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Thread: Sopana Sangeetham (Padmanabha)

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    Sopana Sangeetham (Padmanabha)

    Sopana Sangeetham

    - Padmanabha

    Sopana Sangeetham is a special branch of the Music of Kerala. It has influenced all the classic art forms of like Kathakali, Krishnanattam, Mohiniyattam and Temple music. The word “sopanam” literally means the flight of steps that leads to sanctum sanctorum. The music that is rendered near the sopanam is called sopana sangeetham. The presiding deity is praised through these songs. They can be either music, or hymns. Idakka and a bell are the accompanying instruments. Usually the Maarar community renders sopana sangeetham and the rendition has a special tune.

    Sopana sangeetham was influenced by Jayadeva’s Ashtapadi (geeth govind). Around 14th century, Geeth Govind reached Kerala and in fact, a poet (the name I forget) translated it into Malayalam and called it “Bhasha Ashatpadi.” Since then Ashatapadi is the main song that is rendered at the sopanam, irrespective of whether the temple is a Saivaite, Vaishnavaite or Devi.

    The song is rendered when the doors of sanctum sanctorum closes for deeparadhana. The rendition continues till the completion of Deeparadhana. “Unnuneeli sandesam” a sandesa kaavyam of 14th century describes the sopana sangeetham rendered at the sopanam of the Thiruvambadi (Srikrishna shrine) of the Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple.

    Jayadeva was a native of Orissa. Born to Bhojadeva and Ramadevi, Jayadeva was a staunch devotee of Srikrishna.

    The songs of Geeth Govind can be classified as follows:-

    1. Samodha Dhamodaram
    2. Aklesa kesavam
    3. Mugda Madhu soodanam
    4. Snigda Madhu soodanam
    5. Sakaamsha pundareekam
    6. Solkanda Vaikundam
    7. Vilakshma lakshmipathi
    8. Mugda Mandam
    9. Chara Chathurbhujam
    10. Saanada Damodharam
    11. Supreetha Peethambaram

    The characters are Srikrishna, Radha, and Sakhi. The song conversations are either between Radha &Krishna, Radha & Sakhi, Sakhi & Krishna, Radha alone and the poet alone. Radha viraham, Radha sandesam and Radha samaagamam are the different phases of Geeth Govind.

    It has other names like Kottippadi seva. (In olden days, when some thing is lost, “kottippadi seva” is observed. Here, an oil lamp is lit. Children are asked to sit round the lamp and clap their hands while rendering hymns. After some time the children are offered sweets. It is believed that the lost property would reach the hands)

    Coming back to Sopaana sangeetham, the songs are rendered in the ragas of carnatic and Hindustani music. There is no swara prasthanam and niraval. However, the ragas are not pure. The songs are rendered in a slow tempo (pathinja kaalam). In the melappadam of Katahkali “Manjuthara kunjathara keli sadanae raadhae” is always rendered.

    Idakka the chief accompanying instrument is a special kind of percussion which can be played in all the six kaalams. Shadkaala Govinda Maarar (a contemporary of Swati Tirunal and Tyagaraja) it is said was capable of rendering songs in six kaalams and hence the name Shadkkaala Govinda Maarar. Hearing Govinda Maarar rendering “Chandana charchitha” in six kaalams Tygaraja composed “Entharo mahaanu bhavulu in sree raagam.”

    Govinda Maarara’s Tampura had seven strings. (3 Aadhara shadjam, 3 mantra panchamam, and one mantra shadjam). Govinda Maarar was a wanderer. He attained Samaadhi at Pandaripuram and it is said that his Thampura is still preserved there.

    Swathi Tirunal bestowed him a with flag “vai jayanthi” which was found attached to the Thampura.

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  3. #2
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    Excellent post on sopana sangeetham. Please do include similar informative posts. really enjoyed it.
    Krishnaraj S

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