Meenalochani Paasamochani Meenakshi
Dear Friends ,
I am pleased to write this post dedicated to naadagamakachoodaamani Sri muthuswami dhikshithar and to kadhambavana vaasini ,meenalochani ,paasamochani meenakshi devi.
As a new way to eliminate long days of null activity, I have planned to build up the post in incremental steps every day. I am sure that , this approach will also be appreciated.
A rare flashback :)
I am indeed very blessed enough to have lived in the holy city of meenakshi sundareshwarar for almost 8 years. Those were my school days when I used to go along with my father to the sundareshwarar temple ( a beautiful and big temple ) with so many prahaarams. I and my dad used to circumambulate the moola sannithi of meenakshi amman and sundareswarar experience that i miss quite a lot after coming to US:(. The vibrations in such temples are so distinct and wonderful despite all the for an unforgettablecrowd. I have wished so many times to be born as a son of a temple purohit/ a bhagawathar/ dikshithar and perform nitya kainkaryams to the temple deity, if i were to have a rebirth:).
I and my father used to walk around the entire temple hopping around the thousand pillar hall ( AyirankAl mandapam) ,the lovely porthaamarai kulam ( the golden lotus pond) , the mighty vennai kaalis (butter kaali vigrahaas). people throng around the before the vigrahaas and throw butter ball at the kaalis by wishing for something. its a belief that the wish will be fulfilled. I can remember the small yet very expressive hanuman vigraha carved on to a pillar. The statue always used to be covered with chendhooram (safron) and butter. It would be a wonderful sight. In rapture , I used to take a big soop from the vigraha and keep it on my forehead. Like this hanuman , at yet another corner of the porthaamarai kulam , there is a vigraha of nandhi covered fully with vibuthi. what lovely sights? shoudn't one be blessed to have gotten a glimpse of such vigrahaas which aren't just carvings made out of stones. As, T.S Balakrishna sastrigal has said in one of his discourses , the speciality in such vigrahas is the chaaitanyam. If you go north of india, you can find lot of temple. You can find very beautiful statues carved out of marbles but what makes the difference. it is the chaitanyam inside the stone. These vigrahas have been worshiped, praised, sung in beautiful raagas by very noble souls depicting their mahaatmyam.
UPDATE 1 :
I mentioned about the krithi Meenakshi Memudum dehi composed by muthuswamy dikshithar yesterday. When i first heard Sri Madurai Mani Iyer(MMI) rendering this krithi, I instantly fell in love with it and y wouldnt i be? My dad used to be a great rasikan of sri mmi so was I. A new cassette on the stands?? Bring it home.That was our spirit. Both I and My father so very liked his baani (style) of singing swara jatis (sarvalaghu style) and shruthi shudhham. For us , he was carnatic music at best. For me, MMI and carnatic music arent different. When he was very young he used to sing at anju kattai ( pitch 5) . Smt M.S. Subbulakshmi is the only other person who can go upto this pitch. Later his health deteriorated. Here are some excerpts taken from other MMI fans at sangeetham.com.
" Every other Musician of his time had the privilege of good health, prosperity and happy life for atleast 40-45 years. MMI at the age of 17 lost his father(who was the only bread winner), had to shoulder big responsibilities of bringing up the family of 3 sisters, mother and grand mother.
"Mani Iyer was a devotee of Navagrahas and upon the advice of Sengalipuram Anantharama Dikshitar he practiced singing them at home. Dikshitar was a great fan of MMI and MMI was a devotee of Dikshitar. Once Dikshitar out of compassion asked shri MMI to be with him for 40 days at Guruvayur to help him get rid of Leprosy (which was incurable those days). Dikshitar himself got that disease cured by a miracle of Shri Guruvayurappan (his photo is to be seen in the temple along with that of Chembai, who also got rid of his voice problem thru the Lord). MMI who was advancing in age, like a Vedanti, denied the chance of curing and said, he wish to fully suffer from his Karma and then get rid of it in the same birth. This incident was told by a witness who was a fan of Dikshithar..."
"His ill health robbed his personal life completely and he had to depend on others for even taking food and basic cleanings. As age advanced his health was still more affected. With these set backs I wonder if even one else could have even sung, leave alone all these shudhdhams."
He had such a deep sangeetha jnaanam. Even pass by rikshavalaas used to stand by to listen to his simple and elegant way of delivering some really intricate music that requires strenuous training and conditioning . One thing that had struck me hard about MMI is that the moment he renders the first 2 raaga alaapanas, one can get a feeling of what raaga it is. You dont have to ponder over and over. Listening to his renditions were instrumental in me cultivating a liking towards this noble form of music. The other aspect is his simplicity especially when it comes to rendering swaraas. He is so very peerless when it comes to rendering swaras. I am a guy that likes saahityams more that raaga alApanas and swaras but with MMI it is an exception because the swaras themselve speak their beautiful divine language. You would never find MMI struggling to render swaras even at very brisk sarvalaghus. They start dancing on his mouth spontaneously. He truly is a mahanubAva when it comes to carnatic music. Like this , i can keep writing on my feelings. That would be for yet another day.
Meenakshi Memudum Dehi
Those were the nights when I and my parents went to sleep listening to MMI rendering in his madhuradhwani this wonderful krithi in pantuvarAli (a.k.a gamakaKriya acc. to Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini of Subbarama Dikshithar). This is the same krithi after listening to which ,dikshithar left his mortal coils. If one has to write about Dikshithar , a separate blog would be required. I wish to start a blog showcasing the mahaatmyams of the krithis and the lives of the trimurthies of carnatic music.
On the same note, let me strongly encourage interested volunteers to spend some dedicated time (at least once in every week) to gather info about their lives and works and more importantly use the info to emphasize the inherent greatness to fellow readers. This should definitely be a great adventure ride into the lands of their wonderful past. The volunteer should consider bhakthi as the driving force.Mere collection of facts wont be of great help. Lots of material are already there on the internet. Many of them fail to affect the reader because of the importance given to facts and figures. Such articles will quench the thirst of the intellect but not the soul. Hence, it becomes highly important for the reader to have high regard for what he/she is going to write about. Aathmaarthama ezhudhanum (words should be nothing but a transformation of the heartfelt feelings). Such volunteer help would be greatly beneficial. I dont know if i am makin any sense or how feasible this project will turn out to be but i just wanted to pen my thots and highly hope to get the katAksham of the trimurthis and their glorious gods to make it happening. Any suggestions/ideas/questions will be welcomed with folded palms:)
Anyways, after a useful digression, let me get back on track with dikshithars gem of krithi. The compositions of dikshithar are full of gamakas.
A gamaka is defined as, "swarasya kambo gamaka: srotra chitta sukhavaha:". That graceful movement of the swara, that fine pull of the string, which brings happiness to the hearer is a gamaka. Different gamakas arouse different emotions. Singing or playing the same kind of gamaka throughout, makes it dull and monotonous. A happy combination and intertwining of the various gamakas is what is wanted. - Sri Parameswara Bhagawathar.
Gamakas are the life-givers of carnatic music. Dikshithar was a master of using gamakas. Most of his krithis are gamaka laden and deep in meaning. Take Meenakshi memudum dehi for eg. The greatness of dikshithar can be easily infered from MMI's rendition where he handles the gamakas in his raagAlApanAs and saahityams to perfection. Talking about gamakas and dikshithar's compositions , one can get from the krithi that Meenakshi Devi is also known as raajamaathangi, identified as one of the forms of Shakthi. Worshipping of this form confers musical skills to the devotee. No wonder the NaadaGamakakriyachoodAmani left his mortal coil by listening to this immortal krithi. He praises the goddess as the creator of the ten gamakas of veena. (VeenA GAna Dasagamakakriiye). (will be continued)
More to come...
i will continue to write on MMI,dikshithar and Meenakshi Memudum Dehi
i will be uploading some krithi renditions.
So, keep an eye on the blog:). Appreciation of the renditions will demand taste in traditional carnatic padhathi. (tradition) but am sure that everyone can enjoy the rasa induced by the pantuvarAli/ gamakakriya raaga. Smt M.S. Subbulakshmi has also rendered the same krithi beautifully but currently i dont have a copy of her rendition. Will upload if i get hold of it some time in the future.
Namo gurguhAya nama:
DEhi meenalochani paasamochani meenaakshi