There were more than a hundred people assembled in chairs or either standing or sitting on the ground in the Youth Hostel, Indra Nagar in Adyar at 6.45 p.m. All of them were eagerly waiting for the very popular Vishakha Hari to begin her wonderful recital of harikatha for Hamsadhvani, an organisation that promotes classical art forms. The topic for that day was Maathrudevobhava. There were thunderous clapping sounds that could be heard from the audiences as the red curtain of the stage was moved aside revealing the famous Vishaka Hari along with violinist B. Ananthakrishnan, ghatam player Sukanya Ramgopal and mridangam artiste Ganapatiraman.
It was Dec. 13, 2015 and the Margazhi mood was yet to be in full swing across Chennai. But, this event saw a huge gathering. There was a very hushed silence among the audience as Vishakha Hari began to chant Adi Shankarar’s Matru Panchakam set to a very melodious tune.
She then began rendering a Bengali kirtan ‘jago o maa jago’ and many people were swaying along with the beautiful notes of the song echoing in their ears. After that she quoted a few very meaningful incidents based on Adi Shankarar’s and Pattinathar’s devotion and respect to their mother.
She then narrated a story from the holy Puranas on the mount vahana of Vishnu, the one and only lord Garuda, of how he went through all odds and ends for his mother’s sake. Then she did a beautiful rendition of the song ‘Sitamma mayamma’ and the audience were spellbound.
She embraced a story about a person quite well known from the history of our nation’s rebellion against the British rule and he is, of course the wild and brave daredevil Bhagat Singh. She said that it was because of his mother Vidyavati’s upbringing he was determined to fight for his country.
The last and final story which Vishakha Hari retold was that of Bhakt Pundarika, where the Lord himself comes to meet his bakhta because of his undying devotion towards his mother. At the end of the show the audience clapped in appreciation and departed with happy smiles on their faces as … ‘Thaayir sirandha kovillum illai, Thanthai soll mikka manthiram illai.’