Priya Arangan Adiyar,
QUESTIONING THE RACONTEUR
As the history of our Bharata Kanda signifies, there are three main traditions of discourses and storytelling. PuranaPravachana, Kathakalakshepa and Folk traditions. The Upanyasakar or the spiritual interpreter who forms the visible divine link between the scriptures and the audience, elaborates the listeners with the much needed translated bhavas and angles of our puranas, our scriptures and our traditions.
Of the traditions, Kathakalakshepa is unique because the story is carried through songs and compositions in regional languages. It is a form of Kalakshepa, in which the storyteller, usually proficient in classical music, interspaces the main story and sub-stories with music and dance.
Story telling is one engaging way of extended teaching to help transform the growing minds of children and learning students. Our own Srimaan trust helped bridge this gap between the children/Acharyah students and the idea of JOYFUL spiritual learning by inviting a very well known kathakalakshepa upanyasakar Smt. VisakaHari recently. Smt. VisakaHari is a prominent Carnatic music vocalist and exponent of Harikatha, an engaging story teller.
A true time of celebration for a learning student, is when the transformation happens through learning. And this celebration time opened its way, when our Acharyah students got this opportunity to meet the famous kathakalakshepa upanyasakar. The moment was abuzz with the enthusiastic Acharyah students expressing their joy when they met the guest.
Smt. VisakaHari was invited to present the story of famous Ramayana. But, our enthusiastic Acharyah students requested to hear Sri Nrisimha Charitra to know more about Bhakta Prahalada’s true bhakti, a true inspiration for growing/learning students. When the manas’ is truly engaged in learning, the mind and the heart follow. Many a children spontaneously joined her unmindfully imitating her sing. The silent few stand up to dance to the lyrical tune.
Questions they say, roots an engaging mind. It strengthens the learning bondage between the teacher and the student. Post the session on Nrisimha, a child asks Smt. VisakaHari inquisitively- “Why does Lord Nrisimha not come out when so many buildings are being demolished these days’ – A question that visibly translates the absorbing minds of children who are witness to the environmental imbalance. She replies assertively resting their doubts – ‘He will come if our ‘hearts’ want Him and that we demolish to reconstruct’ – a reply that asserts the very cyclic nature of Namperumaal’s Creation.
Smt. Gomathi (our teacher at Acharyah) asks her " Why dont you explain these children why you have chosen this spiritual line to the worldly professions as you have an extremely meritorious educational background that includes being an all India Rank Holder in CA, ACS. Even before she tries to answer, one student quickly comes close and spurts out " because she likes this the most! " and she replies "yes" with a smile spread across her face realizing that the child was after all, absolutely correct.
Truly an enriching experience that fills the minds and hearts of the audience and that seeds the very thought of spiritual learning in the children.