Bombay Gnanam went to Kanjeevaram to get the blessings of the current pontiff of Kanchi Kamakoti Peeta, Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal for MLDG’s Silver Jubilee presentation of the play ‘Sri Bhagavan Naama Bhodendral’! He was pleased to hear about the staging of the story of an earlier pontiff and the success of the play. Then he went in and brought a book covered with the sacred kumkum and flowers. He handed it over to Gnanam and said, “Please make this the subject of your next play”! The book was the story of Adi Sankaracharya!
Gnanam and her team brainstormed about how to present this story as it was not only the story of the great saint Guru, but it was a treatise on the philosophy of Advaita, a deep subject that could not be easily translated into a visual medium.
The best way of presenting the life and teachings of Adi Sankara was through his wonderful poem Bhaja Govindam. Bhaja govindam is classified as a prakaraNa grantha, a primer to the major works of Adi Sankaracharya. Sung as a bhajan, it presents the essence of Vedanta and implores us to think about the reason for our birth, “Why am I here in this life? Why am I amassing wealth, family and yet have no peace? What is the Truth, the purpose of life?” The person thus awakened can set out on the path to enlightenment.
Using the main verses, Gnanam has scripted a wonderful play connecting the teachings of Shri Chandrashekarendra Saraswati, fondly called as Paramacharya, Mahaswami or Maha Periyavaal, the late saint pontiff of Kanchi Mutt.
Using the same technique of pre-recorded dialogues and lip sync on stage, the play expresses the deep philosophy of Advaita in simple terms that the common man can understand and follow.
The coming together of music, sets, acting, story, dialogues, costume and atmosphere, brings alive the different worlds of Adi Sankaracharya, Maha Periyavaal and the common man.
Just like ‘Sri Bhagavan Naama Bhodendral’, this play too has been hugely successful and is running to full houses. Both plays have created a spiritual awakening. The audiences have reacted positively to the plays and have repeatedly said that they have found a new meaning to life. They seem to be motivated to find solutions to modern day problems and issues through the teachings of these two great gurus.