal soul (hamsinIm). She is the bestower (pradAyinIm) of true (nija) bliss (sukha) in the form of salvation (nirvAna). She is the ever (nitya) auspicious one (kalyAnIm). She is also Katyayani (the sixth form of Durga born as the daughter of Sage Katyayana) amd Sharvani (consort of sharva=Shiva). Her (vEnI) is darker than (vijaya=conquers) the colour (implied) of bees (madhupa). She is the mother (jananI) of the good (sad) Lord Guruguha (Kartikeya, also signature of composer). She is the unblemished one (niranjanI).

She is one who destroyed (bhanjanI) of the egoistic (garvita) demon (asura) Bhanda. She delights (ranjanI) deities such as (Adi) Kamakarshini. She is the embodiment (rUpinI) of the absolute (nirvisEsha) consciousness (chaitanya). She is the manifestation (svarUpinI) of heaven &earth (urvI), reality (tatva) etc (Adi).


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Sriranjani Santhanagopalan, U.Srinivas