Multi linguistic journey of bhakti
- Padmini Sirish
Photo: Bharath Gowda

June 28, 2014

A. Lakshman, one of the highly respected Bharatanatyam artistes and teachers from Chennai, brought alive the intense devotion of a devotee of the supreme Lord Venkateshwara, when he performed at Benvenuti Performing Arts Centre, Sacramento, on June 8, 2014 at the invitation of Kaladhaara Arts Academy and SAHANA. Lakshman’s thematic presentation titled ‘Tirupathi – Lord of the Seven Hills’ traced a multi linguistic journey through compositions of Dinakar Kaili (Hindi), Manak Prabhu (Marathi), V. S. Murthy (Oriya), Purandaradasa (Kannada), Annamacharya (Telugu) and verses from Venkatachalamahatmyam (Sanskrit). Hariprasad’s evocative music composition in seven ragas and seven talas symbolizing the Lord of Seven Hills added to the devotional fervor demonstrated by Lakshman as he extolled the magnificence of Lord Venkateshwara and became a devotee who surrenders to Him seeking protection.

Lakshman set the tone of bhakti right from the Pushpanjali in raga Surya and adi tala, a composition of Dinakar Kaili, which was followed by Manik Prabhu’s composition in Marathi, Venkatarama sankatavari in Kedara raga and rupaka tala. V. S. Murthy’s Oriya composition Balaji Daroshana in raga Durga and adi tala reflected the intense desire of the devotee beseeching Lord Balaji for His darshan. Lakshman’s energetic and crisply choreographed nritta interspersed between devotional zeal was impressive in a Sanskrit composition in raga-talamalika, which was the centerpiece of the evening’s concert.

Lakshman ably played the role of a devotee yearning for the Lord to come to his abode in the next item Venkataramanane baro, a Purandaradasa kriti in Kannada in Saveri raga and adi tala. The frustration of a devotee when he believes that the Lord has not yet blessed him was subtly and yet persuasively performed by Lakshman in an Annamacharya keertana in Telugu, Yentamatram yevvaru thalachina in ragamalika and mishrachapu tala. When Lakshman concluded the evening’s recital with a thillana in Kamas raga, it seemed as if his rhythmic feet were resonating with the joyful heartbeats of a devotee at the feet of Lord Venkateshwara.

Lakshman had his early training in Bharatanatyam from Veera Venugopal of Bharata Kalanjali, Malaysia. He continued to learn and explore the depths of this sublime art under the able guidance of acclaimed guru K. J. Sarasa. He embarked on a successful teaching career at his guru’s dance school Sarasalaya and soon established his own institution Nrithyalakshana. Lakshman has taught a number of senior students, one of who is Mathura Vijay of Kaladhaara, Sacramento, who was also one of the organizers. The event was jointly organized by SAHANA, a non-profit organization with a goal to nurture and promote dance, music and fine arts from the Indian sub-continent in the local community.

Dr. Padmini Sirish of Aradhana Arts, a disciple of Late Guru Narmada, Bangalore, is currently being mentored by Rama Vaidyanathan, New Delhi.