Monthly Archives: January 2015

Story of Rama

Drinking the nectar-like story of Rama is equivalent to ruling a kingdom.

This is the essence of Tyagaraja’s song “Ramakatha sudha rasa” in the raga Madhyamavati. Recently when I was invited to give a concert on Tyagaraja’s compositions, my biggest challenge was the sheer breadth of choice of songs that the composer’s prolific output offered! Tyagaraja’s compositions stand out for their lyrical simplicity and depth of emotion. Raga Madhyamavati is considered an auspicious raga and usually sung at the conclusion of a concert. However, “Ramakatha” is a slow-paced song that is often presented as a main piece, as I did in my concert. The lines “Bamamani janaki soumitri” from the anupallavi of the song, describe Sita as “a gem among women” and has ample scope for neraval. Here is a rendition of “Ramakatha” by stalwart Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dL9m0tKBJ8w

Upcoming concerts – Jan/Feb 2015

1. Thematic Concert on Tyagaraja Kritis at the Indian Institute of World Culture, B.P.Wadia road, Basavangudi Bangalore from 6 to 7:30 pm on Friday 23rd January – accompanied by Deepak Murthy (violin) and Phaneendra Bhaskar (mridangam)

2. Concert at Shankara Jayanthi Sabha, Shankarapuram Bangalore on Sunday February 8th from 6 to 8 pm – accompanied by Venkatesh Josier (violin) and Bangalore R.Ramanath (mridangam)

HumRaaG at the Unnati Centre Bangalore

Our next HumRaag show in Bangalore – details below.

Date: 18th January Sunday

Time: 5 pm

Place: Unnati Centre – No 1(p), Temple Road, Krishnaiyyanapalya, Bennigana Halli, Bengaluru, Karnataka Phone:085532 39963
Organized by SGBS trust

Mharo Pranam to Banke Bihari

Just the main temple in this area.”

Our driver nodded and without a word took the road towards the Banke Bihari temple in  Vrindavan.We’re on our way to Agra from Delhi on a wintry morning when I decide to take a short detour.  The fog has considerably slowed down our progress and the driver is tempted to step on the gas so that we reach the temple before it closes in the afternoon.

Despite a puncture on the way, a mad dash through the by-lanes leading to the temple and the jostling crowd of devotees in the main hall we manage to get a darshan of Banke Bihari in Vrindavan. My husband’s “special” lifeskills, garnered in his college days, helps us push through the packed crowd and get to the front of the line. The frenzy and fervour in that hall has me baffled for a moment.

Photo Credit: HITESH BIDKAR via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: HITESH BIDKAR via Compfight cc

The sight of the deity is mesmerizing and as I focus on the arresting image of Banke Bihari (Lord Krishna),the bhajan Mharo Pranam plays in my head. This beautiful Meera bhajan is a salutation to the deity of Vrindavan. Here is one of my favourite renditions of Mharo Pranam in the voice of Kishori Amonkar.

 

 

 

A musical experience in BHU

The melodious notes of a bhajan on Lord Shiva in raag Bhairagi Bhairav resonates in the air. The voice is rich, the atmosphere is meditative and I’m hooked. The Birla Mandir in the Benares Hindu University campus has excellent accoustics. It’s a cold wintry day and there is a sparse crowd at the temple. The music and serene ambience has me rooted and my feet automatically lead me to the singer seated in front of the idol in the open balcony on the first floor. I learn that the singer is a trained classical musician fron the Kirana Gharana (Bhimsen Joshi school). We start talking and he suddenly points to the microphone and invites me to sing. I sing Mahadeva Shiva Shambo in raga Revati, a composition of Tanjavur Shankara Iyer.

The first time I heard this song was during a concert of Carnatic vocalist D.K. Jayaraman in Chennai. I ended up in tears – the lyrics, the melody and more importantly the rendition made all the difference. Raga Revati is meditative in nature and the melody often associated with Vedic chanting.

Carnatic raga Revati is similar to Hindustani raag Bhairagi Bhairav. Here is a rendition of raag Bhairagi Bhairav by Pandit Jasraj.

The musical experience at Birla Mandir in the BHU campus on that foggy morning will stay in my mind as a priceless memory.

Anger – Aristotle, Arunachala Kavi & Tyagaraja

“Anybody can become angry – that is easy, but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree and at the right time and for the right purpose, and in the right way – that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy. “

Aristotle

In his musical drama Rama Natakam, Tamil poet and composer Arunachala Kavi describes the scene between Sita and Rama when the latter prepares to leave for the jungle. Rama is reluctant to take Sita along with him. Sita’s subsequent anger is expressed in the song “Eppadi Manam” in the raga Huseini as she insists on accompanying her husband. Was her anger justified?

The same scene is recounted by Carnatic composer Tyagaraja in his song “Ramachandra nee daya” in the raga Surati. The composer wonders if Rama was hurt by Sita’s words when she  rebuked him saying that her father had gotten a woman in the guise of a son-in-law! Were her words justified?