Flash Fiction 2013 Second Prize


Sai Santosh Somuri

It was a cool summer dawn. Young boy Murali was busy practising the Chakravakam. The day before, he had done Mayamalavagowla and looked forward to this day. For, he was especially attracted to the Chakravakam. Chakravakam is a bit less famous in Carnatic music, but it outshines its vigour in the form of Ahir Bhairav in Hindusthani.
In the thoughts of the mesmerising beauty of the Chakravakam, he got mischievously transported into the folklore of Ahir Bhairav. Named after the cowherds. The Abhirs. No, it is named after the sound of the bells of their cows precisely, he thought.

After a few days of his research, the raagam incarnated in its full form in front of him. He almost levitated in ecstasy.

Murali became a famous Carnatic vocalist. More than that, a mature young man. His background gave him a strange set of hobbies, one of them the studying of lives of stalwart Indian philosophers.
Yet again a cool summer dawn. Murali took up reading about Sadasiva Brahmendra Yogi, an Indian Advaita mystic compared to the Suka Brahma and Jadabharata of Puranic lore. The point of comparison is their sense of union with the Lord. Their sense of identification with the Supreme Self. And all were avadhutas.

Sadasiva began to intrigue Murali. The simple myths around him showcasing his supernatural powers, his compassion, the intensity of thought in his writings, the everlasting mortal silence (mouna) he adopted, all these were very new.
But one thing about Sadasiva, Murali knew very much earlier. That he is the composer of Pibare Rama Rasam.  Now, he came to know that it is one of the occasional sound-clusters that his lips uttered in extreme ecstasy, praising the Lord. A garland made of the pearls his firm jaw had dropped.

Though he had sung Pibare Rama Rasam earlier a hundred times, his newfound wisdom and the knowledge of the song’s background added a hitherto unknown dimension to the song. A splash of wetness. An avadhuta’s call. Intense and pure.
Yamunakalyani clearly seemed insufficient.

A churning began in him. For a new raagam. Initially for a while, he became engrossed in the matters of society and fraternity. “Changing the raagam of a Sadasiva Brahmendra’s song? Amazingly daring! Amazing arrogance!”
When he finally decided against the tantrums of the society, he actually thought of Chakravakam.  Gentle vibrations optimised the experimenter in him. He reminded himself the pallavi. Tried to tune it in the raagam. Primarily succeeded.
Tuned all the charanams. Perfect.

Finally and most importantly, he sung the whole song in an exposed and leisurely manner. Rigorously analysed the technicalities. Completely flawless.

Murali did not know what to say. Come to think of it, Sadasiva might himself have “coded” the song for Chakravakam.  The lyrics and the raagam appeared dearly made for each other.

(P.S.: And Pibare Rama Rasam began to be sung in Chakravakam from then. The efforts of an ageless mystic and a sensitive genius successfully transcended time to pour a sublime elixir into my ears.  The Pibare Rama Rasam, Sadasiva Brahmendra and others are very much real. The character Murali is the genius Dr. M. Bala Muralikrishna. It is he who changed the raaga from Yamunakalyani to Chakravakam. Though his expressions during the time might not match with those perceived by me in this story.)