It gives me great pleasure to write this brief foreword to the book, Harikatha: Samartha
Ramdas' Contribution to the Art of Spiritual Story Telling, by Kalaimamani Smt.
Balameera Chandra (Meera Grimes), as she is known by the art-loving people of India.
It is indeed a very happy occasion to associate myself with this work in some way,
cherishing the memories of a golden period of music, dance, and drama of the 60's and 70's
when Smt. Balameera Chandra, a multi-faceted artist, performed widely and received accolades
as a sincere torch-bearer of the glorious art of Harikatha. During those years, Smt.
Balameera worked under renowned scholars like Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sharma, Sangita Kalanidhi
Embar Vijayaraghavachariar, and my father, Dr. V. Raghavan, all of whom guided this
dedicated aspirant in seeking farther horizons in her chosen field.
The present publication of Smt. Balameera Chandra offers a thorough analysis of the
varied aspects of the multi-faceted art form of Harikatha and includes stories of
saint-singers whose lives and teachings remain as the perennial source for this art of
story-telling. Further, the book also throws light on the importance and benefits of the
crucial factor the Nirupana which provides the basic format for Harikatha exposition and
which has evolved around the intrinsic philosophy of the Soul, its search for Higher
Knowledge and its ultimate surrender to the Supreme.
At a time when the art of Harikatha needs greater support and encouragement, the
present publication arrives on the scene offering a scholarly, in-depth study of the source
material, and thereby providing an invaluable asset to future generations of students and
researchers in the field of Harikatha.
I wish to greet and congratulate Smt. Balameera Chandra Grimes for her untiring
efforts all through her life towards the preservation and propagation of the art of
Harikatha to which she has dedicated herself.
Back of the Book
Harikatha (lit. stories of the Lord) is the exposition of a religious theme, usually
the life of a saint or a story from one of India's scriptural texts. Its purpose is to
spread devotion to the Divine. Harikatha is a composite art containing story-telling,
poetry, music, drama, dance, and philosophy. Any story about God, or scriptural incidents,
or about saints, who are the living exemplars for the existence of God, is an appropriate
subject matter for Harikatha.
The greatness of Harikatha lies in the fact that it provides one of the
easiest, if not the easiest path to attaining lasting happiness and peace. Listening to
stories about Divinity and divine individuals subtly makes the mind attached to, and
permeated by Divinity. As one continues to listen to the stories of the Divine, one becomes
pure in thought, word, and deed. As well, it cultivates one's power of concentration and
drives away doubt from a wavering mind. Not only does a katha please its listeners, as other
fine arts do, but it also comforts the mind and elevates the soul of the listener. Thus, as
it entertains, it enlightens.
Meera Grimes (also known as Balameera Chandra) is well known in India for her
Harikatha performances. She is one of the leading artists in this field, an artist of
the Music Academy, Air India Radio, and Television. At the age of twelve Meera give her
first public Harikatha performance on Saint Dhruva (Dhruvacaritra) and since
then has been presenting kathas around the world, both in Tamil and in English. Meera
is also a Bharata Natyam dancer and teacher.
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