Thursday, January 08, 2009
The month of Maargazhi seems to be a primitive call to the musical, cultural and poetic senses. For the past few years, I am beginning to relish the flavor of this month. The small subtle changes that I notice in temples during this month makes it all the more enjoyable. So I thought I'll use this month's theme to make recommendations on CDs that I have been purchasing during the last decade.
Suprabatham is on leave this month. One of the interesting little changes this month is that P.B. Annan packs his 'suprabatham' kit and takes rest until day after Pongal. He makes way for Andal and her mesmerizing Thirupaavai (which is recited way early in the morning - at least 1 hour before tradtional suprabhatham time). All 'perumal' temples including Srirangam and Thirupathi switch to thirupaavai sessions during mornings all this month. M.S is what people associate with Suprabhatham in the morning. I have moved away from M.S for the past few years and have tried out various other people.
1. TTD Ghoshti: Nowadays, this is what I play everyday. I got this from Venkatnarayana road's TTD office. It was impressive (except for that Telugu guy's queer introduction in English). It has become part of my morning environment ever since. Infact I like this version better than the M.S one. This ghoshti also has a "Pancha Sooktham' CD which I highly recommend.
2. U. Ve. Ananthasayanam & Party: Until 2004 I was listening to him. He had a Suprabhatham & Sahasranaamam combo, which was pretty impressive.
1. Malolan Kannan: Thiruvahindhai Malola Kannan's CD is the best recitation of Sahasranaamam I have heard so far (in the tape/CD space). He does a 42 minute Sahsranaamam recitation with a 'Pancha Ayutha Sthothram' in the end. Highly recommended for a 'sing along' because he slowly recites every word with clear diction and pronounciation. I picked up his CD by fluke in Sriperambadur and have been his fan since then. He is my ekalavya-drona type Sahasranaamam teacher. Malola Kanna is the son of Vedavidwan Sri.U.Ve. KrishnaDesikachariar of Tiruvahindrapuram.
2. TTD Ghoshti: They give the ghoshti chant feel, do the 'jha', 'kha', 'bha' sounds correctly but are incredibly fast.
1. MLV: Nobody can replace or beat MLV. I have listened to 'Bombay' Jayashree trying this. Not so impressive.
2. Malolan Kannan: I prefer to hear Thirupaavai (or for that matter all Prabhandams) in ghoshti fashion (all due respect to MLV - ghoshti is way better). Prabhandam has its own style of recitation. Each stanza is divided into the upper half and lower half. A person does not recite both halves. A ghoshti is a group of people divided into two sub-groups. One group recites the upper half and the other group recites the lower half. It is done in very quick alternation (sometimes the lower half starts while the last word of uper half is being recited). The faster the alternation, the better it is to hear it. Malolan Kannan & Ranganathan are the people singing the different halves here. This thirupaavai is available as part of their 'Nithya Anusandhanam' CD which also contains the prabhandams sung in the morning - Thiru Pallandu, Thiru Palli Ezhuchi, Poochodal, Kaapidal, Senniyongu, Amalanadhipiran, Kanninun Siruthambu. Note: Since maargazhi is special - the only prabhandam people recite at home during this month is Thirupaavai. Everything else is done in a temple.
Prof. R. Thiagarajan, H.O.D Sanskrit departent Madras University - is doing a fabulous job along with Mr. Manickavinayagam (Music Director) in coordinating a Brhadaranyaka Upanishad recital (in Sukla Yajurveda kanva Swaras) by Ganapaati Brahmasri Parasurama Sastri, Srinivasa Sarma and K.S Manjunathan. He has released a series of 4 CDs (called "Rare Vedic Chanting") on this Upanishad that can only be described as an 'awesome' job. These CDs contain Madhu Khanda, Yajnavalka Khanda and Khila Khanda. The upanishad as a whole deals with thoery of creation and means of knowing both the self & the brahman. Yagnavalka Khanda has the "master dialectician" Yajnavalka defeating his philosophical opponents in King Janaka's assembly. This CD also contains twenty stanzas of Isavasya Upanishad.
Note: They have released many CDs including what has been mentioned below. One other notable CD is "Aswamedha Parkarna" (released under CD of name "Sacred Vedic Chants of India"), which is considered a very very important Vedic segment (people listen to this on Dvadesi/Ekadasi days).
1. Prof R. Thiagarajan & Co: This team has 2 CD set of the 'Paavamana Sooktham' section of the RigVeda.
2. Kamisetty Srinivasulu: He has released 2 CDs on Rig Vedam. The first one is "Achidra Sooktham" (which people traditionally hear on Ekadasi days) and the second one is Veda Vahini, which is a collection of 12 Sookthams (Devi, Narayana, Sri, Sarpa, Dhrishti, Medha, Saraswathi, Swasthi, Bhagya, Moksha Dayika, Bhagavannamai, Aiykamatya).
3. TTD Veda Parayanars ( K. Sanjeevi Achar & P. Bhavani Sankara Upadhyaya): This team is also a popular Vedic chanting team. they have a CD on 'Paavamana Sootham'. They also have a CD each on Krishna Yajur Vedam, Atharvana Vedam and Sama Vedam.
This vedam is divided into Sukla Yajur Vedam & Krishna Yajur Vedam. Both have been recited by independent people.
1. Prof. Thiagarajan & Team: They have a CD on Sukla Yajur Vedam.
2. TTD Veda Parayanars ( K. Sanjeevi Achar & P. Bhavani Sankara Upadhyaya): These folks have a CD on Krishna Yajur vedam.
This is my favorite upanishad, the one that I know the most and it is the upanishad recited during Perumal Kovil "Thirumanjanam" sessions. It has 3 sections Sikshavalli (pronounciation), Briguvalli and Anandavalli. It is part of Krishna Yajur Vedam. Listen to Velukudi's "Upanishadin Kathaigal" for the background on this really fascinating Upanishad.
1. TTD Ghoshti: This anonymous ghoshti's tape is available in Parthasarathy temple and pretty much every music shop (only tape). This is the best recitation of this Upanishad. While at Parthaarathy temple, do buy the Rs 25 book that has the 'text' of this upanishad (in Sanskrit & Thamizh) for sing-along purposes. It is a difficult pronounciation task. But the meter of its recitation makes the journey really enjoyable.
2. Malola Kannan: He has 2 CDs. One on Tattarya Upanishad and another one on Mahanarayana Upanidshad. the book that you buy covers both these CDs.
4000 Divya Prabhandam:
1. Malola Kannan & N.S. Ranganathan: They have released a 4 CD pack reciting the entire Prabhandam set. I highly recommend this CD. Also buy the "Natteri" book (available for Rs 100) that contains all the prabhandams in text for 'sing along' purposes. Malola Kannan also has a separate 2CD set on 108-Sthala Paasurams that contains only the Azhwar hymns which callout and identify the 108 Divya Desams. The other artist in this CD, Navalpakkam Sri.Ranganathachariar is the son of Sri.U.Ve. Navalpakkam Rajamani Swamin, Archakar of Sri Vedanta Desikan & Srinivasa perumal Sannidhi, Mylapore. Note: Today this CD pack comes with the book.
2. U. Ve. Sevilmedu Srinivasachariar & party: I am not sure if these CDs are available anymore. Prior to the advent of CDs, they used to sell this recitation as tapes.
Malolan Kannan: This would probably be Malolan Kannan's best recitation. Udaka Shanthi contains the Pancha Sookthams, Rudram, Chamakam etc. He does a fantastic job reciting this with remarkable speed. There is an iTrans document floating in the net that contains the text of this.
Melpatur Narayana Bhatadri's "Narayaneeyam" (composed in 10th century) is a devotional hymn for "Guruvayurappan". This is a fantastic set of hymns. Very soft, soothing and enchanting. Narayana Bhatadri, while suffering from rheumatism, composed over thousand slokas and sang them in front of Guruvayur deity. The slokas communicate the theme of Srimad Bhaagavadam.
1. Leela: Everybody who owns Narayaneeyam has Leela's version. Her voice is the voice of Narayaneeyam as much as M.S is the voice of Suprabhatham.
2. Prema Rangarajan: What a voice? my god. If I were Guruvayurappan - I would wait for her to sing before me everyday. Prema's voice is comparable to the great MLV. I highly recommend this CD.
Note: Most CDs mentioned in this post are available in Landmark, MusicIndia type stores too.