Tag Archives: Viloma

Nabhi Vidya -Part One



Dec 22, 2021

Please enlighten full details of NABHI-VIDYA.


Dear Sri Murthy

I started this as a reply to your comment. But, since it grew rather lengthy, I am posting it separately, as a blog. Pardon me for the delay in responding.

The subject, to say the least, is rather obscure; its text is also not widely known; and, not many have written about it. And, the manner in which the Nabhi-Vidya has been expounded is, indeed, very complicated.  I have attempted to write about its structure, as I have understood. I am aware, my presentation could be inadequate  at places. Please pardon me.

In case you are deeply interested in the subject, you may treat this as prompter; and, seek further guidance from a truly learned person.

I trust you will have the patience to read through this somewhat tedious post.

OK. Here we go ]

Shodashi Nabhi vidya. 2 jpg



The Nabhi-vidya is one of the lesser-known texts of the Sri Vidya lore. It, basically, is related to Shodashi and MahaShodashi-Mantras. There is also a brief use of the Para-Shodashi-Mantra, the highest, which bestows true knowledge and leads to liberation (Jnana-prada, Mukti-prada). The various combinations of these Mantras, constructed in their regular order (Anuloma) as also in their reverse order (Viloma), as per their formats in the Kadi, Hadi Vidyas and in the mixture of the two (Kadi-Hadi), are hailed as the most sacred, secretive and powerful Mantras.

However, there is no definite information either about its date or its author. And, the text, to say the least, is needlessly made complicated by admixing varieties of Mantra-formats of various Schools; combining them with intricate sets of meters; and, encrypting the verses by resorting to the Katapayadi technique of hashing. It could be interpreted in more than one way.

Nabhi-Vidya is, by no means, a lucid text; and, is not easy either to understand or to follow. It is not a text which expounds a philosophy. It is constructed as a set of Mantras, which the adherent has to earnestly and repeatedly recite (Japa), as a part of her / his Sadhana or Upasana-krama. Further, since the Nabhi-Vidya is associated with the Vama-achara modes of worship, it is not in common practice either.

Its text is in the traditional format of conversation (Samvada); and, it takes place between Sri Hayagriva and Sage Agastya. Here, Agastya requests the most learned (Sarva-shastra-visharada) Guru Hayagriva to impart to him the knowledge about the Self (Atma-jnana), which is pristine, most delightful (Ananda-rasa-sambrutham), eternal; and, unwavering (a-chanchala).

Hayagriva Daya-sindhau, Sarva-shastra-visharada / kena prapnothi niyata-mathma jnanam a-chanchalam / kena samprapnoya sakshmam Ananda-rasa sambrutham //

Then, Guru Hayagriva recounts a similar request made earlier by Devi Sri Parvathi to Lord Shiva, to reveal to her the secret knowledge about his true nature.

Deva-Deva-Mahadeva Sat-chidananda-vigraha / Yad-gopyam tava sarvasvam kathayasva mama-prabhuo //

In response to Devi’s request, the Supreme Lord Mahadeva reveals and teaches Devi Parvathi the ancient and hitherto hidden knowledge, the Nabhi Vidya.

Shrunu Devi pravakshyami rahasyam yad-vachoduna / Gopaniyam prayatnena purna-hanta maya-param //

Shiva teaching Parvathi

Further, Shiva mentions that the rare and precious (Tri-lokya-durlabham) Nabhi-Vidya consists thirty-six mantras (Nabhi-vidyatmakam-divya-shat-trishatu-tattva samkhyakam) representing thirty-six elements (tattva); together with Matruka, Natha, Baala and Para-Vidyas, it amounts to forty mantras (Matruka-Natha-Baalabhir-Paraya saha / chatvarimsat samkhyabhi aakhya Nabhi-iritha). These are arranged in varied combinations following the principles of Kadi and Hadi Vidyas, as indicated cryptically (Rahasya-sanketha).

Pica-ru-ru Bala yugmam kambhuka trimbakabha / Bala pica ru-ru yugmam Raja-vidyaya shtanabha / Nrupathi yuga vathamsa Matruka Natha Baala / Para-yuvathi sametha pathu maam Nabhi-vidyaya //

Dhyana sloka

Later, the Devi teaches Sage Hayagriva the Nabhi Vidya, composed of the Shodashi and Maha-Shodashi Mantras, each of which set to Kadi, Hadi and also to the combinations of the two (Kadi-Hadi). These twenty-four, along with the twelve arrived at with the doubling of the Hrillekhas (Srim- ह्रीं)) at the end of each Kuta (group), amount to thirty-six mantras (Shat-trimshat-tattva-sankhya). And, the other four being explicit Matruka, Natha, Baala and Para Mantras.

And, Hayagriva thereafter initiates Agastya into the sacred and hidden Nabhi-Vidya (Shiva-Shivaa rahsyam cha etad gopyam)

Guru Hayagriva mentions; if the Mantra is practiced earnestly and properly, it will lead to the realization of one’s true Self (Pujayitva yatha-vidhi, nija-swarupam vijnathu Iccha -phalitha manasa)


It is said that the Nabhi-Vidya, being at the center of all the Maha-Mantras, connects the devotee to the Universal Mother (Vishva-matha) Sri Maha-Tripura-Sundari; and, seeks her blessings.

The Rishi of the Mantra is Ananda-Bhairava; its Devatha is Sri-Vidya-Maha-Tripura-Sundari Raja-Rajeshwari; its Chhandas is Amruta-Virat-Gayatri; and, its viniyoga is securing the grace and the blessings of the Supreme Mother Goddess Sri Maha-Tripura-Sundari.

Asya Sri Nabhi-Vidya shodasakshari Tripura-Sundari Brahma-vidya Mantra-raja Maha -Mantrasysa Ananda-Bhairava-Rishihi / Amruta-Virat-Gayatri-Chandhaha / Sri-Vidya -Maha-Tripura-Sundari Raja-Rajeshwari Devatha / Aim, ka, ye, ela, hrim Bijam / Sau skala hrim Shakthi-hi / Klim hasa-kapala hrim kilakam / Sri Maha-Tripura-Sundari Anugraha-prasada sidyarthe jape-viniyogaha //



In the Nabhi-Vidya, the Shodashi, Maha-Para-Shodashi Mantras of Hadi Vidya, Kadi Vidya and Hadi-Kadi Vidya are mixed and combined in various patterns; out of which, 36 Mantras are generated. These are followed by 4 separate Mantras (37-40).

Almost the entire body of the thirty-six elements of the Nabhi-Vidya (composed of the Purvanga-vidya-24; Raja-Vidya-12; and, Nrpathi-vidya-4) is comprised by the sets of instructions for the arrangement/recitation (Japa) of the complicated pattern of the mixture of the selected segments of the Shodashi, MahaShodashi and Para-Shodashi Mantras, as per the Kadi , Hadi and Hadi-Kadi Vidya-s, in their proper sequence (Anuloma) / reverse order (Viloma); with specified numbers of repetitions of the Hrim-kara (ह्रीं-Hrillekha-dwayam) .

Thus, the Nabhi-vidya is a compilation of a varied sets of Mantras, related to Srividya, arranged according to a pre-determined order. The Nabhi-Vidya, primarily and essentially, is meant for practice (Sadhana) of Srividya.  There is not much philosophical discussion or expounding of theoretical principles here. It, indeed, is a practical guide for worship (Puja-vidhi) of Sri Maha-Tripura-Sundari through the medium of the Sri-chakra.

The Mantras from 37 to 40 , are four independent Mantras (Matruka; Guru-natha-paduka; Baala; and Para).

This is followed by an Epilogue (Uttara-bhaga) detailing the instructions to chant the Mantras as per both the Kadi and Hadi-Vidyas , as many times as possible (Yethah Vidyaya yatha-shakthi-japet-nityam) – at least a hundred times in a day.  And, in the concluding Devi-Puja-kalpa there are details of the worship-procedures (Kara-nyasa, Anga-nyasa, Dhyana-slokas etc) for the Sadhana of the Srividya Shodasha-akshari; Srividya Maha-Shodasha-akshari; and Srividya Para-Shodasha-askshari Mantras.

And, in the Phala-sruthi, it is assured that Nabhi-Vidya is so powerful as that reciting the Nabhi-Vidya once is equivalent to repetition (Japa) of the Pancha-dashi Mantra one Lakh times.  It would also bestow prosperity both here (Iha) and in hereafter (Para); and, will also grant the unshakable (a-chanchala) Self-knowledge (Atma-jnana).

Nabhi Vidya.2 jpg

Before we come to the text of the Nabhi-Vidya, let us try to get familiar with some of its terms.


Several explanations are offered to say why this set of mantras is celebrated as Nabhi-Vidya.

(1) The term Nabhi(नाभि), according to the ancient Katapayadi system or technique of hashing, for assigning numerical values to certain alphabets of Sanskrit Grammar (briefly explained a bit later), works out to the number 40. Here, the letter ‘Na’ (ना) stands for 0 (zero); and, ‘Bha’() for 4. And, when the resultant values are placed in the reverse order (as is usually done), it read as 40.  Following that, there are 40 mantras in the Nabhi-Vidya.

nabhi vidya 3

Of the 40 Mantras of the Nabhi-Vidya, 36 associated with the Kadi and Hadi Vidya traditions, are set to the various combinations of Shodashi and Maha-Shodashi Mantras. The rest four mantras are made up of Matraka; Guru-pada (Natha); Baala; and, Para mantras.


(2) Nabhi, its inadequate equivalent in English is navel; the depressed point in the middle of the abdomen. It is the Scar that marks the spot that once attached the umbilical cord to the foetus.

When the foetus is in its mother’s womb; it is thorough the umbilical cord, connected to its navel, that it gets nourishment. It is the ‘navel’ that, figuratively and also really, constructs a concreate relationship with its mother.  This cord is a part of both the foetus and of the mother as well, for a period of Forty weeks.

It is said that the Nabhi-Vidya, being at the centre of all the Maha-Mantras, connects the devotee to the Universal Mother (Vishva-matha). And, it also is composed of forty Mantras. 


(3) Nābhi (नाभि), the ‘navel’, representing one of the sixteen vital centres of the body (i.e., ādhāra), is regarded as a seat of vital function. Nabhi is also the center of Paravak, the vibratory energy and the primordial source of all sounds.

shat-chakra(4) Nābhi (नाभि) refers to one of the seventeen stages in the rise of kundalini-Shakthi. The seventeen syllables (saptadaśā-akṣhara) of Mantra-mātā (मन्त्रमाता) are said to be arranged in as many locations along the axis of the subtle body.

Bindu or the centre of the body is considered to be the Nabhi. This is also understood as the hub of a wheel i.e., Nabhi Chakra.

The Nabhi-chakra is a vortex, the third of the seven major Chakras rising from the base of the spine to the crown of the head; and, is located above the navel.  It is named as मणिपूर (Maipūra), the resplendent or lustrous gem; having ten petals, bearing the Sanskrit letters ahaatathadadhanapa, and pha. The Bija-akshara in the centre is ram. Its Tattwa, the element, is Fire-Agni. The Chakra is associated with bright yellow (much like that of the Sun-flower).

Yoga believes that with the opening of this Chakra, the yogi attains a clear sense of self and purpose.

Manipura chakra

The Manipura-chakra, located under the solar plexus, is said to have a profound impact on the central nervous system, the optic nerves; and, on one’s digestive system as well. It balances the body functions. And, it also is said to regulate one’s will power.

निम्ननाभिः (nimnanābhi): अरा इव रथनाभौ प्राणे सर्वं प्रतिष्ठितम् (arā iva rathanābhau prāe sarva pratiṣṭhitam) – Praśn. Up. 2.6

Nabhi Chakra

(5) Sri Lalita Tripura Sundarī protects from the navel region to the head, signifying the activation of the navel cakra to the Ajñā cakra.

सुन्दरी नाभि देशेऽव्याच्छीर्षिका सकला सदा । sundarī nābhi deśe’vyācchīrikā sakalā sadā

(6) Lord Vishnu, the protector of life, is also referred to as Padmanabha, the one who sprouts the lotus of creation.

Vishnu is depicted with a lotus emerging out of his navel. It is believed to be the centre of creative energy. The phenomenal universe is symbolized by Brahma, the creator, atop the lotus emerging from the navel of Lord Vishnu; the Navel being symbolized as the cause of creation 


(6) The Natya and Shilpa shastras developed a remarkable approach to the structure of the human body; and delineated the relation between its central point (Nabhi, the navel), the verticals and horizontals. Based on these principles, Natya-shastra enumerated many standing and sitting positions, with reference to the navel.


(7) Finally: Central to Tantra-faith is the concept of duality that culminates in unity; as being essentially non-dual (abheda). Shiva the pure consciousness and Shakthi its creative power; the pure-light of consciousness (Prakasha) and its power of illumination (Vimarsha) are eternally conjoined. The one cannot be differentiated from the other. The Tantra ideology explains that Shiva-Shakthi are essentially two aspects of One principle. In reality, the whole of existence, the range of manifold experiences in the world are but the expressions of Shiva-Shakthi combine. This Shakthi is all powerful and infinite.  It is only in the relative plane that Shiva-Shakti might appear as separate entities. But the Reality is unity, an indivisible whole.

Shiva Parvathi2


It is said; the term Vidya, ordinarily stands for knowledge (vid = to know). But, in the context of Sri Vidya, it indeed refers to the Mother Goddess, who resides as wisdom in all the beings (Ya Devi sarva-bhuteshu Vidya-rupena samsthitha). Her form of Vidya (Sri Vidya) is explained as the Vidya that leads to liberation (Sa Vidya parama-mukther-hetu-bhutva-sanatani). Bhagavathi, the Devi, is verily the highest divinity (Vidya-si sa Bhagavathi parama-hi Devi). And, the form of her Vidya is the primordial energy Adi prakriti.

Sri Vidya is also the Vidya that yields Sri (prosperity). Sri Vidya is thus Bhukthi-Mukthi prada, the bestower of well-being, prosperity and liberation. Sri Vidya is the path and also the goal.

The sacred (Divya) Nabhi-Vidya composed of the combination of the letters or the syllables (Bijakshara) of Shodashi and Maha-Shodashi mantras, set to the segments (Kūa) of the Kadi and Hadi Vidyas, is said to be very embodiment of the Devi.

Shodashi is the first among the Vidya-s. She is otherwise known as Sri Vidya. She is identified with deities Lalitha, Raja-Rajeshwari, Sundari, Kameshwari and Baala. Lalitha is the playful one; all creation, manifestation and dissolution is her play. She is Maha-Tripura-Sundari, the most magnificent transcendental beauty without a parallel in all the three worlds. She is the conqueror of three levels of existence.

Each of her forms emphasizes a particular quality or function. In Sri Vidya, the Goddess is worshiped in her benign (saumya) and beautiful (soundarya) aspects, following the Sri Kula (family of Sri) tradition (sampradaya).


Shodashi the Goddess who is Sixteen Years Old

Kadi-matha and Hadi-matha

The Sri Vidya tradition which centres on the worship of Sri Chakra, considers the following twelve gods and sages as its principal Gurus (mukhya-upaskaha): Manu, Chandra, Kubera, Lopamudra, Manmatha, Agasthya, Nandisha, Surya, Vishnu, Skanda, Shiva and Durvasa.

Manu-Chandra-Kuberascha-Lopamudra-cha-Manmathaha/Agathya-Nandi-Suryascha -Indro -Vishnu-Shiva-thatha / Krodha-Bhattaraco -Devya-yete-mukhya-upaskaha //

It is said; each of the twelve Gurus propagated a school with regard to the worship and the significance of Sri Chakra.  Of these, only two schools have survived to this day; one is the school started by Manmatha (also called Kamaraja) – known as Kadi-matha (also as Kamaraja-vidya, Madhumathi-matha; and, Kaali-krama). The Kadi tradition was continued by Sage Agastya. The Kadi-Vidya commences with the Bijakshara Ka () –     ह्रीं.

The other school is Hadi-matha (Sundari-krama), commencing with the Bijakshara () –      ह्रीं. This tradition was brought into practice by Lopamudra, wife of the Sage Agastya. And, some mention (?) that it was followed by five Upasaka-s: Manu, Kamaraja, Indra, Durvasa and Kubera.

Hadisthu Lopamudrashya, Kamarajasthu Kadikaha / tayosthu Kamarajam siddhi dau Bhakthi-shalini //

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


There is also a mention of an obscure third school called Sadi-matha (Tara-krama), commencing with the Bijakshara Sa () –    ह्रीं; and, this school, not recommended for householders, it appears, is no longer in current practice, externally.


Of the three, the Kadi- matha (with its mantra starting with letter Ka) is regarded the oldest; and, its attitude and worship is Sattvic; and, is considered more suitable for pious practice. (Kamarajam siddhi dau Bhakthi-shalini). It insists on virtue, discipline and purity of rituals. The prominent Gurus of this School are Paramashiva, Durvasa, Hayagriva and Agasthya. And, as such, Kadi-matha is regarded more important.

Of the other two schools, Hadi-matha is Rajasic; and, the Sadi-matha is Tamasic.

Devi sri chakra

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

The Samaya believes in identity of Shiva and Shakthi; and, its form of worship is purely internal. Hence, Kadi School is also known as Para-Vidya, where the worship (Archana) is conducted in the space of one’s heart (hrudaya-akasha-madhye).

The external worship conducted, say by the Tantric Kaulas, lays greater importance on the Muladhara and Svadhistana Chakras, which are said to be situated at the base of the spinal column; and, which relate essentially to physiological needs and psychological urges.

The Samaya School, on the other hand, prescribes that the internal worship (Antar- Aradhana) be conducted at higher levels, viz., from Manipura to Sahasra. The seat of Tripura is at Sahasra, beyond the six Chakras. It is also the seat of supreme consciousness, Shiva, from which Shakthi springs forth.

Samaya is centered on knowledge (jnana), which is the realization of the identity of Shiva and Shakthi (Sri Shiva-Shakthi rupini Lalithambika). Sri Dakshinamurthi is a revered seer of the Kadi (Samaya) School.

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

Sri Yantra 2

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

: – Hayagriva tradition, regarded as Dakshina-chara, the right-handed method, reciting Lalitha-sahasra-nama and Lalita Trisathi, offering Kumkum.

: – Anandabhirava tradition, a Vama-chara, a left-handed method; and

: – Dakshinamurthi tradition, a doctrinal school-Samaya-chara.

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

The Nabhi-Vidya, the Rishi of which is Anandabhirava, is classified under Vama-chara-vidya.

Guru-Dakshinamurtthi Dakshina-chara-pravarthakaha ; Hayagriva thatha chaivam / Vamecha-Ananadabhairava //

It is said; in the past, Nabhi-Vidya was practiced only by Chandra and Nandi (out of the twelve Upasakas). The Nabhi-Vidya does not appear to be in much circulation even during the present times.

Kamakshi Rotterdam Peetam0002

 Pancha-dashi and Shodashi Mantras


In the Sri-Vidya tradition, the Panchadashi (Pancha-dasakshari) and the Shodashi are the cardinal and exclusive (rahasya) Mantras.

The Panchadashi-mantra of very potent fifteen letters or syllables (Bijakshara), composed of three segments (Kūa) , is indeed the very heart of the Sri Vidya Upasana. It bestows true-knowledge (Jnana-dayaka) and liberation (Moksha-karaka).

The basic mantra is composed of three groups – Kuta or Khanda (segments) of Bijas.  The three groups together make up fifteen syllables (pancha-dasakshari mantra). This mantra is implicit.

Its three as are:

Vāgbhava-kūa of five Bīja-s (ka- e – ī – la-hrī,    ह्रीं);

Madhya or Kamaraja kūa of six Bīja-s (ha- sa- ka- ha- la- hrī,      ह्रीं); and,

the Shakti kūa of four Bīja-s (sa- ka- la -hrī,   ह्रीं).

Vāgbhavam Prathama Bijam / Kamarajam dwitiyakam / Trithiyam Shakthi Kutam / Nigama tritayodrutham, ittham Kumari-Vidyaya Bija-traya-mudiritham //


Aim (ऐं) is Vāgbhava-Bija; Klim (क्लीं) is Kamaraja-Bija; and, Sau (सौ) is the Shakthi-Bija. These three Bija-s together form Baala-mantra.

Its Rishi is Sri Dakshinamurthi; its Chhandas is Gayatri; and, its Deity (Devatha) is Baala-Tripura-Sundari

Lalitha -saharanamavali at 85,86, and 87 mention:

      1. shreemad-vaagbhavakoot’aik-asvaroopa-mukha-pankajaa;
      2.  kant’haadhahi-kat’i-paryanta-madhya-koot’a-svaroopinee;
      3.  haktikoot’aikataapannakat’yadho-bhaaga-dhaarinee


There is also a view that the first group starting with Ka is kadi-matha; the second group starting with Ha represents Hadi-matha; and, the third group starting with Sa is Sadi-matha.

The Rishis of the three practices are said to be: Sri Dakshinamaurthi; Hayagriva; and Anandabhairava, respectively.

Of these, Sri Dakshinamurthi and Hayagriva are said to have practiced Dakshina-chara (right method) ; while , Anandabhairava followed the Vama-chara (left-handed method)

Guru-Dakshinamurtthi Dakshina-chara-pravarthakaha ; Hayagriva thatha chaivam / Vamecha-Ananadabhairava //


The first Kuta of the Pancha-dashi -Mantra is said to be a prayer for removal of ignorance; the second, a prayer for grant of true knowledge; and, the third is the prayer seeking  experience of the identity with Shiva-Shakthi, the Devi.

The mantra is composed of a series of individual Bija-Akshara (syllables), each having its own identify and association; and, each representing a certain aspect of the Goddess. But, when these Bija-aksharas are taken together, they manifest the subtle form (Sukshma-rupa) of the Mother Goddess.

Lalitha-sahasranamavali at 88 and 89 mention: Moola-mantra-atmikaa; Moola-Kuta-traya-kalevaraa


The Kadi-matha (Kadi-Vidya) says that the Panchadashi-Mantra consists fifteen visible syllables (ka- e – ī – la-hrīṁ /  ha- sa- ka- ha- la- hrī / sa- ka- la -hrī).

ए ई ल ह्रीं / ह स क ह ल ह्रीं / क ल ह्रीं

The Hadi-matha version of the Panchadashi-Mantra is said to be (as hinted in sloka 32 of Soundarya-Lahari ) : 

ह स क ह ल ह्रीं / ह स क ह ल ह्रीं / स क ल ह्रीं


The Panchadashi-Mantra, as per Kadi -Vidya, is composed of 3 -s; 2 -s (the 5 together relate to Shiva); 3 ह्रीं-s (relate to Shiva-and-Shakthi); and, the seven others relate to Shakthi (ए ई ल ). Thus, the Mantra signifies the unison of Shiva and Shakthi.


It is also said that in  the Panchadashi-Mantra of the Kadi-matha (Kadi-Vidya) , which consists fifteen visible syllables (ka e i la hrim; ha sa ka ha la hrim; sa ka la hrim- क ए ई ल ह्रीं / ह स क ह ल ह्रीं / स क ल ह्रीं);  Ka represents the air; ha the fire; sa the water; la the earth; and, e the space. The fifteen syllables are: one of space, two of air; three of fire; four of water; and five of earth.

These fifteen lettered Pancha-dasaksharimantra, celebrated as Kamaraja-mantra or Kadi-Vidya, is revered as the verbal form of the Mother Goddess.

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



Shodashi literally means a ‘girl of sixteen years’; who is at a delightful stage of a woman’s life. Her nature is to play, to seek new experiences, and to charm others to her. Her innocence attracts all towards her. And, in Tantra, as also in Sri Vidya, the term refers to deities like Lalitha, Raja-Rajeshwari, Tripura-Sundari, Kameshwari and Baala et al.

Her mantra is called Shodashi mantra. Another reason for calling her mantra by that name is that it is made up of sixteen Bija-Akshara (seed-syllables).

The fifteen lettered (panch-dasha-akshari) Mantra is considered the verbal form of the Devi. But it is implicit or hidden. By adding   to the Pancha-dasakshari -mantra the sacred syllable S (श्रीं) it is transformed into the sixteen lettered Shodashi-mantra. It then becomes explicit.

The Bijakshara Srī (श्रीं) is regarded as the visual expression, the original or the own form of the Mother Goddess Sri. And, with the sixteenth syllable (Srim) She comes to be celebrated as Sri-vidya.

Kamaraja-mantrante Shrim-Bijena samanvitha / Shodasakshari Vidyeyam Sri-Vidyethi prakirthita //

And, the mantra itself becomes the body of the Mother Goddess. She manifests the un-manifest. She is Prakriti. The auspicious Sri (Srim) is thus revered as Saguna-Brahman, the Sa-kara approach to the absolute principle of the Devi.


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

The Shodasha-akshari-mantra is revered as Brahma-Vidya, which bestows Bhukthi (prosperity), Bhakthi (devotion) and also Mukthi (liberation).


It is also said; this mantra is known as hoaśhī or Shodasha-kala-vidya, because each of its sixteen Bīja-s represents a phase (Kalā) of the moon. They are the sixteen individualized aspects, kalas or sixteen phases of moon (Shodasha kalaa). And, therefore this Vidya is also known as Chandra-kala- vidya, the wisdom of the lunar digits. 

This school of Sri Vidya explains that the fifteen letters of the mantra correspond to fifteen digits of the moon in each fortnight, commencing from prathipada, (Padyami) the first day of the brighter half (Shukla-paksha), when the moon “comes out of the sun”; and, ending with the full moon on the fifteenth day.

Similarly, in the dark half of the moon cycles (Krishna-paksha), all digits “return to the sun”. The emanation of the fifteen digits of the moon from the Sun culminates in the full moon (Purnima); while the absorption of the digits into the Sun results in new moon (Amavasya).

The sixteenth letter (Shodasha kala or Srim) is said to be present in each of the digits which are called Kalas or Nityas.

The Nityas are the primary Devatas represented in the triple-girdle (Tri-vrtta), between the outermost enclosure (Bhupura) and the sixteen—petalled -lotus (Asta-dala-padma of the second enclosure), in the form of sixteen vowels, each of them inscribed on a petal, in an anti-clock sequence. They are sixteen in number.

[In the Sri Vidya tradition, the sixteen guardian deities, named as Nityas, who form the entourage, of the Devi, are identified with the phases of the moon (Chandra-kalaa); and each Nitya corresponds to a day (tithi) or the aspect of the moon during the fortnight. The sixteen Nityas are: Kameshvari, Bhagamalini, Nityaklinna, Bherunda, Vahnivasini, Mahavajeshvari, Dooti, Tvarita, Kulasundari, Nitya, Nilapataka, Vijaya, Sarvamangala, Jwalamalinika and Maha-Nitya (Vichitra]

The Kalas or Nityas are invoked as forms of the Mother Goddess. They are worshipped during the brighter half of the month (Shukla-paksha), in a sequential order (Anuloma): Kameshvari on the first day; Bhagamalini on the second day; and, so on, till the fifteenth day. But, during the darker half of the month (Krishna-paksha), the worship sequence is reversed (Viloma), starting with Maha-nitya (Vichitra), the sixteenth Nitya. 

The full-moon or the New-moon represent the culmination of all the phases (Kalas) of the moon or of the Nityas. The sixteenth aspect of the moon (Shodashi) is looked upon as Maha-Tripura-Sundari (or Lalitha), represented by the central point (Bindu) of the Sri Chakra. 


The Shodashi-mantra in Kadi and Hadi-Vidya-s, would be

Kadi: Ka-Ye-Ee-La/ Hrim / Ha-Sa-Ka-Ha-La / Hrim / Sa-Ka-La / Hrim / …Srim

ह्रीं (5 Bīja-s) / ह स क ह ल ह्रीं (6 Bīja-s) / स क ल ह्रीं (4 Bīja-s)- श्रीं

Hadi: Ha-Sa-Ka-La / Hrim / Ha-Sa-Ka-Ha-La / Hrim / Sa-Ka-La/ Hrim … Srim

ह्रीं (5 Bija-s) / ह्रीं (6 Bīja-s) / ह्रीं (4 Bīja-s) श्रीं



Then there is the Maha-Shodashi-Mantra

The Mahā-Shoaśhī-Mantra is actually not sixteen; but it is a Mantra of 28 Bijakshara-s, set in three Kutas (segments): (Vac-Bija; Kamaraja-Bija; and, Shakthi-Bija). Here, each segment is counted as one Bijakshara. And, when it is hemmed on either side by eight and five Bijakshara-s, it would then be Maha-Shodashi-mantra of sixteen Bijakshara-s (8+3+5).

Ashta Bijaksharanyadau paschath panchadashi tathaha / panch-bijakshra seshya Sri-Maha-Shodashi mathaha //

It is said; when the fifteen lettered Pancha-dashi-Mantra is preceded by eight letters regarded as Om kara -pranavas (Srim, Hrim, Klim, Aim, Sauh, Aum, Hrim, Srim); and, is later succeeded by five letters regarded as Shakthi-pranavas (Sauh, Aim, Klim, Hrim, Srim), it would be transformed into Maha-Shodashi-Mantra. It will be a Mantra of 28 Bijakshara-s (8+15+5). This is revered as Brahma-vidya or Moksha-vidya.

(1) Srim, Hrim, Klim, Aim, Sauh; (2) Aum, Hrim, Srim; (3) Ka-Ye-Ee-La-Hrim; (4) Ha-Sa-Ka-Ha-La- Hrim; (5) Sa-Ka-La- Hrim; and, (6) Sauh, Aim, Klim, Hrim, Srim

श्रीं ह्रीं क्लीं ऐं सौः  ( 5 bīja-s); ॐ ह्रीं श्रीं ( 3 bīja-s); क ए ई ल ह्रीं ( 5 bīja-s); ह स क ह ल ह्रीं ( 6 bīja-s); स क ल ह्रीं ( 4 bīja-s); सौः ऐं क्लीं ह्रीं श्रीं ( 5 bīja-s)  .. (5+3+5+6+4+5 = 28)


Srim-Bijam-maya-smara-yoni-shakthihi sarvam cha maya kamalathma-vidya / Shakthyadi  bijani vilo-vitani Sri-shad-sharna-Para-Devatha //


The presiding deity of the Maha-Shodashi-mantra is Lalitha-Tripura-sundari; Raja-Rajeshwari-Para-Bhattarika.


The Navarna (also known as Navakshari and Chandi Gayatri) mantra of nine syllables is closely related to the extended Maha-Shodashi mantra of twenty-eight Bīja-s of Sri Lalitha tradition. Both are Navarna; as they are worshiped in nine levels (Navaavarana), where the Devi is worshipped in her nine forms. It is described as a mantra that grants the highest bliss – Mahad Ananda dayakah.

The Navārna-mantra (Śrī-Chaṇḍi-Navākharī-Mantra) is composed of the following syllables:

Om ai hrī klī cāmuṇḍāyai vicce –  ऐं ह्रीं क्लीं चामुण्डायै विच्चे  

The syllables of the Navārna-mantra are taken from the first line of the Mahāoaśī mantra – Srī– Hrī– Klī -Ai -Sau ( श्रीं ह्रीं क्लीं ऐं सौः)

[For more on Navavarana-Mantra, please click here]



Śrī Parāoahśī-mantra is associated with the ūrdhvāmnāya (Upper or higher) tradition of Śrī Vidya. 

The Rishi of the mantra is Narayana. Its Chhandas is Gayatri; Para Sri Devatha is the deity. Its Bija is Srim; Shakthi is Hrim; and, Keelaka (key) is Klim. Its resolve is to seek liberation – Jīvan mukthi 

Om̐ asya śrī parā oaśī mahā mantrasya; Nārāyaa ṛṣi  Gāyatrī chanda  Parā śrīrdevatā  Srīm̐ bīja  Hrīm̐ śakti  Klīm̐ kīlaka  jīvan mukti prasādaye jape viniyoga 

The Para-Shodashi-Mantra is composed of 28 letters:

Śrī Parā-oaśhī Aṣṭa-viśadyakara Mantra (श्री पराषोडशी अष्ट विंशद्यक्षर मन्त्रः)

 śrīm̐ sau klīm̐ aim̐ hrī / om̐ hrī śrī / sa ka la hrīm̐ / ha sa ka ha la hrīm̐ / ka e ī la hrī / hrīm̐ aim̐ klī sau śrīm̐ 

श्रीँ सौः क्लीँ ऐँ ह्रीँ / ॐ ह्रीँ श्रीँ / स क ल ह्रीँ / ह स क ह ल ह्रीँ / क ए ई ल ह्रीं / ह्रीँ ऐँ क्लीँ सौः श्रीँ /

The mantra has six parts (a-s). The first Kūa is reversed in the last a, which is meant to purify the process in the practice of one’s mantra-japa. The first Kūa and second Kūa have the same significance as in the Mahā-Shoaśhī-mantra, although the seed syllables (Bīja-s) are in a different order, with the liberation being the main objective.

This mantra is very similar to the Mahā-Shoaśhī-mantra ; and, contains the same set of seed syllables used in that mantra as well. Here, the Pañcha-daśhī-mantra is reversed.

The object of the Mahā-Shoaśhī-mantra is the elevation from the mundane existence to the spiritual, by gaining of the correct knowledge, leading to the realization of the Absolute. This is the Sristi-krama, progressing from the gross to the most subtle. In contrast, the Para-Shodashi-mantra adopts the Samhara-krama, progressing further from subtle to the Absolute.

Devi painting

As mentioned earlier, the text of the Nabhi-Vidya is composed of a series of Kadi and Hadi-Vidya Kutas set to varied combinations of Shodashi, Maha-Shodashi and Para-Shodashi Mantras. Such diverse combinations of the Mantras are thirty-six in number. In addition, there are four other Mantras: Matrka; Guru-paduka; Baala; and, Para-Mantras. Thus, bringing up the forty mantras of the Nabhi-Vidya


When an ardent devotee is initiated into the Srividya, the Guru, initially, teaches her / him the worship of the young Bala-Sundari, with Bala-mantra of three Bijas (Aim of speech, Klim of wish; and Sauh of Sha). After the practice of this Mantra for a considerable time, the devotee is lead into the fifteen -lettered Pancha-dashi-Mantra.

Thereafter, the Sadhaka practices the sixteen-lettered Shodashi-Mantra, which is the essence of the earlier two Mantras. After the due practice of the Shodashi Mantra, the Devotee is initiated into the Mantras each having twenty-eight syllables: the Maha-Shodashi-Mantra and the Para-Shodashi-Mantra, for the worship of Tripura-Sundari. From hereafter, the Sadhaka gains authority to practice the most secret and complicated modes of Srividya-sadhanas.

There is also a gradation among the Laghu-Shodashi, the Maha-Shodashi and the Para-Shodashi; each more subtle than its previous one. It progresses from the subtle, to subtler and the subtest.  (Sukshma, Sukshma-tara and Ati-Sukshma or Para),

These stages are also considered as progressions in the awakening of the Kundalini; leading to the realization of the identity with Shiva-Shakthi.

shiva shakthi 3

ka-Ta-pa-ya Sutra

The “ka-Ta-pa-ya Sutra”, the numerical notation or encoding system, used by ancient Indian mathematicians and grammarians, is a tool to map letters to numbers. This is the world’s most ancient Hashing Algorithm known; and, has its origin in India. This system is used in several types of ancient Sanskrit texts, as an Encryption technique.

By assigning a number to each consonant of the Sanskrit alphabet, arranged as four groups, with “ka, Ta, pa, ya” as the beginning letters of the groups, we get this Katapayadi table. This is the reason why this system is called Katapayadi. Ka=Ta=Pa=Ya=1

Katapayadi Sutra

According to the scheme, the consonants have numerals assigned as per the above table. All stand-alone vowels like a () and  () are assigned to zero. In case of a conjunct, consonants attached to a non-vowel will not be valueless. The only consonant standing with a vowel is ya ().  So, the corresponding numeral for kya (क्या) will be 1. There is no way of representing Decimal separator in the system

Now, each letter of the group is numbered from 1 through 9 and 0 for the tenth letter. Thus, ka is 1, sa is 7, ma is 5, na is 0 and so on.

However, in the Indian tradition, the digits of a number are written left to right in the increasing order of their place value – exactly opposite the way we are used to writing in the western way.

For instance; Mahabharata is called ‘Jaya’, where Ja equates to numerical 8; and, Ya to 1. When placed together it would read as 81. But when reversed it would result in 18. And, Mahabharata contains of 18 Parvan-s (Mega-Chapters).

One can also convert a number into a word. Let’s say 53. It could be indicated using letters in the 5th and 3rd positions of the group. Say; Nga, Ga. And, when it is reversed, it would read as Ganga.


In the next two parts, let us take a look at the structure of the text of the Nabhi-Vidya (Nabhi-vidya-Mantrah नाभिविद्यामन्त्रः); and, the patterns of the arrangements of its Mantras

[ I am particularly grateful to the erudite scholar Dr. Krovi Parthasarathy.]






Part Two

Sources and References

1.The Tantra of Sri Chakra by Prof. S.K. Ramachandra Rao (Sharada Prakashana, Bangalore,1983)

2.Srividya Shodasha-Maha-Mantramulu by Dr. Krovi Parthasarathy (Vijayawada-2020)

Nabhi-Vidya (Short Works)

Nabhi-Vidya ( a discussion) by Purnananda Lahiri




Posted by on January 30, 2022 in Nabhi Vidya, Sri Vidya


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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Six

Continued from Part Five

Sri Shyama Shastry – Music-Continued

bangaru kamakshi 3

Kshetra Kritis

The collection (Samucchaya) or the series of compositions that are dedicated to a common theme or to a particular Deity or Deities are known as Kriti-Samucchaya-Srinkhala.

And, the group of the Kritis (Kriti-Samucchaya) that relate to Kshetras (places sanctified by the presence of renowned temples or sacred rivers) are termed as Kshetra Kritis.

It was a tradition in those days for the musical composers of merit to compose and sing songs in honor of the presiding deities, whenever they visited a prominent temple-town. Such compositions were classified as Kshetra Kritis. Sri Thyagaraja as also Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar followed that time-honored tradition –Sampradaya  . So did Sri Shyama Shastry.

Such Kritis that primarily sing the glory, splendor and the adorable nature of the god or the goddess presiding over the Kshetra; have also built into their Caranas few details concerning the temple, its architecture etc., as also references to the Parivara-Devathas surrounding the principal Deity; the greatness (Mahima) of the sacred (Punya) Kshetra; and, the magnificence of the god residing there.

Sometimes, the name of the place/ temple-town (Sthala- Kshetra) where the musical-work was actually composed is built into it. The indications to that effect are called Sthala-mudra or Kshetra Mudra.

The Kshetra-Kritis are musical gemsremarkable for their soulful music, inspired rich lyrics and complex structure. Each of the compositions here is remarkable for the beauty of expression, devotional fervor and literary excellence.


There are numerous instances of such series or group of compositions , as : the Pancha-ratna Kritis composed by Sri Thyagaraja at each of the pilgrimage centers he visited, in submission to the gods and goddesses   residing in the temples there , like : Varadaraja Swamy (Sri Rangam); Kamakshi (Kanchipuram); Venkateshwara (Tirupathi); Sundareshwara (Kovur); and, Saptha-risheeswara and  Devi Srimathi  (Lalgudi ).

The series of Kritis such as: Panchalinga Kshetra Kritis; Tiruvaruru Pancalinga Kritis; Navagraha-Kritis; Abhayambavibhakti-Kritis; Madhurambavibhakti-Kritis and similar others composed by Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar are well known. And, his Kamalamba-navavarna and Nilotpalamba-vibhakti Kritis are indeed marvelous and matchless.


The only time that Sri Thyagaraja went out of Thiruvarur was at his age of seventy-two in order to honour an invitation extended by his Guru-samana Sri Upanishad Brahmendra of Kanchipuram. He hesitated much; and, set out of his home only after he was assured and promised by his family and disciples that they would unfailingly offer worship (Rama-panchayatana) to his beloved deity Sri Rama, regularly at all the three times of the day. During that fairly long sojourn, lasting for about six months or a little more (from April to October 1839), he visited several places and temples. The farthest place that Sri Thyagaraja visited was Tirumala, the abode of Sri Venkatesvara, atop the Tirupathi hills.

Among the Trinity, Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar was the foremost in this regard. He was a pilgrim virtually all his life. He visited a large number of shrines and sang about them and the deities enshrined there.

Dri Dikshitar composed soulful songs in praise of a number of gods and goddesses. About 74 of such temples are featured in his Kritis; and there are references to about 150 gods and goddesses. The most number of his Kritis (176) were in praise of Devi the Mother principle, followed by (131) Kritis on Shiva. Dikshitar was the only major composer who sang in praise of Chaturmukha Brahma.

In addition to submitting his prayers and praising (Stuti) the Devi or Devatha, Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar artistically built into his Kritis the details such as: the brief references to the temple; its architecture; its rituals; and, its deity. Amidst all these details he skillfully wove the name of the Raga (Raga-mudra) and his own VaggeyakaraMudra, signature. All these were structured into well-knit short Kritis composed in grand music, glowing with tranquil joy, embodied in delightfully chaste Sanskrit.


Sri Shyama Shastry, unlike Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar, did not travel much; nor did he visit many temples. He was a rather reclusive person by nature; and, was greatly devoted to his own Mother Goddess – Bangaru Kamakshi, whom he regarded as if she were a living Goddess (Sakshat-pratyaksha-Devata) ; and, whom he worshiped, without fail, each morning, noon and evening (Tri-kaala-puja). He would scarcely be away from his Mother; and, hardly took out time to travel to other places

Apart from the place at which he  was born (Thiruvarur) and Kanchipuram, a place of special significance to him, as being the  home of his beloved deity Devi Kamakshi, Sri Shyama Shastry is said to have visited only four other places: Thiruvanaikal/ Jambukeswaram, Pudukottai, Nagapattinam and Madurai.

Of these places, Kanchipuram was the farthest from Thanjavur (say 190 miles).And; the next distant places were Madurai (120 miles); Nagapattinam (60 miles); and, Pudukkottai (60 miles).

He did not seem to have undertaken temple-tour (Thirtha-yatra) to visit these towns. He might have gone there as and when needed, perhaps, on invitation, to participate in certain occasions.


While on the visit to those places, outside of Thanjavur, Sri Shyama Shastry prayed at some temples; and composed a few Kritis praising the presiding deity of those temples.

About twenty-two of his Kritis are addressed to Devi Kamakshi of Kanchi. Although he did visit the temple of Sri Kamakshi, situated in the city of Kanchipuram, all of those Kritis in praise of Kamakshi were surely not composed while he was at Kanchipuram.

His Kshetra-Kritis, apart from, at times, mentioning the name of the deity, do not give out much details of the temple, Deity or the Kshetra.

Perhaps, the few instances of Kshetra Mudra / Sthala-mudra that appear in his Kritis pertain to two or three Kritis out of the Nine he composed in praise of Devi Meenakshi of Madurai, while he visited her temple there.

In the Kriti ‘Devi nee Pada-sarasa’ (28-Kambhoji, Adi) the Sthala-mudra appears in the Anu-Pallavi, as: Sri Velayu Madhura nelakonna Chidrupini

In the Kriti Mariveregati (20-Anaandabhairavi, Misra Chapu) the Sthala-mudra appears in the first Carana as: Madhurapura-nilaya Vani.

Kadamba-kanana or Kadamba-vana usually refers to Madurai. The phrase Kadamba-kanana-mayuri appears in the opening line of the Pallavi in the Kriti Devi nee-paada-sarasamule (Khambhoji, Adi), which was sung by Sri Shyama Shastry at the Meenakshi temple in Madurai.


Apart from the Varnam ‘Samini rammanave’ (Ananadabhairavi-Ata Taala), a Sandesha, where the Nayika sends a message, through her maid (Sakhi) to her beloved  Lord Varadaraja; and, the Kriti ‘Sami nine nammiti’ (Begada Adi Taala) praying to Muthukumaraswami of Vaitheeswaran-koil, all the other songs of Sri Shyama Shastry are dedicated to the Mother Goddess in her various forms and names; as:

Kanchi-Kamakshi; Bangaru-Kamakshi; Brihannayaki; Akhilandeshwari; Brihadamba ; Meenakshi;  Dharma-samvardhini; and Nilayatakshi  – enshrined in  various  Kshetras (temple-towns).

As many as of his 35 compositions are dedicated the Goddess Kamakshi – either as Kanchi-Kamakshi (16 Kritis); Kamakshi (8 Kritis); Kamakoti (6 Kritis); or as Bangaru Kamakshi (5 Kritis).

There are also Kritis addressed to the other forms (Rupa) and names (Nama or Abhidana) of the Mother Goddess as: Madura Meenakshi (8 +1 Kritis); Akhilandeshvari (5 Kritis); Brihannayaki (5 Kritis) ; Brihadamba (4 Kritis); Dharma-samvardhini (3 Kritis); and, Nilayathakshi  ( 2 Kritis)

various deities

Brihannayaki shrine


Sri Shyama Shastry was entirely devoted to the Mother Goddess in her various forms.  Even while he lived in Thanjavur for about 44 years, he did not seem to have composed any songs in praise of the presiding deity of the Great Temple of Brhadishvara.

He did, of course, compose five Kritis calling out to the Goddess of that temple – Devi Brhannayaki. Perhaps, if one so chooses, the group of these Kritis might be called ‘Brhannayaki-pancha-ratna-Kritis’.


Tiruvavuru 2


 Sri Shyama Shastry did of course visit Thiruvarur the place where he was born; and where he spent about twenty years of his early life during his childhood and adolescence. The holy Kshetra of Thiruvarur is the home of Lord Pancha-nadi-shvara and Goddess Dharmasamvardhini.  Sri Shyama Shastry has composed three Kritis praising the Devi Dharmasamvardhini, specifically.


This,  he did, of course, after he, along with his family, had moved out of Thiruvarur in order to settle at Thanjavur  during the year 1783-84. In fact, the musical career of Sri Shyama Shastry commenced only after he left Thiruvarur.



Kanchipuram had a special significance to Sri Shyama Shastry. It is the seat of Kanchi Kamakshi, his Ishta Devatha; and, was the original abode of Bangaru Kamakshi, the deity he worshipped every day with utmost devotion.

However, most of his compositions dedicated to Kamakshi were composed by him while he was at Thanjavur. The scholarly opinion is that perhaps the Varna in Ananadabhairavi ‘Samini rammanave’ was dedicated to Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram. This Varnam is unique in another way too.  Almost all of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry exude Bhakthi and Karuna Rasa. The Varnam ‘Samini rammanave’ is a rare instance of Madhura Bhakthi, where the Nayaki sends out a message (Sandesha) through her maid to her beloved Nayaka Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram beseeching him to come to her.


Other Kshetras

A few other places that Sri Shyama Shastry visited and composed songs in praise of the presiding deities of the temples there are said to be: Vaitheeswarankoil (Muthukumaraswami); Thiruvanaikal (Akhilandeshvari); Pudukottai (Brihadamba) ; Nagapattinam (Nilayatakshi); and Madurai (Meenakshi).


Thiruvanaikal / Jambukeswaram

In Thiruvanaikal / Jambukeswaram (near Tiruchirapalli) is the famous temple dedicated to Shiva where he manifests as Appu-Linga, the principle of the water-element (Appu or Jala). The Goddess of this Kshetra is Devi Akhilandeshvari, who is adorned with Sri Chakra inscribed in her earrings.

Sri Shyama Shastry composed five Kritis praising the glory of Devi Akhilandeshvari. The set of these five Kritis could perhaps be regarded as the Akhilandeshvari -Pancha-ratna of Sri Shyama Shastry.


Of these, the Kriti dedicated to Devi Akhilandeshvari– ‘Shankari Shamkuru-Chandra mukhi- Akhilandeshvar-Shambhavi- Sarasijabhava vandite- Gauri-Amba’(15- Saveri , Adi-Tisra-gati)- is indeed a masterpiece, a magnificent work of Art, which is very often sung in the Musical concerts.

The Kriti composed in highly lyrical Sanskrit is adorned with most delightful phrases for describing the beauty, virtues and splendor of the loveliest Devi; and, for addressing her with a range of suggestive names: Kalyani; Hara-nayike; Jagaj-janani; Bhavani; Bale; and Sundari etc.

The Kriti also praises the Devi through her countless virtues and powers, as: Sankata-harini; Ripu-vidarini; Sada-nata-phaladayike; Jagad-avanollasini; Angaja-ripu-toshini; Akhila-bhuvana-poshini; Mangala prade; Mardani; Marala-sannibha gamani; Sama-gana-lole;  and, Sadarti- bhanjana-shile

It is a simple prayer followed by many phrases, invoking the blessings of the Goddess.  There is joy, compassion, eagerness (Uthsukatha) and a sense of fulfilment (Dhanyata-bhava) in the Sahitya and in the Music as well. Unlike in some other Kritis, there is here neither sadness; nor pleading to the Mother to protect and rescue him from the miseries of life. He is requesting the Devi to grant happiness and wellbeing to all (Shamkuru).


Sankata-harini; Ripu-vidarini; kalyani / Sada-nata-phala-dayike; Hara-nayike; Jagaj-janani

Carana (1, 2 and 3)

Jambu-pati-vilasini; Jagad-avanollasini; Kambu kandhare; Bhavani; Kapala-dharini; Shulini

Angaja-ripu-toshini; Akhila-bhuvana-poshini; Mangala prade; Mardani; Marala-sannibha gamani

Syamakrshra sodari; Shyamale; Satodari; Sama-gana-lole; Bale; Sadarti- bhanjana-shile

(Please check here for a rendering of the Kriti)



The Seventh Century rock-cut cave temple of the Goddess Brihadamba is located near Pudukottai. Four compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry, all in Telugu, are said to be in praise of Brihadamba of Pudukottai. In all these Kritis, Sri Shyama Shastry prays to the Mother to protect him (Devi-nannu-brovavamma); to rid him of all sins (papamella pariharinci); and to show him love, compassion and mercy (Daya-chudu, Dayachesi varamiyamma Mayamma).




The ancient (6th century) shrine of Shiva as Kaya-rohana-swami and his consort Nilayathakshi is located in Nagapattinam, a coastal town. Sri Shyama Shastry two Kritis, in Telugu, in tribute to Devi Nilayathakshi.


* In some versions the Raga of this Kriti is indicated as Mayamalavagaula

Here, Sri Shyama Shastry again praises the Mother by an array of names: Adishakthi; Maheshvari; Kumari; Nilayathaksi-Jagathsaksi; Palita-sruta-sreni; Sama-gana-lole; Komala-mrudu-vani; Kalyani; Omkari; Shambhavi; and, Dhrama-Artha-Kama-Moksha micchedi . And, he requests the Mother to please protect him (nannu brovarada O Jagadamba dayaceyave) .

The epithet ‘Nada-rupini’ appearing in the last lime of the Third Carana of the Kriti Nannu-brovarada (Janaranjani) – Shambhavi O Janani Nada-rupini Nilayathakshi, reflects the term Nada-rupini  (299) and Nada-rupa (901) of Lalita-sahasra-nama .

It is said; the Kriti Nannu-brovarada (Janaranjani) when it is rendered in Triputa-Tisra, its Chittasvaras and Svarasahitya are rendered in Madhyama-kala (?). The general practice appears to be sing Chittasvaras and Svarasahitya in Vilamba-kala.



While on a Visit to Pudukottai, an unknown person is said to have suggested to Sri Shyama Shastry to have a Darshan of Devi Meenakshi of Madurai; to compose and sing songs celebrating her matchless (Aprathima) glory (Mahima) and splendour (Vaibhava).

Accordingly, Sri Shastry went to Madurai; sat in front of Meenakshi Amman ; and , is said to have composed a garland (malika) of gem-like (ratna-samana) nine excellent (Bhavya, Divya) Kritis  exuding  Bhakthi-rasa, mostly in  Rakthi-ragas, set to attractive    rhythmic structures; and, adorned with ornamental  Angas  like Gamaka, Chittasvara, Svara-sahitya and rhetorical beauties like Yati, Prasa etc.

Navaratna malika

Although this set of Kritis is titled as Nava-ratna-malika; meaning that it comprises nine splendid Kritis, there is much debate about composition of the group. Nevertheless, it has, customarily come to be celebrated as Nava-ratna-malika, the garland of nine gems.

In the early references, only the first seven Kritis were included under the series. And, the remaining two slots were left undecided. But, it was surmised that the other two Kritis might be in the Ragas Nattakuranji and Sri; without, however, specifying the lyrics of the Kritis.

Since, the only two Kritis composed by Sri Shyama Shastry in those two Ragas were ‘Mayamma nannu brova’ and ‘Karuna-judavamma’, they have been provisionally included in the list, despite the fact their lyrics do not mention either the name of the deity as Meenakshi or its Sthala-mudra as Madhura.

[In some of the versions, the Kriti ‘Rave Parvatha-raja-kumari’ in the Raga Kalyani is reckoned as the eighth Kriti in the series.]

[Please click here for the Text of the Nava-ratna-Malika Kritis in Sanskrit.]

Madurai Meenakshi

  1. Mayamma Yani (8-Ahiri, Adi)

The Raga Ahiri, an ancient melodic type, a Janya of Hanuma-todi, is said to be a difficult Raga; but, highly rewarding. It is a Raga with Sampurna Svaras, both in the Arohana and the Avarohana, with Vakra-Sanchara.

Ahiri is very well suited for portraying Karuna Rasa, seeking for compassion. It is an early morning Raga, giving out a sense of devotion and pathos; and, is deeply meditative.

The nature of the Raga Ahiri (Raga-bhava) is very apt for the Sahitya of this Kriti.

The Kriti, starts with an emotionally charged  call to the Mother , pleading with her  ‘ Oh Amba, why do you not respond and talk to me even when I call out to you several time as  My Mother’  (Mayamma Yeni pilichte, nato matadarada , Amba).

Sri Shyama Shastry, the devotee, who calls himself a child (Bidda, Biddayani), affirms his unflinching faith in his Mother Goddess. The Raga, the emotive content and the lyrics set in simple, childlike, innocent appeals to the Mother, are all in harmony.

The Kriti follows the Tri-Dhatu format; and, has Pallavi-Anupallavi followed by three Caranas.  The first two Caranas have six lines (Paada) each; and the Third Carana has seven lines.

The Pallavi is in Vilamba-kala; but, the First Carana – Sarasija bhava Kari Hara-nuta Su-Lalita- commences as if in Madhya-gati.


Normally his Kritis set in Adi-Taala commence in Vilamba-kala; and, all its Angas (Pallavi, Anupallavi and Carana) will be set in the same tempo.

But, in the case of this Kriti (Mayamma Yani), because of the increase in the number of words used in the Carana, the tempo of the Carana is made to pick up. And, the Carana commences as if it is in Madhyama-kala

That goes along with the Mano-bhava of the Sahitya. The Pallavi commences with the pleading in Vilamba-kala, imploring the Mother to talk to him. ’ Is it fair on your part Meenakshamma not to respond even when I call you as my Mother? You are my only resort; who else is there for me?(Ninnuvina vere gati yavarunnaaru)

Then, after a while, he seems to get impatient; and, starts to protest, as a child does. The tempo of the music in the Carana quickens with the line ‘Sarasija-bhava-Hari-Hara- nuta-su-lalita’; and, moves up to Madhyama-gati. And, pelts the Goddess with questions: Are you not generous (nera datavu gada)? Don’t have compassion for your child (bidda-pai goppa-ga daya-rada)?

A remarkable feature of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastri is the coordinated movement of its Mathu and Dhatu along with emotional content  (Bhava) of the Sahitya and its corresponding Svara structure.


2 .Meenalochana -brova (8-Dhanyasi, Misra Chapu)

The Raga Dhanyasi is again a Janya of Hanuma-Todi. It again is a Raga apt for making an emotional appeal.

Sri Shastry pleads with the Devi Meenakshi (Meenalochana): why are you hesitating to protect me? And, he cajoles her by praising her in many ways, saying: Oh Devi, the one who rejoices in music, there is no one who is equal to you in this world.

And, he pleases the Mother by describing and admiring her beauty and splendour through many evocative phrases and epithets such as   Gana-vinodinI, Minalochana, Kundaradana, and Niradaveni etc.

The Carana with lyrical rhythmic (Prasa-baddha) words describes the beauty of Devi Meenakshi: Kunda-mukunda-radana; Himagiri-Kumari; kaumari-Parameshvari; Kama paalini; Bhavani; Chandra-kala-dharini; neerada-veni.

The Kriti has Pallavi and Anupallavi of equal length/ duration having 8 Avartas each; followed by three Caranas, having uniform Dhatu (Music). The Carana is of 16 Avaratas duration.

[Normally, the duration of Avartas in the Adi-Taala Kritis is 2-2-4 for the Pallavi, Anupallavi and Carana, respectively. But, in the case of the Kritis set to Misra-Chapu-Taala, they follow the pattern of 8+8+16 for the Pallavi, Anupallavi and the Carana, respectively.  And, if Svarasahitya is appended to the Carana, it would then mean another eight Avartas, by taking the Svara and Sahitya parts together as a single unit.]

The Kriti is sung either with the Misra Chapu or the Viloma Chapu. The application of the complicated rhythmic cycle of Viloma Chapu would seem lend greater clarity to the Raga-svarupa of the Dhanyasi.

[It is said; after Sri Shyama Shastri rendered this song sitting in presence of Devi Madura Meenakshi, the temple authorities awarded him the highest honour that the temple could confer on any devotee. He was presented the Pattu-saree worn by the Goddess as Devi-prasadam. He was also gifted with a Tambura, with the figure of Yali  ( a mythical beast) facing upright- Yali mukha.]

Yali mukha Veena

  1. Nannu brova Lalita (15-Lalita, Misra Chapu)

The Raga Lalita is a Janya of the 15th Melakarta – Maya-malava-gaula; and, shares many characteristic Prayogas with Raga Vasantha, having similar scales. It suits the import of the Kriti which pulsates with emotions imploring Devi, Bhakta Kalpalata (the legendary wish-fulfilling creeper) to protect him quickly (vegame). As the Kriti progresses, the pitch of the notes also ascend, implying the increasing eagerness (Utsukatha) or anxiety (Cinta) of the devotee.

The Kriti is structured in Pallavi, Anupallavi and Four Caranas. The Caranas are sung to the same Dhathu.

This is one of the four Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry (among the sixty) that has Four Caranas.

Vilōma Chāpu (4+3) can be seen in the Pallavi, where the Kṛiti starts in viṣhama graha

The Raga-mudra is in the opening line ‘Nannu brova Lalita‘.

The phrase ‘ Nannu brovu , Ninnu vina‘ is an instance of Sharaba prasa.

In the second Caraṇa, the Devi is addressed  with  prāsa or rhyming words like ‘purāni vāni indrāni rāni‘.

The second Carana has a string of phrases of literary beauty, praising the Mother Goddess Lalita, the Queen (Rani): Purani-Vani-Indrani- Vandita Rani- Ahibhushana – nuni Rani.

One of the terms used in the Fourth Carana, like – ‘Sumhendra-madhya-nilaye ‘and ‘Maha-rajni’ resemble the phrase occurring in the Lalita-sahasra-nama  as ‘ Sumeru-madhya-shrungastha’.

There are several such instances in his other Kritis as well; such as: Maha-Tripurasundari; Kadamba-vanavasini; Kadamba-kanana-mayuri; Kadamba-kusuma-priya; Nadarupini; Raja-Rajeshvari; Samagana-priya (Vinodini); and, Vishalakshi so on.

This Kriti, again, is sung with Misra Chapu or with Viloma-chapu Taala


  1. Mariveregati (20- Anandabhairavi, Misra Chapu)

Raga Anandabhairavi, a Janya of the 20th Melakarta Nata-Bhairavi, is a traditional Raga, which evokes Karuna Rasa. Sri Shyama Shastry is particularly associated with the  Raga Anandabhairavi; and, two of his compositions in this Raga – Marivere and O Jagadamba – which are adorned with Chittasvara-Sahitya , are often sung in the Musical concerts.

Here again, in this Kriti, Sri Shyama Shastry pleads and appeals to the mercy of the dark hued-like-a rain-bearing-cloud (Ghana-shyamala)- the infinitely compassionate  (Apara-krupa-nidhi) Mother Goddess : Oh Mother, who else is there in this world to protect me, but for you? You are my sole redeemer; I trust you implicitly; do rescue me (rakshimpa) – Marivere gati evvaramma mahilo nannu brochutaku.


The Kiti ‘Marivēre-gati’, set to Chapu-Taaa with a Viamba-Laya, is another splendid example for Sri Shyama Shastry’s genius. It explores the Raga Anandabhairavi in depth.

The Kriti is adorned with many Jaru-Gamakas, like ‘Sa-Sa/Sa’ and ‘Sa/Ma’ for the Sahitya- phrase ‘Saranagatha’ and ‘Rakshaki’. The Svarakshara pattern ‘Pa-Dha-Pa-Ma’ for the word ‘Padayuga’ in the Chittasvara-Sahitya in Vilamba-kala provides much depth to the emotional content of the Kriti.

The phrase ‘Nammiti’ occurring twice over in succession shows the depth of trust he has in the Mother Goddess.

And, a slow ‘Janta’ phrase ‘Ni-Ni—Sa-Sa—Ga -Ga—Ma-Ma’ for the Sahitya ‘Niratamu ninnu’ in the Chittasvara is another feature highlighting the Mano-Dharma of the Anandabhairavi Raga.

In the phrase ‘Pa-Ma-Ga3-Ga3-Ma’, the Anya-Svara Ga3 is well demonstrated.

The Gamaka for the phrase ‘Ma—Ma-Ga-Pa-Ma—Ga-Ri’ blending very well with the words Shyamala’ is another instance of a good coordination between Svara and Sahitya.

The phrase ‘ R—Sa-Ni-Dha-Pa—Dha-Pa-Ma-Ga-Ri—Ga—Ma’ in the Chittasvara is graced by the flavour of the Raga Anandabhairavi.


This Kriti described as a Chowka-kala-Kriti has, in its structure, Pallavi, Anupallavi, Chittasvara, Svarasahitya and Three Caranas.

Normally, in the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry, the Music setting (Dhatu) of the three Angas are separate. And, all the Caranas are sung in the Dhatu that is set for them.

But, here, in this Kriti, the last two lines of the Carana are sung to the Dhatu that was set for the Anupallavi.

Smt. Sharadambal writes :

The Kriti Marivere in Anandabhairavi Raga in Misra-Chapu Taala is found with 8-8-16 Avartas; and, also with a Chittasvara for another eight Avartas

Most of the Kritis in Misra-Laghu or Misra-Chapu are found with the pattern 8+8+16; and, only in some Kritis , the additional element Svarasahitya is found for another eight Avartas , taking into consideration the Svara part and Sahitya part as a single unit.

The music settings of the three Angas are separate and all the Caranas are sung to the same Dhatu in the compositions of Shyama Shastri. Only in rare cases, for example, in the Kriti ‘Marivere’ in Ânandabhairavi and ‘Brôvavamma’ in Manji Raga, the last two lines of the Carana are sung to the same Dhatu as that of the Anupallavi. 


There are some Kritis in which pauses occur in different places i.e. at the end of the Pallavi; at the end of the first Avarta; and so on. There are Kritis which do not have pauses in between the Avartas; but, pause occurs only after finishing the Pallavi at the end of the second Avarta.

For example, in the Kriti ‘Durusuga’ in Saveri Raga, we find pause only at the end of the Pallavi, whereas In the Kriti ‘Marivere’ in Ânandabhairavi Raga, we find a pause at the end of the first Avarta itself in both the lines as : Marive ……| ……re | ga ti ye vva | ram … ma ||Mahilo ……| …….I. | mahilo ….. | brocu taku ||


The Kriti is set in Misra Chapu Taala


The Kriti abounds in rhythmic beauties like Chittasvaras, Samvadi Svaras flowing in succession; and, often linked by the Jaru-Gamakas. Four to five Sangatis are also sung to the Pallavi.

According to Smt. Sharadambal: The Svarasahitya here starts in Shuddha Svarakshara as:  P; ; ; D P M | Pa da yu ga … There are many Svaraksharas here and there, throughout the Svarasahitya

Regarding the tempo of the Svarasahitya, Sri Shyama Shastri has not introduced Madhyama-kala through this element.

In the Kriti’ Marivere’ in Anandabhairvai, there is an appearance of an increase in the tempo.  In the Pallavi, Anupallavi or Carana of this Kriti, we find the numbers of Sahitya syllables are four or five in one Avarta while they are six or seven in an Avarta in the Svarasahitya passage. For example; here the number of Sahitya letters are as follows:
Pallavi – Marivere || . . . . . re || gati Evva || ram ma ||


Smt. Sharadambal explains: In the Svarasahityas of the two Kritis ‘Durusuga’ and ‘Marivere’ of Sri Shyama Shastri, we also find patterns in the organisation of the Svaras.

In the Svarasahitya in Saveri Raga Kriti Durusuga, the Svaras are formed in Tisra (npd- srs) and Khaòda patterns (mpmdp- sndrs).

 In the Ânandabhairavi Kriti ‘Marivere’, the Janta-svaras and the Dhatu-svaras figure (nnssggmm- janta) (psnd, pndp, dpd – datu).

 In both these Svarasahityas we find a pattern of svara at the end.

  • Durusugag R s n d – r S n d P – g r n; para kusalu – parâdiyani – vipudu
  • Mariveren s n r S – n d p P – m g r G m; dharalonata – vanakutu – htaïa… vega


The Svarasahitya of this Kriti is said to be an example for Gaja-tana, where the grouping of the Svaras resemble the gait of a majestically slow moving elephant. The text of the Svarasahitya, which follows the Third Carana, in fact, compares the leisurely walk of the Devi to that of an elephant in Musth (mada gaja gamana)

paada yugamu madilo dalaci koriti vinumu mada gaja gamana / parula nutimpaganE varam(o)sagu  satatamu ninu madi maravakane / madana ripu sati ninu hRdayamulo gati(y)ani dalaci stuti salipite / mudamuto phalam(o)sagutaku dharalo nat(A)vana kutUhala nIvEga (mari)


  1. Devi nee paada sarasamule (28 Kambhoji, Adi)

Kambhoji, an ancient and a popular Raga, is a Janya of the 28th Melakarta Harikambhoji.  It is classified as a Ragini (female); and is said to be suitable for conveying the sentiments of Srngara (romantic), Hasya (humorous) and Karuna (pathos).

Here, again, Sri Shyama Shastry surrenders at the feet of the Devi who embodies the supreme consciousness (Chidrupini) who resides in Madhura; and, entreats her saying that there is nowhere else he can go. You are my one and the only shelter;

Devi-nidu-paada-sarasmule-dikku.Vere-gati-evaramma-Madhuralo-nelakonna  Chidrupini Sri Meenaksha-amma?

The epithet Chidrupini here, resembles the term Chidakarasa rupini in the Lalita-sahasra-nama

This is a fairly lengthy Kriti having Pallavi, Anupallavi and Three Caranas; each Carana having seven lines (Paada). The Pallavi and Anupallavi have two Avartas each.  And, each Carana, having eight Avartas each, is almost four times the length of the Pallavi.

The Kriti is set in slow moving Chowka-kala. The Music (Dhatu) of the Caranas is uniform.

The Taala is Adi Taala.


Prasa is a type of Sabda-alamkara, a literary embellishment. It mainly involves rhyming, where the first letter or the second letter is repeated between the Avartas. The Antya-prasa is the repetition of a letter or group of letters at the end of the Avarta.

It is said; with regard to the occurrence of the Prasa-aksharas in the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry, they can be divided into four categories,.

  1. Dhirgha (long) syllables preceding the Prasa-akshara in the Carana alone.
  2. Dhirgha (long) syllable precedes in the all the three Angas.
  3. Hrasva (short) letter is found throughout the composition.
  4. Dhirgha (long) syllable is found in Pallavi and Anupallavi; and, the Hrasva (short) syllable is used in the Carana.

This Kriti Devi nee paada sarasamule’ (Khambhoji) is cited as an instance where the both the long and the short syllable are used in the Kriti. 


[The Kriti in Shankarabharanam (Devi Mina netri) and the Kriti in Kambhoji (Devi nee pada) commence with similar Sahitya and Svara (Pa, ma magagagaa; De-vee). But, the manner in which the Svaras are treated and rendered brings out the difference in the Raga-svarupa of the two Ragas. Only the deft handling of such Ragas can ensure maintaining their individual characteristics.]


6..Devi Mina netri (29- Shankarabharanam, Adi)

Dhīra-śankarābharaa, commonly known as Śankarābharaa, is the 29th Melakarta.  Since this Raga has many Gamakas (ornamentations), it is also called as Sarva-Gamaka Maika-Rakthi-Raga.

The nature of this Raga is mellifluous and smooth; spreading a feeling of joy and exhilaration.

In this Kriti- Devi Meena-netri brovarave dayacheyave, brovaravamma; Sevinchevari-kellanu Cintamaniyaiy-unna ra – Sri Shyama Shastry again requests the Mother Goddess to protect him. He praises her as Chintamani, the most precious magical gem that spreads joy and dispels darkness and sorrow. She indeed is the Chintamani (the wish-fulfilling gem) for all those who seek her protection.

The Kriti Devi-meena-netri consists of Pallavi, Anupallavi, Chittasvara and three Caranas, which are lengthy and are adorned with literary beauties like Varna-alamkara, Prasas etc.

This is a Chowka- kala composition with two Avartas for the Pallavi and Anupallavi; and, with eight Avartas for the Carana. The Chittasvara is sung in two degrees of speed. [His other Kriti in Shankarabharanam is in the Madhyama-kaala]


The Prasa prayoga can be seen in the array of words  : Baala-Chaala-meeḷa-kaalasheela-leela

Chittasvara  here is  very attractive .

The Kriti is set to Adi Taala.


 Vidushi Smt. Vidya Shankar explains in her article Tala-anubhava of the Music Trinity

It is said; In an Avarta or elongation of the last syllable creates a pause for a few seconds. This silence itself is music. This enriches and enhances the atmosphere of melody by giving emphasis on the phrase that follows, with the expressions through Bhava and Raga.

The Carana of the Vilambita- Kriti, ‘Devi Meena-netri ‘(Shankarabharanam), is often cited as an illustration of this aspect.

The Raga-svarupa is captured in the very commencement of the composition, within the first half-Avarta, crowning with Arudi on the dot of the Druta.

The other Kriti of Sri Shyama Shastry ‘Devi-nee-paada-sarasa’(Kambhoji) , which starts with similar Mathu (Sahitya) and Dhatu (Svaras) , in a similar manner, with its Svarakasharas  ‘pa da saa’ establish the  Raga-lakshana.


Smt. Sharadambal offers expert comments as: The kriti Devi-meena-netri centres round Madhya-sthâyi, with occasional touches of Mandra-sthâyi and Tara-sthâyi. The Graha-svaras of the various Angns are: Ma, Ga, Ma (Pallavi); Sa, Pa, Ma, Pa (Anupallavi); and Ga, Ma, Pa (Carana).

Though the words are relatively less in this Kriti, use of Dhirgha- Svaras is limited;  and , the Tara- pulse is filled with more ‘Aaa-karas’.


  1. Saroja-dala-netri (29-Shankarabharana-Adi)

This Kriti is again in Raga Shankarabharanam.  This, along with the Kriti Devi Meena-netri, is considered as twin Yugala-Kritis. Both are in Raga Shankara- bharanam; and, have similar notations (Svara-sthana).And, both are in Telugu.

The Kriti, commencing with asvarakṣara sāhitya  in the PallaviSaroja-dala-netri-Himagiripurti-nee-padambuja-mulane-sadaa-nammi-nanamma-shubhamimma-Sree Meenakshamma – is a highly popular Kriti; and, is very often sung in the Musical concerts.

In this Kriti, Sri Shyama Shastry sings of the beauty, glory and the noble virtues; and, of the boundless compassion and generosity of the most enchanting Goddess Devi Meenakshi. He calls her as the treasure-house of all the noble virtues (Gunadhama); and as one who delights in Music of Sama (Sama-gana-vinodini). And, requests her to bless him and wish him well (Shubha).

Sri Shastry compares the enchanting beauty of her eyes to the lotus petals (Saroja-dala) ; and her face to the radiant moon (Indu-mukhi) .

The Kriti consists of Pallavi, Anupallavi and three Caranas. All the segments of the Kriti are set to the same Music (Dhatu).


The Sabda-alamkaras are introduced in the Anupallavi through a string of lyrical phrases (Sahitya) – Purani-Shukapani-Madhukaraveni-Sadashivuniki-Rani.


The Kriti is set to Adi Taala.


Smt. Sharadambal observes regarding the tempo or Kala-pramana of the Compositions:

Though, most of the songs of Shyama Shastri are in slow medium tempo in Adi-Taala, here are some songs in fast medium tempo.

The songs in Misra-Chapu and Triputa-Taalas also are mostly sung in slow medium tempo. The long drawn out rhythm with many pauses is seen in Chapu-Taala compositions with less number of words; and, with pauses here and there are found in these Kritis.

Some of his compositions in Adi-Taala have a tight knit relation between the Taala–Aksharas and the Sahitya letters. Almost all the Svara-letters have Sahitya-letters; and , Hrasva letters found in profusion.

For example, songs like’ Sarojadala-netri’ in Shankarabharana Raga; and in ‘Devi Brova’ in Chintamani Raga, though are set in Adi-Taala, the tempo seems to be increased and gives the impression that the song is set in Madhyama-kala. We do not find extensive pauses in these songs. The pauses are limited ;and, words are many and this appears that the tempo is increased.

The songs set in Adi-Taala, Rupaka and other Taalas are set in fast medium tempo. ‘Parvati-ninnu’ in Kalkada, ‘BiranaVaralicci’ in Kalyani can be cited as examples. Thus we find three different tempos such as slow, slow medium and fast medium tempos among the compositions of Shyama Shastri.


The Kriti ‘Saroja-dala-netri’ starts from Tara Sa ; and , comes down to Madhyasthâyi in the Pallavi , ending with a Prayoga in the descending order as ‘s-n-d-p-m-g-r-s’. Both Anupallavi and Carana centre round Tara-sthâyi, after starting from the note as ‘s-Ss’ and ‘P- pppm’, respectively. The upper limit is only Tara ‘Ga’. The ‘Sn-P’ and ’sd-P ‘are the viseshaprayogas found in this kriti. The Jaru prayogas are found in the Anupallavi as  ‘s-Ss/Sss’ and ‘mP/sdP’.


The Sangathi, the melodic variations that are improvised while rendering the Pallavi or Anupallavi (rarely in Carana), without, however, altering the Sahitya is a much used Anga in the Kritis of Sri Thyagaraja. But, Sangathi is not a major issue in the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry.

But, now while singing the Kriti Saroja-dala-netri’ (Shankarabharanam) the Sangathis are developed by the performers and extended over the whole Avarta in the second line of the Pallavi. The First Sangati is developed from the place ‘Sri Meenaksamma’; while the second is developed from the beginning with slight changes occurring here and there.


  1. Mayamma nannu brova (28-Nattakuranji- Adi)

Nattakuranji is described as an Audava Janya Raga of 28th Melakarta Harikambhoji.  It is an asymmetric Raga, having three types of ascending (Arohana) and descending scales (Avarohana).All the three types, as well as other Prayogas are in use.

In this Kriti commencing with the Pallavi – Mayamma nannu brovavamma Mahamaya Uma – Sri Shyama Shastry pleads with the Mother; and, questions her ‘ O Mother  of Shyamakrishna (ShyamakrishnaJanani) why (ela) are you delaying (tamasamela) , please come and protect me (Nannu brovu).

This is a relatively short Kriti; having Pallavi and Anupallavi of one Paada (line) each; and, a Carana of two lines. The Carana is followed by Svarasahitya structured in two lines (Paadas).

With a series of vowel extensions, the Kriti is better suited for Vilamba-laya rendering

The Pallavi starts on Madhya-sthayi-madhyama (M;) – the Jiva-svara of the Raga with Svarakshara (Ma-yam-Ma).

The Anupallavi, with a series of lyrical sounding terms ending with the vowel Aa () Satyananda-Sananda-Nitya-Ananda-Ananda-Amba, describes the cosmic nature of the Mother as being the very embodiment of eternal (Nitya) bliss (Ananda). This line is extended by a series of Svaras.

The Svarasahitya is appended to the Carana addressing the Mother in a series of beautiful names as: Sarasijakshi; Kanchi Kamakshi; Himachalasute; Suphale; Marakatangi; and, Maha-Tripura-Sundari

mAdhavAdi vinuta sarasijAkSi Kanci-KAmAkSi tAmasamu sEyakarammA / marakatAngi mahA tripurasundari ninnE hrdayamupaTTukoni


The Kriti is set to Adi Taala


  1. Karuna judavamma (22-Sri, Viloma Chapu)

The ancient Raga Sri is described as the A-sampurna-Melakarta equivalent of the 22nd Melakarta Kharaharapriya. It is one of the Ghana-Ragas of the Karnataka Samgita; and, is regarded as a very auspicious Raga.

And, it is apt to conclude the splendid series of Nava-ratna-malika with this Mangala-kara Raga submitted to Devi Brhannayaki.

The kriti is structured into Pallavi, Anupallavi and three Caranas. And, the Carana ends with the line: Tamasambu itu-seyaka naa paritapa-mulanu pariharinchi-nanivu; please, without any further delay, relieve me (pariharincu) of my miseries (paritapa-mulanu).

As regards the Taala, there are two practices; either to sing in Viloma Chapu Taala; or in the Adi Taala. Both seem acceptable.

Technically, this composition could be said to be set in Telugu. But, except for the verbs and the appeals made to the Mother all the other terms either describing the beauty of the Goddess or addressing her through a a string of melodious names are in chaste Sanskrit

The most graceful Devi, who delights in Music (Gana-vinodini) is lovely to look at, having a beautiful face (Sunda-radana); her complexion glowing like gold (Hemangi); her hair dark as the rain-clouds (Ghana-nibha-veni); and, her stately walk, as the gait of an elephant (Samaj-gamana).

Sri Shyama Shastry with great Love and admiration calls his Mother with a variety of names: Sarasija-asana; Madhava-sannuta, Brhannayaki; Lalita; Hima-giri-putri; Maheshvari; Girisha-ramani; and , Shulini. 


In some of the versions, the Kriti Rave Parvatha-raja-kumari’ in the Raga Kalyani is reckoned as the eighth Kriti in the series.

The Kriti Rave Parvata Rajakumari’, is set in the familiar Raga Kalyani; and, in Taala Jhampa.( This, somehow, is labelled  as a ‘rare-kriti’)

This Kriti is dedicated to Devi Meenakshi. It has the Pallavi, Anupallavi and Two Caranas.

In the Pallavi and Anupallavi, Sri Shyama Shastry again requests the Mother to listen to him; to protect him; and to come quickly to him- Rave Parvata Rajakumari, Devi nannu brochutaku vegame. He pleads:  O Mother have I not been trusting you; have I not regarded you as my sole refuge- Neeve gatiyeni nammiyunti-gada; Neeve gatiyani nammiyunti Amma.

The two Caranas sing the greatness of the beautiful (Nirada-veni) Mother of all the three worlds (Tri-Loka-janani) , who is worshipped by all the gods; whose glory , auspicious legends and victories are sung and extolled by many sages; and, who protects (rakshaki) and brings delight (toshini)to the virtuous world of gods.

O Mother Meena-locani, the princess, the daughter of Parvatha-raja (Parvata-Rajakumari) the benevolent (Udaara-gunavati) ancient Goddess (Purani), kindly (krupu-judu) rid us of all fears (Abhaya) and protect us all (brovu).


In all the nine compositions, the Sri Shyama Shastry seeks Devi’s help and protection, praising her glory, splendour and her countless virtues. The beauty and loveliness of the Devi is depicted in every Kriti   . There is a child-like innocence, admiration and Love for his Mother (Mayamma), pleading with her   repeatedly, with an open-hearted affection, to protect him and rescue him from the surrounding mundane existence. These Kritis exude a sense of tenderness, optimism and immense faith in the Mother.

 Overall in these Kritis, the verbs and the appeals made to or the conversation with the Mother is in the day-to-day commonly spoken Telugu, with informal colloquial expressions. Though they do not possess philosophical ideas in profusion, they do express the natural filial  affection and tenderness of the child trying to reach the Mother.

But, the descriptions of Devi’s beauty , splendour and her infinite powers and virtues; as also her varied names are all recited in  graceful, refined, lyrical Sanskrit. These passages are pure poetry; they are simple and elegant. There are many passages with a string of adorable phrases with prosodic beauties in harmony with the Music.

The Kriti mainly appeals to the beautiful Goddess of lotus-petal-like radiant eyes (Pankaja-dala netri) by addressing her through a variety of sweet-sounding names; Shankari; Karunakari; Raja-rajeshvari; Sundari; Paratpari; Gauri; Giri-raja-kumari; Parama-pavani; Bhavani; Katyayani and Kalyani  so on.

Both the familiar major Ragas and the minor Ragas like Ahiri and Lalita have been skilfully employed. The introduction of brilliantly crafted Chittasvaras, Svarasahitya etc, excelling in poetic beauty, have added sparkle and lustre to these Kritis.

Similarly, the application of the Misra Chapu Taala and Viloma Chapu Taala ;  as also the Gamaka Prayogas of tender  oscillations and glide, have lent depth as also  amazing agility  to the movement of the Musical phrases in the progression of the latter parts (Carana) of the  Kritis. This comes out vividly in contrast to the Vilamba-kala elaboration of the Pallavi and Anupallavi passages.

For instance; in the Kriti Mayamma (28-Nattakuranji, Adi) the Pallavi commences in Vilamba-kala, with straight notes pleading for affection and understanding. Later, with the Kampita (Oscillations) of the Gamaka-prayoga, the same set of Svaras gathers momentum to express the urgency of his pleas. A sense of loveliness, joy and abundant faith in the Love of the Mother permeates this Kriti.


At the conclusion of the Nava-ratna-malika  it is customary to sing the most pleasing and lovely Mangala-Kriti (Shankari-Shankari, Kalyani, Adi) , a benediction (Svasthi-vachana)-a prayer entreating for divine blessings , the good- hearted Vidwan, the child (Shishu) of Shankari,  humbly appeals to his Mother, the Supreme Goddess Raja-Rajeshvari ,  who is the very embodiment of  all the spiritual knowledge  (Tattva-jnana-rupini) and one who enlightens  all (Sarva-chitta-bohini )  to bless  and grant (Disa)  all of this existence   (Sarva-Lokaya) happiness , prosperity (Jaya) and wellbeing  (Shubha)

 MangalamJaya MangalamShubha Mangalam

Kamakshi Thanjavur

शङ्करि शङ्करि करुणा-करि राज
राजेश्वरि सुन्दरि परात्परि गौरि

पङ्कज दळ नेत्रि गिरि राज कुमारि
परम पावनि भवानि सदा-शिव कुटुम्बिनि (शङ्करि)

श्याम कृष्ण सोदरि शिशुं मां परिपालय शङ्करि
करि मुख कुमार जननि कात्यायनि कल्याणि
सर्व चित्त बोधिनि तत्त्व ज्ञान रूपिणि
सर्व लोकाय दिश मङ्गळं जय मङ्गळं
शुभ मङ्गळं (शङ्करि

In the next Part we shall discuss about the structure, the language  and other elements of the Kritis composed by Sri Shyama Shastry


In the

Next Part

Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet


Posted by on July 16, 2020 in Music, Sangita, Shyama Shastri


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