For over two hours on a Sunday afternoon, the fortunate few listeners at the Sai Mandir concert of Shenkottai Harihara Subramanyam and party were treated to an unexpected and extraordinary musical feast.
Traditionally, bhajans have served as purely devotional musical forms, designed for easy singing by ordinary devotees. Whereas krithis and other forms of carnatic music were more elaborate and complex, sung by experts with years of training. However, when someone with the musical talent and training of Sri Shenkottai sings bhajans, in pure carnatic ragas as well as traditional ones, they bring, to even this humble form, a grace and beauty that is breathtaking.
Beginning with some slokas in Kapi, Sri Shenkottai began with bhajans devoted to the presiding diety Sai Baba, and also bhajans and abhangs on Rama, Govinda and others for over an hour. At that point, he switched seamlessly to a spirited rendering of "E taavuna raa", the Thyagaraja Krithi in Kalyani. With an elaborate alapana, and niraval on the line "sreekarudagu Thyagaaraaja", he left the listeners in no doubt about his carnatic talents. This was followed up with the melodious "Krishnaa nee begane baaro" in Yamuna Kalyani, and a lengthy viruttam that spanned several different ragas. Sri Shenkottai concluded with a few more bhajans in various traditional styles.
Sri. Kumar provided vocal support while Sri. Vidya Shankar followed on the Harmonium and Sri. Karthik on the Mridangam. The party was introduced by Smt. Sharada Chityala, Director of Shruti Laya, who also spoke briefly about Namasankeerthanam. A musical appreciation was given by Smt. Ranganayaki Srinivasan, a rasika and veena vidushi in the audience. Sri. Sreenadh Jonnavithula, Director of Shruti Laya, thanked the artists, and the audience for coming to support such programs by upcoming artists. Sri. Sai Ram, priest of the temple, invoked the blessings of Sai Baba on the performers, and presented shawls and prasadam to each one.
Shruti Laya gratefully acknowledges the kind support of Sai Mandir, Sri. Nori Dattatreyudu and Smt. Vijaya Malladi in making the venue available for this program.