Thursday, April 19, 2007

DIkshithar, the Phenomenon- II

Note: Please read the previous post before you cut your teeth on this one. Titled DIkshithar, the Phenomenon.

I choose to begin this blog without much brouhaha; no quotes, no statements.

In the previous part of this tribute to DIkshithar, I touched upon the beauty and tangibility of his lyrics. In this one, I examine the rAga-bhAva aspects. An article on DIkshithar that I read recently stated that each krithi of DIkshithar, irrespective of the rAgam concerned, is a rAga AlApana couched in exquisite lyrics. It struck me very strongly at the time that this is probably the reason why, if one learns a krithi of his in a particular rAgam, one is able to assimilate that rAgam and its nuances with ease. Simply singing one of his krithis sans the sAhityam is nothing but an AlApana, and this applies to every single work of his-- such was MuthuswAmi DIkshithar's command over the world of ragas.

In particular, I will recommend Shri KAnthimatim(HEmavathi) and AgasthIshwaram(LalithA) as also RAmachandrENa SamrakshitOham(MAnji) and JambUpathE(YamunA KalyAni). The celebrated anupallavi of AgasthIshwaram is one fluid, bhAva-laden drug of a LalithA exposition, filling the listener with a tender, turbulent insatiability- I have seen people weep as they listen to this line, not knowing why they do so. And if LalithA creates a heavy, sombre mood, DIkshithar creates a different and equally vivid sensation with YamunA KalyAni; "Ambuthi gangA kAveri yamuna" is one of my favourite parts of that krithi. There is a sweet upsurge of joyousness and the listener, or rather the experiencer, is dipped in the sanctifying waters of the rivers and bathed in the gentle swell and dip of YamunA KalyAni, sunk in rapture.

Every ragam- be it a melakartA or a Janya rAgam- is brought out in all its flourishing glory- where DIkshithar was concerned, there was no question of any rAgam having a limited scope; a different scope, perhaps. :)

And the one chief distinguishing factors: while numerous other composers may have composed in these rAgas, very few, arguably, have been able to present them this creditably on all three scores- bhAvam, sAhityam, and full usage of the rAgam.

The next part of the topic will deal with DIkshithar, the actual personality behind his music.
Till then, "JambUpathE, mAm pAhi"!!


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

DIkshithar, the Phenomenon

SuhAsitha nava javandhi pushpa vihAsitha priya hrudayam sadhayam
mAsa varsha pakshOtsava vibhavam sadhA shivam paramashivam- Shree MAthrubootham.....

If I had ever to name one person who has changed my life, I would not have to think too hard. Then again, neither would anyone who has been exposed to the beauty of the compositions of Shri MuthuswAmy DIkshithar. Of all the composers who have added beauty, grace and fulfilment to the ocean of carnAtic music, DIkshithar occupies pride of place.

The journey into the world of his krithis is a spiritual journey- at times passionately evocative, at others serene, sublime, and at still others, an inner discovery of self and soul, as one swept away on a newer plane of understanding, which is often the case.

As a student of his school of musical salvation, so to speak, the urge to analyse his music and the man himself, is irresistible. Who was DIkshithar? What inspired him to such unattainable heights of ecstasy? And even more- what is it about his music that has such an effect, such an influence on the listener?

I must at this point state that I have neither the experience nor even the status to dissect compositions of such calibre and a man-God of such mettle, but drawing upon my license as a lover of DIkshithar compositions and a slave to his music, I now commence trying to understand something of his divine music. How much ever one may discuss DIkshithar with like minded souls, true understanding (I believe) comes from an intensely personal, solo exploration of his works and their influence on oneself.

My initiation into the universe of DIkshithar began quite inconspicuously- a routine, if well padantharam-ed GNB version of MahA ganapathim, courtesy my former music teacher Smt.Prema Hariharan. I was at the time eleven years old and too young to appreciate the magnitude of what really had begun- a small step that would blossom into a irrevocable love affair with sanskrit, spirituality, and most important, DIkshithar.

In the following seven years, I learnt a number of his works, but regrettably, without really experiencing what I sang. Just as I sang every other krithi- well learnt, well-rehearsed, and well-presented, but the soul was missing. Not that I can claim an abundance of soul now, but atleast I recognise and am awed by the sheer beauty and magnificence of what I sing.

When exactly I fell in love with DIkshithar I donot know, but junta had a significant lot to do with it. SK, Sai P, Hari, Aishu, and Audi, as also Bala- Thank You. :) Words are not enough.

While learning a DIkshithar krithi, one first analyses the lyrics. The beauty of DIkshithar's imagination and his veratility with the most beautiful language in the world-Sanskrit- are to be seen/read/experienced to be believed. There is a beautiful marriage of meaning and metre that I cannot find anywhere else.

A sense of continuity is another highlight- one can finish Shiva KaAmeshwaIm and comfortably take off with KamlAmbam Bhajare; this is something that I think is true- others may disagree. I donot refute their status as independent, beautiful pieces, I just see an invisible link from and to all of his krithis. Like consecutive shlokAs in a mAla of shlokAs. The deity does not matter either- Shakthi or Shivam, how does it matter? And what better place to analyse Advaitam than in the compositions of DIkshithar?

Each word, each line shines with classical beauty and resonates with divine splendour. Sanskrit never sounded this beautiful before, surely!

"ShItha kirana nibha vadanAm shrutha chintAmani sadanAm
pItha vasanam guruguha mAthula kAntham lalithAm"- HiranmayIm lakshmIm

"Pradaja vishwa vilAsini panchanAdeesha ullAsini
vEda shAsthra vishwAsini vidhi harihara prakAshini"- Dharma samvardhani

"NirvikalpagasamAdhi nishta shiva kalpagatharO
nirvisEsha Chaitanya niranjana guruguha gurO"- JambUpathE

"AganNitha suguna gananatha vibhIshanam
GaNathara kausthubha mani vibUshanam
Guni jana kruthavEda pArAyanam
Guruguha muditha nArAyanam"- Shree RanganAyakam

The instances are innumerable, the delicacy varied and exquisite.
And the feelings evoked? Too many- an amalgam of wonder, reverence, love, worshipfulness, divine fervour; an humble and overwhelming submission to the Divine.

The clock stands in the way of all that I want to type now, but more in day or two. For this topic is like DIkshithar himself: Endless. :)