R Venkataramanan

R Venkataramanan

R Venkat's Blog

R Venkat's Blog
"To be an Inspiring Teacher,one should be a Disciplined Student throughout Life" - Venkataramanan Ramasethu



Sunday, May 29, 2011

Jiddu Krishnamurti - A man who believes in God can never find God

Question: Is belief in God necessary or helpful?
Jiddu Krishnamurti : As I said, belief in any form is a hindrance. A man who believes in God can never find God. If you are open to reality, there can be no belief in reality. If you are open to the unknown, there can be no belief in it. After all, belief is a form of self-protection, and only a petty mind can believe in God. Look at the belief of the aviators during the war who said God was their companion as they were dropping bombs!

So you believe in God when you kill, when you are exploiting people. You worship God and go on ruthlessly extorting money, supporting the army - yet you say you believe in mercy, compassion, kindliness. Obviously, such belief is a hindrance to the understanding of reality. All belief in any form is a hindrance, including your belief in God. Your belief is a hindrance to the discovery of the real because it is based on an idea or patterned after a tradition.

As long as belief exists, there can never be the unknown; you cannot think about the unknown; thought cannot measure it. The mind is the product of the past; it is the result of yesterday, and can such a mind be open to the unknown? It can only project an image, but that projection is not real; so your god is not God - it is an image of your own making, an image of your own gratification.

There can be reality only when the mind understands the total process of itself and comes to an end. When the mind is completely empty - only then is it capable of receiving the unknown.

The mind is not purged until it understands the content of relationship - its relationship with property, with people - until it has established the right relationship with everything. Until it understands the whole process of conflict in relationship, the mind cannot be free. Only when the mind is wholly silent, completely inactive, not projecting, when it is not seeking and is utterly still - only then that which is eternal and timeless comes into being.

This is not speculation, something which you can learn from another; it is not sentiment or sensation - it is a thing that has to be experienced. You cannot experience it as long as the mind is active. Silence of the mind is not achieved by action; it is not a thing to be gone after; it comes only when conflict ceases. To understand one's conflict in relationship is the beginning of wisdom, and when the mind is tranquil, that which is eternal comes into being.

Source - Jiddu Krishnamurti talk Ceylon, January 15, 1950

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Carnatic music

Carnatic music (Sanskrit: Karnāṭaka saṃgīta) is a system of music commonly associated with the southern part of the Indian subcontinent, with its area roughly confined to four modern states of India: Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu. It is one of two main sub-genres of Indian classical music that evolved from ancient Hindu traditions; the other sub-genre being Hindustani music, which emerged as a distinct form because of Persian and Islamic influences in North India. In contrast to Hindustani music, the main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in gāyaki (singing) style.

Although there are stylistic differences, the basic elements of śruti (the relative musical pitch), swara (the musical sound of a single note), rāga (the mode or melodic formulæ), and tala (the rhythmic cycles) form the foundation of improvisation and composition in both Carnatic and Hindustani music. Although improvisation plays an important role, Carnatic music is mainly sung through compositions, especially the kriti (or kirtanam), a form developed between the 16th and 20th centuries by composers such as Purandara Dasa and the Trinity of Carnatic music.

Carnatic music is usually performed by a small ensemble of musicians, consisting of a principal performer (usually a vocalist), a melodic accompaniment (usually a violin), a rhythm accompaniment (usually a mridangam), and a tambura, which acts as a drone throughout the performance. Other typical instruments used in performances may include the ghatam, kanjira, morsing, veena & flute. The most outstanding performances, and the greatest concentration of Carnatic musicians, are found in the city of Chennai.[1] In particular, the six week-long Music Season held in Chennai every December, has been described as the world's largest cultural event.[2]

Like all art forms in Indian culture, Carnatic music is believed to have a divine origin. It originated from the Devas and Devis (Hindu Gods and Goddesses),[3][4] and is venerated as symbolic of nāda brāhman.[5] Ancient treatises describe the connection of the origin of the swaras, or notes, to the sounds of animals and birds and man's effort to simulate these sounds through a keen sense of observation and perception. The Sama Veda, which is believed to have laid the foundation for Indian classical music, consists of hymns from the Rigveda, set to musical tunes which would be sung using three to seven musical notes during Vedic yajnas.[6] The Yajur-Veda, which mainly consists of sacrificial formulae, mentions the veena as an accompaniment to vocal recitations.[7] References to Indian classical music are made in many ancient texts, including epics like the Ramayana and Mahabharata. The Yajnavalkya Smriti mentions vīṇāvādana tattvajñaḥ śrutijātiviśāradaḥ tālajñaścāprayāsena mokṣamārgaṃ niyacchati ("The one who is well versed in veena, one who has the knowledge of srutis and one who is adept in tala, attains salvation without doubt").[8] Carnatic music is based as it is today on musical concepts (including swara, raga, and tala) that were described in detail in several ancient works, particularly the Silappadhikaram, and Bharata's Natya Shastra.[9]

Owing to Persian and Islamic influences in North India from the 12th century onwards, Hindustani music and Carnatic music styles diverged.[1] By the 16th and 17th centuries, there was a clear demarcation between Carnatic and Hindustani music.[10] It was at this time that Carnatic music flourished in Thanjavur, while the Vijayanagar Empire reached its greatest extent.[11] Purandara Dasa, who is known as the father (Pitamaha) of Carnatic Music, formulated the system that is commonly used for the teaching of Carnatic music.[4][12] Venkatamakhin invented and authored the formula for the melakarta system of raga classification in his Sanskrit work, the Chaturdandi Prakasika (1660 AD).[10] Govindacharya is known for expanding the melakarta system into the sampoorna raga scheme - the system that is in common use today.

Carnatic music was mainly patronized by the local kings of the Kingdom of Mysore and Kingdom of Travancore in the 18th through 20th centuries. The royalty of the kingdoms of Mysore and Travancore were noted composers and proficient in playing musical instruments, such as the veena, rudra veena, violin, ghatam, flute, mridangam, nagaswara and swarabhat.[13] Some famous court-musicians and royalty proficient in music were Veene Sheshanna (1852–1926)[14] and Veene Subbanna (1861–1939),[15] among others.

With the dissolution of the erstwhile princely states and the Indian independence movement reaching its conclusion in 1947, Carnatic music went through a radical shift in patronage into an art of the masses with ticketed performances organized by private institutions called sabhas. During the 19th century, Madras emerged as the locus for Carnatic music.[16]

The main emphasis in Carnatic music is on vocal music; most compositions are written to be sung, and even when played on instruments, they are meant to be performed in a singing style (known as gāyaki).[17] Like Hindustani music, Carnatic music rests on two main elements: rāga, the modes or melodic formulæ, and tāḷa, the rhythmic cycles.[17]

Today, Carnatic music is presented by musicians in concerts or recordings, either vocally or through instruments. Carnatic music itself developed around musical works or compositions of phenomenal composers

Main article: Śruti (music)
Śruti commonly refers to musical pitch.[18] It is the approximate equivalent of a tonic (or less precisely a key) in Western music; it is the note from which all the others are derived. It is also used in the sense of graded pitches in an octave. While there are an infinite number of sounds falling within a scale (or raga) in Carnatic music, the number that can be distinguished by auditory perception is twenty-two (although over the years, several of them have converged). In this sense, while sruti is determined by auditory perception, it is also an expression in the listener's mind.[19]

Main article: Swara
Swara refers to a type of musical sound that is a single note, which defines a relative (higher or lower) position of a note, rather than a defined frequency.[18] Swaras also refer to the solfege of Carnatic music, which consist of seven notes, "sa-ri-ga-ma-pa-da-ni" (compare with the Hindustani sargam: sa-re-ga-ma-pa-dha-ni or Western do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti). These names are abbreviations of the longer names shadja, rishabha, gandhara, madhyama, panchama, dhaivata and nishada. Unlike other music systems, every member of the solfege (called a swara) has three variants. The exceptions are the drone notes, shadja and panchama (also known as the tonic and the dominant), which have only one form; and madhyama (the subdominant), which has two forms. A 7th century stone inscription in Kudumiyan Malai[20] in Tamil Nadu shows vowel changes to solfege symbols with ra, ri, ru etc. to denote the higher quarter-tones. In one scale, or raga, there is usually only one variant of each note present. The exceptions exist in "light" ragas, in which, for artistic effect, there may be two, one ascending (in the arohanam) and another descending (in the avarohanam).

Raga system
Main article: Raga
A raga in Carnatic music prescribes a set of rules for building a melody - very similar to the Western concept of mode.[21] It specifies rules for movements up (aarohanam) and down (avarohanam), the scale of which notes should figure more and which notes should be used more sparingly, which notes may be sung with gamaka (ornamentation), which phrases should be used or avoided, and so on. In effect, it is a series of obligatory musical events which must be observed, either absolutely or with a particular frequency.[22]

In Carnatic music, the sampoorna ragas (those with all seven notes in their scales) are classified into a system called the melakarta, which groups them according to the kinds of notes that they have. There are seventy-two melakarta ragas, thirty six of whose madhyama (subdominant) is sadharana (perfect fourth from the tonic), the remaining thirty-six of whose madhyama (subdominant) is prati (an augmented fourth from the tonic). The ragas are grouped into sets of six, called chakras ("wheels", though actually segments in the conventional representation) grouped according to the supertonic and mediant scale degrees. There is a system known as the katapayadi sankhya to determine the names of melakarta ragas.

Ragas may be divided into two classes: janaka ragas (i.e. melakarta or parent ragas) and janya ragas (descendant ragas of a particular janaka raga). Janya ragas are themselves subclassified into various categories.

Tala system
Main article: Tala (music)
Tala refers to the beat set for a particular composition (a measure of time). Talas have cycles of a defined number of beats and rarely change within a song. They have specific components, which in combinations can give rise to the variety to exist (over 108), allowing different compositions to have different rhythms.[23]

Carnatic music singers usually keep the beat by moving their hands up and down in specified patterns, and using their fingers simultaneously to keep time. Tala is formed with three basic parts (called angas) which are laghu, dhrtam, and anudhrtam, though complex talas may have other parts like plutam, guru, and kaakapaadam. There are seven basic tala groups which can be formed from the laghu, dhrtam, and anudhrtam:

Dhruva tala
Matya tala
Rupaka tala
Jhampa tala
Triputa tala
Ata tala
Eka tala

A laghu has five variants (called jaathis) based on the counting pattern. Five jaathis times seven tala groups gives thirty-five basic talas, although use of other angas results in a total of 108 talas.

Improvisation in raga is the soul of Indian classical music [24] - an essential aspect.[25] "Manodharma sangeetham" or "kalpana sangeetham" ("music of imagination") as it is known in Carnatic music, embraces several varieties of improvisation.[25][26] The main traditional forms of improvisation in Carnatic music consist of alapana, niraval, kalpanaswaram, ragam thanam pallavi, and thani avarthanam.[27][28]

Raga Alapana
Main article: Alapana
An alapana, sometimes also called ragam,[29] is the exposition of a raga or tone - a slow improvisation with no rhythm,[30] where the raga acts as the basis of embellishment.[22] In performing alapana, performers consider each raga as an object that has beginnings and endings and consists somehow of sequences of thought.[22]

The performer will explore the ragam and touch on its various nuances,[29] singing in the lower octaves first, then gradually moving up to higher octaves, while giving a hint of the song to be performed.[30]

Theoretically, this ought to be the easiest type of improvisation, since the rules are so few, but in fact, it takes much skill to sing a pleasing, comprehensive (in the sense of giving a "feel for the ragam") and, most importantly, original raga alapana.

Main article: Niraval
Niraval, usually performed by the more advanced performers, consists of singing one or two lines of a song repeatedly, but with a series of melodic improvised elaborations.[31] The lines are then also played at different levels of speed which can include double speed, triple speed, quadruple speed and even sextuple speed.[32]

Main article: Kalpanaswaram
Kalpanaswaram, also known as swarakalpana, consists of improvising melodic and rhythmic passages using swaras (solfa syllables).[33] Kalpanaswaras are sung to end on a particular swara in the raga of the melody and at a specific place (idam) in the tala cycle.[34] Generally, the swaras are sung to end on the samam (the first beat of the rhythmical cycle), and can be sung at the same speed or double the speed of the melody that is being sung, though some artists sing triple-speed phrases too.[32]

Kalpanaswaram is the most elementary type of improvisation, usually taught before any other form of improvisation.

Tanam is one of the most important forms of improvisation, and is integral to Ragam Tanam Pallavi.[35] Originally developed for the veena, it consists of expanding the raga with syllables like tha, nam, thom, aa, nom, na, etc.

Ragam Tanam Pallavi
Main article: Ragam Tanam Pallavi
Ragam Tanam Pallavi is the principal long form in concerts,[35] and is a composite form of improvisation. As the name suggests, it consists of raga alapana, tanam, and a pallavi line. Set to a slow-paced tala, the pallavi line is often composed by the performer. Through niraval, the performer manipulates the pallavi line in complex melodic and rhythmic ways.[29] The niraval is followed by kalpanaswarams.

Thani Avarthanam
Tani Avartanam refers to the extended solo that is played by the percussionists in a concert.[36] The percussionist displays the full range of his skills and rhythmic imagination during the solo, which may take from two to twenty minutes.[36]

In contrast to Hindustani music of the northern part of India, Carnatic music is taught and learned through compositions, which encode many intricate musical details, also providing scope for free improvisation. Nearly every rendition of a Carnatic music composition is different and unique as it embodies elements of the composer's vision, as well as the musician's interpretation.

A Carnatic composition really has two elements, one being the musical element, the other being what is conveyed in the composition. It is probably because of this fact that most Carnatic music compositions are composed for singing. In addition to the rich musical experience, each composition brings out the knowledge and personality of the composer, and hence the words are as important as the musical element itself. This poses a special challenge for the musicians because rendering this music does not involve just playing or singing the correct musical notes; the musicians are expected to understand what was conveyed by the composer in various languages, and sing musical phrases that act to create the effect that was intended by the composer in his/her composition.

There are many types/forms of compositions.

Geethams and swarajatis (which have their own peculiar composition structures) are principally meant to serve as basic learning exercises.

Compositions more commonly associated with Indian classical dance and Indian devotional music have also been increasingly used in the Carnatic music repertoire. The performance of the Sanskrit sloka, Tamil viruttam and Telegu padyamu or sisapadya forms are particularly unique. Though these forms consist of lyric-based verses, musicians improvise raga phrases in free rhythm, like an alapana,[31] so both the sound value, and the meaning of the text, guide the musician through elaborate melodic improvisations.[37] Forms such as the divya prabandham, thevaram and ugabhoga are often performed similarly, however, these forms can also have a set melody and rhythm like the devaranama, javali, padam, thillana and thiruppugazh forms.

The most common and significant forms in Carnatic music are the varnam and the kriti (or kirtanam).

Main article: Varnam
This is a special item which highlights everything important about a raga, known as the sanchaaraas of a raga [38] - this includes which notes to stress, how to approach a certain note, classical and characteristic phrases of a raga, the scale of the raga, and so on. Though there are a few different types of varnams, in essence, they all have a pallavi, an anupallavi, muktayi swaras, a charanam, and chittaswaras.[38] They are sung in multiple speeds, and are very good for practice.[38] In concerts, varnams are often sung at the beginning as they are fast and grab the audience's attention.[38]

Main article: Kriti
Carnatic songs (kritis) are varied in structure and style, but generally consist of three units:

Pallavi. This is the equivalent of a refrain in Western music. One or two lines.
Anupallavi. The second verse. Also two lines.
Charana. The final (and longest) verse that wraps up the song. The Charanam usually borrows patterns from the Anupallavi. There can be multiple charanas.
This kind of song is called a keerthanam or a kriti. There are other possible structures for a kriti, which may in addition include swara passages named chittaswara. Chittaswara consists only of notes, and has no words. Still others have a verse at the end of the charana, called the madhyamakāla. It is sung immediately after the charana, but at double speed.

There are many composers in Carnatic music. Purandara Dasa (1480–1564) is known as the father (Pitamaha) of Carnatic music because of his pioneering contributions to Carnatic music. Purandara Dasa is renowned for formulating the basic lessons of Carnatic music. He structured graded exercises known as Swaravalis and Alankaras, and at the same time, introduced the Raga Mayamalavagowla as the first scale to be learnt by beginners. He also composed Gitas (simple songs) for novice students.

A portrait of Muthuswamy Dikshitar - one of the celebrated Carnatic trinity.The contemporaries Tyagaraja (1759? - 1847), Muthuswami Dikshitar, (1776–1827) and Syama Sastri, (1762–1827) are regarded as the Trinity of Carnatic music because of the quality of Syama Sastri's compositions, the varieties of compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar and Tyagaraja's prolific output in composing kritis.[39]

Prominent composers prior to the Trinity of Carnatic music include Arunachala Kavi, Annamacharya, Narayana Theertha, Vijaya Dasa, Bhadrachala Ramadas, Sadasiva Brahmendra and Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi. Other composers are Swathi Thirunal, Gopalakrishna Bharathi, Neelakanta Sivan, Patnam Subramania Iyer, Mysore Vasudevachar, Koteeswara Iyer, Muthiah Bhagavathar, Subramania Bharathiyar and Papanasam Sivan. The compositions of these composers are rendered frequently by artists of today.

Composers of Carnatic music were often inspired by religious devotion and were usually scholars proficient in one or more of the languages Kannada, Malayalam, Sanskrit, Tamil and Telugu. They usually included a signature, called a mudra, in their compositions. For example, all songs by Tyagaraja (who composed in Telugu) have the word Tyagaraja in them, all songs by Muthuswami Dikshitar (who composed in Sanskrit) have the words Guruguha in them, songs by Syama Sastri (who composed in Telugu) have the words Syama Krishna in them, while Purandaradasa, who composed in Kannada, used the signature Purandara Vittala. Gopalakrishna Bharathi used the signature Gopalakrishnan and composed in Tamil. Papanasam Sivan, who has been hailed as the Tamil Thyagaraja of Carnatic music,[40] also composed in this language, as well as Sanskrit,[40] and used the signature Ramadasan.
Carnatic music is traditionally taught according to the system formulated by Purandara Dasa. This involves varisais (graded exercises), alankaras (exercises based on the seven talas), geethams or simple songs, and swarajathis. After the student has reached a certain standard, varnams are taught and later, the student learns kritis. It typically takes several years of learning before a student is adept enough to perform at a concert.

The learning texts and exercises are more or less uniform across all the South Indian states. The learning structure is arranged in increasing order of complexity. The lessons start with the learning of the sarali varisai (solfege set to a particular raga).

Carnatic music was traditionally taught in the gurukula system, where the student lived with and learnt the art from his guru (perceptor). From the late 20th century onwards, with changes in lifestyles and need for young music aspirants to simultaneously pursue a parallel academic career, this system has found few takers.

Musicians often take great pride in letting people know about their Guru Parampara, or the hierarchy of disciples from some prominent ancient musician or composer, to which they belong. People whose disciple-hierarchies are often referred to are Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Syama Sastri, Swathi Thirunal and Papanasam Sivan, among others.

In modern times, it is common for students to visit their gurus daily or weekly to learn music. Though new technology has made learning easier with the availability of quick-learn media such as learning exercises recorded on audio cassettes and CDs, these are discouraged by most gurus who emphasize that face-to-face learning is best for students.

Notation is not a new concept in Indian music. However, Carnatic music continued to be transmitted orally for centuries without being written down. The disadvantage with this system was that if one wanted to learn about a kriti composed, for example, by Purandara Dasa, it involved the difficult task of finding a person from Purandara Dasa's lineage of students.

Written notation of Carnatic music was revived in the late 17th century and early 18th century, which coincided with rule of Shahaji II in Tanjore. Copies of Shahaji's musical manuscripts are still available at the Saraswati Mahal Library in Tanjore and they give us an idea of the music and its form. They contain snippets of solfege to be used when performing the mentioned ragas.

Unlike classical Western music, Carnatic music is notated almost exclusively in tonic solfa notation using either a Roman or Indic script to represent the solfa names. Past attempts to use the staff notation have mostly failed. Indian music makes use of hundreds of ragas, many more than the church modes in Western music. It becomes difficult to write Carnatic music using the staff notation without the use of too many accidentals. Furthermore, the staff notation requires that the song be played in a certain key. The notions of key and absolute pitch are deeply rooted in Western music, whereas the Carnatic notation does not specify the key and prefers to use scale degrees (relative pitch) to denote notes. The singer is free to choose the actual pitch of the tonic note. In the more precise forms of Carnatic notation, there are symbols placed above the notes indicating how the notes should be played or sung; however, informally this practice is not followed.

To show the length of a note, several devices are used. If the duration of note is to be doubled, the letter is either capitalized (if using Roman script) or lengthened by a diacritic (in Indian languages). For a duration of three, the letter is capitalized (or diacriticized) and followed by a comma. For a length of four, the letter is capitalized (or diacriticized) and then followed by a semicolon. In this way any duration can be indicated using a series of semicolons and commas.

However, a simpler notation has evolved which does not use semicolons and capitalization, but rather indicates all extensions of notes using a corresponding number of commas. Thus, Sā quadrupled in length would be denoted as "S,,,".

The notation is divided into columns, depending on the structure of the tāḷaṃ. The division between a laghu and a dhrutam is indicated by a ।, called a ḍaṇḍā, and so is the division between two dhrutams or a dhrutam and an anudhrutam. The end of a cycle is marked by a ॥, called a double ḍaṇḍā, and looks like a caesura.

Carnatic music is usually performed by a small ensemble of musicians, who sit on an elevated stage. This usually consists of, at least, a principal performer, a melodic accompaniment, a rhythm accompaniment, and a drone.[41]

The tambura is the traditional drone instrument used in concerts. However, tamburas are increasingly being replaced by śruti boxes, and now more commonly, the electronic tambura. The drone itself is an integral part of performances and furnishes stability - the equivalent of harmony in Western music.[42]

Performances can be musical or musical-dramatic. Musical recitals are either vocal, or purely instrumental in nature, while musical-dramatic recitals refer to Harikatha.[41] But irrespective of what type of recital it is, what is featured are compositions which form the core of this genre of music.

In a vocal recital, a concert team may have one or more vocalists as the principal performer(s). Instruments, such as the veena and/or flute, can be occasionally found as a rhythmic accompaniment, but usually, a vocalist is supported by a violin player (who sits on his/her left). The rhythm accompanist is usually a mridangam player (who sits on the other side, facing the violin player). However, other percussion instruments such as the ghatam, kanjira and morsing frequently also accompany the main percussion instrument and play in an almost contrapuntal fashion along with the beats. The objective of the accompanying instruments is far more than following the melody and keeping the beats. The accompaniments form an integral part of every composition presented, and they closely follow and augment the melodic phrases outlined by the lead singer. The vocalist and the violinist take turns while elaborating or while exhibiting creativity in sections like raga, niraval and kalpanaswaram. Unlike Hindustani music concerts, where an accompanying tabla player can keep beats without following the musical phrases at times, in Carnatic music, the accompanists have to follow the intricacies of the composition since there are percussion elements such as eduppu in several compositions. Some of the best concerts feature a good bit of interaction with the lead musicians and accompanists exchanging notes, and accompanying musicians predicting the lead singer's musical phrases.

See also: Indian musical instruments
Concert content
A contemporary Carnatic music concert (called a kutcheri) usually lasts about three hours, and comprises a number of varied compositions. Carnatic songs are composed in a particular raga, which means that they do not deviate from the notes in the raga. Each composition is set with specific notes and beats, but performers improvise extensively. Improvisation occurs in the melody of the composition as well as in using the notes to expound the beauty of the raga.

Concerts usually begin with a varnam or an invocatory item which will act as the opening piece. The varnam is composed with an emphasis on swaras of the raga, but will also have lyrics, the saahityam. It is lively and fast to get the audience's attention. An invocatory item may usually follow the varnam.

After the varnam and/or invocatory item, the artist sings longer compositions called kirtanas (commonly referred to as kritis). Each kriti sticks to one specific raga, although some are composed with more than one raga; these are known as ragamalika (a garland of ragas).

After singing the opening kriti, usually, the performer sings the kalpanaswaram of the raga to the beat. The performer must improvise a string of swaras in any octave according to the rules of the raga and return to beginning of the cycle of beats smoothly, joining the swaras with a phrase selected from the kriti. The violin performs these alternately with the main performer. In very long strings of swara, the performers must calculate their notes accurately to ensure that they stick to the raga, have no awkward pauses or lapses in the beat of the song, and create a complex pattern of notes that a knowledgeable audience can follow.

Performers then begin the main compositions with a section called raga alapana exploring the raga. In this, they use the sounds aa, ri, na, ta, etc. instead of swaras to slowly elaborate the notes and flow of the raga. This begins slowly and builds to a crescendo, and finally establishes a complicated exposition of the raga that shows the performer's skill. All of this is done without any rhythmic accompaniment, or beat. Then the melodic accompaniment (violin or veena), expounds the raga. Experienced listeners can identify many ragas after they hear just a few notes. With the raga thus established, the song begins, usually with lyrics. In this, the accompaniment (usually violin, sometimes veena) performs along with the main performer and the percussion (such as a mridangam). In the next stage of the song, they may sing niraval or kalpanaswaram again.

In most concerts, the main item will at least have a section at the end of the item, for the percussion to perform solo (called the tani avartanam). The percussion artists perform complex patterns of rhythm and display their skill. If multiple percussion instruments are employed, they engage in a rhythmic dialogue until the main performer picks up the melody once again. Some experienced artists may follow the main piece with a ragam thanam pallavi mid-concert, if they do not use it as the main item.

Following the main composition, the concert continues with shorter and lighter songs. Some of the types of songs performed towards the end of the concerts are tillanas and thukkadas - bits of popular kritis or compositions requested by the audience. Every concert that is the last of the day ends with a mangalam, a thankful prayer and conclusion to the musical event.

The audience of a typical concert has a reasonable understanding of Carnatic music. It is also typical to see the audience tapping out the tala in sync with the artist's performance. As and when the artist exhibits creativity, the audience acknowledge it by clapping their hands. With experienced artists, towards the middle of the concert, requests start flowing in. The artist usually sings the requests, and it helps in exhibiting the artist's broad knowledge of the several thousand kritis that are in existence.

Modern performances
Main article: Madras Music Season
Every December, the city of Chennai in India has its six week-long Music Season, which has been described as the world's largest cultural event.[43] The Music Season was started in 1927, to mark the opening of the Madras Music Academy. It used to be a traditional month-long Carnatic music festival, but since then it has also diversified into dance and drama, as well as non-Carnatic art forms.


Kalithogai (Tamil: கலித்தொகை),a classical Tamil poetic work,is the sixth book of Ettuthokai, a Sangam literature anthology. Kalithogai contains one hundred and fifty poems and were written by various authors. Nachinarkiniyar, a Tamil scholar living during the sixth or the seventh century C.E. has annotated this work.

Kalithogai is an anthology of 150 poems in kali metre of varied length dealing with all phases and types of love experience. The poems are categorised into the five thinais according to the mood and subject matter conforming to the Sangam landscape. The first part (2-36) deals with paalai setting, the second (37-65) with kurinchi, the third (66-100) with marutam, the fourth (101-117) with mullai and the fifth (118-150) with neital. These five section were each written by a separate author. Perunkadunkon wrote the paalai songs, the poet Kapilar is attributed to the kurinchi, Ilanaagan the marutham songs, Nalluruthiran the mullai songs and the poet nallanthuvan the neithal songs. However, modern scholarship attributes the entire work to a single author.

Considering the style and usage of words, the work is also considered to be of a later period when compared to most of other Sangam literatures. The name of the compiler of Kalithogai and his patron are not known. The book of annotations for this book written by Nachinarkiniyaar in the mid fifteenth century says that Nallanthuvanaar compiled the Kalithogai anthology.

The poems of Kalithogai show evidence of the ancient music of the Tamil people with its rhythmic phrases.

One of the best examples from this compilation is the one attributed to Nallanthuvanar.

'ஆற்றுதல்' என்பது, ஒன்று அலந்தவர்க்கு உதவுதல்;
'போற்றுதல்' என்பது, புணர்ந்தாரை பிரியாமை;
'பண்பு' எனப்படுவது, பாடு அறிந்து ஒழுகுதல்;
'அன்பு' எனப்படுவது, தன் கிளை செறாஅமை;
'அறிவு' எனப்படுவது, பேதையார் சொல் நோன்றல்;
'செறிவு' எனப்படுவது, கூறியது மறாஅமை;
'நிறை' எனப்படுவது, மறை பிறர் அறியாமை;
'முறை' எனப்படுவது, கண்ணோடாது உயிர் வௌவல்;
'பொறை' எனப்படுவது, போற்றாரை பொறுத்தல்.

Goodness is helping one in distress;
Support is not deserting one who is dependent;
Culture is to act in unison with the ways of the world;
Love is not surrendering ties with one’s kin;
Wisdom is to ignore the advice of the ignorant;
Honesty is not to go back on one’s words;
Integrity is to ignore others’ faults;
Justice is awarding punishment without partiality;
Patience is to suffer the ill-disposed.
(Kalithogai 133) (Translated by C.K. Swaminathan)

The patriarch of Tamil U.V. Swaminatha Iyer - A Tribute by S. VISWANATHAN

TAMILS across the globe celebrated the government's decision to confer the `classical language' status on their mother tongue. This recognition, which puts the ancient language on a par with Greek, Latin and Sanskrit, is not only owing to its antiquity but also its rich literature. What has happened now, say Tamil scholars is only the "official reiteration" of the international academic community's recognition of Tamil literature as `classical', particularly the works such as Paththuppaattu (ten idylls) and Ettuththogai (Eight anthologies) of the Sangam era (from the first and second centuries of the Christian era), besides the better known Thirukkural and Tholkappiam.

Interestingly, the original texts of a significant number of the much-acclaimed literary works of the Sangam period came to public notice only towards the end of the 19th century, when they appeared in print with commentaries. Until then, works such as the Aymperum Kaappiangal (the five great epics) - Silappathikaram, Manimekalai, Kundalakesi, Jeevaka Chintamani and Valaiyapathi, were in the form of palm leaf manuscripts in the possession of scores of families living in various parts of Tamil Nadu. They did not have the skill to read them, and, therefore, did not realise their literary worth. Tamil scholars were aware of the existence of such texts as references in the available works. All that the people knew until then as Tamil literature comprised Bhakti literature, historical works and minor poems. Although very few literary works were available for studies, they did draw the attention of European scholars such as Bishop Robert Caldwell (1814-1891) and Constantine Joseph Beschi (known in Tamil as Veeramamunivar). However, during the same period, Sanskrit literary works attracted more Western attention because of their availability and easy access.

IT was under these circumstances that the need to hunt for the missing palm leaf manuscripts and bring to light the hidden treasure of Tamil literature was felt. Foremost among those who undertook this formidable task was Mahamahopadhyaya Dakshinathya Kalanidhi Uthamadhanapuram Venkatasubbaiyer Swaminatha Iyer (1855-1942), popularly known as "Tamizh thaththaa" (the grand old man of Tamil). A Tamil professor and literary scholar, Swaminatha Iyer's 150th birth anniversary was celebrated on February 19.

He took upon himself the arduous task of collecting the palm leaf manuscripts of great literary works that lay scattered not only in Tamil Nadu but even outside. As part of this mission he undertook long journeys, interesting and fruitful sometimes and unrewarding at others. Ultimately, he succeeded in gathering palm leaf manuscripts of many immortal Tamil works. With the objectivity and detachment of a scientist and the imagination of an artist and critic, he made comparative studies of various manuscripts. Starting with Jeevaka Chintamani in 1887, he printed and published Manimekalai (1898), Silappathikaram (1889), Paththuppaattu (1889) and Purananooru (1894), all appended with scholarly commentaries. Although he brought out about 100 works in all, including minor poems, many of the manuscripts that he gathered remain unpublished.

BORN in 1855 into a poor family at Uthamadhanapuram, near Kumbakonam in the old Thanjavur district, Swaminatha Iyer had his early education in Tamil under some teachers in his village. Although his father Venkatasubbaiyer, a musician, wanted his son to learn music, Swaminatha Iyer was inclined to concentrate on Tamil. When he was 17, he became a disciple of Mahavidwan Meenakshisundaram Pillai, a Tamil scholar, who was in the service of the Thiruvavaduthurai Adheenam in the old Thanjavur district. It was one of the wealthy Saiva mutts in Tamil Nadu, which patronised Tamil teachers and men of letters and propagated its religious philosophy through them. Swaminatha Iyer learnt Tamil under the guidance of Meenakshisundaram Pillai for five years. During this period, he earned the goodwill of the mutt head, himself a Tamil scholar.
After Meenakshisundaram Pillai's death, Swaminatha Iyer was retained in the mutt as a vidvan (scholar). In 1880, he joined the Government Arts College at Kumbakonam as a Tamil teacher, at the instance of the outgoing teacher Thiagaraja Chettiar, also a former student of Meenakshisundaram Pillai. In his autobiography, En Sarithiram, first serialised in the Tamil weekly Ananda Vikatan, from January 1940 to May 1942 and later published as a book in 1950, he gives a graphic account of the rigid selection process he had to undergo before being appointed a Tamil teacher. "Thanks to his erudition in Tamil, skill to explain anything in an interesting manner, training in music and profound love for others, he could easily attract the students," said K.V. Jagannathan, one of his students, in his short biographical note published in En Sarithiram. He was loved and venerated by the students. This was no mean achievement, considering the fact that Swaminatha Iyer had little grounding in English at a time when the craze for English was at its peak, and Tamil teachers did not enjoy the same status as teachers of English and other subjects. After 23 years of service at the Kumbakonam college, he joined the Presidency College, Chennai, in 1903. Even after his retirement in 1919, he continued to teach Tamil. From 1924 to 1927, he was the principal of the Meenakshi Tamil College. He spent the rest of his life as a publisher, which immortalised his name. He died on April 28, 1942, after a brief period of illness, at Thirukkazhukundram, now in Kancheepuram district.

SWAMINATHA IYER's search for Tamil manuscripts began even as he joined the Kumbakonam college as a teacher. Many influential persons who took keen interest in Tamil studies were in touch with him. His meeting with Ramasami Mudaliar, District Munsiff of Salem, proved a turning point in his life. Swaminatha Iyer readily responded to the Munsiff's request to read the palm leaf in his possession and explain it to him. When he knew that the manuscripts were that of Jeevaka Chintamani, which he had been looking for, he was overjoyed. He transcripted the palm leaf manuscripts, a Buddhist work, into paper and edited it with utmost care. He printed and published the epic with notes and commentaries in 1887. It was an instant success. He mobilised funds from all available sources to continue the task of publishing the other invaluable literary works. Donations from Tamil lovers poured in. He also launched a `pre-publication sale' campaign with success.

Then began Swaminatha Iyer's long search for the original texts of ancient literary works. It was a search that lasted until his death. Many people voluntarily parted with the manuscripts in their possession. Swaminatha Iyer visited almost every hamlet and knocked at every door. He employed all the resources at his command to get at the works. As a result, a large number of literary works which were gathering dust as palm leaf manuscripts in lofts, store-rooms, boxes and cupboards saw the light of day. Of them, Silappathikaram, Purananooru and Manimekalai were received by Tamil lovers with a lot of enthusiasm. Purananooru, which mirrored the lives of Tamils during the Sangam period, prompted scholarly research on the subject. In a span of about five decades, Swaminatha Iyer published about 100 books, including minor poems, lyrics, puranas and bhakti (devotional) works.

Referring to the high quality of Swaminatha Iyer's publications, Jagannathan wrote in his biographical note: "What he published was not a mere transcription of the manuscripts in palm leaves. If publication is so simple as that, many others could have done it with success long ago. What Swaminatha Iyer did was to edit and publish these works with detailed footnotes, commentaries and indices, besides biographical notes on the authors. This was very useful and many readers desired to preserve these books for posterity. All this is evidence of not only the scholarship of the editor but also the hard work he had put in."

ANOTHER significant contribution made by Swaminatha Iyer is in the realm of Tamil music, wrote Dr. Arimalam S. Padmanabhan, a researcher and academic, in a paper on the Tamil scholar. Until Swaminatha Iyer came out with his publications of Silappaathikaram, Paththuppaattu and Ettuththogai, music was a grey area in Tamil research.

During the previous four centuries, Telugu and Sanskrit dominated the music scene in Tamil Nadu in the absence of any valuable information on Tamil music. Swaminatha Iyer's publications threw light on the glorious presence of Tamil music in the earlier centuries and paved the way for serious research on the subject.

Abraham Pandithar's Karunamirda Sagaram was the first major research work and it was followed by Vibulaanda Adigal's Yaazh Nool. Both these authors acknowledged the fact that it was Swaminatha Iyer's publications that inspired them to do further research.

"Silappathikaram is the best among the ancient Tamil literary works that provide vast information on Tamil music," observes Prof. V.P.K. Sundaram, another noted Tamil music researcher. "Without Swaminatha Iyer's publication there could have been no Karunamirda Sagaram," he observes. As the son of a famous musician of his time, Swaminatha Iyer learnt music from Gopalakrishna Bharathi, an outstanding musical exponent and the author of Nandan Sarithiram, an immortal work on a Dalit saint.

FOR his invaluable service to Tamil literature, Swaminatha Iyer was honoured with several awards and titles. The government honoured him in 1906 with the title "Mahamahopadhyaya" (Great Teacher). While the Bharatha Dharma Mandal awarded him the title of "Dravida Vidya Bhooshan", Sri Sankaracharya of Kamakoti Peetam honoured him with the title "Dakshinadya Kalanidhi". A doctorate was awarded to him by the University of Madras in 1932.

Tamil poet and nationalist Subramania Bharati, who inspired the freedom movement with his powerful songs, was a distinguished contemporary of Swaminatha Iyer. Paying glowing tributes to Swaminatha Iyer in one of his poems, Bharati called him "Kumbamuni" (the saint from Kumbakonam) and said: "So long as Tamil lives, poets will venerate you and pay obeisance to you. You will ever shine as an immortal."


Aiyanar (also spelt Ayyanar, Ayanar or Iyenar) (Tamil: ஐயனார்) is a Hindu village god, worshipped predominantly in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu and Tamil villages in Sri Lanka. He is primarily worshipped as a guardian deity who protects the rural villages. His priests are usually non-Brahmins, who belong to mostly the potter caste, but other caste members also officiate in his temples. The temples of Aiyanar are usually flanked by gigantic and colorful statues of him and his companions riding horses or elephants. There are number of theories as to the origins of the deity as well as the etymology of the name. He is associated with god Aiyanayake by the Sinhalese people of Sri Lanka.

The Tamil word Aiyānar is derived from the root word Aiyā which is a title often used by Tamils, Malayalees and Telugus to designate respectable people. There are number of conflicting etymologies for the word Aiyā, generally it is thought to be derived from Proto-Dravidian term denoting an elder brother. It is used in that meaning in Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.[1] Yet others derive the word Aiyā as a Prakrit version of the Sanskrit word Ārya which means 'noble'.[2] According to Fred Clothey, Aiyanar is a Tamil adaptation of Aiyan, the chief deity of Ay chieftains who ruled parts of Kerala adjoining Tamil Nadu when both areas were collectively known as Tamilaham. He also states that the term Aiyar meaning a cow herd and a protector is an appropriate appellation for both the Ay chieftains and their deity.[2]

Another name for the deity is Aiyanar-Sasta or Sasta.[3] Sasta is a generic Sanskrit term for a teacher. In South India Sasta became deified starting from 855 C.Es. Sasta cult is particularly well developed in the state of Kerala where independent temples to Sasta are known from the 10th century CE. Prior to that Sasta veneration was within Shiva and Vishnu temples who are the premier gods of the Hindu pantheon. Sasta is also used to describe number of other deities. Brahma-Sasta is another name for Skanda and Dharma-Sasta is used to describe Ayyappa. Sasta also has a sanskriting legend that makes him the son of a union between Shiva and the female form of Vishnu.[2] Other names of Aiyanar include Gajavahana and Satavahana.[4]

The earliest reference to Aiynar-Shasta includes two or more hero stones to hunting chiefs from the Arcot district in Tamil Nadu. The hero stones are dated to the 3rd century C.E. It reads "Ayanappa; a shrine to Cattan." This is followed by another inscription in Uraiyur near Tiruchirapalli which is dated to the 4th century C.E.[5]

Literary references to Aiyanar-Cattan is found in Silappatikaram, a Tamil Buddhist work dated to the 4th to 5th century C.E.[4] From the Chola period (9th century C.E) onwards the popularity of Aiyanar-Shasta became even more pronounced.[3]

An Aiyanar is usually represented either as a warrior on foot; or riding a white horse or elephant. He is also represented as seated between his two wives, carrying a sceptre or whip and wearing a meditation band, a cloth girdle circling the back and supporting the knees of a seated person, from the Sanskrit Yogapaţţa or Tamil Vāgupaţţai.[6]

The Aiyanar is often represented with an escort, usually composed of the god's vassals, sometimes comprising demons. Consistent with this practice, terracotta horses are usually placed outside the temple. These are given up to the god as steeds for his night time perambulations. The attendant priest for the Aiyanar is generally the potter who fashions idols and clay horses and is a non vegetarian. [6]

Ayyanar or Sathanar worship is a very ancient ancestral clan-based worship system linked to nature and fertility worship. The festivals of Ayyanars are celebrated in Sacred Groves during spring season by all the related clan. Ayyanar shrines are usually located at the peripheries or boundaries of rural villages and the deity is seen riding a horse with a sword. Weapons such as a trident or a lance are also associated with the shrine. Most officiating priests are non-Brahmins and derive from local lineages that had initiated the cult centers generations ago.[7]

The worship pattern is non-agamic and is associated with sacrificial offerings of pure vegetarian food. However animals such as chicken and goats are offered to few of the selected 21 associate deities (Kaval deivangal) such as Karuppa samy, Sudalai Maadan samy and some other Amman deities located within Ayyanar temple for favors. In return the local priest might offer holy flowers or Veeputhi (holy ash) to the worshippers. Folk Tales like Koothhu and Folk arts like Villupattu are enacted to bring out the message of the Ayyanar folk story to one and all.

In South India, Aiyanar God worshipped in open grounds surrounded by trees holds an important position in the local villages because of the values installed in family and community life. Aiyanar System is the base for forming large family clan associations and maintaining family values in rural areas.

Aiyanar worship represents a non-Vedic form of worship. Often community life and family values are valued than individualist life mode. So a large number of gods at least 61 divine servant agents are present along with at least 18 to 21 associate deities. A family life or community life can be smooth and happy only if there is place to accept and accommodate every kind of people.

Aiyanar is often pictured riding on a white horse, fighting against demons and evil gods that are threatening the village.

The Aiyanar temple priests are often from the Velar caste; the potters of Tamil Nadu or within that particular community clan group which forms a large group of family associations. They inherit their role as priest from male family members, and it is not unusual that as many as eight family members hold the same position who often act in the role of Kodangi for solving local issues.

An Aiyanar temple, various clay figure and idols reflects the social hierarchy which exists in the villages of Tamil Nadu. The gods are ranked according to the social and economical hierarchy in the village, and as in social life, the highest ranking gods are vegetarian, whereas the lower ranking ones are non-vegetarian. A temple is often not a building, but one or more figures giving importance to each and every ancestral local god who are collections of people belonging to various community groups.

There are many kinds of festivities in connection with village temple festivals. At the temple for Conai (Sonai), one of the lesser deities associated with Aiyanar, a bull is brought in front of the temple. It is decorated with flowers and painted. A rope made of wet hay is now tied to the bull, and some of the men challenge the bull to chase them.

Muhammad Yusuf Khan (1725–1764) or Maruthanayagam (Marudhanayagam) Pillai

Muhammad Yusuf Khan (1725–1764) or Maruthanayagam (Marudhanayagam) Pillai was born in Pannaiyur, Ramanathapuram District, Tamil Nadu, India in 1725. From humble beginnings, he became a warrior in the Arcot troops, later Commandant for the British East India Company troops. The British and the Arcot Nawab used him to suppress the Polygars (Palayakkarar) in the south of Tamilnadu. Later he was entrusted to administrating the Madurai country when the Madurai Nayaks rule ended.

Later a dispute arose with the British and Arcot Nawab, and three of his associates were bribed to capture Yusuf Khan; he was hanged in 1764 in Madurai.

Maruthanayagam (or Mathuranayagam ) alias Yusuf Khan was born circa 1725 in the village of Panaiyur, in Rammnad 'country' in a Hindu [1] farming family of the Pillai Vellala caste. Being too restless in his youth, he left his native village, and converted to Islam.[2][3] To make a living, he served as a domestic hand at the residence of the French Governor Monsr Jacques Law in Pondicherry. It was here he befriended another French, Marchand (a subordinate of Jacques Law), who later became captain of the French force under Yusuf Khan in Madurai. Whether Yusuf Khan was dismissed from this job or left on his own is unclear now. He left Pondicherry, for Tanjore and joined the Tanjorean army as a sepoy (foot soldier).

Around this time, an English Captain named Brunton educated Yusuf Khan, making him a learned man well-versed in several languages. From Tanjore he moved to Nellore (in present day Andhra Pradesh), to try his hand as a native physician under Mohammed Kamal, in addition to his career in the army. He moved up the ranks as Thandalgar (tax collector), Havildar and finally as a Subedar and that is how he is referred to in the English records ('Nellore Subedar' or just 'Nellore'). He later enlisted under Chanda Sahib who was then the Nawab of Arcot. While staying in Arcot he fell in love with a 'Portuguese' Christian (a loose term for a person of mixed Indo-European descent) girl named Maasa (?Marsha /?Marcia), and married her.
In 1751, there was an ongoing scuffle between Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah, (who was the son of the previous Nawab of Arcot Anwaruddin Muhammed Khan hence the rightful claimant) and Chanda Sahib his relative and a pretender, for the throne of Arcot. The former sought the help of British and the latter the French. Chanda Sahib initially succeeded and became the Nawab, forcing Muhammed Ali to escape to the rock-fort in Tiruchirapalli. Chanda Sahib followed and with the help of the French, besieged Trichy. Muhammed Ali and the English force supporting him were in a grim position. Ensign Robert Clive, (who had earlier joined the East India Company as a writer) with a small English force of 300 soldiers made a diversionary attack on Arcot to draw away Chanda Sahib's army from Trichy. Chanda Sahib dispatched a 10,000 strong force under his son Raza Sahib to retake Arcot. Raza Sahib was aided by the Nellore Army and Yusuf Khan as a Subedar must have been in this force. At Arcot, and later at Kaveripakkam, Chanda Sahib’s son was badly defeated by Robert Clive, and it was now Chanda Sahib's turn to escape to Tanjore where he was killed by Mankoji, a Tanjorean general. The English quickly installed Muhammed Ali as the Nawab of Arcot and most of Chanda Sahib's native forces defected to the English.

Yusuf Khan's military career started during the Carnatic Wars. He became a mercenary and fought alongside the French in the siege of Arcot in 1751. Robert Clive, impressed by the charges Yusuf Khan led against the battlements of Arcot, recruited him — and Yusuf Khan put his Nellore sepoys and cavalry at the disposal of the English.

Under Major Stringer Lawrence, Yusuf Khan was trained in the European method of warfare and his natural talent in military tactics and strategy blossomed to its full potential.

Over the next decade, as the Company fought the French in the Wars of the Carnatic, it was Yusuf Khan's guerrilla tactics, repeatedly cutting the French lines of supply, that did the French in, particularly during Lally's siege of Madras in 1758. Lally was to later describe the role of the Nellore Subedar's sepoys in these words: "They were like flies, no sooner beat off from one part, they came from another."

By 1760 Yusuf Khan had reached the zenith of his career as the 'all-conquering' military commandant. (A few years earlier he had been given the rank of 'Commandant of Company's sepoys'). His greatest supporter during this period was George Pigot, the English governor in Madras. Yusuf Khan was held in very high esteem even after his death by the English and in their opinion he was one of the two great military geniuses India had ever produced; the other being Hyder Ali of Mysore. Yusuf Khan was regarded for his strategy and Hyder Ali for his speed. Major General Sir. John Malcolm said of him almost a fifty years later,"Yusuf Khan was by far the bravest and ablest of all the native soldiers ever to serve the English in India".

Going back to 1734, when the Madurai Nayak King Vijaya Ranga Chokkanatha Nayak died in 1731, he was succeeded by his widow, Queen Meenakshi, who acted as Queen-Regent on behalf of a young boy she had adopted as the heir of her dead husband. She had only ruled a year or two when an insurrection was raised against her by Bangaru Thirumalai, the father of her adopted son, who pretended to have claims of his own to the throne of Madurai approached Safdar Ali Khan, the son of Dost Ali Khan, the Nawab of Arcot with a couple of millions, while the queen sought Chanda Sahib, Safdar Ali Khan's brother-in-law.

At this time the Madurai Nayak ruler was a feudatory to the Mughal emperor inDelhi, whose local representative was the Nawab of Arcot, and an intermediate authority was held by the Nizam of Hyderabad, who was in theory the subordinate of the emperor, but the superior of the Nawab. The treacherous Chanda Sahib after extracting a huge amount from the queen humbled Vangaru Tirumala and later murdered him. After a few years Chanda Sahib breached the agreement with the queen and assumed control of Madurai, keeping the helpless Queen Meenakshi under house- arrest in the rock-fort at Trichy. The haples queen soon consumed poison. After the death of Chanda sahib in the last of the Carnatic wars, Madurai kingdom came under Mohammed Ali's (the incumbent Nawab of Arcot) control, who in turn gave the tax collection rights of the whole Madura kingdom to the British, from whom he had borrowed huge sums of money.

The polygar system had evolved with the extension of Vijayanagar rule to Tamil Nadu by the Nayaks. It was the brain-child of Aryanatha Mudaliar (Thalavaai Mudaliar), the celebrated Tamil general and prime minister of Viswanatha Nayak, the first Nayak ruler of Madurai. The country was divided into provinces or Palayams (pronounced Paalayam). Each palayam usually consisting of a few villages, was placed under the control of a Palayakkaran (Polygar or Poligar as mentioned in the English records) who was expected to provide in return, an annual tribute and military service to the Madurai ruler. Given their numerical strength, extensive resources, local influence and independent attitude, the Polygars came to constitute a powerful force in the political system of south India. They regarded themselves as independent, sovereign authorities within their respective Palayams. The early struggle between the southern Polygars and the East India Company, although essentially a battle over tax collection, had a strong political dimension. The English perceived the polygars as a rival power and treated them as their inveterate enemies, allowing their hostility full expression in their accounts. The East India Company, eager for revenue, opposed the manner and scale in which the Polygars collected taxes from the people. The issue of taxation, more specifically, who was to collect it, the traditional rulers or the rapacious new collectors from overseas —lay at the root of the subsequent uprising.

The Polygars from Tirunelveli, Madurai regions and Sivaganga and Ramnad, were unwilling to pay taxes (kappam or Kist) to Mohammed Ali, a weak Nawab, nor ever recognized the British in the guise of tax collector. In 1755 the Nawab and British having valid reasons to quell these rebellious Polygars dispatched a huge army to the south under Col. Heron and Arcot Nawabs brother Mahfuz Khan, accompanied by Yusuf Khan as bodyguard. Mahfuz Khan and Col. Heron burnt several villages and razed down several temples, then ransacked and looted lot of towns, melting several rare statues from Hindu temples. This infuriated Yusuf Khan, who lodged a complaint with the British. Later Col. Heron was courtmarshalled.

During this time the French under Thomas Arthur Lally surrounded the British fort in Madras. Yusuf Khan during the night launched a surprise attack on the French troops packing them away.

In 1756, March Yusuf Khan was sent to Madurai to collect taxes and restore order. But during that time Madurai was under control of one Barkadthullah of Chanda Sahib days, with the support of Hyder Ali of Mysore. During this time an old Fakir climbed the top of the Madurai Meenakshi Temple and was preparing to build a dargah for himself, which angered the locals. Barkadthullah justifying the Fakirs attempts further added fuel to the fire. During this time Yusuf Khan arrived with little as 400 troops to take control of Madurai, showing his brilliance in defeating Barkadthullah’s large army, with Barkadthullah fleeing to Sivaganga Zamin and the Fakir, got whacked out of the town.

After assuming control of Madurai, the results were small. Disturbances still prevailed every where, the Kallars ravaged the country in every direction, the Hyder Ali, the soldier of fortune, who was in Madura and was with difficulty beaten off, and no revenue worth mentioning could be collected. The British tried in vain to induce the Nawab of Arcot to recall his brother, Mahfuz Khan, who was undoubtedly the cause of all the trouble, and soon afterwards to meet their needs elsewhere; compelled them to withdraw Muhammad Yusuf. His departure was the signal for wilder anarchy than ever. The company's garrison in Madura could only just collect, from the country directly under its walls, enough revenue to support themselves; on the north the Kallans, and in the south Mahfuz Khan had thrown himself into the arms of the principal Polygars and was beyond the reach of argument or reason.

The Company accordingly sent back Muhammad Yusuf to the country, renting both Madura and Tinnevelly to him for a very moderate sum of five lakhs annually. By then the Maduari Meenakshiamman temple was in dire straits, with the temple lands occupied and plundered by hoodlums; looting and dacoity rampant in countryside. Yusuf Khan immediately restored the lands back to the Temple, and by the spring of 1759 he began by teaching the Kallans a wholesome lesson. Cutting avenues through their woods, he shot them down without mercy as they fled, or executed as malefactors any who were taken prisoners. He went on to reduce the rest of the country to order, and soon had sobered by various methods all the polygar and made himself extremely powerful. Also he renovated the tanks, lakes and forts damaged by Hyder Ali, restoring law and order. By now whatever he did increased revenue to the Nawab’s and British coffers.

During this time Yusuf Khan battled with Puli Thevar, (pronounced Pooli Thevar) a polygar of Nerkattumseval(Original Name was Nelkettaanseval) , a small town to the south-west of Madurai. Puli Thevar was rebelling against the Nawab and the British. Yusuf Khan(marudhanayagam) quickly separated Travancore Raja from Puli Thevar's group after entering into an agreement. Also to be remembered is that the Travancore Raja’s were long time feudatories of the Madurai Nayak kings, naturally becoming a feudatory to Delhi.

Yusuf Khan captured several of Puli Thevar's forts which were earlier tried unsuccessfully by the British. Later in a battle Puli Thevar was captured by Yusuf Khan, however Puli Thevar escaped in Sankarankovil (Is believed to be disappeared in Sankarankovil Gomathi Ambal Sanathi) where he was planned to be hanged. Puli Thevar remains a legend in the area and no further details about him is available.(Puli Thevan is today recognized by the Government of Tamil Nadu as a freedom fighter). Also during this time the Dutch captured the town of Alwartirunagari, to which Yusuf Khan retaliated and chasing them back to their ships.

Alagumuthu Kon, another rebel leader was also captured at Perunaalli Forests by Yusuf Khan and mercilessly killed by blowing him from the Mouth of cannon. AlaguranmuthuDevar cane to limelight in 1962 through a Communist magazine”Thamarai”(Lotus), and in 1995 his statue was opened at Egmore, Chennai.These brutal and savage acts instilled fear among other Polygars, who naturally pacified before the British. He even, had the audacity to make war on the king of Travancore without the knowledge or consent of the company.

Reports of Yusuf Khan's brilliant victories now filled the Arcot Nawab with jealousy and alarm that he might depose him. Yusuf Khan by now instructed all the traders to render taxes directly to Yusuf Khan, while the Arcot Nawab wanted to taxes routed through him. The British Governor (by now the British were good enough to have one) “Lord Pigot”,diplomatically advised Yusuf Khan to do as per Arcot Nawab’s order, also some British traders supported the same citing Yusuf Khan as Nawab’s employee. To make matters worse the Nawab’s brother Mahfuz Khan started planning to poison Yusuf Khan, with the whole hearted support of the Nawab.

In 1761, and again in 1762, he offered to lease Tinnevelly and Madura for four years more at seven lakhs per annum. His offer was refused, and whether he was enraged at this, or whether he thought himself powerful enough to defy his masters, he shortly afterwards threw off his allegiance and began to collect troops in an ambition to be the lord of Madurai.

Around this time some British traders reported (or rumored), to the Nawab and the Company, on Yusuf Khan” as encouraging people with anti-British sentiments, spending vast sums on his troops”.Nawab, in turn with the British sent Capt. Manson with orders to arrest Yusuf Khan.

Meanwhile Yusuf Khan sent a note to Sivaganga Zamindari reminding them on their pending Tax arrears.Sivaganga’s Minister and General came to meet Yusuf Khan in Madurai, and after not getting their expected respect, got a rude warning, citing annexure of certain territories for the failure of arrears. The enraged Sivaganga Zamindar, immediately ordered Yusuf Khan to be “captured and hanged as like a dog”. Meanwhile and Ramnad Zamin’s general Damodar Pillai and Thandavarayan Pillai met the Arcot Nawab in Trichy,complained on Yusuf Khan’s plunderings of Sivaganga villages, his cannon manufacturing plant in association with a certain French Marchaud, whom he a befriended earlier, with plans for a war against the Nawabs.

Arcot Nawab and the British quickly acted by amassing a huge army. For a start they aroused Travancore Raja against Yusuf Khan (As by now the Travancore state fell smoothly into British charms).In the ensuring battle the Travancore raja was defeated and the British flags in his domains were chopped and burnt, and joined hands with the French and also hoisted the French flag on the Madura Fort. When Governor Saunders in Madras(now Chennai) called Khan Sahib for a meeting, he refused evoking the wrath of the East India Company. By now Delhi’s shah and Nizam Ali of Hyderabad, the Arcot Nawab’s overlords proclaimed Yusuf Khan as the rightful legal governor of Madurai and Tirunelveli regions. While Arcot Nawab along with the British was hell bent on finding a reason to capture and kill Yusuf Khan.

Having turned the tables against most of them, Yusuf Khan had enemies lurking around him everywhere. Earlier working for the Arcot Nawab and British he earned the wrath of Mysore, and had slaughtered most of all rebellious Polygars who were anti-British, and the remaining were on the prowl. Now the Tanjore, Travancore, Pudukkotai, Ramnad, Sivaganga kingdoms joined with the British and the Arcot Nawab to attack Yusuf Khan, who by this time had proclaimed himself independent ruler of Madurai and Tirunelveli. In the First siege of Madurai in 1763, the English could not make any headway because of inadequate forces and the army retreated to Tiruchi citing Monsoons.

Meanwhile the Nizam Ali of Hyderabad once again proclaimed Yusuf Khan as the Rightful governor, while the Arcot Nawab and the British issued death sentence for Yusuf Khan as “to be captured alive and hanged before the first known tree as like a dog”.

In 1764 again the British troops surrounded the Madurai Fort, this time cutting supplies to the fort. Hence Yusuf Khan and his troops went without food and water for several days inside the fort (surviving on Horse and Monkey meat according to European sources) but held on with great energy and skill, renovating and strengthening the fort at great expense, and repelling the chief assault with a loss of 120 Europeans (including nine officers) killed and wounded. At the end of that time little real progress against him had been made, except that the place was now rigorously blockaded.

Meanwhile the Arcot Nawab consulted Sivaganga General Thaandavaraaya Pillai, along with Major Charles Campbell, hatching a treacherous plot to bribe Yusuf khan’s Dewan Srinivasa Rao, Marchand the captain of the French mercenaries and Khan’s doctor Baba Sahib. One morning, when Yusuf Khan was offering his prayers inside the fort, Marchand, Srinivasa Rao and Baba sahib went in quietly and pinned Yusuf Khan to the ground and tied him up using his own turban. Hearing this commotion, one youth called Mudali, close to Yusuf Khan, raised an alarm. He was quickly caught and cut down. As the news of the coup reached Yusuf Khan's wife, she rushed to the scene with a small posse of troops. But they were helpless against the well armed French and other European mercenaries, standing guard around the fallen ruler. Under cover of darkness and an even darker veil of secrecy, Marchand whisked away Yusuf Khan out of the fort and handed him over to Major Charles Campbell, who commanded the English among the besiegers. Unfortunately, the major part of Yusuf Khan's native forces remained totally unaware of the fateful drama that had been enacted inside his house, that morning.

The next day, in the evening of 15 October 1764, near the army camp at Sammattipuram, on the Madurai- Dindigul road, Yusuf Khan was ignominiously hanged as a rebel by Muhammed Ali Khan Wallajah, the Nawab of Arcot. This place is about two miles to the west of Madura, known as Dabedar Chandai (Shandy), and his body was buried at the spot.

What motives forced the three main conspirators, who were Yusuf Khan's close confidantes, to betray him? It is said that Yusuf Khan had once flogged Marchand with a whip (the first time a European officer had been whipped by a native ruler) and so he was waiting for an opportune time to take revenge. It is also possible that extreme misery of the people and soldiers inside the fort (because of the prolonged siege) might have forced the Dewan Srinivasa Rao (a Tanjore Brahmin) and Baba Sahib, the physician of Yusuf Khan to decide that handing Yusuf Khan over to the English, would make them lift the siege and relieve the people of their intense agony and suffering. They might have imagined that Yusuf Khan would be sentenced to brief imprisonment and/or fine as punishment and let off later on.

Local legend is that twice the noose broke down and he fell down alive, for which Yusuf Khan ordered the troops to remove a Neck brace before hanging. A sepoy guarding the Body of Yusuf Khan previous night reported to the Arcot Nawab, that Yusuf Khan appeared in his dream intending to return on the third day after his death and capture Madurai. The agitated Nawab ordered his men to chop his body into several parts and place them all over his domains. As went his Head to Trichinopoly alias Tiruchirappalli alias Trichy, arms to Palayamkottai, legs to Tanjore and Travancore for public viewing later buried at Periyakulam city near Madurai, to instilling caution and fear, later buried there. The remaining body was buried at Madurai.

In 1808, a small square mosque was erected over the tomb in Samattipuram, in Madurai, which exists to this day on the left of the road to Dindigul, a little beyond the toll-gate, known as 'Khan Sahib's pallivasal'.

At the time of his death, Yusuf Khan had a son, who must have been 2 or 3 years old. Yusuf Khan's wife Maasa and the little boy vanished from history after the hanging. They might have escaped to Tirunelveli (?Alwarthirunagari) or Travancore.

The descendants of Baba Sahib, Yusuf Khan's physician, live around Krishnan Koil in Virudhunagar District. They still practise native medicine and bone-setting.

The Madurai fort, which Yusuf Khan had defended so passionately during the two sieges in 1763 and 1764 was pulled down in end of the nineteenth century. His lodgement according to the French map, must have been on, what is now called, Khansa Mettu Street (? Khansa Veettu Street).

The fort in Palayamkottai, he had repaired and used so well during his earlier wars with the poligars, was dismantled in the middle of the nineteenth century. Only parts of the western bastion, (now housing "Medai Police Station" ), the eastern bastion (now housing the Tirunelveli Museum) and a few short segments of the eastern wall are remaining.

Tradition has many stories to tell of this remarkable man, who started his life as a peasant and by his military genius rose to the pinnacle of royal power when he became the ruler of the land, only to lose it all after a couple of years by the treachery of his comrade-in-arms. His executive ability is sufficiently indicated in the report (see below) from Colonel Fullerton - dated March, 1785 and entitled 'A view of the English interests in India'--which was republished in Madras in 1867. This says that in Tinnevelly and Madura 'his whole administration denoted vigour and effect. His justice was unquestioned, his word unalterable; his measures were happily combined and firmly executed, the guilty had no refuge from punishment.' It concludes by saying that 'wisdom, vigour and integrity, of no climate or complexion have surpassed his.'

Veteran Tamil actor Kamal Haasan some years back started shooting the movie Maruthanayagam portraying this character in English, French, and Tamil languages. But the film was stopped for the time being or almost dropped mainly because of the protest from large section and scholars stating that Yusuf Khan has looted, plundered the villages in Palayams, Madurai and Thirunelveli and allowing his troops to unleash atrocities against the women in these villages, has not made him a folk hero like the film is trying to portray or he is neither a freedom fighter like Veerapandya Kattabomman, Oomaidurai or Pulithevan, whereas he fought with British due to his political reasons and enmity with the Arcot Nawab and his marginalisation within the Nawab's army by Mahfuz Khan.

Indian theatre

Overview of Indian theatre

The earliest form of Indian theatre was the Sanskrit theatre.[63] It emerged sometime between the 2nd century BCE and the 1st century CE and flourished between the 1st century CE and the 10th, which was a period of relative peace in the history of India during which hundreds of plays were written.[64] With the Islamic conquests that began in the 10th and 11th centuries, theatre was discouraged or forbidden entirely.[65] Later, in an attempt to re-assert indigenous values and ideas, village theatre was encouraged across the subcontinent, developing in a large number of regional languages from the 15th to the 19th centuries.[66] Modern Indian theatre developed during the period of colonial rule under the British Empire, from the mid-19th century until the mid-20th.[67]

Sanskrit theatre

The earliest-surviving fragments of Sanskrit drama date from the 1st century CE.[68] The wealth of archeological evidence from earlier periods offers no indication of the existence of a tradition of theatre.[69] The ancient Vedas (hymns from between 1500 to 1000 BCE that are among the earliest examples of literature in the world) contain no hint of it (although a small number are composed in a form of dialogue) and the rituals of the Vedic period do not appear to have developed into theatre.[70] The Mahābhāṣya by Patañjali contains the earliest reference to what may have been the seeds of Sanskrit drama.[71] This treatise on grammar from 140 BCE provides a feasible date for the beginnings of theatre in India.[72]

The major source of evidence for Sanskrit theatre is A Treatise on Theatre (Nātyaśāstra), a compendium whose date of composition is uncertain (estimates range from 200 BCE to 200 CE) and whose authorship is attributed to Bharata Muni. The Treatise is the most complete work of dramaturgy in the ancient world. It addresses acting, dance, music, dramatic construction, architecture, costuming, make-up, props, the organisation of companies, the audience, competitions, and offers a mythological account of the origin of theatre.[73] In doing so, it provides indications about the nature of actual theatrical practices. Sanskrit theatre was performed on sacred ground by priests who had been trained in the necessary skills (dance, music, and recitation) in a [hereditary process]. Its aim was both to educate and to entertain.

Under the patronage of royal courts, performers belonged to professional companies that were directed by a stage manager (sutradhara), who may also have acted.[74] This task was thought of as being analagous to that of a puppeteer--the literal meaning of "sutradhara" is "holder of the strings or threads".[75] The performers were trained rigorously in vocal and physical technique.[76] There were no prohibitions against female performers; companies were all-male, all-female, and of mixed gender. Certain sentiments were considered inappropriate for men to enact, however, and were thought better suited to women. Some performers played character their own age, while others played those different to their own (whether younger or older). Of all the elements of theatre, the Treatise gives most attention to acting (abhinaya), which consists of two styles: realistic (lokadharmi) and conventional (natyadharmi), though the major focus is on the latter.[77]

Its drama is regarded as the highest achievement of Sanskrit literature.[78] It utilised stock characters, such as the hero (nayaka), heroine (nayika), or clown (vidusaka). Actors may have specialised in a particular type. Kālidāsa in the 1st century BCE, is arguably considered to be ancient India's greatest Sanskrit dramatist. Three famous romantic plays written by Kālidāsa are the Mālavikāgnimitram (Mālavikā and Agnimitra), Vikramuurvashiiya (Pertaining to Vikrama and Urvashi), and Abhijñānaśākuntala (The Recognition of Shakuntala). The last was inspired by a story in the Mahabharata and is the most famous. It was the first to be translated into English and German. Śakuntalā (in English translation) influenced Goethe's Faust (1808-1832).[79]

The next great Indian dramatist was Bhavabhuti (c. 7th century CE). He is said to have written the following three plays: Malati-Madhava, Mahaviracharita and Uttar Ramacharita. Among these three, the last two cover between them the entire epic of Ramayana. The powerful Indian emperor Harsha (606-648) is credited with having written three plays: the comedy Ratnavali, Priyadarsika, and the Buddhist drama Nagananda.

Rural Indian theatre


Kathakali is a highly stylised classical Indian dance-drama noted for the attractive make-up of characters, elaborate costumes, detailed gestures, and well-defined body movements presented in tune with the anchor playback music and complementary percussion. It originated in the country's present-day state of Kerala during the 17th century[80] and has developed over the years with improved looks, refined gestures and added themes besides more ornate singing and precise drumming.

Modern Indian theatre
Rabindranath Tagore, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913, is probably India's best-known modern playwright.[81] His plays are written in Bengali and include Chitra (Chitrangada, 1892), The King of the Dark Chamber (Raja, 1910), The Post Office (Dakghar, 1913), and Red Oleander (Raktakarabi, 1924).[82]

Allvar Gullstrand

Allvar Gullstrand (5 June 1862, – 28 July 1930) was a Swedish ophthalmologist.

Born at Landskrona, Sweden, Gullstrand was professor (1894–1927) successively of eye therapy and of optics at the University of Uppsala. He applied the methods of physical mathematics to the study of optical images and of the refraction of light in the eye. For this work, he received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 1911.

Gullstrand is noted also for his research on astigmatism and for improving the ophthalmoscope and corrective lenses for use after removal of a cataract from the eye.

He was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1905, and served on the Academy's Prize Committee for Physics. While serving on the committee, he used his position to block Einstein from receiving a Nobel Prize in Physics for his theory of relativity, which Allvar believed to be wrong. [1]

Gullstrand married Signe Breitholtz (1862-1946) in 1885 and died in Stockholm where he was interred at Norra begravningsplatsen.

Short Story - “Ranjani….you haven’t done any wrong”

There was a lot of noise and pandemonium in the neighbourhood,as I was slowly getting up and tuning to my sunday morning.It seemed there was a heated argument in progress between Ranjani and her father,there was this noise of my father as well being heard on and off in between,now I just became really restless as,I could not control my curiosity as to what my dad was doing there.I just got off my bed and went across to mom and asked,”What’s up?She said that Ranjani had just conveyed her dad that she had got her marriage registered with Arvind a day ago and she was about to walk out of the house shortly!!Though I was happy for Ranjani within,I just managed to control my emotions and asked my mom with a serious face,”What’s Dad doing there at their house.amidst all this chaos?My mom said,”He was trying to explain Ranjani,that her decision could prove hasty and it was not wise on her part to have did this to her parents”.Actually my Dad and Ranjani’s Dad are close friends and might be that was the reason,he took the liberty to walk in to their house and explain his friend’s daughter about being obedient to one’s parent’s!!Might be he was not aware that his son was dating a bengali girl for close to two years now!!

The most surprising fact was the reason,her family was against the marriage was the fact that the boy was not a brahmin,it was paradoxical that a family so well educated and forward thinking was looking at caste as an issue.Well if the reasons were pertaining to the boy’s persona and qualities that might not gel with one’s culture,it’s different,but Arvind is a guy who would not just give Ranjani a secure life but also would keep her happy for the rest of her life.

Might be if the parents were a little more understanding they might have avoided this embarrassment of Ranjani walking out of the house for a registered marriage.I know another instance wherein a boy from a Tamil Brahmin family married a chettiar girl,named Azhagu,meaning Beauty,but the boy’s family had seemed to have taken an offensive stand against this situation.Recently there was a movie in Tamil ,which spoke about the link between a flutter of a butterfly wing in one corner of the world and an volcanic eruption in the other corner of the world.

Who know’s Azhagu,would have been Andal but for the narrow outlook of some sections….

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A tale of perseverance & poriborton

As the day dawned on 13th May 2011 in Bengal…there was this sense of unusual calm,As I headed towards work in the regular pool car,I was just watching the way this great resilient city of Kolkata was going cool about it’s business as usual.The election results for the West Bengal Assembly 2011 was to be announced shortly,but the city was just as cool as ever.There was an absolute sense of calm,tranquil and serenity in everything around.Right from the senior most dadu’s taking their morning walks,middle aged moshai’s busy in their morning bazar ( buying maach & maansho) for the day,the bhari’s carrying drinking water on their shoulders to various houses,street hawkers busy with their business,boudi’s with broad bindi’s on the way to their offices,sort of everybody seemed to have a deep sense of comfort and happiness on their faces.It was as though they all knew what was going to be a historic thunder on the skies of Bengal.And as the news started pouring in through the course of the day,that Mamata di’s team had notched their biggest ever victory over the Red Bastion of Bengal,there was certainly history on the making.Amidst all euphoria,elation,ecstasy and exhilaration the biggest question amidst a common man was,Ok ,What next?The results showed the people of Bengal have a great expectation from their Didi…in the times to come.Though not anything dramatic,certainly there is an uphill task ahead of the victor’s.

As the famous saying goes, “Whenever I hear it can’t be done,I know I am close to success”.It seems Mamata di had been saying this to herself,right from the day she plunged in to politics.The renowned Henry Ford once said , “A man who will use his skill and constructive imagination to see how much he can give for a dollar,instead of how little he can give for a dollar,is bound to succeed”.

So read “man” as “women” in this case….

In every challenge lies an oppurtunity….so it’s a great opportunity for both the parties to reinvent, rejuvenate and revivify their strength’s.

History beckon’s both…

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Attention Optometrists….United we stand, Divided we Fall

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Recently I had an opportunity to read this article below, it’s no doubt thought provoking…..

“Professional rivalry and competition to stay on top in your domain is no doubt a common phenomenon in our routine practice, but when we see instances when professionals are fighting amongst themselves on trivial issues, it’s disturbing and sometimes funny as well. It’s not so uncommon that we see optometrists fighting amongst them on as to which should be their key priority, clinical practice, optical practice, research or teaching optometry. On some instances the debate becomes so intense, we often find one group accusing the other of callousness and negligence, for example an optometrist working in an hospital setup would pounce on some other optometrist working in an optical setup, that proper attention is not paid towards markings, measurements and adjustments. The reverse case scenario those working in optical setup would accuse the Optoms working in hospital setup of being too bookish and impractical in approach. The crux of the issue is the profession itself needs to mature more, in our country, in terms of academic and education standards. Even to date we have Optometry degree certificates being sold in certain murky corners of our country for cheap price’s, that’s unfortunately the true state of affairs. We also of course have many self proclaimed custodians of our profession in nook and corner of this country.

The profession is not going to have any identity or legislation whatsoever unless the optometrists are going to raise their bar by involving themselves in community outreach and hard core research. Recently a term Corporate Optometry is also very famous and doing the rounds, well if only practicing is going to be an excuse not to upgrade oneselves,the dream of having a council and legislation would not only be difficult but also impossible”

I am not sure who said these above words, whoever it was these thoughts have some meaning in them….

The Royal Union – Aditya Birla Sankara Nethralaya

The day 29-04-2011 marked a golden moment in the history of Sankara Nethralaya, as it was rechristened as “Aditya Birla Sankara Nethralaya” at their kolkata unit. The moment marked a great significance as an internationally acclaimed brand of Birla’s stature was associating with an internationally repute brand in Eye Care Industry. As Sankara Nethralaya is poised to a gigantic growth in Eastern India in the years to come with ambitious plans to not only expand the patient care services but also academic,education,training and world class clinical and basic science research. The whole nation is aware of the noteworthy contribution made by the Birla family in the education field in the form of BITS Pilani at Rajasthan. Interestingly Sankara Nethralaya already has a great collaboration going on with BITS Pilani at their Chennai unit for various distance learning off campus collaborative programmes.Particularly the undergraduate programme in Optometry at Elite School of Optometry in collaboration with BITS Pilani is already an internationally renowned institute. The tie up in Eastern India would with no doubt mark a significant era in the renaissance not only in Eye Care delivery standards but also in Eye Care education standards.

There is a famous saying “Our NATION needs our PASSION”; institutions such as Sankara Nethralaya and Birla group are the catalysts that would fuel the passion in generations ahead.