Monday, October 5, 2009


"The sight of auditoriums and halls where I had performed sends the adrenaline pumping through my veins!" -this declaration of a popular artiste puzzled me no end, as I tried to figure out why a similar sight made absolutely no impact on me! Pausing to think for the first time in my 4-decade-old career of veena, I realised that I desperately needed a break, to get away from the entire scenario! This happened last year, rejecting all offers that came my way for the 2008 Music Season in Chennai ( the most painful part was having to reject an award from a reputed sabha, because it required me to perform as well), I headed towards Delhi (where my husband was doing a project for Jindal Steel), excited that I would be visiting many pilgrim spots in the North. I had the time of my life visiting Haridwar, Rishikesh, Vrindavan, Barsana, Banaras etc. Watching the moon, the colourful lights floating on the Ganges, watching the evening Aarthi, listening to bhajans on the shore of Ganges,were all sheer bliss to me! The Ganges in Haridwar rejuvenated me, I was awestruck by the touch and sight of the Holy Mother.
Back to Chennai this year again I could not workup a mood to perform or even play the veena.I flew to San Diego to be with my daughter for 4 months. Except for my good friends like Sri.G.J.R.Krishnan and Sri Trichur Narendran, not many people were aware of the fact that I was taking a break .I noticed that in all my break time, I never once missed music, veena or even performing. I hardly thought of music, my mind was still, all I could listen to were the latest genres of western music on my daughter's music system in her car. Nothing touched me, nothing moved me, I went into a vacuum and felt nothing. I wondered how much more longer my detached state of mind would last. By the end of the third month in the US , I found that I was humming hindolam to myself, at first I did not notice it, then it registered in me that I had started to hum not only hindolam,but many more ragas like behaag, mohana kalyani, rithigowla, surati, madhyamavathi, sama, arabhi.......... I also took a long, hard look at my left hand forefinger and middle finger, concerned whether they were fit to press against my veena strings. I then realised with a bang that I needed to get back to my veena! This realisation, rapidly grew into impatience and by the time I landed in Chennai on September 1st, 2009, I was missing my veena desperately.
On arrival I rushed to my bedroom, where my veena stood next to my cot as usual, (my mother had taken the pains of cleaning the veena in my absence). I hugged my veena for a long time, sensing the receptive vibes from my veena.
I had not planned on performing, I only needed to be with my veena, listen to my veena's sweet and loving speech. My veena was obviously very cut up with me for leaving her behind and going away! She refused to speak to me for a long time, my fingers, due to long lapse from practice could not bring out a single word from her. I was worried and concerned, I did everything to woo her, I coaxed her, pleaded with her, indefatigable in my attempts despite terrific pain in my hands and shoulders and blisters on my fingers. During night time, whenever I woke up to drink water, I would again attempt fresh talks with my veena which is always kept next to my bed. Despite sleepless nights, I pushed myself out of the bed at 4 in the mornings to sit with my veena.
All the push ups and stretches I had learnt from Mr. Kannan of YMCA and ortho exercises for postural problems from Dr.Krishnaraman were next on my agenda. Amidst such hectic activity and battling the pain in my right leg, the first call came from SVBC TV Channel, inviting me to perform in Tirumala for their channel on October 29th. I felt it was God asking me to perform again. Immediately the next call came from Sri. Mudhra Bhaskar inviting me to perform on October 10th for Veenotsav'09. I will be facing an audience on the 10th of October for the first time after a long lapse filled with uncertainity of whether I would get back to perfoming or not!
God's will!


Unknown said...

Dear Gayathri garu,
For artists who started as child prodigies like you, I would think it is but natural to want a break. Artists who blossomed relatively later in life probably couldn't relate to the feelings you went through. It sounds like a very good decision to give a break rather than keep performing with nonchalance for the rest of one's career. The divine music from artists may make it hard ot believe, but artists are still human! I am sure the break rejuvenated you in all ways. In a career of over 40 years, a one year break is very small and justified too I would think. Only a confident artist could make such a call.
Best wishes for your upcoming performances. I am sure they would all be as best as can be!
Music Lover

Maddie said...

Best of luck... stringsyou grew up wont let you down...

Veenaagayathri said...

Dear Music Lover,You have correctly said,"rather than keep perforrming with nonchalance.......", which is exactly why I took a break. Thank you for your kind support and best wishes!Gayathri

Veenaagayathri said...

Dear Maddie,Thank you for your kind greetings, I am sure strings will never let me down!Gayathri

Shabari said...

Hi VG Ji,
I think you have reached a stage where you don't need to 'perform' on the Veena to listen to it!! Music would have been imbibed in you by now, in your entire being..
In fact I feel people like you never realise they are 'playing' the veena, completely oblivious to the frequent moment of the fingers over the frets, or even oblivious of the perfect talam which accompanies the recitals.. In fact the concentration of the accomplished Vainikas always rests only on the Bhava of the recitals...
Feeling extremely sad that it has been more than a fortnight since I played my Veena... Completely torn-apart between professional and personal commitments...
One question I would like to ask you, if you could please answer it for me..
How do you manage to get up so early in your middle-age when people like us find it so difficult to do so? Would like to know this..

Veenaagayathri said...

Hi Mrs. Mythili, Hope you would catch up with your veena practice very soon.Your observation of accomplished vainikas is perfect and abs. correct.
Even if I wake up very early, since I am always at home, I take cat-naps whenever I feel sleepy. Also I do my full course of pranayama (Baba Ramdev's) which rejuvenates me and maintains my energy levels.

malathi said...

dear madame,
I have a few words in contra, u cannot say this a break or thing this as a break because your blood and soul is filled with veena, this can be said as a shift in thinking from playing to deep analysis it it would have been break we would not have got such a beautiful blog spot with such treasure of knowledge.
This happen to me also, when a long week has run with cases and bundles and Judgments we need a break and I just skip and join with my kids and TV.
baby Gayathri's photo is amazing, and lovely
with love

Aavaalu-jeelakarra said...

Dearest Amma,

Undoubtedly you have merged your very being with the Veena. I hope your relationship with Veena leads you to spiritual ecstacy that one does not easily get.


Mom15 said...

It was a break only to be rejuvenated. After all everything happens at God's direction. So I am sure your upcoming performances will be great.

Veenaagayathri said...

Dear Mrs. Mala, So nice to hear from you after a long time!I agree with what you have said and I thank you for your regards and affection.I find blogging extremely inspiring with the support of well wishers like you.
I can imagine how hectic life could be in the field of law, and everybody needs a break!
Thank you for your kind compliments about my childhood photograph.
With Love,

Veenaagayathri said...

Dearest Deepulu,
I am touched by your feelings for me, my music and my veena. With your love and best wishes, I will certainly pursue my veena with renewed energy and vigour, thank you so much and love you,Amma

Veenaagayathri said...

Dear Ms. Mom15, With all your best wishes, I am sure I will get back with renewed vigour and interest.Like you said, everything is in the hands of God.Thank you for your kind wishes!

Shabari said...

Hi VG Ji,
Thanks for your reply.

Anonymous said...

Dear Gayathri Amma,
I feel I am blessed to come across your blog! It was two years back, when all of a sudden and quite unexpectedly I came across Veena recital, for the first time. It was one of your albums (Veena Classical). That was a very difficult time in my personal life and was the first time I listened seriuosly to Carnatic music. I can say, I was just transfixed by the sound of Veena. None of the songs were known to me... I just felt as though your every strike of strings was speaking to me, was trying to communicate something different. I opened up a new direction, a journey towards light from a seemingly endless darkness of my the then life. I am endlessly grateful to you, and to my friend who introduced me to this ecstatic feelings and experience.
I felt a bit morose when I came to know you have stopped 'performing'. But I always believed, this 'not performing' must be 'not performing' in public. It can never be possible for a person to be completely detached from music, when it is an inseperable part of one's existence, one's soul. I am so glad that you are performing for your audience again. It gives me hope that I shall be listening to your recital one day in some of the live shows. I sincerely thank you for letting me live with that Hope.

Veenaagayathri said...

Dear Ms. Kalyani,
I am deeply touched by the sentiments you have expressed about my veena. I cannot think of anything greater than giving solace through my music to anybody who is going through rough times.
I took a break and now am back in action, with all your good wishes I hope to achieve the best.
Wishing you all the best,

Kalyaani said...

Dear Gayathri Amma,
I sincerely thank you for your wishes.

With God's grace I had the opportunity to touch Veena and now I have bought one. I live in a remote place at eastern part of India, where there is no Veena teacher. I tried to learn basic lessons and techniques from my friend. But I feel I am grossly wrong when it comes to the posture, the use and movements of fingers and arm while playing Veena. Possibly it is because of my faulty posture and style, I get pain in my left shoulder after playing for 15-20 minutes! Even I do not know how I shall learn the techniques, as I only (somehow) try to reproduce the same effect what I listen. I am sure this is very dangerous to continue this way... being completely ignorant of approporiate technique, as what we adapt at the early stage of learning forms the foundation. And with a wrong foundation one can not build a castle on it!

I aspire to relocate myself somewhere in southern part of India where I shall get the tutelage of a Guru, but I can not see it to happen soon as it is related to my profession as well.

With great hesitation I would like to ask you certain things. Is it weird to start learning Veena at late thirtees? I ask this because I feel, physically a person becomes less flexible, probably, by this age! Amma, may I get your advicd as to whether I should get into this venture at the moment without having a Guru? Or could you suggest me any source where (as a temporary measure) I can get guidance to pursue this?

Kind regards


RADHASHTAMI - 23rd September, 2023