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: subramaNyena rakshitoham
rAgam: suddha dhanyasi
tAlam: Adi talam
Composer: Muttuswamy Deekshitar


subrahmaNyEna rakshitO(a)haM
ashTAdasa lOchana akhanDEna


prabravAmAdi pUjita padEna
purandara manOllAsa karaNEna


kanka Saila vihArENa varENa
vallI dEva sEnA ramaNEna
akAra vrindEna sAnandEna
bhOga mOksha dAnEna nityEna

madhyama kAla sAhityam:
vEnkaTESvara nAma
vichitra visAkha mahOtsavEna
Suka rahasya prakASa guru guhEna
kRttikA suta Suddha dhanyEna

subrahmaNyEna – Oh SubrahmaNya
rakshitO(a)haM – protect me
ashTA-daSa – Eighteen
lOchana – eyes
akhanDEna – strong
prabravAmAdi _ Brahma and others
pUjita – worshipped
padEna – feet
Purandara – Indra
manOllAsa – delight
karaNEna – bestower
kanka Saila – Kanka hill
vihArENa – wanders
varENa – learned
vallI dEva sEnA ramaNEna – lord of Valli & devasena
akAra brundeEna – group alphabets starting from “a”
sAnandEna – enjoys
bhOga – pleasure
mOksha – salvation
dAnEna – bestower
nityEna – always
vEnkaTESvara – Venkateswara
nAmarUpENa – named likewise
Vichitra – special
visAkha – the star visakha
mahOtsavEna – celebrations
Suka – sage Suka
Rahasya – secrets
prakASa – shining
guru guhEna – Guruguha
kruttikA suta – the son of krittika
Suddha dhanyEna – purely blessed

          This krithi is a gem of Deekshitar on Lord SubrahmaNya. Deekshitar pleads with SubrahmaNya, who is strong and has eighteen eyes, to protect him.  Subrahmanya is known to have 6 faces, each containing two visual eyes and one intellectual eye (jnana netra). In Anupallavi he states that Subrahmanya is worshiped by the Brahma and delights Indra. He continues to describe SubrahmaNya as one who is wandering on the hills of Kanka, who is the lord of Sree valli and Devasena, one who enjoys the fun with alphabets, one who always bestows pleasure and salvation, the one who removes all the sins (known as Venkateswara – ven= sins; kata=remover; eswara=lord), one who celebrates the special festival on the day of Visakha, Guruguha, and who shines with the knowledge imbibed by sage Suka and totally blessed son of Krittika.

          Lord SubrahmanNa, who is very popularly known as Muruga in southern states of India, is the son of Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati and is conferred as the chief of army for destroying the demon Soorapadman.  While there are a number of temples for him in various places, the most famous ones are – Palani, Tiruchendur, Palarmudircholai, Tiruttani, Swamimalai, and Tiruparankundram.  It is said that each of these places were significant in his life starting as a child (Balamurugan) in Palani, teaching the essence of the pranava mantra “Om” to his father Siva in Swamimalai, destroying the demon Surapadman in Thiruchendur, finding the inner peace after the war  and marrying Sreevalli in Tiruttani, marrying Devasena, the daughter of Indra, in Thiruparankundram and finally residing with both his consorts in Pazhamudircholai.  He is known as the god of the mountainous region and is evident by these temples mostly located on top of the hills except for Thiruchendur, which is by the sea shore.

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

Tanikella Chandra Bhanu is an accomplished Carnatic musician and a graded artist in All India Radio (AIR).  She teaches music at Smt. Durgabai Deshmukh Music College.  She has performed extensively in India and abroad.  She currently lives in Bangalore.


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