Articles

Rare kriti on a famous temple

  The kriti, being the main part of the concert, one is spoilt for choice especially among the compositions of the Trinity, who developed the kriti and kirtanai to a majestic form. Both have a Pallavi-Anupallavi-Charanam format. Dikshitar sometimes skipped the anupallavi and ended with a samashti charanam. (eg. kriti, ‘Sri Kantimatim,’ by Dikshitar, that ends with samashti charanam) Daru (e.g ‘Bhavayami’) is in a similar format but longer and more narrative in...

Speaks of sringara and devotion

(This is the third part of the music series that throws light on the Padam composed by Kshetrayya on Varadaraja Swami of Kanchipuram.) Relegated to the tail-end and paired with tukkadas, if ever sung, the Padam continues to hold sway among dancers. Padams are longer songs with a pallavi, anupallavi and several charanams where the singer “speaks” of love and devotion to God. It could be in happiness of the love being fulfilled, sadness that it is delayed and or not...

It was the pinnacle of fine arts

(This is the last of the four-part series on music and temples.) “Last but not the least,” is a phrase that may have been coined for the thillana! Everyone will love a thillana for its brisk, literally foot tapping beat and melody. Scholars believe the first thillana came in the 18th century and was composed by Melatur Verabadrayya. Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer’s composition ‘Gauri Nayaka’ is considered one of the most complex. Thillanas quickly became popular among...

An Irish-Indian connection

Kodaikanal, Tamil Nadu, to County Westmeath, Ireland, is about 115 hours by road, according to Google maps, 12451 km apart. The mind boggles at this distance today but back in the 17th century, Vere Henry Levinge made a longer journey and did so much for Kodaikanal that he deserves to be called the Father of Kodaikanal. Levinge is remembered by a Celtic cross in Kodaikanal; his grave is in a quiet spot in St. Georges, Madras. Levinge died just when he was going back to Ireland for good. His...

Stained!... Exquisitely so

Light has always fascinated human beings. Many gods across religions are in someway connected to the sun, the main source of light. Windows in homes therefore served the purpose of bringing light and with it divinity into the house. The tradition of using glass in windows came from abroad. Glassware was an important import in the Greco-Roman and colonial times, as Christian missionaries began building more churches - glass windows, such as those in churches, became popular. The simpler version...

Kuchipudi Review

‘Tis the season to be jolly! It’s also the season to fill one’s calendar with music concerts, and dance performances as well. Most musicians will not have padams on their list and seldom do we hear those composed by Kshetrayya. Dancers hopefully will. We know little of this poet who lived in the late 17th Century. He was an indefatigable traveller, and gave structure to the padam as we know it today and opened the door to metaphors in Telugu. By the 19th Century, patron...

Mind, body and padam

‘Tis the season to be jolly! It’s also the season to fill one’s calendar with music concerts, and dance performances as well. Most musicians will not have padams on their list and seldom do we hear those composed by Kshetrayya. Dancers hopefully will. We know little of this poet who lived in the late 17th Century. He was an indefatigable traveller, and gave structure to the padam as we know it today and opened the door to metaphors in Telugu. By the 19th Century, patron...

Time travel to the Chola period

As a little boy, historian and writer Pradeep Chakravarthy recalls spending every summer holiday at his grandmother’s place in Tirunelveli. With no comics or cartoons for entertainment, young Pradeep would be packed off in a car, with a box of noodles, to visit temples every Sunday. Even as he bowed before deities and soaked in the rituals, a part of him was always curious to know the story behind these structures. Over the years, he scanned through volumes of texts and inscriptions, and...

Raja Raja and his Leadership Values

There’s an old proverb that says fools never learn from their mistakes, clever people do and the wise learn from the mistakes of others. Undoubtedly the best place to learn from others’ mistakes is history, provided we are also able to grasp it in our context. Sadly, our history lessons are often just reams of irrelevant lists of dates that have little bearing on the issues and challenges we face daily. A thousand years ago, the Chola king Raja Raja I built the Brihadeeswara Temple...

Krishnadeva Raya: Leadership Lessons

Any historian who compiles a list of India’s 10 greatest kings can’t omit Krishnadeva Raya (ruled from 1509 to 1529), who brought great glory to the Vijayanagar empire with its capital in Hampi, Karnataka. We commemorated the 500th anniversary of his coronation by allowing one of his architectural creations, a gopuram at Kalahasti, to come crashing down near his statue. Hopefully, our leaders will learn from his life and ensure that even if we don’t protect his buildings, we...