BY LAKSHMINARAYANAN & RAVI R. PONANGI
Decades back, Mahakavi Subramanya Bharathi, a well known freedom fighter and a great Tamil poet, envisioned exchange of beetle leaves from Kaveri (Southern India) with Wheat from the Ganges (Northern India). Indeed it was truly a great exchange of musical traditions at the Jugalbandhi concert from Sriram Krishnan and Snehasish Mozumder at the Hindu Temple of Atlanta organized by “Sankara Nethralaya OM Trust” on 30th Aug 2008. They not only exchanged Carnatic and Hindustani style of music, they literally carried us to Ganges Plains and Kaveri belt with their Reetigowla, Nat Bhairav, Sindu Bhairavi and Keeravani.
Sriram Krishnan, son of the illustrious violin Maestro Prof. T.N.Krishnan, brought out traditional nuances of carnatic music with his fine rendition of Reetigowla that followed the ever popular Vatapi in Hamsadwani. It was indeed a great to see that Sriram opted for Reetigowla, rarely chosen for Jugalbandi concerts elsewhere. With his unquestionable adherence to the traditional baani (style of music), Sriram set the stage with his short and crisp renditions. His Sindu bhairavi, not very surprisingly, had all elements and teasing phrases set by his father, Prof T.N.Krishnan over the last 7 decades, rightly claimed their ownership of this beautiful raga.
Snehasish Mozumder, a popular Hindustani musician, enthralled everyone with his skillful presentation of Nat Bhairav (called Sarasangi in the South Indian style) on the Mandolin. His mastery over this plucking stringed instrument was very evident that he nonchalantly played intricate gamakas in both slow and high speeds with ease. His Alap and Taan in Nat Bhairav stamped with authority and preciseness, stood out as a befitting reply to Sriram’s Reetigowla. Again, thanks and kudos to Snehasish for opting for a relatively unfamiliar raga for a Jugalbandi concert, where one gets to hear more of Yamans, Mohanams, Kapis, and Hindolams.
Raga Keeravani had her charming and colorful face reach multifold heights when Sriram and Snehashish tossed her back and forth during their combined presentation. The exchange of taan (am) that followed the raga indeed added few additional dimensions to this beautiful raga. The crescendo that was followed by exchange of laya patterns (rhythm) on the mridangam by Rohan Krishnamurthy and Subrata Bhattacharya on the Tabla was a treat to relish for long.
Their rendition of Vaishnava Jana To, a popular bhajan composed by Gujarati poet Narsingh Mehta belonging to 15th century and popularized by Mahatma Gandhiji, indeed stood as a lingering piece rightly calling for world peace and harmony at this very hour of communal distress.
Dr. Seshu Sarma, organizer of the event briefed about the artists and thanked each one of the artist for giving such an exhilarating performance. Talking about Rohan Krishna Murthy, mridangam artist, she said we have 20 year old young man who really grew up in United States. He was born in California and grown up in Michigan. We are very proud of the youngster. It was inspiring to see some one grew up in this country and was able to maintain tradition, she noted.
Dr. Seshu Sarma gave an account how she was introduced to Sankara Nethralaya. She told the audience that her mother in law was very active lady, able to see and was not able to keep track of her. She would go to different places. She said, “Four years ago my father in law passed away and long before with out our knowledge she lost her vision completely in front of us. It is mind boggling even to think how it can happen. It happened to a mother and mother in law of two physicians in the house hold who has been having regular medical check ups and other things. You can imagine what the plight of others who cannot afford medical care are. I realized “Sarvendrianaam Nayanam pradhanam”. It is so important to have vision.” She told the audience when she was thinking what she could do for those who can not see, she was introduced to Sankara Nethralaya. Then she looked into their web site and learnt the kind of work they do. She got really started getting involved and organized a fund raiser last year for Sankara Nethralaya. Seshu Sarma thanking Dr.S.S. Badrinath of Sankara Netralaya, India whom Prof. Prema Pandurang refers as “Vision God” Seshu said “I personally believe that there is divinity in people. The divinity in people like Dr. Badrinath just come in front of us and does all kinds of work”. Seshu Sarma also thanked all volunteers for putting together this program and making a grand success. Ms. Madhu Iyer and Sunder Rangarajan, president of Greater Atlanta Tamil Sangham (GATS) have also addressed on the occasion. GATS is officially supporting the work of Ankara Natalya since two years. This year they donated more than $ 3500 through this concert.
Sujata Ray barn, an Atlanta based vocalist in both Karnataka and Hindustani music and her husband Mark Ray barn have felicitated the artists on behalf of Sankara Nethralaya and Hindu temple of