Tag Archives: 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

पल्लवि
कमलाम्बां भजरे रे मानस कल्पित माया कार्यं त्यज रे

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

चरणम्
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

Transliteration

pallavi
kamalAmbAM bhajarE rE mAnasa kalpita mAyA kAryaM tyaja rE

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

charaNam
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

Translation

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).

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

Kamalamba Samrakshatu

Sri Yantra 1Let me start by wishing you all a very Happy Navaratri! May the Goddesses be with you!

Navaratri is celebrated with so many different religious and social rituals, isn’t it? I remember in particular the many musical presentations – of varying quality to be sure – that I have listened to in front of golus. So if I celebrate Navartri with a musical presentation in this blog, it seems very appropriate, doesn’t it? This year I shall be featuring the famous Navavarana kritis of Muthuswami Dikshithar. I shall be featuring the performances featured by The Hindu in 2012.

As this is the first of the nine posts, I will give you a small introduction to the kritis being featured. The नव आवरण (nava-AvaraNa) or the ‘Nine Enclosures’ kritis are in honour of the Goddess Kamalambika of Tiruvarur. These are arguably the most important sets of compositions by Muthuswami Dikshithar. These kritis are laced with the tantric knowledge of Sri Vidya upasana into which Dikshithar had been initiated by the yogi and tantrik Chidambaranatha. In his youth, he had accompanied the yogi to Kashi and other teerthas and stayed with him for a number of years.

The worship of Sri Vidya is a deeply mystical and esoteric form of worship. The Goddess is worshipped in the form of Lalita Tripurasundari (The Beautiful One of the Three Realms).  She is represented in the form of a mystical diagram called the Sri Chakra or Sri Yantra where she resides in the centre as a bindu or dot. She is enclosed in a series of nine concentric layers formed by squares, lotuses and triangles which are called Avaranas. Each Avarana is guarded by a presiding deity and other attendant deities. Dikshithar’s kritis are in honour of each of these Avaranas.

The first Avarana is called Bhupura (earth) and consists of the three outermost lines which are in the form of squares with ‘entrances’. It is also called the त्रैलोक्य मोहन चक्र Trailokya Mohana Chakra (That which enchants the three realms).  These lines are guarded by Devis who bestow worshippers with both worldly and spiritual wealth. Our song today is in honour of this Avarana and is set to raga Ananda Bhairavi. It is presented by Vidya Kalyanaraman (starting at 06:31).

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
कमलाम्बा संरक्षतु मां हृत्कमला नगर निवासिनी अम्ब

अनुपल्लवि
सुमनसाराधिताब्ज मुखी सुन्दर मनःप्रियकर सखी
कमलजानन्द बोध सुखी कान्ता तार पञ्जर शुकी

चरणम्
त्रिपुरादि चक्रेश्वरी अणिमादि सिद्धीश्वरी
नित्य कामेश्वरी क्षिति पुर त्रैलोक्य मोहन चक्रवर्तिनी
प्रकट योगिनी सुर रिपु महिषासुरादि मर्दिनी
निगम पुराणादि संवेदिनी
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
त्रिपुरेशी गुरु गुह जननी त्रिपुर भञ्जन रञ्जनी
मधु रिपु सहोदरी तलोदरी त्रिपुर सुन्दरी महेश्वरी

Transliteration

pallavi
kamalAmbA saMrakshatu mAM hRtkamalA nagara nivAsinI amba

anupallavi
sumanasArAdhitAbja mukhI sundara manaH priyakara sakhI
kamalajAnanda bOdha sukhI kAntA tAra panjara shukI

charaNam
tripurAdi chakrEshvarI aNimAdi siddhIshvarI
nitya kAmEshvarI kshiti pura trailOkya mOhana chakravartinI
prakaTa yOginI sura ripu mahishAsurAdi mardinI
nigama purANAdi samvEdinI
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
tripurEshI guru guha jananI tripura bhanjana ranjanI
madhu ripu sahOdarI talOdarI tripura sundarI mahEshvarI

Translation

O Mother (amba) kamalAmbA who resides (nivAsini) in the lotus-city (kamalA-nagara) of the heart (hRt), protect (samrakshatu) me (mAm)!

She is the lotus-faced One (abja mukhI) who is worshipped (ArAdhita) by the pure-minded (sumanasa). She is the companion (sakhI) who pleases (priyakara) the mind of Lord Sundareshwara (sundara). She is the happy One (sukhI) who has the knowledge (bOdha) of the Bliss of Brahman (kamalajA=Brahma, Anada=Bliss). She is the lovely parrot(kantA shukhI) who lives in the cage (panjara) of Omkara (tAra).

She is the Goddess (IshvarI) of the chakra beginning with (Adi) Tripura. She is the Goddess (IshvarI) of the siddhis beginning with aNimA. She is the deities such as Nitya Kamaleshvari (the deities of this chakra). She is inherent in (vartinI) in the Trailokya Mohana Chakra, the entire earth (kshitipura). She is the manifest (prakaTa) yoginI. She is the slayer (mardinI) of Buffalo-demon (mahisha asura), the enemy (ripu) of the Devas (sura). She has the perception (samvedinI) of the sacred literature (nigama), epics (purAna) etc (Adi). She is the Goddess (IshI) of the three realms (tripura). She is the mother (jananI) of Guruguha (Kartikeya, also signature of composer). She is the One who pleases (ranjani) the destroyer of the three realms (tripura bhanjana). She is the sister (sahOdari) of the enemy (ripu) of Madhu (=Vishnu). She is slender-waisted (talOdari = abdomen (udara) the size of a palm of a hand (tala)). She is the great (mahA) Goddess (IshvarI) Tripurasundari.

(Notation is available here : http://meerascarnatic.blogspot.com/2016/03/navavarnam-anandha-bhairavi.html)

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar

Siddhi Vinayakam Anisham

ashtasiddhiHappy Vinayaka Chaturthi everybody! I hope you had a few moments to offer prayers to Vinayaka today; if not, the song I have chosen is a prayer in itself.

But I am running ahead of myself. We all know that one prays to Vinayaka for the achievement of goals, for success. The word siddhi which we use to preface His name translates to exactly that.  Who amongst has not demanded that Vinayaka help us pass our exams, get through that interview, get the promotion we are aiming for? I know even some people who claim to be agnostic sending up a ‘just in case’ prayer if the goal seems important enough! But these goals give us but momentary satisfaction, forgotten even as we set the next possible goal.  I wonder, are we wasting the good Lord’s time by asking for things which are too easy to deliver? Should we not be setting Him some stretch targets?

Vinayaka is also the Lord of the eight Siddhis (occult Yogic powers) referred to by Patanjali in his Yoga Sutra. These are indeed amazing powers!

  • अणिमा aNimA : Power to become subatomic
  • महिमा mahimA : Power of become infinitely large
  • लघिमा laghimA – Power to become infinitely light
  • गरिमा garimA – Power to become infinitely heavy
  • प्राप्ति prApti – Power of attaining any objective
  • प्राकाम्य prAkAmya – Power of transmigration
  • ईशित्व Ishitva – Godlike power to create and rule
  • वशित्व vashitva – Power to control/subdue all matter

Vinayaka has the power to bestow the yogin with all of these occult powers. They sound rather dangerous, don’t they? Instead I think about the words metaphorically and I offer you alternate meanings to reflect upon.

  • अणिमा aNimA : The ability to concentrate such that we can focus our mind to a pinpoint.
  • महिमा mahimA : The ability to have such a broad world-view that we can encompass all.
  •  लघिमा laghimA : The ability to let go everything, all maya, so they we are weightless.
  • गरिमा garimA : The ability to absorb all challenges we face with the stability of the infinitely heavy.
  •  प्राप्ति prApti : The ability to stick to an objective until we achieve it.
  • प्राकाम्य prAkAmya : The ability to empathise so well with others that we virtually transmigrate into them.
  • ईशित्व Ishitva : The ability to create beauty and joy.
  • वशित्व vashitva : The power to rule over our weaknesses, to control our needs and subdue our passions.

Now, these siddhis are worth praying for, don’t you think? My song today is addressed to Siddhi Vinayaka, set to the beautiful raga Shanmukhapriya (Chamaram) and composed by Muthuswami Dikshithar. It is a song of praise, reminding us that He is the bestower of whatever we desire. The Yogic theme for today was inspired by the words reminding us that Vinayaka is present in the Mooladhara Chakra, that which much be awakened if we are to reach a higher state of being. For lyrics and translation, see footnote below.

There are so many nice performances of this popular kriti that I had some trouble choosing the one to present to you. The first one I would like you to hear is this excellent rendition by T.N.Seshagopalan (live, 1975). He is accompanied by V.V.Subramaniam and Trichy Shankaran.  I do have a weakness for TNS from that era!! (Alapana and Kriti)

Alternate link : Click here and download items 2 and 3 (need free membership to  Sangeethapriya.org)

I could not look past Pattabhirama Pandit for his most energetic and creative performance (Alapana and Kriti). He is accompanied by Mysore Srikanth, H.S.Sudhindra and Giridhar Udupa.

Alternate link : Click here and download items 5 and 6 (need free membership to Sangeethapriya.org)

If you have a taste for more, check out this lovely performance by MDR (item 7) and another very good one by Sumithra Vasudev (item 2).

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
सिद्धि विनायकं अनिशं चिन्तयाम्यहम्
प्रसिद्ध गण नायकम् विशिष्टार्थ दायकम् वरम्

अनुपल्लवि
सिद्ध यक्ष किन्नरादि सेवितम्
अखिल जगत्प्रसिद्धम्
मूल पङ्कज मध्यस्थं मोदक हस्तम्

चरणम्
भाद्र पद मास चतुर्थ्याम् ब्राह्मणादि पूजितम्
पाशाङ्कुश धरम् छत्र चामर परिवीजितम्
रौद्र भाव रहितम् दास जन हृदय विराजितम्
रौहिणेयानुजार्चितम् ईहना वर्जितम्
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम्)
अद्रि राज सुतात्मजम् अनन्त गुरु गुहाग्रजम्
भद्र प्रद पदाम्बुजम् भासमान चतुर्भुजम्

Transliteration

pallavi
siddhi vinAyakam anisham chintayAmyaham
prasiddha gaNa nAyakaM vishishTArtha dAyakam varam

anupallavi
siddha yaksha kinnarAdi sEvitam
akhila jagat prasiddham
mUla pankaja madhyastham mOdaka hastam

charaNam
bhAdra pada mAsa chaturthyAm brAhmaNAdi pUjitam
pAshAnkusha dharam CHatra chAmara parivIjitam
raudra bhAva rahitam dAsa jana hRdaya virAjitam
rauhiNEyAnujArchitam IhanA varjitam

(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
adri rAja sutAtmajam ananta guru guhAgrajam
bhadra prada padAmbujam bhAsamAna chaturbhujam

Translation

I (aham) incessantly (anisham) meditate (chintayAmi) upon Siddhi Vinayaka. He is the Lord (nAyakam) of the famous (prasiddha) Ganas, the foremost (varam) bestower (dAyakam) of the specific (vishishTa) object of desire (artha).

He is worshipped (sEvitam) by Siddhas, Yakshas, Kinnaras etc (Adi). He is renowned (prasiddha) in the whole (akhila) world (jagat). He is in the middle of (madhyashtha) the lotus (pankaja) of Mooladhara Chakra (mUla). He has the Modaka sweetmeat in his hand (hastam).

He is worshipped (pUjitam) by the Brahmanas etc (Adi) on the fourth day of the lunar cycle (chaturthi) of the month (mAsa) of Bhadrapada. He is the holder (dharam) of a noose (pAsha) and goad (ankusha). He is cooled (parivIjitam) by an umbrella (CHatra) and a chowrie (chAmara). He is devoid of (rahitam) violent or angry (raudra) emotions (bhAva). Who is resplendent (virAjita) in the hearts (hRdaya) of his servants (dAsajana). He is praised (architam) by Krishna (the younger brother (anuja) of the son of Rohini (Balarama)). He is without (varjitam) of desire (Iha).

He is the grandson (sutAtmaja) of king (rAja) of the mountains (adri). He is the elder-brother (agraja) of the eternal (ananta) Guruguha (=Kartikeya). His are the lotus-feet (pada ambujam) which bestow (prada) welfare/prosperity (bhadra). He is the four-handed one (chatur bhujam) who dwells (mAnam) in lustre/light (bhAsa).

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Filed under Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, T.N.Seshagopalan

Ananda Natana Prakasham

puzzlesI have a penchant for puzzles. It started with an addiction to the Times of India crossword puzzles eons ago, while I was still at high school. Since then I have amused myself with all kinds of puzzles, my current obsession being Sudoku.

The moment my husband walks in from work, I grab his Telegraph for my puzzle-fix. With the advent of an IPad into my home, I continue the evening doing tougher puzzles during the commercial breaks on the telly.  I love the logical structure of Sudoku. You work through it methodically, eliminate logically and voila, you have a perfect solution! What a pleasure that is!

While I do my Telegraph puzzle, I also finish the word game based on anagrams which is featured on the same page. Now this is a very different kettle of fish to Sudoku. The only way I can work out anagrams is to jumble up the letters, removing the linearity, then staring at them until the answer comes to mind. I love the magical ‘pop’ of the answer into my head! Though I have a very good success rate, I have no control over it. There is neither logic nor method in this.

But why is she going on about puzzles in a music blog?’ I’m sure you are puzzling over that right now! Well, there is a connection…..

We Carnatic Music rasikas have our own puzzles, you see. It is called ‘What raga is this?’! Whenever you hear a song, that is the first question that comes to mind. So what is it exactly that we recognize as a raga? Mind you, there is a difference between remembering and recognizing. If you hear a kriti and you know that it is of a certain raga, that is remembering. If you hear an improvised alapana or an unknown kriti, and then can name the raga, that is recognizing.

With the caveat that my knowledge is meagre indeed, I believe there are three major characteristic-sets to ragas:

  • The Notes : Arohanam and Avarohanam define the set of permitted notes. There are further conditions of use for these notes; for example, some are Jiva swaras or ‘life giving’ notes while others are Amsa Swaras, notes which occur frequently. As Carnatic Music uses a variable scale depending on the pitch of the musician, surely what our mind registers are the presence of frequency-intervals? To use these rules in raga recognition, you need to be able to translate a tune or an alapana to its notes on the fly. Sadly, I cannot.
  • The Ornamentation: Ragas have rules regarding gamakas or oscillations and slides between notes. Again, raga recognition by this is difficult for untrained rasikas as it demands you to recognize the notes as they are sung.
  • The Characteristic Phrases: Prayogas and Sancharas are essentially little micro-tunes made up of a few notes, a combination by which a raga can be identified.  Of the three, this is the easiest for a musically uneducated listener. If you have a mental database of what these characteristic phrases sound like, you could compare them to what you are listening. With my limited ability, I just cannot spot micro-tunes amongst the barrage of notes that the musician spouts out.

So what is my method? This is not a puzzle like Sudoko which I can approach in a methodical and logical manner. Instead, somewhat like my anagram puzzle, I have to wait for the answer to ‘pop’ into my mind. See, I told you there was a connection! My very unscientific method rests on listening to the alapana, waiting for my mind to have the incredible urge to belt out some kriti for which I already know the raga. Recognizing the raga is based solely on this urge! A method prone to errors, I assure you. Yet I can recognize many ragas based on this unscientific method!

So coming to my song choice of the day..

Last week I was listening to a nice kutcheri by Sanjay Subrahmanyan on youtube while rolling out the chapatis for dinner, head nodding, rolling-pin going back and forth in perfect tala, saying ‘besh besh’ when the music warranted it. I was a happy woman indeed! A new alapana started and as usual I waited for my mind to offer a raga-match. My mind obligingly offered up ‘Valachi Va-a-a-chi-i-i-i’ in a confident manner.  Now I knew that this varnam is a ragamalika but what is the first raga? For the life of me, I could not remember! You are no doubt sniggering at me now if you know the answer! I waited for an alternate kriti to pop out, getting more and more frustrated with myself for being so inept and clueless. The kriti started and this too was unfamiliar. I finally gave up and went back to enjoying the music. That’s when I heard myself mutter ‘Hmmmm not a bad Kedaram, maybe I should feature this in my next post?’.  I stopped short and grinned as my chapati burnt to a crisp. Puzzle solved!

For those who are new to Carnatic Music and for those who would like to train themselves in raga recognition, I propose a simple strategy here. If you would like to know more about Kedaram, click here.

Instead of presenting the song I was listening to, I am presenting a good reference song in Kedaram, the song which my mind should have logically ‘popped’ out. Muthuswami Dikshithar’s Ananda Natana Prakasham is a very interesting, and mystical song, I am doing it injustice by not discussing the lyrics in detail. Oh well, some other time maybe..

Since last week I have been listening to multiple versions of this song. Sanjay Subrahmanyan’s rendition in his CD Keshtra Chidambaram is gentle as a lullaby. T.M.Krisha’s rendition in his CD Panchabhutam brings out all it’s mysticism, this is available to listen in Spotify.   But there is no match, I think, for M.D.Ramanathan’s deep-voiced leisurely exploration of the song. Somehow MDR’s voice and style seem a perfect match for this song. What do you think?

Alternate Link : Sangeethapriya (free membership).


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language: Sanskrit

पल्लवि
आनन्द नटन प्रकाशं चित् सभेषम्
आश्रयामि शिवकामवल्लीशम्

अनुपल्लवि
भानु कोटि कोटि सङ्काशम्
भुक्ति मुक्ति प्रद दहराकाशम्
दीन जन संरक्षण चणम्

मध्यम काल साहित्यम्
दिव्य पतञ्जलि व्याघ्रपाद
दर्शित कुञ्चिताब्ज चरणम्

चरणम्
शीतांशु गङ्गा धरम्  नील कन्धरम्
श्री केदारदि क्षेत्राधारम्
भूतेशम् शार्दूल चर्माम्बरम् चिदम्बरम्
भूसुर त्रिसहस्र मुनीश्वरम् विश्वेश्वरम्
नवनीत हृदयम् सदय गुरुगुह तातमाद्यम्
वेद वेद्यम् वीत रागिणमप्रमेयाद्वैत प्रतिपाद्यम्
संगीत वाद्य विनोद ताण्डव जात बहुतर भेद चोद्यम्

Transliteration :

pallavi
Ananda naTana prakAsham chit sabhEsham
AshrayAmi shivakAmavallIsham

anupallavi
bhAnu kOTi kOTi sa.nkAsham
bhukti mukti prada daharAkAsham
dIna jana samrakshaNa chaNam

madhyama kAla sAhityam
divya patanjali vyAGra pAda
darshita kunchitAbja charaNam

charaNam
shIta.nshu gangA dharam nIla kandharam
shrI kEdArAdi kshEtrAdhAram
bhUtesham shArdUla charmAmbaram chidambaram
bhUsura trisahasra munIshvaram vishvEshvaram
navanIta hrudayam sadaya guruguha tAtamAdyam
vEda vEdyam vIta rAgiNampramEyAdvaita pratipAdyam
sangIta vAdya vinOda tAnDava jAta bahutara bhEda chOdyam

Translation:

Pallavi
He who is lustrous (prakAsham) with the dance (naTana) of bliss (Ananda), the   Lord (Isham) of the court (sabhA) of the soul (chit) [also Lord of Chidambaram]. I take refuge (AshrayAmi) in the Lord of Shivakamavalli [shivakAmasundari is the name of the Goddess at Chidambaram].

Anupallavi
His appearance (sa.nkAsham) is like millions (kOti kOti) of suns (bhAnu). He is the provider (prada) of pleasure (bhukti) and salvation (mukti). He is  the form of the yogic space of daharAkAsha (deep psychic world). [Yoga Upanishads talk of three etheric planes: chit-AkAsha=space of the mind, hrudaya-AkAsha=space of the heart and daharAkAsha=space of the psychic world. Note also that Chidambaram is the one which represents Akasha amongst the pancha-bhoota sthalams of Lord Shiva]. He is famed (chaNam) as the protector (samrakshaNam) of the wretched (dIna jana). His lotus-like (Abja) bent (raised?) (kunchita) feet (charaNam) are those seen by the divine (divya) Patanjali and Vyaghrapada [sages who were given a vision of the dancing Lord at Chidambaram].

Charanam

He who holds (dharam) the moon (shItAnshu) and the Goddess Ganga. He is blue (nIla) necked (kandharam). He is the foundation (AdhAram) of sacred places (kshEtra) such as (Adi) Kedara [note: also name of Raga]. He is the Lord (Isham) of all living beings (bhUta). His apparel (ambaram) is the skin (charma) of a tiger (shArdUla). He resides (implied)  in our consciousness (chit) and ether (ambara) [also temple of Chidambaram]. He is the Lord (Ishwaram) of the three thousand (thri-sahasra) Brahmin (bhUsura) sages (munI). He is the Lord (Ishwaram) of the universe (vishva). His heart (hrudayam) is soft as (implied) fresh butter (navanItam). He is the compassionate (sadaya) one, the father (tAtam) of Guruguha [Lord Subramanya, also signature of composer], He is the primal (Adyam). Celebrated (vEdyam) in the Vedas, He is dispassionate/calm (vItarAga). He is immeasurable (apramEya). He is expounded (pratipAdyam) in the Advaita philosophy.  He takes pleasure (vinOda) in music (sangIta), instrumental music (vAdya) and dance (tAnDava) causing (jAta) different kinds of (bhEda) great (bahutara) astonishment (chOdya). [there can be multiple interpretations of this last phrase; this is just one possibility.]

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Surya Murte Namostute

Salutations to the embodiment of the Sun, Lord of the beautiful Goddess Chaya. He who is causative of all deeds, who illuminates the earth and is the Lord of Leo, He is paid homage to by noble people, throbbing with brilliance, famed as giver of boons, such as good health.

SuryaBelated Shankaranti/Pongal greetings to all of you! May all your wishes come to fruition!

Come Pongal, I cannot but think longingly of my mother’s wonderful Chakkarai Pongal (sweet jaggery rice). She was indeed a master of this dish; she had it perfected to a T. Actually I have what I think is her recipe but I can never get it to taste like hers. Too bad! Hmm…Is it only me who thinks of food at the thought of festivals before I think of the spiritual significance of the occasion? Sigh! Will I ever gain spiritual maturity?

As a harvest festival, Pongal acknowledges and celebrates the bounty of nature. Though I do not remember my parents saying special prayers for Surya, the Sun God, it is to Him that we must address our thanks on this occasion. We mustn’t think of the sun as just the star around which our home planet revolves but see it as a symbol of the force which provides all that we need to create and sustain life. The sun illuminates our physical world, God illuminates our metaphysical world. The sun sustains life on earth, God sustains our bodies and souls. The sun is the anchor around which we revolve in the physical world, it is God who plays that role in the metaphysical world. The sun is a wonderful metaphor for God and in worshipping Surya, we pay homage to that aspect of the infinite Brahman which we are reminded of by our own star.

To celebrate the day, I have chosen one of the Navagraha Kiritis by Muthuswami Dikshithar. These 9 Kritis are said to have great curative properties, both for health and the ailments of life. To read more about these Kritis, click here. In this Kriti set to the Raga Saurashtram, the poet-composer pays homage to Surya by naming His many qualities. My attention was grabbed especially by the poet’s reference to Surya as  ‘karma kAranAtmaka’  ‘He who is causative of all deeds’. As I ponder over this, I think that yes, aren’t all physical processes on earth caused and controlled by the sun, directly or indirectly? From the creation of Earth, to the Physics, Chemistry and Biology of whatever happens on Earth, all are irrevocably connected to the sun.  So Surya can be seen as causative of all deeds. There is another reference to Karma  – ‘karma sAkshinE’ ‘Witness to all deeds’ says the poet. God is indeed a witness to all our actions, actions for which we need to give account one day. But invisible as he is, it cannot be only me who finds it easy to ignore His presence and go about my merry (and often wrong) way. The sun as a witness is a better concept, for it always makes its presence felt, even at night by its reflection on the moon. Perhaps thinking of the sun as a physical witness to our deeds will enable us to follow better the right path. For the lyrics and translation, see footnote. If you would like to know more about the raga, click here.

To present this song, I have chosen a rendition by the great Madurai Mani Iyer.  I understand that he was a great believer in the powers of the Navagraha Kritis. He is said to have sung them everyday as part of his daily prayer ritual. After 1950, his concerts would also include the  the song appropriate for the day of the week.  Listen below to his rendition :

For an instrumental version, I have the violin maestro M.S.Gopalakrishnan presenting the song for you :

 


Footnote (Lyrics):

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवि
सूर्यमूर्ते नमोस्तुते सुन्दर छायाधिपते

अनुपल्लवि
कार्य कारणात्मक जगत् प्रकाश सिंह राश्याधिपते
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम् )
आर्य विनुत तेजःस्फूर्ते आरोग्यादि फलद कीर्ते

चरणम्
सारस मित्र मित्र भानो सहस्र किरण कर्णसूनो
क्रूर पापहर कृशानो गुरुगुह मोहित/मोदित  स्वभानो
सूरिजनेडित सुदिन मणे सोमादि ग्रह शिखामणे
धीरार्चित कर्म साक्षिणे दिव्यतर सप्ताश्व रथिने
(मध्यम काल साहित्यम् )
सौराष्टार्ण मन्त्रात्मने सौवर्ण स्वरूपात्मने
भारतीश हरि-हरात्मने भुक्ति मुक्ति वितरणात्मने

Transliteration

pallavi
sUryamUrtE namostutE sundara CHAyAdhipatE

anupallavi
kArya kAranAtmaka jagat prakAsha simha rAshyAdhipatE
Arya vinuta tejahsphoortE ArogyAdi phalada kIrtE

charaNam
sArasa mitra mitra bhAno sahasra kiraNa karNasUnO
krUra pApahara krshAnO guruguha mOhita/modita svabhAnO
sUrijanEDita sudina maNE sOmadi graha shikhAmaNE
dhIrArchita karma sAkshiNE divyatara saptAshva rathinE
saurAshtArNa mantrAtmanE sauvarNa svarUpAtmanE
bhAratIsha hari harAtmanE bhukti mukti vitaraNAtmane

Translation

(I am a bit doubtful about some parts, they are marked in red)

Salutations (namOsutE) to the embodiment of the Sun,  Lord of the beautiful CHAyA (Goddess ‘Shadow’, consort of Surya).

He who is causative (kAraNAtmaka) of all deeds (kArya), who illuminates (prkAsha) the earth (jagat) and is the Lord (adhipatE) of Leo (astrological sign) (simha rAshi), He is paid homage to (vinuta) by noble (or wise) people (Arya), throbbing (sphUrta) with brilliance (tEjas), famed (kIrta) as giver of boons (phalada) such as good health (Arogya).

Friend (mitra) of the moon (sArasa), Lord Surya (mitra and bhAnu are names of sUrya), of many (sahasra) rays (kiraNa), father of Karna (karNasU), the fire (krshAnu) which destroys (hara) cruel (krUra) vices (pApa), the self-luminous (svabhAnu) one who enchants (mOhita) Guruguha (signature of poet), Lord (sUri) of the people (jana), gem (maNi) of an auspicious day (sudina), crest-jewel (shikhAmaNi) of planets and satellites (graha) such as (Adi) the Moon (chandra), worshipped (archita) by the brave (dhIra), witness (sAkshin) to all deeds (karma), carrier (tara) of the celestials (divya), He who has a chariot (ratha) driven by seven (sapta) horses (ashva), essence of the ashtArna or eight-part hymn of Surya (saura=solar)(which one is this referring to?), golden (sauvarna) formed (svaroopa), whose essence (Atman) is Brahma (bhArati Isha=Lord of Saraswati), Vishnu (hari) and Shiva (hara), bestower (vitarana Atman) of both worldly enjoyment (bhukti) and salvation (mukti).

 

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Soundara Rajam Ashraye

I seek refuge in the beautiful Lord, the Lord who blessed the elephant in the forest of elephants. He is the dear son of Nanda, He is the ruler of Nagapattanam. He is the Lord of beautiful Rama. He is the great Lord praised by the divinities. He has a gently smiling lotus-like face, in his lotus-like hands he holds the Mandara mountain, his lotus-like eyes give delight, and he has even more beautiful lotus-like feet.

Gajendra MokshamA Very Happy New Year to all my readers! I wish 2013 brings out the best for us and the best in all of us.

Today I have a story for you, a very well-known story from the Hindu scriptures. Once upon a time, a long long time ago, there lived an elephant called Gajendra. His name means ‘King of Elephants’ and he was indeed the king of his group of elephants. He lived happily in a wonderful garden called Rumak on the beautiful mountains of Trikuta (considered by some to to be in current day Sri Lanka and at Kapisthalam, Tamil Nadu by others). He was a great devotee of Lord Vishnu. Everyday he would pick a lotus from a pond and lay it at the feet of Lord Vishnu at the temple. One such day, when he went to the pond as always, his foot was caught by a crocodile. Much as he struggled, he could not free himself. He struggled long and hard; some say that he struggled for a thousand years. Finally, he could struggle no more and surrendered himself to Lord Vishnu. When Lord Vishnu heard his pleas, he hurried to help and killed the crocodile with his Sudarshana Chakra. In his previous life, Gajendra had been King Indradymna of the Pandya dynasty, a great devotee of Vishnu. He had been cursed by Sage Agastya for some disrespect to him. Lord Vishnu freed Gajendra and blessed him with Moksha, a release from the cycle of birth and death, as he had finally given up his pride and surrendered himself to God.

What are the metaphoric lessons that we may take from this story? An elephant represents majesty, strength and wisdom; he is a gentle giant who is not drawn to violence. Gajendra in particular was a devout elephant. Yet he finds himself caught in a way where all his strength and abilities cannot rescue him. The crocodile  is a creature of our nightmares, waiting in hiding to attack and maim. A creature from the underworld representing our base nature as well as the evil around us. Our lesson is that even the best amongst us may find ourselves caught in traps from which we cannot release ourselves unless we surrender ourselves to God. It is interesting that the crocodile-catching-a-leg story occurs in one other very inspiring story, that of Adi Shankaracharya. It was by adopting sanyasa (monkhood) that he could get the crocodile, who represents worldly desires which tie us to this earth, to release him.

My recounting of the story of Gajendra was inspired by the song Soundara Rajam Ashraye which I have been addicted to all this week. Written and composed by Muthuswami Dikshithar, it is set to the Raga Brindavani, also called Brindavana Saranga (The forest of elephants) by some (see footnote). There is a reference to Gajendra Moksham in the first line of the song and even the name of the raga evokes the thought of green and  cool forests with dappled sunlight and rippling pools of water, humming with the presence of elephants all around. Like many other Carnatic Kritis, the song is a just a list of identifiers for Vishnu to whom this prayer is addressed (see footnote for lyrics and translation). The beauty of the song is in the raga and the melody. If you allow yourself the leisure of listening to a slow and elaborate rendition, divorcing your mind from your everyday concerns, it is as close to meditation as listening to music can be. After listening to at least ten different renditions, I go back to the one that I have always loved best, a 21 minute rendition by T.N.Seshagopalan. Ah the soothing pleasure of Brindavana Saranga weaving its magic into my soul!! If you would like to read more about this raga, click here.

Alapana :

Kriti :

Alternate Link

 


Footnote (Lyrics)

Language : Sanskrit

पल्लवी
सौन्दरराजं आश्रये गज बृन्दावन सारङ्ग वरद राजम्  (श्री )

अनुपल्लवि
नन्द नन्दन राजम्  नागपत्तन राजम्
सुन्दरी रमा राजम् सुर विनुत महिराजम्
(मध्यमकाल साहित्यम्)
मन्दस्मित मुखाम्बुजं मन्दर धर कराम्बुजम्
नन्दकर नयनाम्बुजं सुन्दर तर पदाम्बुजम्

चरणम्
शंभर वैरी जनकं सन्नुत शुक शौनकम्
अम्बरीषादि विदितं अनादि गुरुगुह मुदितम्
अम्बुजासनादि नुतं अमरेशादि सन्नुतम्
अम्बुधि गर्व निग्रहं अनृत जड दुःखापहम्
(मध्यमकाल साहित्यम्)
कम्बु विडम्बन कण्ठं खण्डी कृत दश कण्ठं
तुम्बुरुनुत श्री कण्ठं दुरितापह वैकुण्ठं

Transliteration

pallavi
saundara rAja mAshrayE gaja bRndAvana sAraHNga varada rAjam

anupallavi
nanda nandana rAjam nAga pattana rAjam
sundari ramA rAjam sura vinuta mahirAjam
mandasmita mukhAmbujam mandaradhara karAmbujam
nandakara nayanAmbujam sundaratara padAmbujam

charanam
shambara vairi janakam sannuta shuka shaunakam
ambarISAdi viditam anAdi guruguha muditam
ambujAsanAdi nutam amarEshAdi sannutam
ambudhi garva nigraham anRta jaDa duhkhApaham
kambu viDambana kaNTham khaNDIkRta dasha kaNTham
tumburu nuta shrIkaNTham duritApaha vaikuNTham

Translation

I seek refuge (AshrayE) in the beautiful Lord (sowndara rAjam), the Lord (rAjam) who blessed (gave a boon to) the elephant (gaja) in the forest of elephants (brindAvana sAranga).

He is the dear son (nandana) of Nanda, He is the ruler (rAjam) of Nagapattanam. He is the Lord (rAjam) of the beautiful Rama (name of Lakshmi). He is the great (mahi) Lord (rAjam) praised (vinuta) by the divinities (sura).

He has a gently smiling (mandasmita) lotus-like (ambujam) face (mukha), in his lotus-like (ambujam) hands (kara) he holds (dhara) the Mandara mountain, his lotus-like (ambujam) eyes (nayana) give delight (nandana kara), and he has even more beautiful (sundaratara) lotus-like (ambujam) feet (pada).

He is the father (janakam) of the enemy (vairI) of Shiva (shambhara) [alludes to Madana]. He is worshipped (sannuta) by Shuka and Shaunaka. He is understood (viditam) by sages such as Ambarishi. He is the eternet (anAdi) joy (muditam) of Guruguha (signature of Dikshithar).

He is worshipped (nutam) by the Lotus-seated one (ambujAsanA) [refers to Lakshmi? or Brahma?) etc (Adi). He is praised (sannutam) by Indra (amarEsha) etc (Adi). He subjugated (nigraham) the pride (garva) of the ocean (ambudhi). He removes (apaham) the sorrow (dukha) arising from falsehood (anrta) and stupidity (jada).

His neck (kanTam) is like (vidambana) a conch (kambu). He tore into pieces (khandIkrta) the ten-necked one (dasha kanTam) [alludes to Ravana]. He is worshipped (nutam) by Tumburu (a greet seer and singer). He is the destroyer (apaha) of sins (durita). He resides (implied) in VaikunTam (Vishnu’s heaven).

 

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Sadachaleshwaram

KalpataruDo you know the story of the time when the Gods and Demons churned the primeval ocean of milk? No? Well, you’ll have to wait for another time, for I know exactly which song I wish to write that story for! Today I shall write of one of the gifts the ocean gave forth when churned, the wish-fulfilling tree called a Kalpavriksha or Kalpataru. This tree was taken by the King of the Gods, Indra, and planted in heaven.

I quite like the fact that trees and plants have a sacred place in Hinduism; I am quite fond of trees! We have of course the Banyan tree, which is ideal for meditating under. We use various leaves and flowers for worship, like the Tulasi leaves for Vishnu or the Bilva for Shiva, the Hibiscus for Shiva and Lotus for Vishnu.  But the most special plant of all is the mythical Kalpataru. This wish-fulfilling tree has been mentioned both in our ancient Puranas and in the Mahabharata. One has but to sit under this tree and wish, and our wishes will be fulfilled immediately!

But what a dangerous tree it would be! We, who have so much difficulty in controlling our minds, could we possibly trust that no stray bad thoughts come when we are under that tree? And even if we make what we think to be a good wish, what do we know of the repercussions? For a couple of decades now, knowing that my wishes turned out at times to be a bad choice, I have stopped praying for anything concrete. The well-being of my family and friends, peace and good health and most of all the guidance and wisdom to choose the correct path seem more than enough to wish for.

I was reminded of the Kalpataru by my song choice of today. The poet-composer, Muthuswami Dikshithar (1775-1835) sings the praises of Lord Shiva in the form of Sadachaleshwara, the deity of Tiruvarur.  ‘Like a Kalpa tree, He is always a refuge  for everyone including the celestials who seek sanctuary’  the poet-composer says.  He goes on to say that ‘Like a bee  which hovers over a lotus, He hovers over the hearts  of good people who are tranquil and self-controlled…’.  What use a Kalpataru for those who are neither tranquil, nor self-controlled? They will only harm themselves, will they not? So the good Lord Shiva is a Kalpataru only for those who have learnt to control their senses. This beautiful song set to Raga Bhoopalam is beautifully crafted and will not fail to touch your heart, so I believe. To know more about the raga, click here.

To present this song, I have selected a nice rendition by Nithyasree Mahadevan; the brisk kalpanaswarams after the kriti are especially enjoyable. Click here to listen.

Thanks to a reader, I have just been introduced to an excellent rendition by the Hyderabad Brothers, which I have now included for your listening pleasure.


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language – Sanskrit

पल्लवि
सदाचलेश्वरम् भावयेऽहं चमत्कारपुर गेहं गिरिजा मोहम्

अनुपल्लवि
सदाश्रित कल्प वृक्ष समूहं शरणागत  देवता समूहं
(मध्यमकाल साहित्यं )
उदाज्य कृत नामधेयवाहं चिदानन्दामृत प्रवाहं

चरणं
चमत्कार भुपालादि प्रसाद करण निपुण महालिङ्गं
छाया रहित दीप प्रकाश गर्भ गृह मध्य रङ्गं
समस्त दुःखादि हेतु भूत संसार सागर भय भङ्गं
शमदमो पवृत्यादि संयुक्त सादुजन हृदय सरसिज भृङ्गं
(मध्यमकाल साहित्यं)
कमल विजयकर विधृत कुरङ्गं करुणारस सुधामव तरङ्गं
कमलेश विनुत वृषभतुरङ्गं कमल वदन गुरुगुहान्तरङ्गं

For notation, click here.

Transliteration

Pallavi
sadAchalEshvaram bhAvayEham chamatkArapura gEham girijA mOham

Anupallavi
sadAshrita kalpa vRksha samUham sharaNAgata dEvatA samUham
udAjya kRta nAmadhEyavAham chidAnandAmRta pravAham

Charanam
chamatkAra bhUpAlAdi prasAda karaNa nipuNa mahAlingam
chAyA rahita dIpa prakAsha garbha gRha madhya rangam
samasta duhkhAdi hEtu bhUta samsAra sAgara bhaya bhangam
shamadamO pavRtyAdi samyukta sAdujana hRdaya sarasija bhRngam
kamala vijayakara vidhRta kurangam karuNArasa sudhAmava tarangam kamalEsha vinuta vRshabhaturangam kamala vadana guruguhAntarangam

Translation

I meditate (bhAvayEham) on Lord Sadachaleshvara, He who has his abode (geham) in Chamatkarapura, and is the beloved (moham) of Girija.

Like a Kalpa tree (vrksha), He is always (sadA) a refuge (Ashrita) for everyone(samUham=group), including the  celestials (dEvatA  samUham) who seek sanctuary(sharanAgata = literally, they who come to His feet), he who is known (nAmadhEya, literally titled) as the one who turned water (uda) to ghee (Ajya), he is like a flow (pravAham) of nectar (amrtam)  of bliss (chidAnanda).

He is Mahalinga (shiva) who causes (karaNa) the well-being (prasAda) of king (bhUpAla) Chamatkara etc (Adi). His shadow-less (chAyA rahita) sanctum (garbhagRha madhya rangam=the inner room in the middle of the house) is lit by a lamp (dIpa prakAsha).  He removes (hetu bhoota, literally causes to be past) all sorrows (dukha) etc (Adi) and removes fear (bhaya bhanga) of this ocean (sAgaram)  like life (samsAra). Like a bee (bhRnga) which hovers (implied) over a lotus (sarasija), He hovers  over the hearts (hrdaya) of good people (sAdu jana) who are tranquil (shama) and self-controlled (dama), senses etc (unsure: cannot findpavrti in dictionary)  in unison (samyukta). His lotus-like (kamala) victory-giving (vijaya kara) hands (implied) holds (vidhRta) a deer (kurangam), he is like a nectar-filled (sudha maya) wave (taranga) of compassion (karuna rasa). He is worshipped (vinuta) by Vishnu (kamalesha), he is mounted (turangam) on a bull (vRshabha), he is dear to the lotus-faced (kamala vadana) Guruguha (subrahmanya).

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Muthuswami Dikshithar, Nithyasree Mahadevan

Ardhanareeshwaram

ardhanariReading Yves’s recent movie review had me thinking about Ardhanareeshwara. Is it not odd, I thought quite irreverently, that a culture, whose treatment of  gender-confused individuals may be considered quite inhumane, worships God in a half-male, half-female form?

I was, of course, being too literal. We must always remember that the Hindu Gods are representations of a concept and should be considered allegorical, even though we worship the representation rather than the concept.

The concept of divinity with both male and female aspects permeates throughout Hinduism. Take, for example, the Purusha-Prakriti (Consciousness-Matter) duality. Without going deep into the matter, the word Purusha itself means man and prakriti is seen as woman. The duality represents the experiencer and the experienced, the concept and the conceptualisation, the doer and the deed.

Have you ever wondered about our Brahma-Vishnu-Shiva trinity and the appropriateness of their consorts? Brahma, the creator, has as consort Saraswati, the Goddess of knowledge and arts, the manifestation of creativity. Vishnu, he who sustains, is joined by Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity, the means of sustenance. Shakti is the consort of Shiva the destroyer, the Goddess of energy and power, the means of destruction and recreation. So we have the Trinity as Creation-Creativity, Sustenance-Wealth & Prosperity, Destruction-Power. Have you noticed that in each pairing, it is again the mating of concept to manifestation?

Magnetic fieldsIn essence, Divinity, though neutral, polarises into a male-female form to become the doer and the deed but they remain two halves of a whole and will eventually merge into one. I like to visualise these male-female divinities as magnets, the two polarities intensely attractive to each other, one but yet separate, with those beautiful fields of attraction and magnetism surrounding them. And I see myself as a happy little iron filing, comfortably aligning myself to these lines of attraction. No doubt I am quite incomprehensible to those who haven’t played with magnets and iron filings (see pic above)!

Shiva’s form of Ardhanareeshwara is a visualisation of that idea, of the polarity between the male and female aspects of Divinity. There is a famous temple in Tirchengode  to this form of Shiva-Shakti. My song choice of today is composed by Muthuswami Dikshithar (1775-1835) in praise of Ardhanareeshawara  and is set to the raga Kumudakriya. The lyrics are just a simple invocation; the beauty of the composition to my mind is the excellent use of madhyamakala sahityam ie. lyrics set to double the basic tempo. In this composition, there is a speed change in all three sections, pallavi, anupallavi and charanam, giving an overall effect of power and energy, which by definition is Shakti. To know a bit more about the raga, click here.

To present this song, I have chosen a wonderful rendition by one of the most respected senior artists of today, T.N.Seshagopalan (born 1948).

There is more detailed rendition by TNS which you can download here, song 3 (free membership needed at Sangeethapriya)

And as we are on the subject of senior Maestros, here is a scintillating performance by the violinist M.S.Gopalakrishnan (born 1931).


Footnote (Lyrics) :

Language: Sanskrit

पल्लवि
अर्ध नारीश्वरम् आराधयामि सततं
(मध्यम काल साहित्यं )
अत्रि बृगु वसिष्टादि मुनि बृन्द वन्दितं

अनुपल्लवि
अर्ध याम अलङ्कार विशेष प्रभावं
(मध्यम काल साहित्यं )
अर्ध नारीश्वरी प्रियकरं अभय करं शिवं

चरणं
नागेन्द्र मणि भूषितं नन्दी तुरगारोहितं
श्री गुरुगुह पूजितं कुमुदक्रिया रागनुतं
(मध्यम काल साहित्यं )
आगमादि सन्नुतं अनन्त वेद घोषितं
अमरेशादि सेवितं आरक्त वर्ण शोभितं

Transliteration

pallavi
ardha narIshwaram ArAdhayAmi satatam
(madhyama kala sAhityam)
atri bRgu vasishtAdi muni bRnda vanditam

anupallavi
ardha yAma alangkAra vishEsha prabhAvam
(madhyama kAla sAhityam)
ardha nArIshvarI priyakaram abhaya karam shivam

charaNam
nagEndra maNi bhUshitam nandI turagArohitam
sri guruguha pUjitam kumudakriyA rAganutam
(madhyama kAla sahityam)
AgamAdi sannutam ananta vEda ghOshitam
amarEshAdi sEvitam Arakta varNa shobhitam

Translation

Pallavi
I offer my prayers (ArAdhayami) to Lord Ardhanareeshvara all the time (satatam). He is extolled (vanditam) by many (a group of, assuming bRnda is another form of vRnda) sages such as Atri, BRgu, and Vasishta.

Anupallavi
His decoration (alangkAra) for the puja at night (ardhayama literally is half-watch) is specially (vishesha) splendorous (prabhavam). He is beloved (priyakaram) of Ardhanareeshwari . He gets rid of our fears (abhaya=without fear, karam=does), he is Shiva (the auspicious, the benevolent).

Charanam
He is adorned (bhUshitam) by the king of serpents (nagEndra) as ornament (maNi). [ Alternatively, he is adorned with the jewel Nagendramani ] He rides (verb Arohati)  Nandi as mount (turaga=horse or mount). He is worshipped (pUjita) by Guruguha (Subrahmanya, but here it is the signature of the composer), he is praised / worshipped (verb nuti) in raga kumudakriya. Well praised (sannuta) in the Agamas etc (Agama Adi), he is proclaimed (verb ghush) in all the vedas. He is worshipped (sevitam) by Gods such as Indra (amarEsh Adi=etc).  He is splendorous (shObhitam) with a reddish colour (Arakta varNa).

 

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Filed under Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, M.S.Gopalakrishnan, Muthuswami Dikshithar, T.N.Seshagopalan

Anandamrutakarshini

RainAs the sky in Melbourne seems to be quite grey this morning, I am playing this old favourite of mine set to Raga Amrutavarshini, meaning She Who Showers Nectar.

We Indians have always associated rain with joy. Not for us the associations of the Western world which link rain with cold, gloom, threat and generally bad times.  Quite the opposite for us, isn’t it? We associate rain with joy, exuberance, hope, growth  and prosperity.  In Australia, an immense land with low water resources, the Western association seems like nonsense. Here, we too look gladly at rain, so this song is very appropriate.

The composer, Muthuswami Dikshitar, prays to the Goddess saying ‘you who captivates us into a nectar like joy, shower us with nectar like rain’. He goes on to praise Her compassion, entreating Her to bring us rain. Legend says that Dikshithar was on his way to Ettiyapuram to see his brother. Arriving at a place under severe drought, Dikshitar sang this song. When he came to the part ‘Salilam Varshaya Varshaya Varshaya’ a heavy downpour started which went on to relieve the drought. It is said that many agnostics and atheists became theists on seeing this.

I love the sound of Amrutavarshini. To learn more about the raga, click here. I have heard talented artists bring forth the patter of rain on roofs with their kalpanaswarams, sometimes the gentle tapping of a spring shower, sometimes the furious drumming of a torrential downpour. I personally prefer brisk renditions as the scale seems to become even more joyful with rapid execution. Here are a few renditions that I particularly enjoy :

First, click below to listen to Aruna Sairam’s brisk rendition (7 mins) which is a tattoo of sounds reminiscent of the subject matter; it is a thundershower in summer, beating out all thought but the music.

Next, listen to a more elaborate version (19 min) by the Hyderabad Brothers with a nice alapanai leading up to a brisker kriti and kalpanaswarams; much like a long afternoon of  interspread light and heavy showers.

And third, listen to this fantastic violin interpretation (9 mins) by Lalgudi Jayaraman which is very lyrical and reminds me of peacocks dancing to spring showers in lush surroundings.



Footnote (Lyrics) :

The composition is in Sanskrit.

पल्लवि
आनन्दामृताकर्षिणि अमृत वर्षिणि
हरादि पूजिते शिवे भवानि

समष्टि चरणम्
श्री नन्दनादि संरक्षिणि श्री गुरुगुह जननि चिद्रूपिणि
(मध्यमकाल  साहित्यं)
सानन्द हृदय  निलये सदये सद्य सुवृष्टि हेतवे त्वाम्
सन्ततं चिन्तये अमृतेश्वरि सलिलं वर्षय वर्षय वर्षय

For lyrics in Southern languages, click here.

Transliteration

Pallavi
AnandAmrutAkarshiNi amruta varshiNi
harAdi poojitE SivE bhavAni

Anupallavi
sree nandanAdi samrakshiNi sri guruguha janani chidroopiNi

Charanam
sAnanda hrudayE nilayE sadayE sadya suvrushti hetavE tvAm
santatam chintayE amruteshvari salilam varshaya varshaya varshaya

 Translation
O Bhavani, you who are adored by Shiva and other Gods, who captivates us into a nectar like joy and shower us with nectar like rain.

You who are the protector of the son of Lakshmi (Kama, possibly referring to when Shiva revives Kama by request of Parvati after burning him to ashes), you who are the mother of Guru Guha (Karthikeya), you are a form of the intellect/spirit, you who dwell in hearts full of joy, you who are compassionate, give us (be the cause of – from noun hetu) good rain soon, I think of you always O embodiment of nectar, shower us with rain, shower us with rain.

 

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Filed under Aruna Sairam, Carnatic Music, Compositions in Sanskrit, Hyderabad Brothers, Lalgudi Jayaraman, Muthuswami Dikshithar

Rangapura Vihara

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Alternate Link : Click here and select song 2 (needs free membership to Sangeethapriya.org)

 


Footnote (Lyrics) :

रङ्गपुरविहार जय कोदण्ड रामावतार रघुवीर श्री

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

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

For notation, click here.

Transliteration:

Pallavi

raNgapura vihAra jaya kOdaNDa rAmAvatAra raghuvIra shrI

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

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

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

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

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

 

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