About Gamaka Parishath
Karnataka Gamaka Kala Parishath, incepted in 1982, has been mainly responsible for sustaining the art of Gamaka. Presently, the Parishath has about 1500 life members.
For the last nearly four decades, the Parishath has been actively engaged in conducting Gamaka classes and organizing various stage performances and annual conferences and other occasional events.
The Parishath, with its registered and central office in Bengaluru, is managed by a team headed by an elected President, who will choose the other office bearers. As a State body, all the work related to gamaka propagation in different districts is carried out through a Representative system. At this time there are 22 representatives in 22 of the 30 districts in the State. Efforts are on to identify suitable names to represent the Parishath and carry out its activities in the unrepresented districts too.
Of late, some of the activities of the Parishath like training in Gamaka and organizing joint events have been extended to the global stage. Some of the past students of Gamaka under the Parishath and other connoisseurs of Gamaka have formed a Gamaka Forum in North America.
The Parishath is presently led by Vid Smt Gangamma Keshavamurthy as the President, assisted by a team comprising Smt Jayalakshmi Gopinath (Vice President), Sri G Dakshina Murthy (Secretary), Smt Vijaya Ranganath (Treasurer) and Sri Santhosh N Bharadwaj (Jt Secretary)
Gamaka is an ancient art form, said to be dating back to the time of the Ramayana. Rishi Valmiki, Apparently taught Lava and Kusha the art of reciting Ramayana in the unique 'gamaka' style.
Gamaka is a traditional art unique to Karnataka. It involves rendering the ancient Kannada poetry, the skill known as 'vaachana', adopting classical ragas. Usually this rendering is accompanied by a commentary knows as 'vykhyana'.
In olden days, Gamakis formed a part of Maharaja's court. However, their art was not limited to the palace. They sang at temples, social celebrations, village gatherings, and every venue that offered an opportunity. In those times this art was quite popular among the common masses. However, over time, this art saw a gradual decline, as man's life became more complex and occupied. The 20th century saw a revival of the art, Thanks to the dedicated efforts of eminent literary persons like Prof. A.R. Krishna Shastry and Dr D.V. Gundappa. Gamaka gained firmer ground during G. Narayana's tenure as the president of the Kannada Sahitya Parishat. Later when the art of gamaka was brought to an independent forum under the title Karnataka Gamaka Kala Parishat, in 1982, Sri. G. Narayana became the Founder President.
Some of the early Gamakis of the last century include Abhinava Kalidasa Basavappa Shastry, Bharat Bindurao, Krishnagiri Krishna Rao, Raghavendra Rao and Shakuntalabai Panduranga Rao. This genre has continued to the present day with names like (Late) B.S.S. Koushik, Hosahalli Keshavamurthy, Gangamma Keshavamurthy et al.
Genesis and Growth
The year was 1930. Sri M Raghavendra Rao, an ardent Gamaki, migrated from Mysore to Bangalore. Here, in Bangalore, he along with scholars like Sri Subodha Rama Rao and Sri Varadam Rama Rao, were presenting Gamaka programs in Kannada Sahitya Parishat and other places.
At this time, he came under the guidance of the then President of the Sahitya Parishat, Masti Venkatesh Iyengar, who encouraged Sri Raghavendra Rao. As the Convenor of Gamaka Classes at the Kannada Sahitya Parishat, he rendered venerable service to the art of Gamaka for over two decades.
With involved support from stalwarts and scholars like Prof G Venkatasubbaiah, Sri M R Srinivasamurthy, Sri A N Murthi Rao and Masti, the art of Gamaka flourished well.
At this stage, Sri Raghavendra Rao had to return to Mysore, where he continued his Gamaka services, along with his third son. This resulted in the forming of an Association of Gamakis, under the banner Kavya Ranjini Sabha, which continues to be active even today.
Over the time, many of the scholars who attended and participated in the Sabha activities strongly felt the need for a separate Academy to promote the art of Gamaka with greater and sustained vigor.
This thought combined with the urge of Sri Raghavendra Rao, led to the inception of Karnataka Gamakakala Parishat, on October 2, 1982, with the primary aim of promoting the Gamaka Art form and facilitating complementary activities. The Parishat started functioning from the venue in Thyagarajanagar, Bangalore. Sri G Narayana and Sri Raghavendra Rao took charge as as President and Vice President respectively. There were other leading scholars that were induced as the other members/office bearers of the Parishat.
As a next step to effectively sustain this popularisation effort, the Parishat installed a representative District Unit in each of almost all the districts, identified the local individuals committed to serving the art of Gamaka, and nominated them as the District Unit Presidents.
As a part of this Gamaka popularisation effort, the Parishat also has a multi-level academic program whereby it prescribes syllabi and text books, runs classes for both domestic and international students, conducts examinations and issues Certificates to successful candidates. It is heartening that some of the Gamaka students have secured their jobs based on the Certificate issued by the Parishat.
Presidents so far
Sri. G. Narayana [1982-2003]
Sri. K.S. Venkatadri Sharma [2003-2006]
Dr. Krishna Kolhar Kulakarni [2006-2008]
Sri. B.G. Ramesh [2008-2011]
Sri M R Satyanarayana [2011-17]
Smt Gangamma Keshavamurthy [2017 onwards]