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Interactive Conversation Between Velukkudi Sri U. Ve. Krishnan Swami & Sri Vijay Shiva - Sri Ramanin Padhayil

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Interactive Conversation Between Velukkudi Sri U. Ve. Krishnan Swami & Sri Vijay Shiva - Sri Ramanin Padhayil
The entire story of the Ramayana took form in the mind of Sage Valmiki. He narrated, in twenty four thousand shlokas – the story Narada had told him briefly, in a masterly work. And thus Valmiki composed the great epic, the Ramayana, which is a veritable treasure - house of priceless gems. It was a lovely poem. It was brimful of the nava rasas – nine poetic sentiments – enamour, valour, compassion, marvellousness, humour, terror, repulsiveness, fury and serenity.
It could be sung with seven notes – shadja, rishabha, gandhara, madhyama, panchama, daivatha and nishada. It could be sung to the accompaniment of the veena. The composition delighted the sage disciples. After composing the epic, sage Valmiki sent for Lava and Kusha who were in his hermitage. They were princes; and twins. They lived in the ashram and were the sage disciples. The two were exceptionally proficient in music. They could play on musical instruments like the veena. They were endowed with enchantingly sweet voices. The twins in their apparel of tapaswis, were charming like the Ashwini brothers. Lava and Kusha came up to sage Valmiki and offered obeisance, and stood respectfully near him. The sage drew them to himself affectionately and made them sit near him. He then taught the Ramayana to them. Lava and Kusha began to sing the epic melodiously.

Valmiki after composing the Ramayana declares “this historical poem, which is pleasant to sing and adapted to the three measurements of time, is contained within the seven notes and can be sung to the veena”. In fact, the princess Lava and Kusa are said to have used the Ekatantri veena in the Ramayana Gana in Lord Rama’s court.

Now few queries may rise in our mind as stated below:

01. Did Music exist in those days?
02. Is Epic Sri Ramayana Iyal (prose/literature) or Isai (poetry/music)?
03. What's so special in the music of Ramayana?

Let us find the answers for all the above queries in the conversation between Velukkudi Sri U. Ve. Krishnan Swami and Sri Vijay Shiva (Carnatic Vocalist). In which, questions were put by Sri Vijay Shiva and the same were answered by Velukkudi Sri U. Ve. Krishnan Swami.

How was the epic Ramayana composed first - In Iyal or In Isai?
Queries/doubts are always welcomed. When doubts are clarified our heart becomes lighter and clear (here we mean heart as an invisible and mental thing and not physical i.e. Manasu). When Manasu becomes clear, thoughts of greater value will flow in. According to below sloka in Valmiki Ramyana which goes

paathye geye cha madhuram pramaahaih tri bhih anvitam

Meaning: To read or to sing it is melodious, adaptable to music with three scales and sevenfold tune, and orchestral to the tunes of string-instrument and rhythm included.

Sage Valmiki composed Ramayana in such a way that it can be sung easily. The core of Sanathana Dharma is Bhakthi and Music. Hence, epic Ramayana was composed in Musical form i.e Isai. But we read (parayanam) it in the form of Iyal because of time constrain. It will consume more time when it is read in the form of music. It was thought to Lava & Kusha in the form of Music and Lava & Kusa were great musicians. With this musical knowledge Lava & Kusa went to different places and sang Ramayana in front of Sage's they come across. Listening to it and understanding the meaning of it, all the sages and great Rishis blessed them. Therefore, Ramayana and Music cannot be separated.

What is the connection between Bhakthi Ilakkiyam (literature) and Isai (Music)?
In Sanathana Dharma, we attain mukthi through bakthi. Vedam also tells the same. Sanatana Dharma is anadhi (without beginning) and no timeframe is associated with it. Similarly Mukthi, Bakthi, Athma are also Anadhi. Bakthi will develop mental clarity and through this development, it will lead us to Bhagwan (GOD). When the mind becomes totally concentrated, at this point one becomes the commander of one's mind. We have many ways to bring the mind totally concentrated, Music is one of the very important way to execute it. While listening to music people forget the whole world and enjoy it. This can be felt by both singer and the listeners (audience). One can feel the auspicious mind while listening to the music concerts. The auspicious mind feeling will come down, once the music concert comes to an end. Hence if you integrate music in your life, you can always be in the state of Bakthi with auspicious mind. Therefore Bhakthi and Music cannot be separated.

How long did Lava & Kusa take to sing Ramayana consisting of 24000 verses?
Did only Lord Rama listen to it or all the people in the kingdom listened to it?
Did people had the patience to listen the complete Ramayana?

Lord Rama, people of the kingdom including Rishi's, Mantri's (Ministers) and Senapati's (commanders) were attentive with full devotion to Lava & Kusa while singing the epic Ramayana. Lava & Kusa sang Ramayana in Lord Rama's court where Lord Rama was alone in the Simhasanam (Throne). As the song goes on, Lord Rama started to feel the absence of Sita Matha (During this period, Sita Matha was in Valmiki's Ashram). Kama sugam (enjoyment; desires) experienced by physical body will give pleasure to oneself only. But music concerts, pravachan, upanyasam, (narrating stories from epics and puranas and interpreting scriptures), visiting temples all these activities becomes pleasurable only when accompanied in groups. Hence, Andal sings "Koodi Irunthu Kulirnthu" in Thiruppaavai.

Lord Rama could not enjoy the musical narration of Ramayana because no one were around him including Sita. He was seated in the throne above and all the people of the kingdom were seated below. Sage Valmiki explains how Lord Rama enjoyed the musical narration in below sloka:

sachapi ramah parikshat kathah chanaih
bubushaya saktamana babuvah ha

Lord Rama slowly got down from the throne without getting noticed by any one (so that the sabha is not disturbed) and sat with the people to enjoy the musical narration of Ramayana sung by Lava & Kusa. In the crowd, Lord Rama started to tap the thigh of the next person, and the next person started to tap the thigh of Lord Rama according to the rhythmic cycles (taalam). After musical narration of Ramayana got over, Lord Rama was not in his throne. With such joy, happiness and great devotion, all have listened to that kacheri (musical concert).

We need patience only when we are doing, which we don't like to do and need to tolerate it. When we enjoy doing something, we do it repeatedly and the patience doesn't come into picture because we are enjoying the pleasure out of it. Everybody forget oneself and were filled with Athma sugam while listening to Lava & Kusa singing.

Valmiki says in Uttara Kanda:

"divase vimsatihi sarga geya maduraya kira"

On basis of 20 sargams (cantos) each day, it was sung for period of 32 days delivering 645 sargams. It is mentioned very clearly in Valmiki Ramayana. From morning 09:00 AM to Noon Lord Rama after finishing his kingdom duties, used to sit for listening Ramayana. Again next day morning Ramayana was continued with remaining sargams. Like this, singing of Ramayana by Lava & Kusa continued for period of 32 days.

All great scholars like Arunagirinathar, Ramalinga Adigalar have composed and sung on Lord Rama and Lord Krishna plays flute, Naradar plays tambura, Saraswati plays veena. Likewise, Why Lord Rama didn't sing or play any instrument? Even though we have many references of Lord Rama enjoying the music and poetry.
We have already seen that Lord Rama have admired the music and poetry through above incident. Lord Rama knew music very well and no doubt in it. Sage Vakmiki describes the speech of Rama is like singing/rhythmic. If great musician cries, it will be in rhythmic manner. While searching Kannan, Gopika stris used to cry in rhythmic tone when they couldn't find Him. Gopika Stris cried, but they cried with swara(Tune). My father used to say that when a musician cries even that will be in rhythm; when someone who doesn't know music sings, that will sound like crying. Kannan played flute and sang, during the period when he was in Gokulam. While, He didn't do the same when He became the prince of Dwaraka because he had the responsibility to serve the nation. One cannot perform two responsibilities successfully at the same time. There are instances of Raja who were great singers but they concentrated in one at any point of time. Hence Lord Rama only relishes the music and doesn't sing. Rama even appreciates the singing of Lava Kusha, Hanuman etc. but He Himself being a Chakravarthy doesn't find time for music.


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