Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Veena Fraternity!

November 19th, 2019 at Saket Pranam, Hyderabad, Telangana. Proud and happy to be with Veena vidwan and vidushis- From left- Smt.Jayalakshmi Sekhar, Smt.Krishnakumari, Smt. Kadiyala Padmavathi, myself, Smt. Kaza Subhashini Shastry, Sri. Ayyagari Syamasundaram and Smt. Ayyagari Jayalakshmi

Saturday, November 16, 2019

For Amma/Guru

                                                In Saket Pranaam, Hyderabad, Telangana

Sunday, November 10, 2019

An unforgettable birthday gift!


AMN Global Group (Chairman- Sri.R.J.Ramnarayanan) organised a surprise gift celebrating my entry into my 61st year by organising a 61 Veenas recital led by Dr. Smt.Shobana Swaminathan yesterday in Chennai. Artistes who had performed along with me in the FIDE chess championship event like Smt.N.V.S.Radha, Sashank Mallya, Ramkumar were also among the 61 artistes yesterday. Absolutely speechless, honoured and humbled!! A big thank you to AMN Group and the 61 Veena artistes!

Friday, November 8, 2019

With pride and joy!

Celebrating completion of 60 years on planet Earth since NOVEMBER 9TH, 1959
Video by Arvind, one of my brilliant students of folk department and film choroeographer today

"Ma'm, we need to participate in this mega competition  .. please..."
I looked up from the file I was signing and found the forlorn faces of folk department students standing in front of my table.
"Ya, please go.... all the best to you!"
I know that they are absolutely brilliant, one of them is Arvind. I had watched them perform in the college annual show.
"We need props ma'm, we are not allowed to take them."
Props are used by students to perform in government functions. Almost all government functions involve students/faculty of government music colleges to play nadaswaram, thavil, nattupura kalaigal (folk arts) and vocal. Madam herself expressed her wish that students should be given great encouragement and cooperation to excel in their chosen subjects. Participation in competitions and winning played a major part in enhancing confidence levels in a student.
My brows knit, "Who's not allowing?"
I was given a heated account of details by the students. Identifying the actual problem I rang the bell to summon O.A.
" Call (I mentioned the person's name in charge of the room where the props were kept). "
Within minutes the person entered my room looking well rehearsed for a 'how-to-convince-VC' session. 
I noticed that the students and the person in charge of props studiously avoided looking at each other.
I came to the point, "You know what this is about. Please give the keys".
He went into a lengthy story of keys being in the custody of X, Y, Z and so many other reasons that would make a succesful blockbuster movie.
 I said firmly, "Never mind all that. Keys please..."
He pressed further, "Actually madam...."
I looked at him long and hard...."KEYS ON MY TABLE...NOW".
Whatever he saw in my face, his monologue halted abruptly and he rushed out of the room.
Within minutes the room keys were given to me and the props were given to the students. As expected my students got the first prize that evening and they went on to win many many more prizes during my tenure!

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Tirupathi Laddu

FEBRUARY 23RD, 2011-

"She's not in station"- It was my husband on the phone.
"Oh!!" I was worried, "Where then... ?"
He cut me short,"Election campaigning in Pollachi. The Garden office bearers are saying she'll return only after 4 or 5 days." 
I said hurriedly, "Please ask those guys to hand it over to somebody in the kitchen and to keep the laddu and vada in the fridge. She can have it after she returns."
"They are refusing to do that, it seems somebody who's in charge of the domestic affairs is not there today and the guys in this office don't accept anything to do with personal... that is domestic matters."
"Oh God!!" I said feeling very disheartened.
"They feel  the laddu may get spoilt by the time she returns from Pollachi." He added impatiently,"Look, I am getting late for a meeting, I'll take the laddu to office..Do you want the laddu or shall I give it to .. ( he mentioned his colleague's name)?" 
It was Lord Balaji's Kalyanam laddu which I got specially for Madam. When SVBC Channel approached me for dates to perform veena for Nadaneerajanam, I opted for February 22nd, so that I could get the laddu and give it to Madam in time for her birthday which is February 24th as Lord's blessings for her victory in the forthcoming elections.
"No no I don't want it, there's enough laddu at home."
"Okay then, I'll give the prasadam to someone in my office."
"Oh, okay.." I said unhappily.
It was evening time and dinner had to be cooked. I took out the tindoras (Kovakkai in tamil, Dondakaya in telugu) from the fridge. I stood by the kitchen counter and started to cut the tindora exactly the same way my late mother-in-law showed me many many years ago. Three fourth of the tindora is cut length-wise so that the top 4 pieces open like a flower and the bottom of the tindora which is not cut acts as a base. The whole tindora is deep fried after which salt, chilly powder and asafoetida are added. I was cutting the tindoras meticulously taking care not to allow the knife to cut into the base. I heard the landline ring. I ignored the call as I had to finish cutting all the tindoras and start deep frying them in time for dinner. It's a long process. More than half of the tindoras were cut. There was only little more to go.
The phone rang for the third time within a minute. I didn't answer the call even this time. When it rang once more I couldn't ignore the ring any longer. Wondering who it could be, knife in hand I walked into the drawing room to pick up the phone. The cordless screen showed-UNKNOWN NUMBER.
Were there such numbers, how does one get such a number?!  And why is someone calling me from an unknown number?! Puzzled, I answered the phone, "Hello"
"Vanakkam, Amma wants to talk to you"- a man spoke in tamil. His voice was low as though he was telling me something very important.
I was taken aback. Why is mom calling me from an unknown number... that too having a dude connect the call?! Frowning, I quickly glanced at the telephone to see if any number appeared, but it said UNKNOWN NUMBER.
Suddenly a sense of fear gripped me....is something wrong..?
Trying to sound calm I asked, "Where's my mother, may I know who's speaking?"
In reply he said in tamil, " I am giving Amma, please talk to her."
Absentmindedly I hurried back into the kitchen next to the counter automatically reaching out for the tindoras. I had to complete the task of slicing them.
I heard the sound of telephone receiver shifting hands. Balancing the cordless phone between my shoulder and head while reaching for a fresh tindora I waited for my mother to come on line.
"Hello", the sweet,  feminine yet loud and clear tone on the other side stunned me for 2 reasons. Firstly - the voice did not belong to my mother. Secondly- the voice was familiar in such a way that I instantly registered the aristocracy in the aura that surrounded her voice.
"Ya", for some reason I was at a loss for words." Who's this please?"
Instead of answering my question the voice said," I was informed that your husband had come to see me this morning."
With a sense of shock I realised that the Amma who I thought was mine was actually the Amma of Tamil Nadu!! "Goodness gracious me"!! I told myself, my eyes dilating in disbelief. 
"Meeraa (Is that you)??!!" I exclaimed in telugu. In my state of confusion my elbow hit the plate of tindoras causing it to topple and fall down from the counter scattering all the tindoras on the floor. I watched in horror as the plate danced round and round noisily for a long time before halting  with a thud. I was horrified thinking she could hear the pandemonium created by  the tindora plate.
"Nene (It's me)"- she replied in telugu , a hint of a smile in her calm voice. So heightened was my sense of awe of the moment that everything seemed surreal...
"Where's the laddu?" She asked in English, coming directly to the point.
My memory deserted me temporarily and I wondered hysterically, what laddu ??!!
Madam repeated,"Tirupathi Prasadam."
 Trying to find my bearings, I replied " Oh Laddu, yes, yes. They said you are in Pollachi. My husband wanted to leave it in Garden but.."
I am back in Chennai, I am in Garden.  Aa laddu naaku ippudu kaavaali.Please pampinchandi.(I want that laddu now, please send it)" she said in chaste telugu. 
I felt a wave of panic wash over me as I envisioned my husband giving away the laddu to his friend.
"Oh, Alaage (sure) Madam, I'll send immediately." I  replied with a confidence I hardly felt.
 "Very sweet of you to think of me and for doing this for my sake, thank you so much!"-She said in a clear voice.
I was overwhelmed by what she said. Before I could realise what I was saying words came out of my mouth," I love you so much, I know that you are going to win the elections."
"Naaku thelusu (I know)" she replied in telugu. 
"We will meet after the elections"- she promised with supreme confidence and disconnected. 
Dazed, I called my husband who fortunately forgot the laddu in the car itself. The laddu was promptly delivered to Madam.

Monday, November 4, 2019

Brahmaputra Pushkarini

Above video, inauguration of Brahmaputra Pushkarini this morning by Chief Minister of Assam, Sri. Sarbananda Sonowal
Brahmaputra Pushkarini, at Guwahati, Assam as Jupiter has entered Sagittarius  and constellation Lyra this morning (November 5th). Ring Nebula closely situated to Lyra and representing Lord Brahma in the above image.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Moola/Lyra- A tribute!

November1st, 2019, Friday. Today the moon is in Moola Nakshatra, Dhanush Rasi (Vega- Lyra constellation, Sagittarius). The day has got to be filled with music, when moon (mind) is in Moola and the mind is active with melodious thoughts. My usual cappuccino in a mall had me filming my musician friends and their lovely band.... my tribute to their nice music on this Lyra Day!

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Moola/Lyra-Veena Yoga (2)

Emperor and Rudra Veena exponent Ravana praying to Rudra Veena Supremo Lord Shiva at Mount Kailash

My favorite actor late Sri.N.T.Ramarao as Ravanaasura  (from the movie Seetharama Kalyanam) playing Veena literally from his nabhi ( nerves and intestines ripped out from his gut region) to appease Lord Shiva.

                          Late Dr. Sri.Emani SankaraSastrigaru's unparalleled Veena rendering Vedas, ragam and thanam in Raga Mukhari was recorded for this sequence

 Incidentally gut strings were used in the making of old guitars, especially the Spanish and classical ones. Intestines from dead lambs and bulls were taken, dried and cleaned as thoroughly as possible before stringing them onto the guitars. 

The Asura King, Ravana had Moola/Lyra constellation/Vega as his asterism. King Ravana was a great Rudra Veena exponent and knew every nuance of Veena playing. A great scholar and having mastered the Vedas,  Ravana had composed many songs and ragas in praise of Lord Shiva. The musician Emperor Ravana had also competed with Sage Agasthya in music. 
Ravana attained a state of Oneness with his Veena by dedicating his Veena playing to Lord Shiva. At one stage he literally ripped out his intestines to use them as Veena strings. It is believed that Ravana made a Veena using his ten heads as the Veena gourd, his arm as the Veena dandi and his nerves and intestines as gut strings of the Veena to play on them. As I had stated earlier, the activation of Sushumna Nadi while playing the Veena happens through retention of breath (Kumbhakam). Kumbhakam takes place when the Veena player is in Samyoga ( 'samyoga' is an act of merging of the practitioner with the music he is producing on the Veena), the act of Samyoga takes place when the practitioner performs from his 'nabhi' (gut) region where the Solar Plexus (Manipura) chakra is situated. This chakra which represents the Sun God and the Gayathri Mantra is said to be one of the most powerful chakras among the seven chakras inside the human spinal chord. Will-power, assertion, leadership, tremendous self-confidence, action and absolute power are the characteristics of solar plexus or manipura chakra. The intestines are governed by the solar plexus chakra. By using the intestines and nerves surrounding the intestines as Veena strings King Ravana had undoubtedly attained Oneness with the Consciousness of Lord Shiva.
Saint Thyagaraja in the charanam of his krithi Mokashamu Galada in Saramathi  says,  "Veena Vaadana Loludau Shiva Manovidhamerugaru..." which literally means "Liberation is difficult for people who do not understand the mind of Lord Shiva, who enjoys playing his Veena in tune with the universal resonance or naadam. Attuning oneself to the divine consciousness of Lord Shiva is "moksha" itself." 
Lord Shiva whose Nakshatra is Thiruvadirai/Ardra (Rahu's asterism) in Mithuna Rasi or Gemini  and Ravana who belonged to the Moola  (Ketu's asterism) in Dhanush Rasi or Sagittarius are in mutual aspect with each other (Sama Sapthama Bhavam).
Lord Rama, after killing Ravana went to Rameswaram. The Lord then installed a Shiva Lingam in Ramanathaswamy Temple and along with Sitadevi and Lakshmana offered prayers to the Shiva Linga to absolve the sin (Brahma Hatya Pathakam) of killing Ravana who is a brahmin and also a devotee who endeared himself to Lord Shiva through his Veena!

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Memories of Mid 70s....

In the mid 70s, with  legends who made history in the field of Indian Classical Music. This snap was taken during interval of the Jugalbandhi recital of Pandit Sri.Ravishankar- Sitar and Ustad Ali Akbar Khan -Sarod accompanied by Ustad Allah Rakha on the tabla  in the University Centenary Auditorium, Chennai.
In the snap from left to right- 1) Late Ustad Allah Rakha, 2) Late Dr.M.Balamuralikrishna, 3) Late Sri. Narayanan, Secretary of Balasubramaniam Sangeetha Sabha, 4) Late Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, 5) Late Pandit Sri. Ravishankar, 6) Myself, 7) Late Lalgudi Sri. G.Jayaraman and 8) Sri.T.V.Gopalakrishnan.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

For Veena aspirants

At this juncture I wish to express my delight and gratitude to Veena aspirants who have been keenly observing and following my blog, Jasmine Strings. While wishing you all the best, I wish to point out a correction in my blog as explained below regarding Swathi Nakshatra.
In my journey and quest of gathering authentic information about Veena's spiritual significance, I had studied extensively and met a few mystics. One such mystic gave me wealth of information regarding Vasi Yoga practitioners, Lord Shiva's Veena, the real interpretation of Thyagaraja Krithi Shobhillu Sapthaswara and Cygnus constellation and its counter-part asterism according to Vedic astronomy being SWATHI NAKSHATRA.
After studying and investigating about Cygnus and Lyra extensively I realised that astronomical/astrological calculations, combined with authentic evidence point towards MOOLA asterism as the Seat of Saraswathi and not SWATHI asterism.
My meeting with the mystic was recorded and following is his version in his very own English, which I quickly wrote down. This was in the year 1996. The following is not available anywhere else.
" The greatest Western thinker who related to the art of music is Sir Herbert Reads. He observed that all art, sculpting, painting, music, acting etc. are meant to convey the artistes' experience to the people through their particular medium of art. It is therefore necessary for the artist to have a deep and intense feeling to be conveyed through his or her art. Art therefore is the language of the artist. An artist must have a core of bhava and work out his theme through his medium.
What Herbert Read meant was that of all forms of art, music is the most powerful medium capable of conveying the artist's feelings to the listener. The origin of music therefore is feeling, musically termed as manodharma or bhava. Every bhava has a rasa in it.
Rasa is the experience that arises in the emotional core of a listener as he registers the bhava conveyed by the artist. Therefore from the rasa and bhava of the aritst, music flows and ends up in the same rasa and bhava of the listener. This is the ideal of music. If that bhava and rasa of the artist are ennobling, his or her music can certainly elevate the listeners' consciousness to great heights.
Veena is a very ancient instrument dating back to Vedic times. This instrument is in the Hands of Saraswathi, the consort of our creator, who therefore is our Mother. While the Vedas, the storehouse of our knowledge have come out of the faces of Brahma, the Creator. If our emotions are noble and sattvic in nature, they find expression in music played particularly on Veena." (continued by Mystic as below...)


In the mystic's own words in the year 1996, notes taken down by myself:-

"In Hindu astronomy Tula Rasi (Libra in Western Zodiac sign) contains the star Swathi. This constellation is also described as Alpha Cygnus indicating Hamsa (swan), which is the seat of Saraswathi. The constellation's name Swathi forms the major part of the Goddess's name Saraswathi, as Saraswathi means white Swan. Swathi also indicates Swetha(white colour) and according to our ancient scriptures the Goddess is always adorned in white garments. Venus, the Lord of Libra or Tula Rasi is also astrologically indicated throguh the colour white. Also, this constellation Swathi presents the picture of a Lyre or Veena. Many decades ago, scientists and philosophers discovered a cosmic hiss emanating from this constellation. This is the nada, the musical resonance that pervades the Universe. It also pervades the human body only to be discovered by one within oneself. The nada is the mother of all ragas which are expressions of emotions. Nada in all ragas therefore is like gold in all ornaments. The instrument Veena finds description in Vedic literature as well as epic literature. That is why Veena has been given an exalted status in Carnatic music."
 Swathi information is presently deleted from my blog due to inaccuracy of content - VEENA E. GAYATHRI

Friday, October 25, 2019

Loving Lyra

After a concert in a temple in Devakottai in 1970

Silver Jubilee concert in Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha in late 60s
In Shimoga in 1968 (Baby Gayathri)
First photo session with Lyra in 1968 (Baby Gayathri)
My first concert in Pillayar Temple, R.A.Puram in 1968

Late 60s concert in some organisation in Chromepet (Baby Gayathri)

One of the innumerable concerts with Madurai  Sri.T.Srinivasan (Baby Gayathri)

My first photo with Lyra (Baby Gayathri)

Silver Jubilee performance in Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha, late 60s
                     ( Sri.Venkatakrishnan, President of the sabha addressing the audience, late Smt.D.K.Pattammal seen seated on the dias)- Baby Gayathri
Ravindra Bharathi, Hyderabad (Baby Gayathri)

At the age 9 (Baby Gayathri)

At 11 (Baby Gayathri)

Late 60s in Machilipatnam (Baby Gayathri)

Late 60s in British Council, Chennai. Sri.Palghat Sundaram-mridangam (Baby Gayathri)

Receiving first prize for best Veena in competition conducted by the government of Tamil Nadu in 1971 from late Sri.Kalyanakrishna Bhagavathar (Baby Gayathri)

With late Sri.Allah Rakha, late Pandit Sri.Ravishankar, late Smt. Lakshmi Shankar (Baby Gayathri)

Performing with late Sri. Madurai  Sri.T.Srinivasan

Late 60s in British Council (Baby Gayathri)
Late Pandit Sri.Ravishankar blessing me (Baby Gayathri)
Origin of Veena- LYRA (Harp)

 In one's natal chart the strength of Sagittarius (Dhanush Rasi) and aspects on Moola (Lyra)
as well as the asterism's individual strength and nature based on the Ascendant (Lagna) and Moon are also taken into consideration to assess the native's prowess in Veena.  Strong Sun, Moon and Ascendant apart from other important aspects based again on Sun, Moon and Ascendant are calculated for a Lyra/Veena/Vega connection of a native.


Veena Fraternity!

November 19th, 2019 at Saket Pranam, Hyderabad, Telangana. Proud and happy to be with Veena vidwan and vidushis- From left- Smt.Jayalakshm...