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Srisukta Part Three

Continued from Part Two

Please do read Part One which serves as an introduction to Srisukta

Please also click here for a rendering of Srisukta (The link seems to work better with Google Chrome)

Mantra Eight


क्षुत्पिपासामलां ज्येष्ठामलक्ष्मीं नाशयाम्यहम् |
अभूतिमसमृद्धिं च सर्वां निर्णुद मे गृहात् ||८||

Kshut pipásá-amalám jyesthám alakshmím náshayámy aham
Abhūtim asamriddhim cha sarván nirnuda me grihat|| (8)

 [The Rishi of the mantra is Maha Vishnu; Its Chhandas is Anustubh; and its Devata is Sarva-aishwarya–karini Mahalakshmi who grants all kinds of riches. Kshum is the Bija; Haam is the Shakthi; and, Srim is the Kilaka. Its viniyoga is a-lakshmim-nasham.]

By your grace, I shall get rid of Jyeshta, the A-lakshmi who is the very personification of hunger, thirst, squalor and all other miseries. Oh Mother, drive away from my home pain, poverty, and decadence.


20.1. The eighth verse of Srisukta submits a prayer to destroy A-lakshmi (alakshmír me naśyatám). And, as mentioned, A-lakshmi is the opposite of Lakshmi and stands for everything that Lakshmi is not. A-lakshmi is personified as Jyeshta the elder sister of Lakshmi; and she is portrayed as ugly, irritable, cruel and impoverished. Jyeshta represents  the wretched and loathsome aspects of life.

20.2. One of the commentaries mentions the six types of miseries or six waves of disturbances (shad-urmi) that afflict human life. They are: hunger (kshuda); thirst (pipasa); agony of grief (shoka – mano vyadha); delusion (moha); old age or decay (jara); and, death (marana).

These miseries are attributed to the evil influence of three types of A-lakshmis. Of these the first two (hunger and thirst) are caused by Jyeshta, the elder A-Lakshmi. The next two (grief and delusion) are said to be caused by Madhyama, the middle or the second A-Lakshmi. And, the other two miseries (decay and death) are said to be caused by Kanishta the least or the third A-Lakshmi. All these A-Lakshmis hinder life.

20.3. The devotee prays to Sri to drive out (nirnuda) of his home abhooti (an-aishwarya, the lack of well being) which is poverty, and asamriddhi (lack of progress or growth) which is decay.

21.1. The Dhyana-sloka of this verse is addressed to Garuda, Suparna the King of the ‘sunbirds’ who destroys ignorance and misery.


Ajnana-pathaka-tamah-sthiti- surya-rashmim
daurbhagya-bhu-dhara- vidarana- vajra-mide |
roga-arti-ghora-phani mardana pakshi-rajam
lakshmi-pada-dwaya-anartha- haram sukharthi ||

Mantra Nine

गंधद्वारां दुराधर्षां नित्यपुष्टां करीषिणीम् |
ईश्वरीं सर्वभूतानां तामिहोपह्वये श्रियम् ||९||

Gandha dvárám durá dharşhám nitya-pushtám karíshiním
Iśhvarígm sarva bhūtánám tám ihó pahvaye śhriyam| (9)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Maha Vishnu; its Chhandas is Anustubh; and, its Devata is Sri Mahalakshmi. Gam is the Bija; Hrim is the Shakthi; and, Shrim is Kilaka. Its viniyoga is krishi-phala, dhana-dhanya-sampath, and Prabhtva-prapti.]

I pray to Sri who is forgiving and tolerant as the Mother earth, who is richly fragrant and ever nourishing, who is always prosperous, who is the supreme ruler of all creatures, and without whom no life is possible. May that Sri who is full of love towards all enter my life.


22.1. Sri is addressed in this verse as Mother Earth who supports and sustains all life, with infinite patience and with boundless love towards all. No life is possible without Sri and her grace; and, she is indestructible (durdasham).

22.2. The other explanation for the term durdasham is that Sri yields only to untainted love and devotion (bhakthi-vashya); and, never to compulsion or force.

23.1. Fragrance or the sense of smell (gandha) is the basic property (guna) of the principle of Earth-element (prithvi tattva). Sri being Prithvi, fragrance is one her characteristics. She is gandha-vathi, the one who is endowed with fragrance. Later, in the epics, Bhu (earth) comes to be recognized as one of the direct (pratyaksha) forms of Lakshmi.  The Lalitha-ashtottara-shata-naamavali that adores Devi Lalitha with 1008 names opens with the phrase which celebrates the Mother in the form of the Earth (Bhu rupa) that sustains all life: Bhu-rupa-sakala-adharai-namaha.

23.2. Sri is also the guardian deity of agriculturists; and, she is associated with agricultural prosperity, fertility and wealth (nityam-sada-sasyadibh-samriddham). Sri as earth is the eternal source of all forms of life and their nourishment (nitya-pushtam karishinim).Sri combines in herself the aspects of prosperity and productivity , which again are the virtues of Prithvi , the Mother Earth.

23.3. Karsha is one of the many names of Earth. It indicates auspiciousness (mangala pradathrim) as also the property to attract and hold (aakarshana, gravity).

24.1. It is said; the term karshnim also means cow dung,which is very essential for the success of agriculture. Plenty of cow dung is also indicative of abundance of cattle wealth (gau-samriddhi). There is a close association between Sri, cows and cow-products. The other ancient texts too cite this association. For instance; Maitrayani Samhita mentions that the other name for cow-pen is Lakshmi (goṣṭho vai nāmaiṣa lakṣmīḥ : MS: 4.2.1). And, Satapatha Brahmana states that one who has attained Sri (prosperity) is known as purishya, having plenty of cow-manure (purīṣya iti vai tamāhuryaḥ śriyaṃ gacati samānaṃ vai purīṣaṃ: SB:

25.1. The verse is addressed to Jatavedasa Agni, who is repeatedly requested to cause the goddess come to the worshipper.

25.2. The worshipper prays that Sri may stay in the house abounding with agricultural wealth; and, may grant him with cows, food, wealth, prosperity, as also fame and fulfillment of all desires.

26.1.  It is also said; the   viniyoga of the mantra is  success in agriculture, abundance of agricultural and cattle wealth (dhana-dhanya-sumriddhi), eminence among the peers (mahatva) and acquisition of assets (prabhutva).

The Dhyana sloka prays to the indestructible (durdasham) Devi Sri adorned by plentiful (pruthulam)   nature (sasya malinim), surrounded by cows (gau vrinda) and the bestower of cows. She indeed is the ruler of all life (praninaam Isham

Lakshmi cows

Govrinda-anugatam  dhyatva- surabhim sasya-maalinim |
prithulam  praaninam isham durdharsham shriyam-archayet ||

Mantra Ten

मनसः काममाकूतिं वाचः सत्यमशीमहि |
पशूनां रूपमन्नस्य मयि श्रीः श्रयतां यशः ||१०||

Manasah kámam ákūtím vácah satyam ashímahi
Paśhūnágm rūpam annasya mayi śríh shrayatám yaśhah|| (10)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Kaama; its Chhandas is Anustubh; and, its Devata is Sri Mahalakshmi. Mam is the Bija; Shum is the Shakthi; and, Shrim is the Kilaka. The viniyoga of the mantra is: Vac siddhi and bhoga-bhagya-siddhi.]

By the grace of Sri, let all my heart-desires, fervent hopes   and aspirations be fulfilled; let prosperity and fame abide in me; and, let me be blessed with abundance of food, cattle-wealth and other riches. Bless me with truthfulness in my speech.


27.1. The worshipper prays to Sri for a prosperous life in a house abounding with agricultural wealth and other riches. He prays to Sri to grant him plentiful cows, food, wealth and prosperity. He requests:  May truthfulness be established in my speech; and may all my cherished desires and ambitions be fulfilled.

27.2. The term ‘akuthi’ signifies a determined aspiration (sankalpa) that has taken a grip over ones heart; and, it is not a mere passing whim or a pleasant desire that floats away. Akuti, is therefore, understood as intense yearning or determined resolve. The attainment of such deep-rooted aspirations is possible only with the grace of Sri.

27.3. Similarly, vachas satyam or truthfulness is more than not – telling- a- lie or stating a  fact . The term signifies, here, integrity in life; and purity in word, thought and deed. Sathya is said to be the principle of integration in life. It is the truth of being.

There is a faith that the words uttered by one who is pure in heart and mind do not go in vain, but they do come true (vac-siddhi).

The worshipper in this mantra pure in word (vac) and mind (manas) is determined (akutim) to attain Sri.

28.1. The Dhyana sloka of this mantra is dedicated to Lakshmi who induces the wisdom of life in all beings

Lakshmi wisdom

Taam dhyayet satya-sankalpam laksmim kshiirodana-priyam I
khyataam sarveshu bhuteshu tatva-jnana-bala- kriyaam II

Mantra Eleven

कर्दमेन प्रजाभूता मयि सम्भव कर्दम |
श्रियं वासय मे कुले मातरं पद्ममालिनीम् ||११||

Kardamená praja-bhūtá mayi sambhava kardama
Śriyam vásaya me kule mátaram padma-máliním| (11)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Kardama; its Chhandas is Anustubh; and, its Devata is Mahalakshmi. Kam is the Bija; Vam is the Shakthi; and, Shrim is the Kilaka. Vamshabhiruddi, Aishwaryasiddhi are the viniyoga.]

Oh…Kardama the son of Sri, I welcome you heartily. Bring along your Mother who is adorned with lotus-garlands. Reside with me; and, also request the Mother Sri to reside in my home.


29.1. Elsewhere in Srisukta, the terms Kardama and Chikliita are understood as wet or fertile soil that is suitable for agriculture. And, the association of the goddess with wet soil (kardama, chiklita) is also mentioned. However, in the eleventh and the twelfth mantras of Srisukta, Kardama and Chikliita are the names of two sages.

29.2. The eleventh mantra is, in fact, addressed to Sage Kardama. There are, however, varying descriptions of the relation between Kardama and Sri. Vishnu Purana mentions that Sage Kardama requested Sri who emerged out of the milky ocean; and adopted her as his daughter (prathitha tasmai tanayaa abhuth).The phrase Kardamená praja-bhūwould then mean: ‘the one who let herself to be seen as the daughter of Kardama’.

29.3. At another place it is said, Sri adopted three sages as her sons (manasa-putra). Among the three was Kardama; and the other two were: Ananda and Chiklita (Ananda, Kardamashaiva Chikleetha ithi vishrutha I Rishayasthe thraya proktha). By taking them as her sons, Sri became a mother (prakrishtam apatyam yasyah saa suputravati ityarthah). Now, the phrase Kardamená praja-bhūwould mean: ‘the one who appeared as Mother because of Kardama’.

29.4. Since this mantra is addressed to Kardama and Sri is described here as ‘maataram shriyam’, it is, generally, taken to mean that Sri, here, is the mother of Kardama. Some versions mention `tava maataram’, meaning `your mother’, referring to Kardama.

29.5. The commentators have explained, the words `tava maataram’’ do not merely refer to Kardama, but they do refer to the whole of existence whose mother is Sri (chetananam srih). The Lalitha-sahasra-nama commences by adoring Sri as the Mother `Srimata‘.

30.1. The description of Sri as Padma-malinim is ordinarily taken to mean Sri who is decorated with lotus-garlands. But, Tantra regards Sri as moola prakrti the cause of the whole of this existence; and, lotus as a symbol of the created world.  The world, as we experience, is characterized by several principles (tattva) as enumerated in Samkhya (avyakta, mahat, ahamkara, the senses, the physical elements etc). And, all these tattvas are but the aspects of Devi as she evolves from a-vyakta to vyakta, from the infinitely subtle to the gross physical world. The lotuses strung on the garland adoring Sri symbolize her tattvas.

31.1. It is said; the import (bhava) of the mantra is that when Kardama is invited, the most gracious (Kalyani) Sri out of boundless affection for her son (sa vatsa gauriva preeta) follows him (sa vatsa gauriva preeta Kardamena yatha Indira; Kalyani math gruhe nityam nivaseth Padmalini).

31.2. It is explained; when the worshipper requests Kardama to cause Sri to reside in his home forever (math gruhe nityam nivaseth), it truly means inviting the grace (anugraha) of Sri into his heart.

32.1. The Dhyana-sloka is dedicated to the Devi who grants the wishes of her devotees (sarva-abhista-phala-pradam) and ever blesses with abundant riches (sampath-samruddhi). She is described as glowing with crystal clear complexion (spatika sannibham), adorned with gorgeous dresses (divya-ambara–krutam), sparkling gem-studded crown (nana-ratha-kirita) and earrings (kundalam). She is holding a pair of fresh and tender lotuses (padma-komala – yugam).  And, a most beautiful gentle smile lightens up her radiant face.

Lakshmi Lotus

Dhyayet spatika-sannibham dwinayanam divya-ambara-alankritaam
satphullodara padma-komala-yuga-shriimath-karambhoruham.
Nana-ratna-kiriita-kundala-lasad-vaktra-ambujam padminim
sarva-abhiishta-phala-pradana-niratam sampa-tsamriddhyai sadaa


Mantra Twelve

आपः सृजन्तु स्निग्धानि चिक्लीत वस मे गृहे |
नि च देवीं मातरं श्रियं वासय मे कुले ||१२||

Ǎpah srijantu snigdháni chiklíta vasa me grihe
Nicha devím mátaram śhriyam vásaya me kule|| (12)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Chiklita (Chandra is also mentioned as the Rishi); its Chhandas is Anustubh; and, its Devata is Amriteshwari Mahalakshmi, Sri the mother of Chikliita. Aam is the Bija; lum is the Shakthi; and, Shrim is the Kilaka. Its viniyoga is sthira-lakshmi, jnana-siddhi and anna-siddhi.]

Oh… Chiklita, the son of Sri, reside in my home; and, please also cause the Mother goddess Sri to stay with me and with my generations to come. Let the life-giving waters create harmonious relations among all.


33.1. This mantra is in continuation of the eleventh mantra inviting Kardama the son of Sri and requesting for Sri to abide with the worshipper forever. This time, the request is submitted to the other son of Sri, Chikliita, to stay in his home (nivasa mad grihe) firmly (nischaram) forever, and bring along his mother (tvan maatha).

34.1. It is said;Chikliita is the favourite (preeti-para) son of Sri (Sri-suta), and she, out of affection, follows his wishes. The purport of the mantra is :  just as Chikliita enters into the house (tad agamana matrena), Sri follows him, lovingly, of her own accord (tva manu vrajeth).

34.2. Sri is addressed in this Mantra as: Devim mataram shriyam, the resplendent Mother Goddess Sri who shines forth (div) and enlivens all creation. She is not merely the mother of Chiklita, but is the Mother of the universe (vishwa matarah).

[There is an alternate explanation.Sri is the guardian deity of agriculture (krishini); and is associated with agricultural prosperity.  As mentioned earlier,the terms: ardra (moist), kardama (mud) and chiklita (fertile soil) are all related with fertility, prosperity and growth. All these terms strengthen her association with food and water (apah srajanti snigdhani chilita).

But, in the context of this mantra, Chiklita is understood as a sage who was regarded as one of the sons of Sri. Some identify Chiklita with Kama , the god of desire, since  the eleventh and twelfth  verses are about fulfillment of desires . And, one of the Dhyana slokas pays respect to Chiklita and Sri Devi, together: namostute tubyam Chiklita-Sri-Devyayi namao namah. ]

35.1. The mantra also refers to Apah the waters, smooth and friendly (snigda) that bring harmony and well being into life. Apah itself is the very source of all life.

There is an extended discussion on the term Apah.

35.2. Apah ordinarily denotes waters. But, in the ancient texts, Apah is a term that is heavily loaded with layers and layers of esoteric meanings and interpretations.  In the most celebrated hymn of creation – Nasadiya Sukta which occurs in the Tenth Book of Rig Veda, as also in the Vak Sukta (RV.10.125.1-8) and in the Hiranyagarbha Sukta (RV10.121.1-10) the terms Apah represents Great Waters or the primeval matter of creation. It stands for the manifest as also for the un-manifest primeval matter. That is; these Great waters represent the immense potential of Prakrti in its un-manifest (a-vyakta) state. It has that potential to give expression to infinite possibilities as forms (vyakta).

35.3. Apah or Salilam is, thus, conceived as the threshold prior to which there was no distinction between existence and non-existence; between form and formlessness. Whatever that was there prior to it was neither sat nor a-sat; neither being nor non-being. It is the first stage of creation. That is; Apah represents Prakrti (as in Samkhya); and it is the primary source of all possibilities of manifestation in the world.

35.4. In the Vak Sukta or Devi Sukta    of Rig Veda (RV.10. 125), in an intense and highly charged superb piece of inspired poetry, Devi declares “I sprang from waters there from I permeate the infinite expanse. It is I who blows like the wind creating all the worlds “.

अहं सुवे पितरमस्य मूर्धन्मम योनिरप्स्वन्तः समुद्रे । ततो वि तिष्ठे भुवनानु विश्वोतामूं द्यां वर्ष्मणोप स्पृशामि ॥७॥अहमेव वात इव प्र वाम्यारभमाणा भुवनानि विश्वा । परो दिवा पर एना पृथिव्यैतावती महिना सं बभूव ॥८॥

Aham suve pitaram asya murdhan Mama yonir apsv antah samudre Tato vi tisthe bhuvananu visvo ‘tamum dyam varsmanopa sprsami || 7

Aham eva vata iva pra vamy Arabhamana bhuvanani visva Paro diva para ena prthivyai ‘tavati mahina sam babhuva || 8

35.5. It is also said ‘waters are the Truth…where waters flow there the Truth resides …. It is the waters indeed that were made first of this universe, hence when waters flow then everything whatever that exists in the universe is brought forth’ (Sathapatha Brahmana).

35.6. To explain it in another way; these dark, deep and unfathomable waters (gahanam ghabhiram – RV. 10.129.1) hold in their womb the un-manifest universe. And, it is from these dark waters the manifest world springs forth.

35.7. Apah is, thus, the universal mother–principle. It is perhaps for that reason that Rig-Veda says: ‘the waters (Apah) are our mother (apah asmin matarah), womb of the universe (ambayah),’ (RV.1.023.10). It is also the best of the medicines (āpaḥ pṛṇīta bheṣajaṃ –RV.1,023.21)

35.8. It is explained; when Sri is described as waters (Apah) that bring harmony and wellbeing into life, the mantras of Sri Suktam echoe the ancient concept of water as the creative principle (Shakthi), the nectar (madhu), and the joy of life. Sri Devi the Mother Goddess as Apah is Prakriti.  She denotes freedom from bondage. She is the Mother of all creation. She gives birth to manifest reality – the past, the present and the future; of “all that has been and will be born”. She is the nourishing mother who harmoniously blends (srijantu snigdháni), heals and purifies life.

 [Tantra of the Shakthas, on the other hand, regards Sri as a tattva the principle that is beyond any known identity (Brahma Rupini). She is both Purusha and Prakriti  (prakriti–purushatmakam–jagat). She is vishwa-matruka the origin of all existence (yoshith Purusha rupena sphurantee vishwa-matruka).]

36.1. The Lotus symbolizes waters as also life. Lotus and water with which Sri is closely associated, both, symbolize life, purity and radiant beauty.

37.1. The Dhyana sloka of the mantra is dedicated to Devi Amrutheshwari .She is described as seated under the Kalpataru–tree, upon a throne studded with gems, elaborately adorned with rich ornaments, wearing a multi-coloured- gem-studded upper garment (Sarva-ratna-vichitra-angim), having red coloured lotus as the footstool,   holding a golden sceptre, a pair of lotus flowers and blessing the entire world.

Lakshmi foot on lotus

Dhyayet kalpatarormule ratna-simhasane sthitam
padma-dwaya-dharam padmam varada-abhaya-dharinim.
Sarva-ratna-vichitra-angim rakta-shri-pada-piithikam
hema-danda-sita-Chatra-chamara-dwaya vijiam

Mantra Thirteen

आर्द्रां पुष्करिणीं पुष्टिं पिङ्गलां पद्ममालिनीम् |
चन्द्रां हिरण्मयीं लक्ष्मीं जातवेदो म आवह ||१३||

Ardám pushkariním pushtim pingalám padma máliním
Chandrám hiran-mayím lakshmím játavedó ma ávaha| (13)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Jatavedasa; its Chhandas is Anustubh; and, its Devata is Sri Mahalakshmi. Aum is the Bija; Svaha is the Shakthi; and, Shrim is the Kilaka. Its Viniyoga is amritatva siddhi.]

Oh…Jatavedasa Kindly invoke for me Lakshmi the Supreme ruler who isbeautiful like the moon that shines, radiant like the yellow burnished gold, brilliant like the sun; adorned with lotus-garlands and gleaming ornaments; who is served by the elephants; who is compassionate and  who nourishes all.

Gaja Lakshmi

38.1. This mantra is very similar to the first mantra. And, in fact, the second line of this mantra is the same as the second line of the first mantra. After submitting his requests to Kubera, Manibhadrda, Kirti, Kardama and Chiklita, the worshipper returns to Jatavedasa, the Agni. It is as if the worshipper has traversed a full circle and submitted his original plea afresh to Jatavedasa.

38.2. Sri, again, is described with the term ardra, which here indicates the flowing grace; the easily-moved, kind and considerate nature of Sri Devi who is the very embodiment of compassion.

38.3. Sri’s association with water, lotus and elephants is again pictured here with use of words: ardra, pushkarnim and padmamalinim. Ardram, as said, refers to kind-heartedness of Sri, and it also suggests Sri being served by two elephants that pour over her pots of water; and she becoming wet. The phrase ardram–pushkarnim–pusta suggests sprinkling of water through lotus flowers. And, pushkarnim, again, suggests the lotus-pool as also a female elephant. Her description as padma-malinim indicates she is adorned by lotus garlands.

39.1. The term Pushti means abundant nourishment; and, it suggests the motherly nature of Sri who nourishes. Devi Mahatmya describes the Devi as :Yaa Devi sarva bhuteshu pushti rupena samsthita. She is the Mother who nourishes and sustains the whole universe.

39.2. Pingala indicates the reddish golden-yellow tint at the edge of the flame. Sri Devi is said to be glowing with the pingala complexion. It is also a combination of sattva and rajo gunas. Pingala is also one of the many names of Durga.

40.1. The Dhyana sloka of the mantra describes the Devi bright and beautiful like mellow glowing moon, smiling gently, seated on a lotus. A prayer is submitted to her to eradicate A-lakshmi misery, ugliness and ignorance.

Lakshmi seated on lotus

Aakaasha-padmaakara-chandrabimba plavollasantim  paripurna-kantim .
padma-sthitam padm-akaram prapadye lakShmim alakshmi vinivrittaye.

Mantra fourteen

आर्द्रां यः करिणीं यष्टिं सुवर्णां हेममालिनीम् |
सूर्यां हिरण्मयीं लक्ष्मीं जातवेदो म आवह ||१४||

Ǎrdhám yah kariním yashtim suvarnám hema-máliním
Sūryám hiran-mayím lakshmím játavedó ma ávaha|| (14)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Jatavedasa; its Chhandas is Anustubh; and, its , Devata is Sri  Rajyalakshmi. Shrim is the Bija; Hum is the Shakthi; and, Hrim is the Kilaka. Its Viniyoga is rajya prapti. ]

Invoke for me, O Jaataveda, Lakshmi who is compassionate; who shines like gold; who is brilliant like the sun; who is adorned with golden ornaments and garlands; who wields the sceptre of the supreme ruler; and who inspires men to perform their ordained duties.


41.1. This mantra is similar in its structure to the thirteenth mantra. It refers to the virtues associated Surya in place of that of Chandra as in the previous mantra.   There are certain other new expressions.

 [ The idea of the Mother Goddess being the Supreme Ruler of all existence appears in many texts. This Mantra  which refers to Sri  as one who wields the scepter of the supreme ruler; and who inspires men to perform their ordained duties is similar to verse three of Vac-Sukta where the Devi declares: I am the Queen, a repository of good things, wise, the first of those worthy of sacrifice. As such, I pervade many forms.

Aham rastri samgamani vasunam Cikitusi prathama yajniyanam Tam ma deva vy adadhuh purutra Bhunisthatram bhury avesayantim || 3 ]

42.1. The phrase yah kariním yashtim is much debated. It either means a royal scepter or the Danda of Dharma Devatha dispensing justice. Or, it could be both.

42.2. The other interpretation refers to the term pushkarini, which appears in the previous mantra. And, there it meant a female elephant. The term yah kariním in this mantra is said to be a variation of pushkarini. And, it is meant to suggest a female elephant strolling with a bit of swagger, arrogance and a certain abandon or disdain . The gait of the Devi is compared to that of the female elephant.

43.1. In this mantra, the glory and luster of the Devi is compared to that of the Sun (suryavath prakashamanam tad rupam vaa).  The commentators explain that Sri here is Savithri-Gayatri the solar goddess. Both are the forms of sanketa-vidya or atma-vidya.

43.2. Another explanation mentions that one should recite Srisukta turning towards the sun, just as the lotus that is about to open at the first rays of the sun. The Sun and Lakshmi share the common epithet Padma-priya.

It is suggested that Sri should be meditated upon picturing her as settled in the solar-orb surrounding one’s heart-lotus (hruth padma vasini Devi, chid-rupini abhichyate).

Lakshmi on elephant

The yoga recognizes anahata-padma as surya mandala located in the heart region. It is said; the inner consciousness of the devotee is indeed the lotus (hrudaya-aravinda), which is illumined and opened by the grace of the Devi. The Devi is truly surya-swarupini.

anahata padma

44.1. The Dhyana sloka of the mantra is dedicated to Mahalakshmi who is glowing like a precious diamond, holding set of arrows, a pot filled with nectar. Mahalakshmi grants kingdom and sovereignty. 

Mahalakshmi pot

Padmam manimayam kumbham ikShuchaapam cha bibhratiim.
Pushpa-banaam mahalakshmim dhyayed raajya-pradayiniim

Mantra Fifteen

तां म आवह जातवेदो लक्ष्मीमनपगामिनीम् |
यस्यां हिरण्यं प्रभूतं गावो दास्योऽश्वान्विन्देयं पुरुषानहम् ||१५||

Tám ma ávaha játevedó lakshmím anapa gáminím yasyám
Hiranyam prabhūtam gávó dásyó aśván vindeyam purushan aham|| (15)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Kubera; its Chhandas is prasara-pankthi,, a verse with longer lines; and , its Devata is Mahalakshmi. Hrim is the Bija; Shrim is the Shakthi; and, Hrim is the Kilaka. The viniyoga of the mantra is rajya-prapti.]

O Jataveda…I pray to you. Let Lakshmi never ever go away from me. Let Lakshmi be with me forever. With her grace I shall gain wealth in plenty, abundance of gold, cattle, horses, servants and followers.

Lakshmi by Shilpi Sri Siddalingaswamy.jpg

45.1. The concluding mantra is similar to the second mantra. Both the mantras aspire for happiness, prosperity , a sense of well-being , wealth and riches in plenty, abundance of gold, cattle, horses, sons, grandsons, servants and followers. They pray to Lakshmi never to go away, but to reside in their forever and for generations to come.

45.2. This last mantra is regarded as the phala-sruti of Srisukta. It sums up the fruits of listening, reciting and meditating upon Srisukta.

46.1. The Dhyana sloka of the mantra is dedicated to Lakshmi the daughter of sage Bhrigu;  Mother of all existence ,  glowing with  a benign smile on her joyful face; bright as gold ;adorned with rich ornaments ;  seated upon a royal throne ; holding the royal signs of sceptre ; served by all ; worshipped by Agni; blessing the whole world ; and, conferring happiness and prosperity on all beings and nature.

Lakshmi Agni

Dhyaye lakshmim pra-hasita-mukhim raajya-simhasana-sthaam
mudra-shaktim sakala-vinuta- sarva-samsevyamanaam .
agnau -puujyam akhila-jananim hema-varnam hiranyam
bhagyopetam bhuvana-sukhadam bhaargavim bhuta-dhatriim

References and souArces

Goddesses in Ancient India by PK Agrawala; Abhinav Publications (1984)

Srisukta (in Kannada) by Prof SK Ramachanra Rao; Published by SAKSI (2209)

I gratefully acknowledge the sublime illustrations of the Sri Sukta which are the creations of the renowned artist of Vedic and traditional themes, Shri GLN Simha of Mysore.

 These are said to be in the collections of Ramsons Kala Pratishatana, Mysore

And the painting of Lakshmi by Shilpa Siddanthi Sri Siddalingaswamy of Mysore

For more about the artist Sri G L N Simha , please click here


lotus red2


Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Srisukta


Tags: , , , , ,

Srisukta Part Two

Continued from Part One

Please click here for a rendering of Srisukta (The link seems to work better on Google Chrome)

Let’s briefly, talk about each of the fifteen mantras of the Srisukta.

Mantra One

ॐ हिरण्यवर्णां हरिणीं सुवर्णरजतस्रजाम् |
चन्द्रां हिरण्मयीं लक्ष्मीं जातवेदो म आवह ||१||

Hiraņya varnám hariņīm suvarna-rajata-srajám
Chandrám hiranmayīm lakshmīm jatavedo ma avaha|(1)

 [The Rishi of the mantra is Jatavedasa (Agni); its Chhandas is Anustubh; its Devata is Mahalakshmi the goddess who grants prosperity of all kinds. Srim is the Bija of the mantra; Hrim is its Shakthi; and, Klim is its Kilaka. Its viniyoga is threefold: adibhautika, adidaivika and aadhyaatmika. The three refer to Agni, as fire on earth; to Sun-moon, as the deities that bestow fulfilment in life purushartha; and, to the resolute determination (sankalpa) in man.]

Oh..! The all-knowing Jatavedasa, invoke in me Lakshmi the symbol of wealth , of enchanting form, of golden lustre, splendorous like gold, adorned with brilliant ornaments of gold and silver ; and,  beautiful like the female deer that shines like moon.


1.1. The opening mantra of Srisukta is a prayer submitted, primarily, to Agni addressed as the all-knowing Jatavedasa, who is the source of all knowledge (Veda); and, is the very personification of Yajna-purusha Vishnu (yajño vai viṣṇuḥ). Agni is requested to bestow all those signs (Lakshana, Lakshmi) of happiness, wealth and prosperity that a person desires.

1.2. Lakshmi represents the sense of beauty, grace, wealth and happiness that is manifest in all existence.  Lakshmi is the very embodiment of all the auspicious virtues that inspire life. Lakshmi is also understood as the one who ignites the desire for knowledge that inspires us to attain the highest state in human life.

1.3. Lakshmi’s association with gold that shines, signifies purity (pavitram vai hiranyam) and brilliance. The deer stands for enchanting allure; the fleeting desire that draws one out in its pursuit. Just as it is not easy to chase and catch an eluding deer that runs away fast, it is also hard to attain and hold on to success, wealth and fame that are ever transitory. Sri is thus Harini the deer that sparkles. And Harini is also the sheen of turmeric (haridra-bha); the sign of auspiciousness and a remedy against infections.

2.1. In Tantra, Sri , revered as Devi, is Matruka , the Mother (matrka-mayi), the Supreme Mother Goddess (devim mataram sriyam), She is also the power of sound (Matrika Shakti) , the matrix of the cosmos manifest as the alphabets. The phrase ‘suvarna-rajata-srajaam’ is also understood to mean that Sri is adorned with Matrika Mala, the garland of letters/alphabets woven with vowels (suvarna) and consonants (rajata). Sri is thus mantra-mayi the origin and essence of all mantras.

3.1. Chandraam, the aspect of moon, denotes mellow glow that spreads happiness (aahlada). Sri is Chandra, bright (Chandrah chandate) and beautiful as the moon that delights the hearts of all (sakala jana-ahlada–karini). Further, in the Srividya tradition, the worship of the Devi follows the phases of the moon in a fortnight. Her Vidya is therefore termed as Chandra-vidya or Chandra-kala-vidya. And, the Devi is worshipped through her pancha-dashi-mantra, the mantra of fifteen syllables.

4.1. Sri , when personified as goddess, is described as radiant ;  shining like gold; decorated with splendid ornaments; wearing a brilliant crown;  seated on a magnificent lotus-throne studded with gems; holding freshly blossomed beautiful lotus flowers; and, served by a pair of elephants pouring over her golden pots of nectar.

The Dhyana–sloka of the first mantra describes Gaja-lakshmi.

Gaja Lakshmi

Kaantyaa kanchana -sannibhaam himagiri-prakhyairsh-chaturbhir-gajaih
hastot-kshipta-hiranmaya-amrita-ghata-raasichyamaanaam – shriyam |
nana-ratna-samujwalaam karala-satpadmam kiriitojwalaam
kshauma-abaddha-nitamba-bimba-lasitaam vande-.aravinda-sthitaam ||

Mantra Two

तां म आवह जातवेदो लक्ष्मीमनपगामिनीम् |
यस्यां हिरण्यं विन्देयं गामश्वं पुरुषानहम् ||२||

Tám ma ávaha játavedo lakśhmīm anapa gáminīm
Yasyám hiraņyam vindeyam gám aśvam puruśhán aham|| (2)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Jatavedasa (Agni); its Chhandas is Anustubh; its Devata is Rajya-lakshmi. The Bija, Shakthi and Kilaka of this mantra are again said to be Hrim, Shrim, and Klim. The viniyoga of the mantra is sakala-sampath-siddhi.]

Oh..! Jatavedasa, please cause Lakshmi to come to me. And, let Lakshmi never ever depart from me. While she is here, I shall gain wealth, riches such as gold, cows, horses and man-power (which term includes friends, family and the other dearer ones).


5.1. This is in continuation of the first mantra which ends with the phrase ‘jatavedo ma avaha’, requesting Agni to invoke the presence of Lakshmi. The second mantra qualifies Lakshmi, further, with the epithet: ‘a-anapa-gamini’, the one who does not stray away, but stays with you forever. [The phrase anapa-gamini suggests fleeting nature (chanchala)]

5.2. The gold mentioned in the verse represents immovable wealth (sthavara), while the cattle, horses and men are movable assets (jangama). As Lakshmi enters into one’s life, she brings along with her various kinds of wealth and riches.

6.1. The Dhyana-sloka of the second mantra adores Rajya-lakshmi, riding a horse and leading an army of four divisions (Chaturanga: infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots). The golden-hued Rajya-Lakshmi grants riches of corn, wealth and happiness.


Chaturanga-balopetam dhana-dhanya-sukhesh-wariim |
ashwa-arudha-maha vande raajyalakshmim hiranmayiim ||

Mantra Three

अश्वपूर्वां रथमध्यां हस्तिनादप्रबोधिनीम् |
श्रियं देवीमुपह्वये श्रीर्मादेवीर्जुषताम् ||३||

Aśhwa-pūrvám ratha-madhyám hasti náda prabódhiním
Śhriyam devím upahvaye śhrír ma devír jushatám| (3)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Ananda described as manasa-putra the virtual son of Lakshmi; its Devata is Sri Lakshmi; `U‘ is the Bija, `ta‘ is the Shakti and `Shriim‘ is the Kilaka. The viniyoga is shatru-jayam, rajya-prapti.]

The horses in the lead, the chariots in the middle, followed by the trumpeting elephants, herald the arrival of Sri. I pray to you Jatavedasa, let that magnificent Sri Grace me and come to me.


7.1. In the first two mantras, the Sadhaka prays to Agni to cause Sri to come to him.  This verse is an answer to his prayers.  It heralds the arrival of the glorious Sri in all her grandeur and regal majesty. The procession of her mighty army of infantry, cavalry, elephants and chariots signifies her magnificence and splendour. As it draws closer, the devotee prays that the Grace of the Mother (mam) Sri may descend upon him (jushatam).

7.2. The esoteric meaning of the verse interprets the chariot as the body of the devotee (sareeram ratha-mevathu);  at the heart of the Chariot is Sri , the centre of  consciousness, as  the presiding deity; and , the leaping horses are his senses that need to be controlled (indriyani hayan aahuh).

7.3. The phrase Sriyam-devi is explained as the most radiant (div) Sri Devi who is the refuge of all (shreyaniya) .

8.1. The Dhyana-sloka of the third verse is dedicated to the most auspicious Mother Goddess Soubhagya-lakshmi (saubhaagya-jananiim).


Tadid-warna-purnaam shashil-apanataata -nkayugalaam
darasmeraadhiraam kara-kalita-padmaam dwi-nayanaam |
lasad-griivaam kshaumaa-mshuka-vishada-naabhii sarasijaam
bhajaami tvaam devim pranata-Jana-saubhaagya- jananiim ||

Mantra Four

कां सोस्मितां हिरण्यप्राकारामार्द्रां ज्वलन्तीं तृप्तां तर्पयन्तीम् |
पद्मे स्थितां पद्मवर्णां तामिहोपह्वये श्रियम् ||४||

Kám sósmitám hiranya prákárám árdrám jvalantím triptám tarpayantím
Padme sthitám padma-varnám támihópahvaye śhriyam|| (4)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Ananda; its Chhandas is Bruhati; and its Devata is Sri-Lakshmi. Kam is the Bija; Hrim is the Shakthi; and Shrim is the Kilaka. Its viniyoga is sampath-siddhi and sarasvata-siddhi.]

I welcome the pleasantly smiling, the kind-hearted Sri who is of the nature of Brahman; glowing with a beatific smile , like burnished gold; of beautiful lotus-complexion; and, seated on lotus. She is easily pleased; and, she readily fulfills the desires of her devotees.

The devotee is preparing to welcome Sri.


9.1. This mantra, again, refers to Sri’s association with gold (hiranya prákárám) and the lotus (Padme sthitám padma-varnám). Sri is explained as the bright and joyful consciousness that resides in the heart-lotus (hrudaya-kamala) of all beings.

9.2. As said, Lakshmi’s association with gold that shines signifies her purity (pavitram vai hiranyam) and her brilliance. And, Padma, the lotus, is the primary symbol of Sri. The Padma symbolizes several adorable virtues: purity, beauty, the very essence of life, spiritual power, fertility and growth. The Tantra regards lotus as a symbol of created universe. And, Sri is all of those auspicious signs (lakshana). Sri is Padmini (a variant of padmanemi, meaning holding a lotus) and pushkarini (pushkara meaning lotus). Lotus, again, is her seat (padma-sthitha). And, her complexion glows like that of lotus (padma-varna).

[ There is another explanation for the term Padmanemi. Here, Padma is derived from the root Pad (to lead or to induce); and Nemi (connected with – Nayami) , denoting that which encircles the periphery. And, the seven-syllable  mantra : Om Padmanemyai namah , is hailed as the mantra that bestows fortune and prosperity.]

10.1. The opening term Kam is of special interest here. The commentators explain that the syllabus Ka indicates the form-less Brahman (ka iti Brahmano naama). Kam is meant to suggest that Sri is indeed the principle (tattva) that is beyond intellect (vangmanaso agochara) ; and , is at the root of all existence.

Ka is also the first letter in the fifteen-lettered (pancha-dashi) mantra of the Devi in the Kadi-matha (Kadi School) of the Sri Vidya tradition. Ka is an important syllable in the 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.

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 ‘Shrim’ is included; the mantra becomes explicit or becomes visible. Shrim is regarded the original or the own form of the Mother Goddess. And, with the sixteenth syllable (Shrim) 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 (Shrim) is thus revered as Saguna Brahman,  the sa-kara approach to the absolute principle of the Devi. 

10.2. The other point of interest  is the use of the term ardra (which ordinarily is translated as wet or moist) immediately followed by jwalantim (which conveys a sense of blazing and sparkling like the tongues of fire). Apparently, the two are of opposite nature.

It is explained that ardra, here, indicates the flowing grace; the easily-moved, kind and considerate nature of Sri Devi , who is the very embodiment of compassion (as portrayed in Sri Vedanta Deshika’s Daya-shataka).

10.3. The term jwalantim is, again, indicative of the radiant nature of Sri who resides as the inner light (jyothi swarupam) at the core of the consciousness of all beings (mula-prakrti). Sri Devi is the inner energy of all that glows and sparkles (tasya bhasa sarva idam vibhati).

It is also explained; it is the spontaneous flow of the graceful Devi’s compassion (ardra) that enlightens (jwalantim) the consciousness of the devotees. The boundless love that envelops all existence and the all-inspiring radiance that enlivens the created world are the nature of Sri Devi.

11.1. The Dhyana-sloka of this mantra describes Sri as the bright and beautiful goddess of golden complexion; her face aglow with tender smile; seated on a lotus; and holding a book and a parrot that speaks. This sloka is also taken as an invocation to Sarasvati the goddess of speech (vac–rupa-sri) and learning (vidya-rupa-sri). Therefore, sarasvata-siddhi (the attainment of true knowledge) is also one of the viniyoga of the fourth verse of Srisukta.

sarasavathi siddhi

Varada-abhaya-shuka-pustaka-kara-kalitaam kamala-madhyagam kalaye |
kamalam- sasmitavadanam –kanaka-avarana-sthitaam kanchith ||

Mantra Five

चन्द्रां प्रभासां यशसा ज्वलन्तीं श्रियं लोके देवजुष्टामुदाराम् |
तां पद्मिनीमीं शरणमहं प्रपद्येऽलक्ष्मीर्मे नश्यतां त्वां वृणे ||५||

Chandrám prabhásám yaśhasá jvalantím śhriyam lóke deva justám udárám
Tám padminim-ím saranam aham prapadye’ alakshmír me naśyatám tvám vrne| (5)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Ananda; its Chhandas is Trishtubh; and, its Devata is Sarava-aishwarya-prada-lakshmi, the Lakshmi that grants all kinds of riches. Cham is the Bija; Nam is the Shakthi; and, Shrim is the Kilaka. Its viniyoga is nidhi-prapti, shatru-jayam.]

I submit to the mercy of Lakshmi , who is beautiful as the mellow glow of the moon; who is surrounded by lotus flowers; who is generous and kind; who is adored by gods; and whose renown lights up all the worlds. I seek refuge in that resplendent Sri. May she destroy all my misfortunes.


12.1. This verse re-calls Sri’s association with the moon, as referred to in the first verse. Sri is of the nature of moon that spreads happiness (aahlada), brightness (prabhasam); of beauty (Chandrah chandate), and of delight that lights up hearts of all (sakala-jana-ahlada–karini).

12.2. The mantra further glorifies Sri as one who sustains and supports all life in the nature (Shriyam loke); fulfils the desire of all; and, is beloved by all beings, including the gods (deva justám). The generous (udárám) Sri is indeed the Mother (taam Padmanemim); and. is the refuge of all the worlds.

12.3. Sri’s association with lotus is again elaborate d in this verse. Lotus (Padma), as said, symbolizes life that is characterized by beauty, purity, grace and abundance. Sri is of the nature of Padma ; and, the whole existence is but the projection of Sri.

13.1. The devotee submits (sharanamaham prapadye) to Sri, praying for release from the blight of A-lakshmi (the opposite of Lakshmi; and, who stands for everything that Lakshmi is not). Though A-lakshmi is personified in the legends as Jyeshta the elder sister of Lakshmi, it essentially signifies the aspects of wretchedness, misery, ugliness and cruelty that disfigure life.  Lakshmi, on the other hand, is everything that is auspicious, prosperous, beautiful and virtuous. 

13.2. The prayer is to drive away the evil that has taken shelter in the hearts of men/women; and, to invite Lakshmi into the purity of one’s heart-lotus (amala-kamala–hrud-deshe).

14.1. The Dhyana-sloka of the verse is dedicated to Sri Lakshmi who is seated amidst the splendorous solar-orb, holding lotus and gesturing assurance. She is richly decorated with gorgeous dresses, sparkling ornaments and holding the most precious Chintamani jewel. She grants fulfilment of all desires; and destroys misfortunes. I pray to that Supreme Goddess.

Lakshmi solar orb

Tejomandala-madyagam dwi-nayanam divya-ambara-alankritaam
devim padma-vara-abhayam kara-talai-chintaamanim bibhratiim |
nana- divya-vibhushanam cha bhajatam daurbhagya-samhaarinim
nana-abhiishta- vara-pradana-niratam  vande param devataam ||

Mantra Six

आदित्यवर्णे तपसोऽधिजातो वनस्पतिस्तव वृक्षोऽथ बिल्वः |
तस्य फलानि तपसा नुदन्तु मायान्तरायाश्च बाह्या अलक्ष्मीः ||६||

Ǎditya varne tapasó dhijátó vanaspatis tava vrikshó’ tha bilvah
Tasya phalani tapsá nudantu mayántaráyás cha báhya alakshmíh|| (6)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Ananada; its Chhandas is Trishtubh; and, its Devata is Mahalakshmi. Aaam is the Bija; Shrim is the Shakthi; and, Hrim is the Kilaka. The viniyoga of the mantra is Arogya-aishwarya-abhiruddhi.]

Oh Devi, you are splendorous like the rising sun. By the intense power of your penance (tapas), the wondrous medicinal plant Bilva was brought forth. Let the Bilva-fruits, ripened by the radiance of your austerities; eradicate the ailments caused by the inner and external impurities.


15.1. There are some mythological and other references in this verse.


15.2. To start with, Bilva (Aegle marmelos) or Baelis  is the Indian wood apple tree. It is referred to in this verse as a Vanaspathi that belongs to Sri (vanaspatis tava vrikshó’ tha bilvah). In the Indian texts, Vanaspathi is described as a class of trees that bear fruit ; but, no blossoming or flowers (a-pushpah, phalavantah). The tree is also described as sada-phala (always bearing fruit), durarudha (difficult to climb) and trishikha or tridala (leaves having three points).

15.3. The Bilva fruit, skin, leaves and roots are said to be lively (sri-yukta), having great medicinal properties. Ayurveda recognizes Bilva fruit as an effective remedy for diarrhoea, dysentery, loss of appetite and abdominal pains. Its roots and leaves help in reducing fever. It is also said to be useful in removing mental imbalance (chitta-dosha-hara) and bodily problems (sarira-dosha-hara). The Bilva is thus a cure for both the internal and external ailments.

15.4. The Bilva tree is regarded sacred, for many other reasons also. It is associated with Shiva as also with Lakshmi. The worship with Bilva–leaves (Bilva-patra) is said to be greatly pleasing to Shiva, as it is very dear to Shiva (mahadevasya cha priyam). And, the Bilva tree is therefore called Shiva-druma, the tree of Shiva; and, its fruits are hailed as jnana-phala, the fruits of knowledge of Shiva.

The Bilvashtakam opens with the verse hailing the virtues and powers of Bilva leaf

Tridalam triguNaakaaram trinetram cha triyaayudham / trijanma paapasamhaaram eka Bilvam shivaarpaNam

I offer the bilva patra to Shiva. This leaf embodies the three qualities of sattva, rajas and tamas. This leaf is like the three eyes, and the sun, moon and fire. It is like three weapons. It is the destroyer of sins committed in three earlier births

There is a faith that offering of a Bilva bestows  merit as do ten million   yagnas (kotikanyaa mahaadaanam eka bilvam shivaarpaNam ).

The Bilva vriksha is also associated with goddess Sri (Laxmyaa stnam unpanam ). Bilva is the tree of Lakshmi. Tantra regards Bilva vriksha as the form of Lakshmi (Lakshmi swarupa); and, its fruit as Sri-phala, the fruit of Sri. According to a narration in Kalika Purana, Sri performed penance amidst the Bilva trees; and, because of her grace (anugraha) the Bilva fruits acquired unique medicinal properties. There is the faith that Lakshmi resides in Bilva tree; and, the worship with Bilva-leaves is dearer to her, and hence to Vishnu.The Laksmi Tantra (Pancaratra Agama) mentions that Vishnu temple should preferably be surrounded by Bilva grove.

[Interestingly, during the time of Sri Ramanuja, the practice of worshiping Sri Venkateswara at Tirumala  with Bilva leaves came under question.  It is said; Sri Ramanuja defended the practice by quoting the sixth verse of Srisukta; and asserted that whatever was dear to Lakshmi was also dear to Vishnu.

Further , even to this day in Bengal , the annual worship of Devi that begins in autumn (sharad-ritu), which marks the coming of the harvest season, is inaugurated by invoking (or awakening) her presence  in the branch of the Bilva tree. The faith is that the goddess resides in Bilva   .]

16.1. The mantra prays  to Sri , radiant like the rising sun (taruna-arunava daruna varne) for cleansing of inner and external impurities (mayántaráyás cha báhya alakshmíh). The term A-lakshmi here, refers to ignorance ; and , to depravity in ones thinking and in ones conduct.

17 .1. The Dhyana-sloka of this verse is dedicated to the Devi, radiant as the rising sun, residing amidst Bilva grove, and rescuing the devotees from ignorance, disease and misfortunes.

Lakshmi Bilva

Udyada-aditya-sankaasham bilva-kaanana- madhyagaam |
tanu-madhyam  sriyam  dhyayed- lakshmi-parihaarinim ||

Mantra Seven

उपैतु मां देवसखः कीर्तिश्च मणिना सह |
प्रादुर्भूतोऽस्मि राष्ट्रेऽस्मिन् कीर्तिमृद्धिं ददातु मे ||७||

Upaitu mám deva-sakah kírtis cha maniná saha
Prádūr bhūtó’ smi rashtre’ smin kírtim riddhim dadátu me| (7)

[The Rishi of the mantra is Kubera; its Chhandas is Anustubh; and, its Devata is Manimalini-Mahalakshmi. Om and Shrim are its Bija; Mam and Blum are its Shakthi; and, Shrim is the Kilaka. Its viniyoga is ratna-siddhi and Bhuta-bhaya-nivarana.]

I am born in this state (Rajya). Let the friend of gods along with the fame, fortune, and precious gems come near to me. Grant me renown (distinction) and prosperity.


18.1. The verse prays to Lakshmi for riches, fame and prosperity; as also friendship with the highly affluent.

18.2. The term Deva-sakha meaning the friend of gods is interpreted by scholars as referring to Kubera, the Yaksha regent (Dikpala) of the North; and , the Lord and guardian of all the treasures in the world. That is because; Kubera is often described, in the Puranas, as the friend of Shiva, who conferred on Kubera the privilege to grant riches to his devotees – (devashabdo Mahadeve rudhah kuberah tryambaka sakhah). Lakshmi the goddess of wealth; and, Kubera the custodian of treasures are often worshiped together.

18.3. The term Mani is interpreted in two ways. One; Mani is understood as a jewel used as an amulet to guard against evils of all kinds. It, perhaps, was strung on a sutra, thread (say as in, sutre manigana iva) and worn around the neck.

The Mani is also said to refer to Chintamani, the wish-fulfilling gem , which emerged  out of the milky ocean

Its other meaning refers to Manibhadra, a Yaksha; and, a friend of Kubera , guarding his treasures. Since the verse prays for the friend- of -gods (Kubera) along with Kirti and Mani, some scholars are inclined to accept it as a reference to Manibhadra, the friend of Kubera.

18.4. Similarly, Kirti is understood as fame; as also as the name of one of the daughters of Daksha-prajapathi. Kirti is a member of Lakshmi’s entourage (Parivara).  It is by her grace that one performs deeds that earn fame and fortune. 

[The other divine beings in the entourage of Sri are said to be: Mati (intellect); Dyuti (brightness); Pushti (nourishment, vigor); Samriddhi (prosperity); Tushti (happily satisfied); Aarogya (health); Jaya (victory);and, Shraddhaa (diligence).]

18.5. The mantra, according to some, invites Kubera along with his friend Manibhadra and Kirti , the associate of Lakshmi. (as in illustration provided above)

19.1.The Dhyana-sloka of the mantra prays to Manimalini, who is dear to gods; who is also Rajarajeshwari and Lakshmi; and who grants fame, wealth and other desires. Manimalini is one of the many names of the Devi.

[Please refer to the Varna in Kambhoji raga: Mam pahi Sri Raja Rajeswari Sekari Sivasankari Simmavahini Sevaka janapalini Kapalini Manimalini Varadehini]

Lakshmi Manimalini

Raajaraajeshwarim- lakshmim  varadam  manimaaliniim |
devim devapriyam  kiirtim  vande kamya-artha-siddhaye ||

Continued in Part Three

References and sources

Goddesses in Ancient India by PK Agrawala; Abhinav Publications (1984)

Srisukta (in Kannada) by Prof SK Ramachanra Rao; Published by SAKSI (2209)

I gratefully acknowledge the sublime illustrations of the Sri Sukta which are the creations of the renowned artist of Vedic and traditional themes,   Shri GLN Simha of Mysore.  These are said to be in the collections of Ramsons Kala Pratishatana, Mysore

For more about the artist Sri G L N Simha , please click here



Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Srisukta


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Srisukta Part One

Sri Devi

Sri in Rig-Veda

1.1. The term Sri in Rig-Veda was used to portray the highly desirable virtues such as radiance, splendor, (divine) beauty, fortune, prosperity, abundance, bliss, happiness, welfare, possession of desired objects etc.  Sri, in general (visva-sri), represented all the beautiful and resplendent aspects; happy conditions; and desirable possessions that one aspires for in life. Sri, however, was not, originally, the   name of a goddess.

1.2. The attribute of Sri was often used to describe the glory and divine qualities of gods such as Agni, Pushan, Indra, Soma, Rudra and the goddess Ushas. For instance;

:-while describing the radiance of Agni, it was said: your glory (sriyo) is like the lightening in rainy-clouds (tava sriyo varsha-asyeva vidyuth: RV.10.91.5).

:- And, again, Agni displaying his glories (sriyamavah:RV: 2.10.1) ‘is the Lord among the gods, having all the glories (sriyo): ayam visva abhi sriyo Agnir-deveshu pratyate (RV: 8.102.9).

:- Rudra is said to have been born as the chief- of-all by the virtue of his Sri (sreshto jatasya Rudra sriyasi: RV: 2.33.3).

:- In Indra, rests all the glories (yasmin visva adhi sriyah: RV: 8.92.20).

:- And, as regards the splendor and radiance of Ushas the goddess of dawn, it was said ‘the radiant Ushas has risen up ushering in glory and brightness (ud u sriya Ushaso rochamana: RV: 6.64.1).

Sri in Brahmanas

2.1. Sri as the goddess perhaps first appears in Satapatha Brahmana (SB:; Here, Sri is described the as resplendent (dipayamana) and shimmering (bhrajamana) goddess; daughter of Prajapathi.

prajāpatirvai prajāḥ sṛjamāno’tapyata tasmācrāntāttapānācrīrudakrāmatsā dīpyamānā / bhrājamānā lelāyantyatiṣṭhatāṃ dīpyamānām bhrājamānāṃ lelāyantīṃ devā abhyadhyāyan

And, she was assigned a position of eminence among goddesses.  The other gods take from Sri and gift back to her various powers and virtues, such as:  anna (Agni); rajya (Soma); samrajya (Varuna), kshatra (Mitra); bala (Indra); brahmavarchas (Brihaspathi); rastra (Savitr);bhaga (Pushan), pusti (Sarasvathi); and, rupa (Tvasta). Since then, the presence of Sri and her activities manifest in these spheres of beauty, prosperity, virtue and power.

tasyā agnirannādyamādatta somo rājyaṃ varuṇaḥ sāmrājyam mitraḥ kṣatramindro
balam bṛhaspatirbrahmavarcasaṃ savitā rāṣṭram pūṣā bhagaṃ sarasvatī puṣṭiṃ
tvaṣṭā rūpāṇi

2.2. And, Sri, as a goddess, is mentioned more regularly, thereafter, in Vedic texts; and is identified with earth, abundance of food, cattle- wealth, Viraj*, Soma and the gods.

[*Viraj as a female principle is closer to Sri than others (srir vai virat). Viraj is the wife of Purusha; so too is Sri. In the later mythologies when Purusha – Prajapati – Narayana all merge into Vishnu, Sri is the consort of Vishnu (Vishnu patni).The term Vishnu patni was earlier used for Srinivali and Aditi.

Of the two consorts of Purusha – Sri and Lakshmi – the latter was, at times, replaced by Hri. In the Vedic texts, Hri represents the virtue of modesty.]

devi 2222

Sri and Lakshmi

3.1. However, Sri and Lakshmi are treated separate (not as one) in the Brahmanas.

3.2. The phrase ‘bhadra – lakshmi’ appears in the tenth mandala of Rig-Veda, to mean an auspicious imprint (nihita) upon the speech (Vac) of the wise-

  • bhadraisham lakshmir-nihita-adhi vachi (RV: 10.71.2).

But, Lakshmi is mentioned as a personified auspicious (punya) goddess in Atharva Veda (7,115) who drives away evil spirits (papi) of misfortune and wickedness (a-lakshmi) – puṇyā lakṣmīr yāḥ pāpīs tā anīnaśam ; and ushers in security (fearless-ness-Abhaya) and prosperity (Abhivruddi).

Thus, two distinct forms of Lakshmi are mentioned: the auspicious and the foul. But, over a time the fiendish aspects got erased; and the auspicious aspects gained ascendancy; celebrating the victory of the glorious Lakshmi over evil natures

apa krāmati sūnṛtā vīryaṃ punyā lakṣmīḥ ( AV.12,5.6).

3.3. Sri and Lakshmi appear as distinct goddesses, at the earliest, in Vajasaneyi Samhita of Shukla Yajurveda, where they are called the consorts of Purusha. But, not much is discussed about them.

3.4. In the Upanishads, Sri and Lakshmi who were earlier distinct, become synonyms, tend to merge and finally become one. Their worship together is formalized in the hymn Srisukta, which in fact, is an appendix or supplement (khila) to the fifth mandala of Rig-Veda. The Khila portions of Rig-Veda are considered as addendums or latter inclusions into the Vedic texts, when the gods and goddess tended to become personified.

3.5. Srisukta establishes the identity of Sri and Lakshmi as two names of a single divinity. She is the antithesis of Jyeshtha A-lakshmi representing hunger (a-samrddhi), thirst, impurity depravity, and decay (a-bhuti).

In this context, there is a mention of the six types of miseries or six waves of disturbances (shad-urmi) that afflict human life. They are: hunger (kshuda); thirst (pipasa); agony of grief (shoka – mano vyadha); delusion (moha); old age or decay (jara); and, death (marana).

These miseries are attributed to the evil influence of three types of A-lakshmis. Of these, the first two (hunger and thirst) are caused by Jyeshta, the elder A-Lakshmi. The next two (grief and delusion) are said to be caused by Madhyama, the middle or the second A-Lakshmi. And, the other two miseries (decay and death) are said to be caused by Kanishta the least or the third A-Lakshmi. All these A-Lakshmis hinder life and its progress.

The A-lakshmi , in whatever type or form, causing internal (antara) and external (bahya) misery should be driven away  .  The worshipper , therefore,  takes refuge in the protection of the auspicious and gracious goddess Sri.

Sri in Srisukta

4.1. Sri in Srisukta is not portrayed in the limited sense of the consort of Vishnu (Vishnu patni) or the goddess of wealth. Sri, here, is the Supreme Mother Goddess (devim mataram sriyam), the supreme ruler of all creation (Ishvari sarvabhutanam), beyond any flaw (durdharsha) and revered by all gods (deva-jushta).

4.2. The Great Goddess Sri sustains all existence. She is jagad–dhatri (adhara-bhutah jagatah tva-me-va); the Shakthi that supports Agni, Surya and all the gods. She is Narayani and Trayambika too. Durga-saptashati adores the Great Goddess Devi as Sri who rules over the Universe (tvam Sri, tvam Eshwari).

4.3. Sri, indeed, is Agni the all-knowing Jata-vedasa who resides in the hearts of the Yogis as the blazing pillar (agni-sthambha) of consciousness. Sri is Atma-vidya, Maha-vidya and Guhya-vidya the summit of spiritual attainment.

4.4. Tantra regards Sri as a tattva the principle that is beyond any known identity (Brahmarupini). She is Purusha and Prakrti too (prakrti–purushatmakam–jagat). She is vishwa-matruka the origin of all existence –

  • yoshith Purusha rupena sphurantee vishwa-matruka

Tantic Lakshmi (Tantric Lakshmi)

5.1. As said; Sri is Brahmarupini, and her glory is beyond description. And, yet, for worship-purposes, Sri is represented as a radiant goddess glowing like burnished gold (tapta kanchana sannibha), seated on a white, radiant lotus in full bloom (Amala-kamala-Samsthaa), holding lotus flowers ; and, adorned with rich and sparkling ornaments.

Lakshmi on white lotus

Thus, Srisukta is revered as the approach to Saguna Brahman visualized as the auspicious Sri, the very epitome of beauty, grace, magnificence and prosperity manifest in all creation.

5.2. Srisukta describes Sri as the most glorious goddess, radiant as Agni, Chandra and the sun; lustrous as gold; richly ornamented; and, regal in bearing. She is generous, kind-hearted, having infinite patience and boundless love towards all. She drives away hunger, poverty and ignorance; and ushers in light, beauty, prosperity and all the precious virtues of life.

5.3. Her bodily form is described as shining brightly (jvalanthi), refulgent (prabhasa) like that of the gold (hiranya-varna), the lotus (padma-varna) or the sun (aditya-varna). She is golden (hiranyayi), decked with lotus – garland (padma-malini) and gold necklaces (hema-malini); and adorned with precious ornaments  , made of gold (suvarna-rajatha-srajam).

Her associations

Lakshmi Hirnaya varnam

Lakshmi’s association with gold that shines signifies purity (pavitram vai hiranyam) and brilliance.

6.1. Sri is said to be radiant as the burnished gold .The phrase hiranya-prakara indicates her form as gold or encircled by gold. Sri’s special association with gold is expressed through several other phrases: hiranya-varna; hiranya-mayi; hiranya–prakara; hema-malini; svarna-rajatha–sraja; sauvarna. Among other things, she is requested to give gold.

6.2. Sri is also addressed as Chandra; bright (Chandrah chandate), mellow and the beauteous as the moon that delights the hearts of all (sakala jana-ahlada–karini).

6.3. Her tree is bilva (vanaspathi-stava-vriksho-tava-bilva) which effectively drives away A-lakshmi. Tantra regards Bilva vriksha as the form of Lakshmi (Lakshmi swarupa); and, its fruit as Sri-phala, the fruit of Sri. According to a narration in Kalika Purana, Sri performed penance amidst the Bilva trees; and, because of her grace (anugraha) the Bilva fruits acquired unique medicinal properties. There is a faith that Lakshmi resides in Bilva tree; and the worship with Bilva-leaves is dearer to her, and hence to Vishnu.

6.4. The primary symbol of Sri is lotus. In the Indian texts, lotus symbolizes several desirable virtues:  purity, beauty, the very essence of life, spiritual power, fertility and growth. The Tantra regards lotus as a symbol of created universe. And, Sri is all of those auspicious signs (lakshana). Sri is Padmini (a variant of padmanemi, meaning holding a lotus) and pushkarini (pushkara meaning lotus) . Lotus, again, is her seat (padma-sthitha). And, her complexion glows like that of lotus (padma-varna).

6.5. It is said; goddess Sri delights in the sounds of trumpeting elephants (hasti-nada-pramodini). Her Gajalakshmi form is shown with pair of elephants pouring water over her head. The phrase ardram–pushkarnim–pusta suggests sprinkling of water through lotus flowers. In the Indian texts, elephants are symbols of royalty, majesty and power. They also suggest water-bearing clouds, pools of water and rain. Sri thus, aptly, is the goddess of abundance and fertility.

gaja lakshmi2

[The Vishnudharmottara (III, Ch. 82), states that Devi Lakhsmi should be depicted with two-arms when she  is by the side of Hari (Vishnu) – Hareh samipe kartavya Lakshmis tu dvibhuja- V. 2a): but, when Goddess Lakshmi is portrayed singly, she should be made of four-arms; seated on an auspicious throne : prithak chaturbhuja karya devi simhasane shubhe (v.3b);  and,  two elephants should be each be emptying a water-pot on her shoulders :

– avarjita-ghatam karyam tat- prishthe  kunjara-dvayam (v. 7b).]


6.6. The goddess is called ardra, krishini; and staying in mire (kardama) and wet soil (chiklita). All these terms strengthen her association with food and water (apah srajanti snigdhani chilita).

Sri is the guardian deity of agriculturists; and is associated with agricultural prosperity. The goddess is called krishini, ardra; and, she is said to be staying in wet soil. The terms: ardra (moist), kardama (mud) and chiklita (fertile soil) are all indicative of her association with fertility, prosperity and growth. They also strengthen her association with food and water (apah srajanti snigdhani chilita).

6.7. The association of Sri  with Cows and its products that are helpful in producing abundant harvest is mentioned in other texts too. For instance; Maitrayani Samhita mentions that the other name for cow-pen is Lakshmi (goshtho vai namaisha lakshmih: MS: 4.2.1). And, Satapatha Brahmana states that one who has attained Sri (prosperity) is known as purishya, having plenty of cow-manure

  • purīṣya iti vai tamāhuryaḥ śriyaṃ gacati samānaṃ; SB:

7.1. Jatavedasa Agni is repeatedly requested to cause the goddess come to the worshiper . The epithet anapa-gamini suggests her fleeting nature (chanchala).

7.2. The worshipper prays to Sri for stay in the house abounding with agricultural wealth. He prays to Sri to grant him with cows, food, wealth, prosperity, truthfulness in speech as also fame and fulfillment of all desires.



8.1. Sukta in the Vedic context is a bunch of hymns (riks). A collection of Suktas is a Mandala (a Book or a Chapter). The Rig-Veda is made of 10,522 riks, grouped into 1,028 Suktas, spread over ten Books (mandala).

8.2. The term Sukta is also understood as well–articulated statements (shustu-uktam). The Suktas, generally, are not given titles; but, at times, they are identified and known by the names of the deities which they address.  For instance; the Sukta commencing with the words ‘aham rudrebhihi’ is celebrated as Devi-sukta (RV: 10.125); the one commencing with ‘ato deva avantu no’ as Vishnu–sukta (RV: 1.22.16) ; and the one commencing with ‘hiranya-varnam ‘ as Sri-Sukta .There also instances where a Sukta is known by its commencing words. For instance;  the 52 riks  appearing in the First Book of Rig-Veda and  commencing with the words ‘ asya vamasya palitasya h0tuh’ ,  attributed to Sage Dirghatamas  is known as Asya Vamiya Sukta.

8.3. The celebrated Srisukta that is recited with joy and reverence on all auspicious occasions, originally, occurs in the supplement (khila) appended to the fifth mandala of Rig-Veda . It is placed between the end of the fifth mandala and the beginning of the sixth mandala. There are a number of sets of mantras in this Khila : a set of five mantras commencing with words ‘athe garbho’ ( RvKh_2,10.1a) ; followed by a  set of five mantras commencing with words ‘agnir etu prathamo  (RvKh_2,11.1a ) ; and another set of fifteen mantras commencing with words ‘hiranya varnam harinim’. Please click here ; and, look for riks starting with RvKh_2,6.1a

9.1. The last mentioned set of fifteen mantras is renowned as ‘Srisukta’. The mantras are, in fact, addressed to Agni (jatha-vedasa). But , since the mantras pray for the  glory (Sri)  , the radiance, the wealth   and the beautiful aspects of life , they have customarily  come to be associated Lakshmi  the Goddess of  beauty and wealth.

9.2. The term Sri is derived from the root `Shriy‘ which suggests the refuge of all (sreeyate sarvai iti Sreehi). Sri is also Lakshmi the sign or the index (lanchana) of beauty, grace and wealth in all creation. Lakshmi is also a mark of energy (chaitanya) and excellence (vibhuti) that enriches life. The Devi dwells in the Universe as Lakshmi  (ya Devi sarva bhooteshu lakshmi roopena samsthitaa).

9.3. The fifteen riks or mantras (pancha-dasharcha) of the Srisukta, when recited during worship-sequences are usually followed by another twelve (or thirteen) prayer-verses, three slokas of mythological nature; and concluded with the recitation of Lakshmi–Gayatri (Om Mahalakshmyai Cha Vidmahe Vishnu Patnyai Cha Dheemahi  Tanno Lakshmi Prachodayat). But, it is only the first fifteen mantras from Rig-Veda that are regarded as riks; and, commentaries on Srisukta by various Acharyas are also confined to these riks.

10.1. Each of these fifteen riks is regarded a mantra in its own right. That is, in the sense, each mantra is associated with a Devata, the deity that resides in the mantra (thus, the mantra is Devata, and the Devata is its mantra); each mantra is ascribed to a Rishi who envisioned it; and, each mantra is composed in a particular Chhandas (metrical form).The fifteen riks together, in their integrated form , are also called Samasti-sukta.

10.2. The Devatas of the Samasti-sukta aretwo: Agni (Jatavedasa) and Sri (Lakshmi).The two are together addressed as ‘Srir-Agnir-Devata’.  The composition of the fifteen riks is ascribed to four Rishis: Ananda, Chaklitha, Kardama and Sreeda (or Indira).

As regards their Chhandas:

:- The first three mantras are set in Anustub-chhandas [32  Matras (syllables) , in 4 Paadas (lines) of 8 Matras each (4×8) – this is the classical Sloka format)]; 

:- the fourth in Bruihati-chhandas (36 Matras in 4 Paadas of 8+8+12+8);

:- the fifth and sixth in Tristub-chhandas  (44 Matras in 4 Paadas of 11 Matras each ; 4×11) ;

:-  the last (fifteenth) in a prose-like rendering called Prasa-pankthi.

:- And, the rest of the mantras (7th to 14th) are set in Anustub-chhandas (4×8).

sri lakshmi

11.1. Every mantra-structure is characterized by three components: Bija, Shakthi and Kilaka. It is said; these three components balance the power in mantra and the benefit (viniyoga) that one seeks from it.

:- Bija is the seed-phrase or significant series of words with which the mantra commences. It is the root-sound or the keynote which harmonizes the mantra. Sometimes, it is taken to express the essence of the mantra.

:- Shakthi is the power that carries within its womb  the esoteric (adyathmika) import or the significance latent in the mantra.  It is indeed is the ‘consciousness’ of the mantra that transports (trayate) the mind (mana) of the worshipper to its Devatha. 

:- Kilaka is the pillar or the pin or the peg which supports and holds together the structure of the mantra. It is also said the worshipper should fasten his faith (sraddha) to this plug (Kilaka); and stay steadfast as he repeats (japa) the mantra.

As regards Srisukta (taken as Samasti :  all the fifteen mantras taken together as a unit) , its opening line ‘Hiranya varnám ‘ is its Bija; the second mantra commencing with ‘Tám ma ávaha játavedo  is its Shakthi ; and , the phrases occurring towards the later part of the seventh mantra ‘kírtim riddhim dadátu me‘ is its Kilaka. (Śrīm Beejam ; Hrīm Shakthih;  Klīm kilakam)

[It is also said; each of the fifteen verses, which is a mantra, has its own Bija, Shakthi, Kilaka and Dhyana-sloka. And, each verse has its own Devatha/s. Let’s see those, later, as we come to each sloka.]

11.2 The Dhyana-sloka of Samasti-sukta is

Arunakamalastham tadrujah-punjavarna I Karakamaladhrute ashta-bhiti-yugmam ambujah

Mani-makuta-vichitra-alamkritih padmamaala I Bhavatu Bhuvana-mata santatam Sreeh Sreeyai namah II

Sri , here , is personified as the goddess seated on a red lotus covered with the pollen of red-lotus and  glowing with red-lotus complexion . In her either hands , she holds lotus flowers; and , with her other two hands , she bestows prosperity (varada-mudra) and gestures her protection(abhaya –mudra). She is adorned with radiant crown and garland of fragrant fresh lotus flowers. I submit (namah) to the Mother of Universe (Bhuvana mata) and the cause of abundance in prosperity in all existence (santatam sreeh sreehaih) .

Let’s briefly, talk about each of the fifteen mantras  of Srisukta

in the next two parts.


Reference and sources

Goddesses in Ancient India by PK Agrawala; Abhinav Publications (1984)

Srisukta (in Kannada) by Prof SK Ramachanra Rao; Published by SAKSI (2209)

Pictures are from Internet and from paintings of Shri GLN Simha of Mysore

Continued in Part Two



Posted by on October 23, 2012 in Srisukta


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Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar and Sri Vidya (1 of 8)

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar- a life sketch

sri mutthusamy dikshitar

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar ( 1775 (?) – 1835), one of the trinity of Carnatic Music, was a complete musician; a scholar and a Sadhaka, the one who attained his goal . The genius of Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar was that he was a remarkable synthesis of a versatile composer adept in several distinctive forms of music; of a towering scholar in Sanskrit, which adorned his music with grace, dignity and tranquility; and , of a Sadhaka steeped in devotion and good tradition (Sampradaya vit).

Each of his compositions is unique; brilliantly crafted and well chiseled work of intricate art. The most fascinating aspect of Sri Dikshitar’s songs is the grandeur and majesty of his music; the intellectually sublime lyrics;  and,  the overall tranquil joy.

There is hardly a composer comparable to Sri Dikshitar, in versatility, in enriching his work with such poetic imagery, technical sophistication; and, above all in permeating his compositions with soulful repose.

sri mutthusamy dikshitar 2sri mutthusamy dikshitar 1


Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar was the son of Sri Ramaswami Dikshitar (1735 – 1817), a well-known scholar – composer- musician of his time.

Ramaswami Dikshitar is described as the son of Bhagirathyamma and Vekateshvara Dikshita, a Dravida Brahmin belonging to Auttara Kashyapa Gotra, Apastamba Sutra. Ramasvami Dikshita was born in the Saka-samvathsara 1657 (1735 AD) at Kanchipuram.

When he was of about seven years of age, his parents moved from  Virachipuram (?) or Kanchipuram to Govindapuram, near Tanjavuru. In order to pursue his interest in music, Ramaswami Dikshita is said to have stayed as an Ante-vasin, a resident student, for a period of about two years,  with the famous composer-musician of those times –  Meratturu Veerabhadrayya of Tanjavuru; and , learnt Kritis composed by  him in Rakthi and Desi Ragas. He also learnt to sing, with ease and understanding, the Svaras, Alapana, Pallavi and the Svara-kalpana.

Thereafter, he studied further under Venkata-Vaidyanatha Dikshita of Madhyarjuna (maternal-grandson of the Great Venkatamakhin). Here,  for one year he learnt Veena; and, followed it up with the study of Venkatamakhin’s Chaturdandi Prakashika with its Raga, Upanga, Bhashanga Ragas, Gitas and Tala-lakshanas.

And, much later, at the instruction of his guru Yogi Chidambaranatha, Ramasvami Dikshita shifted his family from Govindapuram to Thiruvavur in the Tanjavuru district. He settled down in Tiruvavuru having gained reputation as a much learned scholar, composer and musician.

tiruvarur_temple (1)

Ramaswami Dikshitar had to his credit a large number of Tana varnas, Pada varnas, Darus, Ragamalikas and Kirtanas. His Mudra, signature, was ‘Venkatakrishna‘.

[For details of the compositions credited to Sri Ramaswami Dikshitar, please check page 11 of Chapter Two of Dr.  R K Dhanya ‘s research paper ]

His Ragamalika composed in 108 Ragas and set to different Taalas (Ashtottara Shatha Raga Taala Malika) was an outstanding composition, not merely for its sheer size but also for its melodic charm and rhythmic patterns; and , for deployment  of some uncommon Ragas and Taalas.

Please click here for the available text of the Ashtottara Shatha Raga Taala Malika

The Raga- Tala- Malika, composed in the Telugu language, employs all the Ghana Ragas (Nata, Gaula, Varali, Shri and Arabhi), as also, many important Mela Ragas (e.g. Todi, Mayamalavagaula, Shankarabharana, Kalyani, Pantuvarali, and Gmakakriya).

In addition, many   Upanga and Bhashanga Ragas are employed (e.g. Sama, Mohana, Manirangu, Bilahari, Saveri, Punnagavarali, Kuranji, Surati, Begada and Devagandhari). The Prati-madhyama Ragas used are Ramakriya, Kalyani, Saranga, Yaman and Gamakakriya.  

 Dr. Dhanya writes : The first 7 sections of this composition are in the Suladi sapta Taalas and the remaining in the I08 Taalas. Rare Taalas like Lali, Lakshana, Srimatkirti, Simhavikrama, Rarigalila, Kavilokita,  Akshara, Kala and Sri are used in it. This is a rare composition in Carnatic music for its style, extent and virtuosity . But , unfortunately, its complete text is not available ; and, only 61 Ragas and Taalas now exist.


Two other remarkable creations of Sri Ramasvami Dikshitar are:  

:- the Anuloma ‑ pratiloma- Daru composed in the rare Raga Ganga-tarangini, the lyrics (sahitya), of which can be read in normal order (anulomam}, as also in the reverse order (pratilomam); and, in either case it yields the same text.

:-  a Svara-sthana-pada-Varna  in Todi Raga, where its lyrics in  Telugu skilfully uses only the seven of its letters:  Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma , Pa, Dha, and   Ni. The Telugu words in the Sahitya of this Pada Varna are skilfully constructed using these seven lettersFor instance; its Charanam reads:

marimari ganisaga nipani dagadani  / maniganiga nimmanigada / mari ni pathama manigA marIniga\\

(Source; Grateful thanks to the scholar Shri P P Narayanaswami)


Sri Ramaswami Dikshitar also gained fame through his improvisations of the popular melody, the Raga Hamsadhvani. He is said to have composed a Lakshana Prabandha, in this Raga, beginning with the words ‘Chandaseya aurunda maladharadedicated to Lord  Nataraja of Chidambaram. This is said to be the  very  first composition set in Hamsadhvani

Thyagarajasvami and his consort Nilotpalamba

Sri Ramaswami Dikshitar , for a major part of his life, lived during the reign of Tulaja II , Amarasimha and the early Sarabhoji period. His other patrons were Manali Venkatakrishna Mudaliar and his son Chinnayya Mudaliar.

It was at Thiruvavur that Ramaswami Dikshitar, just past forty years of age; was blessed with a son ; who , it is generally beleived  was born on March 25th, 1775 in the Manmatha year, Phalguna month , under the Krithika nakshatra , just as the annual Vasantotsava was being celebrated in the temple of Sri Tyagaraja Swamy and Sri Nilothpalambika.

[ There is an alternate version; according to which : Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar was born on  Sunday, March 24, 1776 , Rohini Nakshatra, Vrshabha rasi

Another version mentions that Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar could have been born between 9 A.M on 23rd March 1776 to 8 A.M. 24th March, Phalguna Masa,  under  Krittika star )


He named the baby boy as Muthuswami  after his protecting deity Karthikeya. Following Muthuswamy, two sons – Chinnaswamy (formally – Venkata-vaidyanatha Sharma, named after his Guru) – (17781823) and Baluswamy (formally Balakrisna Sarma) – (17861859) ; and , a daughter – Balambika or Balambal – were born to Ramaswamy Dikshitar and Subbalakshmiammal . (According to some, Chinnaswamy and Balambal were twins)

Dikshitar Family tree

[ for more details on family history : please  check : ]

[Unlike in the case of Sri Thyagaraja, the Shishya-paramapa (the line of disciples) of Sri Dikshitar was, mainly, his descendants. According to Dr. V. Raghavan, in his book entitled Muttuswami Dikshitar, published by the National Center for the Performing Arts, 1975 :

The main line of Dikshitar’s pupils is represented by his own family. After Baluswami Dikshitar, there was the great Subbarama Dikshitar…. His son was Ambi Dikshitar (full name: Muttuswami Dikshitar) who succeeded him as court musician at Ettayapuram; and, stayed there for a long time. Late in life, he migrated to Madras where he lived for the rest of his life.

While in Madras he built  a school around himself; and, it was the starting point of a strong and fruitful movement. The well-known Vedanta Bhagavatar of Kallidaikurichi, who also happened to live in Madras at that time, threw himself enthusiastically into this active propagation of Dikshitar Kritis.

There were two young Veena brothers of Tirunelveli, Anatakrishrna Iyer and Sundaram Iyer, who made copies of Dikshitar kritis from the manuscripts of Sri Ambi Dikshitar. These formed the basis on which they propagated Dikshitar kritis……

Of Dikshitar’s own direct line, Sri Ambi Dikshitar’s son Tiruvarur Baluswami Dikshitar is the present living representative. (Note: this article was written earlier to 1975)

It was mainly due to the devotion, dedication and efforts of Sri Ambi Dikshitar, while he was in Madras, the musical heritage of Sri Muttuswami Dikshitar came to be extended outside of the family.

In the early years, the disciples of Sri Ambi Dikshitar such as Smt. D.K.Pattammal and Justice T.L.Venkatrama Iyer did loyal service, with great enthusiasm, in popularizing the compositions of Sri Muttuswami Dikshitar.

Please also check this article.]


Apart from the traditional education in Veda and Vedangas, the boy Muthuswami received training in the lakshana and lakshya (theory and practice) aspects of Karnataka Samgita. The lakshana geethas and prabandhas of Venkatamakhin formed an important input of his training . He gained proficiency, in Veena and in vocal music as well.

He also gained training in Vyakarana (through a text named Kaumudi – it could be either Siddhānta-Kaumudī by Bhaṭṭoji Dīkṣita or its abridged version Laghu-kaumudi by his student Varadarāja), Kavya, Nataka, and Alamkara aspects of poetics.

By about the age of sixteen, Muthuswamy had gained familiarity with Jyothisha, Ayurveda and Tantra.

Muthuswami was a studious lad; rather absorbed in himself . Concerned with the boy’s detached attitude; his parents got him married at an early age. That didn’t seem to change the young man’s attitude; and, therefore he was married the second time.

At the invitation of Muddukrishna Mudaliyar, Zamindar and an art connoisseur, Ramaswami Dikshitar moved his family to Manali, a Zamindari near Madras. Muddukrishna Mudaliyar was a Dubash (interpreter) closely connected with the East India Company. He was succeeded by his son Venkatakrishna Mudaliar, who continued the patronage to the Dikshitar family.

Venkatakrishna Mudaliar (sometimes referred to as Chinnaswami) was also a Dubash of the East India Company; and , in that capacity  he used to visit, quite often, Fort St George, the official seat of East India Company in South India. He would often take Muthuswami and his brothers to Fort St. George, to listen to ‘airs’- Western Music played by Irish men in the British band. It was here that Muthuswami Dikshitar gained familiarity with Western music.

Madras St. Thome Street, Fort St. George, Madras - 1804

It is said ; at the suggestion of Col. Browne who was in the service of the East India Company, Dikshitar composed the text in Sanskrit and Telugu for well known Western tunes. He also composed songs in Sanskrit and Telugu based on Western notes. The collection of these compositions , numbering about forty , later came to be known as “Nottuswara Sahithya“.

Another significant fallout of the Dikshitar family association with the court at the Fort St. George was that Baluswami, the younger brother of Muthuswami became fascinated by an instrument called Fiddle whose well tuned sounds seemed to approximate human voice. Baluswami learnt the Fiddle from an Irish musician; and, soon became quite an adept in playing Carnatic music over fiddle. And , thereafter  the family wondered why it could not replace traditional Veena as the accompanying instrument. They tried it out ; and, it worked very well. Since then Fiddle (Violin) has become an indispensable accompaniment for a Carnatic music concert.


[ About his  uncle Cinnasvami Dıksita  and his  adopted father  Balasvami Dıksita, Sri Subbarama Dikshitar writes in his Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini:

38. Cinnasvami Dıksita (Venkata-vaidyanatha Sharma)

He was Muddusvami Dıksita’s brother. He was well educated in Sanskrit and Telugu. He was an expert in music. He was a great veena player. He was a great soul who possessed expertise in vocal as well as in instrumental music. He was felicitated in the courts of Manali Cinnaya Mudaliyar, and in the court of other kings.

He composed two krtis, on Narada. One was Ganalola karunalavala, in the Raga Todi; and, the other was Narayanananta in the Raga Kalyani. He went to Madurai along with his younger brother, and passed away in his forty-fifth year.

39. Balasvami Dıksita (Balakrsna Sarma)

He was born as the third son of Ramasvami Dıksita in the Saka year 1708 (1786 A.D) in the year of Parabhava, in Mithuna rasi, Asvinı naksatram and in Kanya lagnam. He was the younger brother of Muddusvami Dıksita. He was named Balakrsna Sarma. He was an expert in Telugu and very well versed in music. He was an expert in playing the instruments such as Veena, Svarabat, Fiddle, citar (sitar) and Mrdangam . He knew the intricacies of musical laksya and laksana.

Even when he was very young, Cinnaya Mudaliyar at first arranged for him to learn violin from an English man. He learnt western music as well as Hindu music for three years and played very well in front of Manali Mudaliyar and other music-lovers. During his childhood, one day in a gathering of Mudaliyar,  Sonti Venkatasubbayya played the Gıta, and Taana  in the Raga Takka, looked at the Mudaliyar and told him that that Raga is known only in their family. Immediately, the young Balasvami Dıksita looked at the Mudaliyar and told him that he was going to sing that Takka Raga Gıta; and, to listen. As he sang it as, Aramajju aparadha, he was felicitated with a pearl necklace and a pair of earrings.

Afterwards, he along with his intelligent brothers lived in Kanci and other holy places ; went to Tiruvarur;  and lived there for some time. Then, with a disciple called Hari, who was with him since his childhood, and with his second older brother he went to Madurai and lived there for some time. When his brother passed away, he went to Setu with Hari and from there reached Ettayapuram and visited the Maharaja.

There, when he played Fiddle, the instrument that was new for those times, the Maharaja was very pleased and felicitated him greatly. He also recognized his talents in laksya and laksana, and his delicate playing on the Veena. The Maharaja also built a house for him, made him the court musician and got him married a second time.

The oldest son of the then Maharaja, Kumara Ettappa Maharaja (who was later coroneted) , learnt laksana and laksya of music from him. For the krtis he had composed in Sanskrit, in many Ragas following the patterns of Varnas, he (Balasvami) composed Muktayı svaras with intricate innovations, which pleased the Maharaja. Apart from that, he composed Kırtanas in Telugu on Srı Grdhracala Kartikeya in the Ragas Saranga, Darbar, Kannada and Rudrapriya.

With the permission of Kumara Ettappa Maharaja, who was well versed in astrology, he took me under his wings as his grandson, and initiated me to Brahmopadesa, taught me Veena and educated me in musical laksya and laksanas. He composed an Atta tala Varna in the Raga Naata, and made every Svara in that Tana Varna shine magically and in the last four Avarta Svaras he embedded the four Jatıs,  one in each of the Avarta. After hearing this Tana Varna, the Maharaja felicitated him with a pair of todas (bangles), which were valued at one thousand gold coins and which were adorned with rubies and the face of lion. He also presented him with a pair of valuable (shawls) cloths. He also rewarded the disciples who sang the Varna.

After that Maharaja, his brother was crowned; and, he too learnt music from him. He composed Darus on Venkatesvara Ettappa Maharaja, who was the embodiment of music, in the Ragas Rudrapriya, Darbar and Vasanta, with Muktayi svaras with paatava. After listening to them, the Maharaja felicitated him by presenting him with two shawls and thousand gold coins for each Daru. He used to sing Gıtagovinda (Astapadi) ; and chant the name of God on every ekadasi day without fail. As the days passed thus, in the Saka ´ year 1931 (1859 A.D) in Pingala year and on Kumbha Rasi, Shukla trtıya day, he attained the heavenly abode.


Balasvami Dıksita adopted his  youngest daughter’s son  –  Subbarama Dikshita , the author of the monumental Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini.

[ please click here for more on Dishitar Parampara ]

 Sri Subbarama Dikshita writes about himself:

72 . Subbarama Dıksita

With the name ‘Balasubrahmanya Sarma’, I am the adopted son of Balasvami Dıksiita, the youngest brother of Muddusvami Dıksita. Balasvami Dıksita’s youngest daughter’s name was Annapurniamma. Her husband was Sivaramayya who belonged to Bharadvaja Gotra, and Drahyayana Sutra.  They had two sons. Ramaswami Ayya, who was their  first son, was very talented in music and Veena was felicitated by kings and attained heavenly abode at the age of 45. And, Ramasvami Ayya had two sons, Veena Cinnasvami; and, the other was the third principal of the Maharaja’s High School and musical connoisseur, Venkatarama.

I was born as the second son (of Sivaramayya and Annapurniamma) in Tiruvarur in the Saka year 1761 (1839 A.D.) during the year of Vilambi, Tula Rasi, and Hasta Nakshatra.

When I was five years old, Balasvami Dıksita took me to Ettayapuram, and got me tutored in Sanskrit, Telugu, and music. At that time, Jagadvıra Rama Kumara Ettappa Maharaja, who was very well versed in astrology, summoned the great astrologers, and studied my horoscope. He looked at Balasvami Dıksita, and told him, “The bearer of this horoscope is the son to all the three of you. So, adopt him. He will be famous like Dıksita.” Just as his command, my maternal grandfather, Balasvami Dıksita adopted me during Plavanga year, Makara Rasi; and , initiated me into Brahmopadesa and Srı Vidya-upadesa. I learnt the sciences of epics and drama, great epics like Manu Caritra and Vasu Caritram, Grammar, and poetic meters from Vilattikolam Krsnayamatya, who was a great Sanskrit and Telugu scholar. I not only learnt Veena from my father, but also learnt in detail the secrets (intricacies) of laksya and laksana of music. ]

[Please also read the analysis , made by Sri Vishnu Vasudev,  of the life of Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar based on his biography by  Justice T.L. Venkatarama Aiyer, in a series of posts (parts 123 and 4)]

lotus design

When Muthuswami was about 25 years of age, he accompanied his family guru Yogi Chidambaranatha to Varanasi, in obedience of  the guru’s wish.  Muthuswami’s wives too followed their husband. Muthuswami spent seven fruitful years in Kashi. Those were his most wonderful and educative years ; and , left a lasting influence on his life and works. A whole new world opened to Muthuswami at Kashi. During this period, Dikshitar acquired a wealth of knowledge under yogi’s tutelage. The yogi taught him Advaita Siddhantha, Tantra; and , also initiated him into Sri Vidya Upasana.

[ It is said; upon his initiation into Sri Vidya Upasana , Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar was assigned the ordained name ‘Chidananda-natha‘.

In the Pallavi of his first Kriti ‘, ‘Sri Nathaadi Guruguho Jayati,’ he refers to himself by his Diksha-name (rahasya-nama) as : ‘Sri Chidananda Naathoham iti’- श्री चिदानन्द नाथोऽहमिति.

The noted scholar , Dr. V Raghavan , in his Sanskrit Mahakavya devoted to  Sri Muttuswami Dikshitar (chapter 8) mentions : “dadau yathavad vara sakta-deekshaam sakam Chidaananda rahasya-namna.”]

During these years, while in Kashi, Dikshitar visited several holy places in the Himalayan region – such as , Badrinath, Kedarnath and Pashupathinath; and , worshiped the deities in those shrines.

Badrinath temple, Uttaranchalkedarnath evening

During his stay at Varanasi, Muthuswamy Dikshitar had splendid opportunities to listen to Hindustani music in its pristine forms. He seemed to have been greatly impressed by the ancient Drupad form of singing and of playing the string instruments; particularly by its elaboration of Raga (Aalap), the measured tempo and the structure of the lyrics. This had a profound influence on his creative genius; and, apparently on his portrayal of Ragas in general ; and, in transforming the Hindustani Ragas into their Carnatic form, in particular.

[ It is said that while in Varanasi , Sri Dikshitar stayed with his Guru Sri Chidambaranatha yogi in a house situated in one of the lanes near Hanuman Ghat. Attached to the house is the temple of Sri Chakra Lingeshwara worshiped by Sri Dikshitar and his Guru. The  temple had fallen into ruins for many years. In the year 1936, when Kanchi Kamakoti Maha Periyava Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal visited Varanasi , he identified this temple and arranged for its restoration. Thereafter. Sri T M Arunachala Sastrigal of Tanjore  and his descendants devoted themselves  for the worship and maintenance of the temple.

Sri Chakra Lingeshwar where Dikshitar stayed with his Guru

The remarkable feature of the Sri Chakra Lingeshwara is that the Linga  is embedded with Sri Yantra.

chakra lingeswara varanasiSri Chakra Lingeshwar

Next to the Linga is the image of Sri  Dakshinamuthi swaroopa Ardhanarishwara    worshiped by Sri Dikshitar.

Dakshina murthi as Ardhanarishvara

The  image panel on the temple wall includes a portrait of Sri Dikshitar.

Mutthuswamy Dikshitar’s idol sculptured on the walls of the temple.Mutthuswamy Dikshitar’s idol  on the walls of the temple.

[Source : I gratefully acknowledge the web-page of  Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh  at ]

At the end of the seven years, Yogi Chidambaranatha advised Muthuswami to return to South; and, to commence his music and spiritual career with the worship of Karthikeya on the hills of Tiruthani. Soon after that, the Yogi attained his Samadhi. Dikshitar performed the final rites of his departed guru and left Varanasi.

Chidambaranatha yogi samadhi

Yogi Sri Chidambaranatha’s Samadhi is located within the temple near Hanuman Ghat on the banks of the Ganga.

chidbambaranatha chidbambaranatha2

The family at Manali, in the meanwhile, had fallen on bad days. The life there was becoming increasingly difficult ; and, Ramaswami Dikshitar too was in poor health. The family therefore, decided to return to Thiruvarur. After making arrangements for the family’s return to Thiruvarur, Muthuswami headed straight to Tiruthani as ordained by his Guru.

It is said; immediately after being blessed by the Lord there , Dikshitar started composing kritis. The first kriti he composed was Srinathadi Guruguho jayathi in Raga Mayamalava-gaula. His first group of kritis called Guruguha vibhakti krithis were also composed in Tiruthani. It was here that Dikshitar became a proper Vak-geya Kara, the composer who sets his lyrics to music. The Mudra, his signature to his creations was Guruguha, which approximates to ” the Guru dwelling in the cave of my heart”. Dikshitar was then around 33 years of age.

Manasollasa (also called Abhjilashitarta Chintamani) ascribed to the Kalyana Chalukya King Someshwara III (1127-1139 AD) is an encyclopedic work, written in Sanskrit, covering a wide range of subjects.  Its Chapter Three: Prakirnaka: deals with topics such as: Guna–Dosha (merits and de-merits) of Vak-geya-kara (composers who set  songs to music). The text grades the composers (Vak-geya-kara) into three classes. According to its classification,  the lowest is the lyricist; the second is one who sets to tune the songs written by  others; and, the highest is one who is the  Dhatu Mathu Kriyakari – who writes the lyrics (Mathu), sets them to music (Dhatu) and ably presents (Kriyakari)  his compositions.

Sri Dikshitar was indeed an Uttama-Vak-geya-kara of the highest order.]

On his way back home to Thiruvarur, Dikshitar stayed for sometime with a Yogi , Sri Ramachandra Saraswathi, popularly known as Upanishad Brahmendra who lived and taught in Kancipuram.

[Incidentally, Sri Upanishad Brahmendra  was also an early teacher of  Sri Tyagaraja , the great composer musician.]

During his stay in Kanchipuram, Dikshitar set to music “Rama Ashtapadhi” a collection of stanzas composed by Sri Upanishad Brahmendra. Dikshitar returned to Thiruvarur in the year 1809. The Ashtapadi , sadly , is no longer available.

The years at Thiruvarur were very productive. Here, Dikshitar composed sixteen Kritis on the various attributes of Ganesha; eleven Kritis of Navavarana group on Sri Kamalamba; and, a set of Kritis on Thygaraja and Nilothpalambika the presiding deities of the town. The Nilothpalambika set of krithis enlivened certain rare Ragas like Narayanagowla that were almost fading away.

Three years after Muthuswami returned to Thiruvarur (1814), his father Ramaswami Dikshitar, at the age of eighty-two, passed away in  Saka-Dhatu-Nama- samvathsara  1739 (1817 AD) in Magha-masa on the auspicious Shiva-rathri night.

Further, it was becoming increasingly difficult to carry on life at Thiruvarur. The Dikshitar brothers , therefore , decided to move to Tanjavur in search of a living. Tanjavur, in those days, was relatively peaceful, secure ; and, was a center for culture and learning, while most of the Southern regions was under the threat of the Sultan.

[ It is said that at Thanjavur,  the Dikshitar-brothers met Sri Shyama Sastry, another of the Trinity; and,  the four , together, composed/completed a Varnam. It is said ; that the Chowka Varna, ‘Sami ninne kori‘, in Sriranjini Raga composed by Sri Ramaswamy Dikshitar, had only one Svara passage. And, to that Sri Shyama Sastry added by composing  the second chararna-svara; while Sri Chinnaswami Dikshitar added the third charana-svara; and, Sri  Muthuswamy Dikshitar contributed the fourth.  (please check page 47 of Justice venkatarama Aiyar’s biography of Sri Dikshitar)

The association of Sri Shyama Sastri and Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar in Thanjavur is indeed one of the most fascinating aspects in the history of South Indian Music. ]


At Thanjavur,  the Dikshitar-brothers , in order to earn a living, began to accept students interested in learning music. They were then approached by one Mahadeva Annavi (Subbarayan), a Veena player  and a dance-master (Nattuvanar) to teach his sons. His four sons who became disciples of Sri Muthuswamy  Dikshitar and propagated his musical compositions  –  Chinnaiah Pillai (1802-1856); Ponnayya Pillai (1804-1864); Sivanandam Pillai(1808-1863) and the legendary Vadivelu Pillai (1810-1845) – gained great fame as Thanjavur Quartet. Of these , Chinnaiah and Sivanandam were Bharatha_natyam masters and composers of some popular Tana Varnams, Pada Varnams, and Thillanas etc. 

Mahadeva annavi0007

They were the pioneers of  the Bharatanatyam Margam as we know it today. This Margam includes Alarippu, Jathiswaram, Shabdam, Varnam, Padam/Javali, Tillana and Shloka. Many of these dance items were composed specially by Ponnaiya Pillai, As he was a musician, the names for the dance items follow their musical forms. 

Mural at the Big Temple - The quartet

Chinnaiah , the eldest of the four, was a great teacher of dance; and, he later moved to the Mysore court of Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar III  (1794-1868) who was a great patron of art and literature ; and , who was himself a poet and an author of many works . Some of Chinnaiah’s compositions are dedicated to Wodeyar. He also wrote a Telugu work  called Abhinaya Lakshanamu, a version of the reworked  Sanskrit text  Abhinayadarpana of Nandikeshvara .

Ponnaiah was a composer of great merit. Several of his kritis , including Ambaneelambari’  (Neelambari),  ‘Satileni’ (Poorvikalyani) and Tillanas as also other Nrtta compositions (Jatisvarams and Thillanas),  are  popular among musicians even to this day.

During their stay at King Serfoji’s Durbar in Tanjavur, they brought into  use western musical instruments such as  violin and clarinet , as an accompaniments for Carnatic music and performance of dance. Sivanandam , in particular, is credited with introducing the clarinet to Carnatic music.

Vadivelu Pillai, the youngest, was a virtual genius , praised by Dikshitar as eka-sandhi-grahi , one who grasps immediately after just one listening. Vadivelu contributed significantly to Dance also. The great Tyagaraja too admired Vadivelu’s musical skills. A Lutheran German protestant missionary Frederick Schwartz is said to have taught violin Ivory vio;in presented to Vadivelu by Maharaja Swati Tirunalto Vedanayagam Shastriyar; and, he, in turn, taught the instrument to Vadivelu. Thereafter, Vadivelu popularized violin among the Carnatic musicians.  He soon became  a favorite of Swathi Thirunal Maharaja who appointed him his Court Musician. It is said ; in 1834,  Swati Thirunal  Maharaja gifted him a rare Violin made of ivory (which is now said to be placed in  the Quartet’s ancestral home at 1818, West Main Street, Behind Brihadeswara Temple). Both these geniuses, sadly , died at their young age – Swati Thirunal at 34; and, Vadivelu at 35.


The brothers propagated the famed Pandanallur style of Bharata Natyam.  The renowned Nattuvanar Sri Meenakshisundaram Pillai descended from the Thanjavur Quartet.


Smt.  Nandini Ramani writes :

They were the first to formalize the performance pattern of Bharatanatyam, and codify lessons called Adavus (basic steps and the different categories of rhythm patterns) required for the same. They were the ones to plan and set the order of the different items of the repertoire in performance. The order they set is as follows. 

Melapraptialarippujatiswaramsabdamswarajatichaukavarnamragamalikapadamjavali, and tillana.

They also composed several pieces for each category set to different ragas and talas (rhythm structure). The compositions were in Telugu, their mother tongue, and they addressed their family deities, Sri Brihadisvara and Brihannayaki, as well as the kings and ministers who patronized them and also the different deities whom they worshipped during their travels. All of these were presented by them in the performing art tradition, earning wide fame and reputation. They were invited by the royal patrons of Thiruvananthapuram and Mysore, as sitting doyens of art, to spread the art in those regions, while the king also popularized it by arranging performances in all the temples.


[Souurce :]


Sri Dikshitar during his stay in  Thanjavur composed a number of Samasti Charana Kirtanas.

[A kriti generally follows a certain structure: Pallavi the opening passage of two lines is followed by Anupallavi. Raga is introduced with the cyclical rendition and improvisation of Pallavi and Anupallavi. The body of the kriti is its Charanas. Each Charana usually has four lines. The final Charana contains the Mudra or the signature of the composer.

However, certain kritis of Dikshitar have only two segments Pallavi and Anupallavi, where the latter acts as the Charana. Such kritis are called Samasti Charana Kritis. They perhaps represent a stage in the evolution of the kriti format. E.g.Anandamritakarshini (Amritavarshini); Hari Yuavatheem Haimavathim (Hemavathi) etc.]

Dikshitar brothers stayed in Thanjavur for about three years (about 1817 -1820).

Baluswamy who was proficient in Veena, Swarbat, Sitar and Mridangam, along with his brother  Chinnaswami joined the court of Venkateshwara Eddappa I [1761 – 1839] the Raja of Ettayapuram (Tirunelveli district) , as Asthana Vidwans of Ettayapuram Samsthanam.

Soon after that, Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar too left Tanjavur; and, he went on a virtual pilgrimage visiting a number of temples; and composing kritis in honor of the deities he visited. In a way of speaking, his life was a long pilgrimage.

Please click here for a map of his probable temple visits.

[Please click here for the lists of about 150 temples/deities featured to in Dikdhitar’s kritis]

Years later, Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar also settled down in Ettayapuram at the request of the king. A few years later , Dikshitar’s both wives passed away. Some sources mention that Dikshitar had a daughter and she lived in Tiruchirapalli; but, not much is known about her.


Dikshitar comes through as a very astute scholar-devotee, a Sadhaka. He was a viraktha, unattached to possessions, to places or to emotions. He was voluntarily poor and accepted his poverty with equanimity. He did not seek favor or patronage from anyone. He was an intense devotee ; but, was  undemonstrative. In his compositions, you never find despondency, helplessness or begging for divine grace or intervention. There is certain composure, measured grace, dignity and a mellow joy in his works as in his life. He was solely devoted to Sri Vidya Upasana and to his music which was his medium of self-expression. His works exude serene contemplation and soulful joy.

It was on Naraka Chaturdasi ,the fourteenth day of the lunar calendar, in the month of Ashwija, the day preceding Deepavali (October 18th, 1835), Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar performed Parva Mandala puja to Devi and sang Ehi Annapurne (Punnagavarali). This was Sri Dikshitar’s last composition. Thereafter, he asked his disciples to sing Meenakshi mey mudam dehi (Purvi Kalyani) . When they sang the Anupallavi , he asked them to repeat the phrases Meena lochani pasha mochini. As they were singing, Muthuswami Dikshitar uttered “Shive pahi, Shive pahi, Shive pahi” and breathed his last , like a true yogi.

dikshitar sketch

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar had been yearning for Videha Mukthi. For instance; in the Kriti Sri Rajarajesvarim (Madhyamavati), he requests the Mother to protect him by granting the Videha-mukthi [videha kaivalyam aasu ehi dehi mam pahi – विदेह कैवल्यं आशु एहि देहि मां पाहि] ] . He beseeches the Divine Mother repeatedly and addresses her as the 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).

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

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 absolute faith and loving devotion.

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; and,  his instinct of self-preservation and insecurity has  minimized. He is alive only to essential thing , the very source of life. The real world continues to exist for him; but, he does not rest in the world; instead, he rests in himself (Svarupa pratishta). Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar, either way, was a jivan Muktha.

The king and Baluswami Dikshitar performed the last rites of the departed genius. The Samadhi of Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar is at Ettayapuram;  but, it appears to be in a rather poor condition. In a petition submitted to Shri. Abdul Kalam then president of India, the petitioners submitted

“It is the fervent desire of all music lovers as well as all lovers of Indian culture across the world that this Samadhi be declared as a heritage site and treated as a National Monument, ideally with a beautiful museum. We are extremely concerned that there has been a move made to demolish this important cultural and artistic memorial.”

mutthuswami dikshitar stamps

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar was a many splendored genius. He redefined the paradigm of Carnatic music. Each of his compositions exemplifies the essence of Raga Bhava and captures the depth and soulfulness of the melody. His vision of some of the Ragas and their structure is sublime. He achieved what the revered Venkatamakhi, at one time, thought was not possible; he gave form and substance to all the 72 Melakarta-ragas. Besides, he breathed life into several ancient Ragas that were fading away from memory. His compositions are crisp and well chiseled. His Sanskrit is delightfully captivating. His synthesis of Carnatic and Hindustani Music systems is creative and original. His kritis replete with soothing, graceful Sanskrit lyrics, many with winsome Samashti Charanams, comparable to the Dhrupad stanzas, occupy an exclusive niche in the world of Indian Music. The technical sophistication, intellectual brilliance and the majesty of his music is unsurpassed. Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar is indeed a crest jewel of Indian music and spirituality.

Dikshitar's idol with the veena he used in the forefront.


Continued in Part Two:

Sri Dikshitar and Western Music


Map: courtesy of

Biography by Justice Sri T L  Venkataramayyar

I gratefully acknowledge Shri S Rajam’s paintings of Shri Dikshitar’s life-events

All other pictures are from Internet


Posted by on September 13, 2012 in Music, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Sri Vidya


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