Saturday, August 03, 2013

Meenakshi Me Mudam Dehi! (Part 1)

Even before you start reading this, I want to put in a disclaimer - Though, the aim of the entry is to explore the meaning of the song 'Meenakshi Me Mudam Dehi', there is indeed an overdose of Philosophy here. There might be better places in the web if you want to quickly get the meaning of this carnatic composition. I dabble in a lot of religion and philosophy. In case that is something you don't enjoy, please skip the parts of this entry which are in italics. 

Meenakshi Me Mudam Dehi is a BRILLIANT composition by Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar, one of the best composers in Carnatic Music, and a radiant member of the Carnatic Trinity.

Sri Dikshitar was an adept worshipper of Goddess and was an expert in a mystic way of worship of the Goddess, called Sri Vidya. Needless to say, the worshipper of the Goddess are indeed blessed with brilliance of vak (speech / expression) [Kalidasa being another famous name that comes to mind]

This song is one of the Crowning Jewels of Sri Dikshitar's creation - This might be the reason why he chose to give up his mortal coils after singing this song. He was indeed a Maha Yogi who knew the time of his death.

His Holiness, Sri Shankaracharya, Sri Vijayendra Sarasawati of Sri Kanchi Mutt in a discourse said that, Lord Vishnu, in His Varaha Avatar had to go in Search of Vedas that were hidden, and reveal it to the world. However, what is that Vedas themselves are in search of? They are in search of the Grace of Sri Meenakshi!

The composition starts with a bold demand from Sri Dikshitar:


Meenakshi, me mudam dehi!

Oh Meenakshi, give (dehi) me (me) Bliss (mudam)!

"Sukham me'syat" declares the Vedas. Everyone is in search of happiness either consciously or subconsciously. No one wants pain. Everyone wants happiness. Every action of a person is either for happiness or to avoid pain. Absolutely, no one wants pain / suffering.

Is it possible to get only Bliss? Is there a state when one feels no sorrow? Who can bestow that state? The only person who can Grant the state is Meenakshi. Is there a reason why one has to give veiled requests to ones own Mother? So, Dikshitar, directly demands Meenakshi, to give Him the eternal Bliss.

Mechakangi, Raja Matangi

She wears ornaments of Gold (mechakangi) - In Tantrik way of worship of the Goddess, She is worshipped as Ten Major Knowledge Forms (Dasa Maha Vidyas) - Matangi is the ninth form in the Dasa Maha Vidyas. Meenakshi is the Queen Matangi - Raja Matangi! Interestingly, in worship of Goddess, Raja Matangi can be worshipped without any initiation from a Guru (mantras for Matangi, can be recited only under the strict supervision of the Guru)


Maana Maatru Meye Maye
People who delve in Indian Vedic Philosophy will know of the classic 'Triputi' - The actor, action, object. For e.g, in Nirvana Shatakam [1] Sri Adi Sankara  says  - 'aham bhojanam naiva bhojyam na bhokta' - i.e. I am not object of enjoyment, nor the act of enjoyment nor the one who enjoys.

Similarly, Sri Dikshitar extends this further by saying - Meenakshi is the knower (maana), knowledge (maatr), the object that is known (meye)  and act of knowing (maye)

Marakatha Chaaye
Sri Meenakshi is supposed to have a greenish hue - In fact all pictures of Meenakshi show her in a Green dress and She herself is of Green color.

I want to recollect an incident here - One of my friends is an intense Matangi worshipper. He once got a note on some other Form to perform a particular worship. The first day he began his new worship (upasana) to the other deity, the same night a Lady in Green dress came in his dream and said 'Why do you have to perform other ways of worship while I am there?' - Needless to say, my friend didn't get into other ways of worship! 

Which other Goddess will answer the same night? :-)  [It was obvious it was Matangi because of Her Greenish hue and dress, and for the fact that my friend was a Matangi worshipper!]

Shiva Jaaye
She is the consort of Shiva, in the form of Sundereshwarar in Madurai. The Jaaya means wife / consort. So,she is the Consort of Shiva.

This again brings me another incident to my mind of Sri Kanchi Maha Periyava. Once Maha Periyava was offering flowers to Sri Saraswati along with a Vedic Scholar chanting Her names sitting behind Him. After every name was chanted, Maha Periyava would offer a flower. Once after a name was chanted 'Sri Brahma Jayayai Nama:' Maha Periyava did not offer the flower. He held his flower in His hand in a raised position, but did not  offer to Goddess. The scholar repeated the name again loudly. Sri Maha Periyava did not offer the flower yet. He kept His hand raised. This happened a few times. Sri Maha Periyava did not offer the flower. There was a flurry of activity  in the Kanchi Matam. Then a group of scholars came to this place, and they finally corrected the pronunciation - The original scholar misread it as 'Sri Brahma Jayayai Nama:' which means One who won over Brahma, which is incorrect. Finally, the scholar corrected himself and said, 'Sri Brahma Jaayayai Nama:' - One who is consort of Brahma (Jaa instead of Ja). Sri Kanchi Mahaswami then offered the flower to Goddess! It goes to show how the Mahaswami Sri Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Peetathipadhi Pujyasri Paramacharya Chandrashekara Saraswati was involved with fullest attention in every action. It was not mechanical - He used to perform His rituals with utmost love and affection.  (I am sorry about the long name - sometimes I can't address Him any less- But rest assured, I usually call Him as 'Maha Periyavaa')

Meena Lochani Paasha Mochani
One Who has beautiful eyes like a fish - In Indian context, it is considered to be beautiful for women to have long eyes like a fish. Actually, the Goddess' name is derived from One who has eyes (Aksha) like fish (Meen) (So, MeenAkshi)

Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar seems to lose Himself in the beauty of the Goddess, just like Sri Sankara's heart melted when He meditated on the Form of the Goddess and Saundarya Lahari poured out. 

The ultimate reality is One. Rig Veda proudly asserts 'Ekam Sat Vipraha Bahuda Vadanti' - Truth is One, but Learned describe it in many ways. Though the Supreme Reality is One, it expresses itself in various forms. Why? The ONLY reason why the Supreme Goddess expresses Herself in various Forms is to thrill Her devotees and plunge them in final ecstasy of union with divine. 

Sri Meenakshi is the Supreme One, exists only to enchant Her devotees. Her devotees finally lose themselves in Her Grace and Beauty and finally cannot think of anything but Her. When this Bond with Goddess is so strong, all other bonds slowly lose their strength, and for the devotee, only Goddess and bond with Her remains. All other bonds with material goods and other relations are cut. 

So, the one with eyes like fish (Meena Lochani) is the One who cuts out all our bonds (Paasha Mochani) - The word Pasasha is bondage and Meenakshi is the one who cuts and relieves us of the bondage (Mochani)

So, when Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar knew His time had come, He called all His disciples, and asked them to sing this song, and finally, he sung this song too. When He reached this line of the song, he repeatedly sang this line a few times with tears pouring out, and then he sat firm and gave up his life after uttering 'Shive Pahi' (Oh Auspicious One (Shive), Protect me! (Pahi))

The word Shivam means the most 'Auspicious' - Indeed Goddess Meenakshi is the Most auspicious One and hence the hallowed soul, Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar merged into Her.

In the first line he starts demanding (not requesting) Meenakshi to give him the Supreme Bliss - Indeed, Goddess gave him that when She took him to Her when he gave up his life. 

Just the pallavi and anupallavi have taken so much space :-) - I'll share my commentary on the Charanam in Part 2. I hope it doesn't come out 2 years  later! 

PS:- Minor edits:
(1) I had wrongly mentioned this as Totakashtakam - Thanks to pointing out by a well-wisher/friend - I have now corrected the reference to Nirvana Shatakam from Totakashtakam 
(2) Corrected some minor pronoun references
(3) Actually, I haven't completed the anu pallavi :-) - Only half of it is complete. Will complete it this week.


Anonymous said...

Oh so great!! Your comments on Maha Periyava are also stirring! Best Wishes to you! Prayers to Meenakshi to grant everyone the peace and solace in life

Sriram Venkateswaran Iyer said...

Thanks! Glad you liked it!

Anonymous said...

One of my ever green favourite song soaked in Bhakti and your interpretation made it more lovable,thanks...

Anonymous said...

Mecaka does not mean golden ornaments, mecaka means dark blue.

Sriram Venkateswaran Iyer said...

@Anonymous (2) - Thanks!

@Anonymous (3) - Thanks a ton! Should we interpret this as one wearing Dark Blue Dress?

Mohan Santhanam said...

Very nice to come across this. In my opinion "too much" can never be written on this kriti. Thanks for the detailed explanations. Regards, Mohan

rupa said...

I am learning this krithi now
Your detailed description helped me understand it better
I want to read charanam

Sriram Venkateswaran Iyer said...

Mohan / Rupa,
Thanks for the comments!

The charanam explanation can be found here -


Anonymous said...

Today, I went to the beach front with my children. I found a sea shell and gave it to my 4 year old daughter and said "You can hear the ocean if you put this to your ear."
She placed the shell to her ear and screamed. There was a
hermit crab inside and it pinched her ear. She never wants to go back!
LoL I know this is entirely off topic but I had to tell someone!