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Monday, April 11, 2016

Panduranga Vittala ~ Pandarinatha Vittala - Bhajan culture - Cuddalore Gopi Bagavathar

“In the ‘Vaivasvatha Manvantharam, after passage of 27 Maha Yugas ~ in the 28th Mahayuga – after passage of 3 Yugas ~ in the Kali Yuga – after passage of 4 lakh 28 thousands of years – in the year 5117 ~ Salivahana Saha  1938 ‘- 27th day in the Tamil month of Panguni  - that is Saturday, 9th  Apr 2016 occurred  ‘Durmugi Varusha Panchanga release function’.  ~  more about that later – this is about what preceded it ! Miles away, ages ago, at Pandharpur lived a shoe-maker by name Rohidas. 

Every morning he first broke his fast, so that he might meditate the more easily on the excellence of the Lord Krishna ; how he lived piously doing his job with passion and his ultimate devotion to the Lord were heard with rapt attention the other day at Gangaikondan Mandapam nearer Triplicane vegetable market.

Pandharpur is the most popular pilgrimage city on the banks of Bhimā river in Solāpur district, Maharashtra.  The Vithoba temple attracts millions of people.  Pandharpur Wari is an annual pilgrimage (yatra) to Pandharpur -  palakhis (palanquin processions) carrying the paduka (foot prints) of various saints - most notably Dnyaneshwar and Tukaram - from the Varkari  sect (which venerates Vithoba).  The tradition is believed to be  more than 700 to 800 years old.

Music is heavenly when it is purely devotional – in our cult, it is Nama Sankeerthanam, more colloquially bhajans.   They are simple expressions  in soulful language  portraying  emotions of love for God, a complete submission or self-surrender to him through singing.  Singing of Bhajans and devotional songs unites people.  More of bhajans are offered to Lord Krishna, in specific the Lord Sri Vittobha, Pandarinathan, Pandurangan of Pandharpur. 

Before Panchanga release function, was the soul-stirring performance of singing, drama and highlighting of bakthi kirtans by Cuddalore Gopi Bagavathar, a veteran who has been uplifting this culture for close to 3 decades now.  He is no ordinary person; he is a banker, in a high position with a prestigious Bank – fully devoted to singing bhajans and performing at various places.  In 2011, had the fortune of attending his Radha kalyanam at Vijay Avenue and later when his bakthi drama was staged for the 1000th time  at T Nagar Krishnaswami marriage hall, there were more than 5000 people jostling to have a glimpse of the performance.

It is not that he performs for the crowds – this Saturday too, the attendance was much – his enthusiasm and calibre were undiminished.  His singing of Abhangs, nama Sankeerthanam mingled with Divyaprabandham, Sanskrit slogas, Geetha Govindam was a rich experience, that stirred those of us, hearing and watching, feeling one with Lord.  In between, he lamented on the opening of old age homes, asking how would one ever leave one’s dear parents to languish in such places, when people were earning so high venturing to various parts of the World.  He emphasized on filial duty, devotion to Lord, leading a disciplined life and more.

Sri Gopi Bhagavathar is an exceptional  person, he is the founder of Bhagavan Naama Prachara Mandali Trust  promoting and bringing many youth to adopt  Bhava and Bhakthi,  singing paeans with  jeevan.  He has performed day long programmes and has been taking his group to various important places of bakthi movement.  Those who waited for the function at Gangaikondan Mantap were truly blessed to hear soul-stirring voice and more enthralled to witness the drama story of Rohidas, the footwear maker.  His young daughter Sruthika performed the role of Lord Krishna. 

Here above are some photos taken at Ganganna mandapam Thiruvallikkeni … and  below some more taken by me in 2011.

Adiyen Srinivasa dhasan.

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