FRIDAY REVIEW

Enviable repertoire of slokas

Jaya Srinivasan

Jaya Srinivasan  

WHAT DO you do when caught red-handed? Rack your brains for a plausible explanation. But Lord Krishna did not believe in such norms.

Caught by a Gopika while stealing butter from her pot, he replied in all seriousness that he was looking for the calf that had run away from their cowshed. Instead of being outraged, the Gopika embraced him and showered him with kisses.

Peals of laughter filled the air at the Nani Palkhiwala Auditorium, Coimbatore, when Jaya Srinivasan narrated the scene from the Bhagavatham. Rajalakshmi Fine Arts had organised her discourse on the Ramayana as part of their Music and Dance festival recently.

Her sense of humour did not deter her from delving into the depths of philosophy. Her edifying discourse spread over nine days was an aural treat that thrilled the ears, enlightened the mind and warmed the heart. With her enviable repertoire of slokas and songs from Valmiki Ramayanam, Kamba Ramayanam, Tulsidas's Ramcharitha Manas, the Bhagavatham, Naalayira Divya Prabhandham and Tyagaraja kirtanas, she had the audience under her spell.

Innumerable anecdotes from the lives of saints flowed through in the right contexts. It was not a typical Ramayana discourse. Jaya Srinivasan focused on the 16 qualities of Rama that made him Purushottama (the best among men).

While illustrating Rama's gratitude, she referred to his embracing Hanuman after the latter returned from Sri Lanka bearing news of Sita's whereabouts.

Having nothing else to offer, his heart full of gratitude, Rama gave Hanuman the pleasure of an `aalingana' (embrace). He treated not only people as his equals, but even birds and animals, she said. If he embraced Hanuman, a monkey, he performed the funeral rites of a bird, Jatayu, as if it were his own father.

Jaya Srinivasan was quite forceful when she narrated the episode of the agnipravesam of Sita. She applauded the way Sita handled the situation when Rama asked her to go wherever she wanted. Sita never lost her dignity.

She only asked Rama why he was behaving like an unrefined man and used unrefined language. Her next instruction was to Lakshmana to get the pyre ready.

Jaya's mastery over Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Sanskrit and English proved a big asset. When she recited a pasuram or a chowpayee (a four-lined verse) from the Ramcharita Manas, or a verse from the Kamba Ramayanam or sloka from the Bhagavatham, her pronunciation made them self-explanatory. She used Tyagaraja kirtanas profusely selecting the relevant ones which brought out the great qualities of Rama. Without resorting to political digressions, mud-slinging on other religions or cheap jokes, she succeeded in increasing the attendance by the day. Her experience and exposure have given her confidence that radiates through her frail frame. As she rightly confessed, she was only sharing with her audience the ecstasy she felt while reading the scriptures. Little wonder the audience responded whole-heartedly.

B. RAMADEVI

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