Friday, July 31, 2009

Varalakshmi Vratam - 31st July, 2009

Today we did Varalakshmi Puja at home and I thought I would write briefly about the significance of this vratam.

Varalakshmi vrata is a popular ritual observed by married women in South India and Maharashtra. Goddess Lakshmi,the Goddess of wealth and prosperity,is worshipped on this day.

Varalakshmi literally means the boon granting Goddess. Worshipping Goddess Lakshmi on this day is equivalent to worshipping Ashtalakshmi – the eight Goddesses of Wealth(shrI), Earth(bhU), Learning(saraswati), Love(prIti), Fame(kIrti), Peace(shAnti), Pleasure(tushti) and Strength(pushti).

The glory of performing the varalakshmi vratam, narrated directly by Lord Shiva Himself, is elaborately discussed in the skAnda purANam.

The Hindu festival "Varalakshmi Vratam", or "Varalakshmi Nonbu" is celebrated on the Friday before the full moon in the Tamil Month 'Aadi' which corresponds to the English months of July-August. It is a festival to propitiate Goddess Lakshmi, the consort of Vishnu, one of the Hindu Trinity. Varalakshmi is one who grants boons (varam).

Among the many festivals in the year dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi,Varalakshmi Vratham is considered very auspicious because it is marked by strict observance of certain practices and austerities.

The pUja:

A sacred pot (kalasham) is filled with raw rice,coins,9 betel leaves, 9 betel nuts, 9 pieces of turmeric.This kalasham is topped with a bunch of fresh mango leaves. A coconut (unbroken)smeared with turmeric powder and kumkumam is placed on top and tied to the kalasham. Also, sandal paste and kumkumam are applied to the kalasham. To the front of the coconut,we tie the varalakshmi "mukham" (the face). The coconut and kalasham form the body and we further decorate it by tying special clothes (pAvAdai) and jewels to the deity.

Now the kalasham symbolically represents Goddess Lakshmi. We also place a mirror behind the kalasham.The kalasham is usually placed on a bed of rice.

Then, Goddess Lakshmi is invoked. Fresh flowers and grains are used in the worship, indicating growth and prosperity.

After performing the initial worship of Lord Ganesha (seeking removal of all obstacles), prayers are offered to the kalasham. The sacred yellow thread is first tied to the Goddess. The yellow thread (saradu) is prepared with nine knots and a flower is placed in the center.
Now the main worship of Lakshmi begins, with a second worship of the sacred Thread (nOnbu saradu). Finally, it is tied around the right hand of the performer and all other ladies in the family. Prayers in the form of Lakshmi Ashtottara shatanAmAvali and lalitA sahasranAmam are then chanted.

Legend associated with this vratam:

According to Hindu mythology, once Goddess Parvati asked Lord Shiva to recommend a vrata that will be beneficial to women. Lord Shiva then mentioned the importance of Varalakshmi vrata. The conversation on Varalakshmi vrata between Parvati and Shiva takes place in the skAnda purANa.

To illustrate the importance of the vrata, Lord Shiva narrates the story of Charumati. Pleased with Charumati’s devotion to her husband and family, Goddess Lakshmi appeared in her dream and asked her to perform the Varalakshmi vrata on the auspicious day of shrAvana shukLa shukRa vAram.The pious Charumati invited all her neighbors, friends and relatives and performed the Varalakshmi puja as directed by Goddess Lakshmi. Soon after the puja, all the people who participated in the puja where blessed with wealth and prosperity.

(There is a referencce to this legend in the first two lines of the caraNam of muttuswami dikshitar's composition "sri varalakshmi namastubhyam" in rAga srirAgam-rUpaka tAla.)


श्री वरलक्ष्मि नमस्तुभ्यम् वसुप्रदे
श्री सारसपदे रसपदे सपदे पदे पदे (श्री)


भावज जनक प्राणवल्लभे सुवर्णाभे
भानुकोटि समानप्रभे भक्तसुलभे

(मध्यमकाल साहित्यम्)
सेवकजनपालिन्यै श्रितपंकजमालिन्यै
केवलगुणशालिन्यै केशवह्वत्खेलिन्यै (श्री)


श्रावण पौर्णमी पूर्वस्थ शुक्रवारे
चारुमती प्रभृतिभिः पूजिताकारे
देवादि गुरुगुह समर्पित मणिमयहारे
दीनजनसंरक्षण निपुणकनकधारे

(मध्यमकाल साहित्यम्)
भावनाभेदचतुरे भारतीसन्नुतवरे
कैवल्य वितरणपरे कांक्षितफलप्रदकरे (श्री)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Smt.Pantula Rama's concert on 29th July,2009

I had been wanting to listen to a concert of Smt.Pantula Rama for quite some time now.Thanks to my schedule, I couldn't get an opportunity until yesterday.

She sang under the auspices of Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer Golden Jubilee Foundation.She was accompanied by Sri.M.S.N.Murthy on the violin and Sri.V.V.Ramanamurthy on the Mridangam.This concert took place at Kasturi Srinivasan Hall (Music Academy Mini Hall).

I liked her slightly unconventional approach towards the choice of songs and also her style of singing Raga Alapana. (One minor thing that I noticed was that there could have been a better mix of tempo in the songs chosen throughout the concert.)

She began with the Kriti shrungAra lahari in nIlAmbari. Then she sang gOpAlaka pAhimAm (composition of swAti tirunAl) followed by padavini (sAlagabhairavi). AlApana for bhOgindra sAyinam was nicely sung. Again,her approach to subhapantuvarALi Alapana was a slightly offbeat one and I liked it. She sang the kriti sri sathyanArAyaNam of muttuswAmi dikshitar and a nice neraval taking the lines 'satya gnAnAnandamayam sarvam vishNu mayam".

After subhapantuvarAli she sang manavyAla(naLinakAnti) and took up KAmbhOji for elaboration. I had to leave at this point.

On the whole, it was refreshing to hear a new style of singing. I liked the confidence displayed by her on stage.The accompanists were very good. I particularly liked a few "teermAnams"(phrases on the percussion) given by the mridangist.

Glad that I could listen to her concert yesterday.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Smt.D.K.Pattammal (1919-2009)

(I had written a post here on my blog on Smt.DKP a few days back, but it somehow got deleted. I didn't have a copy of it unfortunately, so I am just recollecting whatever I can from that earlier post.)

(Photo courtesy: Sruti Magazine-Issue 174)

July 16th 2009- I was in a TV recording, when I got the news that the legend had passed away that afternoon. Soon after the recording got over,I rushed to her residence at Kotturpuram and was fortunate to have got a glimpse of this great musician, as the hearse started departing towards the crematorium.

What a great musician she was. A stamp of tradition.

A simple, affectionate soul. I had visited her on a couple of occasions and each time I entered her house, that smile of hers would embrace and welcome us instantly.

Nithyasree and I are of almost the same age, so whenever I used to visit DKP Amma, she used to beam at me and say "Vaa maa, neeyum nithya maadhiri enakku oru pEthi dhAn"(Come inside, like Nithya, you are also like my grand daughter.)

Once, I had the fortune of receiving the talent promotion concert prize from DKP Amma at Krishna Gana Sabha. These are memories that I shall always cherish.

I have been a big fan of all the three "contemporary women-greats"- MS, MLV and DKP. It is a great pity that none of them are with us any more.Each one of them had dedicated themselves totally to music and we,as musicians, are always indebted to them for their priceless contributions and the paths that they have shown us.

The AIR Experience

The AIR (All India Radio) experience:

As I was filing away my recent contracts of radio programs, my eyes fell upon the contracts signed during my earlier years and my thoughts went back to the different experiences which have been of great help to me in learning many things.

As a school-going girl, I had sung many times in vAnoli anna's (Sri.KoothappirAn is fondly called so) programs for children. Later on I passed the audition and got to sing in Youth programs, participated in music quiz programs on AIR and so on. After this, I appeared for audition with my mother and we sang in the "Duet-Devotional" category for many years. This was the time when I got to learn many devotional hymns of rAmalinga swAmigaL, tAyumAnavar, AzhwAr pAsurams, tiruvembAvai,tEvarams,jayadevar's ashtapathis,nArAyaNa theethar's tarangams and so on.

Then I appeared for audition and got my B-Grade in AIR. Step-by-step progress led me on to a B-High grade and subsequently an A-Grade.

While in college, we also participated in the vrinda gAnam competition(group singing) and won the first prize. We had the fortune of receiving the prize from Vidwan Maharajapuram.Sri.Santhanam.

In all these years, the most valuable thing that I have learnt through radio concerts is meticulous time planning in a concert. I am of the opinion that radio concerts have helped me a lot in this regard.
In a radio concert,typically the last song gets affected, either due to lack of remaining time or lots of remaining time ! This has happened to me more than once during live broadcasts. Either the last song would get cut abruptly or I would be singing different sangatis of the pallavi line (of the last song) after finishing the song, to fill up the remaining time ! The official from the other room would signal through the glass panel that there are 40 seconds remaining and I would go on and on, looking at the large clock in our room. 40 seconds would seem like 40 minutes to me :-).
Sometimes, due to improper planning,the main song would tend to get dragged on a bit and after the neraval, kalpanaswaram and tani got over, we would realize that there would be no time for a small song to finish the concert, and somehow to me, this would look like an incomplete concert.

Over the years, these little things have really taught me how to effectively plan a concert. In the middle of the broadcast, the official usually signals to us from the other room indicating the time that has already elapsed in the 60-minute concert. For instance,if he signals that 24 minutes have gone by,say,after the first two or three items, I quickly calculate 60-24, and allocate,say,5 minutes for the last song. For the remaining 31 minutes for the main item, prudent planning for a detailed Alapana,kriti,niraval,swaram with 5-6 minutes for a tani has to be done, to give a rounded effect to the concert. And,all this calculation is to be done in a jiffy,while the announcement for the next song goes on air !

In retrospect, radio concerts have made me mentally very alert about time planning in a concert, at the same time, with NO compromise on the emotional and aesthetic aspects of our music.

Each concert is a learning experience.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

shrI vishvanAtham bhajEham - Part 3


sadAshivam sAma gAna vinutam prakrtyAdi sapta rUpa sAmagAna vinutam:
सदाशिवम् सामगान विनुतम् प्रकृत्यादि सप्तरूप सामगान विनुतम्

sadAshivam :He is SadAshiva, ie, 'everlasting auspiciousness'

sadAshivam is associated with the "anugrahA (Divine grace)" aspect, which is one of the five aspects of parama-Shiva. (the others are srishti or creation (by brahmA), stithi or preservation (by vishnu), layam or destruction (by rudrA), or tirOdAna- illusion or veiling (by IshwarA))

(Reference: deivatthin kural, Volume 7 - ra.gaNapathy)

sadAshiva denotes predominance of the sattva guNA

sAma gAna vinutam : He is worshipped through the sAman chant (sAmavEda is the most sacred of all music).

prakrtyAdi sapta rUpa sAmagAna vinutam:

prakriti constitutes the basic intoned verse of the saman chant.
Sama Veda consists of about 1900 verses, called sAmans.
The seven notes that occur in sAman music are called prathamA, dvitIya, tritIya, caturtha, mandra, atisvArya, krushTa. According to the nAradIya sikshA,these correspond to the notes Ma,Ga,Ri,Sa,Dha,Ni,Pa, which gives not a straight progression but a vakra-gati. Thus the sAman-singing shows notes in a descending series,which is referred to as in ancient treatises as nindhana-prakrti.

The second word sAma is the rAga mudra.

sanmAtram lalita hrdaya viditam kAma krodhAdi rahita lalita hrdaya viditam:
सन्मात्रम् ललित ह्रदय विदितम् काम क्रोधादि रहित ललित ह्रदय विदितम्

sanmAtram - sat + mAtram : which is the svarUpam of the Brahman, denoting "nothing but pure existence".

The Objective Universe is varied and ever changing.The only unchanging aspect of the universe is its “Existence” which is recognised as the essential nature of brahman.

The Lord is known by those who possess a pure and simple heart which is devoid of vices. (vices refer to the "shatripu or six enemies of mankind", namely,lust (kama),anger (krodha),greed (lobha),vanity (mana), infatuation (mada),envy or jealousy (mAtsarya)).

Again the qualifications of a seeker are expanded.
The second word lalita denotes the rAga mudra.

cidAkAsha bhairavam puraharam vidhi kapAla trishUladhara bhairavam puraharam:
चिदाकाश भैरवम् पुरहरम् विधि कपाल त्रिशूलधर भैरवम् पुरहरम्

The Lord (who is actually the cidAkAsha svarUpA), is the Bhairava (a manifestation of Siva who took pleasure in destruction). He is the Bhairava who destroyed the three cities (tripurA).The three principle regions of the world are svarga (heaven), Akasha (space between heaven and earth) and prthvi (earth). Having been defeated by the demons (asurAs) the gods appealed to Shiva to destroy tripurA.

For this purpose he called vishvakarmA,the architect of the Gods and asked him to make a suitable chariot, bow and arrow.He then armed himself with the earth as his chariot, the mountain mandAra his bow, and vishnu his arrow. All other beings of the worlds of the gods became parts of his chariot with brahmA as charioteer. Thus Shiva destroyed tripurA and all its inhabitants (and hence is referred to as tripurAntakA).(Reference: matsya purANA,shiva purANA)

While on one hand we can visualise the Lord in a fierce form for destroying the evil, we reckon the same Lord as all pervading pure consciousness also.

(Brahma originally had five heads (the matsya purAnA gives an explanation for this.)

[There are different explanations for why Brahma only has four heads , as opposed to his original five:

According to the purANAs, brahmA's fifth head was burnt off by the fire of shivA's central eye, because brahmA had spoken disrespectfully of Lord shivA.

shivA-bhairavA became 'kapAlin' or skull-carrier,and carried a skull in his hand to confront the world with its mortality. Sometimes this skull became the drinking bowl.The skull is said to be the fifth head of Brahma, cut off by Shiva. The skull of brahmA became stuck to his hand and although himself being a God, shivA-bhairavA had to somehow expiate his sin and thus bhairavA became the Supreme beggar. bhairavA took upon himself the kapAlika vow,according to which he had to go around the world,begging,until the skull fell from his hand.

It is interesting to note that when bhairavA reached the holy city of vAraNAsi, the skull fell from the hand of shivA and thus bhairavA was released from the sin.]

The second word bhairavam is the rAga mudra.

cit sabhEshwaram sAranga dharam; dArukAvana tapOdana kalpita sAranga dharam:
चित्सभेश्र्वरम् सारङ्गधरम् दारुकावन तपोधन कल्पित सारङ्गधरम्

cit sabhEshwaram : He is the Lord of the citsabhA at Chidambaram.

sAranga dharam : Shiva is sometimes represented holding a 'deer' in his hand.

[Puranic reference: The first legend of origin of Nataraja is that the rishis of dArukA vanam questioned the relevance of God, arguing that karma (action) was everything, that only action mattered. To remove their agnyAnA (ignorance), shivA took the form of a beautiful man-sundaramUrthy and came as an alms taker bhikshAdaNA along with vishNu who took the form of mOhini (enchantress) and came to the village. Enchanted all the women followed sundaramUrthy and Lord vishNu enticed the rishis with his mOhini form. The rishis,enraged that they had been fooled,conducted a 'hOmam' to destroy shivA. From the fire first came the demon muyalagan.The Cosmic dance of eternal bliss( Ananda tAndavam) began. muyalagan was trampled under the foot. The snakes from the fire became Lord shivA's garlands and ornaments. A deer with huge antlers was made small and held in one hand.]

Another interpretation of “deer” is more appealing. Deer by nature is a restless animal and wanders all the time.Hence a deer can represent the "wandering mind". Unless the mind is restful and can focus,spiritual progress is not possible. The Lord, by having Deer in hand indicates that he has mastered the Mind ,thus reminding the seeker the need for mastery over mind.

The other occurence of sAranga refers to the "elephant" whose form the Lord adopted in dArukAvana.

(In the purANAs, one of the 25 lilAs (manifestations) of Lord Shiva is that of killing the demon gajAsurA.When this asurA troubled the dEvAs, they went and prayed to Lord vishvanAtha.The Lord killed the asurA,tore the elephant skin and wore it as His garment.)

The third word sAranga is the raga mudra.

sadA AshrayAmi shankarAbharaNam cintitArtha vitaraNa dhurINatara mANikyamaya shankarAbharaNam:
सदाश्रयामि शङ्कराभरणम् चिन्तितार्थ वितरण धुरीणतर माणिक्यमय शङ्कराभरणम्

I surrender to the Lord shankarAbharaNam – shankarAbharaNam can be interpreted in two ways:

1. The Lord manifests in everything in which the rAga shankarAbharaNam can also be included.Thus a devotee can visualise the rAgam itself as the Lord.

2. bharaNam stands for support and the Lord is the Auspicious (samkara) support of the Universe. I surrender to that Lord.

The Lord is resplendent like mANikyam and is an unparalleled expert in giving his devotee whatever he desires.

The second word shankarAbharaNam is the raga mudra.

sadgati dAyaka ambhoja caraNam dharmArthadi nikhila puruSArtha prada samarthatara ambhoja caraNam:
सद्गति दायक अम्भोज चरणम् धर्मार्थादि निखिल पुरुषार्थप्रद समर्थतर अम्भोज चरणम्

Four aims in life are called puruShArthAs. These are: dharma(righteousness), artha(material wealth), kAma(pleasure) and mOksha(liberation). Dharma is the law of being; wealth (artha) has to be earned and life enjoyed (kAma) according to dharma. The final goal will be mOksha, that is Liberation from bondage and that is the highest puruShArtha or aim. The Lord possesses Lotus-Feet that are capable of bestowing all these and Liberation.

The rAga mudra occurs in the two words dAyaka ambOja.

vadAnya dEvakriyA kElanam; sriShTi stithi vilaya tirOdAna anugraha kAraNa kriyA kElanam:
वदान्य देवक्रिया खेलनम् सृष्टि स्थिति विलय तिरोधान अनुग्रह करण क्रिया खेलनम्

vadAnya: liberal, bountiful

The Lord blesses the dEvas liberally by helping them to perform their functions effortlessly.

The Lord performs the five-fold functions (panchakarmA) of creation, protection, destruction, veiling and bestowing Grace as child’s play.

The five aspects of parama-Shiva; these are accordingly represented in their personal forms as the gods Brahma(srishti-creation), Vishnu(stithi-protection), Rudra(laya-destruction), Ishvara(tirOdhAna-veiling) and Sadashiva(anugraha-bestowing Grace)

kElanam: Performing the panchakarmA is child's play for the Lord.

[[(A similar reference in lalitA sahasranAmam):

"उन्मेष निमिषोत्पन्नविपन्न भुवनावलिः "

"For Devi, performing the panchakarmA (creation,preservation,destruction etc) is as simple as batting her eyelid". ]]

The second word dEvakriyA is the rAga mudra.

vaidyalinga bhUpAla pAlanam shrIpura nirrti bhAga garta tIra sthira tara bhUpAla pAlanam:
वैद्यलिङ्ग भूपाम पालनम् श्रीपुरनिर्ऋतिभाग गर्ततीर स्थिरतर भूपालपालनम्

The Lord is the protector of vaidyalinga (the then trustee and owner of the Kuzhikkarai temple) who was also dIkshitar's patron; The Lord resides at gartatIra situated to the South-West of srIpuram, i.e., tiruvArUr.

It is believed that the landlord vaidhyaLinga mudaliar who patronised Dikshitar wanted a composition in his praise.Dikshitar would never sing glories of anyone other than the Lord.To recognise the patronage,dIkshitar intelligently added the name of the patron in this composition as a devotee of the Lord.

The composition also clearly identifies the kshetrA where he composed this Kriti – he has ingeniously coined a word "garta tira" – garta meaning Ditch (Kuzhi in tamil) and Tira meaning bank (karai in tamil), combining both giving the name of the village Kuzhikkarai.He further confirms the venue by giving its direction – southwest of tiruvArUr (srIpuram)

Again the second word bhUpAla is the mudra.

guruguhEsha suranaresham anisham:
गुरुगुहेश सुरनरेशम् अनिशम्

He is the Lord of Guruguha (the composer's pen name),and also of the devAs and humans.

kuja budhAdi graha gati vihitam:
कुजबुधादि ग्रहगति विहितम्

He determines the movement of planets,such as Mars, Mercury. (Planetary movements are governed by the laws of nature which come under divine design.)

varadam anala ravi shashi nayanam:
वरदम् अनल रवि शशि नयनम्

The form of Shiva having three eyes, the Sun, Moon and Fire, the three sources of light which illuminate the worlds. His right eye is believed to be the Sun,the left eye is the Moon and the central eye represents Fire. The central eye looks inward on the forehead but when directed outwards it can destroy all that appears before it.

vanaja candra sannibha vadanam:
वनज चन्द्र सन्निभ वदनम्

The Lord possesses a face that is as beautiful as the lotus and the moon.

paramahamsam Anandanartanam:
परमहंसम् आनन्दनर्तनम्

The Lord is the highest form of Bliss and performs the dance of ecstasy.

Lord Shiva is also natarAja.108 different varieties of dance are attributed to Him.

Anandanartanam : Cosmic dance of Lord shivA. Ananda also indicating the third aspect of bliss or fullness of the Lord.

patita pAvana karaNam agha haraNam:
पतित पावन करणम् अघ हरणम्

The Lord purifies the downtrodden and removes their sins.

parataram parama manOlaya jayam:
परतरम् परम मनोलय जयम्

The Lord is the Supreme Being. He has controlled (quietened) or destroyed the mind, symbolising Liberation.We can also say that a seeker by quietening and controlling his mind can succeed in his spiritual pursuit.

parAdi vAk prakAsha Anandamayam:
परादि वाक् प्रकाशानन्दयम्

There are four kinds of speech production (vAk), namely,parA, pashyantI, madhyamA and vaikarI.

The stages of sound from the most subtle to articulated sound have concordance with the evolution of Primal Being from Avyakta through Brahman, Isvara, Hiranyagarbha, and Virat, the last being the manifest world.

ParA nAda-transcedental sound

pashyantI-seeing,observing-visual sound

madhyamA-middle,intermediate-mental sound


The three invisible sources of speech coming from our within,namely,parA,pashyantI and madhyamA are expressed as exterior sound coming from the mouth (vaikarI) and these are controlled by the Lord.

All the four components of speech reveal the blissful Lord.


It can be seen that understanding the true meaning of dIkshitar's compositions is a very difficult task as he is an embodiment of expertise in several sciences (sAstrAs).
I am sure that if we dwell more into his kritIs,we will always get more and more.
I have attempted to bring out some aspects of this great composition with the help of a few references to the best of my ability.

At this juncture, I offer my praNAms with gratitude to Swami Paramarthananda who was kind enough to review my notes and provide several clarifications and suggestions.

Friday, July 10, 2009

shrI vishvanAtham bhajEham - Part 2


shrI vishAlAkSI gaurIsham sakaLa niSkaLa rUpa saccidAnandamaya gaurIsham:
श्री विशालाक्षी गौरीशम् सकळ निष्कळरूप सच्चिदानन्दमय गौरीशम्

gaurIsham in the first usage refers to the Lord of Gauri.
vishAlAkSI gauri ("the fair one with large eyes") refers to Lord Shiva's consort Parvathi.

saccidAnanda : refers to the three-fold nature of brahman in Vedanta philosophy,namely, sat (existence), cit (consciousness), and Ananda (bliss or fullness).Each of these is treated separately in the carana section of this kriti: sat appears in the lalitA raga (sanmAtram), cit in the sArangA raga (citsabhEshvaram), and Ananda in sArangA (Anandanartanam)of the viloma section.

sakala niShkaLa rUpa: The Lord is worshipped both as “saguNA ‘ (with attributes,form etc)and “nirguNA”(Attributeless, formless)

This refers to the 'dual aspect' of brahman, the ultimate source from which all gods and creatures emerge.

The second occurence of gaurIsham refers to Shiva's body which is covered with white ashes representing purity and detachment.

gaurIsham also has the name of the rAga.

citra vishva nATaka prakAsham jagat prakAsaka bhAskara shashAnka kOTi kOTi prakAsham:
चित्र विश्वनाटक प्रकाशं जगत्प्रकाशक भास्कर शशाङ्क कोटि कोटि प्रकाशं

citra vishva nATaka prakAsham: He who illuminates this varied and wonderful world which is a drama

jagat prakAsaka bhAskara shashAnka kOTi kOTi prakAsham: Whose radiance is like an infinite number of Suns and Moons which illuminate this eternally changing world

The above expressions are based on the Vedantic concept of AtmA as Witness Consciousness (sAkshi caitanyam)witnessing the drama but unaffected.

"citra vishva nATaka" has the raga mudra.

gOvindAdi vinuta gauLAngam kshIra kundEndu karpUrAdi vijaya bhasitOdhULita gauLAngam:
गोविन्दादि विनुत गौळाङ्गं क्षीर कुन्देन्दु कर्पूरादि विजय भसित उद्दधूळित गौळाङ्गं

gOvindA : Finder of cows or KrishNa

The Lord who has a fair complexion (due to the sprinkling of vibhUti or sacred ashes) is worshipped by gOvindA. This vibhUti(sacred ashes)smeared on Lord Shiva is more radiant than other white objects like milk,the jasmine flower,moon and camphor.

The word gauLAngam carries the mudra. The correct term for white is gaura, but in Sanskrit ra can be expressed as La.

guruguha sammOhana kara lingam pancIkrita pancamahAbhUta prapanhAdi mOhana kara lingam:
गुरुगुह सम्मोहनकर लिङ्गम् पञ्चीकृत पञ्चमहाभूत प्रपंचादि मोहनकर लिङ़गम्

guruguha sammOhana kara lingam : The linga gives happiness to the composer Muttusvami Dikshitar,whose pen name is guruguha.

pancIkrita pancamahAbhUta prapanhAdi mOhana kara lingam: This linga delights the Universe that is made up of the pancabhUtAs,(the five primordial elements: prthvi (earth), ap (water), ojas (heat/light), vAyu (air) and AkAsha (ether,the subtle and ethereal substance pervading the whole universe)).

Another interpretation could be “The linga in the form of the Universe made up of the five elements,gives delight to the devotee".

pancIkrita pancamahAbhUta - PancIkaraNam is a process described elaborately in Vedic Cosmology (in many Upanishads),for evolving the physical gross universe by grossification of the subtle five elements progressively.

The rAga mudra occurs in sammOhana.

virinci viSNu rudra mUrti mayam:
विरिञ्चि विष्णु रुद्रमूर्तिमयम्

The Lord is a combination of the forms of brahmA, viSNu and rudrA.
The five functions of the Lord are attributed to five aspects of the Lord (described in another line) in which these three forms are included.

viSaya pancaka rahitam abhayam:
विषय पञ्चकरहितम् अभयम्

The Lord is free from afflictions caused by the five sensory experiences,i.e,sound,touch,sight,taste and smell. Brahman is neither a doer nor an experiencer (akartA,abhOktA)and is not accessible to transactions.

He allays fear from his devotees.Fear – represents all sufferings which can be collectively called “samsAra” and the Lord removes this fear from his devotee.

niratishayA sukhada nipuNataram:
निरतिशय सुखद निपुणतरम्

The Lord is the only one capable of bestowing the highest form of Bliss,unsurpassed joy.

dIkshitar,by using the adjective "niratishaya" refers to ultimate,permanent happiness which is nothing but liberation.

nigama sAram Ishvaram amaram:
निगमसारम् ईश्वरम् अमरम्

He is the underlying essence of all the Vedanta doctrines, He is the Lord, He is immortal.

smara haram paramashivam atulam:
स्मरहरम् परमशिवमतुलम्

He is the most auspicious one: He has no peer.

He destroyed Manmatha, the God of love. The other name for kAma or manmathA is smarA.

sarasa sadaya hrdaya nilayam anisham:
सरस सदय ह्रदय निलयम् अनिशम्

The Lord's abode is in the lotus-hearts of devotees who are compassionate and loving -(some of the qualifications of a true seeker are hinted).

(To be continued..)

Sunday, July 5, 2009

shri vishvanAtham bhajEham - Part 1

(vishvanAtha temple - kuzhikkarai)


shrI vishvanAtham bhajEham, the caturdasha Ragamalika is one of the masterpiece compositions of MuttusvAmi Dikshitar. He has composed a garland of 14 exquisite ragas in praise of Lord Viswanatha of Kuzhikkarai, near Tiruvarur.

Kuzhikkarai is also known as Madhya kAshi or Gartateeram. The main deities here are vishveshwara and vishAlAkshi. This temple was a private property owned by Vaidyalinga Mudaliyar. Once when Mudaliyar got to know about Dikshitar, he wanted the composer to compose something in praise of him. But Dikshitar had never sung in praise of human beings. Hence he composed shri vishvanAtham in 14 ragas and in the verse in BhUpala raga (which is the 14th raga in this song) referred to the Lord as the protector of Vaidyalinga Mudaliyar (vaidyalinga bhUpAla pAlanam).

The main lingam is a bANalingam similar to the one at Kashi.

[bANalinga, a stone found in nature, in the bed of the Narmada river in Madhya Pradesh,India, is an aniconic symbol of worship.

Three kinds of lingas are described in the Hindu scriptures.These three lingas, are called svAmbhuva [Self-existing], bANalinga [got from a certain river] and Sailalinga [made of stone] and these are also respectively called Vyakta, Avyakta, and vyaktAvyakta. It is said that vyakta,gives salvation, the Avyakta gives [worldly] happiness, and vyaktAvyakta gives both happiness and salvation.

bANalinga is a part of the five fold family of deities (panchAyatana). The five Hindu deities (Shiva, Vishnu, Devi, Surya and Ganesha) are the embodiment of 5 bhutAs/tatwas worshipped in formless stones, which are obtained from 5 rivers respectively.Of these 5, bANalinga represents the prithvi(earth) bhUta or tatwa,originating from the river NarmadA or omkArakunda.]

The tank is gartateeram or kuzhikkarai. It is believed that a bath here removes leprosy.

This composition is in 14 ragas (Ragamalika),2 in pallavi, 4 in anupallavi and 8 in caranam.Both in Anupallavi and caranam,the earlier ragas are reversed beautifully.Raga identifications(names or mudras)are intelligently woven into the sAhityA of each rAga,as in most kritis of Dikshitar.

Dikshitar has brought out several concepts of Vedanta Sastra in this kriti beautifully.The kriti glorifies Lord Sri Viswanatha as “ Brahma Swaroopam” and expresses surrender to the Lord by the devotee.

(There is so much philosophical content in this kriti that I will need more than one post to complete it.
This post (Part 1) gives lyrics in English and Sanskrit and I have dealt with the Pallavi in detail.

Rest of the song will follow in a few days..)

shrI vishvanAtham - rAgamAlikA - Adi


1. (rAgam: shrI)
shrI vishvanAtham bhajEham
श्री विश्वनाथम् भजेऽहम्

caturdasha bhuvana rUpa rAgamAlikAbharaNa dharaNAnta karaNam
चतुर्दश भुवन रूप रागमालिकाभरण धरणान्तः करणम्

2. (rAgam: ArabhI)
shrita jana samsAra bhItyApaham
श्रितजन संसारभीत्यापहम्

AdhyAtmikAdi tApatraya manO bhItyApaham
आध्यात्मिकादि तापत्रय मनोभीत्यापहम्


3. (rAgam: gaurI)
shrI vishAlAkSI gaurIsham
श्री विशालाक्षी गौरीशम्

sakaLa niSkaLa rUpa saccidAnandamaya gaurIsham
सकळ निष्कळरूप सच्चिदानन्दमय गौरीशम्

4. (rAgam: nATa)
citra vishvanATaka prakAsham
चित्र विश्वनाटक प्रकाशं
jagat prakAshaka bhAskara shashAnka kOti kOti prakAsham
जगत्प्रकाशक भास्कर शशाङ्क कोटि कोटि प्रकाशं

5. (rAgam: gauLa)
govindAdi vinuta gauLANgam
गोविन्दादि विनुत गौळाङ्गं

kSIra kunda indu karpurAdi vijaya bhasita uddhULita gaulAngam
क्षीर कुन्देन्दु कर्पूरादि विजय भसित उद्दधूळित गौळाङ्गं

6. (rAgam: mOhanam)
guruguha sammohanakara lingam
गुरुगुह सम्मोहनकर लिङ्गम्

pancIkrta panca mahA bhUta prapancAdi mohanakara lingam
पञ्चीकृत पञ्चमहाभूत प्रपंचादि मोहनकर लिङ़गम्
6. virinci viSNu rudra mUrti mayam (mOhanam)
विरिञ्चि विष्णु रुद्रमूर्तिमयम्
5. viSaya pancaka rahitam abhayam (gauLa)
विषय पञ्चकरहितम् अभयम्

4. niratishayA sukhada nipuNataram (nATa)
निरतिशय सुखद निपुणतरम्

3. nigama sAram Ishvaram amaram (gaurI)
निगमसारम् ईश्वरम् अमरम्

2. smaraharam paramashivam atulam (ArabhI)
स्मरहरम् परमशिवमतुलम्

1. sarasa sadaya hrdaya nilayam anisham (srI) (shrI vishvanAtham)
सरस सदय ह्रदय निलयम् अनिशम्


7. (rAgam: sAma)
sadAshivam sAma gAna vinutam
सदाशिवम् सामगान विनुतम्
prakrtyAdi sapta rUpa sAmagAna vinutam
प्रकृत्यादि सप्तरूप सामगान विनुतम्

8. (rAgam: lalitA)
sanmAtram lalita hrdaya viditam
सन्मात्रम् ललित ह्रदय विदितम्
kAma krodhAdi rahita lalita hrdaya viditam
काम क्रोधादि रहित ललित ह्रदय विदितम्

9. (rAgam: bhairavam)
cidAkAsha bhairavam puraharam
चिदाकाश भैरवम् पुरहरम्
vidhi kapAla trishUladhara bhairavam puraharam
विधि कपाल त्रिशूलधर भैरवम् पुरहरम्

10. (rAgam: sArangA)
citsabhEshvaram sArangadharam
चित्सभेश्र्वरम् सारङ्गधरम्
dArukAvana tapodhana kalpita sArangadharam
दारुकावन तपोधन कल्पित सारङ्गधरम्

11. (rAgam: shankarAbharaNam)
sadA AshrayAmi shankarAbharaNam
सदाश्रयामि शङ्कराभरणम्
cintitArtha vitaraNa dhurINatara mANikyamaya shankarAbharaNam
चिन्तितार्थ वितरण धुरीणतर माणिक्यमय शङ्कराभरणम्

12. (rAgam: kAmbhoji)
sadgati dAyaka ambhoja caraNam
सद्गति दायक अम्भोज चरणम्

dharmArthadi nikhila puruSArtha prada samarthatara ambhoja caraNam
धर्मार्थादि निखिल पुरुषार्थप्रद समर्थतर अम्भोज चरणम्

13. (rAgam: dEvakriyA)
vadAnya devakriyA khelanam
वदान्य देवक्रिया खेलनम्


srSti sthiti vilaya tirodhAna anugraha karaNa kriyA khelanam
सृष्टि स्थिति विलय तिरोधान अनुग्रह करण क्रिया खेलनम्

14. (rAgam: bhUpALa)
vaidyalinga bhUpAla pAlanam
वैद्यलिङ्ग भूपाम पालनम्


shrIpura nirrti bhAga garta tIra sthira tara bhUpAla pAlanam
श्रीपुरनिर्ऋतिभाग गर्ततीर स्थिरतर भूपालपालनम्

14. guruguhEsha suranaresham anisham (bhUpAla)
गुरुगुहेश सुरनरेशम् अनिशम्

13. kuja budhAdi graha gati vihitam (dEvakriyA)
कुजबुधादि ग्रहगति विहितम्
12. varadam anala ravi shashi nayanam (kAmbhOji)
वरदम् अनल रवि शशि नयनम्

11. vanaja candra sannibha vadanam (shankarAbharaNam)
वनज चन्द्र सन्निभ वदनम्
10. paramahamsam Anandanartanam (sArangA)
परमहंसम् आनन्दनर्तनम्
9. patita pAvana karaNam agha haraNam (bhairavam)
पतित पावन करणम् अघ हरणम्
8. parataram parama manOlaya jayam (lalitA)
परतरम् परम मनोलय जयम्
7. parAdi vAk prakAsha Anandamayam (sAmA)
परादि वाक् प्रकाशानन्दयम्
6. virinci viSNu rudra mUrti mayam (mOhanam)
विरिञ्चि विष्णु रुद्रमूर्तिमयम्
5. viSaya pancaka rahitam abhayam (gauLa)
विषय पञ्चकरहितम् अभयम्

4. niratishayA sukhada nipuNataram (nATa)
निरतिशय सुखद निपुणतरम्

3. nigama sAram Ishvaram amaram (gaurI)
निगमसारम् ईश्वरम् अमरम्

2. smaraharam paramashivam atulam (ArabhI)
स्मरहरम् परमशिवमतुलम्

1. sarasa sadaya hrdaya nilayam anisham (srI) (shrI vishvanAtham)
सरस सदय ह्रदय निलयम् अनिशम्


shrI vishvanAtham bhajEham caturdasha bhuvana rUpa rAgamAlikAbharaNa dharaNAntah karaNam :
श्री विश्वनाथम् भजेऽहम् चतुर्दश भुवन रूप रागमालिकाभरण धरणान्तः करणम्

I worship Sri Viswanatha who wears the garland of 14 ragas that is of the form of the 14 worlds in His Mind.

According to Hindu belief, there are 7 worlds above the Earth and 7 worlds (zones) below,hence a total of 14 worlds(lokAs).

The elaborate scheme of the worlds in the descending order are:
Paramapada, Satyaloka, Tapoloka, Janaloka, Maharloka, Suvarloka , Bhuvarloka above the earth (Bhuloka) and the nether worlds below the earth,namely,Atala, Vitala, Nitala, Rasatala, Mahatala, Sutala and Patala.

All 14 lokas (the entire Objective Universe) are visualised as 14 ragas and the Lord's Mind supports the 14 lokas in itself. The entire universe is held in its potential form in the Lord before “creation”,emerges from the Lord with the help of “Maya” and is ever supported by the Lord. “ Jagad kAraNam, jagadadhishttAnam brahman” is a basic philosophical concept.

shrI,the auspicious word is used as a prefix to visvanAtha,the lord of the universe.
shrI is also the raga mudra for the pallavi.

shrita jana samsAra bhItyApaham AdhyAtmikAdi tApatraya manO bhItyApaham :
श्रितजन संसारभीत्यापहम् आध्यात्मिकादि तापत्रय मनोभीत्यापहम्

The Lord drives away the "tApatraya manObhIti" and "samsArabhIti" of the devotees.

AdhyAtmikam, Adibhoutikam and Adidaivikam are the "tApatraya" or the three kinds of miseries that human beings have to suffer in this world.

[Below is a rough translation of an extract from Kanchi Mahaswamigal's explanation of "tApatraya" while he talks about the kriti "Shri Subrahmanyaya Namaste" :

(Reference: the book "mahAperiyavAl virundu" by rA.gaNapati)

The jIvAtmA has three kinds of tApa's : tApatrayam.
They are AdhyAtmikam, Adibhoutikam, Adidaivikam. And all three lead to suffering; "AdhyAtmikam" (intrinsic) is suffering within one's own self, the turmoils in one's mind.

"Adibhoutikam" (extrinsic)is the suffering brought to us by other creatures(bhutAs), other people or animals.

In "Adidaivikam" (divine or superhuman), "daivam" refers to "Vidhi". Our own past Karma comes back as Vidhi and causes suffering. Adidaivikam also refers to natural disasters like storms,earthquakes, volcanic eruptions which result from the displeasure of divine beings.]

"samsArabhIti" is the continuous apprehension of the jIvA,about the recurring process of birth,existence and death.

The rAga mudra is beautifully incorporated in the phrase samsAra bhItyApaham.

(To be continued....)