The 6-week long music workshop on Suladis conducted by Vanamala Center for Art and Culture was indeed an enchanting experience for all the participants. At the onset, we would like to thank Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh to take the initiative and conduct this workshop to revive a very ancient musical form of Carnatic music – the Suladis. Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh is the founder of Vanamala Center for Art and Culture, an organization primarily focused at promoting the Indian culture. She is also a visiting professor at Bangalore and Jain Universities and a Guide to many research scholars. Behind all her endeavors is the invisible hand of her husband Dr Pranesh.

The Suladis were taught by none other than Vidushi T Sharada, prominently known as one of the Tirumalai sisters. The contribution of Tirumalai sisters – Vidushi T Sharada and Dr T Shachi devi to the world of Carnatic music has been significant. In an era where the originality of Carnatic music is diminishing, the works of Tirumalai sisters in maintaining the rich heritage of Carnatic music needs special mention. The books published by the Tirumalai sisters “The Karnataka Sangeetha Darpana” has helped many aspiring musicians pass the junior/senior exams conducted by KSEEB in flying colors. Getting a chance to learn the Suladis from a very senior musician like Guru Sharada has indeed been a very divine experience for the participants.

Suladis are compositions in Kannada. Each section is independent by itself and is in different talas. As a result, the pallavi usually is not sung at the end. The Suladis were composed by Haridasas in the 14th century and one of the ancient compositional forms of Karnataka. The original musical notations are rarely found and there are very few musicians who can sing Suladis in the original format. The notations of few Suladis are available in the grantha Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini by Sri Subbarama Dikshitar and few are in the archives of Sarswati Mahal library, Tanjavore. Given that these forms are rare, the participants were indeed very fortunate to learn six Suladis from the renowned musician Vidushi T Sharada during this workshop organized by Vanamala Center for Art and Culture.

Below is a recap of the workshop that was conducted over a period of 6 Saturdays (July 19th through August 23rd 2014)

After a brief introduction of the objectives of the workshop and the guru, Vid Sharada taught the first Suladi by Saint Vyasaraya Thandeyagi Thayagi. This Suladi was in raga Bhupala and a talamalika. The intricacies of the raga Bhupala was explained by the guru in detail and she also explained the rare talas used in the composition like Ragaṇa maṭya tala. Vid Sharada was also kind enough to share the original lyrics of the Suladi which was copied and distributed to all participants in Kannada and English.

Day-2: The session started with a revision of the Bhupala Suladi taught in the earlier class followed by teaching of the second Suladi in raga Naṭa The second Suladi Harinade was a composition of Saint Purandaradasa and again a talamalika. The participants were amazed by the beautiful rendering and teaching by Guru Sharada.

As in the previous sessions, the Suladis taught in the earlier classes were revised and guru Sharada taught her students the third Suladi in raga Devagandhari. This Suladi Hasugala kareva was a beautiful composition of Saint Purandaradasa. In addition to teaching the Suladi, guru Sharada also taught the participants the famous Kriti Sri Varalakshmi in Shree raga by Saint Muttuswamy Dikshitar. This kriti was taught on the occasion of Varalakshmi pooja that was to be celebrated the following week. This kriti was taught with such devotion and beauty that the participants felt as if Goddess Lakshmi herself appeared before them and blessed them in the form of the renowned guru Vid Sharada.

During the fourth session, Vid Sharada taught us the very amazing Suladi of Purandaradasa Acchyuthananda in raga Kashiramakriya. Arathi, a Ph D research scholar shared her thoughts on Suladis with the rest of the participants and distributed hand-outs. This shows the extent to which the participants enjoyed attending these workshops and the knowledge gained by them during these sessions

The next Suladi was of Saint Purandara dasa’s. The composition Tayi Lakshumi was a beautiful one in raga Varali. As in previous workshops, Vid Sharada taught the students the intricacies of raga Varali. Also, a revision of the Suladi kritis taught in previous classes helped the students to gain a better understanding of the Suladis

Guru Sharada taught the Suladi Manimoulimalle of Saint Purandaradasa in raga Gowla. The workshop concluded with the distribution of the certificates to the participants. On behalf of the participants, Ms Rathi Ramesh shared her experience and thanked Guru Sharada and Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh for organizing this amazing workshop.

The six day workshop was an eye-opener to many participants – an insight into these beautiful and rare Suladi compositions. The participants committed to perform where they would be rendering the six Suladi taught by guru Sharada. This concert would be a dedication to Vid Sharada and Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh (a guru dakshina) for their efforts in reviving these traditional and very ancient musical compositions.