"I am delighted to be present in this august gathering of extraordinary musicians and music lovers of Indian Classical Music and inaugurate the Golden Jubilee Celebrations of Brahma Gana Sabha.
Founded in 1969, I am aware that Brahma Gana Sabha has grown into a huge brand in 50 years. Its annual music festivals are well known. Events such as these have put Chennai on the world cultural map and gave the city a place in UNESCO’s Creative Cities Network for Contribution in Music. Chennai is the third Indian city on the list of UNESCO Creative Cities list after Varanasi was recognized as City of Music, Jaipur - City of Crafts and Folk Art.
I am extremely happy that this organization preserves and promotes ancient Indian music, culture and dance traditions. I must also express my appreciation to Sabha for nurturing and encouraging talent in classical dance, music and theatre in Chennai all year round.
I would also convey my best wishes to the four eminent artists felicitated during this golden jubilee year of the Sabha: Gaana Padhmam to Dr. K.J. Yesudoss, Naatya Padhmam to Ms Malavika Sarukkai, Naataka Padhmam to Sri. S. Varadharajen and Vaadhya Padhmam to Smt Padmavathy Ananthagopalan.
India has a great tradition of music from ancient period to the present time. The Indian classical music and arts represent India’s cultural glory. Our art and dance forms act as bridge between the value systems of ancient India and the new generation. They represent the eternal and everlasting principles of life that promote discipline, obedience and peaceful coexistence.
In India, various facets of performing arts bring colour and joy to numerous festivals and ceremonies and reaffirm the faith of the people in their heritage. Art is not seen as a mere ornamentation or entertainment, but as an intrinsic part of heritage.
Life of Shri Thyagaraja Swami, a great exponent of carnatic music is a testimony to how music combined with devotion is the best medium to achieve God’s realization. Through his compositions, Tyaga Brahma revealed his deep understanding of the tenets of the Vedas and Upanishads thereby providing a divine feeling to music listeners.
Music in any form acts as an equalizer. It has no barriers or boundaries. It speaks universal language. It possesses the attributes that heal the mind, body and soul to make human being a liberated a soul. Research found that listening to music activates not only the auditory areas of the brain, but also employs large-scale neural networks.
Like music, dance in India also has an unbroken tradition of over 2,000 years. Its themes are derived from mythology, legends and classical literature.
Classical dance forms are based on ancient dance discipline and have rigid rules of presentation. There are eight classical dance traditions - Bharata Natyam, Kathakali/Mohiniattam, Kathak, Manipuri, Kuchipudi, Odissi and Chhau. Bharata Natyam though it derives its roots from Tamil Nadu, has developed into an all India form.
Theatre in India is as old as music and dance. Over the years, theatre has transformed the form and content in accordance with the times. Over the years, theatre has played a key role in influencing public opinion on contemporary issues. The classical theatre survives only in some places but folk theatre can be seen in its regional variants practically in almost every state.
All such forms of Indian art and music form part of our rich culture and play a key role in unifying the country and its’ people.
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
This rich tradition of Indian music and art must be understood in the context of Indian life and thought that promotes the concepts of harmony and integration. In the Indian world view, art is an integral and important part of human existence and adds value to the quality of human lives.
Music and dance give a mystical experience to those who perform and also to those who embrace it, similar to yoga. Music also has therapeutic powers. Music heals. It soothes and calms. Music enthralls. Music transforms our lives. Music unites and build bridges across communities and countries.
Over the centuries, India has embraced the best from the rest of world and thus, our culture is a composite mixture of varying styles and influences.
I am happy to learn December Art festival is going to host around 200 artists from various music forms from Hindusthani to Harikatha to Namasankirthana besides Classical carnatic.
World is going through an unprecedented change. We need to honestly acknowledge that happiness quotient is dipping. Our busy lifestyles are robbing us from enjoying simple aspects of life. In the present day, fast-paced lifestyle, listening to music can provide solace to mind.
The vast treasure of Indian musical forms needs to be nurtured and propagated. Governments, art lovers and society as a whole must collectively encourage the musical forms to thrive and flourish. I would urge that Brahma Gana Sabha should encourage more and more younger artistes to express their talent. It is incumbent on all Music gurus, researchers and connoisseurs to promote excellence in music.
Time and again studies have shown that children who are engaged in music and other art forms tend to have better cognitive skills and do well in academic subjects such as math and science. They improve memory, auditory skills and the attention span.
With the rise in digital technology, the human attention span has shortened from 12 seconds to eight seconds in more than a decade, a recent study by Microsoft Corporation has found. Humans now have an attention span less than that of a goldfish (nine seconds average). The 54-page study sought to understand what impact technology and today’s digital lives are having on attention spans.
Music learning can be made part of curriculum for school children to ensure stress-free environment and to improve learning outcomes. We are already using technology to spread this knowledge and more students in India and abroad are learning Indian classical music through online resources and tutors. These efforts need to be further expanded.
I am happy to know that NRIs come to witness the December Art festival. Indian Diaspora carries our cultural ethos, traditions to farther lands. In a way, these kinds of festivals promote cultural tourism in India.
Indian music was enriched by contributions of many great musical exponents. Thyagarja Swami, Shama Shastri, Bharata Ratna M S Subbu lakshmi and Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, D K Pattamal and Mangalampalli Balamurali Krishna to name a few great masters.
In many ways, the Indian musicians have given the world a rare menu of soul-stirring musical masterpieces. I am glad that this ancient tradition is being continued without a break. However, I am aware of the innovations being tried out within this tradition. The electronic era has brought new dimensions to music concerts.
We must preserve the best traditions we have inherited and add further richness with our creative genius.
Brahma, the first God in the Hindu Trinity, signifies creativity, innovation. He is also a vast reservoir of knowledge. Musicians who have achieved excellence have combined these two qualities. They have excellent knowledge of musicology but they think of improvising and bringing new and creative ways to enrich the tradition through their rendition of classical songs.
We all draw inspiration from the Narada Brahma and many other Nada Brahmas, including the illustrious Tyaga Brahma, who have enriched the world of music and left a deep impression on our inner consciousness. Thanks to technology, we can listen to these compositions anytime, anywhere and any number of times. Thanks to technology, we have a unique opportunity to reach to a much wider audience than ever before. We must use all these new avenues, in addition to the concerts we hold regularly, for preserving and propagating the richness of Indian music.
I once again congratulate the organizers for holding this festival and contributing to this noble mission.