The Thanjavur Maratha kings have been among the many best patrons of the humanities, and Carnatic music flourished throughout their reign with an ever-increasing variety of vidwans providing a veritable banquet of music at their courts. Thanjavur thus grew to become the royal seat of music.
The Maratha kings gained the hearts of the vidwans with their deep appreciation of music in addition to their awards and beneficiant endowments. The titles and honorifics reveal how effectively the musicians have been appreciated — Veenai Perumalaiyer, Pallavi Gopalaiyer, Irattai Pallavi or Sanjeevi Sivaramaiyer, Sallagal Krishnaiyer, Ghanam Krishnaiyer, Tsoukam Srinivasaiyengar and Thodi Seetaramaiyer. To the kings additionally goes the credit score of patronising Pachimiriyam Adiyappaiya, who was not solely an incredible musician himself, however had additionally taught many musicians, together with a few of these talked about above.
In the course of the reign of Serfoji — one other connoisseur of the humanities — there was a proficient musician named Narasaiyar. As soon as, within the king’s presence, he sang the ragam Sankarabharanam, with an expansive alapana and imaginative kalpanaswaras. The king and the viewers have been enthralled together with his singing. “We have now by no means heard Sankarabharanam sung like this!” they exclaimed unanimously. The king gave the musician many items and bestowed on him the title ‘Sankarabharanam’ Narasaiyar. And that was how he was addressed thereafter, this ragam turning into a well-liked alternative in any respect his live shows.
Pledging ragas for mortgage
As soon as Narasaiyar, deep in debt, was pressured to borrow, however his efforts to discover a lender have been in useless. He approached Ramabadra Moopanar of Kapisthalam, a rich and beneficiant music connoisseur. After having fun with Moopanar’s heat hospitality for just a few days, he gently broached the aim of his go to.
“I’ve incurred some sudden expenditure. I really feel tremendously inhibited about asking anybody for cash, however then I remembered you. I assumed I would get a mortgage from you.”
“Mortgage? How a lot do you want?” requested Moopanar.
“Eighty sovereigns,” replied Narasaiyar.
“You say you desire a mortgage. Will you pledge something as safety?” requested Moopanar.
“Sure, I’ll,” mentioned Narasaiyar, after some thought.
“What is going to you give as safety? An decoration, an abharanam. Let me see it,” mentioned Moopanar.
“You can not see it, you possibly can hear it, it’s imperishable, it’s a spring of pleasure, it’s my ragam Sankarabharanam. I pledge it. Till I return this gold, I promise I cannot sing it wherever.” Moopanar agreed and gave the gold. Narasaiyar signed a deed, left with the gold and settled his money owed. After that, he sang different ragams at his live shows however by no means sang Sankarabharanam.
Presently there lived in Kumbakonam a rich man named Appu Rayar, a high-ranking worker of the East India Firm. Since he wielded affect in Thanjavur and Tiruchirapalli, he was referred to as Ubhaya Samasthana Diwan. Wallis, a British officer had nice regard for Appu Rayar, so he was even referred to as Wallis Appu Rayar. He owned properties in Reddirayar Agraharam in Kumbakonam. A marriage got here up in Rayar’s household. He wished to have a good time it grandly, and he organized for live shows by the most effective musicians, together with Narasaiyar. In the course of the live performance, Appu Rayar and the viewers requested Narasaiyar to sing Sankarabharanam. Narasaiyar defined that he had pledged the ragam, and couldn’t sing it till he had repaid the mortgage. Appurayar was astonished to listen to this and provided to assist him repay the mortgage.
He despatched an emissary with the gold (along with the curiosity accrued) to Moopanar, asking him to shut the mortgage and redeem the pledge. Moopanar instantly got down to Kumbakonam and met Narasaiyar and Appu Rayar.
“Forgive me,” mentioned Moopanar. “The good vidwan has the correct to ask me for any quantity. Is just not my wealth solely to assist folks like him? It harm me that he wanted a mortgage. In jest, I requested for safety and he provided the ragam. It reveals his integrity that he has not sung it since. This cash shouldn’t be mine, it’s his. You give it again to him. Furthermore, for imprisoning Sankarabharanam all lately, let there be a penalty on me, additionally to be paid to him. Right here is the discharge deed.”
“We have now seen debtors returning the mortgage with curiosity. However for a lender to return the cash together with penalty is unprecedented,” mentioned everybody, amazed by Moopanar’s magnanimity.
The subsequent day, on the wedding ceremony, Narasaiyar sang Sankarabharanam and its notes poured like nectar from the heavens on the viewers beneath. And Narasaiyar grew to become Appu Rayar’s favorite vidwan.
From a set of U.Ve.Sa’s essays, translated by Prabha Sridevan & Pradeep Chakravarthy and edited by Mini Krishnan.
(Image illustration by Satheesh Vellinezhi)