Lalgudi Jayaraman, renowned violinist pays tribute to Amma
20 Aug 2003
Amritapuri received a special guest on Wednesday, the world-renowned Indian violinist Lalgudi Jayaram. Having had Amma’s darshan only twice before in Chennai, this was his first visit to Amritapuri, and he was blessed to perform for Amma during the morning darshan. Later in the evening, we had a chance to speak with him.
What attracts you to Amma?
“Her simplicity and love. Her unassuming nature and affection. There is Oneness in Amma’s Presence. She receives you as Her very own, and one’s mind and heart overflows with bliss and peace. We spent the whole day here in Amritapuri. We received Amma’s darshan, and went to bhajans in the evening, which we especially enjoyed. Most people usually sing for others’ applause, but we feel that Amma is singing to the Divine within Herself, and also to each one of us, personally..
What is your experience in meeting Amma?
“There has been a complete change after meeting Amma. We found calmness and peace… Here (in Amritapuri) there is no pollution, and a peaceful atmosphere. We feel like we’re not on earth! We had just come for the day to receive Her darshan, yet She asked me to play. I wasn’t sure what to do! Neither I, nor my son who accompanies me, had brought our violins, and it is very difficult to find two violins of the same pitch on such short notice! We checked in the ashram’s music room, but to no avail; none were available. Then, lo and behold, two were suddenly found! An ashram resident and his sister happened to have a pair that were pitch-perfect. It was to be my first concert with a borrowed violin in 62 years!.
His wife corrected him, saying, “It wasn’t ‘borrowed’, but blessed and given by Amma!”.
Why do you practice music?
“Music is my life, my prana. It has been in my family for five generations. Once, my great-grandfather, a great musician himself, met the great saint and musical genius, Tyagaraja. Tyagaraja had come to Srirangam, in Tamil Nadu, to give a concert. My great-grandfather invited him back to his home in Lalgudi, where Tyagaraja composed five songs, which came to be known as ‘Lalgudi Pancharatnam’.”;
Music is said to be a path to reach God. Has meeting Amma helped you in this respect?
“Of all the concerts in my 65 years of performing, this was a different experience – today I completely forgot myself. Occasionally, when I play, forgetting myself happens. But, never like today. Today it was especially magnificent.. He added, “First we must forget ourselves, then the music naturally comes. When I play, I only want to offer it to God. Much life is there in Amma’s bhajans,”; he added, mentioning that Amma sang one of them (Kodanukoti) in the Charukeshi raga*.
Do you have a favourite raga?
“No, all ragas are beautiful! Of all our children, can we say one is our favourite?. “The meaning or mood of a song, and the music, the bhava and raga, should join nicely. In some cases the words will dominate, and in others the raga does. But both should be compatible, like husband and wife..
When asked, between he and his wife, who is raga and who is bhava, his wife jumped in laughing, and said, “Both are him. I am nothing..
What is the most beautiful thing you find in her?
His wife laughed again, saying “What questions you are asking!. He thought deeply for a moment, and then said, “My aim in life has been my music, and she has supported me in this, the ideal Sahadharmini**..
His wife said, “I don’t think first of my own life, my circle of friends, etc. I’ve dedicated my life to his music, and offered myself to him..
What is the most beautiful thing you find in him?
“He never neglects his duties and responsibilities in the name of his art. He is a dutiful son to his parents, a dutiful husband to his wife, and a dutiful father to his children..
This exchange was particularly touching, as today happened to be their 46th wedding anniversary! Rarely anymore do we find such mutual devotion, and unity of spirit as was shown here. Amma spoke of this type of real devotion and love between husband and wife in Her recent speech in Geneva, giving the example of two wings of a bird, progressing together. And here we have found a living example!
Do you have any message to give about the modern neglect for traditional musical wisdom?
“Nobody is prepared to listen to my advice!. [laughing] “To attract youngsters, we should bring them to our path, not acquiesce to theirs. But great beings like Amma can create people with values. I see a difference between students outside (in the world) and those in Amma’s ashrams and schools. Only a Divine soul like Amma can change society..
Do you have a prayer to Amma?
“I pray to Amma that She impart Sattvaguna [noble qualities] to humanity, and that She continues to serve the world, and give me the mentality to serve others. I never pray for wealth or awards.. As a final thought, he offered, “Being here with Amma cannot be explained in words. One must feel it within.”;
Anyone will be deeply impressed by this couple, not just for their refined culture, but for the spiritual principles that sustain it. They have made spirituality the basis of their marriage, art and life. Surely, their beautiful example will serve to inspire others, showing that it is entirely possible to live a dharmic householder life, dedicated to God.
Lalgudi Jayaram said he and his will be attending the Amritavarsham festivities next month in Kochi, to celebrate Amma’s 50th Birthday along with the rest of Amma’s children.
*A raga is a unique set of notes; many devotional and classical Indian songs will be confined to a particular raga, as a poem might
be confined to a particular metre.)
** A Sahadharmini is a wife who supports her husband in following his dharma.