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.

Mahadeva Siva Sambho
RAgam: Revathi
TaaLam: Adi
Composer: Tanjavur Sankara Iyer
Language: Sanskrit


mahAdEva siva SambhO mArakOTi sundara prabhO SrI


sahasrakOTi jana pAlana sAdhu samrakSaNa pAvana


sarvEsvara karuNAkara mUrtE sAmagAna priya vEda pUrtE
paramEsvara gangAdhara kIrtE patita pAvana SrI pasupatE


Sri mahAdEva – supreme lord
siva shambhO – Siva Sambho
mArakOTi – one crore cupids
Sundara – beautiful
prabhO – lord

sahasrakOTi – thousands of crores
Jana – people
pAlana – ruler
sAdhu samrakshaNa – protector of good people
pAvana – pious one

sarvEsvara – lord of everything
karuNAkara mUrtE – embodiment of kindness
sAmagAna priya – enjoys melodious music
vEda pUrtE – fully knowledgeable in vedas
paramEsvara – lord of the universe
gangAdhara – who holds the Ganga
kIrtE – praised
patita pAvana – rescuer of sinned
srI pasupatE – lord of animals


This krithi is in praise of lord Siva in a very lilting and melodious rAgam Revathi. In this song, lord Siva is described as beautiful as one crore cupids together. He rules over thousands of crores of people and provides protection to the good and gentle people. He is the lord of the universe with people and animals and an embodiment of kindness. He enjoys melodious music, is learned in the vedas, is the one who is associated with the river Ganga and he is the rescuer for all the sinned people.

          The rAgam Revathi has a special attribute that it is most popularly used for chanting mantras and Vedas, which fits this song that is all in praise of lord Siva. Siva, the lord of the universe is also known as the origin of the energy “aum” that pervades the universe. He balances the universes with the circle of life of creation and destruction. He is the one who creatively tamed mighty river Ganges as a calmer and controlled river for regeneration of life. He is the father of syllables/script and dance. He is “Nataraja” the supreme cosmic dancer who enchanted his subjects with “Lasya”, the gentle form representing creation and “Tandava”, the more vigorous form representing destruction. While lord Siva is worshiped year round everywhere, the month of Karthikam is noted as very auspicious time and chanting the simple yet a very powerful mantra “Om namah SivAya” is soothing and calms the mind and brings peace.

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 worked as a music lecturer at Smt. Durgabai Deshmukh Music College.  She has performed extensively in India and abroad.  She currently lives in Bangalore.


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