ISB Information Sessions

This one is for prospective ISB (Indian School of Business) applicants. This year, the admissions department plans to conduct over 50 information sessions across India. Details of the same and the procedure for registration are available at http://www.isb.edu/pgp/AdmissionEvents.Shtml?menuid=109

The list of venues and dates are given below for convenience.

City Venue Date Timings
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 30-May-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Kolkata Taj Bengal 1-Jun-08 10:00 AM – 12 noon
Kolkata Taj Bengal 1-Jun-08 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Pune Taj Blue Diamond 1-Jun-08 10:00 AM – 12Noon
Pune Taj Blue Diamond 1-Jun-08 3:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 6-Jun-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Chandigarh Reliance Web World @ Sector 9 D 7-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Indore Reliance Web World @ MG Road 7-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Jamshedpur Reliance Web World @ Jamshedpur 7-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Ludhiana Reliance Web World @ Chaura Bazaar 7-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Raipur Reliance Web World @ Krishna Complex 7-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 13-Jun-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Chandigarh Reliance Web World @ Sector 9 D 14-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Amritsar Reliance Web World @ Mall 14-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Bhopal Reliance Web World @ Bhopal Bitten Market 14-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Nagpur Reliance Web World @ CA Road 14-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Lucknow Reliance Web World @ Faizadabad Road 14-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 20-Jun-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Coimbatore Reliance Web World @ Gandhipuram 21-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Madurai Reliance Web World @ Annanagar 21-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Pondicherry Reliance Web World @ Kamraj Salai 21-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Visakhapatnam Reliance Web World @ Dwaraka nagar 21-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 27-Jun-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Allahabad Reliance Web World @ Balson 28-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Gwalior Reliance Web World @ Gwalior 28-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Agra Reliance Web World @ Kamla Nagar 28-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Patna Reliance Web World @ Fraser Road 28-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Ranchi Reliance Web World @ Club Complex 28-Jun-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 4-Jul-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Kolhapur Reliance Web World @ Kolhapur 5-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Aurangabad Reliance Web World @ Aurangabad City 5-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Nasik Reliance Web World @ Nasik Road 5-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Belgaum Reliance Web World @ Belgaum 5-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Sholapur Reliance Web World @ Sholapur 5-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 11-Jul-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Ahmadabad Reliance Web World @ CG Road 12-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Vadodara(Baroda) Reliance Web World @ Fatehgunj Baroda 12-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Surat Reliance Web World @ Parle Point 12-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Rajkot Reliance Web World @ Neptune Towers 12-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Jaipur Reliance Web World @ City Center 12-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 18-Jul-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Cochin Reliance Web World @ Alwaye 19-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Trivandrum Reliance Web World @ Vazhutacaud 19-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Mangalore Reliance Web World @ Bunts Hostel Circle 19-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Mysore Reliance Web World @ Devraj Urs Road 19-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Bhubaneswar Reliance Web World @ Fortune Towers 19-Jul-08 5:30 PM – 7:00 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 25-Jul-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 1-Aug-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 8-Aug-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 22-Aug-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 29-Aug-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 5-Sep-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 19-Sep-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 26-Sep-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 3-Oct-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 10-Oct-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 17-Oct-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 24-Oct-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 31-Oct-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 7-Nov-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 14-Nov-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 21-Nov-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM
Hyderabad ISB, Hyderabad 28-Nov-08 6:00 PM- 7:30 PM

Sensuality in Music – Lec Dem by T.M. Krishna

Vidwan T.M. Krishna (TMK) presented a lec dem on “Sensuality in (Indian) Music” for Karthik Fine Arts’ Natyakala conference on 22nd Dec 2007 at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Mylapore, Chennai. He was accompanied by Vid Amritha Murali on the violin and Vid K. Arun Prakash on the mrudangam.

Here is a gist of the lec dem:

General observations:

  • Music being an abstract and ‘non-physical’ form, putting experiences into words and conveying them through music is much harder than conveying the same through dance where you are actually watching the emotion(s) being conveyed
  • Whether it is dance or music, what is aesthetic and what is not is completely dependent on the individual performer. It is so very subjective. It depends on the background of the individual, what he/she has been exposed to, where he/she lives etc. What is sensual and what is vulgar is again a subjective thing
  • The times that we live in has completely changed the way we view this. In today’s urban aesthetic, we have a certain impression of what sensuality is and what it should not be and that’s what governs our view of the art forms. Musically there has been a huge amount of change in what one would call/not call as sensually aesthetic years ago to what a person might/might not perceive as sensually aesthetic today
  • The bhakti concept is ingrained in Carnatic music probably far more than in other types of music. A lot of people view Carnatic music as a way of bhakti sans shringara.

Difference between singing for music and singing for dance:

  • When a person sings for dance, the sensuality in the voice is interwoven with the sensuality of the dancer. Both have to draw from each other. The musician has to see what the dancer is doing and the dancer has to be sensitive musically and not just lyrically to bring in the sensuality
  • A vocal concert is a totally different ball game. The experience here is not drawn from the audience. The singer has to first experience the sensuality and only then does the transfer happen to the audience. Only then does the audience feel it. How much a singer internalizes his music and how much skill he/she has also matters

Sensuality of voice:

  • A voice is to music as a body is to dance. Many people claim some singers’ voices to be very sensual. What is it that makes a voice sensual?
  • The feel that the voice has for music is what brings in the sensuality. Brindamma would sing with a lot of love and passion which would make her music so sensual.
  • Sensuality thus does not lie in the voice but in the way the voice is used and the passion that is put into singing.

{TMK played tracks of Vid T. Brinda (audio clip of an alapana), Vid G.N. Balasubramaniam (the song “kaNNanE en kaNavan”), Vid Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer (the jAvaLi “marubAri tALanEnurA”), Vid Ramnad Krishnan (the jAvaLi “mODi jEsEvElarA”) to demonstrate a range of voices and how singers brought in sensuality in their music}

Sensuality in lyrics:

  • Lyrics can drive sensuality (ex. kaNNanE en kaNavan, padams, javaLis). But it’s not necessary that for a song to be sensual, the sensuality must be driven from the lyrics alone
  • There is sensuality in pure music itself, sans lyrics
  • When you sing with an approach of gay abandon, you are bound to move to a state where you experience a high level of sensuality yourself and eventually end up transferring that experience to the audience too.

{TMK demonstrated this by singing portions of kharaharapriyA alapana around the dhaivatam, as Vid Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer would sing it, for 4-5 minutes with gay abandon. He also sang the ragam mukhAri as an example}

Sensuality and the composer:

There is a point at which, as a musician, you go beyond the content put in by the composer. The singer’s experience as an individual is what drives the music, more than the experience of the composer when he/she composed the song.

Sensuality of ragas:

  • Some people feel that certain ragas are by themselves sensual. kApi, hamIrkalyANi and behAg are placed in this category by the average concert listener. punnAgavarALi, dhanyAsi and aTANA aren’t. But there are (sensual) padams in punnAgavarALi too
  • All ragas have enough modes of expressing sensuality

Sensuality and the system of music:

Somehow Hindustani music is considered by many to be more sensual than Carnatic music. This might be because of the lyrical content (bhakti-oriented) in Carnatic music vis-à-vis the romantic poetry in Hindustani music.

Sensuality and pace:

  • We generally believe that anything that is sensual has to be slow
  • GNB’s brighas are one example of how sensuality can be there in a faster pace too
  • “rAga sudhArasa” by GNB is another example. There is so much of sensuality when he sings the anupallavi line “yAga yOga tyAga bhOga phala mosangE” with all the ornamentations and then joins back the pallavi line
  • mA jAnaki” by Madurai Mani Iyer with the neraval at “rAja rAjavara rAjIvAkSa vinu”at a pace that is neither slow nor very fast is, for example, very sensual. There is a sense of playful romanticism in the way Madurai Mani Iyer sang his songs
  • The lyrics have got nothing to do with shringara in these examples. But the music itself has provided that element of sensuality, even in a bhakti composition

{TMK demonstrated the 2nd and 3rd bullet points above}

Sensuality and percussion

Percussion can help build or completely destroy any kind of sensuality that the singer is trying to experience and create

{TMK and K. Arun Prakash demonstrated the creative process through the jAvaLi “jAnarO I mOgamu” in ragam khamAs}

Sensuality and vulgarity:

  • When does a vocalization move from sensuality to vulgarity? It happens when the singer tries to vocalize beyond the music
  • Accentuated attempts that try to force sensuality into the minds of the listener do not work
  • Vocalization should naturally bring those movements that bring in sensuality. This is where the greatness of the past masters lies

{TMK demonstrated the same by singing different portions of alapana of the ragam kalyANi and how accentuation at certain places can cross the thin line between sensuality to vulgarity}

Inference:

Sensuality in music and the way it is portrayed is completely a reflection of the individual who is singing.

(Please note: The topic is a highly subjective one and people could have differing opinions. Though I have tried to capture TMK’s views on the subject to the best of my abilities, it is possible that I might have misunderstood/misinterpreted what TMK said at some places. The mistake in such cases is entirely mine. I have also taken the liberty to organize whatever TMK spoke into the different buckets above)

Thyagaraja & His Vinta Ragas

This was the title given to Dr. Prameela Gurumurthy’s music and discourse session held at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Chennai on 3rd May 2008. Dr. Prameela was accompanied by Vid Anuthama Subramaniam on the violin and Vid Neyveli Narayanan on the mrudangam.

The following songs were sung:

1) nAda tanumanisham – cittaranjani – Adi – thyAgarAja

2) vara nArada nArAyaNa – vijayashrI – Adi – thyAgarAja

3) jAnakI ramaNa – shuddhasImantini – Adi – thyAgarAja (OS)

4) entamuddO -bindumAlini – Adi – thyAgarAja

5) mAkElarA vicAramu – ravicandrikA – Adi – thyAgarAja

6) durmArga carAdhamulanu – ranjani – rUpakam – thyAgarAja (A)

7) shObillu saptaswara – jaganmOhini – rUpakam – thyAgarAja

8 ) Ananda sAgara – garuDadhvani – Adi – thyAgarAja

9) baNTu rIti – hamsanAdam – Adi – thyAgarAja

10) mOkSamu galadA – sAramati – Adi – thyAgarAja

11) nI nAma rUpa mulaku (mangaLam) – saurAshTram – Adi – thyAgarAja

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Here are some excerpts from the discourse:

About Sri Thyagaraja:

Sri Thyagaraja was born on 4th May 1767. He belonged to Bharadwaja gotra and Kakarla Vamsha. His great grandfather Panchanadabrahmam had 5 sons, one of whom was Girirajabrahmam. Girirajabrahmam also had five sons. The fifth one was Ramabrahmam, who had three sons. The eldest was Panchapakesan, named after the presiding deity at Tiruvaiyyaru. Second son was Ramanthan. He died very young. Thyagaraja was the third son and was born in Tiruvarur. It is said that before his birth, both his parents had an identical dream about a son being born who would be an amsha of Narada, Valmiki and Sharada and who would go on to become an expert in sangItam and sAhitya. They also were told in the dream that they should name him after the deity of Tiruvarur i.e., Thyagaraja. It is said that a serious ailment struck Thyagaraja when he was five. At that time a sanyasi visited them and assured his parents of his recovery and of his becoming as famous as Purandaradasa and Jayadeva.

Thyagaraja is said to have studied Telugu and Sanskrit from his father and Purandaradasa and Vijayagopala songs from his mother. His maternal grandfather was Veena Kalahasti Iyer, a samasthana vidwan at Tanjore court. Sri Thyagaraja learnt classical music and veena from Sonti Venkataramana Das. Tulaja II invited Ramabrahmam to give exposition on Valmiki Ramayanam during the Ramanavami festival. Young Thyagaraja used to read the shlokas from Valmiki Ramayanam while his father used to give the exposition. Thus Thyagaraja imbibed all that was being narrated by his father about Valmiki Ramayanam at a very young age itself.

Sri Ramakrishnananda, a friend of Thyagaraja’s father, gave him updaesha on the shaDAkshari mantra. (Dr. Prameela said that after wondering what could be the shaDAkshari mantra, it dawned on her that it should have been “namO rAghavAya“. Sri Thyagaraja had composed his first song “namO namO rAghavAya” in dEsya tODi using this shaDAkshari mantra). Thyagaraja received the tAraka mantra upadEsha from his father. He also got an idol of Lord Rama from his father, which he worshipped daily.

Sri Thyagaraja never had Shiva-Vaishnava bheda. He coined the name rAmA by taking rA from Om namO nArAyaNA and mA from oM nama shivAya (in the kriti evarani in dEvAmrutavarshani). Though his ishTa dEvatA was Lord Rama, he has mentioned Lord Shiva in many of his kritis.

If one has to know Thyagaraja, one has to go deep into his compositions. One can understand his personality and his mind by reading the text of the songs and understanding their meaning.

Sri Thyagaraja was a trend setter in the use of simple words for his compositions, which is probably why we compare his compositions to “drAkSa rasa” – we can immediately feel the taste, the moment we put a drAkSa (grape) in our mouth.

The Svararnava

Thyaaraja is believed to have had access to many works on music very early in his life, such as Sangita Ratnakara, Naradiyam, a work dealing with 72 mELAs and Svararnava. It is said that one day when Sri Thyagaraja was doing some puja in his house, a saint came by. Thyagaraja wanted to give him a sumptuous lunch. The saint said he will leave his belongings at Thyagaraja’s house and go to the Cauvery to have a bath. The saint never returned in person but came that night in Thyagaraja’s dream as the sage Narada, instructing Thyagaraja to open the belongings left behind and use the rare manuscripts present inside. This was how Sri Thyagaraja came to possess important works like the Svararnava.

Thyagaraja refers to the Svararnava saying Shiva, the Lord of Kailash, narrated the secrets of Svararnava to Devi Parvati and that these were revealed to Thyagaraja. In one of the caraNams in svara rAga sudhA (shankarAbharaNam), he says “rajata girIshuDu nagajaku delpu svarArNava marmamulu vijayamu gala tyAgarAjuDErugE vishvAsinci delusukO O manasA“. The Svararnava is said to have vanished after Thyagaraja attained siddhi.

Svararnava is said to have been a broad palm leaf manuscript written in grantha characters. It is said that Thyagaraja got Svararnava through divine association. Thyagaraja preserved it in his puja room and only he had access to it. Occasionally, he read certain portions from it to some of his close disciples, who memorized some shlokAs of the Svararnava. It is said that one of his students named Singaracharyulu published some of these shlOkAs in his book Gayakalochana, without disclosing the source. A section of Svararnava was titled Svara Raga Sudha Grantha. May be Thyagaraja got inspired by this and composed the shankarAbharaNam kriti “svara rAga sudhA“.

Svararnava also contained concepts like the production of Ahata (sound produced by human effort) and anAhata (sound emanating from within; can be heard only by those who have attained a high state of the mind through sAdhanA) nAdams. In many of his compositions, Thyagaraja gives references to the 7 notes and to how different sounds are produced in different parts of the body. In a section called rAga vivEkA, one finds ragas like jayantashrI, kuntalavarALi, sArangakApi, mAlini makarandam etc. In addition to arOhaNa and avarOhaNa, brief sancArAs were given for many ragas. These ragas were presented in the order of the mELAs.

Vinta Ragas

Vinta ragas (or vichitra ragas) are ragas Sri Thyagaraja has given us. There is no evidence of existence of these before Sri Thyagaraja’s times. Either he created them or he got a clue about them from Svararnava or raga lexicons like Vyasakatakam or Hanumathkatakam. There are about 82-83 such ragas:

  1. shrImaNi (EmandunE vicitramunu)
  2. rasALi (aparAdhamula nOrva)
  3. shuddhasImantini (jAnakI ramaNa)
  4. vardhani (manasa mana)
  5. kalakaNThi (shrI janaka tanayE)
  6. sindhurAmakriyA (dEvAdi dEva & sudhA mAdhUrya)
  7. jaganmOhini (shObillu saptasvara & mAmava satatam, which is in Sanskrit)
  8. malayamArutam (manasA eTulOrtunE)
  9. bindumAlini (entamuddO)
  10. bhairavam (mariyAda gAdaiyya)
  11. supradIpam (varashikhi vAhana)
  12. cittaranjani (nAda tanumanisham)
  13. pUrNalalitA (kalugunA pada)
  14. kokilavarALi (samukhana nilva)
  15. hindOLavasantA (rAra sItA ramaNI manOhara)
  16. amritavAhini (shrI rAma pAdamA)
  17. AbhEri (nagumOmu ganalEni)
  18. jayantashrI (marugElarA)
  19. jingaLA (anAthuDanu gAnu)
  20. sAramati (mOkSamu galadA)
  21. kalAnidhi (cinna nADE nA)
  22. kalyANavasantam (nAdalOluDai)
  23. jayanArAyAni (manavini vinumA)
  24. AbhOgi (manasu nilpa, nannu brOva etc)
  25. mArgahindOLam (calamElarA sAkEtarAmA)
  26. jayantasEnA (vinatA suta vAhana)
  27. phalamanjari (sanAtanA parama pAvana)
  28. dEvakriyA (nATi mATa)
  29. jayamanOhari (yajnAdulu sukhamanu)
  30. pUrNashaDjam (lAvaNya rAmA)
  31. dilIpakam (rAmA nIyeDa)
  32. nAdatarangiNi (kripAlavAla)
  33. manOhari (paritApamu gani)
  34. AndOlikA (rAga sudhArasa)
  35. manjari (paTTi viDuva)
  36. dEvAmrutavarshini (evarani)
  37. suddhabangALa (rAma bhakti sAmrAjyam)
  38. svarabhUshani (varadarAja ninnu)
  39. siddhasEnA (evaraina lErA)
  40. naLinakAnti (manavi nAlaginca rAdaTE)
  41. simhavAhini (nenaruncarA)
  42. rAgapanjaram (sArvabhauma sAkEta rAma)
  43. AndALi (abhimAnamu lEdEmi)
  44. phalaranjani (shrI narasimha)
  45. nArAyaNi (bhajana sEyu mArgamunu)
  46. umAbharaNam (nija marmamulanu)
  47. kApinArAyaNi (sarasa sAma dAna)
  48. kuntalavarALi (centanE sadA yuncukOvayyA, shara shara samaraika)
  49. kOkiladhwani (koniyADEDu)
  50. cencukAmbOji (vara rAga)
  51. chAyAtarangiNi (krupa jUcuTaku)
  52. navarasakannaDA (paluku kaNDa, ninnu vinA nAmadi)
  53. pratApavarALi (vina nAshakoni)
  54. bahudAri (brOva bhAramA)
  55. kEsari (nannukanna talli)
  56. ravicandrikA (niravadhi sukhada)
  57. saraswatImanOhari (enta vEDukondu)
  58. nAgasvarAvaLi (shrIpatE nIpada)
  59. svarAvaLi (prArabdha miTTuNDaga)
  60. karnATakabehAg (nEnendu)
  61. supOshini (ramincu vArevarurA)
  62. jUjAhULi (parAku jEsina)
  63. janaranjani (viDajAladurA, smaraNE sukhamu)
  64. kOlAhalam (madilOna yOcana)
  65. garuDadhwani (tatvameruga taramA)
  66. vivardhani (vinavE O manasA)
  67. bangALA (girirAja sutA)
  68. gambhIravANi (sadAmadin dalatu)
  69. chhAyAnATa (idi samayamurA)
  70. gAnavAridhi (daya jUcuTa)
  71. candrajyOti (shashi vadana, bAgAyanayya)
  72. vijayashrI (vara nArada)
  73. dundubhi (lIlagAnu jUcu)
  74. dIpakam (kaLala nErcina)
  75. tIvravAhini (sarijEsi vEDuka)
  76. jIvantini (nI cittamu)
  77. ranjani (durmArga carAdhamulanu)
  78. shrutiranjani (EdAri sancarinturA)
  79. kaikavasi (vAcAmagOcaramE)
  80. hamsanAdham (baNTu rIti)
  81. bhUshAvaLi (tanamIda nE)
  82. saraswati (anurAgamu lEni)

Even if we have the scale of a raga, it is not easy to compose songs that will stay on for generations. Sri Thyagaraja’s greatness lies in composing songs in all these ragas and making them immortal. He gives the special sancAram of a raga in the opening lines of many of the songs. Names like kuntalavarATi, pratApavarATi, cakravAki exist in earlier works but we do not have any evidence of their being similar to the corresponding ragas we know today. His compositions in vinta ragas created a stir in his days. Many of them are popular even today.

Vinta ragas are janya ragas. There are also mElakartA rAgAs in which Thyagaraja was arguably the first to compose, to show the melodic richness and possibilities and to give the raga itself an identity. Some examples are dhEnukA, vakuLAbharaNam, cakravAkam, sUryakAntam, jhankAradhvani, kIravANi, kharaharapriyA, gaurimanOhari, sarasAngi, vAgadIshwari etc.

Musicians of his time used to go to Thyagaraja’s place to listen to these songs. Thyagaraja’s disciples would sing these songs during practice sessions in the afternoon or in the morning unchavritti bhajans or the ekAdashi bhajans. His disciples need to be thanked for preserving these songs for posterity. They wrote the notations for the songs. Special mention must be made of Walajahpet Venkataramana Bhagavathar who used to rush home after learning a song and write it down.

Sri Thyagaraja himself gives the name “vinta rAgAs” to these rAgAs in his songs “mitri bhAgyamE” in kharaharapriyA and “muccaTa brahmAdulaku” in madhyamAvati. He says “vinta rAgamulanAlApamu sEyaga mEnu pulakarincaga” and “bhAgavatulu hari nAma kIrtanamu bAguga susvaramulatO vinta rAgamulanu AlApamu cEyu“. He doesn’t even ask us to sing his songs in vinta rAgAs but to just do Alapana in these.

TNS Harikatha on Valmiki Ramayanam

Vidwan T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS) presented a five day harikatha on Valmiki Ramayanam at Hamsadhwani last month. I must say that it was a wonderful experience watching the genius at work! The speciality of the harikatha was that it was scholarly and not bookish like some discourses tend to be. Instead of just presenting the shlokas and their meanings, TNS shared his scholarly interpretations laced with humor in the desired proportion, quoting at will from a variety of sources including but not limited to the Kamba Ramayanam, compositions of Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Arunachala Kavi and Sri Uthukadu Venkata Kavi, Vishnu Sahasranamam, Vedanta Desikar’s “pAdukA sahasram”, Divyaprabandham and abhangs. The amount of hard work he must have put in is unfathomable. I simply envy his memory power. To be able to quote appropriate passages from just about anywhere without physically refering to any of the texts and to be able to keep most rasikas engaged every single minute standing on stage every day for 3 hours or more (without even consuming a drop of water on most days) is not a joke. As a fellow rasika pointed out, what is even more surprising is that TNS gave his first harikatha performance just about 3-4 years back and already seems to be a master of the trade!

Kudos to Hamsadhwani for having organized this harikatha.