H e is a walking encyclopaedia on ancient thought and tradition, be it religion, philosophy, literature, arts or ancient science. His deep understanding of Vedic concepts and their applicability, relevance and universality are something to marvel. He can convince the most rational mind by sheer dint of logic and reason. One has to meet Kandadai Ramanujacharya before concluding that ancient customs are obsolete off-springs of blind belief and superstition and original religious thought of this land is steeped in casteism and rigid rules that no longer hold the sect together. Usually many a modern mind is beset with such ideas and actually ashamed to own allegiance to ancient Indian system of thought and practices. He has the most cogent, convincing answer to every query. This former principal of S.V.V.V. Sanskrit College is a born teacher who can crack the toughest philosophical point and literary concept and put it across in the most lucid manner. His scholarship remains unrivalled as his many books proclaim. They range from the metaphysical to the ritualistic forms of day-to-day living; the gatherings at his discourses which span across administrative institutes to religo-scientific conferences to temple talks bear testimony to his stupendous power of explanation. Music is divine and its origin is the Sama Veda. Beyond this, many of us have no clue as to what exactly is the essence of this third Veda. Says Kandadai, “Of the four Vedas, Rig is stotra (verses), Yajur is yagna (ritual) Sama is gaanam (music) and Atharva is karma (duties). While in the other three Vedas there is scope for an element of sorrow either in the doer or in the spectator, there is nothing but bliss in Sama Veda ( sarvada anandamayam sama). The Bhagvad Gita eulogises this Veda as ‘Swami Vedanam Sama Vedosmi…’ which means all the three Vedas exist in Sama.”
Elucidating it further, he says, “the path to salvation (moksha) in Vedic philosophy imbibes only two swaras (syllables): ha representing space or aakaash and vu standing for the element fire (agni). The vayu or air element is nevertheless existent between these two. When the space and air are compressed using force (agni) there emanates sound. This sound when stretched for a short/long interval of time and elongated forms a raga (musical syllables). The time frame of this process of elongation can broadly be termed naadam. This naadam is the ultimate reality or Brahman. A number of sounds with meaningful words together forms music or sangeetham as we term it.
The lyric is sung to syllabic series wherein the meaning gains and varies in its different diction. For instance, in the kriti ‘Samaja vara gamana..’ (Hindolam), the meaning of samaja is varied in Sanskrit. It means an elephant, a bird (Garuda) or even an ox (Nandi). Vara means pure one (shresta) and gamana is travel/walk. The syllabic structure the line when sung in mandra sthayi (lower octave), denotes the slow majestic walk of the elephant carrying the deity Indra or if the same is sung to the middle octave will denote the Nandi carrying Lord Shiva and a flight of swara series in tara might connote Lord Vishnu on Garuda. Thus the meaning emerges with the way the same line is dealt with in musical parlance. Thus this one line of the Thyagaraja kriti has 16 notes and connotations emanating from one raga. The raga is meant to convey the content to the right divinity with the right intention. The fire within our body (lying in the stomach region wherein all food is digested) is kindled by sound and offered as music at the altar of the Brahman.,” he concludes.
As an afterthought Dr. Kandadai adds, “not all music leads to moksha or salvation. If music is utilised for selfish means it may create hell within us though we may be blessed with a materialistically wonderful life; if it is sung with dedication and involvement and yet used for material gains too, it will be heavenly; if it is sung in utter surrender to the creator then it leads to moksha or salvation.”