Lyrical legacy

TRADITION-BOUND: Poornathrayee Jayaprakash. Photo: H. Vibhu   | Photo Credit: H. Vibhu

N. Jayaprakash is a multi-lingual composer and so much more. Popular in music circles as Poornathrayee Jayaprakash he is at home in six languages. He has the unique distinction of composing over 400 krithis, the bulk of them in Sanskrit, a majority of which are now being rendered by eminent musicians in kutcheris.

The composition of the Trinity is still the soul of a Carnatic concert. Of late, the works of new composers or vaggeyakaras are being sung, some of them have even taken it upon themselves to popularise these new works. This has certainly helped expand the repertoire of a musician. This is where Jayaprakash, who teaches yoga at Bhavan's Adarsha Vidyalaya, in the city, become relevant.

Lyrical devotion

Sanskrit may be a lyrical language but using it for songs is certainly tough. Few have ventured into this realm. For Jayaprakash, writing lyrics is not a remunerative exercise, but devotion.

Everything did not fall into place perfectly. Jayaprakash confronted opposition from his parents who wanted their only child to work and earn on the strength of his ITI diploma. He worked as an apprentice for a while but his tryst with Sanskrit continued. He began turning tail from this place of work and finally his parents relented. He joined the Government Sanskrit College and this helped him polish the little he learned from his grandfather.

When he was a pre-degree student he had a few of his krithis set to the Carnatic method by the late Mavelikkara Prabhakara Varma. “Varma Sir was then in Thiruvananthapuram. I met him once and handed over a few of my krithis. I used to pester him with letters. After some time he called me over and sang five of the krithis I had written. I was overjoyed,” recalls Jayaprakash.

Prabhakara Varma suggested that at least one of them should be shown to Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer and also agreed to take the initiative. “When Semmangudi Swami came to Tripunithura I went to meet him at his daughter's house in Panampilly Nagar along with Chalakudy Narayanaswami Sir and Umayalpuram Sir. He read one of my krithis. Those days I used the signature (mudra) ‘Jayaprakasha.' Swami felt that I was trying to boost my name quite obviously and that I should change it. And it was he who suggested the ‘mudra' Poornaprakasha.' He also tuned one of my krithis ‘Paripalaya Poornathrayeesa…' in Reetigowla.”

The first time someone sang Jayaprakash's krithis was in 1988. That was at the Sree Poornathrayeesa Sangeetolsavam, a festival he organised in the temple precincts. “Perumbavoor G. Ravindranath sang five of my krithis that were composed and taught by Varma Sir. That was the beginning. Next year this festival celebrates its Silver Jubilee. From the fifth edition onwards it has been a 14-hour festival and some of the leading musicians have participated down the years. They sing my krithis.”

Right from Semmangudi there have been so many noted musicians who have set Jayaprakash's krithis to the classical mould. They include T. K. Govinda Rao, N. P. Ramaswamy, Kumara Kerala Varma, O. S. Thiagarajan, Trichy Ganesan, T. N. Seshagopalan, Neyveli Santhanagopalan and others. “Even Dasettan (K. J. Yesudas) has tuned one of them and usually sings it in his concerts. Pranavam Sankaran Namboodiri, Trichy Ganesan, Neyveli, Ranganatha Sharma, Mavelikkara P. Subramaniam and others also continue to sing them in their concerts.”

Among the many Jayaprakash compositions pride of place goes to Panchayatana pooja krithis, Kerala Kshetradana krithis, Shanmata-Shadadhara krithis (on Sree Sankara's and Patanjali philosophy), Navaratri krithis, Sree Poornathrayeesa krithis, Suprabhatha Panchakam, and Kriti Panchakam (on Mahatma Gandhi's thoughts). “A set of five krithis ‘Guruvayur Pancharatnam' is ready. They have been notated by Dr. M. Balamuralikrishna.”


Honour for his work came when he was invited for a lec-dem at the 81st Annual Music Conference at the Madras Music Academy. “The topic for the lecture was Compositions of Poornathryaee Jayaprakash on the Temples of Kerala.' Govinda Rao, G. N. Desikan and Dr. S. Sundar sang. I was flattered to have such a wonderful audience that comprised great musicians and scholars.”

Two students of Sree Sankaracharya University, Kalady, included Jayaprakash in their analytical study of Bhairavi krithis along with Tyagaraja, Dikshitar, Pattanam Subramania Iyer and Swati Thirunal. This was part of their M.Phil programme. And one of them has included 13 of Jayaprakash's krithis for a Ph.D thesis on contemporary vageyyakaras.

Jayaprakash has composed a set of thillanas, javalis, padams for Bharatanatyam and Kuchipudi, created a Natyakutcheri based on the Bible and one based on the Buddha titled ‘Light of Asia both' of which were staged, written lyrics for 165 devotional albums, is a certified yoga trainer, formed the Veda fusion band called dHih, and has also scripted numerous television serials and documentaries. He has also acted in films and serials.

“All through I have got unstinted support from musicians. One dream remains. I would like to set some of my krithis to tune and sing them. Also Govinda Rao has compiled 108 of my krithis. He has notated them and also given the English translation. I want to get it published. Maybe, this will be possible when we celebrate the 25th year of my festival.”

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Printable version | Dec 4, 2021 1:06:26 PM |

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