#266 Re: Thyagaraja (Krithis)
rajeshnat, the earliest account of neraval, kalpana swaras we have are of Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer and the Anai Ayya brothers, from the writings of Soolamangalam Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar and U.Ve. Swaminatha Iyer. In the time of the Trinity too there might have been vidvans singing neraval and kalpana swaram. Before the time of the Trinity, when there were very few compositions and CM was mainly performed in royal courts, the pallavi was the main item sung, for hours together perhaps. Later with the advent of a lot of kritis, vidvans began bringing the aspect of neraval and swaram to concerts. I very well understand and appreciate Thyagaraja's opposition to neraval and kalpana swaras. I have myself felt suffocated in concerts listening to overdose of these two items. And even if crisp and short, personally I have felt what Soolamangalam says Thyagaraja felt, namely that the keerthanai's gambhIram will get affected. It is not just my friend but even myself, who, until I learn the songs myself, never got to listen to a decent rendering of the charanams of srI subramaNyAya namastE or akshayalinga vibhO and many other songs. After listening to music for more than 15 years, I was stunned to "newly" discover the full beauty of certain kritis when I learnt the songs from Mukthamma. The pUrvikalyANI kriti, 'paripUrNa kAmA' is such a beauty, especially its charanam but I discovered it much later when I chanced upon a recording of B-M singing it without the neraval, swaras. I did not request Mukthamma to teach me that song because I was convinced it was an ordinary song, just because everyone used to sing neraval and kalpana swaram.
Soolamangalam, when he writes in his book about Veena Dhanammal says, " nAn ethanaiyO vidvAngaLai kETTirukkirEn. inda ammAL neraval swaram eduvum pADAmal, verum sAhityangaLai maTTUm pADinAlum, avargaL ellOrayum viDa inda ammALIn sangItam muzumayAna truptiyai koDuthadu" (I have listened to many vidvans, but this lady even though she sings only the sahityams gives total satisfaction more than anyone else). One can dismiss this off as the subjective opinion of someone, but after so many years of listening I tend to agree. One can bring total satisfaction to the listener just by singing kritis perfectly with bhava. This quality has been missing in many vidvans for the last 60 years, except in a few. Well, this is my opinion. Butt this opinion of mine was vindicated when I read about Thyagaraja's advice to his disciples to eschew neraval and swaras.
MKR, society, the Carnatic music world I mean did a lot of wrong to their community as a whole. Not just to the Dhanammal family. What honours did that Abhinava Nandi from Needamangalam get? Or for that matter Nachiyar Kovil Raghava Pillai or Valangaiman Shanmukhasundaram or.......the list goes on. That is how it has been, is, and will be, the CM world. And where are the musicians from that community now? How will they dare to come to the field if the response of society is so discouraging? B-M's brothers and Bala's two brothers (Srinivasan and Varadan) studied and went on to work. They did not take to music. Now, in the generation after that even the ladies have studied, become professionals in fields other than music. What else can they do? It is a pity that the Dhanammal bhaNi has almost become extinct in their family.