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Today is the tenth, and the last day of Navaratri – Vijaya Dashami. As per the Ramayana, this is the day when Rama defeated Ravana, and as per the Mahabharata, this is the day, on which Pandava’s ended their incognito.  This is also the day on which Goddess Chamundeshwari slaying demon Mahisha.

Goddess Chamundeshwari, atop the Chamundi Hill at Mysore was the royal deity when the Odeyars ruled Mysore. The Odeyars of Mysore started the Dasara celebrations more than 400 years ago, which they had carried carried forward from the Kings of Vijayanagara.

The last ruler of Mysore, Sri Jayachamarajendra Odeyar was a musican and vaggeyakara himself and has composed about 100 compositions. His guru, Mysore Vasudevacharya is also one the most important composers of the 20th century. He composed more than 300 compositions – most of them in Samskrta and Telugu. He belongs to the musical tradition of Tyagaraja. Since Vausdevacharya’s compositions are very much on Tyagaraja’s lines, he is often called ‘Abhinava Tyagaraja’.

On this day when Goddess Chamundeshwari goes in the Dasara procession at Mysore, what could be better than listening to a composition about Goddess Chamundeshwari of Mysore, composed by Mysore Vasudevacharya, and played on the Veena by Mysore Doreswamy Iyengar?

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Set in a bright and majestic raga,  Bilahari, I think this composition the conclusion for the festivities of the season. Click on the image below, and enjoy this musical feast!

It was indeed wonderful to write the posts in the series “Veena Navartri” during Navaratri 2014, and in that process listen to some excellent music and become familiar with some new artists as well.

I wish all visitors of “ಅಲ್ಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ” for an year full of happiness and  you the very best in your lives.

-neelanjana

p.s: Generally, I am careful about giving image credits. However, for this “Veena Navaratri”, I could not do that and idid not cite image sources. Just wanted to acknowledge this fact, All images belong to their respective copyright holders.

Today is 9/30/2014, the seventh day of Navaratri. In yesterday’s post, I wrote about a composition of a 20th century composer. Today also,  I am thinking of sharing a composition from another 20th century musician.

It’s often said that the ragas are infinite – “ananta”. Practically speaking, there are only a few hundred ragas that are in currency at any point in time. But due to many reasons, some well known ragas go out from circulation and some ragas considered rare become very famous at some other point of time. This cycle has repeated in the past millennium, and I guess the trend will continue to the next as well.

Right from the 14th century there were attempts at classifying ragas into different groups, based on the notes used in those melodies. This is very similar to how elements (and their compounds) are organized in the Periodic table. This method helps to understand similarities, differences etc, There were many such systems of classification, the last of which came in around 1650 AD. In this classification, Venkatamakhi not only did classify the ragas that existed at his time, but also built a framework for classifying such ragas that were yet to be invented at that time. This framework is known as the 72 mELa scheme. A mELa is a collection of notes, and does not become a raga by itself; but it is possible to create a raga by building around these notes.

This scheme paved the way for later day composers to experiment with notes and come up with newer melodies. For example, Muttuswamy Dikshita composed in all the 72 mELa rAgas postulated as possible by Venkatamakhi. Tyagaraja composed in most of these 72, and he also came up with some more with some permutation and combination of notes used, by dropping notes. This method was a bit different from earlier times, when a raga was defined by the form and phrases used rather than just from the notes and the order of the notes that occur in.

In general, when a raga is solely defined by the notes it uses and skips and the order of those notes, it offers less scope for elaboration. However, over time, such ragas also can develop their own character, and thereby become more expansive and can fire the imagination of more composers to come up with compositions. We can see examples this happening to many of the new ragas that were brought to life by Tyagaraja.

Ranjani is one of the ragas that were “created” by Tyagaraja. He composed only one composition in this raga. This raga is quite popular today, and many later day composers have also contributed to it’s popularity. One such composer is GNB.

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G N Balasubramaniyan, better known as GNB was a star in the musical world of the 20th century. He was also a star on the silver screen, at a time when actors had to be good singers as well, and acted in several movies in the early 1940s. He has composed about 50 compositions and “Ranjani Niranjani”, praising the Goddess Parvati is one of his very popular compositions.

Now listen to this kriti played by Mandolin U Srinivas:

The composition ends at around time 28:00, but you you can’t stop there, you are not to blame! One can go on listening to the Mandolin magic no end!

Happy listening!

-neelanana

April 24th, 2014 marks the 450th birth anniversary of William Shakespeare.

Just thought of sharing some pictures from Stratford-upon-Avon. A timely tit-bit here – Avon, in old Welsh just meant “river”. So there are several Avons in England – and similarly there are several towns named Stratford. Shakespeare’s Stratford is on the banks of a river, and that’s how it ended up being called “Stratford-upon-Avon”.

The “Avon” in Stratford:
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Stratford, Main Street:

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Is Shakespeare still alive? A street performer:

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The main attraction at Stratford, obviously is the well preserved house where Shakespeare lived. It’s been converted to a very busy tourist place.

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Side view of Shakespeare’s house:

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Inside one of the rooms of the house:

Stratford

Stratford

 

Shakespeare’s father was a rich tanner by profession and was a rich man. Some leather in process, to bring back those times:

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Inside one of the bedrooms:

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How can you exit a “touristy” place, without entering the Gift Shop :) ?

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William Shakespeare

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-neelanjana

p.s:How I wish we had similar memorials to artists and poets in India! Unfortunately we don’t seem to copy the good things from the West. For an example of how we have messed up, read here, and here.

This article by archaeologist Andrew Lawler has appeared in the January 2013 issue of the Archaeology magazine.  According to this article, the so-called Buddhist stupa in Mohenjo-Daro might have been a structure from much earlier than Buddhist times.  Read the article in the following link for more details:

156909248-Mohenjo-Daro-s-New-story-Andrew-Lawler-2013

It’s almost one century since the remains of Mohenjo-Daro were unearthed for the first time – but it certainly it still holds many secrets of Indian civilization!

-neelanjana

Most ancient civilizations flourished in river valleys and flood plains. So when the digging for construction of a railway line in Northwestern British India revealed remains of an ancient civilization, archaeologists were not very surprised! Since the first two sites found were Harappa, and Mohen-jo-Daro, in the vicinity of the river Indus (Sindhu) and it’s tributaries, the civilization came to be known as the Harappa civilization or the Indus valley civilization.

Detailed excavations at these sites revealed that these indeed were huge cities with remains of several layers of city living, with the latest layers dated from around 2000 years before Christ, and the oldest, to about 3500 years before Christ.

A View of Mohen-jo-Daro

A View of Mohen-jo-Daro

Detailed excavations at these sites revealed that these indeed were huge cities with remains of several layers of city living, with the latest layers dated from around 2000 years before Christ, and the oldest, to about 3500 years before Christ.

The cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa, as well as other smaller sites that were found later on, were very well planned with streets running at right angles, and laid with burnt bricks. The cities and had a sanitary system of well connected drains to carry the waste from every house.  The sites from this civilization occupied a vast area spread across in an area that now corresponds to parts of Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.  19th century Indologists and archaeologists postulated that invading nomads from central Asia brought this civilization to an abrupt end, since most the sites showed a decline around about 1800-1500 BC, with no continued habitation in those locations.

indusmap

As more sites were found by  archaeologists, they observed something strange found more and more sites, they found a strange thing.  A vast majority of them were in the area that now comprises of the Thar desert, far from the Sindhu (Indus) river system of Punjab, but along a dry river bed, what is now called as the Hakra or Ghaggar river. The Ghaggar is a seasonal stream which flows for a few months and which ultimately dries up in the desert without reaching the sea! This was a perplexing indeed.

For the solution of this problem, we have to go to ancient Indian texts called Vedas. Veda means Knowledge, derived from the verb, vid – to know, are the oldest poems in this world that are still extant. The Vedas, instead of talking about the five rivers of Punjab, spoke about “sapta sindhu” or the seven rivers, and the most important river among the seven was Saraswathi. The Rig Veda called Saraswati the “ Most beloved of mothers, the mightiest of all rivers, and the best among Goddesses.” It is also described as a river flowing from the Himalaya mountains to the ocean.  But today, the Saraswathi  river is  a small tributary to the seasonal Ghaggar.

As early as during early 1800s,  archaeologists who  had found parts of a dry river beds in the desert  had postulated a great river must have flown there. interestingly this river bed they had found  is the continuation of the Ghaggar, into which the current day Saraswathi river flows as a tributary.

The width of the dry riverbed is generally more than a mile wide, and at places it is as wide as 7-8 miles. But what was the source of the water to fill this huge river?  The current source of river Saraswathi could not have provided that vast amount of water!

Now science comes to the rescue: The satellite imagery from the late 20th century has ascertained these earlier observations. These have also confirmed the existence old river beds   belonging to two other major rivers, Yamuna, and Satluj which are now part of the Indus andSarasvati Ganges river systems, that once flowed into the old bed of now dry Ghaggar.

So what caused the drying up of Ghaggar or the historic Saraswathi? Sometime between the 6000 and 4000 years, due to tectonic movements the rivers Yamuna and Sutlej that were the main feeders for Saraswathi changed course.

The glacier fed Sutlej  moved westwards, and started flowing into the Indus river. The other glacier fed tributary of  Saraswati, the Yamuna started flowing eastward, into the Ganga river instead of Saraswathi. These events thus deprived Saraswathi a perennial water source.

Probably to support this movement of Yamuna  is the common belief held in India even today that the river Saraswathi flows as an invisible river, and joins the Ganga and Yamuna at their confluence at Prayaga (Allahabad).

With this river migration understood, we can easily understand  why there are far greater number of archaeological sites in the desert along the dry Saraswathi river compared to the Indus river valley. When the rivers migrated, the people living in the Saraswathi river area had to move to newer locations, and they did so.  There is no need to bring  in any fictitious “nomads from central Asia”  to describe a bloody and sudden ending to the civilization. Indeed a study of later archaeological sites shows that several aspects of the these sites were adapted there as well.

22-235-1-PB

22-236-1-PB

Today, the river Sarswathi may flow from the Himalaya all the way to the ocean. It may have become just a small monsoon rivulet. Or if you go by the  popular mindset,  the river Saraswathi might have become invisible.  But the culture of the people lived on it’s banks is still alive and well! For example, its very easy to find  artwork from this civilization, that looks almost the  same as some of the artworks created by current day craftsmen and artists!  This is but one of the many aspects where such parallels can be drawn.

Given all these facts, it truly befits to call this as the Saraswathi-Sindhu civilization rather than Indus Valley civilization or the Harappa civilization!

-neelanjana

(All photo credits belong to their respective copyright holders)

(p.s: Enough material is available on the Internet about the Saraswathi-Sindhu civilization. Then question may arise why this post :) This was a speech I gave at my Toastmasters Club as part of the “Speaking to Inform” advance speaking manual. The project was : The Speech to Inform)

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Ramaprasad K V

Ramaprasad K V

ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ. Musicphile. Bibliophile. Astrophile. Blogophile. Twitterphile.

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