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'Harivarasanam' re-recording row: Trust alleges 'conspiracy'

  • TDB is mulling to re-record 'Harivarasanam', the lullaby to Lord Ayyappa at the famed Sabarimala temple
  • The Board wants to bring out the song afresh by adding a missing word and by correcting a pronunciation error
  • G Devarajan Master Memorial Trust suspects a conspiracy behind the sudden move and is opposing it
Harivarasanam re recording row
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A row has broken out over the move to re-record a devotional song played as a lullaby to Lord Ayyappa at the famed Sabarimala temple, with a trust
named after iconic musician G Devarajan, coming out against it.

The Kerala-based G Devarajan Master Memorial Trust, which is gearing up to celebrate the 90th birth anniversary of the composer, suspected a "conspiracy" behind the sudden move to re-record the song by the Travancore Devaswom Board (TDB), which manages the shrine.

Late Devarajan, known as a colossus in the Malayalam film music, had brought out the nine-decade-old 'Harivarasanam,' a Sanskritised Malayalam song, into the present popular music format through the voice of legendary Carnatic vocalist and playback singer K J Yesudas during the late 1970s.

Though there are many versions of 'Harivarasanam,' the one created by Devarajan-Yesudas combination, has been playing for decades at the hillock shrine after final poojas as an "urakku paattu" (lullaby) to put the deity to sleep.

The office bearers of the Trust said that they have launched a campaign through social media urging music buffs to protest against any move to make changes in the heartfelt 'bhajan.'

"Harivarasanam, composed by Devarajan master, has been playing at the hillock shrine for the last 45 years without any interruption."

"Iconic musicians, Tantri family or Sanskrit scholars have not pointed out any fault with its composition or rendition so far," music director and general secretary of the Trust Satheesh Ramachandran told PTI. 

"Nobody has so far said that Lord Ayyapa was unhappy with the present lullaby, he said. "We suspect a large scale conspiracy behind the move.
Those who are trying and lobbying to make changes in the present version may have their own agenda.. It seems that somebody wants to establish that there were errors in the composition of Devarajan Master," he added.

The newly-appointed TDB president A Padmakumar had recently said that they wanted to bring out the song afresh by adding a word that exists in its original text and missing in the popular musical version, and by correcting a pronunciation error.

The word 'swamy' was there in every line of the original devotional song, believed to have been penned in the 1920s, and it might have been omitted for the easiness of rendition when it was brought out in the musical format, he had said.

TDB president also said they had discussed the plan to re-record with Yesudas and its final date would be fixed when the singer reaches Kerala later this month. 

Ramachandran, who is a disciple of Devarajan, however, said master himself had clarified in various interviews about the reason for omitting the word 'swamy', how Lord Ayyappa is popularly known as.

"Master had said that when we try to lull a child through a song, we never use his name repeatedly which is the reason why the word 'swamy' had been omitted by him," Ramachandran clarified.

On the alleged pronunciation error in the famous line that goes 'Ari Vimardhanam,' he said scholars have different opinion whether the words should be spelt together or separately.

Yesudas himself had admitted some time back that the words 'ari' (enemy) and ‘vimardhanam’ (destroy) should have been spelt separately. The trust official further said they do not hold any view that Devarajan Master or his compositions should not be questioned by anybody. 

"But, we are protesting against the move by somebody to project that Master as having committed some grave error and it should be corrected.. Nobody has even sought the permission of Devarajan's family in this regard so far," he added. 

Devarajan had originally composed 'Harivarasanam' song for the 1975 Malayalam film, 'Swamy Ayyappan' and recorded it afresh later, which has since been played at the shrine. 

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