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.

girijA ramaNa natajana saraNa
raagam: gambhIranATa
taaLam: Adi
Composer: Mysore VaasudEvaacaarya
Language: Sanskrit


girijA ramaNa natajana saraNa karuNArasa pUrNa smara hara nAgAbharaNa

para vAsudEvArAdhana dhurINa kara dhruta hariNa kali mala haraNa

mahA pancAkSari mantra mUrtE mahA bhakta kauntEyanuta kIrtE
mahA gaNapati guha sEvita mUrtE mahAdEva pari vruta dInajanArtE
mahAnandi bhrngyAdi gambhIra nATya pradarsaka kailAsapatE


girijA ramaNa – lord of Girija/Parvati
natajana saraNa – rescuer of good people
karuNArasa pUrNa – full of kindness
smara hara – think of Hara
nAgAbharaNa – decked with snakes as ornaments
para vAsudEvA – vAsudEva
Aradhana dhurINa – received his worship
kara dhruta hariNa – holding a deer in hand
kali mala haraNa – remover of the sins in kali yuga
mahA pancAkSari – the powerful five syllable
mantra mUrtE – form of the mantra
mahA bhakta – ardent devotee
kauntEyanuta kIrtE – praised by Arjuna, the son of Kunti
mahA gaNapati – Lord gaNapati
Guha – Lord Subrahmanya
sEvita mUrtE – attend to you
mahAdEva – mahAdEva
parivruta – surrounded by
dInajanArtE – destitute people
mahAnandi – the mighty Nandi
bhrungyAdi – Bhrungi & others
gambhIra – majestically
nATya – dance
pradarsaka – performed
kailAsapatE – lord of Kailasa


Oh Hara, the lord of Girija, you are the one who is decked with snakes and is very kind to rescue all the good people. You are aptly worshiped by VAsudEva, and you hold a deer in your hand and you are remover of the sins in this kali yuga. You are the embodiment of the powerful five syllable mantra (na mah si vA yah). You are worshiped by Arjuna, the son of Kunti, you are attended by lord Ganapati and lord Subrahmanya, you are surrounded by the destitute people waiting for your kindness, and you are performing a majestic dance along with Nandi and Bhrungi and you are the lord of KailAsa.

          This is a very short and sweet but a rare song that encapsulates all the critical attributes of lord Siva (the form of powerful mantra, kindness, talents/dance), his abode KailAsa, his entire family (consort Girija, sons Ganapati & Subrahmanya), his entourage (Nandi & Bhrungi), and his devotees. As you listen to the song, each phrase adds an attribute and by the end of the song you have a beautiful and complete picture of lord Siva, that you can’t stop but fall in love with. The composer very cleverly embeds the name of the rAgam gambheera nATya (majestic dance) into the song, which is very apt for Siva’s dance.

          Among devotees, the composer specifically mentions Arjuna in the krithi. Siva is known for generously showering boons to everyone who conducts severe penance. For example Ravana, Bana, Taraka, Bhasma, but the story of Arjuna is a bit peculiar. Arjuna upon Indra’s guidance conducts penance upon Lord Siva for fetching the weapon Pasupata astram. Siva, impressed by Arjuna’s penance, was ready to bless him with his wish! However, since he was aware of his wish and it happens to be a deadly weapon, he decides to test his eligibility and valor. He disguises as a folk lord, Kirata and wanders around Arjuna. Muka, in the form of wild boar charges towards Arjuna. Arjuna instinctively shoots an arrow towards the boar at the same time as Siva. They both argue over who shot it first and engage into a battle for a number of days. Arjuna, unable to defeat Kirata, realizes that Kirata is someone with superpowers and surrenders to him. Siva, impressed by his valor, blesses him with the weapon and Arjuna praises him immensely.

          Enjoy listening to this song on the occasion of MahA Sivarathri on March 8th and as stated in the song chant the powerful mantra “aum namah sivAyah” with a good breathing rhythm which will bestow good health!

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

Sreelakshmi Kolavennu is an accomplished musician, composer and music director.  She has given a number of concerts in India as well as in the San Francisco bay area.  She has provided score and set many dance ballets to music.  She also set many AnnamAchArya compositions to music.  She lives in the San Francisco bay area.


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