/* START Google Analytics Code*/ /* END of Google Analytics Code */ A home called "Parvathi": February 2013

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 ***

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Music's Bylanes III - "Thyagaraja Seva Rathnam" - through the lenses of a Thyagaraja Bhagvathar, M.S. Subbulakshmi and others

We find ourselves gathered, as we have done many a time before, in Mr. Srikantiah’s house in Bangalore.

An Illustrious musical icon, perhaps Sangeetha Kalanidhi V. Ramachandran, or Vidushi T.Rukmini , has called from their home, and the host is engaged in a heartwarming discussion of old times with them.

We are left in a reverie.

Honorables: M.S. Subbulakshmi, T. Sadasivam and Radha Vishwanathan

We are reminded, why we of the next generation, are also gathered here.

This is the theater of our nostalgia. We can wax eloquent here, as with Sri R.Sachi ( click ), who can tell us of his boyhood days visiting ‘Parvathi’ or of his wonderful musical experiences with Sri KVN or of his visits to Rukmini Arundale’s Kalakshetra.

This is where our host, who has met them all, can tell us more of an MS and Sadasivam, of a GNB and Semmangudi, a Prof TVS or a Prof. G.N. Chakravarthy, of an MGR/Jayalitha or of any of a slew of Karnataka Politicos, or of an AV Meiyappan or Sundarambal.

Governor Dharma Vira who always remained a steadfast friend of “Parvathi”during his tenure

NIE (National Institute of Engineering, Mysore) Mr. K. Srikantiah welcomes Justice M.C.Chagla India’s Education Minister

This is where you can also find jokes on them or from many of them.

This is also where you can find yourself suddenly threaded into remembering, with a certain poignancy, the life of documentary Filmmaker M.V. Krishnaswamy.

This is "little" Doreswamy Iyengar as shown in a documentary by M.V. Krishnaswamy

The house, in the photo above [ Photo Courtesy: http://bcp.wikidot.com/city-walks:malleswaram ], used to be known as ‘Kusuma Bhavan’. It was the house of the late Mr. M.V. Krishnaswamy, the V Shantharam Lifetime Achievement Award winner in 2010.

It sits directly across Veena Doreswamy Iyengar’s house. These may be the last of the few houses that once graced Malleswaram and Bangalore with great dignity, amidst some of the finest flora. These are slowly beginning to be brought down now with high rises, mass production architecture and synthetic interior decorations that resemble many a fake movie set.

M.V. Krishnaswamy remained close to two of K.Puttu Rao’s sons; one in terms of movie work and the other in terms of pure friendship retained over Maharaja's College days. For an article of heightened sensitivity written on this great documentary maker by one of India’s very sensitive and fine journalist cum author, Sugata Srinivasaraju, please see Outlook Magazine here

Sarod Maestro Pandit Shiva Kumar Sharma, Veena expert SUMA SUDHINDRA and the late K.K. Murthy

As we sit in Mr. Srikantiah’s house we are also reminded of something in our subconscious, of the heritage from where we have come? It has a cocoon like warmth. The warmth is also from another source; the continuous steaming from an Upama, a Masala Dosa or from the delight of the Mysore coffee. You can, without feeling guilty here, ask for several cups of the same, and you will be served with the same loving hands of Smt. Vatsala or a Mysore Prabha, as they might have done for countless years for a Ramani, Lalgudi, Vellore Ramabhadran or a Parur MSG.

The household is also a rare one for our modern times. As we see the family structure being destroyed so unfortunately, in our present day world, and particularly in America (where family life is considered anachronistic giving rise to so many causes of child abuse), the family in India still seems to have retained the ability of being able to survive amidst three generations under a single roof. All of Puttu Rao’s families seem to have maintained this type of ability.

Comfortably, ensconced, with our ears trained towards the conversations, some of us turn our eyes towards the pile of music jackets.

We ask to be reminded of who he is? – time has warped our memories!

Sri Srikantiah opens up :

“This was a great legend who passed away in 1959. He was barely then 50 years into his life. He was considered as the first superstar of the Tamil Cine world and a magnificent singer. When not found singing many of his own rich compositions, he would be found singing the magnificent compositions of a Papanasan Sivan. Recognized also for his very many charitable contributions, he was that rare breed who was also patriotic enough to refuse a British honor.

His life was one of an inner strife and ultimate tragedy in the latter years. Along with other members of his studio and cinema world, he would be drawn into as a suspect, when one of the members in his own group was deemed to have committed homicide. While nothing was proven with Sri Thygaraja Bhagvathar, and he was subsequently acquitted, the entire episode devastated this sensitive soul and he was left behind a sad and lonely figure with practically no money, in spite of all his great earnings and colossal fame.”

Rest in Peace (RIP) Sri Bhagavathar! - You all but gave us so much of yourself.

[ The labels EMI and the Gramophone Company of India and Capitol records on the Thygaraja Bhagvather phone record, also ushered in a rare nostalgia; that of how proud one felt, during those early years to herald one of India’s own countryman who had risen to some dizzying heights in world recognition. Mr. Bhaskar Menon in 1978 was appointed the first chairman and CEO of the newly formed EMI Music Worldwide ]

.......to be continued