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Majestic like the Ganga

THE VENUE was Musiri House where the late Musiri Subramania Iyer lived and now, his grandson hosts a Carnatic music concert every month. It was January 19, a Sunday, and the performing artiste was T. Muktha, the surviving sister of the famous duo. It is common knowledge that Muktha and her sister, the late Brinda, belong to the legendary Veena Dhanammal's family, being her grandchildren and the repositories of the Dhanammal school of Music. After a month long onslaught of music festivals, the discerning rasikas had a taste of Manna from heaven in the music of Muktha. It was a great concert, an experience to cherish lifelong.

One got the quintessence of music, in its pristine form, devoid of all gimmicks. Muktha, who is eighty-eight years old, sang for nearly two and a half hours without a break that speaks volumes of her dedication, devotion and discipline to the art, which she has been nurturing till date. Age has not withered her musical charm. In fact, it has moved on from mellowness to sublime music. Muktha's unassuming nature is something to be adored. She carries her musical prowess with such humility and aplomb that one is reminded of the saying ``Vidya Vinaya Sampannah" — Vidya goes hand in hand with humility. Her music has stood the test of time, and is now, a model to the Carnatic idiom.

Perhaps, the very ambience of the maestro's house inspires the musician to give out his/her best. The musical elite of Chennai was delighted by this musical treat. Music a fine art, as it is known, got finer, soulful, endearing and finally enriched the rasikas that evening. Muktha looked frail, when she sat down to perform. We were told by her daughter — after the concert — that she took only liquid diet, rested most of the time, but was happy to teach music to her students. I think, this sums up her whole character.

She breathes music, lives music, thinks music and only such an unwavering commitment to the art can bring forth such great music.

Though weak, physically, not once she wavered on the Sruti, that was in total unison with her soul. The Sruti was in the Sub - stratum, the Adhishtanam for her to weave out her musical expressions, out of her imagination. Her vidwat shone like a polished diamond.

There were only songs, devoid of swarams, neravals and kanakkus. She treated the ragas in their barest form, but that delineation unveiled their beauty in their entire gamut. It was a lesson for to-day's performers — not to trapeze on the raga format, but to give out its swaroopam, in crisp expressions, thus extracting the beauty of the Raga. In her brief raga alapana of Kalyani and Bhairavi, the very raga deities were dancing with joy, so to say.

All the songs she rendered were old monumental pieces such as ``Veena Pusthaka Dharini" in Vegavahini, ``Kanthimatheem" in Kalyani, ``Raksha Pettare" in Bhairavi and the Sahana Padam to name a few. Her rendition was flawless, since she had internalised every song and each was a gem of great value. She did not forget a single line, and unlike the younger generation, the notes and books were absent on the dais.

The dedication to the art was so wholesome, that there was no casualness whatsoever. These aspects are worthy of emulation. All the Rakthi Raga Kritis flowed majestically, with full Raga Bhava and aesthetic nuances that it flowed like the glorious Ganga from the Himalayan foothills. Her music gave you the calm and repose to the mind that you yearn for in these days of frenzied activities. She was ably and unobtrusively supported by Sowmya.

Sriramkumar on the violin and Umayalpuram Mali on the mridangam grasped the greatness of the music and enhanced the musical atmosphere. Such was Muktha Amma's vintage music, that it took everyone present that day on a musical journey, as though it was a path to MUKTHI the ultimate liberation.


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