'YUVA' Namasankeertanam - Ganapriya School of Music

 'YUVA' Namasankeertanam

This program was one of its kind, where the students of the music school ‘Ganapriya’ presented an evening of Namasankeertanam, on January 12th 2020 at Sringeri Mutt Hall, R.A.Puram. 

One would wonder what a group of teenagers or even younger Children would have to do with Namasankeertanam... infact I can’t think of my kids at that age (or even now) sitting among the audience let alone perform in such an event. 

Hey, just incase anyone has a doubt that they are atheists or agnostic, I need to clarify that it is not so, it’s just a matter of interest or choice!
And here I see a bunch of kids all appropriately dressed sitting and delivering 2 hours of melodious and Bhakti filled Namasankeertanam. 

I think the credit must go to their teacher Bhagyalakshmi Suresh, whose own experience with Bhakti has brought her to train her students not just in Carnatic music but also launch them in a field rarely chosen by children. This way more of her students get to perform in public and also they learn the art of Sampradaya Bhajan singing. 

The planning in both the seating arrangement & in giving an opportunity to each student on the stage is no small task, which Bhagyalakshmi Suresh ably delivered.  The children sang ‘Sriguru Bhodendra’ a composition  on one of the trinities of Namasankirthanam in Ragam Suruti. Ironically, for a person who has always been interested in music & it’s relevance in the Bhakti movement, I had not heard of Sri Bhodendral till I saw a play on him by none other than Bombay Gnanam. This composition was started with a virutham ‘Yasyasmarana Mathrena’ in Ragam Nattai followed Ragam Suruti for the above  song.

According to Bhajana Sampradaya, it’s mandatory to include Jayadeva’s Ashtapati. 
Maybe Bhodendral who lived during the 17th century was inspired by Jayadeva who lived in the 12th century and his poetic genius !
Bhagyalakshmi had chosen Jayadeva’s 19th Ashtapati set in Mukhari Ragam. Jayadeva like Purandaradasa has not left behind any notations or rather maybe nothing pertaining to that was discovered. These were people who were driven by Bhakti and had no ambition or care to record anything. Therefore, one has the liberty to sing it in a Ragam of their choice. But in the case of Ashtapathis, they were set to tune by Marudanallur   Sadhguru Swamigal one of the Trinities in the field of Sampradaya Bhajan. 

The students of Ganapriya followed the demands of Sampradaya Bhajan, which requires that the preshlokas of each set of Ashtapati and the post shlokas to be sung which the children followed. As the name implies each Ashtapati is a set of 8 verses, most often each verse having about 2 lines and needless to say, each Ashtapati being a gem in itself. 
So if today we are able to enjoy these gems , much credit goes to  Jayadeva, Bhodendral, Maruthanallur Swamigal and every singer who has brought it to us like the these youngsters of Ganapriya school. 

The clarity & confidence the youngsters lent to the rendering deserves mention. This could not have been possible without the encouragement of their parents & teacher who has also painstakingly taught them the nuances of a remarkable composition such as the Ashtapati. 
Another rendering was Thygaraja Swamy’s ‘Jaya Jaya Sri Raghurama’ in Ragam Mangala Kaushiki. Such a beautiful name for a beautiful Ragam, this is what our music is all about. All these names lend life to these Ragams as if they are human beings ! 

The children took turns to lead the songs, one of them being Shreepada Raya’s ‘Nanda Nandana Pahi’ in Ragam Maand.   The Virutham here was ‘Sundara Kara’ in the same Ragam. I could notice that each of the Virutham were specifically chosen for the songs. 
Now while Bhajan is very common in the North of India, here the Ganapriya students chose to sing Surdas’s composition ‘Gopi Gopala Bala’ in Ragam Gamanshramam.  
Kabir Das was not left out and his composition ‘Hari Bolo’ was the next. 

Today the Abhang has become a part of every concert. Here a rare Tukaram Abhang on Ganga Mayya and a very popular Abhang composed by Bhanudas ‘Dhanya Dhanya’ we’re presented. Bhanudas incidentally was the great grandfather of Eknath and probably Eknath’s inspiration too. 

A Sai Bhajan ‘Nacho Nacho’ was started with an apt Virutham ‘Krupa Samudram’ in Ragam Hamsanandi. 
These kids definitely need mention Priya Ashwin, Ashwin Suresh, Akshara Ashok, Ashrith Narayan and Ananya Ranganayaki. The youngsters were so good that it prompted me to find out their names, because who knows they maybe the future stars of Carnatic Music. 

About the Author:

Sandhya Shankar belongs to a well respected business family in Chennai. She is a Life Skills & Corporate Trainer by profession. She is an avid reader and a natural writer, who has written several poems and articles. She even presented her poems as a reading at the British council. She has keen interest in all art forms  and has explored many different forms of painting like stained glass and Tanjore being among them. 

Music being her first passion, she had her formal training under Terakotti Chandrasekharaiah at Bangalore and later briefly under Mrs Champa Kumar. She is a regular visitor of concerts, theatre and other live performances. Her witty reviews have gained a loyal and interactive readership for their sound technical commentary and relevance for every kind of melophile, from the casual-goer to the ragam expert, frequenting Chennai’s rich music scene.

(*The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of Music of Madras.) 

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