Article
KSHETHRA KRITIS OF MAHARAJA SRI SWATHI THIRUNAL
[Prof: Dr. K. Omanakutty]


It is a universal fact that intensive devotion to God ultimately leads to Moksha.This truth can be traced back to the period of Vedas.In the Bhagavat Gita Lord Krishna declared bhakthi as the most important among the means to attain liberation.Bhakthi cult refers to the nine ways of devotion to reach God.

Sravanam†††††††††††††† -†††† is the first step of the nine fold path of devotion.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† It implies the listening of the stories and songs praisingGod.

Kirtanam††††††††††††††† -†††† Constitutes the recitation of the hymns in praise of God.

Smaranam††††††††††††† -†††† Meditation on the forms of God

Paadasevanam††††††† -†††† Implies service at the feet of Lord.

Archanam†††††††††††††† -†††† Realistic worship at His images.

Vandanam††††††††††††† -†††† Salutation to God

Dasyam††††††††††††††††† -†††† Do services to God as a servant.

Sakhyam††††††††††††††† -†††† Feeling of friendship.

Atmanivedanam††††† -†††† It is complete surrender of the self.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† This is considered as the highest point in the progress of Bhakthi.

The nine-fold devotion is a series of stages in the psychological attitude of the devotee for his spiritual progress culminating in God realization.This is termed as Navavidhabkathi.Swati Tirunal Maharaja is considered as the foremost among the composers of Navavidhabkathi Kritis in South India.

Among these nine bhakthis, the second, namely Kirtana attained great popularity as an easy means for the realisation of God.South India is blessed with great composers in music.They took this path by composing innumerable kritanas replete with bhakthi andthrough that path they attained Moksha.

Music is an inseparable art in Temples.When music was coupled with the daily worship in temple it became Devatamaya Naadaroopa Maarga.South India had and have illustrious music composers who have composed different types of compositions.Temples being the seat of music, musical instruments, dance etc., they have taken much interest in composing a separate set of kritis namely Kshethra Kritis.Following the path a Vaishnavite and Saivite saint singers of 4th & 5th century A.D., in due course the traditional composers of Karnatic music started visiting temples and they composed Kirtanas comprising the glories and details about the temple deities concerned.Such variety of songs about a particular deity of a particular temples are called Kshetra Kritis.The literature part of Kshethra Krities express various facts regarding the temple such as the origin, mythological & sculptural aspects, rituals and rites conducted, forms of deity, festivals connected with the temple etc.

Royal composer Shaahaji of the Maratha Kingdom is considered to be the originator of Kshethra Kritis.Other composers like Thyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshithar, Syamasasthri, Maharaja Swati Tirunal, Veena Kuppaiyar etc.have composed Kshethra kritis.The post trinity period also witnessed a number of songs in praise of various temples and their presideing deities.Kshethra Kritis of Neelakanta Sivan and Muthaiyya Bhagavatar can be quoted as examples.Malayalam composers like Irayimman Thampi, K.C. Kesava Pillai, Kuttikunju Thankachi etc., also have composed songs on temples of Kerala.In Kerala it is beyond doubt that Swati Maharaja ranks asthe foremost among Kshethra Kriti composers.

Maharaja Swati Thirunal was a staunch devotee of Sri Padmanabha.He was very generous to compose Kritis on other deities such as Vigneswara, Subrahmony, Goddesses, Shiva, etc.Even though he composed compositions on other deities also, towards the end of such kritis he extols that Lord Padmanabha always grants the desires of his devotees.That means he could see the other deities only though Sree Padmanabha.The Kshethra Kritis composed by Maharaja Swati Tirunal can be classified under two heads.

a)     Major Kshethra Kritis attributed to the main deity of the temple, eg. Compositions in praise of Lord Padmanabha of Sri Padmanabha Swami Temple.

b)†† Minor Kshethra Kritis comprising the Kritis composed on Upadevatas of a particular shrine. eg: Anjaneya (in Saveri raga, aditala); Narasimhamamava (Arabhi raga Khanta Chapu tala) etc.(in Sri Padmanabha Swami Temple at Trivandrum).

There are differences of opinion regarding the number of Kshethra Krities composed by Maharaja Swati Tirunal.

Features of Kshethra Kritis of Swati Tirunal

One of the salient features of his Kshethra Kritis is the presence of Sthalamudra. The name of the place occurs in anyone of the angas of the kritis.The origin of the shrine, details of festivals conducted in a particular temple can also be met with in some kritis.In every kritis we find the various ascriptions of the deity being described in a lively manner.Another peculiarity of his Kshethra Kritis is that being a great bhaktha Swati Tirunal had given more importance to the virtues of the deity of the temple than the description about the temple concerned.

In these kritis he describes the appearance of the deity and ornaments, weapons adorned by him, Lordsívalor, kindness and the divine vehicles upon which he travels. Lord is being praised and worshipped by all celestials.The anecdotes showing the Lordís deeds can be seen in the literature part of these kritis. Thus these compositions show the deep knowledge of Maharaja Swati Tirunal of various epics and puranas.More over philosophical truths and principles are very well expressed in these compositions.

Even though the Maharaja composed numerous compositions in praise of different deities of different places we get the references about the sthalanama only in 17 compositions.This helps us to locate the places where the temples are situated.In the kritis, the names of the places are seen in the sanskritized form and they very much suited the literature part of the compositions.Out of the 17 krities 6 are attributed to Devi, 7 numbers devoted to Shiva, 2 compositions are in praise of Lord Krishna, 1 for Vishnu and one kriti is on Lord Subrahmanya.

A list Sthala Kritis composed by Maharaja Swati Tirunal is given below:

1.Kriti†††††††††††††††† -†††††† Pahijanani Satatam

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Nattu Kurinji

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Misrachapu

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Parvati Devi

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Kanya Kubja Vasini

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Kanya kumari

Other details††††††† -†††††† Goddess in Kanyakumari

2.Kriti†††††††††††††††† -†††††† Kalaye Parvathi Natham

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Sankarabharanam

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Misrachapu

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Lord Siva

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Sucheendrapurakhya

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Sucheendram

Other details††††††† -†††††† The deity here is called Shtanumalayan and is considered a combination of the Hindu Trinity with Siva predominating
3. Kriti††††††††††††††† -†††††† Vande Maheswaram

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Aarabhi

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Misrachapu

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Lord Siva

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Vasava Suchikaram

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Sucheendram

4.Kriti†††††††††††††††† -†††††† Anandavally

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Neelambari

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Adi

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Parvathi Devi

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Anandavally

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Padmanabhapuram

Other details††††††† -†††††† This is a kriti attributed to Goddess Anandavally.Here he addressed Devi asPadmanabha Sahaja meaning sister of Lord Padmanabha.

5. Kriti††††††††††††††† -†††††† Deva Deva

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Todi

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Misrachapu

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Lord Vishnu

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Adikesava

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Thiruvattar

Other details††††††† -†††††† A place some 35 miles south of Trivandrum.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† The idol here is in Anantasyanam form as in Trivandrum.

6. Kriti††††††††††††††† -†††††† Paalayamamayibho

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Kamas

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Adi

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Lord Siva

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Sree Kandesa

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Sreekandeswaram

Other details††††††† -†††††† Siva of Sreekanteswaram in Trivandrum.

7. Kriti††††††††††††††† -†††††† Paramanda Natana

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Kedaram

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Adi

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Lord Siva

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Sree Kandesa

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Sreekandeswarm

Other details††††††† -†††††† Siva of Sreekanteswaram in Trivandrum.

8. Kriti††††††††††††††† -†††††† Panchabanathanuhara

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Puri Kalyani

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Adi

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Lord Siva

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Sree Kandesa

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Sreekandeswaram

Other details††††††† -†††††† The charana part reads Sree Padmanabha Sevakaanukula

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† means the one who fulfills the desires of devotees of

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Lord Padmanabha.

9. Kriti††††††††††††††† -†††††† Janani pahi

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Sudhasaveri

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Misrachapu

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Parvathi Devi

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Vahinitada Vase

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Attingal

Other details††††††† -†††††† Thiruvarattu Kavil Bhagavathy

10. Kriti††††††††††††† -†††††† Pahi Parvatha Nandini

Raga †††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Aarabhi

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Adi

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Parvathi Devi

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Vahinitada Nivasini

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Attingal

Other details††††††† -†††††† Parvathi of Attingal.Para Devatha

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† (family deity) of the Royal Family.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Sree Padmanabha Swamy is the

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Dynastic Deity (Kula Deivam )

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Attingal is 20 miles north of Trivandrum.

11. Kriti††††††††††††† -†††††† Mathanga Thanayayai

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Panthuvarali

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Adi

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Parvathi Devi

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Varanadee Tadagagai

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Attingal

Other details††††††† -†††††† Parvathi of Attingal.

12. Kriti††††††††††††† -†††††† Deva Mamayi

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Kedara Gowla

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Misrachapu

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Lord Subrahmanya

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Harigeetha Puralaya

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Haripad

Other details††††††† -†††††† Haripad Sanskrtised as Harigitapura is about 70 miles

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† north of Trivandrum in Alleppy District. Subrahmanya

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Kshethra is one among the Mahakshethras.

13. Kriti††††††††††††† -†††††† Deva Palaya

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Asaveri

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Adi

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Lord Krishna

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Ambaranadee Vaasa

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Ambalapuzha

Other details††††††† -†††††† Ambalapuzha is in Alleppey District.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† In between Haripad and Alleppey.

14. Kriti††††††††††††† -†††††† Pahitarakshu Puralaya

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Ananda Bhairavi

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Misrachapu

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Lord Siva

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Tharakshu Puralaya

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Vaikam

Other details††††††† -†††††† One of the famous Siva temples, situated

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† some 20 miles north-west of Kottayam.

15. Kriti††††††††††††† -†††††† Pahitarakshu Puralaya

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Jaganmohini

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Misrachapu

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Lord Siva

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Tharakshu Puralaya

Other details††††††† -†††††† One of the famous Sivatemples.Situated

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† some 20 miles north - west of Kottayam.

16. Kriti††††††††††††† -†††††† Sreekumara Nagaralaye

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Atana

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Adi

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Karthyayani Devi

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Kumara Nagaralaye

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Kumaranalloor

Other details††††††† -†††††† Goddess of Kumaranalloor temple in

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Kottayam Dist.

17. Kriti††††††††††††† -†††††† Pahipankaja Nayane

Raga††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Husini

Tala†††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Adi

Deity††††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Lord Krishna

Stalanama††††††††††† -†††††† Gurupavana Puradhipa

Place†††††††††††††††††† -†††††† Guruvayoor

Other details††††††† -†††††† Song attributed to Guruvayoorappan.

There are a few songs, which mention Panchanadeeswara of Tiruvarur temple.But it is doubtful whether it is composed by Maharaja or not.(Paramabhadrakara in Dwijivanti raga and Kripakataksha in Mohanaraga).

Swati Tirunal Maharaja of Travancore and the Trinity of Tamil Nadu were contemporaries.Certain similarities can be seen in their compositions also. Dikshitar and Swati Tirunal Maharaja adopted Sanskrit as the medium of language for composing their compositions.Ishtadevata of Dikshitar and Swati Tirunal Maharaja are Lord Subrahmanya and Lord Padmanabha respectively.But both of them perceived oneness in various manifestations of God.That is why they have also composed Kritis on other deities other than Lord Subrahmanya and Lord Sri Padmanabha.One of the similarities seen in the compositions of Tyagaraja and Swati is the both of them have composed many compositions describing various festivals connected with temples (eg: Uthsava Prabandha of Swati Tirunal Maharaja and Uthsava Sampradaya Kritis of Thyagaraja).The nishkama bhakthi of Thyagaraja to Sri Rama Deva is parallel to the deep devotion of Padmanabha Dasa Swati Tirunal Maharaja towards Sri Padmanabha Swami.Syamasasthri has composed Navarathna Malika Kritis on Madurai Meenakshi.Navarathri Kritis composed by Swati Tirunal Maharaja can be quoted as a parallel instance.There are also enough similarities in the literature part of these two composers in describing the appearance of Goddess.

South India is fortunate enough to get great composers like the Trinity on account of their distinct contributions in the field of Karnatic classical music.Swati Tirunal Maharaja has also an equal rank with the trinity for his vast number of compositions, varieties of musical forms of high quality, multiplicity of languages, etc.

Considering his vast contributions of music the Trinity can be enlarged to a Quartette.All of them are great rivers enriching the Ocean of Music transcending all Bhedas (differences.)

 

 


 
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