SRJ Lec-Dem on Shyama Sastri @ NGS, Chennai

Lecture Demonstration on Sri Shyama Sastri

Venue: Narada Gana Sabha Mini Hall, TTK Road, Chennai

Date: 18 May 2007

Organizer: Narada Gana Sabha (Golden Jubilee Year Music Series)

Vocal: Vid. S.R. Janakiraman (SRJ)

Vocal Support: Vid. Mangala Ravi

Violin: Vid. Akkarai Subbulakshmi

Mrudangam: Vid. K.R. Ganesh

List of songs:

1) prayer – shyAma navAmsham (comprising lines from 9 kritis of Sri Shyama Sastri)

2) kAmAkSI (swarajati) – bhairavi – misra cApu – shyAma sAstri (O)

3) syAma sAstrim namOstutE – sAmA – misra cApu – v. rAghavan – tuned by b. krishnamurthy (O)

4) sangIta trimUrti jyEshTa – sAvEri – kanDa maTyam (2 kaLai) – vidyA shankar – ciTTaswaram by SRJ (A)

5) ninnuvinAga mari – pUrvikalyANi – misra cApu – shyAma sAstri (A)

6) nannu brOvu lalitA – lalitA – misra cApu – shyAma sAstri

7) dEvi brOva – cintAmaNi – Adi – shyAma sAstri (O)

8 ) mAyammA – nATTakurinji – Adi – shyAma sAstri (AST)

9) pAlincu kAmAkSi – madyamAvati – Adi – shyAma sAstri

(Key: O=raga outline, A=raga alapana, N=neraval, S=kalpana swaram, T=taniavartanam)

Prof. S. R. Janakiraman presented a lec-dem on Sri Shyama Sastri at the Narada Gana Sabha, ably assisted by Vid. Mangala Ravi, Vid. Akkarai Subbulakshmi and Vid. K.R. Ganesh. In his own words, it was more of a concert of Shyama Sastri kritis interlaced with his appreciation of the kritis than an actual lec-dem.

Prof SRJ said he had learnt most of the kritis he sang in the lec-dem between 1950 and 1960. He started with a prayer which he termed “shyAma navAmsham” comprising lines from nine kritis of Shyama Sastri. He said this was inspired from a 8 line prayer called “shyAma vANi” from a book by Sri Chalagalagudi Venkateswara Sarma (?) titled “Shyama Sastri Kriti Tarangini” published in the year 1950. He said he had added one more line to this 8 line invocation to get the “shyAma navAmsham“. The following were the nine lines:

  1. kAmAkSi anudinamu maravakanE nI pAdamula dikkanucu nammitini shrI kanci (bhairavi)
  2. kAmAkSi nI padayugamu sthiramaninE nammiyunnAnu nA cintalellanu dIrcammA (yadukulakAmbOji)
  3. I jagati gatiyau janulaku mari tEjamuna rAja vinutayau rAjamukhI sarOja nayana suguNa rAjarAjita kAmAkSi (Anandabhairavi)
  4. sumEru madhya vAsini shrI kAmAkSi shyAmakrishNa sOdari gauri (kalyANi)
  5. nIvE anAdaraNa jEsitE ambA nirvahimpa vashamA kAmAkSi (mAnji)
  6. kAmAkSi ninnuvinA bhuvilO prEmatO kApADevarunnArammA vinumA mA talli (cintAmaNi)
  7. mAdhavAdi vinuta sarasijAkshi kanci kAmAkSi tAmasamu sEyakarammA marakatAngi mahA tripurasundari ninnE hridayamupaTTukoni (nATTakurinji)
  8. pannaga bhUshaNuDaina kAnci EkAmrapati manOhAriNI shrI kAmAkSi (pUrvikalyANi)
  9. pAlincu kAmAkSi pAvani pApa shamani amba (madyamAvati)

The following are some of the things that Prof SRJ touched upon. Mistakes could have crept in while I took notes. Corrections, if any, are most welcome:

  • The beauty of the “swarajatis” of Sri Shyama Sastri is that ragas have been shown in them taking a phrase-oriented approach. An example is the bhairavi swarajati. One can just borrow these phrases while one tries to portray bhairavi. After beautifully showing what all does bhairavi include, it seems as though he is saying – “This is what is bhairavi” when he ends the swarajati in “ipuDu shrI bhairavI
  • misra cApu tALam has been used very well in many compositions of Sri Shyama Sastri. The lyrics themselves follow the structure “tha ki Ta, tha ka dhi mi” at many places
  • To describe the trimurtis, one need not read out their biographies. Their works describe who they were and speak for themselves
  • Many of Sri Shyama Sastri kritis are not loaded with vocabulary but capture the essence of the ragas they are based on and also convey the meaning well (in short: quality, not quantity)
  • There is a controversy behind what was lalitA and what was vasantA in the olden times. SRJ said he finds Shri Muthuswami Dikshitar an authority here and like him uses smaller dhaivatam (D1) for lalitA and the bigger one (D2) for vasantA
  • What is cintAmaNi? shanmukhapriyA sung wrongly can be termed as cintAmaNi. šŸ™‚ Remember: “sarigama nA Agachati” (SRGM prayOgam doesn’t come) & “sanidhapa nA Agachati” (SNDP prayOgam doesn’t come). Sri Shyama Sastri is pleading to the Devi in this kriti. It should be sung slowly. Also, R to S transition comes not as plain R & then S but as R G S.
  • While singing nATTakurinji alapana, SRJ used “SRPMGS” once and announced that it was a piDi used by Sri Papa Venkatramiah.

Vid Akkarai Subbulakshmi was especially very very impressive. Her violin had that enviable nAdam. Her alapanas and the way she followed whatever was sung had SRJ himself appreciating her from time to time. I loved the nATTakurinji alapana that SRJ sang. He became so involved with the alapana that he announced: “nATTakurinji-ya undu illai nu paNNidanum” and went on to give a great treat to our ears.

4 thoughts on “SRJ Lec-Dem on Shyama Sastri @ NGS, Chennai

  1. Nice review!To add to Chintamani, Shri SRJ said Chintamani is NOT Bhairavi with a Prathi Madhyama.And if my memory is right, he also sung a phrase SRGMG in Saveri and said it was used by Shri Tiger Varadachari.With his characteristic humour,the lec dem was a great one!

  2. I am in a fix. I can’t attend any kutcheri fully as I have to go somewhere in the evening. I would have loved to attend Vid. Gayathri Venkataraghavan’s kutcheri fully.

    I would in fact say that the accompanists for her concert are also very very good and no less in their capabilities than those for the Malladis’ concert. Choose whichever singer you want to hear today.

  3. Thanks for remembering the cintAmaNi-bhairavi and the sAvEri portions. Just got out of my mind while posting yesterday.

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