I am terribly backlogged on all this. Tyagaraja and much else have consumed my existence. On the morning of the 20th after cleverly oiling out of school dropping duty managed to attend MS Anantharaman and family’s lec dem on rare songs in the Parur repertoire. On stage were present no less than seven family members, a lone mridangam artiste being the outsider. It was great seeing a 90 year veteran present his family heirlooms. Just the violins performed together would have been great but what made it outstanding was old MSA singing the lyrics. At 90! The pieces presented included a tODi varnam (Adi tala) where the Pa is absent (this is shuddha tODi), a bhairavi varnam where sa and pa are absent in most parts, nOrEmi of Tyagaraja in jAlavarALi, shri bhArgavi of Dikshitar in mangaLa kaishiki (MSA drew our attention to the two madhyamams being present), EvaritO nE of Tyagaraja in mAnavati and a bhajan originally sung and performed by sitar maestro Pt Ravishankar when he came in 1940 to Sangita Vilas, the Parur family home on Apparswami Koil Street. A great morning.

For some reason, I assumed I had tAmbUlam duty for Sankari Krishnan in the afternoon slot and so turned up again at the Academy. A moderate audience and wholesome music. It transpired that three of us had come for tAmbUlam but I ended up giving it anyway.

Went to hear Sanjay at the NGS. Several erstwhile DMK ministers in the audience and it was interesting to hear one of them seated next to me humming naLinakAnti even as the alApana progressed and then manavyALakincara as well. RTP was in ravicandrika. Stepped out during the violinist’s rendition for a quick coffee. One of life’s major joys is Gnanambika coffee, made well. Another joy is the #kogul. After the previous day’s thagi papti, we had some variants.

Almost correct but not quite
Almost correct but not quite

On the 21st, attended Padma Sugavanam’s lec dem at the Academy on Abhinavagupta’s references to Kohala in his Abhinavabharati. All that was more or less Greek before going in. The young lady is a good speaker and has researched her subject well. The only problem was that the topic had all its references in Sanskrit of which I have a very poor understanding. It transpires that Bharata of Natyashastra had a 100 sons (how many Mrs Bharatas were involved I wonder) and one of these was Kohala. Bharata had apparently predicted that Kohala would one day write a treatise and he did as well. It is just that it is lost and what we know of it is from references in later day works of which the one that has the most references is the Abhinava Gupta one written in the 11th CE. Kohala’s great contribution was in the area of uparUpakas. As to what that is, I am not sure. I was of course considerably distracted by Tyagaraja whom I unerringly saw on a hill (giripai nelakonna).

At the end of the presentation there was a discussion between Dr N Ramanathan and the lady that went something like this:

beta theta gamma kappa?

rho omega gamma lambda!



Before you run away with the idea that I am criticising the presentation, let me assure you that this is precisely the kind of well-researched papers that make this an annual conference of music. This is supposed to be a conclave of experts and as long as the standards are maintained, we ought to be happy. The lay public is only incidental and rightfully so.

The Vani Mahal Saraswathi has heard great music since 1945
The Vani Mahal Saraswathi has heard great music since 1945

Went to office for the rest of the day and then in the evening to Vani Mahal to listen to Sanjay.The concert was great. The biggies – tODi, bhairavi, kalyANi, shankarAbharaNam and kAmbOji were all presented before we got on to ShaNmukhapriya. Had to visit the gents and found it quite an adventure. You need to walk through the canteen where diverse Mamas accost you and then into the kitchen and from there, just abaft the wash area is the loo. Return is equally arduous. Catering here (in the canteen and not the loo) is by Gnanambika, but a breakaway group.