Led with vivacity and emotional dynamism by none other than Aruna Sairam, this ensemble delivers the popular abhang, Teertha Vitthala Kshetra Vitthala at the Darbar Festival 2009. Abhang is a devotional song dedicated to Lord Vitthal, an incarnate of Vishnu or Lord Krishna. It is set to Raag Ahir Bhairav of the Hindustani scale to which, Sairam adds her own mastery as a raconteur.
Jyotsna Srikanth supports on the violin with laudable grasp on the raga and a great sense of anticipation for Sairam’s melodic wizardry. Patri Satish Kumar (mridangam) and RN Prakash (ghatam) lay out the rhythmic design with reflection and proficiency.
An abhang is a devotional folk form that developed borrowing features from both Hindustani and Carnatic styles. The lyrics of an abhang are set to a metre that lends a vibrant lilt to the song. The word ‘abhang’ literally translates to “unbroken” or “infinite”. This form developed sometime during the 16th and 17th centuries as the Bhakti Movement flourished in India, leading to the Hindu religion branching out into different sects that were based on the unbiased, classless concept of “religion for all”.
Teertha Vitthala Kshetra Vitthala recounts a legend of Lord Krishna where Pundalik, his devotee was visited by the god at his family home. Busy serving his parents food when Krishna arrived, he was torn between respecting his family or turning his attention to the deity. As a mark of respect, he placed a brick outside the house for the god to stand on until he had finished attending to his parents. He then went outside to greet Krishna, terrified at the prospect of facing his divine anger. But Krishna was impressed by Pundalik’s loyalty to his parents, and stayed on earth with him to meet his fellow devotees.
The name ‘Vitthala’ derives from the Marathi word for ‘brick’.
Vitthala is a holy body of water,
Vitthala is a holy land.
Vitthala is God and Vitthala is His worship.
Vitthala is my mother and Vitthala is my father.
Vitthala is my friend and Vitthala is my clan.
Vitthala is my teacher, Vitthala is the teacher of Gods.
Vitthala is tranquility, Vitthala is everlasting.
Namdev says ‘I have found sanctuary in Vitthala’.
‘Even in this Kali yuga, I can come to no harm!’ all”.
Aruna Sairam (vocals)
Jyotsna Srikanth (violin)
Patri Satish Kumar (mridangam)
RN Prakash (ghatam)
Priya Parkash (tanpura)
Abhang in Raag Ahir Bhairav, That: Bhairav, Samay: early morning