Carnatic Compositions – The Essence and Embodiment
–Aparna Munukutla Gunupudi
Our intent for this essay is to highlight the great features of the language, emotion and melody (rAgam) of a krithi (song/composition) and also to provide the song for your listening pleasure. Most of you may know these krithis, but when you discover the distinct features of a krithi, you may enjoy a new beauty or an attribute in the krithi.
Note: Krithi is defined as a song containing pallavi, anupallavi and charanam that have high musical value and can be sung elaborately with improvisations. Whereas, Keerthana also has a pallavi, anupallavi and charanam but is sung in a single form or simpler pattern.
Krithi: Ananda Natana Prakasam
tAlam: Mishra Chapu
Composer: Sri Muthuswamy Dikshithar
Singer: Sree Lakshmi Kolavennu
Ananda Natana Prakasam Chitsabhesam
AsrayAmi Sivakama valleesam
Bhanu Koti Koti Samkaasam
Bhukthi Mukthi Prada DaharAkAsam
Deena Jana Samrakshana Chanam
Divya Pathanjali VyAghrapAda
Darsitha KunchithAbja charanam
SeetAmsu Gangadharam Neelakantharam
Sri KedAradi Kshetra AdhAram
BhUthesam SArdUla charmAmbaram Chidambaram
BhUsura trisahasra muneeswaram Visweswaram
Navaneetha Hridayam Sadaya Guruguha
ThAthamAdhyam veda vedyam
Veetha rAginam aprameya advaitha prathipaadyam
Sangeetha vAdya vinoda thandava
jAtha bahuthara bheda chodyam
This kruthi depicts NatarAja in the form of AkAsa (space) lingam, the prime deity in Chidambaram and his consort is SivakAmasundari. Deekshitar starts the song asking us to surrender to the lord of SivakAmasundari, who is shining while happily dancing in chitsabha (on the stage of people’s heart). Later, Deekshitar elaborates as his (Siva) effulgence is equal to a million suns spread across the sky, as the one protecting and blessing the devotees. He is also known to have respectfully taken his feet away when sages Patanjali and Vyaghrapada came to bow at his feet. In charanam, he describes him as the one who held Ganga in his matted locks, a cool person, the one who swallowed the poison (hAlAhalam) which turned his throat black, the one who lives in Kedaram in Himalayas, the lord of the five elements, the one who wears the tiger skin, the one worshiped by three thousand sages, kind hearted, father of Guruguha, the omnipresent, the learned in vedas, the one who preached advaita to control the mind and the one who danced stunningly to beautiful music. He also cleverly brings the name of the ragam “kedaram” in the song.
This kruthi along with the other four, completes the series of pancha bhootalinga kruthis describing Siva’s forms of five elements. “Eesaavasyamidam sarvam”, which means that this universe is Eswara’s abode. These kruthis tell us that he is in the form of elements. Our body is made of five elements, therefore every part of our body is occupied by Siva. That is why he proposed advaitam, which notes that jeevatma (soul) and paramatma (universal soul) are not two separate concepts but intertwined within each other. So everything in life and in the world is Sivam. Sage Patanjali is a noted author who wrote yoga sutras, grammar, patajalatantra (medicinal remedies) and so forth. Sage VyAghrapAda’s story is very interesting. He was tasked to fetch fresh flowers (untouched by the bees) for daily worship of Siva. He was sincerely doing that task but he was suffering from thorns and twigs hurting his feet. Due to his devotion, he was enduring the pain to perform his duty regularly. Siva was pleased by his sincerity and devotion, blessed him with tiger’s feet like feet (or presented him with some form of protection to his feet), and hence named as VyAghra (tiger) pAda (feet). After that he was able to bring the flowers with ease. When these two sages bowed to Siva, it is said that Siva makes his feet small and takes them away. Even Siva, who is the supreme lord of the universe and most powerful, shows his respect for the learned and sincere. Such is the power of knowledge, sincerity and devotion.
The temple in Chidambaram has beautifully carved “gopurams’ and it contains many theaters. The prominent ones among them are “Kanaka sabha, Chitsabha, Nruthya sabha, Raja sabha and Deva sabha”. While all of them are important, the one that is noteworthy is chit sabha, which means a theater in the mind/heart. Which means that Siva happily dwells/dances in the hearts of the devotees in the form of Nataraja. My Sanskrit professor, while teaching grammar, narrated the following sloka (poem) about Nataraja.
nruttavasAne nataraja raja: nanAda dhanka nava panchamA:
Uddhartu kama: sanakAdi siddhanetat vimarse Siva Sutra jalam
Nataraja was happily dancing to the music of Saraswati playing veena, Vishnu playing the drum and Brahma keeping the rhythm. Sanaka, Sanandana and others were watching. At the same time, PAnini, upon the advice from his guru, goes to the Himalayas to conduct penance. Lord Siva, pleased with his penance, blesses him and gets to witness the dance. As Siva concludes the dance, he beats the dhamaru fourteen times. Each of the beats produces a different sound and that is known to be the origin of the alphabets. They are called “Siva Sutra”.
- A e u n 2. Ru luk 3. Ai o ing 4. Ai au ch 5 ha ya va ra t 6. La n 7. Nya ma ing na na m 8. Jha bha n 9. Gha dha dha sh 10. Ja ba ga da da sh 11. kha pha cha tha tha chat ta ta v 12. ka pa y 13. Sha sha sa r 14. Ha l
Later, PAnini codifies them from the sounds and brings the form of alphabets. Therefore, Nataraja is not only the origin of the dance but also for the alphabets.
Lord Siva who is the primordial form in the universe, and is our foremost guru for everything we are blessed with today. On the auspicious Sivaratri day, please enjoy listening to the pancha bhoota linga kritis and protect, respect and regard the prime elements that are life blood for every life as the form of Siva and hope all the living beings stay healthy!
The power of music is profound
The joy of music is sweet and sound
The awe of music is abound
Music makes the world go round
Aparna Munukutla Gunupudi is a poet, lyricist and short story writer. She has written dance ballets such as Queen of Jhansi, Prasanna Ashtalakshmi, Usha Kalyanam, Sneham, Jamsetji Tata and they were performed in Kuchipudi and Bharatanatyam styles. She wrote songs for “Prema Tarangini” an audio cassette released by noted music director Sri Manohar Murthy. She considers her parents, who provided and encouraged her in book reading, are her “gurus” and Sri Jandhyala Payayya Sastri as her writing mentor.