Tag Archives: Muthuswami Dikshithar

Nanda Gopala

Happy Janmashtami to everyone! May Lord Krishna shower us all with his blessings!

I write so very rarely here that my readers have surely abandoned me! But I could not let this day pass without at least a simple offering from my part. You see, our own Gopala has come calling upon us! My daughter-in-law and son have presented me with a grandson who arrived just a few days ago. It seemed right to celebrate this happy occasion with a post to honour Janmashtami. The good God has showered me with the best of blessings, the chance to dote upon another little grandchild.

A few weeks ago I had a very lucid dream, a dream in which I was half-aware of dreaming. In that dream, Goddess Durga came to me, tall and beautiful, clad in red. She handed a child in my arms and leant down to hug me. She was a Goddess, I should have been looking at her, I should have fallen at her feet. Instead, in my dream, I stare down in fascination at the little child in my arms, who stares back at me with wide, beautiful eyes. I don’t know if it was a figment of my imagination, or the Goddess came in truth. But it is clear that all the lectures I hear on vedanta, on remaining unattached, have failed!! My grandchildren have tied me up in their web of love…

This is my life.

Last week, I am telling my first grandson about the baby in his aunt’s belly who is soon to arrive. He looks at his soft, 3 year old belly and back up at me.

When will I have a baby in my tummy, Patti ?‘ he asks.

Boys don’t get babies in their tummy. One day, you will find a nice girl who will be your wife and then she will have your baby in her tummy‘. I explain. He looks nonplussed.

Where will I find her ?‘ he asks in puzzlement. I smile and say not to worry, he will find her when the time is right. But my little fellow has a plan.

‘Will you be my wife Patti ?‘ he asks trustingly.

I laugh. ‘No my Bajji, you have to find someone your own age‘.

But why Patti, I love you best!’ he protests.

I melt into a puddle for this wonderous little fellow I have the privilege to love.

Then there is the little one, almost one. I sit on the floor, watching him while he crawls around exploring our rather large home. Every now and then, he crawls back to me, smiling his gummy smile while drool dribbles onto his already soaking wet bib. Climbing onto my lap, he rests his head on my chest and sucks his thumb with a contended sigh. That contentment passes on to me as I too sit quietly, gently rocking his soft, warm body. I don’t know what you all call joy, but that moment, for me, defines joy.

Yesterday, I met my third grandchild for the first time. Covid rules here don’t allow hospital visits; he is already 2 days old when I hold him. His weight is like nothing in my hands, yet it is everything at the same time. I stare at his well defined features, his dark hair, his rosebud mouth. Emotion wells up in me, tears stream down my face as I take in this new love of my life. He sleeps through it all; I have yet to see the eyes I saw in my dream.

We are going to be the best of friends‘ I whisper to him. His lips curl up.

Look, look, he is smiling for me‘ I exclaim to my son.

He’s just scrunching his face‘ laughs my son. But I know better. We are going to be the best of friends.

So it is in joy that I offer this lovely song by Muthuswami Dikshithar (this attribution is questioned by some people) in the soft, melodious raga Yamuna Kalyani. As I translate it, it sounds more like a bhajan, just a string of words in praise of the blue-hued one. Presented below is the great Maharajapuram Santhanam whose rendition is both familiar and beloved.

For an instrumental version, here is the very talented flautist Jayanth with his lovely rendition.

Footnote : Lyrics

Language : Sanskrit
Raga : Yamuna Kalyani

नन्द गोपाल मुकुन्द
गोकुल नन्दन यमुना तीर विहार

मन्दर गिरि धर मामव माधव
मुरळी धर मधु सूदन हरे

मन्द हास वदन मञ्जुळ चरण
अरविन्द लोचन आश्रित रक्षण
पीताम्बर धर पन्नग शयन
कलि कल्मष हरण करुणा पूरण
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
वन्दित मुनि वृन्द गुरु गुहानन्द
वैकुण्ठ स्थितानन्द कन्द
गोवर्धनोद्धार गोप स्त्री जार गोविन्द

Transliteration in English :

nanda gOpAla mukunda
gOkula nandana yamunA tIra vihAra

mandara giri dhara mAmava mAdhava
muraLI dhara madhu sUdana harE

manda hAsa vadana manjuLa charaNa
aravinda lOchana ASHrita rakshaNa
pItAmbara dhara pannaga shayana
kali kalmasha haraNa karuNA pUraNa
vandita muni vRnda guru guhaAnanda
vaikuNTHa sthitAnanda kanda
gOvardhanOddhAra gOpa strI jAra gOvinda

Translation :

O cowherd (gOpala) of Nanda! O giver (da) of liberation (muku)! O One in whom Gokula rejoices (nandana)! O One who takes pleasure (vihAra) on the banks (tIra) of Yamuna!

O One who holds (dhara) the Mandara hill! O Madhava! O One who holds (dhara) a flute (muraLI)! O One who destroyed (sUdana) Madhu! O Hari! Protect (ava from verb av) me (mAm)!

O One with a gentle smile (manda-hAsa) on his face (vadana)! O One with beautiful (manjuLa) feet (charaNa)! O One with eyes (lochana) like a lotus (aravinda)! O One who protects (rakshaNa) those who seek refuge (Ashrita)! O One who wears (dhara) yellow (pIta) garments (ambara)! O One who reclines (shayana) on a serpent (pannaga)! O One who removes (haraNa) the sins/wickedness/impurities (kalmasha) of the Kali Yuga! O One who is full of (pUraNa) compassion (karuNA)! O One who is praised (vandita) by a numerous (vRnda) sages (muni)! O One who delights (Ananda) Guruguha (the composer’s mudra/signature)! O One who resides (sthita) in Vaikuntha! O the root-source (kanda) of bliss (Ananda)! O One who held up/raised (uddhAra) the Govardana hill! O Paramour (jAra) of the herdswomen (gOpa strI)! O Govinda!


Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Maharajapuram Santhanam, Muthuswami Dikshithar

Sri Varalakshmi Namastubhyam

I wish you all a very happy Deepavali / Deewali! May the Gods all enlighten us just as the fireworks light up the skies around the world!

Checking back on old posts, I see that I have celebrated the stories of the destruction of Narakasura by Krishna, and the return of Rama to Ayodhya. So this year, my homage is to Goddess Lakshmi who is worshipped during this festival in many parts of India. It is said that Deepavali is the day she was born from the oceans. I am sure all of you know the story, but allow me to tell it again.

It is the story of समुद्र मन्थन (Samudra Manthana) from the Bhagavata Purana (Canto 8, chapters 7-8-9) , Mahabharata (Astika Parva XVIII) and Vishnu Purana (Chapter IX). Due to a curse by sage Durvasa, the Devas led by Indra were defeated by the Asuras who then ruled the universe. The Devas approached Lord Vishnu for help. He advised them to churn the ocean of milk (क्षीर सागर) for Amrita which would make them strong enough to defeat the Asuras. The catch was that they needed the help of the Asuras to churn the ocean! Mount Mandara was used as the churning rod, and the great serpent Vasuki as the churning rope. Lord Vishnu, in his form as the tortoise of the Kurma Avatara supported the Mount Mandara on his back. This churning yielded many different things, some examples are

  • Halahala / Kalakuta, the poison swallowed by Lord Shiva in order to protect the world
  • Airavata, the elephant taken by Indra
  • Kaustubha, the jewel worn by Lord Vishnu
  • Parijata, the divine flower, taken by the Devas
  • Apsaras, who went to the Deva loka, the land of the Devas
  • Chandra, the moon, which adorns Shiva’s hair
  • Kamadhenu, the wish fulfilling cow, taken by Brahma and given to the sages
  • Dhanavantri, the God of medicine who came with-
  • Amrita, swallowed by the Devas

My list is very much incomplete. Here is a link to an illustrated account of the story. The point to the story for us today is that churning of the ocean also drew forth Goddess Lakshmi, who immediately chose Lord Vishnu as her consort. Deepavali is a celebration of this event.

Like so many mythological tales, there is deep significance to this story. Here is one interpretation. The Ocean of Milk represents human consciousness and Mount Mandara stands for a steady contemplation of God. The sum total of our senses is Vasuki the serpent, held by both our good impulses (Devas) and bad impulses (Asuras). Both pull at our senses, churning the ocean of our consciousness for their own desired outcomes. Wisdom says that we must hold steady the ‘mountain of contemplation’ on Lord Vishnu and allow all the ‘poison’ which emerges in the process to be destroyed by Lord Shiva. All kind of siddhis or powers may be realised by such contemplation. Be patient, say the wise, and wait for the emergence of Amrita to make us stronger in the battle with the demons within ourselves and finally be blessed by the appearance of Goddess Lakshmi. It is She who will facilitate our way to salvation (mukti) and to merge ourselves with God just as she seated herself in his vaksha sthala. Our celebration of Deepavali is the celebration of such an event.

I have chosen the beautiful composition Sri Varalakshmi Namastubhyam as a prayer song to the boon-giving Goddess Lakshmi so that she allows herself to appear within all of us one day. Set in the very appropriate raga Sri (one of Her names), it is a composition of Muthuswami Dikshithar. Note the Gopuccha Yati (Cow’s Tail Arrangement of syllables) in the pallavi starting from sArasa padE).

After a very long time, I am featuring Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna in memory of my mother, who loved his voice above all. It is an interesting presentation which I hope you will enjoy!

And for an instrumental version, here is Dr. Jayanthi Kumaresh on the Veena. She is so good, isn’t she! It soothes me as I add finishing touches to this post. It was a busy week for me, a tiring one too. I had half-written this last weekend but did not find time to look at it until just now. It’s been a long day and it was past 9:30 pm when I sat down to complete this article. Well, I’m posting it now at almost 11 pm here, but well within the Deepavali day for the rest of the world 🙂

Footnote : Lyrics and Translation

Composer : Muthuswami Dikshithar
Raga : Sri

Language : Sanskrit

श्री वर लक्ष्मि नमस्तुभ्यं वसु प्रदे
श्री सारस पदे रस पदे सपदे पदे पदे

भावज जनक प्राण वल्लभे सुवर्णाभे
भानु कोटि समान प्रभे भक्त सुलभे
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
सेवक जन पालिन्यै श्रित पङ्कज मालिन्यै
केवल गुण शालिन्यै केशव हृत्खेलिन्यै

श्रावण पौर्णमी पूर्वस्थ शुक्रवारे –
चारुमती प्रभृतिभिः पूजिताकारे
देवादि गुरु गुह समर्पित मणिमय हारे
दीन जन संरक्षण निपुण कनक धारे
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
भावना भेद चतुरे भारती सन्नुत वरे
कैवल्य वितरण परे काङ्क्षित फल प्रद करे


shrI vara lakshmi namastubhyam vasu pradE
shrI sArasa padE rasa padE sapadE padE padE

bhAvaja janaka prANa vallabhE suvarNAbhE
bhAnu kOTi samAna prabhE bhakta sulabhE
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
sEvaka jana pAlinyai shrita pankaja mAlinyai
kEvala guNa shAlinyai kEshava hRtkhElinyai

shrAvaNa paurNamI pUrvastha shukravArE –
chArumatI prabhRtibhih pUjitAkArE
dEvAdi guru guha samarpita maNimaya hArE
dIna jana samrakshaNa nipuNa kanaka dhArE
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
bhAvanA bhEda chaturE bhAratI sannuta varE
kaivalya vitaraNa parE kA.ngkshita phala prada karE


I (implied) bow down to you (namastubhyam), O eminent (shrI) Goddess Lakshmi, the giver (implied) of boons (vara)! O bestower (prade) of fortunes (vasu)! O Sri (name of Lakshmi) with feet (padE) as soft (implied) as a lotus (sArasa), you (implied) are the bestower (pradE) of affection (rasa), be my companion (sa-pade) at every step (pade pade).

You are the one (implied) who is beloved (prANa vallabhE) to the father (janaka) of Bhavaja (=Manmatha, God of Love)! O Goddess (implied) with the golden (suvarNa) lustre (AbhE) and brilliance (prabhE) equivalent to (samAna) millions (kOTi) of suns (bhAnu)! O Goddess (implied) easily attained (sulabhE) by devotees (bhakta)! You are the one (implied) who protects (palinyai) your worshippers (sEvaka jana) who lean on you (shrita), who is garlanded (malinyai) with lotus flowers (pankaja), who is possessed of (shAlinyai) of only (kEvala) virtues (guNa), who sways (khelinyai) the heart (hRt) of Keshava.

You are the one (implied) with the form (AkArE) worshipped (pUjita) on the friday (shukravArE) prior (pUrvastha) to the full moon (paurNamI) in the month of ShrAvaNa, continuing from Charumathi (see legend of Varalakshmi Vratam). You are the one wearing (implied) a bejewelled (maNimaya) garland (hArE) given by (samarpita) Guruguha (=Kartikeya, also signature of composer), demi-Gods (dEva) and others (Adi). You are (implied) a shower (dhArA) of gold (kanaka) expert (nipuNa) in protecting (samrakshaNa) the wretched (dIna jana). You are (implied) clever (chaturE) at alterations (bhEda) of thoughts & attitudes (bhAvanA). You are the eminent one (varE) praised by (sannuta) Saraswati (bhAratI). You are the supreme one (parE) who bestows (vitaraNa) mukti/liberation/salvation (kaivalya). You bestow (prada karE) the longed for (kA.ngkshita) rewards (phala).


Filed under Jayanthi Kumaresh, M.Balamuralikrishna, 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) :

Composer : Muthuswami Diksthar
Raga : Saranga
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 : http://meerascarnatic.blogspot.com/2019/07/arunachala-natham.html)


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


Krishna BabyA very happy Janmashtami to all my readers! May Lord Krishna’s grace always be with you!

Today is the perfect day to meditate upon Bala Gopala, the young Lord Krishna, the cowherd who charmed the Gopikas ages ago, and who continues to charm millions even today. Don’t you think that Krishna as a child is quite irresistible? Mischievous and endearing, he is both child and God. When He steals butter from his mother’s pantry, He is a child; when He opens His mouth to show the universe contained within, He is God. When He allows Himself to be tied by a rope to His waist in punishment for his mischief, He is a child; when He drags the mortar he is tied to and uproots two trees, He is God. When He dances and plays with his friends, He is a child; when He dances on the serpent Kalinga’s head, He is God. So it is that we, his devotees, love Him like a child but worship Him like a God.

Bala Gopala is a God that children are drawn to very easily. I remember how attached I was to Him as a child. I thought of Him almost as a playmate, as a friend. How close He seemed at that time! There is a story which illustrates just that feeling. In fact, as a child of seven or eight, I acted in a play put up by Chinmaya Mission which was based on this story.

Once upon a time there was a young lad from a very poor family. Since his father had died, he was brought up by his mother. They lived in a little hamlet at the edge of a forest. When he was about seven, he started school. There were no schools in his hamlet; he had to go across the forest to the town on the other side. There were many wild animals in the forest and our little friend was fearful every time he had to cross.

“Mother, I am so afraid of the forest! Can you not walk with me to school?” He asked her.

She smiled at him. “Don’t be afraid. Your brother Gopala grazes his cattle in the forest. Call out to him if you are afraid, He will take care of you” said the wise and devout lady.

The next day as he entered the forest he grew fearful as always. Remembering his mother’s words, he called out “Brother Gopala, where are you? I am afraid, will you not walk with me?”.

He heard a voice in response and soon a young cowherd joined him, a beautiful dark-skinned little boy in yellow clothes, a joyous visage and a peacock feather tucked jauntily in his hair. They laughed and played as little boys do.  At the other edge of the forest Gopala waved him goodbye. This continued until the end of the term when all the students gave a gift to the teacher to honour him. Our lad was much too poor to afford anything but still he asked his mother.

“I must take a gift for my teacher mother. Is there anything you can give me?”.

Shaking her head she said “No son, I have nothing worthy as a gift. Why don’t you ask your brother Gopala? I am sure he can find you something”.

Which he did. Gopala gave him a small pot of yoghurt to give to his teacher. At the school, our little boy hesitated as his gift looked not very impressive compared to the gifts of the other children. Still, when it was his turn, he gave the small pot of yoghurt to the teacher, saying that it was from his brother ‘Gopala’. The teacher took it with thanks and poured out the yoghurt into a bigger pot. Much to his surprise, the little pot refilled. He kept pouring it out and it kept refilling! Realising who his pupil’s ‘brother’ was, he asked to be taken to the forest so he could see for himself. But much to the little boy’s dismay, much as he called out to his brother, he didn’t appear.

Finally he cried out piteously “Brother Gopala, don’t you love me anymore?”

They heard a voice in response. “I will always love you. I will appear only for you, for only you are worthy of seeing me.”

Hearing this the teacher was moved to tears and embraced the boy, for thanks to him he had at least heard the Divine Cowherd’s voice!

I ponder on the tale today, wondering what lessons I can glean from it. God is very close to the innocent, is he not. The little boy was not even praying; nor did he call out to God. Then whose call was He answering? It seems to me it was the mother whose prayers were answered. She tied Lord Krishna to her boy with the deft knot of love and prayer just like Yashoda tied Him to the mortar with her own bonds of love. We who have lost our innocence, what is our recourse I wonder? Innocence once lost can never be regained, can it? Something to think about….

To celebrate the day, I have chosen a beautiful composition in Bhairavi by Muthuswami Dikshithar. The words describe Lord Krishna – his appearance, his actions, his qualities, his powers. You can use each line as a gateway to a meditation on who He is. Or you could forget it all and drown in the haunting notes of Bhairavi which takes you to exactly the same place in the presence of God.

There are so many beautiful renditions of this kriti that it is difficult for me to choose one! Since I decided on the music two days ago, I have listened to at least a dozen or so renditions and I like so many of them! So here are some of my recommendations :

T.N.Seshagopalan gives a very solid and energy filled performance in this CD from 1990.

M.Balamuralikrishna’s rendition is softer, smoother and very peaceful. A touch of sadness and pathos in his Bhairavi, don’t you think?

The third is by T.M.Krishna and he makes an interesting technical note about the Bhairavi he sings being the ‘original’ of Muthuswami Dikshithar school. I also like his neraval very much. It is from the album December Season 2009 and is available in Dunya and Spotify for online listening (needs registration).

Footnote (Lyrics and Translation) :

Composer : Muthuswami Dikshithar
Raga : Bhairavi
Language : Sanskrit

बाल गोपाल पालयाशु माम्
भक्त वत्सल कृपा जलधे हरे

नील नीरद शरीर धीर तर
नीरज कर निरुपम आनन्द कर
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
लीलया गोप वेष धर मुरळी धर
श्री धर दामोदर वर

चाणूर मल्ल हरण निपुण तर
चरण निहत शकटासुर मुर हर
माणिक्य मकुट हार वलय धर
मत्तेभ कुम्भ भेदन पटु तर
वाणीशार्चित पीताम्बर धर **
वैजयन्ती वन माला धर **
आणवादि विजय मानसाकर
अपहत कंसासुर नत भूसुर
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
द्रोण कर्ण दुर्योधनादि हर
द्रौपदी मान संरक्षण कर
वैणिक गायक गुरु गुह नुत
पुर वैरि विहित (alt: विनुत ) गोपिका मनोहर

** these two lines don’t seem to be sung..

Transliteration in English :

bAla gOpAla pAlayAshu mAm
bhakta vatsala kRpA jaladhE harE

nIla nIrada sharIra dhIra tara
nIraja kara nirupamAnanda kara
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
lIlayA gOpa vEsha dhara muraLI dhara
shrI dhara dAmOdara vara

chANUra malla haraNa nipuNa tara
charaNa nihata shakaTAsura mura hara
mANikya makuTa hAra valaya dhara
mattEbha kumbha bhEdana paTu tara
vANIshArchita pItAmbara dhara **
vaijayantI vana mAlA dhara **
ANavAdi vijaya mAnasAkara
apahata kaMsAsura nata bhUsura
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
drONa karNa duryOdhanAdi hara
draupadI mAna saMrakshaNa kara
vaiNika gAyaka guru guha nuta
pura vairi vihita (alt: vinuta) gOpikA manOhara

** these two lines don’t seem to be sung..

Translation :


O The Child (bAla) Cowherd (gOpAla), protect (pAlayAshu) me (mAm)! O Hari (harE), you are dear (vatsala) to your devotees (bhakta), an ocean (jaladhi) of mercy (kRpA).


With a body (sharIra) like (here it means the colour of) blue (nIla) rain clouds (nIrada), you are most wise (dhIra tara). Your hands (kara) are like a lotus (nIraja). You bestow (kara=the one who causes) incomparable (nirupama) bliss (Ananda). You assumed the appearance (vesha dhara) of a cowherd (gOpa) by divine sport (lIlayA). You hold (dhara) a flute (muraLI). You are bearer of fortune (shrI dhara, name of Vishnu, also means He who holds Lakshmi). You are excellent (vara) Damodara, one whose waist was tied with a rope (from the Damodara Lila).


You are the one who destroyed (haraNa) the wrestler (malla) Chanura with great skill (nipuNa tara). You slew (nihata) Shakatasura with your feet (charaNa). You are the destroyer (hara) of Mura. You are wearing (suffix dhara) crown (mukuTa) of rubies (mAnikya), garlands (hAra) and armlets/bangles (valaya). You very skilfully (paTu tara) fractured/broke (bhEdana) the high forehead (kumbha) of a mad /furious (matta) elephant (ibha) (from the story of the killing of the elephant Kuvalayapida). You are worshipped (archita) by Brahma, husband (Isha) of Saraswati (vANI). You wear (suffix dhara) yellow (pIta) garments (ambara). You wear (suffix dhara) a garland (mAlA) of forest (vana) flowers (vaijayantI, a kind of forest flower). You are victorious (vijaya) over egoism (ANava) etc (Adi) by his excellent (Akara) mental powers (mAnasa). You destroyed (apahita) the demon (asura) Kamsa. You are worshipped (nata) by Brahmanas (bhUsura). You defeated (hara) Drona, Karna, Duryodhana etc (Adi). You protected (samrakshaNa kara) Drapadi’s honour (mAna). You are praised (nuta) by the Veena player (vaiNika) and singer / musician (gAyaka) Guruguha (signature of the composer). You put in order (vihita) the enemies (vairi) of the town (pura) [does this refer to His protecting Dwaraka? I am unsure about this. The alternate word vinuta is translated often as praised so here it could mean ‘praised by the enemies ‘]. You are the enchanter (manOhara) of the cowherdesses (gOpikA).


Filed under Carnatic Music, M.Balamuralikrishna, T.M.Krishna, T.N.Seshagopalan, Uncategorized

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 and Translation) :

Composer : Muthuswami Dikshithar
Raga : Dwijavanti
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 : http://meerascarnatic.blogspot.com/2016/05/cheta-sri.html)


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 and Translation) :

Composer : Muthuswami Dikshithar
Raga : Ahiri
Language : Sanskrit

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 and Translation) :

Composer : Muthuswami Dikshithar
Raga : Ghanta
Language : Sanskrit

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 guruhuha.com 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 and Translation) :

Composer : Muthuwami Dikshithar
Raga : Sahana
Language : Sanskrit

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 and Translation) :

Composer : Muthuswami Dikshithar
Raga : Punnagavarali
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 Guruguha.org  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 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