GHANTASALA'S BHAGAVAD-GITA RENDITION - A SPIRITUAL TREAT

By Dr.P.G.Krishna Murthy, Journalist & Retd.Professor, Machilipatnam

The Bhagavad-Gita (Song Celestial), an epic in verse is the fifth Veda full of moral values, pearls of wisdom and a divine message sans bounds of time. Lord Krishna's cautioning, cajoling and chastening Arjuna spurring him to act in the battle of Mahabharata came to be a sacred book of 18 cantos. Each canto is treated as a sublime subject of 'Yoga'. There is no other book in the world which provides solutions to the problems life poses in an aesthetic and ethical manner.

The Gita is prophetic and like the vision of Isaiah and and Psalms of David, it contains ecstatic mystic utterances about the nature and attributes of God. It is a gospel by itself, of Hinduism, and one of the great religious classics of the world.

The Gita is not primarily concerned with Krishna as an individual, but with His aspect as Brahman, the ultimate Reality. When Krishna addresses Arjuna, he sometimes speaks as an individual, but often as God Himself:

For I am Brahman
Within this body,
Life immortal
That shall not perish
I am the Truth
And the Joy forever.

Late lamented and immortalised playback singer 'Padmasri' Ghantasala Venkateswara Rao breathed life into his rendition of the Bhagavad-Gita and left it adorned as a spiritual treat. His endeavour in bringing the essence of the Gita unto the lay and the learned on the wings of poesy in a mellifluous musical strain left an everlasting imprint on the minds of generations of its listeners.

It is one thing for the maestro to render musically 10,000 songs in all in general and quite another to import the essence of about 700 hymns of the Bhagavad-Gita in just 100. There have been many who sang the hymns of the song celestial but could not match with Ghantasala. It was amply testified by the endless flow of records and the craze of the connoisseurs who go in for them. No other singer enjoyed such a luxuriant patronge in the contemporary clan of musicians.

Perhaps there could be very few listeners of Ghantasala's rendition of the Bhagavad Gita who might not have been impressed and inspired mainly because of its spiritual flavour mediated through musical noted flowed soulfully.

Ghantasala could captivate his listeners of the 'Bhagavad Gita' through his own style and that of the inherent divine force of the classic.

Ghantasala lived like a 'Karma Yogi' and died like a 'Karma Sanyasa Yogi (Yoga of renunciation)' for his glory, name and fame spread far and wide with the release of his records. Alas he was not alive to see all that creditworthy emotional exuberance of his fans all over the state of Andhra Pradesh and for that matter the whole nation, Bharat. It was like that he was bound by a divine dispensation to sing and not live to enjoy or get enthused by the applause of his admirers everywhere.

To a question of Arjuna: You speak so highly of the renunciation of action, yet you ask me to follow the yoga of action. Now tell me definitely, which of these is better? Lord Krishna says:

Action rightly renounced brings freedom
Action rightly performed brings freedom
Both are better
Than more shunning of action.

Ghantasala rightly followed the spirit of this teaching. His was a pure and illumined heart thereby his soul too was illumined. It follows true to the saying of Lord Krishna:

The illumined soul
Whose heart is Brahman's heart
Think always: ' l am doing nothing'
No Matter what he sees,
Hears, Touches, Smells, Eats,
No matter whether he is moving,
Sleeping, breathing, speaking
He puts aside desire,
Offering the act to Brahman
The lotus leaf rests unwetted on water;
He rests on action, untouched by action.

Exactly, Ghantasala did the same. He was untouched by his great action which resulted in greater hearty response from numerous listeners.

True to the spirit of the Gita and the Upanishads, Ghantasala was contented with the great feel that he got which in turn ennobled his heart and soul and enabled him to pour forth sweet melodies for the posterity. May his soul rest in the abode of the Almighty lustrously.


Additional resources

  • The audio of this rendition of Bhagavad Gita is available at many places on the internet, eg. Ramaneeya

  • Text of this rendition courtesy Krishna Kandadai Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4