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The texts of the Indian Dance traditions – Part Ten

Continued from Part Nine

Lakshana Granthas – continued

5, Abhinavabharati

 

Illustration of Abhinava Gupta by Elke Avis

The Natyaveda-Vivritti, more famously celebrated as Abhinava-bharati is the most well known commentary by Abhinavagupta on the Natyashastra of Bharata.  It is one among the handful of commentaries that are as renowned, if not more, as the texts on which they commented upon. Abhinavagupta illumines and interprets the text of Bharata at many levels: conceptual, structural and technical. He comments, practically, on its every aspect; and his commentary is a companion volume to Bharata’s text.

The earliest surviving commentary on the Natyashastra is the Abhinavabharati by Abhinavagupta. It was followed by the works of commentators like Saradatanaya (12th century), Sarangadeva (13th century) and Kallinatha (16th century). However, Abhinavabharati is regarded as the most authoritative commentary on Natyashastra ; because, Abhinavagupta provides not only his own illuminating observations and interpretations, but also gives wide range of information about the works of the scholars earlier to his period , most of which are now lost.

Abhinavagupta, who lived in Kashmir by about the late tenth and early eleventh century, was a visionary endowed with incisive intellectual powers of a philosopher who combined in himself the experiences of a mystic and a Tantric. He was equipped with extraordinary skills of a commentator and an art critic

Abhinavagupta dealt with almost every important aspect of Indian aesthetics in his two commentaries – Kavya-loka-locana (called, in short, as Locana, a commentary on the Dhvanyaloka of Anandavardhana); and, the Abhinavabharati (a detailed commentary on the Natyashastra of Bharata).

These are the two well known aesthetic works of Abhinavagupta; for which he is celebrated as the principal exponent of aesthetic theory (Rasa-vada). In his Locana, he firmly established the concept of Vyanjana -Vritti or Dhvani or the suggestive power of the words as the best form of poetic expression. And, the Abhinavabharati is the best guide to understand Bharata

These two commentaries influenced and guided the subsequent generations of authors and critics; especially in regard to the aesthetic experience (Rasanubhava). No succeeding writer or commentator could ignore Abhinavagupta’s commentary; and his discussions on two crucial chapters of the Natyashastra namely, the Sixth and the Seventh on Rasa and Bhava.

His work came to be recognized as a text of indisputable authority (Pramana grantha); and, was regarded as the standard work, not only on Music and Dance, but also on poetics (Almkara shastra) as well. Hemachandra in his Kavyanusasana; Ramachandra and Gunachandra in their Natyadarpana; Kallinatha in his commentary on the Sangita-ratnakara; and, Saradatanaya in his Bhava-prakasana, very often refer to Abhinavagupta.  The chapter on Dance in Sarangadeva’s Sangita-ratnakara is almost entirely based on Abhinava’s work. And, similar is the case with Jaya Senapati’s Nrttaratnavalli. The noted scholar Dr. V Raghavan, therefore, remarked: ‘So what is often taken today as the influence of the Natyashastra in these texts is in reality the influence of Abhinavagupta.’

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Between the time of Bharata and the Eleventh century , many commentaries on Natyashastra were written ; and, many other independent treatise on dramatics were composed by several authors such as Kohala, Rahula, Dattila, Harsha, Nandikesvara , Varattikakara and others . But, those works are no longer extant, except for a few verses cited in the later texts on Drama, Dancing and Music.

And, many scholars who hailed from the region of Kashmir; and, who preceded Abhinavagupta, had also produced brilliant commentaries on Poetics , Music and Dramaturgy , with special reference to Rasa, Bhava, Abhinaya, Nayika Nayaka’s and construction and presentation of drama with its varieties. Among those scholars were Bhattalollata, Udbhata, Shankuka, Bhattanayaka and Kirtidhara, as mentioned in Sangita-ratnakara.

 But, sadly, all those works are no longer extant; except for a few verses cited in the later texts on Drama, Dancing and Music.

It is only through the efforts of Abhinavagupta that the works of all those masters can only be partially reconstructed through references to them in his Abhinavabharati. Further, Abhinavagupta also brought to light and breathed life into ancient and forgotten scholarship of fine rhetoricians Bhamaha, Dandin and Rajashekhara.

It is through Abhinavagupta’s quotations from Kohala, whose work is occasionally referred to in the Natyashastra, that one can reconstruct some of the changes that took place in the intervening period between his time and that of Bharata’s.

And, in regard to Dance, since a number of works on dancing that were  known to have been written after Bharata are now lost, it is difficult to follow the discussions  concerning the developments in the field  of Dancing that took place during the early period of its evolution , without the aid of Abhinavabharati.

Abhinavagupta also drew upon the later authors to explain the application of the rules and principles of Natya. For instance; he quotes from Ratnavali of Sri Harsha (7th century); Venisamhara of Bhatta Narayana (8th century); as also cites examples from Tapaas-vatsa-rajam of Ananga Harsa Amataraja  (8th century) and Krtyaravanam .

In addition, Abhinavagupta introduced many improvements and new thoughts into the system of Sanskrit literary criticism, which have been accepted by all the later writes and commentators, beginning with Mammata Bhatta in the eleventh century and ending with Jagannatha Pandita in the 17th century

The  Abhinavabharati thus serves as a bridge between the world of the ancient and forgotten wisdom and the scholarship of the succeeding generations. And, Abhinavagupta himself said that he wrote the commentary in order to save and perpetuate the ancient tradition.

Evam anyad api ūhyam iti an-upayogyāt samasta na likhitam āgama-bhrasa-rakanāya tu di nirupitā

abhinavabharati

The Abhinavabharati, though basically a commentary on and a companion volume to Bharata’s Natyashastra, is, for all purposes, an independent work in its own right. It, again, is a detailed exposition on various subjects such as: drama, dance, poetry, music, art, prosody and also aesthetics with reference to Anandavardhana’s Dhvanyaloka (820-890). Abhinavagupta comments on a range of subjects, at different levels. He cites and discusses the views of many ancient authorities who wrote on drama, dance, music etc. He illustrates the principles and its application in Natya, through examples taken from well-known Dramatic works.

Abhinavagupta not only expands on Bharata, but also interprets him in the light of his own experience and knowledge; and, also with references to the then current practices. And, at many places, he differs from Bharata; and, introduces concepts and practices that were not present during Bharata’s time. For instance; the concept of minor dramas was absent in the Natyashastra. But, Abhinavagupta, in his commentary, speaks of minor categories of drama (Uparupakas); and calls them as Nrtta-kavya and Raga-kavya. These were the type of plays where the narration through Dance and Music is prominent.  

Similarly, Abhinavagupta provides the details of several dance forms that are mentioned but not described in the Natyashastra. For instance; he describes Bhadrasana, one of the group dances termed Pindibandha by Bharata but not described by him- piṇḍīnā vividhā yoniryantra bhadrāsana tathā NS.4. 290

Abhinavagupta, thus, comments, practically, on every aspect of Natyashastra. Further, he brings in the concepts of his School pratyabhijna, while interpreting Bharata’s text.

The works of the later writers (such as: Mammata, Hemachandra, Saradatanaya and others) clearly bear the influence of Abhinavagupta.

[Dr. Mandakranta Bose, who examined the text critically, observes: Even though his commentary is illuminating in general, there are places where his explanations are not enough to visualize the movements he describes. Since the edited text is often corrupt, the task of understanding is even harder. The movements are sometimes unclear and impossible to reproduce. However, as the single extant commentary on Bharata’s seminal text, Abhinavagupta’s work has exerted great influence on subsequent writers on dance, drama and on Alamkara as well.]

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The importance of Abhinavagupta’s work can hardly be overstated. And, Abhinavabharati is the best guide to understand Bharata. The learned scholar Dr. K Krishnamoorthy in his Indian Literary Theories (1985) writes:

If Bharata is the father figure hallowed by the tradition, and revered by all the later writers; Abhinavagupta is the sole interpreter to us of not only Bharata’s thoughts, but also of the writers of those authors over several centuries ,  between the time of Bharata and Abhinavagupta, since he sums up all the traditions of various Schools and enlivens it by his own illuminating and original thinking.

His work is the only source for all the accumulated knowledge of on the subject in the golden age of Indian history. There is perhaps no other single work in the wide range of literary, technical and philosophical treatise that matches the Abhinavabharati. Such is the incandescent lustre of the far- flung genius of Abhinavagupta.

If Bharata is the Panini of the Indian theatrical lore, then Abhinavagupta is his Patanjali. His work is not a mere commentary; but, often an original dissertation.

Abinavagupta - Version 3

The Abhinava-bharati follows the Natyashastra, chapter by chapter, except for the Seventh, the Eighth, and the Thirty-third to Thirty-seventh.

Abhinavagupta’s text ends with Chapter Thirty-seven while most of the other versions of the text end with the Thirty-sixth. At the commencement of his commentary, Abhinavagupta mentions that the Natyashastra of Bharata consists Thirty-six Chapters. Thereafter, at the beginning of each successive Chapter of his commentary, he praises the deity representing the corresponding Tattva, beginning with Bhumi or Prithi, the principle of Earth. And, the last Chapter of his commentary, that is the Thirty-seventh, commences with salutations to Anuttara, the Supreme Reality beyond which there is nothing, therefore, free from all limitations – Na vidyate uttaram prana prati vacorupam yatra. And, Anuttara is Parama Shiva, the Absolute, the primal source of all existence.

[The 36 Tattvas as per Kashmir Shaiva philosophy are : Five Physical Elements or Mahabhuta (Prithvi, Jala, Agni, Vayu and Akasha); Five sensations or Tanmatras (Rupa, Sparsha , Rasa, Gandha, and Sabda); Five sense organs or Jnanedriyas (Upastha, Payu, Pada, Pani and Vac); Five Sense experiences (Grahana, Tvacha, Rasana, Chakshu, and Srotra); Three mental functions (Manas, Ahamkara and Buddhi); Prakrti; Purusha; Six limited individual experiences (Niyati, Kala, Raga, Vidya, Kala and Maya); Five Tattvas of Universal experience (Shudda vidya, Isvara, Sadashiva , Shakthi and Shiva)- please check here  and then go to page 25 of the Book (page 36  of PDF document).]

The reason for the extension of the number in Abhinava-bharati seems to be that the Shaiva Siddantha recognizes Thirty-six Tattvas (principles); and  when that is extended, the  Thirty-seventh  is said to represent the concept of Anuttara (the ultimate or nothing beyond) a doctrine of the Pratyabhijna System of philosophy propounded by Utpaladeva the Parama-guru (the teacher’s teacher) of Abhinavagupta

Of the thirty-seven Chapters in the Natyashastra; about twelve Chapters are related to Dance. They are the Chapter numbers: 4, 5, 8-13, 19, 21, 22, 25 and 31.

[Please click here for volumes of Natyashastra with commentary of Abhinavabharati: For Volume One by Dr. K .Krishnamoorthy; For Volume Two by Pandit M. Ramakrishna Kavi; and, Volume Three by Pandit M. Ramakrishna Kavi.]

Umasadashivamurti

As regards the Angikabhinaya, Abhinavagupta, generally, follows Bharata, rather closely.

In the Fourth Chapter of his commentary, Abhinavagupta deals with the definition and the division of 108 Karanas which constitute the fundamental dancing poses.

Abhinavagupta explains: Karana is indeed the harmonious combination (sam-militam) of Gati (movement of feet), Sthanaka (stance), Cari (foot position) and Nrtta-hastha (hand-gestures)

Gatau tu Caryah / purvakaye tu Gatau Nrttahastha drusta-yashcha / sthithau pathakadyaha tena Gati-Sthithi – sam-militam Karanam

As regards Gati (gait) , Abhinavagupta also mentions that in the Nrtta though the Gati could generally follow the Natyadharmi, one should also keep in view the context of the times, the situation (desham, kalam) and the prevalent practices

Cari, Mandala prasangasya chitta-vrttitvad Gati viniyoga meva pratijanite/ Gatisha prakrutim rasa-avastham desham kalam cha apekshya vakthavya prati purusha abhidanath

According to Abhinavagupta, Karaa is action (Kriyā Karaam); and, as the very life (jivitam) of Ntta, the pure dance movements. It is a Kriya, an act which starts from a given place and terminates after reaching the proper one. It involves both the static and dynamic aspects: pose (Sthiti) and movement (Gati).

And that is why, he says, Karaa is called as ‘Ntta Karaa’. Such throws (kepa) of the limbs must be guided by a sense of beauty and grace (vilasa-ksepasya). A Karana has to be intellectually and spiritually satisfying. The word nttasya in Bharata’s definition is meant to emphasize this aspect of dance.

Kriya karanam. Kasya kriya. nrttasya gatranam vilasakhepasya heyopadeya visaya kriya adibhyaf; vyatirikta ya tatkriya karanam itya artha.

According to him, the Sthanaka (posture), Cari (foot-position) and Nrtta-hastha (hand-movements) can be compared to subject (kartru-pada), object (Karma-pada) and verb (Kriya-pada) in a meaningful sentence; while the resultant Karana could be compared to a sentence.

As regards Recakas (circular movement of a limb), Abhinavagupta says: it is through the Recakas that the Karanas and the Angaharas derive their beauty and grace. He gives some guidelines to be observed while performing a Recaka of the foot (Pada-recaka) , neck (Griva-recaka) and the hands (Hastha-recaka) .

According to him; while performing the Recaka of the foot one should pay attention to the movements of the big toe; in the Recaka of the hands one should perform Hamsa-paksha Hastha in quick circular movements; and, in the Recaka of the neck one should execute it with slow graceful movements.

Padayoreva chalanam na cha parnir bhutayor antar bahisha sannatam namanonna manavyamsitam gamanam Angustasya cha /Hasthareva chalanam Hamsapakshayo paryayena dhruta bramanam/ Grivayastu Recitatvam vidhuta brantata//

After the discussion of Karanas, Abhinavagupta deals with the definition and division of Angaharas, which are made of Karanas – Nānā Karaa sayuktair Agahārair vibhūitam (NS.4.13). Abhinavagupta explains Agahāra as the process of ‘sending the limbs of the body from a given position to the other proper one (Angavikshepa). And, such Angavikshepa is said to be a dominant feature of the Nrtta. And, that term stands for graceful composition of limbs (gatram vilasena-kshepaha). Thus, the Angaharas, basicallyare Nrtta movements, the Angika-abhinaya, involving six Angas or segments of the body.

caari-bheda

Abhinavagupta comments on seven divisions of Nrtta. The first three are to be used in independent Laukika dance, for the satisfaction of the deities. The last four are employed in the preliminaries.

Abhinavagupta classifies Nrtta into two broad Groups; the first group having three types; and, the second having four types.  Thus, the Nrtta, in all, is classified by Abhinavagupta into seven types.

The First Group belongs to the pure Nrtta type; whereas, the Second Group relates to of what came to be known as Nrtya, which involves Abhinaya. Abhinavagupta, in his explanations, did not, however, use the term Nrtya.

The First Group of Nrtta that Abhinavagupta formulated has the three types: (1) Shuddha-Nrtta; (2) Gitakad-abhinayao-nmukha-Nrtta; and, (3) Vadya –Talanusari Nrtta.

Here, Shuddha, that is, pure or abstract dance; the Gitakad-abhinay-onmukha is a dance that expresses the meaning of a song; and, the Vadya-talanusari is a dance that follows instrumental music and rhythm.

The Second Group of Nrtta has four types: (1) Uddhata Nrtta ;(2) Masrana-Nrtta; (3) Misra Uddhata Nrtta; and,(4)  Misar-Masarna Nrtta.

And, here, the Uddhata is a vigorous dance; the Masrana is a dance with delicate and graceful movements (Sukumara); the Misra Uddhata Nrtta is a vigorous dance mixed with delicate movements; and, the Misar-Masarna Nrtta is a delicate dance mixed with vigorous movements.

Since many of these dances in the Second group were expressive, they required Abhinaya or interpretative movements. Such dances, then, fall into the category that later became known as Nrtya. Abhinavagupta, however, does not use the term Nrtya, perhaps because Bharata spoke only of Nrtta; and, had not used the term Nrtya.

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The commentary on the Fifth Chapter expands on Bharata’s description of the preliminaries of the performance of the play and remarks on theatrical terms like Purvaranga, Naandi, and Dhruva etc.

The subject of Dhruva, which is the song to be sung in the course of the play, is discussed in detail.  Natyashastra (NS: 32.32) explained the Dhruva Gana as the well composed songs that are steadfast (Dhruva) in  the principles of Pada  (words),  Varna  (syllables) and Chhandas (meter)

Natyashastra had devoted one entire and a lengthy chapter (Chapter 32) to discuss the Dhruva songs. That was because; the songs formed an essential ingredient of the play. And, Bharata said:  without songs, the Drama is incapable of providing joy (NS. 32. 482): Just as a well-built dwelling house (citraniveśana) does not become beautiful and provide a pleasant ambiance without any colour; so also a Drama without any songs does not provide much joy.

Abhinavagupta, accordingly, deals with the Dhruva songs, in fair detail. He explains that the Dhruva songs help to enhance the artistic sense of the important themes that occur in various situations in a play.

 While commenting on the term Dhruva, Abhinavagupta  explains that these types of songs were called Dhruva ( = standpoint; locus of reference)  because in it, the Vakya (sentence), Varna (syllables) , Alamkara (grace notes), Yatis (succession of rhythm patterns) , Panyah (use or non-use of drums) and Laya (beats) were  harmoniously fixed ( Dhruvam) in relation to each other – (anyonya sambandha) .

Vakya –Varna–Alamkara yatyaha -panayo-layah I   Dhruvam-anyonya sambandha yasmath smada Dhruva smrutah II

He further says, the composition (pada samuha) structured as per a rule (niyatah) and that which supports (adhara) singing could be called Dhruva (Dhruvah- Gitya-adhara niyatah pada –samuha).

At another place, Abhinavagupta explains Dhruva as the basis or the support (adhara) on which the song rests. Abhinavagupta says: just as the painting is supported by wall, the Dhruva song is supported by Pada (word). And, Pada in turn is supported by, the Chhandas (meter) – (Abhinavagupta: NS.32.8).

Thus, in the Dhruva Gana, the words of the song are regulated by Chhandas. And, the words are then set to appropriate tunes and Taala-s.

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The Sixth Chapter is described as Rasadhyaya; because it mainly deals with concept and the theories of Rasa, the aesthetic pleasure, the essence of all Art experience. Though this Chapter is not directly related to Dance, we may take a brief look at it; because, this Chapter is considered as one of the very important Chapters in the Natyashastra ; and also because , Abhinavagupta discussed the various aspects of the Rasa-doctrine (Rasa-siddantha) in great detail.  And, in the process, he dealt with almost every important facet of Indian aesthetics. Abhinavagupta’s contribution to the revision of Indian aesthetics is truly outstanding.

In this Chapter, Abhinavagupta interprets, mainly, eleven elements of the Natya. They are: Rasa, Bhava, Abhinaya, Dharmi, Vrtti, Pravrtti, Siddhi, Svara, Atodya, Gana and Ranga. Among these, the Rasa is regarded as one of the most important theoretical aspects of the Natyashastra. According to Bharata, Rasa is the sum and substance of all Art- expressions; and, no sense proceeds without RasaNa hi rasādte kaścid artha pravartate (prose passage after verse 31, in Chapter Six).

The Natyashastra asserts that the goal of any Art form is to invoke Rasa, the aesthetic enjoyment in the mind and heart of the cultured spectator (sumanasa prekakā or Sahrudaya). And, such enjoyment is an emotional or an intellectual experienceāsvādayanti manasā tasman nāya- rasā sm (N.S.6.33).

The Chapters Six and Seven in the Natyashastra have been the mainstay of the Rasa concept in all traditional literature, dance and theatre arts in India. Bharata says that which can be relished – like the taste of food – is RasaRasyate anena iti rasaha (asvadayatva). Though the term Rasa is associated with palate, it is equally well applicable to the delight afforded by all forms of Art; and, the pleasure that people derive from their art experience. It is literally the activity of savouring an emotion in its full flavour. The term might also be taken to mean the essence of human feelings.

[The Rasa-doctrine is also relevant to classical dance, particularly since its performance is pervaded by emotion; and, its presentation, in varied graceful and meaningful forms (Abhinaya), attempts to express those emotions. Further, the Rasa-principle also provides a philosophical framework for explaining the fundamentals of an aesthetic experience; and, how it relates to the human psychological processes.]

The famous Rasa sutra or the basic formula to invoke Rasa, as stated in the Nātyashāstra, is: vibhāva anubhāva vyabbhicāri samyogāt rasa nispattih (prose passage after verse 31, in Chapter Six).

Here, the Vibhāva represents the causes, while Anubhāva is the manifestation or the performance of its effect communicated through the Abhinaya.  The more important Vibhāva and Anubhāva are those that invoke the Sthāyi-bhāva, or the principle emotion at the moment of the performance. The Sthayi-bhava combines and transforms all other Bhavas; and, integrates them with itself.

Thus, the Rasa-sutra states that the Vibhāva, Anubhāva, and Sanchari or the Vyabhicāri-bhāvas coming together (samyogād) with the Sthayi-bhava result in Rasa (rasa nispattih).

Abhinavagupta, in his commentary, initially takes a review of the explanations given by the previous authorities and scholars; then sums them up; and, later provides his own comments and explanations. He remarks that he is formulating his own theories on the foundation laid by others; and, his views are only an improvement on what has been said by the earlier interpreters.

Abhinavagupta begins by explaining his view of aesthetics and its nature. Then goes on to state how that aesthetic experience is created. During the process, he comments on Bharata’s concepts and categories of Rasa and Sthayi-bhava, the dominant emotive states, and of Sattvika, the involuntary bodily reflexesHe also examines Bharata’s other concepts of Vibhava, Anubhava and vyabhichari (Sanchari) bhavas and their subcategories Uddipana (stimulantand Aalambana (ancillaries).

Abhinavagupta comments on these concepts in the light of Shaiva Pratyabhijna philosophyand explains the process of One becoming many and returning to the state of repose (vishranthi)). He also brings in the elements of Abhivyakti (an expression that suggests release from ignorance, resulting in Camatkara); and Dhvani (aesthetic-suggestions) as expounded by Anandavardhana (820-890) in his Dhvanyaloka.

 [At places, Abhinavagupta uses the term Samvitti, in place of Rasa, as a synonym. He also uses the term Visranti to denote the state of aesthetic experience, which is a state of complete repose. These terms (Samvitti and vishranthi) are used in the Shaiva Pratyabhijna philosophy to represent Ananda, the absolute bliss. And, Abhivyakti is also a term of that branch of philosophy.]

For Abhinavagupta, soaked in sublime principles of Shaiva Siddantha, the aesthetic experience is Ananda, the unique bliss. He regards such aesthetic experience as different from any ordinary experience; and, as a subjective realization. It is Alukika (out of the ordinary world), he said, and is akin to mystic experience. That experience occurs in a flash as of a lightening; it is a Chamatkara, the state of blissful aesthetic experience. It is free from earthly limitations; and, is self luminous (svaprakasha). It is Ananda; a direct experience; a state of pure and undefiled joy. This Rasa-ananda, he says, is almost to be equivalent to the philosophic bliss (Brahma-ananda)

Abhinavagupta interpreted Rasa as a ‘stream of consciousness’ (Caitanya-Vahini) that is not restricted by time and place.

Sa ca rasana na pramanya vyaparo na kara kavya aparah svayam tu na apramanikah /

As regards poetic experience, according to Abhinavagupta, its Rasa is in understanding (rasana ca bodha-rupaiva) the essential inner meaning of Kavyatatkavyartho rasah. It is realized by the cultured reader with empathy (Sahrdaya) who has a clear perspective – Adhikari catra vimala pratibhana sahrdayah. He states that the poet’s experience is the seed of poetry; the poem he composes is the tree; and, the reader’s experience is the fruit of the tree

Tadevam mulam bijasthaniyat kavigatah rasah; Kavirhi samajikatulya eva tatah vrksa sthaniyam kavyam tatra puspadi-sthaniyo abhinayadinata-vyaparah; tatra phala-sthaniyah; samajika-rasa-asvadah tena rasa-maya-meva visvam.

According to Abhinavagupta, a real work of art, in addition to possessing emotive charge carries a strong sense of suggestion (Dhvani) and the potential to produce various meanings (Artha). It can communicate through suggestions and evoke layers of meanings and emotions.

A true aesthetic object, Abhinavagupta declares, not merely stimulates the senses but also ignites the imagination of the viewer. With that, the spectator is transported to a world of his own creation. That experience sets the individual free from the confines of place, time and ego (self); and elevates him to the level of universal experience.  It is liberating experience. Thus art is not mundane; it is Alaukika in its nature.

Abhinavagupta also talks about Sadharanikarana, the generalization. He points out that while enjoying the aesthetic experience, the mind of the spectator is liberated from the obstacles caused by the ego and other disturbances. Thus transported from the limited to the realm of the general and universal, we are capable of experiencing Nirvada, or blissfulness. In such aesthetic process, we are transported to a trans-personal level. This is a process of de-individual or universal – the Sadharanikarana.

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 He then goes on to expand the scope and content of the Rasa spectrum by adding the ninth Rasa to the eight enumerated by Bharata: and, to establish the Shantha-rasa, the Rasa of tranquility and peace, as the most significant Rasa.

Abhinavagupta considered Shantha Rasa (peace, tranquillity) – where there is no duality of sorrow or happiness; or of hatred or envy; and, where there is equanimity towards all beings – as being not merely an additional Rasa; but, as the highest virtue of all Rasas. It is one attribute, he said, that permeates everything else; and, in to which everything moves back to reside (hridaya_vishranthi). 

na yatra dukha na sukha na dveo nāpi matsara sama sarveu bhūteu sa śānta prathito rasa

Following Abhinavagupta, the theory of Nine-Rasas, the Navarasa, became universally acceptable in all branches of Indian aesthetics. And, Shantha Rasa has come to be regarded as the Rasa of Rasas.

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The Eighth Chapter discusses the detailed description of the fourfold Abhinaya (Angika, Satvika, Vachika and Aaharya). These relate to physical representations through the use of various gestures and postures. That is followed by the descriptions of the expressions the movements of the head, glances, action with pupils, the eye-lids, the eyebrows, the nose and Nostrils, cheeks, lower-lip, neck; and through the colours of the face.

It also deals with two types of Angika-abhinaya. The first one analyses the movement of the principal and subsidiary limbs (Anga, Pratyanga and Upanga); and, the second deals with the combination of these primary movements such as Caris and Mandala. The topics in Chapter Eight are directly connected with the general discussions in the first five Chapters and therefore, the eighth Chapter could be considered as the continuation of the first five Chapters

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The commentaries on Chapter Nine to Twelve of the Natyashastra provide abundant details on the Angikabhinaya. But, Abhinavagupta does not offer any fresh or additional information on the subject; although his comments help us to visualize the required body movements.

In Chapter Nine, the Angikabhinaya, various expressions produced by the gestures and movements of the hands (Hastha) and the limbs are discussed. Here, he details 24 kinds of single-hand gestures (Asamyukta-hasta-bheda); 13 kinds of gestures devised by the combination of both the hands (Samyukta hasta bheda); and, 27 kinds of Nrtta-hasthas, gestures in pure Dance movements.

He explains the Abhinaya-hasthas (expressive gestures through hands) as the indicators of the inner thoughts and emotions. He says; while inner feelings, thoughts etc., are the causes (Vibhava), their manifestations through Abhinaya, the expressions through hand-gestures (Abhinaya-hasthas) is Anubhāva. The two together, in combination with the Sthayi-bhava (dominant mood or sentiment) produce Rasa.

As regards the movements of the arms (Bahu), Abhinavagupta says, with the numerous circular movements (vaichitrena bahu paryayayena) of the arms in different speeds, combined with various hand and wrist positions, can generate innumerable Hastha gestures:

Yetheshu karaneshu chatushra drutha Madhya vilambitadi vaichitrena bahu paryayayena cha samasthani yojina yada niyujyante tada patha vartanadi shatasaharenyvam ta brthani

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The tenth Chapter of the commentary deals with the actions and movements of actions related with chest, sides, belly, waist, thighs, shanks and feet. In all these descriptions, Abhinavagupta, generally, follows Bharata.

Here, while dealing with Angika-abhinaya related to the actions of the feet (Cari-vidhana), Abhinavagupta enumerates and defines thirty-two kinds of Caris, of which sixteen are termed Bhaumi (ground) and the other sixteen are called Akasiki (aerial).The Caris are considered as the most important single unit of movement in the Nrtta technique.

Further, as many as forty Sthanas or standing postures are discussed under six category of static postures along with their applications. They are: Vaisnava, Samapada, Vaisakha, Mandala, Alidha and Pratyalidha, which are used variously.

There are also the descriptions of four types of Nyayas   (Bharata, Sattvata, Varsaganya and Kaisika). These are the ways of regulating (niyante)  how the various  weapons are to be handled while staging a fight on the stage; and, how the actors move about on the stage using various Caris and Angaharas (combinations of Caris and Karanas)

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The Eleventh Chapter of Abhinavabharati interprets Mandala-vikalpanam, which are more complicated movements of the legs involving combinations of Caris. These Mandals are again classified into two categories:  Akasa-mandala (aerial, having ten varieties); and,   Bhu-mamandala (ground, having eight varieties).

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The Chapter Twelve of the commentary describes different types of gaits (Gati) to be adopted by various types of characters in different contexts and in different states (Bhavas). It mentions the different gaits for men, women, the stout, the intoxicated, the Jester etc. It also enumerates the Gatis or gaits suitable for Kings and superior characters as also for middling characters. The walking styles for women of various classes are also described.

Abhinavagupta quotes the ancient authority Kohala while discussing the Gatis; and suggests specific Taalas and Layas (beats and tempo) that are suitable for each type of character depending upon the context.

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Chapters Twenty-one and Twenty-two provide detailed descriptions of Aharya-bhinaya (use of costumes, stage properties and other external aids which are essential both to dance and drama); Samanyabhinaya and Chitrabhinaya (general and special histrionic expressions).

While dealing with Aharya-bhinaya, Abhinavagupta stresses the importance of Aharya among other Abhinayas. He details the different types of costumes of various characters of different classes; the various types of dresses which should be used in dramatic representation; the makeup of different characters ; and , the stage settings (Nepathya). He also mentions the details of the ornaments suitable for men and women; making up the face and other limbs with grease paints etc; the use of natural and subsidiary colours; appliance of false hair; wearing of masks etc. These details help us to understand the technicalities of stage presentation as practiced in the Eleventh century.

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Then Abhinavagupta describes the physical, natural, involuntary graces in women, men; twelve forms of voice expression; eight varieties of heroines in love (Astavidha Nayikas); ten kinds of Kama-avasthas (states of being in love) ; the acting of various types of women in love ; and, the general exclusions on the stage

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At the beginning of twenty-fifth chapter of Abhinavagupta’s commentary, there is the explanation of Citra-abhinaya.

While the Samanya-abhinaya is the harmonious use of four kinds of Abhinayas; the Citra-abhinaya applies only to the special representation of various objects and ideas. The latter is employed for indicating morning, sunset etc. Seasons, birds, animals, demons, celestials, expression in soliloquies, aside etc. In addition, Abhinavagupta mentions the representation of some other objects and ideas like God Skanda, Goddess Sarasvati etc. according to the view of Kohala and others.

Abhinavagupta remarks; whether it is Samanya-abhinaya or Chitra-abhinaya, what is more important is the ardent practice (Shikshitum abhyasitam) and the state of mind of the performer (Chitt-vrtti pradanam).

Shikshitum abhyasitam va prayoktam drustam va, chitta-vrtti pradanam chedam natyamiti tadeva vakyum nyayam

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In Chapter Thirty-one, Abhinavagupta discusses Taala (time units); Laya (rhythm or tempo); the qualities of singer and instrumentalists; and delicate, graceful dance (Lasya)

According to him, Taala is the foundation of music and also of dance. He says the Taalas are of two types, Tryasra and Caturasra.  He explains three kinds of Laya (tempo) – Druta (slow), Madhya (medium) and Vilambita (fast).  He also explains Kala as the measure of time in the musical sphere. He interprets the Margas of rhythm which are of three kinds – Citra, Vrtti and Daksina.

Abhinavagupta interprets Lasya as a form of graceful dance. Lasya is the term that Abhinavagupta uses to indicate the Sukumara-prayoga of the Natyashastra. There, the Sukumara-prayoga meant a graceful dance with delicate movements (Angaharas). And, Sukumara-prayoga did not mean a feminine style of dancing, as was interpreted later. Such distinctions, as between masculine and feminine dances, were not made in the Natyashastra.

Abhinavagupta seemed to be following the contemporary usage of the term Lasya to mean a feminine style of dancing.

 He also used the term Masrana-Nrtta to indicate the softer type of dance (Lasya) aligned with Srngara, Karuna Rasas and so on. This, he described, as the feminine type of dance.

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Abhinavagupta’s commentary ends with chapter Thirty-seven. There is a narration (Guhya-tattva-kathana) of the mythical account of how King Nahusha encouraged Bharata to promulgate Natyaveda on the earth.  

This final Chapter praises the Anuttara-marga (or Anupaya-marga) as the highest and the best method (upaya) to attain liberation – tato pi paramam jnanam upayadi-vivarjitam…Anuttaram.

Bharata also concluded his work with the Benediction:

What more should I say? Let there be  peace and plenty  on this Earth ; and let it be free from famine and diseases, for all times. Let there be peace and prosperity among all beings and humans; and, let the Ruler protect thus the entire earth.

ki cānyat samprapūrā bhavatu vasumatī, naṣṭa-durbhika-rogā śāntir go brāhmaānā bhavatu , narapati pātu pthvī samagrām NS.37.31

Nātyaśāstram sampūram

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storehouse-consciousness

In the next part we shall move on to other texts dealing with Dance and its several aspects

 

Continued

In

Part Eleven

References and Sources

  1. Movement and Mimesis: The Idea of Dance in the Sanskritic Tradition by Dr Mandakranta Bose
  2. Abhinavabharati – Chapter Three
  3. The Natyashastra
  4. Natyashastra and Rasa
  5. Abhinavagupta’s philosophy of Rasa
  6. Abhinavagupta 
  7. Abhinavabharati

ALL IMAGES ARE FROM INTERNET

 

 

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2018 in Art, Natya

 

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SRI TYAGARAJA (1767 – 1847) – PART I – Intro

 ( For my friend Shri Kannan Rangachar )

Tyagaraja SRajam 02 

Inheritor of a  rich Legacy

1.1. The genius of Karnataka classical music may be said to have found the peak of its glory and fulfilment in Sri Tyagaraja. “But for the emergence of Sri Tyagaraja along with two of his contemporaries, Mutthuswamy Dikshitar and Shyama Shastry, the Karnataka musical heritage might not have been consolidated and handed down to us in its integrated form, as it is now. It is the extraordinary genius of these Masters and their sublime creations that is the mainstay of the Karnataka music tradition”.

1.2. Sri Tyagaraja comes as a culmination of the music of the masters and giants who preceded him, such as Sri Purandaradasa, Bhadrachala Ramadasa, Jayadeva and Narayana Teertha. Sri Tyagaraja was influenced by the varied excellences of all of these masters. And, in addition he brought in his own grace and brilliance. As the renowned scholar Dr. V Raghavan explained: “Tyagaraja appears in a long line of a Sampradaya sanctified by Jayadeva. In sheer volume of output, he essays in the direction of Purandaradasa and Kshetragna; in devotion, religious fervour, reformatory zeal and spiritual realisation, his songs approach those of Purandaradasa; when we think of him singing in anguish to his Rama, we find in him a second Ramadasa of Bhadrachala; in his lyrical moods, he takes a page off Kshetragna; in his Pancharatnas and some of his grander  compositions, he treads the path  of the earlier Prabandhakara-s and later Varnakara-s; turning out pieces now and then in the language of the gods, he seems to beckon his contemporary Dikshitar singing the glory of Mother Tripurasundari; when he calls out in anguish to Rama or to Mother goddess , he is like  Shyama Shastri ;  and in his  dramatic compositions he  is  like Narayana Teertha or Merattur Venkatarama Bhagavatar  ( composer of the Bhagavata Nataka-s in Telugu )  “.

1.3. Tyagaraja in his childhood learnt to sing the songs (padam-s) of Ramadasa and Purandaradasa from his mother who had a fair knowledge of music.

In his musical play Prahalada Bhakti Vijaya, Sri Tyagaraja pays obeisance to many of his eminent predecessors; and, in particular to Bhadrachala Ramadasa who was intensely devoted to Rama  (in Ksheerasagara sayana in Devagandhari and Emidova balkuma in Saranga).

And  again in Prahlada Bhakthi Vijayam  he pays his tribute to Sri Purandaradasa whom he regarded as a Guru . Sri Tyagaraja brought into some of his Kritis,  the thoughts, emotions and concepts of Sri Purandaradasa.

 – వెలయు పురందరదాసుని మహిమలను దలచెద మదిలోన్ (I ponder, in my mind, on the greatness of Purandaradasa who shines in a state of ecstasy, always singing the virtues of Lord Hari which rescues from bad fates)

Varied influences

:- Sri Upanishad Brahmendra

2.1. The scholars mention that in his childhood (in the years prior to 1780), when he was about ten-twelve years age, Tyagaraja was greatly influenced by a Sanyasin named Ramacandrendra Sarasvati (later renowned as Sri Upanishad Brahmendra Yogin). Sri Ramacandrendra Sarasvati, who then resided in Tanjavuru, used to conduct discourses on Ramayana and also lead chorus-singing of the devotional songs he composed in praise of Sri Rama. Tanjavuru was just about 13 Km away from Thiruvaiyaru where the Tyagaraja family lived. It is said; Tyagaraja, along with his father, used to attend the musical discourses and Bhajans conducted by Sri Ramacandrendra Sarasvati.

Sri Upanishad Brahmendra was well versed in music; and, was intensely devoted to Sri Rama, his Ishta-devatha. He followed the Divya nama-samkirtana, the Bhajana form in worship of Sri Rama. He is credited with number of Bhajana-samkirtanas, devotional songs set to music, singing the glory of the Lord.

Ramayana and Rama-Bhakthi had enormous influence on Sri Tyagaraja, his life and outlook.

2.2. Dr. V. Raghava , a renowned scholar and musicologist,  opines that the traces of Ramacandrendra Sarasvati‘s influence can be found in the Divya-nama-samkirtana songs composed by Sri Thyagaraja. He points out the similarities in the structure of songs and in the word-play (pada-jaala) employed by Sri Thyagaraja and his inspiration, Ramacandrendra Sarasvati. (e.g.,Kanakambara; Kanakavasana; Celakanaka; Hatakacela;Bhaktha-chandana; Sakalonnata; Rajavandya; Sitamanohara; Rajivaksha; Ranabhima; Jitakama; Navanitasa; Sara-sarastara; Mruduvacana; Niramayanga;  Nadapradipa; Nadasadhana; etc.

He also points out the similarities in the structure of songs and in the word-play (pada-jaala) employed by Sri Tyagaraja and his inspiration, Ramacandrendra Sarasvati in his Tarangas.

Further Dr.Raghavan mentions ; Sri Tyagaraja’s songs: Dhyaname varamaine; Gangasnaname; and Kotinadula which emphasize that the  real  snana and thirtha (the bath and the holy waters of the pilgrimage) are verily in the contemplation on the name of the Lord and not in the rivers , were inspired by Sri Upanishad  Brahmendra‘s  Tarangas  in his Sri Rama Taranga .

It is also mentioned that   Sri Ramacandrendra Sarasvati’s Sri Rama Taranga, was in turn influenced by the songs in most enchanting opera Krishna-Leela-Tarangini of Sri Narayana Thirtha (1650 -1745).

3.1.. Sri Upanishad Brahmendra was an integral part of the tradition that was in vogue during those times when the Sanyasins based in Advaita ideology also cultivated Bhakthi (devotion) and Samgitha (music). Apart from Upanishad Brahmendra the two other Sanyasins – Sri Narayana Thirtha and Sri Sadashiva Brahmendra – excelled in practice of Nada-vidya as a part of their Sadhana.

3.2. Sri Upanishad Brahmendra produced monumental sets of commentaries on all the 108 Upanishads listed in the Mukthiko-panishad. He was the first scholar in the Advaita tradition to have provided commentaries on all those listed Upanishads. And yet; in his work, Upeya -Nama – Viveka, he attempts to synchronize Advaita with Bhakthi. There, he explained Divyanama –samkirtana, the recitation of the sacred name of the chosen deity (Istadevata) as Upaya the means for attaining the ultimate (Upeya) the Brahman. Then, Sri Rama just as the symbol (pratika) Om, according to him, would no longer be a Nama of a Rupa (form) but will be the very essence of the Supreme divinity. Thus, Divya-nama or nama-chit (name –consciousness) is the means (sadhana) and also the end (sadhya). He asserts that the quote “Om eti ekaksharam Brahma” (Bhagavad-Gita: 8.13) gives expression to the identity of the symbol or the name (abhidana) with the object of contemplation (abhideya).

3.3. Sri Tyagaraja who had a great affinity towards Upanishad Brahmendra, later in his life, followed that hallowed tradition. He too, like his ideal, lovingly adorned Sri Rama in hundreds of his songs; and he too later in his life took to Sanyasa – bringing together devotion, music and knowledge of self (jnana– vairagya). All of his mentors had asserted that Bhakthi was the means (sadhana) to realize the goal (sadhya) of attaining unity with God or Brahman.

:- Namasiddantha

4.1. Besides this , there had arisen  in the Cauvery delta a movement – Bhajana Sampradaya – that firmly believed in the power of the sacred name of the Lord (Namasiddantha).It asserted the faith that recital of the holy name in loving devotion and giving expression to that through soulful music (nama samkirtana) was the most potent means for liberation. The movement cut across the distinctions of caste (varna) and the stages of life (ashrama). It brought into its fold householders, men, women and children of all sections of the society. Sri Sridhar Venkatesha Ayyaval, Sri Bhodendra Sarasvathi and Sri Bashyam Gopala Krishna Sastry renowned as the triumvirate of Bhajana tradition were the prominent leaders of the congregational devotion (Bhajana mandali) practices. They were followed by Sri Venkataramana – Sadguruswami who strengthened and gave a form to the Bhakthi and Bhajana-paddathi movement.

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4.2. It is also said; Krishna Leela Tarangini, an opera, of Narayana Teertha provided inspiration for Tyagaraja to compose his Nauka Charitram and Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam. Another popular feature of the times was the celebration of Radha, Rukmini, and Seeta Kalyanam-s. The traditional songs sung during those festivals, it is said, inspired Sri Tyagaraja to compose utsava sampradaya kirtanas. And, these became a part of his daily worship of Rama.

4.3. Sri Tyagaraja was thus an inheritor of a long , rich and a holy Sampradaya.

Environment

5.1. Sri Tyagaraja appeared in a period which was thronged by giants in the arts; performers; theorists and composers; authors of dance music, dance-drama; and, composers of Grammatical (Vyakarana) and technical works of great value, such as Lakshanas, Thayas and Varnas.

5.2. Giriraja Kavi, said to be his paternal grandfather, was a poet and a composer.  His maternal grandfather Kalahastayya was a Veena player besides being a scholar.  Sri Ramakrishananda, Tyagaraja’s Guru  (as mentioned in Nauka Charitram) , who initiated him into Rama–mantra (Namo Namo Raghavaya) was himself a scholar, poet and a musician.  And in music, Tyagaraja was the pupil of Sonti Venkataramayya (illustrious musician of the Court), the son of another renowned performer Sonti Subbayya, was one of the great teachers of his time.  Thus, both at home and in his surroundings, Tyagaraja was immersed in the soothing environment of music and Rama-bhakthi.

6.1. Further, during his period, Tanjavuru was virtually the cultural capital of South India. With all the leading scholars and artists migrating to Tanjavuru which provided royal patronage and support, Karnataka music was getting enriched from all directions. The period witnessed development in all most all branches of Manodharma Samgita: alapana, tana, pallavi exposition, niraval and svara kalpana.

6.2. It appears the region was lit up with activities churning out and crystallizing various forms of creative expressions. To have appeared amidst the throng of talents and to have outshone the others with his creations is indeed the greatest testimony to the genius of Sri Tyagaraja.

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Continued in Part II- Life of Tyagaraja

Sources:

Manaku Teliyana Tyagaraju: http://eemaata.com/em/issues/200809/1337.html

Tyāgarāja and the Renewal of Tradition: Translations and Reflections by William Joseph Jackson

The Power of the Sacred Name: Indian Spirituality Inspired by Mantras by V. Raghavan

Spiritual Heritage of Sri Tyagaraja by Dr. V Raghavan and C. Ramanujachariar

I acknowledge with gratitude the Sri Tyagaraja’ s portrait by Shri S Rajam

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2015 in Tyagaraja

 

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Music in Sama Veda

Following my post the state of music in Ramayana, there was some discussion about Sama and its relation to music. I was asked to say a little more about the music in Sama Veda; hence this post.

  1. Sama Veda Samhita

1.1. The earliest form of organized Music that we know about is the Music of Sama Veda or the Saman. Sama Veda is linked to music through Yajna.

The Yajna-s, were at the very heart of the Vedic way of living. During the Yajna-s, it was customary to invoke and invite devas (gods) by singing hymns dear to them or dedicated to them ; and to recite the mantras while submitting to them offerings (havish) through Agni, the carrier (havya-vahana). The group of priests who sang (Samaga or Chandoga) the Mantras, initially, compiled a text for their use by putting together selected Mantras from Rig-Veda (the oldest known text) that could be sung during the performance of a Yajna or a Soma Yaga. That collection of lyrical Mantras came to be known as Sama Veda Samhita; and was regarded as one of the three Vedas(Trayi)..

1.2. Out of the 1,549 mantras in Sama Veda Samhita, as many as 1,474 mantras are taken from Rig Veda (mainly from the eighth and the ninth Mandalas). Most of the mantras are in Gayatri chhandas (metre), while some are in Pragatha. It is said; the term Sama is composed of: SA, which stands for Rik (Vedic Mantra); and AMA, meaning various notes (Brihad Up: 1-3-22).

eṣa u eva sāma | vāg vai sāmaiṣa sā cāmaś ceti tat sāmnaḥ sāmatvam | yad v eva samaḥ pluṣiṇā samo maśakena samo nāgena sama ebhis tribhir lokaiḥ samo ‘nena sarveṇa tasmād v eva sāma | aśnute sāmnaḥ sāyujyaṃ salokatām | ya evam etat sāma veda || BrhUp_1,3.22 ||

Sama Veda is thus, virtually, a musical rendering of the selected mantras from Rig Veda. In other words, Sama took maathu (words) from Rig Veda; and provided dhathu   the musical substance to those words. Sama Veda is perhaps the earliest known musical literature.

1.3. The Sama Veda Samhita has two segments. The first segment is called Sama – Yoni (adhara) mantra Samhita, meaning that it is the basic text. This segment contains the selected mantras as they appear in the Rig Veda .This, virtually, is the source book. The second segment called Sama–gana text. Here, the mantras are not in the order they originally appear in Rigveda. But, the selected mantras are rearranged to suit the sequence of rituals during the Yajna; or according to the meters (chhandas) or the gods to whom mantras are addressed.

2.Sama-gana

2.1. While rearranging the text for the purpose of singing, the selected mantras are converted to Saman by turning, twisting, elongating its syllables; and, by inserting various modulations, rests, and other modifications.  The musical effect or the ‘floating form’ of the Sama-gana is enhanced by interpolation of Svaras and meaningless sounds called Stobha (which resemble shouts of joy) such as: Hoyi, Hoi, Hova, Hai, Haw, Oi, Ai, Ha, Ho, Uha, Tayo, etc. This is the text for singing; expanding each mantra with notations and instructing how mantras are to be sung. This is the Sama Veda as it is generally understood and sung.

2.2. Sama-singing (Sama-gana) was an integral part of a Yajna. Sama, thus, represents the earliest known instance of deep relationship between religious life and Music. There were numerous styles of singing Sama. Patanjali in his Mahabhashya remarks that there were a thousand recessions (shakhas) or ways of singing Sama – sahasra-vartma samvedah.  That perhaps was a poetic manner of suggesting there were a range of styles of rendering Sama.  [Some texts speak of thirteen Samaga-charyas – ways of singing Sama. But names of about only eleven are mentioned:  Ranayaniya; Chatyamugra; Kaleya; Kalvala; Mahakaleya; Langalayana; Mahakalvala; Sardula; Langala; Kouthuma; Jaiminiya]

2.3.  In any case, of the many, only three recessions (shakhas) Viz. Kauthumiya, Ranayaniya and Jaiminiya, have survived. The Kauthumiya and Ranayaniya carry the same set of mantras; but their internal grouping differs; and there are also variations in their svaras (accent). The Jaiminiya is said to be different from the other two, in both the aspects. Of the three shakhas, Kauthumiya is regarded the prominent one.

  1. Archika

3.1. Throughout, Sama Veda is arranged in two streams of classification. And, the two often   interrelate. One is Arcika, the way in which Sama Veda text is structured and the way its Riks (stanzas) are grouped. The other is Gana, the musical aspect which details the manner of singing the Sama Riks.

First, Archika (group of Riks sung in adoration), is essentially the collection of the texts (yoni) of individual Riks adopted from Rigveda. Here, the selected Riks from Rigveda are put together under several chapters (prapathakas). And, under each prapathakas; the Riks are bunched into sets of ten (dasasti) or less.

3.2. The Sama Veda text is broadly made into two Arcikas. The first Arcika (Purvarchika or Shadarchika) is made of six chapters (prapathakas) together with an Appendix.  The Purvarchika consists about 650 Riks selected from Rigveda that  are grouped partly according to meters (chhandas) and partly according the gods  (devatha) that are propitiated. The first five prapathakas have about 585 Riks to be sung in honour of Agni, Indra and Soma-Pavamana.  The sixth prapathaka having 55 Riks is called Aaranya or Aranyakanda.  There is also an Appendix consisting 10 Riks attached to Purvarchika; and is called Mahanamani (or Sakravayah) to be sung in honour of Indra the Great (Mahan).

3.3. The second Arcika, Uttararcika (that which follows the first) is made up of nine prapathakas divided into number of segments (khandas). Under these Khandas, about 900 Riks are grouped into about 300 songs of three Riks each. The Riks, here, are arranged according to the sequence of events that occur in the course of the performance of the Yajna. It is presumed that the Uttararcika is, comparatively, of a later origin. And, it is regarded as an essential supplement to the Purvarchika.

  1. Gana

4.1. As regards the Gana, the musical element of the Sama Veda, the Riks included in the first five chapters (prapathakas) of the first Arcika (Purvarchika) and those under Mahanamani are known as Grama-geya-gana – that is the songs meant to be sung in homes in the villages – praying to gods (devatha) Agni, Indra Soma and Visvedevah – during the course of domestic functions such as Brahmayajna (teaching of Vedas), Upakarma and other worships.

The Riks included under the sixth chapter (prapathaka) of the Purvarchika – that is Aaranya or Aranyakanda – are meant to be sung in the solitude of forests. Hence, they are named Aranya gana. The singing is of contemplative nature; and, it is deemed as sacred-music.

The Purvarchika way of singing (both the Grama and the Aranya gana) is deemed Prakrti-gana, the natural way of rendering a song.  And, it appears that the hymn-melodies for the Soma-yaga performed at homes in the villages (Grama) were different from those performed by the hermits living in the forests (Aranya).

4.2. As regards the singing (Gana) of the Riks included under the second Arcika (Uttararcika), it basically consisted two kinds of songs: Uha-gana (numbering 936) sung during the Soma Yajna; and Uhya-gana (numbering 209) singing within oneself. The texts (yoni Riks) of most of the songs were adopted from Purvarchika. But, here, the singing style is improvised with unusual variations; and, therefore it is named Vikrti-gana (not the straightway of singing). It is also said; the same Rik can be sung in different tunes, producing different Samas. The number of such Samas can vary from one to eighteen..!

[It is also said; Uha and Uhya were composed for the purpose of indicating the order of rituals in the Yajna. And, that Uha is related to Grama-gana, and Uhya to Aranya –gana.]

In summary; The Sama Veda Samhita, is arranged in two primary sections – the verse books (Arcika) and melody books (Gana). The Arcika is divided in two parts: Purvarchika and Uttararcika.  And, as regards melody (Gana) there are four styles of singing hymns: Grama-geya-gana; Aranya-gana; Uha –gana; and; Uhya-gana.  There is a mutual relation between the Riks contained in Arcika and the Gana books.

  1. Sama-chanting

5.1. The priests who sing the Mantras at the Yajna are designated as Udgathru-s (derived from udgita – to sing ’high’ or loud). The Sama Veda Samhita came to be compiled, essentially, for their use and guidance.  They were usually a group of three singers (Prasthothru, Udgathru and Prathiharthra). And, the group, together, rendered the Sama in five stages.

Prasthava: The initial portion of the mantra is sung by an Udgathru designated as Prasthothru.  And, he starts with a deep Huuum sound (Hoon- Kara).

Udgita: Prasthothru is followed by the chef Ritwik (designated the chief Udgathru) who sings his portion of the Rik. He commences with an elongated Om Kara.

Prathihara: the mid-portion is sung loudly by Prathiharthra. This adulates the Devatha to whom Rik is addressed.

Upadrava: The chief Udgathru sings again; and

Nidhana: the final portion is sung by all the three together, commencing with prolonged Om-kara.

When a mantra, as per the above format, is sung three times, it is then a stoma. Some texts describe the set of these five stages (Prasthava, Udgita, Prathihara, Upadrava and Nidhana) as Bhakthi. Its number is extended to seven by adding Hoon- Kara and Om Kara.

  1. Elements of chanting

6.1. Shiksha, a branch of Veda lore (vedanga), deals with elements of chanting and phonetics. According to Taittiriya Upanishad (1. 2), the elements of chanting includes six factors: Varna (syllable); Svara (accent); Maatra (duration); Balam (stress); Sama (even tone) ; and Santana (continuity) . The first four deal with correct pronunciation of individual syllables; and the last two with the recitation of the entire line or the verse.

oṃ śīkṣāṃ vyākhyāsyāmaḥ | varṇaḥ svaraḥ | mātrā balam | sāma santānaḥ | ityuktaḥ śīkṣādhyāyaḥ ||

Briefly, Varna is the correct pronunciation of every isolated syllable, combination of consonants and ovals and compound letters. Svara is how a syllable has to be pronounced in one of the three accents (udatta, anudatta and svarita). Maatra is the time duration for pronouncing a syllable. There are of four types: hrasva– a short one – duration for short ovals; dhirga –  two unit-duration for long vowels; plutam- longer than two–unit duration; and, the fourth is ardha- maatra, half unit, meant for consonants not accompanied by vowels.

Sama Svaras

6.2. In the beginning, Sama-gana employed only three notes called Udatta, Anudatta and Svarita. The lyre (Vana-Veena) accompanying the singing had only three strings, one for each note. The songs were perhaps like Ga Ga -Re Re -Sa Sa Sa. This kind of singing might have suited for chanting hymns.

The three notes were differentiated depending on whether it was produced from above or below the palate (taalu).

Udatta refers to sound produced from above the palate; and is acutely accented (uchchaih).

Anudatta was gravely accented (nichaih); produced from below the palate.

Svarita is a combination of udatta and anudatta, with udatta in the first-half. It is called a circumflexed accent.

[It is also explained that in context of Sama Veda , Udatta meant the highest Svara; Anudatta , just lower; and Svarita is the summation of the two.]

In the written/printed texts of the Rig Veda, Udatta is not indicated by any symbol; Anudatta is indicated by underlining the syllable; and Svarita is indicated by a vertical line above the syllable.

The Sama–gana texts, however, indicate Udatta by writing the Sanskrit numeral –one above the letter; Anudatta by writing the numeral–three above the letter; and Svarita by writing the numeral–two above the letter. In the Sama text, the syllables that have no symbols are called prachaya.

Please see the following example:

  1. Sama Svara and Venu Svara

7.1. Dr. Lalmani Misra, a noted scholar, explained the (Rig) Vedic priests used a single or two notes. The Sama singers improved on that and used at least three notes. “The singers explored further and discovered more notes. M G R S D has been determined to be the basic set of notes used in this order by Sāmik singers” , he said, “Sāmik notes were exactly those followed in Shadja grāmik tradition.”

7.2. As Sama-gana originated from the Yajna, its purpose, at least in the initial stages, was limited to chanting by the Udgathrus. Later, as the Sama Music developed, the number of notes increased from three to four, then five (which continued for a very long time), then six and finally seven. With that, the number of strings of the lyre too increased. Thus, over a period, the Sama scales expanded from three to seven notes. (It is not clear when or at what stage seven notes were introduced into Sama).

7.3. Naradiya Shiksha is a text that deals mainly with the musical notes and the pronunciation of the words in the Vedic language. Some believe it might pre-date Bharata’s Natyashastra. Narada Shiksha explaining the Sama music states that there were three Gramas (Sadja, Madhyama and Gandhara). It also mentions that each Grama has seven Murchanas (a total of 21 Murchanas). (But, it does not define Grama or Murchana). The set Murchanas related to Gandhara Grama are meant to please Devas; and the other two to please Pitris and Rishis. In addition, it mentions 49 Taanas.

[According to some other texts (Samavidhana Brahmana and Arseya Brahmana), Sama-Gana employed seven Svaras (notes): 1. Prathama; 2. Dvitiya; 3. Tritiya; 4. Chaturtha; 5. Panchama or Mandra (low); 6. Shasta or Krusts (high); and, Antya or Atiswara (very high)]

7.4. Naradiya Shiksha relates the Sama Svaras to the notes on the flute (Venu) as: Ma, Ga, Ri, Sa, Dha, Ni, and Pa.

Sama svara Venu svara
01 Prathama Madhyama Ma
02 Dwithiya Gandhara Ga
03 Trithiya Rishabha Ri
04 Chathurtha Shadja Sa
05 Panchama Nishadha Ni
06 Shasta Daiwatha Dha
07 Sapthama Panchama Pa
       

7.5. In the later Sama texts, it became customary to write the numerals (one to seven) on top of the Sama mantras to indicate their note-delineations (Sama vikara).

  1. Derivation of Svaras

8.1 . Naradiya Shiksha (1.5.3; 1.5.4) explains that each Sama-svara was derived from the sounds made by a bird or an animal in its appropriate season. For instance, bulls roar was Rishabha; kraunchaka’s (heron) cry was Madhyama; elephant’s trumpet was Nishadha; and koel’s (cuckoo) melodious whistle was Panchama and so on. Please see the table below.

Name in SamaMusic Symbol Sama VedaSvara Bird/animalSound associated
Madhyama Ma svarita heron
Gandhara Ga udatta goat
Rishabha Ri anudatta bull
Shadja Sa svarita peacock
Nishadha Ni udatta elephant
Daiwatha Dha anudatta horse
Panchama Pa svarita koel
  1. Descending order of Sama Svaras

8.1. As can be seen, the Sama notes were of Nidhana prakriti (diminishing nature) or Vakragati, following Avaroha karma, a descending order (uttarottaram nicha bhavanthi).

The order of the Svaras in Sama-music was: Ma, Ga, Ri, Sa, Ni, Dha, and Pa. The order of the svaras was revised in the later texts to: Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Ni ; as we are familiar with it today. [Another Shiksha text, the Yajnavalkya Shiksha gives the names of the seven Svaras as SA-RI-GA-MA-PA-DA-NI; and says that the seven Svaras belonged to Aranya-gana.]

. Dr. Misra says  that the ancient musical scale using notes in descending order can be translated into modern Shadja grām by considering the Madhyam  to be Shadja and moving up the scale.

8.2. Even then, since the Sama notes were in a descending order there was not much flexibility in music. Dr. Misra remarks “In those times there were no microphones or loudspeakers. Sam was sung in large, wide, open or canopied spaces, with the intention that all present should be able to hear it. In such a condition if the song has notes M G R S D (as in Sama) it would be audible at best in a single room, but if the notes, S N D P G starting from Tār-saptak are sung they would be loud enough for all to hear. So, from this angle of usage too, S N D P G seems more appropriate than M G R S D. “

Further since the Raga concept was, then, yet to be evolved, there might not have been much depth and variation in the rendering of Vedic or Sama music.

As Dr. N.Ramanathan, a noted musicologist remarked, Sama music was to acquire the rhythmic-time- patterns. That is to say, the taala system was yet to evolve.

  1. Development of Sama music

9.1. The Sama music, in its later stages, was just ripe; and it was also eager to grow and expand both in scope and content.

Historically, the Sama chanting is recognized by all musicologists as the basis for the Indian Music. The roots of Sangita, the traditional (classic) Indian Music are firmly founded in Sama- gana.

9.2. The Saman initially gave rise to a body of devotional songs called Marga or Gandharva sung in Jati. No matter who sang and in which region it was sung, the Sama and the Marga music had to follow the traditional approved format.

As a result of the disciplines evolved over the ages, a well structured system of music could be erected during the Gupta period on the foundations of the Sama–gana. It was during this period that Indian music started gaining the form with which we now are familiar.

9.3. From Marga, the devotional music (Vaidika) , was born the Art music (laukika) Desi,  the Music of Ragas. Desi, the one derived from regions, sprang from the common people; and, it varied from region to region. Desi was inspired from life, spontaneous and fluid.

9.4. Then for over a thousand years the Music scene was dominated by a structured Music (Nibaddha-samgita) format called Prabandhas (a type of Khandakavya). Since Prabandha grew rigid it had to give place, by about 17th century, to varieties of free flowing (Manodharma-samgita) such as Padas,  Kritis or Kirtanas, Varnas, Javalis etc.

9.5. Of late, the Marga and Desi; the classical folk and other improvised forms Of Music are coming together, enriching and inspiring each other. It is wonderfully delightful development.

  1. Music and spiritual progress

10.1.  Music in the Vedic times was sung and played for entertainment. Its other main use was during the performance of the Yajna; and it was here that Sama-gana was born. The concept of Nada-Brahman does not appear in Rigveda or in the early Upanishads. The metaphysical concept of Nada – Brahman is not discussed either in Sama Veda or its recitations (shakhas).  It seems to have come from Yoga or Agama.  Similarly, the notion  that music would lead to spiritual development did not seem to have existed then.

10.2. It was only in the later texts, say of 4th to 6th century AD, such as Brihaddeshi, Vayupurana and Naradiya shiksha assigned the musical taanas, names of the various Yajnas; and said that the benefits of those yajnas could be obtained by singing the relative taanas. It seems , at that stage, the idea that music was a way to liberation (moksha sadhana) was yet to get established .

[ In the later times,  Music was elevated to the status of a Veda ; and , came to be reckoned as the fifth Veda (Panchama Veda).  It was, therefore, held in high esteem and invested with an aura of spiritual pursuit (Sadhana),  leading to liberation from earthly-attachments. It is said; for both the performer and the good-hearted listener (sah-hrudaya), pure-music (Samgita) can be a fulfilling blessed experience. 

For instance ; Yajnavalkya (Yajnavalkyasmrti-III-4-115) describes Samgita as the most sublime of all the fine-arts that pleases ; and , has the potential to convey all shades of emotions . It is a Vidya that, if practiced diligently, can lead the aspirant towards liberation- mokamārga niyacchati

āvādanatattvajña śrutijātiviśārada / tālajñaś cāprayāsena mokamārga niyacchati // Yj_3.115 //

gītajño yadi yogena nāpnoti parama padam /rudrasyānucaro bhūtvā tenaiva saha modate // Yj_3.116 //

And much later, Abhinavagupta, commenting on Natyashastra, remarked that Gandharva bestows bliss and leading towards Moksha. Such Music , he said, is a worthy offering to gods.  And, gods would be delighted with sublime Music than with reading Puranas or lecturing on Yoga exercises.

In support of his observation, Abhinavagupta quotes verses (26,27 and 28 of Chapter 36) of the Naytashastra :

The recital of poetry, performance of dance (drama) along with songs and instrumental music are equal in merit to the recitation of Vedic hymns.

hyaya tathā geya citravā aditrameva ca  veda-mantrārtha-va-canai sama hyatad bhaviyati 26

I have heard from the god of gods (Indra) and even from Shankara (Shiva) that music (vocal and instrumental) is indeed purer and superior to taking a ceremonial dip in a river and repeating a mantra (Japa) a thousand times.

śruta mayā devadevāt tattvata śakarāb-ddhitam  snāna japya saha srebhya pavitra gīta vāditam 27

Whichever places that reverberate with the auspicious sounds of songs and music of Natya will forever be free from inauspicious happenings.

yasmin nātodya nāyasya gīta pāhya dhvani śubha  bhaviyatya śubha deśe naiva tasmin kadācana 28॥ ]

***

  1. Musical instruments

We may make a brief mention about the musical instruments mentioned in Rig Veda,.  The following musical instruments find reference in the Rig Veda. These instruments later developed into vana (lyre), veena, Venu or vamsha (flute) and mridanga (drums).

Karkari (RV 2.43.3) and Tunabha were veena –like string instruments. In fact, all string instruments were called veena.

Vana (RV 1.85.10; 6.24.9 etc.) was a lyre; a plucked string instrument like a harp. Rig Veda (10.32.4) mentions the seven tones (varas0 of the vana (vanasya saptha dhaturit janah).

Naali (RV 10.135.7) was a wind instrument similar to flute.

Dundhubhi (RV 1.28.51; 6.47.29 etc.) was a drum to keep betas and rhythm.

Adambarara was also a drum made from udambara tree.

Shanka vadya blowing of conch is also mentioned.

Musical instruments were basically used as accompaniments to singing and dancing. There are no references to playing them solo.

(*)While on the subject of swaras, let me append here the wonderful explanation of the swaras in Indian music offered by Shri S Rajam the renowned artist and musician. He says:  The Seven swaras have twelve swara divisions:

Carnatic System Syllable Hindustani System Western
Shadja SA Shadj C
Suddha Ri R1 Komal Rishab D Flat Db
Chatusruti Ri R2 Thivra Rishab D
Sadarana GA G1 Komal GA E Flat Eb
Antara GA G2 Thivra GA E
Suddha MA M1 Komal MA F
Prati MA M2 Thivra MA F Sharp F+
Panchama PA Pancham G
Suddha Da D1 Komal Da A Flat Ab
Chatusruti Da D2 Thivra Da A
Kaisiki NI N1 Komal NI B Flat Bb
KakaliNI N2 Thivra NI B

 

SA & PA are constant. Others have two levels (sthanas). Thus there exist twelve swara sthanas. Four more having shades of other swaras – Suddha Gandharam, Shatsruti Rishaba, and Suddha Nishada  & Shatsruti Dhaivata – make up a total of sixteen.

72 Sampoorna Ragas having all seven swaras both in ascending (arohana) & descending (avarohana) emerge as Mela ragas. Each mela has all the seven swaras but drafts varying swarasthana formulations.

Each mela raga applied to permutations & combinations of swara sthanas gives scope to 484 janya (sub) ragas. 72 mela ragas have thus a potential to give the colossal 34776 janya ragas. Of course, this is only an arithmetical projection & not a melodic feasibility.

Of 72 melas, the first 36 have M1 & the second 36 have M2.

http://www.indian-heritage.org/music/Melakartha%20Raga%20Booklet%20-%20new.pdf

 

Sources and References

http://www.omenad.net/page.php Dr. Lalmani Mishra

Sama-gana : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Samagana

http://www.ragaculture.com/history.html

The tradition of Indian art music (a historical sketch)   by Acharya Chintamani Rath

Sama Veda & its Music by R L Kashyap

 Vaidika sahithya Charithre by Dr, NS Anantharanga Char

*

*
Painting by Shri S Rajam

http://rkmathbangalore.org/Books/Vedanta%20Kesari/%282007,%20September%29.pdf

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2012 in Music, Rigveda, Sanskrit

 

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The state of music in the Ramayana

My friend Shri DSampath posted a delightful blog weaving the Ramayana tale with colourful strands of lines of great charm set   in catchy tunes, chosen from popular Hindi movie songs. It was enterprising and highly entertaining too. Naturally, the blog was well received and was hugely popular. I enjoyed the sparkle of wit and wisdom.

That set me to think about Ramayana and music.

Ramayana

anjan7bRajam

After the Music of Sama comes the singing of Akhyana or ballads, narrating a story in musical forms. Of all the Akhyana-s, the Ramayana of the Adi Kavi Valmiki is the most celebrated one. It is a divine ballad (Akhyanam Divyam) narrating history of ancient times (Itihasam puratanam).

It is believed; the Ramayana had its origins in folk lore; and was preserved and spread as an oral epic (Akhyana), for a very long-time. It is suggested that poet Valmiki rendered the folk lore into a very beautiful, sensitive and lyrical epic poem by about 7th century BCE. Thereafter, in age after age, the Suthas narrated and sang the glory of Rama and Sita, in divine fervour; and spread the epic to all corners of the land and beyond. Even to this day , the tradition of devote groups of listeners gathering around a Sutha to listen to the ancient story of chaste love between Rama and his beloved, and their unwavering adherence to Dharma amidst their trials and tribulations; is still very  alive. What characterize the Dharma in Ramayana are its innocence, purity and nobility. The Indian people prefer listening with joy, the rendering of Ramayana as musical discourse, to reading the epic themselves.

Ramayana of Valmiki is a renowned Kavya, an Epic poem in classic style. It is also the Adi-Kavya, the premier Kavya; the most excellent among the Kavyas (Kavyanam uttamam); and, the best in all the three worlds (Adikavyam triloke).

The Epic of Valmiki is at the very core of Indian consciousness; and is lovingly addressed variously as: Sitayasya-charitam-mahat; Rama-charitam; Raghuvira-charitam; Rama-vrttam; Rama-katha; and Raghu-vamsa-charitam.

The Great scholar-philosopher Abhinavgupta (Ca.11th century) hailed Valmiki as Rasa Rishi one who   created an almost perfect epic poem adorned with the poetic virtues of Rasa, Soundarya (beauty of poetic imagery) and Vishadya (lucid expression and comfortable communication with the reader) ; all charged and brought to life  by Prathibha , the ever fresh intuition.

The Adi Kavi states that his Epic poem  (Kavyam)  Ramayana , adorned with Srngara,  Karuna, Hasya, Raudra, Bhayanaka and Vira Rasas is sung by Kusi – Lava –  rasaiḥ śṛṃgāra karuṇa hāsya raudra bhayānakaiḥ | virādibhī rasair yuktam kāvyam etat agāyatām (R.1-4-9 )

Music

Ramayana is more closely associated with music than other epics. That might be because Ramayana is rendered in verse; and, its poetry of abiding beauty melts into music like molten gold, with grace and felicity. Further, the epic has a certain lyrical lustre to it. The epic itself mentions that the Rama tale was rendered in song by two minstrels Kusi and Lava to the accompaniment of Veena, Tantri- laya-samanvitam (I.20.10), during the Asvamedha.

There are innumerable references to Music in Ramayana. Music was played for entertainment and in celebration at the weddings and other auspicious occasions; (II.7.416-36; 48.41.69; III.3, 17; 6.8; IV 38.13; V.53.17; VI.11.9; 24.3; 75.21 etc.)  . Music was also played in palaces and liquor parlours (IV 33.21; V.6.12; X.32; 37.11.4; Vi.10.4). Soulful songs were sung to the accompaniment of instruments, at religious services and in dramas. Music was played in the festivities; to welcome and see off the guests. The warriors fighting on the battlefield were lustily cheered and enthused by stout drum beats;   and piercing blow of conches, horns and trumpets. There is also mention of those who took to music as a profession. Besides, there were court (state) sponsored musicians. Music was thus a part of social fabric of the society as described in Ramayana.

There are numerous events narrated in Ramayana where Music was sung or played. The word Samgita in Ramayana is a composite term covering Gana (vocal), Vadya (instrumental) and Nritya (dance). Samgita or Music was referred to as Gandharva-vidya. There is also a mention of Karna sung to the accompaniment of Veena (R. VII. 71.5). Samgita was also Kausika (kaisika) the art of singing and dancing (gana-nrtya-vidya), the art of singing and dancing in groups (kausika-charya) to the accompaniment of instruments.

 For instance:

:- The sage Valmiki, the author of the Epic, at the commencement says that the Ramayana he composed is well suited to musical rendering in melodious (madhuram) tunes (Jatis) having all the seven notes (Svaras) in three registers (vilambita, Madhyama and Drita) with proper rhythm (laya) to the accompaniment of string instruments (tantrī laya samanvitam) – pāhye geye ca madhuram pramāai tribhir anvitam | jātibhi saptabhi yuktam tantrī laya samanvitam (R.1-4-8)

:- Describing the glory and the beauty of Ayodhya, it is said the city resounding with the rhythmic  drum beats of Dundubhi, Mrudanga and Panava; with the melodious tunes of string instruments like Veena , the city , indeed, was unique ; and undoubtedly the best city on earth –dundubhībhi mdangai ca vīābhi paavai tathā | nāditām   bhśam atyartham pthivyām tām anuttamām (R.1.5.18)

: – And, in the hermitage of Rishyasrnga the girls sent by King Lomapada sang and danced – tāḥ citra veṣāḥ pramadā gāyaṃtyo madhura svaram  (R.I .10.11 ).

 :- When  Sri Rama and his three brothers took birth, the Gandharvas in great jubilation  sang cheerfully; the celestial nymphs Apsaras danced with great delight, the Devas played on the drums enthusiastically, while the heavens showered flowers ; and,  with that there was a great festivity in Ayodhya among its joyous people who had  thronged in celebration – jagu kalam ca Gandharvā nantu ca Apsaro gaā | deva dudubhayo nedu pupa vṛṣṭi ca khāt patat  utsava ca mahān āsīt ayodhyāyām janākula (R. 1-18-17 )

: – Sri Rama himself is said to have been proficient in Music (Gandharve Ca bhuvi Sresthah).

: – As Lakshmana enters the inner court  of the Vanara King Sugriva, he hears singing and ravishing strains of the music of the Veena and other string instruments.

: – As Hanuman flew over the sea towards Lanka he heard a group of musicians singing sons (kausika-charya).

:-  Hanuman , as he entered the city of Lanka, while going from one building to another,  heard a sweet song which was decorated by sound from the three svaras – Mandra, Madhya and Tara of love lorn women like Apsara women in heaven.

:-Hanuman while wandering at night through the inner courts of Lanka heard melodious and sweet  songs adorned with Tri-sthana and Svara; and, the songs had regular Taala (sama-taala) and aksara (words) – (R.V.4.10)- Śuśrāva madhuram gītam tri sthāna svara bhūitam | strīām mada samddhānām divi ca apsarasām iva  (R . 5-4-10 )

:-  Hanuman heard musical notes coming from stringed instruments which were comforting to ears: Tantrīsvanāh karasukhā pravttā | svapanti nārya patibhi suvttā (R. 5-5-9 )

:-  Hanuman found the huge palace of Ravana, vast like the legendary mansions of Kubera, encircled by many spacious enclosures; filled with hundreds of best women; and, resounding with the sounds of percussion on Mrudangas with deep sound – mdanga tala ghoai ca ghoavadbhir vināditam ( R.5-6-43)

:- Silently wandering through the inner courts of Ravana, in the middle of the night, the bewildered Hanuman came upon sleeping groups of women, adorned with rich and sparkling ornaments (R 5.10-37-44) . These women who were skilled in dance and music, tired and fast asleep, lying in various postures, was each clutching or hugging to a musical instrument ; such as Veena,  Madduka; pataha; Vamsam ; Vipañchi; Mridanga ; Paava; Dindima;  and, Adambar. 

Hanuman  sees a lady of the court, tired and asleep, clutching to her Veena,  like a cluster of lotuses entwining a boat moored on the banks of a stream – kācid vīām parivajya prasuptā samprakāśate | mahā nadī  prakīrā iva nalinī potam āśritā (R. 5-10-37  )

There was one woman with black eyes sleeping with an instrument called Madduka under arm pit shone like a woman carrying an infant boy with love – Maḍḍukena asita īkaā | prasuptā bhāminī bhāti bāla putrā iva vatsalā  (5-10-38).

A woman with beautiful body features and with beautiful breasts slept tightly and hugged instrument called Pataha as though hugging a lover, getting him after a long time – paaham cāru sarva angī pīya śete śubha stanī | cirasya  ramaam labdhvā parivajya iva kāminī (5-10-39)

Another woman with lotus like eyes hugging a  vaśam (flute  ) slept like a woman holding her lover in secret – kācid vaśam parivajya suptā kamala locanā | raha priyatamam ghya sakāmeva ca kāminī (R. 5-10-40 )

Another woman skilled in dance obtained sleep getting  Vipanchi an instrument like Veena and being in tune with it like a woman together with her lovervipañcaiim parighyānyā niyatā nttaśālinī | nidrā vaśam anuprāptā saha kāntā iva bhāminī (R.5-10-41)

Another woman with lusty eyes slept hugging a percussion instrument called Mridanga Anya kanaka … mdangam paripīya angai prasuptā matta locanā (R. 5-10-42 )

Another tired woman slept, clutching an instrument called Panava between her shoulders and reaching arm pits- bhuja pārśva antarasthena kakagena krśa udarī | paavena saha anindyā suptā mada krta śramā (R. 5-10-43 )

Another woman with an instrument called Dindima near her slept in the same way as a woman hugging her husband and also her child – iṇḍimam parigrhya anyā tathaiva āsakta iṇḍimā | prasuptā  taruam vatsam upagūhya iva bhāminī (R. 5-10-44 )

And, Another woman with eyes like lotus petals slept making the instrument called Adambara pressing it by her shoulders – kācid āambaram nārī bhuja sambhoga pīitam |ktvā kamala patra akī prasuptā mada mohitā (R. 5-10-45 )

Some excellent women slept hugging strange instrumentsātodyāni vicitrāi parivajya vara striya(6.10.49)

: – Some versions of Ramayana mention that Ravana was a reputed Saman singer; and music was played in his palace. He, in fact, suggests to Sita, she could relax like a queen listening to music in his palace, instead sitting tensely under the tree- mahārhaṇi ca pānāni śayanānyāsanāni ca | gītam nṛttaṃ ca vādyaṃ ca labha maṃ prāpya maithili (R. 5-20-10 )

:- According to some versions of the Ramayana , Ravana was a well known player of Veena  called Ravana-hastaka (an instrument played with a bow).

:- As Ravana’s soldiers prepare for the war, they hear the sounds of the Bheri played by Rama’s monkey –army. Sarama asks Sita to listen and rejoice the Bheri sounds resembling the thundering rumbles of the clouds- Samanahajanani hesya bhairava bhiru bherika / Bherinadam ca gambhiram srunu toyadanihsvanam – (6-33-22)

:- Ravana  compared the battlefield to a music stage; bow (weapon for firing arrows) to his Veena; arrow to his musical bow; and the tumultuous noise of the battle to music – jyā śabda tumulām ghorām ārta gītam ahāsvanām | nārā catalasam nādām tām mamā hita vāhinīm | avagāhya maha raṅgam vādayiṣyāntagan raṇe – ( R. VI: 24:43-44)

:- As the battle ended with victory to Rama, the  Apsaras danced to the songs of Gandharvas, such as Narada the king of Gandharvas (Gandharva-rajanah), Tumbura, Gopa, Gargya, Sudhama, Parvata, and Suryamandala (R.6.92.10). Tumbura sang in divine Taana (divya-taaneshu).

:-The triumphant Rama, the foremost among men, on his return, was greeted and loudly cheered by the people of Ayodhya accompanied by sounds of conchs  (shankha) buzzing in the ears and tremendous sounds of Dundhubi  – Śankha śabda praādaiśca dundubhīnān ca nisvanai | prayayū puruavyāghrastā purīn harmyamālinīm (R. 6-128-33)

:- Rama drove to his palace, surrounded by musicians cheerfully playing on the cymbals, Swastika and such other musical instruments singing auspicious (mangalani) songs- Sa purogāmi abhistūryaistālasvastikapāibhi | pravyāharadbhirmuditairmagalāni yayau vta ( 6-128-37 )

:- On that auspicious and most joyous occasion of the coronation of the noblest Sri Rama, the Devas, the Gandharva sang gracefully ;and , the troupes of Apsaras  danced with great delight – Prajagur deva-gandharvā nantuśc āpsaro gaā | abhieke  tadarhasya tadā rāmasya dhīmata (6-128-72 )

 

Music terms

Ramayana is not a thesis on music; it is an epic poem rendering the story of chaste love between a husband and his wife. The music or whatever elements mentioned therein is incidental to the narration of the story. And, yet, Valmiki accorded importance to music and elements of music in his work. He crafted situations where music could be introduced naturally. More importantly, his verses have a very high lyrical quality; and, can be rendered into music quite easily. All these speak of Valmiki’s   love for music and his aesthetic refinement.

Many Music-terms are mentioned in Ramayana, indicating the state of Music obtaining during the time of its composition – (not necessarily during the event-period).

:-  Valmiki mentions that Kusi–Lava sang in Marga style – Marga-vidhana-sampada – (R. I.4.35); in seven melodic modes called Jatis (jatibhih saptabhir) that were pure (shuddha) – (R. I.4.8 ).

:-  Valmiki endorsed use of sweet sounding words, with simple and light syllables; and advises against harsh words loaded with heavy syllables (R. IV.33.21).

: – The music of Kusi-Lava was Baddha, structured into stanzas – with apt rhythm (laya), tempo (sthana) and words (Pada)-  (R.I.4.8).

:-  Valmiki mentions, Kusi-Lava were familiar with Murchana and Tri- Sthana; as also with the rhythmic patterns – Laya, Yati – in three-speeds. Tri-Sthana might either refer to three voice registers (Mandra, Madhyama and Tara) or three tempos (Vilamba, Madhyama and Druta).

: – Lava and Kusi were said not to fall away from Raga. Here, the term Raga is said to mean sweetness of voice (kanta-madhurya).

Here are some terms that  might need short explanation:

: – Marga or Gandharva is regarded the music fit for gods.  It is said to have been derived from Sama Veda; and constituted of Pada (the text), Svara (notes) and Taala (rhythm).Marga was rather sombre and not quite flexible too. Marga or Gandharva in the later centuries gave place to free flowing Desi the Music derived from the folk and the regions.

:- Baddha is a song format that is well structured into stanzas – with apt rhythm (laya), tempo (sthana) and words (Pada). It contrasts with Anibaddha unstructured Music without restrictions of Taala. It is analogous to the present-day Aalap, and rendering of Ragamalika, Slokas etc. The Baddha – Anibaddha distinction is observed even today, just as in Valmiki’s time.

: – Grama (group) was the basic gamut of notes employed in the early music-tradition. The ancient tradition is said to have employed three Grama-s beginning from ShadjaMadhyama, or Gandhara note. Later, the third Grama, based on Gandhara reportedly went out of vogue as it required moving in a usually high range of notes.

: – Jati refers to the classification of musical compositions as per the tones. Svaras and Jatis were seven primary notes such as Shadja, Rshabha etc of the octaves – patya-jati. Ana is said to be a drag note generally called ekasruti.

It means Kusi Lava rendered the verses in several melodies. However, since the raga concept was, then, yet to be evolved, there might not have been much depth and variation in their rendering.

:-   Murchhana was the ancient mode of extending available tonal frameworks by commencing ascents and descents, ranging over (purna) seven notes, every time from a new note. This mode gave place to the Mela system around the 15th -16th century.

Instrumental Music

Valmiki’s Ramayana mentions varieties of musical instruments. The musical instruments were collectively mentioned as Atodya The term also  denoted instrumental music. The musical instruments, of the time, were categorized, broadly, as those played by hand (hastha-vadya); and as those played by mouth (mukha- vadya) (R. II.65.2). The string and percussion instruments came under the former category; while the wind instruments were among the latter category. Instrumental Music was primarily individualistic; not orchestrated. It appears instruments were used mainly as accompaniments (not solo) and depended on vocal music. Group music- vocal with instruments –appeared to be popular.

In another manner , the musical instruments were  classified under four broad categories : Tatha which included all stringed instruments; Anaddha which included all that  were covered or were struck like drums; Sushira which included all wind  instruments like the flute and the Shanka; and, Ghana which included all  solid cymbal-like resonators.

String instruments

Among the string instruments (Tatha), Ramayana mentions two kinds of Veena: Vipanchi (fingerboard plucked ones with nine strings like the Veena as we know) ;Vana or Vallaki (a multi stringed harp); and, Kanda-Veena (made by joining reeds). In fact, till about 19th century, string instruments  of all kinds were called Veena: harps like the Chitra; fingerboard plucked ones like  the Vipanchi,  Rudra Veena, the Saraswati Veena and the Kacchapi Veena; bowed ones such as the Ravana hastaveena and the Pinaki Veena.

Percussion instruments

As regards the percussion instruments, the Epic refers to quite a large number of them: Mrudanga; Panava (a kind of Mridanga which had a hole in the middle with strings were laid from one side to another); Aataha; Madduka ( a big drum of two faces having twelve and thirteen angula- finger lengths ); Dundubhi (Nagaara); Dindima (resembling Damaru but smaller in size); Muraja (a a bifacial drum, the left one of eight fingers and right one of seven fingers); Adambara ( a sort of kettle drum made of Udambara wood); Bheri (two faced metal drum in a conical shape , the leather kept taut by strings; the right face was struck by a kona and the left one by hand, striking terror in the heart of the enemy ); Pataha (resembling Dholak);  and Dundubhi (drums made of hollow wood covered with hide) played during wedding ceremonies as also for welcoming the winning-warriors . Gargara was another drum used during the wars.  All these were leather or leather bound instruments. They were played with metal or wooden drum-sticks with their ends wrapped in leather.

There is also a mention of BhumiDundubhi where the lower part of a huge drum is buried in a pit while the exposed upper part covered with animal hide is beaten with big sized metal or wooden drum-sticks to produce loud booming sounds. It was played during battles to arouse the warriors; to celebrate victory; or in dire emergency. BhumiDundubhi was also played at the time of final offering (Purna-Ahuthi) at the conclusion of a Yajna.

The other instruments to keep rhythm (Taala) were: Ghatam and cymbals. Aghathi was a sort of cymbal used while dancing.

Wind instruments

The instruments played by mouth (mukha- vadya) , that is the wind instruments, mentioned in Ramayayana include : Venu or Vamsa (flute) , Shankha ( conch) blown on auspicious occasions and at the time of wars ; Tundava ( wind instrument made of wood); Singa ( a small blower made of deer horns to produce sharp and loud sounds); and, kahale or Rana-bheri (long curved war- trumpet). The flute was also used for maintaining Aadhara- Sruthi (fundamental note). [Tambura or Tanpura did not come into use till about 15th-16th century.]

State of Music

It is evident that during the period in which Ramayana was composed (say 7th century BC) , the Music was fairly well developed ; and the basic concepts were, in place. However, a full-fledged musicology and elaborate theories on music were yet to develop. Marga system was prevalent; and, Desi with its Ragas was yet centuries away.

Singing well known texts of poetry, in public, appeared to be the standard practice.  Instruments were used for accompaniment and not for solo performances. Group singing with instrumental support appeared to be popular. Music was very much a part of the social and personal life.

References:

Ramayanadalli Sangita (Kannada) by Dr. R Satyanarayana

Origin of Indian Instrumental Music Music is found …

http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/13634/8/08_chapter%202.pdf

http://www.4to40.com/discoverindia/index.asp?article=discoverindia_musicalinstruments

Musical Instruments

http://www.hvk.org/articles/1098/0000.html

Telling a Ramayana

www.srinivasreddy.org/summer/History%20Notes.doc

Music of India

http://www.nadsadhna.com/glossary.html

Glossary of music terms

The Music and Musical Instruments of North Eastern India by Dilip Ranjan Barthakur

Painting by Shri S Rajam
 

 
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Posted by on September 15, 2012 in Music, Rigveda, Sanskrit

 

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Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar and Sri Vidya (8 of 8)

Kamalamba Navavarana kritis-Part two

 

tt65

Continued from page one.

While discussing the Navavarana kritis, I propose to restrict myself to those portions of the kritis that have reference to Sri Vidya and Sri Chakra. Most of such references occur in the Charanam segment of the kritis.

[ Note : The worship of Sri Yantra involves use of ten types of Mudras (Dasa-mudrani) – the gestures through the fingers – from Sarva-Samkshobhini to Sarva-Trikhanda . For a discussion on ; and, for the illustration of these Mudras, please click here.]

1.      First Avarana – Bhupura

Kamalaambaa Samrakshatu Maam– Ananda Bhairavi – Misra Chapu (Triputa)

[The avarana is Bhupura and the Chakra is Trailokyamohana chakra ‘enchants the three worlds’. The yogini is Prakata; Mudra is Sarva Somkshibhni; Siddhi is Anima; and the mental state of the aspirant is Jagrata. The presiding deity is Tripura. Her Vidya is Am Am Sauh.The gem is topaz. The time is 24 minutes and the Shaktis are 28 that include the ten starting with Anima, the eight Matruka Devis starting with Brahmya and Maheshwari;  and the ten Mudra Shaktis. 28 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the feet of the mother goddess.]

Tripuraadi Chakreshvari Animaadi Siddhishvari Nitya Kaameshvari
Kshitipura Trailokyamohana Chakra Vartini Prakata Yogini
Suraripu Mahishaasuraadi Marddini Nigama Puraanaadi Samvedini
Tripureshi Guruguha Janani Tripura Bhanjana Ranjani
Madhuripu Sahodari Talodari Tripura Sundari Maheshvari

The Bhupura Chakra, the earth stretch, includes within its spacial scope the entire design even as the earth supports the entire existence . As he enters the first Avarana, Dikshitar submits his salutations to the Mother Goddess Kamalamba and prays for protection and guidance. He address her as the magnificent transcendental beauty without a parallel in three worlds (Tripura Sundari); the conqueror of three levels of existence; the presiding deity of Tripura and other chakras (Tripuraadi Chakreshvari); Kameshwari; the empress of Trailokyamohana Chakra (Trailokyamohana Chakravartini) of Bhupura (Kshithipura). She is the presiding deity of the chakra (Tripureshi); mother of Guruguha; and the enchanting beauty of all the tree worlds (tripura Sundari).

He also submits his salutations to Anima and other Siddhi deities of the Avarana (Animaadi-Siddhishvari); the Nitya Devis; the Yogini of the Avarana (PrakataYogini); and Maheshwari and other Matruka Devis.

Thus, along with the prayers, he brings out the salient features of the Bhupura Chakra, the Earth principle. The name of Raga Anandabhiravi is suggested by the phrase Kamalaja-ananda Bodhasukhi. His signature also appears in Guruguha janani.

2, Second Avarana – Shodasha dala padma

Kamalambaam Bhajare Re Maanasa –Kalyani- Adi.

[The avarana is Shodasa Dala, and the Chakra is Sarva asha paripuraka chakra ‘fulfiller all desires and expectations’; the yogini is Gupta Yogini; Mudra is Sarva Vidravini; the Siddhi is Laghima; and the mental state is Swapna, The presiding deity is Tripureshi. Her vidya is Aim Klim Sauh. The gem is sapphire. The time is three hours. The Shaktis are the sixteen starting with Kamakarshini.16 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the Savdhistana chakra of the mother goddess.]

Sarvaashaa Paripuraka Chakra Svaamineem Parama Shiva Kaamineem
Durvaasaarcchita Gupta Yogineem Dukha Dhvamsineem Hamsineem
Nirvaana Nija Sukha Pradaayineem Nityakalyaaneem Kaatyaayaneem
Sharvaaneem Madhupa Vijaya Venim Sad Guruguha Jananeem Niranjaneem
Garvita Bhandaasura Bhanjaneem Kaamaa Karshanyaadi Ranjaneem

Nirvishesha Chaitanya Roopineem Urvee Tatvaadi Svaroopineem

The sixteen petaled lotus(shodasha dala padma) called sarva asha paripuraka chakra , the fulfiller of all desires , is the second enclosure. In the sixteen   petals , the sixteen vowels of Sanskrit alphabet is inscribed.These symbolize sixteen kalas or aspects or phases.This Avarana is about the self protection of the devotee (atma raksha); and liberation from discontent by seeking identity with Shiva the ever complete and content.

He calls upon his mind to meditate on Kamalamba and cast aside attachments to illusory existence (kalpita maaya) .The craving Asha springs from discontent; and is quenched when discontent is eliminated. That is possible when devotee identifies himself with Shiva, ever complete and ever content.

He worships the presiding deity of Sarvasaparipuraka chakra, the fulfiller of all desires and expectations (Dukha Dhvamsineem); the beloved of Parama Shiva; the bestower of true and everlasting bliss (Nirvaana Nija Sukha Pradaayineem). She is the manifestation of attribute_ less supreme spirit (Nirvishesha Chaitanya Roopineem). She is also the representation of the world and its principles (Urvee Tatvaadi Svaroopineem).

When he calls her “she who is worshipped by Durvasa (Durvaasaarcchita)”, he is referring to the Kaadi matha tradition to which he belonged. The sage Durvasa is one of the gurus of the Kaadi matha.

Dikshitar also refers to the Gupta Yogini, the yogini of this avarana; the sixteen, Shakthis starting with Kamakarshini (Kaamaa Karshanyaadi Ranjaneem). They are also called nithyas and named Kamakarshini (fascinating the desires), Budhyakarshini (fascinating the intellectetc. They relate to powers in the Five Elements, the ten senses of perception or Indriyas (being further divided into five organs of action and five sense organs) and the Mind.   

The phrase Nija Sukha Pradaayineem Nityakalyaaneem refers to the sixteen Devis of this avarana, called Nitya Kala or Nitya Devis.

Raga mudra is in the phrase Nityakalyaneem; and his signature is in Guruguha -jananeem.

3. Third Avarana –Ashta dala padma

Shree Kamalaambikayaa Kataakshitoham -: Shankarabharanam-Rupaka

 [The avarana is ashta dala; The Chakra is Sarvasamkshobana chakra ‘agitates all’. The Yogini is Guptatara; Mudra is Sarvakarshini; the Siddhi is Mahima; and the mental state is Shushupti. The Presiding deity is Tripura Sundari. Her vidya is Hrim Klim Sauh. The gem is cat’s eye. The time is day and night. The Shaktis are the eight starting with Ananga Kusuma. 8 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the navel region of mother goddess.]

Ananga Kusumaadyashta Shaktyaakaarayaa
Arunavarna Samkshobhana Chakraakaarayaa
Anantakotyandanaayaka Shankara Naayikayaa
Ashta Vargaatmaka Gupta Tarayaa Varayaa
Anangaa Dyupaasitayaa Astadalaabjasthitayaa
Dhanur Baanadhara Karayaa Dayaa Sudhaa Saagarayaa

Eight petalled lotus (astha dala padma) called Sarva-samkhobhana –Chakra the agitator of all, is the third avarana.Each petal has a consonant inscribed within it that begins with ‘Ka’  The petals represent eight divinities associated with erotic urges , independent of physical body (ananga).

The Avarana is about overcoming agitations (Samshkoba) and the formless erotic urges (ananga)that arise in mind .These refer to mental pleasures and agitations related to the modalities of mind such as  rejection (repulsion or withdrawal), acceptance (attention or attachment) and indifference (detachment).

The eight petals of the Avarana Asta dala represent eight divinities associated with such erotic principles. They are named Ananga Kusuma, Ananga mekhala, Ananga madana and so on. Dikshitar refers to them as Ananga Kusumaadyashta Shaktyaakaarayaa.

Dikshitar obviously succeeded in gaining freedom from mental agitations and urges.

Dikshitar is thrilled with divine ecstasy; I am blessed by the grace of mother Kamalamba (Shree Kamalaambikayaa Kataakshitoham); and I have realized that Absolute Brahman (Sacchidaananda Paripurna Brahmaasmi). 

He describes the Devi as the one seated on the red colored (Aruna Varna) Samkshobhana Chakra, amidst its eight petals (Anangaa Dyupaasitayaa Astadalaabjasthitayaa) having names starting with Ananga (Ananga Kusumaadyashta). In the eight petals of the lotus, eight consonants such as ka, cha, ta and so on are inscribed (Ashta Vargaatmaka). She holds in her hands the bow and arrows (Dhanur Baanadhara Karayaa). She is the ocean of mercy (Dayaa Sudhaa Saagarayaa).

Ananga has also a reference also to the cult of Cupid or Eros (Manmatha or Kamaraja) and its deities that have merged into the tradition of Sri Vidya. Dikshitar is referring to the school propagated by Kamaraja, the Kamaraja vidya or Kadi matha; and continued by the sage Agasthaya. Dikshitar belonged to this school.

He mentions the yogini of the Avarana, Gupta Tarayaa (Gupta Tarayaa Varayaa).

Raga mudra is hinted in Shankara Naayikayaa, the beloved of Shankara. His signature appears in the phrase Guruguha-tatrai-padayaa.

4. Fourth Avarana –chaturdasha trikona

 Kamalaambikaayai Kanakamshukaayai-Kambhoji -Khanda Ata

[The Avarana is chaturdasha trikona, a figure made of 14 triangles; the Chakra is Sarvasoubhagya dayaka chakra, ‘grants excellence’. The Yogini is Sampradaya Yogini; the Mudra is Sarva Shankari; the Siddhi is Ishitva. The mental state is Iswara Vichara. The presiding deity is Tripura Vasini. Her vidya is is Haim Hklim Hsauh. The gem is coral. The time is day and night . The Shaktis are the fourteen starting withSamkshobhini.14 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the heart of mother goddess.]

Sakala Saubhaagya Daayakaambhoja Charanaayai
Samkshobhinyaadi Shaktiyuta Chaturthyaavaranaayai
Prakata Chaturddasha Bhuvana Bharanaayai
Prabala Guruguha Sampradaayaantah Karanaayai
Akalanka Rupa Varnaayai Aparnaayai Suparnaayai
Sukara Dhruta Chaapa Baanaayai Shobhanakara Manukonaayai
Sakunkumaadi Lepanaayai Charaacharaadi Kalpanaayai
Chikura Vijita Neelaghanaayai Chidaananda Purna Ghanaayai

Dikshitar worships the presiding deity of the fourth Avarana, playing on the words occurring in the title of the Chakra: sarva sowbhagya dayaka, the bestower of all prosperity and addresses the Mother as Sakala Saubhaagya Daayakaambhoja Charanaayai, the goddess with lotus like feet and benefactor of all good things in life. He inserted the Raga mudra, in the phrase kaambhoja Charanaayai, worshiping her lotus feet.

The fourteen triangles are inscribed with fourteen consonants beginning with ka and ending with dha.The fourteen corners represent fourteen powers of mother goddess. The fourteen triangles (chaturdasha trikona) of the chakra represent fourteen channels  of the vital forces in the body(naadis), corresponding with the fourteen divinities Sarva Samkshobhini and thirteen others. Dikshitar refers to these fourteen forces of the fourth avarana as Samkshobhinyaadi Shaktiyuta Chaturthya-avaranaayai.

He adulates the Devi as manifest ruler (prakata bharanayai) of the fourteen worlds (chaturdasha buvana). The fourteen worlds also represent the faculties : the Mind (Manas), the Intellect (Buddhi), Being (Chitta), the Conscious Ego (Ahamkara) and the ten Indriyas.

This avarana corresponds to the heart of the mother goddess. Dikshitar addresses Kamalamba as the heart (antah karanaayai) of the great tradition (prabala sampradaya) to which Dikshitar (Guruguha) belongs. He is referring to the tradition of the Kaadi matha of the Dakshinamurthy School of Sri Vidya.

He describes the mother as seated in fourteen triangle (manu konayai), smeared with vermilion (sa-kunkumayai), holding in her beautiful hands (su_kara) arrows (baana chaapa). She is the creator of movable and immovable existence (Charaacharaadi Kalpanaayai). She is the embodiment of consciousness (chit) and bliss (ananda).

The symbolism of this avarana is the one cherished by all, sarva sowbhagya dayaka; for it suggests the identity of Shiva with his Shakthis (Chidananda purna ghanaayai).

5. Fifth Avarana –Bahir dasara

Shree Kamalaambikaayaah Param Nahire- Bhairavi -Misra Jhampa

[The Avarana is Bahirdasara; the Chakra is Sarvarthasadhakachakra, the ‘accomplisher of all’. The Yogini is Kulotteerna yogini; the Mudra is Sarvonmadini; and the Siddhi is Vashitva. The mental state is Guroopa Sadanam. The presiding deity is Tripura Shri. Her vidya is is Haim Hklim Hsauh. The gem is pearl. The time is lunar day. The Shaktis are the ten starting with Sarva Siddhi Prada.10 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the neck of mother goddess.]

Shreekantha Vishnu Virinchaadi Janayitrayaah
Shivaatmaka Vishvakartryaah Kaarayitryaah

Shreekara Bahirdashaara Chakra Sthityaah
Sevita Bhairavi Bhaargavee Bhaaratyaah

Charanam:

Naadamaya Sukshmarupa Sarva Siddhipradaadi Dasha Shaktyaaraadhita Moorthe
Shrotraadi Dasha Karana-aatmaka Kula Kauli Kaadi Bahuvidhopaasita Keertthe
Abheda Nitya Shuddha Buddha Mukta Saccida Anandamaya Paramaadvaita Sphurtthe
Aadi Madhyaanta Rahitaaprameya Guruguha Modita Sarva Arttha Saadhaka Sphurtte
Mulaadi Navaadhaara Vyaavrtta Dashadhvani Bhedajhna Yogibrunda Samraksanyaa
Anaadi Maayaa Avidyaakaarya Kaarana Vinoda Karana Patutarakataaksa Viksanyaah.

This avarana which is in the form of a figure with ten corners is called Bahir dasara , the outer ten triangles; and represents ten vital currents  (pranas)  responsible for the various functions of body and mind. They are also the representations of ten incarnations of Vishnu meant to accomplish welfare of mankind. Hence the chakra is called Sarvartha Sadhaka, the accomplisher of all objects.

Dikshitar addresses the Devi as the auspicious one (Shreekara) seated on the Bahirdasara Chakra, served by Bhairavi (Kaali), Bhargavee (Lakshmi) and Bharathi (Saraswathi). The term Bhairavi is also the Raga-mudra, here. (Shreekara Bahirdashaara Chakra Sthityaah Sevita Bhairavi Bhaargavee Bhaaratyaah)

The shakthis of the avarana are ten in number; and are named Sarva Siddhiprada, Sarva Sampathprada, and Sarva Priyankari and so on. Dikshitar worships the ten manifestations of these shakthis (Sarva Siddhipradaadi Dasha Shaktyaaraadhita Moorthe); and describes them as the subtle forms of sounds in the body (Naadamaya Sukshmarupa).

The yoginis of the chakra are Kulotteerna yoginis and are also called Kuala yoginis. Dikshitar worships the mother as being present in various forms (Bahuvidhopasthitha) such as the ten yoginis kula, Kaula and others (Dasha Karana-aatmaka Kula Kauli Kaadi).

He describes the fifth avarana Sarvartha Sadhaka, the accomplisher of all objects, in highly lyrical terms. He hails her as the ultimate good (Shiva) and the objective of the Tantra and Vedic rituals alike; and as the supreme non-dual non-differentiated ever pure enlightened free self, consciousness and bliss. She is the incomparable, non-dual being, without an end or beginning. She is loved in devotion by Guruguha; and is manifested in Sarvartha Sadhaka Chakra. She is the sublime inspiration. (Abheda Nitya Shuddha Buddha Mukta Saccida Anandamaya Paramaadvaita Sphurtthe, Aadi Madhyaanta Rahitaaprameya Guruguha Modita Sarva Arttha Saadhaka Sphurtte).

She is also present as Naada, sound, in the nine vital centers such as Muladhara and other chakras. She protects yogis; dispels delusion and ignorance. The nine chakras referred to are Muladhara, Svadhistana, Manipura, anahata, Vishuddha and ajna; together with manasa chakra (mind centre) situated above ajna, soma chakra (lunar-centre) situated above manasa chakra; and Sahasra padma, symbolically, located above the head. The Sahasra is the seat of consciousness (Shiva).

 6. Sixth Avarana –Antar dasara

Kamalaambikaayaastava Bhaktoham- Punnaagavaraali -Thrisra Eka

[The Avarana is Antardasara; the Chakra is Sarvaraksakara chakra The gem is emerald. The time is Lunar Fortnight. The Shaktis are the ten starting with Sarvagnya.10 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the middle of the eyebrows (bhrukuti) of the mother goddess.] ‘Protects all’. The Yogini is Nigarbha Yogini; the Mudra is Sarva mahankusha; and the Siddhi is Prakamya. The mental state is Upadesa. The presiding deity is Tripura Malini. Her vidya is is Hrim Klim Blem.

Dasha-kala-atmaka Vahni Svaroopa Prakaasha-antar-dashaara
Sarva Rakshaakara Chakreshvaryaah
Tridasha-adi-nuta

Kachavarga Dvaya Maya Sarvajhnaadi
Dasha-shakti-sameta Malini Chakra-eshvaryaah
Tri-dashavim-shad-varna Garbhini Kundalinyaah
Dasha-mudraa Sama-araadhita Kaulinyaah
Dasharathaadinuta Guruguha Janaka Shiva Bodhinyaah
Dashakarana Vrutti Mareechi Nigarbha Yoginyaah Shree

The ten- sided figure (antar dasara) called Sarva raksha karaka (one that protects all) consisting ten triangles is the sixth avarana. The ten triangles represent the powers of the mother goddess who presides over ten vital fires (vanyaha). These represent  the ten specific fires within the body; they  being the fire of :

purgation (Rechak); digestion (Pachak);absorption (Shoshak); burning (Dahak);the secretion of enzymes (Plavak); acidification (Ksharak); to take out or excrete (Uddharak); the fires of pessimism and frustration (Kshobhak);the fire of assimilation (Jrambhak); and, fire of creating luster (Mohak).

The significance of this avarana is explained as protection from all obstacles. The devotee distances himself from all that hinders his spiritual progress; and he begins to develop the awareness he is Shiva (the consciousness).

Dikshitar describes the antar dasara chakra as endowed with ten aspects and glowing like fire(Dasha-kala-atmaka Vahni SvaroopaPrakaasha-antar-dashaara) . These ten vital fires correspond to the ten divinities named as Sarvajna, sarva shakthi prada, Sarvaishvarya prada and so on. These along with the presiding deity Tripura Malini, reside in the ten-cornered-figure antar dasara (Sarvajhnaadi Dasha-shakti-sameta Malini Chakra-eshvaryaah).

Tripura Malini is the goddess of the Chakra Sarvarakshakara (Sarva Rakshaakara Chakreshvaryaah).

The ten triangles are inscribed with ten consonants beginning with letters of the Ka and Ca groups (Tridasha-adi-nuta Kachavarga Dvaya Maya). They, again, represent the powers of the mother goddess who presides over ten vital fires (vanyaha).

She is the goddess Kaulini, propitiated by ten Mudras . The mudras of the avarana are Mahakusha Mudra (Dasha-mudraa SamaaraadhitaKaulinyaah). Dikshitar also mentions the yogini of the chakra: Nigarbha yogini (Nigarbha Yoginyaah). 

Dikshitar describes the Sri Chakra as containing initself the fifty six alphabets and also being the very representation of Kundalini (Tri-dashavim-shad-varna Garbhini Kundalinyaah).

Sri Chakra  has several symbolisms. As per the Tantric idealogy , the Sanskrit alphabet is regarded the vocal epitome of the universe; and each letter is transformed into energy when introduced into the chakra. It acquires the character of a “seed_syllable” , Bijakshara, representing a divine aspect or a retinue divinity. Here , the Tantra texts explain that the consonants are basically inert and depend on vowels (just as Shiva depends on Shakthi) to manifest in a meaningful form. It is only when the germinating power (bija) of the vowels is infused with consonants, the latter gain meaning. That is the reasons the vowels are Bija aksharas. They transform ordinary letters into mother like condition (matrika); that is, they impregnate ordinary letters with meaning and power. The consonants inscribed into Sri Chakra derive power since they are now in union with Shakthi.

Further, in Tantra, the articulate sound is the basic structure overwhich all our thoughts, emotions, aspirations and pleasures are woven as fabrics.

As regards Kundalini, it is basically a terminology of the Yoga school. In Tantra the term has an extended meaning. Tantra regards the creation as an expression of the universal energy (maha-kundalini); Its representation in the individual is the kundalini. That Kundalini is the basis for all his intentions, cognitions and actions. The awakening of Kundalini signals the spiritual progress. It is by means of its mediating power (mantra-shakthi) , the individual realizes the oneness of consciousness-energy.

Dikshitar therefore says that the vowels and consonants inscribed into the Sri Chakra as representations of energy and consciousness.

Dikshitar hides the Raga mudra in a delightful flight of phrases (Ati-madhuratara-vaanyaah Sharvaanyaah Kalyaanyah Ramaniya-punnaagavaraali Vijita Venyaah Shree) She whose braided hair excels the beauty of lovely black bees swarming around the Punnaga tree.

The Charanam concludes with salutations to the Yogini of the chakra, the ten aspects of  Nigarbha Yogini, shining brightly like the rays of light (Dashakarana Vrutti Mareechi Nigarbha Yoginyaah Shree)

7. Seventh Avarana-Ashtara

Shree Kamalaambikaayaam Bhaktim Karomi- Sahana-Thrisra Triputa

[The avarana is asthakona; the Chakra is Sarvarogahara chakra ‘cures all ills’. the Yogini is Rahasya Yogini; The Mudra is sarva khechari; and the Siddhi is Bhukthi. The mental state is Manana. The presiding deity is Tripura Siddha. Her vidya is is Hrim Shrim Sauh. The gem is diamond (Vajra). The time is Lunar month. The Shaktis are the eight, starting with Vashini. 8 is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the forehead (lalata) of the mother goddess.]

Raakaachandra Vadanaayaam Raajiva-nayanaayaam
Paakaarinuta Charanaayaam Aakaashaadi Kiranaayaam Hrimkaara

Vipina-harinyaam Hrimkaara-Susharirinyaam
Hrimkaara Taru Manjaryaam Hrimkaareshvaryaam Gauryaam

Sharira-traya Vilakshana Sukhatara Svaatmaanu Bhoginyaam
Virinci Harishaana Harihaya Vedita Rahasyayoginyaam
Paraadi Vaagdevataa-rupa-vashinyaadi Vibhaaginyaam
Charaatmaka Sarva-roga-hara Niraamaya Raaja-yoginyaam
Karadhruta Vinaa Vaadinyaam Kamalaanagara Vinodinyaam
Sura-nara-munijana-modinyaam
Guruguha-vara-prasaadinyaam

Eight-cornered figure(ashtara) called Sarva roga hara ( the remover of all deceases) is the seventh avarana. In the eight triangles formed by this figure, eight divinities presiding over speech reside.They are known as deties of self expression(Vak Devatha).These shaktis also rule over basic urges and contradictions in life (dwandwa) such as  cold(water) and heat(fire); happiness (air) and sorrow( earth);  as also the Desire(akasha-space) and the three gunas  of Sattvas (consciousness), Rajas (ego) and Tamas(mind).

The significance of this enclosure is its power to eradicate the most basic of diseases viz. involvement with impure, fleeting existence laden with stress. The blessed state is attained when the distinctions between the subject, the object and transactions between them are dissolved.

Hrim is the Bija-mantra (seed-syllable) of this chakra. In the context of Sri Vidya, hrim is a particularly sacred syllable; it represents the mother goddess herself. Dikshitar worships the mother as the very embodiment of hrim (Hrimkaara-Susharirinyaam Hrimkaara Taru Manjaryaam). She is Gauri; she is the presiding deity of hrim (Hrimkaareshvaryaam Gauryaam).

Dikshitar refers to his tradition (Kadi matha) by invoking the name of one of its gurus Hayagreeva (Harihaya Vedita). He also refers to the Yogini of the chakra Rahasya Yogini (Rahasyayoginyaam); and to the letters of the Pa group inscribed in the eight triangles, representing eight Shakthis (Vasini and others) presiding over the aspect of speech (Paraadi Vaagdevataa-rupa-vashinyaadi Vibhaaginyaam).

Dikshitar refers to the basic nature of the chakra Sarvarogahara chakra ‘cures all ills’ and calls the mother the Raja Yogini, who cures all kinds of illness ( Charaatmaka Sarva-roga-hara Niraamaya Raaja-yoginyaam).

The Raga mudra is the phrase Harishaana; while the composer’s signature is in  Guruguha-vara-prasaadinyaam.

 8. Eight Avarana –Trikona

Kamalaambike Avaava-Ghanta-Adi

[The Avarana is Trikona; the Chakra is Sarvasiddhiprada chakra, ‘grants all attainments’. the Yogini is Athi Rahasya Yogini; the Mudra is Sarva Beeja; and the Siddhi is Iccha. The mental state is Nitidhyasana. The presiding deity is Tripuraamba. Her vidya is is Hsraim Hsrklim Hsrsauh.. The gem is Gomaya .The time is a ritu- two months. The Shaktis are the three: Kameshwari, Vajreshwari and Bhagamalini. (4+3=7) is the dominant number. This avarana corresponds to the top of the head (masthka) of the mother goddess]

Lokapaalini Kapaalini Shoolini Lokajanani Bhagamaalini Shakrudaa
Aalokaya Maam Sarva Siddhipradaayike Tripuraambike Baalaambike

Charanam

Santapta Hema Sannibha Dehe Sadaa-akhandaika-rasa-pravaahe
Santa-apahara Trikona-gehe Sa-kaameshvari Shakti-samuhe
Santatam Mukti Ghantaamani Ghosaayamaana Kavaata-dvaare
Ananta Guruguha Vidite – Karaahnguli Nakhodaya Vishnu Dashaavataare –
Antahkaraneksu Kaarmuka – Shabdaadi Pancha Tanmaatra Vishikhaatyanta
Raagapaasha Dvesa-ankusha Dharakare Atirahasya Yoginipare

The primary triangle with its apex downward (East) and colored white (Sattva) surrounding immediately around the central point , Bindu , is the eighth avarana. It is called Sarva Siddhi prada chakra, the one that bestows all accomplishment. This triangle does not intersect with other triangles; and stands independent. It is Kama Kala. It is feminine in its aspect; and represents three fundamental manifestations of the mother goddess: Kameshwari (symbolizing moon – creation); Vajreshwari (symbolizing sun- preservation); and Bhagamalini (symbolizing fire -dissolution).

The three angles of the triangle also represent three forms of speech : Pashyanthi, Madhyama and Vaikhari. The triangle is therefore the speech aspect Vak Bhava.

It also represents the three powers of iccha (will) , jnana (knowledge) and kriya (activity). The three corners of the triangle stand for three peaks(kuta) of the fifteen_lettered mantra; or as three dimensions of all existence. The triangle itself is regarded the abode of the mother goddess (kama-kala).

Dikshitar in divine ecstasy sings the glory of the Mother, the protector of worlds adorned with garland of skulls and holding a trident. She is Bhagamalini, symbolizing fire representing Rudra’s power of dissolution. She is also Tripurambika; the presiding deity of the avarana. She is Balamba. She is the ruler of the Sarvasiddhiprada chakra :

Lokapaalini Kapaalini Shoolini Lokajanani Bhagamaalini Shakrudaa Aalokaya Maam Sarva Siddhipradaayike Tripuraambike Baalaambike 

She whose body is glowing like molten gold(Santapta Hema Sannibha Dehe); She who is the eternal undifferentiated unique bliss(Sadaa-akhandaika-rasa-pravaahe ); She who resides in the enchanting  Trikona chakra (Santa-apahara Trikona-gehe ); and delighting in the company of Kameshwari (symbolizing moon – creation) and host of  other friends (Sa-kaameshvari Shakti-samuhe).

The eight cornered figure that surrounds the Trikona, suggests five basic elements of phenomenal existence (tanmatras: earth, water, fire, air and space), symbolized by five arrows of flowers (pancha bana) which is also the symbol of Kama; passion (raga) symbolized by the noose (pasha); aversion (dwesha) symbolized by the goad (ankusha); and mind (manas) symbolized by sugarcane stalk (ikshu danda); all of which are held by the deity, in the company of the yogini of the avarana , Athi Rahasya Yogini.

Dikshitar puts the entire thing, beautifully, in just two compact lines:

Antahkaraneksu Kaarmuka – Shabdaadi Pancha Tanmaatra Vishikhaatyanta
Raagapaasha Dvesa-ankusha Dharakare Atirahasya Yoginipare.

The Raga mudra is in Mukti Ghantaamani Ghosaayamaana; while the composer’s mudra is in Ananta Guruguha Vidite.

Tripurasundari (1)

9. Ninth Avarana-Bindu

Kamalaambaa Jayati-Ahiri-Rupaka

[The avarana is the Bindu and the Chakra is Sarvanandamaya chakra, ‘ replete with bliss’. The yogini is parathi para Rahasya; the Mudra is sarva yoni; and the Siddhi is Prapthi. The mental state is Savikalpa Samadhi. The presiding deity is her Transcendent Majesty Lalita Maheshwari Mahatripurasundari. Her vidya is Kamaraja vidya : ka e i la hrim ha sa ka ha la hrim sa ka la hrim, plus a secret 16th syllable. The gem is ruby. The time is year. The Shakti is Maha Tripura Sundari the personification of Brahman. This avarana corresponds to Brahma_randra on the top of the head of the mother goddess.]

Pallavi

Shri Kamalaambaa Jayati Ambaa Shri Kamalaambaa Jayati Jagadaambaa

Shri Kamalaambaa Jayati Shringaara Rasa Kadambaa Madambaa

Shri Kamalaambaa Jayati Chidbimbaa Pratibimbendu Bimbaa

Shri Kamalaambaa Jayati Shreepura Bindu Madhyastha

Chintaamani Mandirastha Shivaakaara Manchasthita Shivakaameshaankasthaa

Anupallavi

Sukara-ananaadya-arccita Mahaa-tripura
Sundarim Raajaraajeshvareem
Shreekara Sarva-ananda-maya Chakra-vaasinim Suvaasinim Chintayeham
Divaakara Sheetakirana Paavakaadi Vikaasakarayaa
Bheekara Taapa-traya-adi Bhedana Dhurinatarayaa
Paakaripu Pramukhaadi Praarthita-Sukalebarayaa
Praakatya Paraaparayaa Paalitodayaakarayaa

Charanam

Shrimaatre Namaste Chinmaatre Sevita Ramaa Harisha Vidhaatre
Vaamaadi Shaktipujita Paradevataayaah Sakalam Jaatam
Kaamaadi Dvaadashabhir-upaasita Kaadi Haadi Saadi Mantra-rupinyaah
Premaaspada Shiva Guruguha Jananyaam Pritiyukta Macchittam Vilayatu
Brahmamaya Prakaashini Naamaroopa Vimarshini Kaamakalaa Pradarshini Saamarasya Nidarshini

The ninth enclosure is the Bindu. It is called Sarvananda-maya chakra , the supremely blissfull one.  It is independent of the intersecting triangles. This, in a temple, would be the sanctum sanctorum, with all the other circles or enclosures representing various parts of the temple as you move inwards.

It is this Bindu that is in reality the Sri Chakra; it represents the mother goddess Maha Tripura Sundari, Lalitha or Rajarajeshwari herself; and everything else is a manifestation of her aspects.

The goddess is nothing other than the devotees own self. The self here refers to individual consciousness (buddhi) which is beyond the body-mind complex. It is filled with all bliss (sarvananda maya). This constant, abundant bliss is the expression of the union of Shiva (consciousness) and Shakthi (power of deliberation Vimarsha). It is the very basis of existence.

The significance of this avarana is the complete harmony (samarasya) of principles of pure consciousness (Shiva) and the principle of energy as deliberation (vimarsha shakthi). It signifies a state of non-duality, where all tendencies of approach and withdrawal become nonexistent, dissolve in a state in which the devotee ultimately rests. Bliss, in Tantra, is explained as resting in oneself (Svarupa pratishta).

Dikshitar bursts forth into a fountain of divine ecstasy and sings the glory and the celebration of the Supreme Mother Goddess in highly lyrical and sublime poetry. The krithi is also rich in Sri Vidya lore.

He describes the Mother as the very personification of the Bindu, the pure consciousness at the centre of Sri Chakra (Chidbimbaa Pratibimbendu Bimbaa); and as one who resides as the Bindu, in a mansion of ruby (Chintaamani Mandirastha), at the heart of the Sri Chakra (Shreepura Bindu Madhyastha).Here the expression bimbendu, refers to the moon and the point. As per the Tantric ideology the mother goddess is the moon; and the fifteen phases of the moon are her individualized aspects, kalas. She resides in the lunar orb.

The phrase Chintamani mandira-sthitha carries with it an elaborate background. The Devi’s mansion is visualized as situated in a great garden (mahodyana) rich with many species of trees such as Santana, Kalpaka, Hari-chandana, Parijatha, Bilva etc. The garden is enclosed by four ramparts made of nine gems. The central hall of her mansion (prasada) is made of coral (manikya mantapa). Inside this vast enclosure are three tanks (vapika) of immortality (amrita), of biiss (ananda) and of deliberation (vimarsha). There is also a grove of lotus flowers (padmatavi). Amidst all these is the magnificent mansion of the “wish granting jewel” (Chintamani mandira). The mother goddess resides (sthitha) in this enchanting mansion.

At the entrance of this mansion (Kavaata-dvaare), the bejeweled bells (Ghantaamani) constantly (Santatam) ring and announce loudly the message of salvation (Mukti Ghantaamani Ghosaayamaana).

The line “Shivaakaara Manchasthita Shiva-kaamesha-ankasthaa” ordinarily means that the goddess is sitting on the cot in embrace of Shiva. But, in Sri Vidya, the imagery of the cot on which the mother goddess rests has a symbolic significance. The Mother Goddess is imagined to be seated at the Bindu (in her mansion) on a cot (mancha). The four corners of the Bhupura represent the four legs of the cot. The four legs are the four principles of the phenomenal world: emanation (shristi-Brahma); preservation (sthithi-Vishnu); dissolution (upasamhara Rudra);  and  withdrawal of the entire creation into a very subtle form (Ishvara).The plank (phalakha), which rests on the four legs of the cot is Shiva; he represents the principle of reception, retention of the withdrawn phenomena. Such dichotomy of existence is preserved (anugraha) until the time for re-emanation arrives. This principle is Sadashiva tattva (the ever auspicious but inert principle of pure consciousness) ; corpse-like , hence also called Sadashiva-preta .  The Mother Goddess rests on this plank, the principle, of Shiva. The Mother Lalitha is surrounded by nine guardian spirits (nava-shakthi) : vibhuthi (splendor), unnathi (upliftment) , Kaanthi (lustre) , hrsti (satisfaction), kirti (celebrity) , shanthi (courtesy ) , vyushti (prosperity ) , utkrshta (excellence)  and  riddhi  (supremacy or accomplishment).

*

manidwipa-vasini

*

In Tantra, the female is the predominant aspect and the male is subordinate to her. The plank of the cot is male; and the female rests on that. The cot is inert, and the Devi is dynamic. Yet, the male provides the female a field to function; and the two cannot be separated. Sri Chakra demonstrates this principle.

It is explained further, Shiva and Shakthi should not be viewed as mere male or female principles. They are indeed neither male nor female; nor even neuter. They represent the unity of consciousness and energy the very basis and the essence of all Universe.

[The seat of Lalitha or Maha Tripurasundari is Yoga pitha, in the form of red lotus, impressed with the Sri Chakra design, symbolizing the very heart of the devotee. The symbolism of this appears to be that Mother goddess worshipped in Sri Chakra is indeed the universe in all its aspects; and the devotee has to identify this principle in his body; and again his body too is Sri Chakra and the universe in miniature.]

The presiding deity of the avarana is Maha Tripura Sundari and her chakra is Sarvanandamaya chakra. Dikshitar meditates on the chakra and the presiding deity worshipped by Varahi and other attendant deties, the Yoginis (Sukara-ananaadya-arccitaMahaatripura –Sundarim Rajaraajeshvareem).

Dikshitar mentions the Sun (Divaakara), the moon (Sheetakirana) and the fire (Paavaka) as the expansion (Vikaasa) and manifestation of the presiding deity. Here, he is referring to the view that the central point, the Bindu, is actually composed of three dots or drops (Bindu traya) representing three fires (vanhi): Moon (soma); Sun (surya); and Fire (Agni). The Bindu expanding into three three is an act of swelling (ucchuna); and is the immediate unfolding of the Sri Chakra.

Dikshitar then sings the glory and the powers of the mother worshipped by Lakshmi, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma and other divinities.

In the line “Kaamaadi – Dvaadashabhir-upaasita Kaadi – Haadi- Saadi – Mantra-rupinyaah”, Dikshitar is recalling the twelve gurus and the traditions of the Sri Vidya. The Sri Vidya tradition which centres on the worship of Sri Chakra considers the following twelve gods and sages as its gurus: Manu, Chandra, Kubera, Lopamudra, Kama (Manmatha), Agasthya, Nandisha, Surya, Vishnu, Skanda, Shiva and Durvasa. It is said; each of the twelve gurus propagated a school with regard to the worship and significance of Sri Chakra. Of these, only two schools have survived to this day; one is the school started by Manmatha (also called Kamaraja) known as Kadi-matha. The Kadi tradition was continued by sage Agasthya. The other school is Hadi-matha started by Lopamudra wife of the Sage Agastya. There is also an obscure third school called Sadi-matha. Dikshitar belonged to the Kadi Matha School, started by Kamaraja.

Let my loving mind (chittam) be dissolved (vilayatu) in her, whose beloved (prema) is Shiva, and who is the mother (jananyaam) of Guruguha.

In the line “Brahmamaya Prakaashini Naamaroopa VimarshiniDikshtar touches upon the core concepts of Sri Vidya. Shiva as consciousness is illumination (prakasha); and the Kameshwari as the energy to unfold the creation, to evolve, is the deliberation (vimarsha).The two principles are undistinguished, united and in perfect harmony at the time of dissolution (pralaya).They however appear distinct at the time of creation (shristi) and preservation (sthithi).The twin aspects of illumination (prakasha) and evolution (vimarsha) are the basis of the expanding universe. The relation between the two is analogues to that of lamp and its light. The rays of lamp spread in all directions and is responsible for life and its evolution. Shiva is absolute consciousness (Brahmamaya Prakaashini) and vimarsha the energy flows into the world of names and forms (Naamaroopa Vimarshini). These two principles come together again at the time of withdrawal or dissolution.

The phrase “Kaamakalaa Pradarshini “ is again a reference to the concepts of Sri Vidya. The triangular formation of three dots or drops (Bindu traya) at the centre of Sri Chakra is rich in symbolism. The triangle is named Kama Kala. One of the interpretations is that the top dot is shiva and the bottom dots are Shakthi (energy) and nada (sound).Here, Kama is the union of Shiva (kameshvara) and Shakthi (Kameshvari): and the concrete manifestation of the two is Kala. This is also referred to as Nada-bindu-kala.

The other interpretation is that the top dot stands for Kama (primordial desire to evolve) and the bottom two dots represent the manifestation and eventual withdrawal.

The concluding phrase “Saamarasya Nidarshini” suggests the complete harmony (samarasya) of the principle of pure consciousness (Prakasha, Shiva) and the principle of energy, as evolution or expansion (Vimarsha, Shakthi). It signifies (nidarshini) a state of non-duality, a state in which the devotee ultimately rests (Svarupa pratishta).

Dikshitar concludes in his auspicious mangala kriti in deep devotion, fulfilment and celebration of the Mother’s transcendent powers and glory.

[ Note : The worship of Sri Yantra involves use of ten types of Mudras (Dasa-mudrani) – the gestures through the fingers – from Sarva-Samkshobhini to Sarva-Trikhanda . For a discussion on ; and, for the illustration of these Mudras, please click here.]

Sri Rajarajeshwari by Shilpi Sri Siddalaing aSwamy

Reference:

http://www.ecse.rpi.edu/Homepages/shivkuma/personal/music/kamalambasamrakshatu.pdf

Painting of Sri Rajarajeshwrai by Shilpi Siddanthi Shri Siddalainga Swamy of Mysore

 

 
 

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Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar and Sri Vidya (7 of 8)

Kamalamba Navavarana Kritis – Part One

mkamal

Sri Kamalamba at Sri Tyagaraja temple, Tiruvarur.

The years he spent at Tiruvavur were richly creative and highly productive for Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar, the composer. Dikshitar’s creations at Tiruvavur included a set of sixteen kritis on the various attributes of Ganesha; a set of kritis on Thygaraja and Nilothpalambika the presiding deities of Tiruvarur shrine; a set of Tiruvarur Panchalinga kritis; and eleven kritis of Kamalamba Navavarana group.

Dikshitar had developed a fascination for composing a series of kritis on a composite theme, perhaps in an attempt to explore the various dimensions of the subject. In some of these, he employed all the eight Vibhaktis, the various cases that delineate a noun.He also composed a series of kritis in a set of ragas, all ending with the same suffix (e.g.Gaula). No other composer has attempted so many group kritis in such a planned, orderly, meticulous fashion.

The most outstanding of such series of compositions is of course the magnificent Kamalamba Navavarana kritis. They are incomparable compositions and are the jewels of Carnatic music.These compositions, intellectually sublime steeped in deep devotion, are a testimony to Dikshtar’s musical genius, his mastery over the Sanskrit language; and his thorough knowledge of and intense dedication to Sri Vidya, Sri Chakra and the worship of its avaranas.

Through its graceful lyrics , majestic sweep of ragas and descriptive details rich in mystical symbolism of Tantra, Mantra, Yoga, Sri Vidya and Advaita ; Dikshitar virtually threw open the doors to the secret world of Sri Vidya,to all those eager to approach the Divine Mother through devotion and music.

It is amazing how Dikshitar builds into each of his crisp and well-knit structure of lyrics, the references to the name of the chakra; the names of its presiding deity, yoginis, mudras, Siddhis and the gurus of the Kadi tradition of Sri Vidya ;and to the seed(Beeja) mantras. In addition he manages to insert, as ever, cogently, the name of the raga and his signature. The Kamalamba Navavarana is a treasure house not merely to the classical musicians but also to the Sri Vidya upasakas.

Kamala is one of the ten maha_Vidyas, the principle deities of the Shaktha tradition of Tantra. But, the Sri Kamalamba referred to by Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar in this set of kritis, is the Supreme Divine Mother herself. The immediate inspiration to Dikshitar was, of course, Sri Kamalamba (regarded one of the sixty-four Shakthi centers), the celebrated deity at the famous temple of Sri Tyagaraja and Sri Nilothpalambika in Tiruvavur.

Thyagarajasvami and his consort Nilotpalamba

Interestingly, the temple complex also accommodates the shrines of Maha_Ganapathi, Subrahmanya, Dakshinamurty and Balamba; all Shakthi deities. The temple complex has a Pushkarini, a lake, named kamalalaya, the abode of Kamala.This tank is reffered to by Dikshitar , in his kritis ,  as Kamalalaya thirtha and the Devi is Kamalalaya thirtha vaibhave. The town of Tiruvarur  is mentioned as Kamala nagara (e.g. Kamalanagara viharinai) and as Kamala pura(e.g.Kamalapura sadanam) ; referring to Devi as one who resides in and walks about the town of Kamalapura/Kamalanagara.

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar follows the Smahara krama, the absorption path, of Sri Chakra puja and proceeds from the outer avarana towards the Bindu in the ninth avarana at the center of the Sri Chakra. At each avarana, he submits his salutation and worships the presiding deity, the yogini (secondary deity) and the attendant siddhis of that avarana; and describes the salient features of the avarana according to the Kadi School of the Dakshinamurthy tradition of Sri Vidya. It is in effect both worship and elucidation.

Dikshitar devoted one composition to each of the nine avaranas. In addition, there is a Dhyana Kriti, a verse in meditation, preceding the set of nine; and a mangala kriti, the verse celebrating the auspicious conclusion, at the end. Thus, the Navavarana composition of Dikshitar, per se, is a set of eleven kritis.

It is customary, as a prelude to Kamalamba Navavarana group of kritis, to invoke Maha_Ganapathi and Lord Subrahmanya by singing Shri Mahaganapathivaratu mam (Gaula) followed byBalasubrahmanyam Bhaje (Surati).

The Dhyana kriti Kamalambike_ashrita_kalpa_lathike is composed in Raga Todi (Rupaka); while the concluding Mangala kriti Shri_Kamalambike is in the auspicious Shri Raga.

[The Dhyana kriti in Todi does not bear the customary Raga_mudra, the name of its Raga.]

Thus the vocal tradition of the Kamalamba Navavarana has a set of thirteen kritis. The core kritis are however the nine relating to nine avaranas of Sri Chakra.

For the core nine kritis sang in worship of the Navavaranas of Sri Chakra, Dikshitar employed eleven different Ragas and eight different Vibhakthis (case endings denoting the noun) of Sanskrit grammar; and for the ninth avarana kriti he employs a garland of all the eight Vibhakthis.

As regards the Raga-mudra, a distinctive feature of Dikshitar’s compositions, the kritis in Anandabhairavi (first avarana), and shankarabharaaam (third avarana) indicate their Ragas   only partially (the word “Ananda” for the former, and shankara for the latter). The kambhoji, Sahana, and Ahiri compositions have their Raga mudras hidden within complex phrases.  In all the other kritis, the Raga mudra is explicit.

The following briefly is representation of the kriti, the Raga, the taala and the Vibhakthi of the nine kritis:

No. Kriti Raga Tala Vibhakthi
1 Kamalambam
Samrakshatu
Ananda-
Bhairavi
Triputa Prathama
2 Kamalambam-
bhajare
Kalyani Adi Dwitiya
3 Sri Kamalam-
bikaya
Shankara-
bharanam
Rupaka Trutiya
4 Kamalambi-
kayai
Kambhoji (Kanda)
Atta
Chaturti
5 Sri Kamalabi-
kayah
Bhairavi Misra-
Jampa
Panchami
6 kamalambi-
kaya stava
Punnagavarali Rupaka Shasti
7 Sri kamalambi-
kayam
Sahana Triputa Saptami
8 Sri Kamalam-
bike
Ghanta Adi Sambho-
dana
9 Sri Kamalamba-
Jayathi
Ahiri Rupaka Sarva-
Vibhakthi*
For the complete text of the Kamalamba Navavarana kritis in English Click here * Meaning that all the eight vibhakthis are employed ; a unique feat.

and for the Sanskrit text please click here.

There are several theories explaining Dikshitar’s selection of Ragas for these kritis. Dikshitar was a meticulous person and had a methodical approach to life and to his works. Dr. R K Srikantan, the celebrated Carnatic musician and scholar, feels that the Ragas selected for these kritis are stringed together by an underlying scheme that is at once simple and logical. He observes that the Raga of each kriti flows into the next, seamlessly with minimum alteration in the structure of its swaras. Here is an extract from his article:

Sri Dikshitar followed the Venkatamakhin sampradaya – the scheme of classifying the Ragas – where Bhairavi and Ananda- bhairavi were treated as Upanga – Ragas. The Ragas adopted by Sri Dikshitar for the nine (Navavarana) Kritis, could broadly be classified under three main categories: two Mela-karta Ragas (Kalyani and Shankarabharnam); three Upanga Ragas (Shahana, Bhairavi, Aanda-bhairavi); and four Bhashanga Ragas (khambhoji, Punagavarali, Ghanta and Ahiri)

The Swara-structure, the sequential change of Ragas was methodical:

Sri Dikshitar has used only four Chakras * – Veda, Netra, Bana and Rudra. This corresponds to the four types of structures in the Sri-Chakra, viz.:  square (chaturanga), circle (vyuha), triangle (tri kona) and point (bindu).

The Swara-structure, the sequential change of Ragas was methodical:

1. From Ananda-bhairavi to Kalyani meant a change of Gandhara.

2. From Kalyani to Shankarabharanam meant a only a change of madhyama.

3. From Shankarabharanam to Khamboji meant an addition of a nishada.

4. From khamboji to Bhairavi meant removal of the additional nishada, addition of a dhaivata and change of gandhara.

5. From Bhairavi to Punnagavarali meant removal of the additional dhavata and introduction of a rishabha.

6. The next song shows changes in gandhara and dhaivata after the removal of the additional rishabha.

7. Ghanta indicates addition of Rishabha and dhaivatha with change in gandhara.

8. The last change is extremely complex. It basically indicates addition of gandhara and nishadha.

[For more on that theme, please check here ]

[* Sri Srikantan is referring to 12 series or Chakras in which the 72 Melakartas are arranged:

The 72 Mēḷakarta ragas are split into 12 groups called Chakrās, with each Chakra containing 6 ragas. The ragas within the chakra differ only in the dhaivatam and nishadam notes (D and N). The name of each of the 12 chakras suggests their ordinal number as well.

The twelve Chakras are:

  • 1. Indu (moon, one);
  • 2. Netra (eyes, two);
  • 3. Agni (sacrificial fires, three types: garha-patya, Ahavaniya and Daksina; and Agni has two other names : Vaishvanara and Jatavedasa);
  • 4. Veda (four Vedas- Rig, Sama, Yajur & Atharvana );
  • 5.Bana (arrows of Manmatha the cupid-five: Aravinda/Asoka/Chuta/Nava-mallika/Nilotpala);
  • 6. Ritu (seasons – six seasons of the year-Vasanta, Greeshma, Varsha, Sharad, Sisira and Hemanta );
  • 7. Rishi (sages – saptharishi – seven –Gowtama, Viswamitra, Kashyapa, Jamadagni, Bharadwaja, Atri and Vasishta);
  • 8. Vasu (a group of celestial beings –  asta-vasu. eight – Aapa, Dhruva, Soma, Dava, Pratyusha, Anila, Anala and Prabhasa));
  • 9. Brahma (reference to the nine cycles of the universe, each presided over by a Brahma – Nava Brahma- Atri, Angirasa, Brighu, Daksha, Kashyapa, Pulaha, Marichi, Vasishta and Pulastya);
  • 10. Dishi (ten directions – eight plus above and below – their guardians being : Indra, Agni, Yama, Niruddhi, Varuna, Vayu, Kubera and Isana ; plus , Akasha and Patala);
  • 11. Rudra (Ekadasha Rudra – eleven forms of Rudra – Aja, Dwasha, Ekapada, Triambake, Aparajita, Isana, Tribhuvana, Sambhu, Hara, Rudra and Ahirputniya); and
  • 12. Aditya ( a group of twelve celestial beings – Dwadasha Aditya – Poosha, Bhaskara, Marichi, Arka, Khaga, Surya, Mitra, Aditya, Ravi, Bhanu, Savita and Hiranyagarbha)

**

The Svaras (notes) involved with the four Chakras  referred  to by Sri Srikantan are:

Veda: Sa, Chatusruthi Rishaba, Sadharana Gandhara, Suddha Ma

Netra: Sa, Suddha Rishaba, Sadharana Gandhara, Suddha Ma

Bana: Sa, Chatusruthi Rishaba, Anthara Gandhara, Suddha Ma

Rudra: Sa, Chatusruthi Rishaba, Anthara Gandhara, Prati Ma

For more , please do read Sri S Rajam’s most wonderful illustrations of the 12 Chakras and their 72 Melakarta-s.

http://www.indian-heritage.org/music/Melakartha%20Raga%20Booklet%20-%20new.pdf ]

As regards the Ahiri, the Raga of the kriti associated with the ninth avarana, there is a view, the raga has all the twenty-two notes in the octave; and such a fusion of all melodic and temporal elements in the same kriti is rather unusual especially when the pallavi has distinctive prose sections put together, seamlessly.

Before we enter a discussion on the Navavarana kritis, let us take a broad look at their association with the Chakras, the deities, the Yoginis, and Siddhis etc. of the Sri Chakra.

No. Kriti Chakra Deity Yogini/

 Siddhis

01 Kamalamba

Sam-rakshathu

Bhupura Tripura Prakata /

 

Anima

02 Kamalambaam

Bhajare

Shodasha

dala padma

Tripuresi Gupta/

Laghima

03 Sri  Kamalam

bikaya

Asta dala

padma

Tripura

sundari

Guptatara/

Mahima

 

04 Kamalam

bikayai

Chaturdasha Tripura

vasini

Sampradaya/

Ishitva

05 Sri  Kamalam

bikayah

Bahirdasha Tripura

shri

Kula/

Vasithva

 

06 Kamalam

bikaya sthava

Antar

dasahara

Tripura

malini

Nigarbha/

Pranamya

 

07 Sri Kamalam

bikayaam

Astara Tripura

siddha

Rahasya/

Bhutkhi

 

08 Sri Kamala

mbike

Trikona Tripura

amba

Athi Rahasya/

Iccha

 

09 SriKamal

ambaa Jayathi

Bindu Maha

Tripura

sundari

Parathi

para Rahasya/

 

Prapthi

The Kamalamba Navavarana kritis are works of musical and poetic excellence. They are adorned with sublime music, intellectual sophistication, soulful devotional lyrics and richly imaginative poetic imagery. Listening to the kritis is a truly rewarding experience, even if one is not aware of or ignores the underlying connotations of Sri Chakra and Sri Vidya tradition.

The discussion on each of the Navavarana kritis, with reference to and in the light of traditions, concepts and lore of Sri Chakra and Sri Vidya, follows in the next page.

 

Continued in the Next Part

Kamalamba Navavarana Kritis – Part Two

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Music, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Sri Vidya, Tantra

 

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Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar and Sri Vidya (5 0f 8)

Sri Chakra and Sri Vidya

According to Tantric texts, the Chakra, Mandala or Yantra is a sphere of influence and a consecrated environment. It is an instrument to harmonize feelings; and also to coordinate inner and outer forces.

The term Yantra is derived from the root yam suggesting a sense of control (say, as in niyantra to control), giving raise to the meaning of an instrument that can control or be controlled. In that sense, the body is a yantra. The other term tra is from the root word trayati, that which liberates. Yantra is that which controls and liberates. It draws towards the centre as also takes away from the centre of all reality.

The basic energies of the universe, which are the deities, can be approached through a mental creative process, that is, through words or through created forms. Deities are therefore represented both in words and forms.

There are different degrees of abstraction. We can represent a deity through the description of its characteristics in words, or sounds, that is, mantras. Similarly, we can represent a deity through diagrams, geometrical abstractions   or patterns, the yantra. The representation of a deity through mantra or yantra is considered more subtle than through an image.

Yantras are the visual equivalents of the mantras. The yantra has the mantra as its soul; and the deity is the soul of the mantra. The difference between the mantra and the deity is the difference between the body and the soul. The deity is invoked by drawing its yantra and calling its subtle name (bija akshara).

All the elementary geometric figures –lines, triangles, crosses, and point (bindu) – have a symbolic value corresponding to their basic notions. They can be combined to form complex figures to give expression to forces, the inner aspects and qualities embodied in a given form of creation. It is said, there no shape, no form which may not be reduced to yantra patterns. Every shape, every leaf, every flower is a yantra, which through its shape, colour, formation, perfume can tell the story of its creation.

srichakra0001

Yantras which are drawn on flat surfaces are basically conceived as solid forms. The drawing is a mere suggestion of its three dimensional aspects of the yantra. And, the yantra is itself a static image of the moving, living combination of forces represented in a divinity.

PANCHALOGHA MAHA MERU Sri yanta 3d

A Yantra is structured in three levels, of spaces, the level of physical world of beings and things (mahakasha); the level of thoughts and feelings (Chittakasha); and the level of pure, undifferentiated consciousness (Chidakasha).The first level is predominantly inert , Tamas; while the second level is active and emotional, Rajas. The third level is of light and pure awareness Sattva. A Yantra is a means to progress from the gross to the subtle, sukshma.

To put it in another way, Yantra is an instrument to transform matter into energy and the energy into consciousness. In the final analysis, the walls separating the objective world, the subjective person and the Universal consciousness break down; and it is all One in the end. This complete harmony of existence is symbolized by Bindu, a dimensionless point at the centre of the Yantra or Chakra.

In fact, chakra is regarded the expansion or the evolution of that Bindu. The Bindu in turn is epitome or the microcosm of the Chakra. The Yantra facilitates the movement of consciousness from the concrete form of Chakra to the abstract Bindu. It also enables movement from the abstract Bindu to the form of Chakra. A Yantra in essence is a map of the universe in its emanation and absorption.

Sri Chakra

Sri Chakra Yantra is regarded the supreme Yantra, the Yantra Raja, the king of Yantras. It is the Yantra of the Shaktha school of Tantra. It is also variously regarded as the visual representation of the city, mansion, island or the body of the mother goddess Devi, Tripurasundari, Lalitha, Rajarajeshwari and Parabhattarika, the supreme controller. The design also stands for this divinity’s court with all her attendant aids, guards, pavililions, enclosures and entrances. The principal divinity is regarded as being at the centre, the Bindu of the chakra.

The prefix Sri denotes that the Yantra is auspicious, beneficent, salutary, benign and conducive to prosperity. Sri is Lakshmi, the goddess of beauty and prosperity. Sri is also the Mother goddess who rules the universe (tvam sris tvam ishvari).She is called mother because all living beings depend upon her for being, for happiness for fulfillment of their destiny (sriyete sarvair iti sriah). Sri Chakra is a representation of the interplay of the principles of pure consciousness (Shiva) and primordial power (Shakthi). Sri Chakra represents the essential aspects of the universe and also the constitution of the devotee’s body-mind complex.

The concept and worship of Sri Chakra is relevant in the context of an esoteric discipline known as Sri Vidya.

Sri Vidya is hailed as the Vidya of Sri (the knowledge that leads to the ultimate benefit mukthi – liberation), she therefore is the highest divinity. Sri Vidya is also the Vidya that yields Sri (prosperity). Sri Vidya is thus Bhukthi Mukthi prada the bestower of well-being, prosperity and liberation. Sri Vidya is the path and also the goal.

Vidya usually stands for knowledge, learning, discipline and a system of thought. But, in the context of Tantra, it has an extended meaning. Here, it variously refers to a female deity, to the personification of her consciousness; or to the manifestation of her power.Each of these vidyas has a characteristic form and particular dhyana, mantra, kavacha and other  worship details .

Devi Durga is described as the Vidya in all beings (Ya Devi sarvabhutheshu, Vidya rupena samsthita); and , the form of her Vidya is the primordial energy Adi prakrithi.

The Tantra texts classify ten divinities into three levels of Vidyas:

(1) Maha_vidya, the extraordinary Vidyas, consisting Kali and Tara. The worship of these divinities requires great rigor, austerity, devotion, persistence and a sort of detachment. The practice of Maha_vidya is very difficult and filled with risks and dangers ;

(2) Vidya, the normal Vidyas consist deities Shodashi (or Tripura), Bhuvaneshwari, Bhiravi, Chinmastha and Dhumavathi. The practice of this class of Vidya is considered safe and suitable for householders;

and

(3) Siddha Vidya, the Vidya for adepts involves deities Kamalaa, Matangi and Bhagalamukhi. This class is not for normal persons as it involves rituals that cannot be practiced normally.

Shodashi is the first among the Vidyas in the middle group; she is otherwise known as Sri Vidya. Shodashi literally meaning “a girl of sixteen” is identified with deities Lalitha, Raja_rajeshwari, Sundari, Kameshwari and Bala. Lalitha is the playful one; all creation, manifestation and dissolution is her play. She is Mahatripura Sundari the most magnificent transcendental beauty without a parallel in all the three worlds. She is the conqueror of three levels of existence.

The Tantra texts however explain that the Vidya is called Shodashi because the mantra of the Vidya is made up of sixteen seed _syllables (bija akshara). There is another school (Kadi Vidya) which says the mantra consists fifteen visible syllables (ka e i la hrim; ha sa ka ha la hrim; sa ka la hrim). It is explained that ka represents the air; ha the fire; sa the water; la the earth and e the space. The fifteen syllables are: one of space, two of air; three of fire; four of water; and five of earth. The sixteenth letter is “srim” in subtle form. The mantra then becomes Shodashi, the sixteen lettered.

The fifteen lettered (panch-dasha-akshari) mantra  is  considered the verbal form of the Devi. But, it is implicit or hidden. It is only when the sixteenth syllable ‘Srim’ is included; the mantra becomes explicit or becomes visible. Srim is regarded the original or the own form of the Mother Goddess. And, with the sixteenth syllable (Srim) the She comes to be celebrated as Sri-vidya.  And, the mantra itself becomes the body of the Mother Goddess. She manifests the un-manifest. She is Prakrti. The auspicious Sri (Srim) is thus revered as Saguna Brahman,  the sa-kara approach to the absolute principle of the Devi. 

The mantra (fifteen or sixteen letters) is , thus, an expression of Sri Vidya. The verbal expression (nada or sound) of the Vidya is mantra and its visual expression is the Sri Chakra Yantra. The two are essentially the same. Both seek identity of consciousness with Maha Tripura Sundari.

Ka is the first letter in the fifteen-lettered (pancha-dashi) mantra of the Devi in the Sri Vidya tradition. Ka is an important syllable in the fifteen-lettered mantra, for it appears three times. Here, Ka variously stands the principle from which everything arises; for illumination (Kan dipatu) or the principle of consciousness (buddhi) in beings; and, also for the symbol of Self.  And Ka also stands for  the form-less Brahman (ka iti Brahmano naamah). 

The fifteen lettered mantra is divided into three groups: ka e i la hrim; ha sa ka ha la hrim; and; sa ka la hrim. The three groups that constitute the mantra are called Kuta (peaks) or Khanda (segments). They are interpreted variously in sets of three as: 

  • Agni(fire) , Surya(sun) and Chandra(moon); 
  • srishti (creation), Shtithi (preservation) and laya (dissolution);
  •  Iccha ( will), jnana(knowledge)and kriya (action);
  • Sattva, Rajas and Tamas;
  • Jagrat (wakefulness); swapna (dream state) and sushupthi (deep sleep);
  • jnatra (the knower), jnana (the knowledge) and jneya ( the known) ;
  • Atma (individual self) , Antaratma (inner being) and Paramatma (supreme self); and as ,
  • Past , present and future.

There is also a view that the first group starting with ka is kadi_matha (ka e i la hrim); the second group starting with ha is hadi_matha ( ha sa ka ha la hrim ); and the third group starting with sa is sadi_matha (sa ka la hrim ).

Another interesting aspect is that the vowels (aa, e, i etc.) are regarded as representations of Shakthi; while the 35 consonants are basically inert and depend on vowels (just as Shiva depends on Shakthi) to manifest in a meaningful form. It is only when the germinating power (bija) of the vowels is infused with consonants, the latter gain meaning. That is the reasons the vowels are Bija aksharas. They transform ordinary letters into mother like condition (matrika); that is, they impregnate ordinary letters with meaning and power.

Sri Vidya is also described as Chandra_kala_vidya, the lore of the lunar digits. This school of Sri Vidya explains that the fifteen letters of the mantra correspond to fifteen digits of the moon in each fortnight commencing from prathipada, the first day of the brighter half, when the moon “comes out of the sun”; and ending with the full moon on the fifteenth day. Similarly, in the dark half of the moon cycles, all digits “return to the sun”. The emanation of the fifteen digits of the moon from the sun culminates in the full moon (purnima); while the absorption of the digits into the sun results in new moon (Amavasya).The sixteenth letter (Shodasha kala or Srim) is said to be present in each of the digits which are called Kalas or nityas. The digits are invoked as forms of the Mother goddess.

The first digit is Maha Tripura Sundari; the second is Kameshwari; and the third is Bhagamalini. These three together form the primary triangle which is the immediate unfolding of the central Bindu representing Mother Goddess.

The Sri Vidya tradition which centers on the worship of Sri Chakra, considers the following twelve gods and sages as its gurus: Manu, Chandra, Kubera, Lopamudra, Manmatha, Agasthya, Nandisha, Surya, Vishnu, Skanda, Shiva and Durvasa. It is said each of the twelve gurus propagated a school with regard to the worship and significance of Sri Chakra.  Of these, only two schools have survived to this day; one is the school started by Manmatha (also called Kamaraja) known as Kadi_matha. The Kadi tradition was continued by sage Agastya. The other school is Hadi_matha started by Lopamudra wife of the Sage Agastya. There is also a mention of an obscure third school called Sadi_matha.

Of the three, the Kadi_ matha (with its mantra starting with letter Ka) is regarded the oldest and its attitude and worship is Sattvic. It insists on virtue, discipline and purity of rituals. The prominent gurus of this school are Paramashiva, Durvasa, Hayagreeva and Agasthya. Of the other two schools, Hadi_matha is Rajasik and the Sadi _matha is Tamasik.

Kadi matha accepts Vedic authority and formulates its position in accordance with the Vedic tradition. The other school is considered different (iyam anya cha vidya).The term Samaya also means Vedic convention as orthodox and valid. Hence Kadi School came to be known as Samaya.

Samaya believes in sameness of Shiva and Shakthi; and the form of worship is purely internal. Hence Kadi School is also known as Para Vidya where the worship (archana) is conducted in the space of one’s heart (hrudayakasha madhye).

The external worship conducted say by Kaulas, lays greater importance on the Muladhara and Swadhistana chakras which are said be situated at the base of the spinal column which relate essentially to physiological needs and psychological urges. The Samaya School , on the other hand, prescribes that the internal  worship (antar aradhana) be conducted  at higher levels, viz., from Manipura to Sahasra. The seat of Tripura is at Sahasra, beyond the six chakras. It is also the seat of supreme consciousness, Shiva from which Shakthi springs forth.

Shakthi is of the same nature as Brahma (Brahma rupini) that divides itself five-fold. It is a spontaneous unfoldment. In Samaya system Brahman is called Sadashiva; it is the Bindu, from which emerges nada which is Para_shakthi. It is at the Sahasra, the Bindu Sthana that Shiva and Shakthi reside. They are the same; one cannot be without the other.

Samaya is centred on knowledge (jnana) which is the realization of the identity of Shiva and Shakthi: Shiva becomes Kameshwara and Kameshwari becomes Shiva. Their names too get intertwined, for instance, Shiva and Shivaa; Tripura and Tripuraa; Bhava and Bhavani; Shambu and Shambhavi; Rudra and Rudrani; and Sundara and Sundari etc.

Dakshinamurthi is a revered seer of the Kadi (samaya) School. The term Dakshina literally means a woman and refers to the feminine principle, which can create, unfold and manifest. When Dakshina assumes a form, it results in Dakshinamurthi a variety of Shiva’s forms. Dakshinamurthi, as ardha_nari; Kameshwara and Kameshwari are together regarded the principle deities of Kadi School.

Sri Chakra is the main device employed by Kadi (Samaya) school; and the worship is mainly through symbolisms and successive identifications. The symbolism involves identification (saamaya) of the arrangements and the lines of the diagram with the structure of the Universe; the psychophysical aspects of the devotee with the spatial arrangement of the diagram representing the goddess; and identifying the Mantra with the Yantra.

As regards the worship of Sri Chakra, there are three recognized procedures :

  1. Hayagreeva tradition regarded as Dakshina_chara, the right handed method, reciting Lalitha_sahasra Nama and Lalitha_tristathi offering kunkumam.
  2. Anandabhirava tradition , a Vama_chara,a left handed method; and
  3.  Dakshinamurthy tradition , a doctrinal school.

Of the three, the last one is considered the best.

Sri Vidya  traditions speak of two forms of Sri Chakra. One is its physical representation of lines and forms. This form entails external worship (puja) according to prescriptions of kalpa sutra spread over 26 steps. Here, Kameshwara and Kameshwari are the deities that receive worship.

There are, again, three methods of worship of Sri Chakra. The shrishti_krama the expansion mode of worship, carried out in morning, comprehends the chakra from the central point the Bindu to the outer square. The Sthithi_krama the preservation mode of worship, carried out in the afternoon, comprehends the chakra from the outer square to the eight-fold lotus and from the Bindu to the fourteen cornered figure. The third, Samhara_krama the absorption mode of worship, carried out in the night, comprehends the chakra from the outer square to the central point.

 [Even in this method the visualizations and contemplations are not entirely dispensed with.]

The other form of worship is Viyacchakra, the chakra emerging within ones heart. This entails visualization of Bindu, which is in the centre of the Sahasra, within ones heart. The ability to visualize Viyacchakra is known assamaya. The worship (maanasa puja) is offered internally and consists wholly of visualizations and contemplations; and is carried out in seclusion by one who is in control of his senses.

The process here involves a four-fold conceptualization of identity (aikya chintana). They are , briefly :

  1. Identity of the Supreme goddess who is un_manifest with Sri Chakra which is manifest;
  2. Identity of the design of Sri Chakra with the Universe. It is viewed as a cosmogram ;
  3. Identity of the individual with the Universe . This is done primarily on the basis of the Shat chakra ideology (six chakras- muladhara, svadhistana, manipura, anahata, visuddha and ajna) and the tattvas , the principles , of Shaivagama;  and ,
  4.  Identity of the letters of the alphabets (matrikas) with the deities located in various segments of the Sri Chakra.

As can be seen from the above the six factors involved are :

  1. the Universe (Brahmanda);
  2. the individual (pindanda);
  3. the structure of Sri Chakra;
  4. the letters of the alphabets(matrikas);
  5. the goddess (Devi); and
  6. the mantra specific to her.

[It is explainedMatrka-cakra, is the articulate sound over which all our thoughts, emotions, aspirations fears and pleasures are woven, as nothing can go beyond the articulate sound, which evolves into an extremely complex universe of sentence to meanings, meanings to mental images and mental images to pleasures and pain. This is called as matrka-sakti that can spread out externally by way of object-denotations, cognition, intentions (raja), emotions like sorrow, pleasure, envy, memory traces etc.(vikalpa), and the world of endless differentiation. This is the outward emanation (vikasa), standing for creation (srishti-krama); and, it can also contract (sankocha) by withdrawing the world of differentiations into pure awareness (samhara)]

The Tantra texts emphasize the merit of inner worship (antar_yaga), once a fair degree of understanding has been gained. They said “Best of all forms of worship is inner worship. External worship (ritualistic) is to be resorted until the dawn of understanding.”

In any case, Sri Vidya is the worship of Mother Goddess incarnated in the Sri Chakra. Her worship includes the worship of her consorts (Devata) and aids (yogini); all of whom are female. The ritualistic details are characteristically feminine.

The Upaasana of Srividya is explained in Upanishads like Kenopanishad and Bhavanopanishad ; and , in various Tantra texts, extensively. For more on the worship practices, please click here.

A Sri Vidya Upasaka worships beauty and grace; rejecting ugliness in thought, word and deed.  Sri Vidya is the path of devotion and wisdom. The wisdom consists in realizing ones identity (sva svarupa prapti) with the Mother Goddess. It is this wisdom that liberates the devotee (jivan Mukthi). This liberating wisdom is granted to him by the Mother out of pure love, when the devotee surrenders to her completely in full faith and devotion. The Mother is the path and the goal. Sri Vidya is the culmination of all paths, the consummation of all transformations.

lotus-flower-meaning-3

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar was initiated into Srividya Maha Shodasakshari Diksha. In his first kriti , he referrers  to the Guru tradition, its twelve gurus and three schools of worship, kadi, hadi and Sadi: Kamaadi dwadashabhirupa_sthitha kadi hadi sadi mantra rupinya . Dikshitar also mentions that he followed the tradition of the sages Durvasa , Agasthya and Hayagreeva ; and declares he belonged to Kadi school: maatmaka kadi mathanusthano.

Dikshitar followed the Kadi practice of worship of Sri Chakra from Bhupura the outer square to the Bindu the central point. He had a certain pride in his tradition; in his kriti Kamalambikaihe states “prabala guruguha sampradaya anthah karayayai referring to his hallowed tradition

Dikshitar composed about 40 kritis spread over four sets of compositions on the subjects related to Sri Vidya;  Kamalamba Navavarana (11+ 2 kritis); Nilothpalamba kritis (8 kritis); Abhayamba kritis (10 kritis) and Guru Kritis (8 kritis). Of these the Kamalamba set of kritis, is highly well organized; and,  is truly remarkable for its classic structure , majesty and erudite knowledge. More of that in the succeeding sections.

Muthuswami Dikshitar, in his kritis, yearns for Videha Mukthi. He beseeches the Divine Mother repeatedly and addresses her as one who grants Videha mukthi (Mamaka videha mukthi sadanam– Ranganayakam-Nayaki); the bestower of videha mukthi (vikalebara kaivalya danaya– Guruguhaya-Sama); and at times , he feels he is nearing videha mukthi(Videha kaivalyam yami-Tyagaraje-Saranga). Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar was a jivan Muktha who attained his Videha Mukthi.

Videha mukthi is a concept of the later Advaita schools. It believes, one can attain liberation (moksha) from attachments while still encased in a body. Such an attained one is Jivan Muktha. The body continues to function till its Prarabdha Karma is exhausted; thereafter, the mortal coils fall away. Videha mukthi is shedding off the body by a Jivan muktha, the one who has already attained liberation.

Jivanmukthi, emancipation while yet alive, is also a concept of the Tantra Siddantha which believes that it is possible for a person to transact with the world without getting involved in it. In other words, one lives on actively and cheerfully, amidst distractions and confusions of the world without letting his self reflect them. His moorings in the phenomenal world have withered away, his instinct of self-preservation and insecurity has been minimized. He is alive only to essential thing in life that is the source of life. The real world continues to exist for him. But he does not rest in the world but rests in himself (Svarupa pratishta).

In the Sri Vidya  tradition, a jivan muktha is a devotee, a bhaktha as well as a jnani the wise one. Here, the wisdom consists in realizing his identity (sva svarupa prapti) with the Mother goddess. It is this wisdom that liberates him (jivan Mukthi). This liberating wisdom is granted to him by the Mother out of pure love, when he completely surrenders to her in full faith and devotion.

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar, either way, was a jivan Muktha who attained Videha Mukth with the grace of the Devi.

Continued in the Next Part

The structure of Sri Chakra

 

Reference;

The Tantra of Sri Chakra by Prof.SK Ramachandra Rao (1953)

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2012 in Music, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Sri Vidya, Tantra

 

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