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: KuvalayadaLa
rAgam: Nata kuranji
tAlam: Adi
Lyrics: Tyaagaraaja
Language: Telugu


KuvalayadaLa nayana brOvavE kunda kuDmala radana


mamata minchi nIdu paini marulu konna nE nendubOdu


buddhi nosagi tyAgarAjuni vadda nilichi pUjAgOnumu bAga


KuvalayadaLa – Lotus petal
nayana – eyes
brOvavE – protect me
kunda kuDmala – beautiful jasmine buds
Radana – teeth
mamata minchi – with overwhelming affection
nIdu paini – upon you
marulu konna – grown fond of you
nE nendubOdu – where would I go for rescue
buddhi nosagi – provide me with the intellect/wisdom
tyAgarAjuni – at Tyagaraja
vadda nilichi – stand by
pUjAgOnumu bAga – accept my worship


          Oh lotus petal eyed one with beautiful teeth like jasmine buds, please protect me.  I have developed overwhelming affection upon you and grown very fond of you and where would I go away from you.  Please bless me with the wisdom and stand by me to accept my offerings of worship.

          This krithi has multiple charanams, however the above charanams are most popularly sung.  Tyagaraja is referring to Rama in this “roshokti (conversing in anger)” krithi, complains/accuses about many things, but in the end he begs to bless him with wisdom.  Even though, Tyagaraja is an ardent devotee and a “bhagavatottama (learned man), he still seeks wisdom.  That shows his humbleness and intention to learn more.  That tells that there is no end to learning, as the great Philosopher Socrates said “the only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance”.  As we celebrate guru purnima this month and we continue on our learning path, think of all the people that are paving the path, providing the guiding light for all of us –  teachers, mentors, guides and of course our parents and children.  Each one of them is crucial for our knowledge and who we all are today.  No doubt we learn a lot from our parents and teachers but most learning happens when we have our children!

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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