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Fri 09 Jun 2023
Sun 11 Jun 2023

12:00 AM - 11:59 PM (UTC+5.5)

Immersive Workshop on Compositions on Dasavataras

yadA yadA hi dharmasya gLAnirbhavati bhArata |
abhyutthAnamadharmasya tathAtmAnam s.rjAmyaham ||

paritrANAya sAdhUnAM vinAshAya ca duSk.rtAm |
dharmasaMsthApanArthAya saMbhavAmi yuge yuge ||
(Bhagavad Gita, 4, 7–8)

Lord Krishna says this to Arjuna, in the battlefield. (Whenever righteousness is on the decline, and unrighteousness is on the ascent, Oh Arjuna!, then I embody myself on earth. For the protection of the good, for the destruction of evil, and for the fulfillment of the kingdom of righteousness, I am born on this earth, age after age)

Dr Rama Kausalya, chief curtor of Indica’s latest workshop on the lesser known compositions on the Dasavataras of Lord Vishnu, says our vaggyekaras have been guided by this statement. For them compositions on the various incarnations were an affirmation of the truth that the Divine would come down when the world required. The inspiration for the musicians was often thirtha yatras to the DivyaDeshams, the 108 Vishnu temples mentioned in the work of the Tamizh Azwars. As each kshetram was famous for a temple dedicated to a particular avatar, that became the basis for the composition. Often a direct conversation between the composer and their Ishta Devata became the basis for a series of krithis.

Among the most venerated of the avatars are the poorna or complete avatars of Sri Rama and Sri Krishna, born to mothers on earth and who lived out their lives here, and most of the popular krithis today are about them. Dr Kausalya says that Naramsihma avatar, though a mooharta kala avatar as hemanifested only for a while to destroy Hiranyakashipu, is equally popular among composers.

She quotes an incident where Mysore Sadasiva Rao, one among the great composers in the Wallajahpetlineage of Tyagaraja’s disciples, and a Narasimha upasaka was asked to sing his krithi on Narasimha, which he would never do. When he eventually agreed and sang Narasimhududayinche in Kamalamanohari, the picture frame of the deity shattered in as the music reverberated in the hall. Bangalore Nagarathnamma has said that when she first had a vision of Thyagaraja in her dreams she sang this krithi in gratitude.

Interestingly many of these compositions involve at least ten stanzas, or couplets, one for each incarnation. Naturally, the tendency among composers was to employ one ragam for each stanza, thus carving out a ragamalika. Among these is the first gitam in Jayadeva’s Gitagovinda Mahakavyam  whichstarts with “praLaya payodhi jaie”. There are ten stanzas, one describing each avatara, each ending with the phrase “jaya jagadisha hare”, and a concluding stanza, recording the author’s signature.

Among the Trinity it is believed only Dikshitar composed on all the avataras. His creation is a ragamalikaon the dasavatara theme, but in praise of Lord Venkatesvara of Tirupati. In this song, Dikshitar attributes the tenth incarnation to Lord Venkatesvara himself who is the presiding deity of this present kali yuga, rather than to the customary avatara, Kalki.

It is amazing to note that the dashavatara theme has entered the mangalam (concluding auspicious piece in concerts) too. Purandaradasa offers benediction to limbs of Lord Vishnu from head to feet, by associating one limb with one avataram. The song is usually sung in the auspicious ragamMadhyamavati.

INDICA and Marabu Foundation is pleased to expore all this and more in their 3 day Workshop on the  lesser known compositions on the Dasavataras at INDICA Ritambhara Gurukulam, near Bangalore from 9th June 2023 to 11th June 2023. The workshop will be on a Gurukul pattern and will be an immersion into bhakti, bhava and bhagwan. The workshop will comprise students as well as teachers of Indian classical music.

A few seats for serious students of Carnatic Music are still available. Please write to us at namaste@indica.org.in along with a brief background of the training underwent with links to singing samples. Selected students will be intimated by Curator.