Harikatha at Sarovar by Sri TN Seshagopalan:

8th May 2011 is the final day of the 3day Sarovar festival.  We are starting Mother's day with a very appropriate presentation on the "Supreme Mother" - a Harikatha by Madurai T.N Seshagopalan

Madurai Thirumalai Nambi Seshagopalan (TNS), is a well known vainika gayaka who took the leap in 2003 to make his major professional entry into formal Harikatha along with singing and veena playing.

Harikatha ("stories of the Lord"), otherwise called Katha Kalakshepa is a form of Hindu religious discourse, also known as Katha storytelling format, in which the story teller explores a religious theme, usually the life of a saint or a story from an Indian epic.

For our Sarovar festival, Shri TNS will present "Seetha Kalyanam" as seen by Saint Thyagaraja while also bringing out certain inspirations the saint draws out from the famous Tamil poet, Kamban.

There are very few people who can don multiple hats and yet manage to enviably excel in each of the roles they play. One such great person is Sri T.N. Seshagopalan (TNS) - vocalist, vainika, keyboard/harmonium artist, teacher, harikatha exponent, composer .... you could just go on and on.

Harikatha is a composite art form composed of story telling, poetry, music, drama, dance, and philosophy. Any Hindu religious theme may be the subject for the Harikatha. During its peak Harikatha was a popular medium of entertainment, which helped transmit cultural, educational and religious values to the masses.

Harikatha involves the narration of a story, intermingled with various songs relating to the story. Usually the narration involves numerous sub-plots and anecdotes, which are used to emphasise various aspects of the main story. The main story teller is usually assisted by one or more co-singers, who elaborate the songs and a Mridangam accompanist. The storyteller uses a pair of cymbals to keep beat.

TNS was awarded the title “Harikatha Ratna”. TNS has mastered the core essentials of performing Harikatha successfully, which is no ordinary feat as the exponent must be armed with mastery of music, narration and knowledge supported by good memory and above all eloquence. He quoted the sloka `vasthrena vapushaa vaachaa vidhyayaa vinyena cha,' the five vakaaras needed for success, namely, a person who is well-dressed, has a good personality, is eloquent, knowledgeable and modest and said that all were present in TNS making him a true harikatha vidwan.

With a golden voice sprouting ragas majestically one after the other, you are sure to be mesmerized like others and be taken into a trance. TNS usually wears beautiful dhotis/angavastram with a silk golden jari around his neck, and a similar one around his waist, wearing his Thirunamam in full and a while garland radiating in tejas and would be the Lord Venkatesha himself and stands at the center with the mridangist and the violinist on either of his sides. It takes a while to came out of the trance and listen to the multitude of ragam like Kedara Gowlai, every instance of Kalyani, Sankarabaranam, Bairavi, Ananda Bairavi, Kedaram, Subhapantuvarali, Todi kept flowing and merging like the auspicious Ganges rushing down the Himalayas.

As someone aptly quoted "When one pint of the tonic is sufficient to cure the diseased, why need a bottle of it?".

Wouldn't you love to be at our festival to drink this TNS style, undiluted elixir right from the "Sarovar"!

(Modified and compiled from various sources...)


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