Music

Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala’s on her Annamayya production

Parvati Ravi Ghantasala in her production on Annamacharya

Parvati Ravi Ghantasala in her production on Annamacharya  

It was a blessing to get the opportunity to present ‘Pada Kavitha Pitamaha’, says the dancer

It was in 1993 that I presented the life history of Annamayya and it has become one of my favourite dance productions. In Chennai, it was inaugurated in the august presence of M.S. Amma and the then President R. Venkataraman. I was fortunate to present it later during Brahmotsavam at Tirupati. I consider it a blessing that for the past 26 years, I have presented over 300 times Annamayya’s songs through dance in India and abroad.

The production traces the life of Annamacharya, the first scene depicting the hardship he faces. He walks to the Seven Hills and on reaching Seshadri Peak, sings ‘Adigo.’ Eyes filled with tears of joy, he enters the temple and is disappointed to see the doors of the sanctum closed.

Later, he has a vision of Lord Venkateswara and sings ‘Podagantimaiya.’ Prostrating at the Lord’s feet, he sings ‘Brahmakadigana Padamu,’ which describes the greatness of the Lord’s feet. He sings ‘Endariki Abayambulichucheyi,’ describing the greatness of Lord’s hands that protects mankind. Garuda Seva at Tirupati is a spectacular site during Brahmotsavam. The song ‘Itu Garudanuni’ describes the Lord on his Garuda Vahana.

In the second scene, Annamayya’s kirtanas, not only glorify Lord Venkateswara but also the divine incarnations like Narasimha, Rama and Krishna, along with Goddess Alarmelmanga. The kirtanas are ‘Deva Devam Bhaje’, ‘Okapari Kapari Kokapari Oyaramai’, ‘Alarulu Kuriyaga’, ‘Bhavamulona’ and ‘Bhavayami’.

The third scene depicts Annamayya, when his fame has spread far and wide. King Salvanarasimha becomes an ardent rasika of the poet. Asked to compose a love lyric, Annamayya sings ‘Emoko’ — a sensitive description of the union of Lord Venkateswara and Goddess Padmavati.

Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala with the then President of India R. Venkataraman and M.S. Subbulakshmi and Sadasivam

Parvathi Ravi Ghantasala with the then President of India R. Venkataraman and M.S. Subbulakshmi and Sadasivam  

The king wants a song on himself but the poet refuses. The angry king gets him chained. The poet languishes in the prison, lips chanting his glory — ‘Akativellala’ — and the shackles loosen. The king comes, but is unable to chain him. Then realising Annamayya’s greatness, falls at his feet. The poet bursts into a song, ‘Nanathi Brathuku...’ — The whole world is a stage and we are the characters. Life is a perennial stream and everything is the making of Lord Brahma. So singing, he leaves the kingdom.

Annamayya inscribed all his compositions on copper plates and offered them at the feet of the Lord at Tirumala. ‘Dhachuko dhachuko,’ he sang. “All these compositions were written by your divine grace. I speak not out of pride. You are my very existence, so accept them and treasure them for posterity.” Today, we are fortunate to have his songs, which show the way to salvation through music and dance.

It is the traditional belief that Annamayya was the incarnaton of Nandaka, the Lord’s sword. Every time I dance to Annamayya’s songs, the uniqueness of his literary works elevates my performance to a profound level!

Here, I should thank my Guru Krishnakumari Narendren for guiding me. The music for the songs was scored by L. Vaidyanathan and Prof. Pasupathi. Concept was by Justice K.S. Bakthavatsalam. The orchestra comprised Girija Ramaswamy, Radha Bhadri and Indumathi on the vocals, J. Padmanaban on the mridangam, Srinivasan (flute), Nagarajan (violin).

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 5:27:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/parvathi-ravi-ghantasalas-on-her-annamayya-production/article27148315.ece

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