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.

This month being the dhanurmaasam, when the sun transits to dhanur rasi, it is known to be very sacred for worshiping in the early hours of the day.  It is also the period of 30 days that Andal/Goda devi (a Vishnu devotee) wrote one poem each day in praise of lord Vishnu.  They are each called “Paasuram” and they are sung from December 15th to January 13, 2023.  In celebration of dhanurmaasam, we present 1st Paasuram in this edition.

Krithi: mArgaLi tingaL
rAgam: NAta
tAlam: Adi
Lyrics: Andaal
Music: Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar
Language: Tamil
Pronouncement key Zh =L

mArgazhi(th) tingaL madi niRainda nannALal
nIrADa(p) pOduvIr pOduminO nErizhaiyIr
sIr malgum AyppADi(ch) chelva(ch) ciRumIrgAL
kUrvEl koDundozhilan nandagOpan kumaran
ErArnda kaNNi yasOdai iLam singam kAr mEni cengaN kadir madiyam pOl mugattAn
nArAyaNanE namakkE paRai taruvAn pArOr pugazha(p) padindElOr empAvAy


mArgazhi(th) tingaL – In the month of Margasira
madi niRainda – with full moon
nannALal – on a good day
nIrADa – to bathe
pOduvIr – people who want to go
pOduminO – let us go
nErizhaiyIr – adorned with jewels
sIr Malgum – wealth & possessions
AyppADi Chelva – prosperous brindavanam
ciRumIrgAL – young girls
kUrvEl – sharp spear
koDundozhilan – to break the ill deeds
nandagOpan kumaran – son of Nanda
ErArnda kaNNi – beautiful eyed
yasOdai – Yasoda, mother of Krishna
iLam singam – lion cub
kAr mEni -dark body
cengaN – red eyed
Kadir Madiyam pOl – like the sun and moon
mugattAn – face
nArAyaNanE – Lord Narayana himself
namakkE – to all of us
paRai taruvAn – giving boons
pArOr – people
Pugazha – will celebrate
padindElOr – participate
empAvAy – oh girls


It is an auspicious day with a full moon in the month of Margasira. Oh maidens, all decked up with jewels, let us go to have a holy bath. Dear young girls, let us enjoy the prosperous Brindavanam. The son of Nandagopala and Yasoda is like a lion cub, who breaks the evil with his sharp spear. His body is dark and with red eyes and face shining like the sun and the moon. He is lord Narayana, who alone can grant us boons. Oh girls, let us participate in the celebration and praise the lord.

          This krithi is the first of the thirty songs written by Andal/Goda Devi. Many devotees sing these songs during the month of Margasira to bring peace, prosperity and the grace of the almighty. They were written as verses and later the music was set by Late Sri Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar and were melodiously rendered by late Dr. M.L. Vasanta Kumari, a noted carnatic musician. Andal is known for her untainted devotion towards Narayana and imagined him as her husband with no desire for conjugal pleasures. She courageously expresses that to her father, convinces him of her intention and ultimately joins lord Narayana at the temple. She embodies the spirit of a free mind to have chosen a different path from the norm (to be married and enjoy the familial joys) for her time, which is around the 7th/8th century. We wish everybody a very happy and safe holiday season, a new year filled with Lord Narayana and Andal’s blessings, health, wealth and happiness.

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.  She has rendered all 30 Pasurams for Sri Venkateswara Bhakthi Channel (SVBC) of TTD.


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