Prof. Veezhinathan highlighted the Advaita philosophy in Dikshitar kritis.

Prof. Veezhinathan, retired professor, the University of Madras, presented a lecture on ‘Advaitha concepts in Muthuswamy Dikshitar kritis' at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, recently. The theme was ‘Maya'.

The erudite speaker pointed out to the philosophical route before us to rid ourselves of Maya that engulfs us. We have to traverse the path towards wisdom (atma gnanam) guided by bhakti which would lead us to salvation (moksham).

Veezhinathan referred to a group of Dikshitar kritis and this polyglot's kriti ‘Maye Thavam Yahi Maam Padhithum Kahi' in Suddha Tharangini became the focal point. He explained how Dikshitar both welcomes and bids Maya to leave him free in this particular song. Maya has its two predicates, the veil that hides what is real (Avarna Sakthi) and the liberating power (Vikshepa Sakthi). Dikshitar begins by questioning the identity of the former force and yet beckons the same force, worships it and also meditates upon it. Maya disguises the Suddha Chaitanya and thus causes us our bodily existence (Jeeva Bhava) and all our ills can be attributed to the lack of realising this governing principle. We tend to be concerned of our mundane (sareera) needs all the time, often forgetting to think of the greater and nobler purpose of life.

Is real freedom possible? ‘Maye' offers a solution. Veezhinathan quoted extensively from Lalitha Sahasranamam, Vishnu Sahasranamam and Soundarya Lahari, and established the interconnectedness that exists between the slokas that we chant daily and the other profound treatises that delineate the entire meaning contained in our system of thought.

Bhakti matters

Dikshitar, known for his meditation (upasakar) on Sri Vidya, views Devi as Maya Swaroopini, the cause of worldly ills born out of our ignorance and also beseeches her to provide necessary knowledge that could be attained through upasana or bhakti.

The other songs chosen for this lecture were ‘Ganarajena Rakshithoham' (Arabhi), ‘Suryamurthe' (Sourashtram), ‘Sri Mathrubootham' (Kannada), ‘Sri Sathyanarayanam Upasmahe' (Shuba Pantuvarali) and ‘Sri Subramanyaya Namasthe' (Khambodi). Veezhinathan gave a line-by-line interpretation of these kritis and detailed the powers of these deities, their deeds and how they would assist mankind in approaching the ultimate destination.

Earlier Dr. Asha, who has done extensive research on Advaita and Dikshitar, in her prelude mentioned how Dikshitar's kirtis have the depth of Advaitic thought as their bedrock and mentioned that Dikshitar while using the form of song,offered highly philosophical truths. A series of programmes has been planned, she said,to bring to light the Advaita philosophy.

Radha Parthasarathy sang Dikshitar's compositions following Veezhinathan's narrations. Her rendering was marked by a clear voice and her alapana for Khambodi had a fine sense of balance.

Violin accompaniment was provided by Giridhari who played a pleasant alapana for Khambodi. Laya support came from Sridhar Sankaran on the mridangam whose accompanying style was restrained and provided adequate rhythmic phrases that fitted the songs.

The lecture, second in the series, was organised jointly by the Adi Sankara Advaita Research Centre and Gaanapriya Foundation. (sivakumar2004@