About the Author
Dr. R. Asha (Sivasree) is an M.A., M.Phil., Ph.D., in Sanskrit. She is the author of a path-breaking and illuminating book “Concepts, Contexts and Conflations in the kritis of Sri Muthuswami Dikshita”
She has served as a Sanskrit Lecturer in prestigious institutions. Apart from having attended various conferences, she has several writings and lec-dems to her credit. She is presently associated with Adi Sankara Advaita Research Centre, Chennai and also continues to contribute insightful articles on philosophy, religion and culture.
Dr. Asha is a disciple of musical veterans Smt. Seetha Narayanan and veena vidhushi late Smt. Kalpagam Swaminathan. She is also well trained in Indian classical dance.
About the Book
This book deals with the kritis of Shree Muthuswami Dikshita on Goddess Kamakshi. Hailed as one of the greatest saint composers in the history of Indian Music, his kritis are well known for their philosophical, musical and lyrical excellence.
Eighteen kritis have been dealt with in this book. Each kriti is a fascinating study, revealing layers of insight and intuitive experience of the mahaan that was Dikshita. The study has been extensively complemented by the elucidative expositions of the Mahaswami of Kanchi, His Holiness Shree Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal, as also with appropriate references to authoritative texts like Saundharyalahari, Mooka-Panchashathee, Lalitha Sahasranama, Lalitha Thrishathee, Kamakshi Vilaasa etc.
vedamayeem naadhamayeem bindhumayeem para-
mantramayeem thantramayeem prakruthimayeem naumi
[Mooka Panchashathee, Arya-shathakam, 74]
Thus Mooka kavi eulogises Devi Kamakshi, the presiding Goddess of the great city Kanchipuram.
Among the seven (moksha-puri) cities, namely, Ayodhya, Mathura etc., that bestow liberation, Kanchi is considered as the girdle (oddiyaanam) of Mother Bharath. Kamakshi in this temple city resides both in subtle (sookshma) and gross (sthoola) form. She shines forth in the bilaakaasha and Shree-chakra as sookshma-roopini and in the sthoola form as Lalitha Tripurasundari, i.e., Kamakshi. A powerful Goddess, an embodiment of grace and graciousness, She has inspired great poets like Mooka kavi, Shree Muthuswami Dikshita, Oothukkaadu Venkatakavi and others.
Shree Muthuswami Dikshita And Kanchi-Shree Muthuswami Dikshita, one of the Music Trinity of South India visited Kanchipuram during his pilgrimage. He met Upanishad Brahmendra Yogin, the famed Advaitic Sanyasin of his time. Dikshita sang many songs (kritis) on Goddess Kamakshi. Some of the kritis are ‘Neerajaakshi kamakshi’, Kanja-dhalaayathaakshi’, ‘Kamakshi kamakoti peeia-uaasini’, ‘Kamakshi varalakshmi’ etc. Further, he has also sung on Thanjavur Kamakshi during his sojourn there.
Being a Dikshitar afficionado, I used to always stop a while and take an extra look at his Kamakshi kritis inscribed on the walls starting from the Durvasar sannidhi, every time I went round the Kamakshi temple. The songs used to beckon me as if speaking to me. I used to be fascinated and wonder! What all inspiration and feelings would Dikshita have experienced on his darshan of Shree Kamakshi? But I used to sigh and move on to more mundane things. And so, when the instigation to write on the Kamakshi kritis for the Voice of Kamakoti (a monthly newsletter published by the Adi Sankara Advaita Research Centre on behalf of Shree Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam) came in the form of my revered Professor Dr. N. Veezhinathan, I jumped at it, considering it as a golden opportunity to investigate the gem-crusted phrases in the golden songs on this golden Goddess Kamakshi.
Dikshita’s Naadhopaasanaa-Naadhopaasanaa is one of the paths advocated by saints to worship the Divine. A devotee can easily immerse deep into the holy vibration of naadha and forget oneself. It elevates the listener and can take him to the highest level of bliss. The uniqueness of Dikshita’s Naadhopaasanaa is that, it combines in itself elements of Shree-vidyopaasanaa. Mantra and music come together to finally culminate in Advaita. Kanchi Mahaswami says that deities have two forms, physical or bodily form and sound from-
“The one is the dhrushyaroopa, seen with the eye; the other is the shravyaroopa, perceived by the ear. The superiority of the shabdharoopa or sound form is this: it is from the sound form that the physical form came into being. The sound form is elevated over the other form in that if you recite the verses that express Her sound form Her physical form will make its presence felt before us”.
While sound manifests the form, Dikshita uses both and also transcends both to the realm of Advaita.
It has indeed been an admittedly formidable task to unravel and bring out the bhaava of Dikshita in so inadequate a language like English. If some rasa shines through, it is only due to Divine Grace. I take no personal credit whatsoever.
A total of eighteen kritis have been dealt with in this book. Each kriti has been a fascinating study, revealing layers of insight and intuitive experience of the mahaan that was Dikshita. The study (which is selective and not exhaustive) has been extensively complemented by the elucidative expositions of the Mahaswami of Kanchi, His Holiness Shree Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal (from ‘The Voice of God’), as also with appropriate references to the Saundharyalahari, Mooka-Panchashathee, Lalitha Sahasranama, Lalitha Thrishathee, Kamakshi Vilaasa etc. Rather than elaborating upon the book, I humbly leave it to the reader to personally savour the devotional and aesthetic rasa of each kriti.
As the book is more of a devotional journey rather than a scholarly exposition, technicalities and discussions regarding attributed kritis have been avoided.
For the kritis, the books by Shree K.N. Srinivasan and Shree T.K. Govinda Rao have been consulted as they are compilations from various sources. The appendix contains illustrations of the kritis inscribed inside the walls of the Kamakshi temple in Kanchi and also some uthsava photos.
I humbly offer this book at the Lotus Feet of Goddess Kamakshi and Their Holinessess, Anantha poojyashree Jayendra Saraswathi Swamigal and Anantha poojyashree Vijayendra Saraswathi Swamigal.
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