Tag Archives: Leslie Shepard

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Dattatreya Rama Rao Parvatikar

Found among the papers of Leslie Shepard this article on the Indian holy man and musician Dattatreya Rama Rao Parvatikar (1916 - 1990). Shepard refers to him as Sri Ramdatta Parvatikar. The article appears not to have been published. For more on Shepard follow this link to an earlier piece of his on Charles Fort.

SRI SWAMI RAMDATTA PARVATIKAR

A Portrait of an Indian Musician

by LESLIE SHEPARD

  It is twilight in the Himalayas, by the side of the sacred river Ganges, a magic moment when the forms of the visible world tremble as night falls. The dark outline of the hills with a shaggy growth of jungle might be a giant's head. Across the water comes the cry of rooks and the call of a boatman. The white domes of temples become unreal in the fading pink glow of the half-light. The sound of rushing water is like the music of dreams.
  From the old Sri Shatrughana Temple comes another music - the notes of a Rudra-Vina, a traditional instrument, played by a master hand. On the temple steps is a picturesque figure with a small group of devotees. Sri Swami Parvatikar Maharaj has the long uncut hair of a sadhu plaited and twisted round the top of his head. He has a majestic beard and keen eyes. He wears a tattered red cloak, and sits in padmasana, the lotus posture, as he plays his instrument in the service of the Lord. A cow stumbles past noisily, but nobody takes any notice, entranced by the subtle and powerful vibrations that pour from the strings of the Rudra-Vina like the swift current of the Ganges.
  Sri Swami Parvatikar is a commanding figure, with an extraordinary dignity and power. He is a sadhu - a wandering monk - but he is also a Bachelor of Science, a radio artist, and one of India's greatest religious musicians. With all his contradictions, the man is inseparably connected with his background...
  The scene is part of a timeless India. Day by day in the big cities, men are struggling with the hard economics of five-years plans, with the new threat of enemies on the border, but here, at Rishikesh, one man is preserving an ancient way of life for the benefit of a modern world.

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