Dikshitar's insight into astrology and science
Muthuswamy Dikshitar is well known for his specialized compositions on various deities. One such group of compositions is on the nine planets (Navagraha kritis). These kritis demonstrate Dikshitar's skill in Sanskrit, as he brought out the raga mudra (symbol) in a few kriti.
There are seven principal planets and two chaya grahas. The kritis are set in sapta (seven) suladi talas. The kritis are also known as Vara Kirtanas, sung in praise of deities who preside over each day of a week.
Muthuswamy Dikshitar was well known among the trinity for his in-depth knowledge on various religious and spiritual subjects.One among his group compositions consisted of vara kritis, on each day of a week.Musicologists felt that Dikshitar had originally composed only seven kritis.Each of these kritis fall under the suladi sapta talas.The two other kritis on Rahu and Ketu were additions and in course of time, this group kritis came to be called as Navagraha kritis.Nevertheless the Navagraha kritis also reveal Dikshitar's insight into astrology and science.
Legendary vocalist Madurai Mani Iyer had popularized these Navagraha kritis with his adept rendering. He was a great worshipper of the planets and firmly believed that only with the blessings of Navagrahas, one can overcome the shortcomings in life.Hence, he made a practice to sing them,during his concerts.
The first kriti "Suryamurte" is in raga Saurastra and set to Dhruva (catushra) tala(14 beats) This kriti is in the praise of Sun (Surya) God. Dikshitar first salutes the Sun, who is the spouse of Chaya Devi. He is the Lord of Simha Rasi. He is the friend of Lotus, making it bloom and illuminates the whole universe with his divine light. He is the destroyer of all sins and father of Karna of Mahabharatha. This Sun God has lots of fondness towards Guruguha.
He is foremost among all planets. He is riding a chariot with seven horses. Here, the raga mudra is given as Saurasthrarna Mantra, which is his soul. Finally, this God (Sun) gives salvation (Mukthi) to those who worship him.
The second Kriti is "Chandram Bhaja Manasa" in raga Asaveri and set to Matya (caturashra) Tala. This kriti is in praise of the presiding deity Moon (Chandra). Chandra controls the mind. Hence, Dikshitar asks the mind to sing the praise of Moon, who is the spouse of Tara. He is worshipped by Devandra(Indra) and Lokapalakas. He is also the brother of Divine mother Lakshmi. He produces nectar. He is the creator of night and the Lord of sixteen Kalas (16 lunar phases).
He bears the mark of a hare. He is adorned by Lord Shiva in his crest. He has cool rays and makes peoples' mind cool. He has four hands (chatur bhuja). Chandra is one eye to Lord Venkatesha. Chandra came from Virat Purusha's mind. He is capable of producing herbal medicines. He is both cursed and blessed by Brihaspathi. Chandra is white like a Sharath Kala (autumn moon). He is adorned with ornaments like Kankanam (wristlet), Keyura (armlet), Mala(garland) and Crown. He is very affectionate to Rohini.
The third kriti is "Angarakam" in raga Surati and set to Rupaka Tala. This kriti is in praise of the Lord Angaraka. He is the divine Mandara tree and the presiding deity of Mangalavara (Tuesday). He is like a Karpaga Vriksha (Manadra tree) to the people who worship him. He is the son of the Mother Earth. He is the Lord of Mesha Rasi (Aries) and Vrishabha (Scorpio) rasi-zodiac. He shines with a reddish form and adorns weapons like the sword and trident.
He has the feet and neck, which are very beautiful, and rides on the goat. His highest apogee-peak is the Makara rasi(Capricon). He is worshipped by both gods and demons and has a charming smile. He is worshipped in the Vaidyanatha Ksethra(near Tanjore). He is the friend of Surya and Chandra.
The fourth kriti is "Budhamasrayami" in raga Natakurunji and set to Jhampa(Misra) Tala. This kriti is in praise of Lord "Budha", the son of Chandra and Tara. He is the most intelligent. He is made happy by Bhusuras. He is capable of composing sweet poetry. He has a bright form like saffron. He makes Guruguha delightful with his presence. He is the enemy of Kuja. He adorns Ratna Krida (gem-studded crown), necklace and bracelets. He is the presiding deity of Mithuna (Gemini) and Kanya (Virgo) Rasi. He is Napumsaka (neuter), devoid of all sins. He protects the devotees of Lord Shiva. He is always joyful.
The fifth kriti is "Brihaspathe" in raga Atana raga and set to Triputa(Tisra) Tala. The kriti is in praise of "Brihaspathi"- Guru (Jupiter) Lord of Tara. His father is Lord Brahma. He is the guru of Devas. He is the commander of speech. He adorns the Vajrayutha (thunderbolt). He is the father of Kacha. He is free from old age. He is like a wish-yielding divine Kalpataru to those who worship him. He is manifest in the four phases of speech (Para, Pashyanti, Madhyama and Vaikari). Para and others shine with his glorified power. He is the remover of obstacles. He is the author of Smrithi (Code of Conduct). He grants the fruits of sacrifices. He makes Paramashiva and Guruguha delightful.
The sixth kriti is "Sri Sukra" in raga Paras and set to Ata (Khanda) Tala. This kriti is in praise of "Sukra"(Venus), who has complete knowledge of all truths. He is a poet and the authority for marital success. He is the Lord of Rishabha (Tauras) and Tula (Libra) zodiac (rasi). He is the guru of the Asuras. He got back his one eye by the grace of Keshava. He wears a crown and his body is white. He takes twenty years to complete one rotation. He is a poet. He is hostile towards Sun and Jupiter. He grants Royal richness and delight's Guruguha.
The Seventh kriti is "Divakara Tanujam" in raga Yadukulakambhoji set to Eka (chaturashra) Tala. This kriti is in praise of "Shani", the son of Surya who is very courageous. He causes fear in people, who are deep rooted to worldly life. He is capable of giving auspicious rewards to worshippers of Lord Shiva. He is dark. He is the brother of Lord Yama. He rides on the crow and is dressed in blue. He is fearless. He is also adorned with blue sapphire stones and blue garland of flowers. He delights in lamps lit with sesame oil and rice cooked with sesame seeds. He is the Lord of Makara and Kumbha Rasi. He is Kamadhenu (divine cow) in wish granting and son of Chaya Devi.
The eighth kriti is "Smaramyaham" in raga Ramamanohari and set to Rupaka Tala. This kriti is in praise of "Rahu," who is being looked at by Surya and Chandra. His body is distorted. He has qualities of both the Devas (celestial) and Asuras (demons). He will drive away the fear of poisonous serpents (Sarpas) from the mind of devotees. He is seated in a Surpasana and carries the Trident weapon. "Kayanarna" mantra makes him delightful. He looks at devotees with compassion. He has four hands (Chatur Bhuja). He is adorned with the weapons like Sword (Katkam) and armour (Ketaya). He wears a blue dress. He is adorned with the Komethaka gems ornaments. He is the friend of Lord Sani and Sukra and makes Guruguha happy.
The Ninth kriti is "Mahasuram" in raga Chamaram and set to Rupaka Tala. This kriti is in praise of "Ketu," the extremely powerful among Asuras (demons). He is the top most of the Chaya Graha (Demons). He is adorned with an extraordinary crown and silk garments. He is seated on a human being. He likes to take the horse- grain (Kuluttha) as his food. He is amidst nine planets. He is born of the Jaimini lineage, whose weapon is anger. He is pleased while chanted with the hymns "Ketum Krnvan". He bears the white chamara (umbrella) belonging to Guruguha. He is the ornament of good people, who have defeated the guna doshas (good and bad). He is the reason for causing eclipses. He rotates all the planets in anti-clockwise direction.