Meticulously researched, Gayathri Girish’s ‘The Myriad Forms of Lord Siva’ was a double treat for listeners.

A large part of the world received its religious education from India … In spite of continuous struggle with theological baggage, India has held fast for centuries to the ideals of spirit: Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

Word, verve and vision came in unison when a musical presentation with visuals on ‘The Myriad forms of Lord Siva’ was made by Gayathri Girish. The ‘word’ – song’s lyrics were displayed on a roller-screen (WYSIWYG!); ‘verve’ was seen in the enthusiasm and deep study of Gayathri to arrive at the final form of the presentation and ‘vision’ occurred when the forms of Siva were brought before the audience (at the Tattvaloka Auditorium) with a sense of integrity.

Words of praise

Chief guest E. Gayathri, now Principal and Honorary Director, Tamil Nadu Govt. Music College, Chennai, said that these 12 episodes - this was the third - conceived and presented were by themselves acts of penance undertaken by the group. Nandini Ramani, dancer and scholar, deserved praise as she had been the main determinant behind these “acts of penance”.

Gayathri Girish began with ‘Sri Maha Ganapathi Ravathumaam’ (Gowlai) and then went on to present Lord Siva as ‘Kalyana Sundarar,’ the inseparable Siva-Shakthi Swaroopam, highlighting the value of the bonding-stage one faces in life (viz. Grihasthasramam). Pon Seidha, Sundarar‘s Thevaram in Natta Ragam came quickly and sought to depict how Paravai Nachiyaar was forcing Lord Siva to be on tenterhooks. Gayathri then informed how Parvathi came as Uma, as Dakshayani and then as Meenakshi to get into a royal wedlock with Siva. Thiruvilaiyadal Puranam describes Meenakshi Kalyanam fully. Attention was then focused on one of the greatest poets of all times, Kalidasa, who with his ineffable metaphors portrays this wedding in his monumental work, ‘Kumarasambhavam.’

Next, Vrishabharoodar’s poses (seated on the bull/Nandi) were shown and the appropriate kriti was chosen for rendering – ‘Akshaya Linga Vibho’ (Sankarabaranam).

The next form was that of Chandrasekarar. Songs, stories and places of relevance were sung/displayed in an orderly manner. Numbers rendered included among others, ‘Khumbeshwaraya Namasthe’ on the Kumbakonam deity (Dikshitar), ‘Thodudaya Seviyan’ (Thevaram), ‘Chandrasekarane’ (Thirugnana Sambandar, Ahiri) and a rare kriti of Dikshitar, ‘Chandrasekaram’ (Marga Hindolam).

That elaborate research and meticulous preparedness had been done, came to be indicated by the many references made by Gayathri. It ranged from certain infrequently heard Diksitar kritis to Thevaram to Soundarya Lahari to the Upanishads. Iconography, graphic pictures and live photos were used liberally and with purpose. Those who knew places such as Thiruvengadu, Injikudi, Tiruvarur, Nagappattinam, Vedaranyam, Kuththalam (near Mayavaram), Velvikkudi, Thirumanancheri and Edhirkolpadi were in worshipful (read nostalgic) mode and for those who did not, it was a revelation.

For those accustomed to listening to Gayathri it must have been a double-treat, talking interspersed with singing. She exercised a good sense of proportion giving contained, yet rich alapanas of Kalyani and Sankarabaranam. V. V. Ravi (violin) served to enhance the spirit of the interpretations and gave fine fillers appropriately. Mudikondan Ramesh (veena) acquitted himself creditably giving compact thanam-cameos in Shanmukhapriya, Sankarabaranam and Kalyani. Chidambaram Balashankar (mridangam) gave laya support playing in a fitting manner and Vishruthi Girish provided vocal support.

(sivakumar2004@gmail.com)