‘Legends of our Land’ – Vainika Shikamani Seshanna (1852-1926)

Veena Seshanna was the “uncrowned monarch” of the kingdom of music. He was the pioneer in making Mysore the land of the glorious ‘veena’. A legend in his lifetime, his fame is resplendent even today.

Asthaana Vainika in the kingdom of Mysore, Veena Seshanna was the son of Chikka Ramappa, then the Asthana Vidwan of the Mysore palace.

He had his initial tutelage in veena under Dodda Seshanna; and in vocal music under Mysore Sadhashivarayaru.

Veena Seshanna toured all over the country and was well known for his divine music. He was awarded the title “Vainika Shikamani” in 1920. He was the guru to the king, Naalvadi Krishnaraja of Mysore.

Though known as “Vainika Shikamani”, Seshanna was no stranger to other instruments. He could play melodious music with other instruments like the violin, flute, jalatharang, harmonium, piano, swarabathhu, and mridangam with equal mastery. Amazing creativity coupled with flawless technique in his veena concerts had the audiences in raptures. He was unparalleled in his melody and musical prowess.

He was a great scholar, with a love for innovation. Working untiringly with an investigative mind, he introduced many pathbreaking techniques in his renderings. He was also a composer of repute.

His compositions are a musician’s delight even today. He composed over 50 beautiful compositions like the swarajathi, krithis, thillanas and varnams. Of them the junjuti, kaanada and thillanas in Darbari raga are as popular today as they were during his days.

Among his disciples were the well-known artists K. Venkatappa, Venkata Giriyappa, Sharmadevi Subramanya Shastry, Srirangam Ramaswamy Iyengar, Thirumalai Rajamma and others.

A keep intellect and the dedicated teacher that he was, he unceasingly imparted his knowledge to his disciples. He wholeheartedly shared his music with those who desired to know about it.

Simple in life and generous in attitude, highly cultured with unique talent, Veena Seshanna was known as a godly human among the people of his time.

Legends of our Land

This is a translation of one of the articles from Heeriya Hejjegalu (in Kannada), the great work of Prof. S. K. Ramachandra Rao, published by Ananya. The book presents pen-potraits of the great legends in the field of music of our land, who made the country proud.

(Readers who are interested in purchasing Heeriya Hejjegalu can contact Drishti on 23377466 or Ananya Sangraha on 23440409).