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Sunday, November 16, 2014

PILGRIMAGE WITH DIKSHITAR TO CHIDAMBARAM AND NEARBY SHRINES




The divine music composer Nadajyoti  Muthuswami Dikshitar  has visited many holy places all over the country, and it has been our endeavour at Veenavaadhini to follow his footsteps to the same places and  sing the Kritis he has composed at each shrine.  Towards this end, we made a recent trip
to Chidambaram and some places around it.

The first town we went to was Tiruvenkadu.  A  vast and beautiful temple, venerated as Adi
Chidambaram, and adored by  many saints, this temple has become of great pilgrim interest in recent
times, due to its place as the Budhan (Mercury) shrine among the Navagraha temples around
Kumbhakonam.  Budhan has an exclusive sanctum and looks extremely charming (is he not “Roopena Apratimam” – unparalleled in beauty according to Vyasa?) in his green garment etc. But we are going ahead of the order. The lord of the Kshetra is Shiva, Shvetaranyeshwara, who seems  happy to leave the crowds and fuss to Budhan, and is enshrined  in blissful quiet , in the company of  goddess Brahmavidyambika, she of the unique  name, giver of divine wisdom.  Another remarkable feature in this temple is the shrine of Aghora murthy, a valorous form taken by Shiva, identified with Veerabhadra created by him, to destroy Daksha and his sacrifice. His striking pose, standing with a Trishulam across two of his many hands, is awe-inspiring.  In these four shrines , we sang the following Kritis composed by Diskhitar here :
1. Shwetaranyeshwaram – Arabhi – Adi
2. Brahmavidyambike – Kalyani – Adi
3. Rudrakopa-jata-virabhadram – Rudrapriya – Rupakam
4. Budham Ashrayami – Natakurinji – Mishra Jhampa

Chidambaram is one of the most revered and beloved temples of Shiva in the country. Its importance in the Saiva tradition is immeasurable. It is the foremost among the Pancha Bhuta Kshetras, being the
subtlest of elements – ether. This is the “Hridaya” (heart) sthanam of the universe, and the great dance that the gods and sages watched awestruck, is the heartbeat of the universe.  Little wonder that his form as the cosmic dancer enthralls people all over the world.

The large temple precincts, with the Sivaganga tank, a separate temple for goddess Shivakamasundari, and many  Sabhas, need  several hours to  see fully. The gold-thatched Sabha, where the lord provides us a glimpse of his wondrous dance, is right next to the sanctum of Govindaraja,  blissfully reclining on Adisesha,  enjoying the dance. The feeling of seeing the two great gods in cordial association is indescribable. That is of course, only for us mere mortals. Dikshitar captures is beautifully , when he describes Govindaraja as “Deva-kanaka-sabhesha-hitaya”. That phrase sums up the essence of  Surati, as well as of Chidambaram, which is one of the  Thevara Sthalams, as well as the 108 Divyadesams. We sang the following compositions here:
1. Shivakameshwarim – Kalyani – Adi
2. Chidambara Natarajam – Kedaram – Adi
3. Chintayeham  Sada Chitsabhanayakam – Nottuswaram
4. Govindarajaya Namaste – Surati –Rupakam
5. Santatam Govindarajam – Nottuswaram

The following day, we visited Vaideeswaran Koil. This temple is intimately connected with the
birth of our beloved Dikshitar, for it was here that his parents, who were yearning for progeny,
were blessed by a vision of the goddess, Balambika,  in their dreams, and were promised a
divine child. The lord is  worshipped as the master physician (Vaidya-natha) and the sacred tank 
here , Siddhamrita Teertham, is  believed to have special healing properties. Subrahmanya,
affectionately known as Muthayya or Selva-muthu-kumara-swamy ( after whom his parents
named Muthuswami Dikshitar ) is the object of many Kritis, padams, javalis and literary works of
several poets and saints. Balambika is lovingly called Thaiyalnayaki, Thaiyal being theTamil word
for a lovely young girl – Bala. Thus every sanctum here is unique.

As the lord is the great physician, the refuge of all those seeking  good health,  it was natural
that we had to wait patiently for our appointment with him. We sang these Kritis here :
1. Sri Vaidyanatham –  Athana - Adi
2. Bhajare Re Chittha  Balambikam – Kalyani – Mishra Chapu
3. Kumara Swaminam  - Asaveri – Adi
4. Angarakam Ashrayami – Surati - Rupakam

On our way back to Chennai , we visited the sprawling and serene temple at Sirkazhi, talking about the life of the Saint Gnanasambandar , who was born here and seeing the temple tank on whose banks he was fed the milk of wisdom  by Parvati and Shiva. We climbed up to visit the unique shrines of Uma Maheswara and Sattanathaswami, wondering if Muthuswami Dikshitar had not visited this lovely and important Kshetra, and if those Kritis were lost to us.

We came back, with  memories of charming temples and melodious Kritis, grateful for our good fortune.

REPORT BY RAJANI ARJUN SHANKAR

Sunday, June 15, 2014

VEENAVAADHINI DIKSHITAR JAYANTHI VEENOTSAVAM


 



 
Veenavaadhini Sampradaya Sangit Trust held a Muthuswami Dikshitar Jayanti Veenotsavam at
Arkay Convention Centre on 26 and 27 April, to celebrate the great Carnatic composer’s 439th
anniversary which fell earlier that month. The festival featured three veena concerts over the two
evenings. The veena being a divine instrument and Dikshitar himself being a ‘vainika gayaka’ (veena
player and singer), there could not have been a more apt choice of instrument to pay tribute to the
legend who is one-third of the famous Carnatic Music Trinity.



The festival was inaugurated by veteran veena vidwan Smt. Padmavathy Ananthagopalan, who later
praised Veenavaadhini’s efforts and the day’s artistes in a speech. The first concert was a recital by a
Veenavaadhini student, Kum. Veena Venkatramani. Her setlist consisted of many Dikshitar gems such as ‘Swaminathena’ in Brindavanasaranga and ‘Matangi Sri Rajarajeswari’ in Ramamanohari, rendered in their pristine form as handed down along the Dikshitar sishya parampara. The main piece of the concert was ‘Brihadeeswaraya’ in Sankarabharanam, again a Dikshitar masterpiece. It was preceded by a crisp ragam and tanam. The youngster truly lived up to her name by treating the rasikas assembled at the hall that evening to some quality music. She was skilfully supported on the mridangam by Sri R Ramkumar.


This was followed by a concert of accomplished veena vidwan P Vasanthkumar. He, too, filled his
concert with marvelous Dikshitar compositions, such as ‘Panchashat Peetharoopini’ in Devagandharam and ‘Paradevata’ in Dhanyasi. His choice of main piece was the famous ‘Sri Subrahmanyaya Namaste’ in Kambhoji. He concluded with Dikshitar’s Chaturdasa Ragamalika, a composition in 14 ragas, ‘Sri Viswanatham’. It is very beautiful but requires much skill to play or sing due to the rapid raga changes, and is hence seldom heard in concerts. The vidwan’s experience shone through in the whole concert and was established in the final number. The concert was enhanced by Sri K R Ganesh’s melodious mridangam.

The second day’s agenda had Veena duo Smt Jaysri Jeyaraaj Krishnan and Sri JT Jeyaraaj Krishnan
present their much-awaited annual thematic concert. This year, the theme was ‘Sri Krishna Charitram
through Dikshitar Kritis’. Earlier themes have included The Ramayana through Dikshitar Kritis and
Unique Names from the Lalita Sahasranamam found in Dikshitar Kritis, among others. The full house at Arkay Convention Centre was thrilled by nine rare Dikshitar Kritis on Lord Krishna. Ragas covered ranged from well-known Mohanam (Gopika Manoharam) and Kambhoji (Gopalakrishnaya Namaste) to rarely-heard Gopikavasantam (Balakrishnam Bhavayami) and Isamanohari (Ananta Balakrishna). The narration was by Smt Rajani Shankar, who introduced the Kritis and their meanings, explaining how they covered the whole story of Krishna from his birth and his pranks as a child, to his famed Rasalila with the Gopikas, to his becoming the king of Dwaraka and his expounding the Bhagavad Gita to Arjuna. The narration threw light on many stories referred to and on the choice of words and clever raga mudras used by the composer. It must be noted that the concert structure was not different from the concert format – the songs chosen just had a particular theme. The concert was a pleasing experience. Smt Jaysri sang the words along with the veena at specific points to demonstrate their flow, reinforcing Dikshitar’s credentials as a peerless Vaggeyakara (composer of both melody and lyric). In no way did the importance given to lyric mean compromise on the manodharma aspect of the concert – the alapanas were of a high calibre, including those of less-known ragas like Nasamani (followed by Sri Krishno Maam Rakshatu). The ragam and thanam in Kambhoji was one to remember and swarams in Mohanam flowed like the Yamuna with the Lord playing on its banks. The chief guest, Sri NV Subramaniam, had nothing but praise for the artistes. In all, the festival was an enjoyable one, proving that the veena’s popularity is in no danger and exposing listeners to a vast number of Dikshitar Kritis. One hopes for a similarly successful event next year.

REPORT BY APARNA SHANKAR.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

PILGRIMAGE WITH DIKSHTAR TO TIRUTTANI



In continuation of efforts already taken to visit sacred temples noted for songs composed by Nadajyothi Muthuswamy Dikshitar during his pilgrimage, Smt Jaysri and Sri Jeyaraaj Krishnan on 29th July 2012 collected 24 passengers to visit Tiruttani, the holy shrine where Muthuswamy Dikshitar had the unique privilege of encountering Lord Subramanya in the form of an elderly devotee on the way to the temple situated in the hilltop. The old man placed sugar candy in Dikshitar’s tongue and on Sri Dikshitar’s realization of the presence of Lord Muruga instantaneously poured forth the unmatched song Sri Nathadi Guruguho Jayathi Jayathi and later on Manasa Guruguha Roopam Bhajare, the two masterpieces of Dikshitar. The intention of the party was to sing at least these two songs before the presiding deity in the temple.

The journey started on the early morning of 29th July 2012 at 5 a.m. engaging big cabs and proceeded to Thiruttani nonstop and arrived at the foothill at 8 am, and the main temple at 9 a.m.  after some of us had breakfast.  It was a crowded day at this place, being a Sunday and also an auspicious day. We were led to the sanctum sanctorum thanks to a priest in the temple. The senior students of Veenavaadhini under the leadership of Smt Jaysri Jeyaraaj Krishnan and Sri Jeyaraaj reproduced these two songs mentioned above with devotion, clarity and feelings using a Tanpura for sruti support. It gave immense satisfaction to all assembled there particularly the teacher and the taught. They were asked to sing one more song and the group happily rendered Sri Guruguha in the raga Devakriya. We then waited for the Prasad and came around the temple. On reaching the car park, we were exposed to freshly plucked amrit fruit and other articles like peacock feathers etc which would give pleasure to the owner and would be worthy of being exhibited.  A panoramic view from all corners of the hilltop was exciting.

The next stoppage was at a Vishnu temple in Nemili, some few kilometers away from Thiruttani. Legend has it that the lord assumed a sitting posture here to block with his back the river which threatened to submerge the village. A lovely serene atmosphere.  All the more, the learned priest made all the difference by enriching our knowledge with his facts and figures.

We had heard of a Veera Anjaneya temple in Nallatur on the border of Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh and on the bank of the river Palar, and this temple was on the “to be seen” list. Quite a long journey from the Vishnu temple, but an imposing figure of Hanuman in a meditative pose, which in itself was 10 feet in height and was placed on another 10 feet high platform, was visible from a distance of ½ kilometer. At the entrance was this statue and leading to the main temple was a pathway prepared using marble stone and covered by a dome like construction. We prayed at the moorthy worshipped there. A few of us helped ourselves with some with some water and cool drinks to quench our thirst.

From the Hanuman temple we were on the road to the temple of Mahishasura Mardhini in Maddur not far away from the national highway.  This idol is reported to have been dug up recently (about 50 years back) when railway construction was going on in this area. We came to the other side of the railway crossing and located the temple. It was crowded and only a few minutes were left for closing the gate for the morning session. We were fortunate to have a fine Darshan of the goddess. There was a neat passage these with prepared lanes to guide the devotees. We were told that the neem tree situated in the temple premises had leaves which did not have the bitter taste. We sampled the leaves and they were sweet!

Thus in one stroke, Jaysri and Jeyaraaj Krishnan treated us to a fine showing of four temples. “A wonderful trip!” was everyone’s verdict. The clock read 2:30 pm when we reached Mylapore tank. We dispersed after a delicious lunch at a nearby Hotel.  Our memorable pilgrimage with Dikshitar to Tiruttani came to a close.

This article was written by my father-in-law Late Sri J Thyagarajan. -Jaysri JeyaraajKrishnan

Friday, October 25, 2013

VEENAVAADHINI SIXTH ANNIVERSARY MUSICAL EVENT


Veenavaadhini celebrated its 6th Anniversary as a musical evening, on Saturday 27th July, 2013 at Sastri Hall, Mylapore, Chennai. While students and parents were in attendance quite early, the Chief Guest Sri T.T.Narendran (Senior Veena Vidwan and Music Critic) made a dramatic appearance a little later, coming in straight from the airport. It was indeed proof of his kindness and his regard for Veena and our Vainika gurus Sri Jeyaraaj and Smt Jaysri.  Veenavaadhini has been showcasing their students every year in each of their Anniversary events.  We have had Kum Jayash and Kum Manash Ramanathan, and Kum Veena Venkatramani perform in the past years.   This year it was the turn of Santosh Jayaram from Mumbai.  Given below is a brief profile of Santosh.
A young and promising artist placed in Mumbai, Santosh was born in Calcutta, where he started learning both vocal and Veena from the tender age of 5 at Sri Guruguha Gana Vidyalaya. He has had the privilege of learning from Vainika Vidwan Late A. Anantharama Iyer and his sister Late A. Champakavalli, son and daughter respectively of Brahmasri A. Ananthakrishna Iyer, who belongs to the direct sishya parampara of Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar. Santosh has since then undergone training from A.Srividya (daughter of A. Anantharama Iyer), Smt. Revathi Sadasivam and is currently receiving advanced training from Sri Jeyaraaj and Smt Jaysri. An MBA and a B-tech graduate working as a Product Manager at a reputed financial services company, he has also formed his own Fusion music project by the name Agnya, as a part of which he has toured to several cities across the country to perform live.

The evening's programme was planned as follows:
6:15 pm: Veena Recital By Sri Santosh Jayaram (Student of Veenavaadhini) with Sri R Ramkumar – Mridangam
8:00 pm: The Chief Guest Speaks
8:10 pm: Vote of Thanks

Many musicians including Papanasam Sri Kumar, Sri Bharadwaj Raman etc. and many music-lovers graced the audience.

The evening's concert by Sri Santosh Jayaram and Sri Ramkumar, was an excellent one. Santosh kept the audience riveted to their seats with his pleasing Alapanas and brilliant Swaras. The accompaniment and Tani were both excellent.
The list of songs played :
1. Saveri varnam - Kothavasal Venkatrama Iyer
2. Ekadantam - Bilahari (S) - Muthuswamy Dikshitar
3. Sri Satyanarayanam - Shivapantuvarali (R, S) - Muthuswamy Dikshitar
4. Rajarajaradhite - Niroshta - Muthiah Bhagavatar
5. Pakkala nilapadi -Kharaharapriya (R, Tanam, S, Tani) - Thyagarajaswamy
6. Ranjani Mrdu Pankaka lochani - Ragamalika - Tanjavur Sankara Iyer
7. Tillana - Brindavana Saranga - Lalgudi Jayaraman
Sri TT Narendran, in the chief guest address, lauded the concert highly. He also said that about 75 years ago, Sri Ananthakrishna Ayyar , who moved to Calcutta and started the Guruguha Gana Vidyalaya , was a one-man university, and his son and daughter (Sri Anantarama Bhagavathar and Smt Champakavalli) , and now his grandchildren have carried on his work admirably.  He appreciated the Vainika couple for carrying on the work of their Gurus Sri Anantharama Iyer and Smt Champakavalli in Chennai, including taking junior students of their Guru , such as Santosh, under their wing.
The event ended with a vote of thanks by Sri Jeyaraaj.

Report by Rajani Arjun Shankar

Saturday, May 11, 2013

PILGRIMAGE WITH DIKSHITAR TO TIRUVARUR AND ADJOINING KSHETRAS

VEENAVAADHINI'S TIRUVARUR  TRIP By Aparna Shankar - Dec 26, 2012
SAINT TYAGARAJA'S BIRTHPLACE
SYAMA SASTRI'S BIRTHPLACE



DIKSHITAR'S BIRTHPLACE
 Imagine understanding the meaning of a song which is not in your language, then appreciating  why the composer said so. It is a heady feeling we students at Veenavaadhini ( a trust for music founded by Veena artistes Jeyaraaj and Jaysri  ( www.veenajj.com ) are getting more and more often, and loving it more and more. This heady feeling is caused by a combination of research and observation; reading and seeing; finding out and experiencing. This December, we decided to take it to a new dimension – living.
    By virtue of our Gurus belonging to the sishya parampara of the illustrious Carnatic music composer Muthuswami Dikshitar, we are privileged to be imbibing the tradition, and have taken it upon ourselves to retrace the steps of Dikshitar – not chronologically – but by rendering his kritis at the places in which he composed them. Tiruvotriyur, Tiruvallikeni, Kanchipuram, Tiruttani, Tirukazhukundram and the like have been covered by us at the Veenavaadhini group already. This time, we took the endeavour to a new level and headed to Tiruvarur; geographically many times further away from Chennai, but special to all musicians, music lovers and students because it was not only Dikshitar’s hometown but also that of other two of the Carnatic Music Trinity – Saint Thyagaraja and Syama Sastry.
    Our idea was to sing the Tyagaraja vibhakti kritis, Kamalamba Navavaranams and other individual kritis at the respective shrines. We also planned to visit other places near Tiruvarur where he had been. Each student learnt one vibhakti kriti; we all learnt Sri Nilotpalanayike; some of us keenly learnt songs assigned to others as well. Three weeks of intense preparation blended smoothly with the Chennai December Music Season. Music and smiles all round.
    Early 22nd December morning, we boarded the train to Tiruvarur. Banter, icebreaking, books and sleep were all part the travel. The younger of us revelled in a Carnatic antakshari. The train arriving an hour late did not dampen any spirits, not least because of the fabulous homemade lunch! After freshening up – for which – women being women, we took over an hour – and headed over to the houses of the Trinity. It was humbling to say the least. Tyagaraja’s house – only his birthplace, he moved to Tiruvaiyaru not long after – consisted of a single room and some structures added later. Dikshitar’s house had been converted into a mutt, with an idol and some beautiful reliefs and pictures. Syama Sastri’s house was an adorable little place with many unseen pictures and idols. We sang a song of each composer at their respective abodes, and also sang at Dikshitar’s house, Muthuswaminam Guruvaram, a composition of our Guru Smt Jaysri on Muthuswamy Dikshitar in the raga Hamsanandi.
    We then proceeded to the main temple. Time was in short supply, so we took a quick look at all the main shrines and sang about three songs (Vallabha nayakasya, Nagalingam, Tyagaraja Yogavaibhavam  and Kamalambam Bhajare), promising ourselves and the priests more on Monday.  We were lucky to witness the abhishekam of Maragathalingam and the evening puja (Ardha Jama Puja) where the Lord is taken in a palanquin to the musical sounds of 16 traditional temple instruments.
    The next day was a packed one. There were eight temples in and around Tiruvarur scheduled to be visited for the day. ‘Around’ here means several dozens of kilometres, by the way! We first headed to the Renukadevi temple in Vijayapuram. Renukadevi is the mother of Parashurama, the sixth avatar of Vishnu. The song in praise of her is Renukadevi in Kannadabangala. Interestingly, we had a rather distant view of her the first time. A few of us took our time to circle the shrine, by which time the priest arrived and opened a gate to give us a closer darshan.
    We drove over to Nagapattinam’s Kayarohaneswarar temple and sang Kayarohanesam in Devagandharam and Amba Neelayatakshi, on the eponymous goddess, in Nilambari. This is one of the saptavitankas. That is, the utsavar is an identical copy of the Tiruvarur Tyagarajaswami. It is known as Sundara vitanka. The temple was sprawling and grand.
    Next up was the adjacent Saundararaja Perumal temple, a Vishnu temple. Our guru sang Saundararaja in Brindavanasaranga, a kriti known to the priest, who joined in with his deep, rich voice. The deity was tall, majestic and liberally adorned – it is not for no reason Vishnu is known as Alankara-priya, the one who loves being adorned. His feet were under a platform, but visible to us as long as we bent down. The priest quoted Andal’s Tiruppavai, ‘Koodi irundu kulirndelor empavai’, urging us to sing a song all together, which we did.
We moved on to Sikkal, hometown of the legendary Sikkil Sisters and the current crowd-puller Sikkil Gurucharan. It was crowded and dark due to a power cut, which gave the place an old-worldly, mysterious charm. The famed Sikkal Singaravelar is the subject of Dikshitar’s ‘Shrngara shaktyayudhadhara’ in Ramamanohari. The Siva idol, so the story goes, is made of butter which refused to budge and is accordingly called Navaniteswarar. Its being stuck gave rise to the place’s name Sikkal. There was also a Vishnu temple attached.
Keezhvelur, where Dikshitar gave us ‘Akshayalingavibho’ in Sankarabharanam, the main piece – jewel in the necklace – of so many a concert! This place is also called Keevalur. The shrines were on a first floor, accessible by a flight of stairs. There is a story behind this. There was once a lingam in a forest. A spider realised its divinity and built a web over it to keep it clean. An elephant later visited it, and to do abhishekam for it, poured water on it, destroying the web. The peeved spider rebuilt it after the elephant left. The elephant destroyed it again. This cycle continued till the angry spider climbed into the elephant’s trunk and bit it, killing both. The spider was to be born again once due to his one sin, and was born as a king. Remembering his past life, he built the temple over stairs to prevent elephants from entering. This and more stories were related to us by a committed temple administrator who acted spontaneously as a fantastic guide. There were scores of shrines on the ground. This is also the place where the bankrupt Kubera is said to have prayed to recharge his powers.
We returned to Tiruvarur for lunch, after which we went to Kuzhikkarai. The Kuzhikkarai temple is built on private land. The builder of this temple, Vaidyalinga Mudaliar, desired Dikshitar to sing his praise. Dikshitar, never one to compose on a mere mortal, refused, but mentioned him in an epic 14-raga song, Sri Viswanatham. There were paintings on the roof such as the stages of existence – plants, animals, birds, fish and people. The other songs of this kshetra that we sang are Viswanathena in Saamanta and Annapurne Visalakshi in Saama.  
The penultimate stop for the day was Tirukannamangai, a Vishnu Temple where the gods came as bees to witness His wedding and stayed on (and are still there). The song here was Bhaktavatsalam in Vamsavati. The final visit of the day was to Pulivalam, another Vishnu temple. Dikshitar honoured the Lord with Venkatachalapate in Karnataka Kaapi.
Day 3 morning was all for the Tiruvarur temple. First, we stopped by the massive Kamalalayam tank to sing Sri Mahaganapatir Avatumam, in praise of Maatru Uraitha Vinayakar. Inside, our gurus sang the Kamalamba Navavaranams (a treat for the ears, indeed). Kamalamba is famously sitting in a special yogic posture impossible for humans. We walked over to the Nilotpalamba shrine and sang Sri Nilotpalanayike in Nariritigaulai. Finally, the beloved of the Nayanmars, Lord Tyagaraja! Each youngster sang a song – some tentatively, afraid of not doing justice to the master, some boldly, full of verve.
A brief walk from the temple is a temple of Sundaramurti Nayanar, his home. Here, we rendered Dikshitar’s only kriti on a human, Sundaramurtim in Takka. Sundaramurti Nayanar is an incarnation of a celestial, so strictly speaking Dikshitar never sang of mortal men.
In the evening, we proved our loyalty to secularism by visiting Nagore Dargah and Velankanni Church, bearably crowded though it was Christmas Eve.
The lengthy van journeys proved good times to discuss a variety of topics, like the music season, kalpanaswaram, philosophy, Facebook and Tendulkar’s retirement from ODI cricket!
In summary, this was an invaluable learning experience, where we listened to and rendered good music, visited places we would have never known about otherwise or given a second thought if we had come across them any other way. We got insights about stories, religion and life in general, and shared our ideas. I feel extremely lucky and privileged to have had this experience.
Aparna.shankar.12@gmail.com

Friday, February 1, 2013

PILGRIMAGE WITH DIKSHITAR TO TIRUKAZHUKUNDRAM


 
Tirukkazhukkunram is a well-known temple of Shiva, near Chengalpet. The temple is on a hill,
requiring around 550 steps to be climbed. Like Tirupati, the Lord is on the hill, while the Goddess is
in a temple at the foot of the hill. Tirukkazhukkunram was famous for the pair of eagles which used
to come regularly to a particular spot near the temple every afternoon to be fed by the priest.

Muthuswamy Dikshitar has visited this hoary temple and composed “Vedapurishwaram bhajare”
in Ragam Dhanyasi , Adi Talam. As is his practice, he has mentioned details of the Sthalam in his
lyrics such as the Vedas worshipping the Lord, Goddess Tripurasundari being His consort and Vishnu
and other Devas chanting His praise. This beautiful Kriti, with its phrases laden with meaning and
rare Prayogas of Dhanyasi, was learnt by the students of Veenavaadhini over the last few weeks, in
preparation for the Yatra to the site where it was composed.

On Saturday, November 17th, we left for Tirukkazhukkunram at around 6.30am from Chennai.
Our group comprised of our Gurus Sri Jeyaraaj and Smt Jaysri and their students and a couple of
mothers. Since there were many young people, we first had some breakfast before we proceeded
to climb the hill. We first sought the blessings of Ganesha who was at the foothill. As could be
expected, the children sprinted ahead while the others climbed leisurely. Although the steps were
steep, we were rewarded by the lovely emerging views of the nearby temples, tanks, houses, fields
and lakes. The weather had been pleasant in the last few days and that day was no exception.
Moreover, the numerous large trees on either side of the steps ensured that we were well
protected from the sun. One noticed a large number of Indian Laburnum trees (sara-konrai or
Golden Shower) as well as Siamese Cassia (manjal-konrai, Kassod). There were also Neem, Peepul
and one big Banyan tree on the way.

The temple on the hill is medium-sized. We waited a few minutes for the Archaka and then went
inside the shrine and sang the kritis “Vedapurishwaram bhajare”, “ Tripurasundari” (Saama) and
“Vishwanathena”(Saamantha). The Archaka then performed Archana and during the Karpoora-
harathi, he showed us the amazing Bas Relief sculptures found in the Sanctum Sanctorum. There
was Somaskanda along with an adoring Vishnu behind the Lingam, as well as Dakshinamurthy and
Ardhanarishwara with Nandi on the two side walls. (These are features of Pallava architecture.) He
also explained the significance of Tirukkazhukkunram – it being sung by all three saint-composers of
Thevaaram, as well as being sung by Manickavachakar, Arunagirinathar and Pattinathaar. He rued
the fact that due to pollution or other evils of the times, the eagles had stopped coming and asked
us to pray that the next generation of eagles starts coming.

After this moving, uplifting experience, we climbed down through a different path. On the way we
saw an old cave temple dated to Mahendravarma-I. It has a Lingam and two sizable Dwarapalakas.

We went to an ancient temple of Vishnu in Sadras(Sathurangapattinam). He is known as Malai
Mandala Perumal and as Garuda is depicted with eight snakes on his person, this is a Sarpa-dosha
Parihara-sthalam. The Panchaloha idol of Anjaneya, from the Vijayanagara time, is the one drawn
by the artist Vinu in the famous picture blessed by the Mahaswami of Kanchi. Here too we were
fortunate that the Bhattar explained the unique features of the Kshetra to us in detail. We soaked in
the quietness and greenery of this small but impressive temple, with a coucal’s sweet calls adding to
the experience. After the nice lunch, we returned to Chennai with a sense of elation and gratitude.

REPORT BY RAJANI ARJUN SHANKAR

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

LAUNCH OF www.veenavaadhini.com



Veenavaadhini launched its website www.veenavaadhini.com and celebrated five years of its completion in a function at Arkay Convention Centre Mylapore. Here is a report that appeared on the website www.sabhash.com.

Veenavaadhini Website Launched
Veenavaadhini website was launched at a warm function hosted by the Veena Couple JT Jeyaraaj Krishnan and Jaysri Jeyaraaj Krishnan, who founded Veenavaadhini Sampradaya Sangit Trust. Music Historian V Sriram was the guest, and he symbolically launched the website on a solemn note after a Veena recital by Veena Venkataramani (student of Veenavaadhini). She was accompanied by R Ramkumar on Mridangam, Srikrishnan on Ghatam. Sriram who himself had learnt Veena under the same Gurus as the couple, lauded their efforts and recalled those days of learning together in Kolkatta. Veena Vidwan P Vasanth Kumar spoke on the importance of Veena, that the art is close to Vocal music. He appreciated the efforts of Veenavaadhini,
that strives to bring the instrument to the fore front. Young Veena, who has just completed schooling is a confident girl, and gave a brilliant concert that kept the audience spell bound for an hour and more.

Veenavaadhini Sampradaya Sangit Trust proposes to create a unique archive of over 1000 compositions and 100 raga alapanas rendered by Jeyaraaj and Jaysri on the Veena. Belonging to the direct Sishya Parampara of Muthuswamy Dikshitar, the Gurus, along with their students at Veenavaadhini, have undertaken to visit the provenance of Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s kritis, to retrace Dikshitar’s journey, visit the temples that he visited, and render the kritis that he composed on the various deities enshrined therein.

Veenavaadhini will take efforts to preserve for posterity the Gayaki style of playing the Veena as the vainika couple has imbibed from their Gurus A Anantharama Iyer and A Champakavali through the unbroken disciple lineage of vainika gayaka Muthuswamy Dikshitar.

Here is the link Veenavaadhini Sampradaya Sangit Trust Website Launch