The day dawns with Nama Sankeertan
Vittal Das Jaya Krishna Dikshitar and his students ... picture of dedication. Pic. by K. V. Srinivasan
GOING TO Krishna Gana Sabha at seven on Marghazhi mornings seems hardly daunting for the huge crowd of bhajan rasikas gathering to listen to the Hari Nama Sankeertan by Vittal Das Jaya Krishna Dikshitar from Govindapuram. The ongoing two-hour bhajan session of Sri Vittal Das and his 10 young students, which brings in facets of Narayana Thirtha's `Krishna Leela Tarangini,' will be on till January 1. (7 - 9 a.m.)
Clapping hands in unison with the beats and swaying their heads, the packed audience reverberates with "Vittala Vittala Panduranga" sung on stage. It is a familiar morning scene at the sabha here this season.
"This is the seventh successive year of my pravachana and sankeertan at the Krishna Gana Sabha, and it is heartening to see thousands of people coming in so early, although we know that throughout the country audience for such spiritual sessions is dwindling," says Vittal Das Dikshitar.
Belonging to the family of pravachana specialist Anantarama Dikshitar and being the son of Vadagudi Rama Dikshitar, Vittal Das has students aged between seven and 15 who live in his gurukulam, at Panduranga Bhajanashramam, in Govindapuram. They are disciplined to adopt a life of spiritual and philosophical ideologies. "Veda Adyayanam, Sanskrit Gnana, and Basha Gnana have always remained the ashram's principal common denominators for teaching the Bhagavatham, Namasankeerthanam and Ramayana. These are daily lessons for children to nurture their supple minds with knowledge," he says.
For children at the gurukulam who have come from different regions as Tirupati, Srirangam Madurai and Veppathur near Kumbakonam, "The minimum 10-year study also extends to all the places I visit for my spiritual sessions ... it is theory at Govindapuram and practical accompaniment on stage during the tours," says Vittal Das.
Even as several spiritual experts voice concern over lukewarm attempts to encourage young minds to take to sacred scriptures, the effort of those like Vittal Das Dikshitar will go a long way in leading young minds in a positive way. It not only acclimatises the students to a journey that leads them to a regimented life of devotion, but as Sanskrit is given top priority, "it helps them in understanding other Indian languages, and also the works of famous composers," says Vittal Das Dikshitar.
"Namasankeerthanam is a lively assortment of lecture and music to the accompaniment of the harmonium, mridangam and tabla wherein mythological tales are spun with anecdotes. Kritis in several languages by scholars and saints as Jayadeva, Narayana Thirthar, Bhadrachala Ramadas, Purandaradasa, Sadasiva Brahmendrar, Tyagaraja, Kabirdas, Meera, Namdev, Tukaram and Gyaneshwar are included to take the listener to higher realms of satisfaction," he adds.
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