Impressions of a few musicians, who have had a long association with the veteran
Lalgudi G.J.R. Krishnan: Son and disciple
He is more a guru to me than a father. Music is oxygen to him. Even in slumber, you can find his toes on a rhythm. He loves nature and he interprets it through music. In this era, gurukula vasam is possible only when you are part of a parampara or a lineage and I think I am lucky in that respect. Imbibing his music has been a natural process.
Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi: Daughter and disciple
He practises what he preaches and for him music is everything in life. The bhakti element he infuses makes it even more divine. It is tough to emulate him which I have been trying all these years. I'm blessed to have been by his side to learn things. Perfection, in everything he does, is his bottomline. The most memorable advice from him: “Try to excel yourself than trying to be better than someone else. Excellence should always be a moving target, progressively.”
S.P. Ramh: Vocalist and disciple
Lalgudi Sir has passed on a legacy as Vidya Dhaanam. Among many of his principles, the one I try to follow is to always give one's best. Perfection is his mantra. He has educated us in dealing with the ups and downs of life with equanimity.
Bombay Jayashri: Vocalist and disciple
He is the epitome of what a guru symbolises. He has been a father, friend, guardian and much more to me. There is nothing that he has not achieved in life. If you measure a vidwan's success by the crowd he pulls or the number of concerts or the number of foreign tours or number of awards, he has had all these in abundance, yet he was never touched by them. For him, art was greater than all of these. He would have played ‘Meenakshi Memudham' at least a thousand times in his life, yet when he sang the composition recently, he was in tears at ‘Mahadeva Sundaresa' (Jayashri demonstrates). Same was the case when he rendered ‘Raju Vedala,' ‘Rama katha'or Nadachi nadachi(she sings).
Each visit to his house enriches my knowledge. With a child like enthusiasm he still fathoms Thodi, Mohanam, Atana or Huseini. He has not only taught music but also life's philosophy. My journey from Mumbai to Ramanujam Street, T. has been long , nevertheless his blessings have been bountiful.
Padma Sankar: Violinist and disciple
He is poornathvam personified in music and many other facets of life. His in depth knowledge of literature, film music and politics is something that has always amazed me. His repartees are stunning. Relating music to nature, he insists on enjoying the music first from within. Tennis is close to his heart and he draws comparison between the serve and volley with that of the swara exchanges between the main singer and the violin vidwan. He is the best rasika I've ever seen right from enjoying a tasty gulab jamun to a mellifluous ghazal of Ghulam Ali. “Right proportion in all you do within the limit will take you very far” is the best advice I have received from him.
Sankari Krishnan: Vocalist and disciple
He is keen on layam, which he insists should be maintained in everything we do and not just music. His punctuality is something incredible and his time management is a lesson for others. He has documented all his concerts since 1940 and it is a treat to go through them including his self-evaluation of each concert. His advice of reviewing one's own concert objectively is applicable to all up-and-coming vidwans.
S. Saketharaman: Vocalist and disciple
He is a colossus. A large hearted person, he never hesitates to appreciate good things, including music, from whomever it comes. He is stickler for rules and never likes any one violating the grammar. I joined him when I was ten years old and to date his treatment and teaching have been the same as it was on the first day.
(As told to V. BALASUBRAMANIAN)