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: pAhi pAhimAm parama krpALO
rAgam: Jhonpuri
tAlam: Adi
Lyrics: NaaraayaNa Teerthar
Language: Sanskrit


pAhi pAhimAm parama krupALO


dEhi mE tvayi dEva subhakthim

caraNam 1
asura samhAra srI vijayagopAla amara samrakSana vijayagopAla
vasudEva tanaya srI vijayagopAla vAsavAdi nuta vijayagopAla

caraNam 2
sangIta lOla srI vijayagopAla sadguNa sIla srI vijayagopAla
sringAra rasa poora vijayagopAla shrtajana pAla srI vijayagopAla

caraNam 3
dhIra guNAdhAra vijayagopAla dhEnukAdi haraNa vijayagopAla
nArada munigEya vijayagopAla nArAyaNa tIrtha vijayagopAla


pAhi pAhimAm – Rescue
parama krupALO – super kind one
dEhi mE – give me
Tvayi – your
dEva – godly
Subhakthim – devotion
asura – demons
samhAra – destroyer
srI vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla
Amara – celestial bodies of Indra loka
samrakSana – protector
vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla
vasudEva – Vasudeva
tanaya – son
srI vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla
vAsavAdi – VishNu and others
Nuta – praised by
vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla
sangIta lOla – enjoys music
srI vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla
sadguNa – virtuous
sIla – character
srI vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla
sringAra – beautiful/romantic
rasa poora – full of essence
vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla
shrtajana pAla – protector of good people
srI vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla
dhIra – valorous
guNAdhAra – full of virtues
vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla
dhEnukAdi – Dhenukasura and other demons
haraNa – destroyer
vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla
nArada munigEya – praised by saint narada
vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla
nArAyaNa tIrtha – NarAyana theertha
vijayagopAla – victorious gOpAla


          Oh kind one, please rescue me and bless me with devotion towards gods. Oh son of vasudEva, victorious gOpAla, you destroyed the demons and protected the celestial bodies of Indra lOka, and you are praised by Indra and others. Oh victorious gOpAla, you are virtuous, romantic, enchanted by music and you protect the good people. Oh, victorious gOpAla, you are an embodiment of valor and good qualities, killer of the demon DhenukAsura, and nArada and nArAyana teertha sing in praise of you.

          Saint Narayana teertha wrote in Sanskrit, Sri krishna Leela Tharangini, songs mostly in praise of Krishna. They are most commonly used in Kuchipudi dance repertoire, called tharangam. As you can see, this song is full of praises for victorious, valorous and virtuous Krishna. However, he refers to Krishna as the destroyer of DhenukAsura and others. DhenukAsura is a demon in the form of a donkey. He along with his attendants lived in a palm grove. Krishna and Balarama, along with their friends were in-charge of herding the cows. Following the cows, they go near the palm grove. Their friends immediately tell them not to enter that region because the DhenukAsura is very strong and he kills everyone who enters the palm grove. In spite of the warnings, the brothers, merely under ten years of age, enter the forest and start to destroy the palm trees. Hearing the disturbance, DhenukAsura approaches them and tries to kill but Balarama holds his hind legs and spins him until he is out of breath. Hearing this news, his attendants approach them and both the brothers destroy them all. It is a story that demonstrates the strength and valor of young Krishna and Balarama. Other cowherds were pleased that cows could graze freely in the palm grove, now that the demons were destroyed. They praise Krishna and Balarama for their valorous deeds and protecting nature. Similarly, Krishna also destroys kALIya to save the cows and cowherds from venomous snake kALIya. The people of Brindavanam considered Kishna as the life of all lives, father of all fathers and master of all mystic powers. We wish all fathers a great father’s day and pray to lord Krishna to bestow the best blessings upon everyone.

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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