Follow us on
join us facebook
Maharajapuram Santhanam - a multi-dimensional personality
"He could have come by flight from Trichy that day,'' blurted out Dr. R. Ganesh instantly when asked about the one thing that he wished his guru Maharajapuram Santhanam should have done but which he had not. Maharajapuram Santhanam was the asthana vidwan of Kanchi Mutt, T.T.Devasthanam, Pitsburgh Venkatachalapathi Temple and Ganapathi Sachidananda Ashrama "The Gods in the heaven wanted to have him as asthana vidwan there and, hence, hatched a plot to have him there in a heavenly conspiracy,'' quipped Ganesh, a frontline disciple of late Santhanam. The disciples of Santhanam have been conducting music programme on June 23 every year, the day he gave his last concert before his life was cut short by a gruesome road accident on June 24 several years ago. Dr.R.Ganesh shares with K.T. Jagannathan his thoughts on the musician, teacher and father in Maharajapuram Santhanam.

A great devotee of Paramacharya of Kanchi, Santhanam, according to Ganesh, always believed in doing even a simple thing in a grand way. "Even if you were to conduct a marriage with single paise, you should do it with fireworks,'' Santhanam would often say to Ganesh. He would always ask his disciples to aim for the biggest. `That would help them scale bigger levels and not content staying with the big.'' According to Ganesh, his guru held the view that youngsters should evolve into full-blown musicians before being pushed to the concert stage. Santhanam laid much store by growth, consolidation and further growth - in that order. Ganesh said Maharajapuram Santhanam had the basic skill and efficiency to master whatever he undertook. "He (Santhanam) was a manifestation of multiple qualities of greatness rolled in one person,'' Ganesh said. A traditionalist teacher, Santhanam, however, came forward to facilitate faster learning by his students by employing non-traditional tools without compromising on the core teaching values.

"He was a jewel in the lineage of Saint Thiagaraja. An enthralling voice, a larger-than-life image, a wide repertoire - all together made a fantastic musician in Maharajapuram Santhanam. He was in full control of the audience - be it Tamilians, Kannadigas, Telugus, rural or urban, youngsters, old men, children, laymen or scholars - he struck a rapport and related to them within the first 15 minutes,'' Ganesh pointed out. More than anything else, Santhanam was ever committed to his concerts. "The kutcheri pressure would never show up in his face. He would always be at ease and never put the audience to any discomfort,'' Ganesh said. What struck Ganesh most was Santhanam's uncanny ability to connect to the audience with effortless ease. "Every single listener at his concert would eventually feel as though Maharajapuram Santhanam sang only for him or her,'' Ganesh pointed out. Even today, Ganesh could not fathom the mystery surrounding the charm created by Maharajapuram Santhanam. In this context, he recalled a concert Maharajapuram Santhanam gave in a remote village near Thirukkovilur years ago. None got out when the concert was on and Santhanam held a complete sway over the audience, which largely comprised people from that village. His melodious voice, sruthi purity and uncompromising style of singing to audience of all sorts, Ganesh said, largely had contributed to his success as a musician. His accommodating nature and ability to liberally applaud and appreciate others had endeared him to all his accompanists, Ganesh pointed out. For Maharajapuram Santhanam what mattered most was the ultimate success of his concerts. For students, Santhanam was more than a teacher. He showed interest in their families and their studies. When Ganesh got third rank in his degree course, Santhanam had told him that he felt as though he had himself got the rank. "But for Maharajapuram Santhanam, I would have been a veterinary doctor and an ordinary person known only to my family members,'' Ganesh said.
Interviews Archive