A few days ago I had received an invitation to attend a veena recital by Sri Ayyagari Syama Sundaram on 8th July, 2012 at Six in the evening at the Ravindra Bharati Auditorium. Dr. Mohan Kanda,, IAS (Retd.), Former Chief Secretary, Govt. Of A.P., and a Member of the National Disaster Management Authority, had consented to be the Guest of Honour for the evening, it was stated.
From the card, it appeared that there was also a day session too on the day, comprising of an ‘inspiring’ address by Swami Paripoornananda Swamiji ( Sree Peetham, Kakinada) in the pre-lunch seesion, besides presentation of scholarships to deserving students, and recounting of the experiences of the students who received assistance in the past ifrom the organisation.
In the post-lunch session a debating competition of students of local colleges in English and Telugu was shown as scheduled.It appeared to be the annual day function of one of the good schools in the city.
I have seen the said young ascetic, the Swamiji of Kakinada, expounding his views on a number of religious topics and issues off and on, on the Bhakti TV . The swamiji comes out as a well-read, broad-minded person, open to debate, able to put forth his views and beliefs lucidly and forcefully, but not in a manner that would hurt any other man, unless he is bigoted or unduly touchy. I felt the students were fortunate to have him as the speaker on the occasion.
The overwhelmingly recluse that I am, ( except perhaps when I am in the www thicket), I did not know how the blessed organization came across my where-abouts. I went through the list of the distinguished office-bearers, I surely, must have had no way of having known. Yes, I do not know any of them, at least by the names shown there, except for one, which looked like that of some one I knew as a colleague with whom I had only a passing acquaintance, but with whom I had no occassion to work together closely, and who has no way of knowing of my interest in music.
The website of the organization is given as vidyavaradhi.org, and the E- mail as firstname.lastname@example.org.
I browse the URL and find that it is not a school but a non -profit trust formed with the laudable aim of providing help to worthy students by way of scholarships etc.
I have since attended the evening’s event on Sun Day, along with the missus.
The only face, that was familiar on the dais at the meeting that preceded the concert, was that of a busy financial consultant, with whom, again, my acquaintance was peripheral.
That is, leaving aside the Chief Guest himself on the dais,, no, not in his distinguished role of a former Chief Secretary of Andhra Pradesh, but more dearly, as the truant boy seeking to be excused by his mother from going to the school, and whom most other old-timers like me knew as Master Kundu who acted in the hit movie of the sixties, Pelli Chesi Chudu, ( meaning ‘Perform a marriage, if you can’ or perhaps ” Perform a marriage and get doomed”) .
I also knew him as the talented child artist in the dramas, and other programs in the children’s hour, broadcast over All India Radio, Madras and Vijayawada in the nineteen fifties under banner of Balanandam, put together and compered by Nyapati Raghava Rao couple, as the Radio Annayya and Radio Akkayya , ( the Radio Brother and Sister). Nyayapati Raghava rao incidentally acted as the great Telugu poet in the court of Krishna Deva Raya, Allasani Peddanna in the classic movie Malleeswari, besides , I gather , in the 1948 movie Ratna Mala, starring Bhanumathy in the lead as in Malleswari
I have. never had occasion to meet Dr.Kanda, in person. Come to think of it , I know him vicariously, as the childhood classmate of a colleague and friend of mine, who studied his engineering in Kashmir during theplacid and idyllic times, when pop movies like ” Kashmir ki Kalee” were made there, and when Kashmir was the summer-travel-destination for people all across the world and of course, the rest of India.
Veena , the ancient musical instrument, is held in devotion and respect, by most Indians as the constant companion of not only the Ultimate Deity of Learning, Saraswati, but others celestial singers and musicians like Narada and Tumburu, and even the learned and great villains like. Ravana. But with changing times, slowly over the past some decades, the sacred instrument has had to yield more and more ground to the violin progressively, for the simple reason that the latter is more handy. There have been great veena exponents in A.P.like Emani Sankara Sastri and ChittiBabu,. This and the fact that good veenas are still made in the Vijayanagaramand Bobbili areas of the state sustains the interest on this mighty instrument, in the state, these days.
The recital by the renowned savant, Ayyagari Syama Sundaram was enjoyable.Sri Syama Sundar rendered beautiful songs like, ‘ Manavi alakinchradate’, in Nalinakanthi, ”Nee daya raada’ in Vasantha Bhairavi, ‘Telialeru Rama, bhakti margamunu’, ‘Narayanathe namo namo’, in Behaag, ‘Samaja vara gamana’ , in Hindolam., on his veena.
Earlier, in his address to the gathering, Dr.Kanda, while applauding the great work being done by the organisation, made a mention of the practice by The Rotary International, of organising international exchanges of selected youngsters. He expressed his desire to try and put together an institutional mechanism to facilitate a similar exchange of students from across the various far flung and culturally-diverse states of India. Great idea. I hope the venture gets realized soon. A thoroughly enjoyable evening, thanks to who ever has sent me the invitation.