Sri. Muthuswami Dikshithar was a great Devi Upasaka and well versed in all aspects of Sri Vidya Upasana. Out of his devotion to Sree kamalamba (one of the 64 Shakthipeethams in India), the celebrated deity at the famous Thyagaraja temple at Tiruvarur, and his compassion for all bhakthas, Sri. Dikshithar composed the Kamalamba Navavarana krithis, expounding in each of the nine krithis, the details of each Avarana of the Sri Chakra, including the Devathas and the Yoginis. Singing these krithis with utmost Devotion, Sraddha and Understanding would be the easy way to Sri Vidya Upasana.
The set of compositions, popularly known as ''KamalAmbA NavAvaraNam'' is a series of eleven kIrtanam-s composed by Sri Dikshithar, in praise of Goddess Kamalamba of the mammoth temple at Tiruvarur. This work is one of the peaks of his creativity. Be it the meaning, the raga or the structure, each one of the kritis is a gem. In this intellectual project, the composer is at his best,the lyrics are superb and steeped in devotion, the theme is lofty, and everything is indeed 'par excellence'!!
The krithis of the Kamalamba Navavarana series are:
1. Kamalambike – Thodi – Dhyanam – Sambodhana vibhakthi (vocative)
2. Kamalamba samrakshathu – Anandabhairavi – 1st Avaranam – Prathama vibhakthi (nominative)
3. Kamalambam bhajare – Kalyani – 2nd Avaranam – Dwithiya vibhakthi (accusative)
4. Shri Kamalambikaya – Sankarabharanam – 3rd Avaranam – Thrithiya vibhakthi (instrumental)
5. Kamalambikayai – Kambhoji – 4th Avaranam – Chathurthi vibhakthi (dative)
6. Shri Kamalambikaya – Bhairavi – 5th Avaranam – Panchami vibhakthi (ablative)
7. Kamalambikaya – Punnagavarali – 6th Avaranam – Shashti vibhakthi (genitive)
8. Shri Kamalambikayam – Sahana – 7th Avaranam – Sapthami vibhakthi (locative)
9. Shri Kamalambike – Ghanta – 8th Avaranam – Sambodhana vibhakthi (vocative)
10. Shri Kamalamba jayathi – Ahiri – 9th Avaranam – (all eight vibhakthis)
(The pallavi employs prathama vibhakti, the anupallavi - the dwithiya and thrithiya vibhaktis, while the charanam has one line each in chaturthI, panchamI, shashti and sapthamI vibhaktis. The line set in chathurthI vibhakti also incorporates the sambodhana, while the two lines sung in madhyamakaala return to the prathama vibhakti.)
11. Shri Kamalambike – Shriragam – an auspicious mangalam.
In each keerthanam, Dikshithar carefully brings out several thantrik details, the name of the chakram, its geometry, many salient features that are specific to the chakram, and the devatas and sub-deities associated with it. On many occasions, DIkshithar cleverly indulges in very lengthy word constructions, which to a layman may seem like a tongue-twister. The phrase “guruguha” (used in several meanings) appears in all these compositions as the composer's signature (mudra). The raga mudra is incorporated (through the art of shlesham (double meaning), in most of these compositions. The dhyana kIrtanam in the ragam Thodi does not feature a raga mudra, and the keerthanams in ragams Anandabhairavi (the first Avarana keerthanam), and Sankarabharanam (the third Avarana keerthanam) have only partial raga mudras (the word “Ananda” for the former, and “Shankara” for the latter). The Kambhoji, Sahana, and Ahiri compositions have disguised raga mudras (Kambhoja, Shana, Ahari, respectively). All other krithis have the proper raga mudra built into the sahithyam.
The Swara-structure, the sequential change of Ragas was methodical:
1. From Ananda-bhairavi to Kalyani meant a change of Gandhara.
2. From Kalyani to Sankarabharanam meant a only a change of madhyama.
3. From Sankarabharanam to Khamboji meant an addition of a nishada.
4. From Khamboji to Bhairavi meant removal of the additional nishada, addition of a dhaivata and change of gandhara.
5. From Bhairavi to Punnagavarali meant removal of the additional dhaivata and introduction of a rishabha.
6. The next song shows changes in gandhara and dhaivata after the removal of the additional rishabha.
7. Ghanta indicates addition of Rishabha and dhaivatha with change in gandhara.
8. The last change is extremely complex. It basically indicates addition of gandhara and nishadha.
As regards the Ahiri, the Raga of the kriti associated with the ninth avarana, there is a view, the raga has all the twenty-two notes in the octave; and such a fusion of all melodic and temporal elements in the same kriti is rather unusual especially when the pallavi has distinctive prose sections put together, seamlessly.