Workshop on Suladis Vidushi -Daya Narayanan

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)

Day-1:
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:
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.

Day-3:
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.

Day-4:
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

Day-5:
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

Day-6:
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.


Sri Chakra Darshana - The Journey So Far

Vanamala Center for Art and Culture
presented Sri Chakra Darshana - The Journey So Far to celebrate the documentary
Sri Chakra Darshana being selected for International Online Film Festival-
Spirit enlightened hosted by Culture Unplugged. This was arranged at Manorama
Hall, Indian Institute of World Culture, Basavanagudi Bangalore on 18th January
2014

Sri Chakra Darshana is a documentary,
which aims at explaining the intricate relationship between the Sri chakra and
Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s Kamalamba Navavarana Kritis. It invites its viewer
on a spiritual journey by offering a tour of the Sri Chakra, through music as a
vehicle.

Sri Chakra is a matrix of nine
enclosures juxtaposed one upon another. It has a square, lotus petals,
triangles, and a bindu or point, each denoting a deity and Maha Tripura Sundari
residing in the bindu. The documentary also features some of the many Shakti
peetas which are spread across the sub continent.

Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar of 18th
century was a great Composer of Karnatak music, a Philosopher and Sri Vidya
practitioner. He composed Kamalamba Navavarana kritis on each of the nine
enclosures, after perceiving the deities in his trance. These kritis which are
in the principles of Sri Chakra worship, when rendered in their original form,
can lead a person to an experience of bliss.

The documentary showcases the union
of music and spirituality by presenting the kritis in their original form and a
commentary which explains them along with the Sri chakra.

Sri Katte Ramachandra the technical
director of the documentary, Karnatak Musician and Musicologist vidushi M S
Vidya, H R professional Smt Kavitha Nandakishore were the speakers of the day.
Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh the Co Script writer and Director shared her
experiences she went through during making of the film. She also thanked the
co-sponsors, musicians and technicians team for making the documentary
successful.

Among the dignitaries Prof. R L Kashyap, Vidushi Prof. T Sharada, Vidushi Sudha V Murthy, Vidushi Rohini Manjunath, Prof. B M Jayashree, Dr S N Susheela, Dr Uma Gopalaswamy, Dr Gayathri Rajapur Cassebaum, Natya Vidushi B K Vasasanthalakshmi, Dr Anasuya kulkarni, Vidushi Usha Ramamurthy, Vidushi Rupa Sridhar and connoisseurs were present.


Sant Bhadragiri Achutdas Memorial National Seminar On Katha Keertana --Report by Narayanan Iyer

The art of Katha Keerthana came to
life on 23-10-2016 at Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, where a unique day long national
seminar was held. Katha Keerthana, also called Harikatha or Kathakalakshepam,
is a pristine art form in which music, literature, storytelling and to some
extent dance converge to create a divine experience. The seminar was jointly
organized by the Vanamala Center for Art and Culture, and the Shadja Kala
Kendra Trust. The seminar was conducted in honour of the great Harikatha
exponent Santa Bhadragiri Achyutdas. The goal of the seminar was to sow the
seeds of revival of this divine but diminishing art form.

With eminent experts in the field
slated to take the stage, the hall was packed from the word go. The event began
with an invocation by Ananya Bhagat a Ph D research scholar in Music from Jain
University followed by the lighting of the lamp. A journal published by the
Vanamala Center for Art and Culture featuring 51 research articles on various
art forms authored by scholars from all over the country was released by the
honorary guests and speakers. Renowned Gamaka artist and Chairperson, Karnataka
Sangeetha Nritya Academy, Smt Gangamma Keshavamurthy, Keertanacharya Shri
Lakshmandas Velankar, renowned musician and musicologist Dr B M Sundaram and
renowned musician, Dr Choodamani Nandagopal, Art Historian and former Dean
Faculty of Humanities and Social sciences, Jain University, Musicologist and
Managing trustee of Vanamala Center for Art and Culture, Dr Meera Rajaram
Pranesh were among the dignitaries on the dais.

Shri Keerthanacharya Lakshmandas
Velankar was the first presenter. Clad in the traditional Harikatha attire,
Lakshmandasji’s presence illuminated the stage with a divine glow. He gave a
very nice overview of the contribution of the Haridasa Keerthankars. He said
that that the origin of Katha Keerthana could be traced to the Vedic times.
After the Vedic rituals, the sages would engage in a lively discussion of the
scriptures. Perhaps this was the initial form of Katha Keerthana to which music
and side stories were added subsequently. Lakshmandasji also mentioned that
Sage Narada was the foremost Katha Keerthankar as he used to narrate the latest
happenings in the three worlds and also served as the carrier of these news
across the three worlds in the form of Keerthans and stories. Lakshmandasji
also highlighted that the word Hari in Harikatha refers to the eternal
Parabrahma.

Dr B M Sundaram, renowned musician
and musicologist, was the next speaker. He explained the evolution and essence
of Kathakeerthan in a very subtle manner. He explained the evolution of this
form across various regions in India, in a very lucid manner. He mentioned the
influence of Maratha rule on the development of the Harikatha form in the
South. Shri Krishna Bhagavathar was the pioneer of this art form and Smt
Saraswati Bai was the first lady pioneer. She broke the monopoly of Brahmin men
over this art form. He said that Santa Bhadragiri Achyutdasji gave Harikatha
its modern form. Dr B M Sundaram elaborated the form, structure and evolution
of Harikatha beautifully.

After a short tea break, it was time
for some engaging music. Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh and her group rendered the
Katha Keerthana compositions of Harikesanallur Dr L Muthaiah Bhagavathar. The
selections were from Valli Parinayam. These included Valli Nayakane in
Shanmukhapriya and Nive Ituparaku in Kharaharapriya. Melody filled the air and
kept the audience glued to their seats as Dr Meera Rajaram took the audience on
a Katha Keerthana musical voyage with an apt brief explanation before each
Keerthana. Dr Meera was supported by her students Sandhya Ram, Charumathi, Soumya
Anil and Shivashankari on vocal; Vidwan Anantha Satyam on Violin, Vidwan Renuka
Prasad on Mridangam, Vidwan A S N Swamy on Khanjira and Madhuvanthi on Tambura.

The atmosphere had already been
positively charged with all the presentations so far, but the musical treat was
far from over.

Pandit Prashant Pandav, a renowned
Marathi Keerthanakar, gave a Katha Keerthana presentation where he engaged the
audience nicely. All the facets of a Marathi Katha Keerthana were beautifully
portrayed in a nutshell, with wisdom and wit. The elements of a Marathi
Kathakeerthan like Ovi and Dindi were explained with respect to metre and
melody. Prashant Pandav was ably supported by Pandit Gurumurthy Vaidya on Tabla
and Sri Madhusudan Bhat on Harmonium. People were so engaged that no one seemed
to mind the slight creep of the session into lunch time.

The afternoon session matched the
aura created by the previous sessions. Surmani Dattatreya Velankar, a renowned
Hindustani Classical Vocalist and Katha Keerthankar, presented a Katha
Keerthana on the life of the great Haridasa composer Shri Purandaradasaru. The
performance was as beautifully laden with bhava as it was with the pure Nada.
The description of Purandaradasa as a suspicious and miserly being and his
transformation through Godly experience into a spiritually profound being was
beautifully essayed on stage. The seamless and enchanting blend of narration,
music and accompaniment was enthralling. The support of Pandit Gurumurthy
Vaidya on Pakhawaj, Pandit Prashant Pandav on Tabla, Dr Ravindra Katoti on leg
Harmonium added flavour to the program.

Renowned Yakshagana scholar Dr
Prabhakar Joshi followed this with a very profound and witty presentation of
Katha Keerthana as an ideal communicating form. He raised several important
issues that are highlighted via Katha Keerthanas. He highlighted Harikatha as a
means of the democratization of the scriptures, and an extension of religious
freedom. He said that Harikatha communicated the complex principles of Vedanta
in a simple and effective manner. It should be performed effectively as Santa
Bhadragiri Achyutdasji did. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the presentation.

Post tea break, Dr Purnima Pande, a
renowned Kathak dancer, intrigued the audience with a presentation on the
Kathakar tradition in Kathak. She showed a video on a unique informal regional
Kathakar performance at a temple in Ayodhya. Ramya Nagaraj and Keerti Kumar,
Students of Natya Institute of Kathak and Choreography gave a brilliant
performance of Tulsidasji’s ‘Shri Ramachandra Krupalu Bhajamana’. This was done
in Kathakar style and was a unique display of graceful storytelling through
dance.

Last but not the least, the final
presentation was by Katha Keertanakar Dr Lakshmandas from Tumkur. He spoke on
drama compositions and portray of modern personalities in Katha Keerthan

The valedictory function was graced
by Sri H N Suresh, Director of Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan and Sri Chandrashekar,
Program Officer, Southern Regional Centre, Indira Gandhi National Centre for
the Arts. Mementos were presented to all the guests and organizers.
Participation certificates were given to all those who participated and author
certificates were given to those who published articles in the journal.

This brought us to the close of the seminar which also saw the presence of eminent experts like Pandit Vinayak Torvi, M A Jayarama Rao, Dr Gayatri Kassebaum, Vidwan R N Thyagarajan, Prof. Vijaya Marthanda, Vidushi T Sharada, Vidushi Sudha V Murthy, Vidushi Rohini Manjunath, Vidushi Rupa Sridhar, and all the other honourable scholars/musicians/ dancers/katha keertan artists/ research scholars/ students/ connoisseurs from all over the country. The entire gamut of Katha Keerthana was captured and presented beautifully in a day. There was an aura of satisfaction and happiness. More importantly, the presenters, organizers and the audience went back in an introspective mood with a lot of excitement over this divine art form. The seminar truly lived up to its goal of sowing the seeds of revival of the Katha Keertana tradition.


Sadhana Shibira On Durga Saptshati - II Narayanan Iyer

On May 11 and 12th 2017, thanks to
Vanamala Arts, a few of us were lucky to be on board the spiritual flight
“Durga Saptashati Shibir” piloted by none other than the renowned scholar and
great Harikatha exponent Shri Lakshmandas Velankar. We boarded the flight just
like the deluded King Suratha and the merchant Samadhi, and alighted more
educated and initiated into the deeper aspects of life and truth. Lakshmandasji
who was no less than a Sage Medhas for us, promised a follow-up session in
which he would explain to us the Rahasyatraya, the three secrets which would
explain the innermost significance of the Devi Mahatmyam. We were looking
forward to this much more than the world was looking forward to the secret of
Katappa killing Bahubali! The latter was of mere material significance but the
former of a deeper spiritual longing!

The day arrived finally on May 20
2017, and we all met for the half day follow-up at Vanamala Center for Art and
Culture premises, arranged by Dr A Pranesh and Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh, the
pioneers of the Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana.

Many of the participants of the 2 day
Shibir were present and looking at the eagerness and enthusiasm around, it did
not seem as if two months had gone by. Shri Lakshmandas Velankarji’s divine
resplendence was evident the moment he arrived.

The event started with Dr Meera
Rajaram welcoming the speaker and the participants. There was a minute of
silence observed for Dr Meera’s father V Rajaram, a basket ball player at the
national level and also the patron of Vanamala Center who left for the heavenly
abode a month ago. It was indeed the loss of a noble soul!

Lakshmandasji started speaking in his
usual soft and simple yet impactful tone. He started with the analogy of a seed
that grows into a sapling, then a tree, a forest, the trees bear flowers, give
fruits, further seeds and an infinite growth results. The cause and source is
just a seed. Lakshmandasji was coming to the first secret. For existence of
life, there is such a source and seed, and this is what is revealed in the
Pradhanika Rahasya or the first secret of Devi Mahatmyam.

These secrets are indeed prayers and
in the first prayer, Sage Medhas tells Suratha and Samadhi how Goddess Mahalakshmi
was the prime Goddess representing the threefold division of characters. She
herself transforms herself in to Maha Kali representing the baser characters
and Goddess Saraswathi representing the noble Satva characters. Then each of
these Goddess created a male and female. These three pairs are the trinity of
Hindu religion and their wives. This great secret is related in this first
prayer.

Lakshmandasji said that the image of
God and the difference between man and woman is also created by the imagination
of humans. Differences lie in the eyes of the beholder!

Simple but profound, we all come from
the same seed or source, call it big bang, call it atom or call it anything you
wish – this is the prime or Moola Tatva – if we can understand this, we will at
least stop contributing to the miseries of this world, even if not solving
them!

Then came the second secret or the
Vaikruthika Rahasya. Vaikruthika Rahasya refers to the creation of forms from
the source. The forms are created to ensure the creation, preservation and
destruction of the universe and its forms in cycles of repetition. This is the
essence of life. In the second of the prayers the sage tells about how
Mahalakshmi, and the other two Goddesses as well as Husband wife of the holy
trinity is to be worshipped

Goddess Mahalakshmi is described as
the form of all devas, sitting in a lotus pose, and holding in her arms,
rosary, lotus flower, arrow, Sword, Vajrayudha, mace, holy wheel, trident, axe,
conch Bell, rope, spear, Rod, shield, bow, drinking vessel and water pot!

Goddess Mahakali is described as the
Goddess who wears weapons such as sword, arrow, Mace, conch, holy wheel,
pistol, iron rod and bow, wears cut heads with blood flowing out of them, as
the one who is the Vishnumaya, who can never be attacked!

Goddess Saraswathi is described as
one who was full of Satva nature, rose from the body of Gauri, and killed
Shumbasura, was having eight hands and carried in them, arrow, pestle, trident,
holy wheel, conch, bell, plough and bow, one playing the veena and having the
Aksharamala, the goddess of knowledge, the goddess of wisdom!

The ways of worshipping are also
described by Sage Medhas, but here again Lakshmandasji pitched in the subtlety
where he said true internal Bhakti overrides any external manifestations of
forms of worship

The third and final secret is the
Moorthi Rahasya. Lakshmandasji mentioned that the worldly manifestations of
various God forms by Mahalakshmi is for helping the world realize the ultimate
source. The various forms mentioned are Nanda Devi, Raktha Dhandika and several
others He gave several examples of forms and types of worship and said that
each one has its place. Do not condemn anyone’s mode of worship, he said! We
are all heading towards the same destination in life. The secret of the
destination lies in the source and the source is same for one and all! The
Moorthis or forms are just a means to realization and are needed!

Thus, the event ended and the lucky
people present were left with the secrets revealed. Dr Meera Rajaram summarised
the discourse aptly by saying that Lakshmandasji took us through a beautiful
and meaningful journey from Anekaroopa Ishwara to Ekaroopa Ishwara to
Sarvaroopa Ishwara thereby encapsulating the three Rahasyas very nicely.

The above was explained beautifully with analogies and I have just tried to explain the gist through my experience. Once again, my apologies for any errors. The follow-up was a befitting finale to the two-day retreat and has indeed quipped us with the tools for life. It is up to us now to use these tools in the right way! Pranams to our Sage Medhas - Shri Lakshmandasji, to Vanamala for organizing this and to all my fellow Surathas and Samadhis at the Shibir and follow-up! Looking forward to more such enlightening sessions!


Nārada Bhakti Sūtra– Sādhana Shibira

Vanamala center for art and culture,
promoted by Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh and Dr.Pranesh organized a two day
shibira on Nārada Bhakti Sūtra on 24th and 25th of February 2018in the serene
and natural Auro Veda farm located on Kanakapura road, far away from the din of
Bangalore. This was the second shibira following the wonderful experience and
enthusiastic feedback from the first Sādhana Shibira on Durga Saptshati, held
in March 2017. The sessions were conducted elaborately by Keertanācharya
Sri.Lakshmandas Velankar, a reputed Kathākeertankar, an erudite scholar in
Sanskrit and philosophy as well as a noted author.

The morning saw all of us treated to
a tasty and sumptuous breakfast and with no delay we registered awaiting for
the program to begin. The session commenced with the customary lighting of lamp
followed by an apt and melodious invocation - “Parāku māDade” by Nagashree
Narayan, Manasa Girish, Vijayashree Rao, students of performing arts department,
Jain university.

Bhakti is a term which is used by
most of us assiduously on a daily basis. So, questions as “What is Bhakti?”,
“Is Bhakti only for people who are religious?”,“ How do we practise this in our
daily lives ?” lingered in most of our minds as Dr.Meera Rajaram Pranesh ma’m
set the tone simultaneously in her warm and welcoming speech .

Followed by this, Velankar ji
proceeded with his discourse answering these questions through Nārada Bhakti
Sūtra, written by the greatest Bhakta, sage Nārada himself whichholds the
dictum on Bhakti. It is a small grantha (treatise) holding 84 sūtras
(aphorisms). It documents the most important and valuable information on Bhakti
in a concise, clear and unambigous manner.The other treatise which explains
Bhakti is Shāndilya Bhakti Sūtra. Velankar ji introduced Sage Nārada to us, as
per the scriptures and from interesting stories in Srimad Bhāgavatham. Nārada,
need not be a seen as a single person as he is mostly potrayed, but could have
been a role or designation held, to propogate the supreme lord’s actions. That
said, it was this Nārada who compelled Sage Vyāsa to write Lord Krishna’s
stories in the Dashamaskanda of Bhāgavatha, inspired Sage Vālmiki to write
about Lord Rāma, taught the concepts of bhakti to the hundred sons of Daksha
Prajāpathi and inspired Dhruva for Bhakti mārga thus earning himself the name
of Bhakti Achārya. Mention to Nārada is present in various treatises as
Naradīya Upanishad, Nārada Smruthi, Nārada Samhitha and he is referenced by
Lord Krishna himself . Moving on, he defined bhakti as the most elevated form
of love and worship to God (Paramaprēma roopa), the pristine association of the
Jeevātma and Paramātma and as the sure route for attaining mukti or salvation.
Sūtras 1 to 4 were explained with interesting narratives and concepts of
Parābhakti and Gouni bhakti were taken up. The morning session concluded here
for an elaborate and delectable lunch.

Post lunch, the focus was on the key
elements addressed in sūtras 5th to 11th which spoke about complete surrender
in God through humility getting rid of our ego’s, not surrendering to Māya and
stray away from the chosen path, the concepts of Prapatti and Sharanāgathi,
that Bhakti yōga being the easiest path to attain salvation amidst Karma Yōga
and Jnāna Yōga were explained. Also, that the sūtra sees Bhakti as a whole and
integrated unit describing its based on three different guNas and eleven forms
of manifestation. Velankar ji mentioned that, Nārada says -“only one who
behaves according to the wishes of the Lord, enriching himself with goodness,
with immense faith and devotion in Lord based on his guNas, thinking and
praising the Lord in any of the eleven manifested form of bhakti, sublimating
every emotion towards God can be a true Bhakta.”

The last session post a short tea
break was reserved for questions and answers. These were from the participating
audience and the most insightful Velankar ji, answered them all patiently and
in detail. Madhura Bhakti, ideology of Rādha, the essence of Shrāddha and
principles of rebirth and reincarnation, navavidha bhakti were some of the
concepts that were explained by him. With this, the Ādhyātma session for day 1
came to an end. A bonus to this day was a bhajan session that Surmani
Dattatreya Velankar ji led us on singing Vachana Vēda and Kabir’s dohas
reiterating the concepts of Bhakti. The lyrics coupled with the devotional
music singing the glory of the lord, further elevated our minds spiritually.
The day ended establishing close connect amidst all participants with a good
dinner and sleep.

Day 2 Began early with all of us
assembling into an open air classroom at the foot of a hill, letting us savour
a gurukula environment. Lessons under the tree, with birds chirping all around
reminded one about the ancient school of teaching and transported us into a
different world. Here, the teacher explained to us the traits of a typical
seeker as one who is God-intoxicated and who steadily prays, worships,
meditates and sings the glory of the supreme in complete knowledge and
understanding. He would do this by staying in the company of the spiritually
enlightened, keeping away himself from any evil associations and follow the
path of Bhakti. The last session, post a hearty breakfast, had Lakshmi and
Srividya, music students from Jain university present a soulful rendition of
Gōpala Dāsa’s , “Yena BēDali naanu” as invocation, which dwelt in the mood of
the session. Velankar ji spoke about the advices to one who seeks. He
mentioned, Narada affirms that to be a bhakta, one need not bind himself or
herself into orthodoxical practices and that anyone irrespective of caste,
creed or gender can be a bhakta. The path to follow Bhakti, is a simple and
practical method to approach God.

The session ended with a heartfelt
concluding speech by Dr Meera Rajaram, felicitating the illustrious couple
Velankar ji and his wife Smt. Meera. We were all blessed by them and were lucky
to receive a book on the lessons from laÅst year’s shibira on Durga Saptshati .
Post the group pictures, all of us proceeded to have our lunch and bid
farewells. As we left the shibira with renewed energy, there was this fantastic
experience we were taking along , with moments to cherish for years to come and
a lot of take-aways and learnings that we should be incorporating into our
every day life.

Velankar ji’s narrative was a
practical exposition of the concept of Bhakti,all through was in a simple and
lucid language, unbiased about any specific interpretation. Each one of us
could relate to his simple style and could link it to our everyday lives . He
enriched the lessons through Upakathās from various scriptures, quotes from the
lives of Sri.Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, bhakti propogators as Tukāram,
Purandaradāsa, Kanakadāsa and many more . End of the session, he had answered
all our questions, clearing out misconceptions and emphasising to each one of
us gently yet, with a firmtone to practise and follow bhakti mārga being
eternally thankful to God for this wonderful human life. Humbly seeking
blessings from Velankar ji for taking us through this deep subject and
enlightening us .

This article has been an earnest
effort to concisely document learnings from an exhaustive session. Request
readers to kindly excuse any missed out information or any inconsistency.

Whole heartedly thank Dr. Meera
Rajaram Pranesh and Dr.Pranesh for bringing us all together, under this
spiritual umbrella and facilitating such an insightful topic for study, to all
organizers for such a seamless execution and to all the fellow participants who
so like-mindedly were part of the shibira and continue to be connected on
social media. Eagerly looking forward to our next Sādhana shibira with beloved
Vanamala center for art and culture.

यइहनारदप्रोक्तुंशिवानुशासनंविश्वसितिश्रद्धते
सभक्तिमानभवति, सप्रेष्टुंलभतेसप्रेष्टुंलभतइति||

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Shloka 82 from Narada Bhakti Sutra

WHOEVER IN THIS WORLD BELIEVES AND HAS FAITH IN THIS GRACIOUS INSTRUCTIONOFFERED BY NARADA, HE BECOMES ENDOWED WITH BHAKTI, HE ATTAINS THE HIGHEST BLISS, TRULY, HE ATTAINS THE HIGHEST BLISS

ನಾರದ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಸೂತ್ರ ಕುರಿತು ಸಾಧನ ಶಿಬಿರ

ವನಮಾಲಾ ಸೆಂಟರ್ ಫ಼ಾರ್ ಆರ್ಟ್ ಆಂಡ್ ಕಲ್ಚರ್ನ ಸಂಸ್ಥಾಪಕರಾದ ಡಾ. ಮೀರಾ ರಾಜಾರಾಮ್ ಪ್ರಾಣೇಶ್ ಮತ್ತು ಡಾ. ಪ್ರಾಣೇಶ್, ನಾರದ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಸೂತ್ರ ಕುರಿತು ಎರಡು ದಿನದ ಶಿಬಿರವನ್ನು ಆರೋ ಫಾರ್ಮ್ಸ್ ಎಂಬುವ ಸುಂದರವಾದ, ನೈಸರ್ಗಿಕ ಸ್ಥಳದಲ್ಲಿ ೨೪ ಮತ್ತು ೨೫ ಫೆಬ್ರವರಿ ಅಂದು

ಹಮ್ಮಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದರು. ನಾರದ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಸೂತ್ರ ವನ್ನು ಕುರಿತು ವ್ಯಾಖ್ಯಾನ ಮಾಡಿದವರು ಖ್ಯಾತ ವಿದ್ವಾಂಸರು ಹಾಗು ಕಥಾಕೀರ್ತನಕಾರರಾದ ಶ್ರೀ ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಣದಾಸ ವೇಲಾಂಕರವರು. ಬೆಳಗಿನ ಅದ್ಧುರಿಯಾದ ಉಪಹಾರವನ್ನು ಮುಗಿಸಿದ ನಂತರ, ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮವನ್ನು ಸಾಂಪ್ರದಾಯಿಕವಾಗಿ ದೀಪವನ್ನು ಬೆಳಗಿಸುತ್ತ, ಜೈನ ವಿಶ್ವವಿದ್ಯಾಲಯದ ಸಂಗೀತ ಅಭ್ಯರ್ಥಿನಿಯರಾದ ನಾಗಶ್ರೀ, ಮಾನಸ ಗಿರೀಶ್ ಹಾಗು ವಿಜಯಶ್ರೀ ರಾವ್ ಅವರುಗಳಿಂದ ಭಕ್ತಿಯಾಗಿ, ಇಂಪಾಗಿ "ಪರಾಕು ಮಾಡದೆ" ಎಂಬುವ ಪ್ರಾರ್ಥನೆ ಇಂದ ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಸಿದರು. ಡಾ. ಮೀರಾ ರಾಜಾರಾಮ್ ಪ್ರಾಣೇಶ್ ರವರು ಸ್ವಾಗತ ಭಾಷಣೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಮ್ಮೆಲಿರಿಗೂ ಇದ್ದಂತಹ - “ಭಕ್ತಿ ಅಂದರೆ ಏನು ?”, “ಯಾರು, ಹೇಗೆ ಆಚರಿಸಬೇಕು?” ಎಂಬುವಂತಹ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗಳನ್ನು ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಿಸಿ, ಈ ಎಲ್ಲ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗಳ್ಳನ್ನು ಪರಿಹರಿಸುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ಏರ್ಪಡಿಸಲಾಗಿದೆ ಎಂದು ತಿಳಿಸಿ, ಎಲ್ಲರಿಗೂ ಆದರದ ಸ್ವಾಗತವನ್ನು ಕೋರಿದರು.

ವೇಲಾಂಕರವರು ಮಂಗಳಕೋರಿ ಭಕ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಕುರಿತು, ನಾರದ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಸೂತ್ರವನ್ನು ಕುರಿತು ವ್ಯಾಖ್ಯಾನವನ್ನು ಪ್ರಾರಂಭಿಸಿದರು. ನಾರದ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಸೂತ್ರವು, ನಾರಾದರೇ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಿಸಿದಂತಹ ಸ್ಫಷ್ಟವಾದ, ಸಂಕ್ಷಿಪ್ತ ಗ್ರಂಥ. ಇದರಲ್ಲಿ ೮೪ ಸೂತ್ರಗಳಿದ್ದು, ಭಕ್ತಿಯೇ ಮುಕ್ತಿಗೆ ಮಾರ್ಗ ಎಂದು ಸಾರುತ್ತದೆ. ನಾರದಾರ ಪರಿಚಯವನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿಕೊಡುವಂತಹ ನಿದರ್ಶನಗಳು ಹಲಾವಾರು ಗ್ರಂಥಗಳಲ್ಲಿದೆ. ಅದರಲ್ಲಿ, ಕೆಲವು ನಾರದೀಯ ಉಪನಿಷದ್, ನಾರದ ಸಂಹಿತಾ, ನಾರದ ಸ್ಮೃತಿ, ಶ್ರೀಮದ್ ಭಾಗವತ, ರಾಮಾಯಣ, ಮಹಾಭಾರತ ಇತ್ಯಾದಿ. ಇದೇ ಅಲ್ಲದೆ, ನಾರದರು ವಾಲ್ಮೀಕಿಗೆ ರಾಮನ ಕಥೆಯನ್ನು, ವ್ಯಾಸರಿಗೆ ದಶಮಸ್ಕಂದವನ್ನು ಲಿಖಿಸಲು ಪ್ರೇರಣೆಯನ್ನು ನೀಡಿದವರು ಹಾಗು ದಕ್ಷ ಪ್ರಜಾಪತಿಯ ೧೦೦ ಮಕ್ಕಳಿಗೆ, ಧ್ರುವನಿಗೆ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಮಾರ್ಗವನ್ನು ತೋರಿದಂತಹ ಮಹಾನ್ ಭಕ್ತಾಚಾರ್ಯ. ಈ ಪರಿಚಯವನ್ನು ನೀಡಿ ವೆಲಂಕರ ರವರು ಮುಂದೆ ಸೂತ್ರಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಇರುವಂತಹ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಎಂದರೆ ಪರಮಪ್ರೇಮ ರೂಪ, ಅಮೃತ ಸ್ವರೂಪ, ಜೀವಾತ್ಮನು ಪರಮಾತ್ಮನ್ನು ನೈಜ ಸ್ಥಿತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಜ್ಞಾನೋತ್ತರದಿ ತಿಳಿಯುವ ಒಂದು ಹಾದಿ , ಭಕ್ತಿಯು ಕಾಮವಲ್ಲದೆ, ಭಗವಂತನಲ್ಲಿ ನಿರ್ಮಲವಾಗಿ ಹಾಗು ಪರಿಶುದ್ಧವಾಗಿ ಇಡುವಂತಹ ಪ್ರೀತಿ ಹಾಗು ಸಮರ್ಪಣೆ ಎಂದರು. ಒಂದರಿಂದ ನಾಲ್ಕನೇಯ ಸೂತ್ರಗಳನ್ನು ಪರಿಚಯಿಸುತ್ತ, ನಮ್ಮ ಪ್ರತಿಯೊಂದು ಕೆಲಸದಲ್ಲಿಯೂ ಭಗವಂತನ್ನನ್ನು ನಿಷ್ಕಾಮನೆ ಇಲ್ಲದೆ ಪ್ರಾಥಿಸುವುದೇ ಭಕ್ತಿಯ ಮಾರ್ಗ ಎಂದು ತಿಳಿಸಿ ಮಧ್ಯಾಹ್ನದ ಭೋಜನಕ್ಕೆ ವಿರಾಮವನ್ನು ನೀಡಿದರು. ಸುಖಪ್ರದವಾದ ಭೋಜನದ ನಂತರ ಮಧ್ಯಾಹ್ನದ ಆಧ್ಯತ್ಮ ಅಧಿವೇಶನೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಂದಿನ ಸೂತ್ರಗಳ್ಳಲ್ಲಿ ಬರುವಂತಹ ಅನನ್ಯತೆ, ಪ್ರಪತ್ತಿ, ಹಾಗು ಶರಣಾಗತಿ ಭಾವನೆಗಳನ್ನು ಪರಿಚಯಿಸಿ, ನಾರದನು ತಿಳಿಸಿರುವಂತೆ ಪರಿಪೂರ್ಣ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಉಂಟಾಗುವುದಕ್ಕೆ ಕರ್ಮಗಳನ್ನು, ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರ ವಿಧಿಗಳನ್ನು ಆಚರಿಸಿ, ಅಹಂಕಾರವನ್ನು ತೊರೆದು, ದೈನ್ಯತೆ ಇಂದ ಪ್ರಾರ್ಥಿಸಿ, ಎಡಬಿಡದೆ ಭಗವಂತನ ಭಜನೆ ಮಾಡಿ, ಅವನು ಕೊಟ್ಟಿರುವ ನಿಯತಿಯನ್ನು ಆತ್ಮ ಸಮರ್ಪಣಾ ಭಾವನೆಯಿಂದ ಅರ್ಪಿಸಿದಲ್ಲಿ ಅದು ಭಕ್ತಿಯ ನಿಜ ಸಾಧನೆ ಎಂದು ಸ್ಪಷ್ಟಪಡಿಸಿದರು. ನಾರದನು ಅವನ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಸೂತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಎಂಬುವುದು ಏಕೈಕ ಭಾವನೆ, ಮನುಷ್ಯನು ತನ್ನ ಗುಣಕ್ಕೆ ಅನುಗುಣವಾಗಿ, ಅದರ ಹದಿನೊಂದು ಪ್ರಕಟಣೆಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಯಾವುದಾದರೊಂದನ್ನು ಹಿಡಿದು ಭಕ್ತಿಯ ಮಾರ್ಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಚಲಿಸ ಬಹುದು ಎಂದರು. ಚಹಾ ವಿರಾಮದ ನಂತರ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೋತ್ತರದಲ್ಲಿ ವೆಲಂಕರ ರವರು ಮಧುರ ಭಕ್ತಿ, ನವವಿಧ ಭಕ್ತಿ, ರಾಧೇ ಯಾರು, ಶ್ರದ್ಧಾ ಹಾಗು ಪುನರ್ಜನ್ಮ, ಮನುಷ್ಯ ಜನ್ಮವನ್ನು ಹೇಗೆ ಸಾಧಿಸಿಕೊಳ್ಳಬಹುದು ಎಂಬುವ ಪ್ರಶ್ನೆಗಳಿಗೆ ಬಹು ತಾಳ್ಮೆ ಇಂದ ಉತ್ತರಿಸುತ್ತಾ ಆ ದಿನದ ಆಧ್ಯಾತ್ಮ ಸಭೆಯನ್ನು ಮುಗಿಸಿದರು. ಆ ಸಂಜೆ, ಸುರ್ಮಾಣಿ ದತ್ತಾತ್ರೇಯ ವೆಲಂಕರ ರವರು ಸಭೆಯನ್ನು ಭಜನಾ ಶಿಬಿರವಾಗಿಸಿ ಅತಿ ಸುಂದರವಾಗಿ ವಚನ ವೇದ ಹಾಗು ಕಬೀರ ದೋಹಾಳಿಂದ ನಮ್ಮೆಲ್ಲರನ್ನು ಒಂದು ದಿವ್ಯವಾದ ವಾತಾವರಣಕ್ಕೆ ಸಾಗಿಸಿದರು. ರಾತ್ರಿಯ ಸಂಪ್ರೀತ್ತಿಯಾದ ಊಟವನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿ, ನಾವೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಸಂತೋಷದಿಂದ ವಿಶ್ರಮಿಸಿದೆವು.

ಮರುದಿನ, ಪ್ರಾತಃಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಗುಡ್ಡದ ಕೆಳಗೆ ಗುರುಕುಲದಂತಹ ವಾತಾವರಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಶಿಬಿರವು ಪುನರಾರಂಭಿಸಿತು. ಕಣ್ಣಿಗೆ ತಂಪಾಗಿಸುವ ನೋಟ, ಚಿಲಿಪಿಲಿ ಪಕ್ಷಿಗಳ ಶಬ್ದದಲ್ಲಿ ಮನ ಮುಟ್ಟುವಂತೇ ಶ್ರೀ ವೆಲಂಕರ ರವರು ಭಕ್ತನಾದವನು ಯಾರು, ಹೇಗಿರುವನು, ಯಾರ ಆಶ್ರಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಇರುವನು ಎಂಬುವ ವಿಚಾರವನ್ನು ಫಲಪ್ರದವಾಗಿ ತಿಳಿಸಿದರು. ಭಗವಂತನ ದಯೆ ಇದ್ದು , ಮಹಾತ್ಮರ ಸಂಘ ವಿದ್ದರೆ, ಜಾತಿ, ಮತ, ಲಿಂಗ ಭೇದವಿಲ್ಲದೆ, ಮೂಢ ರೂಢಿಯಾಗದೆ ಯಾರಾದರೂ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಮಾರ್ಗದಲ್ಲಿ ಚಲಿಸಬಹುದು. ಭಕ್ತಿ ಮಾರ್ಗದಲ್ಲಿರುವವರು ಕ್ರಿಯಾ ಅಥವಾ ಜ್ಞಾನ ಮಾರ್ಗಕ್ಕಿಂತ ಸುಲಭವಾಗಿ ಭಗವಂತನ ಹಾದಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಇರಬಹುದು ಎಂದು ತಿಳಿಸಿದರು. ನಮ್ಮ ಕಾರ್ಯಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಪರಿಪೂರ್ಣ ಜ್ಞಾನ ಹಾಗು ಶ್ರದ್ಧೆ ಇದ್ದಲ್ಲಿ , ಯಾರಾದರೂ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಶಾಸ್ತ್ರದಲ್ಲೂ ಭಕ್ತರಾಗಬಹುದು ಎಂದು ನಾರದ ತಿಳಿಸಿರುವುದಾಗಿ ಹೇಳಿದರು. ಸ್ವಾದಿಷ್ಟವಾದ ಉಪಹಾರದ ನಂತರ ಶಿಬಿರವು ಸಭಾಂಗಣದಲ್ಲಿ, ಶ್ರೀವಿದ್ಯಾ ಹಾಗು ಲಕ್ಷ್ಮಿ ಎಂಬುವ ಜೈನ ವಿಶ್ವವಿದ್ಯಾಲಯದ ವಿದ್ಯಾರ್ಥಿನಿಯರಿಂದ "ಏನ ಬೇಡಲಿ ನಾನು " ಎಂಬುವ ಗೋಪಾಲ ದಾಸರ ವಿರಚಿತ ಸುಂದರ ರಚನೆಯ ಪ್ರಾರ್ಥನೆಯೊಂದಿಗೆ ಮುಂದುವರೆಯಿತು. ನಾರದ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಸೂತ್ರದ ಸಾರಾಂಶವನ್ನು ಶ್ರೀ ವೆಲಂಕರರವರು ಉಪಕಥೆಗಳ ಮೂಲಕ, ಪರಮ ಭಕ್ತರಾದ ಪುರಂದರದಾಸರು, ಕನಕದಾಸರು ಹಾಗು ರಾಮಕೃಷ್ಣ ಪರಮಹಂಸರಂತಹ ನಿದರ್ಶನಗಳ್ಳನ್ನು ನೀಡುತ್ತ

ಶಿಬಿರವನ್ನು ಮುಕ್ತಾಯ ಮಾಡಿದರು. ಡಾ.ಮೀರಾ ರಾಜಾರಾಮ್ ಪ್ರಾಣೇಶ್ ರವರು ಸಮಾಪ್ತಿ ಭಾಷಣವನ್ನು ಹೃತ್ಪೂರ್ವಕವಾಗಿ ನೀಡಿ, ದಂಪತಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಗೌರವ ಸಲ್ಲಿಸಿದರು. ನಮೆಲ್ಲರ ಅಹೋ ಭಾಗ್ಯ- , ಆ ದಂಪತಿಗಳ ಆಶೀರ್ವಾದ. ಹಿಂದಿನ ವರ್ಷದ ದುರ್ಗಾ ಸಪ್ತಶತಿ ಶಿಬಿರದಲ್ಲಿ ಪ್ರಕಟಣೆಯಾದ ಪುಸ್ತಕವನ್ನು ನಮ್ಮೆಲರಿಗೂ ಆಶೀರ್ವಾದವಾಗಿ ನೀಡಿದರು.

ಇಂತಹ ವಿದ್ವತ್ ಪೂರ್ಣವಾಗಿ ನಮ್ಮೆಲರ ಸಂಶಯಗಳ್ಳನ್ನು ಸ್ಪಷ್ಟ್ವವಾಗಿಸರಳವಾಗಿ, ಹಲವಾರು ಉಪಕಥೆಗಳು, ಶ್ಲಾಘ್ಯ ದೃಷ್ಟಾಂತಗಳೊಂದಿಗೆ ದೂರಮಾಡಿದಂತಹ ಶ್ರೀ ವೆಲಂಕರವರಿಗೆ ನಮ್ಮೆಲ್ಲರ ಪರವಾಗಿ ಹೃತ್ಪೂರ್ವಕ ವಂದನೆಗಳು. ಇಂತಹ ಸತ್ಕಾರ್ಯವನ್ನು ಆಯೋಜಿಸಿ ನಮ್ಮೆಲ್ಲರನ್ನೂ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಯಾಣದಲ್ಲಿ ಕರೆದೊಯ್ಯದಂತಹ ಡಾ. ಮೀರಾ ರಾಜಾರಾಮ್ ಪ್ರಾಣೇಶ್ ಮತ್ತು ಡಾ. ಪ್ರಾಣೇಶ್ ದಂಪತಿಗಳಿಗೆ, ಎಲ್ಲ ನಿರ್ವಾಹಕರಿಗೂ ಅನಂತ ವಂದನೆಗಳು ಹಾಗೂ ಸಹ ಶಿಬಿರಾರ್ಥಿಗಳಿಗೂ ಆದರದ ವಂದನೆಗಳು. ಸುಂದರ ನೆನಪುಗಳೊಂದಿಗೆ, ಮುಂದಿನ ಶಿಬಿರವನ್ನು ಕಾತುರದಿಂದ ನಾವೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಎದುರುನೋಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೇವೆ.

य इह नारद प्रोक्तुं शिवानुशासनं विश्वसिति श्रद्धते 
स भक्तिमान भवति, स प्रेष्टुं लभते स प्रेष्टुं लभत इति||

-- ಶ್ಲೋಕ ೮೨ - ನಾರದ ಭಕ್ತಿ ಸೂತ್ರś


Devi Mahatme - Significance of goddesses of Navaratri festival

Devi is endowed with three gunas- Satvic, Rajasik and Tamasic. Hence she is known as Trigunatmike. She has attributes related to these three gunas, which bring forth shrusti, stithi and laya. Based on her shrusti, stithi and laya shaktis, Devi is worshipped in several forms. But most popular forms are Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga.

During Navaratri popularly called
Dasara which is celebrated with pomp and grandeur all over India, the goddesses
Saraswati, Lakshmi and Durga are worshipped for three days each. Saraswati is
worshipped 'for knowledge, Lakshmi for wealth, and Durga for health.

Tenth day is celebrated as
Vijayadashami for getting the blessings successfully from all the three great
cosmic mothers. The talk on Devi Mahatme was on the divine features of Devi and
her attributes.

Keertanacharya Lakshmandas Velankar a noted personality in the field of Harikatha is a scholar par excellence. A disciple of Santa Sri Bhadragiri Achyutadas and Santa Sri Keshavadas, Velankar developed his own unique style in performing Kathakeertan. His scholarship in Sanskrit and philosophy has moulded him to be an excellent narrator and an author. Velankar has authored books on Kathakeertan and has translated more than 80 books published by prestigious Geetha Press, Gorakhpur, from Sanskrit, Hindi and Marati to Kannada. Some of them include Bhagavatgeete, Devi Bhagavatha, Shiva purana, Bhagavatha, Ramayana and many more. He served as a lecturer in internationally renowned Keertan Mahavidyalaya, trained many students in Kathakeertan; Former Member, Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy; Editor of Daasa Vaani, a magazine published by Daasashrama international Center. A recipient of Karnataka Kalashree from Karnataka Sangeetha Nritya Academy, Velankar has been honored by many organisations.


Dance Divine - Yantra- Mantra-Tantra of Natya Dr Padmaja Suresh

Human beings are bestowed with six
subtle chakras and Kundalini shakti which is found coiled at the base. There
are several ways of raising this shakti found in humans. Dr Padmaja would
indicate how yogic sadhanas, dance prayogas, basic postures of Bharatanatyam
open up the body chakras, and enhance the flow of energy. She would demonstrate
the unification of Shiva and Shakti as depicted in Tandava and Sukumara Nritya;
And also how purusha and prakruti is merged according to Tantra shastra, which
depicts the most popular Ardhanarishwara form of Shiva. All these are more of
subtle nature, which are difficult to understand but Dr. Padmaja Suresh would
be demonstrating these aspects through audio visual presentation

Dr Padmaja Suresh is a renowned
Bharatanatyam dancer, teacher, researcher, social worker and choreographer, She
hails from a family of artists and has been trained by prominent Gurus in dance
and music. She is the disciple of Kalaimamani Guru K. Kalyanasundaram. A
doctorate from Mysore University, Padmaja is imparting knowledge of dance
through her institution – Atmalaya. She also teaches to lesser privileged and
rural children. Dr Padmaja has performed at major dance festivals throughout
the country like Konark, Khajuraho, Hampi, Dusserah, Uday Shankar Mahotsav etc.

She visited to many countries as a cultural ambassador delegated by the ICCR. Padmaja has penned articles in news papers and journals. Some of the Titles and Awards include Karamveer Chakra, Rex Global Fellow, Bharatakala Sreshtha, Nartana Nipuna, Singara Mani, Kiran Achiever for National Women’s Excellence, Inspired Indian and Extraordinary Citizen of the city.


Book Release- Harikeshanallur Dr L Mutthaih Bhagavatar – A Biography

The Book Harikeshanallur Dr L
Mutthaih Bhagavatar -A Biography, was released on 11th January 2014 at Indian
Institute of World Culture, Basavanagudi, Bangalore. It was released by the
internationally renowned Violinist and Composer Padmabhushan Dr L Subramaniam.
Also present as Guests on the dais were Ganakalabhushana Prof. Rajalakshmi
Tirunarayanan and Gaana Tapasvi Vidushi Sudha V Murthy.

Select few compositions of Mutthaih
Bhagavatar were rendered by disciples of Dr Meera - Sandhya Ram, Dr Archana
Bhat, Madhuvanthi Mandyam, Shivashankari, Charumathi, Bhagavathi, Soumya Anil,
Ananya Bhagath and Pavithra accompanied by Vid. Manjula Surendra on Veena,
Mathur Srinidhi on Violin, Vid. Renuka Prasad on Mridangam and Vid. A S N Swamy
on Khanjara.

Many were the dignitaries, artists, connoisseurs, researchers and students who attended the release function and made it a grand success.


Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana – 11

The program Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana – 11 a Series of lecture demonstrations on the Origin and Development of Indian Culture through ages was conducted on Saturday, 2nd May 2015 at the center premises. It was a very unique and informative program by the veteran Gamaki Vidushi Gangamma Keshavamurthy who was accompanied by Vidushi Sunanda Gururaj for vyaakhyana.

The topic for the day was Raama dhaaanya charitre of Saint Kanakadasa a work on class struggle highlighting the conflict between the strong and weaker castes and the rich and poor class. The story unfolds with an argument between two food grains- Rice representing the rich and Ragi symbolizing the economically weaker section. The two grains appeal before Lord Rama and plead for justice. Kanakadasa, in a very creative manner sends a powerful social message as an attempt to reform society.

The topic for the day was Raama dhaaanya charitre of Saint Kanakadasa a work on class struggle highlighting the conflict between the strong and weaker castes and the rich and poor class. The story unfolds with an argument between two food grains- Rice representing the rich and Ragi symbolizing the economically weaker section. The two grains appeal before Lord Rama and plead for justice. Kanakadasa, in a very creative manner sends a powerful social message as an attempt to reform society.

It was well conducted by Karnataka
Kalashree vidushi Gangamma Keshavamurthy, the chairperson of Karnataka Sangeeta
Nritya Academy who is an expert in Gamaka with fluency in both Vaachana
(singing) and Vyaakhyana (narration). She selected few poems and sang them in
pure classical style, which were tuned by her.

The raga was very carefully incorporated
so as to have a effective bhaava. It was a perfect blend of the sahitya, raga,
rasa and bhaava. With her rich and sonorous voice, Gangamma touched the hearts
of the listeners present there. With a credit of performing around 1,000 Gamaka
concerts her dream is to propagate Gamaka in schools, colleges and every home
in Karnataka which she will definitely achieve. Many are the honors and awards
bestowed upon her and many more are yet to come.

Vidushi Sunanda Gururaj who accompanied Gangamma on Vyaakhyana, is a great scholar in Kannada and a good orator. Her narration to every poem was excellent and the duo mesmerized the audience with their scholarship. Students, Artists of different fields and connoisseurs were present. Harikatha vidwan Lakshmandas Velankar, Nritya Guru B K Vasantalakshmi, musician Dr Uma Gopalaswamy were some of the experts attended.


Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana 9

Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana – 9 a Series of lecture
demonstrations on the Origin and Development of Indian Culture through ages-

The ninth program in the series was a
lecture demonstration on - Unknown Compositions and Composers of
Karnatak Music with Special Reference to Tallapaka Composers of 15th -16th CE
.

This scholarly demonstration was
presented by Dr Veturi Anandamurthy a Telugu Scholar,
Researcher, Author and Music Archaeologist accompanied by Vidushi Yoga
Keertana
 on vocal on Saturday, 22nd November 2014 at 4 PM in the
premises of Vanamala Center for Art and Culture.

Dr.Veturi Ananda Murthy whose
doctoral research was on the life and works of Annamayya has dedicated himself
in bringing to light many unknown and rare compositions of Tallapaka poets,
Bhadrachala Ramadasa and many more. Prof. Murthy served as the Head of Telugu
Department, Osmania University Hyderabad.

One of his most enduring achievements has been deciphering the TIRUMALA MUSIC
INSCRIPTION of Tallapaka Annamacharya which dates back to 15th Century. Through
his efforts it is now established that this stone parchment is the first
historical evidence of lyrics with notated music. Bhasha Samman National Award,
Sri Krishnadevaraya Puraskaram, Sri Ramanavami Pratibha Puraskaram are a few
among the many awards he has received.

The lec dem was attended by Scholars, researchers and noted personalities. Yoga Keertana presented few less known compositions of Tallapakam composers. The lecture by Dr Veturi opened up a new vista about the less known Tallapakam composers which made everyone attended to participate in the interaction session.