Compositions on Goddess Mahalakshmi are relatively few. Among the trinity, only Dikshithar managed to compose 8-10 songs on the consort of Lord Vishnu (although Sita devi finds honourable mention in many Tyagaraja kritis - as in "sItamma", "sItArAma", "sItA sowmitRi", "bhAma maNi", etc.). Today, also being "VaramahAlakshmi vRita" day, I'll be analyzing a Dikshithar kRiti: 'hiraNmayeem lakshmI sadA bhajAmi'.
Lakshmi is traditionally known as the goddess of wealth: however wealth is not just materialistic; it can mean wealth of character, wealth of knowledge and so on. The following shlOka summarizes the eight different aspects of mahAlakshmi, together known as ashTalakshmi:
Adi lakshmi, dhAnya lakshmi, dhairya lakshmi namOstutE
Unable to make their ends meet, Dikshithar was once pestered by his wife to borrow money from a money-lender. It is in this context that the kRiti "hiraNmayeem lakshmI" is said to have been composed by Dikshithar. He chose the sober rAga laLitha for this composition. laLitha is the panchama vaRjya rAga of the 15th mELa mAyAmALavagowLa:
ArohaNa: S R1 G3 M1 D1 N3 S
AvarOhaNa: S N3 D1 M1 G3 R1 S
As with other 15th mELa rAgas, the underlying theme is bhakti rasa. The composition starts in an unorthodox way: with "D1 M1", and is sure to grab anyone's attention. In the pallavi, Dikshithar describes lakshmi as hiraNmayeem (the golden hued). He says he'll meditate on the golden hued lakshmi, but will not depend on any lowly human being (hIna mAnavAshRayam tyajAmi).
The anupallavi qualifies lakshmi as one who gives wealth, but dikshithar makes a point here: "chiratara sampat pRadAm" - which means wealth of an imperishable nature. lakshmi is the daughter of the milky-white ocean (kSheerAmbudi tanayAm); she emanated from the ocean, which the dEvAs and asurAs churned using the mandara mountain. A racy madhyama kAla sAhitya concludes the anupallavi:
kara kamala dhRitha kuvalayAm, marakata maNimaya valayAm
A grand charaNa follows. lakshmi is described as residing in a white island (shwEta dwIpa vAsini), and even as srI kamalAmbika herself. She is worshipped by devas and humans alike. dIkshithar addresses lakshmi as "Mother" (mAtara), who wears a garland made of lotus flowers (abja mAlinIm) and decked with ornaments (mANikyAbharaNa dharAm). She is indiRa, who enjoys vocal and instrumental music (gIta vAdya vinOdinim) and is respected by girijA.
This is a classic departure from the usual "guruguha nutam" or "guruguha poojitham" - Dikshithar beautifully weaves in the "guruguha" mudra by specifying that lakshmi is the consort of kARtikEyA's mAtula (mother's brother, who is visHNu). Dikshithar also includes the rAga mudra (in laLithAm) effortlessly.
Out of the various renditions by vidwAns and vidUshIs, in my opinion, the one by DK Jayaraman stands out. There are no grand sangathis - the beautiful sAhithya, laLitha's lALithya and DKJ's pADanthara do the magic. NamaskArAs to my guru vidwAn S.Shankar who taught me this beautiful kRiti.