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Shobana’s Dancing Drums – Trance

Shobana’s Dancing Drums – Trance

Laasya entertainment Montréal proudly presents “Dancing Drums- Trance” created and performed by Padmashri Shobana and her troupe.

Venue : L’ Olympia Montreal 1004 St-Catherine Est, Montréal
Date : May-20-2018
Doors Open : 5PM
Show Time : 6:30PM Duration : 2.5 hrs

Shobana's Dancing Drums – Trance
Dancing Drums – Trance

High Voltage performance by Well known & International Dancer/Actress Ms. Shobana & Team, an entirely different fusion dance recital in Sunday 20 May, 2018 at L’ Olympia Montreal 1004 St-Catherine Est, Montréal.

After enthralling international audiences of Sydney, Melbourne, Newcastle (New Zealand), London, Aylesbury & Leicester (UK) audience with the new Dance recital, Shobana and her accompanying artists are all set to regale and transport Canada audience to a totally different level.

Laasya Entertainment, Montréal

Laasya Entertainment is a non-profit organization dedicated to enhancing Indian and Sri Lankan cultural awareness in Montreal, Canada. Laasya is sponsoring  a spectacular Dance, Music and Acting event “Shobana’s Trance – Dancing Drums”.  For more information visit


Ticket Base Price Group Discount 10% on Base Tax & Service Charge Normal Ticket Price Tax &Service Charge Ticket Price
VIP 200 20 27 207 *Tax 160
Platinum 150 15 20 155 *Tax 120
Gold 100 10 13 103 *Tax 80
Silver 75 8 10 77 *tax 60
Bronze 49 0 7 56 *Tax 35**

* For SICA Members LAASYA pay the taxes
** Special discount for SICA in ticket type Bronze only 30% on base
NOTE: These discounts are for an assured amount of minimum 100 tickets

SICA mid-year highlights

Dear Members,

Thank you so much for the exceptional support you have given to SICA thus far!! We cannot thank you enough for your generosity and your willingness to come to the events that have been planned to date.

On April 7, 2017, we had a full house at the vocal concert by Sri O. S. Thiagarajan, accompanied by Sri Mysore Srikant on violin and Sri Srimushnam Raja Rao on mridangam. The hall had at least 170 people and we were so pleased at the enthusiasm and verve exhibited by the audience. There is little doubt that the artists were equally inspired by the audience! They performed spectacularly and vocal, violin and mridangam vied with one another to deliver a program that left us mesmerized. From the selection of the items performed to the improvisation that accompanied the items, the concert was a delight from beginning to end. Sri OST announced that he will be performing a unique event at Tiruvayyaru in the fall of 2017, where they will audio and video record the performance of 600 compositions of Sri Thyagaraja performed by over 100 musical artists!! He mentioned that he was accepting donations and a number of our amazingly generous attendees promptly donated funds on the spot. However, a number of people did not get all the details and still wanted to donate to this cause. If you are interested, please email SICA and we will find a way to get your funds to support this amazing and historic event!

A tremendous thanks to Centrepointe Theatre staff, specially Scottie and his crew and the ushers!!

The OST concert was followed by the continuation of Thyagaraja Aradhana on April 29, 2017. We started the incredible day by featuring three of our local youth, Sabthavi Baskaran, Priya Srinivasan and Aparna Ramnath who presented vocal mini-concerts accompanied by Mithuran Manoharan on violin and our visiting artist, Sri B. Sivaraman on mridangam. All three did a wonderful job, presenting alaapana, keerthana, niraval and swaram to compositions in mukhari, hamsadhwani and dhanyasi respectively. Our visiting vocalists, Sri K. N. Shashikiran and Sri P. Ganesan, gave very encouraging and thoughtful feedback to our young vocal artists and it was much appreciated by everyone.

As the food was being organized, we were regaled by Dr. V. S. Ramachandran, who spoke very eloquently about the human aspect of Sri Thyagaraja. Using many of his compositions, Dr. Ramachandran explained how Thyagaraja, despite being such a saintly composer, had his own failings. His ability to recognize and rectify his own failings is what made him a great human in addition to a great saint and composer.

The morning program was followed by a delicious meal cooked by many generous SICA members. The fun started after everyone was well satisfied and had full tummies!

Sri Shashikiran led the Raga repertoire activity. Three categories of ragas were prepared, namely Introductory, Popular and Challenging. Participants were quickly divided into teams of two and one team member was invited to draw a raga from one of the categories. Points increased with difficulty level. Sri Shashikiran was then shown the raga and directed the participant to either present a line of a kriti, or a few lines of alaapana or swara to help the participant’s partner determine what raga had been chosen! If one team could not respond, the competition was opened to other teams, and even the audience. Once the raga was identified, bonus points were awarded for either singing other songs in the same raga, or performing niraval or swaram in the raga. Our members did a wonderful job of selecting and presenting ragas and everyone who attended had a great time!

This event was followed by a quick round of Carnatic anthakshari. Sri Shashikiran invited Bala mami to present the first song and then went team by team to present the next piece when he asked the first performer to stop. The audience quickly got involved and everyone was disappointed when we saw that time had simply FLOWN out the window and we had to stop!

A small break was taken and the artists quickly prepared for the main event, the vocal concert by Sri K. N. Shashikiran and Sri P. Ganesan, the Carnatica brothers, accompanied by Mithuran Manoharan on violin and Sri B. Sivaraman on mridangam. Carnatica brothers were very generous with their amazing talent and accepted many requests by the audience. They also amazed the audience by singing a few of the ragas from Raga Repertoire that no one had guessed, including a scintillating display of alaapana and swaras in these ragas. They presented a selection of very rare Thyagaraja kritis in ragas that have not been heard for some time. Then they invited our youth accompaniments, Amaresh Parameswaran and Sundar Vengadeswaran, to come on stage to accompany them. They rendered the rare composition Tulasi bilva in the raga Kedaragoula with alapana and swara, and then allowed Amaresh and Sundar to play an extensive taniyavarthanam. They were exceptionally encouraging of the boys and gave them much important feedback after the program. They then presented a brilliant ragam tanam pallavi in jaganmohini set to the first line of Shobhillu saptaswara. Sri P. Ganesan performed an exceptional ragamalika tanam to ragas requested by the audience. The pallavi was presented in a novel manner, where the trikaalam was combined in a sequence other than slow, normal, thisram and fast speed. Instead, the thrikaalam and thisram were expertly woven to arrive at samam with perfection! Then the pallavi moved to ragamalika swaras that ended with different pallavi lyrics, all focused on Sangeeta and nadopasana. Mithuran accompanied the entire program very well, given that he was learning many of the ragas on the spot! Sri B. Sivaraman provided a subtle and leading accompaniment that was so apt it clearly demonstrated his deep knowledge of the compositions. His tani was brief but exceptional.

The artists were given a small break to allow the stage to be redesigned for the last part of the program, Nritya Cacheri. During this time, prizes for the competitions were awarded!

It was our honour to have 3 of the five judges for the Theory competition present during the awards. Dr. K. Ramachandran, Dr. S. Raman and Dr. R. Nanduri were able to present awards to the students. We deeply missed the presence of Sri Balasubramaniam and Dr. V. S. Ramachandran.

For the Theory competition, prizes were awarded as follows:

Senior: First prize: Sayohn Ahilan
Second prize: none

Junior: First prize: Divya Dushyanthan
Second prize: Abinaya Sriranganathan

Honorable mention was made to the brilliant drawings submitted by Branavan Jagatheeswaran and Devesh Dushyanthan.

For the practical competition, prizes were awarded as follows:

Senior: First prize: Tie between Sabthavi Bhaskaran and Sayohn Ahilan
Second prize: Shared by Aparna Ramnath and Thulasi Jothiravi

Junior: First prize: Nikhila Parameswaran
Second prize: Maathumai Jegatheeswaran

Honorable mention was made to Aswen Sriranganathan, Priya Srinivasan, Kayatri Kapilan, Mathura Nanthaseelan, Sharusha Ganeshvaran, Nanthana Radhakrishnan and Divya Dushyanthan.

All participants received certificates, a prize and chocolates. A wonderful set of group photographs was taken and will be posted on the website.

We were fortunate to have Sri Vishwa Nath Goel from the High Commission of India present. He spoke highly of our artists and was extremely happy that he was able to attend the program. He reiterated the desire of the High Commission of India to remain involved in SICA events. He was extremely happy to distribute chocolates to all the audience members, starting with our youth!

The entire audience then settled in to enjoy the Nritya Cacheri, featuring our visiting artists and our very own Smt Aishwarya Vijaykumar. It was an event beyond compare! The compositions were sung with manodharmam, including niraval and swara, and the dancer interpreted beautifully. The selection of songs was beautiful, including but not limited to Sadinchine, Enna tavam cheithanai, Sivaranjani tillana by Maharajapuram Santhanam and a beautiful and rare mangalam by Purandara Dasar.

The entire audience floated out of the room after a very long day feeling as though they could be sustained for the next month by the incredibly high level of energy of the performers. While it was a long day, it was an AMAZING day!! It was also the FIRST OF IT’S KIND EVENT IN CANADA!!

Many thanks need to be made….and in advance, I wish to apologize if I miss ANYONE!!

Our sincere and heartfelt thanks to all our visiting artists, Sri O. S. Thiagarajan, Sri Mysore Srikant, Sri Srimushnam Raja Rao, Sri K. N. Shashikiran, Sri P. Ganesan, Sri Mithuran Manoharan and Sri B. Sivaraman, as well as Smt. Aishwarya Vijaykumar.

Carnatica Brothers and Sri Mithuran and Sri Sivaraman deserve a particularly warm thanks for having passed the ENTIRE day with our SICA members, after having given a wonderful workshop the evening before!!

Our humble thanks to Sri Shashikiran and Sri Ganesan for being the judges for the practical competition and to Dr. V. S. Ramachandran, Dr. S. Raman, Dr. K. Ramachandran, Dr. R. Nanduri and Mr. Balasubramaniam for having taken the time to judge our theory competition entrants. They provided such positive and encouraging feedback, every one of the judges!!

A great thanks to Dr. Nanduri for providing appropriate and invaluable gifts of musical theory to the competition winners and entrants.

A huge thanks to Dr. V. S. Ramachandran, Dr. K. Ramachandran, Mr. Balasubramaniam and Dr. Krishnan for donating money for the prizes for our youth.

A sincere thanks to Mrs. Malini Suthakar, Mrs. Vithuvanu Sukumaran and Mrs. Brintha Baskaran, as well as Mr. Ramnath Kameswaran and Mr. Rajesh Ramaratnam for taking the time to come early to set the stage and decorate it so beautifully on April 29!!

A HUGE thanks to Mr. Sandeep Hemmady for the amazing sound job! It was long and in spite of everything, he was so gentle and helpful.

Our GRATEFUL thanks to Mr. Sivaruban of SMILES Photography for the incredible photos he takes and for having spent the day taking beautiful photos. The photo album may be found here:

A heartfelt thanks to Bobbie, the custodian at the school for so kindly staying late and being so helpful and accommodating for the whole program!!

Deepest thanks to Geeta Vengadeswaran, Hari Parameswaran, Amaresh Parameswaran, Sundar Vengadeswaran, Sayohn Ahilan, Mr. Ahilan and Srivatsan Vijaykumar for their work carrying things in and out, loading and unloading cars, running around, and in general, keeping things running smoothly.

Our stomachs thank Mythili Kalyanasundaram and all the amazing members who provided food for the program…it was delicious and there was plenty!! Thanks to Yasotha Ahilan for setting up and organizing the food, snacks and tea!!

Thank you to Baktha Rajagopal and Vishali Ramanath for providing coffee to the people doing set up and to the artists.

There are SO many other people who have helped in so many ways and to each and every one of you, I offer our deepest thanks on behalf of SICA!!

Last, but certainly not least, a TREMENDOUS thanks to every member who came for the programs, who donated money, who brought in new members, who supported the youth of our community, who encouraged the artists, who participated and who make SICA what it is….we couldn’t do it without you!!

We look forward to seeing you at our next event!!

Warmest regards,

Your SICA executive committee

250 Years of Sri Thyagaraja – Announcement

Competition Announcement

As promised we are well on our way to planning the second part of the festivities to commemorate the 250th centenary of the birth of Sri Thyagaraja. On April 29, 2017 we will have a full day of musical activities for the whole family and we eagerly look forward to seeing you all there!

We would like to invite all youth to participate in TWO competitions. We will accept submissions in two age categories: Junior, for students from age 7-14 and Senior, for students from age 15-25.

Competition # 1

Select a CARNATIC composer (may be ANY composer who is not living today). Either using a particular (or a few) composition(s) or the life of the composer, explain why that composer is your favourite and how he/she has had an impact on your personal life.

  • Junior students may submit a picture, a cartoon, or a short essay, or are welcome to submit a multimedia presentation.
  • Senior students may submit an essay, a multimedia presentation, a movie, a self-video or a recorded speech.

If you have a different presentation you would like to make that is not one of the ones specified above, kindly contact a SICA representative to confirm that it is ok). ALL submissions are to be made electronically and are DUE by APRIL 22, 2017 midnight.

We are fortunate to have a panel of judges who will examine all the submissions and make a choice as to the best presentations. The panel consists of the following 5 judges:

  • Mr. Balasubramaniam
  • Dr. Rao Nanduri
  • Dr. K. Ramachandran
  • Dr. V. S. Ramachandran
  • Dr. Raman

There will be 2 prizes in the junior and 2 prizes in the senior categories.

Competition # 2

We invite all the youth to prepare a Thyagaraja composition in any one of the following categories:

  • Simple compositions/utsava sampradaya/bhajana style
  • Rare ragas/rare kritis
  • Pancharatna (can be any of Lalgudi, ghana, Tiruvotriyur, Srirangam, Kovur, etc.)
  • Compositions on Music/music knowledge
  • Philosophical Compositions
  • Compositions on Nada
  • Western based compositions
  • Composition from one of Thyagaraja’s 3 operas

Compositions may be rendered individually or in a group and should be recorded electronically.  We will shortly release the link to which the recordings should be uploaded. The Carnatica brothers and Sri B. Sivaraman will judge the entrants and select 2 winners in the junior and 2 winners in the senior category (same age groupings as for First competition).

We encourage all our youth to participate and hope that all the parents will encourage their children to take part in this inaugural event and the best submissions (junior and senior) for BOTH competitions will be invited to present live to the community on April 29, 2017.

Register online for SICA membership

Avoid the rush and register online for SICA membership here!

You will receive a confirmation email from SICA and your membership card will be ready for pick up at the next SICA event. Once registering online, you must pay your fees either via Interac e-transfer to mail.sicaottawa@gmail.com or in person to a SICA committee member at the next SICA event. The total amount owed will be listed in the confirmation email that you receive. Please check your spam folder if you do not see a confirmation email in your inbox.

Annual General Meeting 2016 – Minutes

South India Cultural Association 

Annual General Meeting (AGM)

Date:December 12, 2016 
Time:2:30 PM to 3:30 PM 
Location:St. Thomas the Apostle Anglican Church, 2345 Alta Vista Drive, Ottawa, ON K1H 7M6 

The meeting, having achieved quorum, started at 2:30 pm. 


President’s report:

  • President’s report, outlining activities and events for FY16 was presented by Dr. Venkateswaran and approved. 

Treasurer’s report: 

  • Financial results for FY16 were presented by Mr. Ramnath, approved by Dr. Nair and was followed by a Q&A session.  
  • Financial results included highlights of the revenue generated from events, expenses incurred and the overall profitability of the organization.  

Committee member changes 

  • Incoming committee members were formally nominated and inducted into SICA.New committee members were also introduced to existing members and include: 
    • Aishwarya Vijaykumar
    • Prabhu Vengadeswaran
    • Srivatsan Vijayakumar
    • Yasotha Ahilan
  • After many years of dedicated service, Mrs. Jayasri Ramesh has decided to step down from the executive committee for 2017. 
  • Mr. Ramnath, who has been the treasurer for over 6 years and on the executive committee for over 10 years, and Mr. Ramarathnam have also decided to step down for 2017, but will remain on ex officio. 
  • All members thanked Mrs. Ramesh, Mr. Ramnath and Mr. Ramarathnam for the wonderful job they did. 
  • With no further nominations from the floor and with support from SICA members, the following members were acclaimed to the 2017 executive committee:
    • Dr. Rashmi Venkateswaran (President) 

Thyagaraja Day 2017 confirmed: 

  • Date and additional details to be finalized and communicated to members and committee. 


Q&A period discussion on financial results: 

  • Rising expenditures (weak Canadian dollar, increasing remuneration to artists)  
  • Low account balance – the closing balance of the SICA bank account at the end of 2016 is $1311.92 
  • Difficulties in collecting on sponsorship fees 

Roundtable discussion and idea generation session: 

  • Revenue generation through alternate membership fee structures, sponsorships 
  • Growing the organization’s membership base and collaborating with other organizations in the community 

Changes to membership fee structure:  

  • Overall, majority of members in attendance were in agreement that they would support an increase in membership fees provided that this change has buy-in from the broader membership base.   
  • Current committee put forth an idea of changing the membership structure to a fee + donation model where a portion of the fee may be claimed by members on tax returns. This proposal requires further discussion. 

Action Items 

  • Conduct follow up meeting with new committee members  
  • Discuss and finalize changes to membership fee structure  
  • Plan and organize Thyagaraja Day event 

Proposed membership fees for 2017 

Membership type  Proposed Fee for 2017  Current Fee 2016 
Family  $160  $150 
Couple  $125  $120 
Single  $75  $70 
Couple – Senior  $110  $110 
Single – Senior  $60  $60 
Students  $60  $60 
Non members (per program)  $30  $20 
Organizational membership  $250  N/A

SICA Membership notes: 

  • Memberships purchased in 2017 will be valid until March 1st 2018 
  • A family membership will cover 2 adults and 2 children 21 years of age or below. Additional dependent children may be added for $30 per dependent child 21 years of age or below.
  • Organizational membership package is available exclusively to teachers of Carnatic music and dance across North America. Similar to the family membership, the organizational membership package will cover 2 adults and 2 children below 18 years of age. Further, this membership will include: 
    • Attendance at all programs and performance opportunities for any 2 students of the teacher’s choosing at SICA talent programs 
    • An advertisement on the SICA website as well as select event brochures and promotional material
  • Non member fee is a standard entry fee that will be charged to each non-member for entry to a single SICA event 

Benefits for SICA members include: 

  • Entry to a minimum of two concerts by prominent Carnatic musicians 
  • Entry to and participation opportunities in a minimum two local talent programs 
  • Entry to select Bharatiya Sangeetha Sangham (BSS) Montreal programs for a discounted rate 
  • Group discount rates for SICA members for select non-SICA events 
  • Other benefits and opportunities to be outlined throughout 2017 

Anyone who would like to comment on the proposed fees for 2017 or on any issue relevant to SICA is invited to email the committee at sicaottawa@gmail.com 

The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks by the President and was adjourned at 3:30 PM. 

Carnatic Vocal concert by Chinmaya sisters

SICA is pleased to present a Carnatic Vocal concert by Chinmaya sisters on
Sunday, November 27th at 3 PM at the Amphitheater of St.Paul University, 223 Main Street, Ottawa.



Chinmaya Sisters- Uma and Radhika are popular names in the field of Carnatic Music. With Sweet and mellifluous voices that blend as one, melodious and spirited singing and strict adherence to Classicism, they have captured the hearts of Rasikas worldwide.

Uma and Radhika’s talent in music was identified at a very early age by their parents Sri R. Natesan & Smt. Bhavani Natesan, who took it upon themselves the task of showing them the right direction.

They were initiated into music by their mother Smt Bhavani Natesan, rigorous musical training began right from their childhood, initially from Isai Peroli Neyveli Sri R. Santhanagopalan and later on from Padma Bhushan Madurai T N Seshagoplan and they continue to remain under their able guidance even now.

The duo come from a family of ardent devotees of Swami Chinmayananda. Having received his blessings they have been named Chinmaya Sisters by their Guru. They recall with pride, meeting Swami Chinmayananda and seeking his blessings to begin their musical journey as “Chinmaya Sisters”.

Mauran has been playing the Miruthangam for the past fifteen years under the tutelage of Sri Gowrishanker Balachandran and has accomplished himself in the art at the senior level. He has also received training from Neyveli Skandasubramaniam and his Guru’s Guru, Thiruvarur Bakthavathsalam. Mauran completed his Miruthanga Arangetram in March 2001, and has passed Teacher’s Grade examination conducted by the Thamil Isai Kalaa Manram, Ontario in 2005.

They are accompanied on the mridangam by Mauran Manogaran.
Mauran has accompanied artists such as Smt. Raji Gopalakrishnan, Thiruvarur Girish, Vittal Ramamurthy, Smt. Geetha Rajasekhar, and many others in various performances over the years. He is also a founding member of the Carnatic Youth Society of Canada, an organization that was created by the local youth of Toronto to encourage and develop the South Indian classical arts in Canada amongst youth who learn and practice it.

On the violin by Mithuran Manogaran. Mithuran is an upcoming violinist in the Carnatic music field today in Canada. In 2002, Mithuran started learning violin at the tender age of 8 from Kandadevi Vijayaraghavan in Chennai. Upon returning to Toronto in 2003, he continued to learn from Sangeetha Vidwan Thanathevy Mithradeva (disciple of Sangita Kalanidhi Prof.T.N. Krishnan and Parur M.S. Anantharaman). Currently, Mithuran is receiving advanced training under the tutelage of Shri Kumbakonam M.R. Gopinath. Mithuran is also currently learning vocal under the tutelage of Dr.Varalakshmi Anandkumar, whom is a senior disciple of Sangita Kalanidhi D.K. Jayaraman 

Happy New Year 2016


Dear Friends,

Happy New Year 2016

The following is the minutes of the AGM held on 6 December 2015 at St. Thomas the Apostle Anglican Church, 2345 Alta Vista Dr, Ottawa, ON, K1H 7M6 (sincere thanks to Dr. Ramachandran Nair and Mr. M. Mahadevan for chairing the nomination committee). The new committee is already busy arranging and organizing excellent concerts for this year.  We are hoping to have another great year for SICA members. Please get your Thayagaraja Pancharatnas and Kirtanas ready for the first program of this year – details will be sent soon.

Best regards

SICA committee, 2016


South India Cultural Association

AGM held on 06 December 2015, 2:30-3:30 pm

St. Thomas the Apostle Anglican Church, 2345 Alta Vista Dr, Ottawa, ON, K1H 7M6

The meeting, having achieved quorum, started at 2:30 pm.

The president’s report, outlining activities for the previous year was presented and approved

The treasurer’s report was presented by Ramnath. Approved (Krishnan/Dr. Ramachandran Nair)

As the only other item for AGM was the election of new executive, the meeting was handed over to the Nomination committee (Dr. Ramachandran Nair and Mr. M. Mahadevan)

Since the nomination committee did not receive any nomination from the members it was proposed the present committee will continue in 2016:

Dr. Rashmi Venkateswaran

Ramanathan Kameswaran

Rajesh Ramarathnam

Jayasri Ramesh

As there was no further nominations from the floor, the four members were acclaimed to the executive for 2016. The committee will meet and elect the officers (President, Secretary and Treasurer) from its membership.

The closing balance of SICA bank account at the end of 2015 has dropped to approximately $2500. Due to the weak Canadian dollar and unfavorable exchange rate against US dollars, the remuneration to artists have gone up considerably. In order to provide quality program to our members, the SICA Committee proposed an increased membership fee for 2016 as follows:

 Membership Type  Proposed Fee For 2016  Current Fee 2015
 Family  $150  $120
 Couple  $120  $100
 Single  $70  $60
 Couple – Senior  $110  $90
 Single – Senior  $60  $55
 Students  $60  $50

A new category of Membership (Organization Member) was proposed and the fee was suggested at $200 per year with the privilege of four adult tickets for all the SICA programs.

The resolution was proposed and unanimously accepted by the members.

The meeting concluded with a vote of thanks by the President and was adjourned at 3:15 pm.

Thyagaraja’s minor lapses?



Dr. V.S. Ramachandran

As a biographer of sorts, I have discovered to my surprise that many eminent people belonging to different fields of activity were eccentric, weird, paradoxical and odd. It appears that as a group, musicians and artists head the list of oddballs.

Some examples of enigmatic behaviors of western musicians/composers are as follows: Vivaldi was known for his egoism, vanity, and obsession with money. Bach was very abusive towards his students to the extent they thought of assassinating him. Mozart was crude, undependable, shorttempered and looked down on those who were not talented. Beethoven was nonchalant, violent, jealous, stubborn, and impatient. Chopin had a lot of idiosyncrasies. Wagner was obsessed with fairies, magicians and was uncontrollably extravagant, incurring a lot of debts. Verdi was secretive and anti-social. Brahms was very shabby, a heavy smoker, cynical and a drunk. Tchaikovsky was always unhappy for no apparent reason. Glen Gould was an iconoclast and an eccentric personality. Eric Satie, was a bachelor with odd characteristics. For instance, he loved a girl because she belched in a cute way! Stravinsky was an egoist and a hypochondriac. Fascinating details about many personalities belonging to different disciplines are to be found in my recent book entitled, “Enigmatic Lives of Celebrities”.

While writing the book on eminent personalities, I was curious to know whether famous Indian composers/musicians exhibited such aberrant behaviors. One of the problems I encountered, more often than not, was that the anecdotes pertaining to Indian composers lack authenticity and are often exaggerated. For instance, some of them are considered as incarnations. Many miracles are attributed to them. I found that Thyagaraja, justifiably was a unique personality, and could be regarded as a genius and a saint. Hence I read with great interest his life story and contributions. I decided to present a few facts about him that are not commonly known. I realized that his compositions are in fact an autobiographical presentation!

Thyagaraja was a great composer, saint and an ardent devotee of Rama. His compositions represent a combination of Vedanta, devotion and literary excellence. On occasions however, he exhibited normal human failings, albeit, of minor nature. But his greatness lay in the realization of his lapses and seeking immediate atonement through his compositions.

Thyagaraja was a strict disciplinarian and would be irritated if his sishyas (students) did not follow his commandments. Once, without his permission, some of his students attended a marriage function. He was very upset and as a punishment, they were not served food for a whole day. Thyagaraja’s wife, feeling sorry for the sishyas told Thyagaraja that he was too stringent and that a good guru should be compassionate towards his students for their minor misdeeds. She asked him whether he had not committed any transgression in his life. Thyagaraja regretted his action, calmed down and composed the song “Shathamu Lekha Soukyamu Ledu”, in the raga Sama. It means that happiness cannot be attained without the tranquility of mind.

His intense love for Rama so clouded his thoughts, that he disregarded other deities, to the point of bigotry. In the song, “Lavanya Rama (Poorna Shadjam)”, he implied that Rama, was better than any other God and that he had nothing to do with other deities. Once, the Goddess of Thiruvayyaru viz., Dharmasamwardhini was taken in a procession. When it was passing through his street, he made sure to shut all the windows and doors to avoid seeing the Goddess. Soon after, he was afflicted with grave illness which he attributed to the wrath of Dharmasamwardhini. As an atonement, he composed his first piece (Shaivaite related) entitled “Karuna Joodavamma” in Thodi. It states, “I am aware that you are the protector of the world. Only you can destroy the sins committed by ignorant people”. Thyagaraja, subsequently composed songs on deities other than Rama, viz., Subrahmanya, Krishna, Hanuman, Tulasi, Siva, Kamakkshi, etc.

In one of his conversations with a music lover, he was made to realize that he was seeking bliss for himself, unmindful of others. He regretted that it was a selfish act. In addition, it was made clear to him that he had scant regard for some men. After realizing this lapse on his part, he composed the song, “Aparadhamula maanimpayaadu kovayya” in Darbar. In this song he confesses that he was arrogant, abusive to others and even gossiped. He was remorseful that while uttering Lord’s name his mind was meandering towards worldly pleasures.

There was a tinge of pride in him when he announced that he reveled in susvara in the song, “Chinthistunnade Yamudu (Mukhari)”. He states, that even those sinners who have taken to singing Thyagaraja’s songs can evade Yama, the God of death. In another piece, “Elavathara metti kontivi (Mukahari), he boldly asserts that Rama favored him with boons, being delighted with hundreds of songs composed by him.

He also exhibits some egoism when he stated that due to Rama, his fame had spread far and near in the composition “Dasarathi nee runamu” in Thodi. Some critics feel that in the song “Sogasuga mridanga talamu” (Sriranjani) he implied that he was only one who was capable of singing the songs in all purity and charming rhythms. In another composition, “Mithri bhagyame bhagyamu” in Karaharipriya, he asserts that Lakshmana was fortunate in listening to the aesthetic and rare ragas of Thyagaraja.

His condemnation of women, at times, was severe and bordered on chauvinism. In the song, “Menujuchi mosa bokave” in Sarasangi, he debunks the features of women. He cautioned that men should not be deluded by them as in the inside of them there is nothing but filthy excreta, blood, and other ugly things. The same theme, in a milder form occurs in the song, “Entha nerchina entha joochina”, in raga Udayaravichandrika. Even the learned and great men are liable to be enslaved by women.

It is pertinent to remember that critics opine that Rama, Thyagaraja’s most favored God, was not without some blemishes, viz., killing of Vaali on the sly, testing devoted Sita’s purity by asking her to walk through fire and sending her to the forest on some flimsy grounds.

In conclusion, I would consider Thyagaraja was one of the greatest souls. It is very hard to discover significant gaffs of Saint Thyagaraja. Save a few songs mentioned above, almost all his compositions reflect his humility, bhakthi, extensive knowledge, originality and humaneness. Thyagaraja’s greatness lies in the fact that he did not mind confessing with regret whenever he thought he went astray from righteousness. That reinforces our conviction, that truly he was one of the greatest personalities of the world.

About the Author

Dr. V.S. Ramachandran, a longtime patron of SICA is an acknowledged world leader in the field of Concrete Science and holds the most prestigious title, “Distinguished Researcher, and was the recipient of President’s award.” at the National Research Council of Canada. His research career extending over fifty years has resulted in innumerable scientific publications, including twenty books and twenty chapters. Some of them have been translated into other languages. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society. He is a recipient of many awards and honors. His varied interests are obvious from his contributions to magazines and newspapers on topics such as short stories, poems, popular science, and music. Dr. Ramachandran has appeared in various international biographical works.