The Deities of Music
By Meera Bhardwaj | Published: 15th June 2014 06:00 AM |
Come summer, the banks of Cauvery teem with known Carnatic musicians, connoisseurs, budding artists and ordinary village folk converging on the remote village of Rudrapatna in Hassan, Karnataka. However, for most visitors, it is also an occasion to visit Rudrapatna’s unique temple dedicated to music and the great Carnatic composers.
The Saptaswara Temple is exquisitely sculpted in the form of a tanpura. Its an allegory of ragas, since the tanpura only supports and sustains music by providing resonance based on the basic or key note. Hence, at Saptaswara Temple, the pooja, sevas and offerings are performed as per different ragas.
Seven stone deities adorn this unique complex: the Goddess of knowledge and the six great Carnatic music composers—Purandara dasa, Thyagraja, Muthuswamy Dikshitar, Shyama Sastry, Vadiraja and Kanakdasa. These represent the concept of Saptaswara of Indian classical music, denoting seven swaras : Nadadevate-Sharada (Sa), Purandaradasa (Ri), Vadiraja (Ga), Kanakadasa (Ma), Thyagaraja (Pa), Muttuswamy Dikshitar (Da) and Shyama Sastry (Ni).
As one enters the temple, the notes of the tanpura greet the visitor as worshippers pay obeisance. As you stand in front of each idol, which is equipped with a sensor, it starts narrating the life and musical contribution of each composer for three minutes in Kannada.
Seven is the theme in this eight year old temple with seven corners—seven steps lead to the main dwar, the gopura has seven compartments, and of course, seven deities. Costing `1.25 crore, it was constructed in seven months. Nestled amidst sparkling fountains and lush gardens and embellished with murals of tabla, the Saptaswara Temple attracts multitudes from all religions. The first of its kind in South-east Asia, the temple is a ‘sangam of swaras’ with its unique dhyana mandir providing a space for one and all.
The concept of the temple was designed by noted Carnatic musician R K Padmanabha. “Here, there is no prathishtapana nor any restrictions of the kind observed in other temples. There are no regular rituals. The usual offerings and poojas are performed but with a difference.”
The pooja is unique because it is done in the form of ragas. R S Bhaskara Avadhani, an engineer and Rudrapatna native says, “The lighting of the dhoop, the various sevas and the Maha mangal arathi is performed with the temple priest singing in different ragas ranging from Kalyani, Mohana to Shankara Bharnam.”
No prathishatapana is done here. In the normal course, offerings to the Saptaswaras are carried out in 76 ragas. According to Padmanabha, there is no religious divide at the temple as people belonging to all religions visit. “The temple is a tribute and pays homage to the great masters who have created soulful music for the past few centuries.”
Saptaswara Temple is surrounded by a high wall etched with the family trees of the great melodians. The 400-year-old history of 10 families including that of Veene Rangappa, who tutored the Mysore Wodeyar’s Queen at his palace; the Kalikote brothers; the Venkateshavadhani family; the Veena Thimmappaiah family and others clearly represented on the walls narrate the rich musical heritage of Karnataka’s semi-Malnad belt.
Reciting devotees’ offerings to the saptaswaras in the Mohana Raga, the temple priest, Ravi says “People come here in from Mysore, Bangalore, Hubli, Kodagu and other places. There is no caste discrimination here, and the doors are open to all. Each day, we perform 10-15 poojas starting from 7 am to 8 in the evening. Many school children on study tours from different parts of the state also come here.”
The Saptaswara Temple hosts workshops and concerts regularly. Local artistes say that the tall temple structure makes them feel that art is taller than the artiste. “Music should become part and parcel of every individual’s life and one should develop listening abilities, as in the long run it would solve many of life’s problems and bring solace. To connect people with the essence of music and know the great stalwarts is the reason this temple took birth,” says R K Padmanabha. As Plato said, “Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” Its the only law at Saptaswara Temple
A mullah nasirudin story
One day a monk who claimed he was a greatly evolved person came to Mullah Nasirudin’s village. People gathered to see him. The Mullah asked him how he became so evolved. The monk replied, “I have achieved great level of disattachment from myself, to the extent that I only think of others, and never of myself.” Nasrudin thought for a while and said, “Mine is a more advanced state than yours.” The monk was not impressed and asked the mullah to explain how. “Well,” said Nasirudin. “I am so objective that I can actually look at another person as if he were me, and by thus, I can think of myself!”