Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar was a great Devi Upasaka and was well versed in all aspects of Sri Vidya Upasana. Out of his devotion to Sri Kamalamba, (one of the 64 Sakti Peethams in India), the celebrated deity at the famous Tyagaraja Temple in Tiruvarur and his compassion for all bhaktas, Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar composed the Kamalamba Navavarana kritis, expounding in each of the nine kritis, the details of the each avarana of the Sri Chakra, including the devatas and the yoginis. Singing these kritis with devotion, sraddha and understanding would be the easy way to Sri Vidya Upasana.
The 9 kritis are as follows:
1. dhyAna k.rti in saMbodhanA vibhakti (vocative case) – kamalAmbikE, tODi, rUpaka tALa
2. The first AvaraNa k.rti in prathamA vibhakti (nominative) on trailokyamohana cakra – kamalAmba saMrakShatu mAM, Anandabhairavi, tripuTa tALa
3. The second AvaraNa k.rti in dvitIyA vibhakti (accusative) on sarvAshaparipUraka cakra – kamalAmbAM bhaja re, kalyANi, Adi tALa
4. The third AvaraNa k.rti in tritIyA vibhakti (instrumental) on sarvasaMkShobhaNa cakra – shrIkamalAmbikayA, shaN^karAbharaNam rUpaka tALa
5. The fourth AvaraNa k.rti in caturthI vibhakti (dative) on sarvasaubhAgyadAyaka cakra – kamalAmbikAyai, kAMbhoji, aTa tALa
6. The fifth AvaraNa k.rti in pa~ncamI vibhakti (ablative) on sarvArthasAdhaka cakra – shrI kamalAMbAyAH, bhairavi, jhaMpa tALa
7. The sixth AvaraNa k.rti in ShaShThI vibhakti (genitive) on sarvarakShAkara cakra – kamalAmbikAyAH, punnAgavarALi, rUpaka tALa
8. The seventh AvaraNa k.rti in saptamI vibhakti (locative) on sarvarogahara cakra – shrI kamalAmbikAyAM , sahAnA, tripuTa tALa
9. The eighth AvaraNa k.rti in saMbodhanA vibhakti (vocative) on sarvasiddhiprada cakra – shrI kamalAMbike, ghaNTa, Adi tALa
10. The ninth and last AvaraNa k.rti in all eight vibhaktis (cases) on sarvAnandamaya cakra – shrI kamalAMbA jayati, Ahiri, rUpaka tALa
(The pallavi employs prathamA vibhakti, the anupallavi, the dvitIya and tritIyA vibhaktis, while the caraNam has one line each in caturthI, pa~ncamI, ShaShThI and saptamI vibhaktis. The line set in caturthI vibhakti also incorporates the sambodhanA, while the two lines sung in madhyamakAla return to the prathamA vibhakti.)
11. The final auspicious maN^gaLa k.rti – shrI kamalAmbike, shrIrAgaM, khaNDa eka tALa
The rendering of these Kritis are considered to be extremely challenging owing to the complexity of the words and the notations.
Since each of these compositions is on one of the nine AvaraNams (enclosures) of the shrI cakra, we will now quickly describe the geometry of the cakra. The shrI cakra, or the auspicious wheel is a geometrical diagram employed in the worship of Goddess Tripurasundari, according to Tantric rituals. It is more than a mere diagram, and has mystic powers and great significance in the shakti worship tradition. The outer portion of the shrI cakra consists of four units – the outermost layer gateway of three rectangular walls (bhUpura), three circles (trivalaya, or v.rttatraya), a sixteen petaled rose (ShoDashadaLa padma), and an eight-petaled rose (aShTadaLa padma). The core of the shrI cakra consists of numerous triangles – a set of fourteen triangles (manukoNa), two sets of ten triangles (bahirdashAra and antardashAra), a set of eight triangles (vasukoNa), and the innermost sole triangle (trikoNa). In fact these various triangles are formed by the intersections of four isosceles triangles with vertex pointing upwards (called the shiva group), and five isosceles triangles with downward vertices (called the shakti group) all situated inside the eight petaled rose. The culmination of all these is the bindu, a single dot placed at the center. Each sub-cakra bears the name of its presiding deity, as well as the subordinate deities (yoginis) associated with it.
A quick definition of the shrI cakra can be found in Adi Sankara’s famous work, Saundaryalahari (verse 11) as follows:
caturbhiH shrIkaNThaiH shivayuvatibhiH pa~ncabhirapi
prabhinnAbhiH shaMbhornavabhirapi mUlaprak.rtibhiH |
trirekhAbhiH sArdhaM tava sharaNakoNAH pariNatAH ||
It is customary to sing the kamalambA navAvaraNa group kritis, first by invoking Lord Ganesha through the kriti, “shrImahAgaNapatiravatu mAm” in rAga gauLa, followed by a salutation to Lord SubrahmaNya (guruguha) through the composition “bAlasubrahmaNyam” in rAga suraTi. These two particular kritis might have been chosen, not for any particular reason, but perhaps one of the oldest books on kamalAmba Navavaranam by Kallidaikkuricci Vina Sundaram Iyer (supplement volume 16) has printed these songs preceding the AvaraNa songs.
Association of Navavarana kritis, with the Chakras, the deities, the Yoginis, and Siddhis etc. of the Sri Chakra.
|02||Kamalambaam Bhajare||Shodasha dala padma||Tripuresi||Gupta||Laghima|
|03||Sri Kamalambikaya||Asta dala padma||Tripurasundari||Guptatara||Mahima|
|08||Sri Kamalambike||Trikona||Tripuramba||Athi Rahasya||Iccha|
|09||SriKamalambaa Jayathi||Bindu||Mahatripurasundari||Parathi para Ra|
The kamalAMbA navAvarANa kritis are very auspicious, deep in meaning and content, and bring out the deeper insights into the shrI vidyA upAsana. Dikshitar has packed numerous tantric and shrIvidyA details in these songs, which makes it difficult to translate them adequately into English. While the meanings may be straightforward for those who have adequate knowledge of shrIvidyA upAsana and have contemplated on it, for ordinary people, it is a hidden treasure. Hence, we shall only attempt a simple word to word meaning approach to these songs, and will not attempt to provide the deeper esoteric inner meanings. Interested readers may refer to many treatises on this topic that are readily available.
The Kamalamba Navavarana kritis are works of musical and poetic excellence. They are adorned with sublime music, intellectual sophistication, soulful devotional lyrics and richly imaginative poetic imagery. Listening to the kritis is a truly rewarding experience, even if one is not aware of or ignores the underlying connotations of Sri Chakra and Sri Vidya tradition.