Tag Archives: Music

NhAdha Brahmam ~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

12 Oct

NhAdha Brahmam

~ a tribute to Shri Kadri Gopalnath, the incomparable Saxophone Maestro

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Over a decade ago, I’ve left Jr in a tournament hall (he’s a professional Chess player at international level) somewhere in Mangaluru and walked a few kilometres in blazing sun, with the help of the directions on the phone (it’s probably a Nokia – well before it’s android days) to reach an ancient ShivA temple, that’s located on a rocky hillside. The darshan was wonderful and I’ve returned in time for lunch with Jr (sensibly took an autorickshaw this time). The place I’ve visited is Kadri, which has been made world famous by a son of the soil, who gave the darshan of NhAdha Brahmam to even untrained musical lovers such as this writer, whenever he played a classical song on the western wind instrument known as Saxophone. Instrumental music is naturally formed a significant portion of Swamy’s music collection, in cassettes (do ya know what they are Gen X/Y/Zers) and CDs (used to spend a fortune at the annual music sale at Shankara Hall once upon a time, just like the hundreds of books purchased during the annual Chennai Book Fair, year after year), which now await digitization, quietly lying down under the bed (oh don’t worry, they’re pretty safe), though even that effort seems pointless in this digital age, when there are apps aplenty to play any kind of music anyone fancies, in the phone itself!
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The bassy nhAdham emanating out of the instrument was simply out of the world and can easily bring tears of joy flowing from the rasikA’s eyes. Just like RAjarathinam PiLLai, SrinivA, MAli, BAlachander, Kunnakkudi, UmayALpuram & Valayappatti are simply known by the name of the respective instruments they played with absolute mastery, the name Gopalnath is synonymous with Saxophone. The identity of Master (Maestro!) musicians like him is inseparable from the instrument they play. In other words, they’ve attained union with not the instrument, but the music that flows through it / them.

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Their worship of NhAdha Brahmam, i.e. the Divine in the form of sound, is the music we are blessed to listen to. If done with awareness, perhaps the rasikAs too will be blessed with the darshan of the divine, in the formless form of NhAdha Brahmam. And thanks to my maternal grandfather Shri Rengasami Iyer, I was fortunate to listen to Shri Kadri Gopalnath live once, at the NhAradha GAna SabhA, at a much younger age – accompanying him, which will remain etched in the memory (along with the vocal music performance by another legend, Shri KJ Yesudas), forever.

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Legends aren’t born as legends. But they certainly become aware of their real talent (an inherent gift, unlike skill that’s learnt, which comes into play in a given lifetime, based on one’s prArabdha karmA), work diligently to hone it and attain mastery over it, over a period of time. Whether they know it or not, playing music is their sadhana (spiritual practice) and daily offering to the divine. RasikAs – knowledgeable or otherwise – become a part of that offering, by simply being present, with nary a distraction (kinda hard in the present days with the constant notification wink of the omnipresent smartphone), during such performances. In an(y) unexpected moment, the darshan of the Creator can happen, even if it’s just a glimpse, like a momentary lifting of the veil, making that time worthwhile, eventful, purposeful and joyful. And true legends such as Shri Kadri Gopalnath are the chosen instruments of the divine, to offer the rest of us a glimpse of the boundless Grace! Shambho.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy

The Sublime Sound of Salvation!

12 Apr

The Sublime Sound of Salvation!

~ insights on nhAdha (chants and mantras)

 

🙏 Namaskaram. Recently Swamy came across a WhatsApp share (forwarded, of course!) that went gaga about the ‘mathematical insights’ of Vedas. Here’s an excerpt…

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Till I came across this posting, I was unaware of the significance of Rudram, Chamakam. High school students will greatly benefit from memorising  these, to help them in their study of Mathematics. If we  take a look at this excerpt from Chamakam of the Rudra Namaka Chamaka, we will get to know the mathematical genius in the Vedas.

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By now, it’s quite obvious to anyone other than the exclusive (and downright abusive, needless to say, especially when it comes to any aspect of this very ancient culture) non-pseudo-secular pretentious intellectual blabbermouths that there are many dimensions and layers to pretty much anything in this ancient culture, which manages to thrive even after several destructive invasions and even more destructive rule by cringe-worthy politicos, post a hard fought and won (with nary a bloodshed – especially on the invaders’ side) independence.  Even the common citizens who weren’t privileged enough to go to branded scholastic institutions and work really hard daily to eke out a living in this unforgiving ultra-competitive success obsessed society know this, though they don’t get screen time on any media to speak about it. 

Swamy is no vedic expert, but as a voracious (at least once upon a time, reignited again recently, but more like carbureted than fuel-injected) reader, reasonably prolific writer (no formally published work yet, but plenty of 100% agmark original content on various social media platforms – including this one) and seeker (of Truth, not anything connected with mere survival, at least not anymore), he sure knows a thing or two about the breadth and depth of this culture (we never aspired for the height of greatness, hence no invasions by us to spread our culture anywhere else). So, here’s some insight that might be helpful in comprehending the essence of this newfound vedic insight (one of the many, obviously), than merely going gaga over it (which itself is a fundamental problem, as such marvelling and social sharing is so superficial that the same person will end up sharing in the same groups the same thing, sooner than later, without actually gaining any insight whatsoever)…

VedicChanting

Vedas are essentially ‘sounds that were/are heard,‘ referred to as Sruti or Shruthi in SanAthana DharmA. Here’s a simple explanation from the ISKCON website. 

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Hinduism has no single scripture but many. They include the Vedas and their corollaries sometimes called collectively “the Vedic scriptures.”

There are two main divisions:

shruti – that which is heard (revealed truth)

smriti – that which is remembered (realised truth)

Sanskrit is the language of most canonical texts, but many subsidiary texts are written in the vernacular.

Shruti is canonical, consisting of revelation and unquestionable truth, and is considered eternal. It refers mainly to the Vedas themselves.

Smriti is supplementary and may change over time. It is authoritative only to the extent that it conforms to the bedrock of shruti.

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In a certain state of meditation, the sages / yogis of ancient times simply heard these sounds – most probably within themselves, than from anywhere outside. 

Then they started chanting those sounds, as they heard them (without any intellectual interpretation), observed certain outcomes and then started teaching the chanting of Shruthi to others. That’s why, even today, in this so-called digital yuga, students learn vedas through repetitive recitals and not by reading books and vomiting what’s read in exams (though printed and digital versions are certainly available now for reference – primarily for the armchair scholars and SoMe sharers).

In SanAtana Dharma (not to be confused with Hinduism, which is categorised as a religion – something done on purpose by the invaders), which is the core spiritual foundation of the ancient BhArath / Sindhu civilization, the Creator had been defined in many ways. While ancient scriptures such as the Upanishads (which too are part of the Vedas, but were crafted by humans, thereby belonging to the Smriti category) define the Creator aka God as Nirghuna Brahmam ~ நிர்குண பிரம்மம், i.e., an entity without form or attributes / characteristics. The same entity is worshipped in many forms as well, which is known as Saguna brahmam ~ சகுண பிரம்மம். 

Dhyanalinga2.jpgSince this is a Mukthi focused culture, anything and everything that aids one towards the ultimate liberation from the repetitive birth-death lifecycle, were effectively utilised by the seekers. This includes devices (YantrA), chants (MantrA), methods or techniques (TantrA), processes (KriyA, for example) and even Gods. This is quite possibly the only culture where the technology to craft one’s own version of God was in practice, which is known as PratishthA aka consecration. There are a few practitioners of this ancient God-making craft even now, such as Swamy’s Guru Sadhguru, who has created divine forms such as the DhyAnalinga and Devi Linga Bhairavi. This is the reason why everything from a plain-looking uncarved stone to tree to cow to many a phenomenally intrinsic idols being worshipped as God here, even today. The divine is also defined as pure light (exemplified by historical Realised Masters such as VaLLaLAr ~ வள்ளலார்) and also as pure Sound, i.e. NhAdha Brahmam ~ நாத பிரம்மம். 

In essence, the internal comprehension of everything in existence as a manifest form of the unmanifest divine by many a yogi / siddha / saint has led to that realisation being reflected in the various means and paths towards self-realisation. The fortunate people of BhArathavarsha never had any qualms about following one path or another, knowing full well that all of them lead to the realisation of the same Truth (about Creator, creation, existence, et al) and the ultimate liberation. Heck, we even had many a non-believer amidst the sea of believers, from time to time, whose philosophy too is available for anyone interested. And the best part is, they weren’t hunted or annihilated but simply allowed to co-exist in the same society!

Recently, scientists have arrived at conclusion (though in reality, nothing is ever conclusive – especially when it comes to science) that the entire existence is nothing but sound. Or vibrations / reverberation, to be precise. This is essentially science acknowledging what spirituality said a loooooong time ago. Anyway, when we say the entire existence is just sound, the essential question that will arise in our intellectual mind is, ‘then how come there are so many different forms – including humans, each of which is so vastly different from everything else in existence?‘ 

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Now, each sound is said to have a form associated with it. This is the fundamental principle of NhAdha Yoga & Mantra Yoga. By reciting a certain sound, at a certain time, for a certain number of times, one can realise the form associated with that sound. This is why Devi UpAsakars ~ தேவி உபாஸகர் get darshan of Devi by chanting her Mantra, while devotees of Adiyogi Shiva get darshan of MahAdEva by chanting his moola mantra, and so on. Lord SubrahmaNya (or Muruga, ShaNmukha, KArthikEya, etc) in the form of BAla DhaNdAyudhapANi (பால தண்டாயுதபாணி) at Kumaramalai (குமரமலை) is Swamy’s kula dheivam (குல தெய்வம்). Created by Lord ShivA for the specific purpose of leading the Deva army (as it’s General) to annihilate the AsurAs, he is considered and worshipped as the form of the moola mantrA of creation itself, i.e. AUM, the supreme sound of all sounds.  

Since there are various mantrAs (a mantrA is essentially a collection or sequence of sounds, organised for a specific purpose, and associated with a specific divine form) for each deity, the darshans of the deity by the individuals who perform Mantra yoga or NhAdha yoga also vary accordingly. 

Om Swami, a young contemporary – living – Realised Master, has written about how the diligent practice of Mantra yoga led him to the actual darshan of Devi, in his autobiography “If Truth Be Told.” He now teaches the ancient practice of Mantra yOga to seekers. Swamy’s master Sadhguru had got the experience of the divine as NhAdha Brahmam at KAnti SarOvar, a lake located above (and beyond) KEdhArnAth, which is where Adiyogi Shiva is said to have transmitted his yogic Wisdom to Devi Shakthi, in absolute intimacy (the 112 ways to Realisation taught by him are available in ‘VignAna Bhairava TantrA). This experience happened much later than his actual enlightenment experience at ChAmundi Hills near Mysuru. 

Vedas, which are essentially a very structured way of chanting pure sound, the way it is in nature, and thereby resonating with the reverberations in creation in a certain way, can be considered as a method to define the nature of the divine, which is omnipresent, omnipotent and omniscient. So when someone chants Sri Rudram ~ ஸ்ரீ ருத்ரம், what’s actually happening is the definition of the form of the divine as RudrA, in all its glory. 

And there’s a specific reason why vedas are in Sanskrit and not any other ancient language (e.g. Thamizh, which happens to be Swamy’s mother tongue, in which he writes classical hymns / poetry). Sanskrit is a language that’s entirely based on, and – needless to say – crafted from, sound. The syllables of Sanskrit are said to have emerged from Lord ShivA’s Damaru ~ உடுக்கை, which was listened to by his ever present companion NandhikEswara. This too has been mentioned by another contemporary Master Swami SukhabOdhAnanda (of ‘மனசே ரிலாக்ஸ் ப்ளீஸ்’ fame – he’s a disciple of Swami ChinmayAnanda) in one of his books. 

Anyway, the point is, both vedas and mantrAs being in Sanskrit is quite simply because the foundation of all of these is sound – in a multitude of variations, of course. Oh btw, there’s another very ancient language that’s spoken by rishis, yogis and Siddhars of yore, known as SandhyA bAsha ~ ஸந்த்யா பாஷை, which could even be dated before the advent of sanskrit or possibly a contemporary one to sanskrit. This language was quite possibly much closer in tune with the vibrations in nature and doesn’t seem to have a script. Without any active practitioners – at least in the limited field of perception of contemporary humans – it is not known to be known to anyone now. 

ClassicalMusicThose who follow any form of classical music know about the various precise measurements that make sound enchanting, and even purposeful beyond mere enchantment (e.g.: Music therapy). With this context, if one looks at the mathematical precision / definitions in vedas, it’s quite easy to comprehend that it is simply yet another way / method to define the form of the divine, and thereby the Creator, creation, existence, et al, through precise measurements, expressed as sound. 

From now on, whenever you chant a mantrA such as AUM Namah ShivAya or GAyathri, you may inherently be aware that it’s nothing but a nondescript creation’s (ahem, that would be you – on a cosmic scale!) feeble attempt to depict the form that’s associated with that mantrA, i.e. NhAdha / Sound. Just keep aside whatever you think you know, i.e. the intellectual aspect or acquired knowledge, and simply resonate with the sound of the mantrA, so you may realise the real purpose of that mantrA, whatever it is that you’ve been initiated into or have learnt to chant.

Fun Fact 1: In either Nhamakham ~ நமகம் or Chamakham ~ ச்சமகம் (as mentioned in the beginning, Swamy is a vedic illiterate, so his lack of knowledge in such nuances of vedas may kindly be forgiven), pretty much each chant or stanza will end with a mEh ~ மே. There’s an enchanting background tale about this (all ancient tales in this culture are not only enchanting, but have a deeper aspect of the Truth, well hidden beneath the superficial sheath if the tale itself). When Daksha PrajApathi was annihilated by VeerabadhrA (a fierce form created by Lord ShivA, with a single hair from his matted locks, for the sole purpose of destroying DakshA and his acolytes), post his insult of Lord ShivA (by refusing to invite him to his yagnA and refusing to offer the Ahuthi that’s due to him, which resulted in Devi Shakthi, in the form of of Sati – DakshA’s daughter, committing Atma hathyA and leaving her mortal form), he was beheaded by Lord VeerabadhrA. When he realised his unforgivable mortal error and surrendered to the Lord seeking salvation, he was revived back to life by Lord MahEswara who is the ocean of benevolent Grace, but with a goat’s head. Since goats are known to communicate with the sound mEh (மே), it’s believed that in this particular chant by him, worshipping the MahAdEva (God of Gods), every stanza ends with the basic sound of a goat! 

Fun Fact 2: Swamy has written and published (on Social Media, naturally) more than 230 hymns written in classical Thamizh, collectively known as Dhinam Oru Padhigam ~ தினம் ஒரு பதிகம், so far. In his experience, these hymns are written through him than by him. And invariably all of them come with a tune as well. Neither a trained musician nor a qualified poet, it’s truly an enchanting experience for Swamy to not just write these hymns down but also to sing them without having any idea about their musical nuances, i.e. rAga, thALa, et al. In a way, that too is an experience of being in resonance with sound, i.e. NhAdhabrahmA, without actually realising the nuances of it!

May the Grace of NhAdhabrahmA be with you for a purposeful Life, overflowing with resonant Joy. ShambhO. 

149c5-ad3c94c2-334c-499b-8d29-69ee802d7645Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

உயிர்மெய் (Tamil posts by Swamy) https://swamyuyirmei.wordpress.com/
Swamystery (#ThinkOpposite blog posts by Swamy) https://prakashswamy.wordpress.com/
SwamyQuote (quotes by Swamy) https://swamyray.wordpress.com/

What’s the Point!

13 May
No NhAladiyAr or Avvai KuRaL interpretations… 
No SwamyQuotes… 
… 
No New – in the past 4 days…
Not No More… Certainly not yet..!
Heh.. Heh.. Heh… 
… 

Anyway, despite no new – agmark original – content from Swamy,

the sky didn’t fall… 
  • the sun still promptly came up on east, shining at dawn… 
  • the birds still chirped merrily and flew around merrily… 
  • the strays keep finding many a hiding place in the concrete & steel jungle of compassionless humans to beat the boiling summer heat… 
  • the juicy news loving Indians somehow don’t seem to be bothered about the second coming of the loudest news anchor of them all, with his own channel now… 
  • the rain still doesn’t seem to be convinced that NammaChennai makkaL are worthy of at least a drizzle (when a downpour is the dire need)… 
  • the Americans – more than half of them, at least – still can’t believe their most unpopular President of all time (who they elected democratically only a few months ago) is running the nation like an arrogant game show host, making the unofficial, self-declared big brother of the world aka US of A, the butt of jokes, day after day… 
  • the other crazy despot ruling the rogue nation bordering the other big brother of the world hasn’t yet pressed that dreaded button, to ignite judgement day
  • the sad state of Tamilnadu that has lost its leader a few months ago and somehow trundles along miraculously as a headless body, is yet to wake up to the reality that there is practically no one around to fill her haloed position…

… wait a minute… this post itself is kinda like one of Swamy’s Nano blogs.. So, is he already back to what he does well – Write! That too, after a hiatus of just four days! Ha.. Ha..

1474812545607.jpgSo, since the post has anyway started flowing, why not explore this thought stream a little bit more and expand this to a Micro blog (don’t worry, this won’t be a Macro blong).

The reason why Swamy started writing this post is a truly humbling one. Despite having thousands of followers – all Social Media platforms combined, that is (he isn’t a celebrity after all – & he’ll never choose to be one, knowing how much he abhors BAUHumbug Template Living by the human herd), not one of them – yep, not even a single follower – seems to be perturbed about the absence of any posts from Swamy, in the past four days. Whoa! 
While a complete lack of response or reaction of any kind should be expected in this superfast paced world with a gazillion distractions, it had a telling effect on the person who continues to craft his ideas, thoughts, perspectives in the form of social media posts.
By asking himself “What’s the Point!” and contemplating the many possible intellectual explanations (ah, that bloody busy free mind is in action again) – in silence, if course – Swamy was had an awakening – that “he doesn’t matter!
img_0719.jpgWhile Swamy’s hymns, blogs, quotes, photos, comments, reflections, reviews, reminiscences, quips, jokes, clarifications, pointed answers & pertinent questions may resonate with a few fellow humans and may even matter to a few more, they might as well be from anyone else. Some random X, Y or Z, on social media!
Humans need information as much as they need oxygen.
Just as air – polluted or not – is everywhere, providing the necessary oxygen for people to breathe, content too is everywhere, providing the information – necessary or not – for people to consume.
Without information – useful or not – the mind can’t be active, since it needs information to keep churning thoughts.
If the mind isn’t active, there’s no individual identity.
Without the “i”dentity, there’s no existence. For anyone! 
As long as a creator (crafter) offers content (output),  in any form that a human being is familiar with (books, speech, art, music, etc), s/he will have fans / followers who will – passively, in all likelihood – await the next output from her/im. But,
In a world where quantity overwhelmingly outmaneuvers quality in pretty much everything, it really doesn’t matter who offers the content.
There’ll always be someone else. In fact, a lot more than one – for any type of content. 

That awakening really jolted Swamy out of his “I craft original content” stupor!

Because, it doesn’t really matter. At least not in the present reality – however much unreal it is. To anyone – friend, follower, fan or some nondescript human who stumbled across the original content, because big G (oh no, not the Creator G, but the Searcher G) led him/er to it. As soon as he stops crafting content, his fans / followers will always find some other source – who may or may not even craft any original content at all.
So, “What’s the Point?,” in creating anything, if it doesn’t matter at all!
Fact is – as hard it is to swallow, as any hard fact – only Content rules. And will continue to. Content creators just come and go. 
Lord KrishNA came & went. BhagawadgitA lives on. 
Gautama, the Buddha, came & went. DhammA, his path to nirvAnA, lives on.
ThiruValluvar came & went. ThirukkuraL lives on. 
Poets of the three Thamizh Sangam era came & went. The Sangam poetry collections like PadhiNenkeezhkaNakku live on. 
NhAyanmArs & AzhvArs came & went. Thirumurais & Dhivya Prabhandham live on. 
VAlmiki & Kambar came & went. Their RAmAyaN(am) live on. 
Adi ShankarA came & went. His bhAshyams, slOkAs, Stotrams & six paths of worship live on, as are the mutts, JyOthirlingA & Shakthi peetams he has created. 
AruNagirinhAdhar came & went. Thiruppugazh, VEl & Mayil viruttham live on. 
MahAkavi BhArathi came & went. His poetry & prose live on. 
ArutprakAsa RAmalinga VaLLaLAr came and went. Thousands of ThiruvAsagam hymns live on.
PAmban SwAmigaL came & went. His KumArasthavam & many other mantrA like hymns live on. 
img_1379.jpgParamahamsa YOgAnandA came & went. His “Autobiography of a YOgi” and the KriyA yOgA path he taught live on. 
Swami SivAnandA came & went. Hundreds of his books, offering amazing insights into the magnificent spiritual culture of BhArat live on. 
Bhagavan RamaNa Maharishi came & went. His “Who am I” self-enquiry and “AksharamaNamalai” and “ULLadhu nhARpadhu” live on.
KAnchi ParamAchAryA came & went. His “Deivaththin Kural” & many unrecorded, deeply insightful discourses live on.
Swami RAmA came and went. His path-breaking teachings, demonstrations and books – including the phenomenal “Living With The Himalayan Masters,” – that opened up the mystical world of Indian spirituality to the materialistic western world live on.
Osho came & went. Hundreds of his enchanting books – including “The Book of Secrets,” which expounds Lord ShivA’s teaching to DEvi Shakthi on the 112 ways to self-realization, and the myriad techniques he taught for self-realization live on.
Agastya muni, Pathanjali, AvvaiyAr, Aristotle, Plato, Rumi, KALidAsA, Kabir, Nietzsche, Whitman, Vivekananda, Tagore, ThyAgarAjA, KannadAsan, ChinmayAnandA, Watts… countless siddhars, saints, poets, realisd beings and masters came and went. The content they left behind, lives on.
img_0660.jpgThe list of great content creators – of past & present (including Swamy’s Master Sadhguru) – is pretty long, varied & impressive. And only their content – spoken, written, sung, performed, taught, transmitted – will live on. May be, forever. This has happened without fail, from time immemorial and will undoubtedly continue to happen, until there’s no time left (oh yeah, we’re a truly stupid species, endowed with one extra sense than other beings, that are very capable of crafting the total destruction of the only planet we inhabit in this incredibly vast, still expanding, universe). 
Humbled by this rude but real awakening, Swamy assured himself that he will continue to craft – and share – agmark original content. Of different kinds. As long as he can. Knowing full well that it’s his content that will live on. Not Swamy himself, who – the person(ality) known as @PrakashSwamy – will be consigned to the flames at some funeral place, when he must ease out of the mortal form, in which he remains trapped, in this lifetime. And that’s the only point of creating anything. For any creator. Perhaps, including “The Creator” of all creation that was, is & will be there!
adiyogi41s.jpgThank you Lord, for letting me realise that “I” don’t matter. Thanks to the awakening I had, the brand Swamy rests lightly on my shoulders now, with a lot lighter head than before! And with your boundless Grace guiding me for the rest of my existence, may valuable content continue to flow through me, if I’m worthy of being your instrument. PraNAm _/\_ 

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy

img_20161225_080543.jpgYou’re welcome to cherish other Swamy blog posts (SwamysteryBeen There Seen ThatSwamyviewSwamyverseSwamygraphy), Quotes (SwamyQuote) & Poems (Swamyem – including 200+ #DhinamOruPadhigam hymns), leave a comment and share it with your social circles.

You’re also welcome to stay connected to Swamy (@PrakashSwamy) on Social Media.

~Swamy | @PrakashSwamy 

Im-mortal!

18 Sep

Im-mortal ~ a tribute to a true Legend & pondering about how mortal even such legends are – especially in the fickle human memory! 

Yesterday was the birth centenary (not your hilarious annual celebration of the day you stepped out to survive this silly world) of a once-in-a-lifetime… Nah… Once-in-a-millennium… Uh, huh… Once-in-a-creation kind of artisan, whose name is synonymous with her craft. Yet, as far as Swamy knows, none of the prime time media – including the most democratic of ’em all, the Social Media – did much to commemorate the momentous occasion!

Graphic: Awards, accolades & global recognition for the legendary MuSician (source: msstribute.org)

Before we get to the name, here are a few (there are very few in the entire history of human existence, btw) parallels, to give you a perspective of what we’re conversing about…

Football (no, we won’t call it soccer, like the unsure citizens of the global big brother nation) – Pele’

ScienceEinstein (no silly comparisons with Edison et al here, he remains incomparable)

WritingTwain (very debatable, but let’s just go with the longevity here)

ArtMichelangelo (we can add Craft too here as he dabbled in far too many things, so well)

PoetryBhArathi (as far as Swamy is concerned, there has been no one as versatile & skilled as the MahAkavi

ComposingBeethoven (yep, there are far too many like Back et al, but no one will have any problem with nodding their head for the big B)

PhilosophySages who wrote the Upanishads (if you haven’t read them, then you’ve no idea about the purpose of your human birth)

ActingChaplin (you’ve no idea – just shut up & go watch his silent classics)

StrategyChAnakyA (start reading his ArthasAstra, before buying yet another strategy tome) 

AutomobileFord (“you can have the model-T in any colour as long as it’s black” – ‘nuf said)

DefianceGandhi (just imagine the ‘half-naked fakir’ standing up against the once-mighty empire where the sun never sets – according to them, of course)

Leadership – Captain Cool aka MS Dhoni (just Google him & you’ll know why)

Guess you have a fair – even if only faint – idea of where we’re getting to by now.

Graphic: Life time line of the legendary vocal artist who simply has no equal (source: msstribute.org)

The legend – truly, in every sense of the word – we’re conversing about is MS Subbulakshmi, fondly known as MS Amma. She’s to Classical (& Devotional) Music what Pele’ is to Football (& all the aforementioned greats were to their respective art / craft / chosen space). 

She was popular at the age of 10. The popularity graph kept going up, up & away, defying celebrity gravity, all the way to her being awarded the Bharat Ratna – the highest civilian honour in India. She sang all over the globe, including the UN. Heck, even Gods wake up daily listening to her melodious rendering of their praise (e.g. Venkatesa Suprabhatam rendered by her is officially used in Lord Venkatachalapathy aka Balaji temple at Thirumala to wake the Lord up, daily – incidentally, millions of households too wake up with her signing the same – even today).

Her list of honours knew no limit, yet she remained humble all her life.

Her remuneration & gifts were sizeable, yet she donated most of it for charity (still goes on).

Her popularity was more than heads of states and celluloid celebrities, yet she remained intensely private.

She could’ve easily been a Diva, yet chose to remain deeply rooted in devotion – to her craft & the creator.

She went all over the world with an entourage, and she always travelled, stayed and ate with them, without any airs. 

She was the symbol of devotion, piety, simplicity, eminence, elegance, grace, gratitude, benevolence, humility, loyalty and a lot more things that we hardly see in a celebrity today.

Yet, this once-great nation seem to have collectively ignored this legendary performing artist’s existence, on the momentous occasion of her birth centenary. Other than a few concerts by true devotees (who saw her as divine incarnate) and probably a commemoration lecture or two, the voice that still wakes up millions – including the Gods themselves – has already faded away!

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Human memory (& loyalty) is a fickle thing. It forgets greatness easily – especially when the great ones aren’t around anymore. Humans are silly beings stuck in their mUlAdhAra chakra, who will remember only things that they can feel and experience with their sense organs, collectively. 

Someone like MS – arguably the greatest classical + devotional artist of all time – is still remembered when they hear her Suprabhatam or Sahasranamam in the morning. But that’s only one of the 5 senses – auditory. As soon as the song is done, she fades away from their pointlessly busy survival mind. Until the next morning.

Sujatha – arguably the most diverse & exceptionally talented (& needless to say, hugely successful) is remembered during the annual book fair. Or while reading one of his many amazing books – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, classics, science, God… You name it. And then forgotten entirely, until the next book.

MahAkavi BhArathi – arguably the greatest poet that ever walked the earth – had just a handful of people attending his funeral. His poems will make even a Millennial kid go wow, even today. 

KBalachandar – arguably the most daring director ever in the history of Tamil cinema (& TV), who also happened to mentor two of his greates superstars Kamal Hassan & Rajinikanth – is hardly remembered by the fans now.

Tagore, Palke, Premchand, Rajaji, Balasaraswathi, Mali, Ravi varma, Ray, RK brothers, Patel, GD Naidu, Sarabhai, Ramanujan, Dhyan Chand, … 

All of them, and a lot many more global celebrities – sportspersons, musicians, actors, writers, leaders, business icons, astronauts, artists, architects… – who once were celebrated as immortals, are all probably lamenting at how mortal they indeed are, muttering with a sigh, “I’m-mortal”! 

MS probably isn’t regretting it one bit because she treated her celebrity status – almost unheard of in her time, making her even more mystical – adulation, awards, accolades like one of those enchanting sarees she used to wear for her concerts. Useful & valuable at that point in time, but of no importance whatsoever once the concerns was over. 

In a way,

MS was a Yogini. Nada Yogini. Music was her sadhana


Singing with utmost devotion, from the core of her being, was her daily penance – to attain the ultimate liberation. She seems to have been created, nurtured, celebrated and protected by the creator exclusively to sing his praise (that her husband + mentor was named Sadasivam isn’t a coincidence). And boy did she do that.. And how!

MS, the mortal being, became the MuSic, the immortal being! 

You may cherish Swamy’s hymn tribute to the true legend of Classical & Devotional Music MS Subbulakshmi here ~ Isaiyarasi (இசையரசி – Queen of Music) 

You may know more about the legendary perfect performing artist here ~ msstribute.org

Who cares if the media didn’t care to acknowledge the immortality of her MuSic? They must be too busy chasing the next Im-mortal story. Until the next one. BAUHumbug!

Slide an audio CD of MS into your hi-fi or just search for one of her many immortal songs like Kurai Ondrum Illai on your smartphone or tablet. Close your eyes & open your ears. Listen deeply as her immortal voice caresses the deeply hidden devotion within you. Let the joy drops, i.e. tears flow. Repeat. Until you comprehend why (& how) MS is synonymous with MuSic!  

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy   

Why Not!

16 Mar
Flower1A flower enchants by blooming and wafts doing what it loves…
plucked or not!
. 
A tree offers shade to many beings and breezes doing what [s]he loves…
chopped or not!
. 
A grain feeds by getting consumed and enriches doing what it loves…
harvested or not!
.
A fruit nourishes by getting eaten or slurped and ripens doing what it loves…
cut or not!
. 
PepsiSA puppy melts hearts with unconditional love and plays doing what [s]he loves…
shooed or not!
A cow nurtures with milk and moos doing what she (he.. he.. no He there :O) loves…
butchered or not!
.
A lion roams with pride and roars doing what [s]he loves…
hunted or not!
.
A baby woos with nonchalant smile and babbles doing what [s]he loves…
cuddled or not!
. 
JumpA kid explores with unbound curiosity and learns doing what [s]he loves…
chided or not!
. 
A youngster bonds with willful sharing and connects doing what [s]he loves…
shunned or not!
. 
An artist paints vibrant Life and colours doing what [s]he loves…
marveled or not!
. 
A sculptor chisels to bring stone or metal to Life and etches doing what [s]he loves…
bought or not!
. 
Kashgrapher2A photographer captures a memorable moment in Life with light and clicks doing what [s]he loves…
wowed or not!
. 
A poet enchants by giving Life to words and rhymes doing what [s]he loves…
appreciated or not!
. 
A sportsperson transcends the limits with skill and competes doing what [s]he loves…
celebrated or not!
. 
A performer enthralls by whipping up emotions and expresses doing what [s]he loves…
encouraged or not!
. 
A musician tugs heartstrings by transforming notes to tunes and resonates doing what [s]he loves…
applauded or not!
. 
Swamy_BalakumaranAn author transports to a different realm conjured in h[is]er mind and narrates doing what [s]he loves…
sold or not!
. 
A trainer enables by getting ideas into learners’ heads and shares doing what [s]he loves…
thanked or not!
. 
A coach lets discovery of self happen and propels doing what [s]he loves…
acknowledged or not!
. 
A seeker strives to eliminate self and expands doing what [s]he loves…
enlightened or not!
. 
Sadhguru_Quote18A guru transmits to realize the Truth and elevates whatever [s]he graces…
surrendered to or not!
. 
Who are you?
. 
What do you offer?
. 
How do you connect?
. 
How much do you share?
. 
How far do you dare to reach?
. 
When where you joyful?
. 
…………………………………

20120625_143222Why?

…………………………………

Why not!

.
SwamyProfile7aBe Joyful & Spread the Cheer :)

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Joy Drops!

3 Oct

Recently a colleague shared a few interesting tips on ‘How to Stay Happy Always’. One of them was “The tears happen. Endure, grieve. Then go on”. This got me thinking. Wondering rather!

Who says tears happen only due to grief? There are many instances in Life when tears well up in our eyes for reasons that have no relation whatsoever with grief. In fact, they are tears of Joy! So, what triggers them?

Great music. Try listening to Maharajapuram Santhanam’s ‘Bho Shambo’ song with closed eyes. Or the likes of TM Krishna, Sikkil Gurucharan, Bombay Jayashree & MS melting away into their music! Legends like Madurai (Mani Iyer), Kunnakkudi, Kadri & Seergazhi do the same effortlessly. Adele (Someone like you), Susan Boyle (I’ve a dream), Kenny G (Songbird), Yanni (Santorini), Elvis (In the Ghetto) and many such exceptionally talented and blessed musicians too will have the same effect on a keen listener. My recent ‘Aha’ ones were ‘Chakraview’ by flautist Pt. Rupak Kulkarni and ‘Ahir’ by Prem Joshua!

Darshan of a deity in the Garbagriha during Deepa Aradhana! When the priest slides aside the curtain in front of my family deity – Lord Muruga of Kumaramalai – after several minutes of alangaram (dressing up) and the Lord Child smiles at us with a slightly tilted head; When one finally gets the sight of Lord Venkateshwara of Tirupathi after several hours of wait, a sight that lasts only for a few brief seconds but forever etched in one’s memory; When Goddess Meenakshi in Madurai is ceremonially taken to her Palli Arai (bed room) clad in a simple white saree sans jewelry (she’s an Empress, mind you) after the Artha Jaama (late night) Puja; During the Nadha Aradhana (offering of sound) at Dhyanalinga temple at Isha Yoga center. This experience will be amplified in temples such as the Kukke Subrahmanya or Dharmasthala or the many shrines that are naturally lit by only oil lamps!

Aha moments while reading a book, such as the first and second parts of the Shiva Trilogy by Amish Tripathi that I’ve recently read. In ‘The Immortals of Meluha‘ (part 1), the first time when Lord Shiva’s Thaandavam (dance) is described in vivid detail, when his Neelkanth (blue neck) is recognized for the first time by Ayurvati (chief doctor) or when Lord Shiva recites the war cry ‘Har Har Mahadev’ (all of us are God of Gods). In ‘The Secret of the Nagas’ (part 2) when the identities of Lord Ganesh and mother Goddess Kali are unveiled (literally), when they were unconditionally accepted by both Lady Sati and Lord Shiva and when the sacred chant ‘Om Naham Shivay’ was chanted for the first time! Or when Subroto Bagchi’s blind mother tells him to ‘Go Kiss the World’ on her deathbed! You may read my reviews of all 3 books at GoodReads.com.

During those seminal scenes in movies with phenomenal performance by a star. When Jones Sr. calls Jr. “Indiana” for the first and last time in ‘Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade’; Alfred tells Wayne “Never” in ‘The Dark Knight’;  Sully’s eyes open after the soul transfer at the last moment of Avatar; Vader looks longingly at Skywalker after throwing away Palpatine with his single remaining hand at the end of ‘Star Wars – A New Hope’; T-800 sacrificing himself by sinking into molten metal while looking at Sarah & John in ‘Terminator 2 – The Judgement Day’; Sakthivelu tells his followers ‘போதும்டா, போய் புள்ள குட்டிய படிக்க வைங்கடா’ (enough, please educate your children), to end the pointless bloodshed once and for all in ‘Devar Magan’!

ஈன்ற பொழுதிற்ப் பெரிதுவக்கும் (prouder than the time of birth) moment for a doting parent. Our recent one was when we came to know that Jr. has won the Bronze medal with his Indian team at the World Under-16 Youth Chess Olympiad at Istanbul, Turkey.

Listening to National anthem while representing the nation. Have you noticed how many Olympic athletes had moist eyes, while accepting their medals?

மாங்கல்யம் தந்துனானேன (groom tying mangalsutra in bride’s neck) moment. Most think it’s only for the parents, but many obviously know it isn’t only them.

First time of anything with a newborn – sight, wail, rollover, hail, grip, babble, move, step, fall, rise. And of course that utterly disarming smile that’ll melt any heart – even the ones made of kryptonite!

Brief moments of Deep spiritual experience during Meditation or while performing Kriya. It’s hard to explain, but experienced by many a meditator.

Being in the presence of Guru. my Master – Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev – is an accomplished master blaster, when it comes to blasting open the floodgates within any meditator. He will only laugh out loud when we ask why!

Rewinding our flash memory (pun intended) by fondly looking at a decade or more old photo or video or faded greeting card with a hand written message.

When one stands amidst pristine nature, marveling at its magnificence and the skill and care of its creator! I’ve felt it in many places including the mighty Smoky mountains, foothills of Velliangiri and in the wilderness along the North shore in Minnesota. Lord Shiva’s abode Kailash and Manasarovar, Valley of Flowers, land’s end at Dhanushkodi, the Grand Canyon, Alaskan wilderness, Angel falls, Galapagos, The Great Barrier Reef, Aurora Borealis, the North Pole  are all in the to go list – in this Life or another!

When that brilliant but economically challenged kid whose study we funded gets selected by a top institution for higher studies or by a company for job, based on merit!

When the pet dog jumps at us and eagerly licks our face at odd hours, on our return from a trip. All it expects in return for showering the unconditional love is a gentle rub or a tummy scratch. And it’ll have moist eyes too!

When one comes back alive and kicking from a Life threatening injury or disease. I’ve seen the suffering, prayers and hope well up in my parents’ eyes when I started walking again after two surgeries in my knee that kept me bedridden for several months and brought any chance of a sports career to an abrupt end, when I was in high school. I’m sure Yuvaraj’s mother would’ve felt the same way when he triumphed against cancer recently. Vikram’s wife would’ve been through the same when he rose again and became a colossus in his acting career.

When someone (usually a child) asks a profound question for which we don’t have an immediate answer! All the knowledge we thought we’ve gained through years of experience is of no value at that moment.

India’s World cup winning moment. And when the entire team carried one of the greatest living legends of the game on their shoulders around the stadium! Oh, what a relief for a billion people – Cricket fans or not – to know that it could be done again, after all! And how hard it would’ve been for the brave bunch that did the impossible the first time!

When hearing a simple ‘Thank you’ from a student attending a volunteer training session, reassuring you that the weekend spent volunteering is an investment, not an expense. Our great nation will reap the benefits, someday!

When a Leader gently lets the limelight shine on his team during great moments of triumph and recognition. MS Dhoni, a great contemporary sports leader, does it happily, time and again.

Such teary moments are ample in everyone’s Life and they are never about grief. They are about joy, pride, love, triumph, reverence, gratitude and bliss. There’s no shame in shedding them. For they lift the facade we all have to wear – even if only momentarily – and offer us a glimpse of the true nature of Life. One that has to be experienced, cherished and celebrated. They are Life’s Joy Drops B:)

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