Wednesday 29 July 2009
Saturday 25 July 2009
CHANDRASYA VARSHAA VIGNYEYAA SHARACHCHAIVA THADHAA VIDAHA
HEMANTHOPI GURORGNYEYAHA SHANESTHU SHISHIRO DWIJAA."
Rithu refers to a period of time that is fixed for some special occasion, in this case, the occasion of the seasons.Six rithus are acknowledged. Each rithu lasts two Saura, solar months.A saura month is thirty degrees of the Sun's movement in respect to the equinoxes and solstices; it is the same as the tropical month of the well-known Sun Signs are derived.In fact, the saura months are known as Aries,Taurus, Gemini etc. in the Astronomical Siddhanthas in exactly the same manner as the Sun Signs.
My manodharama:-Thodi and Vakula Bharanam.
VARSHA RITHU:-The rainy season follows the scorching heat of the summer months. The downpour of rainwater on the heated soil touches every heart ,the effect soothing and calming after the onslaught of extreme heat conditions.
Everybody yearns for Varsha Rithu apart from the Vasanth Rithu, rains evoking the romantic and creative spirit in every human being.During the monsoon,for example, many of the Malhar group of ragas, like 1)Shuddha Malhar,2) Mian Ki Malhar,3) Gaud Malhar,4) Nat Malhar,5) Surdasi Malhar,6)Dhoolia Malhar,7)Ramdasi Malhar,8) Mirabai Ki Malhar,9) Charjoo Ki Malhar,10)Jaijaiwanthi Malhar,11) Roopamanjari Malhar ,which are associated with the monsoon and ascribed the magical power to bring rain, are rendered.
Dhuliya Malhar captures the anticipatory mood where the pre-rain gusts kick up the dust(dhool).
The raga ideally suited for this season is Megh and Miya ki Malhar(Hindusthani) and Madhyamavathi or Brindavana Saranga , Megharanjani and Amrithavarshini(Carnatic).
My Manodharma is same as above.
SHARAD RITHU:-Sharad rithu follows Varsha rithu and prcedes Hemantha rithu.The scorching heat of summer is a distant memory, the coldness of winter is yet to come. The weather is mild,pleasing and very moderate.
Moonlit nights are enchanting during this rithu,they are well-known as Sharad Purnima. Poets and epics describe lovingly the beauty and joy of moonlit nights during Sharad rithu.
Soundarya Lahari,the tantrik creation of Sri Adi Sankaracharya praises the face of Mother Goddess as "Sharthachandra vadana!"
His 7th sloka, "KvanathKanchi Dhaama Karikalabha Kumbhasthananathaa
Pariksheenaa Madhye Parinathasharath Chandravadanaa
Dhanurbaanaan Paashaan Srunimapi Dadhaana Karathalaihi
Purasthaadaasthaam Na PuramathithuRahoPurushikaa!"
(May the divine Mother with Her slender waist girdled with jingling mini-bells,body slightly bent in the middle by the weight of Her breast resembling the frontal globes of the forehead of a young elephant,Her face blooming like the autumnal full moon and Her four hands holding bow, arrow, noose and goad and who is the pride of Shiva,manifest Her presence before us!)
In the 15th sloka of Soundarya Lahari the Acharya has said:-
"Sharath Jyotsnaa Shubhraam ShashiyuthajataajootamakutaamVarathraasathraanasphatikaghatikaapusthakakaraamSakrunnaaa Thvaa Nathvaa Kathamiva Sathaam SannidadhatheMadhuksheeradraakshaamadhurimadhureenah Phanithayaha!"
(How can torrents of words,excelling even honey,milk and grapes,help flowing from the mouth of good men who but once make prostration to Thee who art endowed with the lustre of the autumnal moon,who art holding Thy two hands in the pose of granting boons and offering protection,and sporting in the other two a rosary of crystal beads and a book, and who wearest the crescent moon in Thy crown of plaited locks!)
The radiance of Sri Radha,the Divine Spouse of Lord Krishna is described as "Koti Sharadendu Mandale!"
Terms like "Sharadendu Vilasam" are mentioned in abundance by creative poets,in comparison to the moonlit nights of Sharad rithu.It was on a moonlit night during Sharad Rithu that the "Rasaleela" of Lord Krishna and the Gopis took place on the banks of River Jamuna,amidst mango and kadamba groves on the Holy land of Vrindavan.
Sharad Navaratri ,celebration of the Shakthi Goddess,is known as the Maha Navaratri. It celebrates the slaying of Mahishasura by Goddess Durga. This festival is celebrated all over India with great religious fervour and devotion.The Eastern part of India glorifies this festival as one of the primary festivals.
Thursday 23 July 2009
Bijakharas 'ka', 'kha', 'ga', 'gha', 'nga', 'cha', 'chcha', 'ja', 'jha', 'gnya', 'ta', 'tha'.
The first, eighth and eleventh petals 'ka' 'ja' and 'ta' are bheejaaksharas to be meditated upon to unravel the secrets and mysteries of all fine arts towards cosmic truth. Muthuswami Dikshitar's has composed the krithi 'Kanja thalaayadaakshi' in Kamalamanohari with these bijaksharas being emphasised in the beginning of the krithi itself. It is also interesting to note that Saint Thyagaraja composed' Sobhillu Sapthaswara' with the seven aksharas of the Tharaka Mantram 'Sri Rama Rama Rama' (Sri Ra Ma Ra Ma Ra Ma) in mind and not 'Sa ri ga ma pa da ni' as misunderstood by many. Saint Thyagaraja, overjoyed by the vision of Lord Rama sang in praise of the Tharaka Mantram which granted him the vision.
Tuesday 21 July 2009
In the 11the chapter of the Devi Mahatmyam,which recognised as Narayani Stuti,the Devas sing a stuti praising the deeds and attributes of Devi. She promises them that whenever evil arises in the world, She will take an avatar and defeat it.
This chanting of Narayani Stuti mitigates the evil of Rahu in one's horoscope.Rahu ,as I have observed plays a crucial role in veena playing,the placement of Rahu,its strength,etc.have always played a vital and very important role regarding veena.Pleasing Rahu and its prime deity Goddess Durga ,bestows upon the native abundant talent and physical prowess and finesse in veena technique.Rendering the raga Narayani also enhances veena-playing abilities as well as mitigating the evils of a mispalced Rahu or enhance an already well-placed Rahu in the native's horoscope.Raga Narayani has the famous krithi of Sri Thyagaraja,"Bhajana Seyu Maragamunu".Sri Muthuswami Dikshithar through the sahithya of his krithi, "Mahishaasura Mardhineem Namaami", set to misra chaapu thalam in Narayani has conveyed the spirit and life of the raga.
The recitation of Sri Narayani Stuti atleast once everyday,results in miraculous improvement and progress in veena by way of manodharma and stunning fluidity in handling veena. This sloka is the most powerful for veena practitioners,they will find almost instant results by chanting it.This also has the capacity to ward off enemies and clear the path towards success.
SRI NARAYANI STUTI:-
Om Rushiruvaacha-Devyaa Hathe ThathraMahaa Surendre sendrah suraavahnipurogamaasthaam!
Kaathyaayineem thushtuvurishtalaabhaad Vikashivakthraabjavikaashithaashaaha!!
Devi Prapannaarthihare praseeda praseeda Matharjagathokhilasya!
Praseeda Visweshvari Paahi vishwam thvameeswari Devi charaacharasya!!
Adhaara bhoothaa jagathasthwameka Maheeswaroopena yathah sthithaasi!
Apaam swaroopa sthithayaa thwayaitha daapyaayathe kruthsnamalanghyaveerye!!
Thwam Vaishnaveeshakthirananthaveeryaa Vishwasya beejam parmaasimaayaa!
Sammohitham Devi Samasthamethath thwam vai prasanna bhuvi mukthi hethuhu!!
Vidyaaha samasthaasthava Devi bhedaaha sthriyah samasthaaha sakalaa jagathsu!
Thwayaikayaa poorithamambayaithath kaa the sthuthihi sthavyaparaaparokthihi!!
Sarva bhootha yadaa Devibhukthimukthipradaayinee!
Thwam sthuthaa sthuthayekaa vaa bhavanthuparamokthayaha!!
Sarvasya budhdhi roopena janasya hrudi samsthithe!
Swargaapavargade Devi Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Kalaa Kaashtaadiroopena parinaama pradaayinee!
Vishwasyoparathou shakthe Naraayani Namosthuthe!!
Sarvamangala Maangalye Shive sarvaartha saadhike!
Sharanye Thrayambake Gowri Naaraayani Namaosthuthe!!
Srushtisthithivinaashaanaam Shakthibhoothe sanaathani!
Gunaashraye gunamaye Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Sharanaagatha deenartha parithraana paraayane!Sarvasyaarthihare Devi Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Hamsayukthavimanasthe Brahmaanee Roopadhaarinee!
Kowshaamba ksharike Devi Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Maaheshwariswaroopena Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Kowmaareeroopasamsthaane Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Praseeda Vaishnaveeroope Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Vaaraaharoopini Shive Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Nrusimharoopenogrena hanthum daithyaan kruthadyame!
Thrailokyathraanasahithe Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Kireetini Mahaavajre Sahasra Nayanojhvale!
Vruthra Praanahare Chaindree Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Ghoraroope Mahaaraave Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Chamunde Mundamadane Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Lakshmi Lajje MahaavidyeShraddhe Pushti Swadhe Dhruve!
Mahaaraathri Mahaamaaye Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Medhe Saraswathi Vare Bhoothi Bhaabhravi Thamasi!
Niyathe Thwam Praseedeshe Naaraayani Namosthuthe!!
Sarvaswaroope Sarveshe Sarvashakthisamanvithe!
Bhayebhyasthraahino Devi Durge Devi Namosthuthe!!
Ethaththevadanam Sowmyam Lochanathrayabhooshitham!
Paathunaha Sarvabhoothebhyaha Kaathyaayani Namosthuthe!!
Thrishoolam Paathu No Bheetherbhadrakaali Namosthuthe!!
Hinasthi Daithyathejaamsiswanenaa poorya Yaa Jagath!
Saa Ghantaa Paathu No Devi Papebhyo Naha Suthaaniva!!
Shubhaaya Khadgo Bhavathu Chandike Thwam Nathaa Vayam!!
Rushtaa Thu Kaamaan Sakalaanabheeshtaan!
Thwaamaashrithaanaam Na Vipannaraanaam
Thwaamaashrithaa Hyaashrayathaam Prayaanthi!!
Ethathkrutham Yathkadanam Thvayaadya
Dharmadwishaam Devi Mahaasuraanaam!
Krithvaambike Thathprakarothi Kaanyaa!!
Vidyaasu Shasthreshu Vivekadeepe
Shvaadyeshu Vaakyeshu Cha Ka Thvadanyaa!
Rakthaamsi Yathrogravishaascha Naagaa
Yathraarayo Dasyubalaani Yathra!
Daavaanalo Yathra Thadhaabdhimadhye
Thathra Sthithaa thwam Paripaasi Vishwam!
Vishveshavandyaa Bhavathee Bhavanthi
Vishwashrayaa ye Thwayi Bhakthinamraaha!!
Devi Praseeda Paripaalaya Noribheethe-
-Rnithyam Yathaasuravathaadadhunaiva Sadyaha!!
Paapaani Sarvajagathaam Prashamam Nayaashu
Pranathaanaam Praseedathvam Devi Vishwarthihaarini!
Thrailokyavaasinaameedye Lokaanaam Varadaa Bhava!!
Devyuvaacha:-Varadaaham Suraganaa Varam Yanmanasechchatha!
Tham Vrunudhwam Prayachchaami Jagathaamupakaarakam!!
Devaa Oochuhu:-Vaisvatharenthare Praapthe Ashtaavimshathime Yuge!
Shumbho Nishumbhaschaivaanyaavuthpathsyethe Mahaasurou!!
Nandagopagruhe Jathaa Yashodaagarbhasambhavaa!
Thasthou Naashayishyaami Vindhyaachalanivaasinee!!
Punarapyathirowdrena Roopena Pruthiveethale!
Avatheerya Hanishyaami Vaiprachiththamcha Daanavaan!!
Bhakthayanthaashchya Thaanugraan Vaiprachiththaan Mahaasuraan!
Rakthaa Danthaa Bhavishyanthi Daadimeekusumopamaan!!
Thatho Maam Devathaaha Swarge Marthyaloke Cha Maanavaaha!
Sthuvantho VyaaharishyanthiSathatham Rakthadanthikaam!!
Munibhihi Samsthuthaa Bhoomou Sambhavishyaamayonijaa!!
Thathaha Shathena Nethraanaam Nireekshishyaamyaham muneen!
Keerthayishyanthi Manujaaha Shathaaksheemithi Maam Thathaha!!
Bharishyaami Suraaha Shaakairaavrushtehe Praanadhaarakaihi!!
Shaankabhareethi Vikhyaathim Tada Yaasyaamyaham Bhuvi!
Thathraiva Cha Vadhishyaami Durgamaakhyam Mahaasuram!!
Durgaadeveethi Vikhyaatham Thanme Naama Bhavishyathi!
Punashchaaham Yadaa BheemamRoopam Kruthva Himaachale!!
Rakshaamsi Bhakshayishyaami Muneenaam Thraanakaaranaath!
Tadaa Maam Munayaha Sarve Sthoshyanthyaanamramoorthayaha!!
Bheemaadeveethi Vikhyaatham Thanme Naama Bhavishyathi!
Yadaarunaakhyasthrailokye Mahaabaadhaam Karishyathi!!
Thadaaham Bhraamaram Roopam Kruthvaasankhyeyashatpadam!
Thrailokyasya Hithaardhaaya Vadhishyaami Mahaasuram!!
Bhraamareethi Cha Maam Lokasthadaa Sthoshyanthi Sarvathaha!
Ithdham Yadaa Yadaa Baadhaa Daanavotdhaa Bhavishyathi!!
Thadaa Thadaavatheeryaaham Karishyaamarisankshayam!!
"SwasthiShreemarkandeyapuraane Saavarnike Manvanthare Devi Maahaatmye
I have given the text in english,with accurate pronunciations,for further clarification kindly go to the link
http://sanskrit.safire.com/Sanskrit.html#Saptashati for the 11th chapter in Devi Mahatmyam.
Thursday 16 July 2009
Wednesday 15 July 2009
1. TRILOKYA MOHANA CHAKRAM (Sri Chakra - Adharam) (Muthuswami Dikshithar's 1st navavarna krithi-Kamalamba Samrakshathu in Ananda Bhairavi,Misra Chapu thalam.)
MOOLADHARA CHAKRAM (Foundation)
SWADHISHTANA CHAKRAM (Dwelling - PlaceOf the Self).
MANIPOORAKA CHAKRAM (The city of gems) (Eight-petalled lotus);
ANAHATA CHAKRAM (Unstricken) [Fourteen triangles};Location-Cardiac Plexus; The Heart;Tattva (Element): Air (formless,without smell or taste) Predominant sense: Touch;Ruling Planet -Venus(Lunar, feminine).
VISUDHA CHAKRAM (Pure);Location-Carotid Plexus;Throat;
AGNA CHAKRAM (Authority, Power, Unlimited Power and Command)
SOMA CHAKRAM (MINOR CHAKRA). -(Eight triangles)Location in alignment with the middle of the forehead and is the seat of Soma (the Moon), Amrita (nectar) and Kamadhenu.
KAMESWARA CHAKRAM (MINOR CHAKRA) Location:between soma and sahasrara chakram (a little above the forehead).
SARVAANANDAMAYA CHAKRAM :-SAHASRARA CHAKRAM;Location:Top of the cranium; Cerebral Plexus.
Monday 13 July 2009
Omkara represents all the letters of the alphabets and therefore all the objects of creation.Thus Omkara is the ideal locus (Alambana) for contemplating the Higher principle of Totality (VIRAT) which is the object of the Upasana (Upasya).The great cosmic sound of the Omkara resonates and vibrates above the head like thunder in the sky (Meghanaada).
KATHOPANISHAD:-Omkara is the best locus for contemplating on the All-Pervasive.Having known and contemplating on this Omkara,man can attain Brahmaloka.
THREE LEVELS OF EXISTENCE:-1)A-gross level of manifestation, 2)U-subtle level just before manifestation, 3)M-casual level,unmanifest, 4) . )-('m' matra as in sanskrit)-Supra casual.
MUNDAKA UPANISHAD-Omkara is the bow,individual self is the arrow,Brahman is the target.The target must be hit by an undistracted seeker and should become one with it as the arrow does.This is a metaphor.Brahman is not really separated from us.The target is knowledge of Brahman.Omkara will give us that knowledge.
AUM could be interpreted as follows:-
A-first letter,with the mouth open
M-third letter with mouth close
U-is seen as intermediate
The OM (AUM) represents all the alphabets,all the words and all the objects of the Universe.What is beyond Omkara is Silence.Silence is the Parabrahman and Omkara is the Shabdha Brahman.Silence-awareness is the illuminator and the content of Omkara.Brahman is both beyond Omkara, the sustaining content of Omkara and the witness of Omkara.
TATTRIYA UPANISHAD 1-16.Omkara worship along with Omkara Upasana (contemplation) is considered to be one of the superior upasanas of the Vedas.
THE HUM OF THE DRAGON (THE CHINESE TAOISTS):-The Om sound is a high-pitched electrical vibration that can be heard-maybe on a quiet morning.There are ten different manifestations of this sound.Chinese taoists recognise two of these.One they call "the hum of the dragon";the other ,"the growl of the tiger".
SWAMI CHETANANANDA from"BREATH OF GOD":-The Om sound is the fundamental vibration of life itself.There is no work to be done with it except,when you here it ,to be aware of it.
SRI ANANDAMAYEE MAA:-(1896-1982),also called Anandamoyi Maa,was a Hindu spiritual teacher and Guru from Bengal and hailed as a spiritual mystic of the 20th century.She would go into a trance and sing many hymns.One of the hymns sung by Her while in a mystical trance:-
Thou hast come out of "PRANAVA"(OM),the seed-word,the base of all existence and the truth of all.....Thou dost symbolize the Heavenly Couple,Kaama and Kaameswari who are dissolved together in all-permeating Bliss Supreme and signified by Nada and Bindu.
This sacred hymn of Anadamayee maa superbly unfolds the mystery of the first creation out of Pranava-The Omkara.Mother said on one occasion:The one eternal word is the prime cause of the Universe:with the evolution of the ever-abiding word,the progress of the material life of creation goes on in parallel lines.These eternal Truths that came out of Her conciousness during samadhi ,have been echoed in Maitreyi Upanishad:-Om was splendour and fire at first.By this syllable Om,the splendour germinates,it shoots upwards,it expands,and becomes the vehicle of Divine worship:the splendour germinates in the form of the mystic syllable Om,as a seed germinates,i.e.,it is manifested in the primeval form of the Veda(the creative song),it shoots as the internal sound Om.
Omkara and Nabhi in LALLA:-Lalla was a great saint and mystic from the Kashmir province of India.She lived in the 14th century.She went through many heart aches in Her marital life and renounced life to come under the spiritual tutelage of Sidh Srikanth.Lalla excelled in spiritual practices and is said to have reached the lofty height of spiritual realization, which is the abode of nectar.
Her love for Shiva could be compared to the Meerabai's love for Krishna.Her poems or "vakyas",formed an important part of kashmiri language and culture and are still very much revered even today.
She said about Omkara:-(LALLA-VAKYANI)-The pranava -Om,is endowed with all virtues contained in all the mantras taken as a whole.She said-"With the help of pranava,I absorb myself in union with the Atman-Light,and so expelled the fear of death."
Lalla advocates a form of concentration on the navel-centre,the nabhi,with the help of Om associated with the rising of kundalini.During sahaja-kumbhaka one becomes absorbed in Shiva.In the Thyagaraja krithi,Mokshamu galada Omkara is mentionedin the charanam:-"Praanaanla samyogamu valla pranava naadamu sapthaswaramulai baraga"-Pranava or Omkara is generated from the combination of Prana or vital force and Anala or the fire.It is from pranava ,the seven notes of the Divine music emerge.
In the continuing lyrics :-" Veena vaadana loludau Siva mano vidhamerugaru,Thyaagaraaja vinutha"-veenas state is exalted by the implication that salvation is not obtainable to those who are not able to perceive the mind of Shiva whose conciousness is tuned to the divine resonance of the veena!
In the krithi "Raga sudharasa" in Andolika ragam,Sri Thyagaraja says in the charanam:"Sadaa Shivamayamagu Nadomkara swara vidhulu jeevanmukthulani Thyagaraaju theliyu"-As known to Thyagaraja,the jeevan mukthas are those who enjoy the melody that is the glorious form of Sadashiva,which is the sound of the tuneful Omkara!
Thursday 9 July 2009
To avoid breeze from outside blowing on my face in order to prevent a relapse of my fever,my parents made me sit inbetween them and I remember throwing a mini tantrum for not letting me have my favourite left corner of the backseat.
I very clearly remember my stomach growling for food and after many days of eating horrid idlis (till date I cannot stand them),I started feeling hungry .All through the ride,I kept fantasizing about eating my favourite potato fry,mysore pak,ladies finger fry etc.I must have drifted off to sleep,because the next thing I remember,I was standing in a sleepy state in the midst of rows of people in the middle of their lunch.Tantalizing aromas of sambar,rasam,koottu and curry wafted through the air to reawaken my longing for food.Weak and tired after the travel,I was positively famished.
When we were seated in one of the rows,my mother told the brahmin who was serving,"just get her idlis,she is not well".I was indignant that they were going to put me through idlis once again and threw another tantrum only to be reprimanded,"you don't want to fall sick again,do you?Don't you want to get well soon?"I started crying and some people nearby said"let her have rasam rice,it will not harm her".Even rasam sounded like heaven to me after the onslaught of idlis. I readily agreed. I begged and pleaded for an appalam,and was refused one because they were fried in oil which I was supposed to avoid.That brought fresh tears into my eyes again and noticing my plight one of the brahmins who was serving gave me an appalam,telling my parents'"nothing will happen to her,Periyava will take care of her."Half way through the appalam,I discarded it as I could not stomach anymore of it or the rasam rice.My parents were right as always, I was still having temperature!(After all these years,if I can still remember this scenario,I wonder how hungry I really must have been for that "appalam" to stay on in my memory!!!")Inbetween the meal as usual I was aware of people giving me inquisitive looks and whispering among themselves"she is Baby Gayathri".I always used to think that one of my two plaits had become loose or the ribbons had come off whenever people stared at me!It never ever occurred to me that they stared because I played the veena at a young age!
I don't remember what time we finished eating or even if it was on the same day, but the next thing I recall was the pooja of Sri Chandramouleeswarar performed by Pujyasri Maha Periyava at the Kanchi Mutt sometime around noon.
The crowd was overwhelming in the large hall.I sat inbetween the crowd and Maha periyava,who was conducting the pooja.As I played I noticed that Maha Periyava was totally immersed in His pooja and people were watching the pooja in hushed silence.I could sense a feeling of reverence and awe around me.To my childish eyes Maha Periyava appeared to be serious and strict.He would gaze in my direction now and then,without giving out any emotion.His eyes wore a blank look and I thought to myself that He was a serious person indeed!I felt a little scared of Him as I realised that everybody around me was equally overawed by His presence,including my father!There were no claps after every song as usual and I found it strange.I don't remember how long I played ,but after the concert we all prostrated to Maha Periyava and He raised His hands and blessed us saying nothing.We were later on informed that Maha Periyava was in "mounam" and would not talk for the day.
As we were preparing to leave,we were asked to wait for sometime.In a few minutes,one of the mutt managers rushed to tell us that Maha Periyava wanted me to play in His presence once more.We waited for a long time to be taken to a place that looked like a hut ,with people thronging the place.We were ushered inside along with the veena and I was asked to play all over again.In all the crowd jostling and general confusion, it was difficult for my childish mind to find its bearings.My father was right next to me to give me moral support.There was no mike,no mridangam or tambura.Inside the hut,inspite of the crowd there was a hushed silence,like the one I had witnessed during Sri Chandramouleeswarar Pooja.I looked around fearfully and found the solemn figure in saffron robes in the corner of the thatched hut,in partial light.It was late afternoon and the sun rays fell partially over the small,thin figure of Maha Swami,sitting with both knees together to one side.His posture and solemn eyes registered in my heart forever and I felt a wave of current pass through me.
"Papa,play,play",the mutt people urged me to commence my performance and I started playing.I simply don't remember what I played ,all I can recall is that my body instantly became drenched in sweat.The fever had broken and I was oblivious to everything else other than concentrating on my playing,inbetween looking at my father for assurance that I was on the right track.Strangely my father did not give me his usual signals,even he was totally absorbed in gazing at the solemn figure of the Acharya seated in the far corner.After a long while Maha Periyava got up to leave.As he left abruptly to the adjoining room-like place,some people asked me to stop and some asked me continue.I was totally confused as to what I was supposed to do. A person who went along with Maha Periyava to the adjoining room returned to ask me not to get up.He gestured for me to be seated along with my veena.My parents and myself waited along with the crowd not knowing what to expect.
After considerable time,Maha Periyava returned. In His hands He held a crown made of sandalwood beads and cardamoms. A huge "OM" in Sanskrit was drawn by cloves on the crown. He handed over the crown to the mutt administrators indicating that they should give the crown to me. As I received the crown, I saw Periyava conveying to me in sign language to place it over my head. Feeling a little shy and self-conscious, I placed the crown on my head. Resuming His earlier position, He gestured with His hands asking me to continue my performance with the crown on my head!!
I started playing the veena once again, with the added weight of the sandalwood crown on my head. As I lifted my head to catch a glimpse of Maha Periyava.My gaze encountered His form, sitting in His earlier position,with both his legs folded to one side,one of his palms resting on the floor next to Him and His body leaning slightly towards one side.The early evening sunlight streaming through the many holes of the thatched hut cast an enigmatic hue on Maha Periyava.The glow of sunrays that were focussed on Him , formed an aura around Him or was it a halo that was visible only to my pure,innocent ,childish eyes? His entire figure washed in the late evening glow haunts me till today when I sadly realise that I had the experience of a lifetime when I was a mere child! I was too innocent to grasp the enormity of my encounter!My only solace today is my hazy memory of all the events connected to the most sacred encounter that has defined my life.
The crown is with me,in my pooja room,representing Maha Periyava's Grace and blessings in my life.
Monday 6 July 2009
Veena is beautiful, elusive and enigmatic!She is also very difficult to please.To win Her sidelong glance, the practitioner has to be extremely diligent in his attempts to attain Her.In the process of wooing Her,the practitioner also begins to understand that the going would get rockier, given Her demanding nature. To make matters tougher,She is possessive too.She demands the practitioner's undivided attention to the exclusion of everything and everybody else.To be able to balance a life with Veena in par with routine/mundane/emotional demands of the material world requires nerves made of steel,and literally so! Nerves play an integral part in veena playing. It gradually dawns on the practitioner that emotional upheavals/showdowns are a big 'no no' in the process of gaining intimacy with Veena.She abhors emotions of any form and threatens to abandon the practitioner the moment his/her emotions are tapped by anything or anybody other than Herself.
It is therefore appreciable why the yogis (of vasi yoga) and siddha purushas of yore used veena for tapping the kundalini shakthi from the base of the muladhara chakra. They were single-minded and focussed in their approach and without material aspirations.
What are the measures to be adapted towards bonding with Veena?
Practice during Brahma Muhurtham:-Though there are many versions marking the period of brahma muhurtham,it is roughly one and a half hour before sunrise.It is easier to maintain that brahma muhurtham is between 4.30 to 6.00 a.m.If the veena practitioner needs to be woken up and cannot wake up on his/her own, the alarm clock is usually the best device chosen.Better still,if it is a mobile phone and a soft,melodious tune is set for the wakeup call.The time should ideally be 4.00 a.m.,giving just about sufficient time for brushing teeth,splashing cold water on the face and sitting in front of the veena.No luxuries like mulling over previous day's events or brooding over heart's desires.One should get out of bed without the slightest delay.I allow myself the luxury of going into the kitchen to prepare the coffee filter,promising myself a steaming cup of filter coffee immediately after practice.That is part of the evils of growing up!As a child,I would jump out of bed as soon as my father woke me up at 4.00 a.m.to sit in front of the veena without even brushing my teeth.I would keep practising until my mother physically dragged me away from the instrument for preparing to go to school.
If the practitioner is middle aged or above, the limbs may seem heavy and sluggish and the first few minutes with the veena would be absolutely trying.The movements of both the hands seem heavy and lethargic requiring optimum patience and effort to move them across the veena.But,it has to be done!The practice requires a heavy dosage of "thristhaayee",which is- (starting from mandaram open sa )sa ri ga ma pa(panchamam open pa) da ni sa-sa (open sarani)ri ga ma pa da ni sa-sa ri ga ma pa da ni sa (top most sa)-reverse-sa ni da pa ma ga ra sa- sa ni da pa ma ga ri sa-sa ni da pa ma ga ri sa should be played on three octaves,starting from the mandaram string (open third string)till the top 'sa' of the sarani and back to mandaram open 'sa' in all the three tempos.The third ,fast kalapramanam should be aimed at the highest speed.The entire cycle should be practised for nearly half an hour.This is the most essential tonic for flexibilty and fluidity in playing the veena.After this arduous session it is time for two-kaalam varnam.Choose any varnam for the day and practice two kaalams (slow and fast) for atleast 5 cycles.The entire sa ri ga ma.... practice and the two kalam varnam practice is for attaining physical fitness to be able to gain control of the instrument.Now for the manodharma,one could choose ragam,thanam,krithi,neraval and swaram of the day.Apart from the brahma muhurtham practice,it is required to spend more time with the veena during the day for learning and revising old lessons.
Poojas and slokas to attain grace of Veena:-Sri Raja Mathangi moola manthram and Veena Shyamala manthram (after initiation by Acharya or Srividya Upasaka) should be chanted mentally for atleast 108 times.Durga mantras,especially the Durga Saptasathi and all forms of Durga-worship bestow the grace of Veena.The moola manthras of Sri Raja Mathangi and Veena Shyamala are so powerful that after attaining sidhi of these mantras,the practitioner is elevated to the state of watching his/her own hands being moved across the frets by an unseen force and not by one's own effort. Even the 7th sloka of Soundarya Lahari (Kvanathkaanchidhaamaa .....)is ideal for Veena in which the four hands of the Goddess are praised as this sloka bestows the power of four hands into the two hands of the veena practitioner.