Song of Surrender

Monday, 12 December 2011

Manodharma and bhakti at Lecdem Mela

By S Sivaramakrishnan

I attended a couple of sessions co-sponsored by Sruti at RK centre (sort of a ‘made for intent listening’ hall near Luz corner) which were certainly not the kind of the customary ‘Lec-dems’ of the season.  

The two sessions on Sunday morning (11 December 2011) turned out to be excellent and outstanding events with a high level of audience participation. 

The presentations by Gowri Ramnarayan  (Bhakti in sahitya) and Padma Subrahmayam (Manodharma in dance) were notable for spontaneity and camaraderie .  
Gowri literally traversed the country in all directions citing samples from the works of hallowed composers of devotional literature. The concept of ‘devotion’ itself has ended up a highly diluted one, she noted, going by the range of content, themes and the kind of proclamations many of the poets and composers have infused in their lyrics. A student and close companion of M S Subbulaksmi for several years, she could easily bring in the emotional appeal in many compositions in several languages through illustrative rendering of select songs. Kaatriniley varum geetam - that immortal song penned by Kalki during a much later period and which is recognised as a song on Krishna - contains an apprehension of the poet as to whether he would be able to keep up the level of supreme devotion forever. And that revealed the humaneness of the composers too. Such outpourings stood to explain the scope of bhakti and it was up to the devotee to utilise it in the right perspective.

Dr Padma Subrahmanyam who handled the pre-noon session was in great form. She began with the statement that a dancer must be a musician first to have a firm grip of Sruti and Laya. Manodharmam would manifest itself only if these basics were secure, she said. There must be an element of dharma (righteousness) lest the efforts went haywire – a point that went down well with the audience. Padma demonstrated the concept of manodharma for a few songs rendered by her team including the traditional instruments of veena, mridanga and flute. (A votary of tradition, Padma has seldom used the violin in her orchestra). The themes handled by her included facets of manodharma in laya, select items to explain its scope in sanchari passages. As the tukkada piece, Padma presented an interesting sequence of an ‘open heart surgery’ much to the amusement of the audience which also included Dr. Sunder, a key organiser of the event and a physiotherapist himself.

At the end, many were convinced that there are no equivalent words in the English language for bhakti and manodharma - the lead themes of the sessions!

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