Tribute Chennai

Mrs. YGP — an icon of culture

Mrs. Rajalakshmi Parthasarathy

Mrs. Rajalakshmi Parthasarathy   | Photo Credit: B_JOTHI RAMALINGAM

She conquered milestones without losing her identity

She was a connoisseur and that kept her link with Friday Review alive. Bharat Kalachar was an expression of her love for the Arts, which she nurtured in every way that was possible. The late Rajalakshmi Parthasarathy not only spotted young talent but put them on the stage for the world to see. Generous in her praise, she encouraged talent, her school giving equal importance to academics and the arts. By conferring Yuva Kala Bharati, she announced the arrival of these new stars on the horizon. She made Margazhi a sweet blend of music and dance tempered with dollops of the spiritual for those so inclined. The Sabha was among the first to organise the morning Tiruppavai lecture during the month. The Chennai Music Season will never be the same without her stately presence.

Vyjayantimala Bali’s bond with the institution is well-known. Her new productions were inaugurated there first and Mrs. YGP would give a heads-up. “Vyjayanthi is presenting Andal (or whatever) this Season. It might be a good idea to speak to her,” she would say. In an interview, the veteran artiste confirmed this affinity. “Mrs. YGP is like a mother to me and Bharat Kalachar one of my favourite platforms,” Bali said. Mrs. YGP’s unswerving faith in values and culture ran as a silver thread in whatever she did. That explains the spirit behind the annual thematic dance-drama presentations of the Padma Seshadri Schools. Each production was conceived and meticulously designed to highlight an aspect of the heritage, culture and philosophy of this land. By starting all her speeches with “Shri Gurubhyo Namaha,” she underlined a unique and priceless tenet.

Undettered by age

How did she get the energy to make it — albeit with assistance — to all those events, in which she was seen in the front row? Age is only a number for some people, to use a cliche. In her enthusiasm, there was a lesson for lesser mortals. “There is something to learn every day,” she would say. And the willing student, at the age of 68, enrolled for a course in Vaishnavism, offered by Madras University, and passed with flying colours.

The grandmother in her surfaced when Madhuvanthi presented a dance programme. “Please send some one for a review; she has been working hard for months,” would be her request. Years ago, taking umbrage at the critic’s comment, she called to protest. An argument ensued and she withdrew with grace, chuckling, “You are right. I’m behaving like a typical grandma.”

When FR brought out a special supplement on Balasaraswati a year ago, she came up with a crisp tribute in two days. At the centenary function arranged by Dr. Raghavan Centre in this connection, she spoke at length on values and how they are more relevant now, especially for the youth. She contributed to the year-long series of articles on Sri Ramanuja to mark his millennium.

Mrs. Y.G. Parthasarathy with the students of Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Group of Schools

Mrs. Y.G. Parthasarathy with the students of Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan Group of Schools   | Photo Credit: S_S_Kumar

On the personal front, this writer’s memories go back decades. It was an interview for a teacher’s position in the school. Mrs. YGP measured the young woman, a fresh post-graduate, sitting in front of her, with eyes at once serious and curious. “Your credentials are good. But how earnest are you about teaching? This is not a mere job. It is service and involves the future of children. What if you choose to pursue M.Phil and quit school?” That Destiny had other ideas for this writer is a different story. Indelible was the impression she made as a committed teacher and an extraordinary mentor. The importance of passion and focus was indeed a precious takeaway from that brief but impactive meeting.

For the Modern Woman, Mrs. YGP’s life is the message — the Summit can be reached by being bold not brazen. Respect for values and tradition can never be an impediment to progress.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 12:23:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/mrs-ygp-an-icon-of-culture/article28896180.ece

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