.......................by Sivapriya Krishnan
Harikatha and Embar Vijayaraghavachariar are synonymous and an inseparable whole.
The worthy son of Embar Srirangachariar, a celebrated exponent of this unique art form, Vijayaraghavachariar, carried this hoary tradition as a true follower of his father and the art form that he learnt from him.
Born on 24.11.1909 , Embar Vijaraghavachariar, had the rare distinction of being the descendant of the hierarchic lineage of the “Embar” sishya parampara of Sri Ramanuja. Noteworthy here is the fact that, to Sri Ramanuja, Embar was the most “Apta” or the most chosen and close sishya.
The scholarly lineage, grooming from the father and a natural instinct and motivation to study and practice the art form and professionalise in it, are some of the distinctive qualities that Embar Vijayaraghavachariar was endowed with and it was finally rewarded with a public accolade, by The Madras Music Academy, in its 43rd Conference, wherein Embar received the prestigious “Sangita Kalanidhi” title, a rare honour given to any performing musician, recognising him for his lifelong association and achievement in his chosen field of performing arts.
To date, Embar Vijayaraghavachriar’s Harikatha on Tyagaraja, Bhadrachala Ramadas, Nandanar Charitram are remembered for its interesting and lucid approach and quality presentation , by those who have had the fortune of listening to him. For those, who could not see him in person, the AIR did broadcast quite a few and some commercial recordings from private record companies are available.
Embar, from what I have heard from elderly friends, had a captivating stage presence and demeanour. Coupled with his wide learning and vidwat on subjects, handed down carefully by his father- Guru and a good singing ability, helped him to stride great heights in the field of Harikatha. Starting with his maiden performance in 1935, he reigned supreme in this field for over five decades.
His centenary celebrations are being held from today the 24th of November till the 28th of November, 2009 by both Narada Gana Sabha and Shreyas, an institution that propagates Harikatha and managed by Kalyanapuram Sri.U.Ve. R.Aaravamudachariar, who had the fortune of learning the art from the great Vijaraghavachariar himself.
On each of these four days, one topic is to be presented by performing traditionalists of this art form, like Smt. Kamala Murthy ( harikatha exponent), Sangita Kalanidhi Madurai T.N.Seshagopalan (vainika-gayaka-harikatha exponent), Dr.Prameela Gurumurthy ( musician- harikatha exponent) and Sri Janakirama Bhagavathar( harikatha exponent) at the Astika Samaj Venus colony. Each of this artist is to be conferred the title of “Harikatha Ratna”.
The four day series will be concluded on the 28th at Narada Gana Sabha, with special lectures by Sangita Kalanidhi Smt.R.Vedavalli, Smt.Prema Nandakumar, Smt.Nandini Ramani , Smt.Bala Meera Chandra,
Sri.Sriram and a Harikatha by Kalyanapuram Aaravamudachariar on Sri Ranganatha Vaibhavam, all this graced by H.H. Sriman Andavan Sri Ranga Ramanuja Maha Desikan Swamigal.
Truly a befitting tribute through Katha Vachanam, Katha Sravanam and Katha Smaranam to this great personality who lived this art form with glory and distinction.
The schedule of events:
At Asthika Samajam, Venus Colony:
Nov. 24, 2009
5.30 p.m.- Inauguration
6.30 p.m. - Thanjavur Smt. Kamala Murthy - Harikatha : Subhadra Kalyanam
Nov. 25, 2009
7.00 p.m. - Sri. Madurai T. N. Seshagopalan - Harikatha : Thyagaraja Charitram
Nov. 26, 2009
7.00 p.m. - Dr. Pramila Gurumoorthy - Harikatha : Rukmini Kalyanam
Nov. 27, 2009
7.00 p.m. - Sri. Janakirama Bhagavathar - Harikatha : Bhadrachala Ramadasar
Nov. 28, 2009
At Narada Gana Sabha
10.00 a.m. - Discussions on Harikatha. Participants : Smt. R. Vedavalli, Smt. Prema Nandakumar, Smt. Nandini Ramani, Smt. Bala Meera Chandra, Sri. Sriram
6 p.m. Function and Felicitations by Sri.N. Gopalaswamy and Sri. N.Murali
Followed by Harikatha on Sri Ranganatha Vaibhavam by U.Ve.Sri. Kalyanapuram R. Aaravamudachariar.
Chief Guest : H H Srirangam Srimath Andavan Sri Rangaramanuja Mahadesikan Swamigal