2:47 PM Posted by Vijayasri
Abhang : baktajana vatsale
rAga: brindAvan Saranga(brindavani/purya dhanashri)
Abhang is a form of devotional poetry sung in praise of the Hindu god Vitthala also known as Vithoba in marati language. Tukaram,namdev were famous Marati poets who have composed many abhangs.
Why does a carnatic music concert need to include abhangs ?
There is a always a controversy with the carnatic music audience why the musicians sing abhang (marati poetry) in the south indian classical music concert.
The history which gives a clear perspective of the sociological change and can make us understand the role of maratis in tamilnadu.
“King Achutharaya (16th century) ruled after Krishnadevaraya. Vittalaraya was his younger brother. He built the temple of Vittal on the banks of the Thamirabharani river. Surrounding the temple, a village came into being and it was named NATTARKULAM. The name was later changed to Vittaleswarapuram, which in turn came to be known as Vitthalapuram. The deity is a chaturbhuja – He holds a conch and a chakra; two hands rest on His waist; to His left is Rakhumaayee and to the right is Satyabhaama. Vitthalapuram is 60 kms from Tirunelveli. The Vitthal temple in Triplicane, Chennai, was built by Kothandarama Swamigal.Yet another Vitthal temple is at Govindapuram, Tanjore.
Maharashtrians migrated to Tamil Nadu during Shivaji’s reign. Shivaji’s grandson Sarfoji was a great patron of art and literature who encouraged the singing of bhajans. Bhajans with just Marathi abhangs were also performed. During the reign of Shivaji’s descendents many Maharashtrian families settled down in Tanjore thus widening the scope for spreading of abhangs. Tukaram Beej is being celebrated at “Tukaram Nivas” in Thiruvannamalai for the last one hundred years. Sampradaya bhajana in Tamil Nadu generally included Tukaram’s abhangs. sundara te dhyana and bare paanduranga were favourites of Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi and sung by her in concerts.
The varkari sampradaya of Maharashtra is well-known for the ecstatic bhajan-singing. The influence of this sampradaya on the bhajana paddhati and evolution of the katha kalakshepam form in Tamil Nadu could be noted from the late 18th century when the Maratha dynasty ruled in Tanjore. Bhajan groups from Pandharpur used to visit many towns in this state, enthralling listeners, even a few decades ago. In carnatic music concerts Smt. M.L. Vasantakumari used to include an abhang or two in her program. In the contemporary scene, musicians like Smt. Aruna Sayeeram, Smts. Ranjani & Gayathri who were raised in Mumbai have gained appreciation for singing abhangs in their performances.
As long as the pronounciation of the abhang is good , I guess there is nothing wrong in including the abhangs in carnatic music concerts. Music needs no language as long as it is enjoyable and invokes devotion. And if the musician does justice to the concert by fulfilling the concert rules laid by 'Aryakudi Ramanaja Iyengar' which has been followed till date, these lighter pieces like abhang can definitely be added.
The lyrics of the beautiful abhang 'bhaktha jana vatsale' set in raaga brindavani and Eka talam by the poet Namdev are given below.
bhakta jana vatsalE E igO viTThalE
karuNAkallOlE pANDurangE || 1
sajala jalada dhar pItaMbar paridhAn
Ehi uddharaNE kEShi rAjE || 2
nAmAmhaNe tu viShvAcI jananI
kshIrAbdhi nivAsini jagadambE || 3
An invocation abhang to Lord Panduranga Vittala, “Bhaktha Jana Vatsale,” composed by Namdev is Smt.Aruna Sairam's trademark. None other than her can strike an instant impact on the rasikas in abhangs.
In this piece, Namdev portrays Vittala as Mother. He describes Vittala as Kshrabdi Nivasini and Jagadambe.
Hear this beautiful abhang by Smt.Aruna Sairam.
Another video of the same abhang by O.S.Arun.