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During the last seven navarAtri seasons, we featured the following thematic topics in  Carnatica’s Special Features section:

In addition, we also uploaded several stOtrams on dEvi  (saundaryalaharI, lalitA sahasranAmam, and so on), appropriate for chanting on this festive occasion.  They can all be accessed from  the “shlOka bank of Carnatica’s Composition Bank.

This year (eighth season), we shall discuss the unique collection of 108 kIrtanams, popularly known as the "cAmuNDa aSTOttara shata kIrtanams", composed by gAyaka shikhAmaNi Dr. HartikEshanallUr Muthiah BhAgavatar,

|| shrI mahAtripurasundaryai nama.h ||

mAtarmE madhukaiTabhaghni mahiSaprANOpahArodyamE

hElAnirmitadhUmralOcanavadhE hE caNDamuNDArdinI |

nishshESIk.rtaraktabIjadanujE nitye nishuMbhApahE

shuMbhadhaMsini saMharAshu duritaM durgE namstEMbikE ||


aSTau bhujA"ngIM mahiSasya mardinIM

sasha"nkhacakrAM sharashUladhAriNIm |

tvAM divyayOgIM sahajAtavEdasIM

durgAM sadA sharaNamahaM prapadyE ||


durgE sm.rAa harasi bhItimashESajanto.h

svasthai.h sm.rtA matimatIva shubhAM dadhAsi |

dAridryadu.hkhabhayahAriNi kA tvadanyA

sarvopakArakaraNAya sadArdracittA |\



spuTaraNanmaNinUpuramEkhalA |


jayatu shuMbhanishuMbhaniSUdinI ||

1. Goddess cAmuNDEshvari

The cAmUNDi hill, also known by the purANic name, mahAbalagiri, lies on the outskirts of the city of Mysore, in the present day KarNATaka state.  From its top, at an altitude of more than 1000 feet, one gets the panoramic view of the vast plains below.  The majestic Temple, dedicated to Goddess cAmuNDEshvari is located on the hilltop. The Goddess, who vanquished the buffalo-headed demon mahiSAsura, and relieved the people of his atrocities, is worshiped here as mahiSAsuramardini.  The city itself derives its present name, Mysore (mahishUru) honoring the conquest of the legendary demon by the Goddess.

This exemplary Dravidian style temple is a vast quadrangular structure with a splendid, seven-storied gOpuram (temple tower), about 40 meters tall, located at its entrance, which is visible from far away. This gOpuram was constructed by mahArAjA k.rSNarAja WodeyAr III (1794 -1868).  The silver-plated doorway has the images of the Goddess in different forms. In the sanctum sanctorum is the solid gold idol of the Goddess cAmuNDEshvari, the presiding deity, always held in great reverence for centuries by the mahArAjas of the Mysore palace.  The WodeyArs lavished rich gifts on this temple.  K.riSNarAja III, who built the gOpuram, also offered a gold jewel, known as "nakSatramAlikA" which has thirty Sanskrit verses inscribed on it. There are statues of this king and his consorts in the temple premises.

One can reach the temple by strenuously climbing the one thousand steps built by the mahArAjas, or by smoothly driving along the winding road with its many switchbacks. Mid-way through, at the 800th step, the pilgrims pause to worship a beautifully sculptured monolithic nandi (Lord shiva's vAhanam), about 5 meters tall and 7.6 meters long, adorned with bell and jewels. Consecrated during the reign of doDDa dEvarAja (1659-1672), this colossal nandi, always garlanded with flowers, is a masterpiece of architecture, carved out of a single rock, with attention paid to every minute details, from the bell around the neck, to the anklet above each massive hoof.  Its gigantic size and grandeur is comparable only to two other nandi statues, one located at the entrance to the b.rihadIshvara temple in Tha~njAvur (Tamil Nadu) and the other, at the vIrabhadra shrine in the town of LEpAkSi (Andhra Pradesh).

Shrines dedicated to Lord shiva as mahAbalEshvara, and Lord viSNu as lakSmi nArAyaNa are situated adjacent to the cAmuNDi temple. At the roundabout on the road leading to the temple, there is also an imposing, life -size statue of the demon mahishAsura, with a scimitar in one hand, and a huge cobra firmly gripped in the other hand. Situated on the southern slope of the hill, en route to na~njangUDu are the mArkaNDEya Ashramam and jvAlAmukhi tripurasundari shrine. The holy tIrthams in the hill site include dEva ga"nga and pAtAla vAhini

Special pUjas (worship-services) and the rathOtsavam (car festival) that are held here during the grand ten-day festive period of the Dasara (or Dussara) draw huge crowds.

1.1  cAmuNDA aStOttarashatanAma stOtram

Devotees offer their benediction to Goddess cAmuNDi and perform arcana (offerings with flowers) to Her by reciting her 108 names (nAmAvaLi) from a traditional prayer, the cAmuNDeshvari aSTOttarashatanAma stOtram, consisting of 22 shlOkams in the simple Sanskrit metre anuSTubh.

aSTOttara shata stOtra Lyrics

Many of the nAmavaLis (names) appearing n this stOtram are identical with the ones we usually find in the famous lalitA sahasranAma stOtram, the 1000 names of Goddess lalitA. (See

It is to this Goddess cAmuNDEshvari, the great composer of the post-trinity era, HarikEshanallUr Muthiah BhAgavatar composed and offered a soul-stirring collection of 108 kIrtanams, popularly known as the cAmUNDASTOttarashata kIrtanams, which forms the subject matter of this article.

Part 2 >


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