T.M. Krishna: ‘Conversations on various faiths have to be nurtured’

T.M. Krishna

T.M. Krishna | Photo Credit: Special arrangement

Carnatic vocalist, composer and author T.M. Krishna will render verses of Sree Narayana Guru at Hosanna Mount, Pala, on April 9. Hosanna Mount is dedicated to the memory of Joseph Pulikkunnel, writer and social reformer.

The concert is being organised by the Backwaters Collective, Nool Archives, Hosanna Mount and Uru Art Harbour and supported by DC Books.

Mr. Krishna talks to The Hindu about the significance of singing the Guru’s verses against the backdrop of a surge of caste- and religious-based discrimination against artistes in certain temples in Kerala.

Edited excerpts from the interview.

What are your thoughts on artistes belonging to different faiths not being allowed to perform in some temples in Kerala?

It is atrocious that an artist is not allowed to perform in a temple based on his/her religious belief or non-belief. A temple has been considered as a place where, as far as culture and music are concerned, people of various faiths or no belief at all have participated in the arts and culture. It is shocking that this is happening in Kerala.

In that context, your concert at Hosanna Mount has an important symbolism...

Cultural conversations and conversations on various faiths have to be nurtured. No religion is an independent one. Religions have always spoken to each other, have always shared with each other, there may have been disagreements. But there has been that coming together in commonality. After all, every belief is about finding goodness in yourself. I think the voice of Guru becomes very significant in that context. I have already rendered verses where he is talking about who is god? Is it Allah, Jesus, Buddha, Krishna? So, when he says who it is, he is saying it is all and it is none. We are having this concert where faiths are going to intermingle.

Will you be singing only the Guru’s verses?

It is three to four years now since we started the ‘Guru project’ to bring the Guru’s compositions, poetry rather, into the Carnatic music concert platform. It started off with the first concert in Bombay (Mumbai). My concert in Pala will predominantly be on the Guru’s compositions on various subjects. In his poetry, you can see utter faith in a deity or a goddess, at the same time he is philosophical. You can see subversion of mainstream hegemonic systems. Guru is someone who got together the social conversation and the spiritual conversation and did not run away from either.

Many compositions in Carnatic music are dedicated to deities of the Hindu Pantheon. Shouldn’t we need to widen the repertoire of Carnatic music?

Over the last three years, along with Perumal Murugan [author], we have brought in a lot of Tamil compositions, which are on nature, social themes, such as discrimination, manual scavenging, etc., on the Carnatic music platform. There are compositions written by Islamic Sufi saints, compositions on Jesus, in Tamil and Malayalam. It is also about dialect. Whether it is Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada or Telugu, the dialect is of the privileged. Even the dialect needs to be challenged. In fact, Perumal Murugan uses the dialect of the Kongunadu, which is not generally used in Carnatic music. We need widening of content, dialect, multi-religiosity and contemporariness in Carnatic music.

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Printable version | Jun 17, 2022 2:40:10 pm |