Friday, September 19, 2014

How his "Raghu Vamsa Sudha" changed my life

The Mandolin Samrat Passes Away

The period was the mid 80's. . We owned a panasonic cassette player and some of the earliest cassettes were devotional and movie songs like sankarabharanam which were a smash hit of that period..

One day, my mother brought home a bhajan cassette of ISCKON named Samarpan , sung by  Jagjit Singh. While we enjoyed the bhajan on one side of the cassette, suddenly , the cassette played out a Veena like rendering at the end- obviously the tradition of local recording centres who fill up the end pieces of cassettes with tid bit music. 

But this tid bit music was different. I was all about twenty years then, with no knowledge of music. But this music kept ringing in my mind. I would rewind the cassette and often play this part, not even knowing who played it, what the instrument was, what the song was and what Raga it was.

After nearly 25 years  in 2009 that I started learning music and learnt the Veena. At this time , I heard many recordings of musicians. When listening to M S Subbulakshmi, I recognised one particular song  to be the same as the bit of music at the end of the cassette heard by me long ago. The song was Raghu Vamsa Sudha, a Kirtana by Pattanam Subrahmanya Ayyar, in Telugu. My music teacher explained to me that the Raga was kathana kuthookalam. And most important, I found out from the internet that it was Mandolin Mastro U Srinivas, who played it. I also heard's Srinivas's full recording on youtube. The pep and joy in that song was indescribable. This period was a creative period for me and I learnt many songs and Ragas including this one in my Veena. 

Here is U Srinivas's rendering of the song on youtube.

My joy was immeasurable when I first played Raghuvamsa Sudha in my Veena. Every time I play that, I keep telling that Srinivas's rendering should be my goal to reach in that particular song. I do not know whether I will do it, but I have resolved to try. 

Khalil Gibron made a remark somewhere that children are born because of life's longing for itself.   I question this philosophically, and can point out a flaw in this theory. But, the prodigies like Srinivas make me wonder if that is so. Prodigies are the flavours of the dull monotony of our times. U Srinivas, that wonder boy from Andhra,  took the conservative Tamilnadu by storm with his unconventional instrument. His nimble fingers poured complicated kirtanas with effortless ease. The simultaneous playing of the madhyama sthayi (normal octave) and the mandra sthayi (lower octave) together in Veena recitals was a  consummate art which only renowned masters like Emani Sankara Sastri could do. Srinivas made that complicated art look child's play. His vintage record Vatapi Ganapatim is still wonderful and compares with any of the best albums released.

Osho once wrote that the virtuous and good karma laden Atmas wait long to take birth in this Bhu loka since such a womb is hard to get. They need to quickly wash off bad karmas of some previous life. And Srinivas looks a similar example of such a life. He came ,  entertained a whole generation and silently passed away. His life is like a fragrant one and it will continue to attract many more generations.

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