DEDICATION On the late Obul Reddy's devotion to Tyagaraja and Rama. SVK
A reputed industrialist, Obul Reddy, who died this past week, was an ardent devotee of Sri Tyagaraja, a Bhagavata in every sense. His hefty donations to several music sabhas, in Chennai in particular, have to be appreciated in the context of the prevailing changes noticeable in music culture.
A few years ago, speaking to me, Obul Reddy expressed his deep concern about concert contents with declining importance being given to Sri Tyagaraja kirtanas. This factor was very much in his mind which prompted him to launch Sri Thyagaraja Seva Samiti in 1995 to conduct concerts every year on Bahulapanchami Day when musicians were asked to render only Tyagaraja kritis.
In the early days of the Samiti he brought out the meanings of the songs scheduled for the day as a brochure and distributed them to the rasikas to help them enjoy the meaning of the kritis as the vidwans rendered them. But his intention that they would be collected and preserved was not fulfilled as the listeners discarded them at the end of the programme. He decided to stop this practice, hurt by the kind of veneration to the great composer from the rasikas.
Indian civilisation has always upheld spiritual values and at present with conflicting ideologies influencing the music scene, Obul Reddy steadfastly strove to preserve the great musical heritage fertilised by the Trinity, Narayana Tirta, Annamayya and others through liberal financial help to celebrate their jayantis. But to him Tyagaraja was the greatest saint composer.
In every way, Obul Reddy ensured that Sri Tyagaraja's message was propagated. By his undisrupted devotion he clung to Tyagaraja bhakti fully realising that the saint's songs provided the marga to the Kingdom of Rama, the greatest of all treasures. Towards this end he loosened his purse to all music sabhas in Chennai to organise Sri Tyagaraja aradhana annually.
Through such noble instincts and gestures in life he experienced ‘Rama Bhakti Saamraajyamu.' This drove him to build the Kothanda Rama temple in his native village Pottipattivaripalli and Sri Prasanna Anjaneya Swamy temple at Pannamgadu village on the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border. He realised that life's fulfilment was in giving. It is only a few closely connected with him who knew the sublime charitable side of him.
Striking a personal note once, Obul Reddy said that his wife P. Gnanambal shared with him Tyagaraja anubhava. His birthplace was Pottipatti. In life's journey, Tiruvaiyaru was his desired destination.