My initial reaction to the maestro’s passing away was shock. He was a genius and his music always inspired me. My mind went back to the concert that was presented two years ago at San Diego, the U.S., one of the most memorable in my career of 35 years.
Both the artists and the public were in ecstasy. It was a concert on April 16, 2010, by N. Vijay Siva with R.K. Sriramkumar on the violin and myself on the mridangam. The organisers informed that Pt. Ravishaknar would attend the concert. The last occasion Panditji attended a concert was that of his disciple, Pt. Vishwa Mohan Butt, Hawaiian Guitar. He stayed only for half-an-hour. But this time round, he came half an hour ahead of the concert and enjoyed refreshments with us. He was cheerful and spoke highly of Carnatic music, which he referred to as the Pacific Ocean. To our great surprise and joy, he even sang a few lines of Tyagaraja Swamy’s kritis. He also mentioned that he was immensely inspired by Hamsadhwani ragam, which he regularly featured in his concerts too.
We started the concert with his blessings and did not expect him to stay beyond 30 minutes. But, Panditji enjoyed our three-hour concert thoroughly, with closed eyes, keeping time for every kriti. When Vijay sang Mangalam, Panditji turned to wife and said, “Why mangalam so soon?”
After the concert, he spoke highly of our music and particularly the concert that day, he was evidently moved by our concert. He also asked us why we concluded the concert so early.
That day was not an ordinary day, nor was the concert. I think we performed like possessed artists. We saw the image of my great father and guru D.K. Jayaraman, in Panditji’s image. In fact, we did not perform that day. Instead, they (God and Gurus) did.
There was a thunderous applause after the concert and it went on for several minutes. Panditji was on his feet applauding and we felt blessed. It was so moving.