A garland of hymns by the Sringeri Acharyas.

Adi Sankara established the first of the four pitams at Sringeri several centuries ago. He and his successors have sung innumerable slokas and hymns in praise of Goddess Sarada, presiding deity of the pitam.

The Chityala family, New York, the U.S., has produced and dedicated a CD comprising selections from these works. Among the devotional CDs that flood the market, this disc stands out for its production value.

Eschewing high decibel drums, weird noises of the keyboard, eerie sounds from electric guitars and meaningless fusion, violin vidwan R.K. Shriramkumar has composed music in a pure classical mode, which is the highlight. His violin, Manoj Siva's mridangam and Anirud Athreya's ganjira blend so well that no where are they obtrusive.

Bombay Jayashri has sung all the hymns, handling the Sanskrit lyrics of the highest order with aplomb. Blissful rendering with impeccable pronunciation are the hallmarks of this disc.

Biju James who has recorded, mixed and mastered the CD has to be commended for his tasteful approach. Sri Chandrasekara Bharati's Sarada gitam in ragas Paraju, Khamboji and Hamir Kalyani, Sri Sarada Varnamalasthavah in ragas Dwijavanthi, Behag, Jonpuri and Durga, Adi Sankara's ‘Sri Sarada Bhujanga Pratyaksham' in ragamalika and Sri Sachchidananda Sivabhinava Nrsimha Bharati's ‘Sri Kamalajadayitstakam' in ragamalika are included in this collection.

Sri Bharati Tirtha, the current pontiff of Sringeri pitam has given the title, ‘Sri Sarada Stuti Manjari' to the CD and his hymn, “Sri Sarada Svarna Ratha Samarpana Padyavalih” in Hatakambari also forms part of the pack. Shriramkumar's training in classical music has helped him in selecting the right tala for each of the hymns with varying meters. A booklet accompanying the disc gives both the Sanskrit and English transliteration of he verses.

Guru parampara

Priced at Rs. 100, the CDs are available at all the Sringeri Branches. Buyers can also write to sharadac@aol.com.

Says Sharada Chityala: The appropriateness of Adi Sankara installing Saradamba and establishing the Guru Parampara is significant. Adi Sankara could have chosen Durga, Lakshmi or Saraswathy. But he chose Sarada as the Gnana Shakti Dayini holding the mala, an amruta kalasa, a book symbolic of the Vedas/Akshara gnanam and a parrot. All these symbolise the Sam gnanan, vignanam and atma gnanam that a Guru should possess in leading a sishya/jiva to liberation.

By choosing Sarada and establishing the Guru Parampara to impart the knowledge and take care of the welfare of the sishyas, Adi Sankara in all compassion completed the loop - who to pray to and what to seek! In that context, we are blessed to be the devotees/sishyas of this Guru Parampara.