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Exploring the beauty of Sahana raga

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The core of music, sangithaanubhava, is an indescribable subjective experience. According to Prof. Sambamurthy, a renowned scholar, a true aesthetic enjoyment of music is outside the scope of any recognised rasa. Some ragas take listeners to sublime heights. One such is Sahana, an ubhaya vakra raga.

A rare sparkle and vigour marked Amritha Murali’s 90-minute exposition of Sahana and Saint Tyagaraja’s masterpiece, ‘Giripai nelakonna’, in this raga. The concert was for ARTery, as part of the ‘Magnum Opus’ series dedicated to the memory of vidwan T. N. Krishnan. Amritha’s music brims with gnanam and soukhyam. When she was nine, her grandmother Shankari Nagarajan initiated her into music, and she was later trained by K.R. Kedaranathan, P.S. Narayanaswamy and now by R.K. Shriramkumar. She learnt violin from Vittal Ramamurthy and T. Rukmini.

Detailed portrayal

In the 16-minute alapana, Amritha evolved new patterns of melodic charm. She traversed from the lower to the higher octaves in an unhurried manner, weaving webs of regular and unusual phrases. Her detailed elucidation was about creativity and craftsmanship.

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Her guru, R. K. Shriramkumar, a violin virtuoso, obviously offered solid support. Hailing from the Rudrapatna family of musicians, Shriramkumar is the grandson of violin vidwan R. K. Venkatarama Sastri and the grand-nephew of R.K. Srikantan. His Sahana sketch was magnificent.

Before moving on to the kriti, Amritha presented a verse from Yuddha Kandam of Valmiki Ramayana, ‘Suvelam sadhu jaila indram.’ It describes Lord Rama’s presence on the top of the Suvela mountains along with his retinue.

She also presented a verse, ‘Ehi vidhi kripa roop’ from the Lanka Kanda of Sri Tulsidas’ Ramacharita Manas, where he writes that one who is immersed in the thought of Rama atop the Suvela is forever blessed. In the composition ‘Giripai’, Tyagaraja says, ‘I had a darshan of Lord Sri Ramachandra on the hilltop, with his parivara serving him. He told me he would take care of me after ten days.”

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Amritha’s treatment of the composition was as majestic as the saint-poet would have perhaps intended it to be. The neraval at the pallavi created innumerable springs of the melodious sangathis of Sahana. The response of Shriramkumar on the violin was splendid. Swaraprasthara was at ‘Ramuni’, in the middle of the pallavi.

Manoj Siva (mridangam) and Chandrasekara Sharma (ghatam) offered a pleasant Tani. The concluding korvai, finishing sharp at ‘Ramuni’, was well executed. The two enriched the kriti with their soft strokes. Dhanush Anantharaman was on the tambura.

The concert is available on ARTery’s Facebook and YouTube pages.

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The Chennai-based writer specialises in Carnatic music.

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