Greets you on the auspicious occasion of the advent of the New Millennium with this presentationof the Fifth and Last Volume in 'Garland' series titled "Melodic Garland" and wishjes you santam, subham, sivam, soukhyam and mangalam with sweet strains of melody ennobling it all.
The Pancharatnas or the Mala Panchakam (five volumes)present about 1600 lives of musicians, dancers, composers, etc. in all their artistic glory for the comprehensive use of students, teachers, musician, dancers, researchers and music-lovers besides furnishing tantalizing anecdotes, alluring incidents, juicy fact and figures besides enlightening articles.
Sangita Kal Acharya S. Rajam joins Carnatic Classicals in wishing all a millennium of melodic happiness and presents a specimen of the beauty and excellence of a gripping song of Sri Tyagaraja below.
Song: Rama Rama Rama Lali Sri Rama (Sahana). Tyagaraja takes on the role of mother Kousalya . Boys play hide and seek with dolls. But child Rama in splenderous bewitching beauty, comes complaining; and the has much to do so! Solicitous Kousalya questions and the child answers: They asked me to come; then they say you need not!'
'For playing hide and seek, they say, that my eyes are too big to blindfold!'
'You effulgence will betray your place. That is Your fate', they aver.'
[Appropriately Sahana, the raga of compassion, is invoked.]
N. Rajagopalan, on retirement from the Indian Administrative Service, has concentrated on bringing out first-ever Biographical Dictionary of Carnatic Composers, Musician, Musicologists as well as Bharatanatyam artistes in five volumes in the celebrated Garland series which contain, for the first time, interesting features on the lives of about 1600 artistes of the past and the present besides facts and figures and articles. These books constitute the source material for students, researchers, artistes and art-loving members of the public.
It is a pioneering work of vast part, deep penetration and wide coverage which has few parallels. It is a non-profit dedication to art brought out by him on his own, the product of thirteen years of undivided toil. The material has been utilised by authorities, artistes, writers, students, etc. on a vast scale in magazines, souvenirs, etc.
The five volumes titled A Garland, Another Garland, Yet Another Garland, Fragrant and this Melodic Garland are now before the public worthy of adorning the shelves of enlightened and inspiring private and public libraries.
Music is the element that can bring and bind mankind together wherever it be and to whatsoever tribe or community the individual happens to belong. Pure, traditional, aesthetic music has innate vibrancy, enduring energy and profound capability to rouse dormant, noble, progressive and salutary instincts in the human, and even among animals, enlighten and elevate them to ethereal heights of morality and divinity and install them on the highest pedestal of 'man as a reflection of God' in conformity with the scriptural dictum Aham Brhmasmi. From Vedic days, sages and saints, singing, nards and artistes have proved the efficacy of music as the prime instrument for spiritual and medical therapy to secure 'santam, soukhyam, mangalam and sivam, purification of heart and soul and ultimate self-realization. Bharatiya sangitam has all along hovered around such fundamental concepts advocating and stressing moral codes and spiritual goals constantly and consistently. Composers, musicians and dancers, barring occasional aberrations, have upheld and propagated the ideals through the resplendent medium of music and dance with absolute faith in results and continuity backed by passionate determination. Indian music could not have survived in such robust health and wealth over many a millennia but for its wedding to spiritual pursuits primarily and adherence to self-imposed values and constraints and dharmic practice and use. Pure music is universal and is the prime asset of Vasudeiva Kutumbakam. There are bound to be regional variations owing to causes like local customs and habits, faith and conduct. But chaste music is singularly free from petty thoughts and considerations. These criteria had always been upheld and emphasized guided by considerations as pure as the purest are and fire.
Melodic Garland? Yes, it is the conjuring title suggested by manodharma and adopted for this fifth and last volume in the Garland series. But a doubt arose whether a garland could ever be the fertile ground, fountain or cradle of melody? Why not? The supreme saintly composer, Sri Tyagaraja send around a musical message in raga Ritigaula:
[The Lord draws pleasure adorning himself with garland studded with diamonds in the shapes of a hundred ragas. Let us worship Him and secure all blessings. You are invited.]
Further, Dr. V. Raghavan, while describling the eminence of Jayadeva Ksetrajna, Purandaradasa and Tyagaraja, hails them as fragrant gold, adopting the embellished usage in Sanskrit literature – Hemnah Paramamodah. There are also the accepted popular ragamalika [garland of ragas] and the ragatalamalika [garland of raga tala structures] in musical composition. Thus them title Melodic Garland for the farewell volume in the Garland series has commended itself as but absolutely proper and appropriate.
Art id that broad-based universal cradle in which diverse cultures are born and flourish and civilization gets graded based on aesthetic practices, refinements, attainments and attitudes. It is the yardstick by which people of a country or community are assessed and ranked. Art not only enlightens and elevates but inspires and broadens the vision of every one including composers, musicians, dancers and art-lovers. It is principally due to the broad-minded wisdom, enduring and enlightened culture of the artistic and art-conscious people of Bharata that have craved, from the dawn of civilization, not for their own happiness and salvation but for the welfare of the entire world community:
'Sarve janah sukhino bhavantu'
'Ellorm inburrirukka venduvade allal veru onrum ariyen Paraparame!'.
[May the people of the Universe be happy! I know of no other prayer, O Lord!]
These fundamental prayers for the happiness of the peoples of the world are echoed on every occasion, in every original home and by every original community of Bharat. It is the inculcated, inherited embedded and inspired virtue of the Indian. Is there any parallel to this basic faith, averment, practice and matchless prayer? This is superior to all the 'isms', the world boasts of and are paraded with! This Vasudeiva Kutumbakam is perhaps the noblest ideal or goal that India is wedded to has always cherished and chosen to bestow on the world suffering from petty quarrels and animosities.
Music universally appeals and is universally acceptable. It aids the propagation of moral and spiritual values more effectively than other instruments and it is free for all to imbibe, appreciate and enjoy. India has widely chosen it as the principal mode and instrument of education and enlightenment, propagation and publicity, not to speak of entertainment. Saints and sages, bards and vaggeyakaras, musicians, dancers and dramatists have vied with each other in exploiting the lavish gift of this oldest art all along and hand lost occasion to apply its efficacy successfully. The musical wealth of India is himalayan in output, as varied as its rivers and as fragrant and charming as its wealth of flowers. [Musical therapy, agro and pisci-musical cultures are fertile fields fur further extensive investigation and exploitation.]
Camatic music is but the continuation of the most ancient, living Indian music. This system has witnessed a vibrant, glorious, pre-historic and historic past, blest with weighty contribution and unsurpassed attainments and is passing through an effulgent present though the sphere of influence is contracting. The system has been generous in presenting galaxies of stalwarts, wizards and maestros, vocalists, instrumentalists, percussionists, musicologists, composers, hymnodists and dancers, several of whom are trail-blazers and trend-setters or have legated either immortal works of the highest cerebral flavour or soul-filling, dazzling compositions which captivate and enthrall, besides artistes and dancers. There have always been ceaseless efforts with genuine dedicated fervour and passionate enthusiasm to keep alive and hold aloft the torch of this finest of fine arts in all its grandeur and glorified traditions.
The Ganges, the Cauvery and other rivers, the himalayas, the Ellora, Ajanta and Mahabalipuram cave and rock temples, the Vedas and the Gita, the Ramiiyana and the Mahnbharata, the temples such as those at Thanjavur, Chidambaram, Srirangam, Madurai and Rameswaram and other enduring marvels symbolize the sreyas and the preyas of the Indian nation and its marvelous civilization. Is there any other nation which presents and could boast of such matchless and varied treasures? Men may come and go but verdant arts and culture and the primacy given to arts shine forever in all resplendent beauty, majesty, glory and message. Time fleets and erases memories of men and women of eminence on whose contribution to arts the country relies and delights. The present is but the child of the past and the future is impregnated in the womb of the present. Inspiration and progress are born of the bedrock of continuity and have vital need for remembering the captains and soldiers of the musical brigades, the gurus and sisyas of the art. Sans artistes, where would art be? Sans arts, where is culture or civilization? Without Valmiki, where would be the resplendent epic Ramayana? Without Vyasa, where could be the inspiring Mahabharata? Without Gopalakrishna Bharati, who would have spun out the magnificent opera Nandanarl If Mahakavi Subramania Bharati was not born, how seriously national, social, reformist and musical fields would have suffered? But for Kalidasa, who could have imagined of the honeyed tales of Sdkuntalam or the magnificent dancer-princess Malavika? But for Silappadikdram of Ilango, who could have gathered a view of the pristine atmosphere permeated by music and dance in the South of this country nearly two millennia back? From another angle it would be fruitful to ponder over where would Rama be without his brothers and monkey brigades? Perhaps one may even like to shift the emphasis to the machinations and misdeeds of Mandara and Ravana! Even so, without a Bharata, where would amaranthine Ndtya Sastra be? To extend this further, where would Tyagaraja be without the Tillaistanams, WaUajahpets and Umayalpurams? To highlight and emphasize the need for moral, spiritual and physical support and participation of one and all in any common endeavour, the gracious poet brings in the anecdote of the tiny squirrel contributing its might in the construction of the seiu bridge to Sri Lanka! Art provides the ksetra [field], nominates the actors [karthas] investing them with aptitude, attitude, inspiration, training and the vision to explore ever-fresh avenues to sustain growth, promote cultural wealth and upgrade the salient credentials of our civilization. If art is the prophet, the artiste is the engineer, administrator, executor, promoter and exponent, all in one. In this noble yajiia, the crusade, hundreds of dedicated, devoted men and women participate heart and soul. How many have sacrificed their lives in the cause of art? History has fortunately recorded enough to identify the remarkable continuity, enduring contribution and dazzling blossoms of art which have reached the acme of excellence and immaculate perfection in the spheres of both laksana [theory - science] and laksya [robust popular practice].
Theory normally tends to gather extra overburden, exhibiting proneness to set rigid standards and seek to highlight details like the Constitution of India ever open to unending interpretation stifling healthy growth. When Sri Rama trekked the streets of Ayodhya in the company of Laksmana, following Sage Viswarnitra, people got obsessed with the incredible beauty of individual limbs of the great prince and none had the heart to tear his eyes off therefrom to gather a comprehensive survey! [I am not referring to the five blind men who were obsessed with individual limbs of the elephant since they were not men of aesthetic sense as those of Ayodhya.] It is so with many a law-giver of greater or lesser eminence. Emphasis may be strong on select themes and tradition from individual points of view. It is also said that the tribe of eminent musicologists, like eminent constitutional pundits, is on the avarohana now. Perhaps few could now bring forth a masterpiece comparable to those of Sarrigadeva, Somanatha, Ilango, Rama Matya, Kalladar, Govinda Diksita, Venkatamakhin or Subbarama Diksita, Of course, is there any constraint of time or limit to perfection and advent of such law-givers in the musical field? 'Who can beautify Beauty?', the tamil adage may aver. The process shall go on, perhaps in fits and starts, different people taking a fancy for, or specializing in, individual segments or comprehensively.
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