Posts Tagged ‘Tyagaraja’

Several weeks back, I was contacted by Vid. Vrinda Acharya to be a part of a panel in the Swadeshi Indology Conference on Carnatic music. While the topic was not crystallized, from our lengthy discussion (mostly on cultural appropriation of carnatic music), I felt we tended to have more disagreements than agreements. When I expressed that, she said the conference welcomes counter views and they do want to feature all view points.  After some deliberation and discussions with some friends, I felt my apprehensions were baseless. After all, I am open for discussion with anyone, doesn’t matter what his/her ideologies are.

The conference took place yesterday and here I attempt to record what I heard and add my views on the same.

By the time I could finish up my Saturday chores and leave for the conference,  I had missed the inauguration and the first few speakers.  It was a bad miss for me to miss out on the Nagaswaram recital, which I heard was great. My friends later told me that Mr. Mohandas Pai “roared” and Dr. Sumathi Krishnan from the music academy made a very poignant speech.

When I entered the hall, I could only catch the end portions of Mr. Rajiv Malhotra. He mentioned that temples that are maintained by the Archaeological Survey of India, there was no place “to do bhakthi”. He quoted the example of Mamallapuram and further went onto explain how the schemes of “breaking forces” function. In my experience, I have been to several temples maintained by the ASI (examples Thanjavur, Kanchi, Uttaramerur, Darasuram, Gangaikondacholapuram) and these are (in Mr. Rajiv’s definition) living temples. I have no doubt in my mind that but for ASI, the state of these temples would be pathetic.

He also mentioned that several of the invitations to be a part of this conference was turned down and congratulated the ones that accepted boldly to participate and complemented them as “Intellectual Kshatriyas”, which brought a smile in my face.

This was followed by the keynote address by Dr. Nagaswami. He attempted to trace the history of carnatic music from the vedas till date. The chronology was pretty much in line with what is mentioned in Rangaramanuja Iyengar’s book, History of South Indian Music.

He made a very interesting remark on the name “Carnatic”. Since Venkatamakhin’s roots are in Karnataka (Govinda Dikshitar  – father of Venkatamakhin – moved from Northern Karnataka to join the Nayaks that ruled Thanjavur). Since the 72 melakartha scheme deviced by Venkatamakhin forms the rockbed of the music system, the system was named as “Karnatak” music to acknowledge his roots in Karnataka. It is widely acknowledged by many that the history of Carnatic music can be viewed as “Music before Sangita Ratnakara” and “music after Sangita Ratnakara”. A similar sentiment was expressed by Dr.Nagaswami as well. In such case, I wonder why we don’t acknowledge the Kashmiri roots of Sarangadeva. I have no expertise to comment on this etymology. I look forward for expert comments on this theory.

Finally, Dr. Nagaswamy complemented the bhava rich singing of Vid. T.M.Krishna and appealed that he should be given complete freedom for experimenting.

This was followed by the first session of paper presentations.

The first paper was by Dr. Korada Subramaniam on “Tyagaraja’s Philosophy and
Rebuttal of Allegations” The presentation showcased that the speaker was well versed in Sanskrit. However, there wasn’t enough time on either of the topic that he set out to explain. I felt some of his remarks such as “it is TM Krishna’s horoscope that makes him do what he does” could have been avoided and the speaker might have found more time for the topic on hand.

The rebuttal was for this article by T.M.Krishna: http://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/tyagarajas-musical-span-and-insight-reiterates-his-genius/article18384186.ece

He says,

Unlike Syama Sastri, whose conversations with the Goddess were inter-personal or Dikshitar who surrendered as a pandita, Tyagaraja was a social commentator. He saw his life as a part of the smarta network. To his credit, by and large, he has stayed away from what we would find today disturbing, but there are compositions in which misogyny is quite obvious. We could cleanse the meanings, justify them or you could accuse me of imposing post-modern values on to him. But if we, in the 21st century continue to seek cultural validation through his words, we should question them.

In compositions like ‘Menu Joochi Mosa Bokave,’ ‘Dudukugala,’ ‘Enta muddo’ and ‘Entha nerchina,’ he follows the classical norm of objectifying women, implying the sexual vulnerability of men. She is always the vice, the seductress who will enslave the man, therefore he needs to be ever watchful. Women and their own self-worth, rarely of any consequence. In ‘Dudukugala,’ it is interesting that the woman is placed below the sudra! And in the same composition, you also find the following casteist reference — “ Despite being born a Brahmin (“Modati Kulam,” first caste), I was behaving like a sudra. Much like Tulsidas, Tyagaraja’s position on women and caste was undoubtedly shaped by his times, his social mores but one wishes that a mind as creative as his had gone beyond or risen above those.

TMK says Tyagaraja was misogynist and smartly takes care of the rebuttal by adding that “he was undoubtedly shaped by his times”. It is not just Tyagaraja’s works, there many many works starting from Thirukkural that echo the sentiments expressed by the songs quoted by TMK on women. To expect  Tyagaraja to meet TMK’s expectations that are built on values of present times is, to put it mildly, naive. One wishes that a mind as intellectual as TMK’s  had gone beyond or risen above this.



It is also interesting to not the hashtags Krishna chooses to use for posting this article. His target audiences are clearly not the ones that enamored by the glide towards the thodi gandharam I guess.

That being said, Dr. Subramaniam’s rebuttal that Tyagaraja held women in high esteem based on songs that praise Goddess Sita  lacks logic. Tyagaraja’s veneration to Sita Devi says nothing about his thoughts on the other ‘vanithulu’ he mentions in his songs. The other contest that Tyagaraja’s lyrics must not been seen with ‘Vakya Artha’ (direct meaning) but with ‘Lakshya Artha’ is nothing but white washing facts to suit one’s own ‘Lakshya’.

This was followed by a presentation on Muttuswami Dikshitar by Vidushi Gayatri Girish. She opened the talk warning about the rampant conversion attempts and said it is only through the deep understanding of the culture and tradition one can counter it. She spoke on the composer’ss musical highlights, structure of his compositions, content, unique themes and his open mindedness to appreciate and draw from other systems. She remarked that nottuswara sahithyams show his open mindedness and count for only a very small number of his compositions.

The abstract published in the conference website says

He didn’t have any need to “copy” a Western tune, as we have
seen in a few recent allegations of plagiarism against him.

She didn’t mention about any “allegations” in her talk. However, she was asked to respond to the “allegations” during the question answer session. To which she said, “This shows Dikshitar’s openness but these compositions were not done with any ulterior motives.”

First of all, are there any allegations?

Please watch this video below:





Some time after the 17th minute, TMK talks about Dikshitar. If my hearing is right, he doesn’t allege anything against Dikshitar. He actually says, making such an allegation would be ridiculous (as ridiculous as the statement made by Mr. Vijay Krishnan). If there is another source that can corroborate to this “allegation” on Dikshitar, I would like to be educated.

I asked a question, “Like Dikshitar, if a Christian is only “inspired” and with no ulterior motives composes songs on his Gods; does she approve of it or would she also recommend a blanket ban on such attempts like some people demand.”

Vid. Girish said, “Music is universal and she thinks an attempt  without any ulterior motive should not be banned.”

This was followed by a talk by Vid, Vrinda Acharya on “Non Translatables in Indian Music.” She lucidly explained how the English equivalents for word such as Nada, Raga, Laya etc are inadequate in explaining the concepts in totality. While I completely understand the challenge in using English equivalents, I struggle to understand how that can lead to cultural appropriation and digestion. I wish she had explained this in detail rather than declared it.

The second session started with a paper presentation by Dr. Radha Baskar focusing on Experimentation in carnatic music and tried to analyse ‘how far is too far’.

She mentioned that experimentation is important. But it should lead to progression and should not disturb the fundamental ethos.

She described the Ariyakudi bhani and asserted that it has stood the test of time. She also mentioned about attempts that deviated from that bani (e.g Vidwan TRS starting with a thillana and ending with a varnam).

She explained elaborately on how Tyagaraja’s experimentation lead to progression.

She explained the importance of Sahithya and how it forms an important part of our culture. She finally said “Music without words has never been in our culture.” I would like to point out that ‘non sahithya’ music is as much a part of sahithya music in our culture.  Especially in the temple nagaswara tradition, where it is mainly raga alapana, mallaris, rakthis and thathakaara pallavi that are played all throughout. To discount the non sahithya elements from the tradition would be denying a rightful place to a rich tradition.

This was followed by a very interesting presentation on Role of Patronage by Arvind Brahmakal. I liked his idea that the 10% of the CSR appeals should be dedicated to fostering arts. It was well structured presentation with a clear delineation of the problem and with some recommendations to rasikas, artists, corporate and the government.

This was followed by a Panel discussion, which I was part of.

I couldn’t take notes as I was in the panel. I write about this from my memory.

We were to discuss, “Recent trends in Carnatic Music – Is there anything wrong? If
yes, what needs to be done?”

Dr. Radha Baskar was the moderator. Her first question was directed to Shri. NS Krishnamurthi, a veteran rasika and the ex-director of AIR. It was related to which changes that he perceived were good and which aren’t. His response was mostly around TMK’s attempts to break away from the Ariyakudi format. He remarked that such attempts have not influenced many and there are hardly any takers for it. He opined that the Ariyakudi format was deviced based on logic and had balance in it.

The second question was to Dr. T.S.Sathyavathi. She was asked which aspects she held precious in the tradition (there was also some reference to jugalbandi and carnatic rock in the question). She answered it in an interesting way by listing what she found disturbing in the current music scene. She mentioned that the current focus is on high volume, high speed and high pitched singing. She said more things that I don’t readily recall. She concluded, whatever she didn’t list is the precious part of the tradition.

Next question was directed to Vid. Melakaveri Balaji. He was once regularly performing with TMK and had gone on record that he wouldn’t perform with him as he doesn’t subscribe to TMK’s ways. It is not clear (to me) if that was related to TMK’s musical experimentation or non music pursuits. He was asked to comment upon this.

For which, he said he didn’t feel he had done something great by refusing to perform wth TMK. He felt he just did his duty. As a full time artist, it is not easy to  refuse to perform concerts. But he felt his ideals did not match with TMK’s. To be true to his lineage, he felt he should not perform with this artist. His remarks were matter of fact and did not hold any grudge or bitterness.

Fourth question was directed to me. It was related to challenges faced by the nagaswaram today and what is the impact of instruments such as saxophone and mandolin coming in.

A lot of what I had said can be read here: https://carnaticmusicreview.wordpress.com/2018/11/04/nagaswaram-the-distressing-present-and-a-bleak-future/

One thing I touched upon that is not part of the article is, how established nagaswaram and thavil artists are treated today.

While we say, Nagaswara is a mangala vadhyam and is part of all auspicious occasions, do we know how many times the artists are asked rudely to stop abruptly?  The nagaswaram artist also has a paddathi to be followed during a wedding and the reality is they are often hindered to execute it. I witnessed it as recent as a few weeks ago.

In the sabha concerts, mostly nagaswaram recitals are restricted to opening ceremonies. Last December, I attended a concert at Sri Parthasarathi Swami Sabha that featured the legendary Mannargudi Vasudevan. The concert was scheduled for two hours. Every ten minutes saw a dignitary arrive and was followed by a rush of a team representing the Sabha to receive the dignitary and make sure he felt comfortable. In the process, they kept blocking the view to the stage and were often found speaking loudly and disturbing the concert. At one of point of time, the stage was completely invisible and there was an extended selfie session right in front of the stage. Would the people involved behave this way if it were not a nagaswaram concert?

Another incident from last December hurt me deeply when the nagaswaram artist involved mentioned it to me.

During the Music academy concerts, before the inauguration  and the sadas, a one hour slot is given to nagaswaram. If you had attended concerts at the academy you would notice that there is a small pedestal over the stage on which the artists sit and perform. This is the case of all concerts except for the two I mentioned above.


The above picture clearly shows that the artists do not sit on the pedestal but on the floor. one might argue that it was just a question of convenience. It can save a few minutes by not having to remove the pedestal before the inauguration function. There are no casteist intentions behind this. While I agree that this may have just a matter of logistic convenience, one would expect that we are sensitive to what the artists involved think about. Before you ask me, why am I making an issue out of this when the artists themselves have no problem in performing this way, please be assured that I spoke to the artists about this and they are indeed hurt. It is just not in their nature to protest. That doesn’t give us the license to treat them the way we want.

There was a comment in the panel that it is the advent of Saxophone that has caused the downfall of nagaswaram. I refuted it immediately. It is not as if hundreds of Saxophone artists have come into the field. Just one popular artist cannot displace hundreds of traditional players.

I was mostly a silent observer for the reminder of the panel discussion. A lot of emphasis was done on the importance of sahithyam and how sahithyam is not just a  placeholder. My views are completely in agreement with what the panel said.

There is no need to feel ashamed that the roots of the carnatic music are steeped in bhakthi. To say sahithya’s are replaceable with any words and it is only the music that matters is definitely in my view a flawed perspective with an urge to replace the idealogy of the composer with one’s own idealogy. In some some ways, that can be called as misappropriation as well.

In the same vein, any attempt to distort the intention of the composer must be censured as well. The outrage cannot be selective.

If i had the time, I would have asked the panel what they thought of this:



The above video is a live streaming of an event on World Music Day in 2014. This was after our PM Shri. Narendra Modi came to power. Some portions of the program was on a special “theme”. The theme was “Modi”. The compositions that had the word “modi” were rendered as part of the theme. The divine compositions of saintly composers like Tyagaraja was force fit  to fit this theme. I would have loved to know if the panel things if this is misappropriation as well.

No points for guessing who protested and wrote about this incident.


TMK carefully doesn’t take any names and thereby doesn’t bring out the fact that it was two of his students who rendered the third song (The article says first song is by  a prominent music, the second by “another musican” and no mention of musicians in the third song) in this “theme”. For each their own politics I guess!

The panel discussion was followed by three more presentations.

First one was by Jatayu on the Christian Appropriation of Carnatic Kritis. He spoke elaborately quoting examples from Vedanayaka Sastriar’s compositions on how he uses kritis to demean Hindu religious practices and how he uses Hindu divine terms such as “Om” in a Christian context. The presentation was focused and data driven. He also talked about how in “Karnamrutha Sagaram” Abhraham Pandithar talks extensively about the origin of music from a Christian context elaborately (running over several hundred pages) and underplays the Hindu roots (Sama Veda, natya Sastra etc get a passing mention).

He also refuted the recent claim on Tyagaraja’s Sujana Jeevana could have been inspired by Sastriyar’s Parama Pavana. (The biographer of Sastriar clearly says that he didn’t have  ability to compose music but was able to write for an existing tune. It is quite obvious whose work was original and who followed it).

Another article in that context worth pondering here: https://medium.com/@sabdavidya/a-response-41a28e4b8efe

I wish he had also appealed to the community that they stick to the facts and do not resort to protests based on false propaganda as it happened in the recent case, where no Tyagaraja kriti was appropriated but several artists were threatened and abused for singing a carnatic (original) composition on Jesus.

The next presentation was by Dr. Arathi on “Is Carnatic Music a bastion
of Brahminical patriarchy?”. I felt most part of her presentation was explaining what was original definition of “Brahmin”. I wonder what that meant in the context of the present day. She listed a bunch of non brahmin artists who made it big in carnatic music. She mentioned that it was with great difficulty she found the caste of the artists listed. It was only the music that mattered and it was only due to the topic of this paper she had to dig into this detail. My suggestion to her is, she should just talk to an average rasika in Mylapore and she can get the details instantly. I’m not trying to suggest that the average rasika is biased and casteist. But to say, that average rasika wouldn’t know of the caste of an artist who had made it big is a little bit too naive.

The last presentation was a by Dr. V.Ramanathan. It was a critique on the acclaimed book of TMK ‘A Southern Music – The Karnatic Story’

I have not read the book. So I cannot comment on the book or the critique. But I found his presentation structured and fact based. There was no high pitched frenzy or call of boycotting or shutting down TMK. He presented several Illustrations of fallacies and circular logic in the book. He also mentioned that some portions are also directly lifted. I would read this paper when the proceedings are published with interest.

Overall, it was an interesting day. As promised, I was allowed to make my points freely. While the focus for most part was on the external threats, there could have been a little bit more focus on introspection as well.

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The first half of the twentieth century saw the ascent of Tamil Print magazines. Several artists enriched these publications through their illustrations. Of which, five artists viz. K.Madhavan, Gopulu, Silpi, Maniam and S.Rajam left an everlasting impact. Each of the above-mentioned artists are unique in their own way. One can broadly say, Shri. S.Rajam was unique in two counts.


  1. He was not only a professional artist (Given the quality and the volume of his art works, he can only be classified as a professional artist) but also a professional musician with a full-time job at the All India Radio – Madras.
  1. The style that he chose to portray his themes, inspired by the traditional Indian fresco paintings and the oriental water wash technique.


Early Years

S.Rajam was born on 10th Feb 1919. His father – V.Sundaram Iyer was a lawyer and a connoisseur of music. S.Rajam in an interview has mentioned that music and painting were like his two eyes. If it was his father’s interest that spurred Rajam to take up music, it was the way his mother Chellammal went about executing even the smallest chores with an aesthetic and artistic touch that drew him towards art.

Rajam went to P.S.High school where he met Lingiah (Uncle of artist Maniam). Lingiah’s interest in painting further enthused S.Rajam’s interest. Lingiah and Rajam would share the expenses for the art materials and spend their leisure hours in painting. To quote S.Rajam, “I never thought of joining the college of arts. I always wanted to be a professional musician. It was Lingiah who wanted to join the college of arts. Unfortunately, he died young due to illness. In a way, it was his wish that prompted me to join the Arts college.”

By the time S.Rajam had joined the college of arts, he had also acted in the lead role of a then blockbuster movie – “Seetha Kalyanam” (He had acted in three other movies as well). His tryst with the tinsel world had invited skepticism from the then principal of Government College of arts and renowned artist/sculptor D.P.Roy Chowdhry . But it didn’t take long for S.Rajam to prove his mettle. He topped the course every single year and won the prestigious Dr. Rangachari scholarship. He even got a double promotion that helped him finish the six-year course in five years.

During his college years, S.Rajam met Lewis Thompson – a poet and a follower of Ramana Maharishi. The acquaintance turned out to be lifechanging as Lewis Thompson introduced S.Rajam to the philosophy and concept of classical Indian art. Thompson’s words, “Art must represent nature; but not reproduce it”, became S.Rajam’s Tharaka Mantra. While the college course, inspired by the western view, focused on techniques for realistic portrayal, the Indian perspective was more symbolic and suggestive. An inspired Rajam would visit various temples and study the sculptures deeply to understand the portrayal and the philosophy behind it. The idea that the features of the Godly subjects in the sculptures were to depict “what is ideal” rather than “what is real” fascinated S.Rajam endlessly. Even before his graduation from the college of arts, it was clear to him that his works would be based on the classical Indian style.

In 1939, Rajam met K.V.Jagannathan – the editor of “Kalaimagal”. Rajam’s first published work depicting a Guru and his disciple appeared in Kalaimagal the same year. It was the first of the many that would follow.

By the time he graduated, his career as a musician had taken off reasonably well. After a short stint as the in-charge of music and dance for the celebrated dancer Ramgopal, Rajam joined All India Radio Madras. During his vacation and during the concert tours, Rajam visited places such as Thanjavur, Kanchipuram, Sittannavasal, Sigiriya and studied the paintings deeply. In 1945, he visited the Ajanta caves. The paintings in there proved to be a lifelong inspiration for Rajam.

His illustrations on the themes based on literature, mythology and philosophy became a regular feature in Kalaimagal and other published works of K.V.Jagannathan. It was a matter of time that his works were sought by other publications such as Dinamani, Kalki etc. The special issues like Deepavali Malar gave him ample space to explore his subjects in depth.


Painting Technique

Rajam developed a style of his own drawing inspiration from the Indian frescos and combining it with the Chinese water wash technique. The distinct lines (rekhas) and his depiction of features such as eyes, fingers were clearly inspired by the Classical Indian frescos and the water color technique was based on the Chinese style. Although most of his works were on hand made paper, he has also done several works on surfaces such as wood, silk etc. The staggering feature of his paintings is the literal and figurative layers buried in them. The depth that he managed to create is the fruit of his arduous technique.

His themes often required meticulous research. After research, he created the entire painting with the all details in his mind. He started off the paintings with a pencil outline depicting the central figure. The actual painting is done around this central figure thereby creating the required depth. He used layers of transparent colors. Each color is applied only to be washed away with water using a brush. Upon drying the next layer is applied and washed away. It is this series of washes and the combination of the colors that eventually gave the desired color scheming that was originally envisioned. After the application of the transparent colors, the opaque colors are applied over it. Finally, his characteristic ink outlines (rekhas) were done using a Fineliner pen.

Clearly, this technique requires immense patience and (depending on the size) each painting can take from a few weeks to a few months for completion. It was Rajam’s disciplined approach and incredible ability to multitask that allowed him to simultaneously work on several paintings. It was his capacity to quickly mentally switch from one theme to the other, as the paintings were drying, was the main reason for the volume of work he could produce.

His Works

It was in the early 1940s the Music Academy, Madras approached Rajam to paint the Carnatic music trinity. Rajam referred previous portrayals, studied written accounts and created the portraits. They were not just faces but had multiple layers in them hinting at their life events and their compositions. It will not be an overstatement to say that these portraits have reached an immortal status on par with the compositions of the trinity. His original paintings of the trinity on various surfaces and in a wide range of sizes can be seen in over hundred locations.


Apart from the Trinity, he had done hundreds of paintings based on Indian classical music. He has painted portraits of several notable composers such as Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Annamacharya, Purandaradasa, Othukadu Venkata Kavi etc. His portrayal of the seven swaras based on Muthiah Bhagavatar’s book ‘Sangita Kalpadrumam’ is another masterpiece. He has meticulously depicted the features associated with each of the swara including the color, ornament, life span, flower, Vahana, Rishi, Devata, Nakshatra, Rasa, Weapon, food etc.

If one studies his works chronologically, it can be inferred that he keeps modifying his works as he gets more and more details. This can be easily observed in his trinity as well as the Saptaswara paintings.


He has also illustrated hundreds of songs of many composers. As a musician, he had a penchant for unearthing rare compositions. That had also driven him to portray some of the rare compositions of famous composers (e.g. “Vidhi Chakradhulu and Dayaseyavayya of Tyagaraja). His other famous music-based works include the ‘Navagrahas’, ‘Panchalinga Kritis’ and the various forms of Ganapathi – all inspired from the kritis of Muthuswami Dikshitar. He also came up with a unique musical letter pad that had line drawings of about hundred classical compositions with a short description.


Apart from music, literature and mythology proved to be great inspirations for his paintings. Thematic series including Dasavatara, Ashta Dikpalakas, Ashta Lakshmi, Sapthamatrika etc are some of his critically acclaimed works based on mythology.

His art work has adorned several books. One fabulous example is the Scenes from the Ramayana illustrated in the Valmiki Ramayana Publication. Some of his works have also been compiled as books. Notable ones are the Chitra Periya Purana – depicting the legends of the 63 Nayanmars and the Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam – depicting the 64 divine plays of Shiva. Another book titled “Dancing with Shiva” published by the Himalayan Academy, USA has over hundred works of Rajam reproduced with exemplary production value.


Although not in large numbers, Rajam has handled several contemporary themes as well. Even in handling such themes (e.g. a typical day in a South Indian Women’s life), his approach is true to his style.

Despite achieving singular heights in multiple fields, Rajam was humility personified. He lived a simple and contented life. Greatness sat lightly on him. Money or fame were never his priorities. While he never sought for accolades, plenty of unique honors reached him. One example would be the preservation of his paintings in the time capsule built by the Kauai Hindu Monastery in Hawaii.

Rajam passed away in 2010 at the ripe age of 90. He was seen painting even a week before his passing away.

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2005-ல் எழுதியது

என்னைக் கேட்டால் திருவையாறுக்கு அருகில் இருப்பவர்கள் பாக்கியசாலிகள் என்பேன். அதிக சிரமமில்லாமல் தியாகராஜ உத்சவத்தில் அவர்கள் கலந்து கொள்ளலாம் என்பதால் இதைச் சொல்லவில்லை. வெளியூரிலிருந்து விடுப்பெடுத்துக் கொண்டு நாள் முழுவதும் காவிரிக் கரையிலமர்ந்து அங்கொலிக்கும் பாட்டைக் கேட்பவர்களைப் போலல்லாமல், காலை வேளையில் வழக்கம் போல வேலைக்குச் சென்று, கச்சேரிப் பந்தலுக்குச் சாயங்காலத்தில் மட்டும் வந்தால் போதுமே! ‘மட்டும்’ என்கிற வார்த்தை கொஞ்சம் குழப்புகிறதல்லவா?


விஷயம் இதுதான். சாயங்கால வேளையில் பாடப் பிரபலமான பாடகர்களுக்கு ஸ்லாட் ஒதுக்கப் படுகிறது. காலை வேளையில் இன்னார்தான் பாடுவார் என்று சொல்வதற்கில்லை. உத்சவத்துக்குப் பல வாரங்கள் முன்பே உத்சவக் கமிட்டியிடம் பதிவு செய்து விண்ணப்பித்தால் ஐந்து நிமிடமோ பத்து நிமிடமோ பாட வாய்ப்பளிக்கப்படும். எதை அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டு பாட வாய்ப்பளிக்கிறார்கள் என்பதை நானறியேன். பாடுபவர்களின் தரத்தை வைத்துப் பார்க்கும் பொழுது விண்ணப்பம் செய்யும் அத்தனை பேருக்கும் வாய்ப்புக் கிடைத்துவிடும் என்றுதான் தோன்றுகிறது. இதைத் தவிர ஸ்பாட்- எண்ட்ரியாக மேடையேறும் மஹானுபாவர்களும் நிறைய பேர் இருக்கிறார்கள். விளையாட்டாகச் சொல்லவில்லை, நிஜமாகவே பந்தலில் இரசிகர்கள் அமரும் இடத்தை விட மேடையிலேதான் கூட்டம் அதிகமிருக்கும். தியாகராஜர் பிரபலமானவருக்கு மட்டும் உரியவரில்லை. சங்கீதம் கற்கும் அனைவருக்கும் குரு ஸ்தானத்தில் வைத்துக் கருதப்படுபவர். அவருக்கு நிகழும் ஆராதனையில் பலர், குறிப்பாகப் பல சிறுவர் சிறுமியர், பள்ளிக்கு விடுப்பெடுத்துக் கொண்டு பாட வருவது சந்தோஷமளிக்கக் கூடிய விஷயம்தான். ஆனால் அவர்கள் தியாகராஜருக்குச் செலுத்தும் அஞ்சலி திருவையாற்றிற்கு வருவதாலேயே பூர்த்தியாகி விடுகிறதா? அவரது கீர்த்தனையை ஒழுங்காகப் பாடுவது மட்டும்தான் அவருக்கு நாம் செலுத்தக்கூடிய உண்மையான அஞ்சலியாகும்.

ஒழுங்காகப் பாடுவதென்றால், வார்த்தைகளைச் சரியாகப் பிரித்து, பாடலின் பாவம் கெடாமல் பாடுவது என்றெல்லாம் நான் கூறவில்லை. அப்படியெல்லாம் பல தேர்ந்த வித்வான்களே பாடுவதில்லை. ‘சீதம்ம மாயம்மாவில்’ பராசரர் படும் பாட்டைப் பற்றி அனைவருக்கும் தெரியும். ஒழுங்காகப் பாடுவது என்று நான் குறிப்பிட்டது சங்கீதத்தின் அன்னையான ஸ்ருதியிலிருந்து விலகாமல், தந்தையான லயத்தின் பிடியை விட்டுவிடாமல் பாடுவதேயாகும். சங்கீதம் கற்கும் பலர் இதைக் கூடவா செய்வதில்லை என்று கேட்டால், அதற்கான பதில் ‘இல்லை’ என்பதே.

பெற்றோர்களுக்கு வேண்டுமானால் தம் மக்களின் குரல் யாழையும் குழலையும் விட இனிமையாகக் கேட்கலாம். ஆனால் மற்றவருக்கெல்லாம் ஸ்ருதியின்றித் தாளமின்றி அரங்கேறும் பாடல்கள் நாராசமாகத்தான் கேட்கும். சேஷகோபாலன் சாயங்காலம் பாடிய மேடையில் என் மகன் காலையில் பாடினான் என்று சொல்லிக் கொள்வது பெருமைதான். அப்பெருமைக்கு ஆசைப்படுவதில் ஒன்றும் தவறல்ல. மேடை என்கிற பீடத்திலிருந்து பாடும் பொழுது கீழே அமர்ந்து கேட்பவனை நினைத்துப் பார்ப்பதுதான் தர்மம். எவன் காது சங்கடப்பட்டால் எனக்கென்ன என்ற மனோநிலையில் மேடையேறுதல் பாவத்திலும் பெரிய பாவமாகும். ‘நான் பெருமையடித்துக் கொள்ள மேடையேறவில்லை, என் அஞ்சலியைச் செலுத்தத்தான் பாடுகிறேன்’ என்று சொல்பவர்கள் எல்லாம், மதிய வேளையில் ஆளரவமின்றியிருக்கும் சமாதிக்குச் சென்று உங்கள் அஞ்சலியைச் செலுத்திக் கொள்ளுங்கள்.
மேடையில் main artiste-ஆக இருக்கத்தான் போட்டி. பக்க வாத்தியம் வாசிப்பவர்கள், குறைந்த பட்சம் அரை மணியாவது வாசித்தபின்தான் மேடையை விட்டு இறங்குவார்கள். இதில் வேடிக்கை என்னவென்றால், முதலில் 2 கட்டை ஸ்ருதியில் ஒரு இளைஞர் பாடுவார். அடுத்து ஐந்து கட்டை ஸ்ருதியில் ஒரு பெண்மணி பாடுவார். இருவருக்கும் ஒரே மிருதங்கத்தை வைத்துக் கொண்டு ஒரே வித்வானே வாசிப்பார். (ஒரு வேளை அவரது மிருதங்கம் இரண்டு ஸ்ருதிக்கும் இடைப்பட்ட ஸ்ருதியில் அமைந்திருக்கலாம்.) இதில் வேடிக்கை என்னவென்றால், ஆராதனையில் பெரும்பாலும் பலர் ‘சோபில்லு சப்தஸ்வர’, ‘நாதோபாசனா’, ‘சொகசுகா மிருதங்க தாளமு’ போன்ற இசையுடன் தொடர்புடைய பாடல்களையே கொலை செய்து கொண்டிருப்பார்கள்.
‘சன் டிவியில்’ வரும் ‘சப்த ஸ்வரங்கள்’ நிகழ்ச்சியில் பங்கு பெறுவதற்கான தேர்வில் கலந்து கொள்ளப் பலர் வருகிறார்கள். அவர்கள் எல்லோரையும் பாட அனுமதித்து விடுகிறார்களா? ஸ்ருதி, தாளம், குரலினிமை எல்லாவற்றிலும் சிறந்திருந்தால்தானே பாட அனுமதிக்கிறார்கள்? வருடம் முழுவதும் நடக்கும் சப்த ஸ்வர நிகழ்ச்சிக்கே இத்தனை தேர்வு இருக்கும் பொழுது வருடம் ஒருமுறை நடக்கும் தியாகராஜர் உத்சவத்தில் இம்முறையை ஏன் நாம் பின்பற்ற இயலாது? இதெல்லாம் நடக்கவேண்டுமெனில், உத்சவக் கமிட்டியில் உள்ளவர்கள் காலை வேளையிலும் சற்றுப் பந்தல் பக்கம் வந்து அங்கு நடைபெறும் கேலிக்கூத்தைக் காண வேண்டும். சாதாரண இரசிகர்களுக்கே இரத்தக் கொதிப்பு ஏற்படும் பொழுது, சங்கீத வித்வான்களான உத்சவக் கமிட்டி உறுப்பினர்கள் இதை நிச்சயம் பொறுத்துக் கொள்ள மாட்டார்கள்.

வளரும் கலைஞர்களான இளைஞர்களும் ஒன்றுமறியாச் சிறுவர் சிறுமியரையும் கூட நான் மன்னித்து விட்டுவிடலாம். 40 வயதைக் கடந்திருக்கும் சிலர் மேடையேறி விழாவையே அலங்கோலப்படுத்துவது சற்றும் சகிக்க முடியாக் கொடுமையாகும். திருவையாற்றில் நடக்கும் கச்சேரிகளைப் பற்றி விவரிக்கும் போன தலைமுறையைச் சேர்ந்த ‘எல்லார்வி’ தனது ‘அரியக்குடி’ புத்தகத்தில், திருவையாறு இரசிகர்களின் மேன்மையைப் பற்றிச் சிலாகித்து எழுதுகிறர். அக்காலத் திருவையாறு இரசிகர்கள் எப்படியெல்லாம் நல்ல சங்கீதத்தை உற்சாகப்படுத்தினார்கள் என்றும் முதல் தரத்திலிருந்து சற்றே குறையும் சங்கீதத்தை எப்படியெல்லாம் கூச்சலிட்டும் கையறைந்தும் மேடையை விட்டு விலக்கினார்கள் என்றும் எழுதுகிறார். இன்றைய நிலையில் அந்த இரசிகர்களின் இரைச்சல் எல்லாம் பலனளிக்காமல் போய் அவர்கள் மேடைப்பக்கமே தலை வைத்துப் படுக்காத நிலையில் உள்ளார்கள். நானும் இந்த வருடம் ஆராதனையில் சாயங்கால வேளையில் பாட்டுக் கேட்கப் போனால் போதுமென்று முடிவெடுத்து விட்டேன். காலை வேளையை எப்படிக் கழிப்பாய் என்றுதானே கேட்கிறீர்கள்? இருக்கவே இருக்கிறது கல்வெட்டுகளும் சிற்பங்களும் நிறைந்த, அப்பருக்குக் கைலாயக் காட்சி கிடைத்த இடமான, ஐயாறப்பன் கோயில். காலை வேளையைக் கோயிலில் ஓட்டிவிட முடியாதா என்ன?

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