Chandram Bhaja Manasa

 Chandram bhaja manasa, sadhu hrudaya sadrusham .

Indhradhi loka paleditha tharesam, Indhum Shodasa kala dharam nisakaram, Indhira sahodharam, sudha kara manisam. 

Shankaramauli Vibhushanam Seethakiranam Chaturbhujam Madana Chatram Shaapakaram ,Venkatesha Nayanam Viraanmano Jananam Vidhum Kumuda Mithram Vidhi Guruguha Vaktram, Sashaankam Geeshpathi Shaapaanugraha Paatram Sharacchandrikaa Dhavala Prakaasha Gaatram ,Kankana Keyura Haara Makutaadi Dharam Pankaja Ripum Rohini Priyakara Chaturam.


Now let us understand the verses of this beautiful kriti on Chandra.

 Shodasa Kaala Dharam Nishacharam: Chandra or the moon, known for its youthfulness, has long been associated with the ‘mind’.  The 16 faces of the moon refers to the calculation of the number of days in a month. Each month being divided into 2 Pakshas(Krishna and Shukla). Each day there is a new face of the moon. 16 faces is referred in the Sri Chakra, where ,on the 16th day the moon is not visible. 

Folklore confirmed, Moon’s phase affects rainfall. Recent studies have shown that there is a relation between the water table under the earth and the phase of the moon.Precipitation tends to rise a few days before quarter moon.  Rainfall, by far has been recorded as the highest, immediately after full moon or new moon. Seeds sown on full moon day, are considered to grow better, because, moon’s gravity pulls the water table under the earth towards it.

Shashaankam: The moon has dark patches on it’s surface that appears to delineate an image of a rabbit. An early mention of a rabbit on the Moon appears in the Chu Ci, a Western Han anthology of Chinese poems, buddhist Jataka tales, Japanese anthology, Mesoamerican and Native american legends. Our Carnatic musicians did not miss this Pareidolia. Such is the beauty of the kriti and its composers.

Sheetha Kiranam: Moon rays are cold by nature. Recent scientific findings suggest that Moon is the coldest place in the solar system. Temperatures as low as -375 F has been recorded on the moon.

Pankaja Ripum: The lotus flower always blooms in the broad daylight and gets closed by night, under the moon.

Rohini priyakara chaturam: Hindu mythology believes that Chandra is very dear to the start Rohini. Rohini or Aldebaran (the astronomical name), is a 1st magnitude star. Scientific evidences have shown that, by far ,moon is the only planetary object that can occult Aldebaran. Occultation is an event, when an object in the foreground is hidden by an object in the background.

It is evident that the Sahityam of the Kriti has a wealth of hidden scientific analogy combined with extracts from mythology and gives us great knowledge of the celestial object, the Moon. This further justifies the belief that our music composers had a bit of science on mind when they produced these gems.

Stay tuned for the details on the next set of kritis

— Archana Sirsi for Twaang

picture courtesy solar lunar

Suryamurte Namostute

sUryamUrte namOstu te sundaracchAyAdhipate

kAryakAraNAtmakajagatprAkasha simhArAshyadhipate AryavinutatejassphUrte ArogyAdiphaladakIrte

sArasamitra mitra bhAno sahasrakiraNa karNasUno krUrapApaharakRshAno guruguhamoditasvabhAno sUrijaneDita sudinamaNe somAdigrahashikhAmaNe dhIrAcita karmasAkSiNe divyatarasaptAshvarathine saurAStArNamantrAtmane sauvarNasvarUpAtmane bhAratIshahariharAtmane bhuktimuktivitaraNAtmane


Dissecting the Kriti, reveals the hidden science in the verses.

Sun(Surya) is the head of this universe, the reason for  this very life on earth. He is considered as Chayadipathe,the Lord of Chaya or shadow. 

He is the kAryakAraNAtmakajagatprAkasha, which means he is the illuminator of infinite causes and effects in our world. The charged particles in solar wind, is said to get trapped within the earth’s magnetic field,which acts as a shield from harmful cosmic radiation. Sunlight aids photosynthesis in plants. The very life-cycle and eco system would break down if there is any change in sun’s pattern and schedule.

SimhArAshyadhipate, and this means the Sun is the king of Leo constellation. Sun passes through leo constellation during the summer solstice. Hence the Sun is associated with Leo as it’s king. Summer solstice is a time when the earth’s semi-axis in either the northern or southern hemisphere is most inclined towards the sun . This theory has been proved even by the Greeks.

Saarasamitra(Friend to lotus): Botanical research says, the seedling of Lotus plant requires very high levels of sunlight to form a tuber. Lotus is one flower that shows a strong inclination towards sunlight.  It blooms only under bright sunlight.

Arogyadi Phalada Keerthe, Sunlight performs one of the most basic metabolic activities in our body by maintaining a high body temperature which helps in regulating natural biorhythmic cycle. Modern day science believes that exposure to sunlight has multiple health benefits including improvement in sleep quality. Surya is definitely considered to be the medium for bestowal of health.

Dheerarchitha Karma Saakshine: It is believed that the Sun is the only witness to all activities in this universe.

Divyathara Sapthaashwarathine(Charioteer of seven horses): Seven horses according to hindu mythology denote seven chakras or seven colours of the rainbow. This is a clear illustration of splitting of white light(Sunlight) into seven colours. The seven chakras here are the seven points in the human body which act as the meeting points of energy channels or the naadi as it is called. 

Sourashtrarna Manthrathmane: Sourashtra being the raga of this krithi is a janya raga of 17th Melakartha Suryakanthi raga.

Thus we see that the Sahityam of the Kriti clearly illustrates the scientific analogy hidden and gives us an in depth knowledge of the celestial object, Sun. This further justifies the belief that Carnatic music and science go hand in hand.

— Archana Sirsi for Twaang

Picture courtesy bronze creative

The Navagrahas in the Carnatic World


The Navagrahas worshipped in the Indian tradition are believed to affect our lives on earth in many different ways. The Navagrahas in general have a one on one mapping to the nine planets of our solar system. But then, the term ‘Graha’ doesn’t just  mean a planet. ‘Grihanthi ithi Graha’ is the Sanskrit word, which means Grahas are celestial bodies whose energies can influence  our emotional, verbal and physical perceptions. In a broader sense, this word includes all the celestial bodies like planets, sun, moon, stars, comets and many more, without contradiction.  Our ancestors have personified these Navagrahas by giving them a stature, colour, consort, vehicle, food, clothing, embellishment, god, and demi-god.  This personification has led to the rise of many an interesting literature and musical compositions on the Navagrahas.

The Carnatic world embraces the Navagrahas in the form of the Navagraha Krithis composed by Muthuswamy Dikshitar. Apart from the traditional form of worship, history has it that these krithis have the same potential to influence the Grahas. Dikshitar’s very own disciple Sri. Thambiyappan is believed to have been cured of a stomach ailment after he rendered the krithi on the Graha “Guru”. All the ragas of these compositions are so penetrating, that they have a therapeutic effect on the mind,body and soul.

The amount of astrophysical details these krithis contain is spellbinding. They cover various areas of Science like Botany, Astro physics, human Physiology, Astronomy, Optics, Mathematics and Phenology. Illustrations made in these krithis are observed in modern day science mostly during the post-Industrial revolution era. Some of the descriptions of Grahas in the krithi, are still a mystery to modern-day science. Vedanta, Science and music merge in these krithis.

The Astronomy of the Navagrahas 

Our solar system has nine planets revolving around the sun which is central to the system There is evidence of life only on planet Earth. Indian Astronomy  on the contrary believes that this very life on earth(the human body, mind and soul) is central to the influence of all the other planets, the sun and the moon. The latter appear to occupy different positions at different intervals of time with varied influences on our lives. The solar spectrum and their effects on the seven chakras linked to our human body,mind and soul have very well been dealt with in these krithis.

The astronomical interpretations based on the Saahityam, and the science that lies hidden in these krithis will be presented as a nine part series on our blog in the coming weeks.

Stay Tuned…….

–  Archana Sirsi for Twaang

Picture Courtesy :: chennaicartravels

Sage Narada in the Carnatic World


Devarishi Narada, one of the prime devotees of Lord Sri Vishnu is the most renowned sage in Hindu mythology. It is believed that Lord Shiva was Narada’s Guru who started him on his musical journey. Legend has it that Narada’s foremost contribution to the world of classical music is the introduction of the instrument ‘Veena’ historically termed as Mahathi. Narada is also believed to have influenced two of the greatest composers of Carnatic music, Sri Purandara Dasa and Sri Thyagaraja. Here is a note of the influence the renowned sage had on the two composers.

Sri Purandara Dasa

Sri Purandara Dasa revered as ‘Sangeetha Pitamaha’ , is regarded as an incarnation or avatar of Narada. Sulaadis of Sri Vijaya Dasa and Madhvapathi(Son of Sri Purandara Dasa), highlight that Narada was sent to earth by Lord Sri Vishnu for uplifting people through music. Narada through Sri Purandara Dasa is believed to have inspired the ‘Dasa Pantha’ or the Dasa Tradition that still prevails in parts of Karnataka.

Sri Purandara Dasa systematized Carnatic music by prescribing a syllabus pattern which is still predominant even after 6 centuries. If we analyze this pattern we appreciate that it is purely conceptualized and systematic.

Sri Purandara Dasa was the first person to select Raaga Mayamalavagowla explicitly for beginners. The intention of choosing only this raga for beginners is on the underlying principle of ‘Frequency coupling’. Swaras that occur in this raga are S R1 G3 M1 P D1 N3 S. If we observe the pattern, (S,R1) (G3, M1)(P,D1)(N3,S) as pairs of swaras, we see that the frequency between each pair matches with every other pair. Undoubtedly a beginner’s mind is observed to be most at ease while grasping the frequencies of Mayamalavagowla than any other raga. This concept can definitely be appreciated by a music teacher when an effort is made to replace this raga with any other raga for beginners.

Sri Thyagaraja 

Biographies of Sri Thyagaraja reveal that Narada appeared to Sri Thyagaraja as an old man and bequeathed him with long lost treatises on music namely ‘Swararnava’ & ‘Naradiya’ which served as a Rosetta stone for Sri Thyagaraja. These treatises enabled Sri Thyagaraja  to understand higher intricacies of music. Sri Thyagaraja also composed krithis on Narada, one of them being ‘Sri Narada Muni’ in Raaga Bhairavi. A musical drama called ‘Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam’, written by Sri Thyagaraja  exemplifies Narada’s teachings to Prahalada.

While this is just a small glimpse of Narada’s influence over Carnatic Music, it is worthwhile to commend the sage for giving the classical music its very “life” in the form of shruthi as he is believed to have introduced the Veena into the world of music.

– Archana Sirsi for Twaang

Picture Courtesy Bahgavatam Katha

Lot to learn from experimental music, says Rakesh Chaurasia


By Swetha Kannan

Rakesh Chaurasia, nephew of flute maestro Hariprasad Chaurasia, has the tough task of living up to a renowned surname. Even as he gracefully carries on the family tradition, Rakesh has also managed to carve a niche for himself, reaching out to the youth through his experimental music band Rakesh and Friends. The well-travelled flautist from Mumbai also loves collaborations with musicians worldwide for the “challenging” experience they provide. However, ‘fusion’ music does not mean diluting the core; compositions in fusion music are still based on ragas, says Rakesh, over a telephonic chat with Twaang. More from the man with the magic bamboo wand…

How does it feel to carry on the bansuri tradition of the Chaurasia family? It is tough for me to carry such a heavy weight name. People have a lot of expectations from me. But I take it positively as this keeps me on my toes. I have to keep on practising. Even if I cannot take the name further, I have to keep it at the same level at least.

You are an experimental artist. Are you not worried it will take you away from classical music?

All compositions of my band Rakesh and Friends are pieces in classical ragas. Fusion does not mean confusion. It is a healthy and positive exchange of music between say Indian classical, western classical, and sometimes jazz and swing. Fusion music gives so much liberty and freedom. The problem arises when it doesn’t gel, because you have not rehearsed. The important thing is to sound one. Artists should not sound different from each other on stage. My guru Hariprasad Chaurasia has done everything, from classical to film and fusion music. He is so open to experiments. Artists must do it and then decide if they like it or not. Sticking to one thing can get boring. Apart from fusion, I have also worked for the film industry. This helps you learn when to switch on and off. Experimental music gives you a lot to learn. Besides, fusion music helps you reach the masses and the younger audience, which generally believes classical pieces are too long. The interest has been created. So, nowadays I see the same young faces in classical concerts as well.

How is it collaborating with other artists in the industry? (Rakesh has collaborated with Anil Srinivasan, Zakir Hussain, Abhijit Pohankar, Talvin Singh and international artists such as Edgar Mayer and the Celtic musicians).

All Indian artists fall under the same pocket of classical music. But the western artists do not know what our music is. They have a different style. Their pieces are such that it is so tough to remember everything. It is challenging. The western artists are thoroughly professional. With them, you rehearse from morning after breakfast till you get on to the stage. We Indians are not used to rehearsing so much; we generally see what happens on stage. Of course, sometimes, this extempore helps.

How is the Indian listener different from the western audience?

Unlike in India, there is not much piracy in the West. The western listener still pays money and buys CDs to listen to good quality music. In India, we squeeze everything into MP3s and spoil the music.

What is your take on digitisation of music? Digitisation helps music reach more people. All artists should do this so that their music reaches people properly. The problem with CDs today are that of reach, availability and accessibility. With digitisation, people can listen to music anytime, in the car, on the go, at peace.

Have your children taken to the flute?

They do, as a hobby. I am not pushing them. While playing a traditional instrument, it is important to sit cross-legged etc. But it is hard to make this generation sit and play. This generation is so hyper.

Image courtesy:

Listen to the flute and piano come alive in a collaborative effort by Rakesh Chaurasia and Anil Srinivasan on Twaang.

Indian music for children

Nursery rhymes and western music have always been a part of our children’s growing up years. While this is certainly wonderful, it is also a bit unfortunate that Indian music seldom finds a place in their lives.

Only a few children listen to Indian classical music. And that too because they attend a music class because the parents thought their child was ‘talented’ or ‘musically gifted’.

Initiate your children into classical music as early as you can. This doesn’t necessarily mean enrolling them in a class (we know their extra-curricular calendar is choc-a-bloc already!). Encourage children to listen to Indian music for sheer pleasure. If Carnatic and Hindustani music can have an effect on the fetus in the womb, surely they will work their magic on vivacious young minds too.

Of course, it is important to expose children to the right kind of music early on. There are plenty of peppy numbers and bhajans meant just for children, sung in a manner that will appeal to young ones. Start with simple songs that kindle their imagination. Songs on Krishna always work. Children also take to repetitive chants and rhythmic verses. Of course, you may hear the occasional groan and the ‘ah it’s so boring’ comments, but don’t give up. Slowly but surely, they will start enjoying Indian music.

Try Twaang’s Bhajans for children on the ‘We Recommend’ section. There are 17 tracks including ever-green numbers such as Hare Krishna by S. P. Balasubrahmanyam, Achutam Keshavam by Pallavi Arun, and Om Jai Jagadeesha Hare by Sangeeta Katti Kulkarni, apart from chants on Lord Shiva, Govinda and Ganesha. And let us know what worked and what didnt.