आनन्द नटन प्रकाशं
(Ananda Natana Prakasham)
A Brilliant composition in Raga Kedaram – Let’s look at the majestic kriti in the soothing Kedaram raga singing the praises of Lord Shiva who resides in the temple at Chidambaram, in the form of ether/space.
The temple town name is from the word – “cittambalam” translating to “the open area of consciousness”. The sthala vriksham here are the mangrove trees . It is also known as tillai (mangrove) natarAja temple . The temple is also associated with sage vyAgrapAda, the one with tiger feet and hence called puliyUr with the Lord called puliyUran. The temple is claimed to be situated at the lotus heart of Universe.
The temple has five main ambalams or sabhai-s:
- Citt-ambalam: the sanctum sanctorum housing the Lord and his consort sivakAma valli.
- Pon-ambalam: the golden roofed hall where the rituals are performed and houses the nishkala space. This is also referred to as the chidambara rahasyam.
- Nritya-sabhai: The place/stage where Lord Nataraja is supposed to have outdanced kALi and displayed his supremacy, establishing this temple as the birthplace of nATya.
- Raja-sabhai: 1000-pillared hall alluding to the thousand-petal lotus, sahasrAra cakra of yogic significance
- Deva-sabhai: Housing the main deities of the temple – Lord Ganesha, Lord Somaskanda and Lord Govindaraja perumal.
The temple is a marvel, providing astonishing stories and thought provoking ideas. The temple has nine gopurams signifying the 9 openings of the human body. One would also notice the East gopuram depicts all the 108 postures of Bharat natya – a great piece of sculpture. The temple is referred in all the significant Shaivite scriptures as the Shaivite kshetra where the Lord performed the divine cosmic dance or the Ananda Tandava.
आनन्द नटन प्रकाशं
आनन्द नटन प्रकाशं चित् सभेषम्
भानु कोटि कोटि सङ्काशम्
भुक्ति मुक्ति प्रद दहराकाशम्
दीन जन संरक्षण चणम्
दिव्य पतञ्जलि व्याघ्रपाद
दर्शित कुञ्चिताब्ज चरणम्
शीतांशु गङ्गा धरम् नील कन्धरम्
श्री केदारदि क्षेत्राधारम्
भूतेशम् शार्दूल चर्माम्बरम् चिदम्बरम्
भूसुरत्रि सहस्र मुनीश्वरम् विश्वेश्वरम्
नवनीत हृदयम् सदय गुरुगुह तातमाद्यम्
वेद वेद्यम् वीत रागिणमप्रमेयाद्वैत प्रतिपाद्यम्
संगीत वाद्य विनोद ताण्डव जात बहुतर भेद चोद्यम्
Ananda naTana prakASaM citsabhESaM
AsrayAmi SivakAma vallISaM
Dikshitar seeks refuge (“AsrayAmi“) in the Supreme Lord who is “the consort of Goddess SivakAma valli, the Lord who displays his effulgence (“prakASaM“) through His blissful (“Ananda“) cosmic dance (“naTana“), the one who is the Lord of the divine cittsabha”.
The pallavi of this composition is a brilliant beginning similar to most Dikshitar’s kritis. Dikshitar starts it with the word “Ananda”. The composition in itself is pure bliss and brings happiness to the listener’s soul. In the first four words, he clearly sets the context and establishes the kshetra with its significance. Lord Shiva’s tAndava rUpam is brought forth in its full majesty and just the way that His resplendent dance illuminates all universe, this pallavi also shines brilliantly among the universe of compositions out there.
Dikshitar refers to the sanctum sanctorum as cittsabha, the hall of consciousness, which is how the garbhagriha is featured. He completes the physical description of the main deities by mentioning the consort, Goddess SivakAmavalli. One can observe how Dikshitar uses the same word “ISa” in different contexts in the pallavi itself, first as “Lord” and then as “husband/consort”.
bhAnu kOTi kOTi saMkASaM
bhukti mukti prada daharAkASaM
dIna jana saMrakshaNa caNaM
divya patanjali vyAgrapAda-
darSita kuncitAbja caraNam
Dikshitar describes the Lord as “the one whose appearance is as resplendent as (“saMkASaM“) crores and crores (“kOTi kOTi“) of suns (“bhAnu“). The one who is adept in bestowing (“prada“) bliss (“bhukti“) as well as salvation (“mukti“) and the one who is worshipped as the form of daharAkASa, the space within a yogi’s heart. The one who is well-known (“caNaM“) for protecting (“saMrakshaNa“) the weak and down-trodden (“dIna jana“)”.
Dikshitar describes the Lord as “the one who bent and raised (“kuncita“) his lotus-shaped (“Abja“) feet (“caraNam“) to give the vision (“darSita“) of his cosmic dance to the divine (“divya“) sages Patanjali and vyAgrapAda”.
In the anupallavi, Dikshitar brings in reference to the primordial element that the Lord represents at this temple, space. Right beside the main deity in the citsabha, is the empty space which is famously referred to as “cidambara rahasyam”, for the Lord is known to pervade this space and the space has no origin or end and hence it remains a mystery.
This space which the Lord pervades and dances in with all His glory is compared to the heart of a staunch yogi/devotee, since that beautiful space is also pervaded by the Lord in all His glory and He dances his resplendent cosmic dance in the heart. This space is called daharAkASa and Dikshitar uses this beautiful word in the anupallavi.
In the last line of the anupallavi, Dikshitar refers to the saints patanjali and vyAghrapAda and the famous event in which the Lord is known to have given darshan to these two divine souls with his foot raised, the same posture that is depicted in the form of the natarAja idol. Saint vyAghrapAda, as his name suggests, was a saint with tiger feet. He is known to have requested the Lord to grant him the feet of a tiger so that he can climb the foliage of big trees and bring back flowers from the tree tops and creepers to decorate the Lord and worship him. The Lord is supposed to have been so pleased with the saint’s devotion that He chose to name this kSEtra itself as puliyUr (“tiger town”) . Musically, every phrase is a stamp of beauty beginning with the lilting gAndara usage at “kOTi” and the smooth shadja – panchama- usage at “bhukti” followed by the “gmpnsnpmgrrs” at “daharAkASaM”. Dikshitar has constructed beautiful soll-kattus to round off the anupallavi, completely in line with the theme of the dancing Lord at this divine kSEtra.
SItAMSu gangAdharaM nIlakandharaM
SrI kEdArAdi kSEtra AdhAram
bhUtESaM SArdUla carmAmbaraM cidambaraM
bhUsura tri-sahasra munISwaram viSvESwaram
navanIta hRdayaM sadaya guruguha tAtaM
AdyaM vEdavEdyaM vItarAgiNaM-
sangIta vAdya vinOdha tAndava-
jAta bahu-tara bhEda cOdyam
Dikshitar describes the Lord as “the one wearing (“dharaM“) the ganges and the moon (“SItAMSu“) and the one with the blue neck (“nIlakandharaM“). He is the foundation (“AdhAram“) of all sacred places (“kSEtra“) beginning with the auspicious (“SrI“) kEdAra. He is the Lord of all living beings and elements (“bhUta“) and is the one whose dress (“ambaraM“) is made out of tiger (“SArdUla“) skin (“carma“). He is the The one who dwells in cidambaraM, the ethereal medium of consciousness. He is the Lord (“ISwaram“) of the three thousand (“tri-sahasra“) Brahmin (“bhUsura“) sages (“muni“) and the Lord of the universe (“viSvESwaram”)”.
Dikshitar continues to portray the compassionate amsha of the Lord by describing Him as “the one whose heart (“hRdayaM“) is as soft as fresh butter (“navanIta“), the ever-compassionate (“sadaya“) father (“tAtaM“) of Lord Guruguha. He is the primordial one (“AdyaM“) and the one whose praises are sung (“vEdyaM“) in the vEdas. The one who is free of all desires (“vItarAgiNaM“), immeasurable (“apramEya“) and expounded (“pratipAdyaM“) the monoism philosophy (“advaita“).”
Dikshitar rounds off the madhyamakAla sAhityam by describing the Lord as “the one who derives pleasure (“vinOdha“) in music (“sangIta“) and instruments (“vAdya“) and the one whose cosmic dance (“tAndava“) both causes (“jAta“) and distinguishes (“bhEda“) the various (“bahu-tara“) questions (“cOdyam“) (about life and beyond)”.
Dikshitar establishes the importance of this great kSEtra as a saivite shrine by referring to the Lord Nataraja at this temple to be the founding basis for all other shrines. It is well-established in the scriptures that it is the divine cosmic dance of the Lord that built and sustains this whole universe. He uses the word “ambaram” consecutively in carmAmbaram and Chidambaram, with the first ambaram referring to the tiger skin that the Lord wears while the latter reference alludes to the esoteric nature of the space that the Lord pervades. Dikshitar also brings in folklore while referring to the 3000 sages in the caraNam. Legend has it the 3000 sages left for Chidambaram from Kailash and on reaching the destination, one was found missing. As confusion prevailed among the sages, the Lord Himself is known to have appeared and clarified that He was one of the 3000 in that group that left Kailash for He wanted to manifest Himself in the south in this great temple.
Dikshitar then brings in references to the Lord being the origin of the universe and how he symbolizes the advaita doctrines. It is quite touching that the Lord shows his merciful side at this shrine as Dikshitar invokes the “navanIta hRdaya” phrase to begin the madhyama kAla sAhityam. What a marvelous and inspiring composition by one of the greatest composers of all time.