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Carnatic music festival to showcase Rudrapatna

By Muralidhara Khajane

RUDRAPATNA, (Hassan Dt.), MAY 16. After nearly a century, Rudrapatna, a small village on the banks of the Cauvery in Arkalgud taluk, which was once considered the "cradle of Carnatic music", is making efforts to revive its past glory.

"Rudrapatna Sangeetotsava Samiti", an organisation formed to revive the great musical tradition of the village, will be organising a two-day Carnatic music festival in the village from Saturday in memory of the musicians who promoted Carnatic music.

Noted musicians such as R.K. Suryanarayana, R.N. Tyagarajan, and R.N. Taranath (popularly known as Rudrapatnam brothers), R.K. Shekar, B.S.N. Murali, and Sukanya Prabhakar will participate in the festival.

Chintanapalli in Kolar District and Rudrapatna are the two villages in Karnataka known for their contribution to Carnatic music. Rudrapatna was well known across the country for its great musical tradition.

Rudrapatna, with a population of 2,000, is now a forgotten village. With its rich musical heritage, Rudrapatna is akin to Thiruvayyar in Tamil Nadu. It was an abode of "Veda-Nada-Taranga", according to R.K. Padmanabha, musician. Nearly 60 per cent of the Carnatic musicians are from Rudrapatna.

R.K.Krishna Shastry, a noted vocalist and Harikatha vidwan, was from Rudrapatna. His four sons, R.K. Venkatarama Shastry, R.K. Ramanathan, R.K. Srikantan, and R.K. Narayana Swamy, who were trained by him, have attained a higher degree of proficiency and popularity through their performances. Venkataramanaiah, popularly known as Thimmappa, was a veena vidwan. He was a composer of kritis and his "Veeraboni Varna" in "Kedaragowla" raga won him several laurels. Shatavadhani Venkataraya was a veena vidwan. R.K. Keshava Murthy, who was a disciple of Veene Subbanna. Veene Shamanna, Srikantaiah, and Veene Ranganath are from Rudrapatna.

R.K. Srikantan, R.K. Suryanarayana, R.K. Raghava, R.K. Prakash, R.K. Padmanabha, R.N. Tyagarajan, R.S. Ramakanth, R.S. Keshava Murthy, Ratnamala Prakash, and R.N. Sreelatha, who hail from this village, have carved a niche for themselves in Carnatic music.

Those who visit the village can see houses of great musicians in a dilapidated condition. "Thotti Mane" where great musicians, including Venkataramanaiah and Thimmappa, lived, stands as a mute witness to the past glory of the village.

Vidwan Padmanabha, who has taken the initiative to revive the glory of the village, told The Hindu that Rudrapatna had a great history and tradition. While other musicians aspired for Rajashreya, those from Rudrapatna refused to capitalise on music for their livelihood.

He says people of the village migrated from Sengottai in Tirunelveli District of Tamil Nadu. They came in two groups. While one group settled down at Koushika village in Hassan, another came to Rudrapatna. Sanketis as they were known, practised Vedas and music. Due to the outbreak of plague, most of them deserted Rudrapatna.

It is not easy to find references to Rudrapatna as there is no record on the village except for a few lines in the Gazetteer. However, Vidwan Padmanabha collected some valuable information and brought out a booklet on Rudrapatna.

"Even the Department of Kannada and Culture is not aware of Rudrapatna. When I inquired with the officials there, I could not get any answer from them," he says. He has approached the department for help to revive the past glory of the village. He has appealed to the officials to preserve and convert "Thotti Mane" into a monument on the lines of the houses of Kuvempu and Bendre.

As part of his efforts, Vidwan Padmanabha has been conducting workshops on music at Rudrapatna. The samiti will organise a benefit show in Bangalore in December to raise funds for the purpose.

Vidwan Padmanabha's aim is to transform Rudrapatna into a "Sangrama" (sangeeta grama) for which he says he needs help from villagers and the Government.

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