A concert dedicated to Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan – filmyzoo


Sri Guhadasa Trust paid a fitting tribute to musician and composer Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan on his 178th jayanthi by organising a thematic concert of Kandapuranam kritis, composed by his younger brother Ramaswamy Sivan, and relevant songs from Arunagirinathar’s Thiruppugazh. The Sivan brothers were musicians and composers of the 19th century. Both learnt music under Anai and Ayya brothers and Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaiyer, a direct disciple of Tyagaraja.

Bhavya Hari, daughter and disciple of veteran vocalist T.V. Sundaravalli, who specialised in Thiruppugazh; Vidya Kalyanaraman, disciple of Suguna Varadachari, and Sandhya Ramaswamy the great granddaughter of Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan, currently under the tutelage of Suguna Varadachari, presented these compositions.

They aptly began with ‘Pankajakshi’, the Kamboji pada varnam, and ‘Sri sankaraguruvaram’, the Nagaswaravali kriti (Roopakam), both by Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan. In the latter, the trio sang kalpanaswaras, appropriately responded to by Usha Rajagopalan on the violin.

Ramaswamy Sivan had composed concise Kandapuranam kritis, 40 of which were published by Annamalai University in 1948. The vocalists chose to render six kritis.

In the main segment, Vidya started with the Sriranjani raga Vinayaka sthuti, ‘Kunjara mukhane’, by Ramaswamy Sivan, set to Chathusra Matya tala. She rendered the related Thiruppugazh, ‘Umbartharu’ in Gowlai (Chandam metre), on the elephant-headed god.

Bhavya sang the second kriti, ‘Avadharitthaanae dheenargalai aadharitthaanae’ in Vasantha, with kalpanaswaras shared by the three. It describes the avatara of Arumugan. She then offered the connected Thiruppugazh, ‘Aalametra vizhiyinar’ in a melodious ragamalika (Sama and Shanmukhapriya) in (Chandam metre).

Pranava mantra episode

The third kriti ‘Vedhanai sirai seythaan’ (in Suddha Saveri, Ramaswamy Sivan) was rendered by Sandhya. This song refers to the famous story of Muruga detaining Brahma for not being able to explain the significance of the Pranava Mantra ‘Om’. In the Rameswaram Thiruppugazh, ‘Vaala Vayathaagi’, Arunagirinathar mentions this episode. Sandhya rendered this in a gentle Ragamalika (Simhendramadhyamam, Begada and Bowli) set to Khanda Chapu tala.

At the request of Devas, Shiva sends Muruga with a powerful army to destroy Soorapadman. This event is described by Ramaswamy Sivan in the kriti, ‘Vidai Kodutthaan Vidayaan.’ Vidya sang this kriti in the pleasant Kurinji raga, and followed it up with the relevant Thiruppugazh, ‘Nirudharaarkkoru kaala jayajaya’, which mentions this episode, in a Ragamalika (Navaroj, Kavadichindu , Sindhu Bhairavi and Madhyamavati).

To reward Muruga, who protected the Devas by defeating the soorakula, Indra gives his daughter Deivayanai in marriage to him. At the celestial wedding held in the presence of Devas and Saints, Shiva and Uma arrive in person to offer their blessings. Ramaswamy Sivan describes this event in his kriti ‘Singaathanattirunthaan shivaperumaan’. This lovely Nattakurinji (Khanda Triputa tala) composition was rendered with devotion by Bhavya. She then sang the related Thiruppugazh ‘Vandu thaan’ (Khanda Chapu) in Ragamalika (Pantuvarali, Kalyana Vasantham and Atana).

Celestial wedding

For the sixth kriti, they chose ‘Arul seithanan’ in Malayamarutham. The composer describes how Muruga married Sri Valli with the help of his brother Vinayaka. A brief but comprehensive alapana was rendered by Sandhya Ramaswamy, with an equally brilliant elucidation on the violin by Usha Rajagopalan. The kalpanaswaras were shared by the trio. On the mridangam was Kumbakonam Swaminathan, disciple of Poongulam Subramaniam. His thani was played mainly in Tisra Nadai. In the related Thiruppugazh, ‘Thoalelumbu’, Arunagirinathar mentions this theme. Sandhya rendered it in Ragamalika (Ranjani, Durga, Dwajavnti) set to Adi tala (Tisra Nadai).

A lot of effort and practice must have gone into this wonderfully planned and skilfully executed thematic concert. Valayapettai Krishnan had done extensive research on the subject.

The trio aptly concluded the evening concert at Arkay Convention Centre, with Maha Vaidyanatha Sivan’s Simhanandana thillana in Kanada. The concert, that conveyed the spirit of the songs and emotions of the composers, left lasting impression on the audience. The concert is available on Madhuradhwani’s YouTube channel.

The Chennai-based writer specialises in Carnatic music.

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