Written by London swaminathan
Date: 4 December 2016
Time uploaded in London: 15-13
Pictures are taken by ADITYA KAZA; thanks.
A Sraddhanjali meeting was organised by Violinist Mr Nagaraju and his team in London yesterday to pay homage to the departed musician Dr Balamurali Krishna. All the famous musicians of London were present and paid homage to the departed musician by singing his krtis. Dr Nandakumara, Director of London Bharatiya Vidhya Bhavan was the main speaker. Violinist Nagaraju, Mrdangist Karaikudi, Krishnamurthy London Swaminathan, Mr Prabhakar Kaza and Jagatheeswaran Pillai spoke on the occasion. Ms Bhanu sistla compered the programme. Young and budding artistes also participated in the event.
Now I give a gist of what I (London Swaminathan) said in my speech: –
Good Evening, Namste, Vanakkam, Namskaram
I recite Vishnu Shasranama everyday and my wife plays Lalitha Sahsranama everyday while she cooks. Today I listened to the Balamuralkrishna “Ashtottarm” (108 names) for the first time! Mr Nagaraju has ‘recited’ (actually recalled) all the titles of the great master Balamurai—so many titles and awards! – it is like an ashtottaram on a god! That shows how great he was.
Thank you Mr Nagaraju for inviting me to this event. I am neither a musician like Mridangist Krishnamurthy sir nor a musicologist like Dr Nandakumara. They gave us very interesting anecdotes though their personal contacts (the interesting titbits are at the end of this article). I am going to approach this matter as a layman. I will tell you one film song, two anecdotes and three couplets from the Tamil Veda Tirukkural and see where and how Dr Balamurali fits into it.
Dr Balamurali Krishna was known to every music lover in Tamil Nadu, but not to laymen. When his song Oru Nal Pothuma (Is one day enough) came in the Tamil Film TIRU VILAIYADAL, he became very famous and popular. A great lyricist Kannadasan wrote this film song and was sung by Blamurali Krishna. The lines in the song have come true today. Knowingly or unknowingly Kannadasan put some words in the mouth of Balamurali Krishna. Here are some lines from the song:-
Tamil Film Song Lines:
OrunaaLpothumA? Is a day enough?
Indr-oru naaL pothumA? Is this day enough?
Naan paada indr-oru naal pothumA?
Is this day enough for me to sing?
Gaanam- ah? Deva gaanam-Ah?
Song? is it a heavenly song?
My comments: Very True. His songs are heavenly songs
Enn Kalai-kk indha thiru naadu samam aagumA?
Will this country ever be equal to my art?
Enn kalai-kk indha thir naadu samam aagum-ah?
Will this country ever be equal to my art?
My comments: Very true. Not even a country will be equal to his songs
KuLaL endrum yaaLl endrum silar kuruvar
Some describe it (voice) as a flute or YaLl
Enn kuraL kay-ta pinnalay avar maaruvar
They change (their opinion) after they hear my voice
My comments: I am going to refer these lines in the Tirukkural next. Neither flute nor lute will come nearer to his divine voice.
ALiyatha kallai endru ennai paduvar
They praise me as an indestructible art
Isai kett-ka eLinth-thodi varuvarr endro
To hear (my) music (people) come running
ELinth-thodi varuvarr endro —- Come running
My comments: These lines also came true. He was listened to by thousands of people wherever he went. And Balamurali finished his gong in the film by saying ,
Issai theivam naan aDa I am the god of music!
It is very true. Earlier speakers described Balamurali as an avatar (incarnation) and a Sangeetha Sarvapauman.
Now to the episodes which I read in Wikipedia
Balamuralikrishna learnt violin by listening to his father playing the instrument.
“Since my father was against me playing violin, I created my own instrument. Once I summoned courage and played his instrument in his absence. When questioned by my father I admitted and played Bhairavi ata thala varnam. My father was impressed and allowed me to play the instrument,” he had recalled in his biography Sangita Perunkadal, penned by Ranimynthan.
When K. Balachander directed Apoorva Ragangal, he told M.S. Viswanthan to compose a song in a rare raga to justify the title of the film. It was Balmuralikrishna who helped him compose the song Athisaya Ragam in raga Mahathi. His other creations are raga Sarvashri, Lavangi, and Sumukham.
He also scored music for the first Sanskrit film Adi Sankarar
I wanted to quote
Three couplets from the Tamil Veda- Tirukkural written by Tiru Valluvar:-
1.ONLY THOSE WHO HAVE NOT HEARD THE MELODY OF THEIR CHILDREN’S LISPING PRATTLE, WILL SAY THE MUSIC OF FLUTE AND LUTE IS SWEET -66
2.THE JUST AND THE UNJUST COME TO BE KNOWN BY THE REPUTATION THEY LEAVE BEHIND -114
3.IF ONE TAKES BIRTH IN THIS WORLD ONE SHOULD COME WITH QUALITIES WHICH BRING FAME; IF NOT IT IS BETTER NOT TO APPEAR AT ALL -236
Let us see how great he is in the background of these 3 couplets:
He lived for 86 years. He learnt music when he was six and gave his first concert when he was nine years old! That means he dedicated 80 years of his life for music—for the development of classical music. We cant find a parallel to it in the music world.
He has garnered two National Film awards, the Sangeet Nataka Academy award and Padmavibhushan and many more awards. He gave 25,000 concerts in his life time which are available on records, tapes and You Tube. It will inspire generations to come. He spoke many languages in addition to his mother tongue Telugu.
WHAT DID HE LEVE US
Balamuralikrishna had over 400 compositions to his credit and is one of the very few people to have composed in all the 72 Melakarta Ragas and has created several ragas, with 4 notes and 3 notes and also has invented a new Tala system. His compositions encompass every facet in Carnatic Music that includes Varnas, Krithis, Thillanas.
So like Valluvar said, a man’s greatness is decided on the basis of what he leaves behind. He left us a big treasure. Valluvan said if you are born, lead a glorious life which Balamurali did.
People who listened to him wont praise flute or lute. Thus he justified the three couplets from Tirukkural.
Dr Nanda Kumara and Krisnamurthy (sir) told us interesting anecdotes. As soon as Dr Nandakumara finished his speech I requested him to write a book with these inspiring anecdotes for the benefit for the future generation. I request Sri Krishnamurthy sir also to write his experience.
Picture: Dr Nandakumara speaking
Fish Yogurt inspired Balamurali Krishna!
Dr Nandakumara told the gathering the following interesting anecdote:-
Dr Balamurali Krishna travelled in Russia at one time. He could not have any proper vegetarian food for four days. He was staying in a hotel all alone. One day he asked the restaurant to give him at least curd (yogurt). At last they brought him Yogurt. He was surprised to see a thick fermented yogurt. He wondered how they were able to achieve it in that cold temperature. They told him,
“It is very simple sir. We put a fish in it for fermentation (as a curdling agent)!
Immediately Balamurali pushed it to one side and prayed to God.
He looked at outside through the window in the mid night. Sun shines during mid night in the northern most latitudes. When he looked at the sun he composed a Krti, Oh, Sun God you are my companion and helper (for ever).
Thus Fish Yogurt (curd) inspired Balamurali Krishna to compose a new song. Dr Nandakumara related many more anecdotes.
Picture: Mr Krishnamurthy paying homage
Mr Krishnamuthy was learning Mridangam under his Guru. His guru took many assignments but could not fulfil them due to poor health. He cancelled all those in time, but forgot his accompaniment for Dr Balamurali. The Sabha secretary came to him casually to remind him about the next day concert. My Guru told him that he could not come. When the Sabha secretary told that it was too late to approach anyone and asked whether me (MR Krishnamurthy) could accompany Balamurali on Mridang. My Guru told him that he had no objection but Balamurali must give his consent. Sabha (Music association) secretary came with the good news that I could play Mridangam for Balamurali sir. But I survived only with his (Balamurali’s) support on that day.
Later I also referred to it and said that Balamurali was a great supporter of young and budding artistes. Every day I see in Facebook one or the other, from great singers like Sudha Ragunathan to youngest artists pose with Balamurali sir and getting his blessings.
Thank you for the opportunity given to me to pay my respects.
Picture: Men behind the event: Violinist Mr Nagaraju and Mr Prabhakar Kaza.