On a philosophical note


Jayanthi Sridharan took up Desika’s Hamsa Sandesam.Suganthy Krishnamachari

Vedanta Desika's stotras are recited at many Vaishnava homes. But not many can claim familiarity with his kavya Hamsa Sandesam, wherein Rama sends word to Sita through a swan. Jayanthi Sridharan presented a concert with nine verses from Hamsa Sandesam set to tune, and some kritis expressing similar sentiments.

Jayanthi began the concert with the first verse of the kavya, and this was followed by Tyagaraja's ‘Ninne Bhajana.’ In Hamsa Sandesam, Rama tells the swan about five Divya Desams, and of these verses, Jayanthi presented those pertaining to Srirangam, Tirumala and Azhagar Kovil.

As in the works of all Acharyas, one must not merely look at the superficial meanings of the words, but search for what is implied or suggested. Hamsa Sandesam underlines the role an Acharya plays in the soul's liberation. Rama is the Supreme One. Sita, imprisoned in Lanka, symbolises the Jivatma trapped in turbulent worldly life. Through the swan, who symbolises the Acharya, Rama reassures Sita that He will save Her. Jayanthi made an effort to convey the philosophical import of the work. A better idea would be to get a scholar of Visishtadvaita explain the verses, and then sing them.

Again, she could have focused on some aspect of the work, as for example, the importance given by Desika to the Archa form. She could have taken up just the verses on the various Divya Desams, and backed them up with the Mangalasasanams of Azhwars on these kshetras, and also suitable kritis.

Jayanthi's rendering of a slokam in Hindolam, Periyazhwar's ‘Naandagam Sankhu’ in Behag and Nammazhvar's ‘Vidhiyinaal’ in Asaveri, were good, as were her alapanas of Hamirkalyani and Suddha Dhanyasi. Hamsa Sandesam is about Rama's lament for Sita, about the Paramatma's concern for the languishing Jivatma. The mood, therefore, should be mellow. But raucous percussion outbursts robbed the concert of the sobriety required.

Jayanthi can take her laudable effort to the next level by giving some thought to her presentation.

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