Shyama Sastri

Carnatic composers (other than performing vidwans)
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RSR
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#201 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by RSR »

Going through all the posts in this thread, I found that there was no biographical sketch of ShyamaSastry.
http://carnatica.net/composer/syama1.htm
( by Dr.V.Ragavan)
Syama Sastri belonged to a Tamil speaking Smartha Vadama Brahmin associated with the worship of Goddess Kamakshi at Kanchi. Owing to the political disturbances in the northern parts, his family, like those of several others, moved to the Cauvery delta, where continuing the noble mission of the great Cholas, the Nayak and Maratha kings had reared a religious and cultural haven. With the idol Bangaru Kamakshi, the family stayed at Tiruvarur for about three decades before they moved with the deity to the west Main Street of Tanjavur, where a new permanent temple was built for the Goddess. It was when the family was staying at Tiruvarur that the composer was born in 1762 (Chaitra, Krittika). His house is now purchased and preserved by the promoters of the Music Trinity Commemoration Sabha of Tiruvarur. His ‘Sarman’ was Venkatasubrahmanya, popular name Syama Sastri, and the mudra he later adopted in his compositions, Syama Krishna.

As his compositions show, Syama Sastri studied Sanskrit and Telugu and started composing, first in Sanskrit - in which he has several pieces - and later changed over to Telugu. For the same dhatu in Kalyani, we have two matu-s of his in Sanskrit and Telugu, Himadrisute and Birana varalichi.

He composed also in Tamil, though of these only Tarunamidamma in Gowlipantu is now known. This writer has seen in manuscripts examined by him a piece, marked as set in Paraz, partly in Sanskrit and partly in Tamil; the former part begins Kamakshi lokasakshini Kowmari Manoharini and the latter, Santatam ennai rakshippaye, but the latter Tamil part alone seems to have been current separately.

Always worshipping Kamakshi at the temple and at home, Syama Sastri had little occasion to go out of Tanjavur, but from his pieces, it is seen that he went to the neighboring Tiruvayyaru and sang of Dharmasamvardhini; to Jambukesvaram and sang of Akilandeswari, and also to the more distant Madurai where he sang nine pieces on Meenakshi. While all his pieces are on Devi, chiefly Kamakshi, and also some of her other forms including Brihannayaki at the Big Temple at Tanjavur, there are also, among the published and the unpublished kritis, a few on Subramanya. We may not find among his compositions several types as in those of the other two masters, but besides Kritis, he composed also Tana Varnam and Swarajatis.

The Bhairavi, Todi and Yadukalakambhoji Swarajatis of Syama Sastri could be counted as the composer’s specialities by the side of the Pancharatnas of Tyagaraja and Ragamalikas of Dikshitar.
There is a limitation inherent in the subject of Syama Sastri that handicaps contributions on him, which in the manner of his own contributions, have necessarily to be brief. By this handicap, I should hasten to point out, I mean no limitation to the genius of the composer, I mean, literally are restricted scope is innate in the subject in two fold manner; firstly by quantity and secondly by quality. By the quantitative limitation, one may recollect at once, I am referring to the comparatively small number of compositions left by Sri Syama Sastrigal. Sometimes, critics are familiar, genius is measured also by quantity, which includes variety; but these are not so much a gross test by number as such, as a test of genius in so far as they are indexes of the fecundity and infiniteness of the creative capacity of the artist. Going by that underlying principle, we may not find difficulty in recognizing what is also not uncommon in the artistic field, namely an outstanding contribution, which is choice and not extensive. With one Bhairavi Varnam, one stands immortal. In fact the story is told that one Sangitaswami advised Syama Sastri to take Adippayya as his Guru. There are also immortal poets with only one poem or play. Few and fine are the productions of our great composer.
His Bhairavi Swarajati is one of the three epics of its class; his Manji will outlive all attempts on its life by vandalised renderings in Bhairavi; and his Anandabhairavi will continue to sway and rock us on the billows of ineffable bliss as that of few others can.

What is the limitation by quality which makes it difficult to dwell at length on Syama Sastri? Here it is that he stands apart from his two great composers compared to whose output on epic scale, we may characterize our composers as lyric. Indeed there are some prominent differences between Iyerval and Dikshitar on the one hand and Sastrigal on the other. It is not without ulterior significance, that unlike Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar, Syama Sastri did not give rise to any set of adherents or schoolmen, whose worship becomes warm, partial and eloquent. To draw an analogy from mythology, Syama Sastri may be compared to Brahma in the Trinity; he may not have sects like Siva and Vishnu. But is Brahma not the real creator, though none has raised a temple for him or is ringing bells before him?

One may also be prompted to make another technical distinction now quite often heard, among these three; namely that while Tyagaraja may be said to have emphasized Bhava, and Dikshitar, Raga, Sastrigal may legitimately be considered to have been attracted to the charm of rhythm, Tala. This may not be taken in an absolute manner; but it does contain an idea which may be pursued with advantage; for herein lies the clue to the discovery of the correct attitude of Syama Sastri as a composer and essential nature of his compositions. The burden of conveying elaborate lessons of spiritual experience and moral endeavour which Tyagaraja included in his life's mission, never weighed with Sastrigal; similarly the technical anxiety with which Dikshitar went about labeling carefully the ragas in his compositions or his zest for summarizing in his song-texts Sri Vidya, Vedanta and the Sthala - Mahatmyas of the numberless shrines that he went to on pilgrimage - such pre-occupations too did not overweigh Sastrigal's mind. In short, Sastrigal was an absolute musician, his song absolute music. In fact, the very absence of over-anxiety to go on composing and composing, reveals him as a choice artist. His kritis show an obvious spontaneity and effortless ease. In fact, as the late K V Ramachandran said, he attained maximum effect with minimum effort. Even swarakshara beauties of his Sahityas are the by-products of the same felicity.

That Sastrigal did not charge his deep thoughts like Tyagaraja should not blind us to the fact that Sastrigal was as great a Bhakta and his Vairagya was firm as that of Iyerval or Dikshitar. In piece after piece, Sastrigal affirms faith in the Goddess and her compassion, and his aversion to wait upon the so-called rich people stuck up in their importance. One may recall the final passage in the Anandabhairavi song O Jagadamba - Mariyadalerugani dushprabhula kori Vinutinmpaga varambosogi, or that in Ninnuvina in Poorvikalyani,

Parama-lobhulanu pogadi pogadi ati
Paramarudai tirigi vesari
Sthiramuleka ati-chapaludaitini
Nachinta deerchave vegame brocutaku
In a Todi piece Vegamevacchi, he echoes Tyagaraja's Dhyaname Varamaina and says that beyond the Mother's Dhyanam, he knows no mantra or tantra. But one supreme quality that Syama Sastri achieved by the simplicity of his Sahitya is the directness of appeal. You see in his songs one directly speaking to Mother. In songs like Brovavamma (Manji) or Marivere (Anandabhairavi), one cannot help being placed in the very presence of the Goddess. The simple repetitive addresses Janani, Talli, Amma, Ninnuvina Gati, Namminanu and sometimes repetitions of words like Nammiti Nammiti twice and even thrice, and the not infrequent use, in effective places, of the address - syllable "O" singly or in repetition, will not fail to transport one to the very ineffable presence of the Mother. Such poignant expression of simple feeling more readily opens that inner well of the tears of bliss than the thought-laden composition, which takes you through long cerebral prakara-s.
-----------------------------------------------
ore at
http://carnatica.net/composer/syama2.htm

RSR
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#202 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by RSR »

http://www.medieval.org/music/world/car ... hyama.html
gives a list of compositions
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Compositions of Shyama Shastri (1762-1827)

The following list has been built mainly from the source Compositions of Shyama Shastri by Sangeetha Kalanidhi T. K. Govinda Rao, published in Chennai 1997. Small adjustments to the list were made from that source, based on previous versions. This stage was completed in 1999.
(read more at the above link)

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#203 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by RSR »

Sri,V.Govindan has place 71 kritis in his blog at
http://syamakrishnavaibhavam.blogspot.c ... -raga.html
Lyrics in Telugu, tamizh,kannada, malayalam, devanagari script, word-by-word meaning, and tamilzh translation, which I found very useful.
My attempt to classify
https://sites.google.com/site/4carnatic ... tis-ragams

RSR
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#204 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by RSR »

Second and concluding part of Sri.V.Ragavan's article on Shyama sastry
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SYAMA SASTRI (1762 - 1827) - PART 2

- Dr. V Raghavan

The ragas in which he composed again show his essential pre-occupation with music, for almost all of them are rakti ragas. As the very symbol of the great Bhairavi in Her eternal ananda, it may be that the raga Anandabhairavi appears to be his favorite but in no raga does he fail to make his unique effect, coupled with inseparable ateeta and anagata graha-s.

Regarding the paucity of Sastri's compositions: He is said to have composed about 300 pieces; he might not have done so many but certainly they were far more than what are now in vogue. I have examined song-manuscripts with Nagaswarakaras at Tiruvarur, the native place of the composer to which I have the honor to belong. I have myself in my collection some manuscripts collected from different sources. I have also examined the only one palm leaf manuscript of Syama Sastri's songs in the custody of the composer's descendants. I find from all these sources a few additional compositions not yet bought to light; a Sanskrit piece in Gowlipantu, Puraharajaye palayamam, a Telugu piece, Nannubrova rada vegame neevu vinavamma Devi, noted as Gowlipantu in one manuscript and as in Kanakangi in another, a Kapi piece, Akhilandeswari (Adi tala), one on Brihadamba in Jaganmohini (Dayajooda, Adi tala), Kanakagirisadana in Kedaragowla, and possibly a few more. There is also confusion about the exact raga of a few pieces; for example; Devibrova samayamide is in Chintamani in the manuscript with the composer's descendants at Tanjavur, in Shanmukhapriya in a manuscript with a Nagaswara family at Tiruvarur, and in Padmaraga in another manuscript examined and copied by the writer. Ninnu Vinamarigalada (Ritigowla) is noted as in Abheri.

It is because of his qualitative excellence that Syama Sastri has gained a secure and luminous place among the makers of modern Carnatic music, though his contribution has not been much quantitatively. We are now in the 150th year after the passing away of this musician, it may be hoped that before it is too late we may recover more of his masterpieces and bring into vogue a type of compositions which are, let me repeat, unique in the style forged by themselves. In fact the composer himself, in his song in Anandabhairavi Pahi Sri Girirajasute prays to Mother that she may endow his genius with a unique style - Dehi mate anupama geetam".

Pratyaksham Bala
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#205 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by Pratyaksham Bala »

The link is already given in Post #201.
Why then copy and paste the whole article ?

RSR
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#206 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by RSR »

@205
Mod is requested to retain the link only and remove except the first ten lines or so. (( if found necessary).
Generally, merely giving a link does not ensure that the matter there is read.
The right method is to give a link, give a summary or a part .
But this article by a very famous scholar , I felt, should not be missed.
Hence the full text. The second part of the article has been slightly condensed.

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#207 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by RSR »

The post has been shifted by me to its right thread on Thyagaraja Kritis.
It was placed originally in Shyama Sasthry thread here by oversight. No intentional dis-orientation.
Right now, the shifted post has some additional points too.
Last edited by RSR on 18 Dec 2019, 11:00, edited 2 times in total.

SrinathK
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#208 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by SrinathK »

Open mind... What an irony. Please don't push an agenda as truth. Or push this in the Syama Sastri thread after having debated it endlessly in the Thaygaraja thread. Your aversion to sringAra biases your efforts greatly. Shall we stop pushing the boat on land?

But at the same time, thanks for #204. That was very informative. The current understanding is that there are indeed more Syama Sastri compositions, and I have heard of Subbarama Dikshitar having given a manuscript of around 120 compositions to Bhatkhande.

Hopefully if Shyama Sastri's grace in on us, like the lost tunes of Thyagaraja and the forgotten ones or Dikshitar, we may find more.

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#209 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by RSR »

@208
@SrinathK
Open mind... What an irony. Please don't push an agenda as truth. Or push this in the Syama Sastri thread after having debated it endlessly in the Thaygaraja thread. Your aversion to sringAra biases your efforts greatly. Shall we stop pushing the boat on land?
The first para is in bad taste. Celibacy is a much respected virtue throughout the world in the Hindu, Jaina, Buddhist and Catholic faiths.
In our own times, we had Ramakrishna Paramahamsa, Vivekananda, Shirdi Saibaba, RamaNa Maharishi, Vinoba Bhave, Mother Theresa, and Dr.APJ Abdul Kalaam. and many more unsung social workers and revolutionaries. Till today, most of our religious Mutt heads be it Saiva or Vaishnava , are all celibates. Likewise, most of all the CM composers upto the Trinity were sanyasins. The spiritual yearning of ANdAL and Meera Bai had absolutely no carnal element.
For Saktha worshippers, like Shyama Sastry and MD, nothing can be farther from their mind as any erotic associations.
That is why they did not compose any Javalis and Thillanas and the like. The pada-varnam in Todi ( telugu) attributed to MD is actually the work of his father. ( as discussed in this forum earlier).
Shyama Sastry swara jathis are unique in that they are meant to be sung without dance.
Is not Lord Siva renowned and worshipped as the God who destroyed Manmatha by the fire from his third eye?
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Matrimony and Motherhood and the 'farce' of so-called Feminism of western -modern promiscuity need not be the only life for women.
There are thousands of Nuns all over the world renouncing for ever the stereotyped family life and serving humanity as nurses, teachers and workers and even as soldiers and revolutionaries! Among the Syrian Catholics of Central Kerala, almost every family dedicates a daughter to service through the Church. Saradha Mani was as much a saint as Ramakrishna.
Almost every year, a jain lady from fabulously rich family voluntarily embraces the celibate life by a very painful ceremony in far south of Tamilnadu, Madurai city. . The tradition lives in India and will live for ever.
I suggest that you read Prof.Raghavan's lectures on The Spiritual Heritage of Thyagaraja. I re-read it last night and could find just a very reluctant and brief reference as the last chapter. to nayaka-nayaki bhavam that too only in the context of the divine consort.
Venerate Women as scholars, intellectuals, scientists, social workers, philanthropists administrators, technologists, ...we then speak for their true Liberation.
Praise them for their so-called looks, 'artful ' skills, mere musical skills, and worse, dancing skills, we are struck in the old groove of male-chauvinism for which women are mere entertaining dolls. !
I am in very good company and don't degrade yourself by 'art-for-art' sake theory. and condemning me for views ill-understood by you. If you read Bagavatham , focus more on the other episodes of great charm instead of harping on RasaLeela. It is a blot.

SrinathK
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#210 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by SrinathK »

It is not a blot when the divine is the object of affection. When the Divine calls you to surrender, you drop everything. That is why this devotion is revered even by all those great personalities. Even those highly renounced mahapurushas have revered the bhakti of the gopis and many like the Six Goswamis have expanded further on that.

To be a bramhachari or a brahmana means to reside in brahman which is beyond the duality of either physical entanglement or aversion. That may be impersonal as one, but it can also be deeply personal as two. Spirit is beyond the body, but the body is also it's creation. Divine presence makes everything sacred. Without knowing the divine, even celibacy is just dualistic aversion, an ego position of being proud over moral superiority and such egotism is to be condemned. That isn't realization.

One dimension of life isn't intrinsically holy and another isn't intrinsically sacred. The ego may find fertile ground anywhere to bring in illusion, but the divine too find fertile ground anywhere to bring in sacredness. I do not subscribe to this compartmentalization of life. If so, the creator must admit he made a major design error or somehow there is some aspect of creation that is not actually his. Then who made it?

Bramhacharya as a sadhana is a specific path that is incomplete without the yogic dimension. Celibacy alone is just repression. And honestly I do not know if you've experienced inner explosions of ecstasy that can surpass outer ones in yoga. That too is a stage of a bigger journey. Simply as a practice of restraint or aversion, brahmacharya is woefully incomplete. This was known to all the great saintly persons. That which is swadishtana not only helps create at the physical level, it is also responsible for giving life to a deity. Anyway you just dismissed this whole dimension of yoga, so why elaborate?

Most ordinary people just do everything compulsively. Great saints stay celibate simply and naturally because the happiness and fulfilment they feel is far greater than what ordinary people experience and there is no need for a relationship. If they have done it, there is authentic spiritual experience behind it. If there is a need or an inspiration to enter into relationships, they have also not hesitated to walk that path either. That which comes from divine inspiration is very different from the mind and the usual compulsions even if outwardly they are similar. That is a natural state of being.

Whatever mahapurushas do, even what they choose to do is always aligned to and supported by Divine will. Others can only speculate and judge according to their ideas and miss the actual point. Many of them were so peculiar they were considered crazy, but now we worship them.

This has to be a natural process of evolution. Simply hating on the physical is not what it is - that is just aversion. It is dogma without direct experience. It means body identification is still strong.

When the divine is the only true companion life after life, all other relationships of the ego are the real promiscuity!! The ego experiences being cut off from the whole and tries to recreate it in every manner, but fails, because it itself is the problem.

Mere restraint isn't a guarantee of divinity. So long as the ego survives, the Supreme remains unknown. Dropping all that is considered as 'me' is real surrender and it can be done impersonally through jnana yoga and personally through bhakti yoga. Sannyasis and monks get respect and adulation, but even this has been given up by the gopis. Surrendering the self in this moment to the Supreme Self and dropping all ideas of truth is the only condition for liberation and the end of all paths. After that is only Divine Being and Divine Unfolding of the Supreme Artist (this isn't my writing btw, it's a great soul's words)

Even food can kill you in excess, but food is also Annabrahman. Your argument sounds like you just hate food because it causes disease. The prasadam of Jagannath is considered as brahman!

Women and men are all these things you said. But they also have the dimension of love. You are only denying a basic truth there. You are just prejudiced against shringAra and rationalizing it. Amavasai(raw) is a reality as paurnami(delicate) is.

Otherwise it is the ultimate irony that our gods celebrate all the very things they condemn us for. On earth it is filthy, but in heaven it is somehow holy? Somehow the father of the Vedas is not a monk, but a grhasta and his avadhuta son gives us Bhagavatam?

It is fruitless to speculate on the behavior of great personalities because they are outlaws who have found ultimate freedom. They cannot really be imitated. Others may only follow their instructions, but they write and rewrite the rulebooks. You have mistaken a symptom for the root.

I also had all these ideas and doubts before, but for me these doubts and misconceptions have been dispelled a long time ago. I owe that to the grace of many great souls, and some of my doubts were clarified directly. Mysteriously I found other doubts vanishing and clarity arising over time. As a result of one blessing, an ability to write also emerged (and there's my secret).

I am not claiming for one second I am any jnani, and no one who hasn't been me will know all that happened to me, but I definitely do not suffer cognitive dissonance over the flavours of bhakti anymore. Thank goodness.

On relationships in the West, if they get any more unstable, the family unit will be destroyed, trust eroded, children scarred, population and the economy will decline, mental health therapy will be big business and their civilization will implode. How can that Ludicruous imitation of the divine by the ego be even compared to this? The truth is known by its results. A monkey society can never evolve beyond the jungle! So much for the ego's attempts to recreate God! You sir do not see the main difference. All spiritual authorities have revered the gopis while deriding uncontrolled lust and being strictly principled themselves. There is no contradiction in that. This is why shringAra was channeled into artistic expression and to God. Life itself shows why.

This is not even the point of the discussion. Thing is, please do not claim something is spurious only because you do not agree with it and then find some half logic that can be refuted with examples. What is genuine or not is determined by objective research based on a detailed study of music. If truth says otherwise to what we expect we must accept it. To deny that with speculation, prejudice ,opinion and spurious claims is sheer dishonesty. More than once I and others have pointed out that you have claimed some things without even looking into them, like the case of Jayadeva's Bhagavatam(???) or the Pothana Bhagavatam. Those are uninformed statements, not real conclusions. Just confirmation bias. You are not willing to listen to any expert on the subject either but simply push your own opinions always.

Beyond this I am not interested in spending my time airing deep personal convictions and experiences beyond music and arguing with you on these subjects. I have clarified my side more than I should have. I have no issues with you not liking shringAra, but you cannot come to conclusions like NC or sAdinchanE is suspect based on that.

I will no longer discuss these topics further with you. At the end of the day, it won't change anything and I am wasting my time. With regards to music, A genuine conclusion that you present which can backed up by the research will of course be accepted. I very much appreciate your efforts to bring out rare recordings via your website too. But if you make a false claim on musical matters, not knowing the nitty gritty, it will not be accepted.

RSR
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#211 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by RSR »

@210
Nor am I interested in discussing Boat stuff in Shyama Sastry thread.
I am posting some points soon in T.Kritis section.
By the way, the Boat stuff does not appear in Bagavatha Puranam at all.( Chapter 9 of Dr.Raghavan's book). Nor is it likely to be found in Telugu Bagavatham.
Over to Thyagaraja Kritis.

ajaysimha
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#212 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by ajaysimha »

hi rasikas,

in most of the paintings of sri shyama shastrigal, I see there is a vetrilai petti (pan box).
is there any interesting anecdote associated with this ?

ajay simha

Lakshman
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#213 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by Lakshman »

I came across a new song by Shyama Shastri here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54yexVFkozs
I could not find this song in any of my books. Does anyone have more information on this bhairavi piece? Thanks.

Pratyaksham Bala
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#214 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by Pratyaksham Bala »

Lakshman wrote:
16 Apr 2020, 01:40
I came across a new song by Shyama Shastri here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54yexVFkozs
I could not find this song in any of my books. Does anyone have more information on this bhairavi piece? Thanks.
There was a discussion on this earlier at -
viewtopic.php?t=943

Lakshman
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#215 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by Lakshman »

Thanks Pratyaksham Bala.

venusishya
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#216 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by venusishya »

@ajaysimha

It seems according to some research on the web that Shyama Shastri was said to have been a tall and rather stout man who was very fond of betel leaf, or வெற்றிலை. It is possible that renderings are based on this anecdote.

Pratyaksham Bala
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#217 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by Pratyaksham Bala »

ajaysimha wrote:
03 Feb 2020, 13:51
... the painting of sri shyama shastrigal, I see there is a vetrilai petti (pan box).
is there any interesting anecdote associated with this ? ...

Incidentally, it is pertinent to note that in the kriti 'dEvI nI pada sArasamulE' Syama Sastry describes Devi as 'kannAku latA lavitrI'
i.e. 'O Relisher of fresh betel leaves !'

ajaysimha
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#218 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by ajaysimha »

Pratyaksham Bala wrote:
22 Apr 2020, 13:14
ajaysimha wrote:
03 Feb 2020, 13:51
... the painting of sri shyama shastrigal, I see there is a vetrilai petti (pan box).
is there any interesting anecdote associated with this ? ...

Incidentally, it is pertinent to note that in the kriti 'dEvI nI pada sArasamulE' Syama Sastry describes Devi as 'kannAku latA lavitrI'
i.e. 'O Relisher of fresh betel leaves !'
interesting! Thanks for info. Bala.

vgovindan
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#219 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by vgovindan »

Is this a SS kRti? - someone has raised a query in my blogpost. Anyone knows?

kAmAkshi kalyANi kamalAmbA kApADi rakshippai amma in rAga mAlika.

RSR
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#220 Re: Shyama Sastri

Post by RSR »

Life
https://sreenivasaraos.com/2020/06/27/s ... part-four/
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https://sreenivasaraos.com/2020/06/26/s ... art-three/
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https://sreenivasaraos.com/2020/06/25/s ... -part-two/
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https://sreenivasaraos.com/2020/06/24/s ... -part-one/
======================================
The blog series covers many aspects of carnatic music and the musicology and the Trinity.
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( though , much of these may be well known to those who have read V.Raghavan's article)

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