Six-hour walk was all for music

As the morning sun gleamed on the Meenakshi Temple on Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore, a group of nearly 250 assembled there for the Gana Padayatra, a melodic awareness expedition, steered by vocalist R.K. Padmanabha. The early hours seemed just the right time for the mellow Malahari raga to unfold for “Lambodara Lakumikara,” Purandara Dasa’s Geete propitiating Ganesha.

Flagging off with the initial music lessons of the saint-poet, the six-hour ‘sing the walk’ endeavour entailed several kritis and dasara padas of Purandaradasa, Kanakadasa and Vadiraja and some Tyagaraja kritis. The group later congregated at the Purandara Mantapa at Nisarga Extension, 16 km away, much beyond the Bannerghatta National Park.

Says the 63-year-old Padmanabha: “It has been bothering me that children are deprived of being sufficiently associated with music in this hurried life. Musical experiences last for a lifetime. Only when the young are nurtured with music, do they grow into complete human beings. Every child needs to be initiated into music for maintaining equilibrium. Music is a force to bring peace.”

RKP is a veteran in bringing about such awareness.

His outing with his students to have an experience of ‘music amidst nature’ is a big draw while his ‘classes for the masses’, where hundreds of enthusiasts congregate to learn dasara padas, are popular.

“I have just started off with my first Gana Padayatra, and this will continue more often. The next one is coming up at Lalbagh, and then Mandya, Tumkur and the entire State. My endeavour is a modern Unchavrutti (an ancient form of bhakti-oriented group singing taking to the streets) for people to realise that music will bring about a difference to everyone’s lives.”

Every half an hour of the walk on the main road, the group comprising musicians, connoisseurs, students and the public stopped to take up a long kriti. This was followed by RKP’s talk and explanations of the hidden nuances of the sahitya for onlookers who had gathered. The group’s slogan is: “Shastriya Sangeeta Kalisi, Samskruti Balasi, Haridasa Padagalannu Haadisi, Rajyava Rakshisi.”

As the enthusiastic group followed RKP in the endeavour with gusto — never stopping keeping time with the tala with their hands — all along the 16 km passage on the main roads. They sang every sangati of the kriti along with the vocalist, be it Purandaradasa’s “Kallu Sakkare Kolliro” or “Jaya Janaki Kantha” or Vadiraja’s “Narayana”. The groups finally converged at Prabhuddalaya, Nirman Shelters’ home for the aged, whose residents were treated to one hour of classical music, arranged in association with philanthropist V. Lakshmi Narayan of Nirman Shelters.