Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Veturi Prabhakara Sastry (Rao)

Talapaka Annamacharya is a well known composer. He is sung in almost all Carnatic classical concerts. He was a saint and scholar who lived 600 years ago (May 9, 1408 – February 23, 1503). 

Below is a story of Sri Annamacharya which was narrated by Prince of Travancore Rama Varma in a concert. I have tried to reproduce the story here in verbatim.

Veturi Prabhakara Rao
Annamacharya lived in Tirupathi and was a great devotee of Lord Venkateshwara. He and Purandaradasa lived in the same time around 600 years ago. His compositions were popular all over south india at that time but later they disappeared. 
In 1940s there was a gentleman living in Tirupathi who was a great devotee of lord Venkateshwara called Veturi Prabhakara Rao (Sastry). As he was doing pradakshina of Venkateshwara temple in Tirupathi, there was a statue of Annamacharya. Each time he passed the statue, he would feel a strange feeling, he could never explain what it was. But he noticed that he felt that strange feeling when he passed that particular point (Annamacharya's statue).  
He was a gigantic person. He went and touched the statue of Annamacharya and it was moving. So he removed that and found one very small hole (This is in 1940s). Though he was a big man, he managed to squeeze inside and there was a room with hundreds and hundreds of copper plates with lyrics of Annamacharya songs engraved on them. 

The first ten pieces from these copper plates were handed over to Padhma Vibhushana Dr Magalampalli Balamurali Krishna and the first song he tuned was "Narayanathe Namo Namo" in the raga Behag. 

It is said that this song was discovered in 1940s but the amazing thing is that in Trivandrum Navaratri Mandapam, Everyday before the concert at 6 O clock, there is a singing of Thodaya Mangalam by many musicians and they sing Narayanathe namo namo. They have been singing this for hundreds of years. It is in a different raga. Though only Swathi krithis are sung at the Navarathri Mandapam, this composition is officially credited to Annamacharya. 

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