Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Music Forum - 29.12.08

Music Forum, Chennai, is a well known organization which has been regularly organizing innovative and thought-provoking panel discussions and Lecture Demonstrations.

I heard from a friend and also through an email from the forum that there was going to be an interactive session with kids of present-day musicians as participants, on the 29th of December.

The topic seemed to be "What does Carnatic Music mean to me?" and each child was supposed to talk on stage.

Yesterday morning, I asked my daughter Vishruthi if she would be interested to go and see how other kids were going to talk. She was very eager and hence both of us went to Ragasudha Hall, Luz.

When we reached, we saw Subhiksha Rangarajan (singer Lakshmi Rangarajan's daughter)talking. Sudha Raghunathan's daughter Malavika was the anchor person.

After that,Ghatam Karthick's son Sarvesh spoke a bit and played on the Mridangam.

One of the organizers Mrs.Usha suddenly came up to Vishruthi and asked if she would speak a little and sing a song ! The kid was taken aback for a minute and didn't know whether to say Yes or No !

Then I asked her to go and speak whatever she felt like and also sing any song of her choice.

Her turn came in the next five minutes and this was how she began :



















" I am Vishruthi Girish, daughter of singer Gayathri Girish, I study in class 5 in Bala Vidya Mandir, Adyar. I came here with my mother to see the other kids talk and suddenly people here have asked me to come on stage to talk and sing " !! And all of us burst out laughing !!

She spoke for about 3-4 minutes and then sang Seethamma Mayamma in Ragam Vasantha.

After this came the question-answer session. Someone there asked her who her favourite actor was. And she said "Shahrukh Khan " !!

Next, Ghatam Karthick (who was among the audience)asked her, "What will you tell your mother after a very successful concert of hers?" She said," I will congratulate her."
Next he asked her,"Suppose your mother had a very bad concert, what will you ask her after the concert?"

(I was wondering what would be her reply.)
There came her prompt answer;" Nothing, because my mother never sings badly !!" :-)

(I told myself: Wow ! The kid indeed knows how to give a diplomatic answer !!)

There was a big round of applause for this answer!

At the end of the program, all kids stood together for a group photo:
















(Standing from L to R:)
Vishruthi,Anirudh(son of Mridangist J.Balaji),Sarvesh(son of Ghatam Karthick),Srihari(son of violinist Vittal Ramamurthy),Subhiksha Rangarajan(daughter of singer Lakshmi Rangarajan), Malavika(daughter of Sudha Raghunathan),Kalasri(daughter of violinist Vittal Ramamurthy).

Narada Gana Sabha - 30.12.08
















Accompanists:

Pakkala Ramdas - Violin
Tiruvarur Vaidyanathan - Mridangam
Sree Sundarkumar - Kanjira

Song List: (R-Raga Alapana,N-Neraval,S-Kalpanaswaram,T-Tani Avarthanam)


1. Varnam-Abhogi-Adi
2. Yochana-Durbar-Adi-Tyagaraja (S)
3. Manavyaala-Nalinakanthi-Adi-Tyagaraja (R,S)
4. Neerajakshi-Hindolam-Rupakam-Muthuswami Dikshitar (R)
5. Idadhu Padham-Kamas-Adi-Papanasam Sivan
6. Kamakshi Gowri-Saveri-Adi-Papanasam Sivan (R,N,S,T)
7. Anjana Vannanai-Kapi-Adi-Pasuram
8. Ramakrishnaru-Tilang-Adi(Misra Nadai)-Purandaradasa
9. Muddugare-Kurinji-Adi-Annamacharya
10.Thillana-Niroshta-Adi-Madurai.T.N.Seshagopalan

Monday, December 29, 2008

Raaga Manjari - A Garland of Ragamalikas























This audio album was launched on the 17th of December at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan.

It has eight compositions, all Ragamalikas, with beautiful,highly classical orchestration composed by Sri.K.S.Raghunathan,which serve as the preludes and interludes in each song.

Songs featured in the album:

1. Arabhimanam-Adi-Tarangampadi Panchanatha Iyer -
(Arabhi,Anandabhairavi,Kalyani,Hamsadhwani,Saranga,Sama,Mohanam,
Lalitha,Durbar,Bhairavi,Purvikalyani,Kamalamanohari)

2. Chandrachuda-Adi-Purandaradasa-
(Shankarabharanam,Sunadavinodini,Todi,Kamas)

3. Saanandam-Adi-Swati Tirunal-
(Kamalamanohari,Hamsadhwani,Revagupthi,Tarangini)

4. Arupadai Veedu-Adi-Traditional-
(Sunaadavinodini,Keeravani,Atana,Bowli,Abheri)

5. Sri Viswanatham (Chaturdasha ragamalika)-Adi-Muthuswami Dikshitar-
(Sri,Arabhi,Gowri,Naatai,Gowla,Mohanam,Sama,Lalitha,
Bhairavam,Saranga,Shankarabharanam,Kambhoji,Devakriya,Bhupalam)

6. Gaana Mazhai-Adi-Ambujam Krishna-
(Behag,Bowli,Manirang)

7. Needhan Thunai-Misra Chapu-N.S.Chidambaram-
(Neelambari,Anandabhairavi,Gowrimanohari,Saraswathi,
Sriranjani,Mohanakalyani,Durga,Jyothiswarupini)

8. Vattu Naduve-Adi-Periazhwar Pasuram
(Chenjurutti,Manirang,Peelu,Sindubhairavi)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Valayapatti Kaashyap Naadhalaya Trust- 28.12.08















(This concert was held at Sri Anantha Padmanabha Swamy Temple, Adyar)

Accompanists:

B.U.Ganeshprasad - Violin
J.Vaidyanathan - Mridangam
Madipakkam Murali - Ghatam

Song List: (R-Raga Alapana,N-Neraval,S-Kalpanaswaram,T-Tani Avarthanam)


1. Varnam(Entho prema)- Surutti-Adi
2. Sidhi Vinayakam-Shanmukhapriya-Rupakam-Muthuswami Dikshitar (S)
3. Dinamani Vamsa-Harikambhoji-Adi-Tyagaraja
4. Azhaga Azhaga-Sudhadhanyasi-Kanta Chapu-Ambujam Krishna (R,S)
5. Ennalu Oorake-Subhapantuvarali-Misra Chapu-Tyagaraja
6. Pakkala Nilabadi-Karaharapriya-Misra Chapu-Tyagaraja (R,N,S,T)
7. Shanmugapriya Nayakan-Ragamalika-Adi-N.S.Chidambaram
8. Virutham(Thaditha Oru maganai-Ramalinga Swami Arutpa)
followed by Sottrunai Vedhiyan-Kedharagowla-Adi-Appar Tevaram
9. Vellai Thamarai-Bhimplas-Adi-Subramanya Bharathiyar
10.Sri Venkata Girisham-Surutti-Adi-Muthuswami Dikshitar

Well, it was nice to sing in my own "home territory"!!!- Adyar !

1)A huge,knowledgeable and appreciative crowd
2)No exodus during Thani
3)The entire audience sat through till the concert ended

which were all very heartening to see :-)

Brahma Gana Sabha - 27.12.08

















Accompanists:
B.U.Ganesh Prasad - Violin
B.Sivaraman - Mridangam
Adambakkam Shankar - Ghatam



Song List: (R-Raga Alapana,N-Neraval,S-Kalpanaswaram,T-Tani Avarthanam)


1. Varnam- Sudhadhanyasi- Adi-Muthiah Bhagavathar
2. Hasthi Vadanaaya- Navroj- Misra Chapu- Muthuswami Dikshitar
3. Narasimha Mamava-Arabhi-Kanta Chapu-Maharaja Swati Tirunal (S)
4. Karunai Varumo-Charukesi-Adi- Papanasam Sivan (R)
5. Ninnu Cheppa-Mandari-Adi-Patnam Subramanya Iyer
6. Raa Raa Raajeeva Lochana-Mohanam-Adi-Mysore Vasudevachar (R,N,S,T)
7. Baagayanayya-Chandrajyothi-Adi-Tyagaraja
8. RTP-Bhairavi,Naayaki,Vasantha-Chatusra Jathi Jhampai (Kanta Nadai) (R,N,S)
9. Kakkai Chiraginile-Brindavana Saranga-Adi-Subramanya Bharathi
10.Sadha Enna-Behag-Rupakam-Vijaya Vittala Dasa
11.Slokam, Mangala Muruthi-Madhuvanthi-Adi-Tulsidas
12.Tiruppugazh(Kaadhi Modhi)-Chandrakouns

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The Hindu- Dated 23/12/08

Here is a review of the concert held under the auspices of Music Academy,Chennai on 18/12/08:
(This appeared in the Hindu dated 23/12/08.)


Monday, December 22, 2008

Chennayil Tiruvaiyaru - 22.12.08


















Accompanists:

Akkarai Subhalakshmi - Violin
J.Vaidyanathan - Mridangam
Sree Sundarkumar - Kanjira

Song List: (R-Raga Alapana,N-Neraval,S-Kalpanaswaram,T-Tani Avarthanam)



1. Varnam-Valachi-Navaragamalika-Adi-Patnam Subramanya Iyer
2. Sugunamule-Chakravaham-Rupakam-Tyagaraja (S)
3. Swagatham Krishna-Mohanam-Adi(Tisra)-Uthukadu Venkatakavi
4. Saaga Varamum Arulvai-Varamu-Misra Chapu-Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi (R,S)
5. Slokam-(Meenakshi Pancharatnam)-Ahiri
followed by Mayamma-Ahiri-Adi-Shyama Sastri
6. Sarasa Saamadaana-Kapinarayani-Adi-Tyagaraja
7. Kaligiyunte-Keeravani-Adi-Tyagaraja (R,N,S,T)
8. Virutham(Siru Viralgal-Pasuram)-Ragamalika
followed by Gaana Mazhai-Ragamalika-Adi-Ambujam Krishna
9. Gopi Gopala-Gamanaashrama-Adi(Tisra)-Surdas
10.Tiruppugazh (Eenamigu thulappiravi)-Suruti

Naan Enna Tavam Seideno - Lyrics

As requested, I am giving below the lyrics for the song "Naan Enna Tavam Seideno", in Kamas, a composition of Uthukadu Venkatakavi, set to Adi Talam.

பல்லவி

நான் என்ன தவம் செய்தேனோ
யமுனை நதித் துறைவனிவன் பதத்திணையில் மனம்
இருத்திய பலரில் ஒருத்தியென மிக (நான்)

அனுபல்லவி

நான் என்ன தவம் செய்தும் நல்லதோர் பயனுற்றும்
பாட நாவென்ன தவம் செய்ததோ (என்)-கண்ணனை
நாடிப் பாடி பலமுறை மகிழ்ந்து உறவாடியாடி மனமிக கசிந்துருக (நான்)

சரணம்

கண்செய்த தவம் எல்லாம் கண்டதும் உய்ந்ததே
கரம் செய்த தவம் எல்லாம் சிரம் மேல் குவிந்ததே
பண் செய்த தவம் எல்லாம் பாடி மகிழ்ந்ததே
பதியும் நீ நிதியும் நீ மதியும் நீ கதியும் நீ எனவும் படம்
எடுத்தாடும் காளிங்க சிரத்தில் பதமிதித்தாடும் அய்யனைப் பாடவும் (நான்)

Friday, December 19, 2008

Music Academy - 18.12.08



































Accompanists:
B.U.Ganeshprasad - Violin
Poongulam Subramaniam - Mridangam
Madipakkam Murali - Ghatam

Song List: (R-Raga Alapana,N-Neraval,S-Kalpanaswaram,T-Tani Avarthanam)



1.Varnam- Sahana-Adi-Tiruvatriyur Tyagayyar
2.Sri Madhurapuri- Bilahari-Rupakam-Muthuswami Dikshitar
3.Nee Chithamu- Dhanyasi-Misra Chapu-Tyagarajar (R,S)
4.Antharanga Bhakthi- Shadvidhamargini-Adi-Koteeswara Iyer
5.Pranathaarthihara- Melaragamalika -First two chakras-Adi-Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan
6.Sudhamayi-Amruthavarshini-Rupakam-Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar (N)
7.Koniyaadina Napai-Kambhoji-Adi-Veenai Kuppier (R,N,S,T)
8.Thunai Purindharul- Varamu-Adi-Papanasam Sivan
9.RTP-Shanmukhapriya- Misra Triputa (R,N,S)
10.Nath Hare-Ahirbhairavi-Adi-Jayadevar Ashtapathi
11.Irakkam Varamal-Behag-Rupakam-Gopalakrishna Bharathi
12.Thillana-Niroshta-Adi-Madurai.T.N.Seshagopalan
13.Mangalam

In this concert,I particularly liked Poongulam Subramaniam's playing for the Misra Chapu Krithi Nee Chithamu and the main Krithi Koniyaadina Naapai.

Karthik Fine Arts - 17.12.08


















Accompanists:
V.Sanjeev - Violin
Kallidaikurichi Sivakumar - Mridangam
SreeSundarkumar - Kanjira

Song List: (R-Raga Alapana,N-Neraval,S-Kalpanaswaram,T-Tani Avarthanam)



1. Varnam - Panthuvarali-Adi-Shatkala Narasayya
2. Seethapathi - Kamas-Adi-Tyagaraja (S)
3. Aanirai meyndhaada(Virutham)
followed by Adadhu Asangadhu-Madhyamavathi-Adi-Uthukadu Venkatakavi
4. Giripai - Sahana-Adi-Tyagaraja (R)
5. Chinthaye Mahalinga - Paras-Adi-Muthuswami Dikshitar (S)
6. Raave Parvatharajakumari - Kalyani-Misra Jhampa-Syama Sastri (R,N,S,T)
7. Needhan Thunai - Ragamalika-Misra Chapu-N.S.Chidambaram
8. Irakkam Varamal - Behag-Rupakam-Gopalakrishna Bharathi
9. Thillana - Sindhubhairavi-Adi-Uthukadu Venkatakavi

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Sri Rama Bhaktha Jana Samaj - 16.12.08


















Accompanists:

Mysore Srikanth - Violin
J.Vaidyanathan - Mridangam
B.S.Purushotham - Kanjira

This venue always has an excellent audience and the most surprising thing was that not one person stirred from his/her seat during the brilliant Thani Avarthanam between JV and BSP :-)

Song List: (R-Raga Alapana,N-Neraval,S-Kalpanaswaram,T-Tani Avarthanam)


1. Varnam - Saveri - Adi
2. Virutham followed by Margazhi Thingal - Naatai - Adi
3. Janani Ninnuvina - Reethigowla - Misra Chapu - Subbaraya Sastri (R,S)
4. Naan Enna thavam - Kamas - Adi - Uthukadu Venkatasubbier
5. Ninnu neranammi - Panthuvarali - Rupakam - Tyagarajar (R,N,S)
6. Chitham Irangaadhadhu - Sahana - Misra Chapu - Papanasam Sivan
7. Edhuta Nilichithe - Shankarabharanam - Adi - Tyagarajar (R,N,S,T)
8. Slokam, Pravisha Radhe - Misra Sivaranjani - Kanta Chapu - Jayadeva
9. Tamburi Meetidava - Sindhubhairavi - Adi - Purandaradasa
10.Villinai - Kavadi Chindu - Subramanya Bharathiyar
11. Thillana - Hamsanandhi - Adi - Muthiah Bhagavathar
12. Mangalam

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mylapore Fine Arts Concert - 15.12.08


Here is a quick post on yesterday's concert at Mylapore Fine Arts Club:

















Accompanists:

V.Sanjeev - Violin
Poongulam Subramanian - Mridangam
Madipakkam Murali - Ghatam

Song List: (R-Raga Alapana,N-Neraval,S-Kalpanaswaram,T-Tani Avarthanam)


1. Vanajaksha -(Varnam) - Reethigowla - Ata
2. Merusamana - Mayamalavagowla - Adi - Tyagarajar (S)
3. Natamaadum Naadhanadi - Purvikalyani - Kanta Chapu - Gopalakrishna Bharathi (R,N,S)
4. Kulabirudunu - Devamanohari - Rupakam - Tyagarajar
5. Ivanaaro - Kambhoji - Misra Chapu - Kavikunjara Bharathi
6. Sri Krishnam Bhaja - Thodi - Adi - Muthuswami Dikshitar (R,N,S,T)
7. Chalamelara - Margahindolam - Adi - Tyagarajar
8. RTP - Amruthavarshini - Kanta Triputa (R,N,S)
"Anandini Aakarshini amruthavarshini avathu maam akhila jana"
9. Slokam in Ragas Madhyamavathi, Purvikalyani, Mukhari, Mohanam, Dhanyasi, Natakurinji, Saveri followed by Bhavayami Raghuramam - Ragamalika - Rupakam - Maharaja Swati Tirunal
10.Smara Varam - Jog - Adi - Sadasiva Brahmendra
11.Virutham, Chandiran Oliyil - Chandrakouns - Misra Chapu - Bharathiyar
12.Mangalam

A conspicuous absentee at this concert and my earlier one at Sastri Hall,was an elderly gentleman (late) Sri.Rajaraman.

An ardent music lover, he never used to miss my concert at Sastri Hall and, in particular,at Mylapore Fine Arts, during every December.

He had organized for a thematic concert of mine, earlier in May this year. Seeing the success of this, he had planned for another one for the 22nd of August,this year. But this concert never materialized - I was shocked beyond belief when I saw his name in the Hindu Obituary column the very same day - 22nd of August,2008.

I am planning to present a thematic concert with the same theme that he had planned, maybe sometime in Feb/March 2009, specially dedicated to Mr.Rajaraman.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Dinamalar-Daily Newspaper Dated 15/12/08

Here is a review of the concert held under the auspices of Nungambakkam Cultural Academy on 10/12/08:
(This appeared in Dinamalar dated 15/12/08.)

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Shanthi Arts Foundation and Endowment- 13.12.08

















This was held at Srinivasa Sastri Hall, Luz.

Accompaniments:
Mysore Srikanth - Violin
J.Vaidyanathan - Mridangam
Raman - Morsing


Song List: (R-Raga Alapana,N-Neraval,S-Kalpanaswaram,T-Tani Avarthanam)

1. Varnam - Thodi - Adi - Patnam Subramanya Iyer
2. Makelara - Ravichandrika - Adi - Tyagaraja (S)
3. Virutham (Ezhai Thozhumban) - Saveri (Dharmasamvardhani Malai)
followed by Varmamaa - Saveri - Rupakam - Anai-ayya
4. Nadhupai - Madhyamavathi - Kanta Chapu - Tyagaraja (R,S)
5. Utrumai Servadhu - Shankarabharanam - Adi - Tirugnanasambandar Tevaram
6. Ninne Nammithi - Simhendramadhyamam - Misra Chapu - Mysore Vasudevachar (R,N,S,T)
7. Sri Madhava - Behag- Adi - Papanasam Sivan
8. Thillana - Chandrakouns - Adi(Tisra) - Madurai.T.N.Seshagopalan
9. Mangalam


A review of this concert appeared in today's Tamil Daily, Dinamani.
Here it is:

Dinathandhi-Daily Newspaper Dated 12/12/08

A review of my concert at Meenakshi College on 5th December,2008, appeared in the Dinathandhi daily on the 12th December.
I have scanned it and I am publishing it here.

Indian Express- Dated 9/12/08




























(Actually, if you noticed, even the corrigendum is wrong - in the above review,only the photograph was wrong, caption for photo and review are correct, but the corrigendum seems to mention it wrong.)

Nungambakkam Cultural Academy-10.12.08





Accompaniments:

Mysore Srikanth- Violin
Neyveli Skandasubramanyam - Mridangam
Guruprasad - Ghatam







Song List: (R-Raga Alapana,N-Neraval,S-Kalpanaswaram,T-Tani Avarthanam)


1. Varnam - Begada - Adi - Veena Kuppa Iyer (S)
2. Nannu Brova - Abhogi - Adi- Tyagaraja (R)
3. Amba Neelaayathakshi - Neelambari- Adi - Muthuswami Dikshitar
4. Saravanabhava Guhane - Kannada- Adi - Papanasam Sivan
5. Hiranmayim Lakshmim - Lalitha - Rupakam - Muthuswami Dikshitar (R,S)
6. Sarasa Samadana - Kapinarayani - Adi - Tyagarajar
7. Kuniththa Puruvamum (Virutham - Tirunaavukarasar Tevaram) - Keeravani
followed by Vaananai - Tirunaavukkarasar Tevaram - Misra Chapu - Keeravani
8. Parama Pavana Rama - Purvikalyani - Adi - Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar (R,N,S,T)
9. Enthaayum Enakkarul, Padikkinrilai - Ragamalika Virutham
followed by Kaliyuga Varadan - Brindavana Saranga - Adi - Periasami Thooran
10.Naadhavindhu Kalaadhi - Kurinji - Adi - Arunagirinathar

This concert was on the day prior to Tiruvannamalai Karthigai Deepam, hence I chose to include Vaananai and Naadhavindhu Kalaadhi in my list that day.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Music Season Concerts' Updates

In response to both requests through email and posts from music lovers who have written here, I will be putting up song lists, experiences and newspaper/magazine write-ups (if any) for each of my concerts during the season.

I had a concert today at Sastri Hall. I will first post about my earlier concert and then post about today's concert separately.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Remembering MS Amma

M.S.SUBBALAKSHMI(16TH SEPTEMBER 1916 - 11TH DECEMBER 2004)

I think it was the year 1997.

I was recording for an audio album at Sathya Studios, Chennai. Half-way through a particular song, I could see people suddenly getting busy to receive someone there at the studio. One person started arranging chairs, another person cleared away the papers and pencils lying on the table. Assistants came up twice or thrice and whispered something into the recording engineer's ears.

I continued to sing, finished my song and came out, only to find none other than MS Amma (who had come to do a recording) sitting patiently on a chair outside the studio !!!

For a minute I was stunned and stood speechless. The next thing I did was to prostrate in front of her and get her blessings.The people there apologized to her, for having made her wait outside the studio. But do you know what MS Amma said ??!! She said," குழந்தை பாடிண்டு இருந்தா, பாதில நிறுத்த சொல்லவே கூடாது,அல்லது continuity போயிடும்" (the child is singing, we should never interrupt anyone while singing, lest the continuity gets disrupted)!! Such was her humility ! She had waited outside till I had finished that entire song !

The Year 1999:

I was invited to sing at Puttaparthi on the occasion of the birthday of Bhagawan Sri Sathya Saibaba.

At this point, let me first write briefly about Sri.Ra.Ganapathy. He is one of the most fortunate souls to have had a wonderful association with the Paramacharya of Kanchipuram and who has authored the wonderful volumes of தெய்வத்தின் குரல் (Deivaththin Kural). Ganapathy Anna, (as we all call him) also has an association with Bhagawan Sathya Saibaba for many years now. He has composed several songs on Bhagawan, set to tune and sung by MS Amma.







(MS Amma holds my daughter on her lap)










So while preparing for this particular concert, when I approached Anna for a few of his songs, he arranged for me to learn two or three songs from MS Amma ! I went to her residence and had the fortune of learning two Sai Bhajans from her- Janani Sayee in Purvikalyani and Leelaanataka Sayee in Kurinji. I was amazed to see her simplicity, when she readily agreed to teach an upcoming youngster like me !

The next incident was in the year 2000:

Violinist R.K.Shriramkumar asked me if I would be interested to sing in MS Amma's house in Kotturpuram on one of the days during Navarathri, for about an hour-and-a-half. I was delighted at this opportunity and was present there as scheduled. Sitting in front of her, with just a Sruthi-Box and no accompaniments, I sang. There were a few other friends of MS Amma present. She closed her eyes and listened with rapt attention.

After this concert, she told me something that really stunned me. A week before this particular concert at her residence, I had sung on radio. MS Amma referred to this radio program and said, "நான் radio'ல கேட்டேன்,ஸரகுண பாலிம்ப ரொம்ப நன்னா இருந்தது" ("I heard you on radio, you sang Saraguna Palimpa very well"). I thought, "What?? MS Amma remembers what I sang on radio a week back??" I just couldn't believe my ears. Then she asked me," நீ தப்பா எடுத்துக்கலைனா நான் ஒரு விஷயம் சொல்லலாமா?"( can I tell you something if you wouldn't mistake me?"). Still under the shock, I just weakly nodded. She pointed to two or three places in that radio concert, where I could improve and gave me pointers as to how to do it. She also gave me tips on voice modulation, methods to take care of the voice and so on. I just cannot forget this experience.

11th December 2004:

The inevitable happened.

I was one among the thousands, who had thronged to the residence of MS Amma at Kotturpuram, to pay our last respects to this great soul.

Almost the entire city of Chennai- from VIPs to lay persons, from fans to musicians were gathered there, grief-stricken.

Such was the aura that MS Amma had created.

Divya Prabandham - Part 7

(Tiruchchanda Virutham - Part 4):
Lyrics and Meanings of verses telecast on 6.12.08:

குலங்களாய ஈரிரண்டில் ஒன்றிலும் பிறந்திலேன்
நலங்களாய நற்கலைகள் நாலிலும் நவின்றிலேன்,
புலன்கள் ஐந்தும் வென்றிலேன்,பொறியிலேன் புனித,நின்
இலங்கு பாதம் அன்றி மற்று ஓர் பற்று இலேன் எம் ஈசனே !

Meaning: Alas ! I am not fortunate enough to hail from well-bred families. Oh Lord, I am not well-read in the culture of the four Vedas,I have not won over my five senses. Oh Holy One ! the only source of life that I have, is the life of Service at Your Feet !

ஊனின் மேய ஆவி நீ; உரக்கமோடு உணர்ச்சி நீ;
ஆனில் மேய ஐந்தும் நீ; அவற்றுள் நின்ற தூய்மை நீ;
வானினோடு மண்ணும் நீ; வளங்கடல் பயனும் நீ;
யானும் நீ; அது அன்றி எம்பிரானும் நீ; இராமனே !

Meaning: ஆன் - பசுமாடு, வளங்கடல்- பவகடல்

Oh Lord ! You are the sleeping and waking states. You are the life within the body. You are the five delights and purity of a cow. You are the Earth, the Sky and the Ocean and You are all their wealth. You are my soul. You are my Master- Oh Lord Sitaram

வாள்கள் ஆகி நாள்கள் செல்ல நோய்மை குன்றி மூப்பு எய்தி
மாளும் நாள் அது; ஆதலால் வணங்கி வாழ்த்து என் நெஞ்சமே,
ஆளது ஆகும் நன்மை என்று நன்குணர்ந்து, அது அன்றியும்,
மீள்வு இலாத போகம் ! நல்க வேண்டும் மால பாதமே

Meaning: மூப்பு- முதுமை

Our days are passing like a saw with illness and infirmity. The day of death is hanging low, so please offer praise and bow to the Lord. Oh Heart ! Know that the only good is, service to His Holy Feet. The Lord will grant the permanent- a life on Earth without return.

Divya Prabandham- Part 6

(Tiruchchanda Virutham - Part 3):
Lyrics and Meanings of verses telecast on 29.11.08:

புன் புல வழி அடைத்து அரக்கு- இலச்சினை செய்து,
நன் புல வழி திறந்து, ஞான நற் சுடர் கொளீ இ,
என்பு- இல் எள்கி, நெஞ்சு உருகி, உள்கனிந்து எழுந்ததோர்,
அன்பில் அன்றி, ஆழியானை யாவர் காண வல்லரே

Meaning: என்பு - எலும்பு, வழி அடைத்து- அவித்து

Subdue the senses,seal its paths with sealing wax.Throw open the portal doors of the heart and light a lamp in it. A shaking body, melting heart and quaking voice of ripe wisdom, with the Love for the Lord rising high,is the only way to see the Lord.


எட்டும் எட்டும் எட்டுமாய், ஓர் ஏழும் ஏழும் ஏழுமாய்,
எட்டும் மூன்றும் ஒன்றும் ஆகி நின்ற ஆதி தேவனை,
எட்டின் ஆய பேத மோடு இரைஞ்சி நின்று, அவன் பெயர்,
எட்டு எழுத்தும் ஓதுவார்கள் வல்லர் வானம் ஆளவே.

Meaning: The twenty-four principles, the twenty-one( seven lands, seven mountains, seven seas), the twelve Adityas- the Lord is the primary cause of these. The dear devoted worshippers,who prostrate at His Lotus Feet, and learn his name in eight letters,are rulers of the sky above.

கடைந்த பாற்கடல் கிடந்து,காலநேமியைக் கடிந்து,
உடைந்த வாலி தன், தனக்கு உதவ வந்து,இராமனாய்
மிடைந்த ஏழ் மரங்களும் அடங்க எய்து,வேங்கடம்
அடைந்த மால பாதமே அடைந்து நாளும் உய்ம்மினோ

Meaning: கடிந்து- கடந்து, உய்ம்மினோ - வாழுங்கள்

O Lord residing in the milky white ocean ! O Kalanemi-vanquisher ! You came on earth as Rama, you gave your word to Sugreeva,and shot an arrow through the trees. O Lord who lives in Venkatam ! O People on the dainty Earth ! Come, love the Lord and live again !

Divya Prabandham-Part 5

(Tiruchchanda Virutham - Part 2):
Lyrics and Meanings of verses telecast on 22.11.08:

கொண்டை கொண்ட கோதை மீது தேன் உலாவு கூனி கூன்
உண்டை கொண்டு அரங்க ஒட்டி உள் மகிழ்ந்த நாதன் ஊர்
நண்டை உண்டு, நாரை பேர,வாளை பாய,நீலமே,
அண்டை கொண்டு கெண்டை மேயும் அந்தண் நீர் அரங்கமே

Meaning: கோதை-முடி, உண்டை- உருண்டை, கெண்டை-மீன்

Kooni, who wore bee-humming flower-set hair,gave him sandal paste and got him straighten her curved humpy back. He resides in Rangam-oor,where waters of the river flow,with the crane,crab and kayal-fish and kendai residing in the river.


நடந்த கால்கள் நொந்தவோ? நடுங்க ஞாலம் ஏனமாய்,
இடந்த மெய் குலுங்கவோ? இலங்கு மால் வரைச்சுரம்
கடந்த கால் பரந்த காவிரிக் கரைக் குடந்தையுள்,
கிடந்தவாறு எழுந்திருந்து பேசு; வாழி, கேசனே !

Meaning: ஏனம் - பன்றி, சுரம்- காடு

Is it because Your Feet are hurt,is it because your body aches- through the feat of lifting Lady Earth,through the feat of traversing the Earth,that you lie amidst the Kaveri,that spreads out in the Kudandhai plains? Please, O Lord, speak a word, O Kesava, my Wonder Boar !

நின்றது எந்தை ஊரகத்து,இருந்தது எந்தை பாடகத்து,
அன்று வெஃகணைக் கிடந்தது, என் இலாத முன்னெலாம்,
அன்று நான் பிறந்திலேன்;பிறந்த பின் மறந்திலேன்,
நின்றதும் இருந்ததும் கிடந்ததும் என் நெஞ்சுளே

Meaning: When I was non-existent, the Lord reclined in Vehhanai, the Lord stood in Paadagam, the Lord sat in Ooragam.But once the Self was born,it has never forgotten;His standing, sitting,reclining-all the acts are imprinted in my heart.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Mail from a music lover...

I got a mail today from a Rasika, Mr.Nagraj, saying that he wanted to post a comment here regarding my concert that took place on 5th Dec,2008.

Since the file size is a bit too large to be posted as a comment, he apparently had problems uploading it and hence requested me to put it up as a separate post.
So, here it goes:
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The very courage GG had, to team up with Thavil maestro Padmashri Haridwaramangalam Shri. AK Palanivel for her concert on 05 Dec 2008, needs special appreciation. Because, not many dare to take the road less traveled. Also, when not many male artists take this kind of a risk, with her melodious voice, GG has performed alongwith HAKP for the second consecutive year at the same venue.

Before GG and the co-artists took the stage(her home ground), there was an element of doubt for an elderly, well-learned person (Mama) sitting behind me, whether this combination would work out. Also, he said, ‘This lady has improved a lot consistently in the last 4 – 5 years and is silently marching towards the number one slot’.

The way GG took the center stage with confidence and poise, well-dressed in contrast to the stage backdrop, it did indicate what was in store for the next 3 hours. She drew the attention of the audience with popular ‘ Sri Maha Ganapathim’ in Gowla, followed by another familiar ‘Swaminatha Paripalaya’. By then, the battle with the audio system and balancing act was over and the audience were grooved in to the concert.

Then, she hooked on the audience further with ‘janarajagamana’ “Swagatham Krishna” in Mohanam. Ganapathiraman’s gumuki on Mrudhangam came to special soothing effect to create perfect mood for the song. Racy phrases were rightly addressed by HAKP.

It was ‘Saamaja vara gamana’ in Hindolam, (made to reach common man through the famous film “Shankarabharanam’), where GG traversed through the upper and lower octaves with sheer beauty in the alapana section. There were outstanding cohesive laya patterns framed by the percussionists, including Adambakkam Shankar on Ghatam, that made the song very appealing. Moods of violin were well brought out by Shri. Ganeshprasad. And, GG went on to bring out the emotional / aesthetic beauty in the line‘ Vedasiro…’. Swara patterns were good and HAKP encouraged well to bring out the best of manodharma in the artist.

Emani pogadura Srirama, in Veeravasantham was a small piece that made a good filler before the main item. Percussion followed the sahityam beautifully.

Main piece of the evening was, ‘Bala Gopala Palaya Sumam’ in Bhairavi. GG effortlessly touched both the low and high notes, to paint the raga beautifully. Here, a special mention needs to be made on HAKP’s following the sahityam and swaras closely. With perfect anticipation, he clearly marked start / end of phrases and that was a beauty. Thani avarthanam was deferred.

Seethamma Mayamma in vasantha was fast paced and good to listen.

Then we realized that a Ragam Thanam Pallavi ‘Kalaimagalin Thiruppadam dhinamum ninai’ was in store. It was constructed in Saraswathi followed by Ragamalika in Hamsadhwani, Vagadeeswari and Hamsanadham that was worth listening. Special laya patterns were played by HAKP & group during the extended ‘thani’ that brought the thunders down.
‘Ponnar Meniyane’ in Kurinchi is generally a hit among GG’s audience. In fact, in one of the GG’s reviews in a Tamil daily last year, the title itself was ‘Ponnar meniyane’ and it spoke so much about the emotional content pitched in

To end the concert, it was a thillana in Hamsanandhi which left the audience asking for more. But the three hours were over by then and it was 9.15 p.m. It was a good, learned, responsive, appreciative audience and therefore, the outcome was also good.

Sincerely, I opine that this novel idea of singing with thavil deserves better accolades. But to have a good reach, GG needs a better platform, better Sabha with mass exposure.

Don’t know, why such special concerts do not get much of the attention of the media and critics. It was nice to see GG in full form and I am sure she has a very good season ahead. Wish her all the very best.

Nagraj

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Saturday, December 6, 2008

Concert with Tavil accompaniment-5.12.08




I am posting this after finishing my concert today (actually yesterday, because its already 1.05 a.m now!!)at Meenakshi College,Kodambakkam. This was my first concert at this year's December Music Season.

We (Ganeshprasad on violin, Ganapathiraman on mridangam and Adambakkam Shankar on Ghatam and myself) were fortunate to have had Padmasri Vidwan.Haridwaramangalam.Sri.Palanivel performing with us on stage.

I am not going to write about what I sang at this concert.I am just going to share with all of you the kind of atmosphere that prevailed on stage during the concert. I must say that it is a totally different experience to sing with the Tavil. What different patterns he gave while playing for each song ! I really enjoyed whatever I sang.

Sri.Palanivel is an artiste who has had years and years of experience in this percussion form and he kept encouraging all of us throughout the concert.All of us were enjoying each others' singing/playing and on the whole, the atmosphere that was created was very pleasant. I strongly believe that this kind of camaraderie and teamwork plays a vital role in the success of any concert.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Music Season has begun !

It has been 10 days since my last post- with the torrential rains last week in Chennai and kids indoors all the time, it was like working over-time for me :-)

The Music Season in Chennai has begun, Sabha inaugurations will soon happen one after the other.We will start witnessing the festive atmosphere here at Chennai, at all the sabhas (concert halls and canteens inclusive!!)

This spectacular Music Festival is definitely an event to witness!

In the previous years, I have always attended concerts of other musicians during the Music Season, but with my own schedule getting more and more hectic, it becomes next to impossible to be able to do the same. I welcome music lovers to share their general experiences about the Season..I will come up with updates and my experiences as frequently as possible.

Wishing all Chennai-ites great listening ! And, isn't this tempting enough for non-Chennai-ites to sneak a peek into the city sometime this month?? :-)

Friday, November 21, 2008

Divya Prabandham - Part 4

(Tiruchchanda Virutham - Part 1):
The Tiruchchanda Virutham was composed by Tirumazhisai Azhwar.
Lyrics and Meanings of verses telecast on 15.11.08:


பூ நிலாய ஐந்துமாய் புனற்கண் நின்ற நான்குமாய்
தீ நிலாய மூன்றுமாய் சிறந்த கால் இரண்டுமாய்
மீ நிலாயது ஒன்றும் ஆகி வேறு வேறு தன்மையாய்
நீ நிலாய வண்ணம் நின்னை யார் நினைக்க வல்லரே

Meaning: பூ - Earth, புனல் - water, கால்- air, மீ - space, sky
The five Gunas of Earth, the four Gunas of water, the three Gunas in holy fire, the two Gunas in the air around us, the one Guna in space above,are all your manifestations. You stand apart from all. Who can fathom thee, O Lord?

ஏக மூர்த்தி மூன்று மூர்த்தி நாலு மூர்த்தி நன்மை சேர்
போக மூர்த்தி புண்ணியத்தின் மூர்த்தி எண் இல் மூர்த்தியாய்
நாக மூர்த்தி சயனமாய் நலங்கடல் கிடந்து, மேல்
ஆக மூர்த்தி ஆயவண்ணன் என்கொல் ஆதிதேவனே

Meaning: என்கொல் - surprised
You are the Single-form (Paramporul), the three-fold form (Brahma,Vishnu and Shiva), the four-fold form, benevolent ! You are the joyous form, the holy form, the countless forms. You lie on the serpent couch in the seas. You come in different forms in temples for all to see.

வெற்பு எடுத்து வேலை-நீர் கலக்கினாய் அது அன்றியும்
வெற்பு எடுத்து வேலை நீர் வரம்பு கட்டி,வேலை சூழ்
வெற்பு எடுத்த இஞ்சி சூழ் இலங்கை கட்டழித்த நீ
வெற்பு எடுத்து மாரி காத்த மேகவண்ணன் அல்லையே

Meaning: வெற்பு - mountain, வேலை - ocean ,வரம்பு - bridge, இஞ்சி - wall
You pulled a huge mountain high to churn the Milky Ocean-deep. You later built a rocky mountain bridge across Lanka, ocean-deep (Rama Avatara). You then crossed a rocky mountain wall surrounded by the ocean-deep. You then held a mountain high on your little finger (Govardhana mountain carried by Krishna). Oh Lord of hue-like ocean-deep !

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Devarnama that I will never forget !

Year 1990. First year at college. Occasion : College Day Celebrations.

We, as freshers, were just hanging around on that day, trying to get accustomed to all the unfamiliar faces around us.

I was suddenly asked to go up on stage and render a song as a filler between two programmes.

It was a Purandara Dasar Devarnama that I chose to sing, in Raga Hamsanandhi. Borrowing a Sruthi Box from someone there, I started singing.

The moment I started singing, there were a lot of boos and woos from the students in the audience. Amidst all the din, I managed to finish the song and get off the stage.
I shed a few silent tears and for a moment, felt very insecure in that atmosphere. But the very next moment, I made up my mind that I would get myself noticed very soon and prove myself.

In the subsequent months, there were numerous important occasions at college, where I was asked to render the invocation song and things were totally different by the end of the first semester ! Students started enjoying the small bhajans and Tamil songs that I rendered during the College Assembly. I was soon identified as "singer" Gayathri belonging to I year, Maths Department ! (I was anyway S.Gayathri then and so this looked very apt :-) )

Very often, I bump into a lot of my college mates - be it in temples, malls or at the doctor's clinic. They immediately recollect the songs that I used to sing at college..
In retrospect, this particular incident in 1990 made me take a vow and my subsequent days and years at college were very enjoyable, fruitful and memorable.

Why am I writing all this now? - I sang this above said Purandara Dasar Devarnama at a concert two days back and my thoughts went back to this particular incident. Hence this post !

Friday, November 14, 2008

A Day Usefully Spent...

How does one feel at the end of a fruitful day?

As far as I am concerned, such a day leaves me exhilarated. Makes me more energetic, more happy ( I will be extra careful before I use the word "satisfied" - after what I heard from Sachin Tendulkar the other day on TV !!). My conscience is clear that I have made good use of the day.

I had a good music practice session today, polishing some old Krithis and learning a new one. Surprisingly, interruptions in the form of doorbell ringing and phone ringing were minimal today, which was a big relief :-). Singing a song or a phrase again and again helps very much. When an artist feels that he/she has internalized the song by repeated singing, the pleasure derived out of it is something very unique and cannot be described in words. It has to be felt. I strongly believe that each song that we present on stage should produce this effect.

I firmly believe in hard work and look forward to many more days of hard work in my chosen field..

With a hope that tomorrow will be as fruitful (or even more!) as today, I sign off now.

Good night !!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Inspiring TV Interviews

After my concert on 9th November, at BRRS,Chembur in Mumbai, I returned to my hotel and switched on the TV. While surfing through the channels I came across an interview on uTVi channel,with writer and leadership coach Robin Sharma. What an inspiring interview it was ! Such clarity of thoughts and ideas. He talked about the importance of realizing one's inner self and said how vital it is in life, especially in the current period, when there is global economic unrest. He talked about leadership qualities and how one should discover hidden opportunities even in one's failures.

I have really enjoyed reading books like "The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari", "Discover Your Destiny", "Family Wisdom",authored by Robin Sharma.

After this programme, I came across another awesome interview on IBN channel, where Mr. Rajdeep Sardesai interviewed two great legends of Indian Cricket, Sunil Gavaskar and Sachin Tendulkar. I really enjoyed watching this show.

I have always admired Sachin's simplicity and down-to-earth attitude. He talked beautifully and I could see that all his answers were very honest and straight from his heart ! Of course, I am no one to even comment upon Mr.Gavaskar's wonderful way of talking and handling situations ! He has always been one of my favourite cricketers.

When asked which has been the most glorious moment in each of their cricketing careers, Gavaskar immediately said it was India's World Cup victory in 1983. And, Sachin said the most memorable moment was when he adorned his Cricket cap for the very first time, when he represented the Indian team. I could "feel" the passion with which he gave that answer..

Sachin has always talked about his role models Viv Richards and Sunil Gavaskar in almost all his interviews, and this show was no exception. He said Gavaskar's three D's (discipline, determination and dedication) have always inspired him.

Gavaskar, when asked what he likes the most about Sachin, said it is the balance that Sachin displays, both on and off the field. He said mental balance is a very vital factor in anyone's path towards success and that he has found this in Sachin.

Sachin, when asked which has been his most satisfying innings so far,gave his usual charming smile and said," I have been happy on many occasions with my game, but seldom satisfied". What an answer from such a legend! In such a subtle manner, he gave the difference between "being happy" and "being satisfied".

Well, I can go on and on about this interview. Each question and each answer has got imprinted in my mind !

Along with thousands and thousands of fans of these two legends all over the world, I wish to convey that they have indeed made our country proud. Hats off to these two great players and wishing them all success and happiness..

Divya Prabandham - Part 3

(Naanmugan Tiruvanthaadhi - Part 2):
Lyrics and meaning of verses telecast on 8.11.08:

திறம்பேன்மின் கண்டீர் திருவடி தன் நாமம்
மறந்தும்,புறந் தொழா மாந்தர் இறைஞ்சியும்,
சாதுவராய்ப் போதுமின்கள் என்றான் நமனும்-தன்
தூதுவரைக் கூவிச் செவிக்கு

Meaning: கண்டீர்-beware ,திறம்பேன்மின் - மீறுதல்
நமன் - காலன்,யமன்

Yama, the God of death, called his messengers aside and said, "Beware, My orders are thus : the Lord's devotees may even forget His names, but they will never worship other Gods. If you see such devotees, bow down to them with courtesy. Don't disobey my orders".


செவிக்கு இன்பம் ஆவதுவும் செங்கண் மால் நாமம்
புவிக்கும் புவி அதுவே கண்டீர்-கவிக்கு
நிறை பொருளாய் நின்றானை நேர் பட்டேன், பார்க்கில்
மறைப் பொருளும் அத்தனையே தான்

Meaning: நேர் பட்டேன் - சந்தித்தேன்
Sweet to the ears are the names of the Lord. It is the place of refuge for all men. HE is the substance of my poetry and of the Vedas.


இல்லறம் இல்லேல் துறவறம் இல் என்னும்
சொல்,அறம் அல்லனவும் சொல் அல்ல - நல்லறம்
ஆவனவும், நால் வேத மாத் தவமும் நாரணனே
ஆவது ஈது அன்று என்பார் ஆர்?

Meaning: ஈது அன்று - இல்லை என்று

To say that pursuing the various Asramas - namely, student, householder, forest-dweller or that of renunciation- alone is sufficient to give the fruits of life is not correct. Even the paths of right conduct and renunciation taught in the Vedas certainly lead to Narayana as the Supreme goal. Who can deny this?

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Divya Prabandham - Part 2

(Naanmugan Tiruvanthaadhi - Part 1):

Naanmugan Tiruvanthaadhi is a set of 100 verses composed by Tirumazhisai Azhwar.

(Five earlier verses of Naanmugan Tiruvanthaadhi have already been telecast during previous weeks).

I have given below the lyrics and meaning of verses that were telecast on 1.11.2008:

கொண்டு குடங்கால் மேல் வைத்த குழவியாய்
தண்ட அரக்கன் தலை தாளால் பண்டு எண்ணி
போம் குமரன் நிற்கும் பொழில் வேங்கடமலைக்கே
போம் குமரருள்ளீர் புரிந்து

Meaning: குடங்கால் - உள்ளங்கால், அரக்கன் - அசுரன்(here, Ravana),
பொழில் - சோலைகள், புரிந்து - ஆசைப்பட்டு
When Ravana performed penance, Brahma appeared before him to grant him boons. The Lord then,appeared as a child, sat on Brahma's lap and counted Ravana's heads with his ten toes (indicating that Ravana deserves punishment)
Young people ! Go with love to Venkatam, where He resides.


கூற்றமும் சாரா கொடு வினையும் சாரா, தீ
மாற்றமும் சாரா வகை அறிந்தேன் ஆற்றல்
கரைக் கிடக்கும் கண்ணன்,கடல் கிடக்கும் மாயன்
உரைக் கிடக்கும் உள்ளத்து எனக்கு

Meaning: கூற்றம் - யமன், வகை - வழி
The wonder, Lord Krishna, who resides in the ocean (திருப்பாற்கடல்) and the riverside (திருக்காவேரி),resides in my poetic heart. Death (Yama) will not approach me henceforth.No more will Karmas accrue on me. No more will the terrible effects of Karmas befall me. I know the way.

அன்பு ஆவாய், ஆர் அமுதம் ஆவாய்,அடியேனுக்கு
இன்பு ஆவாய், எல்லாமும் நீ ஆவாய் - பொன் பாவை
கேள்வா கிளர் ஒளி என கேசவனே, கேடு இன்றி
ஆள்வாய்க்கு அடியேன் நான், ஆள்

Meaning: கிளர் ஒளி - ப்ரகாசம், பொன் பாவை - மஹாலக்ஷ்மி
Oh Lord of lotus-dame Lakshmi ! My radiant Kesava ! You are my love ! You are sweet to me ! You are my all ! You rule over me without a fault ! I am your humble servant.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Virutham-Keerthanam Special Concert: 30th May,1998

I was not planning to post anything now,until five minutes back, when I happened to come across tapes of a concert that took place on 30.5.1998.

Of late, my blog has, by default, become the medium of expression for my thoughts- whether musical or philosophical, and a place for me to share my experiences and recollections from the past.

So this is why I have landed up writing now and here I go :-)

In April 1998 it was decided that we would have a thematic "Virutham-Keerthanam" concert, wherein, Vidwan Sethalapathy Balasubramaniam (Balu Mama, as he was known to us)would sing different Viruthams (Virutham singing had always been Mama's forte),and each of them would be followed by a suitable Kriti that I would render.

Kasturi Srinivasan Hall (Music Academy Mini Hall) was fixed as the venue for this concert. One day at my place,as Mama and I were sitting and planning the items for the concert, my grandmother was sitting and watching the proceedings..Her all time favourite song was Senthil Andavan (she would ask me to sing it at every concert of mine that she attended :-)).

She told Balu Mama, "I would love to listen to a Virutham for Senthil Andavan now, followed by the song". And, Mama immediately went into an excellent Kharaharapriya singing one Virutham after another. As she was listening to this profuse outpouring of soulful Viruthams from Mama, Patti's eyes were filled with tears.

We then decided to have Kharaharapriya as one of the pieces in this concert.

The concert did happen on 30.5.98. Mama did sing a beautiful Kharaharapriya that day. I did sing the Kriti Senthil Andavan. But Patti was not there to listen to her favourite Kharaharapriya at this concert. She passed away just a few days before this concert...

Monday, November 3, 2008

Tirukkovalur (Tirukkovilur)

As I was writing the previous post, I thought of writing a separate post on Tirukkovalur, the place which is supposed to have been the meeting point for the Mudhal Azhwars (Poigaiazhwar, Budattazhwar and Peyazhwar).

TIrukkovalur(Tirukkovilur) is a famous Sthalam, both in the Shaivaite and Vaishnavaite forms of worship.

Veeratteswara temple: This is one of the 8 Veeratta Stalams of Shiva and one of the 275 sacred temples glorified by the Thevara hymns. It is also known as Kizhur. It is located about 35 kms south of Tiruvannamalai,Tamilnadu. The Shiva temple here is called Veeratteswarar temple.
The word "Veeratta Sthalam" means, a place where Lord Shiva is believed to have destroyed demons. Tirukkovalur is said to be the place where he vanquished the demon Andakasuran.

Sambandar and Appar have composed hymns (padhigams) on this temple.

I had the fortune of performing (about 2 years back) in Tirukkovalur during a Tamizh Isai Festival and I presented all Tevarams in this concert. Here are the lyrics of two hymns- one of Appar, and one of Sambandar (both composed in praise of the deity at Tirukkovalur), that I sang at this concert :

அப்பர் - திருநேரிசை-விருத்தம் (பந்துவராளி)

படைகள் போல் வினைகள் வந்து பற்றி

என் பக்கல் நின்றும் விடகிலா

ஆதலாலே-விகிர்தனை விரும்பி ஏத்தும் இடையிலேன்

என் செய்கேன் நான் இரப்பவர் தங்கட்கு என்றும்

கொடையிலேன் கொள்வதே நான்

கோவல் வீரட்டன் நீரே !


சம்பந்தர் - பண் நட்டராகம் (பந்துவராளி)

படைகொள் கூற்றம் வந்து மெய்ப்
பாசம் விட்ட போதின் கண்
இடை கொள்வார் எமக்கில்லை
எழுக போது நெஞ்சமே
குடைகொள் வேந்தன் மூதாதை
குழகன் கோவலூர் தன்னுள்
விடையதேறும் கொடியினான்
வீரட்டானம் சேர்துமே

ஆறுபட்ட புன்சடை அழகன் ஆயிழைக்கொரு
கூறுபட்ட மேனியான் குழகன் கோவலூர் தன்னுள்
நீறுபட்ட கோலத்தான் நீலகண்டன் இருவர்க்கும்
வேறுபட்ட சிந்தையான் வீரட்டானம் சேர்துமே



Ulagalanda Perumal Temple: Also located in this town is the well known Ulagalanda Perumaal Temple, one of the 108 Divya Desams of Vishnu.


One must definitely see this amazing temple, which has an imposing image of Ulagalanda Perumal or Trivikrama, with his foot raised,facing east. According to legends, Mrikandu Maharishi is said to have worshipped Lord Vishnu here as Trivikrama. It is said that Lord Vishnu took the form of Vamana. In order to subdue the demon king Mahabali, he took an enormous form, conquered the Earth and heavens. When Mahabali offered his head as the resting point for the Lord to place his foot, he is said to have banished Mahabali to Hell.



Tirukkovilur is also considered to be one of the Pancha(five) Krishna-Kshetrams.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Divya Prabandham - Part 1

(continued from previous post)..

The incident which triggered the Mudhal Thiruvanthaadhi, Irandam Thiruvanthaadhi and Moondram Thiruvanthaadhi verses to get composed:

Once, these three Azhwars chanced to meet at a place called Tirukkoyilur. Feeling sleepy at nightfall, Poigai Alwar found a small room at the entrance of a house just enough for a single person to lie down and sleep. After a while, there came Budat Alwar who requested permission to stay with him. Poigai Alwar permitted him saying that the room was sufficient for two people to just sit down. No sooner had they seated themselves, there came Pey Alwar also seeking a place to rest. It had by then started to rain.

The two earlier occupants accommodated the newcomer saying that the three could stand, because the space was just enough for that.

As they started to share their experiences, they found that an invisible fourth person was trying to turn the company into a crowd by trying to accomodate himself in the already cramped space.

The three Alwars found out in their divine vision that the fourth person was none other than Lord Vishnu, who had brought them together.

As it was pitch dark and they had no way of producing light, Poigai Azhwar hit upon the idea of lighting a novel lamp to have a vision of the Lord. Using the elements of Nature as ingredients, considering the whole earth as a lamp, the waters of the salty seas as oil and with the shining Sun as the wick, he lit a glorious lamp that would shine forever and show up everything with clarity.

He sang thus:

வையம் தகளியா வார் கடலே நெய்யாக
வெய்ய கதிரோன் விளக்காக - செய்ய
சுடர் ஆழியான் அடிக்கே சூட்டினேன் சொல்மாலை
இடர் ஆழி நீங்குகவே என்று

Vaiyam Thagaliyaa Vaar Kadale Neyyaaga
Veyyak Kadiron Vilakkaaga - seyya
Sudar Aazhiyaan Adikke Soottinen Sol Malai
Idar Aaazhi Neengugave Enru


Vaiyam : Universe, VaarKadal : The sea surrounding it, Thagazhi : Lamp

Veyyak Kadiron : Hot Sun, Seyya : Beautiful, Sudar Aazhi : Bright discus

SolMalai : Garland of words (verses), Idar Aazhi : ocean of misery (Samsara)


Meaning: Lord Narayana, who holds the Divine Chakraayudha, is the cause of this wonderful universe and the seas. In order to cross the miserable ocean of 'Samsara', I am singing these Maalai(Garland) of verses(paasurams) and dedicating to Him, whose vision I had with the light emanating from the lamp of the earth, oil being the seas, the sun being the source of the light.

Next, Budattaazhwar lit another lamp, using entirely home-made ingredients, all available within oneself and yet the hardest to find in any human being- he made a lamp out of his unfathomable love for the Lord. Oil for the lamp was his uncontrollable urge to see the Lord and the wick was his intellect, made sweet and melting by constant contemplation of the Lord. He sang:

அன்பே தகளியா, ஆர்வமே நெய்யாக
இன்பு உருகு சிந்தை இடு திரியா - நன்பு உருகி
ஞானச் சுடர் விளக்கு ஏற்றினேன் நாரணற்கு
ஞானத் தமிழ் புரிந்த நான்.

Anbe Thagaliyaa Aarvame Neyyaaga
Inburugu Chintai Idu Thiriyaa - Nanbu Urugi
Gnaana Chudar Vilakku Etrinen Naaranarku
Gnaana Thamizh Purindha Naan

Aarvam : Involvement, Parabhakti-to feel the love of God intimately, Inbu : endearing

Meaning: It is the love as the lamp and involvement as the oil and the Azhwar says" I dedicate myself to the service of the Lord, by singing this song that blesses wisdom(Gnaana), with love as the lamp,endearing involvement as the oil(Ghee), and knowledge as the wick of the torch".

Such was the extraordinary illumination provided by the two lamps lit by these two Yogis, that the third, Sri Peyazhwar, was able to see clearly the fourth person who had been squeezing them tight. He sang:

திருக்கண்டேன் பொன்மேனி கண்டேன், திகழும்
அருக்கன் அணி நிறமும் கண்டேன் - செருக் கிளரும்
பொன் ஆழி கண்டேன்,புரி சங்கம் கைக் கண்டேன்
என் ஆழி வண்ணன்பால்,இன்று

Tiruk Kanden Pon Meni Kanden Thigazhum
Arukkan Ani Niramum Kanden-Seruk Kilarum
Pon Aazhi Kanden, Puri Sangam Kai Kanden
En Aazhi Vannan Paal, Inru

Seru : Battle, Aazhi Vannan : One whose color is like that of the blue seas.

Meaning: First and foremost, the Azhwar's eyes lit up on seeing the glorious form of Sri Mahalakshmi adorning the broad chest of the Lord-"Tirukkanden" sang out Sri Peyazhwar, excited by the wonderful spectacle that caught his eye.

Ponmeni Kanden - Having realized, from the presence of the Divine Consort, that it was none other than Lord Narayana who had entered, Azhwar's sight fell next on the glorious golden Tirumeni of the Lord.

The blazing complexion of the fourth guest imprinted itself upon Azhwar's eyes, prompting him to comment ecstatically on the same-"Thigazhum arukkan ani niramum kanden". The Lord's Divine Discus and the Cosmic Conch adorning His upper hands presented a spectacular sight to the thirsty eyes of the Azhwar-"Serukkilarum Ponnaazhi kanden, puri Sangam kai kanden".

The three Azhwars, inspired by the grand vision of the Lord's glorious form in their midst, poured out their devotion in a hundred beautiful verses each, filled with Bhakti.

Poigai Azhwar composed the first 100 verses starting with the words ' Vaiyam Tagaliya, Varkadale Neyyaaga' ( the universe being the lamp and the oceans being the oil).
Budattazhwar composed the next 100 verses starting with the words 'Anbe Thagaliya, Aarvame Neyyaaga' ( the love as the lamp, the involvement as the oil).
Pey Alwar concluded by singing the third 100 verses starting with the words ' Tiruk Kanden, Pon Meni Kanden' ( I found the glorious, golden form of the Lord').


The verses were so constructed that the ending word of each verse became the commencing word of the next verse - a special kind of prosody characteristic of Tamil literature called 'Anta Adhi' 'Anta' means 'end' and 'Adhi' means 'beginning'. The three works were thus called Mudhal (First) Anthaadhi, Irandam (Second) Anthaadhi and Moondram (Third) Anthaadhi respectively.

These three works which constitute the earliest poetical compositions by the Vaishnava saints of South India, contain philosophical and theological ideas of Srivaishnavam.

(My next post this week will be on Tirumazhisai Azhwar's work 'Naanmugan Tiruvanthaadhi').

Divya Prabandham - Introduction

For the past few months, I have been working as part of a mammoth archival project initiated by DD-Podhigal TV channel. The channel has taken up the task of recording the 'Naalaayira Divya Prabandham', amongst its various other archival projects.

We have been taking up samples from each of the Azhwar's works and this programme titled 'Azhwargalum Amudha Thamizhum' is telecast from 7.10 a.m to 7.40 a.m, every Saturday (and a repeat telecast from 9 a.m to 9.30 a.m on the following Thursday).

So far, we have completed the works of the first three Azhwars, having chosen a sample of 16 verses each, from the total of 100 verses in each.

Verses from the next Azhwar, Thirumazhisai Azhwar's work, called 'Naanmugan Thiruvanthaadhi' are being telecast now. I propose to list the verses and give their meanings here as weekly posts, soon after each episode is telecast. (Each episode covers about 3 to 4 verses, commencing with commentary for the particular verse by Sri.Tha.Ku.Subramaniam, followed by the verse being rendered by me.)

I thought I would give in this post, a brief introduction to 'Divya Prabandham' and in the next post titled 'Divya Prabandam-Part 1',about the first three Azhwars' works:

INTRODUCTION:

Azhwar means "One who immerses himself". The Azhwars deeply immersed themselves in their devotion and Bhakti towards Lord Narayana. The Azhwars are reported to be incarnations of the weapons used by the Lord, like the Vanamaali, the Garuda, conch, mace, sword etc.

The wisdom of the Azhwars was the direct result of the Lord's divine grace and therefore called ' Divyam'. It is because of this that the works of the Azhwars are collectively called ' Divya Prabandham'.These are a set of 4000 poems (paasurams).

The Azhwar Pasurams are arranged as under:

1. Mudhalaayiram (1000)

* Periyaazhwar Thirumozhi:473
* Thiruppavai:30
* Naachiyar Thirumozhi:143
* Perumal Thirumozhi:105
* Thiruchchanda Virutham:120
* Thirumaalai:45
* Thiruppalli Ezhuchi:10
* Amalanaadhipiraan:10
* Kanni Nun Chiruthambu:11

Total:947

2.Irandamayiram (2000)

* Periya Thirumozhi:1084
* Thiruckurundhandagam:20
* Thiru Nedundhaandagam:30

Total:1134

3.Moondrayiram (3000)

* Thiruvai Mozhi:1102

Total:1102

4. Naalaamaayiram (4000)

* Mudhal Thiruvanthaadhi:100
* Irandam Thiruvanthaadhi:100
* Moondram Thiruvanthaadhi:100
* Naan Mugan Thiruvanthaadhi:96
* Thiruvirutham:100
* Thiruvaasiriyam:7
* Periya Tjorivamdhaadhi:87
* Thiru Ezhu Kootru Irukai:1
* Siriya Thirumadal:40
* Periya Thirumadal:78
* Iramanuja Nootrandhadhi:108

Total:817

Mudhalayiram(1st 1000): 947
Irandaayiram (2nd 1000): 1134
Moondrayiram(3rd 1000):1102
Naalaayiram( 4th 1000):817
Total: 4000
Poigai Azhwar, Budat Azhwar and Pey Azhwar are the first three Alwars ( Mudal Alwars).
They were contemporaries who were born in the same year, in the same month, in the same Suklapaksha on successive Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively.

Poigai Azhwar is believed to be an incarnation of Paanchajanyam(the divine conch of Lord Vishnu,called Sanghu in Tamil). He appeared on the lotus bud in a pond (Poigai)in Tiruvekka near Kanchipuram.

Budat Azhwar, an incarnation of Kaumodhaki (the divine mace of Lord Vishnu) appeared in a Kurukkatti flower in Mahabalipuram, also near Kanchipuram where the Lord instead of reclining on his divine couch of Adisesha, reclines on the floor and hence is called ' Stala Sayana Perumal'.

Pey Azhwar, an incarnation of Nandaki (the divine sword of Lord Vishnu) appeared in a red lily flower (sevvalli) in the well of the temple of Adhikesava Perumal at Mylapore, Madras.

(To be continued in the next post...)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Children Academy

In the 1980's, Children Academy was one of the premier organizations in Chennai which used to conduct music competitions for children and more importantly, give short-duration concert opportunities for the prize-winners of these competitions.

This used to be a great motivation for us to participate in these competitions. Artists like S.P.Ramh, Embar Kannan, S.Varadarajan, Punya Srinivas (she was A.K.Devi then) and several others were part of this group.

This organization was headed by Smt.Nalini Ramprasad and Sri.Koothapiran (fondly known as 'Vaanoli Anna'). In 1986, after winning the First prize in the competitions held by Children Academy, I was thrilled to get an opportunity to give the first concert in my life !!

Here is the photo where I receive the prize from Dr.S.Ramanathan.
(Smt.Nalini Ramprasad and Sri.Koothapiran are seen in the picture below):



This photo was taken during my debut concert.(And, yes, that is S.Varadarajan on the violin !!)




The same people who managed the Children Academy then, run an organization now,called, "Sri Matha Samarpanam Trust" in Chennai. Last month, they had conducted Vocal Music, Sloka recitation competitions for children in which my daughter, Vishruthi, had participated and won prizes. It was nice to have an occasion again in 2008 (after 1986!)with Smt.Nalini Ramprasad and Sri.Koothapiran giving away prizes ! Another coincidence was that Smt.Punya Srinivas (who was in my group participating and performing at Children Academy in 1986) was the chief guest at this function. She, alongwith her husband, mridangist Sri.D.A.Srinivas are seen in the picture.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

DECEMBER 2008 CONCERT SCHEDULE

Here's my concert schedule during the Music Season in Chennai, from Dec'08 to Jan'09:


Tuesday, October 28, 2008

My Debut Concert in the December Music Season

Madras (Chennai) has always been well known for the December Music Festival which is a very grand affair every year and which has been attracting huge crowds from all over the world.





This concert was for Karthik Fine Arts on the 22nd of December,1990.

It is a very memorable one for two reasons :

1. It was my debut concert during the December Music Season in Madras (it was not called Chennai then!).
2. Since it was one among the afternoon slot concerts, I had to finish my Semester Exam at college and directly head to Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan where the concert was to take place. It was my first year in college. After a morning full of Fourier Series and Laplace Transformations (Mathematics was my major subject :-)), I had to get into the "Todi" mood !! In all, a totally new experience for me !!

Here is what I sang at this concert:

1.Sidhdhi Vinayakam - Mohanakalyani- Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar
2.Ninnu Cheppa - Mandari- Patnam Subramani Iyer
3.Tavaka Naamani - Kedaragowla - Maharaja Swati Tirunal
4.Vinaradhana - Devagandari - Tyagaraja
5.Kartikeya Gangeya - Todi - Papanasam Sivan
6.Surdas Bhajan
7.Jayadevar's Ashtapadi




This photo was taken on the 1st of December,2003 (thirteen years after my debut) when I received the "Isai Peroli" award from the same Sabha, Karthik Fine Arts.

This has been one among the many major Sabhas in the city which has supported and encouraged me over the years..

Saturday, October 25, 2008

HAPPY DIWALI !!!

Hi Friends,

Here's wishing all bloggers, Music Rasikas and friends a very happy Diwali !

Hope you all have great fun on this festive occasion !

Its a season of crackers, yummy savouries (batchanam as we call it in Tamil,also not forgetting the "Diwali Marundu":-)) and sweets being prepared in every household !

Have lots and lots of fun !

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Identifying Swaras in a Raga-Part 2

I would like to expand further on my previous discussion on identifying the swaras in a song/raga.

We earlier saw how the Melakartha Raga scheme could be used as a starting point for us to get familiarized with the usage of swaras in different Ragas.

Suppose we are listening to a Raga Alapana and our task is to identify the Raga. After identifying the inherent Swaras, the next confusion may arise due to similar scales(either in the ascending or descending order) between two Ragas. For instance, the ascending scale S-R(2)-M(1)-P-D(2)-S is common to both the Ragas Arabhi and Saama. When we listen to only the arohana(ascending scale) being sung, we start wondering if it is Arabhi or Sama. Let's now see how such a conflict can be resolved.

In case of similar scales like in Arabhi or Saama, we have to take a phrase that is common to both ragas and analyze it.Each Raga has its own grammar, a set of do's and don'ts. At this stage we need to look into a few more technical terms and aspects.

There are thirteen characteristics (Trayodasa Lakshanas) of a Raga, mentioned in treatises of Music and these characteristics establish the melodic entity of the Raga. A few among the thirteen, which are applicable in this context are the Graha swara(starting note), Nyasa swara(ending note),Amsa swara(or Jiva swara-the swara which is the actual soul of the raga), Alpatva(the note that should be sparingly used in the raga), Bahutva(the note that can be used frequently in the raga).

So, when we listen to the Alapana phrase that is being sung, with the Graha swara, Nyasa swara etc being correctly rendered, identification of the Raga becomes very easy. Compositions in each Raga fully comply with the grammar of the Raga. Hence listening to more and more compositions in a Raga helps one to get familiar with, and to identify the Raga.

Similar doubts may arise with allied Ragas like Madhyamavathi-Sriragam-Manirang-Pushpalathika, Janaranjani-Purnachandrika, Darbar-Nayaki, Bhairavi-Manji and so on.

As a further step, if we take into account the Gamaka (oscillation) given to a note, a phrase with the same set of swaras is sung differently in two different Ragas, because,even though the note is same,the oscillation given to that note differs from raga to raga. Again here, if the Raga is sung with correct adherence to its grammar, with repeated listening to the method of usage of Gamakas, identification of the raga/song with the help of its swaras becomes easier.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Identifying Swaras in a Raga-Part 1

This post is in response to a query that I got a few days back:

"What's the way to identify the swaras that form the backbone of a song?Have been told to get a fix of Sa,Pa and move relative to that. But find it tough when I listen to different singers."

Yes, the first step would be to fix Sa and Pa and proceed with this as the basis. One needs to first get a grasp of the positions of the different varieties of the Swaras,namely,Ri,Ga,Ma,Dha and Ni- how these different varieties are sequentially arranged on the octave, as one proceeds in the ascending order from Sa in the lower octave to the Sa in the upper octave, and vice versa, as one proceeds in the descending order from the Sa in the upper octave to the Sa in the lower octave.

One could get an idea of the same with the help of an instrument like the keyboard, or a fretted one like the Veena. Students of violin may also find this easier, beacuse they are taught about the fingering techniques at each of these swara positions.

After getting an idea about the placements of the different varieties of the Swaras, like the Sudhdha Rishabham-Chatusruthi Rishabham, Sadharana Gandharam-Antara Gandharam, Sudhdha Madhyamam-Prati Madhyamam and so on, relative to the Adhara Shadjam Sa and Panchamam Pa, the next step would be to know about the Ragas which arise from different permutations and combinations of these fundamental Swaras.

The basic Abhyasa Gana (learning and practise lessons)in our system of Music helps in one's attempt of getting familiarized with different Ragas. The Gitams, swarajatis, Jatiswarams have been composed in several fundamental ragas, easy for beginners to learn and get acquainted with the Raga scales.

The next possible step would be to get acquainted with the 72-Melakartha Raga System, the way these 72 Ragas have been beautifully and meaningfully divided into 12 Chakras with 6 Ragas each.Melakartha Ragas are also known as Sampurna Ragas meaning those which have all the seven basic notes. If one studies in detail as to how these ragas within a Chakra vary with respect to its swaras, identifying a Melakartha Raga with respect to its inherent Swaras becomes an easy task. For instance, with repeated listening to(or singing, or playing on an instrument) the notes of Ragas within a particular Chakra, one can start identifying the differences between Raga Charukesi and Raga Sarasangi(both belong to the 5th Chakra), or the difference between notes of Kalyani and Lathangi (both belong to the 11th Chakra).

The above was with respect to Parent or Sampurna Ragas. When we consider Janya or derived Ragas, we will have to first try and identify the varieties of the seven swaras present in the Raga (again relative to Sa and Pa) and trace it backwards to see which parent Raga it would belong to. For instance, if one were to listen to Sriranjani, it might first sound like the parent Raga Kharaharapriya. But on listening intently, a few Swarams will be missing, in comparison with the parent Melakartha Karaharapriya. So, a new Raga is now learnt, which sounds like Kharaharapriya, but which is not actually Kharaharapriya.

This is how,by repeated listening, one's repertoire of knowing different Raga names gradually improves and thus learning to identify the inherent Swaras in a song/Raga becomes more easy. Subsequently, mapping the swara varieties to the different Ragas also becomes easier.

I shall soon expand on this topic and write further.

The Navarathri Festival

This might be a slightly offbeat post, but nevertheless thought I would write about it, as promised in one of my earlier posts..

As early as September every year, I get very excited and active about getting the dolls ready for the Navarathri Kolu at home.

From my childhood we have had this habit of keeping a very grand Kolu at home and my mother always comes up with innovative ideas every year. During our school days, it would be theme parks and zoos, mythological stories and what not !!

This festival, according to me, is not just a mere display of dolls, if one wants to do a real good job of it. Its not as simple as some might think it to be..Lots of planning goes into it, its about collecting nice dolls over the years and maintaining them properly.

If one chooses to exhibit a thematic display, I think the real challenge lies in using the same sets of dolls in many different ways each year and showing one's creativity. After all, one can't keep buying dolls every year for every theme !

Buying the right kind of dolls is another art by itself. One has to look for nice features carved on the dolls, pleasant colors, the right sizes so that,when they are displayed, there is a sense of proportion and symmetry.

The real work is only after the festival, when the dolls have to be carefully packed, cartons to be labelled and safely stacked away.

I attempt a detailed and meticulously planned Kolu at home, with a different theme every year. My kids are equally enthusiastic and help me a lot in their own ways! My 6-yr old son proudly and promptly displays lots of his cars (of course only after I promise him that I would safely hand them over back to him later :-) ), his airport set, train set and his building blocks ! My 9-yr old daughter does a lot of crafts and handwork and she has a separate display of her work. This is of course in addition to the separate section of her (never-ending) list of Barbie dolls being displayed !!

I am sharing with all of you a few photos of this year's Kolu and also a few photos taken during Navarathri in 2005.

This year's theme was Arupadai Veedu of Lord Muruga. In addition to the traditional Kolu, we had kept all dolls pertaining to the Arupadai Veedu Kshetras, namely, Tirupparankunram, Tiruchendur, Palani, Swamimalai, Tiruttani and Pazhamudircholai :









The glass painting of Muruga and the peacock that you see here, done out of colorful ribbons was done by my daughter this year, specially for this theme:




The theme in 2005 was Ganesh Darshan. That year, we had displayed Lord Ganesha in different forms:



These forms of Ganesha on different mediums (like embossed painting, on foil, leaf Ganesha, Ganesha done with pulses and so on) were done by my daughter. She had worked hard on this for almost a year !:






This was the underwater Rangoli that she had done :




In addition to the display of dolls, Navarathri is a special occasion to offer our prayers to the Goddess, invite friends and offer Tambulam to ladies. This has been part of our Indian tradition for many many years now.

Next year I am planning to come up with an altogether different and exciting theme !

Friday, October 10, 2008

My recent visit to M.S.Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF):

Dr.M.S.Swaminathan has been one of my role models since the time I have known him personally- for his utmost dedication to his work.

He has done yeoman service in the field of Bio-Technology, Food security and supporting the lives of the poor in rural India. I am in no way qualified to even write about this great personality and each time I meet him, I look upon him with great respect. What dedication and passion towards his chosen field of work !

I have had the fortune of singing the prayer song on several important occasions at his Institute and each time I enter the campus, the faculty members are all there to welcome everyone with a beaming smile ! And one feels so much at home there!

A sentence or two about the Conference Hall, which is where these meetings are held and where I have been singing each time-this room has positive vibrations and the minute I enter the room, I can feel them ! As one sits there, the immortal music of MS Amma gets played at a very soft decibel level and I am sure everyone's mind gets calmed down on listening to Maithreem Bhajatha and the Meera Bhajans.

His field of work has always fascinated me and on each occasion, I have always made it a point to stay there for some time after my initial duty of singing the Prayer, listen to a bit of all the achievements of this great institution and then leave with all those inspiring thoughts fresh in my mind.

We are all endowed with different qualities,talents and traits- Dr.MSS is one person who has very beautifully, meaningfully carved out his life and this,along with his humility, are the qualities that have always inspired me.

I had recently been there to render the Invocation song for the Founder's Day celebrations and here are a couple of pictures taken on that occasion:



Tuesday, October 7, 2008

The chit that prompted me to write the following:





I gave a concert the day before yesterday at Nerul,Mumbai. After the concert,I got a chit,in which someone had asked me to write about this concert on my blog.Well, that was indeed heartening and here I am, ready to give a detailed version of the concert on Sunday ! Also, there were atleast three others who came upto me,told me about their frequent visits to my blog and promised to keep in touch through this wonderful medium!

The moment I entered the Uttara Kamakshi temple, I got to see the wonderful display of dolls as part of their Navarathri celebrations. It was a great sight to see the rows and rows of lamps being lit and the dolls displayed at the other end.
(Collecting different kinds of dolls for Navarathri has been one of my hobbies-I shall very soon write on the same and describe the Kolu that I keep at home every year..)
As I was keenly looking at the Kolu there,the Vilakku Puja doll set there caught my eye ! (This is something new and I am sure to go hunting for it next year, to add to my collection !)

After this, we got to see a marvellous collection of very rare photographs of Kanchi Maha Periava. Being an ardent devotee of the great saint, I remained awestruck looking at the photos and had to gently remind myself that I had to go and commence my concert shortly !

With a sense of contentment (in Tamil, we say "neranja manasoda") I got onto the stage. I could see a great audience in front of me.There were lots of other devotees too,waiting in line, to have a darshan of Devi Kamakshi.

After about one or two songs, the skies opened up. Oh boy! was this an ordinary downpour?? No, it poured and poured for more than ninety minutes with thunder and streaks of lightning. What made the occasion extra special was that the concert was held on the open lawns, on one side of the main sanctum sanctorum, with only a roof above the stage and the audience! Both sides were open and due to the strong winds, there used to be an occasional cool drizzle coming on to my face too ! I remember this happening twice, once while I was singing Amba Neelayathakshi(Neelambari) and again when I was singing the Kamalamba Navavarna Kriti in Punnagavarali.

This kind of heavy downpour hardly distracted the audience. Not one person stirred out of his/her place in search of shelter- shows how committed they were..

Throughout the concert, I felt as if it were the Rain Gods blessing all of us from the skies- this was such a divine atmosphere, wish I could describe it more poetically !!!

It was around 9.15 p.m, when I sang "Chandiran Oliyil Avalai Kanden" in Chandrakouns. As I was singing, I looked at the moonlit,serene sky and could feel the intensity and deep emotion embedded in these verses. What a great composer Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi has been !

In all, a great experience for me ! After the concert I reached the hotel around 11 p.m and could hardly sleep till 2 a.m- kept looking at the ceiling and my thoughts went back to the concert, the lovely atmosphere and so on. Was up by 4 a.m to take the 6 a.m flight. And here I am, back in (my dear) Chennai !

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

My special notebook of Basic Swara Exercises

A few days back when I was teaching my daughter to sing fundamental Swara exercises, I suddenly remembered having maintained a notebook of such exercises as a student, when I was undergoing lessons in violin from none other than Lalgudi Sri.Jayaraman !

With so much excitement I took the book and started reading it page after page(I still remember- it was only then that I had started using a fountain pen and hence was very excited about writing on each page with a pen :-)).

Now for a brief description of those memorable days:

I was very fortunate to have had foundation lessons in violin playing from the maestro.
We were living inside the IIT Campus and I used to take a PTC bus( Bus 5B)from IIT to T.Nagar. We were always supposed to play only with our own violins, so I used to carry it with great care for each class !

Class sessions not only included playing, but also sitting postures, holding the violin and the bow properly, proper facial expressions during playing and so on ! I used to shake like a leaf standing in front of him ! He always used to pose small riddles and mathematical puzzles and would expect immediate and accurate answers ! I continued lessons with Shri.Nagarajan (disciple of Lalgudi Mama) and once in two weeks, I had to play all the lessons in front of Lalgudi Mama !
These classes were an experience by itself !

After a few years, Lalgudi Mama directed me to Smt.T.Rukmini, saying that this would be more convenient for me, as I would not have to travel long distances for each class. He also added that he suggested this mainly because hers was the same style of playing as his.

Classes with Mami were always so nice ! Mami would first teach me to sing the song and then play the same on the violin. I still remember- before each class, whenever I entered her house, she would ask, "Ippo dhane school poittu vandhiruppa nee, tiffin edhavadhu saaptiyaa?" In case I said No, she would first force me to eat something and only then start class ! So much caring Mami would always be!

Well, these were the sweet memories which I recollected as I went through my Swara Exercises book !! With a smile I told all these to my daughter and resumed my classes for her.