Monday 6 July 2009

Grace of Veena

How to attain the grace of Veena? Veena is an embodiment of the Supreme Goddess.Like how the Sudarshana Chakram held by Lord MahaVishnu attains the supreme identity of being "Chakrat--hthaazhwar",the Veena that is held by the Goddess also derives supreme importance and an identity of Her own.

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 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.

Apart from the above,an attitude of dedication and devotion towards Veena are essential for attaining the grace of Veena.Egoistic approach towards Veena increases the distance between the practitioner and the Veena by leaps and bounds.