A Moving Picture

A » moving picture of Puran- daradasa and his role in the development of Carnatic music is available in a motion picture named after the saint-bard. T h e roles of Purandara and other characters have been played by students of Sri Gnanananda Bala Natya Mandali, a dance school for children in the 5-14 age group run in Madras by Swami Haridas Giri. Under the guidance of the latter, the Mandali has staged many ballets and dance dramas.

The one on Purandar was so excellent that it was produced as a motion picture by V. Kunjitapaadam, the Mandali's Vice President with R. Ramamurthi as director. It was cited as the best children's film and awarded a cash prize of Rs. 25,000 in 1980 by the Tamil Nadu Government. An unusual feature of the film is the manner in which Purandaradasa's music awakening is portrayed. Srinivasa Naik, after becoming a Haridas, wonders how/ he can repay for the arousal of his bhakti God. He is told that he should find and establish the lakshana or grammar of music for which Lord Ganesa would show him the way.

When he is unable to acquire the requisite knowledge to fulfil this assignment, Purandar knocks his head on the idol of Ganesa eight times in a row — and begets the seven swara-s plus the higher octave sa again. With this basic scale, he proceeds to systematize the music known today as Carnatic music. Swami Haridas believes that Purandaradasa was not called 'Sangita Pitamaha' for merely developing a method for teaching classical music starting with the Malavagoula scale but for elucidating the entire grammar of music.

The version offered by the Swamijij who has devoted several years to a deep study of Purandaradasa, is that it was the bard of Karnataka who discovered and named the seven swara-s and categorized music into different raga and tala patterns. He credits Purandaradasa with being the first ever person to define the lakshana of music, saying that before the dasa there had only been a lot of tunes without any formal musical structure.