The "Garland" series is a small humble step for the ancient and living art and science of Carnatic Music but a giant leap for biographical history of Carnatic Composers, Musicians, Musicologists and Hymnodists, the majority of whom figure for the first time in the resplendent pages of t history of Carnatic music. The works cover the entire panorama without constraints of period, geography, caste or creed.
This pioneering work of vast dimension in English covering the past 1250lives of sant-nadopasakas, composers and musicians, musicologists and hymnodists in about 1600pages in three volumes.
The books present a valuable collection of memorable events and performances, unique records and achievements, deeds, thoughts and sayings that and colour flesh and blood; and each 'has a story, a moral to tell'.
A source book of reference and information, the Garlands serve a vital need in furthering study and research.
This is an one-man endeavour and is a pioneering teachers, students, researchers, music-lovers will find much refreshing facts in the three 'Garlands'.
Flower garlands fade out; mundane presents command little value, These Garlands shall adorn the study and inspire. Will be a constant reminder of the source of the gift too.
N. Rajagopalan was born on the day of Deepavali at Aduthurai (in Tanjore district) a place richly endowed by Nature and served by cultured Cauvery and its branch Virasolan and well connected to cradles and nurseries of music and pilgrim centres. He retired from the Indian Administrative Service on October 31, 1981.
Rajagopalan had earlier taken lead roles in amateur dramas. Sangita Kalanidhi Papanasam Sivan took him as disciple but it ended when the maestro left to concentrate on films. After long gaps, Rajagopalan resumed his training under Salem Subbarama Bhagavata and Trichy P.R. Sundararajan but could not continue. He imbibed his love of music from his mother who would sing melodiously even in her seventies and his deep sense of dignity, discipline and duty from his saintly father.
His ambition has been to gazette the valiant lives and ever-lasting contribution of composers, musicians, musicologists and hymnodists and bring back to focus their eminence and fragrant contribution for the inspiration of students, researchers and music-lovers as well as musicians and teachers. Following up the works A Garland and 'Another Garland', he presents this 'Yet Another Garland'. These three volumes constituting the Composers and Dictionary of Carnatic Composers and Musicians cover over 1250 lives.
Observed Dr. Sarvepalle Radhakrishnan. Indian spirit, by divine dispensation, has from pre-historic times opted for spiritual endeavours and attainments. Dharma has been enshrined as the soul of Indian private and public life. To drive home and uphold dharma, sages and seers have held out the lives of Rama, Krishna, Harischandra, Prahlada, Sita, Kannagiand scores of others as inspiring models. Historic figures like Asoka llango, Chandragupta, Shivaji, Tilak and Mahatma Gandhi have likewise captivated the hearts of man, woman and child. It is the magical hold of the prime spiritual urge and the magical spell of the names of great sages and illustrious men and women that have welded together Indian Nation socially, culturally and spiritually. Spiritual attainments have invariably been lauded and hailed as fundamental to illumining and elevating human thought, speech and action. In this music has all along the willing, harmonizing handmaid recognised as a sure tool to attain the unattainable. Music has been recognised both as Yoga and as Siddhi –the path and the realisation.
Lord Krishna gives deciding seal of approval to this in his unequivocal declaration in the Bhagawad Gita that –
'Among Vedas, I am the Sama-Veda;
Among Divine Reshis, I am Narada (the singing sage); and
Among hymns, I am the Brhat Saman.,
Sages and seers who sought spiritual enlightenment and attained realisation through music are legion. Narada to Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal of Kanchi, the resonant annals of music parade a galaxy of intellectual an musical giants of vast grasp, deep penetration and rare talents. The Nation has scintillating songs of unfading beauty, fragrance and message, musicians including bhagavatas whose soulful rendition has inscribed their indelible names in the hearts of a music-crazy public and musicologists who have delved deep into science and art to streamline theory for the benefit of posterity and the millions of homes which have nurtured melody as a way of life and passed it on orally to successive generations. What about temples and bhajan mandals? They have served as nerve-centres of the divine art and prescribed 'Gitam, Vadyam nad Nrtyam' as essential parts of daily services! The musical nation made music a vital part of every function and celebration and inscribed it as sine quo non of cultured life. Religion has consistently invoked the benevolent charm and appeal of melody with remarkable success Music was free like air and water to all at temples at bhajans at all communal and domestic functions. These far-sighted prescriptions not only made man a musical soul, brought melody within easy reach Indian but also raised the science and art to a pre-eminent position of stature, image, popularity and grandeur to be called Upa-Veda! Man woman and child drew inspiration, diluted their pain and hunger in melody, dissolved their misery and sorrow in melodic lyrics, enhanced their joy contentment with lilting tunes and ennobling songs and moved forward furthering their religious, spiritual and cultural urges earning stature and respect among the comity of nations to their ancient country. It was the medium of music that furthered this. It was in recognition of this incontrovertible fact that Saint Tyagaraja and others have thought it proper and necessary to offer salutations to all who sing with knowledge of swara, laya and raga. The 'Garland' series is a like tribute to the votaries of the fine following the vada mecum of the Bard. Tyagaraja.
Prof. (Sangita Kalanidhi) T.N. Krishnan once raised a pertinent issue:
'The musicians of today, the youngsters, have the brains to understand sruti, kriti, raga and tala. But how long will they last if they continue in the present trend of non-willingness (agnostics?) to know about the eminence of doyens and their ever-lasting contribution to enrich music.
It is a lamentable fact that the last decade or two had not thrown up many stalwarts, maestros or wizards who could conquer the march of time and scale the peaks to inscribe their names as immortals though quite a number sig captivatingly and draw sizeable crowds. How long many of them last and how rapturous they would be after the initial spurt, only time may reveal. There is melody; there is talent; there are facilities and corporate help. There is horizontal increase in number of artistes and verdict rise in financial flow. With all these, the art is yet to reveal its mind to elevate and designate some as stalwarts, maestros and wizards! Art flourished when artistes languished. Should art languish when artistes flourish? Many of the bright young artistes notwithstanding immense popularity have a leg still in jobs! Why? The environment needs study in depth as probably the art loses the full dedication of talented youth.
Rural parts did provide enviable environment for arts to flourish till the first half of this century. An art like Classical Carnatic music with all its emphasis and soul in manodharma – improvisation does require such an atmosphere for its growth and health. Unfortunately musical environment in rural parts is at its lowest ebb with artistes migrating to urban centres and temples suffering from chronic lack of funds and dimunition of services. Landed aristocracy which was the backbone of patronage to music is dead. Villages have now no exposure to classical music, which was once free and in abundance for them. Even in towns, classical music is confined to two or three centres of just a kilometer in radius each! Surely melody cannot find a congenial home amidst the din and dust of the city. Either the training centres are taken to affable rural parts presenting santam and soukhyam, with garden, river-banks and pials for intensive practice or bemoaning the fate of Classical Carnatic music does stop. Apprentices rarely attend concerts for lack of inclination or time in urban centres stop. Apprentices rarely attend concerts for lack of inclination or time in urban centres and this robs live exposure to the modes and styles of other accepted the plea to make nagaswaram compulsory at government functions in G.O. No. P. 329, Information and Tourism, dated December 24, 1993, Earnest implementation of it may help a little in enabling surviving nagaswara artistes in rural parts to play their destined role,. The, however, touches but the fringe of the issue. Why? The following excerpt from the proceedings of the Music Academy, Madras provides the clue:
Sangita Kalanidhi Nedunui Krishnamurti mad the plea the plea in the presence of the Chief Miniuster of Tamil Nadu at the 1992 Annual Conference -
'While the platitude that Carnatic music is divine and that it will always survive is well enough a conviction, the fact remains that platitudes by themselves do not fetch much. It has proved very difficult to pull a listener to a concert. On the contrary, Cheap entertainment lures him.
Sura vikrayate sthanah
Dadhi Kshiram grihe grihe"
Schools, particularly those for girls must have a separate period for music alone every day. Constant dinning of classical music generates a taste for it.'
It should be noted that the Kalanidhi is a sexagenarian who had headed three music colleges and is one of the top musicians of the day. He is fully conscious of deteriorating standards and feels concerned about diminishing audience-response and the magnitude of the deterring counter-pullas. Selvi J. Jayalalitha, the Chief Minister, herself good singer and prominent actor, already answered the plea while inaugurating the conference earlier:
Till the demise of the Second World War, the average Indian was basically wedded to spiritual endeavours to the neglect of materialistic pursuits and profit. The marriage of Man and Art was complete and harmonious and music flourished in a salubrious climate. The classical prospered with the folk music side by side both being patronised by royalty, landed aristocracy and temples. All the air, the aroma of music held benevolent sway. In fact, music was prasada to one and all, high and low, copiously distributed irrespective of caste, creed or race as music was free for all like air and water. Temples reverberated with vocal and instrumental music daily. Dramas, concerts and dances were in the open dishing out classical music in plenty and continuously to reach every man at his home and street! Whether it be Ekadashi or Sivaratri, Rama Navami or Krishna Jayanti, marriage or funeral, success or defeat, music was made with foresight sine qua non. No nation or art can sustain itself nor can it flourish with dwarfs with a mere one or two of tall stature. Galaxy of giants appeared on the scene from time to time to rejuvenate the art and reorient the science. National genius presented successive waves of illustrious breeds of 'composers, musicians and musicologists who kept the musical fire and flame bright. The endeavour and vocation constituted a multi-dimensional effort to inculcate spiritual values, enlighten people, spread art and culture and incidentally provide occupation and entertainment nearer home. In fact the scheme of founding temples had the same profound socio-economic-cultural bias in India. That was the underlying concept of Village Swaraj pure and simple. Temples were the fulcra around which the lives of the people revolved. The environment was so sublime and all-pervasive that even a fanatic Aurangazeb could hardly find any means of avoiding and averting music and could not find the royal writ, place or the means to bury it. That was the prime reason for the monstrous intensity of his rage. There were fields of hereditary specialisation and implied division of labour as in the cases of hymnodists (odhuvars), nagaswara artistes and dancers. It Is significant that renowned composers and musicians came up like the sixty-three Saivite Apostles (Nayanmars) from among the different strata of society since music was Intrinsically a communal asset all along and free for all. That was Bharath, the Dharmabhoomi, the Mokshabhoomi wherein people from Nandanar to Narada flourished.
The reducing tempo of services and festivals at temples during the last four decades, the invasion and onslaught of mike-based cheap music, the migration of artistes to crowded urban centres and concentration of all musical endeavours in a few metropolitan centres robbed and deprived the millions in the vast slumbering rural tracts of all exposure to classical music leaving them musical agnostics. The shifting of music from temples and dramas from street corners and river beds to sabhas and chambers stifled the growth of classical music. Classical music can flourish in its native charm, grandeur and glory only in an atmosphere of visranti and not in the polluted, dusty turmoil of noisy towns and cities. The latter can hope to nourish It for a while but not nurse It through. As it is with grains and primary products, the city can consume but not hope to create music. Classical music based on improvisation has no future unless the imbalance is remedied and the rural reorientation is soon accomplished. George Ade said with rustic humour -
'In the city, a funeral is just an interruption of traffic;
but in the country, it is a form of entertainment.'
Even so, rural India certainly provides the appropriate environment and atmosphere needed and the psychological and emotional, mental and moral influences for inculcating and imbibing music. The ultimate marketing may be in urban and rural centres but training and apprenticeship should be rural-oriented. Rulers and landed aristocracy vied with each other in their patronage of composers and musicians and the cyclical patronage of royal courts at Vijayanagar, Tanjore Trivandrum, Pudukottai, Mysore, Ettayapuram, etc., is worthy of being written in letters of gold. Temples provided the basic stamina at grass roots to nagaswara artistes and hymnodists in general and other musicians at festivals These lent name, fame and stature to the artistes without doubt. It is also an undeniable fact that most of the artistes lived strangers to material affluence. They forgot their pangs of poverty and pain of hunger in yogic pursuits in the realm of melody. As beautifully observed by M.S. Golwalker :
'India opted for the wealth of perfection, virtues and sublimity of the soul, which is real and abiding, and no wonder great heroes and monarchs have worshipped the dust of the feet of half-naked sanyasins who rose above selfish interest in the cause of humanity.'
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