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Friday, April 01, 2016


Such inanities don't even deserve to be blogged, but if ever the lay fans of Bollywood start believing in them, it can become a veritable mockery of the medical profession and can also lead to undesirable consequences. So, in the interest of many, I wish to present two such myths, as also the reality behind the actual medical condition, as comparative videos. Have fun!

Heart Attack and the real Medical attention required:

Brain Transplant and the reality of the operation:

Friday, March 04, 2016

Carnatic Music - PHRASEOLOGY

Using a musical tradition I salivate over, as a punch bag to satiate my satire, does not behoove of my unabashed adulation of it and its masterly exponents.  Yet, I am unable to resist my urge to blog on the blatant misuse of Sanskrit-ized terminology to describe certain prima facie assumptions about the characteristics of a performer.  Two such words flash immediately across the minds of all well-meaning rasikas - MANODHARMA of a vocalist and SARVALAGHU of a mridangist.

These two are indeed as elusive as spotting a spotted Indian Deer (Chital) in the lush Gir sanctuary, not withstanding the Lions that somehow spot them for their meal time. Even the word "hackneyed" becomes a cliche ruminating on these two exotic phrases. If there is anyone who understands completely what these two phrases actually mean (not merely signify) and convince me about it as well, I will feel very honored to have them vent their manodharma in all its sarvalaghu glory on this blog, for an entire year.

I can begin to sense your reader frustration at this point.  Without further ado, let me try to think through the phrase, Manodharma.  I have the following possibilities for it:
  • We are descendants of Manu, hence we follow Manu Dharma which is Manodharma
  • It is a wrongly pronounced word from Hindi, not Sanskrit, which splits as Maano Dharma (accept the Path of Virtue)
  • It is a wrongly pronounced word from Hinglish or Engdi, split as Mono Dharma or the "only path of virtue" which could ignite an accidental fratricidal war of all world religions
  • It is a misnomer for Manokalpitha or Manorachitha or Manoranjitha, any of these aptly summing up what the vocalist actually does, pleasurable improvisations to the music
If you picked the last one, I am on your side.  So much for my mano-log(ue). 

Now let's attempt to see what can be helped about our understanding of Sarvalaghu.  I will indeed be very glad to have this phrase change to "Sarva Raghu", which means everywhere you hear mridangam played, reminisce the maestro "Raghu Sir".  This way atleast, it would make some sense. The generic understanding about Sarvalaghu is that it is somewhat opposed to kaNakku playing. I am not sure about the reason behind the piNakku for kaNakku, but so long as the playing maNakkuthu, anyone would ask "unakku yenna kavalai?"  Gees, I am metamorphosing into another Vijaya TR. For the lay however, Sarvalaghu is that non-intrusive, unobtrusive, inclusive and progressive melodious mridangam accompaniment of a vocalist's Manodharma, per the definition of most mridangists.  The "enlightening" article that delineates Sarvalaghu versus kaNakku is here.

Summarizing, which mridangist will you term as playing Sarvalaghu versus kaNakku oriented?  Or is it at all a myth to think one style opposed to, or over another?  Is not a sunaadha sangeetha vaadhyam like mridangam to be played in either style as appropriate to the occasion, mood and "manodharma"?

It is indeed quite pathetic to see an unbroken lineage of misphrasing continuing to be glorified by ill-informed zealots.  Unless Carnatic musicologists consciously do a U-turn on such absurdities and focus on their strengths that have always been - precocious mastery over their chosen art and cautious abhorrence to quick publicity of their intellectual pomposity, credulity such as these will continue to haunt them instead of the jaunts their blissful rasikas can enjoy whenever a "real" musician ascends the kutcheri dais to sing.  Om Thath Sathguru Thyaagaraaja Swamine Namaha!

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January - A month to remember

For most people on this planet, January 1 is a sort of clock reset to yet another year of promises, hopes, celebrations and planning. To some it may even be a time to ponder and look back at the losses in the previous year. To the Krishnaswamy family, it is a whole month of mute remembrance about a tower of strength that was snatched away by fate's cruel hands a few years back.

Every year as January marches to its Ides (look up Julius Caesar), most Indians eagerly anticipate the onset of Makara Sankranti, the northern sojourn of our Sun, as DakshiNaayana gives way to Uttaraayana.  Tamilians especially engage in repainting their homes, stack sugarcane and fresh harvest to celebrate Bhogi, Pongal and Maattup-Pongal (and KaaNum Pongal) in that order. Most Ayyappa devotees are ready to have a darshan of the divine Makara Jyothi on the Kaanthamalai hill.

But one family dreads to tread the 16th because it brings to their tearful memories two great men in their lineage - a prophet of a maternal grandpa and his gifted son-in-law, both born the same day only 30 years apart, as if perchance they were destined to become intertwined as guiding lights to their families. And both equally imbued with a contrasting nature of being fiercely orthodox and nonchalantly maverick at once.

Pudukkottai K. Srinivasa Raghavan, a lawyer by profession, has never been a stranger to God. He journeyed through a lifetime of upheavals with unswerving devotion, hand in hand with his favorite deity, Lord Srinivasa of Saptagiri Hills. And narrated to us simpletons of his extended family, through magically appearing golden letters in his left palm, the wonderful acts of God's mighty creation and other abstruse philosophies that have been recorded only on handwritten notes☹. It is now a good 28 years since he departed, but the notes still stand as a testament to his glorious dictations from God.

The other man, inscrutably lovable to all his relatives and admirers was, and continues to be our lives' daily blessing and other-worldly light of wisdom. Sarukkai Kumandoor Parthasarathy Krishnaswamy (aka KANNAN aka Partha Krish) is still alive through his timeless musings in Bodhimaram and My Early Days, blogs that showcase two aspects of his eventful life. A humble but brave man, he achieved a graceful greatness simply by not pursuing it relentlessly. The 2015 Chennai flood is a reminder of his exemplary role as Chennai/Chengalpattu District's flood officer, preventing a near certain disaster of Chennai drowning in 1976 from a overflowing Chembarambakkam Lake.

On a less sober note, presented here are a medley of songs that were dear to his heart (the two visible videos are on the same krithi "Krishnaswamikku Sari Evare?", which my mom supposedly sung during her 'PeNN paarkum padalam' impressing her would-be as he was himself an able singer and connoisseur of Carnatic Music):