October 17th 2010
It was Vijayadasami day which is referred to as a day where students pay tribute to gurus. By doing so, they are letting one’s guru know how much they mean to their students.
To give an insight, Vijayadasami, is a day that follows the nine-day Navaratri festivities. This day celebrates the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. It’s the day of Vidyarambham, when students are introduced to the world of learning. And in Chennai, this learning is either in the form of music/dance classes. For few, its also art classes these days.
My Vijayadasami day is always special. Its usually been the same. But this time, I thought of my past and wanted to mention few of my teachers who made an impact in my life. My first guru had always been my mom “Amma” who started teaching me shlokas and kutti (small) songs when I was around 2 or 3 years. She would make me repeat whatever she sang and slowly I began to learn. Then, my thatha (my maternal grandfather) took over. Since then, thatha had struggled a lot to make me what I am today as a vocalist. He bestowed all he could so that he could see me as one of the finest Carnatic Musician. This has always been his dreams. Thatha and the guru form in him never really complimented well. As a guru, he is definitely very strict and I respect him for whatever he is. As thatha, he is the best. Also, he has associated himself with promoting compositions of Saint Sri Narayana Theerthar. I wish to fulfill his dreams in the near future as a Carnatic Vocalist (of good standard) and help him with organizing music festivals and letting the world know more about Sri Narayana Theerthar.
Later, my music learning expanded to violin. I began with violin when I was almost 7 years but with all possible breaks, I would have changed atleast 7-8 gurus until I fixed with Akkarai Sri Swamynathan. Akkarai Sir, as he is fondly called by me, is truly inspiring. He is gem of a teacher and a person too. Never have I seen a person who had been selfless in helping others. He is a genuine human being I have come across in my life. I have had my share of experiences with him as a student, a family friend, a well wisher, a daughter at times and so on. It just didn’t stop with Sir, but, continued with both his daughters namely Akkarai S Subbulakshmi and Akkarai S Swarnalatha (Akkarai Sisters) aka Sudha akka & Latha akka. I have shared a special bonding with both akkas. I have been like their little sister(at times an irritating one too). Words are not enough to appreciate their playing and dedication to music. To me, both akkas are role models. Its so true to adopt people of your age as role models than any older person because, you can relate well with the younger people quite often. I have never told to Sudha akka that she inspires me in all little things I do even in my daily life. But yeah, she does. These days when I stay alone in hostel, I would think of how as a toddler Sudha akka would go alone for concerts abroad and in India and still hold her never give up attitude. She is extremely hard working and a perfectionist. To all of her incredible talent, sir polished her talent and made her what she is today. Well, a special mention definitely goes to Latha akka who according to me is the best teacher in the making. She understands my weaknesses and filters all complexities when it comes to music and literally spoon feeds me at times. She allows me to experiment after she feels I have understood the musical concepts. I once upon a time used to spend days together in their house. I do miss those days. Wish, I can start learning the same way with Sir and akkas and become a decent violinist as well a good musician in the years to come.
Finally, about Chingleput Sri Ranganthan Sir. He is one of the best music teacher a student can get. I was lucky that I am his student. Along with thatha, I started learning from Ranganthan sir too. One thing I like about him is that he understands the pressure a student goes through and encourages them to do well in their academics too. I have heard a lot of my friends stating that their music teachers are extremely strict and all of that. But CR sir is like a cool dude types (atleast to me). He expects you to sing well in his classes and if you do so, you have made his day. There are days when I would sing the Kalpana Swarams perfect and he would just bless me saying, “Avalavu thaane! Idhukku poi bayandhudu irukulaama?” meaning “That’s it! Don’t be scared for these simple things”. CR sir holds huge respect among all his students and he can be extreme fun in cracking jokes to us about how some great Carnatic Musicians would converse in his days as a student.
I wish that all my gurus stay hale and healthy and live for a long time. I also wish that they forgive me for not continuing classes until 2012. And guess, I shall practice to my best of ability.