Friday, November 27, 2009
Abhang Mela @ Nanganallur
I was at Nanganallur last Sunday (22nd Nov 2009) to attend an Abhang Mela, thanks to my friend Pammal Subbu who made me to attend this programme. The Abhang mela is all about singing the abhangs throughout the day from dawn to dusk. The programme was performed by leading singers like Smt. Kalyani Margabanthu (Sister of Swami Haridas Giri), Sri. Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar, Sri. O.S. Sundar Bhagavathar and Sri Kadalur Gopi Bhagavathar. When I reached the venue the bhajan session by Sriman Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar was in progress. He made the session very lively and made everyone participated in the bhajan by repeating the Bhagavan Namas and made everyone to do pradakshina around Vittala and Rukumabhai deities. My two sons enjoyed the bhajan and were dancing. Please read on to know more about Abhangs and Sri Kadayanallur Rajagopal.
The devotional poems composed by the Maharashtrian saint-poets like Tukaram, Jnanadev, Eknath and Namdev are known as Abhangs, that is, A+Bhang meaning those compositions that would never be wiped off the face of the earth. The abhang is a form of devotional poetry sung in praise of Lord Krishna also known as Vittala and Vithoba in Maharashtra. Rendering of abhangs attaches great importance to the lyrics, correct diction, chorus singing and most importantly the bhakti aspect. The rhythm (beat) is also specific with a Tod finale (Tirmanam). About eight hundred years ago, there were a number of God realised souls in Maharashtra who initiated the Bhakti Sampradaya and Nama Sankirtana Sampradaya.
The Bhakti Sampradaya was a mode of worship that was easily adopted and practiced by even the unlettered masses and thus the Nama Sankirtana cult and Varkari Sampradaya came into existence. The Varkari tradition underlines bhakti and spirituality. The Varkaris can be categorised as Vaishnavite saints from Maharashtra like Dhyaneshwar, Namdev, Tukaram and many others. The Varkaris go on a pilgrimage to Pandharpur twice a year. They walk all the way from their native places with the palkis of the saints. Individual sacrifice, non-violence, compassion, peaceful co-existence were the values they underlined. The saints of this lineage wrote booklets of verses in praise of the Almighty in simple language known as Haripath. This work united people of all castes and creeds. The annual pilgrimage to the shrine of Lord Vithal in Pandharpur is accompanied by dynamic singing of abhangs.
Kadayanallur is a small town in the Tirunelveli District of the state of Tamil Nadu in southern India. The name Kadayanallur comes from "Kadaikaleeswara", the name of the presiding deity of Kadaikaleeswarar kovil, a Hindu temple located in Kadayanallur. It is located in the foothills of the Western Ghats near the kuttralam Waterfalls and Tenkasi. Kadayanallur has produced many musicians famous of which is Shri.Kadayanallur Venkataraman who has set the tune for songs made popular by M.S. Subbulakshmi, like Kuraionrum illai, Sreeman Narayana, Bhavayami, Gopalabaalam, Jo Achyutananda, and Kandu kandu, which have captured the hearts of listeners with their lilt and melody. The Famous Abhang Chakravarthy Shri.Tukaram Ganapathy Maharaj also hails from this very small town of Kadayanallur. Comming from this very small town of Tamil Nadu is Sri.Kadyanallur S Rajagopal, the younger generation of the Kadayanallur Sampradaya Bhajan Family.
His grandfather, Father and his uncles were staunch followers of Shri Gopalakrishna Baghavathar (lovingly known as "Thatha") and Shri. Sanjeevi Baghavathar the Siants of Sampradya Bhajans. Sri Kadayanallur S Rajagopal under the instructions of Shri.Krishna Premi Swamigal lovingly known as "Anna" took to Spreading the Smapradhaya Bhajan's his ancestors were promoting. His melodious voice takes you through to God's abode. "Divyanama Chakravarthy" as he is known, he conducts "Radha Kalyanam" in "Pudukottai Sampradayam Bhajan Style".
Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar has the blessings of "Kadaikaleeswarar" the presiding diety of Kadayanallur. With ardant devotion to music and inclination to "Sampradhaya Bhanjans" he learned the bhajan sampradaya from his "Guru" and father Sri.R.Seetharama Bhagavathar. For four generations their family has been devoting themselves to "Sampradhaya Bhajans". Since the age of five Sri.Kadayanallur Rajagopal Bhagavathar has been accompanying his father and grandfather Sri.T.S.Ramachandra Bhagavathar for various bhajan performances. At an age when youngsters are going around enjoying their lives, Rajagopal has exhibited abundant interest in "South Indian Sampradaya Bhajans", going around singing the praise of the "Lord". He is well conversant with musical instruments like Harmonium, Mridangam, Dolak, Tabla, Ganjira etc. He has taken painstaking efforts to establish a niche in the widely accepted bhajan form.Sri.Kadayanallur Rajagopal's "Divyanama" concerts have immense capacity to draw crowds to feel the divine embrace of the "Lord" himself.
Jai Panduranga Vittala!