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Articles on Carnatic Music

What I Call Divine Music
by Saroja Ramanujam

(This is the second of our article entries. Here we will print several entries to our article contest for your benefit.)

I have heard the stalwarts of yesteryear like Ariyakudi Ramanuja aiyangar, Madurai Mani aiyar G.N.B. etc. and had been a devout concert goer for more than thirty years. Now I have zeroed down to Seshagopalan as his music alone gives me that divine experience. At my age, I look for spiritual uplift through music which I get only in the music of TNS When God chooses to appear to me through the music of TNS, who am I to prevent Him!

When a musician commited to his art sings, the nadabrahman is manifest in his music, even perhaps without his knowledge, and the listener, who is attuned to the spirit of the singer, which is trying to express the divinity through his music, is able to feel the presence of God. I am writing this through my own experience. When a singer forgets himself in his music, he becomes one with God. The listener who has same wavelength is able to experience the divine presence. This happens not only with the sahithya bhava, but also during the raga alapana and swaraprasthara, which proves that bhava in music is not confined to words or language. That is why I feel that words are only auxiliary and not prerequisite to bhavasangeetham. If the musician contacts the divinity through his music, he is able to communicate it to the fortunate rasika who is a sahrdhaya, and receives the divine outburst of the musician like a well-tuned wireless receiver equipment. When that happens, the rasika is no more satisfied with anything less, like the mongoose in Mahabharatha which became golden in one half and was not satisfied with anything which could not make his other half golden, too.

The concerts of TNS are audio visuals. For instance, in the concert when he was awarded the title of 'Sivan isai selvan' by the Papanasam Sivan Rasikar Samgam, TNS sang the kriti 'Thanigai valar saravanabhava' in thodi. One could actually see the playful dance of the peacock when he sang the line 'Thulli vilaiyadaivarum thogai mayil.' Later in the song 'Enna thavam seidhanai,' TNS depicted Krishna calling his mother in different moods 'Amma enrazaikka', as only he can do, bringing out the full significance of the sahithyabhava. When he reached the part of the song 'Uralil katti vay poththi kenjavaihthai,' it was a different story altogether. The rasikas witnessed the difficulty Yasodha experienced in trying to tie the Parabrahmam to the mortar and the enchanting scene in which Krishna was entreating His mother,'kenja vaiththai kannanai,' all being presented visually in the mode of singing. TNS is not a mere isai selvar but also a iyal isai nataka selvar as all the three aspects are present in his music. It made this rasika exclaim 'Enna thavam seidhomo,' to listen to such music and to be able to understand and appreciate its merit.

Saroja Ramanujam, 69, is a retired teacher. She is interested in music and philosophy and has created web pages and groups on TNS and philosophy. Contact at rasika_tns at yahoo dot com.

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updated on 03/20/2009