Photo: Prashanth M
by BR Usha
Bhadram karNEbhi: sruNuyAma dEvA
bhadram pasyEmAkshibhir yajathrA:
sTirair angais tushtuvAmsas tanubhir
vyasEmahi dEvahitam yadhAyu:
O AchAryAs! May we pray for our ears to listen to what is auspicious and good! Oh AchAryAs and learned persons worthy of sacred deeds! Bless us to see with our eyes all that is auspicious and subhakaram! Oh AchAryAs! May we be blessed to engage in Your eulogy, enjoy with firm limbs and healthy bodies a full term of life (one hundred years) dedicated to serving You (AchArya Kaimkaryam) and Your Lord (Bhagavath Kaimkaryam)!
The thought came long back, yes when we bought a site and wanted to build a nest of our own where the atmosphere would be almost like the home I was born and grew up in a small town …. I grew up listening to Mantra Ghosha, Sangeetha, recognized as an Upaveda or an ancillary to the Vedas. “Samgeetham” means that which is sung well.
The origin of Sangeetha is linked with Saama Veda. When Sangeetha is used in the worship of God, it is recognized as Naadhopaasana or the offering of worship through Naadha (Sound). Veda is a Pramaana recognized as Sabdha in Vaidhika darsanas. Upaasana of Sabdha Brahma can then be considered as the true Sangeetha played early in the morning from the temples. During festivals and auspicious days, in the lane we lived, the atmosphere was charged up and we celebrated harmoniously with full enthusiasm. During Aradhane and other Utsavas, I used to see processions going in front of my house where people chanted Mantras, Bhajans and Devaranamas. There were numerous programs like Harikathe, Yakshagana, Carnatic music concerts during these festivities.
The river Arkavathi flowed nearby giving the town a serene atmosphere, the picture is still fresh in my mind. When we moved from the town to Bangalore because of my father’s transfer and our further studies, I took some time to adjust to city life, where everything was very fast and mechanical. I started missing those Angadi Salu, Pete Beedhi, our friendly neighbours, those festival seasons, mainly Arkavathi Nadhi, Devasthana, and of course last but not the least those music programs and Charpu…
High School days and college were little active since both institutions belonged to rich culture oriented management groups who regularly conducted various cultural programs in addition to curriculars. I gradually got to know about various prestigious institutions and organizations like Rama Seva Mandali, Spicmacay, Shankarapuram, Devagiri Kala Sabha and other music schools which have been working in promotion of Indian music.
I must quote all these programs were amidst large audiences which makes a Kalarasika stay far from the performer and the arrangements of the stage. This thought made me get involved in Spicmacay activities where there is a close bonding between the performer and the Kalarasika and the distance is reduced to quite an extent. Here I got introduced to a very existed practice but it was new to me. It was the Bhaitaks or chamber music.
By this time my lifestyle started becoming interesting with so many events happening other than our professions and family. I got to attend many Bhaitaks and music programs arranged for small groups which were more focused, contained disciplined audience and were more reachable. When we got an opportunity and a suitable plot to build our dream house, I proposed the idea of a living area which can accommodate such programmes at home and hence it would be nice to build the ground floor accordingly. When I got a positive reply from my husband I could see my dream coming true. I was overjoyed. Many opposed to having an open courtyard inside the house which took away a room space in the structure. The opposition was with a thought that it would not be useful for anything. I insisted for it and Dwaraka too could visualize the beauty of having a courtyard inside the house which would be successful in creating more lung space in the building.
The imagination was experienced and agreed by all during house warming when the entire Homa and chanting of Rudra, Chamaka and Vedic chants were performed in the courtyard and the audience sat around it in the house. It was a divine experience for all. This was the beginning. From the time we have moved in to our home, we have been arranging concerts and Bhaitaks and fortunately for us the performers enjoyed it quite well rendering in our nest…. Recently an event which made our dream come true was the Thyagraja-Purandara Aradhane.
Story behind the Aradhane
During 2006 when I was searching for a veena teacher to pursue my learning, I was pleased to know Dwaraka’s intensions to learn flute and the search ended in finding his Guru Shri Venugopal, flautist. We had inaugurated the first concert program at our house 3 years back offering Sharada Pooja. When we initiated ourselves to learn music we thought of having an Aradhana-Guruvandana in our house to thank the lord and Sadgurus for this initiation. But without prior experience, arranging this event was difficult. We both decided to seek elder’s advice and guidance.
When we proposed this to our elders and gurus they were very happy and offered their full support in arranging the event. I started meeting a few people who had experience in conducting Aradhane and discussing the specific arrangements which was needed for the same. We had to choose a time and day which would be comfortable for most, not very troublesome for parents who would have to concentrate on children’s exams, nor creating trouble for working people. A time frame had to be fixed, crowd expected had to be thought of and then plan the arrangements for the day.
First and foremost I had to visit a full fledged Aradhane to get first hand experience. Aradhana Mahotsava at Srirangapatna helped me gain this knowledge, but that was of a huge scale where 100 + performers rendered Keerthanes. All my tensions eased out when I got to know that Aradhane at my Meshtru’s house was coming by and would be conducted at their home, which has been conducting it for the past 59 years. While we prepared the list of people willing to attend and taking confirmations early so that they freeze the date in their calendar for us, both myself and Dwaraka set out to attend and participate in the Aradhane at our Meshtru’s house. Though we missed the first half in the morning since we had to travel to our town, we could get to be a part of the music rendering and later the Pancharatna Ghoshti by our Meshtru and all his disciples. Later I took his blessings and requested him to come and lead the Ghoshti in our house for the Thyagaraja-Purandara Aradhane which he readily agreed to attend and was happy about it. I was in the seventh heaven.
The day of the event was soon arriving; I was so excited about it. I began collecting details of the schedule planned both my Guru and Dwaraka’s Guru extended full help by giving us details of the program planned and the artists who would join for the Aradhane.
Dwaraka got a news suddenly on Friday evening that he has to travel to US officially on an assignment. I was shocked and surprised at this sudden hurdle. We awaited trip confirmations and were relieved to know that he was travelling on Sunday, the same night after the Aradhane. We continued our arrangement plans and finally the D-day arrived. The previous evening Muktha Balaga team helped me in purchasing, setting up few things at home and arranging for the Aradhane. The house wore a festive look and I was recalling my childhood days. I think I bored few around me who sat listening to it. On the morning of 25th (February), we all were set to get immersed in the ocean of music and take blessings of our Gurus.