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CD T. S. Balakrishna Sastrigal’s discourse on the life of Muthuswamy Dikshitar was released at the harikatha exponent’s 89th Jayanthi recently.

Guruguha Jayathi

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More than anything else, T.S. Balakrishna Sastrigal’s harikatha educates the listener. The erudition that flows out with admirable fluency comes to the fore once again in the latest disc of the savant, ‘Guruguha Jayanthi – A Tribute to Muthuswamy Dikshithar,’ released at Rani Seethai Hall on Sunday last, on the occasion of the 89th Jayanthi of Balakrishna Sastrigal.

Khanthan (Sastrigal’s second son) recalled how the rare piece of recording found its way into his hands. That was the time Khanthan was making the docu-feature on music maestro Thanjavur S. Kalyanaraman (SKR). While looking for some treasured letters that GNB had written to SKR, which Khanthan felt could be featured in the docu, Kalyanaraman’s wife Bhushany stumbled upon two spools marked ‘TSB-Dikshithar.’ He would get emotional every time he heard them, she remembered. Little wonder then that Khanthan requested Bhushany to receive the first copy, released by TSB’s brother-in-law, Srivatsa S. Jayarama Sharma, a harikatha exponent himself.

Interesting insights

Sprinkled with healthy humour, TSB style, ‘Guruguha Jayathi’ has the doyen beginning with a clear explanation of the appendage ‘Dikshitar’ and touching upon Appiah, Neelakanta and even Anantharama Dikshitar, before elucidating the greatness of Muthuswamy, the youngest of the Music Trinity. While tracing the life of Dikshitar, Sastrigal also presents insights into the stoicism of Bhadrachala Ramdas, the bhakti margam of Kabir Das, the greatness of Vaitheeswaran Koil and the eponymous relevance of Tiruttani, to name a few.

Sastrigal’s similes, light hearted observations, comment on the smoke filled areas of Manali, which once upon a time was visited by Muthuswamy Dikshitar himself — the two hour 47 minute discourse have these and much more.

Archival material it may be, but this Swathi Soft Solutions product ( spells quality both in content and production. The disclaimer on the cover is quite redundant. Digitised and perfected for flawless hearing, the CD is a treat for the story lover, religiously inclined, music buff and the lay listener alike.

Octogenarian Jayarama Sharma, whose proficiency in pravachanam is well known, helmed the Jayanthi with a discourse on Bala Krishna that continued from the previous year. In the course of his speech, traversing through a maze of anecdotes drawn from life, Sharma would return to the exact point in the Krishna Leela from where he digressed. “You remember where I left off, don’t you? Even if I forget you shouldn’t,” he laughed. His rapport with the assemblage was instant. “It’s not just discourses and bhajans. He is the one who introduced me to classic English films and actors like Charlie Chaplin,” noted Sastrigal’s eldest son Mouli, about his Jayarama Mama.

Balakrishna Sastrigal’s jayanthi has now become an annual event. “It should continue after us too and Mama should be healthy and go on with his discourse every year,” said Mouli.

A rewarding session — one you will recapitulate and savour for long.

The Hindu News : August 27, 2008, 11:30 am