The Journey of Indian Classical Music

The murmur of water, the whistle of
wind, the hiss of flames, the rumble of earth and the thunder of sky formed the
elements of sound from which speech in turn music evolved. Singing marks the
beginning of music in all nations. The cries of birds and beasts might have
attracted the primitive man and the man imitated those sounds to denote alarm,
passion, pain and joy. As the man began to produce these vocal sounds, to
denote alarm, he also found that the claps or the drum beat could be
effectively used to draw attention or to articulate rhythm. In this manner
shout might have been the inspiration for vocal music and a clap for percussion

आत्माविवक्षमाणोऽयंमनःप्रेरयते मनः
देहस्थंवह्निमाहन्तिसप्रेरयतिमारुतं ।
ब्रह्मग्रन्थिस्थितः सोऽयक्रमादूर्ध्वपथेचरन्
नाभिह्रुत्कण्ठ​मूर्धास्येष्वाविर्भावयतिध्वनिम् ॥

(Sangeetha Makaranda- Narada)

The atman (soul) desirous of speaking
out of its intention excites the mind; and the mind operates on the vital heat
of the body by setting the air in the Brahma granthi, rises up and produces
sound through the navel, the heart, the neck, the head and the face”. This
sound is the basis for the origin of vocal music.

Classical music called Shastreeya
 in Sanskrit, means music that adheres to the principles or
rules. Classical music is not just artistic or entertaining it also sublimates
man’s mind, body and soul thus making him Jeevan mukta (liberated
soul). The saying goes as just like Tapas (meditation) is
for Krita yugaYagna (religious sacrifice)
for Treta yugaPooja (worship) for Dwapara
Sangeeta (music) is for Kali yuga. The
ultimate goal of music is the union of Jeevatma (soul)
and Paramatma (God). Apart from devotion, Indian music
emphasizes morals through the medium of art.

The Indian scriptures call God
as Naada Brahma and music as Naada yogaNaada the
musical sound give rise to Srutis (micro tones) and these
to Swaras (notes) and in turn to raagas (melody). Naada is
of two varieties: 
(1) Aahata Naada which is heard with conscious efforts of man
(2) Anaahata Naada which is often referred to the music of the
spheres heard without the man’s effort. This is audible only to yogis

Indian music can be broadly studied under three major phases-

Ancient period- Vedic to 8th century AD

Medieval period- 9th to 15th century AD

Modern period- 16th to present day

Music is an integral part of Indian Culture and is as old as mankind. The evolution of music can be traced by a systematic study of Granthas (treatises) belonging to Sacred literature and Secular literature. There is no single ancient literature which does not speak about music. They give references to music with respect to spiritual, religious and sociological aspects.

Music in ancient period was looked upon as sacred and religious form. According to ancient scriptures Sangeeta (music) and Saahitya (literature) are said to be the two breasts of goddess Saraswati. Indian music traces its origin to Vedas (Veda meaning knowledge). The four Vedas– Rig VedaYajur VedaSaama Veda and Atharva Veda are the fountain heads of all knowledge. Indian music is derived from Saama Veda

According to the scriptures-

सामवेदादिदं गीतं सञग्राह पितामह​: ।

Brahma derived music
from Saama Veda

Lord Brahma, Vidyashankara temple, Sringeri, Karnataka

Lord Brahma

Music is also called Panchama Veda or Gandharva
 as it was practiced by celestial nymphs called Gandharvas.
The pranava naada (primordial sound) OM is
said to be the source of music.

Lord  Krishna
in Bhagavatgeeta says-

वेदानां सामवेदोस्मि

Among the Vedas I dwell in Saama Veda

The recitation of Vedic hymns marks the beginning of
classical music. Initially the chanting started with a monotonic recitation
known as Archika gaana(singing). Later it paved
the way to two toned – Gaathika followed by Saamika with
a higher Swara (note) resulting in three toned
recitation. Rig Vedichymns were recited from one to three notes.

The triad comprised of a higher swara called Udatta, lower- Anudatta and
the third sandwiched in between- the SwaritaPrachaya was
the fourth lower note to Anudatta and this formed a tetra chord called Swarantara. The
tetra chord was supplemented with three more notes and the group of seven swaras was
named Yamas. Thus the full scale with seven notes evolved
and were named in the descending order of pitch- Krishta, Prathama,
Dwiteeya, Triteeya, Chaturtha, Mandra 
and Atiswaarya. The Saama
hymns were recited from five to seven notes.

In due course of time the idea of Sthayi (octave) was
conceived and the new names replaced the old names of Yamas. The
new names Shadja, Rishabha, Gandhara, Madhyama, Panchama,
and Nishada were assigned solfa names Sa,
Ri, Ga Ma, Pa, Da, Ni
 respectively and was called Saama
. The earliest music was the sacred music called the Sāman chants.

As per the ancient granthas (treatises) every swara is
generated from a particular part of the human body-

Shadja (Sa) from Naabhi (Navel)

Rishabha (Ri) – Jathara (Stomach)

Gandhara (Ga) – Hridaya (Heart)

Madhyama (Ma) – Kaanta (Neck)

Panchama (Pa) – Naasika (Nose)

Dhaivata (Da) – Lalaata (Forehead)

Nishada (Ni) – Shiras (Head)

Various musical instruments like Veena (string
instrument), Dundubhi, Bheri (percussion instrument), Shankha (wind
instrument) were used as accompaniments during Vedic rituals.
The transition of Vedic chant to song was a slow
process. Saama gaana was adorned with trills and graces.
The Saama saptaka gave birth to Shadja grama the
primordial scale. Apart from Vedas references of music are
amply found in Pratishakhyas, Brahmanas, Upanishads, Shikshas and AranyakasPuranas (epics)
like Markandeya puranaHarivamsha, Vayu purana, Vishnu
 and many more mention about music.

Great works like Ramayana and Mahabharata have
references of music like raagas, vaadyas (instruments), taalas, rendering
songs in different speeds and musicians.

Lava and Kusha the children of Raama sang Ramayana melodiously in the latter’s court. Raavana the demon King of Ramayana is a said to be a great veena player.


Arunachaleshwara Temple,
Tiruvannamalai, Tamilnadu

Mahabharata mentions three types of music- music of Gods, music of rich people mainly patronized by Kings and music of common people.

In Bhaagavata lord Krishna played flute.

Apart from Sa and Pa which are called Prakriti swaras (notes which does not take variations), rest of the five notes Ri, Ga, Ma, Da and Ni called Vikrita swaras take two variations each thus producing twelve notes in an octave. The lower variety with lesser frequency is termed mridu (soft) or komal and the note with higher frequency tikshna (sharp) or teevra. The variations are denoted by solfa notes with numerical numbers in sub script.

Sa – Shadja Prakriti

Ri1– Shuddha rishabha Komal

Ri2– Chatushruti rishabha Teevra

Ga2– Sadharana gandhara Komal

Ga– Antara gandhara Teevra

Ma1– Shuddha madhyama Komal

Ma2– Prati madhyama Teevra

Pa – Panchama Prakriti

Da1– Shuddha dhaivata Komal

Da2– Chatushruti dhaivatha Teevra

Ni2– Kaishiki nishada Komal

Ni3– Kakali nishada Teevra

These 12 notes of an octave again gave birth to 22 Srutis or
Microtones. It is the usage of these srutis which make Indian
music special and have an individual status. It is difficult to notate Indian
music as notations provide only the outline of a composition, but the actual
melody of the music can be well expressed only by the usage of these minute
divisions or srutis.

Music is comprised of Sruti (pitch), Raaga (melody), Taala (rythm), Laya (tempo),
Saahitya (lyrics), Bhaava (emotion), Gamaka (grace
or ornamentation). Any musical rendering should have a perfect blending of all
these features. A quartertone or a microtone is also called Sruti. It
is the usage of these micro tones that makes Indian music so special and

The transition of Vedic chant to song was a slow process. Saama
 was adorned with trills and graces. Scales were expanded by a
method called Graha bheda (Model shift of tonic) which
resulted in getting new scales or melodies.

Many were the treatises which mentions about the development of music.

Natya shastra the monumental treatise written approximately between 2nd century BCE
and 2nd century CE by Bharata covers all aspects of
Indian drama, dance and music. Indian music had developed well by then in the
aspects of melody, rhythm, instruments and orchestra.

The treatises Naradiya shiksha by Narada,
Kashyapa’s Kashyapa, Kohala’s Sangeeta meru, Dattila muni’s Dattilam,
Nandikeshwara’s Bharatarnava
 are some important that have contributed
in tracing the development of Indian music. There are sufficient references
about the sangeeta acharyas (music preceptors) like Anjaneya,
Shardula, Durgashakti, Yashtika, Kirtidhara, Kambala
 and Ashwatthara.

Silappadikaram which speaks about music exhaustively is a classic in Tamil written
in 2nd century CE by King Illango Adigal belonging
to Chera royalty. This speaks about music exhaustively.

Medieval Period

During 7th century CE philosophers and religious teachers composed simple
songs in the regional languages. Tevarams and Divya
 of Shaiva and Vaishnava saints composed in tamil
respectively can be recorded as one of the earliest forms of practical music.

The advent of Raaga was a major milestone in the evolution of music.
Though the term raaga had occurred in earlier works, it never carried a
specific musical definition. It was Matanga muni of 6th century CE,
the author of the treatise Brihaddeshi who gave the
description of Raaga in an exquisite manner. This definition was well received
by everyone both during his period and the subsequent generations that it is
followed in Indian music even to this day. He mentions about Raagas and its
varieties; maarga and deshi sangeeta; introduced sa ri ga ma notation and the
musical form prabandha.

The Pallava king Mahendra Varman of 7th century CE, was well versed in playing Veena. He got a musical inscription carved on huge boulders in Kudumiyamalai situated in Pudukkottai district, Tamilnadu. Kudumiyamalai inscription which highlights the music prevailed during that era is believed to be one of the oldest inscriptions on music.

The Raaga concept happened to be the most important aspect of Indian music
which got framed by Matanga muni, underwent many improvisations over the
centuries. Various raga classifications were mentioned by Narada of 11th century CE in
the treatise Sangeeta Makaranda. Raagas were classified into
Purusha- male, Stree- female, Napumsaka- neutral system; Raaga, Raagini, Putra
system; on the basis of time – ragas that have to be sung early in the morning,
morning, noon, afternoon, evening and night and some more.

Someshwara Bhullokamal the ruler of Deccan in the early 12th century who authored the treatise Manasollasa called the music of South India as Karnataka Sangeeta. Astonishingly even after eight centuries the same name is being continued for South Indian music. One of the greatest works during early 13th century was that of Sharangadeva who wrote the treatise Sangeeta Ratnakara. This treatise deals with almost all aspects of music like ragas, talas, rasas, the compositional form prabandhas, instruments, practice and performances, physics, physiology and psychology of music which became the guiding lamp to the present music system. Indian music which had its origin from Sama Veda prevailed in the whole country as one music system till 13th century CE. The beginning of Islamic rule in the northern parts of India not only changed politically but also resulted in the cultural exchanges. With the influence of Persian music in northern part of the country, Indian music got bifurcated into North Indian and South Indian music.

Amir Khusro

The most popular poet and musician Amir Khusro served the Sultans of Slave dynasty. It is believed that under Amir Khusro’s influence, Indian music absorbed many features of Persian music in North India and this branched off into North Indian or Hindustani music and South Indian music or Karnatak music systems. But South Indian music did not undergo any changes and purely adhered to its origin of Vedic tradition.

Gopala Nayaka was the well known musician who was in the court of
Devagiri King. It is believed that he inspired Amir Khusro to compose the
musical form Taranas in Hindustani music.

Many treatises were authored by great scholars who highlighted the
features of both systems of Indian music. Many commentaries on the earlier
treatises were written. Vidyaranya known to be the king maker of Vijayanagar
dynasty wrote the treatise Sangita Sara. This treatise
mentions for the first time the word Mela a technical
term for janaka raga. The Bengali author Subhankara’s treatise Sangita
 explains about Salaga suda prabandhas.

The practical section of Indian music was also progressing
simultaneously. Gita Govinda one of the earliest available
evidences of Indian operas was composed by Jayadeva of 12th century CE.
The story revolves on the love play of Radha and Krishna on the surface level.
But it actually shows the deep philosophy of Jeevatma- the individual soul
pining for surrendering to Paramatma- the ultimate God. Gita Govinda which is
in Sanskrit consists of twelve chapters divided into 24 cantos and each canto
consists of eight couplets called Ashatapadis. These ashtapadis are sung and
danced all over India even to this day.

Indian Music witnessed a revolution from 12th century onwards. The compositions which were in Sanskrit language till then, were brought out in their respective regional languages. The core of veda and upanishads which had an access only by one set of intellectuals, were made available for common people. Scholars and philosophers embedded the essence of these scriptures in simple songs composed in regional languages like Kannada, Hindi, Marati, Telugu, Tamil, Bengali and other Indian languages.


In the region of Karnataka, scholars who followed shaivism composed thousands of simple songs in Kannada called Vachanas meaning that which is said. The lyrical core of these vachanas is upanishadic values and social reformation. The composers of vachanas were called Vachanakaras. Devara Daasimiah, Basavanna, Akkamahadevi, Allamaprabhu, Maadara Chennaih and Sarvajna are some of them who have contributed to the Kannada literature as well as music.

Philosophers/ composers who followed Vaishnavism were called Haridasas. Their works which were composed in kannada come under the broad heading Daasa sahitya. Narahari Teertha was the first composer among Haridasas. He was followed by a row of Haridasas like Sripadaya, Vyasaraya, Vadiraja, Purandaradasa, Kanakadasa, Vijayadasa, Jagannathadasa and others. Daasa sahitya reached to its peak during 15th and 16th centuries especially in the ruling period of the emperor Krishnadevaraya of Vijayanagar dynasty. The musical forms composed by these Haridasas comprised of thousands of kirtanas also called padas or DevaranamasSuladis, Ugabhogas, and Vrittanamas, thus contributing significantly to practical music.

Purandaradasa’s magnificent contribution to the field of music earned him the title Karnataka Sangeeta Pitamaha. It is believed that he has composed in thousands, but the available compositions are only few hundreds. He felt the need for a strong basis for music education, and composed an extraordinary system of exercises with sarale, janti, alankara and pillari geethe which are followed by the music teachers even to this day as basic lessons. Vachanas and devaranamas are renderd by both Karnatak and Hindustani musicians of South India.

Annamacharya also a 15th century bard
was a native of Tallapakam village in Andhra Pradesh. Being a scholar in Telugu
language he was extraordinarily talented as musician and composer. He has
composed more than three thousand songs comprising of Sankirtanas and Padas in
both classical and folk tunes. The compositions composed in Telugu and Sanskrit
are on lord Venkateshwara of Tirupathi and his consort Alamelu Mangamma. These
were later engraved in copper plates and are preserved till date. Chaitanya
Maha Prabhu’s sankirtans became popular in Bengal regions.

The period of post 15th century pulsated with a new spirit and an enlarged vision. This era contributed more towards the practical side but strictly adhering to the shastra or guidelines mentioned in the treatises. Bhakti movement which took its birth in the previous eras swept throughout India in the post 15th century. Great devotees like Vallabhacharya, Surdas, Meera Bai, Kabirdas, Tulsidas and Haridas Goswami Baiju composed hundreds of Kirtans which were mainly sung in central and northern parts of India. Bhajans in Marathi language called Abhangs were composed by Saints like Namdev, Dhyaneshwar, Eknath and Tukaram.

Modern Period

Akbar one of the Mughal emperors patronised many artists in his court.
According to Ain-i-Akbari the work which documents the administration of Emperor
Akbar, there were 36 musicians including Tansen who adorned the court. Swamy
Haridas a devotee of lord Krishna, said to be the music teacher of Tansen, has
many compositions to his credit Pundarika Vittala the author of the treatises
Sadraga Chandrodaya, Ragamanjari and Ragamala was invited by Akbar to
Delhi. Pundarika Vittala a south Indian who was an exponent in
both Karnatak and Hindustani styles of music was appreciated by Akbar so much
that he performed the golden Tulabhara which means weighing Pundarika Vittala
against gold and bestowed upon him the title Akabariya Kalidasa.

Ramamatya’s Swara Mela Kalanidhi, Somanatha’s Raga
, Ahobala’s Sangita Parijatha, Nijaguna
Shivayogi’s Viveka Chintamani, Govinda Dikshitar’s Sangita
 contributed a lot towards the Mela Raga system and evolution of
modern Veena. The 72 Mela systems which is the forte of Karnatak music was
designed by Venkatamakhi in the early 17th century.
Venkatamakhi author of the treatise Chaturdandi Prakashika classified
melas (janaka or parent ragas) through the permutation and combinations of
sixteen notes in an octave. Sixteen notes are obtained by the variations of
five notes Ri Ga Ma Da Ni which are called Vikriti swaras and the two Prakriti
swaras Sa and Pa. Venkatamakhi classifies melas as shown below-

Given are the sixteen notes that are derived from sapta swaras or seven
notes of an octave:

S – Shadja

R1– Shuddha rishabha

R2– Chatushruti rishabha

R3– Shatsruti rishabha

G1– Shuddha gandhara

G2– Sadharana gandhara

G– Antara gandhara

M1– Shuddha madhyama

M2– Prati madhyama

P – Panchama

D1– Shuddha dhaivata

D2– Chatushruti dhaivatha

D3– Shatsruti daivatha

N1– Shuddha nishada

N2– Kaishiki nishada

N3– Kakali nishada

The 72 melas are divided into 12 chakras or cycles and each chakra has
six melas totalling to 72 melas. The chakras has been designated with a bhuta
sankhya The two madhyama variables act as an important factor in the
distribution of 72 melas. First 36 melas are with shuddha madhyama and
remaining 36 with prati madhyama. Every mela has combination of seven notes
with shadja and panchama as constant notes.

1st Chakra called Indu means Moon which is only one in number

1 S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N1

2 S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N2

3 S R1 G1 M1 P D1 N3

4 S R1 G1 M1 P D2 N2

5 S R1 G1 M1 P D2 N3

6 S R1 G1 M1 P D3 N3

2nd Chakra Netra means eyes- which are two

7 S R1 G2 M1 P D1 N1

8 S R1 G2 M1 P D1 N2

9 S R1 G2 M1 P D1 N3

10 S R1 G2 M1 P D2 N2

11 S R1 G2 M1 P D2 N3

12 S R1 G2 M1 P D3 N3

3rd Chakra Agni means fire- three types of fire

13 S R1 G3 M1 P D1 N1

14 S R1 G3 M1 P D1 N2

15 S R1 G3 M1 P D1 N3

16 S R1 G3 M1 P D2 N2

17 S R1 G3 M1 P D2 N3

18 S R1 G3 M1 P D3 N3

4th Chakra Veda- Vedas are four

19 S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N1

20 S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N2

21 S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N3

22 S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N2

23 S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N3

24 S R2 G2 M1 P D3 N3

5th Chakra Baana which means arrows- Cupid’s arrows are five in number

25 S R2 G3 M1 P D1 N1

26 S R2 G3 M1 P D1 N2

27 S R2 G3 M1 P D1 N3

28 S R2 G3 M1 P D2 N2

29 S R2 G3 M1 P D2 N3

30 S R2 G3 M1 P D3 N3

6th Chakra Ritu means season – seasons are six

31 S R3 G3 M1 P D1 N1

32 S R3 G3 M1 P D1 N2

33 S R3 G3 M1 P D1 N3

34 S R3 G3 M1 P D2 N2

35 S R3 G3 M1 P D2 N3

36 S R3 G3 M1 P D3 N3

Remaining 36 melas follow the same combinations but with a change in
Madhyama swara

7th Chakra Rishi means Sages- great sages are seven

37 S R1 G1 M2 P D1 N1

38 S R1 G1 M2 P D1 N2

39 S R1 G1 M2 P D1 N3

40 S R1 G1 M2 P D2 N2

41 S R1 G1 M2 P D2 N3

42 S R1 G1 M2 P D3 N3

8th Chakra Vasu- Vasus are eight

43 S R1 G2 M2 P D1 N1

44 S R1 G2 M2 P D1 N2

45 S R1 G2 M2 P D1 N3

46 S R1 G2 M2 P D2 N2

47 S R1 G2 M2 P D2 N3

48 S R1 G2 M2 P D3 N3

9th Chakra Brahma- Brahmas are nine

49 S R1 G3 M2 P D1 N1

50 S R1 G3 M2 P D1 N2

51 S R1 G3 M2 P D1 N3

52 S R1 G3 M2 P D2 N2

53 S R1 G3 M2 P D2 N3

54 S R1 G3 M2 P D3 N3

10th Chakra Dishi- directions are ten

55 S R2 G2 M2 P D1 N1

56 S R2 G2 M2 P D1 N2

56 S R2 G2 M2 P D1 N3

58 S R2 G2 M2 P D2 N2

59 S R2 G2 M2 P D2 N3

60 S R2 G2 M2 P D3 N3

11th Chakra Rudra- Rudras are eleven

61 S R2 G3 M2 P D1 N1

62 S R2 G3 M2 P D1 N2

63 S R2 G3 M2 P D1 N3

64 S R2 G3 M2 P D2 N2

65 S R2 G3 M2 P D2 N3

66 S R2 G3 M2 P D3 N3

12th Chakra Aditya means sun – twelve are the Sun each for a month

67 S R3 G3 M2 P D1 N1

68 S R3 G3 M2 P D1 N2

69 S R3 G3 M2 P D1 N3

70 S R3 G3 M2 P D2 N2

71 S R3 G3 M1 P D2 N3

72 S R3 G3 M2 P D3 N3

This scientific method became so popular that this system of raga
classification prevails in Karnatak music even to this day. Later
Venkatamakhi’s 72 mela system was improvised by Govindacharya the author
of Sangraha Chudamani in 18th century. Most
of the names of the melas differ in the two schools- Venkatamakhi and
Govindacharya but with the swaras designated for the melas being same.
Thousands of ragas are derived from these 72 melas.

Hindustani music which prevailed in North and central part of India also
underwent many progressions. Pandit Vishnu Narayana Bhatkande the
great musicologist of early 20th century
conceived the idea of Thaat or Thaata system for raga classification. This
system of ten thaats with its derivatives is in vogue even to this day. In
Hindustani music the twelve notes of an octave with their variations:

Shadja- S

Komal Rishabh – Rk

Tivra Rishabh – RT

Komal Gandhar – Gk

Tivra Gandhar – GT

Komal Madhyam – Mk

Tivra Madhyam – MT

Pancham – P

Komal Dhaivath- Dk

Tivra Dhaivath – DT

Komal Nishadh – Nk

Tivra Nishadh – NT

The ten thaats conceived by Bhatkande can be listed as-

Bhairavee S RGMP DNS

Bhairav S RGMP DNS

Asaavaree S RGMP DNS


Khamaaj S RGMP DNS

Bilaaval S RGMP DNS


Poorvee S RGMP DNS

Maarwaa S RGMP DNS Modern period witnesses a systematic development in raaga system. Seventy two Melas or Janaka raagas (parent ragas) in the Karnatak music system formulated by the great scholar Venkatamakhi followed by ten Thaats system in Hindustani music conceived by Vishnu Narayan Bhatkande were one of the major contributions of modern period. Thousands of compositions were composed in these janya (derived) and janaka ragas in both the systems. The great composers of karnatak music- Shyama Shastry, Thyagaraja and Muthuswamy Dikshitar composed hundreds of Kritis- a compositional form which happens to be the nucleus of Karnatak music.

Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar and Varanasi (Kashi)

Varanasi has always been my favorite destinations. River Ganga flowing
majestically all the way along one side of the city and sitting on the river
bank, sipping tea served in puruvas (mud cups) by the chaiwalas (tea vendors)
is a great experience. The busy gallis (small streets) with hundreds of shops
on either sides, vendors calling out the people to buy in their shops- cows,
paan, khova, jilebis and kachoris everywhere is the typical Banarasi

I had visited Varanasi twice before.
But this visit was too special for me. I was able to pay tribute to Sri
Mutthuswamy Dikshitar my revered Guru- a great musician/composer. I had read
about Mutthuswamy Dikshitar’s visit to Varanasi along with his Guru Sri
Chidambaranatha yogi. I always wanted to see the place where this Guru-shishya
stayed in Varanasi. In this trip, I was fortunate to pay a visit to the sacred

It was Chidambaranatha yogi who gave the Sri vidya deeksha to Dikshitar and bestowed him the deeksha naama Chidanandanatha. This was performed in Varanasi. Kashi is a seat of knowledge. Chidambaranatha yogi not only gave deeksha of Shodashakshari mantra, but also taught Veda and Vedanta or Upanishadic aspects. This is very well reflected in all his compositions and that is the reason Dikshitar’s compositions cannot be understood easily. A person needs to have at least some knowledge of Upanishads. We come across the Guru mudra Chidambaranatha and deeksha naama mudra Chidananda apart from his vaggeyakara mudra Guruguha in some of his compositions especially Guru vibhakti kritis. 

Mutthuswamy Dikshitar stayed here for about six years doing Sadhana along with his Guru. In fact it was here that Dikshitar was exposed to Hindustani music which resulted in adopting few ragas like Dwijawanti, Yamunakalyani, Hameerkalyani and etc. to Karnatak music in the latter part of his life. 

Pranesh (my husband) and I walked all along the ghats, climbed up the steps to Hanuman ghat and inside the gallis we sighted the temple Sri Chakra Lingeshwar where Dikshitar stayed with his Guru. I was overwhelmed with joy when Sri A Kedar, the purohit who is now the owner of this temple invited us very cordially and started sharing the details.

The temple Sri Chakra Lingeshwar is situated in a small galli of Hanuman ghat on the banks of Ganga. It is close by to Shankara mutt. The uniqueness of this temple is that the Linga which has been installed here has the Sri yantra embedded on it. This temple had fallen into ruins for many years. In the year 1936 when Kanchi Kamakoti Maha Periyavar Sri Sri Chandrashekhara Saraswati visited Varanasi on a paada yatra, he identified this temple from the ruins and said that Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar stayed there with his guru Chidambaranatha yogi and the latter’s jiva samadhi was beneath the Shiva linga.

Kedar’s father Brahmashri T M
Arunachala Shastrigal of Tanjavore was a Sri vidya upasaka. He shifted to
Varanasi from Tanjavore and started performing poojas regularly with utmost
sincerity and reverence. Again the temple became a place of worship. 

In the year 1995, he bought the temple and the family planned to make some
renovations as the temple was very old. They did not touch the Shiva linga, but
dug the remaining area in order to reconstruct the flooring.

When the digging was going on their instruments struck a casket like thing which measured around 9/9/9 beneath the linga. That was the samadhi of Chidambaranatha yogi which was referred by Kanchi periyavar. Without disturbing the casket they finished the renovation of the temple. 
There is an idol of Ardhanarishwara kept at one side and Mutthuswamy Dikshitar’s idol sculptured on the walls of the temple. 
The whole place is very serene with the samadhi of the great preceptor Chidambaranatha yogi. Maybe it was after his guru going into Samadhi or before, Mutthuswamy Dikshitar was blessed by Ganga with a Veena (or was it Jnana symbolically represented by goddess Saraswati’s instrument Veena?). Mutthuswamy Dikshitar left Varanasi and came to Tiruttani in Tamilnadu to take the blessings of his family deity lord Subramanya. From then his journey as music composer began.

Origin of Indian Music

Music is the oldest of all arts which
have been in existence, even before man or animals. It is this sound which has
been referred to as Anāhata Nāda. 
Sāma Vedādidam Geetham Sanjagrāha Pitāmaha

Brahma derived music from Sāma veda.
The Melody of sāman is delightful to the ear and heart, and so Sāma veda can
also be called Chandas meaning- to please. Sruthi affirms this: 
Swargo Vai Lōkaha Sāmavedaha

Sāma veda is verily the heavenly
world. Heavenly melody lifts one to the highest divine experience in the
opinion of Yagnavalkya. He who knows actual play of Veena, an expert in the
Science of melody and time easily attains Brahman. Sri Krishna has declared –
Among Vedas I am Sāma veda. This ascertains that Sāma veda earned a special
recognition for its musical form.

Music has a divine origin and is
named after celestial nymphs- deities of sound called Muses. According to
Indian culture, music is also called Gandharva Vidya, as it was practiced by
Celestial minstrels called Gandharvas.

An all pervading sound rang through
space even before the creation of world. According to puranas, Brahma the
creator, Vishnu the performer, and Maheshwara the destroyer were fond of music
and were themselves musicians. Saraswathi the consort of Brahma is said to be
well versed in playing Veena.

According to Hindu Mythology:

Vishnu holding the conch in one hand,
while churning the ocean, was charmed with the vocal recital of Maheshwara, and
began to melt. It is said that this gave birth to the sacred river Ganges. Lord
Shiva was so much elated with joy after slaying the demon Tripura that he began
to dance. Brahma prepared a drum out of the earth saturated with the demon’s
blood, covering both the heads of the instrument with demon’s skin and asked
Ganesha to keep time (laya) to the performance.

Brahma began to impart knowledge of
music to his disciples. Of them Tumburu, the inventor of the stringed
instrument cultivated and spread the knowledge of Vocal music. The celestial female
dancer Rambha learnt and taught dancing. Narada the inventor of stringed
instrument Mahati Veena and Bharata the father of Drama practiced theory of
Music. Each of these musicians composed musical treatises. It is also said that
the court of Indra had abundant celestial musicians who entertained him with
songs, dance and drama.

Another version says:

Since Brahma is the eternal supreme
power and also the creator of universe, the origin of music starts from him. He
imparted this heavenly art to Shiva the god of eternal bliss, who bestowed it
to Saraswati the goddess of knowledge and wisdom, who in turn taught this art
to the heavenly musicians and dancers, namely Gandharvas, Apsaras and Kinnaras.
These divinities are supposed to have taught this art to the great hermits like
Narada, Hanuman, Bharata and others, who descended to earth, for imparting
knowledge to the mortal beings.

When we casually mention the identity of a raga or a composition, we should remember that in each case it is the finished product of human experiences and experiments going back to thousands of years. The distinct characters of our music has been built up and enriched by the cumulative effort of ideas and experiments of our ancients. The object of studying history is to recapture all the important stages of the human efforts. Thus we can divide the whole range of history of Indian music into three broad periods under- Ancient, Medieval and Modern.

Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar and Compositions in 72 Melas

The controversy of rendering
compositions in all the 72 Melas i.e. with Vivadi melas is there since a long
time. Mela is a Janaka raga or Melakarta raga which was first mentioned by Sri
Vidyaranya in his treatise Sangitha Saara during 14th century and later
formulated systematically by Venkatamukhi in 17th century. Maha Vaidyanatha
Iyer composed a Ragamalika in 72 Melas followed by some more composers
composing individual kritis in all the 72 melas like Koteeshwara Iyer,
Dr.M.Balamurali Krishna and others.

This controversy which was a topic of
discussion mainly in Tamilnadu, stepped into Mysore also. Sometime in the year
1926 the famous Nagaswara Vidwan Madhurai Ponnuswamy visited Mysore Palace. It
was Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar’s reign in Mysore during that period. This was
said to be a Golden era for Karnatak Music. Once it so happened, Ponnuswamy in
presence of the King mentioned- only 32 Melas were suitable for compositions
and the remaining 40 Vivadi melas not worthy to sing and hence can as well be
removed from the 72 Mela system. This statement annoyed both King and his court

Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar himself
being a Musician decided to show Ponnuswamy the importance of all the 72 melas.
He ordered the court musicians/ composers to compose kritis in all the 72
melas, and also announced a reward for the composer who would complete the
assignment first. At once the composers were all set to accept the challenge.

It was senior Belakawadi Srinivasa
Iyengar-1888 to 1936 AD, who first completed composing kritis in all the 72
melas. A letter written by Durbar Bakshi dated 5th April 1927, which is in
possession of Palace Archives, Mysore, confirms the above fact. The letter also
states that Srinivasa Iyengar played these kritis on Violin explaining the
subtleties of the ragas to the King and received honors.

According to the records at the same Archives dated 6th of August 1928, Vidwan Chikkarama Rao- 1891 to 1945 AD also a court musician of Mysore composed kritis in all the 40 Vivadi melas and two kritis less in the remaining 32 ragas, summing to total 70.

It is disheartening to note that none
of these kritis are available with the descendents or the shishya parampara.
Their innocence and Raja bhakti made them to submit all compositions to the
King, without keeping a copy for themselves.

It is disheartening to note that none
of these kritis are available with the descendents or the shishya parampara.
Their innocence and Raja bhakti made them to submit all compositions to the
King, without keeping a copy for themselves.

Veena Shivaramiah– 1886 to 1946 AD appears to be more sensible in this aspect. Before presenting the 72 kritis to King Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar, he might have kept a copy of the compositions or collected back after the perusal of the King. These are still in the possession of his descendents and now it is published. After composing the last kriti Dinamani chayāpate in raga Rasikapriya, he has written a note in Kannada- with this I have completed kritis in all the 72 Melakarta ragas as ordered by his Highness, and submitted them with due respects.

Mysore Vasudevacharya’s compositions in ragas Varunapriya, Vakulabharana, Kokilapriya, Bhavapriya, Sarasangi and many more justifies that he had also attempted composing in these rare melas. Veena Sheshanna’s compositions in some of the melas like Vanaspati, Jhālavarali, Rishabhapriya, Nātakapriya, Gānamurti etc. rises a doubt, that he also might had challenged Ponnuswamy at the tail end of his life.

There might be many more composers in
the court of Mysore, who attempted to compose kritis in 72 melakarta ragas on
the behest of His Highness Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. Unfortunately the
treasure of compositions has been lost along with the glory of Wodeyar dynasty.

Luminaries of Mysore - Veena Shamanna (1832-1908 A.D)

Once a musician from different state came to the Court of Mysore,
boasting that he could play shatkāla pallavi on Jaltarang and asked the King to
bestow the winning certificate on him.The King accepting it as a challenge,
replied that he could certify him only after he defeated his court musicians.
One of the Court musicians immediately played on Veena a pallavi in the raga Natakuranji.
He also sang the pallavi in trikala set to one gati, maintaining the tala in
another gati. When the visiting musician was asked to play in 4th speed, he
could neither sing nor play on Jaltarang. Accepting his defeat the musician
left the palace. The court musician was honoured by the King for keeping up the
prestige of the state. This great musician was none other than Veena

Shamanna was born to Rama Bhagavatar
in the year 1832 A.D. His ancestors were under the patronage of Tanjore Kings.
When famine struck in those areas, the brothers Rama Bhagavatar and Lakshmana
Bhagavatar left Tanjore and settled at Gopichettypalyam.

Later with the ambition of receiving
patronage from Wodeyars the rulers of Mysore, they traveled towards Mysore. During
the journey, Lakshmana Bhagavatar died and Rama Bhagavatar alone with his
family came to Mysore somewhere between 1845–1850 A.D. Mummadi Krishnaraja
Wodeyar pleased by the knowledge of Rama Bhagavatar, gave him a respectable job
of performing on festivals and other important days in Kote Varahaswamy and
Trinayaneshwara temples, which were situated in the Palace premises.

Shamanna learnt Veena from his father
and gradually became an ace Veena player. Chamaraja Wodeyar IX, the King of
Mysore appointed him as his Court musician, and this continued till the end of
his life, even during Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar’s reign.

Shamanna popularly known as Tāla Brahma was not only a Vainika but also well versed in playing Violin, Ghatam and Swarabath. He was very conservative and strictly adhered to the shastras or theoretical aspects of music. He had composed few Swarajathis and a Varna.

Shamanna’s house was a center of
Cultural activities. Many great musicians like Parameshwara Bhagavatar, Maha
Vaidyanatha Iyer, Pallavi Shesha Iyer, Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar, Tirukkodikaval
Krishna Iyer and others visited his house. Shamanna was the first music teacher
of Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and his sisters. The royal family’s respect towards
him was so high that, a street in Mysore was named after Veena Shamanna and he
was presented seven houses in that lane.

Many are the laurels and awards to
his credit. Among them a silver medal engraved with Peacock was awarded at
Madras in the year 1880. Many come under the shishya parampara of Veena
Shamanna. Apart from his children Veena Ramanna and Veena Subramanya Iyer, his
nephew Subbarayaru, Veena Padmanabiah, Sundara Shastry and Karoor Krishnarao
were prominent disciples.

Katha Keertan In South India Lecture delivered by Dr B M Sundaram in the National Seminar on Katha Keertan

Dr. B M Sundaram
Karnatak Musician and Musicologist

Every religion has its base in the
scriptures, many of which were revelations to the great seers. Hindu religion
has its base in the Vedas. They insist on Dharma. “Dhriyate janai: iti
Dharma:”It implies charity, piety, morality and so on. This message is carried
to the man, through the characters in a story and this is the very purpose of
the Puranas. Those, who undertook to spread the underlying message of the
Puranas among the people, were called ‘Pauranikas’ or ‘Upanyasakas’.
Story-telling has been in existence in our country, since very early times. For
instance, in the households, the mother induces the child to sleep, with the
help of a story. In Tamizhnadu, there were and are people, who extol ‘Maha
Bharata’ consecutively for many nights. In Karnataka, it had different names
like ‘Katha Vinoda’, ‘Kathana’, ‘KathaPrasanga’ ‘Goshti’ etc. Similar types of
storytelling are prevalent in Andhra Pradesh also. It took a refined shape in
‘Purana Pravachana’ (literary discourse) and not much later as ‘Sangeeta
Upanyasams’ (musical discourses). Those endowed with sweet voice and knowledge
in music, as also, Puranas and Smrtis, became Sangeeta Upanyasakas.

Maharashtra is spoken of by learned
men as the ‘Bhakti Land’. There the art of ‘Powada’ (Marathi version of the
Sanskrit word, ‘Pravāda’) singing was quite popular, at least from the last
part of the 16thcentury. ‘Powada’ in general is a ballad, eulogizing great
heroes, mighty warriors and tactful dacoits. Noticing such sessions were in no
way beneficial to the people, except being an entertainment, wise men like
Vaman Pandit, Moropant, Mayurpant, Amrutaraya Kavi, Chintaman Kavi and some
others composed ‘Keertans’, stressing the need of Bhakti, in the footsteps of
their predecessors like Eknath, Tukaram and Namdev. When devotion towards God
and patriotic feelings among the common people started to dwindle, it became an
inevitable necessity to tell them, through moral stories about these,
musically. Speech (comprising of stories, mostly drawn from the Puranas, with
relevant examples) interspersed with musical compositions in praise of God or
His devotees or on a specific theme-an amalgamation of all these blossomed as a
new art-form, called ‘Keertan’. The word ‘Keertan’ is from the verbal root ‘krt
samsabdane’ – singing the auspicious qualities of God and this, originally,
meant only a devotional song. Keertan or Keertanam is one among the nine-fold
Bhakti forms. Samartha Ramdoss declares “Kaliyugee keertan karāve- kėvala
kómala kuśala gāvė”(In this Kali age, do Keertan). ‘Padma Purana’, as also,
‘Bhāgavata Sāram’, portrays the Keertan performance of Shuka. The name
‘Keertan’, originally ascribed to songs of devotional nature, was adapted to
the new art-form of Maharashtra, by its progenitors. Sant Namdev (17.11.1268-
9.6.1350) is considered to be the earliest ‘Keertankar’. Samartha Ramdoss Svami
(13.4.1608- 1.12.1681), guru of Chhatrapati Sivaji, at the request of the king
composed and presented ‘Keertans’. This helped to invigorate the people, who
were at that time, mentally depressed by the terrorizing activities of the
Moghul Emperor, Aurangazeb.

With regard to the advent of
‘Keertan’ in the South, let me first take up Tamizhnadu. Marathas came to
Tanjavur in 1675. Ekoji, step-brother of Chhatrapati Sivaji came to Tanjavur
and after the demise of the ruler, Vijayaraghava Nayak on 3.2.1675, crowned himself
as the king on 17.3.1675. With him and sooner or later, a number of Maratha
families, from Maharashtra domiciled to Tanjavur. In 1676, Samartha Ramdoss
Svami, en-route to Ramesvaram came to Tanjavur and camped there for about a
month and later left some of his disciples, namely Bheemraj Svami, Bheem
Gosvami at Bhikaji Shahpurkaar and Raghava Svami. These three established their
mutts at Tanjavur, Mannargudi and Konur. They, in turn, got many followers and
the Samartha sampradaya flourished. All the heads of these mutts regularly did
worship and performed Keertans. This was the ‘Ankurarpana’ for the art of
‘Keertan in Tanjavur and around.

Inspired by the Marathi Keertankars,
Varahur Gopala Bhagavatar (1815- 1878) was the first one to do the discourses,
standing. But it was not real Keertan or Harikathakalakshepam. His accompanists
had their seats among the audience. When songs were sung, members of the
audience joined as a chorus to repeat each line and it appeared more like a
congregational Bhajan, but speech by the Bhagavatar added to it. Invariably all
songs were only Sanskrit verses and musical pieces of the ‘Keertan’ like Saki,
Dindi etc. were missing.

The bunch of songs, ‘Guccha’ used in
Keertans, was called Nirupana. Keertan and later Harikathakalakshepam are
inter-related with Nirupana. The term ‘Nirupana’, in Sanskrit, means form,
shape, definition etc. According to the Marathi ‘Sabda Kosa’, Nirupana is an
exposition of stories pertaining to God, employing sweet music and simple
lyrics. Samartha defines ‘Harikatha nirupana’ as some discussions on Dharma and
Puranas. Be what may the grammar, the Sants of Maharashtra had devised a
systematic repertoire of songs. It consists of Saki, Dindi, Arya, Abhang,
Anjanigeeta, Lavani, Khadga, Mattakokilam and many more. But it is not
necessary that all these should find a place in the presentation and not also
in a fixed order. Almost all these musical pieces indicate verses in the
respective metres (Chhandas) “Chhandati pruṇāti róchatė iti chhanda:” (That
which pleases the ears is Chhanda:), according to Panini. Song forms, in meters
like Vārdhika, Bhāmini, Bhóga Shaḍpadi and Kaḍak were handled in
Karnataka. Such Marathi nirupanas were composed in the Tanjavur region by
Nandan Gosvami, Ananda Nandana, Bheemraj Gosvami, Madhava Svami, Merusvami,
Chintaman Pandit, Udke Govindacharya – all lived between 1700 and 1830 and by
some others.

The works that helped Maharashtrians
and later the early Harikatha artistes of Tamizhnadu to choose and perform
Keertans are ‘Keertana Mala’, ‘Keertana Roopadarsika’, ‘Keertana Kaumudi’,
‘Keertana Tarangini’, ‘Keertana Masika’, ‘Keertana Muktahara’, ‘Akhyana
Samuchchay’ and some others.

In ‘Keertans’ practiced in Tanjavur,
the audience would be seated on two sides, ladies on one side and gents on the
other, leaving a gang-way between them. The main performer would stand at the
centre of the gang-way, while accompanists would be seated on the floor, at one
end, where the idols or portraits of the deity were kept. The Keertankar,
wearing a ‘Kafni’ (a long coat like apparel), a headgear called ‘Peta’, anklets
and holding a Chipla in the hand, would move from one end to the other, while
speaking and would station at one place, during singing. Only Marathi Nirupanas
were used, though at times, there might be an inclusion of one or two Sanskrit
slokas or Hindi Dohas (couplets). The Chipla served to reckon the tala.
Whenever the Keertankar felt so, he would tap on the floor by foot and the
anklets would produce the jingling sound. Sometimes he would dance. The Puranic
characters and dialogues would be dramatically presented to enthuse the

The invocation in ‘Keertan’ is the
‘Panchapadi’. This is a set of songs or verses in praise of Ganesa, Vishnu,
Sarasvati, Guru and Anjaneya in order and hence it gained that name. The song
addressed to Ganesa has three sections or verses, each rendered in a different
gati and speed. Many started with the song “Moresvara Mauli’ or ‘SreeRama
Jayarama’ or ‘Himagiritanaya tanayam’. ‘Tandava Nrutyakaree’ is a verse by
Samartha Ramdoss. This will be followed by ‘Nama Siddhanta’ (efficacy of God’s
names), which has a preceding song called ‘Prathama Pada’. Then comes the
‘Poorva Peethika’ (Introductory part) and then the actual story. Inclusion of a
‘Dhrupad (different from the North Indian Dhrupad) in between the Naama
Siddhanta and Poorva Peethika would be complimentary. This Dhrupad, though
resembles a Tillana, is different. The four important items usually found in
Keertan are Abhangs of Tukaram or Namdev, Ovis of Jnyanesvar, Aryas of Moropant
and slokas of Vaman Pandit. This structure was strictly adhered to by all

Generally these Keertan programs were
esoteric restricted within the confines of the Mutts and those who attended
them were mainly the devotees of that particular mutt. Not all people had an
access to it, until the advent of Morgaonkar Ramchandra Bawa (Buwa) (1812-
14.2.1881). It was only he, who served the very delicious ‘Keertan’ to
everyone, in the Tanjavur soil.

After King Sivaji, the last Maratha
ruler of Tanjavur, who died in 1855, the Royal representation and guardianship
of the entire property were vested with Kamakshi Amba Baisaheb, the coroneted
queen of Sivaji. She was a very pious lady and spent most of her time in
religious pursuits, renovation of temples and establishment of chowltries and
so on. Ramchandra Buwa of Morgaon, a village in Maharashtra, who lived in
Gwalior for 2 years, came to Tanjavur in 1864, on his pilgrimage to Ramesvaram.
One great scholar has said that Ramchandra Buwa migrated to North Karnataka
from Maharashtra, though this statement has no authenticity. Buwa, a Keertankar
of high caliber, stayed, at the first instance, in Tanjavur for two months and
during his camp performed Keertans in the palace, on the invitation of the
queen. Fascinated by his performance, the queen requested Buwa to continue his
stay for some more time. Buwa consented, since he felt that his mission was to
propagate Keertan in the Tanjavur land. The happy Rani built a mutt especially
for Buwa in the North Main Street and the mutt still stands there. Initially,
his troupe consisted of his son, Vishnu Buwa (vocal support), Tanjavur Davoodsa
(who played Sarinda, a stringed instrument like Sarangi) and Pudukottai Nannu
Miya (Dholak). A regular attendant to the programs and an aficionado of Buwa
was Krishnasvami Naig (addressed as Sakha Naig), a former courtier and a
wealthy connoisseur. Even today the street, where his mansion stands, is called
Sakha Naig Street. When Davoodsa fell ill after some time and Nannu Miya wanted
to move over to his native Pudukottai, Sakha Naig sent word to the Mrudangam
celebrity, Tanjavur Narayanasvami Appa (1839- 1907). Appa was born in Tanjavur
and learnt the art of Mrudangam from Sivasvami Appa and Heeroji Rao, but stayed
in the Merusvami Mutt at Mannargudi, for some reason, better known only to him.
On receiving the message from Naig, he returned to Tanjavur and became the
Mrudangam accompanist to Buwa. After few months, Krishna Bhagavatar joined this
troupe in 1866, as a Swarabat player (another stringed instrument) and a year
later, he switched over as the vocal supporter to Buwa.

Krishna Bhagavatar, well-versed in
many languages like Marathi, Sanskrit, Kannada, Telugu, besides his native
tongue Tamil, as also some musical instruments, learnt the art of Keertan from
Buwa, much by listening. Buwa passed away on 14.2.1881 and Krishna Bhagavatar
started to perform Keertan, but with the name ‘Harikatha Kalakshepam’.

Krishna Bhagavatar was born in 1841,
as the son of Venkatesa Sastri, a clerk in the Tanjavur palace. The family
belonged to Tiruppoonturuthi. The father left the family and went after a
concubine. Krishna Bhagavatar was entrusted by his mother to Tillaisthanam
Narasimha Bhagavatar for musical studies. Then he came to Periyanna, the former
minister of King Sivaji and was tutored in playing the Swarabath, Violin and
Mrudangam. Later he came under the guidance of Morgaonkar Ramchandra Buwa.
After the demise of Buwa, he himself started to do Keertans with the name
Harikatha Kalakshepam and his maiden performance was ‘Radha Kalyanam’ in 1881.
Portraying any character life-like was an important aspect in his Harikathas.
Once he was performing ‘Prahlada’ and when he came to the part of lord Narasimha,
a Narasimha-Upasaka in the audience stood up and started to shout in frenzy. In
‘Bhakta Ramdoss’, he as Taneshah was uttering the prayer, “Allahu Akbar”, when
a Muslim in the audience started to repeat the prayer loudly and later he
became the perfume supplier to Bhagavatar. He was once performing ‘Draupadi
Vastrapaharanam’ in Vellore and when he, as Duhsasana enacted removing the
saree, a policeman standing in a corner shouted, “Arrest this rogue! He
denigrates the modesty of a woman. ‘Chamatkara’ (savoir faire) was in-born in
him. He was doing ‘Rukmini Kalyanam’ and while singing the seven slokas,
purported to have written by Rukmini in a letter to Krishna, he, inadvertently,
forgot the last sloka and managed with some suitable words. Kappanamangalam Svami
Sastrigal, a very learned one in Puranas and Sastras, got up from the audience
and asked the Bhagavatar to repeat the line. Bhagavatar replied, “You are a
great person. Don’t you know that we have no propriety to open the sealed cover
and go through the love letter of a girl? It is between her and the lord and we
have no business in that”. Always he was admired and praised by one and all.

He simply christened it as Harikatha
Kalakshepam, but the term Harikatha Kalakshepam was not coined by him. The term
Harikatha is found in many earlier works also. A verse in Srimad Bhagavatam
runs as: “Dėvadattam imām veeṇām swarabrahma vibhooshitam | moorchayan
Harikathām gāyan charāmi bhuvanėshvaham”. Potana’s Bhagavatam in Telugu has
many verses in which the word Harikatha finds place. “Kalidósha
nivārakanaiyalaghu yasul pogaḍunadi Harikathanamu nirmalamati”,
“Ātmaroopakuḍagu Harikathāmrutamunu’ and so on. Chaturlaksham
Krishnamacharya (12thC) in one of his vachanas says “Vėdamulu chadiviyunu
vimukhuḍavai Harikathalunādarinchina”. Sreepadaraja has sung “Karṇa
Harikathena kėḷali enna” (Na ninagenu beduvadialla). Purandaradasa (1482-
3.12.1564) has said, “Harikathā śravaṇamāḍo-paragatikė idu nirddhāra”
Tallapakkam Annamacharya (1408- 1503) has mentioned this in some of his
Sankeertanas E.g. Harikathalanādarinchanai (Konchemunu ghanamunu). The dasa in
an Ugabhoga avers: “EIIi Harikathā prasangavu alli Yamunā Gangā Gódāvari
Sarasvati – ella teerthavu bandu eṇeyāgi nillalu”. Sant Tukaram (1568-
18.3.1650) says in one of his Abhangs that if Harikatha is listened to, all the
miseries would go far away (Śravaṇakadā Harikathā kada tumhė doorkara
avavyadha). In another Abhang, he says, “Yamadharma sānge doota tumhā nahee
tethe satta | jethe hóya Harikathā sada ghósha nāmācha” (The lord of Death
has instructed his messengers not to go near the place that reverberates with
the sound of Harikatha). He speaks about Harikatha in not less than 20 Abhangs.
We may go on quoting such verses. Samartha Ramdoss says that Keertan’s another
name is Harikatha “Sagun Harikathā yā nāva keertan (Das Bodh 4.2.23). Dr R
Satyanarayana says that Katha Keertan acquired the name Harikatha in Karnataka.
In the case of the Dasas, Harikatha means nothing more than the story of Hari
and not definitely the art. “Na hi śabdamātram arthasvaroopam sambhavati
śabdārthayórbhėdāt”, says Bhagavad Geeta. Astigmatism should be eschewed
in dealing with the subject. A same term, at different periods of time, gets different
meanings or used to indicate different things. For instance, the term ‘Pada’ in
Sanskrit means only a word; but it came to be used to mean a particular type of
song form. In fact, the compositions of the Haridasas were called Padas (Dasara
Padagalu); Annamacharya is adored as the ‘Padakavita Pitamaha’. But today pada
means a different type of song and the compositions of Annamayya are indicated
as Samkeertanas. Simply because the term ‘Harikatha’ has been oft-mentioned by
the members of the Dasakoota, we cannot take it as the art form, Harikatha
Kalakshepam. V.S. Sampatkumaracharya states that Harikatha took birth in
Karnataka, travelled to Maharashtra and from there to Andhra Pradesh and
Tamilnadu. This only seems chimerical and the author’s presumption, because
there is no authenticity to prove this. The regions of Tamilnadu and Karnataka
have a musical affinity since earliest times of history. The languages Kannada
and Tamizh are more inter-related. It may not be necessary to tell anyone that
Tamilnadu, Karnataka, Kerala and Andhra Pradesh were only different
geographical constituents of a homogenous ‘Dravida Desa’ and the whole regions
were called Madras presidency. Parochial affinity is a matter to be commended
only to a certain extent. Vidvan V Ramaratnam wrote: “Any story with
Sangeetabhinaya coupled with anecdotes is called Katha kalakshepa. This has had
its origin in Maharashtra”.

For the purpose of innovating a new
art form, out of the earlier Keertans, Tanjavur Krishna Bhagavatar didn’t discard
·the basic format of his predecessor like Panchapadi, Dhrupad, Naama Siddhanta
and such other segments, as also the musical forms like Ovi, Dindi, Abhang etc.
On the other hand, he included songs in Telugu, Kannada and Tamizh and
discoursed in Tamizh. Some changes too were brought in by him.

The Bhagavata (formerly Keertankar)
should wear a dhoti in Panchakaccha, an upper garment (Angavastra) in the
fashion of a Yagnyopaveeta, garlands of Rudraksha or Tulasi beads on the neck.
Kafni and Pėṭā were discarded. Holding the Chipla, he should stand only at a
single place, not moving to and fro, while the sidemen should be positioned
behind the Bhagavata. The Sadhaka (vocal supporter) and Upasadhaka (assistant
vocal supporter) should stand behind the Bhagavata, separated by a bench and
the mrudangam player sitting on the bench. The sadhaka should keep time with
Gundu tala (smaller cymbals) while singing and the Upasadhaka strumming the
Tambura and singing. Almost all songs used were in Carnatic tunes, though, at
times, some Hindustani ragas also for relevant songs. Occasionally one or two
folk songs like Kavadi Chindu and Temmangu found a place, if need be. These are
the changes envisaged by Krishna Bhagavatar and observed by all Harikatha
Kalakshepa artistes, until recent years.

Somesvara II in his ‘Manasollasa’
(1129) prescribes the qualifications of a Kathaka, which is applicable to the
later Harikatha artistes also. The Kathaka must be ‘an orator, skilful, mature,
youthful, yet older in wisdom..’ and so on. Samartha Ramdoss in his ‘Das Bodh’
also speaks of this. An extract is: Rāgagnyānee, tāḷagnyānee sakala kalā
brahmagnyānee nirabhimānee..’ “Man ṭhevoon eesvaree jó kóṇee Harikathā
karee tóchi ye samsāree Dhanya jāna”. Katta Achayya of Vetapalem also gives
the qualifications “Vararoopamu sangeetamu sarasa kavitaya madhuramagu svaramu
prasatócchāraṇamunrutyambun bhaktirasamu gala Harikathakula Keertinchuḍan”
(Sree Krshnavatara Mahabharatamu). Many of these lakshanas may not be found
among the Harikatha performers of today. While Krishna Bhagavatar and his
successors presented Harikathas in their native language, some others did in
other languages. Tanjavur Veerasami Raju, the mentor of Adibhtla Narayanadasa
of Vijayanagaram performed in Telugu. Embar Vijayaraghavachariar had done in
Sanskrit, Marathi and Hindi; Padmasani Bai in Sanskrit; Munainjipatti Subbayya
Bhagavatar and T.S. Balaksrishna Sastri in English; Tanjavur Nanayya Bhagavatar
in his mother tongue, Saurashtram; C.Sarasvati Bai in Kannada. Similarly, in
Karnataka, Bhadragiri Achyutadasa has discoursed in Kannada, Tulu, Marathi and
Hindi, while his younger brother, Kesavadas in Konkani, Tulu, Marathi, Hindi
and English, besides his native language, Kannada.

‘Sivakatha’ is the name used by some
for their discourses. ‘Jinakathe’ and ‘Sivakathe’ are names used in Karnataka.
Mukkavelli Narasimhadasa of Bobbili titled his Harikatha, ‘Parvati Parinayam’
as ‘Sivakatha’. There is a general notion that Harikatha is a story only about
Vishnu or on Vaishnavite themes. Actually the word ‘Hari’ has a number of
meanings. ‘Amarakosa’ gives 25 meanings, Lord Vishnu, Lion, Monkey, God and
Divinity in general and so on. There may be Harikathas on Sakti, but, so far
none has titled it as ‘Sakti Katha’. Moreover, it is generally considered by
many that Harikatha is meant solely for topics of Hindu religion. Stories like
‘Anjani Bahubali Vruttanta’, ‘Neminatha Vairagya’ and ‘Yasodhara Charitre’ were
Jinakathas. Jainism has its strong hold in Karnataka and the earliest available
Kannada literature ‘Vaddharadhane’ (10thcentury) depicts stories of some Jains.
But there was a staunch Hindu, who composed and presented Harikathas with
stories from “The Holy Bible”. He was careful that his nirupanas wholly adhered
to the Harikatha format – Panchapadi, Saki etc. He performed it on one day or
in a series. He was Tanjavur Sivaramakrishna Bhagavatar, generally addressed as
Siva Rao. It was his close friend, Raosaheb Abraham Panditar, of ‘Karnamruta
Sagaram’ fame, who inspired and induced Siva Rao to try his potential with
Christian themes. Siva Rao used to present his Harikathas in a local church
during the Lent period. He also trained Panditar’s sons and daughters in the
art. ‘Yesu Charitram’, ‘Daveedu Charitramu and so on. Later, Manḍapāṭi
Abraham Bhagavatar – 1926, performed ‘Yesu Charitramu’. Attoṭa Ratna Kavi of
Gurupupalem did “Christu Janma Rahasyamu’, as also ‘Samson and Delailah’.
‘Muhammadu Vilasamu’, highlighting the life of the prophet by Khadar Khan Sahib
(1912) also came up. Some Hindu composers of Andhra Pradesh like Chevoori
Lakshmeenarayanacharyulu and Dāmerla Nagendram have also composed Harikathas
with Christian themes.

It was not un-natural that composers
of other religions have performed Harikathas with Hindu themes. Tonḍapi
Kasimdas, a Muslim regularly performed ‘Bhakta Kannappa’, ‘Markandeya’ and such
others. Shaik Nabi Sahib of Andhra Pradesh had composed ‘Ambareshopakhyanamu’
and ‘Dhruvopakhyanamu’. In Kerala, there was Sebastin Kunjunju Bhagavatar
(1901- 1980) of Alappuzha, who was regular in performing Harikathas of Hindu
stories. In 1954, he presented a series of Harikathas in Srilanka for about 20
days. For the first fifteen days his Harikathas were on ‘Seeta Kalyanam’,
‘Jatayu Moksham’, ‘Bhakta Dhruva’, ‘Ambareesha Charitram’ etc allotting the
remaining five days for Christian themes. Religion was never a hurdle in the
artistic and cultural activities, which is a matter for great appreciation and

Harikathas, for many days, consecutively,
in series were also done and the trail-blazer was Tiruppazhanam Panchapakesa
Sastrigal. His ‘Ramayana’ Harikathas were in series. The ‘Tiruttondar puranam’,
also called ‘Periya puranam’ dealing with the 63 Saivite saints (Nayanmars), in
series was performed by Soolamangalam Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar. Tiruvaiyaru
Pandit Lakshmanachar was the only one who performed “Bhagavad Geeta” for a
number of days.

Purana Pravachanam in Kerala was in
existence since a long time, with the name ‘Pāṭhakam’. It was Merusvami of
Mannargudi, who introduced Keertan, for the first time, in that land. On
listening to them, King Svati Tirunal composed ‘Ajamilopakhyanam’ and

In Karnataka, there were and are many
Harikatha exponents like Belur Kesavadas, Bangalore Krishna Bhagavatar, Hande
Sreepadadasa, Gamaki Ramakrishna Sastri, T.K. Venugopaladas, Sosale
Narayanadas, B. Sivamurthi Sastri, Gamaki Narayana Sastri, Hebbani Krishna
Sastri, Honnappa Bhagavatar, Bhadragiri Achyutadas, Bhadragiri Kesavadas,
Gururajulu Naidu, Lakshmandas Velankar and many others. Adibhatla Narayanadasa,
Neti Lakshminarayana Bhagavatulu, Musunoori Suryanarayana Bhagavatar and many
others were Harikatha artistes of Andhra Pradesh. Gavai Visvanatha Bhagavatar,
Prof. R. Srinivasan, Alappuzha Sebastin Kunjunju Bhagavatar, Alappuzha
Annasvami Bhagavatar, Ochira Raman Bhagavatar and Tiruvanantapuram Narayana
Bhagavatar may be mentioned as some Harikatha artistes of Kerala.

Harikatha Kalakshepam or the earlier
Keertan were exclusively male-dominated art form. Women had no place in these,
since it was considered that they were not fit to speak about Dharma. Only
those, who have studied Vedas and Sastras were eligible, according to many male
Harikatha performers. But, aeons ago, women were performed Upanayana, they
studied Vedas, kept fire (Agnihotra) and took alms (Bhiksha), a fact made known
by ‘Harita Smrti’, quoted in ‘Smrti Chandrika’. In spite of great oppositions,
Ilayanarvelur Saradambal (1884- 24.11.1943) boldly set her foot in the
Harikatha world in the year 1901. One, who followed her, was C.Sarasvati bai
(1994- 1974), who did Harikatha, for the first time, in 1908.

Before concluding my speech, I wish
to say a few words about a phenomenon in the field of Harikatha Kalakshepa.
Embar Vijayaraghavachariar was born on 2.11.1909, as the son of Embar
Sreerangachariar in Chidambaram. He got the degrees ‘Advaita Siromani’ and
‘Sahitya Siromani’ from the Annnamalai University. From 1933, he worked as a
Research Scholar in the Oriental Research Institute, Baroda for four years. He
became well-versed in Marathi and Hindi. The he returned to his native place
and worked in Lutheran Mission High School, as the Sanskrit teacher. After
learning Harikatha from his father, he made his debut in 1935. Very soon he
outshone his colleagues. Like his father, he brought in new charitras. He was
the first to do the topics, ‘Sri Sadasiva Bhrahmendra’ and ‘Sri Ramana
Maharishi’, the latter spontaneously, when he was asked by the saint to do some
Katha. Similarly he performed ‘Sri Desika Vaibhavam’. He was the first to
dispense with the traditional Panchapadi. Instead he used to sing various other
songs on the respective deities. A number of awards he got. This preternatural
genius, who was in the apex of the Harikatha world attained eternal rest on
2.6.1991, at Srirangam, where he lived from 1951.

Many others excelled in this art.
Harikesanallur Muthayya Bhagavatar, Karandai Govinda Bhagavatar, Mangudi
Chidambara Bhagavatar, Tiruppazhanam Panchapakesa Sastrigal, Soolamangalam
Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar, Palakkadu Anantarama Bhagavatar, Pandit Lakshmanachar,
Tiruvaiyaru Annasvami Bhagavatar, Sarasvati Bai, Padmasani Bai, Banni Bai and
Tanjavur Kamala Murthi may be mentioned as some among them. In the present times,
only Kalyanapuram Aravamudachariar performs the true Harikatha.

Harikatha Kalakshepam is a composite
art that requires good music, knowledge in the Vedas, Sastras, Puranas,
Histrionics and proficiency in many languages, oratory skill, imagination and
many more. It has three aspects – literature, music and acting or dance, as
they say in Tamizh – Iyal, Isai, Natakam. Day by day, the requisites of an
ideal Harikatha performer have marched towards the decrease and the very
art-form has been speeding up towards entropy in many places. Any art requires
a forum and unless there are rasikas, there cannot be artistes. The
responsibility of saving this great art from entering into the grave vests
equally on the people. It is the duty of the people to encourage, patronize and
foster this noble art, so that they could reap a rich moral harvest for

Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana 17 - Nava Durga, Sadhana Shibira 3

‘Sadhana Karna Chahiye Manva Sadhana Karna
Chahiye” - (Oh Mind!  focus on dedicated
practise) - the first session from Keerthanacharya Shri Lakshmandas Velankarji
started with this essential tenet . It 
took our minds immediately to the past two Shibirs where ,  in the first Shibir, Durga Devi had
introduced herself as the cause and effect of life , and subsequently, in the
second Shibir, Durga Devi explained the Narada Bhakti Sutras. Here she was
again,  through her regular messenger
Velankarji , about to unveil some more secrets! 
And immensely lucky were the audience who were about to gain wisdom on
the nine forms of Goddess Durga !

In the serene natural surroundings of
AuroVeda Ashram on Kanakapura Road, Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh inaugurated the
shibir. After a scintillating invocation song, any doubts about the nine forms
of Durga were put to rest by Dr Meera in her inaugural address. She said that
across the country , there are innumerable forms and names of the Devi , be it
Kamala, Narayani, Trishulini, Vindhyavasini and many more !  She narrowed all this down to a concept , the
concept of Durga .

Our minds were trying to connect a few
dots now - The shibir is about nine Durgas - Dr Meera elaborated nicely
that  Durga is many, yet Durga is a
concept ! The lovely resplendent  mother
goddess installed as an idol in the left corner of the discourse hall , was
looking at us from the corner of her eye and telling us - “ If I am the
concept, you are the creation. Hang on! I have more to tell! “ . And indeed,
her messenger Velankarji started unravelling the mystery from the word Go.

He introduced the nine forms -
Shailaputri, Brahmacharini,

He said but all the nine forms are one and
the same mother goddess, and further narrowed it down to the concept that Dr
Meera mentioned - the all pervading consciousness that is responsible for all
forms .

However, the way variety is the spice of
life - be it food,clothing or shelter , so is variety an essential ingredient
of spiritual teaching and existence, and all forms and their attributes are
created as a need for this variety - be it God or humans . With this essential
background, Velankarji started explaining the nine forms. This was spread over
his four sessions .

For Shailaputri , the story of SatiDevi,
the daughter of the mountains, and the consort of God Shiva , was beautifully

For Brahmacharini, essential references to
Nadopasana were made.

Chandraghanta came with reminders of the
power of our Chakras.

Kushmanda brought the notion of Srishti or

SkandaMata was a reminder of the valour of
the warrior God Karthikeya.

Kathyayani stood for an apt family life.

Kalaratri stood for foresight.

Mahagauri embodied Sattva or purity.

Siddhidatri was the highest of all Siddhis
or enlightenment.

Velankarji explained the above nine forms
with apt examples and his usual touches of wit and humor. This kept the
audience engaged. The mother goddess also moved with us to the open air early
morning session on the second day , under the tree. She was smiling at us and
she seemed to be saying “Is this better or the rooms with AC where you lock
yourself regularly?”

The highlights of the shibir besides the
obvious takeaway I detailed above, were the pre-session awesome musical
renderings by some of the shibirites , the lovely journey of the Saktipeethas -
courtesy Dr Ananth Pranesh and Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh, and a scintillating
Harikatha performance by Dr Dattatreya Velankar.

If the soul’s hunger was satisfied by
Velankarji’s wisdom , our physical hunger was satisfied by sumptuous food . At
the end, were the valedictory and photo sessions, where memories were captured
on camera

As I departed, I turned back for a glance
at the Mother Goddess in the left corner of the discourse hall. I felt she said

“ I am with you! I am in you ! My
messenger Velankarji and coordinator Dr Meera have been trying to make you
realize this. The people here with whom you smiled  and laughed and shared happiness - I was in
them -  till you understand the secrets
of my presence in nature and in you, you shall not escape from me!”.

Waiting for more such Shibirs…….

- P Narayanan Iyer

Book Reading Session - Naa Kanda Kalaavidaru

About the Book

The Book 'Naa Kanda Kalavidaru' authored by Sri Mysore K Vasudevacharya was published in the year 1955. This is one of the earliest books written in Kannada, narrating the life and contributions of eleven great stalwarts of Karnataka music. It also features very interesting episodes, anecdotes connected to these musicians, which were witnessed by the author himself. This makes the book more authentic and a reference material for any student of music. Vasudevacharya's writing and narrating is in a very simple style and it keeps even a layman read the book with utmost interest. 

About the Author

The author Mysore K Vasudevacharya (CE 1865-1961) was a great musician and a versatile composer. He has   composed hundreds of compositions comprising all the musical forms of Karnataka music mostly in telugu and sanskrit lanuages with the mudra 'Vasudeva'. He was the court musician of Mysore Wodeyars, and was patronized by four Wodeyar Kings. He went to Madras to teach in Rukmini Devi Arundale's Kalakshetra and was highly respected by the renowned musicians of Tamilnadu too. He had also authored books. Vasudevacharya was a recipient of many awards and honors. To name a few Sangeeta Shastra Ratna and Sangeeta Shastra Visharada by Wodeyars, Central Sangeeta Natak Academy and Padmabhushana awards from Govt. of India, Sangeeta Kalanidhi by Madras Music Academy and so on..

Relevance of the topic in present context

This book which was authored in the year 1955 narrates about the yester year musicians, their life, personality, happy and difficult times of their musical journey, interesting episodes and anecdotes.. which can be an inspiration to the present generation. Since most of the facts provided in the book were witnessed by the author himself, the information is authentic. As it is a very old book, many are not aware of this or it might have gone out of their minds and reading this book is like bringing back to life the golden times of yester year music environment.

About the Speaker

Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh, a Karnataka musician, musicologist and a researcher is the Managing Trustee of Vanamala Center for Art and Culture and is serving as an Adjunct Professor of music in Department of Performing Arts, Jain University. She learnt Veena at the age of seven from vidwan L. Sheshagiri Rao and then pursued Karnataka music- vocal under the tutelage of vidushi Sudha V. Murthy and vidushi Rohini Manjunath. She received her Post graduate degree with gold medal in Karnatak Music; M Phil and Ph D from Bangalore University.  She was guided by the great stalwarts like vidwan Belakawadi Srinivasa Iyengar, Sri. B V K Shastry, Prof. Rajalakshmi Tirunarayanan and Dr. B M Jayashree. She was also the recipient of the Research Fellowship from Human Resource Development, Ministry of Culture, Govt. of India, and completed her project under the guidance of Dr. R Satyanarayana.

with concerts, she has delivered several lecture demonstrations and has
multiple publications under her name. She is a UGC approved Guide for M
Phil and
Ph D research scholars. She has been instrumental in conceptualizing,
writing the script, directing and singing Bhaktiyaana an
audio CD is a group of songs depicting the daily upacharas like
suprabhata, alankara, vivaha, naivedya, shobhane, laali etc. to Lord
Lakshmi Narayana;Sri
Chakra Darshana

a DVD, explains the concept of Sri Chakra, Shaktipitas through visuals
and rendering of Kamalamba Navavarana Kritis in the original format
composed by Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar.  The
documentary Sri Chakra Darshana was selected for the International online Film festival.
She has authored and published the books - The Musical Composers
during Wodeyar Dynasty
and Harikeshanallur
Dr L Mutthaih Bhagavatar- A Biography
; Edited and published a book on Suladis of Haridasas and a DVD comprising of Suladis.

Date & Time: 13-July-2019 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Venue: Vanamala Center for Art & Culture

13A-15, Madhuvan, SGS Layout 3rd Main Road,

Kothnoor Dinne, 8th Phase, J. P. Nagar

Bengaluru - 560076


Release of DVD and Book Kannada Suladis of Haridasas

Vanamala center for art and culture recently launched two books. 
The event took place at Atithyam hotel on 10- Oct-2018.

One book namely “Namma Preetiya Vidushi Sharada”, is a biography and collection of writings about Karnataka Kalashree Prof. T Sharada. The second book namely, “Kannada Suladigalu” is on Suladi of Haridasas written by Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh under the guidance of Prof. T Sharada. A DVD was released along with the book on Suladi of Haridasas.

Suladi can be broken down as "Sulabada haadi", an easy way to reach the almighty. 
The Suladis were composed by Haridasas as a tribute and calling out to Lord Hari.
The speciality of these compositions are that a given Suladi will have a single raaga but multiple talas - generally seven.

The agenda behind the making of this DVD and book is to make sure that the Suladis do not go extinct and that they reach the common masses. The rendering of Suladis has been done by Madhuvanthi, Shivashankari, Vasudha, Ananya, Charumathi, Karthik, Navya, Apoorva, Soumya, Bhavya, Shubha, Manasa, all students of Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh.

The guests of honour on this occasion were Dr K R Venugopal, vice chancellor, Bangalore University, Sri N S Krishnamurthy, former Director AIR , Karnataka Kalashree Prof. T Sharada and Dr. R. L. Kashyap. The occasion was also graced by Prof. Mysore V Subramanya, Vid. Rupa Sridhar and Vid. Anasuya Kulkarni. 

The evening was hosted by Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh, the founder of Vanamala centre for art and culture.
Dr. Meera Rajaram's guru and peers Vid. Sudha, Vid. Rohini and Vid. Vijayalakshmi were present to support her.

The lovely evening began by invoking lord
Ganesha in the song “Gam Ganapathe” tuned to the beautiful Hamsadhawni
Raaga followed by a ear soothing Veena recital by disciples of Prof. T

The disciples of Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh
soulfully rendered the Suladi - “Achyutananta”, which is set to the
raaga Kashiramakriya written by Sri Purandara dasa. The audience was
mesmerized by the Bhakti, Bhaava and the expertise
showcased during the rendition.

This was followed by the lighting of the lamp and launch of the books and the DVD by the guests of honour.

The books and the DVD were distributed by
Prof. T Sharada to the students who have sung the extremely difficult
Suladis with such ease and grace in the DVD.

The dignitaries on stage marveled at the
dedication for propagation of the Suladis and expressed their love and
happiness towards Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh and the students who have
put in more than hundred percent efforts to make
the book and the DVD easily understandable and pleasing.

The magical evening ended with some delicious dinner. It is an understatement to say that the event was a grand success. I feel lucky to have been a part of this wonderful milestone!

-Bhagavathi Nagendra

Achyutānanta- Rāga Kāśīrāmakriya- Purandara Dāsa's Suladi presented by the Disciples of Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh during the DVD release function.

The DVD is available for sale, here are the details :

Suḷādis of Haridasas

Suḷādi is a musical form of Karnataka music composed by Haridasas. These are structured in a very scholarly manner and are set to simple melodies. The lyrics are embedded with philosophical principles and they are set to various familiar and rare talas.

Rāga Bhūpāla- Vyāsarāyaru

naḍeyadiralu- Rāga Nāṭa- Purandara Dāsaru                                                                                        

Rāga Gouḷa- Purandara Dāsaru                                                                                        

lakṣumi- Rāga Varāḷi- Purandara Dāsaru                                                                                        

kareva dhwani- Rāga Dēvagāndhāri- Purandara Dāsaru                                                                                        

Rāga Kāśīrāmakriya- Purandara Dāsaru                                                                                        

Guidance: Prof. T Sharada (Tirumalai Sisters)

Direction: Dr
Meera Rajaram Pranesh

Vocal: Ananya Bhagath, Apoorvalakshmi P V, Bhavya H S, Charumathy Nagarajan, Karthik Ganesh, M.A. Madhuvanthi, Manasa Girish, Navya Nagara, Shubha Srikanth, Sowmya D R, Shivashankari J, Vasudha Prahlad

Tambura: Sandhya Ram

Camera:   Vishwas

Video Edit: 
Suhas K

Price: Rs.

Contact for Copies

Vanamala Center for Art and Culture ®                           

Mob: +91-9845514661 +91-9986799652

Bharatiya Samskriti Darshana 17 - Sadhana Shibira 3

Nava Durga

Series of lecture demonstrations/workshops/discourses on the Origin and
Development of Indian Culture 

 Nava Durga– Saadhana

Vanamala Center
for Art and Culture
is organizing a two day Saadhana Shibira on Nava Durga on 23rd and 24th of February 2019 at Auro Veda Farm, Yedamadu
village, Kanakapura Highway,
which is about 10 kms from Sri Sri Ravishankar
Ashram.  Nava Durga would be explained in detail by Keertanacharya Lakshmandas Velankar a
reputed Kathakeertankar, erudite scholar as well as noted author.

Sri Lakshmandas Velankar a
noted personality
in the field of Kathakeertan is a scholar par excellence. A disciple of Santa
Sri Bhadragiri Achyutadas and Santa Sri Keshavadas, Keertanacharya Velankar
developed his own unique style in performing Kathakeertan. His knowledge in
Sanskrit and philosophy has moulded him to be an excellent narrator and an
author. Keertanacharya Velankar has authored books on Kathakeertan and has
translated more than 80 books published by the prestigious Geetha Press,
Gorakhpur. Some of them include Bhagavadgita, Devi Bhagavatha, Shiva Purana,
Bhagavatha, Ramayana, Nava Durga and many more. He has also served as a
lecturer in the internationally renowned Keertan Mahavidyalaya and trained many
students in Kathakeertan; He is a 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, Keertanacharya Velankar has been honoured by many

Sri Lakshmandas Velankar had conducted a similar Sadhana Shibir for the center
on the topic Devi Saptashati and Narada Bhakti Sutra which was well received by
more than 40 delegates and the shibira was a great success. It is heartening to
herald that it is the enthusiasm of the delegates which made Center to conduct
a new event on the topic Nava Durga.

Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh would be giving an introductory
talk on the Concept of Durga. Dr A Pranesh who would be presenting a slide show on
the Devi
temples across India.
Dr Meera and Dr Pranesh have travelled extensively across India and
photographed several temples for their projects. They have conceptualised,
produced and directed Sri Chakra Darshana, a documentary on Sri chakra and Kamalamba Navavarana Kritis of Sri
Mutthuswamy Dikshitar which was selected for International Online Film

Dr Dattatreya
renowned Hindustani musician who has done a doctoral thesis on Influence of
classical music on katha Keertan would be presenting a Katha Keertan on Sarva
Swaroopa Sri Durga


Saturday 23rd February 2019

6:00 AM Coffee
7 – 8:30 AM Session V     Nava Durga Keertanacharya
Lakshmandas Velankar
8:30 AM Breakfast               
10 – 11 AM    Session VI Nava Durga Keertanacharya
Lakshmandas Velankar
11- 11:30             Tea Break
11:30 - 12:30 PM       Session VII       Katha Keertan
Sarva Swaroopa Sri Durga
Dr Dattatreya
12:30- 1 PM  Valedictory
1:30 PM Lunch

Sunday 24th February 2019

9:00 AM Breakfast   
10 – 10:30 AM Inauguration
10:30- 11:30 AM Session I Concept of Durga
Introductory Talk
Dr Meera Rajaram
11:30 – 12 Noon    Tea Break       
12 – 1 PM     Session II Nava Durga Keertanacharya
lakshmandas Velankar
1:00 PM Lunch    
3:30 PM Tea             
4 PM – 5 PM       Session III       Nava Durga Keertanacharya
lakshmandas Velankar
5-  5:30 PM    Snacks/Tea    
5.30 – 6:30 PM  Session IV Devi
Temples of India
Slide Show
Dr A Pranesh    


Rs.3000/ per person for the whole Shibira,
which is inclusive of Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner along with lodging facility
at Auro Veda. Rooms are styled in a Dormitory fashion and would be on a sharing
basis with 3-5 other participants. Rooms are furnished with beds, pillows and
blankets. However one can bring their own bed sheets. Hot water is available
round the clock.

As the area is plastic free zone, we
request all the participants to carry their water bottles and refill water from
mineral water cans which would be provided.

Interested persons can reach the venue
on their own, or pick up and drop from Metro cash and carry Kanakapura road near
Konanakunte signal can be arranged on prior intimation.

The number of
participants is
limited to 40. Those interested are requested to confirm their consent by
January 24th 2019.

Payment of Rs.3,000/ can be made through
Cash/Cheque/DD/Online transfer

Cheques and DD
are drawn in favor of Vanamala Center for Art and Culture Trust

For Online

Vanamala Center for Art and Culture 

SB A/C. 0024104000314398


IDBI Bank, Sarakki lake Branch

Sowbhagya Complex, 24th main, 5th phase

JPNagar, Bangalore 560078

Contact: Ph: 9845514661; 9845324144


Visit us @

Warm Regards

Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh
Managing Trustee
Vanamala Center for Art and Culture (R)

About Vanamala Center for Art and

Center for Art and Culture, the brainchild of Dr. Meera Rajaram Pranesh, traces
its origin to 1995 when it was first instituted as Vanamala Art Foundation.
Over the years it evolved into an organization for promoting Indian art and
culture. Vanamala Center for Art and Culture provides an environment for
learning, through expert guidance, to preserve, promote and propagate Indian
Art and Culture for posterityAll Donations are eligible for Tax relief under
section 80G (5) (vi) of Income Tax Act 1961