Monday, February 02, 2009

Hymn to Her

Fun with liturgy

Here's one of the Charya Giti I have been transliterating and, partially, translating. Not because I am good at it (I'm not really), but so that I can understand the dances I am learning. There are no English versions of these songs and poems. For those who've just tuned in, I am here studying the Newari Buddhist Charya Giti or Buddhist devotional dances.

Most of the lyrics I can "feel" but don't think my literal translation will do them justice. This is my attempt. There is a chance that this gita appears translated/literated in Kvaerne's 1977 Anthology of Buddhist Tantric Songs (Oslo) but as I can't locate this publication, I don't know.

My goal is to create an illustrated book of the Giti with Sanskrit, English phonetic and English translation, some background and illustrations of each Deity.

Sri Kurukulla Devi
Raga: Nata .... Tala: Jati
(the Raga is the South Asian equivalent of the key or "mode." This set of notes determines the "mood" of the melody much as the key does in western music - imagine playing "She Loves You" in Eminor instead of Emajor.
Tala is the rhythm or time signature of the piece. Again, imagine playing "She Loves You" in Waltz-time instead of 4/4. Changes everything. Every dance student must know their talas and ragas to some extent, though not as thoroughly as music and singing students.)Kurukulla
Tribhuvana jananii sri kurakullaa devii
Svetavarna makuta keshii trinayanaa
Mother of the three worlds, Sri Kurakulla goddess...
White-coloured with a crown of hair, three-eyed....

Namami devii sri kurakullikaa taraa
Chatura bhujaa karti khatpara shara dhanudharii

We bow to goddess Sri kurakulla the deliverer
Four-armed, holding chopper, knife, bow and arrow.
Rahu mastaka sthita nrtyapada dharii
Natha shodasha bhujaa aalikngana chun.
Tribhuvana vyapita niilavarna dehaa
Tumha varna devi anuttara sangama
Tempting Rahu (?), standing in a dance-pose
Permeating the three worlds, with blue-coloured body...
(This part confuses me. At one point she's red, at another blue....Sodasha means sixteen; the verse seems to say she has 16 arms but elsewhere she is described as "looking 16 years old.")
Piivad re mahaarasa sudrishta dehaa
Namami sri devii loka udharitaa
Drinking Maharasa (amrit), her form pleasing to see
I bow to the Goddess who uplifts the world
Bhanayikulishaa ratna giita charitaa
Namami sri devii loka udhaaritaa.
(This verse is an attribution stanza telling the name of the Gita composer; and again I bow to the goddess who uplifts the world.)

Here is more about Kurukulla from, which appears to be a cool and informative vajrayana web site.

And here is a fun "message from Kurukulla" which was received by Akkarri at Spontaneous Combustion. I especially liked this part:

"I am DANCING. This is to show you how to manifest divine energy for benefit of all....itting in uniform rows reciting rote attribute-lists of the results of human male ego-trips is not a Divine Activity, because it has nothing whatsoever to do with the acknowledgement of MY DANCE."

Related reading: 
Meditation auf Kurukulla 


Winnowed said...

Very interesting stuff

Sudarshan Gopalakrishnan said...

The Vajranatha website says, 'She was also taken into Hinduism for her name is found among the one thousand epithets of Mahadevi in the Lalita-sahasra-namah."

Lalita Sahasranama calls her "Kurukulla Kuleswari." However, I think Buddhism derived her from Hinduism as I understand that Lalita Sahasranama is way older than Buddhism.

Very interesting that you are finding a lot of these common factors between Buddhism and Hinduism. Keep up the good work and good luck learning exotic dance forms.