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My loving teacher.
(Bhavadhaarini has been a disciple of D.K. Pattammal from 1984. She is the motivating spirit behind Karpagam Sangeetha Vidhyalayam. The Vidhyalayam is kind enough to send us this small account of DKP from Ms Bhavadhaarini's dairy pages)

From my childhood I have been a part of my guru’s family. My mother Nalini Anantaraman was her student previously and I used to visit Pattamma amma’s home for classes and listened to the classes. During one such lucky visits on a Sunday afternoon, my mother was learning the Kalyani Nava varna krithi of Mutthuswami Dikshithar `Kamalaambaam bhajare’. As I was listening to it with rapt attention, it seemed, I had repeated the sangathis and the whole Pallavi in a few minutes. D.K. Pattammal Amma hugged me and said ‘indha kuzhandhaikku nan daan guru’ (I will be the guru for this child). And with those words began my musical journey. That was the age of 5.

From then on, it was a ‘Chakkani raja maargam’ for my musical learning process. I was guided every little step in spite of Pattamma’s ill health or busy schedules. It’s now a 24 year young love story that I share with Amma. When in school I had classes on week-ends and later on it was three or even four day classes in a week. She would encourage me to go to competitions and hear concerts regularly.

Every minute in her presence was a lesson. It was indeed a gift to learn from ‘The Kaalidas Samman, Sangeetha Kalanidhi, Gana Saraswathi’ who never showed that she was a very great person. She remained a loving grandmother to me and to many other students. It’s just like any other music class when I sit cross-legged before Pattamma, keeping time with her hand, while we both sing in a slow cadence many numerous beautiful Krithis. With eyes closed Pattamma listens to every sangathi, every syllable and moulded to more perfection. I only wonder how much of ‘punyam’ should I have done to be in Her Musical Divine folds?

To me, ‘Amma’ always appears as Gaana Saraswathi, a Goddess of so much of musical knowledge and a teacher who constantly wants to give more and more. D.K.Pattammal Amma is an extra-ordinary teacher…After every song, a discussion would ensue about the composer, the raga, the nuances, the variations, the mood of the song, how to sing it on stage, how to effectively present, where to stop, how to end and what not. She would explain every bit. She would connect us to the old memoirs of her performances, adding more anecdotes to the song she had just taught, and made every other krithi special.

She would encourage us to hear more and mor and learn more and more. She would often say these words, “nAn munne laam oru naaL ku oru Kruthi manappaadam paNNuven”, “nerayya kekkanum, katthukaNum”, “anubhavicchu paadaNum”, “sruthi matha laya pitha”.

I was never encouraged to write songs on sheets of paper. It was by listening to her and repeating her - everything she would bring back from her memory - I learnt. Often, I have asked her: What computer chip is inside Patta? She would smile with her peace-personified face. And, that was enough of a blessing, answer and everything together. I wrote sangathis when I went back home and maintained notes of lessons learnt. I was never allowed to tape-record the classes. This made me more attentive and conscious of every syllable, every line and every detail.

I was not able to learn more frequently for the past 4 years due to Pattamma’s health, but would go, see her, sing all the old lessons once or twice. She would hear them, smile and correct if there were mistakes. It was just amazing the way she explained every little bit of her musical nuances and entrusted her most precious treasure with so much care and guidance to me and all her lucky students.

She was one teacher who could make even a foreigner-student feel and learn at ease. She was so confident in her skill and magnanimous enough to pass it on to the future. Her baritone voice and her command over thalam had always astonished me.

In the last few months, every day in the morning she would move from her bed, go to the wheel chair with the help of Mary (the maid who looked after her) and would go to the hall where she would pray to Ganesha, whispering slowly all the names of her kith and kin and students. She would touch the statue's belly and his hands with so much love.

If someone coming home offered her some flowers, she would look at me and I would be ready with the scissor to cut a portion for the Ganesha idol. After cutting the flower, she would signal me to keep them first for the statue. She would then distribute the flowers equally among all those present there. She would then hold the flowers in her hands, take them to both her eyes and would leave it in her hair and smile.

After every class, Patta would signal me to bring the small kumkum box to her and she would volunteer to put it on the forehead. She would make sure the kumkum is alright and then she would kiss my hands to say “bye”. After doing the Namaskaarams, she would recite this long blessing that echoes every minute in my heart - “nee dheergaayusa dheergha sumangaliaa nOyatra vaazhvu vaazhndhudndu ashta aishwaryatthOda nanna irukkaNum mma…'' She would add ``nannaa paadu, pramaadhama varanum mmaa…” Every other person who did a namaskaram to this legend would have been blessed by this long verse from the “Paripoorna Saraswathi”.

I can never get such an affectionate and easily approachable GURU again in my life. It is an unimaginable and irreversible personal loss to me and my family. All I wish and pray is that I sing as worthy as she aspires me to be.

Prayers Prem And Aum
Bhavadhaarini Anantaraman
Thyagarajan -
Yes, as Bhavadarini said, DKP was a legend. She was ever smiling. I used to hear `Nagathi guru guho jayathi jayathi', `Nan oru vilayattu bommaiya' and `Ranganayakam' in Nayaki raga. We can't hear her sing anymore. We could hear her only through tapes or CDs. My special kudos to Bhavadarini.