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Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kanchi periyavar in conversation with Ariyakkudi

Translated from an article in Kalki Deepavali Malar of 1990. A memorable incident 
when Sri Chandrasekarendra Saraswati, the Paramacharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt, 
gave a wonderful commentary on a Muthuswami Dikshitar’s kriti to Ariyakkudi 
Ramanuja Iyengar. 
In June 1961, Paramacharya was camping at Devakottai (in Pudukkottai 
district of Tamil Nadu). He was in deep penance for several weeks, not talking or 
even communicating by gesture. One could not know if he even heard the 
devotees’ words. One morning, some people from nearby Ariyakkudi 
(‘Nagarathar’) had their darshan of him, and in the course of their talks, it came 
out that Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar, the famous carnatic musician, and known 
simply as ‘Ariyakkudi’, was currently in Karaikkudi. To the surprise of everyone, 
Paramacharya signalled to them, asking if they can bring Ariyakkudi over to 
meet him. They agreed and left. 
That afternoon by three o’clock, Ariyakkudi was at the camp. He was so 
excited and tense, as Paramacharya had asked to meet him in the midst of his 
kaashta mounam (vow of rigorous silence). Is not Paramacharya known for his 
simplicity? So his accommodation at the camp was very simple. His room was on 
the garden side of a small house. Devotees had to have his darshan through a 
small window, after passing through dirt and bushes. May be that was his way of 
admonishing those of us who have grown used to the luxuries of life. On being 
informed that Ariyakkudi had arrived, Paramacharya signalled to bring him to 
the rear window. Ariyakkudi came, and paid obeisance by falling full stretch at 
Paramacharya’s feet. That was it. 
To everyone’s joy, Paramacharya opened his mouth and started talking in 
a torrent. 
I heard of your receiving the Rashtrapati award. You would have walked 
on a red carpet, and been honoured in a gathering of eminent persons. But me, I 
have made you walk on stones and bush and made you sit in a dinghy room! 
Why I called you is because I long have had a desire to listen to Sri subramanyaya 
namaste rendered perfectly. On hearing you are around, the desire has 
resurfaced. Perfect rendition means both the music and the lyrics (sangeetam
and saahityam). Many people disfigure the words of Sanskrit and Telugu kirtanas 
to the extent that we wish they never sang. The music part (svaras), the rhythm part and the saahitya chandas – what is called chandam in Tamil – would be given 
for most songs. 
The proper way to split and combine words would also be given. The 
musician has to take care to synchronize the music, rhythm and chandas, and 
split and combine the words correctly so as not to spoil the meaning. The 
compositions of good composers definitely allow this (padham pirichu 
paadaradhu) but many musicians simply concentrate on the music and rhythm, 
and ignore the meaning, sometimes leading to ridiculous meanings! Even in this 
song Sri subramanyaya namaste, we have a line guruguhaayaagnaana dvaanta 
savitre. This must be split as guruguhaaya agnaana dvaanta savitre, i.e. “the one 
who is the sun for the darkness of ignorance”. Some sing it as guruguhaayaa 
gnaana dvaanta savitre, “one who is the sun for the darkness of knowledge!” 
I do not know if you sing the kriti Sankaraachaaryam (Sri Subbarama 
Shastry’s Sankarabharanam kriti), but Veena Dhanamma’s family, Semmangudi 
Seenu, MS sing this. There is a line paramaadvaita sthaapana leelam, meaning 
“one who so easily, like a game, founded the great Advaita philosophy” – it is to 
be sung with stress on the “a” of “advaita” (Paramacharya sings this line) to give 
the intended meaning. If we really cared, we can, even without proper training, 
sing with proper meaning. Those I mentioned above also sing properly. But 
those who do not care, stretch the “paramaaa” and then sing “dvaita sthaapana 
leelam”, converting the advaita aacharya to dvaita aacharya! (Paramacharya 
laughs heartily for a long time). 
No doubt, in music, there is no dvaita-advaita difference. Only music is 
important. And music makes the mind of the singer into unison with the song – 
the protagonist of the song. That is why, Sri subramanyaya namaste is attached to 
you, a Vaishnavite, or you are attached to it! I have heard you sing that song. I do 
not have to say anything about your musical ability; and the sahitya part also you 
do correctly; which is why I have called you here. 
In my darbar there are only stones and bushes. There is no 
accompaniment, not even sruti. But please do sing that kriti for me, in spite of all 
(When Paramacharya stopped his torrent, Ariyakkudi was in tears. He 
prostrated once again, and said,) “There is no other prestige for me than to be 
asked by periyava to sing, and singing for periyava. I have no words to express 
the magnanimity of periyava, considering me as somebody and giving me this chance. Periyava’s grace has to fill in for the sruti and accompaniment and enable 
me to sing to the level I am expected to!” (And he readied himself to begin the 
The raga of this kriti is said to be Kambodhi, but the name given in books 
is Kambhoji, right? 
Many of us know Kambhojam is Cambodia, and that Bharata culture had 
taken deep roots there. If we inferred that Kambhoji is a raga ‘imported’ from 
that place, researchers like Prof. Sambamurthy disagree. Cambodians might 
have imported many things from us, but not we, far advanced in civilization, 
from them; definitely not in music, where we were much advanced whereas they 
had mostly folk music. Then why the name ‘Kambhoji’? I have a thought: there is 
another place called Kambhojam along India’s northern border. Kalidasa, no 
ordinary poet and quite knowledgeable too, tells Yasha to go this way and that in 
his Meghasandesham – good enough to plot a map! In his Raghuvamsam, 
describing Raghu’s invasions and victories, he has mentioned one Kambhojam, 
beyond the Indus and along the Himalayas. From this, we deduce that, within 
the extended India (akanda bhaarata), there was one Kambhojam near the 
Hindukush mountains. May be our Kambodhi raga was from this place? Many 
ragas are named after places, right? Saurashtram, Navarasa Kannada, even 
Kannada, Sindhu Bhairavi, Yamuna Kalyani, like this Kambodhi might have come 
from Kambhojam region. Researchers say ragas like Mohanam and Kambhoji 
have been around in most civilizations from time immemorial. Later, may be the 
raga was given the name of the place that “polished” it well. Kedaram is a place 
in the Himalayas – you know Kedarnath. Gaula – Gauda region in Bengal. We 
have ragas in both names, and even Kedaragaula. But all three ragas have been 
in South Indian music – how? May be the names came from musicians who 
specialized in these ragas and came from those regions? People in general, 
musicians in particular, are referred to with their native places. For instance 
Ariyakkudi means you! From this, can we say that some these rags – Kedara, Gaula, Kannada, Kambhoji etc. – were popularized by musicians from these 
regions? Are you interested in research into ancient music? 
Not much. 
But you have set Tiruppavai to tune! But unlike for Tevaram songs, tunes 
have not been specified for Tiruppavai songs, and those whose who recited, did 
not use a tune. Since only brahmanas have been reciting divyaprabhandham
songs, they have recited only with a kind of up-down delivery (ethal-irakkal 
praasam). You set the tune for Tiruppavai according to your manodharma? 
To the best of my little ability. 
But it has become the standard and accepted and sung by other vidwans 
as well! It seems our ancient ragas have been preserved in their original form 
(roopam) only in the Tevaram songs. Just as the Vedas have been preserved to a 
note by the Vaidikas through generations, the Odhuvamurthis have preserved 
Tevaram songs – not just the lyrics, but the tunes too. What was a service to 
devotion, has also been a service to music! The ragas Sankarabharanam, 
Neelambari, Bhairavi etc. have all been identified as different panns. This list 
includes Saurashtra, Kedaragaula, Kambodhi also. Kambodhi used to be called 
thakkesi or something like that. Kambodhi is not a mela raga? 
No. Harikambhoji is the mela raga; Kambhoji is its janya raga. 
But Kambodhi is more famous! Just like the son being more famous than 
the father. Some other janya ragas too are like this? 
Yes, Bhairavi is a janya raga, derived from Natabhairavi Paramacharya: 
OK, you sing. I have been wasting time in useless chat preventing you 
from doing what you came for! 
(Ariyakkudi rendered the song Sri subramanyaya namaste – a rare musical feast. 
Even without sruti or accompaniments, it still was wholesome. Paramacharya 
listened to the song with full concentration, eyes closed.) 
Only because you sang alone – without sruti/accompanists – the song 
came out with all its beauty. And the words were crystal clear. I say thrupthosmi
(totally satisfied). Please sing once more – you know why? I will give you the 
meaning line by line, you stop after every line. Not that you do not know; but let 
me have the pleasure of dissolving my mind in Sri Dikshitar’s lyrical beauty for 
some more time! Moreover, others here can also learn the meaning and beauty 
behind the creations of geniuses. 
(Ariyakkudi sang one more, this time line-by-line. Paramacharya gave a 
commentary on every line.) 
Sri subramanyaaya namaste namaste 
Obeisance to Lord Subramanya – everyone knows. Starts auspiciously 
with Sri and has a double namaste. If you say something more than once, you 
have said it infinite number of times. We have seen pOttri pOttri and jaya jaya 
shankara. te: to you; namah: obeisance; namah te becomes namaste. The whole 
kriti goes in the fourth vEtrumai. Obeisances to you, Subramanya, infinite 
number of obeisances. 
Muthuswami Dikshitar has much connection with Subramanya. He has 
been to, and sung in praise of, many kshetras and gods, just as Adi Shankara has. 
But in his devotion (upasana), he has been known to be a devi upasaka – he even 
breathed his last singing meenakshi memudam dehi. But his birth, beginning of 
his composing career, were all associated with Subrahmanya. 
His very name, Muthuswami, is that of Muthukumaraswami, the deity at 
Vaidheeswaran koil. His father, Ramaswami Dikshitar – scholar, musician and 
srividya devotee – was without childless till he was forty. He visited 
Vaidheeswaran koil with his wife and fasted for 45 days (one mandalam). His 
wife then had a dream as if someone was tying coconut, fruits and other mangalavastu on her womb. And soon she became pregnant. The couple 
understood that Subramanya had granted their wish and that the dream meant 
this. And a boy was born on kritikai day in the month of Panguni. That boy was 
Muthuswami. He grew up, had his musical training, srividya abhyasam (training in 
the worship of Devi) and gurukula vaasam at Kashi (Benares). His guru at Kashi, 
before dying, told Muthuswami, “Go back to the south. First visit Tiruttani. 
Subramanya will show you the way to your life’s purpose.” So Muthuswami went 
to Tiruttani. He had his bath in the temple tank and was climbing the hillock, 
when an elderly gentleman called him by name, and told him to open his mouth. 
When Muthuswami did so, he dropped a piece of sugar candy (karkandu) in his 
mouth and disappeared. Muthuswami understood who it was that came, and his 
life’s mission began that moment – his musical creativity had been woken up. On 
the spot, he sang eight kritis (in the eight different vEttrumais.) Also note that his 
mudra is guruguha, a name of Subramanya. Guha resides deep inside a cave, 
guhai and Guruguha resides in the deep cave of the human heart of 
Muthuswami Dikshitar. 
Dikshitar’s life on earth ended on a Deepavali day. The sixth day from 
Deepavali is skanda shashti. Some people fast these six days, beginning on 
Deepavali day and ending it on the shashti day. So in his death too we see the 
Subramanya association. 
Dikshitar went from place to place and sung in praise of the God there, be 
it Ganesha, Vishnu, Devi, Shiva. And in each kriti, there would be some internal 
evidence about the place where it was composed – the name of the God, some 
historical fact, or manthra rahasyam. Our Sri subramanyaya namaste has no such 
internal evidence; we do not know where it was composed. Maybe he unified 
the deities of all Subramanya temples in this one kriti; so sparkling is it. So he 
has started with innumerable obeisances; then: 
manasija koti koti lavanyaya 
Like two namastes, two kotis; koti-koti, a crore multiplied by a crore and 
manasija is manmatha. He is born out of mind, manas. Love, kama comes from 
the mind, right? There is a pauranic story too: Manmatha is the son of 
Mahavishnu. manasija koti koti He was born from Vishnu’s mind directly - the 
moment Vishnu thought of him! And Vishnu’s other son, Brahma, was born 
directly too, from Vishnu’s navel, nabhi. See, Vishnu has this funny habit of doing 
strange things always! Manmatha is famous for his good looks. So manasija koti 
koti lavanyaya is someone who is a billion times as beautiful as Manmatha.But is this not funny? I mean, Subramanya being manasija koti koti 
lavanyaya. Who is Subramanya? He is the son of Shiva, who reduced Manmatha 
to ashes with a fire of fury from his third eye. And from that same netragni, is 
born Subramanya! But he was born to jnana, not kama.
deena sharanyaaya 
Is mere beauty enough? What we want is arul, grace. Subramanya is the 
refuge of the sufferers. Deena, those that are poor, humble, suffering, scared. 
Deena sharanyaaya – lavanyaya – subramanyaaya – similar sounding; edhugai or 
monai or something in Tamil; it is edhugai only but edhugai on the ending of the 
words rather than on the beginning. yaaya – antya praasam – “to Him” (fourth 
vEttrumai.) It is usual to go back to the first line with a fast subramanyaaya, after 
beginning in chowka kaalam or vilamba kaalam. Vilamba, a nice Sanskrit word. I 
prefer this word to chowkam. Slow tempo, giving scope to the musician to 
explore the raga’s various nuances, is a hallmark of Dikshitar’s kritis. And the 
majestic Sanskrit language helps too, creating the impression of a grand 
elephant procession.
But aren’t we all always in a hurry? By the mind and by the body? So we 
find such slow tempo boring after some time. And for this, Dikshitar provides 
relief with some fast movements at the end of most phrases. Madhyama kaalam
comes as a relief to vilamba kaalam, as a piece of clove in a sweet-sweet laddu! 
In this kriti, both the pallavi and charanam have madhyamakaala endings. But in 
most of his other kritis, we find madhyamakaala phrases only at the end of 
anupallavi and charanam. Why? Subramanya is a vibrant young man (endrum 
iLaiyaai), so wants to go running right from the word go! 
bhoosuraadi samastajana poojitaabja sharanaaya 
One whose lotus feet are worshipped by brahmanas and other people. 
Bhoosuraadi: brahmanas and others; bhoo is earth, sura are devas and 
brahmanas are the earthly devas as they, by their chanting and rituals, bring the
blessings of the devas to earth. 
But Subramanya is the God of of all people. Of his two wives, one is the 
daughter of Indra, the king of devas, and the other, daughter of a tribal chieftain 
(suramagal and kuramagal). Some might say that he is a Tamil God 
(Dravidaswamy) and others that he is the God of brahmanas only – his name 
itself is testimony. But the truth is otherwise. There is no doubt that he is the 
God of all people. And Dikshitar takes this line only. We should all unite in the name of God, not fight one another. poojitaabja sharanaaya: to the worshipped 
Lotus Feet. Abja is lotus; ab is water and that which grows in water is abja. 
vaasuki thakshakaadi sarpa svaroopa dharanaaya 
One who takes the form of snakes like Vasuki and Thaksha. Literally, sarpa
means kundalini – the Energy of Life. Snake has a wriggled, spiral-like form, so 
does our kundalini, in normal circumstances. But if we perform concentrated 
penance, it wakes up in full glory, and then merges with the Ultimate. 
Subramanya’s weapon is the spear, vel, also known as Shakti Ayudham. 
And his connection with snakes is apparent in many instances. In Andhra and 
Karnataka, they do not have Subramanya idols in temples; rather, he is 
worshipped in snake form. Telugus fondly say subbaraayudu meaning 
Subramanya as well as snake. Let us see if Adi Shankara has brought out this 
Subramanya-snake connection. (Laughs.) The title itself is Bhujangam! Snake 
does not have legs and uses its whole body as hands, bhujam, and moves about 
in a wavy rhythm. The chandas similar to a snake’s movement is called bhujanga 
prayaadham. Acharya has sung bhujangams on many Gods, but when we simply 
think of bhujangam, what comes to our mind immediately is ‘Subramanya
Bhujangam’. On other Gods, Adi Shankara has also composed ashtakam, 
pancharatnam, etc. but on Subramanya, only this Subramanya Bhujangam – 
may be to prove that Subramanya is himself the bhujangam. 
vaasavaadi sakala deva vanditaaya varenyaaya 
Now he talks about the real suras, not earthly suras. “Bhoosuraadi” was in 
the lower octave and “vaasavaadi” is in the upper octave. The meaning is ‘one 
who is worshipped by Vasava and other devas’. Vasava is Indra. Of the devas, 
there is one class called ashta vasus. They are Indra’s followers, so Vasava is 
Indra. When he himself worships, all other devas have to follow suit – yatha raja 
tatha praja! Moreover, when Surapadma drove off the Devas and ascended 
Indra’s throne, Subramanya was the one who saved them. So they have much 
reason to worship Subramanya. Not just worshipping – Indra gave off his 
daughter Devasena in marriage to Subramanya. So deva-senapati became 
devasena-pati! Dikshitar also points this out later in the kriti (devaraaja jaamatre). 
This reminds me – Devasena is said to be Indra’s daughter, and Valli, the 
daughter of Nambirajan, tribal king but in fact, both of them are Vishnu’s 
daughters but for some reasons grew up with Indra and Nambirajan. Who is Vishnu? Devi’s brother, Subramanya’s uncle. So Subramanya has 
married his uncle’s daughters perfectly in accordance with custom. 
Arunagirinathar says as many times marugone (nephew/son-in-law) as he says 
murugone. Even though Ganesha too is Vishnu’s nephew, maal marugon – 
Vishnu’s nephew – denotes Subramanya only. 
Another example of unity-in-diversity – Vishnu, whose son Manmatha died 
in the netragni, has given his daughters in marriage to Subramanya – born out of 
the same netragni. Further, we will see that Shaiva-Vaishnava difference also 
vanishes, and it would not be strange that this kriti is a Vaishnavite’s 
masterpiece. (Referring to Ariyakkudi’s rendition.) Is it not quite expected, as 
Subramanya is the son-in- law of Vishnu? Would you not love and respect your 
son-in-law? One step further – Devi herself is Vishnu’s sister. Who gives off 
Meenakshi in marriage to Sundareshwara? A world famous sculpture at Madurai 
tells us who. First Dikshitar said samasthajana poojitaaya, then sakaladeva 
vanditaaya. Among devas too, there are several sects - vasus, rudras, adityas, 
gandharvas, kinnaras, etc. And finally, varenyaaya – it means “the best”. This 
appears in the Gayatri Mantra. To bring out the superlative nature, Dikshitar has 
used this word from Gayatri, which is but the essence of the Vedas. And 
varenyaaya continues the antya praasam of subramanyaaya – lavanyaya – 
sharanyaaya, and as it comes at the height of the anupallavi, he has used the 
word from the essence of the Vedas. 
The beginnings of each line, too, have edhugai praasam: ‘Sri su’, ‘bhoosu’; 
‘vaasu’, ‘vaasa’. This is the speciality of great composers: their rachana visesham; 
not rasana, appreciation. Rachana means lyrical beauty – the unified effect of 
sound and meaning, each falling into its place at ease. ‘Composed’, ‘composure’ 
itself means peace, ease. In Tamil, we say quite beautifully, ‘sol-amaidhi, porulamaidhi.’ We can deduce a composer’s rasana from his rachana. 
Having certified His stature with a superlative, Dikshitar mounts more 
superlatives one after the other to bring out His kindness to devotees. Daasajana 
abheeshta prada – one who fulfils his devotees’ wishes. Dikshitar could have 
stopped here, but was not quite satisfied! After prada, we have daksha, tara, agra
– a stream of superlatives. abheeshta-prada-daksha is one who is very good at 
fulfilling his devotees’ wishes. Stop here? No. dakshatara – the best among those 
who are good at fulfilling their devotees’ wishes! ‘tara’ is better in comparison; in 
Tamil we say tharamaanadhu. Yes, there may be many such capable Gods (and their supporters may come fighting) so let us avoid controversy here. After all, 
God and music and kritis are but for unity and peace. So let Subramanya be the 
number one among all such Gods, thought Dikshitar. So he says agra ganyaaya – 
another superlative! agra: first place; ganyaaya: held in or esteemed to be in. 
taaraka simhamukha shoorapadmaasura samhartre 
One who vanquished Taraka, Simhamukha and Shoorapadma. The pallavi
and anupallavi had all the words in the fourth vEttrumai. Now charanam has 
words ending in ‘ru’ – a weak, half ‘u’ (kutrialugaram in Tamil). “Samharthru – 
upadesakarthru – savithru” – In the fourth vEttrumai, these do not become 
‘yaaya’ but take the ‘e’ sound – ‘hartrE – kartrE’. Taraka, Simhamukha and 
Shoorapadma are brothers. Tharaka is elephant-faced, Simhamukha obviously 
lion-faced, and Shoorapadma has an ugly raakshasa face. In the South, 
Shoorapadma is the king of Asuras, and the chief villain. We even celebrate 
Shoorasamharam. But in the north, Taraka takes this place. Kalidasa in his 
Kumarasambhavam says that Subramanya was born for the purpose of 
vanquishing Tarakasura. And in Subramanya Bhujangam, Adi Shankara 
mentions all three. Dikshitar follows the Southern line of thought. 
OK, Dikshitar has spoken of His beauty (manasija koti koti lavanyaya), kindness 
(deena sharanyaaya, abheeshta-prada) and valour. What next? What signifies 
Dikshitar’s kritis? What is his mudra? “Guruguha.”
This is Subramanya’s greatest quality. He is the one who teaches us the 
path to the Ultimate. He even teaches his father, Shiva (“guruvaai ararkkum 
upadesam vaitta” – Arunagirinathar). 
taapatraya harana nupuna tatvopadesha kartre 
Jeevatma – human soul – has three kinds of desires: taapa trayam. They 
are aadhyatmikam, aadhibaudhikam, and aadhidaivikam. And all three lead to 
suffering. The first to suffering within our soul. The second is brought about by 
other (human/animal) beings. The last, literally means God’s work, but here 
stands to mean our fate, vidhi. Subramanya teaches us how to win over them - 
he is an expert - nipuna - at such teaching. 
veeranuta guruguhaayaajnaana dvaanta savitre 
Wisdom and valour – we ignorantly think that they are different. But the 
truly wise man, jnani, can take any form, but still be a jnani inside. Krishna tells 
Arjuna to take his bow and shoot in the midst of Gita which is essentially a jnanopadesham. Subramanya is a jnana-veera – the wise warrior, commander-inchief of the devasena and worshipped by all brave and wise men. Hence 
veeranuta. ‘nuta’ – one who is worshipped. One more interpretation: He has nine 
deputies whose names all start with ‘veera’ – veerabaahu, veerakesari, 
veeramahendra, etc. So also he is veeranuta. Now ‘guruguhaaya’. After valour, 
again jnana! Subramanya’s abodes are mostly hillocks or caves – guhai
(kurinjikkadavul in Tamil). Philosophically, he is the Divine Truth residing deep in 
the cave that is the human heart. 
And when He comes out and preaches, he is ‘guruguha’. This is also 
Dikshitar’s mudra, having flown spontaneously out of his heart into his words. 
ajnaana dvaanta savitre: dvaanta is darkness; savita is sun. Just as the sun drives 
out the darkness, Subramanya drives out the darkness of ignorance. The use of 
the word ‘savita’ for sun is significant here. The sun - surya - has several other 
names - aaditya, bhoosha, bhaaskara, bhaanu, maartaanda, dinamani (there are 
more the Aaditya Hrdayam). Of these, the name savita appears in the Gayatri 
Mantra. Roughly translating, in Gayatri, we pray that the brilliant wisdom light of 
the Ultimate, likened to the glow of the sun, should awaken our inner wisdom 
and make it glow, too. Speciality of the name is, Savita does not talk of the 
destructive-of-darkness nature of the sun, but of the creative nature. Savita is 
literally one who creates. (prasavam - giving birth - same root here). Sun not only 
destroys darkness, dirt, insects etc, but also induces rain, growth of vegetation, 
our good health and even our mental growth. Similarly, Subramanya vanquishes 
darkness (of the mind), but also fills in this void space with wisdom. The use of 
the word Savita has come out beautifully. Thirumurugaatruppadai starts with a 
similar simile of dawn. I think the whole point of this kriti is to show Subramanya 
to be the essence of Gayatri, which is itself the essence of Vedas. The kriti starts 
with brahmanyaaya; at the high point of the anupallavi we have varenyaaya and 
the high point of charanam has savitre. The kriti touches its peak at this point. 
vijayavalli bartre saktyaayudha dhartre 
This is fun! The real fun with the real jnani is he can be anything outside; brave, 
beautiful, kind, anything. He is shoorasamhaaramoorti, the valiant victor at 
Tiruchendur; a sanyaasi at Palani; a brahmachari boy at Swamimalai; Devasena’s 
and Valli’s husband at Tirupparankundram and Tiruttani. Vijayavalli is none but 
Valli (Devasena is Jayanthi). Valli Kalyanam is a jolly good anecdote. But the 
philosophy there? He frees the mind, caught between indriyas (the tribal folk in the story) and merges it with himself. saktyaayudha dhartre: one who wears the 
powerful spear, shaktivel. 
dheeraaya natavidhaatre devaraaja jaamaatre 
dheeraaya: we generally take this to mean strength, fearlessness; of 
course that is correct. But another meaning is sharp intellect. And this ‘dhee’ 
sound is found in Gayatri too! Gayatri’s use of ‘dhee’ refers to our intellect, which, 
pray, be induced by the Ultimate Light, paramatma tejas. The root meaning of 
the word ‘gaayatri’ is ‘that which protects/elevates the one who sings it’. Sing? 
The recital of Vedas, in up-down fashion, is itself like a song. And Dikshitar 
probably made this kriti as a kind of musical Gayatri, and hence borrows many 
words and ideas from Gayatri Mantra. 
Which is the first and basic svara of the saptasvara? Shadjam. The cooing 
of peacock is likened to Shadjam, and peacock reminds us of what? Him! 
(Arunagirinathar says ‘maragadha mayoora perumaal kaan’). If He is the Lord of 
Shadjam, the base note, is He not the Lord of music too? And must He not have 
a Sangeetha Gayatri on him? Which is why, He created Dikshitar, started him off 
with a sugar candy and got him to sing this kriti! 
natavidhaatre: vidhatha is Brahma; nata here is the same as nuta in 
veeranuta - means one who is worshipped. We all know the story. Subramanya 
asked Brahma for the meaning of pranava mantra; Brahma could not give a 
satisfactory answer. And our young boy imprisoned Brahma and took over his 
duty of creation. In some temples, we can see Subramanya donning the 
japamaala and kamandalu of Brahma, e.g. Kanchi Kumarakkottam. Shiva came 
to Brahma’s rescue, “OK my son, Brahma does not know; you tell me the answer, 
if you know”. Pat came the reply, “I cannot be talked to like this; if you want the 
answer, ask like a student does, not like a teacher.” Even great people take 
pleasure in losing to their offspring! Shiva went down to Subramanya and got 
pranavopadesha. A lesson to all of us - in pursuit of knowledge, there is no 
shame. Having now realized Subramanya’s greatness, Brahma worshipped Him 
and was released back to his job. devaraaja jaamatre: son-in-law of Indra, we 
have already seen this. 
bhooraadibhuvanabhoktre bhogamokshapradaatre 
bhooraadi: earth and other; bhuvana: worlds. It is customary to classify the 
infinite number of worlds into 14, of which seven are below, and further 
summarizing as bhoor-bhuva-suvah, i.e. lower, middle, and upper worlds. Recognize these? Gayatri again! We add an ‘Om’ to it and recite as part of many 
our rituals. The idea is that the fruits of our rituals should reach all of the people 
in all of these worlds. bhokta means ruled by, enjoyed by. Are not the 
happenings on in all these worlds at and for His pleasure? Finally, bhoga moksha 
pradaatre. As seen, He is the one who rules over and enjoys all good things in 
this world, while giving us the illusion that we too enjoy various pleasures like 
wealth, position and fame. daata: one who gives. pradaataa: expert at giving. In 
the fourth person, it becomes pradaatre. As long as this illusion, this drama, is 
on, it is fine for us to enjoy, and for Him to give. But if we delude ourselves into 
thinking that this drama is the real thing, we are fools. Once the drama is over, 
should we not go back to our real selves? This is the state when the mind 
(manas), the drama stage, dies and the atman alone exists. He gives us this state 
too – as ajnaana dvaanta savitaa, moksha pradaataa. 
If we seek moksha from Dhanalakshmi, or from Santhanalakshmi, we are
not going to get it. And Dakshinamurti would not give us wealth or offspring, 
either. Subramanya gives us both bhogam and moksham. There is nothing more 
to say after this sentence, and the kriti ends. 
(Paramacharya continues speaking to Ariyakkudi) I’m happy to see that 
you, coming from a good guru-sishya parampara, are preserving good music. You 
must also bring up good disciples and keep the tradition going. A brahmana, 
having learnt Veda, has a compulsory duty to teach at least one more person 
(atyaapanam). This can apply to other shaastras and arts too. 
One more point about musicians. You should sing the Telugu and Sanskrit 
kirtanas fully aware of their meaning. It is not fair to say that Tamil songs alone 
are enough. Great composers in this country have created hundreds of Telugu 
and Sanskrit songs of much musical and lyrical beauty. If we ignore them, the 
loss is ours. Do not defend by saying, “I do not understand them!” – if only we 
desire, do we not spend time and energy on all sorts of useless things? If 
musicians dedicate themselves to pure music and proper rendition of words 
without losing the ‘osandha artha visesham’, language cannot be a barrier. Now 
that you are number one in the music world, do your best towards this. May 
Subramanya’s grace be with you in this endeavour! 
(Ariyakkudi was totally moved. He took leave saying,) “This has been the 
best day in my life.” (And Paramacharya went back to his penance the next 

1 comment:

  1. thank u very much for sharing... no words... totally mesmerized......i m really blesses that i got to read this article...