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Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards 2014

Noted Carnatic music exponent Shri S.R. Janakiraman has been elected as Sangeet Natak Akademi (SNA) Fellow for the year 2014, a very prestigious honour. There are only 40 fellows of the SNA at present across Indian performing arts.

36 artists from Indian performing arts have been chosen for the Sangeet Natak Akademi Awards, the Akademi Puraskar, for the year 2014. The following 9 eminent artists have been chosen from the field of music:

Carnatic vocal music:

Shri Neyveli Santhanagopalan, well known Carnatic vocalist and teacher

Carnatic instrumental music:

Shri Dwaram Durgaprasad Rao for violin

Smt. Sukanya Ramgopal, one of the foremost women Indian classical percussionists today, for ghatam

Shri T.A. Kaliamurthy, a noted thavil exponent

Hindustani vocal music:

Smt. Ashwini Bhide Deshpande, a noted Hindustani Khayal vocalist from the Jaipur Atrauli Gharana

Ustad Iqbal Ahmad Khan, a Hindustani Khayal vocalist from the Delhi Gharana

Shri Nathrao Neralkar, a Hindustani Khayal exponent from Aurangabad, Maharashtra

Hindustani instrumental music:

Shri Nayan Ghosh, a tabla and sitar exponent, for tabla

Shri Ronu Majumdar, a flute exponent 




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Pancharatna Kritis

‘Pancharatna’ literally means five gems. The ‘Pancharatna Kritis’ refer to a set of five compositions in carnatic classical music composed by the famous composer Sri Tyagaraja. Sri Tyagaraja is one of the most famous composers in carnatic music and is a highly revered guru. He lived in the Tanjore district in Tamil Nadu in the 18th/19th Century. The ‘Pancharatna Kritis’ are sung at the Tyagaraja Aradhana in Thiruvaiyaru, held in the month of January every year.

Of the five pacharatna Kritis, ‘Jagadananda Karaka’ is the only kriti in Sanskrit. All the other Kritis are in Telugu. The Pancharatna Kritis are in praise of Lord Rama. The Panchratna Kritis are listed below:

Kriti

Raga

Jagadananda Karaka

Naatai

Duduku Gala

Gowla

Sadinchane

Arabhi

Kanakana Ruchira

Varali

Endaro Mahanubhavulu

Sri

 

The ragas of these ‘Pancharatna Kritis’ provide the flexibility and richness to support improvisations and the ragas are referred to as ‘ghanapanchaka’. Each of these compositions is extremely intricate, rich in style and deep in their meaning. Legend has it that, Sri Tyagaraja composed these spontaneously on hearing the beautiful music of legendary artist Shadkala Govinda Marar.

The first kriti ‘Jagadananda Karaka’ is in complete praise of Lord Rama as the source of all bliss and happiness in this universe. Lord Rama is worshipped as the ‘King of Kings’ with the noblest of characters who bestows happiness and success to his worshippers. Sri Tyagaraja praises Lord Rama as the divine giver (karpaga tree) who is pure without any sins and is worshipped by Devas and Asuras. Lord Rama with his words as sweet as nectar and who is immortal bestows success to this entire universe.  Lord Rama is the essence of the Vedas, powerful as the hurricane to sweep away doom and sorrow, swift with Garuda as his vehicle, conqueror of hearts and his feet is the resting place of Kings and Emperors. Lord Rama whose body is as strong as a diamond, whose eyes shine like the sun and the moon, who rests on top of the powerful snake and who is worshipped even by Lord Shiva and Brahma. Lord Rama is the remover of sins and reliever of curses, who protects the Vedas and bestows peace and happiness. Lord Rama is the creator of divine, protector of the good and destructor of the evil. His powers are beyond comparison and he is the essence of love. Lord Rama is the destroyer of evil forces, thoughts and character and is worshipped even by the immortal. He is the incarnation of everything good, embodiment of arts and compassion and the source of all happiness. Lord Rama is the protector of followers and is praised by the imperfect mortal Tyagaraja.

The second kriti ‘Duduku Gala’ is more of introspection by Sri Tyagaraja that lists his imperfections and praises Rama for forgiving even such a sinner. Sri Tyagaraja feels that his sins include not taking the path of devotion in the early stages of his life and going after material wealth. It was his foolishness that made him not understand that Lord Rama is the source of all happiness and that material wealth does not bring happiness. Sri Tyagaraja feels that he has committed a sin by taking pride in his compositions and considering himself as one of the greatest musicians. Without realising that Lord Rama’s feet provides eternal peace, Sri Tyagaraja sought land, property and wealth. Sri Tyagaraja seeks forgiveness from Lord Rama, the benevolent forgiver.

The third kriti ‘Sadinchane’ also in praise of Lord Rama is different from the other kritis in that it is more lucid & plain, direct and shows Sri Tyagaraja’s devotion towards Lord Rama. Sri Tyagaraja praises the love and affection showered on the Lord by Devaki and Vasudeva and the Gopikas.  He appreciates the innocence with which Yashoda showed her affection towards the Lord. At the same time, he feels that the Lord has deceived them by being separated from them. Similarly though the Lord had shown Sri Tyagaraja the righteous path of patience, tolerance, pooja and bhakthi, he has not come close to him and is still separated from him. This Kriti is an astounding example of Sri Tyagaraja’s extreme love and bhakthi towards Lord Rama and his grief at not being one with the Lord.

In the fourth kriti, ‘Kanakana Ruchira’, Sri Tyagaraja describes the appearance of Lord Rama and expresses confidence that some day he will attain eternal peace at the Lord’s feet. Sri Tyagaraja describes that the Lord’s face filled with grace and splendour provides immense pleasure and fills the heart with devotion and love. This is similar to what the beautiful Goddess Sita Devi feels when she looks at Lord Rama. Lord Rama shines like the morning sun with his brilliant clothes, crown and his radiance. His eyes are shining like precious stones that adorn his neck at the same time they are soft and graceful like the Lotus. Sri Tyagaraja describes that his pleasure on seeing Rama will be similar to that of Dhruva, who meditated on the Lord when his step-mother scolded him. The pleasure that Sri Tyagaraja derives is similar to that of Lord Hanuman’s when sang the Lord’s praise. Lord Rama resides in the minds of great souls like Janaka. His unlimited love towards his devotees is like the divine karpaga tree. The Lords’ grace and kindness is like the endless ocean. His power in riding the Garuda and wielding Chakraydha drives away fear, gloom and sorrow. Divine beings like Hanuman, Narada, Parasara, Sukha, Purandara, Indira, Parvati and Sita derive great happiness and pleasure in Lord’s presence and are also the witness to the pleasure derived by Lord’s countless devotees. There is a superstition associated with the Varali raga that if taught by a Guru will cause a rift between the student and the Guru. Since this kriti is in the Varali raga it is rarely taught and not widely rendered.

 

In the final kriti, ‘Endaro Mahanubhavulu’, Sri Tyagaraja pays his respect to all the great souls that have lived through the ages and attained spiritual greatness. Sri Tyagaraja describes the eternal bliss happiness that these great souls have derived in their lotus hearts through their yoga and dedication. These great souls have been able to control their mind and senses and meditate upon the Lord through their extreme devotion. They have surrendered to the Lords’ feet like Lotus flowers without any hesitation. These great men through swara, laya and raga have sung the praise of the Lord and attained purity through their devotion. These great men are the guiding light who guide other followers through their wisdom, friendship, love, kindness and compassion. These great men have attained paramananda or eternal happiness with the darshan of the majestic Lord Ram. These great men include monks, the moon, the sun, sanandanas, dikshakas, devas, kimpurushas, Prahalada, Narada, Thumburu, Hanuman, Brahma, Siva, Sukha, Maharishis, Brahmins, saints and immortals. These great men have sung your praises and derived great pleasure out of it. Your divine form, Namas, Glory, valour, bravery, grace, generosity have fascinated your bakthas or devotees and have instilled true bhakthi. These great men have derived immense pleasure and happiness through the endless knowledge contained in the great scriptures like bhagavatham, Ramayana, bhagavad gita, Vedas, shastras, preached by the six religious orders, practised by the 33 crore devas and experienced through bhava, laya and raga. These great men have meditated upon Lord Rama with true devotion similar to Lord Ram’s devotee Sri Tyagaraja.

 

 

 

 




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Remembering Mandolin Srinivas

One of the most talented musicians of our age, Mandolin Srinivas was a child prodigy. There was music in his every sphere of activity. He brought in innovative ways of creating carnatic music from a device that was considered western. His deep understanding of the instrument and creative genius was visible in his debut performance when he was just 9 years old. After his debut, there was no stopping for Srinivas. For the next four decades, he gave performances across many prestigious stages around the world including the Berlin Jazz Festival and Olympic Arts Festival. He has performed with many of the best artists of our age including Zakir hussain, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Vikku Vinayakram, John McLaughlin and Micheal Brook.

Srinivas was an innovator who constantly learned and improved. He used the acoustic mandolin to start with and with continuous improvement mastered the use of electric mandolin for carnatic music.  His music was recognised around the world and his creative genius was compared with some of the best including Beethoven and Menuhin. His name was synonymous with the instrument. Though he had worldwide audience and was recognised as one of the greatest prodigies, Srinivas was always humble and down to earth. Music was the core of his existence.

He has received many awards and accolades including PadmaShri and Sangeet Natak Akademi. His music group Shakti has produced amazing performances around the world. Though Srinivas is not physically present with us anymore, his creative genius still touches our lives through the hundreds of albums that he created. We are indeed truly blessed to have lived and watched this genius performing.




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