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.

gOpAla krshNAya namastE
rAgam: kAmbhOji
tALam: Adi
Composer: Muttuswami Deekshitar
Language: Sanskrit


gOpAla krishNAya namastE gAna lOlAya guruguha nutAya

gopI jana manasollAsAya garuDa vAhAya gOpa vEshAya

dwArakA vAsa dAmOdarAya dAsa janAbhIshTa vara pradAya
dAridraya dukha bhanjanAya droupadI mAna samrakshkAya
dharaNI dharAya tatvAtItAya tAmarasa akSa pada pankajAya
parama bhAgavata prahlAda bhakta rakSakAya pAndava hitAya


gOpAla krishNAya – gOpala Krishna
namastE – bowing to you
gAna lOlAya – indulged in music
Guruguha – guruguha
nutAya – praised

gopI jana – the people of cowherd community
Manasa – heart
ullllAsAya – delighting
garuDa – the eagle
vAhAya – vehicle
gOpa vEshAya – in the form of a cowherd

dwArakA vAsa – one who resides in Dwaraka
dAmOdarAya – remover of miseries
dAsajana – people/subjects
abhIshTa – desired
vara pradAya – showers the wishes
dAridraya – miseries or difficulties
Dukha – sorrow
bhanjanAya – remover
droupadI – Draupadi
mAna samrakshkAya – rescues (during the time of disrobed in front of Suyodhana’s court)
dharaNI – earth
dharAya – holder (lifts the Govardhana mountain)
Tatva atItAya – beyond the philosophical logic
tAmarasa aksha – eyes like lotus petals
pada pankajAya – lotus feet
parama bhAgavata – very learned
prahlAda bhakta – devotee PrahlAda
rakSakAya – protects
pAndava hitAya – a friend of pAndavas


Salutations to gOpAla KrishNa, who is indulged in music and is praised by Guruguha (Guruguha is Deekshitar’s signature). KrishNa, who is in the form of a cowherd, uses an eagle as his vehicle and is delightful to the people of the cowherd community. KrishNa, who resides in city of Dwaraka removes all the miseries, showers wishes of the people, removes the sorrows, he is the rescuer of Droupadi, when she was being insulted and disrobed in Suyodhana’s court, is the one who lifted the mount Govardhana to protect the cowherds. He has eyes like lotus petals and feet like lotuses, he protects his devotees like the learned PrahlAda and he is the friend of pAndavAs, and his deeds are beyond the philosophical logic.

          It is no surprise that the great music composer Deekshitar starts this krithi in praise of gOpala KrishNa, and he specifically describes him, as the one indulged in music in a very melodious tune, which is sure to melt KrishNa’s heart. He then lists all his strengths, kindness to his devotees, good deeds to his fellow cowherds and other enchanting qualities. He highlights that KrishNa protected and rescued his devotees, implying that he also will be blessed by KrishNa. The underlying message in this krithi is for everybody to be nice towards others and praise them. It is a very well known fact that everybody loves praise. When you praise somebody, they sure are going to be kind to you and shower you with everything you desire. The world is full of different people with good, bad and mixed thoughts! Let us make an effort to be on the good side of somebody! Enjoy listening to the song and be kind to one another! It will surely do something good for you.

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 Thiruppavai Pasurams for Sri Venkateswara Bhakthi Channel (SVBC) of TTD.


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