Freedom movement-era songs of Sastry out on CD

Freedom movement-era songs of Sastry out on CD

Mayuram Viswanatha Sastry

Shankarabharanam Kalamandiram founder S Shankar is excited about the release of a rare book and CD. Called ‘Bharata Bhajanam’, it contains Sanskrit patriotic songs by Mayuram Viswanatha Sastry (1893-1958). It will be released at Sri Jayarama Seva Mandali, Jayanagar, on April 30, at 6.15 pm.

What inspired Shankar to take up this initiative? He says, “My guru Vallabham Kalyanasundaram, was Mayuram Viswanatha Sastry’s sister and she taught me a number of patriotic songs about Bharata Mata, Bharata Dhwajam and Mahatma Gandhi, along with other compositions by him. The songs were in Hindustani ragas like Sindhu Bhairavi, Kapi, Khamas and Jaunpuri, and had catchy tunes, were easy to follow.” 

The songs were meant to be sung in groups and by children. They were written during the Independence movement to inculcate patriotism. Most classical ‘kritis’ are based on religion or spirituality and ‘bhakti’ but Visvanatha Sastry’s songs were meant to trigger ‘desha bhakti’.  “His songs were different from other composers works.” 

Shankar feels that it is important to instill ‘desha bhakti’ in today’s times, thus the book being relevant even today. “The songs should be popular among our populace as they are beautiful both in content and meaning and clearly talk about the beauty of our nation, be it heritage or nature here,” he says.

Of 22 songs in the book and CD, the most popular of Viswanatha Sastry’s songs are ‘Jayati Jayati Bharata Mata’, ‘Shantha Ahimsa Murte’ and ‘Samarasa Bhavana’. 

“The government of our country in the 1940s had invited suggestions for the ‘National Anthem’ and Viswanatha Sastry sent four of his songs. These songs were not considered, but they are simple and could be sung by all. We have included those songs also in the book and CD,” says Shankar.

Viswanatha Sastry had composed songs in Telugu, Tamil, Sanskrit and ‘Manipravalam’ (a mixed literary style). He was the music director for the film ‘Dasavatharam’, played the harmonium and gottuvadhyam and was also a playwright, but he stood out for his musical style and musical compositions. “The 22 songs are accessible through the CD or through my website The book ‘Bharata Bhajanam’ has lyrics in Sanskrit, Kannada (with meaning of the lyrics in Kannada) and English (meaning of lyrics in English) and the notation is in English. The purpose is to reach out to audiences everywhere,” he says.

Ask him about the process and he says it wasn’t tedious at all. “I had already published a book on Vasudeva Acharya in English and this wasn’t a herculean task,” says Shankar.The programme will also include a presentation of some of Sastry’s compositions like ‘Jaye Hein Jaya Jaya Hein’, ‘Vande Bharata Samraja Dhwajam’ and ‘Bharata Soubhagya’.

The initiative marks Sastry’s 125th birth anniversary.

For details, call 99452 80408.

The AIR connection

S Shankar scripted a programme which was presented by Dr Raghu N (current assistant director of AIR) on AIR. It was a 13-episode programme called ‘Vishwageetham’ of 30 minutes each in Kannada, which highlighted details about Visvanatha Sastry’s life, his compositions and more. The songs were also sung and broadcast a few years ago.  

Wide variety

“Mayuram Viswanatha Sastry sang more than 500 songs and his sister and my guru Vallabham Kalyanasundaram knew all the songs. I trained with Vallabham for 25 years which gave me a window to a wide musical variety Sastry was involved in,” says S Shankar.

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