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Yesterday, I wrote about the first day of Navaratri. Today is the second day the ten day festival. Navaratri is a major festival in the state of Karnataka. The travelogues of French and Persian travelers describe the festivities during Vijayanagara times. The Mahanavami dibba at Hampe stands today as a silent testimony to those wonderful times. It was not a coincidence that this tradition of Navaratri festival was carried forward by the Odeyars of Mysore.
The Odeyars of Mysore were in the forefront of the princely states when it came to supporting artists. So, Mysore was one of the favored destinations of artists in those days. One such artist who came to Mysore was Harikesanallur Muttaiah Bhagavatar.
There is an interesting story about Muttaiah Bhagavatar being appointed as the Asthana Vidwan at Mysore palace. Usually, visiting artists got a time slot to perform in the court. Unfortunately for Muttaiah Bhagavatar, he had a bad throat on that day, and the concert did not go as well as it should have. Krishna Raja Odeyar wasn’t very impressed, but the artist was was duly honored as per palace traditions and sent off. No need to say this left Muttaiah Bhagavatar quite disappointed.
Few days later Muttaiah Bhagavatar payed a visit to the Chamundeshwari temple atop the hill, and was singing to himself when king Krishnaraja Odeyar walked in for a darshana of the Goddess. Impressed with Bhagavatar’s singing prowess, he requested him to be the Asthana Vidwan. This happened in 1927. Later Muttaiah Bhagavatar spent several years as the court musician.
During his tenure, the Krishnaraja Odeyar requested Muttaiah Bhagavatar to compose 108 compositions on Goddess Chamundeshwari. Another palace scholar Devottama Joisa composed the sAhitya, most of which were in Kannada language, and Muttaiah Bhagavatar gave them the form of musical compositions.
Today the composition I have chosen is one from this series. Bhuvaneshwariya nene mAnasave – is in Mohana Kalyani raga, set to Adi tALa. Although this raga name appears in texts before his time, it was Muttaiah Bhagavatar who was the first composer to compose in this rAga as we know it.The raaga is named Mohana Kalyani, as it resembles Mohana in ascending phrases, and Kalyani in descending phrases. Although the language of the song is Kannada, it is in a style that uses a lot of Samskrta words.
Listen to this composition sung by Smt Nagavalli Nagaraj.
In the 1980s, this song was also featured in a Kannada movie, ‘mareyada hADu’.
By the way, the second composition in the Navaratri Kritis of Swathi Tirunal, sung today at the Navaratri Mandapam in Thiruvanantapuram is “pAhi mAm Sri vAgIswari” in kalyAni rAga. You can listen to it by clicking here, sung by Trichur V Ramachandran.
Tomorrow, let’s meet with another special composition!
The statue of Ugra Narasimha (Narasimha, the ferocious) in Hampe (or Hampi) was erected in the year 1528 AD. This was commissioned by Sri Krisnadeva Raya.
In the year 1565, after the war of Talikote between Vijayanagara and combined force of Bahamani sultans, tragedy befell on this statue just like most of the monuments in Vijaya Nagara. Today the place goes by the name Hampe or Hampi.
During the 1980s, the Department of Archeology took to some restoration and reconstruction of the statue after excavations revealed many broken pieces of the statue around it. It was also speculated that the statue depicted Lakshmi Narasimha, instead of Ugra Narasimha as it was believed earlier.
However, there was a court stay order on the restoration (if my memory serves me right), and Lakshmi did not come back to take her place on Narasimha’s lap. So, to this day, he remains somewhat ‘ferocious’ Narasimha.
Here is a collage showing how the statue looked around 1900 AD, and how it looks today.
The year 2007 got us a new set of Seven Wonders of the World. And, by a large vote, India’s Taj Mahal became one of the new Seven Wonders of the New World on 07-07-2007.
But I was surprised to see a news report that said as per the public opinion in India based on SMS polls for Seven Wonders of India, Taj Mahal fared so badly, making it a distant Third!
Here is a list of the 7 Wonders of India that this report mentioned. The numbers indicate the votes each place got.
1.The statue of Bahubali at Sravana Belgola, Karnataka (49%)
2. The Golden temple at Amritsar, Puanjab (24%)
3. Taj Mahal at Agra, Uttar Pradesh (8%)
4. The monuments at Hampe, Karnataka
5. The Sun Temple at Konarak, Orissa
6. The monunents of Nalanda, Bihar
7. Temples of Khajuraho, Madhyapradesh.
I am indeed glad to see two of the wonderful sevel to be from Karnataka. And even more, because I come from the viscinity of the #1 in the list.
After I saw this list, I made it a point to update the image on the top of this blog. Now it shows the lotus feet of Lord Bahubali atop the Vindhyagiri hill in Sravana Belagola.
For those interested in statistics, this monolith is 57 ft tall (who does not know that?), it was completed in the year 983 AD (well, many may know that too).
The letters you see in the picture on either side of the statue are proclaiming that the statue was made on the orders of Chavunda Raya, a General of Ganga Kings in no less than 3 languages ( Kannnada, Tamizh, Marathi – Some claim it is Konkani).
And this happens to be the oldest written record in Marathi language (or Konkani, if you belive those two languages had seperated out in 10th century AD). Now this may be some trivia that not many people know 😉
The other two scripts you see in the picture (Kannada, and Tamizh) have had a written records from much earlier times. So this edict at the feet of Bahubali, are not as significant to the history of these languages as it is to Marathi, and Konkani, and end up as just another number in Epigraphia Carnatica.
I have not seen many of these 7 seven wonders. So I thought why not make up my own list of Seven Wonders of India 🙂 among the places I have seen?
Here is my list of Seven Wonders of India:
1. The caves and frescoes at Ajanta, Maharashtra (1st – 7th century AD)
2. The Chalukya monuments at Badami, Aihole and Pattadakallu , Karnataka (5th – 8th century AD)
3. The Kailasa (Cave) temple at Ellora, Maharashtra (850 AD)
4. Monuments at Sravana Belagola, including the statue of Bahubali, Karnataka (3rd – 12th century AD)
5. Brihadeeshwara temple, Tanjavoor, Tamil Nadu (11th century AD)
6. Hoysaleswara-Shantaleshwara twin temple at Halebeedu, Karnataka (1117 AD)
7. The monuments (including the Stupa) at Saranath, Uttar Pradesh (3rd century BC – 3rd century AD)
No wonder you see more places from Karnataka than any other part of India – Because that is what I have seen most. There are still other places which I have seen, that could have made it to the list; like Hampe, which is in the list from the SMS opinion poll. But IMO, the art in cave temples in Badami, and temples of Aihole, and Pattadakallu rank much higher than that of the monuments in Hampi!