Carnatic music workshop Music

Revisiting Ramadasu

Devotional ambience Seshulatha Viswanath (centre) with Nendraganti Krishnamohan and Ramaprabha Aruna Chandaraju

Devotional ambience Seshulatha Viswanath (centre) with Nendraganti Krishnamohan and Ramaprabha Aruna Chandaraju  

Seshulatha Viswanath’s workshop on Bhadrachala Ramadasu compositions also threw light on their ragas

Among the many great composers who have enriched the tradition of Carnatic music is Bhadrachala Ramadasu. Born Kancherla Gopanna in 1620 in Nelakondapalli village in Khammam district, now Telangana, he grew up to be a intensely spiritual person with high musical merit and composed many lyrics in Telugu and Sanskrit on his favourite deity Rama, specifically Vaikunta Rama at the temple at Bhadrachalam. He also composed Dasarathi Shatakam, a devotional tribute with 104 poems. Ramadasu's music and life of devotion also influenced India's greatest composer of all time, Thyagaraja.

Bhadrachala Ramadasu's soulful and bhakti-rasa laden compositions as tuned by Nedunuri Krishnamurthi were the subject of a two-day Bhadrachala Ramadasu kirtana workshop conducted by well-known Carnatic musician K Seshulatha Viswanath at Osmania University campus on December 23 and 24. Nedunuri Krishnamurthi was one of her gurus.

Music lovers and students, theoreticians, teachers and aspiring performers turned in up in large numbers for the event. Also present was the 11th generation direct descendant of Ramadasu, namely Kancherla Venkataramana. The workshop saw a packed venue and awards of participation certificates by the institute. However, it was baffling to note that there were only three or four men in the audience.

At the brief inaugural speech by well-known musician Y Ramaprabha, secretary, Andhra Mahila Sabha, outlined the objectives of the workshop and the work of the institution in spreading the values of chaste classical music. The first sloka of Dasarathi Shatakam, Sri Raghurama Charutulasidala (Bhoopala ragam), was rendered by Adharapurapu Ananthalakshmi, principal, Andhra Mahila Sabha as an apt prelude to the programme.

Seshulatha then commenced the workshop with a prayer. First, there was a rendition by the audience of a kirtana Idi Guru Vaakyam Idi Vedantham (Huseni). This was melodious and well-synchronised.

Seshulatha chose to begin by teaching Rama Nee Daya Napai (Lathangi) to the audience. Before launching into the pallavi, Seshulatha gave a brief background about the raga and its lakshanas. The second composition taught was Rama Rama Rama Rama Sreerama (Mukhari). After the usual singing of the murchana, the kirtana was taught line by line by Seshulatha.

The first day ended with vocalist Tejaswini Nandibhatla’s short and sonorous rendition of Ramaseetharama (Jhanjhuti).

The second day began with A Ananthalakshmi singing Harunaku Navibheeshanunaku (Saveri). Seshulatha then took over and taught a well-known Ramadasu composition Bhajare Sreeramam Hey Manasa (Kedaram) after touching on the raga's salient features. She followed this by teaching a Nindasthuthi rachana, Aadarana Leni (Kedaragowla). She went on to explain that Kedaragowla is a popular choice for compositions in Yakshagana productions and nritya-natikas (dance-dramas). The brief but impressive alapana she gave of the raga brought out the raga-chhaya effectively.

The teaching sessions were interspersed with her descriptions of the bhava and background of each composition. She also offered suggestions on the kind of errors to avoid and stressed the need to understand and focus on the bhava of compositions as much as the technical aspects.

The two-day workshop came to an end with Nendraganti Krishnamohan rendering, briefly, a sloka on Rama and the kirtana Darisanamaayenu (Bhowli). Then Seshulatha and Ramaprabha together gave a melodious rendition of the mandatory closing item, a mangalam, Ramachandraya Janaka Rajajamanoharaya (Navaroz). All in all, it was a valuable, high-quality workshop for music lovers, teachers and students.

The workshop was organised jointly by Durgabai Deshmukh Mahila Sabha aka Andhra Mahila Sabha’s Department of Fine Arts and Media Education and Nendraganti Alivelu Manga Sarvaiah Charitable Trust in association with Sri Chakra Cement.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 9:57:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/the-hindu-friday-review/article30413143.ece

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