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Rare Intellectual Treat - Sathavadhanam

Rare Intellectual Treat - Sathavadhanam
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Rare Intellectual Treat - Sathavadhanam. The lovers of Telugu literature were treated to a rare intellectual feat last week for three days, the first...

The lovers of Telugu literature were treated to a rare intellectual feat last week for three days, the first of its kind in these parts. It was 'Yugala Mahila Sathavadahanam' by two young girls, Bulusu Aparna and Pullabhatla Naga Santhi Swaroopa. Disciples of a very learned 'Avadhana Guru', Dr Dhulipalla Mahadeva Mani, they revealed their extraordinary prowess which kept the large gathering glued to their seats in the spacious GVR Government Music College auditorium on all the three days. This intellectual exercise, inherited from Sanskrit, is unique in our language, rarely found in any other. With hardly a dozen now performing it successfully, it is so far confined to men only and it is for the first time, this talented 'duo', brought it to the fore, winning accolades from the discerning elite of the city, who are reminded of a very young prodigy, 25-year-old Dr Medasani Mohan of Tirupati who stormed into the city and cast a spell over the learned gathering on his first visit here in 1983.

First, he faced 32 scholars for his 'Chaturgunitha Ashtavadhanam' andfollowed it later in 1986 with 'Shodasagunitha Ashtavadhanam' with 128 persons of solid learning. It was his good fortune that he excelled himself in it in the presence of 94-year-old Vemparala Suryanarayana Sastry, 84-year-old Tummala Seetharammurthy and Dr Diwakarla Venkata Avadhani and Dr Prasadaraya Kulapathi, now Swamiji of Kurthalam Peetham, who were greatly pleased that there came into the picture a very young Avadhani to keep up the great tradition in a remarkable way and blessed him. Later, Nagaphani Sarma, P Syamalananda Prasad and a few others exhibited their talent here in a commendable way and won appreciation.

It is in this background, two young girls came into the picture and acquainted themselves very creditably and proved what men could do well, women could do equally well, if not better. The credit for bringing them and showing to the public what great talent was in their midst among young girls goes to conveners of 'Madhura Bharathi', an organisation for perpetuating the memory of an eminent literary figure, late Mallapragada Sriranga Rao by his sons led by Srimannarayana Murthy, who is literally the moving spirit behind the entire programme enriching the literary scene of this place. For the very unqualified success of this rare event, the credit goes to Kota Venkata Lakshmi Narasimham, himself a very reputed Avadhani, who compered the entire proceedings with commendable poise, dignity and ready wit.

On the inaugural day, there were seated on the dais 25 'Pritchakas', who were all very learned scholars themselves and among them were Dr Dhulipalla Ramakrishna, Dr Gumma Sambasiva Rao, Dr Mallapragada Srivalli, Metta Venkateswara Rao, Prof Malayavasini, Puvvada Tikkana Somayaji and several others of great erudition and sense of proportion. For any Avadhanam, to be successful the 'Aprasthutha Pritchikas', provide a very enjoyable diversion from the main items and it was provided by Pothuri Vijayalakshmi of Hyderabad and M Venkata Lakshmi of Rajhamundry in a delightful way giving a much-needed relief for the Avadhanis from the tension of facing so many scholars who were ready to pounce on them for any shortfall in their performance.

This Satavadhanam consisted of 'Dattapadi' (24), 'Samasya' (24), Varnana' (24), 'Aasuvu' (13) and 'Ghantavadhanam'. The essential requisites of a succesful avadhani are a phenomenal memory, profound scholarship, ready repartee, sense of propriety and ability to reel off unpremeditated metrical verses on any subject at a moment's notice. The young avadhanis, in their teens revealed all these traits in a remarkable way keeping everybody spell-bound. Many of those who witnessed this event were amazed at their diminutive figures rising to great literary heights felt that once again this slowly disappearing literary feat will be revived under proper patronage of the connoisseurs.

In this programme there is a very interesting item 'Ghantavadhanam', a deviation from the usual counting of sounds of the bell. Something is written on a piece of paper by one among the audience and the compere holds in his hands. While one of the avadhanis strikes on the tin plate with a sharp instrument conveying a message, the other listens to it and repeats verbatim the message on the piece of paper. Both of them have done very successfully sending the listeners to great amazement. On listening to it, Pothuri Vijayalakshmi, one of the irrelevant interlocutors, said that this should be taught in schools and colleges so that the couples in their angry moods convey to their spouses through the sounds of plates in houses, sending the audience to peals of laughter.

The Satavadhanam was inaugurated by KS Govindarajan, principal Government Music College. Chairman of the Official Language Commission, Mandali Buddha Prasad, Director of State Cultural Affairs, Dr Rallabandi Kavitha Prasad, Station Director AIR Munjuluri Krishna Kumari and other eminent persons who witnessed the performance of the two young girls blessed them conferring on Aparna and Santhi, 'Satavadhana Sarada' and 'Satavadhana Visarada'.

(Andavilli Satyanarayana is retired English lecturer and can be reached at andavillis @yahoo.com)

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