devi NAVARATHRI Keerthanams of Svati Tirunal (fwd)

Ravisankar S. Mayavaram msr at COMCO.COM
Thu Sep 28 09:05:43 CDT 2000

I taking liberty to forward this mail here. It was posted on
ambaa-L by Prof. Narayanaswami Pallasena.


---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 26 Sep 2000 13:54:24 -0230 (NDT)
From: Swami Pallasena <swami at>
Reply-To: ambaa-l at
To: ambaa-l at
Cc: lotus at
Subject: [ambaa-l] devi NAVARATHRI Keerthanams of Svati Tirunal

Namaste, and HAPPY NAVARATHRI SEASON to all readers of ambaa-l.

Navaratri is a festive season for music and dance, and  for
singing the Glory of Goddess in the form of Durga, Lakshmi
and Sarasvati.  For this purpose, various  music composers
have composed divine songs, kIrtanams, kR^iti, bhajans, and so forth.
SOme  of the popular ones are the Kamalkamba Navavarana series by
Muthuswami Dikshitar, the navaratnamAlikas of Suama Sastri,
and the  Kamakshi Navavarana songs by
Uthukkadu Venkatasubba Iyer. Also, Maharaja Svati Tirunal
has composed nine sparkling gems, known as  "devi navarAtri
kIrtanaMs", which he specifically composed for singing on the
nine days of the Navaratri, one on each day.

Since we are entering another navarAtri season,
I shall, in this article,  attempt to describe the
salient features of these brilliant compositions of
mahArAjA svAti tirunAL.


                dEvI navarAtri kIrtanaMs
                mahArAjA svAti  tirunAL


If one happens to be in Trivandrum, the capital city of Kerala,
during the navarAtri Season,
one could experience the magic of the "navarAtri utsavaM "conducted
at the Royal Palace, with the singing of the "navarAtri
kIrtanaMs", composed by the composer maharAjA svAti tirunAL.
When one thinks of mahArAjA svAti tirunAL, one is invariably
reminded of Lord PadmanAbhasvAmi of the mammoth temple of
syAnandUrapuraM (presently  known as Thiruvananthapuram).
The mahArAjA used the various "paryAyaM"s (equivalent
phrases) of the proper name "padmanAbha" as the mudra
(author's signature) in most of  his musical compositions.
While a bulk of his kR^itis are outpourings of his devotion to
Lord PadmanAbha, there are some kR^itis that he composed on
various other divinities in and around the courtyard of the temple.
Among these, the nine kIrtanaMs he composed, for singing the
praise of Goddess during the NavarAthri festival stands out
as a distinct and precious collection.

This series of nine devi kR^itis, to be sung on each day of the
Navaratri season are as follows:

        Day 1. dEvi jagajjanani (shaN^karAbharaNaM, Adi)
        Day 2. pAhi mAM shrIvAgIshvari (kalyANi, Adi)
        Day 3. dEvI pAvanE (sAvEri, Adi)
        Day 4. bhAratI mAmava (toDi, Adi)
        Day 5. jananI mAmava (bhairavi, cApu)
        Day 6. saroruhAsanajAye (pantuvarALi, Adi)
        Day 7. jananI pAhi sadA (suddhasAveri, cApu)
        Day 8. pahi janani satataM (nATTAkura~nji, cApu)
        Day 9. pAhi parvatanandini (Arabhi, Adi)

        Each day, the singing is usually preceded by the
        rendition of "toDaya maN^gaLaM", (in fact, "toDAyaM",
        and "maN^gaLaM"), and the  kR^iti, "paripAhi gaNAdhipa"
        (sAveri, Adi) on Lord gaNapati.

The story goes that
the famous tamil poet Kambar (of the kamba rAmayaNaM fame)
used to offer worship to the idol of Goddess sarasvati in a temple
situated in Padmanabhapuram.  When he was frailing in health, he
approached the rulers, and  got a promise from the ruling Chera King
that the NavarAtri festival for the Sarasvati would be conducted
every year without any interruption. To this day, the Royal family of
Travancore have honored this promise.  During the regime of
svAti tirunAL mahArAjA, the capital was shifted from Padmanabhapuram
(now in Tamilnadu) to Thiruvananthapuram.
To keep the promise to sage kambar, it was arranged that every year,
the idol of Goddess sarasvati  would be brought in grand procession
(with elephants and all the gala) to the new capital at
Thiruvananthapuram, and the festival conducted
there in equal grandeur, thus fulfilling the wishes of sage Kambar.
A unique feature is that the idol is not an "utsava vigraham",
so when the idol is taken out to the capital, a lamp was lit in
its place and regular puja was offered there.

In the earlier days, The NavAratri festivel used to feature
devotional music, dance offerings to the Goddess, vedic
chanting, grantha puja, ayudha puja, scholarly discussions,
and debates on the puranas. But these days, most of the activities
have vanished, except the puja, and the music concerts.
The music for the NavarAthri concerts was codified by
mahArAjA svAti tirunAL himself.  For this occasion, he composed
these nine gems in weighty rAgams shaN^karAbharaNaM, kalyANi, sAveri,
toDi, bhairavi, pantuvarALi, shuddhasAveri, nATTakura~nji, and Arabhi,
to be sung as main piece on each day  in front of Goddess Sarasvati.

The venue is the Navaratri Mandapam in the Fort Palace of the
mahArAjA of Trivandrum, and the event takes place during the
musical performances in the evenings. On each day, the particular
song assigned for that day is sung very elaborately, with detailed
rAga AlApana, neraval, svara prasthAraM, and so forth.
These songs used to be rendered in Group singing,
the rAgaM and tAnaM being rendered by the chief musician.
But, nowadays, the entire song is rendered by one musician.
Also, in those days, all the lengthy caraNaM lines were sung,
whereas these days, people sing only one of the
chosen caraNaMs.

During the first three days, Devi is worshipped as
Sarasvati, the next three days as Lakshmi, and as Durga
on the last three days. The concerts are  in
the form of offerings to Devi.
There is no applause and everything is kept very
calm and the atmosphere is very serene and devotional.
Till early 1900s, the concerts were given by the
"MullamUDu" Bhagavathars, where one musician would lead the
chorus, and each one took in turn to do the
rAga Alapana, neraval, svara kalpana, etc.
The concerts are usually preceded by the rendition
of toDaya maN^gaLaM, and the Ganapathi Stuti,
"paripAhi gaNadhipa" in rAgaM sAveri (composed
by svAti tirunAL), again by Mullamoodu Bhagavathars.
These Bhagavathers are families of musicians,
whose ancestry and musical tradition dates back to the
time of MahArAjA svAti tirunAL himself.  In fact
we are deeply indebted to these musicians for handing
over to the present generation, numerous compositions of
svAti TirunAL, in their original authentic forms.

But, during later years, the system has changed.
Competent musicians from outside were invited to give
the main concert, and MullamUDu Bhavathars were restricted
to singing just the toDaya MaN^gaLaM.

The scene of the Navaratri Mandapam is equally superb. Oil
lamps are lit, and the atmosphere is filled with
subtle fragrance of fresh flowers, sandalwood, incenses,
and camphor fumes.  The concerts start exactly at 6pm and
end precisely at 8.30 pm.  Strict punctuality iss maintained,
and no one was allowed to come late, or leave early.

Unlike MuttusvAmi dIkshitar, who used to compose Group
kR^itis on a single unified theme, in all eight vibhaktis
(declinations) of the Sanskrit language,
svAti tirunAL chose to use  only the Sambodhana (vocative case)
and prathama vibhakti  (nominative case) in these krithis.
All these nine kR^itis are of the  "pahi mAM" type, calling out to
the Goddess to protect him, and the bulk of the words employed
in each kR^iti is just the description of the Goddess and her virtues
at great length, using  flowery poetic language.

These compositions belong to the "kIrtana" pattern, with
a short pallavi, and anupallavi followed by lengthy caraNaMs.
The first song has four caranams, while the remaining have only three.
While the first six songs indulge in very long caraNaMs
using very lenghty phrases, the last three, devoted to pArvati,
are rather shorter, and simpler.

Being a poet himself, the mahArAja indulged in all sorts
of poetical beauties in these kR^itis.
The songs are carved out very meticulously, and svATi
tirunAL excels in poetry in these compositions.  The
language is simple, charming both in sound and meaning.
The flow of words is slow in some places, and swift
elsewhere, but always graceful.  He employs  various
kinds of prAsam (alliteration), such as  dvitIyAkshara prAsaM
(alliteration in the second letter of each line), AdyapAda
prAsaM (alliteartion in the first segment), and so forth
in the different AvartaMs in every caraNaM, as well
as the rhyme at the end of these AvarthaMs.
Also, employing some common alaN^kAraMs (figure of speech)
such as upama (simile), rUpakaM (metaphore), utprekSha (fancy),
the poet expresses the ideas very elegantly, and in lucid language.

The first six songs in the series  are addressed to Sarasvati,
and the last three to pArvati. All of them, as mentioned
earlier, are of the 'pAhi mAM"  style, where the mahArAjA
bows to the Goddess, seeking Her blessings , with an earnest
request to protect him (and everyone else too), and save
him from the sins and torments. All these songs form
praise for the Deity, description of Her beauty, and
prayers for undivided Bhakti towards her.

Sarasvati is appropriately described  as spotless white in complexion,
riding on a white swan, wearing white silk, bearing the lute
(vINa), the book, the rosary, and the symbol of
protection in her four hands, and having a crescent moon
on her head. This reminds us of the famous shlokam

        yA kundEndu tuShAra hAra dhavaLA
        yA shubhravastrVvR^itA
        yA vINa vara daNDa maNDitakarA
        yA shvetha padmAsanA
        yA brahmArcita shaN^kara prabhR^itibhir-
        dEvaiH sadA pUjitA
        sA maM pAthu sarasvatI bhagavathI
        nishsheSha jADyApahA.

She is the embodiment of all beauty, and the abode of
all learning.  She is the consort of Brahma, and is worshipped by
Gods like Indra, and sages like Shuka, Sanaka, Narada.
She is kindness incarnate, and generous in her gifts to her

Goddess pArvati is described in the last three songs as very
charming in form, having a crescent moon on her head, bearing
the trident in her hand, and riding a lion. She is the
consort of shiva, and the slayer of the demon canDa, munDa,
and mahiSha. She grants all desires to her true devotees.


The devi navarAtri kIrtanaMs  are available in some
commercial audio cassettes.  One, sung by Bombay Sisters
(Keerthana 6CA 534), another by V. Ramachandran (Sangeetha 6ECDB 424),
each of one hour duration,  are popular.
Obviously, they render only one selected caraNaM in each song,


1. "Swati Tirunal's Kirtanamalas"
by Dr. S. Venkatasubramonia Iyer, MA, PhD,
College Book House, Trivandrum, 1984

2. The Navaratri Mandapam experience, by
Rama Varma, MUSIC, Nov 29, 1998 (Special
issue with the SUnday Magazine of THE HINDU)

        gaNesha gItaM
        First Day kIrtanaM
        Second Day kIrtanaM
        Third Day kIrtanaM
        Fourth Day kIrtanaM
        Fifth Day kIrtanaM
        Sixth Day kIrtanaM
        Seventh Day kIrtanaM
        Eighth Day kIrtanaM
        Ninth Day kIrtanaM

rAgaM: nATa     tALaM: jhaMpa

jaya devakIkishora! jaya koTismarAkAra !
jaya kAlindItaTavihAra! jaya gopikAjAra !  ||1||
jaya jaya

jaya muraLIgAnalola! jaya suvarNarucicEla !
jaya salIladhR^itashaila! jaya vAridanIla ! ||2||
jaya jaya

jaya caritradhutapApa ! jaya khaNDitAsurATopa !
jaya yAdavakuladIpa ! jaya gopAlarUpa !  ||3||
jaya jaya

jaya kuTilAsitakesha ! jaya munimAnasanivesha !
jaya paN^kajanAbhAdhIsha ! jaya bhUmIramesha ! ||4||
jaya jaya

rAgaM: pantuvarALI      tALaM: Adi


mAtaN^gatanayAyai maN^gaLaM


bhUyO manasijArikantAyai maN^gaLaM


mahiShAsurahAriNyai maN^gaLaM  ||1||

karirAjagamanAyai varatApasama~ncaya-
smaraNIya caraNAyai maN^gaLaM  ||2||

varanadItaTagAyai vanajanAbhanujAyai
marakatamecakAN^gyai maN^gaLaM  ||3||


gaNesha gItam
rAgaM: sAveri           tALaM: Adi


paripAhi gaNAdhipa bhAsuramUrte !


sharaNAgatabharaNa sAmajopama sundarAsya


himakiraNa shakala shekhara tanubhava
shamala nivaha shamana
kamalajamukha suravR^inda nuta carita
kAmitapUraka pAdasaroruha  ||1||

mastaka vigaLita dAnajalamilita-
madhukara samudAya
hasta lasita nijadanta mahita sugu-
NAkhuvaha guhasodara nirupama  ||2||

pAvana paN^kajanAbha manohara
bhagineya deva
sevaka janatatividyA samadhika-
shrI sukhadAyaka bhUri kR^ipAkara


navarAtri kIrtanaM 1 (First Day)

rAgaM shaN^karAbharaNaM (meLaM 29)  Adi tALaM (2 kaLai)


devi jagajjanani dehi kR^ipayA mama


kevalAnandapuurNe kIrasuvANi vANi


vINApustakara~njitakaratalavihasita ku~njavarembike
shANollIDhamahAmaNibhuuShaNashAlini budhajanapAlike
prINitamunigeye druhiNajAye paramameye nirapAye ||1||

vikatajaTAlasitendukalApini vimalasarojavarAsane
vikacakamalapAde vihatabhede nihatakhede bhR^itamode ||2||

vItashamalahR^idye kalitavidye trijagadAdye niravadye ||3||

kuru karuNAmayi bhajanapare mayi kundamukuLaradane tule
bhuurishubhakarANi aghaharANI nutiparANi karavANi ||4||


navarAtri kIrtanaM 2 (Second Day)

rAgaM kalyANi (meLaM 65) Adi tALaM (2 kaLai)


pAhi mAM shrIvAgIshvari pAhi bhuvaneshvari


dehi tAvakadayAmayi bhArati
dehi bodhasukhadAyikAmiha
mugdhagAtri tuhinAMshuvataMsini
bandhurAbhayavare paracinmayi


shArade kacapAshaviDaMbitaruciratarAsitanIrade
sphuTataradhavaLamavilasitamukurashakalapaTalIrade vinutanArade
dAruNAdhikarapAtakAvaLidAraNaikanirate subhAShiNi
bhAravinamrakR^ishodari mAmaka-
caraNayugabhajanaparamiha kuru tava ||1||

shyAmale bahaLAgarucandanamR^igamadaghusR^iNaparimaLe
sAmajAdhipamarALikAgaticArumandagamane suhAsini
mAmakamAnasatApasamuuhavirAmamatIva vidhAtumaye pada-
tAmarasadvayamanukalaye hR^idi
tAmasadoSha vilAsini rAsini
shamanakaraNapaTuvimalahasitamukhi ||2||

bhAsite shukashaunakakaushikamukhamunipariShadupAsite
sahR^idayarasakarakavivaranikara hR^idayakamalAsite
shrutiyugapathapathikanayana parilasadaruNasitAsite
rAsaruce sakalAgamaruupiNi
dAsamimaM kR^ipayA shishirIkuru
vasa mama sukhamadhirasanamanavarataM
asadR^ishavilasitavisaramayi janani ||3||


navaratri kIrtanaM 3 (Third Day)

rAgaM sAveri (meLaM 15) Adi tALaM (2 kaLai)


devi pAvane seve caraNe te budhAvane


bhArati dehi sadA kushalaM bhuvaneshvari


somabimbamadaharasumukhi bhaktajanAkhila-
kAmitadAnanirate kAnta kundadanti
mAmaka hR^idi vihara mAnyaguNAvAse
sAmajapuN^gavacArugate sura-
sAdhyanute vimale varade bhuvaneshvari ||1||

vAridanibhacikure vAsavopalanayane
sArasakR^itanilaye jAmbunadamayabhuuShe
pustakabhAsini cAruhAse bhuvaneshvari ||2||

pAtitaditisute shrIpadmabhavavilAsini
vItapApajanageyavibhave vidyAruupe
cAtako jaladamiva sAdaramAshrayAmi tvAM
prItiM mayi kuru lokamAtarayi nityaM
dhuutamalaM kuru mAM sadaye pari-
poShitasuuriguNe shubhade bhuvanesvari ||3||


navarAtri kIrtanaM 4 (Fourth Day)

rAgaM toDi (meLaM 8) Adi tALaM (2 kaLai)


bhArati mAmava kR^ipayA natajanArtti-




vAsavAdisuravinute taraNisata-
hAsajitakundavitate vimalamuktA-
hArakaNThi gajendragate
dAsabhuutajanavidyAdAnalole paradevi
bhAsuracandanamR^igamada kusuma su-
vAsitagAtri supAvanashIle ||1||

nAradAdimanonilaye bhuvanatraya-
nAyike kR^itAj~nAnilaye
cArubAhudhR^itavalaye vikaca-
sArasAkshi toShitabhuuvalaye
mArakArmukhasuShamAcoracilliyuge vANI
vArijabhavadayite varavINA-
vAdanalolakarAN^gulijAle  ||2||

sakalAgamamayaruupe nikhilaloka-
janani sudhAmadhurAlApe
akalaN^kaguNakalApe karuNArasa-
sakale padmanAbhasarasijasevakavara-
somakalAsadR^ishAmalaphAle ||3||


navarAtri kIrtanaM 5 (Fifth Day)

bhairavi rAgaM (meLaM 20) cApu tALaM


jananI mAmavAmeye bhArati jaya


cAruhasita kR^itakandanirAse devi


taruNavAridanibhaveNi devatarukisalayopamapANi
kalitavaradAbhItimudre kalyANi puurNasharadindusamakAnte vANI
suruciranayanajitaiNi paramakaruNArasashishiraveNi
caraNagatajanabharaNanipuNe paramAmR^itamadhurabhAShiNi ||1||

ghanasAratilakAN^kitaphAle atikamanIyavishadadukuule vinata-
janavidyAvitaraNalole  sAdhusmaraNIyatamapAdamuule
kanakabhuuShaNe shubhashIle sarvAgamamayi sujanAnukuule
nAnAmunimanomayavanajanilaye vinihatAshritavividhashamale ||2||

parihR^itaghanAj~nAnakhede kR^itapadmanAbhasevakamode
satataparicitavINAninAde mama kuru matimayi tava pAde
suragaNamahitavinode shItakarapotadhare
sadA sarasIruhamukhi sapadi vadane sarasamiha vasa sakalavarade ||3||


navarAtri kIrtanaM 6 (Sixth Day)

rAgaM pantuvarALi (meLaM 51) Adi tALaM


saroruhAsanajAye bhavati sAmodamamba namAmi


maNikiraNA~ncita caraNe


tAmarasamR^idukoTaravAsini sAmajarAjasadR^ishagamane
bhImanibiDAj~nAnamale sulalAmashobhiphAlatale vara-
hemacArubhuuShaNalasite madahInamaunihR^idayaikapade sura-
bhAminInivahagItaguNe shashidhAmamandahasite jaya bhagavati ||1||

tuN^gakalpakakisalayanivahe duritasevakatApabhare
bhR^iN^gasa~ncayavalayitasumasurabhIkR^itadhammillara citamada-
bhaN^gasajalAmbhodakule navapaN^kajopama nayanayuge lasa-
daN^garAgaghanasArahariNamadahArabhAsi kucakuMbhayuge hari-
puN^gavopamitamadhyatale parabodharuupiNi pare jagadIshvari ||2||

bAlacandravataMsini parijanapAlanaikapare ghanapAtaka-
shailabhidhurAyitacarite karuNAlavAlAyitahR^idaye
nAlamiha phaNinAyakopi batAlapitumayi mahimAnaM te
ntuulatAM naya mamodyadavidyAjAlamAshu nanu bhArati sakalaM
phAlalocanamukhAkhilavanditapadmanAbha padasevakanirate ||3||


navarAtri kIrtanaM 7 (Seventh Day)

rAgaM shuddhasAveri (meLaM 29) cApu tALaM


janani pAhi sadA jagadIshe devi


anavadyataranavahArAlaMkR^ite ma~nju-
vanajAyatalocane vAhinItaTavAse


shailarAjatanaye caNDamuNDanAshini
shuulashobhitakare sundararuupe
phAlarAjitilake paramakR^ipAvati
pAlitasujanamAlike sura-
sAlakisalaya cArunijapAde ||1||

gahanadahanAyite gatamadasevye
suhasitajitakunde shoNajapAdhari
vihara mama hR^idi vidhusadR^ishamukhi
bahaLamalayajabandhure loka-  ||2||

paramapAvana shrI padmanAbhasahodari
nIlacikure kesarivaravAhe
caritaduritabhaktadaranikare gauri
kuru kR^ipAM mayi kalishadharamukhapariNute
ghanaduritahR^itilole ||3||


navarAtri kIrtanaM 8 (Eighth Day)

rAgaM nATTakura~nji (meLaM 28) cApu tALaM


pAhi janani santataM mAmihAmalapariNata-


devi sakalashubhade himAcalakanye
sAhasikadAruNa caNDamuNDanAshini


bAlasomadhAriNI paramakR^ipAvati
nIlavAridanibhanetre rucirashIle
phAlalasitavarapATIratilake shrI-
nIlakaNThadayite nigamavanamAtaN^gi ||1||

varade vAsavamukhavandyamAnacaraNe
aruNajapAkusumAdhare kaumudi-
paramojjvalahasite bhaktakalpalatike ||2||

kamanIyatamaruupe kanyAkubjavAsini
shamitapApanikare shAntahR^idayagehe
amitavimalarucihAre nIla
vAridopamaveNi shrIpadmanAbhasodari ||3||


navarAtri kIrtanaM 9 (Ninth Day)

rAgaM Arabhi (meLaM 29) Adi tALaM (1 kalai)


pAhi parvatanandini mAmayi


vAhinItaTanivAsini kesari-
vAhane ditijALividAraNe


jaMbhavairimukhanate kari-
kumbhapIvarakucavinate vara-
sambhave samadhikaguNavasate ||1||

ka~njadaLanibhalocane madhu-
ma~njutaramR^idubhAShaNe mada-
bha~njanAticaNamantharagamane ||2||

ca~ncadaLilalitALake tila-
kA~ncitashashidharakalALike nata-
sa~ncayaikakR^itisatataguNanike ||3||


maN^gaLam (Traditional)

rAgaM yadukulakAmbhoji (meLaM 28) rUpaka tALaM

bhujagashAyino nAma maN^gaLaM
paramajAnatApIha kIrtitam |
dahati pApmanAM jAlama~njasA
bhuvi shikhI yathA dAru sa~ncayam ||


AUM shrImAtre namaH

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