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The best of Bhavan's Journal: 1954 - 2003
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Musical Moments Stories
Anecdotes About Indian Music
R. Srinivasan
(Published in 1980 Annual Number)
The moneylenders eyes twinkled and he said, “Your Todi raga is still yours; you may pledge it and take the loan, and when you return the loan you can have it back.” Sitaramiah was nonplussed, but he had no choice and so he pledged his Todi and got the loan. From that day he could not sing his favourite raga. Days passed and the Raja began to miss the Todi raga very much; he wondered why Sitaramiah did not sing Todi at all; it was a great surprise.
When he came to the court one day the Raja asked Sitaramiah to sing Todi for which he was hungering. Sitaramiah was in a fix; he was gulping in his throat and wringing his hands. On the Raja’s demanding an explanation the truth came out. The Raja appreciated the shrewdness of the money-lender, cleared the loan and redeemed his favourite Todi raga.
Certain ragas are considered appropriate to certain parts of the day; for example, Bhupalam in the early morning, Saveri and Dhamvasi in the early forenoon, Poorvakalyani in the evening, Kamboji and Nilambari at night are considered suitable.
There was a Zamorin at Calicut who was fond of music and had also a good knowledge of the art. He used to patronize deserving musicians and give them rich presents. Once a great Pallavi vidwan happened to go to Calicut; the Private Secretary to the Zamorin, himself a rasika, arranged for a concert by the vidwan at the palace.
The Zamorin had one weakness; he would ask the artiste to give beforehand the wording of the song he proposed to sing. When the vidwan had elaborated a raga and was about to begin the Pallavi the Zamorin made his usual demand.
The vidwan got wild: he shouted. “Which fool would care about the sahitya of a Pallavi?” and went away from the palace.
The Zamorin also got angry. The Private Secretary was a tactful man; he pacified the two and arranged for a recital the next day; he had managed to get the Zamorin to agree to waive his stipulation regarding the wording of the Pallavi. The vidwan started the Pallavi and elaborated it with such mastery and skill and charm that the Zamorin was highly pleased and made extra presents to the vidwan.
When, however, the artiste was about to leave the palace, the Zamorin asked him to give the wording of the Pallavi at least then. The vidwan faced the Zamorin and said, “I am prepared to give you the sahitya on condition that you will not get angry.”
The Zamorin agreed to the condition, and the vidwan gave him the sahitya, and immediately ran away. The Zamorin was taken aback and got into a rage, but he could not do anything as the vidwan had in the meantime run away. The sahitya was Samoodiri thavidu thinnu meaning that the Zamorin ate the chaff, the implication being that instead of enjoying the pure art of music, the Zamorin was after the words which especially in a Pallavi was as insignificant as the chaff as compared to the grain.

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