Saptaswara Avadhānaṃ and Devotional Music Concert – A brief report

08 Apr 2023 694 Views

Swami Sivananda 
“What distinguished Indian music…It was always held to be but an extension and outward symbolization of the Omnipresent Praṇava Sound—OM—and utilized only for purposes of God attainment—a feature it has retained to the present-day, as will be evident from the fact that, up to the end of the last century, the subject of musical compositions has rarely been anything but God and his glories.”
Jaya Guru Datta. Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple (KSHT) in Frisco hosted a rare and novel Saptaswara Avadhānaṃ and Devotional Music Concert on the evening of March 21, 2023, by Sri Swara Veenapani who is a lyricist and a noted Telugu cinema music director. Sri Ramakrishna Neti and Sri Srinivas Eyyunni provided superb accompaniment on Mridangam and Tabla respectively. The performance by Melakarta rāgās maestro, Sri Swara Veenapani, was a tour-de-force.
Saptaswara Avadhānaṃ is a novel literary and musical exercise specifically designed to give a sense of 40 ‘vivādi (apūrva) rāgās.’ It needs seven lyricists and seven musicians and all 14 are called pṛcchakas. The logistics entail authoring and reading ‘four-line’ sāhityaṁ (should not contain poetic meter, rhythm or rhyme of poetry) by a literary pṛcchaka followed by a musician pṛcchaka requesting the avadhāni to compose the music for those lyrics, extempore, conforming to the requested distinct rāgā. The moderator, usually a literary scholar and/or a music scholar, then discusses salient aspects of the lyrics and the significant features of each composition developed on-the-spot by the avadhāni. It is important to note that he avadhāni is unaware of the lyrics prior to the event. This process continues until all seven lyricists and seven musicians have done their part sequentially. The intent of this type of Avadhānaṃ is the showcasing of supreme mastery of cognitive skills, e.g., observation, memory, multitasking, and creativity through entertainment, in several modes of intelligence - literature, music, etc.
The program at KSHT began with recitation of Vedic hymns by Temple priest, Pandit Sri  Manjunath Goankar. Sri Ramakrishna Vellanki (President, KSHT) honored all participants with a Datta Vastram. Dr. Prakasarao Velagapudi (Senior Management Member of KSHT and President of Global Hindu Heritage Foundation) welcomed the virtuoso, Sri Swara Veenapani. Dr. Satyam Upadrashta moderated the event. Smt. Ghantasala Lakshmiprabha, Smt. Kotamraju Sirisha, Smt. Aduri Valli Srujana, Kumari Kodela Sreya Laxmi, Kumari Venuturupalli Akhila, Master Parcha Dinakara Datta, and Sri Chaganti Chandrasekhar served as the musician pṛcchakas while Dr. Jandhyala Jayakrishna Bapuji, Sri Vemula Lenin, Sri Mallavarapu Ananth, Sri Maddukuri Chandrahas, Sri Boggaram Raveendra, Sri Pattisam Ravi, and Sri Mada Dayakar served as the literary pṛcchakas. The rāgās chosen by the musician pṛcchakas for the given lyrics were - Jhankaara Dhwani, Gaayaka Priya, Maanavathi, Raaga Vardhani, Jhaalavaraali, Kaanthamani, and Nasikaa Bhushani. At the end of Avadhānaṃ, at the request of the moderator, the maestro played his signature kīrtana – a unique composition encapsulating all 72 Melakarta rāgās into a single, six and half minute kīrtana - that received acclaim by most music stalwarts in India. That composition is ‘ṣwarakāmākṣi’ with the Pallavi “ōmkāra nādarūpiṇī srīmkāra chidvilāsinī.” It was an unforgettable evening with a scintillating experience for one and all and received a standing ovation. About 90 were in attendance. Some eminent personalities of the Telugu Association of North America (TANA) such as Dr. Thotakura Prasad and Sri Veernapu Chinasatyam graced the occasion. The program concluded with felicitation of Sri Swara Veenapani, Sri Ramakrishna Neti, and Sri Srinivas Eyyunni by KSHT management followed by distribution of ‘Certificates of Participation’ to all participants by Sri Veenapani

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