Sachi R

Obiter dicta on music, men and matters

Archive for January, 2010

What can I do?

Posted by rsachi on January 18, 2010

After seeing 3 Idiots, I was constantly thinking what can be the mantra for our country, which everyone can understand and implement in their lives, to make India a greater and happier place?
Indira Gandhi launched a 20 Point Programme. Nothing much happened. Some big name technocrats have written Vision 2020. I don’t think it really reaches everyone. And often we hear mantras like Garibi Hatao etc.
I have come up with the mantra as follows:

What can

Create: I think the need of the hour is for everyone in India, starting with myself, to become more creative and productive in everything we do – it may be as simple as making a cup of tea or designing a drone helicopter. 
And just like our ancestors made children because every extra mouth to feed also brought with it two hands to work in the rain-fed fields, today we can change our mindset about the population as the world’s greatest workforce with democracy, education and opportunity that no other country can match.
Clean: And then comes the need to clean up our act- be it metaphorically in terms of honesty and fairness in all dealings to the actual act of cleaning up roads and homes and schools. Clean also tucks into itself the concept of economy, ecology, and reduce-reuse-recycle.
Care: And finally, all this creativity and cleaning up cannot really produce good outcomes unless we are caring and loving.

The creativity that touches everyone instantly is music. I have posted a slide show of the photos I have of some beautiful ceramic icons I picked up in Korea after attending some resonant Samul Nori drummer sessions. See the power and passion in these pictures of musicans playing their traditional Korean Tala Vadya Cutcheri!

PS: The three words Create Clean and Care are akin to our Hindu trinity of Brahma Shiva and Vishnu. We can do a lot if we believe in the God that resides in each of us!

Posted in mantra for India Create Clean Care 3 idiots Samul Nori Korea drummer tala vadya cutcheri Brahma Shiva Vishnu | Leave a Comment »

The valour of a musician

Posted by rsachi on January 9, 2010

(The painting worshipped through great music at Parvathi, Mysore)

Ragam: Sriranjani (22th Mela janyam)
ARO:  S R2 G2 M1 D2 N2 S ||
AVA:  S N2 D2 M1 G2 R2 S ||
Talam: Rupakam
Composer: Tyagaraja
Version: M.S. Subbalakshmi
Lyrics courtesy:
Sogasugaa Mridanga Taalamu Jata Gurcchi Ninnu Sokkajeyu Dheerudevvado

Nigamashirortthamu Galgina Nija Vaakkulato Svara Shuddhamuto

Charanam :
Yati Visrama Sadbhakti Virati Draakshaarasa Navarasa Yutakrtiche Bhajiyinche Yukti Tyaagaraajuni Taramaa (Shree) Raama

The composer musician Thyagaraja is in a mood to celebrate the valour of a musician. He asks Rama, “who can be so brave as to sing and entertain you in the right way?”

He begins by talking of the mridanga tala-synchronized music. I have heard many musicians quaver at the thought of a fierce mridangam accompanist. They would prefer one who simply keeps the beat and does not scare them off the cue points. They surely don’t wish to be “led” by the mridangam player.  But then, the charm of a great singer accompanied by a resonant and sympathetic mridangam accompaniment is surely music for God’s ears. 

Then, straight away, Thyagaraja talks of the other extreme of cosmic music… the crest jewel of the Vedas (the cosmic Omkaara). The one who can evoke that music of the spheres by singing the pure notes with the right words and by weaving in the alliterative phrases, the pregnant pauses, the rich melody akin to pure grape juice (like the one served in MTR in silver tumblers)…..

But to do all this you need to have true devotion. You cannot be an egoistic technician of music. You also need to have an ability to wean yourself away from this world and dip yourself in a Godly mood.  You need the skill to do this, which is a bigger skill, much bigger than the skill of a successful concert musician.  Then you become the king of renunciation… a true Thyagaraja. That is the valour of a true musician!!!

Remember that this is raga Sriranjani. It means both ‘that which richly pleases’ and “that which pleases a truly enriched one”.  

I think Hanuman had this valour. He brought Sanjivani, not just grape juice for Rama. He dared to cross the ocean and tackle Ravana’s army to meet Sita and bring the glad tidings.  Thyagaraja praises Hanuman’s knowledge of the Gita as well as Sangita. What a valiant one indeed. 

Want to listen to such music? Click here to hear MSS sing in Parvathi, Mysore (1967 chamber concert).

Posted in Hanuman MSS Parvathi Mysore Sriranjani Sogasuga Mridanga Thyagaraja Omkaara | Leave a Comment »

Raga is melted grace from God!

Posted by rsachi on January 4, 2010

I am listening to some wonderful Sankarabharanam thanks to this blog from Parvathi, Mysore. I am discussing the grandeur of a well-presented raga with my wife. She then narrates something she read in the Hindu.

I love this story so much I reproduce the portion here:

The Puranas present the Ganga, Yamuna, Saraswati, Godavari, Narmada, Sindhu and Cauvery as the most sacred of rivers. Indisputably foremost among them is the Ganga. The myth concerning the genesis of the Ganga in heaven and the legend of its descent on earth, prominently highlight both the roles the sacred water is expected to play in the life of man – as the giver of life and remover of sin or curse.

While the legend of the descent of the Ganga in response to prayers of Prince Bhagiratha, whose ancestors had been reduced to ashes by Sage Kapila, and the sublime flow resurrecting the dead is popular, the mystery of the Ganga possessing that power may not be that widely known. Once while returning to the heavens after one of his trips to earth, the sage Narada saw a group of beautiful beings in a hidden Himalayan valley. His closer observation showed that every member of that group had lost a limb or bore some other mark of torment. At the sage’s repeated request the supernatural beings narrated their woes. They were ragas and raginis, the spirits behind the musical modes. Every time a musician sang with vanity or twisted the modes, the concerned being received a blow. Thus had they been maimed by generations of musicians. Narada – embarrassed because he was a musician himself – asked them what could undo the wrong they had suffered. if only they could have an opportunity to listen to the perfect musician, they said. Who was the perfect musician? None but Lord Shiva, the source of music. At Narada’s appeal, the God agreed to perform, but on condition that he must have at least one perfect listener in his audience. Who were the perfect listeners? There were only two of them – Brahma and Vishnu and both were only too happy to report at Kailash along with the ragas and raginis.

As Shiva began to sing – no words can ever describe the vibrations his song created – something unexpected happened. Vishnu became so thoroughly identified with that flow of that music that if not his body, his aura began to melt down. Brahma captured it in his Kamandalu and preserved it. That is the divine stuff that became the celestial river and later flowed down to earth, once again Shiva playing a unique role in the process as the first absorber of the shock of that mighty descent.

This is the myth that justifies the dead returning to life, figuratively establishing that nothing was impossible for the Grace flowing from the Divine, that death could be vanquished only by that supreme power.

Raga is a man-made concept. It exists in some form or other in every type of classical music, albeit it may be not so well structured as in Carnatic music.

In a lighter vein: some creative artistes would like to break free from the fetters of ragas. They even want to create or re-name MODERN ragas. All this is no doubt by divine design or inspiration. I think this is what is meant by the words Raaga Swarupa Paashaadyaa in Lalithaasahasranaama. On the other hand, the prayer also calls Lalitha as Sarva-anullanghyashaasanaa! That means she takes the form of the bondage called raga, but she is also the one who makes the rules that are absolutely inviolable!

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