Brahma Sri Kollegal R Subramanyam is one of the greatest carnatic vaggeyakaras, based in Hyderabad but not much known outside. He is also instrumental in installating Thyagaraja statue in Rama temple in Hyderabad. It is a rare experience listening him to sing with uncompromising devotion to the ideals of the great trinity. His music gives the spiritual and moral enlightenment.
Born in Kollegal, the then district of Tamilnadu but now a part of Karnataka, Kollegal Subramanyan started his early education in vocal under the able tutelage of Sri Balakrishna Iyer at Kollegal in the year 1944. From 1944-1953, he underwent the gurukula sikshana at Bangalore under Asthana sangeetha vidwan of Mysore of Sri Belakavadi Varadaraja Iyengar (disciple of the great Post-Trinity composer, Dr. Muthiah Bhagavathar of Harikesanallur). After the intensive sikshana, he was blessed by his guru with the title "Sangeetha vidwan". Kollegal Subramanyam after completing his intensive education in carnatic vocal settled in Hyderabad to teach carnatic vocal music. Till date he has given hundreds of concert all over India and has received appreciation from several eminent personalities. Apart from being an eminent vaggeyakara, he is also highly respected Jothishya Acharya and philosopher. His teachings and works show his profound inclination. he was ordained "Unchavruthi Diksha" by Bhramashri Pudukottai Gopalakrishna Bhagavathar in March 1970 and Srividhya Deeksha by Brahmasri Rajamani in 1979.
In addition to inventing 13 new ragas, his works include over 450 krithis written in various languages. Amongst which are compositions of 72 melakartha ragas on a sole subject - Devi, in just 10 days, Devi Krithi mala panchrathnam, Sri Lalitha Navavaranam, Sri Shodashi vidhya, Sri dasa mahavidhya, Devi navavarna manimala, Navagraha krithis, Venkateshwara manimala, Sringeri Navamanimala, Purandaradasa Nakshathra krithi manimala. Besides, this he has compiled 200 different krithis of Thyagaraja in 200 different ragas in a book form with notations and many such immortal achievements. He is chiefly instrumental in constructing a temple for Saint Thyagaraja at Hyderabad which is hailed as "Chinna Thiruvaiyaru".
The LALITHA NAVAVARANAM is a set of 14 krithis, containing:
1. ChathurAyatana poojAkramaḥ : sthuthis to Gaṇesha, Surya, Viṣhṇu, Shiva, and Guru
2. DaṇḍanAthA sthuthi - GirichakrarathArooḍhAm - Ragam Veenavadini
3. Rajashyamala sthuthi - SyAmaḻAngim Rajamathangim – Ragam Shyamalangi
4. Lalitha poorṇa brahma shakthim bhAvayE – Ragam Aṭhaṇa – 1st avaranam (Trailokya mohana chakram)
5. Lalitha poorṇa brahma shakthim bhAvayE – Ragam Lalitha – 2nd Avaranam (Sarvasha paripooraka chakram)
6. Lalitha poorṇa brahma shakthya rakshithoham – Ragam Hemavathi – 3rd Avaranam (Sarva Sankshobhana chakram)
7. Lalitha poorna brahma shakthyai namamyaham sathatham – Ragam Kharaharapriya – 4th Avaranam (Sarva soubhagyadayaka chakram)
8. Lalitha poorna brahma shakthya paripalithosmi – Ragam Kedaragauḻa – 5th Avaranam (Sarvartha sadhaka chakram)
9. Lalitha poorna brahma shakthyam bhakthim karomi – Ragam Yadukula kambhoji – 6th Avaranam (Sarvarakshakara chakram)
10. Lalitha poorna brahma shakthyaḥ param nahire – Ragam Bhairavi – 7th Avaranam (Sarva Rogahara chakram)
11. Lalitha poorna brahma shakthe Shivasahithe – Ragam Kalyaṇi – 8th Avaranam (Sarva Siddhiprada chakram)
12. Lalitha poorna brahma shakthyai namasthe – Ragam Surutti – 9th Avaranam (Sarvanandamaya chakram)
13. Lalitha poorna brahma shakthirjayathi – Ragam Madhyamavathi – Mangalashasanam
14. Jaya jaya Shri Bhuvaneshvari – Navaragamalika sthuthi (Nattai kurinji, Vandanadhariṇi, Hindoḻam, Bhagesri, Abheri, Kanaḍa, Kunthalavaraḻi, Saveri, Vasantha)
The set of compositions begins with ChathurAyatana poojAkramaḥ; which includes sthuthis to Ganesha, Surya, Vishnu, Shiva and Guru. This poojakramam is described in the book, ‘Vidhyasagaram’ (part of gurumandala pooja paddhathi).
Normally, the Navavaranam recital is heard from the ‘Dandanatha’ sthuthi, ‘Girichakra rathArooḍhAm’ in Ragam Veenavadini. This particular usage seems to have been taken from Sri Lalitha Sahasranamam, the 70th name. Dandanatha is another name for Varahi. She is called Dandanatha because she always carries a staff (danda) in her hands.
kirivat cakrani yasya tam rathamrudhaya dandanathaya puraskrta”
The word kiri means a boar (Varaham). The wheels of chariot are of the dwarf of boar; or it may mean that the chariot is drawn by boars. Kirichakra ratham is the chariot of Dhandanatha devi who is also called Varahi Devi. This devi is considered as very powerful. Her face is like a pig. Her chariot is also in the shape of a pig. She is called Dandanatha because she always carries a danda (staff) with her. Kiri means rays of light and light here means creation. Possibly this could mean that light is the beginning of creation. The holy Bible says (Genesis.I.3) “And God said, let there be light: There was light”. Chakra means the cycle of creation, sustenance and dissolution. A yogi sits on kiri chakra chariot, meaning that he undergoes the process of creation, sustenance and dissolution. But he is not subjected to death. How somebody can be beyond death? Death means the destruction of the physical body and not the atman.
Varahi is one of the saptha mathrukas (seven mothers) who aided the devi in her fight against Shumbha, Nishumbha and their armies. She is described to have human body with eight arms, head of a boar and also having three eyes.In the Sri Vidhya tradition, she is also called the Danda-natha (Lady Commander of the forces of the mother-goddess, symbolizing the might of Sri Vidya).
Sri Maha Varahi Devi, the boar faced sakthi, emerged out of the five flowery arrows of Sri Lalitha. She was made the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. There was a special charka (chariot) for her to ride- the kiri charka. The chariot was pulled by 1000 boars, and the charioteer was stambhini Devi. Her chariot had all the devatas of the devaloka, especially Sri Dhanvanatri- the God of physician and the Asvini duo – the physician of God’s (it is beautiful to note the strategy and compassion that medical care along with warfare was there). She also had different mounts for riding- The buffalo, the lion called simhaghosha, the black antelope with white chest. She was praised with 12 names on her march to war, which is found in the ritual manuals. During the war when Visukra engaged in magical warfare by throwing a vighna yantra, she along with Mantrini were not affected and prayed to Sri Lalitha to remove this obstacle. Again on the third day of battle, when the tarshAstra (weapon causing thirst) was discharged by vishanga, she commanded the Liquor sea (sudha sindu) in the form of a man, who was in her enclosure, to quench this thirst. On the successful completion, granted him a boon of usage in sacrifices. Finally she engaged with Vishanga (The enemy commander-in-chief) and pulled him with her plough and killed him with her pestle. Her kiri chakra was always moving in step with Sri Chakra and geya chakra (of Sri Syamala).
Note: varAhi: the divine power behind the varaha avatar of Sri Vishnu , who lifted the world from the sea, hence a huge form is indicated here.
Please listen to vid. Lalitha Anthanam (1st song in the clip) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5jX9z6_SKY
Rajashyamala Sthuthi : SyAmaḻAngim Rajamathangim in Ragam Shyamalangi
This composition on the Goddess Lalitha is composed in mela (55) ragam Shyamalangi; also called Shyamalam in Dikshithar system. After the invocation krithi on Dandanatha, the composer prays to the Goddess (Dhyana krithi); this is usually designated as Dhyanam – 2.
Please listen to Vid. Lalitha Santhanam (2nd song in the clip - time 3:44 onwards) : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5jX9z6_SKY
1st Avaranam – Trailokyamohana chakram - Lalitha poorṇa brahma shakthim bhAvayE – ragam Athana
Trailokyamohana chakra is the First Avaranam in the Sri Chakram. Here, the word ‘Loka’ indicates MAtha, Meya and MAna; that is the seer (person who sees), the object seen and the act of seeing – or simple, “Kartha, Karma and Kriya”. The compound of all these is ‘Trailokya’. This great chakra enchants these three – the ‘thrailokya’ – and dissolves the three into a single non-dual entity which is what leads to complete Adwaitha (no two). Goddess is described as Triloka janani Tripura sundari Trailokyamohana chakra swamini. She is Animadi Siddhi swaroopini (combination of all the Eight primary siddhis; the description and significance of siddhis can be found in Markandeya Purana and Brahma Vaivarta Purana. The siddhis are Anima, Mahima, Garima, Laghima, Prapthi, Prakamya, Ishitha and Vashitha).
Please listen to Smt. Mridula Aswin, singing the first Avaranam, composed in Ragam Athana : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kr_K8iWY4rY
Another rendition by vid. Kanchana Maya : https://youtu.be/3TAnafxTosM?
2 nd Avaranam - Sarvasha paripooraka chakram - Lalitha poorṇa brahma shakthim bhAvayE – Ragam Lalitha
The word, ‘Asha’ indicates the insatiable desires of the mind and the senses, which lead us more and more towards duality. This great chakra grants all desires by uniting its sAdhaka with ever-satisfied, all fulfilling, Eternal Parabrahman or Paramashiva. This stage is indeed the ‘KAmakoti’, the state of accomplishment of all desires or actually going beyond all desires, by achieving the most desirable thing, which indeed is liberating the Brahma-JnAna.
The composition is set to the very meditative Lalitha Ragam; here is a beautiful rendition by Smt. Mridula Aswin : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RqC02MnEi6E
Another rendition by vid. Kanchana Maya: https://youtu.be/USbGc3ak-mQ?
3 rd Avaranam - Sarva Sankshobhana chakram - Lalitha poorṇa brahma shakthya rakshithoham – Ragam Hemavathi
During dissolution, all the Thathwas, right from Prithvi to Shiva dissolve into one another. This great chakra creates the destructive agitation in all the Thathwas causing duality, thus dissolving any duality in the sAdhaka. It agitates and destroys duality in the sadhaka. The term “Kalashodbhavadi muni” refers to Sage Agasthya, who is said to be born in a ‘Kalasham’ (kumbham or clay pot). Please listen to Smt. Mridula Aswin’s rendition of the 3 rd Avaranam composition in ragam Hemavathi : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0uOLTJkI1f0
Another rendition by vid. Kanchana Maya: https://youtu.be/OEqb_tCtr9Q?
4 th Avaranam - Sarva soubhagyadayaka chakram - Lalitha poorna brahma shakthyai namamyaham sathatham – Ragam Kharaharapriya
Soubhagya is something desired by everyone. This great chakra grants the most desired object to the sAdhaka, which is nothing but the great Parama Shiva or Maha Tripurasundari. The song is composed in Ragam Kharaharapriya; please listen to a rendition by Smt. Mridula Aswin : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WJqsyGokUk
Another rendition by vid. Kanchana Maya: https://youtu.be/s2-sB46YT_A?
5 th Avaranam - Sarvartha sadhaka chakram - Lalitha poorna brahma shakthya paripalithosmi – Ragam Kedaragauḻa
The Fifth Avaranam is the Sarvarthasadhaka Chakram. The ultimate goal of all Vedic and Tantric rites and ceremonies is the attainment of Parama Shiva. Various scriptures elaborate numerous methods to achieve this final beatitude. In the same way as all rivers merge into the great ocean finally, any of these legitimate means take the sAdhaka to the same destination. This great chakra results in the siddhi of all these paths or means – it grants the final sidhi which is doubtlessly ‘Parabrahma PrApti’.
This Avaranam krithi is composed in ragam Kedaragoula, sharing a rendition by Smt. Mridula Aswin : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a60gOE15w90
Another rendition by vid. Kanchana Maya: https://youtu.be/sPjjqQrw2GE?
6 th Avaranam - Sarvarakshakara chakram - Lalitha poorna brahma shakthyam bhakthim karomi – Ragam Yadukula kambhoji
The Sixth Avaranam corresponds to the Saravarakshakara chakram. This great chakra protects the sAdhaka from all forms and kinds of Avidya and Duality, which are the only reasons for misery and grief. The visible world, constitutedof the 36 thathwas is impermanent and since these thathwas grant ‘Bhedadrishti’ or a sense of separation between the Atman and the Paramatman. The world has to be rejected as falsehood. By flooding the “Shivoham” bhAvana (the sense of I am Shiva - or the Adwaitha bhAvana) through the sAdhaka, this chakra protects him from the treacherous ‘SamsAra’ composed of 36 thathwas, all leading to duality. When the sAdhaka realizes himself and the entire world as not separate from Parama Shiva, he is automatically protected from Avidya. What this chakra does is to destroy the ‘Idamta’ or sense of this by the pure awareness of ‘Amamtha’ or I-ness. Please listen to the composition in ragam Yadukula kambhoji, corresponding to this avaranam, from Smt. Mridula Aswin : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-KMWMhGzMY
Another rendition by vid. Kanchana Maya: https://youtu.be/vQ58emaVlLo?
7 th Avaranam - Sarva Rogahara chakram - Lalitha poorna brahma shakthyaḥ param nahire – Ragam Bhairavi
The Seventh Avaranam is known as Sarvarogahara Chakram. This composition in ragam Bhairavi is on the Seventh Avaranam. There is no worse disease than SamsAra, which induces duality, due to its constituent 36 Thathwas, which are different from each other. This great chakra destroys the disease of this samsAra, which is the root cause of all other types of diseases.
Here is an excellent rendition of the Avarana krithi by Smt. Mridula Aswin : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjseSCNR1Mc
Another rendition by vid. Kanchana Maya: https://youtu.be/HMPFAZPZ-rQ?
8 th Avaranam - Sarva Siddhiprada chakram - Lalitha poorna brahma shakthe Shivasahithe – Ragam Kalyaṇi
The Sarva siddhiprada chakra indicates the potentiality to create, maintain and destroy the Universe. Chit-Shakthi is indeed responsible for the Siddhi of the Universe. Thus, the rikona (Triangle) chakra is responsible for creation, preservation and destruction; while the other two acts, namely TirodhAna and Anugraha are indicated by these three only.
Please listen to the Kalyani raga composition on this eighth avaranam, by Smt. Mridula Aswin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OMGUFtz9i5A
Another rendition by vid. Kanchana Maya: https://youtu.be/7hnZJkacSxI?
9 th Avaranam - Sarvanandamaya chakram - Lalitha poorna brahma shakthyai namasthe – Ragam Surutti
The ninth and last Avaranam is the Sarvanandamaya Chakram; the composer has chosen a mangala ragam, Surutti for this krithi. The state of complete harmony of Shiva and Shakthi exists in the Sarvanandamaya chakram. Thus this Chakra is the very personification of eternal, limitless Bliss. This grants Brahmanandam to the sAdhaka.
Here is an excellent rendition of this composition by Smt. Mridula Aswin: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CKFz4cADp9Y
Another rendition by vid. Kanchana Maya: https://youtu.be/nWgnXgxdsOY?
Mangalashasanam - Lalitha poorna brahma shakthirjayathi – Ragam Madhyamavathi
After describing all the nine avaranams, we come to the innermost “Bindhu”, where the Goddess is seated. The Mangalashasana krithi is praising and worshipping her; this is composed in the beautiful, mangala ragam, Madhyamavathi.
Another rendition by vid. Kanchana Maya: https://youtu.be/fFmPJwh7_EQ?
Jaya jaya Shri Bhuvaneshvari – Navaragamalika sthuthi
The navavarana krithis end with a very divine sthuthi, composed in nine Ragas - Nattai kurinji, Vandanadhariṇi, Hindoḻam, Bhagesri, Abheri, Kanaḍa, Kunthalavaraḻi, Saveri, Vasantha. The rendition of these krithis will not be complete with mangalam alone; the Navaragamalika sthuthi also is to be sung. It begins with “Jaya jaya sri Bhuvaneswari jaya jaya” and carries these words till the end, “Sri Lalitha Parameswari jaya jaya” (meaning Victory to thee, victory to thee throughout).
Here is Smt. Mridula Aswin, singing this extremely divine composition, addressing the Goddess: