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Friday, February 22, 2013

Knowing what we don't know - True Wisdom


(Courtesy: chittibabu.org)


Recently when I visited Mr. Srikantiah, he was bursting with joy for having discovered a full concert recording of Vid. Chitti Babu from the 1975 Ramanavami festival at Parvathi, Mysore.

Scarcity of magnetic spools, and the vagaries of recording and archiving, had buried this as well as assorted other concerts in tracks here and there. This fortuitous discovery and digitization have helped us to share the full concert this time.

Vid. Chitti Babu was highly popular among Parvathi audiences in 1960's and 1970's. He delivered always memorable concerts, with melody, classicism and delightful light numbers. In this concert too, he delivers to a full house a typical Chitti Babu repertoire, from RTP to light numbers, in the company of the great mridangam Vidwan Palghat Raghu and Ghatam vidwan Manjunath.

There is also some novelty. At Mr. Srikantiah's request, Vid. Chitti Babu takes up the mike and sings a rare padam. He needlessly cautions the audience, 'Mr. Srikantiah, here I go, as you wanted me to sing today. The outcome will be your 'graha-chara!’ What follows of course is a very melodious rendering of a padam composed by Sri. Sarangapani in Jinjhuti.

The concert begins tentatively, as the veena clears its throat with 'Ramabhakti Samrajya'. But the next item is an impassioned rendering of the famous Thyagaraja piece in Dhenuka. The saint laments that no one knows the path of Bhakti. As the wise say, our journey begins only when we discover that we don't know. After all, the Oracle of Delphi called Socrates the wisest man after he had confessed to everyone in Athens that he knew nothing. Bhakti is not really to be mastered as knowledge, but approached with the true humility befitting the seeker who knows that he knows nothing of God's ways and the path to liberation. We give below the translation of the actual lyric:

O śrī rāma! People are not aware (teliya lēru) of the path (mārgamunu) of bhakti.

Roamiṅg (tirugucunu) all over (antaṭa) the Earth (ilanu) (ilanantaṭa), they babble as if in a dream

(kaluvariñcēru); but (kāni), O Lord śrī rāma! they are not aware of the path of bhakti.

Getting up (lēci) early in the morning (vēga), taking bath (nīṭa munigi) (literally takiṅg dip in water), smearing (pūsi) sacred ash (bhūti) on the body, (performiṅg japa by) counting (eñci) fingers (vēḷḷanu)(veḷḷaneñci), and posing (veliki) (literally ostensibly) as praise-worthy (ślāghanīyulai), they became (airē) totally (bāga) (literally very) committed (lōlulu) (literally dedicated) (lōlulairē) to earning (ārjana) money (paikamu) (paikamārjana), but (kāni) O Lord praised (vinuta) by this tyāgarāja! they are not aware of the path of bhakti.
(Courtesy: http://thyagaraja-vaibhavam.blogspot.com )

The concert has a number of popular items like Ninuvina, Nagumomu, Mokshamu Galada, and an English note “Rhapsody”. The main item is the famous Pakkala Nilabadi in Kharaharapriya. The short but impressive Kalyani RTP with ragamalika swaras shows mastery over the veena. All in all a very memorable concert!

DETAILS – Ramanavami Concert, Parvathi, Mysore, April 20, 1975

Vid. Chitti Babu – Veena
Vid. Palghat Raghu – Mridangam
Vid. Manjunath – Ghatam

Song List

01. Rama Bhakti – Shuddha Bangala – Thyagaraja *** 02. Teliyaleru rama – Dhenuka – Thyagaraja *** 03. Ninuvina – Navarasa Kannada –Thyagaraja *** 04. Pakkala Nilabadi – Kharaharapriya – Thyagaraja ***05. Mokshamu Galada – Saramathi – Thyagaraja ***06. Nagumomu – Abheri – Thyagaraja *** 07. Ragama Tanam Pallavi – Kalyani ( Ragamalika swaras) *** 08. Bhaktiko – Jinjhuti Padam – Sarangapani *** 09. Rhapsody – Chitti Babu ***10. Mangalam ***