Harikatha Samartha Ramdas' Contribution to the Art of Spiritual Story-Telling

Harikatha Samartha Ramdas' Contribution to the Art of Spiritual Story-Telling

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Book Specification

Item Code: IDK348
Author: I.P. Meera Grimes
Publisher: Indica Books, Varanasi
Edition: 2008
ISBN: 8186569766
Pages: 184 (21 B/W Illustrations)
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 8.5" X 5.5"

Book Description


It gives me great pleasure to write this brief foreword to the book, Harikatha: Samartha Ramdas' Contribution to the Art of Spiritual Story Telling, by Kalaimamani Smt. Balameera Chandra (Meera Grimes), as she is known by the art-loving people of India.

It is indeed a very happy occasion to associate myself with this work in some way, cherishing the memories of a golden period of music, dance, and drama of the 60's and 70's when Smt. Balameera Chandra, a multi-faceted artist, performed widely and received accolades as a sincere torch-bearer of the glorious art of Harikatha. During those years, Smt. Balameera worked under renowned scholars like Thuraiyur Rajagopala Sharma, Sangita Kalanidhi Embar Vijayaraghavachariar, and my father, Dr. V. Raghavan, all of whom guided this dedicated aspirant in seeking farther horizons in her chosen field.

The present publication of Smt. Balameera Chandra offers a thorough analysis of the varied aspects of the multi-faceted art form of Harikatha and includes stories of saint-singers whose lives and teachings remain as the perennial source for this art of story-telling. Further, the book also throws light on the importance and benefits of the crucial factor – the Nirupana – which provides the basic format for Harikatha exposition and which has evolved around the intrinsic philosophy of the Soul, its search for Higher Knowledge and its ultimate surrender to the Supreme.

At a time when the art of Harikatha needs greater support and encouragement, the present publication arrives on the scene offering a scholarly, in-depth study of the source material, and thereby providing an invaluable asset to future generations of students and researchers in the field of Harikatha.

I wish to greet and congratulate Smt. Balameera Chandra Grimes for her untiring efforts all through her life towards the preservation and propagation of the art of Harikatha to which she has dedicated herself.

Back of the Book

Harikatha (lit. stories of the Lord) is the exposition of a religious theme, usually the life of a saint or a story from one of India's scriptural texts. Its purpose is to spread devotion to the Divine. Harikatha is a composite art containing story-telling, poetry, music, drama, dance, and philosophy. Any story about God, or scriptural incidents, or about saints, who are the living exemplars for the existence of God, is an appropriate subject matter for Harikatha.

The greatness of Harikatha lies in the fact that it provides one of the easiest, if not the easiest path to attaining lasting happiness and peace. Listening to stories about Divinity and divine individuals subtly makes the mind attached to, and permeated by Divinity. As one continues to listen to the stories of the Divine, one becomes pure in thought, word, and deed. As well, it cultivates one's power of concentration and drives away doubt from a wavering mind. Not only does a katha please its listeners, as other fine arts do, but it also comforts the mind and elevates the soul of the listener. Thus, as it entertains, it enlightens.

Meera Grimes (also known as Balameera Chandra) is well known in India for her Harikatha performances. She is one of the leading artists in this field, an artist of the Music Academy, Air India Radio, and Television. At the age of twelve Meera give her first public Harikatha performance on Saint Dhruva (Dhruvacaritra) and since then has been presenting kathas around the world, both in Tamil and in English. Meera is also a Bharata Natyam dancer and teacher.


List of illustrations 9
Scheme of transliteration 10
Foreword 11
Preface 13
Art and spirituality 22
Samartha – a unique saint 26
Origin and growth of Harikatha 31
The two branches of kirtana 35
Lord Panduranga 41
Significance of the name Harikatha 43
The prelude 48
A rare art form 50
Haridasas are rare 50
Advice to performers 51
Teaching regarding two aspects of God 53
Foster devotion 54
Right frame of mind 56
Chants and dance 56
Focus on the chosen deity 57
Types of audience 57
Devotion 60
Advice from Chapter Two 61
Music and Harikatha 69
The blessed performers 74
To the listeners/devotees 75
From various chapters – to the listeners 75
Phalasruti 77
Concluding verse 80
Desirable qualities 81
Undesirable qualities 82
Nirupana 84
Akyana 89
Musical forms in Harikatha 91
Talas in Harikatha 95
Traditional Harikatha group 96
Harikatha is an excellent satsang 102
Source books for Harikatha 105
Is Harikatha a diminishing art? 107
Introduction 112
Jnanadev and Namdev 113
Eknath 134
Tukaram 144
Samartha Ramdas 161
APPENDIX: Slokas on Nirupana 177
Bibliography 181
Meera Grimes 182

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