Saturday, November 3, 2007

Karaharapriya - what a raga !

Karaharapriya, I don't know what this name means, but listening to it evokes a sense of classicism and elegance. It is something that cannot be expressed in just words here. One needs to listen to it to savour it to get into the mood of it.

My association with this raga goes back to my childhood. Come December season, and we were forced to attend various concerts across the city. Sulking and grumbling, we used to pack loads of comics and attend them along with our parents just for the sake of it. I can imagine how embarassing it would have been - sitting amidst connoisseurs and rasikas of Carnatic music in the hall and groping thro' pages of Tintin, Superman or Amar Chitra Katha comics ! Other than identifying ragas, I was not able to appreciate the beauty of Carnatic music as much as I do it now. It was not that I was not interested in it, but i just was not old (matured would be a better term, I guess) enough to relish it at that time. But this was one raga that had always captured my attention since childhood. Either I used to delve into the comic book or doze off on my mom's lap ! (You should remember that all this was when I was a kid :) ). I can still remember this raga subconsciously weaving thro' my mind be it me sleeping or not. I had listened to this raga innumerable times sung by lots of people during a particular season that I longed for more of it. Yeah, I had got myself addicted to it !

Anytime I listen to a song in this raga now, I remember those days of the sleepy afternoon, the air-conditioned hall, the packed audience, snoring of some old guy nearby enjoying his siesta to the fullest and the strains of this raga enchanting almost every single person present there (I hope that was a good picturization for you !). The only difference between then and now is that neither do I embarass my parents or the artist by bringing comics to the concert nor do i snooze off ! :)

I had wanted to always learn songs in this raga. You can imagine my excitement when my teacher offered me to teach Mitri Baagyame, a song composed by St. Thyagaraja in this raga. It is such a wonderful song that I keep humming it whenever I think of it.

Below is a film song in this raga. (blending with a lot of foreign notes, of course! ). Leave out the initial alapana (its not in this raga). The main lines of this song in Karaharapriya is simply just beautiful and addictive !

I'm sure you're curious to know what this song is. Let your ears soak in this enchanting melody. Go ahead, click on the Play button...

for the puritans : With mp3 downloads banned in my college internet lab and non-availability of any Carnatic song in this raga on my lappie, I had no other choice but this one. :)

for others : I'm sure it was quite a treat for you ! :)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

A memorable event, truly !

I remember(!) attending this programme long back when I was a kid. It was a typical Sunday evening at home and my parents wanted to take us out somewhere. There was this show that was advertising for a memory power increase course or something like that... And we went for that.

The show was being held in an audi near CV (my good old school !). The people who had already undertaken the course had to come onto the dais and were supposed to showcase the audience their extra-ordinary memory power.

First came a small girl. She started reciting high digit multiplication tables. A presentation was put up for the audience (not visible to her) to see what she was reciting and check up. She left the audience stunned as she left the stage.

Next came a middle aged man who had memorized Costing rules and sections (Or was it that ?...don remember exactly). You ask him the section number and he would rattle out the rules corresponding to that section. The audience gave him a huge round of applause as he left the stage.

Finally came Mr. Kuttiappan. He was to recite Bhagawad Gita verses. Mention the chapter and the verse number. And he would start reciting the corresponding verses in Sanskrit. It was put up on the screen for us to check. This went on and on... He kept on reciting the verses as the audience kept on asking. Man, this guy was awesome. His memory power was just simply too good.
Atleast everyone thought so...
Until the anchor of the show mentioned something on the mike which left us in splits of laughter.

Scroll down to see what the anchor blurted out...

"Mr. Kuttiappan, you have forgotten your slippers and left them on stage. Please come and take it !!!". ROTFL ! :D

Friday, August 3, 2007

Purnashadjam... Bliss all the way !

Its been almost a month since I've posted something on my blog. You see, my college has reopened. And although, I come almost daily to the internet lab, I don't login to blogger. Well, today is a holiday... And I can definitely spend some time blogging :)

I was browsing thro' some videos on Youtube, when I happened to notice this video of Mandolin Srinivas rendering a song called Gananayakam in a lovely raga called Purnashadjam set to Adi talam.

This is the first time I've listened to this raga. And I'm listening to the same song for the fourth time ! Quite enchanting !

Purnashadjam, a janya of the 22nd melakartha Karaharapriya has the following Aarohanaa and Avarohanaa : S R2 G2 M1 N2 S // S N2 P M1 G2 R2 S

Sriramana nive in Misra chapu composed by Mysore Sadasiva Rao, Lavanya rama in rupakam and Srimanini in Adi talam composed by Thyagaraja are some of the other songs in this raga.

I suggest you listen to the song below... And get mesmerised by it !

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Saagara sayana vibho...!

"He did not get due recognition when he was alive, they rave about him years after his death" --- President APJ Abdul Kalam.

Guess who's the person being referred to, here.


Yes, it is Manjapra Devesa Bhagavathar Ramanathan popularly known as MDR.

One of my friends at college was a great fan of MDR. I dint know much about him until I was introduced to his concerts that I listened online. Man, what a majestic voice ! What a bass tone ! In his deep-toned exposition, there was an irresistible combination of tenderness and melody. His rendering of Jojo Rama in Reethigowla, Suga suga in SriRanjani are some of the few that I've listened to. I'm planning to listen to a lot more of his :)

It seems he was the most misunderstood Carnatic vocalist of the 20th century - says this website : . Although many musicians studied under him, no one was really able to emulate the great MDR.

He received several prestigious awards such as the Kerala State Sangeeta Natak Academy award, Padmashri, Sangeeta Nataka Academy award and others.

He was a great Vaggeyakkara too. He has composed many songs using his mudhra, 'Varadhadasa' as he was a disciple of Sri. Tiger Varadachariar.

Below is my rendering of the song, 'Saagara sayana' composed by him in Bagyeshree raga set to Adi talam.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007


When the entire world goes one way, Bosskey goes the other. The way he spells his name (the short form of Bhaskar) is just an example !

At the age of two, Bhaskaran cracked his first joke. Asked if the auto rickshaw could go in 'reverse', he replied in all innocence, "No, it can only travel on roads."
(rivers, if you dint get it !)

The number of activities that Bosskey is involved in, is mind-boggling.

Cartoonist Madhan spotted his flair for humour and gave him a chance to write jokes for Ananda Vikatan. (Around 15,000 have been published so far !) .

The 'Mirchi-Sirchi' comic slot that he's been presenting on Radio Mirchi is more than a year old now.

He also anchored the live cricket programme, "Poova Thalaiya," for 40 days at a stretch during the World Cup series.

He's also done a couple of films.

And that's not all. He is a model too. His stage play "Oho!" and his latest comic caper "Left,Right" both had a successful run. I've been to this "Left, Right"! Simply, just too hilarious !
I remember one joke from this play.
One guy falls down while a photograph is being taken.
When asked why, he replies, "Photola naan nalla vizhanumnu neenga dhaane sonninga" ! :D

There's still more to come. The man is an employee with Indian Overseas Bank too. Sample this : A customer walks in asking for change — "Tens-a kudunga sir". To which Bosskey's standard response is, "Tense-a vendaam, Relaxed-a kudukaraen." :D

In his Hari Giri Assembly, he has interviewed nearly 700 people, all face-to-face, where several celebrities found his brand of humour a little difficult to swallow !

I remember him presiding as the chief guest for our school culturals when I was in 12th std. We kept roaring with laughter as he came and spoke for about some 15 minutes. It was then I realised how powerful this tool of humour can be ! They say 'Laughter is the best medicine !'
I can recollect one joke that he cracked during his talk.
"Be always positive. In whatever thing or work that you do....

except one...

you should never be positive in this one alone !

yeah, HIV ! "

Eavesdropping on two auto drivers, this is what he heard. They were talking about James Cameron's Titanic. After a lively discussion in typical Madras baashai, they were convinced that the celebrated Hollywood director borrowed the idea for his movie from P. Vasu's Chinna Thambi ! After all, both movies spoke about a rich girl falling in love with a poor boy!

Below is a photo of Bosskey with THE BOSS :)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ghosts and horse-shoes...!

Science has always been considered as a serious subject and scientists very serious persons. But are they not human beings with their weaknesses and quirkiness ? Here are some of them whom we have heard of, but not these fascinating tidbits that depict their human side too, who are otherwise known for their rationality, genius and contributions to mankind. It proves that there can be laughter even in science. :)

Charles Babbage

The British computer pioneer Charles Babbage was very precocious as a child. When he was hardly eight, living in a school hostel, ghosts and devils fascinated him. He was keen to meet and befriend them and therefore conducted a systematic study of their habits, time and places of appearance ! Once he even visited an abandoned loft, drew a circle with his own blood and stood inside it, chanting mantras to invite them !

Homi J Bhabha

Homi J Bhabha, the founder of nuclear science in India, was a big lover of trees. Once on his way to BARC at Trombay, he saw some persons chopping a tree on the road. He stopped his car and enquired whether they had the requisite permission to cut down the tree. The persons told him they had bought the tree from the Municipal Corporation for the highest bid as it was to be removed because it fell on a road-widening lane. Bhabha earnestly requested them to stop chopping the tree as he would soon find a way to save it. When he reached BARC, he told the Head of the Landscape Architecture division of BARC, to look into the case, transplant the tree and save it. The Head promptly visited the site and reported that as the tree was badly mutilated, there was no point in buying it and transplanting it in Trombay. This angered Bhabha who immediately asked, "If you're a doctor, would you not save a patient who had 3rd degree burns which have disfigured his face ?" ! Finally, he ended up saving the tree !

Once , a highly confidential message for Bhabha from the dept. of Atomic energy, reached his personal assistant at Ooty. The latter wrote the message on a slip of paper, folded it and gave it to the young BV Sreekantan, who was then doing research in cosmic rays, and asked him to pass it onto Bhabha. In due course, Sreekantan joined Bhabha in his car on the way to the expt. site. Bhabha read the slip and passed it back to Sreekantan, saying, "This is strictly confidential. Please make sure you destroy this slip". Immediately, Sreekantan tore the slip into several bits and threw them out of the window of the car, In anger, Bhabha retorted, "It's fine you destroyed the slip but you've cluttered the treets of Ooty !".

Niels Bohr

Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist, who was renowned for modelling the internal structure of an atom, never believed in superstitions and pseudo scientific beliefs. But one day when another physicist HGB Casimir visited his country cottage, he was surprised to see a horse-shoe adorning the door. A horse-shoe is believed to bring luck to the owner.
"What's this ?", asked Casimir, pointing at the horse-shoe, when he was about to leave Bohr, "Do you believe in all this nonsense ?"
"No, no !", replied Bohr, shunning the subject, "Who said so ?"
"But, then, why have you....?" asked Casimir.
"Well, it still works, even if you don't believe in it !" replied Bohr, smiling.

Girolamo Cardano

The medieval Italian mathematician, Girolamo Cardano, was a cheat, gambler and rascal and was given to murderous rages. He was sent to prison several times for some crime or the other. However, he had a firm faith in astrology and went on to draw the horoscope of Jesus Christ for which he was sent to prison ! Using his mathematical acumen, he drew his own horoscope and even the date of his own death. But on the predicted day, he found himself quite hale and hearty. He could not stand this and, in a murderous rage, he killed himself !

Henry Cavendish

The British chemist-cum-physicist Henry Cavendish was an extremely shy person. He would prefer to avoid a person and keep to only his love - research. In fact, he would stutter if he has to speak to a person. He was scared of women and would try his best to avoid them. When it was difficult to avoid a house maid he would give instructions through written notes ! Only once, it is said, he saved a woman from a charging cow when he was on his solitary walk in the evening ! Due to his shyness, he could not even obtain a basic degree in science because it involved appearing for a test and an interview !

Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar

Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar, the eminent Indian astrophysicist was the nephew of the nobel laureate, CV Raman. However, CV Raman was never the role model for him. In fact, Raman always urged his nephew to leave astrophysics, which he called the 'backwaters of science' and shift to nuclear physics ! Chandrasekhar also politely rejected his uncle's invitation to join the Raman Research Institute as an assistant professor !

Once a sister-in-law of Chandrasekhar wanted to give him a gift and so asked him what he would like to have. He replied, "Give me a pencil because that's the only thing I use !".

John Dalton

John Dalton, the famous British scientist, had such a strong belief in Quaker religion which advocated the shunning of glory that he refused the Fellowship of the Royal Society when Humphry Davy nominated his name ! More than a decade later, he was quietly elected as a Fellow, without his knowledge !

Charles Darwin

During his teenage and youth, the eminent British naturalist, Charles Darwin, the propounder of the Theory of Evolution of Life, spent much of his time in hunting and collecting birds and animals. As he belonged to a family of physicians, his father considered him a waster and once even said to him, "You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching, and you'll be a disgrace to yourself and all your family !"

Charles Darwin was terribly depressed till the end of his life by the way his now revolutionary book The Origin of Species was received by the scientific community. Most scientists laughed at his idea that man originated from apes. The press drew cartoons that portrayed him as an ape ! Even his own teacher called the idea 'utterly false and grievously mischievous !'

William Shockley

The American physicist, Nobel Laureate and inventor of the transistor, William Shockley became a controversial figure in the history of the USA when he openly declared that in the late sixties through his lectures and interviews that black Americans were a genetically inferior race and their population needs to be checked by giving them tax incentives ! He even went to urge scientists to study in detail 'dysgenics', defined as 'retrogressive evolution through the disproportionate reproduction of the genetically disabled.'
His open proclamations made him one of the most despised and vilified men in the USA. He was openly denounced as a fanatic, even as a Fascist ! His effigies were burnt in various universities and he was even debarred from teaching in some of the prestigious American universities ! Few scientists can equal him in this respect.

Curiously, Shockley's own invention, the transistor was used to amplify the shouts, "Off Pig Shockley !" directed at him at various meetings and protests. Once, when a demonstration was in progress against him, the loudspeaker went out of order. Coolly, Shockley approached the loudspeaker equipment and set it right, much to the amazement of the demonstrators !

Henry Augustus Rowland

During a trial, the American physicist Henry Augustus Rowland was asked who was the greatest American scientist, and he gave his own name ! Later, when he was asked how a modest person like him could give his own name, he replied he said so because he was bound by oath to speak truth !

Srinivasa Ramanujan

If you ever happen to see a photo of the Indian mathematician, Srinivasa Ramanujan, thank Subrahmanyam Chandrasekhar for that !

It so happened that Ramanujan's Cambridge benefactor Prof. GH Hardy was looking for his photograph because he intended to publish a series of lectures Ramanujan delivered at Harvard University in book form. Hardy was keen to include Ramanujan's photo in it but could not procure one ! On his visit to India Chandrasekhar made it a point to visit Mrs. Ramanujan in Chennai, who somehow managed to fish out an old passport size photo of the genius from an old trunk ! Today, it is the only photo of the genius available in the world ! Subsequently, based on that photo, a bust of Ramanujan was made in the USA.

CV Raman

The eminent Indian physicist and Nobel laureate, CV Raman was fond of talking to himself when he was doing research or doing an expt. Obviously, his students or assistants had to comply with a "yes, sir !" Sometimes it led to awkward situations.

Once Raman was discussing an experiment with his student A. Jayaraman. "I say, I am seeing a most remarkable effect in this crystal", said Raman, looking at the crystal. "It is absolutely fantastic and marvellous !"
"Yes, sir", agreed Jayaraman.
After a few minutes of seeing it, Raman continued, "I think I still see it. It may be there !"
"Yes, sir", Jayaraman nodded.
After a few minutes later, Raman continued, "I don't think there's any effect. It is all my imagination. I think I was foolish...."
"Yes Sir !.... Oh, no ! No, sir !"

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Kalyana Vasantham

Kalayana Vasantham - The words "Kalyana" means marriage or something auspicious, "Vasantham" refers to the spring season. I don't know what "Auspicious spring" (!) means but the raga which holds this name definitely has a lot of meaning embedded in it. I feel this raga, suitable for singing during dusk time (not that any other time is inauspicious, but singing during this time might give it more feeling.. or rather make the singer give more feeling to it !), evokes a strong feeling of bhakti and a tinge of subtle feeling of sadness. It is the kind of raga which when sung according to the required aesthetics gives an aahaa (!) feeling to the listener.

I don't want to go into the technical details of the raga for now. It might bore you if you arent a Carnatic rasika or you might be knowing about it if you are one.

For the people who listen to Carnatic music, you should've definitely heard many songs in this raga. This raga was popularised by St. Thyagaraja who composed many songs in this raga. "Naadha loludai" is quite a famous one. "Innudhaya bharathe" composed by St. Purandaradasa is also quite popular.

For those who don't, I suggest you start listening to some songs in this raga. Truly, this is quite an enchanting one. I can suggest some old film songs like "Ninneye radhi enru" and "Kanchi pattuduthi". I don't know if there are any new ones in this raga. Do let me know if you happen to know any.

There's this book called RagaChintamani which is a guide to Carnatic ragas thro' Tamil film songs. This gives a compilation of around 1800 tamil film songs based on their Carnatic ragas. You can get more details at or contact .

Below is my rendering of a varnam (a form of song in the Carnatic music repertoire) in this raga, composed by Sri. AS Panjapakesa Iyer and is set to Adi talam.

Singer : Adithya [ myself :) ]
Mridangist : Sri. Neyveli Ganesh

Note : For those who know this Varnam, there are 3 abrupt cuts in this recording. These are due to some technical problems during recording. So I hope you won't mind.
Others, I know you won't mind :)