This being the 150th birth year of the great Composer Sri Mysore Vasudevacharya (also called Abhinava Tyagaraja), it gives me immense pleasure to share with you the fact that we are releasing this publication containing his compositions with English notation and lyrics in both English and Sanskrit.
This is the third publication brought out by Shankarabharanam Kala Mandiram. The first was a book on life and compositions of Sri Sadashiva Brahmendra in Kannada with notation. The second book was titled 'Sangraha Krithi Mala,' containing rare compositions of the past and contemporary composers, in Kannada Script.
I am grateful to Sri S Krishnamurthy (grandson of Sri Mysore Vasudevacharya) who readily agreed to head the Editorial team for this project of transcribing the compositions and notations from Kannada to English.
Many thanks to Sri Pranesh Sirivara of Prism Books Pvt. Ltd. for publishing this book, Sri Kerodi Amarnath of Bharatha Bharati Sangeetha Prathishtan for his moral support and to Smt. Ahalya Muralidhar for the excellent DTP work.
Special thanks to Sri Bhavani Prasad Deshmukh and Dr. T. Srilakshmi for successfully undertaking the stupendous task of proof reading.
This publication is a collective effort of the following Vidwans/Connoisseurs of Music. But for their whole hearted support, this would not have been made possible - Sarvasri S. Krishna Murthy, S. Shankar, S.S. Sadashiva, CR. Amamath, Dr. G.S. Ranganath, S.L. Ramanamurthy, K.R. Gururaja Rao, Prakash Venkateshan and Bhavani Prasad Deshmukh.
Lyrics in Sanskrit has been provided to help in accurate pronunciation.
Best efforts have been put in to minimize mistakes. It is an earnest request to Musicians by .the publisher, to report any mistakes, so that corrections can be incorporated in the future prints of the book.
Sangeetha kalarathna Sri S. Krishna Murthy, M.A., a multifaceted Musician is the eldest grandson of Sri Mysore Vasudevacharya.
He served Akashvani for more than three decades in various capacities and retired as Director. During his service he won several awards for his documentaries, musical features, dramas etc.
He and his brother were playing jalatharag in the Mysore Palace orchestra. He is vaggeyakara also and a very good painter. He has authored many invaluable books on music and musicians. He edited books on compositions of Sri Vasudevacharya and Sri Jayachamaraja Wodeyar with notation in Kannada. He has directed music for more than 50 cassettes for bharathiya Vidya Bhavan and also for documentaries and films.
He has been honoured with many titles like ‘Karnataka kala Sri, Sangeethashastra Rathnakara, Hamsadhwani Puraskar, Chitprabhananda award, Gandharva Vidyanidhi’ etc.
Sangeetha Kalarathna S. Shankar, M.Sc, a popular top grade vocalist is the founder of Shankarabharanam kala Mandiram, through which he has already brought out books on life and works of Sri Sadashiva Brahmendra and ‘Sangraha Krithimala’ a compilation of compositions of Sri Bidaram krishnappa, MDR, Padmacharan, SKM and others and those of a few contemporary composers, in Kannada.
He has directed music for many stage plays, documentaries and devotional songs. An able teacher for more than four decades, he has been richly honoured with many titles such as Sangeetha Vidyanidhi, Sangeetha Saraswathi, Karnataka Kala Sri, Rajyothasava Award 2014. He is the Asthana Vidwan of Sri Avani Sringeri Mutt and Sri Kanchi Kamakoti Mutt.
Vasudevacharya, one of the outstanding 'Karnatak' music composers of the 20th Century, was born in Mysore on 28th May, 1865. His parents Pauranika Ratnam Subrahmanyacharya and Krishna Bai, who belonged to Chevooru of Coimbatore district, had shifted to Mysore during the reign of Krishnaraja Wodeyar III who was an erudite scholar in Sanskrit and well-versed in astrology and whose fame as a munificent partron of Art and Letters had spread far and wide.
Subrahmanyacharya was a profound Sanskrit scholar and a knowledgeable musicologist. He had a rich and sonorous voice and could elaborate unfamiliar ragas like Aahiri and Ghanta with ease and grace. He soon became the favourite of the King who appointed him as a Court Puranic. Listening to the Acharya's discourse in the afternoon was a fixed feature on King's agenda.
As desired by Wodeyar, the Acharya took his child to the palace one afternoon. The King was pleased to see the little kid, took him on to his lap, fondled him affectionately and blessed him, prophetically as it were: "May you bring glory to our state!"
The Acharya felt extremely happy as he visualised the golden days ahead of the child. But, destiny had its own design. The Acharya breathed his last leaving behind Vasu who was just about three years old and his mother who knew nothing beyond whole-hearted devotion to her husband and limit-less affection for the child.
Krishna Bai's father Gopalacharya filled courage and confidence in his daughter and vowed to bring up Vasu and make him a superb Sanskrit scholar like his father. He arranged for Vasu's study in Sanskrit under the well-known scholar, Periaswamy Thirumalacharya.
Though Vasu was a bright student, his cherished desire lay elsewhere. He was fascinated by the incessant flow of melodious music from the neighbouring house where the court musician Vidwan Subbarayaru resided. Vasu ventured to become his disciple with the help of his maternal uncle. But, this had to be done in stealthily, for, Gopalacharya was of the firm conviction that Dance, Drama and Music were anathema to the orthodoxy and nobility of brahminhood!
The secret was out before long. The grandfather felt terribly annoyed and disheartened that young Vasu had slipped on to the wrong track and the reputation of the family was shattered! To save Vasu and the family from the impending ignominy, Gopalacharya shifted his reisdence to a locality far distant from the 'evil spot'!
After preliminary lessons under Thirumalacharya, Vasu was admitted to the Maharaja Sanskrit Pathashala. This, indeed, was a turning point in Vasu's life. Each student of the Pathashala, had to specialise in two subjects which were decided by drawing lots. Vasu's joy knew no bounds when he was assigned Sangeetha and Sahityal Veena Padmanabhiah became his second Guru in music.
Though Vasu was happy that he could pursue the yearning of his heart, he all along felt that there was something wanting in the music he was being taught. But he could not figure it out. Providence came to his rescue again.
Sheshadri lyer, the then Diwan of Mysore, had invited the giant musicians of the day, Patnam Subrahmanya lyer and Maha Vaidyanatha lyer from Thiruvayyaru to perform at a wedding reception in his place. Vasu had an opportunity to listen to their invigorating music. He soon discovered what was missing in the music he was learning. Patnam's style in particular, left a lasting impression on his mind. He longed to do Shishyavrithi under the great master and imbibe his celestial music.
The gene of adventure in Vasu propelled him to approach Maharaja Chamaraja Wodeyar and seek his benevolence. With the generous help from the Palace, Vasu, the youth of sixteen, proceeded to Thiruvayyaru with a letter of recommendation from the King.
Patnam gladly agreed to teach him. Vasu did gurukulavasam for six long years and acquired in depth knowledge in the Lakshya and Lakshana aspects of Karnatak music besides the technicalities of composing.
The royal grandeur of Patnam's medium tempo, the dazzling brilliance of Mahavaidyanatha lyer's 'drutha kaala' and a happy blending of these two beauties in the violin maestro Thirukkodikaval Krishna lyer, moulded the style of the Acharya which lent a refreshing flavour to the music of old Mysore.
Chamaraja Wodeyar who heard the Acharya at a special durbar was supremely pleased and appointed him as an Asthana Vidwan.
The Acharya travelled extensively through the length and breadth of the country, exhibited his unique talent and earned laurels both for himself and the state.
In 1900, a severe epidemic broke out in Mysore and people died in hundreds. A family friend of the Acharya by name Gopala Raje Urs coaxed the Acharya to compose a few varnams and krithis so that, in the event of he too becoming a victim, the compositions would stand as a lasting testimony to his genius. The Acharya was reluctant but the friend was persistent.
The Acharya began his career as a Vaggeyakara with his Krithi 'Chintayeham Janaki Kaantham' in the Raaga Mayamalava Gowla. His last Krithi 'Mama Hridaye Vihara Dayalo' in the raaga Reethi Gowla dates ba.ck to 1956. Thereafter, the Acharya devoted himself entirely to compose music for the Rarnayana Dance Dramas produced by Kalakshetra, Chennai.
In all, the Acharya has to his credit about two hundred and fifty compositions in varied formats like Swarajati, Tana Varna, Pada Varna, Keertana, Tillana, Javali, Ragamalika, besides being the chief mentor of Maharaja Jayachamaraja Wodeyar who has composed 94 delightful krithis in Sanskrit, inspired by the faboulous musical architecture designed by Muthuswamy Dikshitar of the celebrated Musical Trinity. The Acharya was hailed as Abhinava Tyagaraja.
Name and fame sat lightly on the Acharya, who remained a humble student of music all through his life. "Music is like the mighty ocean, fathomless and expansive. I have in this birth, just been able to crawl to the shore on my side. I wonder how many rebirths would I need, to reach the other shore, far, far away from me, beyond human gaze! I convey my respectful pranams to all musicians, young and old and crave for their blessings to realize my dreams!" This was the Acharya's parting message.
Filling his ears with the sweet strains of the tamboora and listening to his favourite devotional, 'Intha Prabhuva Kane', the Acharya gently closed his eyes, never to open again!
Vasudeva Kirthana Manjari (Vol 1) was published in 1929. The second volume was out in 1956. Each volume contains 70 Keertanams. Both are in Telugu script.
Decades later, Vidwan R.K. Padmanabha brought out 21 cassettes containing Acharya's compositions under the banner of Sharada Kala Kendra. The cassettes were supplemented by booklets containing the relevant swara prastaras in Kannada prepared by me.
In 2008, the late Sri D.V.K. Murthy, Mysore, published a volume in Kannada of all the compositions of the vaggeyakara.
Vasudevacharya became a legend in his own life time when eminent musicians like MS, DKP, M LV, Chambai, Madhurai Mani Iyer, Balamurali, MDR, lalgudi, K.V. Narayana Swamy, R.K. Srikantan and others popularised his compositions. Some of his compositions are a century old! Ever since, there has been a persistent demand for their SARIGAMA notations in English so as to enable non-kannadigas across the country and abroad to have a direct access to authentic version of the compositions.
I am extremely happy that his long-felt need has materialised at this distance of time, thanks to the sincere, enthusiastic and untiring efforts of Vidwan S. Shankar and his team of devoted disciples and friends. Words are too inadequate to express my gratitude to them.
Keeping the performing musicians in view, the present volume confines itself to Varnams, Keertanas, Javalis and Thillanas. Every care has been taken to make the book as free of flaws as posible. I earnestly hope that the publication serves the purpose for which it is intended.
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