Indian Classical Music and Old movie Songs
Worship of a mother Goddess has been part of the Indian tradition since its earliest times. Lakshmi is one of the mother goddesses and is addressed as “mata” (mother) instead of just “devi” (goddess). Goddess Lakshmi means Good Luck and wealth to Hindus. The word ‘Lakshmi’ is derived from the Sanskrit word “Lakshya”, meaning ‘aim’ or ‘goal’, and she is the goddess of wealth and prosperity, both material and spiritual.
Lakshmi is the household Goddess of many Hindu families and a favorite among women. Although she is worshipped daily, the festive month of Shravana Masam is considered as special month for worshiping Lakshmi. Lakshmi is depicted as a beautiful woman of golden complexion, with four hands, sitting or standing on a full-bloomed lotus and holding a lotus bud, which stands for beauty, purity and fertility. Her four hands represent the four ends of human life: Dharma or righteousness, “Kama” or desires, “Artha” or wealth, and “Moksha” or liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Cascades of gold coins are shown flowing from her hands, suggesting that those who worship her gain wealth. She is always shown wearing gold embroidered red clothes. Red symbolizes activity and the golden lining indicates prosperity. Lakshmi is More >
The rivers of India are considered holy because they have not only provided physical sustenance or fostered culture but have nurtured spirituality. The evidence for such inner nourishment is seen in the outpourings of bhakti from the innumerable composers who have lived on their banks. The poetry of the Aazhwars and the Thevara trinity abound in instances of their wonderment at the Kaveri that rivals their devotion to the Lord. Bhadrachala Ramadasu, who sang ‘Adigo bhadradri, goutami idigo choodandi’, must have been inspired by the muse of Godavari to create immortal poetry and music. Sri Thyagaraja, who was born in Thiruvaiyaru and lived on the banks of the Kaveri all his life, must have witnessed its serenity, ferocity and eternity. It is an elevating experience to simply sit on the banks of the Kaveri at Thiruvaiyaru during the dawn or dusk and watch it flow quietly even today. The experience is soul-filling if you hear a snatch of a Thyagaraja kriti in say, Malayamarutham, wafting with the gentle breeze along with the twittering of the birds – a never-to-be-missed experience for any sangeetha rasika during the aradhana. What an enchanting and ennobling sight would it have been in the days before the More >
Music is an integral part of Indian’s life. Classical music indeed brings peace and harmony to the soul. Musical renditions have the power to lift man from depression into ecstasy, especially when sung with a devotional note. In an earlier post on Hindustani music, we had seen the contribution of the legendary Pandit Bhatkhande in helping to sustain the survival of Hindustani classical music. Hindustani music is to northern India what Karnataka Sangeetam (Carnatic Music) is to South India. Like the former, Carnatic music is also highly systematized. In fact classical Carnatic music is one of the world’s oldest and richest musical traditions. ” Carna” means ear. Carnatic Music means music pleasing to listen to.
In the modern era three musicians had seminal influence on the evolution and popularization of Carnatic music – Saint Tyagaraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar and Shyama Shastri. They were the Trinity of Carnatic music. They were each prolific composers with unique styles and were contemporaries who lived during the period between 1760 and 1850 in the Kaveri delta of Tamil Nadu. Even today songs written by them constitute an integral part of Carnatic music concerts. This post narrates short anecdotes from each of this trinity’s life.
Saint More >
(In commemoration of Shri Vasant Desai’s 36th Death Anniversary on 22nd December, 2011 and his Birth Centenary on 9th June, 2012)
Vasant Desai (1912 - 1975) was one of the greatest music composers of Hindi and Marathi films. He was born on 9th June, 1912 in a wealthy family in Sonwad village, in the princely State of Sawantwadi (now in Maharashtra), then ruled by the Bhonsale clan. He grew up in Kudal, Sindhdurg district (of present day Maharashtra). (Some sources indicate that he was born in Kudal). He got an impression as a classist for most of his career, which made him not to come up in commercial films. He was limited mainly to mythological and historical films.
Vasantji was fascinated by music when he was living with his maternal uncle. He bought an old harmonium and started learning music. Fascinated by films, he went to Kolhapur where he met the legend V.Shantaram, who was then working in Prabhat Film Company.
Vasantji was associated with Prabhat Film Company in his early film career. He entered into films as an actor in Prabhat’s silent film Khooni Khanjar (1930). He worked as an assistant under music director Govindrao Tembe for Prabhat Co.’s first talkie ‘Ayodhyecha Raja (1932)’, which was the first Marathi talkie. The film was also made simultaneously in Hindi as Ayodhya Ka Raja (1932). After the 2003 More >
Sri Tyagaraja, the most celebrated carnatic music saint was a great devotee of Lord Sri Rama. Saint Tyagaraja lived to the full extent that God realization is best achieved through ‘Nadopasana’ (music with devotion). His songs are filled with an intimate devotion to Rama, all through revealing his deep understanding of the tenets of the’ Vedas and Upanishads’.
Saint Purandaradasa is considered to be the grandfather of Carnatic Music. Sri Tyagaraja, along with Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri are considered as the “Trinity of Carnatic Music.” Sri Tyagaraja is said to have composed about 24,000 keerthanas but only 700 keerthanas(songs) are available in his long devoted life to Lord Rama, most of them written in his mother tongue Telugu, but a few in Sanskrit, including the masterpiece “Jagadanandakaraka” composed of 108 names describing Lord Rama’s attributes. His keerthanas are sung with dedication in Tamil Nadu also, the seat of South Indian (Carnatic) Music scholars and performance.
The hallmark of a great culture, the Vijayanagara Empire, with all its glory, fell at the end of the 16th century. The invasion from the North brought in its wake new, though not always commendable, trends in living. Quite a few Hindu families had to flee More >