Monday, November 24, 2008


God had taken away his eyes at early age, but given him much more!!

A classical music concert usually goes on for about 3 hours; and most of us know that it is not a one man show but team-work. Every artist is important and synchronization is most important. When neraval or swara-prastara is going on, the artists need to be very careful on maintaining the Taalas because they will be playing alternatively or in a sequence(in case where there are more than 2). It gets even more complicated for an instrumentalist, since his hands will not be free to keep track of Taala. Some amateur instrumentalists resort to reliable audience who could keep Taala for them. Now imagine an instrumentalist who is visually challenged doing everything and more than a normal person on stage. He is never conscious of anything, yet he never goes wrong anywhere. It is not very uncommon for very famous performers to make one or two mistakes; but this person-never! Probably if he had eyes like us, he would not have been so good? Whatever it may be, he is what he is. God has blessed him with divine eyes, which can see lot more things than we can; divine ears which are capable of listening and absorbing music; divine hands which can produce wonderful treat for us in the form of music.

Smt. Charubala Mohan realized by 1939 that world is full of darkness for her 2 year old son, Chandrashekharan. He lost his eyes following a jaundice attack. Almost at the same time she lost her husband too. But she was not daunted by that. She herself was a musician and the child's inclination towards music gave her hints as to in what direction she must take him. She was the first Guru for him, in music as well as Braille. He could read and write in Tamil, English, Samskrit and Telugu. Later he learnt vocals from Mannargudi Sambasiva Bhagavatar, Kumbakonam S. Viswanathan, Vidyala Narasimha Naidu and T. Jayammal etc. In fact, one can see that now, even at the age of 71, he has the humility of a student and keeps learning from his performances. But his reverence towards his mother is above everything and everyone. One can see the phrase "Mathru Devo Bhava" in most of his CD's.

His debut concert was on March 5th, 1949, at Thyagaraja Vidwat Samajam. In 1950, at the age of 13, he won the first prize in a violin competition conducted by the Music Academy, Madras. He is unique in his feelings towards other artists. When he accompanies, he appreciates main artist and percussionists generously. When he is the main artist, he encourages everyone with "Shahbhash, Shahbhash". He has accompanied many renowned artists like G. N. Balasubramaniam, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Musiri Subramania Iyer, T. R. Mahalingam (flute), Madurai Mani Iyer, Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, Madurai Somasundaram T. K. Rangachari, Ramnad Krishnan Maharajapuram Santhanam, Dr.S.Ramanathan and living legends Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Balamuralikrishna. K.V.Narayaswamy and Nedanuri Krshnamurthy ,including current popular artists like T.N.Seshgopalan, T.V.Sankaranarayanan, Dr. N.Ramani.and Thiruchur Ramachandran. He gives violin concerts as well as vocal concerts. After his daughter Ms.Bharathi started giving concert, he has been giving duet concerts with her. The well-known violinist Ms.Kanyakumari is his student. He has about 30 accomplished students.

Another interesting point about his concerts is that he involves audience not just with his music but also with his sweet talking. He can speak a little bit of Kannada and he does it whenever he is in Karnataka. His respect for his fans is seen in all his performances. About 3 years ago, in Sheshadripuram it rained during his concert. Some of us went and sat around him on stage and we requested him to continue. He asked us what we wanted him to play. I grabbed the opportunity and said, "Mokhsamugalada", and the dear old man said, "Haa haa thank you, we'll make it the main item for the day". Ragalapa, krithi, neraval and swaraprastara in soulful Saramathi, it was very much suited for that evening. Another example happens to be from yesterday's concert, to which I went late due to rains. He was singing Anandabhairavi when I went and then they played "Bhuvaneshwariya". After that he asked, "Now it is the time for your request". I went near the stage and asked him to play Navagraha krithi, i.e. Suryamurthe (Sowrashtra raaga) since it was Sunday. He was intrigued with the idea and played it with so much devotion that unconsciously my hands went into Namaskara mudra (Suryamurthe Namostuthe, Sundara chayaadhipathe). To my surprise, he thanked the 'person who requested this' in public. It really touched my heart; I've never had such an experience before, never seen anyone saying it to anybody else too.

Chandrasekaran is a recipient of several honors - Sangeet Natak Akademi award (1986), Mysore Chowdiah National award (1989), Astana Vidwan of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam (1993), Kalaimamani from the Government of Tamil Nadu, Sangeetha Choodamanii, Mathurakala Praveena, Sangeetha Kalanidhi (2005) and many more. He was a visiting faculty at the Palghat Music College.

There may be hundreds or thousands of classical musicians, but there are very few who are with some disability. Among them there may be very very few who are very distinguished. Out of those, if we try to pick artists who are humble, spread devotion and love with their music, currently we will think of only one name, i.e. Sri M.Chandrashekharan.
Acknowledgment: Some of the facts are taken from this and this.

Monday, November 17, 2008



Finally the time has come to write about this topic. Wonder why in these 3 years I never dared to write about this. Most of the time used to go in analysing the different terms associated with it: crush, attraction, infatuation etc etc. But none of these are equivalent to this strong word called love. My focus in this post is not any other form of love but love between a male and female.

In my view, if a feeling of a girl towards a guy/man has to be called as love, it needs to be very pure. [I will intentionally not talk about the other side of it here, because I don't think I am qualified enough. Readers are welcome to add] By pure, I refer to the absence of "Arishadvargas" (six foes) called "Kama, Krodha, Lobha, Moha, Mada, Mathsara" (Lust, Anger, Greed, Attachment, Ego, Jealousy). In such a case, love can do wonders. It can elevate the person being in love to the next higher level in life. Only such a love has the power to bring about drastic and permanent changes. True love need not end in marriage, but it'll definitely prepare one for a better life. If a person has "loved" someone, then she will not be desperate to marry him. If there's desperation, it is not love, it is greed or lust or attachment or a mixture of these.

A girl/woman in real love will always wish for the happiness of the man she loves. I don't call it sacrifice, rather I call it selfishness. The reason being that she feels happy if he is happy and a sensible woman knows that a man's happiness lies in being with a woman he likes and a woman's happiness lies in being with a man she is liked by. Also, as the famous saying goes, "A man should love his wife without trying to understand her; A woman should understand her husband without trying to love him. Most people do the other way and make their life miserable." Actually women have tremondous capacity to understand human mind and that's why they can do the job of a mother very well. Similarly, men love like crazy and that's why they sometimes become "Devadasas". Not to offend men. (Why there is no female counterpart to this? Note: the word "Devdasi" has a different meaning.) Finally I would like to say that if love is channelized well, the world will be such a beautiful place to live!

Over to you, readers!

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