The Ashtamavarana krithi by Muthuswami Dikshithar is “Sree Kamalambike avava” in ragam Ghanta, and in the eighth vibhakthi (sambodhana prathama). The wordings “santataM mukti ‘ghaNTA’ maNighOshAyamAna kavATa dvArE” includes the raga-mudra, which also means “one whose doors have jeweled bells that constantly proclaim liberation”. Ghanta is a fairly popular rare raga; in the sense, there are a number of compositions available, mainly from Sadguru Thyagaraja and Maharaja Swathithirunal; Muthuswami dikshithar also has composed a couple of krithis in the raga – other than these, the participation of other composers are very limited. The raga is considered a janya of mela (8) Thodi raga (also of mela 20, NaTabhairavi), but it is clearly one of those ragas that can’t be discussed by the mere scale. It has shades of several ragas like Punnagavarali, Dhanyasi, Bhairavi, etc. It is interesting to note that while Dikshithar chose all popular ragas for the Kamalamba Navavaranam krithis, he chose this antique raga for the eighth avaranam krithi – a raga which is seldom heard in concert circle now a days !!
The Eighth Avarana is Thrikona; the Chakra is Sarvasiddhiprada chakra,(grants all attainments). The Yogini is Athi Rahasya Yogini; the Mudra is Sarva Beeja; and the Siddhi is Iccha. The mental state is Nitidhyasana. The presiding deity is TripurAmba. The Shaktis are the three: Kameshwari, Vajreshwari and Bhagamalini. This avarana corresponds to the top of the head (masthaka) of the mother goddess. The three angles of the triangle also represent three forms of speech - Pashyanthi, Madhyama and Vaikhari. The triangle is therefore the speech aspect Vak Bhava. It also represents the three powers of iccha (will) , jnana (knowledge) and kriya (activity). The three corners of the triangle stand for three peaks(kuta) of the fifteen_lettered mantra; or as three dimensions of all existence. The triangle itself is regarded the abode of the mother goddess (kama-kala). The primary triangle with its apex downward (East) and colored white (Sattva) surrounding immediately around the central point , Bindu , is the eighth avarana. It is called Sarva Siddhi prada chakra, the one that bestows all accomplishment. This triangle does not intersect with other triangles; and stands independent. It is Kama Kala. It is feminine in its aspect; and represents three fundamental manifestations of the mother goddess: Kameshwari (symbolizing moon – creation); Vajreshwari (symbolizing sun- preservation); and Bhagamalini (symbolizing fire -dissolution).
Sri Dikshitar in divine ecstasy sings the glory of the Mother, the protector of worlds adorned with garland of skulls and holding a trident. She is Bhagamalini, symbolizing fire representing Rudra’s power of dissolution. She is also Tripurambika; the presiding deity of the avarana. She is Balamba. She is the ruler of the Sarvasiddhiprada chakra. She whose body is glowing like molten gold(Santapta Hema Sannibha Dehe); She who is the eternal undifferentiated unique bliss(SadA-akhandaika-rasa-pravAhe ); She who resides in the enchanting Trikona chakra (Santa-apahara Trikona-gehe ); and delighting in the company of Kameshwari (symbolizing moon – creation) and host of other friends (Sa-kAmeshvari Shakti-samuhe). The eight cornered figure that surrounds the Trikona, suggests five basic elements of phenomenal existence (tanmatras: earth, water, fire, air and space), symbolized by five arrows of flowers (pancha bana) which is also the symbol of Kama; passion (raga) symbolized by the noose (pasha); aversion (dwesha) symbolized by the goad (ankusha); and mind (manas) symbolized by sugarcane stalk (ikshu danda); all of which are held by the deity, in the company of the yogini of the avarana , Athi Rahasya Yogini.
This song is set in saMbodhanA vibhakti (vocative). The basic sentence unit (anvaya) is shrI kamalAMbike! avava ... Alokaya mAM (Oh Kamalambika, protect me, ... glance at me), and all the words ending with ``i'' or ``e'' qualify kamalAMbike. The chakra for this AvaraNa, sarva siddhiprada chakra is the innermost triangle in the Srichakra, which houses the bindu, the dot at the centre. The three shakti-s (Kameshvari etc) residing in this chakram are called atirahasya yoginis. The ten incarnations of Vishnu emanate from the fingernails of the Goddess, as mentioned in the Lalita sahasranama “karA~NguLInakhotpanna nArAyaNa dashAkRRitiH”.
Here is an excellent rendition of this krithi by Sangeetha kalanidhi Dr.S. Sowmya.