Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Carnatic composers (other than performing vidwans)
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srikanthamshastry
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#1 Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by srikanthamshastry » 19 Mar 2011, 18:24

Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

It is quite interesting to see many of our musicologists and scholars' claim about the time or period in which Shri OVK lived.Some say Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi's period is somewhere in the 1600-1700s for which much evidence havent been explored yet. But a close look into the history and to his compositions draw our attention to a different inference all together.

1. 'sangeeta sampradaya pradarshini' of subbarama deexitar does not mention shri OVK's name in its first chapter of ' vaggeyakara charitam' which covers almost all eminent composers of pre and post trinity period starting from saranga deva to patnam subrahmanya Iyer. Does it mean to say that sri subbarama deexitar was unaware of the name OVK or was he not that popular at that time so that subbara deexitar had to exclude his name from his treatise .?

2.His compositions are filled with modern sancharas and especially parallels which actually is a modern approach in composing kritis which cannot be seen in trinity period.

3.Venkata Kavi has composed in complex taLas like Khanda Dhruvam, Sankeerna Matyam, Mishra Ata and so on which was not a prevailing trend or practice in trinity period and also changes in naDe or gati was not popular practice in trinity period.

4.scholars are of the opinion that shri OVK has composed NavAvaraNa kritis , but a close look into these kritis reveal certain mistakes such as wrong names of yoginis for different aavaraNas which creates suspicion about the authenticity of kritis and makes it hard to believe that OVK is the original composer of all these kritis .


Since the very purpose of any inquiry or questioning is to find truth ,I hope these queries lead to a meaningful discussion and if possible to a logical conclusion .


Regards
Shreekantham Nagendrashastry
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Pratyaksham Bala
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#2 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by Pratyaksham Bala » 19 Mar 2011, 20:31

Thanks for participating!

"It is quite interesting to see many of our musicologists and scholars' claim about the time or period in which Shri OVK lived.Some say Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi's period is somewhere in the 1600-1700s for which much evidence havent been explored yet. But a close look into the history and to his compositions draw our attention to a different inference all together."
What evidence are you looking for?

"1. 'sangeeta sampradaya pradarshini' of subbarama deexitar does not mention shri OVK's name in its first chapter of ' vaggeyakara charitam' which covers almost all eminent composers of pre and post trinity period starting from saranga deva to patnam subrahmanya Iyer. Does it mean to say that sri subbarama deexitar was unaware of the name OVK or was he not that popular at that time so that subbara deexitar had to exclude his name from his treatise .?"
Sri Subbarama Dikshitar has not included Sri OVK's name either as a pre-trinity or post-trinity composer. This fact is of no use to answer the question raised by you.

"2.His compositions are filled with modern sancharas and especially parallels which actually is a modern approach in composing kritis which cannot be seen in trinity period."
His compositions are not filled with modern sancharas -- they are filled with sancharas which were not attempted by many in the trinity period.

"3.Venkata Kavi has composed in complex taLas like Khanda Dhruvam, Sankeerna Matyam, Mishra Ata and so on which was not a prevailing trend or practice in trinity period and also changes in naDe or gati was not popular practice in trinity period."
These complex talas were best suited for Natyam. Those who composed only for singing, did not venture into using these.

"4.scholars are of the opinion that shri OVK has composed NavAvaraNa kritis , but a close look into these kritis reveal certain mistakes such as wrong names of yoginis for different aavaraNas which creates suspicion about the authenticity of kritis and makes it hard to believe that OVK is the original composer of all these kritis ."
IMHO this is irrelevant to the question under reference.
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cmlover
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#3 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by cmlover » 19 Mar 2011, 21:57

This is an excellent topic for research. I hope Ravikiran or his students participate in this discussion. In fact the momentum on OVK compositions is lost or slowed down since Ravikiran rediscovered him. NKB was fighting a losing battle in popularizing OVK due to the secrecy as well as his family connections. Let us reiginite the discussions adding our knowledge and critical analysis of the available data on OVK. It is much needed for the progress and new directions in CM, especially to break out of the shackles of Trinity!
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Lakshman
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#4 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by Lakshman » 22 Mar 2011, 07:04

I contacted Chitravina Ravikiran and here is what he sent me:


For about 200 years, Venkata Kavi's works were practised by a small group of people which included some descendants of his brother. I have met several descandants recently and traced a reasonable portion of his family tree as well.

That apart, his 400-odd compositions that I have seen are the most strong and abundant evidence. These answer most of the questions. Anyone can study even 25% of these - either in Tamil or Sanskrit and they will see that certain misconceptions about him, which were there in the earlier part of this century, are easily eradicated. I have shown by more than 230 examples in my book, plus numerous concerts, workshops & lec-dems all over India, USA and other countries, not to mention collaborations with artistes like Vyjayantimala Bali the things below, which answers questions about his period (at least fairly approximately) as well as his calibre as one of India's best ever composers. As Semmangudi sir clearly said, Venkata Kavi is definitely 'in the same calibre as the Trinity' at least...

He was a minor composer: The evidence available proves that he was one of the most prolific, imaginative, original and versatile composers in Indian culture. His style - with dazzling contrasting passages, complex talas, scholarly lyrics but evocative melody - definitely forms one of five distinct composing styles in Carnatic (Trinity plus kshetragna padams, as rendered in the Dhanammal school being the others). All other composers works can be fitted into one of these styles. His choice of sophisticated talas like Khanda Dhruvam (17 units), Sankeerna Mathyam (20) and Mishra Atam (18) as also his handling of ragas of varied types from the weighty Todi, Shankarabharanam, Kalyani etc to the evocative Sahana, Dhanyasi, Anandabhairavi, Devagandhari leave one in no doubt about his musical acumen. Besides, he has also composed high quality pieces in ragas that are relatively rare now such as Balahamsa and Deshakshi. His explorations of Paras and Nadanamakriya are as instructive as enchanting. His compositions in Kharaharapriya are significant in the context of establishing that raga’s popularity in those times, while his works in ragas like Dwijayavanti and Sindhubhairavi prove that these ragas had made their way South much before than what has been documented by musicologists so far. His treatment of any subject matter - be it Rama, Krishna, Anjaneya, Muruga or Vinayaka is most original, scholarly and unique.

He composed just a few songs in colloquial Tamil: There are numerous examples of songs in highly scholarly Tamil and also Sanskrit. The reasons for the colloquial Tamil seen in some songs are simple – these were his operatic creations where he merely portrayed various characters and faithfully employed language to suit them.

He only wrote about Lord Krishna: Numerous compositions of his are addressed to Vinayaka, Shiva, Kartikeya, Devi (which included his Kamakshi Navavarana krtis), Rama, Anjaneya, Saraswati as also on other minor deities like Aghora Veerabhadra, Surya etc. Even more remarkably, he has composed eulogies on Valmiki, Vyasa, Shuka, Jayadeva, Andal and several others and saluted hundreds of other personalities, both mythical and historical. Besides, Venkata Kavi also travelled to various pilgrimage centres and composed on the deities there. These include Srirangam, Kanchi, Madurai, Udupi, Pandarapur, Chennai, Sikkil, Pazhani and Tiruvarur, to name a few.

He employed too many tongue-twisting and teeth-breaking madhyamakalas: That is only a small but colourful part of him. Venkata Kavi has composed several other types of krtis including chowka kala (slow speed) krtis as well.

He was of recent origin - (the ‘modern’ style seems to suggest it): This was a question that was raised by looking at a very small subset from his compositions in the earlier part of the 20th century. But looking at hundreds of songs of Venkata Kavi and also cross referencing them with other works of many composers of the pre-trinity era such as Chaturlaksham Krishnamachari (a forerunner to Annamacharya and Vishnu devotee), Arunagirinathar, Muttuttandavar and others gives one a better perspective on this subject. His style seems to resonate more with those of early 1700s. Venkata Kavi’s usage of madhyama-kala, jatis, complex talas, gati bhedams are more a vanished style rather than a modern one. I have made a specific point in my book clearly that one of the Trinity's significant contribution was to make music more accessible to everyone.

Finally about 'mistakes' or inconsistencies in some compositions, it is there in almost any work of almost any composer and the only way we approach is to study them more to see if there is some aspect or practice that was prevalent then that we don't know about. Much could be as simple as typos/grammatical errors by people transcribing/copying works over centuries/losing a word here and there or losing in transliteration from say Sanskrit to Tamil etc. We see 100s of such in almost every krti rendered by artistes who may not be aware of a given language/meaning etc. From the studies conducted by scholars of Srividya such as S Sankaranarayanan and others, Venkata Kavi's Navavaranams are of the highest calibre. In fact, he is reputed to have got initiation into Avarana pooja from none other than Bhaskara Raya, considered to be next to Adi Shankara in the subject of Devi.

Best regards,

Chitravina N Ravikiran

Welcome to my Website and Blog
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Lakshman
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#5 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by Lakshman » 22 Mar 2011, 20:51

Chitravina Ravikiran has further expanded on the above:

In the last 5 years alone:

At least 2 significant books (both of which are doing excellently) have been published and released in a major way.
Numerous audios and videos have been released (again doing very well)
Scores of concerts have been given in major cities and orgs.
Articles in major dailies like Sunday Magazine of The Hindu...
Workshop videos are being put up for downloads in www.acharyanet.com
Annual OVK Aradhanas have been initiated by sabhas such as Krishna Gana Sabha, Narada and in other cities like Bangalore, Mysore, Dallas and Minneapolis (much of which have been posted in rasikas and other forums).
Legends like Dr Vyjayantimala Bali, Trichur Ramachandran and others have learnt and presented several new songs in special concerts as also scores of other talented artistes.
Dance production like Divine Equations of Venkata Kavi was specially produced and presented by Hema Rajagopalan of Chicago in the Tyagaraja Festival last May.
Jaya TV Margazhi Mahotsavam program last year featured a special event on OVK which is available on YouTube...
Several people have started writing thesis on OVK for MA or PhD courses, (a few of which I have given inputs for)

If anything, the momentum has increased exponentially as scores of rare compositions have been shared in numerous ways!!!!
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Singer_USA
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#6 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by Singer_USA » 23 Mar 2011, 01:09

Disciples of Needamangalam Shri.Krishnamurthy Bhagavather have preserved authentic versions of many valuable compositions by Shri.OVK.

I am in touch with one of his disciples and had a chance to listen to master pieces like Pranava mantra upadesham and several compositions on Lord Rama and Lord Anjaneya.

Though most people think Shri.OVK has mainly composed on Krishna, the fact is that he has composed several on Lord Subramanya; he has also composed Navavarana krithis. Shri.OVK has composed exclusive pieces on Radha.

Regards,
Seetha Chandrashekhar
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Singer_USA
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#7 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by Singer_USA » 23 Mar 2011, 03:00

I would like to share another piece of information that will help verify the time period of Shri.OVK. In the first Saptaratna krithi Bhanamrta, in Nattai, the composer salutes to all great composers he has witnessed (or those who lived prior to his time) and the last two he had mentioned are Purandara Dasa and Tulasi dasa.

Hope this helps.

Regards,
Seetha Chandrashekhar
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saiganesh
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#8 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by saiganesh » 05 Apr 2011, 15:07

I am posting this on behalf of my Guru Shri Shrikantham Nagendra Shastry,as he gave me all these details and permission to post this on this forum..


First of all i would like to thank everyone who have shown their interest in discussing this topic ,bearing one or two comments all other points are in right direction in answering the above queries of mine. It was good to see the response from shri lakshman on behalf of shri chitra veena ravikiran , which highlighted OVK's contribution to the music and musician's efforts to bring OVk's compositions into limelight . my heartiest congratulations to him :). But all these informations do not help us to conclude that OVK was a pre trinity composer , his period still remains questionable because of the various other aspects.

1. singer_USA has mentioned about ovk's reference to shri purandara dasa and tulasi dasa in his composition, but this point may not be sufficient enough to prove that he was a pre trinity composer.. many a times it so happens that composers or poets do not mention their contemporaries or composers of their recent past.. we can give numerous examples for the same.. eg.Dandi and bAmaha .. though bAmaha discuss about dandi's work he never mentions his name in his discussions.same has happened in case of shadakshari in kannada literature where in he follows the style of kumaravyasa but he never mentions his name. Saint tyagaraja himself has mentioned purandara and Ramadasa's names in his composition but not OVK's ...but it wont be acceptable to many if we take this as an evidence to conclude that OVK did not belong to a pre trinity era! so, its better to go in search of intrinsic evidences which exist in his own kritis.

2. I had mentioned about mistakes in OVK's navavaraNa kritis(regarding yoginis and avaranas) for which shri ravikiran has said that such mistakes can be seen in all composers and also he makes an interesting point that shri ovk was initiated to shri vidya marga by none other than Bhaskara raya , torch bearer in the field of shri vidya.(no proof or evidence has been given to support the same though).

I too belong to the same lineage of shri bhaskara raya makhindra.. my guru mahamahopadhyaya Dr.Ra Satyanarayana belongs to 8th generation of that parampara. (In descending order- SatyanandAnatha,Pundareekakshananda nAtha,Brahmavidyananda nAtha,subrahmanyananda natha,poorna shaktyamba,Vrushabhananda nantha,satyananda natha,bhaskara raya makhindra)
Bhaskara raya makhindra was well known for his profound knowledge about Yoginis.. Many would be knowing about his real life experience in KAshi where in he was challenged by scholars to give the meaning of 'chatushyashtikoTiyogini gana sevitayai ' for which he recited all yoginis names continuously for three months.. If anyone who is really interested to know about yogini gaNas has no option but to look forward to what shri bhaskara raya makhi says. had OVK been initiated to srividya by Bhaskara raya he wouldnt have done such major mistakes ,that too in relation with Yoginis.

Mahamahopadhyaya Dr.Ra Satyanarayana (Renowned musicologist and shri vidya pravartaka) has made following observations in his Shri Vidya shodashika -part 1.

a. He is of the that Shri OVK was a younger contemporary to shri muddu swamy deexitar and was influenced by deexitar's style very much
b. 5th and 6th chakras are interchanged in their order and charecteristics, same with 7th and 8th chakras.
c.sarva rakshakara chakra's adhi devata tripura maalini is been replaced by tripuravaasini of 4th chakra.

Bearing all these in mind ,what I feel is that had shri OVK got initiation from shri Bhaskara raya makhi ,he wouldn't have done such mistakes..

3.coming on to his compositions ,we can see many prayogas like nade bedha which was not prevailing in olden days and also traditional musicians like mudduswamy devaru,venkatesha devaru in mysore court used to refuse to sing trishra in chaturashra as they felt all those mathematics were recent developments in the field of music. compositions like himadri sute was also originally composed in rupakam and it can also be noticed that no pre trinity composer has done compositions in complex talas or nade bedhas which actually is a modern development.

also in olden days 'sankeerna' was not a jaati but was a combination of many such jAtis like pakshini,divya sankeerna,deshya sankeerna,deshya shuddha sankeerna etc..
Sankeerna got the value of 9 in very recent times. the fact that shri OVk has composed a kriti in sankeerNa maThyam (sadananda mayi,Hindolam) itself makes us to rethink about this pre-trinity tag attached to him.

though shri OVK's compositions are of great musical value but i still feel that there is no strong evidence to prove that he belongs to a pre trinity period and many points made above suggest that he actually belonged to a period after trinity..

looking forward to your responses

Shrikantham nagendra shastry
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anoopnm007
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#9 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by anoopnm007 » 08 Apr 2011, 11:13

This really is a mind blowing discussion happening here for many reasons.
Thanks to srikanthamshastry sir for initiating such a nice thread. thanks for
the nice inputs by singer_USA as well.

There was always this common misconception that the era between purandara dasa and trinities
was a dark age for carnatic music (it is obviously established by now that it was not so).
But it was taken for granted that OVK was one of the major vaggeyakara who bridged the gap
between puradara dasa and trinities. It is interesting to find that there are twists to this story.

There is no doubt about the greatness or caliber of OVK, and everything possible must be
done to unearth his compositions and spread them. Kudos to Ravikiran sir, for the effort he
has put in on discovering and spreading the real OVK is trully amazing.

Now, the question remaining is about his era of living. I humbly request Chitravina Ravikiran sir to
comment upon this (I happened to hear a few of his lec-dems about OVK, also the article in hindu was
also enlightening). Dear lakshman, hope you'll take this to Ravikiran Sir.
If it can lead to a conclusion, that will be a great answer for the carnatic
society to keep record of...
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anoopnm007
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#10 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by anoopnm007 » 09 Apr 2011, 16:58

Hi all,
I mailed the discussion to Chitravina Ravikiran. I'm posting here the mail he sent as reply to me.

Hi Anoop,

Thanks a lot for sharing. I am in the midst of some heavy travelling/concerts over the next 2 weeks but will try and reply in greater detail as soon as I can.

For now, I can make a few points, which you may feel free to share with music lovers in rasikas.org:

1. Dating composers: When secondary references are scanty, the only way to date composers would be through internal evidence. The available evidence seems to point to the time period that has been asserted by OVK's brother's descendants including Needamangalam Krishnamurthy Bhagavatar. It is significant here to note that OVK has referred to/cited/saluted more historic personalities than any other Carnatic composer - the numbers are close to 100 at least. The last of this chronologically is either Tulasidasa (or Bhadrachala Ramadasa - which I am still studying). This by itself is not conclusive but nor is it inconsistent with what his family says. Therefore, unless there is conclusive evidence to the contrary, everyone will tend to go with this. (That said, I have no particular personal passion for OVK's - or any other composer's period - I am more fascinated by their output and quality.)

2. Gati bheda and other features: It is totally incorrect to presume that gati/nadai bheda is recent or complex talas were not handled before trinity. As I mentioned, the Trinity have eschewed many of these features, which actually made music more accessible. According to a publication of Saraswati Mahal Library of Tanjore, composers such as Chaturlaksham Krishnamachari and others have employed such features before trinity. In fact, there are fewer examples of gati bhedam, post trinity (except an odd song like Idadupadam (Khamach), Muruganai bhaji maneme (Jonpuri), by Papanasam Sivan. Even Madhyamakalas have shrunk in size and frequency (except for Dikshitar and Mysore Sadashiva Rao, to an extent). Therefore, it is more probable that OVK's style is a vanished style than a modern one, in my opinion.

3. Math in music: Again, it is totally erronous to state that this is recent. If anything, there were complex 108 tala systems including Simhanandana (128 units per cycle), Sharabhanandana (69 units) etc and we know of artistes like Shatkala Govinda Marar and others who had a reputation of having mastered such talas.

4. Influence of Dikshitar: I don't see the yardstick by which this conclusion has been drawn by Prof Satyanarayana sir, who is definitely a very respectable scholar. It would be tempting but dangerous to draw such conclusions by looking at a handful of songs because when one studies close to 300-400 pieces, it is difficult to see this influence. OVK's works are highly distinctive, his style very original and he seems to have followed a course that he charted for himself. As I mentioned, his musical style is definitely one of the 5 distinct, major styles in Carnatic music.

5. Navavaranas: I must confess that my scholarship is very limited in this area. But I have had discussions with a few experts and they have not found much cause for complaint. That said, there could be discrepancies from each school of worship and I would rather let scholars better qualified than me to discuss. But from what I have seen for myself,

(a) OVK clearly states in the 4th Avarana Tripuravasini and he does not state this in the 6th one in Hindolam.
(b) 5th chakra - sarvartha sadhaka - is mentioned in the 5th avarana in Balahamsa and the 6th, sarva rakshakara is also mentioned in the 6th avarana.
(c) Same for 7th and 8th.

In fact, OVK's Navavaranams contain a few other interesting references and details from Lalitopakhyana and other works, not seen in other similar avarana sets. To know more about this, I recommend readers to the scholarly treatise on OVK's Navavaranams by Shri S Sankaranarayanan (with Forewords by Semmangudi sir, Prof T S Parthasarathy and others), which could be available in Karnatic Music Book House, Chenai. I have brought out a book with the notations and lyrics in English.

Best regards,


Chitravina N Ravikiran
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rshankar
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#11 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by rshankar » 09 Apr 2011, 17:46

Fascinating discussion. Anoop and Lji, thank you for looping Sri Ravikiran into these discussions.
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krsp
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#12 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by krsp » 11 Apr 2011, 12:23

:clap:
Great discussion going on.
Hope this ends by bringing clarity to the understanding of all.

Best regards
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anoopnm007
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#13 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by anoopnm007 » 13 Apr 2011, 11:14

Here are a few more points which Vid. Ravikiran added. I'm posting them here...

Hi Anoop,

As I was going over this I remembered that going by OVK's own compositions, we can definitely infer that he was at least inspired (even if not exactly influenced) by the following:

Jayadeva whom he has eulogised in Padmavati ramanam (Purvikalyani), Valmiki, Vyasa, Shuka, Andal, Arunagirinathar (whose style he has employed in a couple of tiruppugazh type songs (though addressed to Lord Krishna).

Another fairly significant point that can be pursued by linguists is OVK's Sanskrit. His language - while erudite, is so fluent that it is almost conversational and not the routine descriptive, documentary style/ adjective-filled versification with varying degrees of skill and scholarship. The conversational, direct, colourful type of Sanskrit is fairly rare in Carnatic literature - those who look at Jayadeva's and Narayana Teertha's language will see the distinction with what is employed by most Carnatic composers. OVK's style of Sanskrit - though original in content and expression - seems less modern than many other Sanskrit composers.

(If I do think of other points, I will share with you whenever time permits).


Chitravina N Ravikiran
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srikanthamshastry
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#14 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by srikanthamshastry » 20 Apr 2011, 18:31

Let me begin by restating the question of interest here: Is OVK a pre-trinity composer? I'm repeating the topic because most of the discussions going on was regarding the quality and quantity of work by OVK except for some prompt replies. If it is about the contribution of OVK to the karnataka music fraternity, no doubt, it is great.

After the long threads, these are the questions that still remain unanswered and as we are all part of the karnataka music fraternity, we are bound to give satisfactory answer to these.

1. Mentioning names of composers: It is true that OVK has mentioned names of only pre-trinity composers but that can't be stated as an evidence to prove he was a pre-trinity composer, for that matter, even tyagaraja has mentioned valmiki, vyasa etc. but hasn't paid tributes many of his predecessors. I have cited few other examples of such cases in my previous posts. Hence, mentioning the name assures that he lived after that particular person to whom he has paid tribute to, but not vice-versa. So, we need to look for alternate methods.

2. Gati-Bhedam, not a vanished practice: It is a common practice nowadays to sing varnam in tisra, manodharma swaras in tisra, khanda etc. and pallavi's in all possible gatis to exhibit the artists' prowess in talam, which clearly proves that the gati-bhedam is a very much prevailing practice. Also, there are evidences which claim that people in olden were against gati-bhedams and other mathematics as they thought it was deteriorating the aesthetics of pure music i.e., karnataka. Again in my previous posts, I have mentioned about a few vidwans of mysore court who were against the gati-bhedam. A tangential note about Shatkala govinda marar, it was just six speeds of chaturasra. Starting with ati-vilamba, he goes on to reach six speeds. There was no tisra or other gati-bhedams in it.

It should also be noted that there are no treatises which talk about gati-bhedams. The 175 talas are derived according to the modern permutation, which is dealt in detail in sangita swaraprastara sagaramu by nathamuni pandithar in early 20th century.

The trinities and other vaggeyakaras has used only suladi talas for their compositions. How can OVK use a tradition which came into existence latter or if he has come up with this pattern in olden days itself, why is it not mentioned in any of the treatises?

3. Sankirna Jathi is not 9: The classification of any raga or tala according to shastr is generally as follows- Shuddha, Sadharita/Salaga(Chayalaga), Sankirna. Here, Sankirna refers to a mixture having too many varieties like divya, manusha, deshya-shudha, mishra sankirna etc. Varieties of sankirna are dealt in detail by taladasaprana pradeepika and narahari chakravarthi's work.

Attributing the number 9 to sankirna is a very new and popular choice rather a mistake. The question still remaining is: Was OVK unaware of the divya, manusha and deshya laghus? How did he fix a number 9 which is a very modern choice?

4. Regarding Srividya: The earlier post says, "Experts have not found much cause for complaint." Does that mean they have some complaint? Anyways taking for granted that he is a follower of Bhaskara Raya, he should be following 'kaadi' marga (hence he can't follow a different school).
Now, among sri vidya followers only haadi margis leak out the bijaksharas, not kaadi and saadi. But OVK has mentioned bijakshara(like hreem, kleem etc.) in his navavarna kritis which is contradicting an earlier post claiming him to be a follower of Bhaskara Raya Makhindra.

5. Mentioning Lalitopakhyana: Lalitopakhyana is a upakhyana, not a tantra. Srividya upasakas rely up on tantra shastras only. In lalitopakhyana, we have some stories and stotras like lalitasahasranama which are common for every devotee and can be recited without deeksha.
Also, a Srividya upasaka will make his marga of upasana clear through his compositions. For eg: Dikshitar in his composition in mayamalavagaula, 'Sri nathaadi guruguho', clearly says 'kaadi mathanushtano' in charanam. (Ref: http://sahityam.net/wiki/Sri_Nathadi_Guru_Guha). In fact, in his very first composition he makes it clear about his guru and marga.
In case of OVK, we can say that a bhakta has done this but not an upasaka.

6. Conversational style of compositions: It has to be noted that the conversational style is a very common pattern adopted by many composers of both pre-trinity and post-trinity era including Sadashiva Brahmedra. In fact, it is only Dikshitar who followed a fixed pattern for his kritis as his was marga style. But in case of other composers, they have all tried the conversational style occasionally. Hence, there is no uniqueness in this style which can be attributed to OVK.

On a lighter note, how can somebody hide such a great collection of compositions and a great personality from the whole music fraternity for such a long period? A jasmine flower, how much ever it is hidden, will spread its fragrance. Similarly, I feel it is almost impossible to hide a great musician of OVK's caliber from the whole of the world for a long period of 200 or more years as it is claimed.

I would end this article by mentioning that the greatness of a person can never be decided by his age or period of work or even the amount of work, his compositions/works make him great. Hence, even if OVK was a composer recent period we should give him the same, if not more, respect and status.
"Pracheenamityeva nasadhusarvam
evam naveenamityeva nasadhusarvam"


Regards
Shreekantham Nagendra Shastry
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anoopnm007
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#15 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by anoopnm007 » 21 Apr 2011, 19:23

This needs detailed responses but to be honest, most of the points will be clearer by either studying at least a few dozen compositions of the composer and/or reading my book 'Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi - Life and Contributions' where I have addressed numerous issues with nearly 230 illustrations. To make it easier for all, we have now made a soft copies available at www.acharyanet.com.

For now, let me just spotlight on a few issues...

1. Period: As of today, 1700-65 is the accepted period of OVK. The majority of the music world - including The Music Academy (see Journal of 1955) - has gone by this at this point. As I have mentioned earlier (a) the vaggeyakara's compositions only seem to bolster this period this period - at least broadly. These include (a) his use of Marathi which was more prominent then than later (b) his highly original style and references (c) his use of features like jati, gati-bhedams (which I will talk about later), (d) the possible influence of Bhagavata Mela.

Each of the points I made above may by itself not be sufficient 'proof'. However, taken in tandem, they present a strong case that support his family's records, which is very vital here indeed. It has to be noted that records by family/disciples are the main sources in the case of numerous people and even sketchy and incomplete ones have been accepted at face value in the case of most composers/other personalities by us - until conclusive proof is found to alter our perception. So far no proof to the contrary has been found by anyone with regard to Venkata Kavi, despite speculations from a distance in select quarters. When such proof is presented beyond all doubts, I am sure that everyone will be willing to stand corrected. That said, I re-iterate that to me, the period (even plus minus a few decades) is absolutely only a statistic in the context of actual works of a person - be it OVK, Tyagaraja, Edison or Einstein.
2. Mentioning of composers: Again, as said earlier, this is a significant indicator of the fact that OVK lived sometime after Tulasidasa. It is a fairly scientific approach to fix an approximate period, as any student of history will testify to, given that OVK has saluted the maximum number of historic personalities before his time. No other composer has mentioned as many.

3. Gati bhedam: I am sorry, I probably did not make it clear that I was talking about composers' handling of gati-bhedam. Except for snatches of tishra gati seen in composers like Papanasam Sivan's pieces like Idadu padam etc, we see very little of gati-bhedam in compositions from Trinity onwards. So, it is definitely more a vanished style of composing than a current one. As to musicians singing varnams - it is a totally different subject that is not contextual here. Same for individual artistes' preference or lack of it. That has been always there and will continue to be there. Similarly, if someone thinks it is deteriorating music etc, it is again, an opinion of an individual or some sections of people. In the context of OVK, they added some dazzling sections to his creations.

4. Origin of practices: The argument used by Shri Shastry about period of composers based on citations can be valid in this instance. Mention in a treatise only proves that a given practice could not have originated after that period. It does not prove the converse - that a given practice did not exist before it was mentioned somewhere. I have not seen a treatise that has exactly dated Sankeernam or gati bhedam. It must be noted that Mr Shastri's observation about Sankeerna holds good for Mishra too - now are we to assume that all composers who have used Mishra also committed a mistake?

5. Sanskrit style: It is easier to understand what I mean by reading the lyrics of a few dozen compositions of OVK. I will be happy to share those available with me. By the way, Sadashiva Brahmendra is supposed to have been pre-trinity, if one were to go by those like Prof Sambamurthy. It is also incorrect to assume that Dikshitar did not use direct speech style approach and only focussed on the introverted style. There are numerous compositions of his that use the sambodhana vibhakti.

6. Srividya: I will only limit myself to what I have seen and discussed with scholars I have been acquainted with. The references the Kamakshi Navavaranams are and the intricate details mentioned and described with great felicity by the composer right from the opening invocation - Shri Ganeshwara - to the last piece in Punnagavarali prove that his knowledge in this area was very high indeed. It would be most edifying to read Shri Sankaranarayanan's work on this subject.

I will leave it to scholars more qualified than me to debate about the differences in approaches of various people since that is not my forte. I never suggested anywhere that OVK followed Lalitopakhyanam for his Navavaranams. Anyone who reads the lyrics will be able to see that he was highly erudite and wove in details from many sources in his works including rare instances from Lalitopakhyanam. It is also incorrect to suggest that Dikshitar has not used key syllables in his compositions, One only needs to go as far as the mantra-beejakshara krti in Madhyamavati that he has composed (which is not often rendered in concerts).

7. How was he hidden: By all accounts available to us, he never sought publicity - in fact, he shunned it and preferred to only maintain his equation with God. His family and disciple circles are very selective and shy even today to share many of his works, as other leading vidwans will testify to. But as Mr Shastry says, one cannot hide it forever. As I mentioned elsewhere, I have evidences from the families of people like Shri Krishna Shastrigal of Mannargudi, (he was a noted musician and disciple of Raja Bhagavatar) that he had learnt OVK's compositions. Here, I quote the letter I received from his great grand daughter.

"I am a great grand daughter of Brahmasri Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri a great Rama Bhakta who attained Kapala Moksha. He was a pioneer of Hindu Religious Discourses, one of the earliest Harikatha Kalakshepa Pundits and a Pravachana Pithamaha. He was a carnatic musician too. His concerts were held between the years 1872-1910. Krishna Sastri was accompanied many times by famous Tirukkodikaval Krishna Iyer and Azhaga Nambi Pillai and was famous for his rendering of Arunachala Kavirayar, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaier's Kritis & Rama Kavi's Rama Ashtapathies.


Paruthiyur is in Thanjavur district (now Thiruvarur) & very close to Thiruvaiyaru. Krishna Sastri, revered as Paruthiyur Periyaval had received Namasankirtanam lessons and Mantropadesam from Maruthanallur Sadguru Swamigal at a very young age. He was the disciple of two great gurus Bramasri Sengalipuram Vaidhyanatha Diskshitar, Muthannaval and Rajamannargudi Mahamahopadhyaya Raju Sastri. It was at Raju Sastri gurukulam he had learnt Carnatic music & Oothukadu songs. I knew that Sri Raju Sastri helped popularize Oothukadu songs during those days."

This is one more pointer to the fact that these compositions were being practiced before Needamangalam's times.

Finally, I think it is time we sat back and soaked in on the brilliance of the works rather than get caught up in one or two speculative aspects and end up missing the forest for the trees... OVK's works are most enriching, enlightening, elevating and also entertaining for any student of melody, rhythm, lyrics or culture. As Semmangudi sir asserted, 'he is definitely on par with the trinity'.

Sincerely,


Chitravina N Ravikiran
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anoopnm007
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#16 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by anoopnm007 » 21 Apr 2011, 19:24

Here, I'm posting Vid. Ravikiran's reply to the post.

This needs detailed responses but to be honest, most of the points will be clearer by either studying at least a few dozen compositions of the composer and/or reading my book 'Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi - Life and Contributions' where I have addressed numerous issues with nearly 230 illustrations. To make it easier for all, we have now made a soft copies available at http://www.acharyanet.com.

For now, let me just spotlight on a few issues...

1. Period: As of today, 1700-65 is the accepted period of OVK. The majority of the music world - including The Music Academy (see Journal of 1955) - has gone by this at this point. As I have mentioned earlier (a) the vaggeyakara's compositions only seem to bolster this period this period - at least broadly. These include (a) his use of Marathi which was more prominent then than later (b) his highly original style and references (c) his use of features like jati, gati-bhedams (which I will talk about later), (d) the possible influence of Bhagavata Mela.

Each of the points I made above may by itself not be sufficient 'proof'. However, taken in tandem, they present a strong case that support his family's records, which is very vital here indeed. It has to be noted that records by family/disciples are the main sources in the case of numerous people and even sketchy and incomplete ones have been accepted at face value in the case of most composers/other personalities by us - until conclusive proof is found to alter our perception. So far no proof to the contrary has been found by anyone with regard to Venkata Kavi, despite speculations from a distance in select quarters. When such proof is presented beyond all doubts, I am sure that everyone will be willing to stand corrected. That said, I re-iterate that to me, the period (even plus minus a few decades) is absolutely only a statistic in the context of actual works of a person - be it OVK, Tyagaraja, Edison or Einstein.
2. Mentioning of composers: Again, as said earlier, this is a significant indicator of the fact that OVK lived sometime after Tulasidasa. It is a fairly scientific approach to fix an approximate period, as any student of history will testify to, given that OVK has saluted the maximum number of historic personalities before his time. No other composer has mentioned as many.

3. Gati bhedam: I am sorry, I probably did not make it clear that I was talking about composers' handling of gati-bhedam. Except for snatches of tishra gati seen in composers like Papanasam Sivan's pieces like Idadu padam etc, we see very little of gati-bhedam in compositions from Trinity onwards. So, it is definitely more a vanished style of composing than a current one. As to musicians singing varnams - it is a totally different subject that is not contextual here. Same for individual artistes' preference or lack of it. That has been always there and will continue to be there. Similarly, if someone thinks it is deteriorating music etc, it is again, an opinion of an individual or some sections of people. In the context of OVK, they added some dazzling sections to his creations.

4. Origin of practices: The argument used by Shri Shastry about period of composers based on citations can be valid in this instance. Mention in a treatise only proves that a given practice could not have originated after that period. It does not prove the converse - that a given practice did not exist before it was mentioned somewhere. I have not seen a treatise that has exactly dated Sankeernam or gati bhedam. It must be noted that Mr Shastri's observation about Sankeerna holds good for Mishra too - now are we to assume that all composers who have used Mishra also committed a mistake?

5. Sanskrit style: It is easier to understand what I mean by reading the lyrics of a few dozen compositions of OVK. I will be happy to share those available with me. By the way, Sadashiva Brahmendra is supposed to have been pre-trinity, if one were to go by those like Prof Sambamurthy. It is also incorrect to assume that Dikshitar did not use direct speech style approach and only focussed on the introverted style. There are numerous compositions of his that use the sambodhana vibhakti.

6. Srividya: I will only limit myself to what I have seen and discussed with scholars I have been acquainted with. The references the Kamakshi Navavaranams are and the intricate details mentioned and described with great felicity by the composer right from the opening invocation - Shri Ganeshwara - to the last piece in Punnagavarali prove that his knowledge in this area was very high indeed. It would be most edifying to read Shri Sankaranarayanan's work on this subject.

I will leave it to scholars more qualified than me to debate about the differences in approaches of various people since that is not my forte. I never suggested anywhere that OVK followed Lalitopakhyanam for his Navavaranams. Anyone who reads the lyrics will be able to see that he was highly erudite and wove in details from many sources in his works including rare instances from Lalitopakhyanam. It is also incorrect to suggest that Dikshitar has not used key syllables in his compositions, One only needs to go as far as the mantra-beejakshara krti in Madhyamavati that he has composed (which is not often rendered in concerts).

7. How was he hidden: By all accounts available to us, he never sought publicity - in fact, he shunned it and preferred to only maintain his equation with God. His family and disciple circles are very selective and shy even today to share many of his works, as other leading vidwans will testify to. But as Mr Shastry says, one cannot hide it forever. As I mentioned elsewhere, I have evidences from the families of people like Shri Krishna Shastrigal of Mannargudi, (he was a noted musician and disciple of Raja Bhagavatar) that he had learnt OVK's compositions. Here, I quote the letter I received from his great grand daughter.

"I am a great grand daughter of Brahmasri Paruthiyur Krishna Sastri a great Rama Bhakta who attained Kapala Moksha. He was a pioneer of Hindu Religious Discourses, one of the earliest Harikatha Kalakshepa Pundits and a Pravachana Pithamaha. He was a carnatic musician too. His concerts were held between the years 1872-1910. Krishna Sastri was accompanied many times by famous Tirukkodikaval Krishna Iyer and Azhaga Nambi Pillai and was famous for his rendering of Arunachala Kavirayar, Oothukadu Venkata Subbaier's Kritis & Rama Kavi's Rama Ashtapathies.


Paruthiyur is in Thanjavur district (now Thiruvarur) & very close to Thiruvaiyaru. Krishna Sastri, revered as Paruthiyur Periyaval had received Namasankirtanam lessons and Mantropadesam from Maruthanallur Sadguru Swamigal at a very young age. He was the disciple of two great gurus Bramasri Sengalipuram Vaidhyanatha Diskshitar, Muthannaval and Rajamannargudi Mahamahopadhyaya Raju Sastri. It was at Raju Sastri gurukulam he had learnt Carnatic music & Oothukadu songs. I knew that Sri Raju Sastri helped popularize Oothukadu songs during those days."

This is one more pointer to the fact that these compositions were being practiced before Needamangalam's times.

Finally, I think it is time we sat back and soaked in on the brilliance of the works rather than get caught up in one or two speculative aspects and end up missing the forest for the trees... OVK's works are most enriching, enlightening, elevating and also entertaining for any student of melody, rhythm, lyrics or culture. As Semmangudi sir asserted, 'he is definitely on par with the trinity'.

Sincerely,


Chitravina N Ravikiran
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srikanthamshastry
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#17 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by srikanthamshastry » 24 Apr 2011, 23:28

It is good see shri.ravikiran’s response on my previous post and felt compelled to post a reply. He agrees to the fact that this topic needs to be discussed in length however he hasn’t done it(of coarse due to many reasons) . Many of his answers to the questions raised above are partial and do not conclusively establish the claim that Shri OVK was a Pre trinity composer.

1.He mentions that as of today , the period of OVK) is accepted as somewhere between 1700-1760 and also mentions about academy journal where in which the above period is given. But still when there are many questions to be answered regarding his period which raises doubts regarding the correctness of it ,It will not be right on our part to label OVK as pre trinity until and unless the queries are answered conclusively. It will wise and logical to treat his period as ‘disputed’ till we arrive at a logical conclusion

2.As far as Shrividya concerned,Shri RavikiraN wrote that OVK was a disciple of Bhaskaraya makhindra about which I have conclusively proved that he cannot be a disciple of Bhaskara rayamakhindra , shri ravikiran has neither agreed up on this nor does he contests with ample evidence but, he just refrains from giving any further explanations which is very unfortunate because it was he who said that OVK was a disciple of Bhaskara raya makhindra .since he has mentioned it, now its upon him to disprove what i said (may be by consulting other vidwans or oupasakas) as it is an important point in this discussion .

3.He quotes shri semmangudi srinivasa iyer and says OVK is on par with Trinity .But it will not be wise on our part consider that as a basis to compare him with trinity (with all due respect to shri semmangudi ). Some recent composers hold titles like ‘abhinava tyagaraja’ etc which doesn’t mean that they are on par with Shri Tyagaraja. Tyagaraja was the one who created new ragas, who developed a great shishya parampara which in itself has many great composers who can be compared to OVK.( Walajapet Venkataramana Bhagavatar,Pallavi sheshaih,Mysore sadashiva rao to name a few).Like OVK he too was the one who led his life like a saint and never expected anything from anyone but he got his popularity through his works which was preserved by his Shishya parampara. Shyama shastry had great disciples like Anna swamy shastry,Subbaraya shastry , Deexitar parampara is very well known… ! credit of developing a tradition goes to Trinity .Likes of OVK cannot be compared to Trinity in many ways .

4. It must be noted that Mr Shastri's observation about Sankeerna holds good for Mishra too - now are we to assume that all composers who have used Mishra also committed a mistake?

No it does not .Unlike sankeerna (which got the value of 9 much recently) , mishra’s value i.e 7 can be seen in 15th century itself not only in treatises but also in kavyas. For ex. A kannada Poet Singiraja has given the value of 7 to Mishra in his work Singiraja purANa . you can very well go through that work to evaluate authenticity of my words .

5.It is said that ragas like Jayantashri were discovered by Sadguru tyagaraja . It is believed that ‘swararNava’ grantha was given to tyagaraja by Naradamuni. Parts of swararNava has been published in kannada ‘ganakala manjari’ which mentions about the above said point..It is said that he took such ragas from the book svararNava.Even OVK has composed in raga jayanta shri(Neerada sama neela Krishna).Does it mean to say that Narada gave svararnava to OVK before giving it to Tyagaraja?

6.Even very recent scholars ,musicologists like Abraham pandit, nathamuni pandit,Muttaih Bhagavatar etc never mention OVK’s name when this is the case how can one conclusively say that OVK was pre trinity composer!


Having said all these things I would like to request shri RavikiraN to reply to all these queries in detail so that we can arrive at a logical conclusion, partial answers take us nowhere .Until and unless doubts over the period of Shri OVK are cleared convincingly it would be appropriate to consider his period as ‘desputed’ or ‘undecided’ rather than labeling him as a Pre trinity composer .

Regards

Shreekantham Nagendra Shastry
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Pratyaksham Bala
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#18 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by Pratyaksham Bala » 25 Apr 2011, 09:36

1. Sri Ravi Kiran mentions that the period of OVK is accepted as somewhere between 1700-1760 and also mentions about academy journal where in which the above period is given. Let this be accepted till proved otherwise.

2. As far as Shrividya is concerned, religious practices and beliefs vary from place to place and from individual to individual. OVK's interpretation may be different from the interpretations of many others.

3. Comparation of OVK with the trinity or anyone else is irrelevant.

4. The discussion on Sankeerna, Mishra etc. are irrelevant to the dating.

5. OVK had used rare ragas earlier, while others had to 'discover' and use these subsequently.

6. The fact that a few recent scholars have not mentioned OVK's name does not mean anything - there may be many reasons for this. This has nothing to do with the question under reference.

Irrelevant questions do not serve any purpose. Though a few may harbour doubts over the period of Shri OVK, let us accept the fact that OVK was a pre trinity composer.

To quote Sri Chiravina Ravikiran: "I think it is time we sat back and soaked in on the brilliance of the works rather than get caught up in one or two speculative aspects and end up missing the forest for the trees..."
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#19 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by srikanthamshastry » 27 Apr 2011, 00:29

one mr pratyaksham bala[p.b] is saying irrelevent to what he is unable to answer.How can we siply acceptOVK/or somebodies time without any perfect documentation? If sri ravikiran/semmangudi/p.b says;why we,the music comunity should blindly accept OVK as pre-trinity composer without proper answers for the questions wich are undoubtedly saying OVK is not a pre-trinity composer.If p.b says'Let this be accepted till proved otherwise'.This can be also said like this.LET HIS PERIOD BE COSIDER AS DISPUTED ONE,TILL THE PERFECT PROOF FROM OTHER WISE. :lol: For srividya; i can clearly say OVK con't be a shishya of bhaskara raya;If p.b says rituals varies; how can it be vary from a guru to shishya? without knowing about srividya/or musicology any responsible scholar shouldnot say such things. :?: we can clearly say that OVKs contribution is not comparable one to trinity. Trinity's the one who are having somany pupils of OVKs calibure.ONE WHO IS NOT HAVING authentic date-time, shishya parampara [who have not done much, compared to trnities parampara], how can a real scholar do these type of comparisions. :lol: How can OVK use the ragas which were not existed in his time.Ragas like jayanthasree were used by thyagarajaswamy for the first time using SWARARNAVAM as the ref.we are having authentic informations about this. If someone like p.b says irrlelevent. truth willnot change. :o Discussion of sankeerna/ misra willbe necessary to evaluate the tala system of OVK.,which is clearly showing OVK as modern composer. 8) If somebody want to concentrate upon OVKs works;we dont have any objection. but without proving the facts, if someone imposes OVK as a pre-trinity composer &that too we should accept without questioning means,it will be dictators attitude;which will spoil our true musical history, for that each & every rasika should oppose these type of impositions.---------shreekantham nagendra shastry.
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Enna_Solven
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#20 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by Enna_Solven » 27 Apr 2011, 04:41

Sri Shastry,

This thread started as if you wanted to discuss the period of OVK in earnest. However, in spite of many counter arguments by Sri CNR, you have not conceded a single point. It now appears the only thing you ever wanted was to convince everyone else that OVK did not live before the trinity.

My simple question: The period after trinity is fairly well documented in terms when was somebody born, when he died, etc. If some oor-pEr-theriyAdavan like me (nondescript person) lived at that time, he would have disappeared without a trace. But a composer of such a caliber could not have lived in such a complete anonymity. It is more likely that we lost track of somebody from earlier centuries.

Also, one's worth is not measured in the number/quality of sishyAs he leaves behind. It is innate. The beauty of his Tamil compositions is unsurpassed.
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#21 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by srikanthamshastry » 27 Apr 2011, 10:51

Sri Enna - Solven,
In spite of many counter arguments ;the questions what ever rised by me dint get the answers properly.
if some oor - per - theriyadavan may live /go;but , how can we say his time, oor,per,that too exactly without having internal or external evidences.without evidences if i say something ; if u believe, means it will be a ignorance.
Not only the period of Post Trinity , we do have enough documentation for Pre Trinity also{for example Magradarshi Sesha Iyangar, Adi Appayya, etc.} The Tali Kote war { 1565 }which vanished not only our history but even our cultural history also. In spite of that, we are having good documentation about our Pre Trinity composers . So , your arguement doesnot stands here.One`s worth can be measured by his Pupils contribution also. Tradition works here.That is the greatness of our culture. In this case Thyagaraja Swamy`s rich tradition cannot be compared to OVK`s Tradition { if it has }.Please help the music world to find the truth ----------,
Shreekantham Nagendra Shastry
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ShrutiLaya
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#22 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by ShrutiLaya » 27 Apr 2011, 17:57

Enna_Solven wrote: If some oor-pEr-theriyAdavan like me (nondescript person) lived at that time, he would have disappeared without a trace. But a composer of such a caliber could not have lived in such a complete anonymity.
This point has been bothering me too. How is it possible that there is no primary evidence? Note that I am completely ignorant about OVK history, so these are not rhetorical questions: How did we get any of his compositions - were they written down (like Annamacharya's copper plates; if so, these could be dated?) or were they passed down by oral tradition? Are there any local legends/inscriptions etc., in the place that he was supposed to have lived? Does he feature in any contemporaneous account at all ?

- Sreenadh
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#23 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by srikanthamshastry » 27 Apr 2011, 18:20

dear sreenadh,this is bothering me also.We are not getting primary resource of OVKs period beyond doubt,how can we say he is early even to trinity :!: some myths have been created to glorify him(he is a desciple of nonother than bhaskara raya,a2nd incornation of adi shankara etc),but ,we should break it &write the real history where ovk actually stands. -----s.nagendra shastry.
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keerthi
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#24 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by keerthi » 28 Apr 2011, 12:10

It is certainly interesting that krtis of OVK have been found in rAgas like umAbharanam,hamsanAdam, sarasvati? and jayantashri, which we hitherto thought, were given lakshya forms by tyAgarAja.

The oral tradition versions of his songs in mangalakaisika,rasamanjari, mAnji and even gauLa seem to follow slightly different lakshya from what is prevalent.

Other rAgas used by OVK, like say dvijAvanti, mALavi and kannaDagaula, have a tradition going back to seshayyangar or annammayya or kshEtrayya, and don't pose a problem.

It is again unusual that there is a preponderance of shanmukhapriya and simhEndramadhyama in his songs. He seems to have used other mela rAgas like sarasangi, chakravAka etc.

It may be a worthwhile effort to examine separately the clues we get from the lyrical, musical and other historical sources available, to try and understand what has happened in the OVK phenomenon.

While the lyrical and musical content of several songs attributed to OVK is undeniable, we shouldn't discourage historical investigations, even if we don't find them interesting ourselves.
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#25 Re: Oothukkadu Venkata kavi - a pre trinity composer?

Post by CRama » 29 Apr 2011, 10:45

Rasikas may refer to Sri.Ravikiran's views in post No 10. He has referred to the work on Kamakshi Navavarana Kritis by Shri.Sankaranarayanan. He is my best friend and I had mentioned to him about the ongoing discussion in the forum. He has forwarded a note on the subject and I am giving it below. For any further clarification you may contact him in the email id provided.

Dear Ramakrishnan:
You mentioned to me some time ago about the ongoing discussions in Rasikas.org on Uttukkadu Venkata Kavi’s Kamakshi Navavarana kritis and asked me to participate in it. I expressed my inability to do so because of paucity of time. Nevertheless, I thought of sending you a note on the subject which would throw some light on the topics discussed there, as I understood them from you.

A Note on Kamakshi Navavarana Kritis of Utttukkadu Venkata kavi.
It took me more than two years to write the book dealing with the sahitya of the Kamakshi Navavarana Kritis (KNK). On the advice of learned commentators and scholars I studied standard works on Srichakra, Lalita Sahasranama and Lalitopakhyana before preparing the first draft.
I have no doubt that Venkata Kavi (VK) must have been a Srividya Upasaka. This is the conclusion I arrived at after studying the KNK. One cannot, in my opinion, compose such sterling kritis, in terms of sahitya and Sangeeta, merely by possession of scholarship and erudition alone.
Did he live before the music trinity or after them? Scholars like TS Parthasarathi, Sulochana Pattabhi Raman and others have opined that he lived before the time of the trinity. As we are aware, Carnatic music became art music only from the time of the trinity; the three being its creators. The songs of composers who lived prior to their time belong to applied-cum-art music. The style and structure of the music as well as the sahitya of VK, in my opinion, indicate that he lived before the trinity. Others may disagree; no problem.
Now about the sahitya of the KNK: I had the good fortune to study them in detail. I did not attempt to analyze the music part of them – I am not competent for the job as I am not a musician but only a connoisseur.
In my book I have given the diagram of each of the nine avaranas as also the particulars of each of them. They comprise of the names of the Avarana, Chakra, Group of Yoginis, Manovritti, Chakreswari, Group of Saktis/Siddhis and Mudra Devatas (seven in all). VK has included the names of many of those particulars in the corresponding Kritis. Of the seven items, we find names of five items in each of the 1st, 3rd, 4th and 6th avarana kritis, names of four items in each of the 5th, 8th and 9th avarana kritis, names of three items in the 7th avarana kriti, and names of two items in the 2nd avarana kriti.
(There is an alternative kriti each for the 6th and 9th avaranas. Even though in my book I have studied them in detail, I do not propose to say anything about them in this note. We do not know why VK composed alternative songs for those two chakras, assuming that those two are also his. This is not the proper place to discuss them.)
VK has referred to two manta forms of the Goddess in the 4th avarana kriti (Yoga Yogeswari).
Only in the 6th avarana kriti (Sadanandamanyi – Hindola, Sankeerna Mathyam) that we find the mention of one of the three devatas of the 8th avarana, as also two of the eight vagdevis of the 7th avarana. A vaggeyakara of the stature of VK, who has decorated the Navavarana Kritis with so many particulars and details, could not have mentioned in a kriti the names of devatas/vagdevis of other avaranas due to what one may call ‘ignorance’. I would believe that our limited intellect could not gauge their relevance or significance of their being placed there. Why should he err only here? In any case, as I have stated in the Note on Srichakra in my book, the Srichakra as a whole is the abode of the Mother; the yoginis and saktis and mudra devatas stationed in the avaranas are her own emanations and their functions and powers are Hers but limited or conditioned by the stage or descent (level) of consciousness at which they are located. Hence the names of the parivara devatas are Her own names.
VK’s deep knowledge of the Srichakra mysticism has expressed itself at many places in the nine avarana kritis. In the 7th avarana kriti (Sakalaloka Nayike), VK describes the Goddess as Vangmayi as she is presiding over Vagdevis (Deities of Speech) in that avarana chakra. She is also Sabda Brahman – she is in form of the 51 varnas (phonemes of Sanskrit language) – from A to Ksha. The composer has picturesquely stated this concept in the opening line of the anupallavi (A ka cha ta ….).
Similarly, the ayudha devatas – goddess in charge of Devi’s weapons – are position in the 8th chakra, and Lalita presides over those devatas. Quite appropriately, the composer describes the Mother (in the 8th avarana kriti (Sankari Sri Rajarajeswari) as holding in her four hands a noose, a goad, a bow and a stalk/stem (Ankusa dhanuh ….) (For more information, see my book).
Among the other concepts of Srichakra worship that are mentioned in the kritis include: ‘Dasa Mudra’ (1st avarana kriti – Santatam aham seve), and ‘Gurumandala’ and the hierarchy of gurus consisting of three ‘oghas’ (9th avarana kriti – Natajana Kalpavalli).
A reader should have familiarity with the story of Bhandasura and his annihilation by Lalita as described in the Lalitopakhyana. Only then can one grasp the significance and import of some of the expressions in the kritis.
The Navavarana Kritis is preceded by a kriti on Ganesa (Sree Ganesvarah). In it VK declares in the pallavi of the song that He is pleased by Sreevidya Upanasa, as he composed this song as a prelude to the Navavarana compositions proper. The composer also refers to an incident in Lalita’s battle with Bhandasura; he beautifully describes how Ganesa helped Her by destroying the Vighna Yanta placed by Bhandasura’s brothers – Vishanga and Vishukra. In the 6th avarana kriti (Sadanandamayi), the composer indicates Bhandrasura’s coming into being. These are described in Lalitopakhyana.
Those who are really interested to know about KNK may go through my book. Lest this suggestion should be mistaken as a device to increase the sale of my book, I may state that I have no monetary gain by increase in sale of the book as I have long ago transferred my copyright in the book and distribution right to the distributors, namely, Karnatic Music Book Centre.
It is not my claim that I have done a ‘perfect’ job of my book. I wish I were endowed with greater scholarship and insight so that I could have done it better. However, in the absence of any other similar work, I feel happy that I was able to do what I have done.
[email protected]
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