FULLERTON, CA - The annual fundraiser program of Chinmaya Mission Los Angeles ‘Sevanjali’ saw Padmabhushan K. J. Yesudas clad in his trademark pristine white dhoti kurta ensemble enthralling a packed auditorium with a dazzling vocal repertoire of multi-lingual musical pieces. The audience assembled...
Acharya Mahadev of CMLA echoed the theme of divinity of sound emphasizing that “in Vedanta, Shruti the constant drone of the Supreme is associated with the very basic background or substratum of the Universe and if we play our part like an actor in the stage of life in rhythm with the Consciousness we gain absorption or Layam in the Self.”
Interspersing his music with endearing anecdotes about his musical and life journey, Dasettan meaning Brother Das, as Yesudas is known, established a strong bond with the audience from the get go. He spoke about his simple beginnings, his training with renowned Carnatic music guru Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar, his connection to the Indian film industry music doyens such as Ravindra Jain and Salil Choudhary and reflected nostalgically on the process of singing in various languages over the years. He went on to humorously yet poignantly draw attention to the disparity of regional loyalties and differences. Yesudas repeatedly expressed his views about the common thread shared by all Indians and all religions and made a plea for all communities to work and function as one beyond differences saying, “I was born as a Christian, but feel close to Hinduism and to Allah – I just sing music from the heart without thinking about the religion and its differences. When I sing about Krishna or a Christ, for me they both simply come from the sound “Kr” Nothing is higher or lower or better than the other.”
Yesudas began the program with the classic “Vallachi Vachi” and followed it up with a flawless rendering of the ever popular ‘Vaatapi Ganapathim,’ from his Carnatic menu. Then it was time to move on to more adventurous improvisational territory straddling different genres and languages. Tamil, Hindi, Malayalam,Bengali,Kannada, Telugu, .… he navigated them all resoundingly and the crowd went wild in their enthusiastic response to their beloved singing idol who had delivered close to six decades of superb music from ornate temple settings to the silver screen.
Yesudas was accompanied by Krishna Parthasarathy from the Bay Area on violin, Santosh Chandru on ghatam, Vidwan T.S. Nandakumar on mridangam, and Mayuri Vasan, a past Chinmaya Mission balavihar student, on tanpura. His wife Prabha looking resplendent in a pink-red saree briefly ascended the stage to receive a token of honor and appreciation for being the pillar of support for her famous husband. Yesudas’s parting message to Indian-American youth was to be strong and disciplined in their sadhana and to seek a good guru who could observe and correct their flaws so that they could truly excel and evolve in their craft.
Swami Siddhananda of Chinmaya Mission Philadelphia who was a special guest at the event spoke eloquently and performed a short inspired piece of his own composition based on Yesudas’s “Jab deep jale.”
CMLA’s Foundation Committee Chair, the group that spearheaded the organization of the event, Dr.Shashi Acharya disclosed the financial fund raising goals and successes of the organization while whole heartedly praising the incredible volunteers at CMLA.