Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cruel act of dismantling (dismembering)Veena


The irony is that anything that is not within the prescribed form of a vedic veena (according to the authentic material gathered by me in my postings,"Veena/Gayathri -Mantra/Upanishads" , "Veena Rahasya" and "Deiva Veena-Maanushi Veena"), is NOT a Veena!A Veena is a Veena only as a whole,from the head (kudam)to the lion-face(simha-mukha),and seizes to be a Veena when the head and lion-face are severed from the trunk (dandi).Such veenas are being manufactured for travel comfort, to be carried as cabin baggage,so that the whole veena need not be checked in the aircraft due to its size and weight.In other words the Veena is being severed to make it travel friendly!

Even to claim otherwise (after dismembering the veena,claiming that the Veena is still original and the same as before) implies gross disregard and abuse of the instrument.Whatever maybe the reason for the blasphemous act of dismantling the Veena, the entire excercise of playing on a dismembered veena (that the Veena is held in place with the help of screws does not rectify its state of abuse) is not only sinful but also wasted ,because the prescribed practice of pranayama while playing the veena becomes futile due to the broken joints of the veena.Coordination of life-force energy and veena nada cannot result with one body-"Maanushi Veena"(veena) cruelly dismembered and with the other body-"Deiva Veena" (player's) being healthy.There is no nada in a dismembered veena-even if the latest digital mixer amplifiers and sound systems are there to make just about anything sound exotic.At this juncture,it has to be emphasised ,that the true nada of a Veena can be determined only WITHOUT a mike system.Only the naked tone of the veena (minus any technical gadget attached to it) can reveal the life (nada) contained within.Sound systems can change/enhance the tone of the instrument,and with the advanced technology that we have today,a veena could also be made to sound like a sitar or a gottuvadyam or a mandolin.

True tone of a veena emerges with the combined resonance of the player's prana and the veena's tone,which is simply not possible on a dismembered Veena.

Yes,it is difficult to handle a Veena,not only playing on it,but travelling with the instrument can also be extremely arduous.But it has to be done with love and devotion for the divinity.Adapting anti vedic methods of dismantling the Veena reeks of sacrilege !Nothing is as important or mandatory as preserving the body of the divine instrument,Veena.

I remember the phone call I had received from late Sri K.V.Narayanaswami many years ago. Sri K.V.N told me that a veena technician had left a dismantled Veena in his house.He said he had no use for it and asked me to take the veena away.Normally I would have flatly refused to even look at such a 'veena',since the call was from the Sri K.V.N , I promptly went to his house .I told him I would request some other veena technician to fetch the instrument,as I would never recommend anybody to play on a dismembered veena.Sri K.V.N. agreed to that and sadly I could not find any technician who was willing to take the veena.After a long search,I got back to Sri K.V.N when he informed me that he himself had found somebody who was willing to take the veena!

I also remember,this particular aged Ghanapati .(whom I had met at a "yaagam" , where I happened to perform )He came up to me and told me:"It is believed that in the process of reading Mahabharatham, people undergo untold difficulties, trials and tribulations. Many people even hesitate to read this particular epic fearing unforeseen changes and upheavals.Same is the case with veena playing.Play the true veena (veena in the prescribed,vedic form) and in the process you could encounter many cyclones and storms in life, but never lose heart,NEVER give up Veena!That will uplift you spiritually!"

Veena is an embodiment of the Goddess Herself!The nada that emanates from the Veena is the sweet speech of the Goddess.This is a divine instrument meant for pooja, not amputation!


Vallaki said...

Dear Gayathri Amma, What a wonderul post !!!
Yes, I too believe that it is cruel to dismantle the veena. But at the same time, it is very difficult to travel with the instrument as well.
What are your thoughts about not having wax frets, but if the frets are made of wood? Will it also be a bad thing?

I would reallylove to know your thoughts on that.

Vallaki said...

Dear amma, This is the same vani who mailed you yesterday.My screen name is vallaki.

Sathya said...

Good Day Gayathri Aunty,

I could not understand one thing. Compared to a Ekantha Veena, the normal veena every one uses is itself made of individual parts. My doubt is, whether this is different from a dismantle veena. Kindly clarify my doubt aunty..


Veenaagayathri said...

Dear Mrs.Vani,Thank you for your kind comments.Difficulties have to be faced for the love of veena,just like how it is to travel with a baby.We don't think of making alterations or worse still,make negative changes to the baby to suit the convenience of travel.
Frets have to be made in wax only,wooden frets are for sitar and not veena.
Wishing you all the best and love,Gayathri

Veenaagayathri said...

Dear Sathya,
You have asked a very relevant question.Agreed that there are veenas made of separate pieces of wood.But here the pieces are joined perfectly and left for a period of time for the seasoning process,wherein the grains of the wood merge and blend to form the completion as one whole piece.Wood grains play an essential part in absorbing and enhancing the tone of the instrument,which is exactly why jackfruit wood is ideal for veena.These days it is difficult to say whether every veena that is available in the market is manufactured by jackfruit wood,due to which there are not many good veenas in the market.Seasoning is the most important process in veena making which cannot be done each and every time a veena is dismantled and reassembled.
It is also relevant to note that veena made of separate pieces of wood and properly seasoned,with all the wood grains merging together to make the veena as one whole instrument has a fantastic resonance,many times,they sound even better than an ekanda veena.
A dismantled veena is held in place with the help of screws or whatever,a veena made out of different pieces of wood is seasoned to merge the wood grains to make it whole and there are no external gadgets to hold the veena in place.Therefore,they both are absolutely different from each other and are in no way connected to each other.Regards,Gayathri

Unknown said...

"Veena is an embodiment of Goddess Herself." Vow! What about other instruments? What are all the other vedic instruments? Are the tambura and mridangam vedic instruments too?

Veenaagayathri said...

Since Lord Krishna played the flute,it has to be vedic.About tambura and mridangam,I have no idea.Maybe,I will have to consult concerned veterans of the art.

ShyamalaSajnani said...

I fully agree with this view. In fact I fully understood the seriousness of this issue only after a particular incident.
My husband Kenny is not well versed with Karnataka music eventhough he loves music and plays the guitar as well. I was actually contemplating buying a dismantlable Veena inspite of everything just keeping in mind the convenience of it. I had a few concerts in Europe and felt like travelling light. I was thinking aloud about buying such a Veena, when my husband shouted at me. His words "that is like cutitng parts of your body, you should be ashamed to even think of that, if you want to play, play on a proper Veena or forget it" I was taken aback by the out burst but realised how true he was. I also felt ashamed that I did not feel for my instrument as much as he did.
As far as the mike is concerned, yet another incident. My son, Karan who is a guitarist once said while listening to me pracitce, "Ma, why do you use mikes or pick ups, they seem to pick a few frequencies and are amplifying them, the true tone of the Veena is lost" I asked him, 'then how do we make ourselves be heard' He simply said, 'then don't, what are you compromising on" Coming from people who are not exposed to Karnataka music this was an eye opener for me, for I realised how people perceive the Veena

Unknown said...

Dear Ma'am,
My name's Saipriya Viswanathan. I'm a friend of Shyamala's. I've read through many of your posts and loved them all. It is so true that a dismantled Veena can never sound like a Veena should. It only ends up sounding like some electronic guitar or some such instrument.
The other thing that struck me about this post is that, just as you mentioned, the Veena does put you through immense trials and upheaveals. But in the end, it all seems to be worth the effort, especially when the Veena Herself saves you and brings you out from them all....amazing! Thank you for sharing your insights and hope to see many, many more such meaningful blog posts like these.

Veenaagayathri said...

Dear Ms.Saipriya Viswanathan,
Thank you very much for your kind appreciation.It is very heartening to see your photo with veena on the blog,I am also happy that you have noticed the tonal deformity after dismantling the veena.
It is true about undergoing hardships,which is part of attaining veena.I hope to give articles of substance for the interest and benefit of youGayathri.With kind regards,

Veenaagayathri said...

Dearest Sham,I am happy to know that Kenny and Karan have the correct understanding of Veena,though the instrument is essentially South Indian,belonging to the vedic times.
I am sure one need not know the intricacies of scriptures to understand that it is blasphemous to dismantle Veena.It is the spirit of feeling for the melody and to be able to treat the source of melody as an entity.That is all one needs to know.Sham,thank you for your support and encouragement,lots of love,Gayathri

priya said...

Hi all and especially gayatri
Its wonderful the way you described ur outcry. I was infact very thrilled when i heard about dismantlable veena and was going great lengths to put them on my e portal of musical instruments. But after reading your blog i feel happy that my said efforts in getting adealer in dismantlable veena wasnt fruitful. As you said every instrument has been created with definite purpose in mind. You have also mentioned that jackfruit wood is used to make best of veenas. can you also tell me who is the best dealer for such high quality veena. MY customers in US and UK would love to have such an impeccable work of art and music.

Veenaagayathri said...

Thank you Priya for your appreciation. My veena is serviced and maintained by Sapthaswara, music showroom in Chennai(Mr.Lal) and Yoganandam. They would be able to guide you about the best veenas.They are among the best and most reliable regarding veena. About pure jackfruit, they are the right people to enquire.Gayathri

Anonymous said...

Could you please advise on how you manage to transport your Veena by flight? Do you have a wooden box/Fibreglass box?
I plan to buy the Veena in India and bring it to the UK.
PS Really like the warmth of expression you have for music on your blog.


Veenaagayathri said...

Dear Monica, Thank you for your kind appreciation. Wooden or fibre glass boxes are ideal for the transportation of veena. You could contact Sapthaswara Musicals, Chennai for the same. All the best!Gayathri

Lakshmi said...

Dear Gayathri,
I just now happened to read your post on dismantlable veena. i am a veena player who has kept up my efforts in spite of so many upheavals and trails in life, and i was very happy to read your write up in this regard. And this when me and teacher were discussing the dismantlable veena just yesterday, whether it is suitable or not.
thanks you for an enlightening guidance.
My guru is 72 yrs old and a President gold medalist at the age of 16, now devoting her life to teaching and still gives recitals at AIR and a few kutcheris.

Ramnarendran said...

Dear Ms. Gayathri,


Thanks For the fabulous explanation on all issues and essence of Music with respect to Veena the revered instrument.

I only feel blessed and thanked to have seen Jaya TV today when I was able to see and listen to your program. While I was scanning through channels, I just saw your image and thats it.....I just stopped, as I have been an ardent fan of your music grown seeing your performances and listening to your great music. The program also gave me an opportunity to know and view your Blog.

I really loved when you said with a small stress on the issue of dismanteling Veena and the explanation you gave thereafter.

I only pray that this should be well carried to all those who do it, and the younger generation should stop it.

May God Bless You and Your Family With All Things Best and to continue your journey of Music through which we, the Rasikas, are also benefited. Keep writing more

Ramnarendran Somasundaram

Veenaagayathri said...

Dear Sri. Ramanarendran Somasundaram,
Thank you for your kind appreciation of my music and my blog.
I too wish and pray for the blasphemous practice of dismantling the instrument to stop.
I will certainly share whatever little I know through my articles in this blog.

Mahima Jain said...

Hello mam, I pursuing a Capstone project in design (in postgraduation) on Saraswati Veena. Your blog has been really useful for my project. I am designing a book on Saraswati Veena as India's national instrument. It would be helpful If I can share with me some references on the same. Looking forward to having a conversation with you and show you my project.

Mahima Jain said...

Hello mam, I pursuing a Capstone project in design (in postgraduation) on Saraswati Veena. Your blog has been really useful for my project. I am designing a book on Saraswati Veena as India's national instrument. It would be helpful If I can share with me some references on the same. Looking forward to having a conversation with you and show you my project.


RADHASHTAMI - 23rd September, 2023