Invariably, any programme in India will start with an invocation. The invocation will be sung by one or more persons on the stage. In Tamil Nadu, the audience will stand up for the invocation. However, in Karnataka, generally the audience does not stand up for the invocation. Moreover, the audience will clap the the end of the invocation, as if a concert was given! Of course, standing up for the invocation is more apt, as it is generally a prayer.
Recently, I was invited to be a judge for a competition, it does not matter what type of competition it is. As usual, the inauguration programme started with an invocation. Everybody stood up for the invocation and so did I. The invocation started ….
“Maithreem Bhajatha Akhila Hrith Jeththreem …”
It is is one of my favorite songs. This song was specifically composed by the Kanchi Sankaracharya for M. S. Subbulakshmi to be sung at the U.N. General Assembly Hall during 1966.
This song indeed suits an invocation irrespective of religion of audience. The lyrics does not mention any specific God by name. It just mentions “there is only one father in common, God he is Our Father, is very Compassionate to All”. If Barkha Dutt, Rajdeep Sardesai or Sagarika Ghose were to be present as audience, they would not have any problem with this invocation! Indeed a truly secular invocation!
The invocation continued …
“Atmavat Eva Paraan api pashyata
Yuddham thyajatha, Spardhaam Tyajata
Tyajata Pareshwa akrama aakramanam….”
A few people were in trans already, perhaps such people see God in everything including the prayer. It doesn’t matter what prayer it is, a prayer is a prayer for them, even if they do not understand the meaning of what is being sung (and the aptness to the situation)! Some people were nodding their heads, and some people whole body! The nodding may be because of many reasons, like, they enjoy the music (raaga of the prayer), they understand and appreciate the meaning of the prayer….
Well, does the young lady singing understand the meaning of the prayer? Would she have sung this prayer if she were to know the meaning? That too in a competition? Do the organizers of the competition understand the meaning? Are the like PK, who dresses inappropriately for a given situation?
Well, if I am influenced by the prayer, I should be asking the contestants to forsake the competition rather than judging them! I should declare the competition null and void. The invocation indeed calls for forsaking the competition!
Isn’t it strange that the organizers choose an invocation just like that without knowing its meaning and aptness to the programme being conducted?