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Two day national seminar with special reference to Vedas
Photos courtesy: Krishnanjali Academy

May 13, 2021

South Zone Cultural Centre, Thanjavur, Ministry of Culture, Government of India and Krishnanjali Academy, a wing of Krishnanjali Trust, (Chennai/Karaikal) together presented a two day national seminar on Alayapujavidhih with special reference to Vedas along with Agama chanting on 20th and 21st February and chanting of Vedas from the 22nd to 27th February 2021 at the temple town of Karaikal, curated by Karaikal V Balagurunathan, Director of Krishnanjali Academy, and founding member of the Krishnanjali Trust. The first two days of the national seminar began with special decoration of idols by V. Yogesh Sivachariyar from Karaikal. This was followed by Veda parayanam, where the acharyas chanted holy texts from Atharva Veda, Rig Veda and Yajur Veda on the first and second day. On both days this was followed by Nivedhya aradhana and Mahadeepa aradhana of the idols. The inaugural ceremony was held on the first day in the presence of esteemed guests.

The afternoon sessions focused on chanting of Veda Agamas, Sastras, Darsanas by six esteemed scholars from Chennai on both days. This was followed by sangita upasana, a rendition of Nama Sankirtanams by Sivasri Skandaprasad who was accompanied by Nagai Sriram on the mridangam. Her rendition of the Mukti Margam with reference to the kali yuga was transcending. Sivasri says, "In this age of quarrel and hypocrisy the only means of offering and attaining mukti (salvation) is through chanting the holy name of the Lord." Nama Sankirtanam is nothing but the constant chanting of the Bhagavan Nama. This sangita upasana was welcomed by the general public and moved the audience through hymns, chants and prayers thus promoting the idea of togetherness and belief.

Krishnanjali troupe

V Balagurunathan

A natya upasana was presented by V. Balagurunathan and his students from Krishnanjali Academy, Karaikal on Sanskrit krithis. The performance opened with a well known Vinayaka kauthvam in Gambhira Nattai calling upon Lord Ganesha. Special mention to Parshwanath Upadhye and ABHAI for giving the opportunity to learn such a composition. The students performed a series of short songs from the Ganesha kauthvam to the famous composition on Lord Ayyappa "Harivarasanam". These performances consisted of little children to young adults dancing together in unison showcasing their talent. The senior students performed a traditional Kalakshetra jathiswaram in Ragamalika which was followed by a kirtanam "Asaindhadum Mayil" composed by Oothukadu Venkata Subbaiyar in ragam Simhendramadhyamam. The performance came to an end with the beautiful bhajan "Sri Rama Chandra" praying for moksha to Lord Rama in ragam Hamsadhwani, set to misra chapu.

On the second day, the vedagama chantings were followed by musician Srikanth Gopalakrishnan rendering krithis of Muthuswami Dikshitar based on the sthalams. He began with "Shri Mahaganapathih avathu maam" in Goulai and mishra chapu. The Goulai transcended and turned into a vibrant Nattaikurinji composition "Parvathi Kumaaram Bhavaye" from the sthalam Virinchipuram. From Virinchipuram, travelling all the way to Chidambaram, he rendered "Aanandha natana prakaasham," a famous composition in Kedaaram. This was followed by "Kamalaambaam bhajare" in Kalyani which is one among Navaavarnam. From the Ayodhya sthalam he rendered the "Raamachandram Bhaavayani," the famous composition in Vasanta ragam and talam rupakam. Travelling towards Karaikal, the next one was "Angaarakam Aashrayaamyaham"' in ragam Suratti from the sthalam Vaitheeswaran Kovil which belonged to one among the Navagraha Kritis of the composer. Following this "Shri Kaanthimathim" in Haimavathy and to conclude the splendid upasana one among the Nava Kritis on Shri Mahalakshmi, "Maaye Chithkale" in ragam Shankarabharanam was rendered.

Roja Kannan's troupe

Roja Kannan

Roja Kannan, President ABHAI, presented natya upasana. The program was curated especially with the compositions of the Trinity of Carnatic Music namely Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshithar and Syama Sastry. The compositions of the Trinity have transcended the test of time and have withstood the onslaught of several invasions and revolutions in the country. These compositions though mainly composed for vocal music are so adaptable to the explorations through the medium of Bharatanatyam also. This was amply proved by Roja Kannan and her disciples Tvisha Vadhul, Vaishnavi Srinivasan, Shruthi Bhuvaneshwari and Nivedha Harish. The presentation commenced with the kirtanam of Muthuswamy Dikshithar, "Ananda Natana Prakasam" in Kedaram ragam and misra chapu talam.This kirtanam extols the Ananda Thandavam of Lord Nataraja at Chidambaram and was choreographed with interesting rhythmic interludes by Guru Adyar K Lakshman. Following this the group presented the celebrated Pancharathnam of Saint Thyagaraja in the ragam Sri set to adi talam, "Endarao Mahaanubavulu". The choreography included interesting rhythmic interludes along with intense emotional interludes explaining the lines that the Saint had so poignantly written extolling the many good hearted souls present in this world.

Next came a very soulful presentation of Syama Sastri "Maayamma" in the ragam Ahiri and adi talam by Roja Kannan. The different episodes of the epic Ramayana were interestingly interspersed in the Thyagaraja kirtanam "Nannu Palimpa" in the ragam Mohanam and adi talam. The dancers played the role of the different characters in the Ramayana and brought out the episodes of Ahalya Chaapa Vimochanam, Jatayu Moksham and the abduction of Sita by Ravana to the delight of the audience present. Next came a kirtanam from Thyagaraja's Nauka Charitram, "Gandhamu Puyyaruga", in an interesting group presentation. The program concluded with a Mangalam praising the Trinity in Sanskrit penned by Dr. Ravi Sharma and set to music by Radha Badri. The discerning audience enjoyed the classic kirtanams presented in the authentic Bharatanatyam style.

The six days of Veda chanting began on 22nd February. These were followed by natya upasana and sangita upasana by Varshaa Ramesh, P. Sundaresan and troupe, Chennai on famous kirtanams. The sangita upasana began with a rendition of Nattai filled "Shree Maha Ganapathe" composed by Mayooram Vishwanatha Shastri in adi talam. The trio shared stories behind the kirtanams as they rendered them one by one. It was a lively and conversational performance which created moments in between each song. They moved onto famous compositions by Papanasam Sivan, "Nekkurugi Unai" in ragam Abogi and "Shree Valli Deva" in ragam Nata Bhairavi, both set to talam adi. "Parvati Kumaran" in Natakurinji by Muthuswami Dikshitar and "Saara Saaksha" in Panthuvarali by Swathi Thirunal were few other famous compositions rendered by them. The trio decided to end the performance with a Nama Sankirtanam "Vanamaali Radha Ramana" through a soulful and powerful rendition as they chanted with cymbals in hand. With the Mangalam, their performance came to an end and this was followed by the natya upsana.

Varshaa Ramesh's troupe

Varshaa Ramesh and her troupe opened with one of the most traditional Thodaya Mangalam "Jaya Janaki Ramana" in Ragamalika, choreographed by Guru Krishnaveni Lakshmanan on Lord Rama. The varnam in Reetigowla was "Sri Krishna Kamala Natho," a composition in the Melattur style. Special mention goes to Guru Sathyanarayana Raju and ABHAI for giving the opportunity of learning a traditional piece choreographed by Guru Narmada. As the varnam ended with portrayal of lord Krishna in Bhagavad Gita, the troupe next showcased the reverberating Tillana composition of maestro Balamuralikrishna in ragam Kathanakuthuhalam. As the name of the ragam suggested, the dancers filled the stage with energy and joy with the sahithyam in praise of Lord Krishna.

The final day of the six day chanting began with the rendition of Yajur Veda chants, followed by a sangita upasana by Gomathi Nayagam, Chennai and a natya upasana by Pudhuvai Krishnan and troupe, Pudhucherry. Gomathi Nayagam rendered a collection of timeless compositions by Swati Tirunal, Saint Thyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar. The upasana began with Nava Varna Krithis of Muthuswami Dikshitar which was followed by Sree Mahadeva Krithi "Visweswara Darishanu Karu Raga" in ragam Sindhu Bhairavi. He also rendered "Giri Raja Sutha Thanaya" beautifully in ragam Bangaalaa and talam desadhi.

Pudhuvai Krishnan's troupe

The natya upasana consisted of traditional repertoire that filled the stage with vibrancy and energy. Starting with Alarippu, Pudhuvai Krishnan's troupe continued to perform a well known varnam "Maathey Malayadhwaja" in ragam Kamas. Their performance came to an end with the ever famous Kalakshetra Hindolam Thillana in praise of Kanchi Kamakshi.

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