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

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Transmitting the Guru - Shishya Tradition

Sangeetha Kala Acharya P.S. Narayanaswami

(courtesy rsmridangam.com)

Vidwan P.S. Narayanaswami was a welcome guest at Parvathi over many years when he came along with his illustrious guru Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Sri K. Srikantiah remembers him as a very dedicated disciple of his guru. Sri PSN, as he is fondly called by rasikas, used to play on the tambura and give vocal support to Sri Semmangudi. On this occasion, however, we are happy to feature a full-fledged vocal concert of Sri PSN in the company of Sri Lalgudi Jayaraman on the violin and Sri Vellore Ramabhadran on the mridangam. The concert took place during the Ramanavami festival of 1976.

We glean from The Hindu and Carnatica these biographical details:

P. S. Narayanaswami is one of the most prominent among the several famous disciples of Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Sri PSN is hardly known by his full name. He is so popular as a teacher of music in Chennai that most of the young musicians of today would have had a period of training under him. Certainly, this speaks volumes about his capacity and reputation as a great concert teacher.

Born on February 24, 1934, at Konerirajapuram, to Dr. P. N. Subramaniam, a medical practitioner, Sri PSN exhibited his talent in music at a very tender age and his parents put him under Thirupampuram Somasundaram Pillai, a nagaswaram vidwan, for his music lessons. Sri PSN made rapid progress and later came under Sangita kalanidhi Mudikondan Venkatarama Iyer, and then under Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Under the gurukulavasa system, he joined Semmangudi in the early 1950s.

Sri PSN had started giving concerts, both public and through All India Radio, at the age of 15. He has received a number of awards starting from when he was just 12 years old! To name some of them: Bala Gana Ratnam (1946), Sangeeta Sikhamani (1972), Sangeeta Nadakkanal (1991), Sangeetaacharya (1992), Madhura Gana Mamani (1994), Sangeeta Kala Sagaram (1996), Isai Selvam (1997), Innisai Chakravarthy (1999), Gana Kalanidhi (1999), Sangeeta Kala Acharya (2000), Sangeetha Choodamani (2003) and Padma Bhushan (2012). He was also made the Asthana Vidwan of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham in 1990.

Vellore Ramabhadran, P.S. Narayanaswami, Lalgudi Jayaraman - 1976

Today Sri PSN is well known as a teacher of many star disciples. He is known to attend his disciples’ concerts regularly and give them much encouragement. He talked to Carnatica some years ago about his methods of teaching and his views. He trains aspiring professionals in around 40 ragas, and makes them work on those for rendering in concerts. He does not encourage his students to follow his own style but leaves it to their intelligence to develop their own style and maintain it. He states that in order to achieve a certain proficiency, each song should be sung at least 100 times!

Coming to this concert, we feature some elaborate renditions in Shankarabharana, Kamavardhini (MD: Kashiramakriya), and Mohana. After a vibrant Viriboni, the not-so-common Neranammithi in Chakravaka receives vigorous treatment. The Shankarabharana main piece- alapana, rendition of Enduku Peddala and the swara exchanges- is the highlight of this concert. It is a delight to feel the camaraderie and mutual appreciation among these three contemporary stalwarts. The tempo of the song as well as the solid vidwat on display gives an insight into Sri PSN’s musical values that eschew vocal callisthenics as well as overworked manodharma. The overall feeling is one of a very satisfying concert experience. The violin and mridangam accompaniments carry the hallmark of genius.

Details (Parvathi Ramanavami festival, 10.4.1976)

P.S. Narayanaswami – Vocal
Lalgudi Jayaraman – Violin
Vellore Ramabhadran – Mridangam

Song List

01. Viriboni – Bhairavi Ata Tala varna – Pachimiriyam Adiappayya *** 02. Neranammithi – Chakravaka – Mysore Vasudevacharya *** 03. Ramanatham Bhajeham – Kamavardhini – Muthuswami Dikshitar *** 04. Paripahi – Mohana – Swathi Thirunal *** 05. Enduku Peddala – Shankarabharana – Thyagaraja *** 06. Ramajogi – Khamach – Bhadrachala Ramadasu*** 07. Shloka – Saveri, Bilahari, Sindhu Bhairavi *** 08. Bhaja Bhaja Manasa – Sindhu Bhairavi – Swathi Thirunal *** 09. Thillana – Darbari Kanada – Lalgudi Jayaraman *** 10. Mangalam ***

Monday, March 25, 2013

Music's Bylanes IV - some Bric-à-Brac before Music


" Narayan was always known for his terrific wit. But one thing stands in my memory. It was the time when he had lost his only daughter Hema and we had gone to pay condolence at his Chennai home. I was concerned as to how he would have taken her death. But the poignant words he uttered when he saw me, still rings in my ear and is a lesson for many in this world as to how to deal with life."

Narayan simply said, "Hema just jumped the queue," like a true philosopher.

- K. Srikantiah [ Courtesy: Treasure Trove of Katcheris by N Niranjan Nikam – Deccan Herald ]

In some ways, the photograph (below) is momentous – especially in the memory of a young man who was associated with it.

Families: R.K Narayan, R.K. Pattabhi and the Srikantiah’s

It came together during the days when India’s great matinee idol Dev Anand was negotiating the script of ‘The Guide’.

“Ah, you just missed him, he was here just now!” was Narayan’s remark to the young man who beamed wide with a certain hope.

Narayan was never happy with the outcome of the movie version of ‘The Guide’. It didn't fit in with his profile.

He had no use for the tinsel world of a Bombay or ‘Bollywood’, where the essence and spirit of a book’s theme could not be captured without resorting to gimmicks, without a foppery of dance and music and where essential characters were reduced into made-for-movie characterizations and styles. In this movie adaption, they had even gone to the lengths of introducing a tiger for some entertainment value.

He made his feelings known in one of his most sarcastic of jibes, to ‘Life’ magazine in the USA. There was for some time, a tension between Bollywood’s evergreen hero and India’s famous author in English.

The young man of whom we spoke , earlier, had for many a decade held on to an original copy of the publication from Life. But he seemed to have lost it, without even knowing how. It might have come in handy here, for a posting. The immaculate Mr. Srikantiah, too, seemed not to possess it any more. A serious search and query to Life Magazine Publications also went nowhere.

Memories of R.K.Narayan these days, remain at best, wistful.

The memorable times with him, or with a Semmangudi or K.V.Narayanaswamy have to be re-engineered. As always, we are inspired to lean on , Mr. Srikantiah, to take us to the very places where there were hours and hours of a walk, conducted in quietly animated discussions around the grounds of a beautiful Palace nestled at the foot of Chamundi Hills (it now serves as a grand hotel).

The Lalitha Mahal Palace
Courtesy: Commons.wikimwdia.org

R.K. Narayan, in essence, was but a very truthful man (besides any human quirks or stubborn perceptions he may have held onto). He wrote about life exactly as his conditioning's in India afforded themselves.

He wrote as much about the anxious feelings of a cobbler, pushed into his daily predicament with time and money, both of which stood poignantly still for him as he might narrate the insecurities of a ten year old who might suddenly find himself plucked out harshly by his elders from the bowels of blissful sleep, for the sake of a miserable and ‘yukki’ ‘oil bath’ just before the advent of a sun rise.

While Narayan was strong and well honed into craft with the English language, he rarely displayed that servitude so often found amongst educated Indians in quoting people always with a Western sounding name as being the final testimony to a perfect wisdom .

To him, his native India contained enough immortal characters for inspiration. Any remonstrance against human insensitivity that he exhibited, was directed to those that he saw in his daily surroundings, and he drew a characterization of them only through gentle quirks, satirical gaffes or in reviewing them as receptacles of human folly; just the way life in a simple town or village in India, would ebb on.

In view of this, one cannot be held guilty for sometimes gazing quizzically at India’s academics and its writers and journalists in English; especially from a far off land where one sees people rejoicing in their own empowerment. You wonder if a Bana or Kalidasa, the rows of Sangam poets, a Subramanya Bharathi, or aphorisms from ‘Neeti Chintamani’ have no merit? You wonder at the caliber of a present educational system, meant to mold its own future citizens, that would shun anything brilliant that their own forefathers might have afforded them?

To Narayan, his Malgudi or Mysore was a life made up in roots. Without recourse to any pretensions, he stood indeed tall. You might find him in a tie and jacket, but his personal relish lay, even in sophisticated Washington, or in New York, in the making of his own first cup of coffee; in the same manner of his grandmother’s sieving from a homespun cloth, or in the same stain less steel percolator , that connected him instantaneously to a home in Saraswathipuram, Yadavagiri or his magical Malgudi.

He has been long gone, but we salute him quietly in our hearts.

We also, sometimes, go up to the corner cupboard in Mr. Srikantiah’s house, where every book that Mr. Narayan wrote, rests autographed in his memory and made out to one of his truly great friends.


A dear friend and Yoga teacher , living in NJ, USA, Dr. Rajan Narayanswamy , recently sent us this photograph.

He warned us that this may be our last look at another place that we once held so close to our hearts – the Malleswaram ‘ market place’. He warned us that it, too, would be disappearing, soon, and you guessed the reason correctly! – to make way for another high rise.

Eh? Didn’t the modern citizens of Bengaluru want to wear a ‘chip’ on their shoulder - of being known as the new ‘Silicon Valley’?

Well, with the denuding of trees and vast outpourings from gas and concrete, we are getting close, at least to what a Los Angeles stands for - ‘road rages’, smog, pollution, browning and all else.

[We haven’t forgotten the Music - its coming – its just around the corner]