FEATURED POST

Sri Venkatachala Mahathyam CONCLUSION ( wedding chapter 436-446)

436) BHAGAVATHKRUTHASHANMAASAAVADHIKAAGASTHYAASHRAMAVAASA PRATHIGNYAA Padmaavathyanugo Devo Brahmarudraadikairyuthaha Suvarnamukharee...

POPULAR POSTS

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Emotive Calluses!

Most people are unaware of the assets of a veena practitioner.The veena practitioner himself is not aware of the treasure he possesses, until the treasure is lost through a cruel twist of fate!The loss is a fatal one,whether it is accidental or through intended means!
The assets of a veena practitioner are the index and middle finger of his/her left hand!

The stunning truth is that the fingertips,due to rigorous practice on the veena and constant pressure of the fingertips aginst veena strings, tend to form lumps of flesh . These lumps project like swellings at the edges of the index finger and the middle finger of the left hand.This mostly happens in the case of people who have started playing the instrument from their childhood or teens.For practitioners who start playing the veena from such a young age,the lumps at the finger edges are formed easily and naturally due to normal functioning of the elasticity of their skin.It is therefore advisable to commence veena-practice at a very young age so that the lumps are formed effortlessly. These lumps (fleshy tissues) at the fingertips grow along with the practitioner as he/she ages,providing a natural and beautiful padding enabling the practitioner to handle the veena as and how he/she pleases.These cushion-like lumps help the practitioner to feel absolutely at home even while executing the toughest of prayogas (musical expressions) on the veena.These lumps, through rigorous practice,develop calluses (rough surfaces) at the tips,providing further desensitization enabling the practitioner to tough-play the veena for any length of time without experiencing pain or discomfort. Calluses are highly desirable as they help alleviate the pain from the tension of the strings and make playing easier. These lumps and calluses are the real assets of the veena practitioner.Most of the players are blissfully unaware of their assets and they do not even realise what would happen to their veena-playing abilities without the presence of these lumps and calluses on their finger tips!!

If the practitioner starts learning to play the veena around middle-age,it would be difficult, and sometimes impossible to develop these lumps and calluses due to hormonal imbalances and resulting decrease in skin elasticity due to ageing.They could develop calluses ,but minus the lumps which are easily and naturally formed at a young age when the body is hormonally well-balanced and the skin elasticity is thriving.
String instrumentalists like violinists,guitarists,cellists etc. all over the world realise the importance of these lumps and calluses that are vital in the making of great artistry.
It is therefore essential for the practitioner to preserve his/her lumps/calluses on the finger tips at any cost.
If for any reason,God forbid, a practitioner suffers from the growth of a cyst in any part of the body, it would be better to remove the same by any means other than dissolving it through oral medication. Any oral medication aimed to dissolve a cyst in any part of the body could result in dissolving even the carefully grown finger-tip-lumps permanently!Such medication could be prescribed ignorantly,by medical practitioners who are not aware of the presence of lumps in the finger tips of veena players. That could spell disaster for the veena player, when he/she is middle-aged and chances of regrowing the lumps at the finger-edges are slim due to reduced skin elasticity and regeneration of cells.

During my interaction with experts on the subject, I gathered from a veena legend ( a very ageing veena vidushi), that application of frozen ghee on the finger tips and heating them on a low flame (while maintaining a safe distance from the fire) of a stove for 4 to 5 minutes would lend fat supply to ageing fingers.This could be done atleast 3 times in a week.

A violin artiste/composer who is no more told me that he applies the contents of a vitamin E capsule on his finger tips before lengthy concerts or recordings.This provided instant padding on the fingertips! This practice according to me is insufficient for the demands of veena playing.
After gaining expertise in veena, fingers are transformed into emotional beings and with the help of the presence of lumps/calluses on fingertips,they express a wide range of sentiments and feelings through creative musical ideas.Fingers are assets to be preserved and nurtured at all costs!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Ragas/Seasons

The greatest western thinker who related to the art of music is Herbert Read. He observed , "all art tends to music".Human being is inseparable from his surroundings. At times it happens that the day, the night, the morning, the evening, the season, the nature, the cloud, the thunder, the lightening, the twilight, the moon and the like exercise an influence on the consciousness of the man and take him into a mood. This mood gives rise to a rasa. Every possible kind of rasa in relation to these circumstantial surroundings has been found to be conveyed through a raga. So, the world of ragas has all the variety of life and experience. This is most true about Indian Music. Seasons,or the Rithus are a dimension of the vast game of life and creation.
"BHRUGOR-RUTHUVASANTHASCHA KUJABHAAVANOSCHA GREESHMAKAHA
CHANDRASYA VARSHAA VIGNYEYAA SHARACHCHAIVA THADHAA VIDAHA
HEMANTHOPI GURORGNYEYAHA SHANESTHU SHISHIRO DWIJAA."
"Venus's Rithu is Vasantha,of Mars and Sun is the Greeshma, the Moon's is Varsha, Mercury's is Sharad,and,O'Wise, Hemangtha is known to be of Jupiter, and Saturn's is Shishira,O'Twice born!"-(Brihat Parasara Hora Shastra,Nature and Form of the Grahas,45-46. )
Rithu refers to a period of time that is fixed for some special occasion, in this case, the occasion of the seasons.Six rithus are acknowledged. Each rithu lasts two Saura, solar months.A saura month is thirty degrees of the Sun's movement in respect to the equinoxes and solstices; it is the same as the tropical month of the well-known Sun Signs are derived.In fact, the saura months are known as Aries,Taurus, Gemini etc. in the Astronomical Siddhanthas in exactly the same manner as the Sun Signs.
Shishira "cold"-Saturn-Sun in western Sagittarius and Capricorn,(November 20th to January 20th).According to the Hindu Lunar months,they are Margashira and Pausha.
Vasantha "brilliant"-Venus-Sun in western Aquarius and Pisces,(January 20th to March 20th).According to Hindu Lunar months,they are Magha and Phalguni.

Grishma "hot"-Sun and Mars-Sun in western Aries and Taurus, (March 20th to May 20th).According to Hindu Lunar months they are Chaithra and Vaisakha.

Varsha "rainy"-Moon- Sun in western Gemini and Cancer, (May 20th to July 20th).According to Hindu Lunar month they are Jyeshta and Ashaadha.

Sharad "mature"-Mercury- Sun in western Leo and Virgo, (July 20th to September 20th).According to Hindu Lunar months they are Shraavana and Bhaadrapada.

Hemantha "frost"-Jupiter-Sun in western Libra and Scorpio, (September 20th to November 20th).According to Hindu Lunar months they are Ashwina and Kaarthika.

The Sun is a secondary ruler of Grishma though the most important graha in respect to the seasons due to being their cause.Saturn rules the coldest part of the year.The season of saturn is colder than the season of Jupiter because the earth is actually further from the Sun in its revolution during that time. Venus rules the generative and brilliant-flowered period that roughly equates to spring.Mars rules the hot months during which the Sun gets hotter and hotter each day.The Moon rules the rainy months that water the crops.Mercury rules the period during which the crops and fruits mature.Jupiter rules the frosty months during which the leaves fall and the cold begins to set in."-ERNST WILHELM.

Even the cycles of time are connected with Chakras in the body according Kundalini Yoga theory. The highest Chakra called Sahasrara is beyond time and is dependent on the soul's journey towards higher spiritual levels. The lower six Chakras get mild activation during the seasons - Agna Chakra in Vasanth Rithu (spring), Vishuddha in Greeshma Rithu (summer), Anahatha in Varsha Rithu (rainy season in India), Manipura in Sarad Rithu (bright moon light), Swadhisthana in Hemantha Rithu (pre-winter), and Muladhara in Sisira Rithu (coldest winter).
Ragas for the six seasons:-

SHISHIR RITHU:-Shishir is one of the thousand names appearing in Vishnu Sahasranamam.This name originates from the civilization of the Indus Valley and the Gangetic Plains.It refers to the forthcoming winter season and the winter winds.

In the english months between November 20th to January 20th, the most auspicious Dhanur masam (Margazhi Masam) takes place.The atmosphere is charged with religious fervour.The lovely cool breeze that is so hard to experience during most of the year all over India, fills the atmosphere to touch everybody's heart with sublime feelings!People wake up early in the morning to offer prayers in their homes and temples.Women are filled with excitement to decorate their front yards with colourful rangoli. People relish every moment of the cool, lovely winter.
Ragas that are generally prescribed for Shishir Rithu are :-Nattaikuranji (Carnatic)-Rageshri(Hindusthani) and Sriranjani(Carnatic)-Bageshri(Hindusthani).Mayamalava gowla (Carnatic)-Bhairav (Hindusthani) is also assigned for this Rithu.
My manodharma brings to life Arabhi,Sudhdha Saveri,Suddha Dhanyasi, Abheri etc.
VASANTHA RITHU:- This season is known as the "King of seasons!" because it brings in freshness and novelty.Plants and trees start waking up from their deep slumber.Yellow is the predominant colour of this season,indicating the auspiciousness of the season.Birds that flew away during the extreme winters,slowly start coming back and the atmosphere is filled with the various tones of different birds chirping.Spring has arrived!The inexplicable play of Nature in all its splendour and glory beckons even kite-players.Vasanth Rithu is the season for kites and children play gleefully with their kites.

This season is meant for love and romance. Mythology says that Manmatha induced love between Lord Shiva and Parvathi during the season of spring.While Lord Shiva was in meditation,the lovely Parvathi,dressed in yellow ,with yellow flowers decorating her hair and a garland of yellow flowers in her hands,presented herself to Lord Shiva.Lord Shiva who was in deep meditation was subjected to the arrow of love aimed by the God of Kama,Manmatha and He became drunk with love for Parvathi.Even Kalidasa's "Kumara Sambhavam" mentions Vasantha Rithu as the season that kindled the fire of desire between the divine couple.

Even Sri Adi Sankaracharya in His 6th sloka in Soundarya Lahari has described the spring season associating it with Lord Manmatha!"
"Dhanuh Paushpam Maurvi Madhukaramayi Pancha Visikhah
Vasanthah Saamantho Malayamarudaayo Dhanarathaha
Thathaapyekaha Sarvam Himagirisuthe Kaamapi Krupaam
Apaangaaththe Labdhvaa Jagadidamanango Vijayathe!"
(Oh Daughter of the snow-clad Himalaya mountain!Kama deva,the God of love,has only a bow made of flowers,with its string comprised of a cluster of honeybees,and arrows barely five.The spring season is his assistant and the southern breeze his war-chariot.Yet,with such frail equipment,bodiless and alone though he be,manmatha conquers the entire universe,having obtained some favour through Thy benign side-glance.)

Vasant Panchami or Shree Panchami is celebrated during this season when Goddess Saraswathi is worshipped with great devotion all over Inida.
Vasanth Navaratri is celebrated during this season.Vaishno Devi temple in Jammu observes Navarathri during this period.The importance of the worship of Devi is mentioned in the Devi Bhagavatham.
These nine nights are also celebrated by the devotees of Lord Rama and is considered the spiritual New Year as on the ninth night, Lord Sri Rama,the incarnation of Lord Maha Vishnu was born.On the day of Rama Navami,Lord Sri Rama's birthday is celebrated with great festivities.
Ragas assigned for this season are:-Kapi,Hindolam,Kanada, Vasantha (Carnatic) Piloo, Basanth and Bahar (Hindusthani).

My manodharma,same as above.

GRISHMA RITHU:-The atmosphere during this season is extremely hot,dry and bright.The sun rays are very powerful and penetrating.People are generally tired and exerted even without much physical activity.
"Rithusamhara" by Kalidasa is a lyrical description of all seasons,starting with the Grishma Rithu.
Ragas assigned for this season are:-Darbari Kanada and Deepakam (Pantuvarli janyam).

My manodharama:-Thodi and Vakula Bharanam.

VARSHA RITHU:-The rainy season follows the scorching heat of the summer months. The downpour of rainwater on the heated soil touches every heart ,the effect soothing and calming after the onslaught of extreme heat conditions.
Everybody yearns for Varsha Rithu apart from the Vasanth Rithu, rains evoking the romantic and creative spirit in every human being.During the monsoon,for example, many of the Malhar group of ragas, like 1)Shuddha Malhar,2) Mian Ki Malhar,3) Gaud Malhar,4) Nat Malhar,5) Surdasi Malhar,6)Dhoolia Malhar,7)Ramdasi Malhar,8) Mirabai Ki Malhar,9) Charjoo Ki Malhar,10)Jaijaiwanthi Malhar,11) Roopamanjari Malhar ,which are associated with the monsoon and ascribed the magical power to bring rain, are rendered.

Dhuliya Malhar captures the anticipatory mood where the pre-rain gusts kick up the dust(dhool).

The raga ideally suited for this season is Megh and Miya ki Malhar(Hindusthani) and Madhyamavathi or Brindavana Saranga , Megharanjani and Amrithavarshini(Carnatic).

My Manodharma is same as above.

SHARAD RITHU:-Sharad rithu follows Varsha rithu and prcedes Hemantha rithu.The scorching heat of summer is a distant memory, the coldness of winter is yet to come. The weather is mild,pleasing and very moderate.

Moonlit nights are enchanting during this rithu,they are well-known as Sharad Purnima. Poets and epics describe lovingly the beauty and joy of moonlit nights during Sharad rithu.

Soundarya Lahari,the tantrik creation of Sri Adi Sankaracharya praises the face of Mother Goddess as "Sharthachandra vadana!"

His 7th sloka, "KvanathKanchi Dhaama Karikalabha Kumbhasthananathaa

Pariksheenaa Madhye Parinathasharath Chandravadanaa

Dhanurbaanaan Paashaan Srunimapi Dadhaana Karathalaihi

Purasthaadaasthaam Na PuramathithuRahoPurushikaa!"

(May the divine Mother with Her slender waist girdled with jingling mini-bells,body slightly bent in the middle by the weight of Her breast resembling the frontal globes of the forehead of a young elephant,Her face blooming like the autumnal full moon and Her four hands holding bow, arrow, noose and goad and who is the pride of Shiva,manifest Her presence before us!)

In the 15th sloka of Soundarya Lahari the Acharya has said:-

"Sharath Jyotsnaa Shubhraam ShashiyuthajataajootamakutaamVarathraasathraanasphatikaghatikaapusthakakaraamSakrunnaaa Thvaa Nathvaa Kathamiva Sathaam SannidadhatheMadhuksheeradraakshaamadhurimadhureenah Phanithayaha!"

(How can torrents of words,excelling even honey,milk and grapes,help flowing from the mouth of good men who but once make prostration to Thee who art endowed with the lustre of the autumnal moon,who art holding Thy two hands in the pose of granting boons and offering protection,and sporting in the other two a rosary of crystal beads and a book, and who wearest the crescent moon in Thy crown of plaited locks!)

The radiance of Sri Radha,the Divine Spouse of Lord Krishna is described as "Koti Sharadendu Mandale!"

Terms like "Sharadendu Vilasam" are mentioned in abundance by creative poets,in comparison to the moonlit nights of Sharad rithu.It was on a moonlit night during Sharad Rithu that the "Rasaleela" of Lord Krishna and the Gopis took place on the banks of River Jamuna,amidst mango and kadamba groves on the Holy land of Vrindavan.

Sharad Navaratri ,celebration of the Shakthi Goddess,is known as the Maha Navaratri. It celebrates the slaying of Mahishasura by Goddess Durga. This festival is celebrated all over India with great religious fervour and devotion.The Eastern part of India glorifies this festival as one of the primary festivals.

Muthuswami Dikshithar's Kamalamba Navaavarnams are rendered with great devotion during Sharad Navaratri.

Ragas most suited for this season are:-Valachi (Carnatic),Kalavathi(Hindusthani),Malkauns(Hindusthani).

My manodharma-the Sharad Poornima nights evoke Poorikalyani,Hamsanandi and Chandrakauns.

HEMANTHA RITHU:-The nights are led by Pushya nakshatra.They are longer ,but quickly slip away.It is pre-winter and not very cold.The sun during this period is dull and obscured by mist and fog.The wind blows gently,the rivers have little water and minimum flow.
The most popular festivals of lights,Deepavali and Kaarthika Pournami take place during Hemantha rithu.The North Indian festival,Karva Chauth also takes place during this rithu.This is a festival performed by married women for the welfare of their husbands.
Bhartru Hari describes Hemantha Rithu in his Sringara Satakam.He states that the nights of men who are not protected by the embrace of deer-eyed-damsels from the snowy,gusty winds are equal to living hell.
Ragas best suited for this season are:-Yaman Kalyani,Shree and Behag.
My manodharma evokes same as above.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Eternal fragrance!

"Veena Vadana Tatvagnyah Shruthijaathi Vishaaradhah
Thaalagnyashcha apraythnena mokshamargam niyachchathi!"-(Yagnyavalkya Maharishi-Liberation or salvation can be easily attained by the practitioner who can play the veena effortlessly and perfectly in the aspects of shruthi,laya and manodharma!).
"Darshana Sparshanechasya Bhoga Swargaapavargade
Puneetho Viprahathyadi paathakaiah pathithamjanam!"(Sarangadeva says that the mere sight or touch of veena cleanses even a sinner who has slayed a brahmin!).
When musical notes are sung or played,they interact with the seven chakras of the body and not only that,they even represent Saptha Mathrikas, Brahmi, Maheswari, Kowmari, Vaishnavi, Varahi, Indrani and Chamundi.The sapthaswaras originate from the Sahasrara chakra and from there, they travel to their assigned positions to remain there.
The manner in which the Sapthaswaras (in descending order) travel from Sahasrara to their designated positions is illustrated below:-
Since Sahasrara is allotted the supreme position of containing all the Sapthaswaras,the order starts from Nishadam to Rishabham in the descending order,as a result the Saptha Mathrikas are mentioned from the last to the first in their order:-
1.Nishadam (ni) is represented by Chamundi Shakthi and correlates with the Muladhara Chakra.When the note "nishadam" is touched by the practitioner,the sound starts from Sahasrara and travels all the way below the spine to the Muladhara chakra and remains there.It has no upward motion.
2.Dhaivatham (dha) is represented by Indrani Shakthi and is related to the Swadhishtana Chakram.When the note "dhaivatham" is touched by the practitioner, the sound starting from Sahasrara ,travels all the way down to the Muladhara chakra and raises upwards to reach the Swadhishtana at the genital region and stationed there.
3.Panchamam (pa) is represented by Varahi Shakthi and is related to the Manipooraka Chakra.When the note "panchamam" is either sung or played on an instrument by the practitioner,the sound starting from Sahasrara Chakra travels all the way down to the Muladhara Chakra and raises to reach the Manipooraka Chakra at the solar plexus or navel region to be stationed there.
4.Madhyamam (ma) is represented by Vaishnavi Shakthi and related to the Anahatha Chakra.When the note "madhyamam" is touched by the practitioner,the sound that arises from the Sahasrara travels all the way down to the Muladhara Chakra,raises up from there to go to the Anahatha Chakra at the cardiac plexus or the heart region to stay there.
5.Gandharam (ga) is represented by Kowmari Shakthi and is related to the Vishudhi Chakra. When the note "gandharam" is touched by the practitoner, the sound travels from the Sahasrara Chakra way down to the Muladhara Chakra and raises upto reach the Vishudhi Chakra, at the carotid plexus at the throat region and stays there itself.
6.Rishabham (ri) is represented by Maheswari Shakthi and is related to the Agna Chakra.When the note "rishabham" is touched by the practitioner, the sound travels from the Sahasrara all the way down to the Muladhara Chakra and raises upto the Agna Chakra which is at the medula plexus between the eyebrows and stays there.
7.Sadjyamam (sa) is represented by Brahmi Shakthi and is related to the Sahasrara Chakra , where all the swaras originate as well as dissolve themselves.
The movement of 'prana' in the human body and the flow of sound, 'naada' in the veena is similarly patterned. According to Maithraayanniya Upanishad the prana circulates in the human body on a single day and night for 21,600 breaths. According to our ancestors, the sun revolves around the Mahameru 21,600 times in a single day. A day in the life of a man is known as one revolution of the earth and one breath of sun. 21,600 days constitute 60 years in a man's life time which is known as 'parivruthi'. Two 'parivruthis' constitute a 'kalachakram'. This is also known as 'Purusha Ayush' consisting of 120 years in astrology. This constitutes two days in the life of sun.
A drop of blood as it circulates within a human body takes along with it one breath of the human being. This drop of blood along with one breath takes nearly 7 minutes to circulate within the human body. Similarly, when the veena string is plucked once, the nada wave emanating from it takes nearly 7 minutes to travel back and forth between the bridge of the veena to the beginning fret of the veena.
Lord Shiva was known as 'Veena Gana Priya'. In Thiruvilayadal Puranam Lord Shiva takes the form of wood cutter and plays 'yazh' for the sake of his disciple 'Panipathiran'. Lord Shiva stated that yazh or veena is an instrument bubbling with life because kuril, nedil ­'consonants' and' gamakam' can be played in it without interruption.
A man who recites Gayathri 100 times is absolutely elevated. He reduces 21,600 breaths to 108 breaths per day through pranayama. Hence he enhances one year of life span to 200 years of life span. The veena yogi, by meditating on the tharasthaayi shadjamam within the lotus of his heart is able to reduce the 21,600 breaths to 2,160 breaths. He reduces the same to 1,080 breaths by meditating on madhyasthayi shadjamam and to 540 breaths by meditating on the Aadhara Shadjamam. Therefore the yogic power of the three sthaayis contribute towards the strengthening of the longevity of man to make good use of life towards realising God.' (Incidentally the 'Hrudayakamalam' , the lotus of the heart) has 12 petals bearing
Bijakharas 'ka', 'kha', 'ga', 'gha', 'nga', 'cha', 'chcha', 'ja', 'jha', 'gnya', 'ta', 'tha'.
The first, eighth and eleventh petals 'ka' 'ja' and 'ta' are bheejaaksharas to be meditated upon to unravel the secrets and mysteries of all fine arts towards cosmic truth. Muthuswami Dikshitar's has composed the krithi 'Kanja thalaayadaakshi' in Kamalamanohari with these bijaksharas being emphasised in the beginning of the krithi itself. It is also interesting to note that Saint Thyagaraja composed' Sobhillu Sapthaswara' with the seven aksharas of the Tharaka Mantram 'Sri Rama Rama Rama' (Sri Ra Ma Ra Ma Ra Ma) in mind and not 'Sa ri ga ma pa da ni' as misunderstood by many. Saint Thyagaraja, overjoyed by the vision of Lord Rama sang in praise of the Tharaka Mantram which granted him the vision.
p.s:The comment posted by Music Lover,raising the doubt about why Sri Thyagaraja has composed "Sobhillu Sapthaswara" in a janya raga instead of a sampoorna raga is a very relevant and valid one,something that never struck me.It throws light on the fact that the saint composer was referring to the Tharaka Manthram by not composing "Sapthaswara" in a sampoorna raga!


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Narayani Stuti/Raga Narayani

Narayani Stuti is the 11th chapter of Sri Devi Mahatmyam. Devi Mahatmyam is also called the Durga Saptha shloki or The Chandi Paath.It is a part of the Markandeya Mahapurana. This purana is related by Markandeya Maharishi to Jaimini Maharishi, relating the history of the various manvantharas and it is during the story of the eighth Manu called Savarni that the chapters of the Chandi Paath occur.
In the 11the chapter of the Devi Mahatmyam,which recognised as Narayani Stuti,the Devas sing a stuti praising the deeds and attributes of Devi. She promises them that whenever evil arises in the world, She will take an avatar and defeat it.
This chanting of Narayani Stuti mitigates the evil of Rahu in one's horoscope.Rahu ,as I have observed plays a crucial role in veena playing,the placement of Rahu,its strength,etc.have always played a vital and very important role regarding veena.Pleasing Rahu and its prime deity Goddess Durga ,bestows upon the native abundant talent and physical prowess and finesse in veena technique.Rendering the raga Narayani also enhances veena-playing abilities as well as mitigating the evils of a mispalced Rahu or enhance an already well-placed Rahu in the native's horoscope.Raga Narayani has the famous krithi of Sri Thyagaraja,"Bhajana Seyu Maragamunu".Sri Muthuswami Dikshithar through the sahithya of his krithi, "Mahishaasura Mardhineem Namaami", set to misra chaapu thalam in Narayani has conveyed the spirit and life of the raga.
The recitation of Sri Narayani Stuti atleast once everyday,results in miraculous improvement and progress in veena by way of manodharma and stunning fluidity in handling veena. This sloka is the most powerful for veena practitioners,they will find almost instant results by chanting it.This also has the capacity to ward off enemies and clear the path towards success.
SRI NARAYANI STUTI:-
Om Rushiruvaacha-Devyaa Hathe ThathraMahaa Surendre sendrah suraavahnipurogamaasthaam!
Kaathyaayineem thushtuvurishtalaabhaad Vikashivakthraabjavikaashithaashaaha!!
Devi Prapannaarthihare praseeda praseeda Matharjagathokhilasya!
Praseeda Visweshvari Paahi vishwam thvameeswari Devi charaacharasya!!
Adhaara bhoothaa jagathasthwameka Maheeswaroopena yathah sthithaasi!
Apaam swaroopa sthithayaa thwayaitha daapyaayathe kruthsnamalanghyaveerye!!
Thwam Vaishnaveeshakthirananthaveeryaa Vishwasya beejam parmaasimaayaa!
Sammohitham Devi Samasthamethath thwam vai prasanna bhuvi mukthi hethuhu!!
Vidyaaha samasthaasthava Devi bhedaaha sthriyah samasthaaha sakalaa jagathsu!
Thwayaikayaa poorithamambayaithath kaa the sthuthihi sthavyaparaaparokthihi!!
Sarva bhootha yadaa Devibhukthimukthipradaayinee!
Thwam sthuthaa sthuthayekaa vaa bhavanthuparamokthayaha!!
Sarvasya budhdhi roopena janasya hrudi samsthithe!
Swargaapavargade Devi Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Kalaa Kaashtaadiroopena parinaama pradaayinee!
Vishwasyoparathou shakthe Naraayani Namosthuthe!!
Sarvamangala Maangalye Shive sarvaartha saadhike!
Sharanye Thrayambake Gowri Naaraayani Namaosthuthe!!
Srushtisthithivinaashaanaam Shakthibhoothe sanaathani!
Gunaashraye gunamaye Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Sharanaagatha deenartha parithraana paraayane!Sarvasyaarthihare Devi Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Hamsayukthavimanasthe Brahmaanee Roopadhaarinee!
Kowshaamba ksharike Devi Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Thrishoolachandraahidhare Mahaavrushabhavaahinee!
Maaheshwariswaroopena Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Mayoorakukkutavruthe Mahaashakthidharenaghe!
Kowmaareeroopasamsthaane Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Shankhachakragadhaashaarngagruheethaparamaayudhe!
Praseeda Vaishnaveeroope Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Gruheethogramahaachakre Damshtrodhdhruthavasundhare!
Vaaraaharoopini Shive Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Nrusimharoopenogrena hanthum daithyaan kruthadyame!
Thrailokyathraanasahithe Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Kireetini Mahaavajre Sahasra Nayanojhvale!
Vruthra Praanahare Chaindree Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Shivadootheeswaroopena Hathadaithyamahaabale!
Ghoraroope Mahaaraave Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Damshtraakaraalavadane Shiromaalaavibhooshane!
Chamunde Mundamadane Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Lakshmi Lajje MahaavidyeShraddhe Pushti Swadhe Dhruve!
Mahaaraathri Mahaamaaye Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Medhe Saraswathi Vare Bhoothi Bhaabhravi Thamasi!
Niyathe Thwam Praseedeshe Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Sarvaswaroope Sarveshe Sarvashakthisamanvithe!
Bhayebhyasthraahino Devi Durge Devi Namosthuthe!!
Ethaththevadanam Sowmyam Lochanathrayabhooshitham!
Paathunaha Sarvabhoothebhyaha Kaathyaayani Namosthuthe!!
Jwaalaakaraalamathyugramaseshaasurasoodanam!
Thrishoolam Paathu No Bheetherbhadrakaali Namosthuthe!!
Hinasthi Daithyathejaamsiswanenaa poorya Yaa Jagath!
Saa Ghantaa Paathu No Devi Papebhyo Naha Suthaaniva!!
Asuraasrugvasaapankacharchithasthe karojhwalaha!
Shubhaaya Khadgo Bhavathu Chandike Thwam Nathaa Vayam!!
Rogaanaseshaanapahamsi Thushtaa
Rushtaa Thu Kaamaan Sakalaanabheeshtaan!
Thwaamaashrithaanaam Na Vipannaraanaam
Thwaamaashrithaa Hyaashrayathaam Prayaanthi!!
Ethathkrutham Yathkadanam Thvayaadya
Dharmadwishaam Devi Mahaasuraanaam!
Roopairanekairbahudhaathmamoorthim
Krithvaambike Thathprakarothi Kaanyaa!!
Vidyaasu Shasthreshu Vivekadeepe
Shvaadyeshu Vaakyeshu Cha Ka Thvadanyaa!
Mamathvagarthethimahaandhakaare
Vibhraamayathyethadatheeva Vishwam!!
Rakthaamsi Yathrogravishaascha Naagaa
Yathraarayo Dasyubalaani Yathra!
Daavaanalo Yathra Thadhaabdhimadhye
Thathra Sthithaa thwam Paripaasi Vishwam!
Vishveshavandyaa Bhavathee Bhavanthi
Vishwashrayaa ye Thwayi Bhakthinamraaha!!
Devi Praseeda Paripaalaya Noribheethe-
-Rnithyam Yathaasuravathaadadhunaiva Sadyaha!!
Paapaani Sarvajagathaam Prashamam Nayaashu
Uthpaathapaakajanithaamscha Mahopasargaan!!
Pranathaanaam Praseedathvam Devi Vishwarthihaarini!
Thrailokyavaasinaameedye Lokaanaam Varadaa Bhava!!
Devyuvaacha:-Varadaaham Suraganaa Varam Yanmanasechchatha!
Tham Vrunudhwam Prayachchaami Jagathaamupakaarakam!!
Devaa Oochuhu:-Vaisvatharenthare Praapthe Ashtaavimshathime Yuge!
Shumbho Nishumbhaschaivaanyaavuthpathsyethe Mahaasurou!!
Nandagopagruhe Jathaa Yashodaagarbhasambhavaa!
Thasthou Naashayishyaami Vindhyaachalanivaasinee!!
Punarapyathirowdrena Roopena Pruthiveethale!
Avatheerya Hanishyaami Vaiprachiththamcha Daanavaan!!
Bhakthayanthaashchya Thaanugraan Vaiprachiththaan Mahaasuraan!
Rakthaa Danthaa Bhavishyanthi Daadimeekusumopamaan!!
Thatho Maam Devathaaha Swarge Marthyaloke Cha Maanavaaha!
Sthuvantho VyaaharishyanthiSathatham Rakthadanthikaam!!
Bhooyashcha Shathavaarshikyaamanaavrushtyaamanambhasi!
Munibhihi Samsthuthaa Bhoomou Sambhavishyaamayonijaa!!
Thathaha Shathena Nethraanaam Nireekshishyaamyaham muneen!
Keerthayishyanthi Manujaaha Shathaaksheemithi Maam Thathaha!!
Thathohamakhilam Lokamaathmadehasamudbhavaihi!
Bharishyaami Suraaha Shaakairaavrushtehe Praanadhaarakaihi!!
Shaankabhareethi Vikhyaathim Tada Yaasyaamyaham Bhuvi!
Thathraiva Cha Vadhishyaami Durgamaakhyam Mahaasuram!!
Durgaadeveethi Vikhyaatham Thanme Naama Bhavishyathi!
Punashchaaham Yadaa BheemamRoopam Kruthva Himaachale!!
Rakshaamsi Bhakshayishyaami Muneenaam Thraanakaaranaath!
Tadaa Maam Munayaha Sarve Sthoshyanthyaanamramoorthayaha!!
Bheemaadeveethi Vikhyaatham Thanme Naama Bhavishyathi!
Yadaarunaakhyasthrailokye Mahaabaadhaam Karishyathi!!
Thadaaham Bhraamaram Roopam Kruthvaasankhyeyashatpadam!
Thrailokyasya Hithaardhaaya Vadhishyaami Mahaasuram!!
Bhraamareethi Cha Maam Lokasthadaa Sthoshyanthi Sarvathaha!
Ithdham Yadaa Yadaa Baadhaa Daanavotdhaa Bhavishyathi!!
Thadaa Thadaavatheeryaaham Karishyaamarisankshayam!!
"SwasthiShreemarkandeyapuraane Saavarnike Manvanthare Devi Maahaatmye
Naaraayaneesthuthirnaamaikaadashodhyaayaha"
I have given the text in english,with accurate pronunciations,for further clarification kindly go to the link
http://sanskrit.safire.com/Sanskrit.html#Saptashati for the 11th chapter in Devi Mahatmyam.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Eclipse/Veena

The total solar eclipse will be visible in India between 5.28a.m. and 7.40 a.m on the 22nd of July,2009.This eclipse will occur in the constellation of Pushyami in Karkataka Rasi,Cancer Sign. The eclipse will be visible throughout India.The forth coming solar eclipse will have the longest duration of totality.A total eclipse takes place when the sun is completely obscured by moon.
Mythological references to eclipse are found in Srimad Bhagavatham and Mahabharatham and epics related to Maha Vishnu.In Hindu mythology it is believed that eclipses are caused by Rahu and Kethu.
In astronomy Rahu is considered the dragon's head and is also known as the north node of moon,the point where the Moon's orbit crosses the ecliptic.Kethu is known as the dragon's tail,which gives birth to comets and meteors and is known as the descending or the south node of the Moon.When Sun, Moon, Rahu and Kethu fall in the same zodiacal longitude,a solar eclipse takes place.
The entire period of eclipse is called as "parvakala" and highly charged.Therefore, during this period performing prayers, recitation of upadesha mantras, pithru tharpanam and charity are considered to be very sacred.Even chanting of veda mantras and slokas are highly recommended.It is believed that every action performed during the period of eclipse yields multifold results and that is exactly the reason why it is imperative to maintain one's purity and discipline during eclipse.The charity of Rs.100 during eclipse yields results of innumerable 100s,likewise,a sloka that is chanted one time during eclipse has the power of 1000 rectitations of the same. The Universe is contained within our system and therefore, during eclipse we are charged along with the atmosphere surrounding us.
Our scriptures shun acts of answering nature's call, sleeping, sexual act, eating and drinking during eclipse.It is also important to avoid any injuries to the body during eclipse in order to maintain purity and to avoid the negative results through certain actions.
For veena players, the best would be to practice veena all through the eclipse period.The practitioner would gain million times more than what he would gain out of practising during a normal course of time. During solar eclipse,the practitioner could play 'Surya Moorthe' in Sowrashtram , 'Chandram Bhaja Manasa' in Asaveri, 'Smaraamyaham sadaa Rahum' in Ramapriya, 'Mahaa suram' in Shanmukhapriya (if the practitioner does not know the krithis, compostions on Durga for Rahu and Moon and Vighneswara for Kethu could be rendered) and krithis on all deities with utmost devotion.It is important to tune the instrument perfectly,so that off-key tones are not charged.It is also essential to play on a veena ,whose melam is perfectly set,to avoid apaswarams,that could yield multi-fold bad results.
Playing veena during eclipse (solar or lunar) gives exceptional power to the player.Practising during that period is equal to penance on veena.In the forthcoming total solar eclipse,natives belonging to Pushyami, Anuradha, Utharabhadrapada, Punarvasu and Aslesha should perform remedial measures by performing suitable pariharams.
My DVD in which I had rendered Sri Venkateswara Suprabhatham, Sri Vishnu Sahasranamam and Bhaja Govindam was recorded during total solar eclipse in the year 2002.This was the year when Smt.M.S.Subbulakshmi was ailing , the producer of the album, Mr.Rajesh Dhupad, C.E.O. of Symphony Recording Company had arranged for the album to be released by Smt.M.S.Amma herself by her bedside in her residence in Kotturpuram.Smt.M.S.Amma had blessed me with the title,"Sangeetha Kala Saraswathi" during the occasion.The others present were my husband, Sri.E.V.Ramakrishna and Sri Atma.

Smt.D.K.Pattammal

Mr.Kannan had posted a comment informing me of the shocking demise of Smt.D.K.pattammal at the age of 90 in Chennai.She was a legendary vocalist whose sattvic bhava of carnatic music exalted the status of the carnatic field to tremendous heights.Every artiste is indebted to her and they have gained from her contribution to the field.The wealth and richness of her knowledge was packaged in devotion and presented with dedication.She had left a profound impression in the heart of every artiste and listener.
My father,film music director,late Sri.G.Aswathama's first ever playback singer was none other than Smt.D.K.Pattammal herself!My father always used to tell me how honoured he had felt to have the great vidushi sing his composition in a tamil film and many more after that.
When I was 10 years old,Smt.D.K.Pattammal had presided over my 25th silver jubilee concert as Baby Gayathri in Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha ,Triplicane, Chennai.On that occasion she had presented me a silver veena.
I had given my maiden performance in The Music Academy as Baby Gayathri during the year in which she was awarded the prestigious Sangitha Kalanidhi.

In 2002,I had listened to her rendition of Panchaashat Peetharupini in Karnataka Devagandhari.Her stress on the rishabham in the anupallavi,"Padmanabha Sahodari" simply took my breath away as I could visualise the Goddess.Like somebody obsessed I kept rewinding the tape to listen to that particular pause to recapture the bliss everytime!The song is available in the link:-
I was so overcome with emotion,I rang her up and went to see her immediately.I shared my experience and feelings with her.She listened to me with a smile ,like one would listen to a story narrated by a child!She then went on to sing my father's songs which she had sung in his music direction,she also told me,"Do you know Nithya sings these songs in her concerts?"
In the same year it so happened that Smt.Nithyashree Mahadevan and I met in Berlin where we had performed for a music festival and she sang my father's song for me in the auditorium canteen inbetween sound check.
Smt.D.K.Pattammal's Shyamala Dandakam,Ranganayakam in Nayaki are my favourites.Her "Eppadi Padinaro" and the neraval at "Karunai Kadal" is another moving experience,I am never tired of listening to the same!Her spiritually uplifting performances have given rise to "Brahmanandam"(sublime bliss) in innumerable music lovers like me.Her noble service through sublime music has transported her to the abode of God, where her soul must be resting!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Nine chakras /Srichakram /Navaavarnam

Bhavanopanishad states that our body is correlated to the Sri Chakram:-
Description of the nine chakras in our body and their function in the Sri Chakra representing Sri Lalitha Maha Tripurasundari :­-
1. TRILOKYA MOHANA CHAKRAM (Sri Chakra - Adharam) (Muthuswami Dikshithar's 1st navavarna krithi-Kamalamba Samrakshathu in Ananda Bhairavi,Misra Chapu thalam.)
MOOLADHARA CHAKRAM (Foundation)
Location: the base of the spine; the first three vertebrae.
Tattva (element) : Earth;Predominant sense: Smell ;
Ruling Planet:-Mars( Solar,Masculine).
Effects of activating Mooladhara Chakra:- This Chakra represents the manifestation of the individual consciousness into human form, that is physical birth. Meditation on this chakra induces the beginnings of awareness, freedom from disease, lightness, inspiration, vitality, vigor, stamina, security, and understanding of inner purity and softness in the voice and in the inner melody.
2. SARVAASHAAPARIPOORAKA CHAKRAM (2nd krithi,Kamalamabam Bhajare in Kalyani,Adi thalam)
SWADHISHTANA CHAKRAM (Dwelling - PlaceOf the Self).
[Sixteen-petalled lotus)
Location: Genitals ;
Tattva(Element)):Water ;Predominant sense: Taste;
Ruling Planet: Mercury,(Lunar,Feminine) .
Effects of activating Swadhishtana Chakra: Centering on this chakra enables the mind to reflect the work as the moon reflects the sun. One requires the ability to use creative and sustaining energy to elevate himself to refined arts and pure relationships with others, having become free of lust, anger, greed, unsettledness and jealousy. When Lord Vishnu is visualised, a feeling of peacefulness ensues, as still as a lake. Elevation from first to the second chakra brings a lunar awareness, reflecting the divine grace of creation and preservation. Vishnu sees all the worlds and preserves the creation of Lord Brahma, he is beneficent with a countenance of the purest nature.
3. SARVASANKSHOBHANA CHAKRAM (3rd krithi;Sri Kamalaambikaya Kataakshithoham in Sankarabharanam,Rupakam,2 kalai)
MANIPOORAKA CHAKRAM (The city of gems) (Eight-petalled lotus);
Location-Solar Plexus; Navel ;Tattva (Element) : - -Fire; Predominant sense-Sight; Ruling Planet-Sun (Solar, Masculine).
Effects of activating Manipooraka Chakram: Meditation on this chakra will bring an understanding of physiology, the internal functioning of the body, and the role of ductless glands as related to human emotions. Concentration on the navel, the centre of gravity in the body, brings an end to indigestion, constipation and all problems of the intestinal region. A long and healthy life is achieved. Egotism is lost, and one achieves the power to create and destroy the world.
4. SARVA SOWBHAGYADAYAKA CHAKRAM (4th krithi,Kamalaambikaayai ,Kambodhi,Kanda Jathi Ata thalam)
ANAHATA CHAKRAM (Unstricken) [Fourteen triangles};Location-Cardiac Plexus; The Heart;Tattva (Element): Air (formless,without smell or taste) Predominant sense: Touch;Ruling Planet -Venus(Lunar, feminine).
Effects of meditation on Anahata Chakra: By evolving through the fourth Chakra, one masters language, poetry and all verbal endeavours, as well as his indriyas, or desires and physical functions. The person becomes master of his own self: gaining wisdom and inner strength. Male and female energy becomes balanced, and the resolution of the two energies interacting outside the body ceases to be a problem as all relationships become pure. The senses are controlled, and the person flows freely without hindrance from any external barrier. One centered in the fourth chakra has evolved beyond circumstantial and environmental limitations, to become independent and self­emanating. His life becomes a source of inspiration for others as they find peace and calm in his presence. Divine vision evolves with pure sound in Anahata Chakra, bringing a balance of action and joy. One gain powers over vayu the air element. And because air is formless, the fourth-chakra person can become invisible, travel through space; and enter into the bodies of other persons.
5. SARVARTHASADHAKA CHAKRAM (5th krithi SriKamalaambikaayaah Param Nahire in Bhairavi in Misra Jathi Jampa thalam ,2 kalai)
VISUDHA CHAKRAM (Pure);Location-Carotid Plexus;Throat;
Tattva (Element) : Akasha,soundPredominant sense:-hearing ;Ruling Planet-Jupiter.
Effects of meditation on Visudha Chakra: Meditation on the hollow space in the throat area gives calmness, serenity, purity, a melodious voice, command of speech and of mantras; and the ability to compose poetry; to interpret scriptures, and to understand the hidden message in dreams. It also makes on youthful, radiant (Ojas) and a good teacher of spiritual sciences (brahma­vidya).
6. SARVAAKARSHANA CHAKRAM (6th krithi,Kamalaambikaayaasthava Bhakthoham in Punnagavarali, Thisra Eka thalam,2 kalai)
AGNA CHAKRAM (Authority, Power, Unlimited Power and Command)
Location-Medula Plexus, point between the eyebrows. Tattva (Element) : Maha Tattva, in which all other tattvas are present in their ratified pure essence (tanmatra). According to Samkhya philosophy, Mahat or Mahatattva, consists of the three gunas and includes manas.
Ruling Planet-Saturn (Solar, Male) Predominant sense-sight.
Effects of mediations on Agna Chakra: One who meditates on this chakra eradicates all his sins or impurities and enters the seventh door, beyond agna chakra. This person's aura manifests in such a way as to allow all who come in to his presence to become calm. He is now tattvatita ­beyond the tattvas. All desires are basically the play of tattva and thus when one stablises himself in the place between the eyebrows he goes beyond all the kinds of desires that motivate life and impel one to move in many directions. One now becomes one-pointed; he becomes trikaladarsh, knower of past, present and future. Ida and Pingala are time-bound; upto the fifth chakra the yogi also is time-bound, but as Ida and Pingala end here, the yogi moves into Sushumna, which is kalatita, beyond time. The danger of backsliding ends; there is no spiritual reversal, for as long as he is in his physical body, he is in a constant state of non-dual consciousness. He can enter another body at will. He is able to comprehend the inner meaning of cosmic knowledge and is able to generate scriptures. The person evolved through Agna Chakra reveals the divine within and reflects divinity within others.
7. SARVAROGAHARA CHAKRAM (7th krithi,Sri Kamalambikaayaam Bhakthim Karomi in Sahana,Thisra Thriputa 2 kalai)
SOMA CHAKRAM (MINOR CHAKRA). -(Eight triangles)Location in alignment with the middle of the forehead and is the seat of Soma (the Moon), Amrita (nectar) and Kamadhenu.
Effects of Meditation on Soma Chakra:One who meditates on this Chakra and stops the downward flow of this amrita, or nector - by performing khechari mudra (khe, the ether, Chari, moving) - becomes immortal in this physical body. He is able to stop the process of aging and thus he remains very young and full of vitality and stamina. He obtains victory over disease, decay and death.
8. SARVASIDHDHIPRADA CHAKRAM (8th krithi,Shri Kamalaambike Avaava in Ghanta,Adi thalam,2 kalai)
KAMESWARA CHAKRAM (MINOR CHAKRA) Location:between soma and sahasrara chakram (a little above the forehead).
Effects of Meditation on Kameswara Chakram: He enjoys eternal bliss through the union of Shiva and Shakthi - the ultimate goal of kundalini Yoga. Khechari Mudra establishes 'Urdhvareta', enhancing the upward flow of energy, or the ability to draw the essence of the seminal fluid upward through the Sushumna Nadi. With this the Yogi is able to stay in Gagana Mandala or Shunya Mandala 'the void' that is the hollow space between the twin hemispheres, which is known as the tenth gate of the body. It is located within Sahasrara, the seventh chakra (excluding the two minor chakras)
9. (BINDU:THE POINT IN THE CENTRE) (9th krithi,Shri Kamalamba Jayathi,Ahiri,Adi 2 kalai)
SARVAANANDAMAYA CHAKRAM :-SAHASRARA CHAKRAM;Location:Top of the cranium; Cerebral Plexus.
Effects of Meditation on Sahasrara Chakram: Immortality is achieved within Sahasrara Chakram. After Kameswara Chakra, where the Siva­Shakthi union occurs, when the Kundalini is raised upto Sahasrara Chakra, the illusion of 'individual self 'is dissolved. The yogi becomes realized, one with the cosmic principles that govern the entire universe within the body. He obtains all Siddhis (powers) upto Soma Chakra, where he encounters kamadhenu, the wish-fulfilling cow within himself. He is a siddha, but has transcended the desire to manifest those wishes. According to the shastras, Sahasrara is the seat of the self-Iumniscent soul, or chitta, the essence of being. Here, Chitta is like a screen upon which the reflection of the cosmic self is seen, and through it the divine is reflected. In the presence of the cosmic self it is possible for anyone to feel the divine and indeed to realize the divinity within himself.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Omkara

In ancient mythology whenever a God wants to give life to Himself or to another God,to manifest Heaven and Earth,or Man,He emits a sound.The creative Gods will create everything through Sound,"OM".It is the song of creation!
OMKARA UPASANA:-Sri Krishna Himself claims to be Omkara in the seventh chapter of the Bhagavad Gita.Omkara is auspicious whether a person utters it knowingly or unknowingly.The words "OM ATHA" came out of Lord Brahma's throat in the beginning of creation.When Omkara is repeated alone,the mind develops "vairagya"(detachment).The seekers and hermits in the stage of "vanaprasthaashrama" and sannyaasa make use of Omkara for getting completely detached.
Omkara represents all the letters of the alphabets and therefore all the objects of creation.Thus Omkara is the ideal locus (Alambana) for contemplating the Higher principle of Totality (VIRAT) which is the object of the Upasana (Upasya).The great cosmic sound of the Omkara resonates and vibrates above the head like thunder in the sky (Meghanaada).
KATHOPANISHAD:-Omkara is the best locus for contemplating on the All-Pervasive.Having known and contemplating on this Omkara,man can attain Brahmaloka.

THREE LEVELS OF EXISTENCE:-1)A-gross level of manifestation, 2)U-subtle level just before manifestation, 3)M-casual level,unmanifest, 4) . )-('m' matra as in sanskrit)-Supra casual.

MUNDAKA UPANISHAD-Omkara is the bow,individual self is the arrow,Brahman is the target.The target must be hit by an undistracted seeker and should become one with it as the arrow does.This is a metaphor.Brahman is not really separated from us.The target is knowledge of Brahman.Omkara will give us that knowledge.

AUM could be interpreted as follows:-

A-first letter,with the mouth open

M-third letter with mouth close

U-is seen as intermediate

The OM (AUM) represents all the alphabets,all the words and all the objects of the Universe.What is beyond Omkara is Silence.Silence is the Parabrahman and Omkara is the Shabdha Brahman.Silence-awareness is the illuminator and the content of Omkara.Brahman is both beyond Omkara, the sustaining content of Omkara and the witness of Omkara.

TATTRIYA UPANISHAD 1-16.Omkara worship along with Omkara Upasana (contemplation) is considered to be one of the superior upasanas of the Vedas.

THE HUM OF THE DRAGON (THE CHINESE TAOISTS):-The Om sound is a high-pitched electrical vibration that can be heard-maybe on a quiet morning.There are ten different manifestations of this sound.Chinese taoists recognise two of these.One they call "the hum of the dragon";the other ,"the growl of the tiger".

SWAMI CHETANANANDA from"BREATH OF GOD":-The Om sound is the fundamental vibration of life itself.There is no work to be done with it except,when you here it ,to be aware of it.

SRI ANANDAMAYEE MAA:-(1896-1982),also called Anandamoyi Maa,was a Hindu spiritual teacher and Guru from Bengal and hailed as a spiritual mystic of the 20th century.She would go into a trance and sing many hymns.One of the hymns sung by Her while in a mystical trance:-

Thou hast come out of "PRANAVA"(OM),the seed-word,the base of all existence and the truth of all.....Thou dost symbolize the Heavenly Couple,Kaama and Kaameswari who are dissolved together in all-permeating Bliss Supreme and signified by Nada and Bindu.

This sacred hymn of Anadamayee maa superbly unfolds the mystery of the first creation out of Pranava-The Omkara.Mother said on one occasion:The one eternal word is the prime cause of the Universe:with the evolution of the ever-abiding word,the progress of the material life of creation goes on in parallel lines.These eternal Truths that came out of Her conciousness during samadhi ,have been echoed in Maitreyi Upanishad:-Om was splendour and fire at first.By this syllable Om,the splendour germinates,it shoots upwards,it expands,and becomes the vehicle of Divine worship:the splendour germinates in the form of the mystic syllable Om,as a seed germinates,i.e.,it is manifested in the primeval form of the Veda(the creative song),it shoots as the internal sound Om.

Omkara and Nabhi in LALLA:-Lalla was a great saint and mystic from the Kashmir province of India.She lived in the 14th century.She went through many heart aches in Her marital life and renounced life to come under the spiritual tutelage of Sidh Srikanth.Lalla excelled in spiritual practices and is said to have reached the lofty height of spiritual realization, which is the abode of nectar.

Her love for Shiva could be compared to the Meerabai's love for Krishna.Her poems or "vakyas",formed an important part of kashmiri language and culture and are still very much revered even today.

She said about Omkara:-(LALLA-VAKYANI)-The pranava -Om,is endowed with all virtues contained in all the mantras taken as a whole.She said-"With the help of pranava,I absorb myself in union with the Atman-Light,and so expelled the fear of death."

Lalla advocates a form of concentration on the navel-centre,the nabhi,with the help of Om associated with the rising of kundalini.During sahaja-kumbhaka one becomes absorbed in Shiva.In the Thyagaraja krithi,Mokshamu galada Omkara is mentionedin the charanam:-"Praanaanla samyogamu valla pranava naadamu sapthaswaramulai baraga"-Pranava or Omkara is generated from the combination of Prana or vital force and Anala or the fire.It is from pranava ,the seven notes of the Divine music emerge.

In the continuing lyrics :-" Veena vaadana loludau Siva mano vidhamerugaru,Thyaagaraaja vinutha"-veenas state is exalted by the implication that salvation is not obtainable to those who are not able to perceive the mind of Shiva whose conciousness is tuned to the divine resonance of the veena!

In the krithi "Raga sudharasa" in Andolika ragam,Sri Thyagaraja says in the charanam:"Sadaa Shivamayamagu Nadomkara swara vidhulu jeevanmukthulani Thyagaraaju theliyu"-As known to Thyagaraja,the jeevan mukthas are those who enjoy the melody that is the glorious form of Sadashiva,which is the sound of the tuneful Omkara!




Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Defining Moment!

I was on my road to recovery from a very long bout of fever.I must have been 10 or 11 years old, then. I distinctly remember my parents whispering to each other,"we will ask her and see if she can perform","if she is unable to ,how to tell them or let go of such an oppurtunity?", -"what a blessing if she can play in His presence!" etc. They found me awake and asked me whether I felt upto performing.I think I would have said yes,because I remember my mother immediately packing a suitcase and changing the strings on my veena,my father making arrangements for a private taxi and in no time we were heading somewhere.On my way I learnt that we were going to Kanchipuram.

To avoid breeze from outside blowing on my face in order to prevent a relapse of my fever,my parents made me sit inbetween them and I remember throwing a mini tantrum for not letting me have my favourite left corner of the backseat.

I very clearly remember my stomach growling for food and after many days of eating horrid idlis (till date I cannot stand them),I started feeling hungry .All through the ride,I kept fantasizing about eating my favourite potato fry,mysore pak,ladies finger fry etc.I must have drifted off to sleep,because the next thing I remember,I was standing in a sleepy state in the midst of rows of people in the middle of their lunch.Tantalizing aromas of sambar,rasam,koottu and curry wafted through the air to reawaken my longing for food.Weak and tired after the travel,I was positively famished.

When we were seated in one of the rows,my mother told the brahmin who was serving,"just get her idlis,she is not well".I was indignant that they were going to put me through idlis once again and threw another tantrum only to be reprimanded,"you don't want to fall sick again,do you?Don't you want to get well soon?"I started crying and some people nearby said"let her have rasam rice,it will not harm her".Even rasam sounded like heaven to me after the onslaught of idlis. I readily agreed. I begged and pleaded for an appalam,and was refused one because they were fried in oil which I was supposed to avoid.That brought fresh tears into my eyes again and noticing my plight one of the brahmins who was serving gave me an appalam,telling my parents'"nothing will happen to her,Periyava will take care of her."Half way through the appalam,I discarded it as I could not stomach anymore of it or the rasam rice.My parents were right as always, I was still having temperature!(After all these years,if I can still remember this scenario,I wonder how hungry I really must have been for that "appalam" to stay on in my memory!!!")Inbetween the meal as usual I was aware of people giving me inquisitive looks and whispering among themselves"she is Baby Gayathri".I always used to think that one of my two plaits had become loose or the ribbons had come off whenever people stared at me!It never ever occurred to me that they stared because I played the veena at a young age!

I don't remember what time we finished eating or even if it was on the same day, but the next thing I recall was the pooja of Sri Chandramouleeswarar performed by Pujyasri Maha Periyava at the Kanchi Mutt sometime around noon.

The crowd was overwhelming in the large hall.I sat inbetween the crowd and Maha periyava,who was conducting the pooja.As I played I noticed that Maha Periyava was totally immersed in His pooja and people were watching the pooja in hushed silence.I could sense a feeling of reverence and awe around me.To my childish eyes Maha Periyava appeared to be serious and strict.He would gaze in my direction now and then,without giving out any emotion.His eyes wore a blank look and I thought to myself that He was a serious person indeed!I felt a little scared of Him as I realised that everybody around me was equally overawed by His presence,including my father!There were no claps after every song as usual and I found it strange.I don't remember how long I played ,but after the concert we all prostrated to Maha Periyava and He raised His hands and blessed us saying nothing.We were later on informed that Maha Periyava was in "mounam" and would not talk for the day.

As we were preparing to leave,we were asked to wait for sometime.In a few minutes,one of the mutt managers rushed to tell us that Maha Periyava wanted me to play in His presence once more.We waited for a long time to be taken to a place that looked like a hut ,with people thronging the place.We were ushered inside along with the veena and I was asked to play all over again.In all the crowd jostling and general confusion, it was difficult for my childish mind to find its bearings.My father was right next to me to give me moral support.There was no mike,no mridangam or tambura.Inside the hut,inspite of the crowd there was a hushed silence,like the one I had witnessed during Sri Chandramouleeswarar Pooja.I looked around fearfully and found the solemn figure in saffron robes in the corner of the thatched hut,in partial light.It was late afternoon and the sun rays fell partially over the small,thin figure of Maha Swami,sitting with both knees together to one side.His posture and solemn eyes registered in my heart forever and I felt a wave of current pass through me.

"Papa,play,play",the mutt people urged me to commence my performance and I started playing.I simply don't remember what I played ,all I can recall is that my body instantly became drenched in sweat.The fever had broken and I was oblivious to everything else other than concentrating on my playing,inbetween looking at my father for assurance that I was on the right track.Strangely my father did not give me his usual signals,even he was totally absorbed in gazing at the solemn figure of the Acharya seated in the far corner.After a long while Maha Periyava got up to leave.As he left abruptly to the adjoining room-like place,some people asked me to stop and some asked me continue.I was totally confused as to what I was supposed to do. A person who went along with Maha Periyava to the adjoining room returned to ask me not to get up.He gestured for me to be seated along with my veena.My parents and myself waited along with the crowd not knowing what to expect.

After considerable time,Maha Periyava returned. In His hands He held a crown made of sandalwood beads and cardamoms. A huge "OM" in Sanskrit was drawn by cloves on the crown. He handed over the crown to the mutt administrators indicating that they should give the crown to me. As I received the crown, I saw Periyava conveying to me in sign language to place it over my head. Feeling a little shy and self-conscious, I placed the crown on my head. Resuming His earlier position, He gestured with His hands asking me to continue my performance with the crown on my head!!

I started playing the veena once again, with the added weight of the sandalwood crown on my head. As I lifted my head to catch a glimpse of Maha Periyava.My gaze encountered His form, sitting in His earlier position,with both his legs folded to one side,one of his palms resting on the floor next to Him and His body leaning slightly towards one side.The early evening sunlight streaming through the many holes of the thatched hut cast an enigmatic hue on Maha Periyava.The glow of sunrays that were focussed on Him , formed an aura around Him or was it a halo that was visible only to my pure,innocent ,childish eyes? His entire figure washed in the late evening glow haunts me till today when I sadly realise that I had the experience of a lifetime when I was a mere child! I was too innocent to grasp the enormity of my encounter!My only solace today is my hazy memory of all the events connected to the most sacred encounter that has defined my life.

The crown is with me,in my pooja room,representing Maha Periyava's Grace and blessings in my life.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Grace of Veena


How to attain the grace of Veena? Veena is an embodiment of the Supreme Goddess.Like how the Sudarshana Chakram held by Lord MahaVishnu attains the supreme identity of being "Chakrat--hthaazhwar",the Veena that is held by the Goddess also derives supreme importance and an identity of Her own.

Veena is beautiful, elusive and enigmatic!She is also very difficult to please.To win Her sidelong glance, the practitioner has to be extremely diligent in his attempts to attain Her.In the process of wooing Her,the practitioner also begins to understand that the going would get rockier, given Her demanding nature. To make matters tougher,She is possessive too.She demands the practitioner's undivided attention to the exclusion of everything and everybody else.To be able to balance a life with Veena in par with routine/mundane/emotional demands of the material world requires nerves made of steel,and literally so! Nerves play an integral part in veena playing. It gradually dawns on the practitioner that emotional upheavals/showdowns are a big 'no no' in the process of gaining intimacy with Veena.She abhors emotions of any form and threatens to abandon the practitioner the moment his/her emotions are tapped by anything or anybody other than Herself.

It is therefore appreciable why the yogis (of vasi yoga) and siddha purushas of yore used veena for tapping the kundalini shakthi from the base of the muladhara chakra. They were single-minded and focussed in their approach and without material aspirations.

What are the measures to be adapted towards bonding with Veena?

Practice during Brahma Muhurtham:-Though there are many versions marking the period of brahma muhurtham,it is roughly one and a half hour before sunrise.It is easier to maintain that brahma muhurtham is between 4.30 to 6.00 a.m.If the veena practitioner needs to be woken up and cannot wake up on his/her own, the alarm clock is usually the best device chosen.Better still,if it is a mobile phone and a soft,melodious tune is set for the wakeup call.The time should ideally be 4.00 a.m.,giving just about sufficient time for brushing teeth,splashing cold water on the face and sitting in front of the veena.No luxuries like mulling over previous day's events or brooding over heart's desires.One should get out of bed without the slightest delay.I allow myself the luxury of going into the kitchen to prepare the coffee filter,promising myself a steaming cup of filter coffee immediately after practice.That is part of the evils of growing up!As a child,I would jump out of bed as soon as my father woke me up at 4.00 a.m.to sit in front of the veena without even brushing my teeth.I would keep practising until my mother physically dragged me away from the instrument for preparing to go to school.

If the practitioner is middle aged or above, the limbs may seem heavy and sluggish and the first few minutes with the veena would be absolutely trying.The movements of both the hands seem heavy and lethargic requiring optimum patience and effort to move them across the veena.But,it has to be done!The practice requires a heavy dosage of "thristhaayee",which is- (starting from mandaram open sa )sa ri ga ma pa(panchamam open pa) da ni sa-sa (open sarani)ri ga ma pa da ni sa-sa ri ga ma pa da ni sa (top most sa)-reverse-sa ni da pa ma ga ra sa- sa ni da pa ma ga ri sa-sa ni da pa ma ga ri sa should be played on three octaves,starting from the mandaram string (open third string)till the top 'sa' of the sarani and back to mandaram open 'sa' in all the three tempos.The third ,fast kalapramanam should be aimed at the highest speed.The entire cycle should be practised for nearly half an hour.This is the most essential tonic for flexibilty and fluidity in playing the veena.After this arduous session it is time for two-kaalam varnam.Choose any varnam for the day and practice two kaalams (slow and fast) for atleast 5 cycles.The entire sa ri ga ma.... practice and the two kalam varnam practice is for attaining physical fitness to be able to gain control of the instrument.Now for the manodharma,one could choose ragam,thanam,krithi,neraval and swaram of the day.Apart from the brahma muhurtham practice,it is required to spend more time with the veena during the day for learning and revising old lessons.

Poojas and slokas to attain grace of Veena:-Sri Raja Mathangi moola manthram and Veena Shyamala manthram (after initiation by Acharya or Srividya Upasaka) should be chanted mentally for atleast 108 times.Durga mantras,especially the Durga Saptasathi and all forms of Durga-worship bestow the grace of Veena.The moola manthras of Sri Raja Mathangi and Veena Shyamala are so powerful that after attaining sidhi of these mantras,the practitioner is elevated to the state of watching his/her own hands being moved across the frets by an unseen force and not by one's own effort. Even the 7th sloka of Soundarya Lahari (Kvanathkaanchidhaamaa .....)is ideal for Veena in which the four hands of the Goddess are praised as this sloka bestows the power of four hands into the two hands of the veena practitioner.

Apart from the above,an attitude of dedication and devotion towards Veena are essential for attaining the grace of Veena.Egoistic approach towards Veena increases the distance between the practitioner and the Veena by leaps and bounds.