Mysore Vasudevacharyar on Swathi Thirunal

Srirangapatam, Sriranga and Thiruvananthapuram are three great Kshetras blessed by the presence of Lord Padmanabha. I had several occasion to have the darsana of the Swamy at the former two pilgrim centres and was longing to fill my eyes with the divya – roopa of the Swamy at Thiruvananthapuram.  Good fortune favoured me when I was honoured with an invitation from Her Highness Sethu Parvathi Bai to sing at the Travancore palace, which I would rather call the Indraloka on the earth! What a temple of art! I felt that entire atmosphere in Travancore was invested with the fragrance of lalitakala and learning.


It is not always that a musician has a knowledgeable and diserning audience when an artist has before him a set of scholars and art lovers each one of whom is well qualified to weigh him up.  He has to reach the very depths of his art; he can never get away with a superficial dive. This was my experience that night when I sang at the palace.  As a student, I had read of the glory of the court of King Bhoja. It stood before me now. What a galaxy of musicians and scholars! To be frank, it was a great test I had to pass through.  But, the very atmosphere inspired me. I noticed that the appreciation was absolutely discriminate.  I could see an expression of admiration precisely at such moments as I myself thought I was at my best.  When I was asked to sing the next two days also at the palace, I sincerely felt that my efforts to acquire good music were more than awarded. I had a strong desire to see the temple and the place where Maharaja Swati Tirunal composed his music divine.  This was possible by the  grace of the Maharani.  What a divine vigraha is this Lord Padmanabha! No wonder,  Maharaja Swati Tirunal thought: “Patayava Patale Sthapayava Sakalaloka Samrajye Krishna Twatpadayugala Namunchami, Naivamunchami”.  One should see this great Padmanabha to get at the secret of the greatness of the Maharaja’s compositions; for, they are verily the very essence of the expression of the  Maharaja pouring out his heart to his maker.  I should not be mistaken when I state that, after all, it may not be difficult for any one of us to compose words or music or both.  Of course, one can weave out a composition.  But, it does not automatically become a living piece of art.  We build a lovely temple and install a well carved out image, decorate it profusely, but do we experience the divinity, until the Pratishtapana is performed and the divine spirit is infused in the Vigraha? No! Likewise unless the words and the music we compose breathe a feeling of oneness with the supreme, the composition does not come to life; it is born but it does not live! Swati Tirunal Maharaja’s compositions are immortal because we see Padmanabha in them, we hear and feel Padmanabha in them.   Whenever I sing these compositions, I am always reminded of the state Elephant and the state Horse taken out in the Mysore Dasara Procession.  The compositions combine in them the Raja Gambhirya of the State Elephant and the white pristine elegance of the State Hores.   The one Adathala Varnam of Sri Swati Tirunal Sarasijanabha is the last word in Khamboji.  Likewise, each of his composition is a perfect piece of artistic creation.  He is the one composer who has touched the entire range of structural composition in  Karnataka music.  This is an exclusive greatness of  this Vaggeyekara.



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