Vani’s Musings

Archive for the ‘Art & Culture’ Category

Hi People,

It’s been ages since I wrote anything here, what with a bout of seasonal illness and the consequential extra work at office……………

We celebrated Ganesh Chaturthi today on a moderate scale, partly because we are not in our permanent residence and partly because a very close relative is in hospital.

After the feast in the afternoon, I was browsing, and stumbled upon this beautiful explanation regarding Ganesha.

Here it is for all of you, courtesy


May the good Lord shower all his grace on all of us for the coming year. Hope you all had a wonderful festival too.


One of my colleagues, P is taking an examination which requires her to study Julius Ceasar.

Last evening, P and I were doing an analysis of the various characters of the play, and we came to Marc Anthony.

I think his speech at Ceasar’s funeral describes him best.

It was also one of the pieces we had to learn at our school elocution competitions.

Here it is, just for memory’s sake.

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interred with their bones,
So let it be with Caesar … The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Caesar answered it …
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest,
(For Brutus is an honourable man;
So are they all; all honourable men)
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral …
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man….
He hath brought many captives home to Rome,
Whose ransoms did the general coffers fill:
Did this in Caesar seem ambitious?
When that the poor have cried, Caesar hath wept:
Ambition should be made of sterner stuff:
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honourable man.
You all did see that on the Lupercal
I thrice presented him a kingly crown,
Which he did thrice refuse: was this ambition?
Yet Brutus says he was ambitious;
And, sure, he is an honourable man.
I speak not to disprove what Brutus spoke,
But here I am to speak what I do know.
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason…. Bear with me;
My heart is in the coffin there with Caesar,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Brings back all the memories of school days, when we had to mug up this bit, and recite it atleast two dozen times to our English teachers, who would then painstakingly correct the pronounciations, the waxing and waning of the words, the pauses and the continuations.

A Masterpiece is the least I can describe the speech as.

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;

Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:

Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced, but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:-
A poet could not but be gay
In such a jocund company:

I gazed-and gazed-but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought;

 For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

By William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

Wordsworth’s famous poem about daffodils was composed in 1804, two years after he saw the flowers walking by Ullswater on a stormy day with Dorothy.His inspiration for the poem came from an account written by Dorothy. In her journal entry for 15th April 1802 she describes how the daffodils:“Tossed and reeled and danced, and seemed as if they verily laughed with the wind, that blew upon them over the lake;”

Wordsworth published his poem, ‘I wandered lonely as a Cloud’, in 1807. He later altered it, and his second version, published in 1815, is the one widely known today.

This is one of my most favorite poems. I remember reading this as a part of English Syllabus sometime in Primary School and since then have become a fan of this sort of simple yet rich poetry.


Saraswathi Namastubhyam

 Varade KaamaruupiNi

Vidyaarambham Karishyaami

Siddhirbhavatume Sadaa 

Our Saints and Poets have sung eons in her praise and we continue to follow that tradition. No academic activity begins without a prayer to Goddess Saraswathi. 

It was a practice during my school and college days to have a Saraswathi Pooja every year in school just before the examinations. It was during some time off while at work today, that my colleagues and I went back to those lovely days and remembered the Saraswathi Pujas.

 Since I was just aware of very basic details about this Goddess, decided to do some research, and the result of that research is what I am sharing with my readers today.

Goddess Saraswati is the presiding deity of the spoken word. She is considered to be Lord Brahma’s ‘maanasa putrika’ though later events led to their marriage and they began to be worshipped as the primordial couple.

Mounting on her divine vehicle Swan, she plays on Kachchapi, her Veena and is worshipped as the presiding deity of all knowledge. She resides in Satyaloka along with her consort Lord Brahma. Narada, the celestial saint is their ‘maanasa putra’.The legend has it, that once Lord Brahma utters a lie of having sighted the nether portion of Shiva Linga and Lord Shiva, who, angered by the false claim curses Brahma that his speech (Saraswati) be converted to a river. It is believed that the dry parched region of the present day Thar Desert is at one time a stretch of River Saraswati. To this day, scientists believe that the river still flows underneath the Thar and attempts are onto trace the river. At any confluence of two rivers, Saraswati is deemed to be hidden underneath and thus the place assumes the nomenclature TRIVENI. A very famous example is of the confluence of the Ganga, Yamuna and Saraswathi as “Guptagaamini” in Prayaag, India.

Uniqueness of Saraswati:The term Saraswati envelops a vast expanse of meaning ranging from Vaagdevi, river, Veda Mata and to the giver of knowledge. The celestial mother Aadishakti manifested herself as Lakshmi, Parvati and Saraswati. Hence Goddess Saraswati is considered to be the very epitome of Sakthi or Cosmic Power.Not only mortals, but also even the celestial beings in Heaven are said to be the beneficiaries of Saraswati’s benevolence. Her shower of mercy empowers speech and all other fine arts.

 ETYMOLOGY:The word Saraswati means a string of rivers. The goddess is also known by synonyms like Braahmi, Bharati, Bhaasha, Geeh, Vaak, Vaani, Saarada, Saraswati, Maha Sookta, Kaadambari to name a few. All the letters in the alphabet are considered to be the different forms of the goddess.

APPEARANCE: Saraswati beams a very benevolent smile. She is often seated on a pristine white swan. Dressed in white she wears a garland of white pearls. She plays on the divine veena with a lace of beads in one hand a book in the other. She also adorns parrot in one hand and a lotus in the other.

From Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, 1601:

If music be the food of love, play on;
Give me excess of it…

The Masters - Thyagaraja & Purandhara Daasa

Gosti Gaayana 

 Muktha BaLaga - A Few Representatives

Music, is not only the food of love, it is food for the soul; panacea for a stressed mind. Music has no borders; it transcends language and culture, and is the one binding force of humanity. Nothing else touches a person’s soul more than melody.

 I had the good fortune of being a part of the Thyagaraja-Purandhara Aaradhana celebrations conducted in Usha’s residence. It had been her dream to host one such event at her house, and she pulled it off, quite successfully.  

After a lot of planning the event was scheduled to take place on 25th of February 2007.  The day began with a formal Puja to God and next to the two Pillars of Karnatic music, Saint Thyagaraja and Sri Purandhara Daasa. Students of Karnatic music would know and appreciate these two giants’ contribution to the upliftment of this style of music that is popular towards the South of the Deccan Plateau.  

The event was hosted at Usha’s residence under the guidance of Flute Exponent Sri Venugopal, who also happens to be Dwaraka’s teacher. 

 I reached Usha’s residence around 10.00 AM, right in time for the commencement of the program. Srik & Prashanth were there already, so was Shruthi with her parents.Praneshachar, Bellur, Chaitanya and his mother arrived shortly after me. Srik’s parents joined us shortly, and Veena, who was held up at home came along subsequently.

It began with a vocal recital of Sri Sundareshan, an octogenarian with a wonderful voice, who is Sri Venugopal’s teacher, and belongs to the lineage of Saint Thyagaraja, accompanied by young Varijashree, who has a strong hold over the flute as well.   

After this, we were in for a treat for the ears, with most of the disciples of Sri Venugopal giving short performances. It was great to see and hear kids show so much expertise in their chosen instruments or vocal recitation. We then had elders also showcase their prowess, in the form of Vidwan Shankarnarayan playing the Veena, and Vidwan Prasanna giving a vocal performance.   

Our BaLaga folks took over the stage next and we had the good opportunity to hear Shruthi’s mom render a couple of compositions. Next was Bellur’s turn, and he too entertained the audience to the fullest.    

At 12.00 Noon the Gosti Gayana, the main component of the program began, with most of us participating in the singing.   

The Gosti kicked off with the recitation of the “Pillari Geethe” a set of 4 small songs, but rich in meaning, composed by Purandhara Daasa.

After the Pillari Geethe, the Pancharathna Krithis of Sri Thyagaraja, which are the backbone of every Aradhana, were sung. They are 1) Jagadaanandakaaraka, 2) Dudukugala, 3) Saadhinchene, 4) Kana Kana Ruchira & 5) Endaro Mahanubhavulu  

The Gosti was concluded with a recitation of “Raghupathi Raghava Raja Ram”.  

Here I must specially mention the excellent co-ordination of Vidwan Prasanna who led the group in singing the Gosti. He was effective in successfully bringing together the various voices and making all of us sing in unison.  

The accompaniment was superb, and the percussionists were competing with each other to do a good job.  

After this, a Maha MangaLaarathi was conducted, followed by a tasty lunch that made a fitting end to the program.  

Thank you Usha, for this wonderful day, and hope to be a part of it in the years to come.