|Nanda Malini brings out her 30th CD:
Originality the key to success
By Ruwini JAYAWARDANA
She is a blessed one for she had reigned the music industry and the hearts of the public throughout the years. Despite the waves of change her creations sprinkled with aptitude and meaning have been loved and embraced by countless numbers.
There can be no comparisons between her and other vocalists. Other vocalists peruse music but in Sri Lanka’s legendary vocalist Nanda Malini’s case, music is a relentless devotee.
Trends may evolve overnight and equally rapidly evaporate but when it comes to appreciating quality music, it is clear where the people’s choice lies for she was presented with the prestigious SLIM/Nielson People’s Awards for two consecutive years.
Now music lovers can rejoice once again for she is on the brink of launching a new CD, the 30th to her name, Sinhala-Pali Jayamangala Gatha Naraseeha Gatha Saha Atavisi Budu Guna which comprises three genres of Buddhist sermons.
“All my previous CDs were made up of songs. I was struck by the rapid changes overtaking the music scene from 10 years. Most of the lyrics are meaningless and the tunes and techniques have been borrowed from foreign music which we cannot claim as our own.
“This crisis caused me to look around for a different path away from song. I began listening to Pali and Sanskrit stanzas included in the Vandana Gatha CDs which I have brought back with me from my pilgrimages to India. I was especially taken with Indian semi-classical vocalist, Suba Lakshmi’s CD, Suprabathan.
In many homes in India, they play this CD early in the morning because people can free their mind from stressful thoughts and relax after hearing these stanzas. It has a meditative quality and boosts their mind to face a pleasant day.
I was in India for about a year and I too felt the tranquillity offered by these stanzas,” Nanda Malini explained how she came across the seeds of inspiration to her new work.
The CD includes Jayamangala Gatha, Naraseeha Gatha and Atavisi Budu Guna in Sinhala as well as Pali. It comes together with a small hand booklet which includes the verses so that the listener can recite along with the recording.
The CD will be launched at a special function organised by Bandara Eheliyagoda of ‘Events’ which will take place at the BMICH on December 31 at 4.30 p.m. The event will be chaired by Ven. Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathne while Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha, senior lecturer Ven. Agalakada Sirisumana and Prof. Sumanapala Galmangoda of the Pali and Buddhist studies at the Kelaniya University will speak. Krishantha Dayananda will compere the show while Nanda Malini will recite all the stanzas included in the CD accompanied by Rohana Weerasinghe’s music.
The Sinhala-Pali Jayamangala Gatha Naraseeha Gatha Saha Atavisi Budu Guna CD cover
“This is the first time a CD comprising of Sinhala and Pali stanzas will be launched. I did not wish to launch the work under a label.
It is sponsored by People’s Bank and is not for sale but distributed as a gift by the bank,” she related adding that People’s Bank chairman W. Karunajeeva and its Financial Manager Deepal Abeysekara had been very supportive.
“The three types of stanzas in Sinhala Pali Jayamangala Gatha, Naraseeha Gatha Saha Atavisi Budu Guna contains some of the admirable verses on the Buddha.
The originals are in Pali and it is impossible trace them to the period when they were first scripted because they were done centuries ago. Pali is considered to be the language of the Buddha and we are overcome with a sense of familiarity once we hear the language spoken though we are unable to make sense out of it.
Many of our ancient books preserved at temples have been written in Pali but the public have not been able to benefit from this because they can’t read and understand the language.” Prof. Sunil Ariyaratne had translated the verses of the Pali Jayamangala Gatha into Sinhala while the Plai Naraseeha Gatha had been translated into Sinhala by Kavindra Raphael Tennakoon. Kavindra Siril Hevawasm had translated the Atavisi Budu Guna into Sinhala. “I recited Jayamangala Gatha in 1986 for SLBC’s Miyasiya, a programme based on folk songs.
The response was overwhelming and when Lak Handa was incepted in 1996, Newton Gunaratne requested me to give a recording of the Sinhala Jayamangala Gatha to be played every morning through their radio station. Prof. Ariyaratne rewrote the verses to go along with the Wasantha Thilaka metre, included in the Pali Ashtakaya. Austin Munasinghe did the music then and two verses are still being played each day on Lak Handa,” Nanda Malini mused.
“Naraseeha Gatha includes a set of verses sung by a Buddhist woman relating the admirable qualities of her husband. Many years after Prince Siddhartha left his wife and son to seek enlightenment, he returns to the city of Kimbulwat. On this visit Princess Yashodara sees him from the balcony but she does not feel any hatred towards him for abandoning her.
She sees the admirable qualities of the Buddha and points them out to her son,” she said adding that the translation by Tennakoon had previously been carried by the Rasavahini magazine. “Ven. Thirikunamale Ananda helped me trace this work and we could locate it among Ven. Somananda’s collection in his library.”
Buddhists believe that there were 28 Buddhas throughout Samsara. The Ata Visi Budu Guna includes verses appreciating their sacred characteristics. Around 10 years ago I sang these verses when a Buddha statue was taken from Vajiragnana temple, Maharagama, to the top of the Rosa Thirivana hill at Namal Uyana. The chief organiser of the event, Siril Hevawasam, the former editor of the Hansard, asked me if I could recite the 28 verses he had translated into Sinhala.
These verses were set to tune and I recorded the pieces and gave it to them,” she replied, recalling how they have rerecorded all the verses for the CD.
The stanzas are accompanied with soothing music from musical instruments like the flute, esraj and the violin. She had given the first version of her recording to some Pali experts to listen and asked for their feedback before composing the final version.
Queried if fans could expect the third collection of her film songs next year she said that she is not sure what her next CD will be based upon.
“I am determined to launch the final collection of my film songs in a CD but I am also eager to engage in something new and different.
Each of the 29 CDs I have launched in my career is different from each other but I have always catered something positive to the society. I suppose that is why the public still cherish me in their heart,” she concluded.