06 June 2006

Lets enjoy music.

There should be a way to implant the knowledge in one’s mind. Modern education, for example, would start with basics of arithmetic and gets to the complexities of astronomy. It’s the way to learn and attain the wisdom. Any education, if there is no discipline, cannot make a good learning. Knowledge then will become a thing of a specific class, who are gifted with the wisdom at birth. This is the reason for making any education a level-based one.

Our ancestors realized the need to factorize the known literature, and tried to implant the knowledge of the same in more number of people’s mind, so that the knowledge is shared, cherished and grown. And so that it doesn’t stay a property of the connoisseurs.

Veda Vyasa, hence, divided Vedas as Rig, Yajur, Sama and Atharvana Vedas, and devised a simple way of learning them. Further, various Rishis and Aacharyas developed the art of learning Vedas and preached it to their students who furthered it with their talents and devotion. This system, still in the reformation, called the “Guru-Shishya parampara”, is a continuous process. The divine relationship of a Master and his student is the essence of this particular system.

The same system is used in learning the art too. One, even though an able person needs some guidance from an elderly, experienced and efficient person called a “Guru” or a Master. Thus this Master and his student then become the center of the whole system mentioned above. This student learns things from his Master’s experience and learns many more things from his experience too, and teaches the bettered knowledge to his students, who better this knowledge themselves as they move on in life. Thus the knowledge is a continuous process like a flowing river, never stops, generations to generations, ages to ages it flows like a sacred gift.

Music, being one form of art has had the same problems of belonging to one particular set of people, who couldn’t effectively teach others, give it to the next generation. Fortunately, some of the various forms of music are still in life today. Thanks to those who brought some discipline into it along with a simple way of learning them. These Gurus are called Super Gurus in the Parampara. Purandhara Daasa is one such Super Guru of a particular music form. The music was formalized in Karnataka, by Purandhara Daasa, so its called Karnataka Shastreeya Sangeetha.

Name has ‘Karnataka’ because, the first verses and formation are in Kannada, and was devised by a Karnataka based legend called Purandhara Daasa. He is also referred to as the father of Karnataka Shastreeya Sangeetha.
Name also has Shastreeya, meaning classical form. Classical because, there is no one person starting it, not it has any scriptural evidence of its beginning.

It is been gifted to our generations by the Guru-Shishya parampara. The art has flown from generations of un-known to Purandhara Daasa from the Masters, and from the generation of Purandhara Daasa to us through the systematic Guru Shishya Parampara….through the legendary Thyagaraaja, Mutthu Swami Deekshitar and Shyama Shastri, known as the Trimurthy of Karnataka classical music and others. We are fortunate enough to have this form of music alive today. These legends added so many new Raagas, new compositions, new renditions that enriched the musical form they learnt, practiced and preached. It is learnt that these Gurus have attained the salvation of life with music.

While Thyagaraaja and Shyama Shastri’s divine compositions are in Telugu and Sanskrit, Mutthu Swami Dikshitar’s compositions are in Sanskrit, Swathi ThirunaL's lyrics in Tamil and Sanskrit. They never hesitated to call this Karnataka Shastreeya Sangeetha. They didn’t even care if it is called by some other language’s name. All that mattered to them was the power in their music. Their teachers gave this to them and all they wanted was to spread it, practice it, and enrich it. They knew music has no religion, no language. It was as pure as the flowing river. It was as divine as the Ganges. Same nature can be found in other musicians as well. Music has no barriers of the material world. It is invaluable, greater than all the assets of the world.

So, never it was an issue of any controversy that the form of music be called Karnataka Shastreeya Sangeetha. But the British called it Carnatic music, and from then on, the definition has changed. Some people from other states call it Carnatic too to avoid the usage of the name of Karnataka. It’s so unfortunate that the contribution of Purandhara Daasa to the classical music is being neglected. It’s so unfortunate again to note some politicians wanted to call it with other names like Tamilu Sangeetha and so on. In my opinion, let them call it whatever… it remains one of the greatest forms of art, much above the imagination of all these ill-thinking goons. Name is not important; it’s the essence, the feeling that is more important in this case.

I had to write this because I read an interesting article titled “Karnataka Sangeetha” on a site and was clueless as to why these people are trying to get a hold on the divinity of music. What are we quarreling for?!!! It’s the music that is above everyone, don’t constrain it to one particular region. It’s a property of all,everyone.

Rule remains that until we get introduced to music with “Lambodara Lakumikara…“, Purandhara Daasa will be honored with his due place in history…and Karnataka is the place that cradled this particular form of music. No one can rule this out. Why are we quarrelling?

It’s not “Karnataka” in the name that is important; rather it is the “Sangeetha” in it that makes sense. Lets maintain the name given by our ancestors to it, not politicize it. The Gurus of the earlier times, as mentioned already in this post, gave this music to us to enrich and improve the same, not to spoil its divinity by our rigid and unholy constraints. Lets enjoy the music; lets keep it away from all our mortal issues.


RK said...

Srik: Beautiful post. I too have heard petty discussions as to why call it Karnatak when even people from other states sing it.

If you haven't, suggest you to read the book 'MS: A life in music' by TJS George which explains in detail why people call it Carnatic music.

Anonymous said...

Could you please quote some references for the following mentioned in your post. That would make it more authentic.

"The music was formalized in Karnataka, by Purandhara Daasa, so its called Karnataka Shastreeya Sangeetha"

"They didn’t even care if it is called by some other language’s name."


Anonymous said...

Muthuswami Dikshitars compositions are in sanskrit.I believe his ancestors were from karnataka.

Anand Balaji said...

Srik, this article ought to have been published in the newspapers! Your flow of thought, analytical skills and knowledge of music are are simply amazing.
A thoroughly enjoyable read!