A legend in his lifetime, Dr. Sripada Pinakapani’s contribution to Carnatic music is immeasurable.
He was a karma yogi who lived life in its most exalted form and so as the Gita proclaims ‘death is a meaningful departure’ in more than one sense to Dr. Sripada Pinakapani whose mortal coils have been interred into dust. As a medical doctor, no one is a better judge of the withering body with age, than he. As a man who lived by the bliss of pure music can there be any doubt of his ageless eternity?
Devoid of material desires in pursuing his profession and his passion, Dr. Pani is a legend in his lifetime whose contribution to Carnatic music, especially to the budding musicians of the Telugu region during his times, is immeasurable. Wedded to medical ethics, he earned a living as a government physician only through an honest take-home as he went up the ladder in government health services, never yearning for an extra penny. The yearning for music did not begin and end with his learning the art form and deriving pleasure and prominence from it. He strived day in and day out, to bring in the Thanjavur baani (style of music) to the Telugu land which was in his own words, “relegated to the back burner despite worthy musicians”. He took pains to notate literally every composition (kriti/varnam) that came his way, from the best of old maestros and they mounted into hundreds; but with Dr. Pani there was no looking back, once he put his mind on to it. With dogged perseverance, he brought out a battery of notated music texts that would go on to become timeless treasures of Carnatic music for posterity. Not just that, he set out to coach young music aspirants of his time in the baani he set for them with missionary zeal. His efforts to see Telugu musicians on the pedestal to glory fructified with Dr. Nookala Chinna Satyanarayana and Nedunuri Krishnamurthi bagging the prestigious ‘Sangeetha Kalanidhi’ awarded by the sacred Madras Music Academy! And this onerous task was single-handedly achieved by him during his lifetime.
Physical illness that confined him to the bed for the past decade or more was never a hindrance to the flawless mind that was vibrant with music till the last parting breath. From his bedstead he was still rectifying a musical note to a young aspirant or humming his favourite raga or making a small conversation to some interested biographer-but then, it had to be music and music alone. Desire-less souls will their death once their tasks are completed. The grandsire Bheeshma’s exit closed the epoch of purity in the world; with Dr. Pani’s exit, the generation of doctors who lived by medical ethics alone; a musician who laid down his life for music alone, has come to an end.