What is Kshetra Sangeetam?
"To be on the banks of the Cauvery and listen to Carnatic music is eternal bliss" - Anon
Kshetra: Sanskrit; literally translated as “place”, it has many interpretations. Over the years, it has come to mean a place of pilgrimage; a sacred space where terrestrial energies flow heavenward or cosmic energy flows earthward.
A space which celebrates the life of a saint (either as birthplace or samadhi), a place sanctified by a seer or a space where miracles may have occurred. A Kshetra usually has a temple as its focal point, but not all temples and places of worship are Kshetras.
Sangeetam, as is well known, means music.
Kshetrasangeetam: A compound Sanskrit word (Kshetra + Sangeetam) which means music composed on the various aspects of Kshetras (physical or spiritual) and the deities which are worshipped there.
From the beginning, temples and temple towns have been the cornerstone of the cultural ethos and milieu of India. The temple was at the heart of a city and communities and indeed, whole empires, grew and flourished around them. Some have a greater spiritual attraction than others and have become centres of pilgrimage or Kshetras.
To this day, these Kshetras are visited by millions of Indians every year. They have been extolled in poetry, music and devotional hymns and by numerous composers of Carnatic music. These songs, many of which are hundreds of years old, are still performed as the key pieces in Carnatic music concerts today, as popular as ever. But in times long ago, though the place is not far away from where I live, music, dance and art where part of the daily worship rituals in temples; not just entertainment for an occasion.
This book, is about the temples and music of Thanjavur and comes with a download code for a thematic carnatic music concert of the same name by Dr.Vijayalakshmy Subramaniam, an eminent Carnatic musician, and music research scholar from Chennai in South India. She has performed twenty concerts on various temples. As the current generation is completely out of touch with this aspect of India’s great heritage, and as a lover of music, temples and the arts of South India, I was inspired to place her research on record.This is the first book in a planned series.
Thanjavur was the heart of Southern Indian culture for at least a thousand years; its primacy and culture destroyed by Bristish colonial rule in the 1800s.
There are 108,000 temples on record in the four southern states of India. Many are places of pilgrimage, but not all. This is a curious aspect of worship, and I seek to engage readers young and old, to explore the myriad aspects of this ancient culture, not only through the book, but through continual interaction online.