Harikatha And Sri Naryana Das

E. Bharadwaja was a professor in English, a resolute Siddha Purusha beyond the lure of money and sex. He authored of several spiritual books on Shirdi Sai Baba and a series entitled, "Nenu Darsinchina Mahatmulu". He was the youngest of the spiritually evolved trio of Ekkirala brothers, after Krishnamachari and Veda Vyas.

Harikatha and Sri Naryana Das

E. Bharadwaja

The Origin of all art can be traced to two sources the - mystic experience of a Buddha, a Christ or a Mohammud that served as the fountain head of a religion and its scriptures; and the secular imitation of Nature by the ‘Primitive’ man devoid of such an exalted experience. The crude drawings of the prehistoric cave-man on the walls of caves belong to the latter category, whereas the art of the first musician Jubal mentioned in the Bible, and Narada and others mentioned in the Indian scriptures, belongs to the former type. No wonder that the ‘thinkers’ of this age, most of whom are essentially devoid of the glimpses of that mystic experience, should consider the drawings of the cave-man to be the only source of all human art and renovate the other category to the dustbin called myth and legend. A historic example of this mystical approach to even highly intellectual branches of knowledge is Pythagoras the master Mathematician, whose declarations (such as “where there is harmony there are numbers”) are steeped in the glow of the mystic vision of the Reality.

All religions sought to aid Man in the attainment of that incomparably Blissful experience of the Eternal Unity of the sum-total of all Existence, which their founder-Supermen had experienced by tuning every aspect of the ‘devotee’s life to that one Harmony. Thus “The Sermon on the Mount” and “The Bhagavadgita” advocate an all-sided effort to become “perfect even as the Father in heaven is Perfect”; to attain to Yoga, which is the perfect technique of right action -“Yogah Karmasu Kausalam”. This perfect technique is what is named by ancient sages as ‘Kala’ roughly translated as ‘Art’. The sixty-four arts enumerated by ancient Indians include all the actions of Man, which give scope for the adaptation of the perfect technique of right action. They included the technique of conjugal life, the art of the thief, besides dance and music, in the ranks of art. For, whatever man does the right attitude of the mind (‘Father, Thy will be done on earth’ according to Christ; ‘The technique of detached action’ according to Lord Krishna) is all that matters and not the actions themselves. In this sense and to this category, belongs the art of ‘the Harikatha Kalakshepam’.

The two fold nature of the origin of art - mystical and secular -maintains its duality throughout the history of all arts. Be he a famous poet, a musician or a dancer, one can be ‘a born artist’ or an artist that is ‘made’; and the former belongs to the mystical line and the latter to the secular line. This classification is by no means a result of conscious adaptation by the artist. For ‘the mystic’ touch in an artist’s personality is instinctive; a man must only be born with it and no amount of effort enables a ‘made artist’ to be on a par with the born mystic of an artist, in being mystical. It is possible, to some extent, to be mystical by effort because all men are basically instinctive and instinctively alive to the beauties of nature, which they had not made. This, the born mystic instinctively calls the Beauty of God or Nature and the secular artist calls it the beauty of nature or the pleasure of the senses. This classification holds good even in the case of the art of “Harikatha Kalakshepam”. It needs no special mention that the excellence of the immortal ‘grand Sire’ of the ‘Harikatha’ belongs to the ‘born mystical’ line of the art. This art, being essentially religious in spirit, is specially suited to the excellence of the born mystical nature of the ‘immortal bard’, Narayana Das. Particularly in the case of such an art, the difference between the appeal of the mystical line and the non-mystical line is wide - as wide as the as one between the natural speech of Man and its mechanical (however intelligently done), imitation by the parrot. The one appeals to the heart and the emotions; the other appeals to the ear and the hearing. As good poetry rouses the latent poetic instincts of the reader and good music appeals to the latent musical instincts of the audience the Harikatha Kalakshepam rendered by one like our ‘Immortal bard’, who is endowed with profound mystical instinct, appeals to the inherent mystic sense of the audience and bestows on them a more than a merely imaginative and sensuous pleasure. And by such great musicians as Thyagaraja it was testified that the bliss of the mystic experience is infinitely superior to the merely musical appeal of an art like Music. No wonder then, that the appeal of this bards’ Harikatha Kalakshepam to the audience, being pre-eminently mystical, was incomparably superior to the merely musical and dramatic appeal of the renderings of many other masters of this art, and inimitable to them. If with them it was a pleasant art that earned for them praise and honour (besides livelihood), with him it was the very rhythm and basis of this life, the soul of his soul, the care of his life, Bard.

“The soul was like a star and dwelt apart.”

“The Embodiment of Perfect Harikatha” seems to be his real name and the name given him by his parents, merely a nick name, Adibhatla Narayana Das.

Reproduced from the "Harikathapitamaha Srimadajjada Adibhatla Narayana Dasa Satajayantutsava Sanchika" (1967), the souvenir published by the Samskruthi Samithi, Chirala to commemorate the great man's birth centenary.

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