/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": The Role of Introspection in Carnatic Music – K. V. Narayanaswamy

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Role of Introspection in Carnatic Music – K. V. Narayanaswamy



[ Courtesy: Narada.Org ]

The 2010 December Season is upon us. Venerable newspapers are filled with concert reviews, reports of awards and speeches, as well as scholarly articles and discussions about topics such as the monetization of Carnatic music. We also read with fascination that jet-setting Carnatic music stars are busy tweeting on their smart phones from airport departure lounges. Perhaps that is when they are not appealing to the PM for remedying neglect of classical arts(!). We also hear that some have Facebook pages to shepherd their flock of fans.

Of course there is no gainsaying that art cannot exist without an audience. But during a season reminiscent of the Kumbh Mela, it is a delightful task for us to sit back and wonder: What is the role of introspection in Carnatic music? Is Carnatic music only to feed audiences and hence on its way to head-banging rock cult status - a metamorphosis aided by media frenzy, or does it still retain some roots to nourish its avowed inner spiritual quest? Does a Carnatic music artiste introspect in the quest for reaching things beyond mundane success?

The concert we feature this time in the sanctified precincts of Parvathi gives some answers. First let us look at the artistes. We have some astounding musicians. They would be called diggajas in Sanskrit. Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy, Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, Palghat R. Raghu and T. H. Vinayak Ram. We don’t need to preface their names with titles or honorifics. Simply put, they are the lords of their art. They have given more than six decades of musical largesse to millions of ears.

A piece of history: when Raghu, born in Burma, went as a very young man seeking discipleship to Palghat Mani Iyer, Mani Iyer was teaching mridangam accompaniment to a varnam being rendered by another student- KVN. Thus began their famous life-long association as fellow travellers in Carnatic music. And that self-same eternal effulgence of a varnam in Bhairavi sung on that day is the one that begins this concert, with the same musicians. And Raghu's unique way of enhancing KVN's music is the stuff of legends.

Another piece of history: a newcomer Lalgudi Jayaraman performed first in Madras Music Academy when he provided violin accompaniment to another rising star: KVN. This was in 1948 and launched Lalgudi’s career (his first fan after that concert was GNB). These same two-some regale us with Ananda Bhairavi, Thodi and Bilahari here in this concert. You will remember their renditions for a long time.

So KVN-LGJ-PRR. What a Trio indeed, ladies and gentlemen!

But let us come back to the question of introspection. In this concert, we have a series of introspections by Carnatic composers. Music uniquely aids meditation. Hence it is called food for the soul. Carnatic music as a performing art is basically not demonstrative. It is introspective. And Carnatic music is replete with lovely krithis, all in the mould of introspections and conversations with God. It is fascinating to just think about the lyrical import of each song in this concert :

1. Shobhillu Saptaswara : Oh mind, meditate on the beauty of the seven notes that will lift you to the divine through your body: navel-heart-throat (Mainpura-Anahata-Vishuddhi chakras, Kundalini Yoga)

2. Manasa Guruguha : Oh mind, meditate on the divine, do not waste your precious human journey with outward distractions, surrender to your guru!

3. Entanuchu Sairintunu - Oh Rama, meditated upon by sages! Won’t You condescend to come near me even now?

4. Dasharathi - Oh Rama, how can I repay your debt? You have given me musical fame, and you’ve also given me the wisdom that liberates!

5. Sri Chamundeshwari: Oh Goddess of the (Chamundi) Hill, your divine deeds are worshipped by gods and mystics. I seek your grace!

6. Maataa Raamo, Jaanaati Raama – Rama, you're my mother, father, and everything – oh, for your glories!

7. Yake Bandi Jeeva – Oh soul, why did you give up the communion with God and take birth in this world of wretched goings-on?

8. Kandu Dhanyanaade – I have been blessed with the vision of the Lord!

9. Vanga Kadal – The last pasuram in Andal’s Thiruppavai wherein she describes the liberating power of loving worship of the mighty Lord who set up the churning of the sea.


If you think that we are reading some abstruse but unintended meaning into this concert repertoire, think again. K.V. Narayanaswamy was singularly meditative in his music. His interview and profile linked here are ample proof of a rare man who sought a higher realm through music.


The Parvathi Concert
Ramanavami Festival 1 April 1974

Palghat K.V. Narayanaswamy - Vocal
Lalgudi G. Jayaraman – Violin
Palghat R. Raghu – Mridangam
T. H. Vinayak Ram - Ghatam


Song List
01. Viriboni – Atatala Varnam – Bhairavi – Pachimiriyam Adiappaiya *** 02. Shobhillu Saptaswara – Jaganmohini – Thyagaraja*** 03. Manasa Guruguha – Ananda Bhairavi – Muthuswami Dikshithar*** 04. Entanuchu Sairinchunu – Yadukula Kambhoji – Thyagaraja*** 05. Dasharathi – Thodi – Thyagaraja *** 06. Sri Chamundeshwari – Bilahari – Mysore Vasudevachar *** 07. Maataa Ramo – Shloka – Kapi- Traditional *** 08. Jaanaati Raama – Shloka – Dwijavanti, Sindhu Bhairavi - Traditional *** 09. Yake Bandi Jeeva – Sindhu Bhairavi- Dasarapada *** 10. Kandu Dhanyanade – Behag – Kamalesha Dasa*** 11. Vanga Kadal – Suruti- Andal Thiruppavai***