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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Scriptures and Devotion

Bombay Sisters – Parvathi Ramanavami Concert, 1975

Appreciations from R. Sachi

We bring the rasikas worldwide this time excerpts from a 40 year-old recording of the concert by Bombay Sisters. Vidushis C. Saroja and C. Lalitha were born in Kerala and grew up in Bombay. After their initial musical training they won scholarships to study under the doyens at the Central College of Carnatic Music, Adyar, Chennai. They have been hailed as pure classicists bringing credit to their gurus Musiri Subramanya Iyer and T.K. Govinda Rao. The Bombay Sisters have had a steady run of popularity for nearly 50 years and were conferred the coveted Sangitha Kalanidhi title by the Madras Music Academy in 2010.

In this concert, we find some fine renditions of famous krithis like Evari Mata and Innu Daya Barade. These songs unburden the longing of the devotee for divine grace. The bhakti movement in India has given rise to an extraordinary breadth and depth of devotional outpouring, fully harnessed in the lyrics of Carnatic music. To name a few of the originators of these lyrics: Andal, Annamacharya, Bhadrachala Ramadas, Chaitanya, Meera, Kabir, Tulsidas, Surdas, Purandara Dasa and others of that tradition, Thyagaraja, Shyama Shastri, Swati Tirunal, Papanasam Sivan, Vasudevachar…

“Come to me, please reveal yourself, save me, help me cross the ocean of this wretched existence”: these sentiments and their variations come again and again in impassioned entreaties to the Lord. In the Srimad Bhagavatam, Uddhava, a great intellectual, spiritual aspirant, and associate of Krishna, is sent to Gokula to meet Krishna’s family and the gopis. There he encounters the real bhakti of the gopis for Krishna. He is simply swept away. He says to them (quote from Srimad Bhagavatam, The Wisdom of God by Swami Prabhavananda): “How Blessed are you to have surrendered yourselves completely and whole-heartedly to Bhagavan Sri Krishna, the God of Love. Love and devotion grow after one has practiced many austerities, undergone many spiritual disciplines, and meditation. But fortunate indeed are you who were born with all-consuming love and devotion, and have renounced everything for the love of your dear Krishna. O happy ones, who enjoy the bliss of divine love, I am blessed and purified by coming into your presence.”

The song Evari Mata by Thyagaraja is famous and pours out the rasa of Kambhoji incomparably. No wonder it is often taken up in concerts for elaborate treatment. To show the emotive content of the lyrics, we reproduce below the text and translation of the song from The Spiritual Heritage of Thyagaraja:

Come let us enjoy this fine concert by Bombay Sisters!:

Concert Details

Bombay Sisters (Saroja and Lalitha) --------- Vocal
Master Nagaraj (Now Mysore Nagaraj) ---- Violin
P.G.Lakshminarayan ------- Mridangam
M.A.Krishnamurthy --------- Ghatam
on 27-4-1975 at 'Parvathi'.

Excerpts List

01. Ganamurthe- Ganamurthi- Thyagaraja *** 02.Rama Rama –Simhendramadhyama- Swathi Thirunal *** 03. Ramachandram Bhavayami –Vasantha- Muthuswami Dikshitar *** 04. Kambhoji Raga- Evarimata-Thyagaraja *** 05. Innu daya baarade-Kalyana Vasantha- Purandara Dasa *** 06. Shloka - Ab mein naachun-Yaman Kalyani- Surdas *** 07. Tillana-Jinjhuti- Veena Sheshanna