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Tuesday, April 12, 2005

mAmi

Whenever one attends a music concert, ones notice the existence a special species of Homo sapiens who are found only in this area. Dressed in the costliest attires with all other extra fitting in any possible metal to substantiate their status. The madisaar silk saree with a grand zari border, Glittering diamond earrings, both nostrils decorated with similar ornamental pieces, different varieties of rings, the neLi and the navaratna ones being essential, a dozen bangles of gold with precious stones of all colours and sizes, decorative kumkum in the forehead, long strands of flowers on the koNdai are all charecterestic features of these species. One can collectively call them mAmis.

They are found in all the performances be it any part of the day. They claim to come to these places to listen to some good music, while one always wonders if the actual reason for them is to show off their latest acquisition in terms of dress and jewellery to fellow mAmis. Not a piece in the performance would pass without some comments from them. The mAmis are generally are found to occupy the seats in groups for ease in information transfer. Each mAmi would have an anecdote for every piece performed and would take it on her as a responsibility to share it with not only fellow mAmis but also other rasikAs around.

If one is fortunate enough to sit in close proximity to sit near at least one mAmi, one would have downloaded information enough to host a full website by the end of the concert. mAmis take it upon them, to explain the fundamentals of each piece and the give a running commentary of basic information like the tune (rAgam), the beat (tAlam) and the composer to all those around and also enlighten about her past experience of this particular musician performing or of some other stalwart known to her who had performed this piece. One better be careful and crosscheck all the information from the mAmis as they could turn out to be wrong. They are right in some cases and are wrong in most cases as they try to put the cart before the horses and end up being wrong.

If the mAmi happens to know somebody known to one of the performing artist(s) (leave alone knowing the artist(s) him(/her)self or being related), then you can be quite sure that all through the performance you will listen to the mAmi more than the concert. The amount of information the mAmis manage to collect is simply something too much for one to decifer. Most times, information that mAmis provide could be misleading. Here again, the information would be just to show off that she is carnatic music literate and is not sitting in the concert performance for the sake of killing time. The confidence with which the mAmis talk about each piece would just leave any listener guessing if the mAmi is really a reincarnation of the composer of the piece himself.

Many a mAmi would be accompanied by her better half, the mAmA usually in a dhoti that is of no comparison to the mAmi’s saree. The poor man is very easily identifiable from the bag he would carry full of concert listings and the kaapi flask, his old shirt, half-white beard, sometimes a shika also. The man would have to put up with the mAmi all thro’ their journey in quest of music. Of course, the mAmA would have enough experience to not to listen his consort and pay attention to the concert only.

One is always confronted with the question that, if we have a concert with mAmis prohibited to attend, would it be fulfilling, but it is true that though they are in some sense, a bit painful, they also are an integral part of the entertainment one gets out of a complete concert. The absence of the typical mAmi at the concert would be easily felt and the music would not be complete without them. If u happen to be a person who enjoys carnatic music, next time u go to a concert, just look out for some group of mAmis and sit in their proximity, then you will feel the feel-good factor.

MUSIC SEASON

This is original version of the Article which was published on the Total Perspective Vortex last year...
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The city of Chennai during the fag end of every calendar year gets itself geared to what is very less known to most of its parts. This is probably in some sense a private affair to the oldest areas of this city, which form a great portion of the southern part of the city. Actually, one can even confine this event to the folds of Mylapore and its whereabouts with probably one or two exceptions elsewhere. It is the Carnatic Music season, which gets started sometime in December (in recent times towards end of November) and goes on till just beyond New Year. This is when one gets to listen to music of all kind in places of all kind by people of all kind

Most people in the city feel the existence of the season from the traffic snarls and haphazard parking of automobiles of various sizes and shapes all over the roads near the auditoria where performances are held. Many a carnatic freak will say that one can put up with such worldly issues when one gets to hear divine music, which is soft, majestic, melodious and yet above all has a very rigid basic grammar to which one is expected to adhere completely while for others all of this commotion is an add-on to the noise made by a group of people on stage, which is any day inferior to the popular numbers on TV and radio everyday. A popular magazine has reported that there where not less than 2500 performances in various kinds of music and dance only in the recently concluded music season.

The question of what is so special for this kind of music and why is it that people flock to these concerts is something, which has been unanswered. The music for people who like it is a blessing to hear and these people are the ones who can understand the music. The en mass of people who cannot identify the intricacies involved in this music do not appreciate this variety of music A remarked a learned scholar on music of the west.

“Indian classical music forms do not have any tune, they just have a way of singing which is adhered to”.

Though this statement makes the form of music very simple sounding and hence leaves one with a idea that it should be understandable to all, the very statement has the answer for why the music is not understandable to people who do not have an initiation to this form of art which is a legacy since ages.

This carnatic music season has a long-standing history of just over a century and has a lot of anecdotes and controversies all thro’ it. The first of these sabhas (Associations/Trusts) that organize these concerts was “Parthasarathy Swami Sabha” was started in 1900 in the terrace of a house in Triplicane after the presiding deity there. Chronologically the second and the leading institution of the day, “The Music Academy” was started in 1929 in Mylapore and presently is in Alwarpet. Its sessions were held in Mylapore or Triplicane. These sabhas in the early days were basically started and run by leading Lawyers and Doctors who felt that they had to promote this form of art to keep up the tradition and legacy left to us by our ancestors and also would be a good entertainment in the evenings after a hectic day.

This season did not start as a planned event. The third in the list was Indian Fine Arts which kicked off in the early thirties and later the Tamil Isai Sangam (Association for Tamil Music) was started in the early days of World War II. After which there were a few more sabhas started in the late 40’s and 50’s. During those years in the Early 40’s there was a strong divide between people who wanted that only Tamil music should be performed and another group which said that the compositions of stalwarts of carnatic music were not many in Tamil and hence the performances should have more of songs in Sanskrit and Telugu which are the two languages widely used by composers. The rift was so intense that the artists were classified into two mutually exclusive sets and each group would have its own performances by their own artists who would not crossover. This rift was somehow bridged in later days but the concept of parallel performances at different places, which was started as a result of this divide, did continue. Thus the concept of a few associations having performances during approximately the same time in different places came into existence. Then there were more sabhas started in the years to come.

Beyond the crowd pulling concerts of the evenings, the organizers started holding lectures and demonstrations on various music related topics in the mornings. Later there were dedicated auditoria built by these associations for their programmes, thus shifting from temples and other multipurpose halls. Then the concept of giving a chance to upcoming artists also came up and they were accommodated in the afternoon sessions at various placed. The season sort of got set in the month of December when the people had a chill weather and also thanks to the English who made most of this month as holidays.

Then the came the practice of recognizing artists of high caliber during these series of performances. One of the pioneers for this was the Music Academy, which since its first year decorated great musicians as chairman of the year’s music festival, which it calls as the Annual Music Conference. This honor of Chairman, Music conference was later rechristend as the “Sangita Kalanidhi” which is a prestigious award even today. The other sabhas followed in honoring senior artists with awards of various names and kind.

Today, the music season has extended to last for more than a month. The different associations also conduct series of performances for various occasions and festival but the Annual Music Season, which was started and is organized to celebrate no festival/occasion is the largest hit and crowd puller even today. Most people living in parts of south madras still consider it as a great thing to attend concerts of this kind in sabhas of high stature in the Rock/Pop/Metallica Age. The number of concert goers has surely gone down over the years but be it MTV or Channel V or any more of these things which would haunt our living rooms, there is still enough crowd in concerts that the parking lots of almost all these places where performances are held always over flow.

Any type of music downloaded from any part of the world will surely have basic element of the traditional Indian music in it, which will live whatever happens. Any day, this form of music will have its own fan falling and the day when more people get attracted to this divine art form is not far.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

S R Janakiraman, Musiri Chambers

Musiri Chambers - 9th April 2005 - 6.01 pm

S R Janakiraman - S Varadarajan - Mannargudi Esvaran

slOkam - hamsadvani
tAna varNam - ninnu kOri - gamakakriyA - aTa tALam - soNTi venkaTasubbaiah
svEta gaNapatim vandE - rAgacUDAmaNi - tisra tripuTa - dIkshitar (AlApanai)
rAga sasivadanA - takkA - Adi -tyAgarAja
evarUrA - mOhanam - misra cApu - tyAgarAja (AlApanai, svarams)
paNi pati sAyI - jhankAradvani - Adi - tyAgarAja (AlApanai, svarams)
kanchadaLAyadAkshi - manOharI - Adi - dIkshitar (AlApanai, neraval, svarams)
nIrajAkshi - hindOLam - rUpakam - dIkshitar
tiruvaDi caraNam - kAmbhOji - Adi - gOpAlakRSNa bhArati (neraval,svarams)
taniyAvardanam
praNatAtihara - 72 mELa rAgamAlikA - Adi - mahAvaidhyanAta sivan (only second cakaram - sEnapati, hanuma tOdi, dhEnukA, nATakapriyA, kOkilapriyA, rUpavati)
viruttam - viritha senjaDaiyADa - Anandabhairavi, bilahari, shaNmukhapriyA
tillAnA
slOkam - madhyamAvati

Prof SRJ started off with a superb slokam in hamsadvani dedicated to tyAgarAjA, it ended as tyAgarAjam bhajE

He annouced the varNam and it was just thrilling to listen to the grand varNam, with almost no pUrvikalyANi. Quite refreshing and different from the standard varNams one gets to hear in concerts. SRJ sung the pallavi line after the caraNam and said thats the sampradAyam to finish off a varNam.

rAgacUDAmaNi AlApanai and kriti were very well rendered, which also was announced and so was rAga sasivadanA which followed. mOhanam AlApanai was good and nicely sung and so was the kriti.

jhankAradvani AlApanai was the mark of the concert. the kriti phaNIpati sAyI was also rendered with a lot of bhava and the svarams were very good. manOhari AlApanai, kriti, the neraval and svarams were all really good.

nIrajAkshI was rendered well with rUpakam expanded as a dhrutam and laghu and not the regular way. When SRJ started tiruvaDi caraNam, it did not seem to be the main piece as there was no AlApanai. I am not sure if one should call a kriti, if it is sans either AlApanai, neraval, svarams or tani. Well whats there in the classification, the kriti was sang very very well and the neraval at 'eDuta jananam kaNakku yezhuda tholaiyAdu' and the svarams were just great.

the post tani part had the mELarAgamAlikA's 2nd cakram alone to be followed by the viruttam and tillAnA all of which were superb.

Varadarajan on the violin was good and provided good support. Esvaran on the mrudangam was very good all thro' and his tani was good also.

one memorable concert...

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Friday, April 08, 2005

Sanjay, Sringeri Sarada Peetam

Sringeri Sarada peetam, Vardhandhi and Rama navami festival

8th April 2005 6:30 pm

Sanjay Subramanian - Varadarajan - Ramadoss

mAmava sadA janani - kAnaDA - rUpakam - ST (RNS)
ninnADa nela - kannaDA - Adi - T (RS)
kAru bAru - mukhAri - Adi - T (R)
nItu mahima - hamsAnandi - Adi - HMB (RS)
edu Ta nilicitE - sankarAbaraNam - Adi - T (RNS)
taniyAvardanam
jAnaki pathE - kharaharapriya - Adi (preceeded by a slokam 'janaki rAmA...')
kaNDu danyanAdE - bEhAg - rUpakam - kamalEsha viTTala (R)
nI ninaindhAl AgAdathu - darbAri kAnaDa - Adi
nI nAma rUpamulakku

The opening short kAnaDa AlApanai was structured to indicate a kriti and not a varNam, the kriti was well rendered and so where neraval and svaras.

kannaDA was very well handled by the team. The mukhAri AlApanai was definitely one amongst the best. The kriti was rendered well and so was the manodharmam, filled with devotion.

The hamsanandhi AlApanai made quite some faces see eachother for one does not like hamasAnandi in the middle of concert and the is usually expected only the end of the concert. Sanjay did a good job with the alapanai and svarams.

The main shankarAbaraNam alapanai started off in a untraditional way and was built very well to suite the kriti. The neraval and svarams were well structured and the svarams especially had a lot of kanakku.

The post main session had a kharaharapriyA slOkam on ramA followed by jAnaki patE in the same rAgam. follwing to this was a good bEhAg AlApanai and the kriti was good also. The end of the day was a viruttam followed by nI ninaindAl in darbArikAnaDA.

Sri Varadarajan on the violin was good in most parts. Sri Ramadoss was good also...

Very good concert...

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Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Iyer Brothers, Music Club IIT Madras

Iyer Brothers (Ramnath and Gopinath Iyer) - vINai
Thanjavur Kumar - mrUdangam
N Rajaraman - Ghatam

Music Club IIT Madras 30th March 2005

sarasijanAbha - kAmbhOji - aTa tALam
dEva dEva - mAyAmALavagauLa - rUpakam - ST (RNS)
narasimma mAmava - Arabhi - kaNDa cApu - ST (R)
bhajarE rE citta - kalyANi - misra cApu - MD (RS)
giripai - sahAnA - Adi - T (R)
sItamma mAyamma - vasantA - rUpakam - T
rAmA nIyEDa - kharaharapriyA - Adi - T (RTNS)
taniyAvardanam
smara janaka - bEhAg - cApu - ST (R)
visvEsvara - sindhubhairavi - rUpakam - ST (R)
sakhi prANa - cenchuruTTi - Adi - Dharmapuram SubbarAyar
nI nama rUpamulaku - saurAshTram

The opening varNam (announced clearly as a composition of the Tanjore quartet) was stunningly aesthetic and a high point of the concert. dEva dEva in mAyAmALavagauLa kriti was nicely rendered, devoid of a srgp phrase in the final sangathi of the pallavi, a trade-mark of one of the 'traditional' schools of veeNa playing. The Arabhi kriti and its sparkling ciTTai swaram were refreshing.

As Ramnath started kalyANi it was indicative of bhajarE rE or nidhi cAla (two kritis which the late Dr S Ramanathan used as illustration to show similarity of ideas between T and MD) and it turned out to be the former. The Alapanai was elaborate and replete with raga bhavam. Gopinath's sahAnA AlApanai was very traditional, while the kriti showed the stamp of Trivandrum R Venkataraman. This was followed by sItamma mAyamma in vasantA.

The main AlApanai and tAnam in kharaharapriyA were shared by the twins who displayed a good grasp of the rAgA and rendered the kriti at a sedate pace. The phrases of dilIpakam, were quiet evident in their version of the kriti. Niraval and svarams were embarked at 'tana sowkya'.

The tukkadas that followed the tani were good and the cenchuruTTi jAvaLi, which was rendered in madhyama sruthi warrants a special mention. The taniyavartanam was good. Both the mrudangist and ghatam artist stuck to rules to be followed for playing in a vINa concert. They were never too loud to supress the sound of the vINai. On the whole, the AlApanai openings and the way they were developed were nicely structured in such a way to fit the proceeding kritis. All the kriti renditions and manOdharamam were good. Considering that the brothers had not carried their own vINAs from Austalia but had borrowed one each from their two gurus, they managed admirably well with the instruments. They used simple contact mikes that did not distort the tonal quality of the instrument for the sake of high volume!

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Kasim and Babu, Music Club IIT Madras

Sri S Kasim and Sri S Babu - nAdasvaram
Udumalaipettai Sri M Angusamy and Trichy Sri S Senthil Kumar - thavil
G Nagaraj - tALam

Music Club IIT Madras 4th April 2005 7:15 pm

gajavadanA - srIranjanI - Adi - pApanAsam sivan (AlApanai, svarams)
duDugukala - gauLa - Adi - tyAgarAja
vijayAmbikE - vijayanAgari - Adi - muttaih bhAgavatar
ranganAyakam - nAyaki - Adi (2 kaLai) - dIkshitar (AlApanai)
bhOgIndra sAyinam - kuntaLavarALi - kaNDa cApu - svAti tirunAL
mAtangi srI rAjarAjEsvari - ramAmanOhari - rUpakam - dIkshitar (AlApanai, svarams)
srI raghuvarApramEya - kAmbhOji - Adi (2 kaLai) - tyAgarAja (AlApanai, svarams)
taniyAvarthanam
enna tavam - kApi - Adi - pApanAsam sivan
bhaja bhaja mAnasa - sindhubhairavi - Adi - svAtitirunAL (AlApanai)
nirai madhi - hamsAnandhi - tiruppugazh
end with a few snatches of madhyamAvati

Just as the ecologist worries about the species that are vanishing from the globe, the musicologist has to worry about certain vanishing breeds of Carnatic music. These include the 108 tALa schemes with 6 angAs, rAgAs such as karnAtaka kApi, mukhribandu and AshAda gowLa and instruments such as nAgaswaram, gettu vAdhyam and jalatarangam.

This instrument of the temples seems to have lost its popularity owing to its jarring volume in the accoustically disastrous concrete kalyANa maNDapams of today. It needed an accoustically sensitive CLT at IIT Madras to make listeners realise the sheer delight that the nAgaswaram and tavil provide without hurting the listener's ear drums!

The opening srIranjani AlApanai was nice and the kriti was played well with good koraippu svarams. the gauLa pancartnam was played nicely showing the svaram line and the sAhityam line distinctly while playing the caraNams. vijayambikE made for some delightful listening.

The high point of the concert was SrI bAbu's nAyakI AlApanai was one of the best ever essays of the rAgam and rendition of the kriti was breathtakingly beautiful! The kuntaLavarALi piece added some variety and tempo.

SrI kAsim's rAmamanOhari (aka rAmapriyA) AlApanai went on for about 15 minutes; it was again one of the best renditions of the rAgam. The kriti, 'mAtangi srI rAja rAjEswari..' was rendered with a lot of bhavam with koraippu svarams to follow.

The main AlApanai in kAmbhOji by SrI bAbu started with rather uncommon phrases but settled down later to show the full rAgasvarUpam. 'srI raghuvarApramEya..' was rendered at a lively tempo, followed by well structured svarams. The tani was somewhat short with the artists becoming conscious of the Rockfort express!

In the post tani session, 'enna tavam seidhanai', SrI bAbu's sindhubharavi AlApanai, the kriti of svAti tirunAL were all well presented. The concert concluded with a tiruppugazh and a small madhyamAvati AlApanai.

with hopes to hear more nAdasvaram

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Monday, April 04, 2005

shrI subramaNyAya namastE - chandrasEkarEndra sarasvati

The following is copy-pasted from somewhere. i dont remember from where presently.

The tamil version of Mahaperiaval's comment on Sri Subramanyaya Namaste can be found in one of the volumes of Deivathin Kural, the collection of books compiled on the life and teachings of Mahaperiaval.

Here's the English version:

In June 1961, Paramacharya was camping at Devakottai (in Pudukkottai district of Tamil Nadu). He was in deep penance for several weeks, not talking or even communicating by gesture. One could not know if he even heard the devotees' words. One morning, some people from nearby
Ariyakkudi (‘Nagarathar’) had their darshan of Him, and in the course of their talks, it came out that Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar, the famous carnatic musician, and known simply as ‘Ariyakkudi’, was currently in Karaikkudi.

To the surprise of every one, Paramacharya signaled to them, asking if they can bring Ariyakkudi over to meet Him. They agreed and left.

That afternoon by three o'clock, Ariyakkudi was at the camp. He was so excited and tense, as Paramacharya had asked to meet him in the midst of his 'kAshta mounam' (vow of rigorous silence)

Is not Paramacharya known for His simplicity? So His accommodation at the camp was very simple. His room was on the garden side of a small house. Devotees had to have His darshan through a small window, after passing through dirt and bushes. May be that was His way of admonishing those of us who have grown used to the luxuries of life.

On being informed that Ariyakkudi had arrived, Paramacharya signaled to bring him to the rear window. He came, and paid obeisance by falling full stretch at His feet.

That was it. To every one's joy, Paramacharya opened His mouth and started talking in a torrent.

"Heard of your receiving the Rashtrapathi award. You would have walked on a red carpet, and been honored in a gathering of eminent persons. But me, I have made you walk on stones and bush and made you sit in a dinghy room.

"Why I called you is, I long have had a desire to listen to 'ShrI SubrahmanyAya namasthE' rendered perfectly. On hearing you are around, the desire has re-surfaced. Perfect rendition means both the music and the lyrics (sangItham and sAhityam). Many people disfigure the words of Sanskrit and Telugu kirtanas to the extent that we wish they never sang.

"The music part (swarAs), the rhythm part and the 'sAhitya chandas' – what is called 'chandam' in Tamil - would be given for most songs. The proper way to split and combine words would also be given. The musician has to take care to synchronize the music, rhythm and chandas and split and combine the words correctly so as not to spoil the meaning. The compositions of good composers definitely allow this (padham pirichu pAdaradhu) but many musicians simply concentrate on the music and rhythm, and ignore the meaning, sometimes leading to ridiculous meanings!

"Even in this song 'ShrI SubrahmanyAya namasthE', we have a line 'guruguhAyAgnAna dwAnta savithrE'. This must be split as 'guruguhAya agnAna dwAnta savithrE' i.e. 'the one who is the sun for the darkness of ignorance'. Some sing it as 'guruguhAyA....... gnana dwAnta savitrE', ' one who is the sun for the darkness of knowledge'!

"I do not know if you sing the kriti 'SankarAchAryam' (Sri Subbarama Sastri's Sankarabharanam kriti), but Veena Dhanamma's family, Semmangudi Seenu, MS sing this. There is a line 'paramAdvaita sthApana leelam' – means 'one who so easily, like a game, founded the great Advaita philosophy' - it is to be sung with stress on the 'A' of 'Advaita' (Paramacharya sings
this line) to give the intended meaning. If we really cared, we can, even without proper training, sing with proper meaning. Those I mentioned above also sing properly. But those who do not care, stretch the 'paramAAAA' and then sing 'dwaita sthApana leelam', converting the Advaita Acharya to Dwaita Acharya! (laughs heartily for a long time)

"No doubt, in music, there is no Dvaita - Advaita difference. Only music is important. And music makes the mind of the singer into unison with the song - the protagonist of the song. That is why, 'ShrI SubrahmanyAya namasthE' is attached to you - a Vaishnavite - or you are attached to it! I have heard you sing that song. I do not have to say anything about your musical ability; and the sahitya part too you do correctly. Which is why I have called you here. "In my dharbar there is only stones and bushes. There is no accompaniment, not even sruti. But please do sing that kriti for me, in spite of all these.”

When Paramacharya stopped his torrent, Ariyakkudi was in tears. He prostrated once again, and said "there is no other prestige for me than to be asked by 'periyavA' to sing, and singing for periyavA. I have no words to express the magnanimity of PeriyavA, considering me as somebody and giving me this chance. PeriyavA’s grace has to fill in for the sruti and accompaniment and enable me to sing to the level I am expected to“, and readied himself to begin the song.

Paramacharya asked "the raga of this kriti is said to be Kambodhi, but the name given in books is Kambhoji, right?"

When Ariyakkudi said yes, Paramacharya continued,

"Many of us know Kambhojam is Cambodia (in S E Asia), and that Bharat culture had taken deep roots there. If we inferred that Kambhoji is a raga 'imported' from that place, researchers like Sambamurthy (the late Prof P Sambamurthy) disagree. Cambodians might have imported many things from us, but not we, far advanced in civilization, from them; definitely not in music, where we were much advanced whereas they had mostly folk music. Then why the name 'Kambhoji'?

"I have a thought here - there is another place called 'Kambhojam along India's northern border. Kalidasa, no ordinary poet and quite knowledgeable too, tells Yasha to go this way and that in his 'mEgha SandEsam' – good enough to plot a map! In his Raghuvamsam, describing Raghu's invasions and victories, he has mentioned one 'Kambhojam', beyond the Indus and along
the Himalayas. From this, we deduce that, within the extended India (akand Bharat), there was one Kambhojam near the Hindukush mountains. May be our Kambodhi raga was from this place?

"Many ragas are named after places, right? Sourashtram, Navarasa kannada, even Kannada, Sindhu Bhairavi, Yamuna Kalyani, like this Kambodhi might have come from Kambhojam region.

"Researchers say ragas like Mohanam and Kambhoji have been around in most civilizations from time immemorial. Later, may be the raga was given the name of the place that 'polished' it well.

“Kedaram is a place in the Himalayas - you know Kedarnath. Gowla – Gowda region - Bengal. We have ragas in both names, and even Kedaragowla. But all three ragas have been in South Indian music - how? May be the names came from musicans who 'specialized' in these ragas and came from those regions?

People in general, musicians in particular, are referred to with their native places. For instance Ariyakkudi means you! From this, can we say that some these rags - Kedaram, Gowla, Kannada, Kambhoji etc. - were popularized by musicians from these regions?

"Are you interested in research into ancient music?"

Ariyakkudi replied "Not much".

"But you have set Tiruppavai to tune! But unlike for Devaram songs, tunes have not been specified for Tiruppavai songs, and those whose who recited, did not use a tune. Since only Brahmins have been reciting Divyaprabhandham songs, they have recited only with a kind of up-down delivery (Ethal-Irakkal prAsam). You set the tune for Tiruppavai according to your manodharma (imagination)?"

"To the best of my little ability"

"But it has become the standard and accepted and sung by other vidwans as well! It seems our ancient ragas have been preserved in their original form (roopam) only in the Devaram songs. Just as the Vedas have been preserved to a note by the Vaidikas through generations, the Odhuvamurthis have preserved Devaram songs - not just the lyrics, but the tunes too. What was a service to devotion, has also been a service to music! The ragas Sankarabharanam,
Neelambari, Bhairavi etc. have all been identified as different 'pann's. This list includes Sowrashtra, Kedaragowla, Kambodhi also. Kambodhi used to be called 'ThakkEsi' or something like that. Kambodhi is not a mela raga?"

"No. Harikambhoji is the mela raga; Kambhoji is its janya raga"

"But Kambodhi is more famous! Just like the son being more famous than the father. Some other janya ragas too are like this?"

"Yes, Bhairavi is a janya raga, derived from Natabhairavi"

"OK, you sing. I have been wasting time in useless chat preventing you from doing what you came for!"

Ariyakkudi rendered the song "ShrI subrahmanyAya namasthE" - a rare musical feast. Even without sruti or accompaniments, it still was wholesome. Paramacharya listened to the song with full concentration, eyes closed. Then, "Only because you sang alone (no sruti/accompanists) the song came out with all its beauty. And the words were crystal clear. I say 'thrupthOsmi' (Totally satisfied). Please sing once more - you know why? I will give you the meaning line by line, you stop after every line. Not that you do not know; but let me have the pleasure of dissolving my mind in Sri Dikshitar's lyrical beauty for some more time! More over, others here can also
learn the meaning and beauty behind the creations of geniuses."

Ariyakkudi sang one more, this time line-by-line. Presented below is Paramacharya 's commentary, plus appropriate pieces from some of his other lectures.

'shrI subrahmaNyAya namastE namastE'

Obeisance to Lord Subrahmanya - every one knows. Starts auspiciously with ShrI and has a double namasthE. If you say something more than once, you have said it infinite number of times.
We have seen 'pOttri pOttri' and 'Jaya Jaya Sankara', and BrahmasUtram's every phrase ends with twice-repeated words. 'namasthE namasthE'. 'thE' - to you; 'nama:' - obeisance. 'nama:thE'
becomes 'namasthE'. The whole kriti goes in the fourth person(?)(nAlam vEtrumai). Obeisances to you, SubrahmanyA, infinite number of obeisances.

Who is Subrahmanya? True, learned Brahmanya. We generally take 'brahmA' to mean the true, absolute form of the Lord (paramAtma svarUpam), but there is another meaning - Vedas. That is why, Upanayanam, the ceremony to begin Veda lessons to a child, is called 'BrahmOpadEsam'; by learning Vedas, the child becomes 'BrahmachAri'. Likewise 'Brahmayagnam'. Brahmins are a set that recite the Vedas. Subrahmanya is the symbol of the Divine, the end point, the God of Vedas, and the special God of the Brahmins.

What is the special feature of Veda recitals? Worship of agni, fire. And Subrahmanya is the God who is in 'agni swarUp'. He was created by the six sparks of fire (nEtragni) from the (third) eye of Shiva. Hence He is the Deva of Vedas, and the God of Brahmins, whose sole duty is to recite
and teach Vedas.

Adisankara in his 'Subrahmanya Bhujangam' says 'mahIdEva dEvam, mahAvEda bhAvam, mahAdEvabAlam'. 'mahIdEva' are Brahmins; 'mahIdEva dEvam' is God of Brahmins.

In Thirumurugattruppadai, one of the oldest Tamil scriptures, this point is underlined. Nakkeerar, the author, stating that each of the six faces of Shanmukha grants devotees' wishes in one different way, says 'oru mugam manthra vidhiyin marapuli vazhA anthanar vELviyOrkkummE'

And when describing Thiruveragam (Swamimalai), he says learned and pious Brahmins perform rituals with fire towards Subrahmanya. Brahmins who participate in 'yagna karmA' are called 'rithvik'. Of the sixteen types of rithviks, one is named 'Subrahmanya'. From all these, it is evident that Subrahmanya is the God of Vedas. Muthuswami Dikshitar has much connection with Subrahmanya. He has been to, and sung in praise of, many kshetras and Gods, just as Adisankara has. But in his devotion (upAsanA), he has been known to be a 'dEvi upAsakA' -
he even breathed his last singing 'mIna lOchani pAcha mOchani' on Meenakshi. But his birth, beginning of his composing career, were are all associated with Subrahmanya.

His very name, Muthuswami, is that of Muthukumaraswami, the deity at Vaidheeswaran koil. His father, Ramaswami Dikshitar - scholar, musician and Srividya devotee - was without an issue till he was forty. He visited Vaidheeswaran koil with his wife and fasted for 45 days (one mandalam).
His wife then had a dream as if someone was tying coconut, fruits and other 'mangalavastu' on her womb. And soon she became pregnant. The couple understood that Subrahmanya had granted their wish and that the dream meant this. And a boy was born on 'krithikai' day in the month of Phalguni or Panguni. That boy was Muthuswami.

He grew up, had his musical training, Srividya Abhyasam (training in the worship of Devi) and gurukula vAsam at Kashi (Benares). His guru at Kashi, before dying, told Muthuswami, "Go back to the south. First visit Tiruttani. Subrahmanya will show you the way to your life's purpose".

So Muthuswami went to Tiruttani. He had his bath in the temple tank and was climbing the hillock, when an elderly Brahmin gentleman called him by name, and told him to open his mouth. When Muthuswami did so, he dropped a piece of sugar candy (karkandu) in his mouth and disappeared. Muthuswami understood who it was that came, and his life's mission began that
moment - his musical creativity had been woken up. On the spot, he sang eight kritis.
(in eight different 'vEttrumai's)

Also note that his 'mudra' is 'guruguhA', a name of Subrahmanya. Guha resides deep inside a cave - guhai; and guruguha resides in the deep cave of the human heart of Muthuswami Dikshitar.

Dikshitar's life on earth ended on a Deepavali day. The sixth day from Deepavali is 'skanda shashti'. Some people fast these six days, beginning on Deepavali day and ending it on the shashti day. So in his death too we see the Subrahmanya association.

Dikshitar went from place to place and sung in praise of the God there, be it Ganesha, Vishnu, Devi, Shiva. And in each kriti, there would be some internal evidence about the place where it was composed - the name of the God, some historical fact, or manthra rahasyam. Our 'ShrI SubrahmanyAya namasthE' has no such internal evidence - we do not know where it was
composed. May be he unified the deities of all Subrahmanya temples in this one kriti, so sparkling is it.

So he has started with innumerable obeisances; then

'manasija kOTi kOTi lAvaNyAya'

Like two 'namasthE's, two koti's. koti-koti is koti (one crore) multiplied by crore. manasija koti koti - crore*crore manmadhA's. manasijan=manmadhan; he is born out of mind - manas. Love - kAmA - comes from the mind, right?

There is a puranic story too - Manmadhan is the son of Mahavishnu. But very strangely, he was not born to Mahalakshmi out of Vishnu's love, but from Vishnu's mind directly - the moment Vishnu thought of him! And Vishnu's other son, Brahma, was born directly too, from Vishnu's navel (nAbhi). See, Vishnu has this funny habit of doing strange things always!

Manmadhan is famous for his good looks. So 'manasija kOti kOti lAvanyAya' is some one who is crore*crore times as beautiful as Manmadha.

But is this not funny?! I mean, Subrahmanya being 'manasija kOti kOti lAvanyAya'. Who is Subrahmanya? He is the son of Shiva, who reduced Manmadha to ashes with a fire of fury from His eye. And from that same nEtragni, is born Subrahmanya! But He was born to gnAna (wisdom), not kAma.

'Kumar' is a special name for Him. Just as in the South 'pillai' (son) means pillaiyar (Ganesha), Kumar in the North refers to the younger son, Subrahmanya. In the South also, we say 'kumaran' or 'kumAraswAmy'. Nowadays, half of the boys are named 'Kumar'! The term 'Kumar' is particularly applied to Subrahmanya. In Valmiki Ramayana, Vishwamitra tells the story of Subrahmanya to Rama and Lakshmana and calls it 'KumAra Sambhavam'. And Kalidasa has named his own epic after this phrase used by the great sage Valmiki.

Another interpretation for the word 'Kumar'. Manmadhan is also called 'mAran'; and 'kumAran' some one who puts mAra to shame - is more beautiful than him. 'kutsitha-mara:' - 'kumAra:'. So 'kumAra' by itself means 'manasija kOti kOti lAvanyAya'!

The Tamil people just love Him. They have given Him a beautiful name - 'Murugan' - Murugu=beauty.

After kAmA was burnt to ashes, Devi took over his role, donning his sugarcane bow and floral arrows - 'kamEshwari' - this led to the birth of Subrahmanya. And how else would be but 'lavaNyA'? - Devi Herself is called 'sundari - thripurasundari'.

'dhIna sharaNyAya'

Is mere beauty enough? What we want is 'aruL' - grace. Subrahmanya is the refuge of we, the sufferers. 'dhIna' - those that are poor, humble, suffering, scared.

'dhIna sharaNyAya - lAvaNyAya - SubrahmaNyAya' - similar sounding – edhugai or mOnai or something in Tamil - it is edhugai only but edhugai on the ending of the words rather than on the beginning. 'yAya' - andhya prAsam - 'to Him' (fourth vEttrumai)

It is usual to go back to the first line with a fast 'manasija kOti kOti', after beginning in slow tempo - chowkha kAlam or vilamba kAlam. Vilambham - a nice Sanskrit word. I prefer this word to 'chowkam'. Slow tempo, giving scope to the musician to explore the raga's various nuances, is a
hallmark of Dikshitar's kritis. And the majestic Sanskrit language helps too, creating the impression of a grand elephant procession.

But aren't we all always in a hurry? By the mind and by the body? So we find such slow tempo boring after some time. And for this, Dikshitar provides relief with some fast movements at the end of most phrases. Madhyama kAlam comes as a relief to chowkha kAlam, as a piece of clove in a sweet-sweet laddu! In this kriti, both the pallavi and charanam have madhyama kAla endings. But in his most other kritis, we find madhya kAla phrases only at the end of anupallavi and charanam. Why? Subrahmanya is a vibrant young man (endrum iLaiyAi), so wants to go running right from the word 'go'!

'bhUSurAdhi samasthajana pUjithAbja sharaNAya'

- one whose lotus feet are worshipped by Brahmins and other people (add namasthE of the pallavi to this) 'bhUsurAdhi' - Brahmins and ...others. 'bhUsurA' - Brahmins. 'bhU' is earth,
surA are devAs. And Brahmins are the 'earthly DevAs' as they, by their chanting and rituals, bring the blessings of the Devas to earth.

We have already seen that Subrahmanya is the God of Brahmins (mahIdeEva is same as bhUsura). But is He the God of Brahmins only? Not so; He is the God of all people. Of his two wives, one is the daughter of Indra, the king of Devas, and the other, daughter of a tribal chieftain (suramagal and kuramagal). Some might say, He is a Tamil God (Dravidaswamy), and others that He is the God of Brahmins only - His name itself is testimony. But the truth is otherwise. There is no doubt that He is the God of all people. And Dikshitar takes this line only. We should all unite in the name of God, not fight one another.

'pUjithAbja sharaNAya' - to the worshipped Lotus Feet. Abja is lotus; 'Ab' is water and that which grows in water is abjam. We also call it jalajam, ambujam, sarojam, neerajam (jala, ambu... are all other names for water). Also vanajam - vana is forest. But does lotus grow in forest? But vana
has another meaning - water. 'Kam' is also water - kamjam is lotus (eg. kamjalOchanE, kamjadhalAya dAkshi). vArijam, too, is lotus. OK, all I have tried to say is 'abjam' is lotus!

'vASuki thakShakAdhi sarpa swarUpa dharanAya'

- one who takes the form of snakes like Vasuki and Thaksha. Literally 'sarpa' means 'kundalini' - the Energy of Life. Snake has a wriggled, spiral-like form, so does our kundalini, in normal circumstances. But if we perform concentrated penance, it wakes up in full glory, and then
merges with the Ultimate.

Subrahmanya's weapon is the spear - 'vEl', also known as Shakti Ayudham. No other deity's weapon is as much identified with that deity, as vEl is with Subrahmanya. And His connection with snakes is apparent in more instances - if we see a snake in our dreams, elders tell us to perform Subrahmanya pooja for preethi. And Shashti Pooja to Subrahmanya is also done some times as Nagarjuna Pooja, in particular for Puthrabhagyam. Subrahmanya was born at the request of Devas who wanted a powerful commander-in-chief; and we pray to Him for puthrabhagyam!

In Andhra and Karnataka, they do not have Subrahmanya idols in temples; rather, He is worshipped in snake form. You know a place called Subrahmanya in Karnataka - there also it is this way. Telugus fondly say 'subbarAyudu' meaning Subrahmanya as well as snake.

Let us see if Adisankara has brought out this Subrahmanya-snake connection. (laughs) The title itself is 'Bhujangam'! Snake does not have legs, and uses its whole body as hands - bhujam, and moves about in a wavy rhythm. The 'chandas' similar to a snake's movement is called 'bhujanga prayAdham'. Acharya has sung bhujangams on many Gods, but when we simply think of bhujangam, what comes to our mind immediately is 'Subrahmanya Bhujangam'. On other Gods, He has also composed ashtakam, pancharatnam etc, but on Subrahmanya, only this Subrahmanya Bhujangam - may be to prove that Subrahmanya is Himself the bhujangam.

Dikshitar mentions the famous snakes Vasuki and Taksha. Shashti Pooja is performed by worshipping seven great snakes. Vasuki is the snake who adorns the role of Nagaraja in Nagalokam. And when the Sea of Milk (pArkadal) was churned with Manthragiri, this Vasuki snake was used to tie that hillock. Funny, isn't it, a poisonous snake helping to extract nectar! Again, what is Subrahmanya's vehicle (vAhanA)? peacock, dire enemy of the snakes! Goes
to show that, in His presence, all enmity vanishes. So too, elephants are mortally scared of lions - a 'simha swapna' terrorizes an elephant. But we have an elephant sitting on a lion! Heramba, one of the many forms of Ganesha, has a lion as His vAhanA. Or take Vishnu - His bed is a snake (Adishesha) and his vAhanA, Garuda, enemy of snakes! We are told the story that a snake eats the moon during lunar eclipse, but we have a snake and a moon adorning Shiva's head! Strange, again, are the Parvati-Shiva couple.

Will a lion leave a bull go? But we have Shiva on the Rishaba (bull) and Devi on Simha (lion)! The philosophy behind all these is, all beings lose their tendency to hate (dwEsha bhAvam) at the Lord's sannidhi.

OK, let us continue our 'vAsuki takshakAdhi' - some say Vasuki is the same as Adishesha; some disagree. Anyhow, Adishesha and Subrahmanya are definitely connected. Venkataramanaswamy at Tirupati has much connection with Subrahmanya. The hillock Tirupati-Tirumala is also called
Seshagiri, Seshachalam, Seshasailam. 'sarpa swarUpa dhara' Subrahmanya is Himself
is the Tirupati hill. Or take Ardhanarishwara at Tiruchengode. Subrahmanya is also worshipped here, as He made the (united) couple into a trio - Somaskanda. This Tiruchengode is also called Nagachalam and Nagagiri, meaning the same as Seshachalam.

'vAsavAdhi sakala dEva vandhithAya'

Now he talks about the real 'suras', not earthly suras. 'bhUsurAdhi' was in the lower octave and 'vAsavAdhi' in the upper octave. The meaning is 'One who is worshipped by Vasava and other Devas'. Vasava is Indra. Of the Devas, there is one class called Ashtavasus. They are Indra's followers (parivAram), so Vasava is Indra. When he himself worships, all other Devas have to follow suit (yathA rAjA thathA prajA); moreover, when Surapadma drove off the Devas and ascended Indra's throne, Subrahmanya was the one who saved them. So they have much reason to worship Subrahmanya. Not just worshipping - Indra gave off his daughter Devasena in marriage to Subrahmanya. So Deva-senapathi became Devasena-pathi! Dikshitar also points this out later in the kriti (dEvarAja jAmatrE)

Reminds me - Devasena is said to be Indra's daughter, and Valli, the daughter of Nambirajan, tribal king (suramagal, kuramagal) but in fact, both of them are Vishnu's daughters but for some reasons grew up with Indra and Nambirajan.

Who is Vishnu? Devi's brother, Subrahmanya's uncle. So Subrahmanya has married his uncle's daughters perfectly in accordance with custom. Arunagirinathar says as many times 'marugOnE' (nephew/son-in-law) as he says 'murugOnE'. Even though Ganesha too is Vishnu's nephew, 'mAl marugOn' - Vishnu's nephew - denotes Subrahmanya only.

Another example of unity-in-diversity - Vishnu, whose son Manmadha died in the netragni, has given His daughters in marriage to Subrahmanya - born out of the same netragni.

Further, we will see that Saiva-Vaishnava difference also vanishes, and it would not be strange that this kriti is a Vaishnavite's masterpiece. Is it not quite expected, as Subrahmanya is the son-in-law of Vishnu? Would you not love and respect your son-in-law?

One step further - Devi Herself is Vishnu's sister. Who gives off Meenakshi in marriage to Sundareshwara (thArai vArthu kodukkaradhu)? A world famous sculpture at Madurai tells us who...

First Dikshitar said samasthajana pUjithAya, then sakaladEva vandhithAya. Among Devas too, there are several sects - Vasus, Rudhras, Adithyas, Gandharvas, Kinnaras, etc.

And finally, 'varENyAya' - means THE BEST. This appears in Gayathri Mantra. To bring out the
superlative nature, Dikshitar has used this word from Gayathri, which is but the essence of the Vedas. And 'varENyAya' continues the 'andhya prAsam' of SubrahmanyAya-lAvaNyAya-charaNyAya, and as it comes at the height of the anupallavi, he has used the word from the essence of the Vedas.

The beginnings of each line, too, have 'edhugai prAsam' - 'shrI Su', 'bhUsu', 'vAsa', 'dhAsa'. This is the speciality of great composers – their rachana visesham (not 'rasana' - appreciation). rachanA means lyrical beauty - the unified effect of sound and meaning, each falling into its place at ease. 'Composed', 'composure' itself means peace, ease. (In Tamil, we say quite beautifully, 'sollamaidhi, porulamaidhi'). We can deduce a composer's rasanA from his rachanA.

'dAsajanAbhISta-prada-dakSatarAgra-gaNyAya'

Having certified His stature with a superlative, Dikshitar mounts more superlatives one after the other to bring out His kindness to devotees. 'dhAsajana apIshta pradha' - one who fulfills his devotees' wishes. Dikshitar could have stopped here, but was not quite satisfied! After ‘pradha’, we have ‘dhaksha’, ‘thara’, ‘agra’ - a stream of superlatives.

'apIshta pradha dhaksha' is one who is very good at fulfilling his devotees' wishes. Stop here? No. 'dhaksha thara' - the best among those who are good at fulfilling their devotees' wishes. 'thara' - better in comparison. (in Tamil we say 'tharamAnadhu'). Yes, there may be many such capable Gods (and their supporters may come fighting) so let us avoid controversy here. After
all, God and music and kritis are but for unity and peace. So let Subrahmanya be the #1 among all such Gods, thought Dikshitar. So he says 'agragaNyAya' - another superlative! 'agra' - first place; 'gaNyAya' – held in or esteemed to be in.

'thAraka simhamukha sUrapadmAsura samharthrE'

- one who vanquished Tharaka, Simhamukha and Soorapadma (add 'namasthE'
here)

Pallavi and anupallavi had all the words in the fourth person (nAlAm vEttrumai in Tamil). Now charanam has words ending in 'ru' - a weak, half 'u' (kutrialugaram in Tamil). 'Samharthru - upadEsakarthru - savithru' – in 4th person these do not become 'yAya' but take the 'E' sound - 'harthrE - karthrE'.

Tharaka, Simhamukha and Soorapadma are brothers. Tharaka is elephant-faced, Simhamukha obviously lion-faced, and Soorapadma has an ugly rAkshasa face. In the South, Soorapadma is the king of Asuras, and the chief villain. We even celebrate Soorasamharam. But in the north, Tharaka takes this place. Kalidasa in his 'Kumarasambhavam' says that Subrahmanya was born for the purpose of vanquishing Tharakasura. And in Subrahmanya Bhujangam, Adisankara
mentions all three. Dikshitar follows the 'southern line'.

OK; Dikshitar has spoken of His beauty (kOti kOti manasija lAvaNyAya), kindness (dhInacharanyAya, apIshtavarapradhAkshagrahaNyAya) and valour; what next?

What signifies Dikshitar's kritis? What is his mudhra? 'Guruguha'. This is Subrahmanya's greatest quality. He is the one who teaches us the path to the Ultimate. He even teaches His father, Shiva ('guruvAi ararkkum upadEsam vaiththa' - Arunagiri) - He is 'thagappan swAmi - swAminAthaswAmi - 'gnAnapandithaswAmi'.

'thApa-thrya harana nipuna thathvOpadEsa karthrE'

Jeevatma - human soul - has three kinds of desires - thApathryam. They are Aadhyatmikam, Aadhiboudhikam, Aaadhidhaivikam. And all three lead to suffering; the first to suffering within our soul. The second is brought about by other (human/animal) beings. The last, Aadhi dhaivikam,
literally means God's work, but here stands to mean our fate - vidhi. Subrahmanya teaches us how to win over them - he is an expert - nipunA - at such teaching.

'vIranutha'

Wisdom and valour - we ignorantly that they are different. But the truly wise man - gnAni - can take any form, but still be a gnAni inside. Krishna tells Arjuna to take his bow and shoot (gAntIpathai edudA ambai thodudA) in the midst of Gita which is essentially a Gnanopadesham. Subrahmanya is a 'gnAnavIra' - the wise warrior, c-in-c of the devasena and worshipped by all
brave and wise men. Hence 'vIranutha'. 'nutha' - one who is worshipped. One more interpretation - He has nine deputies whose names all start with 'vIra' - vIrabAhu, vIrakEsari, vIramahEndra etc. So also He is 'vIranutha'.

'guruguhAya'

After valour, again gnAna! Subrahmanya's abodes are mostly hillocks or caves - guhai ('kurinjikkadavul' in Tamil). Philosophically, He is the Divine Truth residing deep in the cave that is the human heart. And when He comes out and preaches, he is 'guruguhA'. This is also Dikshitar's mudhra, having flown spontaneously out of his heart into his words.

'agnAna dwAntha savithrE'

'dwAntham' - darkness; Savitha - Sun. Just as Sun drives out the darkness, He drives out the darkness of ignorance. The use of the word 'savithA' for Sun is significant here. Sun - Surya - has several other names - Aadithya, BhUsha, Bhaskara, Bhanu, Marthanda, Dinamani (more to be found in Aadhithya Hrdayam). Of these, the name savithA appears in Gayathri Manthra. Roughly
translating, in Gayathri, we pray that the brilliant wisdom light of the Ultimate, likened to the glow of the Sun, should awaken our inner wisdom and make it glow, too. Speciality of the name is, Savitha does not talk of the destructive-of-darkness nature of the Sun, but of the creative nature.
Savitha - literally one who creates. (prasavam - giving birth - same root here). Sun not only destroys darkness, dirt, insects etc, but also induces rain, growth of vegetation, our good health and even our mental growth. Similarly, Subrahmanya vanquishes darkness (of the mind), but also
fills in this void space with wisdom. The use of the word Savitha has come out beautifully. (ThirumurugAtruppadai starts with a similar simile of dawn)

I think the whole point of this kriti is to show Subrahmanya to be the essence of Gayathri, which is itself the essence of Vedas. The kriti starts with Brahmanyaya; at the high point of the anupallavi we have 'varENyAya' and the high point of charanam has 'savithru'. The kriti touches its peak at this point.

And then,

'vijayavallI barthrE'

This is fun! the real fun with real gnAni is he can be anything outside; brave, beautiful, kind, anything. He is SUrasamhAramUrthi, the valiant victor at Tiruchendur; a sanyAsi at Palani; a Brahmachari boy at Swamimalai; Devasena's and Valli's husband at Tirupparankundram and Tiruttani. Vijayavalli is none but Valli. (Devasena is Jayanthi). So He has Jaya and Vijaya as His consorts! Valli Kalyanam is a jolly good anecdote. But the philosophy there? He frees the mind, caught between IndriyAs (the tribal folk in the story) and merges it with Himself. Goes also to show how much of a 'dhInacharanyA' He is - He, the Son of Universe's first couple, took on many different roles and what not, just to please the deep, innocent love of a tribal girl.

'sakthyAyudha dhartrE'

- one who wears the powerful spear - ShaktivEl.

'dhIrAya'

We generally take this to mean strength, fearlessness; of course that is correct. But another meaning is sharp intellect. And this 'dhI' sound is found in Gayathri too! Gayathri's use of 'dhI' refers to our intellect, which, pray, be induced by the Ultimate Light (paramAthma thEjas). The
root meaning of the word 'gAyathri' is 'that which protects/elevates the one who sings it'. Sing? The recital of Vedas, in up-down fashion, is itself like a song. And Dikshitar probably made this kriti as a kind of musical Gayathri, and hence borrows many words and ideas from Gayathri Mantra.

Which is the first and basic swara of the saptaswara? Shadjam. The cooing of peacock is likened to Shadjam, and peacock reminds us of what? Him! (Arunagiri says 'maragadha mayUra perumAl kAN'). If He is the Lord of Shadjam, the base note, is He not the Lord of music too? And must He
not have a Sangeetha Gayathri on him? Which is why, He created Dikshitar, started him off with a sugar candy and got him to sing this kriti!

'natha vidhAtrE'

Vidhatha is Brahma. natha here is the same as nutha in vIranutha - means one who is worshipped. We all know the story. Subrahmanya asked Brahma for the meaning of Pranava Mantra; Brahma could not give a satisfactory answer. And our young boy imprisoned Brahma and took over his duty of Creation. In some temples, we can see Subrahmanya donning the japamAla and kamandalu of Brahma (eg. Kanchi Kumarakkottam). Shiva came to Brahma's rescue, "OK my son, Brahma does not know; you tell me the answer, if you know". Pat came the reply, "I can not be talked to like this; if you want the answer, ask like a student does, not like a teacher". Even great people take pleasure in losing to their offspring! Shiva went down to Subrahmanya and got
'PranavOpadEsha'. A lesson to all of us - in pursuit of knowledge, there is no shame. Having now realized Subrahmanya's greatness, Brahma worshipped Him and was released back to his job.

'dEvaraja jAmathrE'

- son-in-law of Indra, we have already seen this.

'bhUrAdhi bhuvana bhOktrE'

'bhUrAdhi' - earth and other; bhuvana - worlds. It is customary to classify the infinite number of worlds into 14, of which seven are below, and further summarizing as 'bhUr-bhuva-suvar' ie lower, middle and upper worlds. Recognize these? Gayathri again! We add a 'Om' to it and recite as part of many our rituals. The idea is that the fruits of our rituals should reach all of the people in all of these worlds. 'bOkthA' means ruled by, enjoyed by. Are not the happenings-on in all these worlds at and for His pleasure? (leelAnubhavam)

Finally,

'bhOga mOksha pradhAtrE'

As seen, He is the one who rules over and enjoys all good things in this world, while giving us the illusion that we too enjoy various pleasures like wealth, position and fame. 'dhAthA' - one who gives. 'pradhAthA' - expert at giving. In the fourth person, it becomes 'pradhAtrE'. As long as this
illusion - drama - is on, it is fine for us to enjoy, and for Him to give. But if we delude ourselves into thinking that this drama is the real thing, we are fools. Once the drama is over, should we not go back to our real selves? This is the state when the mind (manas), the drama stage, dies and the Atman alone exists. He gives us this state too - as 'agnAna dwAnta savithA', 'mOksha pradhAthA'.

If we seek moksha from Dhanalakshmi, or from Santhanalakshmi, we are not going to get it. And Dakshinamurthi would not give us wealth or offspring, either. Subrahmanya gives us both bhogam and moksham.

There is nothing more to say after this sentence, and the kriti ends.

Paramacharya further tells Ariyakkudi and the gathering at large, "I'm happy to see that you, coming from a good guru-sishya parampara, are preserving good music. You must also bring up good disciples and keep the tradition going. A Brahmin, having learnt Veda, has a compulsory duty to teach atleast one more person (athyApanam). This can apply to other sastras and arts
too.

"One more point about musicians. You should sing the Telugu and Sanskrit kirtanas fully aware of their meaning. It is not fair to say that Tamil songs alone are enough. Great composers in this country have created hundreds of Telugu and Sanskrit songs of much musical and lyrical beauty. If we ignore them, the loss is ours. Do not defend by saying, 'I do not understand them!' - if only we desire, do we not spend time and energy on all sorts of useless things? If musicians dedicate themselves to pure music and proper rendition of words without losing the 'osandha artha visEsham', language can not be a barrier. Now that you are #1 in the music world, do your best towards this. May Subrahmanya's Grace be with you in this endeavor."

Ariyakkudi was totally moved. He took leave saying," This has been the best day in my life".

And Paramacharya went back to his penance the next moment.



Raga: kAmbhOji / Tala: tishra Ekam

P: shrI subrahmaNyAya namastE namastE manasija kOTi kOTi lAvaNyAya dIna
sharaNyAya

A: bhUsurAdi samastajana pUjitAbja caraNAya vAsuki takSakAdi sarpa
svarUpa
dharaNAya vAsavAdi sakaladEva vanditAya varENyAya
dAsajanAbhIStapradadakSatarAgragaNyAya

C: tAraka simha mukha shUra padmAsura samhartrE tApatraya haraNanipuNa
tatvOpadEsha kartrE vIranuta guruguhAyAjHnAna dhvAnta savitrE
vijayavallI
bhartrE saktyAyudha dhartrE dhIrAya natavidhAtrE dEvarAja jAmAtrE
bhUrAdibhuvanabhOktrE bhOgamOkSapradAtrE