A Musical Marvel – Sarvabhowma Veena

“I do not decide what to carve into stone…the image emerges from the natural lines of the rock !” said Michelangelo, the world’s greatest sculptor, on being asked how he decided to carve his masterpieces. Similar were the thoughts that ran through the mind of Sri. C. Natarajan when he saw a huge jack wood log while traveling through Nelamangala. “It was as if Goddess Saraswati spoke to me and directed me to carve a Veena out of that log of wood.” he says. This fruitful confluence of divine inspiration and skillful carving led to the “Sarvabhowma Veena”.

Carved out of a single log of jack wood, this gigantic but fully functional veena measures a staggering ten feet in length. In addition to its size, which makes it probably the largest in the world, the Sarvabhowma Veena has been adorned with the carvings of exceptional variety and beauty.

On either side of the breastplate of the main resonator (Kodam) one finds carvings of Godesses Laxmi and Saraswati. Lord Ganesha is aptly carved near the anchor. One also finds the great line “Endaro Mahanubhavalu Andariki Vandanamu” from Thyagaraja’s immortal composition.

On each side of the resonator are images of the musical trinity Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Muthuswamy Dixitar and Sri Shyama Shastry in addition to the celebrated saints Sri Purandara dasa, Sri Kanaka Dasa and Sri Raghavendra Swamy.

Below the anchor we have the cosmic dancer Lord Nataraja carved in his full glory. Goddess Rajarajeshwari, Lord Muruga and Lord Anjaneya embellish the neck portion.

On the right side of the Dandi, one finds seven animals representing the seven musical notes or the Sapthaswaras. These are : the peacock, the bull, the goat, the krouncha bird, the cuckoo, the horse and the elephant.

On the left side are the presiding deities of the primordial seven notes; Agni, Brahma, Saraswati, Shiva, Vishnu, Ganesha and Surya along with the seven colours of the rainbow. The mela mounted on a vase platform while the bride, designed in the form of elephants, adds to the aesthetic value of this Veena. A map of India along with the tricolour is carved on the yali or the end-portion of the Veena, representing our eternal values and culture.

The creator of this marvel is Karnataka Kala Shree C. Natarajan, a classical instrument manufacturer with over 35 years of experience in the field. He is the proprietor of Shiva Musicals, Malleswaram, Bangalore. Born in our own state of Karnataka, he has continued the rich tradition of this state in being the epicenter for the manufacture of the best veenas. This masterpiece of his, which took him six months of concerted effort is his humble but unique contribution to the World of Indian Classical Music.