Reviews

The beauty of ragas through verses

Not all children whose parents are renowned musicians need necessarily become musicians too. Having grown up in an artistic environment, they might find new ways of creative expression. And that’s what Jyothi Ganesh, daughter of Sangita Kala Acharya V. Subramaniam has done. She has chosen to convey her bond with Carnatic music through verse. In the process, she proves how music can both be an art and a deeply personal experience.

Her debut book of poetry, Samarpanam, brings forth not only her love for Carnatic music, but also for culture, philosophy and life in general. One look at the content gives a hint of her varied interests. The book begins with exploring the deeper meaning of Garbha Griham (sanctum sanctorum). Likening it to the womb, she writes, ‘Embodying a form, holding myriad promises’.

Poems on ragas

Some of the best poems of the collection are those on Carnatic ragas. She presents her perspective of their beauty and features. For instance, in the poem titled ‘Shankarabharanam,’ she summarises the raga’s essence in simple words. “An arrow from the quiver of brave Shankara, of Chathusruti rishabam, The anthara gandharam, and the suddha madhyamam with the micro half notes and gamakas...”

The comparison of the gandharam in Thodi to an elephant’s gait draws beautiful imagery of the raga in the mind while in Mukhari Jyothi weaves in a poignant story from the Mahabharata. “Displaying the pathos of Karna, in an emotionally charged moment mired in self-doubt, weighing him down, unable to defend himself, Suddha madhyamam, Sadharana gandharam.”

The poem ‘Janmashtami’ is an amalgam of various ragas including Yadhukulakamboji, Sahana, Nattakurunji, Khamas, Kamboji, Kedaragowla, Navarasa Kananda and Surutti. Describing each, the poem talks how the rasa and bhava in them heralds the arrival of Krishna.

There are references to the scriptures, the epics, puranas, legends and philosophical connotations as Jyothi explains the notes, sounds and moods of the ragas. Her nuanced interpretation of their structure shows her understanding of Carnatic music. If music is intrinsic to the poetry, the book also reiterates the strong link between spirituality and classical music.

Jyothi calls raga Kiravani as the ‘Om of creation’ while Charukesi, for her, denotes Shakti and Shiva. And the lord, says Jyothi in a poem dedicated to him, is representative of the five elements and ragas Kannada, Begada, Bilahari, Nilambari and Navroj.

A harmony of thought runs through the verses which gets disturbed with the insertion of poems on completely unrelated subjects such as idli, sauce, generation, trust, isolation, books, the art of writing and more. Both in prose and poetry, there has to be seamlessness in the narrative to make a deeper impact on the reader.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 3:41:34 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/books/books-reviews/words-and-notes/article33030344.ece

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