April 19 2009
Tyagaraja “Aradhana” is probably the most widespread festival in the carnatic music scene. It is celebrated all over the world..The one in Dallas took place on an auspicious Sunday in Plano Ganesha temple. I have always enjoyed Tyagaraja aradhana greatly, but being in the audience. I have admired the “Pancharatna” and the singers who sing them with great energy and dedication. I never thought that one day I would get a chance to be one of them. But this year I got this wonderful opportunity to be part of the singing group. Many thanks to IFAA Dallas for arranging this event and the boundless encouragement and mentoring….
The practice sessions for this event took me back to good old school days when I used to be part of the group singing..Only in this classroom, most of us were older ..But a student is a student..whatever age or stage of life he or she is in. The dedication I saw in the singing group and the respect for one another and for our teacher Smt.Lalitha Sheshadri was infectious.
The actual event began with the traditional “Unchavruti” a procession in honor of Saint Tyagaraja. The “pancharatna” rendition commenced immediately after..The ensemble included not only singing but various instruments – Veena, Violin, “Ghatam”, “Mridangam”, “Kanjeera” and other western instruments as well. The first rendition of the day was Shri Ganapathini set to Raaga “Sourashtram”.
The first “Pancharatna” is “Jagadanandakaraka” set to Raaga “Naata” and “Adi Taala”. This used to be my favorite one, until I got acquainted with the remaining four of them. Now I don’t know which one is my favorite, as each one of them is truly a masterpiece. Jagadanandakaraka is the only Pancharatna in Sanskrit. What I like most about it is the way the words rhyme not only at the end of a line but all over…
One simple example –
Sundara Tara Vadana Sudha Mayavacho Brindagovinda Sanandama varajarapta shubakara ne ka..
In just this one line – (1 )Sundara – Tara – Vara – Jara – Shubhakara
(2) Vada – naSudha – Brinda
(3) Maavacho -BrindaGo –
(4) Vinda Sa Nanda Ma
The breaks are at certain places, making the whole rendering beautiful. This type of lyrics is very common in this composition and to some extent in other pancharatnas as well.
The second composition is Dudukugala set to “Raaga Gaula”. This composition can be called an eye opener. The third Pancharatna is Sadhinchene O Manasa set to “Raaga Arabhi”. This rendition was a little different from the rest where in the instruments played the charana once and the singers sung it next. This alternating rendition made this composition a sweeter treat.
The fourth Pancharatna is Kanakanaruchira set to “Raaga Varali”. This beautiful haunting piece, was rendered by all male artists, truly marvelous performance.
The fifth Pancharatna Yendaro Mahanubhavulu set to “Raaga Sri” is a masterpiece. Whenever I sing this or listen to this, It always has had a humbling effect on me.
The Pancharatna rendering was followed by energetic, Jati rendition Veena, Ghatam, Mridangam , Kanjeera and vocally. The performance was just mind blowing..! This was followed by a very rare and mellifluous compositon rendering of Bhavayami Paradevata. This a “Navaratnamaalika” which has 9 Raagas set in it.
The next part of the programme included performances from kids and adults.
This aradhana will always be cherished by me. It is special because not only because I got to sing, but also because I realised the spirit of Tyagaraja Aradhana. It is about celebrating Tyagaraja’s ingenuity, but it is also about honoring our traditional music, our culture , our people and the beautiful values ad morals in the Pancharatnas.
Finally – “ENDARO MAHANU BAVULU ANDARIKI VANDANAMULU” which means “Salutations to all the great men in this world!”