Tribute Friends and admirers recall the helpful, self effacing and endearing R. Suryanarayanan, who passed away recently. Charukesi
It was a solemn occasion, when close friends and admirers of the late R. Suryanarayanan (Suri Sir), fondly recalled his qualities. Brother of R. Krishnaswami, he had been the treasurer of Narada Gana Sabha for over 50 years. President of the Sabha R. Krishnamoorthy described him as a disciplined man, who was meticulous in maintaining the accounts. “He never made himself visible unless it was absolutely necessary…,” he added.
While violin maestro T.N. Krishnan remembered his long and close association with Suri Sir, Padma Subrahmaniam said it was Suri ‘Anna’ who had arranged to type out the entire M.Phil thesis for her sister-in-law, Shyamala Balakrishnan. “He was a father figure not only for Krishnaswami, but to the entire artist community,” said Padma.
“He was a straight forward man. He would say, ‘The play was good. Collection too was good’. He was a living example of a joint family head, who guided his siblings to attain great heights,” reminisced Cho. S. Ramasamy.
A. Natarajan, former Doordarshan Director, recalled his association with Suri Sir through his father-in-law Namagiripettai Krishnan, the renowned nagaswaram vidwan. “We would go to Suri Sir’s house every New Year’s morning and he would bless us, with a one rupee coin. And I have preserved them all.”
Karaikudi Mani mentioned an incident when the mridangam vidwan was honoured by him on stage, which was a rare occurrence. Dr. Prameela Gurumurthy fondly revealed how Suri Sir helped her bring out the book, ‘Nellai’s Great Vidwans.’
This writer remembered the times when Suri Sir devoted much time and care to prepare Natyarangam’s brochures and invitations for the annual thematic festivals. He had an aesthetic sense which showed in his attire and persona. He even designed the letterhead for Natyarangam. Though he was not a practicing chartered accountant, he was thorough in accounts and it was reflected in the maintenance of his ledger books. . Similarly, he was not a printing technologist, but yet he knew the workings of every brand of printing machine from experience.
For a person, whose association with artists began with the founding of the Indian Fine Arts Society, he was friendly with every one of them. Narada Gana Sabha Trust inaugurated its music school four years ago with a sizeable contribution from Suri Sir’s long time friend and committee member Soundararajan. He wanted it to be named after Suryanarayanan. But Suri Sir refused to lend his name despite hours of pleading with him. Finally it was christened Swami Haridhos Giri School of Music. It was a scholarly tribute by Kalyanapuram Aravadmudachariar who compared three sets of brothers in the epic, Ramayana, with the brothers Suri and Krishnaswami and explained the contexts. His harikatha presentation for the occasion was ‘Nama Mahimai’ with Dr. Hemalatha on the violin and Mannarkoil Balaji on mridangam. R. Krishnaswami, secretary of Narada Gana Sabha introduced the speakers on the occasion, with his crisp and appropriate introductory remarks.