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Navavarana Krithis - Ottukkadu Subbaiyar.
Kriti Raga Tala Chakra Remarks
Sriganeshwara Shanmukhapriya Adi - Invocatory piece on Lord Ganesha
Vanchasi yadi kusalam Kalyani Adi - Dhyana kriti
Santatam aham seve Desakshi Adi Trailokya mohana 1st Avarana
Bhajasva sritripurasundari Nadanamakriya Adi Sarvasha paripooraka 2nd Avarana
Sarvajeeva dayapari Suddhasaveri Misra Chapu Sarvasamkshobhana 3rd Avarana
Yogayogeswari Anandabhairavi Khanda Triputa Sarvasowbhagya dayaka 4th Avarana
Neelalohitaramani Balahamsa Khanda Dhruva Sarvartha sadhaka 5th Avarana
Sadanandamayi Hindolam Khanda Matya Sarvaraskhakara 6th Avarana
Sakalaloka nayike Arabhi Adi Sarva rogahara 7th Avarana
Sankari srirajarajeswari Madhyamavati Adi Sarvasiddhi pradayaka 8th Avarana
Natajana kalpavalli Punnagavarali Adi Sarvanandamaya 9th Avarana
Haladharanujam Manirangu Adi - Mangala kriti
Venkata Kavi is believed to have been the first ever to compose Navavarana kritis.The set of nine songs he dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi of Kanchipuram, called the Kamakshi Navavaranam, is definitely a masterpiece. Perhaps, Muttuswami Dikshitar was inspired by this, and composed his own Kamalamba Navavaranam on the presiding deity of his birthplace, Tiruvarur. While Dikshitar chose ghana ragas for his work, Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi has chosen rakti ragas. Here one finds several unusual talas like Khanda Triputa, Khanda Dhruva and Khanda Matya.Each Avarana kriti also contains the name of the individual chakra (sacred geometrical shapes), the associated mudra (hand gestures), the yoginis and the presideing deities. It is interesting to note that the phrase 'guruguha' appears in three of the Avarana-s, and one wonders whether Dikshitar chose this signature, inspired by the Oothukkadu Kavi. In the Mangala kriti line, HaladharAnujaM prAptuM vayam AgatAH, dEhi dEvi shrI akhilANDEshvari guruguha jananI, he expressly mentions that he stands in front of Goddess Akhilandeswari, to enhance his devotion towards Lord Krishna!It is believed that in Mannargudi, the deity, known as Srividya-Rajagopala, has been placed over the Srichakra. One finds the same reference echoed in the Dikshitar kriti, Srividya Rajagopalam (Jaganmohanam).
Navavarana Krithis - Muttuswamy Dikshitar
S. No. Composition Raga Tala Name
1 Dhyana Keerthanam Thodi Rupakam Kamalambike
2 Prathama Varana Keerthanam Ananda Bhairavi Thisrajati Thriputa Kamalamba Samrakshatu mam
3 Dwitheeyavarana Keerthanam Kalyani Adhi Kamalambam Bhajare
4 Thruthiyavarana keerthanam Sankarabharanam Rupakam Sree Kamalambikayai
5 Chathurthavarana Keerthanam Kambhoji Ata Kamalambikayai
6 Panchamavarana Keerthanam Bhairavi Jampa Sree Kamalambikayah Param nahi re
7 Shashtyavarana Keerthanam Punnagavarali Rupakam Kamalambikayah
8 Sapthamavarana Keerthanam Sahana Thriputa Sree Kamalambikayam
9 Ashtamavarana Keerthanam Ghanta Aadhi Sree Kamalambike Avaava
10 Navamavarana Keerthanam Ahiri Rupakam Sree Kamalamba Jayathi
11 Mangala Keerthanam Sree Ragam Khanda Jathi Eka Talam Sree Kamalambike Sive
Kamalamba Navavarana Keertanams of Deekshitar are also considered to be 9 jewels by not only musicians but also SriVidya Upasakas. These compositions show Deekshitar's proficiency in Sanskrit language, his authority over various Ragas of Karnatic music and, last but not the least, his thorough knowledge about Srichakra and its Avaranas. Though these compositions are nine in number, they are preceded by a Dhyana keertanam and succeeded by a Mangala keertanam. The first seven Avarana Keertanams are composed in such a way that each of them uses only one particular Vibhakthi (case ending) of Sanskrit grammar i.e. from Prathama Vibhakthi to Sapthami Vibhakthi. The 8th Avarana is in Sambodhanam (Vocative) case and 9th Avarana Keertanam is a beautiful garland made of all the Vibhakthis. The versatile Deekshitar has used 11 different Ragas to compose these 11 Keertanams.
Muthuswami Dikshitar’s devotional outpourings to Goddess Kamalaambika which took shape as the famous Navavarana Kirtanas (songs) make a treasure house of Carnatic music. The nine songs expound the secret of Sri Vidya which includes all ways of worship and excludes none.
Navavarana Puja to Sri Chakra is the foremost sadhana of Sri Vidya and Dikshitar’s songs give shape to it in words set to divine music. By singing these songs with properbhava (attitude), one will get the full benefit of formal Navavarana Puja.
Kamalamba Nava varnam krithis
Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar was a great Devi Upasaka and was well versed in all aspects of Sri Vidya Upasana. Out of his devotion to Sri Kamalamba, (one of the 64 Sakti Peethams in India), the celebrated deity at the famous Tyagaraja Temple in Tiruvarur and his compassion for all bhaktas, Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar composed the Kamalamba Nava Avarana kritis, expounding in each of the nine kritis, the details of the each avarana of the Sri Chakra, including the devatas and the yoginis. Singing these kritis with devotion, sraddha and understanding would be the easy way to Sri Vidya Upasana. The details of Chakras covered are as follows:
(1) The first Avaranam is Bhoopuram and the Chakram is Trailokyamohana chakra ‘enchants the three worlds’;The yogini is Prakata, the mental state of the aspirant is Jagrata, Chakra Iswari is Tripura and the Saktis are 28 that include the ten starting with Anima, the eight starting with Brahmya and the ten Mudra Saktis. [ANANDA BHAIRAVI: Kamalamba Samrakshatu]
(2) The second Avaranam is Shodasa Dalam, and the Chakram is Sarvasaparipuraka chakra, ‘fulfills all expectations’; The yogini is Gupta Yogini. The mental state is Swapna, the Chakra Iswari is Tripurasi and the Saktis are the sixteen starting with Kamakarshini. [KALYANI: Kamalambam Bhajare]
(3) The third Avaranam is Ashtha Dalam; The Chakram is Sarvasamkshobana chakra, ‘agitates all’; the Yogini is Gupta Tara Yogini. The mental state is Sushupti, the Chakra Iswari is Tripura Sundari and the Saktis are the eight starting with Ananga Kusuma. [SHANKARABHARANAM: Shree Kamalaambikayaa Kataakshitoham]
(4) The fourth Avaranam is Chaturdasaram; the Chakram is Sarvasaubhagyadayaka chakra, ‘grants excellence’; the Yogini is Sampradaya Yogini. The mental state is Iswara Vicharam, Chakra Iswari is Tripura Vasini and the Saktis are the fourteen starting with Samkshobhini. [KAMBODHI: Kamalaambikaayai Kanakamshukaayai]
(5) The fifth Avaranam is Bahirdasaram; the Chakram is Sarvarthasadhakachakra, is the ‘accomplisher of all’; the Yogini is Kulotteerna yogini. The mental state is Guroopa Sadanam; the Chakra Iswari is Tripura Sri and the Saktis are the ten starting with Sarva Siddhi Prada. [BHAIRAVI: Shree Kamalaambikaayaah Param Nahire]
(6) The sixth Avaranam is Antardasaram; the Chakram is Sarvaraksakara chakra, ‘protects all’; the Yogini is Nigarbha Yogini. The mental state is Upadesam; the Chakra Iswari is Tripura Malini and the Saktis are the ten starting with Sarvagnya. [PUNNAGAVARALI: Kamalaambikaayaastava Bhaktoham]
(7) The Seventh Avaranam is Asthakonam; the Chakram is Sarvarogahara chakra, ‘cures all ills’; the Yogini is Rahasya Yogini. The mental state is Mananam; the chakra Iswari is Tripura Siddhaa and the Saktis are the eight, starting with Vashini. [SAHANA: Shree Kamalaambikaayaam Bhaktim Karomi]
(8) The eighth Avaranam is Trikonam; the Chakram is Sarvasiddhiprada chakra, ‘grants all perfection’; the Yogini is Ati Rahasya Yogini. The mental state is Nitidhyasanam; the Chakra Iswari is Tripuramba and the Saktis are the three starting with Kameshwari. [GHANTA: Shree Kamalaambike Avaava]
(9) The ninth Avaranam is the Bindu and the highest Chakram is Sarvanandamaya chakra , ‘replete with bliss’. The mental state is Savikalpa Samadhi; the Chakra Iswari is Maha Tripura Sundari and the Shakti is Maha Tripura Sundai, the very personification of Para Brahman. [AHIRI: Shree Kamalaambaa Jayati]
Dikshitar,a Devi Upaasaka composed in praise of Goddess Kamalaamba of Tiruvarur, providing deep insights into the `srichakra’ cult of worship of shakti, possessed an obvious religious significance.
It is believed that Muthuswami Dikshitars musical outpourings brought out the famous Navavarana kritis(songs).He has composed 9 kritis, which emphasize the secret of Sri vidya-also known as God’s science of the universe.
God’s energy, capacity, potentiality is three-fold; iccha, jñana, kriya. These are the three shaktis: iccha-shakti, jñana shakti, kriya-shakti, respectively the energy called will, knowledge, and action.
Dikshitar has structured the Navavaranas,with exemplary lyrics on the basis of Navavarana pooja to Sri chakra,which is the foremost sadhana of Sri Vidhya.These Navavaranams were in all the eight vibhakthis (declinations ) of the Sanskrit language and are usually sung during the Guruguha Jayanthi celebrations every year. are The kritis were composed in the praise of the nine planets and the lyrics reflect a profound knowledge of the mantra and jyothisha shaasthra.It is beleived that by singing these compostions with aredent devotion and expression(bhaava),one can benefit the effect of a Navavarana pooja.Each kriti is on the aavaranam of the Sri chakra(the auspicious wheel)
The shrI cakra, or the auspicious wheel is a geometrical diagram employed in the worship of Goddess Tripurasundari, according to Tantric rituals. It is more than a mere diagram, and has mystic powers and great significance in the shakti worship tradition.
Tiruvarur, known as Sripuram where the presiding deity is Kamalaambika. It is here that Muttuswami Dikshitar was wholly inspired under the influence of the goddess to compose nine kirtanas in captivating ragas. Fortunate indeed are those who can sing these kritis mastering the nuances of the art and feeling the elevation of spirit.
After invoking Maha Ganapati and Bala Subrahmanya in two introductory songs and adding a Devi dhyana Kirtana, Dikshitar sang the Navavarana Kirtanas and concluded with a Mangala Kirtana on the goddess in Sri Raga. Altogether there are 13 Kirtanas in the series. Full meaning of the first and summary meanings of the other eight important Kirtanas on Devi are given here.
Raga: Ananda Bhairavi Talam: Misra Chapu
Meaning of the First Kirtana:
She who is in my heart and enshrined in Kamalangara, who is worshipped by Devas and pure-minded devotees, and whose mind shines like a lotus, who is the beloved consort of Sundareswara, who grants the enjoyment of Brahmananda, who is like a beautiful parrot in the cage of Pranava, who is presiding deity of the nine Avarana chakras, beginning with Tripura, the ten siddhis, the eight Matrika Devis, 15 Nitya Devis, Kameswari, who is the Prakata Yogini and the empress of Bhupura known as Trailokya-Mohana-Chakra, who is destroyer of Mahishasura and other enemies of Devas, whose glory is proclaimed in Vedas Puranas, who is Tripuresi, Mother of Guru Guha, consort of Kameswara, sister of Maha Vishnu, who is Maheswari, Tripurasundari — May she protect me.
1. The Kirtana begins with "Kamalaamba Samrakshatu". Raga Ananda Bhairavi, Talam Misra Chapu. Avarana: "Trailokya Mohana"; Chakreswari Tripura, Prakata Yogini.
2. The Kirtana, with "Kamalaambaam". Raga Kalyani, Adi Talam. Avarana: "Sarvasa Paripooraka"; Chakreswari Tripuresi, Gupta Yogini.
Order to Mind
In this Kriti Dikshitar asks his own mind to meditate on Goddess Kamalaambika and get freed from bondage. The goddess is the very embodiment of vibrant life and ultimate truth. Dweller in Kamalapura and destroyer of the demon Bhandasura, the charming goddess with lotus face and lovely tresses is joy incarnate. This consort of Siva, praised by other goddesses and worshipped by sage Durvasa, will dispel grief and grant all wishes and salvation.
3. The Kirtana, "Sri Kamalambikaya". Raga Sankarabharanam, Rupaka Talam. Avarana: "Sarva Sankshobhana"; Chakreswari Tripurasundari, Guptatara Yogini.
With Devi’s grace, Dikshitar sees himself as ultimate Brahman, enjoying full and eternal bliss. She is worshipped by Manmatha, the Lord of love, and by the Devas. She is the embodiment of the Veda Mahavakya. Her mercy is infinite.
4. The Kirtana, "Kamalaambikayai". Raga Kambodi, Adi Talam. Avarana: "Sarva Soubhagya Dayakam"; Chakreswari Tripuravasini, Sampradaya Yogini.
Here Dikshitar bows to the eternal Devi, the sister of Vishnu and the consort of Siva. She is also Himavan’s daughter, and is called Aparna and Suparna. She is worshipped through the esoteric mantra, Hrim. She is the mother of all creatures, the destroyer of all sins, and is bedecked with jewels, golden brocades and fragrant betels, Her lotus feet bestow grace on all.
5. The Kirtana, "Sri Kamalaambayaah". Raga Bhaivavi, Misrajamba Talam. Avarana: "Sarvartha Sadhakam"; Chakreswari Tripura Sri Kulotheerna Yogini.
Creator of Elements
With awe, Dikshitar wonders who can equal Devi, who is superior even to Brahma, Vishnu and Siva. She creates the five elements, is the essence of light and sound. It is her grace that lends life and energy to primordial Maya and Avidya that are the cause of this phenomenal universe.
6. The Kirtana, "Kamalaambikaayaa". Raga Punnagavarali, Tisra Eka Talam. Avarana: "Sarva Rakshakaram"; Chakreswari Tripura Malini and Nigarbha Yogini.
Calling himself as Devi’s devotee, Dikshitar praises her Kundalini power with its tenfold energies and the tenfold actions, all of which she enfolds within herself. She taught Lord Siva, and was worshipped by Dararatha. Highly regarded as Tripura Malini, she is fond of music and confers wealth and grace on the devotees.
7. The Kirtana, " Sri Kamalaambi-kaayam". Raga Sahana, Tisra Triputa Talam. Avarana: "Rogaharam"; Chakreswari Tripura Siddha, Rahasya Yogini.
Terror to Wicked
The composer expresses his devotion to Devi who grants all boons to those who take refuge in her and brings joy to gods, sages and men alike. She is also a terror to the wicked. With lotus eyes and face bright like the full moon, and feet worshipped by Indira, she is the embodiment and deity of the Mantra, Hrim. She is the Yogini with veena in hand and can dispel all ills.
8. The Kirtana, "Sri Kamalaambike". Raga Ghanta, Adi Talam. Avarana: The Central Triangle called "Sarva Siddhi Pradam"; Chakreswari Tripuramba, Atirahasya Yogini.
Dikshitar implores protection from Devi, who carries the flower arrow and other weapons, as also the parrot in her hand. She protects all the worlds and confers wealth on all. Known as Tripuraamba and Balaambika, and golden in color, she dispels all sorrows and gives joy and ultimate deliverance. Lord Vishnu and Subrahmanya understand her greatness.
9. The Kirtana, " Sri Kamalaamba Jayati". Raga Ahiri, Tisra Eka Talam. Avarana: The Central Bindu called "Sarva Ananda Mayam"; Chakreswari Maha Tripurasundari, Paraparati Rahasya Yogini.
Grace From Listening
Here Kamalaambika is great. She can explain Brahmamaya kosa, names and forms, kama kala equanimity. She is the mother of all the worlds, she has the moon’s crescent representing knowledge, she is the indweller of chintamani mansion. Ever auspicious. She is the Supreme Devi seated on Sivakama’s lap in the innermost circle, the central bindu inside the Sri Chakra.
In the concluding mangala kirtana, Dikshitar implores Goddess Kamalaambika to protect him.
Those who sing and hear these songs and with love and devotion will attain the goal of life by the grace of the Divine Mother.
Vidwan B. Rajam Aiyar is the Principal of the Music Academy College, Madras, and a top ranking musician. He is the recipient of many awards. The Music Academy, Madras had conferred on him the title Sangeeta Kalanidhi in 1987.
-Tattvaloka Vol. 10 No. 4 (1987)