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Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Veena Seshanna Bhavana Special 1991

A Pictorial Essay Inspired by R. Sachi


We have often written of the quiet grace of the city of Mysore. We have often drawn on its cultural milieu in terms of a glorious past. A past that came with the benevolence of its rulers and many patrons, who made vast contributions to the care of a citizenry through a good deal of attention to humanities, arts, architecture, education, charity and ecology.

We also attempted to capture a world of refinements in Mysore through particular connection with Music, and through a home called “Parvathi” that patronized the growth of Carnatic Music in a singular way.

Now, through a sudden global connectivity and in terms of the prestigious breath of of its Yoga teachers T. Krishnamachariar, B.K.S. Iyengar , Pattibhi Jois, latter's daughter Saraswati Amma and now through grandson Sharath Jois, Mysore seems to have suddenly garnered a spot for itself in the eyes of a world media.

To an international media, the value of Yoga lies more with commerce and statistics and in the increase of adherents towards body ‘Asanas’ (postures). It has seemingly less to do with any value that Yoga might have brought through its roots in having developed through millenniums in particular attention to an ‘Atma’ and Spirituality. The prestigious New York Times even thought fit to recommend in 2010 that Mysore might as well have been the fifth most desirable destination for a world inhabited by a travelling population.

While ‘economy’ is definitely a desirable thought in anyone’s mind at any time, for any given place, the advent of an economic ‘boom’ due to hordes of 'unconnected' people suddenly descending on a quaint Mysore does make us cringe a little; the cringe is on a distinctive past which is likely to be all washed away through the advent of frenzied ‘gazers' only, conditioned and pressing upon that which is only ‘ politically correct’ from their corner of the world.

With this in mind and before time ebbs away, we wish to savor a share of identity and history from the house of “Parvathi”, on how dreams were once built in Mysore with an adoration towards its musically accomplished.

Digging through saved archives, we came upon a copy of a contribution to a souvenir, the 1991 – Veena Seshanna Bhavana Special, with a narrative by Mr. K. Srikantiah.

We are reproducing Mr. Srikantiah’s text in font for more readability ( the printed copy of the article is also shown). We have also adapted the text with some external images.

Ganabharathi Editorial to the Article

“ With the gradual glide of State power from the kings to the people, the center for bestowing patronage on fine arts shifted to voluntary public organizations and individual philanthropists. Sri K. Puttu Rao of yester years and his illustrious sons Sri. K. Srikantiah and Sri K.K. Murthy, to mention only two of them of present times, have been rendering pioneering service to the cause of fine arts in Karnataka. Ganabharathi (R) remembers with gratitude the guidance and assistance Sri K. Srikantiah has given to it in the past thirteen odd years of its existence. “

The Article by K. Srikantiah

“ The construction of an auditorium in memory of Mysore Veene Seshanna in Mysore by Ganabharathi is my dream realized. After the death of Sangeeta Ratna T. Chowdiah it was my great ambition to see with my eyes auditoria coming up in Mysore and Bangalore in memory of the illustrious Musical Trinity of Mysore: Seshanna, Vasudevacharya and Chowdiah. “

“ In the year 1976, I suggested to my younger brother, K.K. Murthy to take up the heavy task of constructing a suitable hall in Bangalore in memory of our family friend T. Chowdiah. Against heavy odds and with tremendous skill he did achieve it and now the violin-shaped Chowdiah Memorial Hall in Bangalore is acclaimed the best auditorium in Asia. “

K.K. Murthy (right) seen with Commissioner M.S. Swaminathan I.A.S. and famed dancers Padmini and Ragini at the first fund raiser for the T. Chowdiah Memorial in Chikmagalur.

1970s – K.K. Murthy attempts a Hollywood in Bengaluru
with legendary V.Shantaram, owner of Rajkamal Kalamandir (RK) Studios

“Again when K.K. Murthy, in his capacity as Chairman of Bangalore Development Authority came to Mysore, to preside over the sila nyasa function of the auditorium to be constructed by Sri Nadabrahma Sangeeta Sabha, I told him to suggest to the organizers that the Bhavana could be named after Mysore Vasudevacharya, which he did.”

Padma Bhushan and famed CM Composer
Mysore Vasudevacharya [1865-1961]
[Courtesy: Heritage objects of Mysore ]

“With thunderous applause the suggestion was approved at the big assembly and now the Mysore Vasudevacharya Bhavana is a reality in the city."

Mysore Vasudevacharya Bhavana

" Sometime later, the organizers of Ganabharathi approached me for benefit concerts by my daughter, Mysore Prabha, for raising funds for their auditorium."

" I hinted to them to name their proposed auditorium after Veena Seshanna. They welcomed my suggestion wholeheartedly and now Veene Seshanna Bhavana is very much there. Is it not yet one more of my dreams coming true? ”

The Ganabharathi Building as dedicated to Veena Seshanna

“ Being myself a patron of art and an organizer of music festivals in Mysore for the past several decades, I am fully aware of the difficult task of raising funds from the public in this City for cultural activities and for building auditoria for such purposes. But, Ganabharathi within a short span of time, with oneness of feeling, dedication and marathon efforts, has made the Seshanna Bhavan a reality. The men behind Ganabharathi deserve praise from the Mysore public. May Ganabharathi deserve all praise from the Mysore public. May Ganabharathi and Seshanna Bhavan preserve and develop the rich classical heritage of Karnatak Music! “

“Once Mysore had occupied an important place in the map of Karnatak music. The noble rulers of the State were not only great administrators but also great patrons of art, notably music. Wherever talent was found, they encouraged it and many distinguished artists served as Asthana Vidwans of Mysore State and kept the torch of music burning brightly "

His Highness Sir Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar IV [ 1894–1940 ]

Great connoisseur of Carnatic and Hindustani music.

Played eight musical instruments himself

Mahatma Gandhi - The Maharajah was a Rajarshi
Lord Samuel - The Maharajah was comparable to the Emperor Ashoka
Paul Brunton – The Maharajah lived the ideal expressed in Plato's Republic.

“Seshanna, Bidaram Krishnappa and Vasudevacharya formed the Music Trinity of Mysore. They enriched the musical tradition in the State by their concerts and also by the schools they built around them. Mysore became very famous for veena, mainly due to two luminaries in the field, Seshanna and Subbanna. “

Veena Seshanna [1852-1926] - Veena Subbanna [1861 – 1939 ]
[ Courtesy: The South Indian 'Saraswati' Veena Web Site ]

" I had the privilege of knowing the biographical details and the musical attainments of these musical giants from the conversations I used to have with Vasudevacharya, Chowdiah and Chennakesaviah.”

" What Bradman was to cricket, Seshanna was to veena. Veena and Seshanna were synonymous. Seshanna was a 'Nadayogi' who lived like a colossus in the veena field."

Veena Seshanna (1852-1926)
[ Courtesy: The Hindu ]

"Seshanna had a hard life in his younger days. He used to say
“There was a time when I used to roam about in the streets of Mysore carrying veena on my shoulders, looking for homes where festoons were tied outside on the off chance of being invited to play veena. I have given many concerts for as low a fee as Rs 5!” "

Veena is a very difficult instrument to master. The belief in the music world is that at least a strenuous twelve-year practice is needed before an attempt is made to give a concert. With hard work, dedication and by combating all odds that came on his way and also by mastering all the intricacies in veena playing, Seshanna became a glittering star in the firmament of classical music. According to Vasudevacharya, whenever Seshanna commenced playing on the veena one would get a feeling that he was in communion with Goddess Saraswati.

Sankabharana, Kalyani, Kamach, Jenjooti, Begada and Kedaragowla were his favorite ragas. Seshanna had a perfect laya sense and fond of datu swaras. He could render an alapana for hours and also render sixty, hundred, one hundred twenty avartas without putting tala. That was the tremendous practice and knowledge he had in music. He would render certain ragas and kritis on the heart strings of the rasikas and tears would roll down the eyes of the assembled music lovers. The concert would continue even beyond four to five hours. Seshanna used to think of Veena all the 24 hours and was never bothered about his food or dress.

The giant Vainika passed away in the year 1926, leaving his name immortal in the field of Karnatak music. He was a prince among musicians and left fragrant memories about him which posterity will cherish. May Veene Seshanna Bhavana keep aloft for ever the classical grandeur the great vainika brought into Karnataka music ! “

Mysore 570 004

Photocopy of K. Srikantiah’s original 1991 Article


The great musical composer of Mysore Sri Vasudevacharya had a personal and favorite Tambura with him, for many decades.

When Sri Vasudevacharya left for Kalakshetra, he blessed Sri K. Srikantiah and presented him with the instrument. Mr. Srikantiah, in turn, gifted the Tambura to the Bhavana. We show the photograph of the Tambura that Mr. Srikantiah presented.


" Right from day one to the time he passed away when I was in my thirties, he called me 'Magu' , which means 'child' in Kannada.

Whenever he came to our house, my father would send me to the close-by "Annapurneshwari Lodge" to get him his favorite "Jilebis"

Sri Vasudevacharya's informal performances in our home "Parvathi' would be frequent.

The accompanists would usually be T.Chowdiah on the violin and T.Puttaswamiah on the Mridangam.

My father would send me immediately on my cycle to extend invitations to rasikas like Vice Chancellor N.S.Subba Rao, Rallapalli Ananthakrishna Sharma, Titte Krishna Iyengar, Yoganarasimha (father of H.Y. Sharada Prasad -media adviser to former Prime Ministers Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi), Venkatesha Iyengar (father of Veena Doreswamy Iyengar), and other music stalwarts of Mysore.

After the concert, my father, a good host,would invite the entire gathering to have dinner, sometimes without the knowledge of the lady of the house ! But the lady, my mother, as always would rise up to the occasion, and get dinner ready in no time.

Vasudevacharya was unique in his 'Tana' rendition in 'Trikala'. It used to be extraordinary in terms of it's depth, development and expanse. He would without fail take it to Himalayan heights.

During my later years, I remember GNB profusely agreeing with me while we were discussing Vasudevacharya's 'tana'.

Saraswati Sangeeta Sabha had arranged it's maiden concert at the Rangacharlu Hall in Mysore by GNB-Chowdiah-Palghat Mani. I was seated next to Vasudevacharya in the audience. Sri GNB sang Kamach raga and Vasudevacharya's composition 'Brochevarevarura' with great aplomb. After listening to it, Vasudevacharya whispered in my ears-"Till date, I had never realized that my composition had so much grandeur in it". Soon after the concert, I went on stage and told GNB what Vasudevacharya said. The great GNB immediately came down from stage, tied his 'angavastram' round his waist, and prostrated before the great composer! "

K.Srikantiah lighting the lamp
Dedication to Mysore Vasudevacharya at Nadabrahma Sabha, Mysore
L to R : K.V.Murthy, Bhadragiri Sant Achuta Das, R.Guru, K.Srikantiah

Sant Bhadragiri Achuta Das unveiling the bust of Mysore Vasudevacharya