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Pramathi Samvathsara Sri Rama Navami Celebrations : Part II, Dhivya Naama Krithis, An Overview

From: Sadagopan (
Date: Sun Apr 02 2000 - 17:15:33 PDT

Dear Raama BhakthAs :

In the previous posting , we covered 
the circumstances under which the bhakthi-laden 
dhivya Naamaa krithis originated . I mentioned that 
some of these krithis were composed by Saint ThyAgarAjA 
as he went around the main streets of ThiruvayyARu 
for his daily Unchivrutthi . 

In Dakshina Desam , there is also another tradition
associated with the Dhivya Naama or Devaru Naama 
krithis. They form the core of the Bhajana SampradhAyam .
It has been pointed out by Sri Aravind Krishnan in a private
note to me that Dhivya Naama krithi singing is nothing but
the enactment of the rAsa LeelA by the assembled 
BhaagavathAs ( Srimath Bhagavatham : Canto X.33).

The Bhajanai matams of DakshiNa desam housed great 
sanyAsis and BhAgavathAs and were centers that kept 
the lamp of Bhakthi shining as NanthA ViLakku
( eternal lamp in Bhagavath SannidhAnam ). These 
singing of Dhivya Naamams were interspersed with 
the singing of Uthsava SampradhAya Krithis . Thus ,
there is a convention to classify a specific krithi 
as either belonging to the Dhivya Naama group or to 
the Uthsava SampradhAyam groups. Some are classified as 
belonging to both the groups . Thus the shOdasOpachaarams
seems to get seamlessly woven into Bhagavath anubhavam
through the dhivya naamA krithi sung by the assembled 
BhaagavathAs .These shOdasOpachArams are highlighted 
in the AarAdhanam section of the recently released 
CD ROM on the Life and works of AchArya RaamAnujA .

The tradition of Dhivya Naama Singing at Bhajanai Matams

In Bhagavaan's sannidhi , the chief Bhaagavathar 
will bring the KutthiviLakku from the altar and 
place it at the center of the hall with enough room
for the BhaagavathAs to move around it in a pradhakshiNam
fashion. BhAgavathAs consider themselves as Gopis
and relate to the sacred lamp at the center as 
SarvAbharaNa BhUshitha , JyOthirmaya Baala KrishNan 
playing on His flute on the banks of YamunA river 
and performing RaasaleelA with them .

The songs are sung as the BhagavathAs come around 
the sacred dheepam . These  songs are the dhivya-
NaamA krithis , which have many charanams ranging on
the average from 4 to 8 charaNams.Some have even 
12 charaNams to prolong the enjoyment of the Bhagaavth
anubhavam during the sathsangam . 

The tradition is for one bhaagavathar to sing one CharaNam 
and the next Bhaagavathar to sing the next charaNam 
and the pallavi will be sung in chorus fashion by all 
assembled. This will all be done , while BhagavathAs 
stand around the sacred dheepam representing the Lord
at the center. The BhagavathAs will then sit down and sing 
slOkams from the gOpikA/Yugala) gItham chapter of Srimath 
BhAgavavtham ( Canto X.35).These are the songs sung by
Gopis during the day time in rememberance of their Lord . 
The 24th and the 25th slOkams of the YugaLa githam 
provide an example of the intense adoration of 
Lord KrishNA by the gOpis :

" with a bright look , sporting a floral wreath 
and gladdening His friends , here comes KrishNaa ,
the leader of the Yadhu clan , like a moon assuaging
the day long heat of seperation of the inhabitants
of VrajA -His eyes rolling in a slightintoxication 
of bliss , His face flushed like a BadarA fruit , 
His cheeks shining with the lustre of
golden ear-rings , and His  gait resembling that 
of a lordly elephant ( --mudhitha vakthra upayAthi
dhurantham mOchayan vrajagavAm dhina thApam)".

After the singing of the GopikA Geetham , the BhAgavathAs
will continue with the recital of " aN^gaNAm aN^gaNAm
antarE Maadhavam " slOkam and the circling around 
the Dheepam as the enactment of Raasa leelA will
take place.

The symbolic mesage of Raasa leelA is summarized 
by Sri NaarAyana Bhattadhiri this way:

virahEshvangAramaya: srungAramayasccha sangamEhi thvam
nitharAmAngAramayastathra puna: sangamEpi chithramidham
-- Sri NaarayaNeeyam : X. 66.9

(meaning ): Oh KrishNA ! for the gOpis , You were 
like unbearbale heat during the seperations from You
(VislEsham ) and in union (samslEsham )with them 
were like the essence of the bliss of srungAram . 
Now during Your performance of raasa leelA , Thou art 
anga aramayan ( bliss of KrishNAnubhavam ). What
a mystery your deeds are ? .

After the raasa leelA enactment , the sacred lamp
is carried back by the eldest bhAgavathA to the aasthAnam
(altar of the Lord) and the Lord is lulled to sleep 
with the performance of dhOlOthsavam. 

the krithis of Saint ThyagarAjA are used during
dhOlOthsavam (the Laali songs : uyyALa lUgavayyA 
in NeelAmbhari , lAli yUgave in NeelAmbhari ,
KshIra Saagara vihAra in Ananadha Bhairavi , 
lAli lAli yani uchatarA in Hari KaambhOji 
and lAli vana mAli in raagam , kEdAra gowLai ).

The many upachAra krithis are also sung at this time
as the Lord and His divine consort are offered 
milk, bhakshaNams , TaambhUlam and the BhaagavathAs
pray for the blessings of SithA Raaman .AparAdha
KshAmaNam for any unintended flaws in AarAdhanam 
are requested ; gadhya-padhya vachanams are
recited after singing the "pUla pAmbu paini "
in raagam Aahiri .ShObhAnam krithi ( shObAne )
is sung next.The Lord now rests in His Hamsa
dhULikA manjam (bed) and He is lulled to sleep
to the naadham of "jO jO RaamA " in raagam,
rIthi GowLai. The curtain is drawn down and 
the slOkAs in neelAmbhuri are sung to enhance 
His comfort :

dhvArakA nagara varE saaravindhu davaLa
shaudE kalita varaahadUpE karpUra dhIpayutE
mR^iga nAbhi parimaLatE mR^iduLOpadAna yutE
MAdhavi kusuma talpE mAdava sEshva sukam ...

SanakAdhi muni gEya sAkEta pura vAsa
JanakasudhA hR^innilaya Sri RaamA sEshava sukam ..

Saint ThyagarAja SwamigaL will now alert 
the dhvAra paalakAs (gate keepers) that their Lord
is enjoying His Yoga nidhrA and ask them to avoid 
any disturbance to their Lord"s sleep:

kaavEri thIrE kamanIya gEhE navatuLasI VanamAli
navarasa yutha dEvanAri chAmara malayAnilavara sevitE
Sri Raamachandra: SeethA samEtha chete Sundara sEsha sayanE
Sri Raama Raama RaamEthi geetham praakaara rakshaNam kurvanthu

ahO pUrvadvArashta: Jaya VijayAdhi 
dhvAra paalakA: sarve parama bhagavOtthamA:
Sri Raamachandra SeethA sametha sannayodhyAnam
rathna maNtapE varyaN^kE 
hamsadhULikA talpamaN^jE kusuma sayanE
yOga nidhrAm anubhavathi 
tathra bhavantha: sAvadhAnatayaa 
poorva prAkAra rakshaNam kurvanthu 


After alerting the gate keepers, Sadhguru
Swami will sing the last MangaLam for the day 
spent in Sri RaamAraadhanam in a mangala
raagam like GhantA , Aahiri or NaadanAmakriyA
to differnetiate them from other raagams used 
during the day for MangaLams like Sri raagam
or MadhyamAvathi. 

Sadhguru SwamigaL will now rest for the night and would 
be blessed with divine conversations with the Lord
during his sleep .He will wake up at Brahma 
muhUrtham for another day of worship of
his dear Lord .

Sri Raamchandra ParabrahmaNE Nama:

Daasan , Oppiliappan Koil VaradaachAri Sadagopan

P.S : I am indebted to Sri Aravind KrishNan ,
one of the fellow editors of the SangItham
Journal of the Carnatic Music association 
of North America for valuable exchange of 
information on the DakshiNa Bhajana sampradhAyam.

PPS: One must remember the times of birth of
these Dhivya Naama krithis of Saint ThyagarAjA.
It was the time of sangItha medhais (genius)
like ThOdi SeethAraamaiah , SankarAbharaNam
Narasayaa et al, who used their manOdharmam
to elaborate extensively the svarUpams
of these Raagams thru raagam , thAnam and Pallavi.
These raagAs were their family jewels.

At this time, there were also many mahAns 
who celebrated the Lord thru Bhakthi-laden
dhivya NaamAs and slOkams to stay away from
any ahankAra-MamakArams thru musical displays.
The common folk joined in these bhajanais and 
grew their own Bhakthi to the Lord.Bhakthi here 
took the first place and SangItham took 
the secondary place at Bhajani matams . 

It is at this time , Saint ThyagarAja 
arrived on the scene and thru his Raama
Bhakthi mahimai united the bhAva thryams
( SangItha Bhaavam, Saahithya Bhaavam and
Bhakthi Bhaavam) and melted the hearts of 
paNdithAs and paamarAs thru the hundreds of 
krithis that he composed as nadha naivEdhyam to
Lord RaamachandrA.He united thus the sangItha
siddhAntham and the Bhakthi SiddhAntham and
his arpaNams flowed like a mighty river 
touching both the banks of sangItham and Bhakthi.
The result was the nectar of Sri Raama Naama 
siddhAntham , which was like navanItham/
ThirattuppAl and was distributed to the bhakthAs
during his Unchivrutthi , regular Bhajanais ,
EkAdasi vratha bhajanai , nithyOthsavams and
VisEsha Uthsavams like Sri Raama navami .He plunged 
into the deep ocean of SangItham and brought out
radiant rare gems and pearls and strung them into
exquisite necklaces and placed them at the sacred
feet of the Lord as his arpaNams. 

Jaya Jaya Raama! Jaya Jaya SithA Raama ! 



                  - SrImate raamaanujaaya namaH -
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