Brahmasri Tadepalli Venkata Subrahmanya Sastry seemed to be a genius of maths and music. He had taken up a rare and challenging task of composing songs on each of the thousand names of Devi in Sree Lalitha Sahasranamam. The compilation of these 1,000 songs was referred as Sree Lalitha Rahasya Nama Sahasraakrutulu set in not only 72 melakarta ragas but also in several janya and unfamiliar ragas. This magnum opus took him 24 long years and the entire work has been meticulously notated by him in his own handwriting.
His son Tadepally Lokanatha Sarma expressed his fortune to render some of these special kritis for Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha at the Raga Sudha Hall recently. He mentioned the above details and also added that there were 650 unheard ragas and all the kritis carry the raga mudras so that they could never be meddled.
Lokanatha Sarma focused more on presenting those rare songs with great reverence and dignity. All the kritis began with the name of Devi as recited in the Sahasranamam. The line-up included ‘Sri Lalithe Simhasanasthithe’ in Ritigowla, ‘Sri Matha Sakalaguno’ in Abheri, ‘Kamakshi’ in Kamala Manohari , ‘Bhavai Paavani’ in Pantuvarali, ‘Sarvani’ in Saramathi, ‘Durga’ in Yamuna Kalyani, ‘Uma Kumari’ in Urmika, ‘Gowri’ in Gowri, ‘Maha Kali’ in Manoranjani and ‘Mahathi Parimana Rahita’ in Mahathi.
The kritis were mostly in Sanskrit and Telugu and loaded with the speciality of the raga chosen. The uniqueness in the kritis was, according to Sarma, that each name had been expanded for its significance and profundity. Therefore, instead of simple rendition of the kriti, had Lokanatha Sarma gone for articulation of the lyrical domain to explain the intricacies of at least one or two numbers, the exercise would have been more engaging. He, nonetheless, elucidated that the Pantuvarali of his father was a derivative of 45 mela Subha Pantuvarali which carries a different shade. But, he presented it in the popular Pantuvarali for the song ‘Bhavani’ with alapana, a little niraval and swaraprastara for the better participation of the accompanying artists Challa Prabhavathi on the violin and Peravali Jaya Bhaskar on mridangam. So was the other number ‘Durga’ in Yamuna Kalyani, which was also set in different style in its original perception of the composer, was rendered in the present day mould. Dr Lokanatha Sarma’s robust voice and perfect enunciation covered the slips in pitch on many instances. The recital was more of a tribute to his father’s exclusive contribution to Devi than a concert of mandatory format sans demonstration of the creativity of the performer.