Im-mortal!

18 Sep

Im-mortal ~ a tribute to a true Legend & pondering about how mortal even such legends are – especially in the fickle human memory! 

Yesterday was the birth centenary (not your hilarious annual celebration of the day you stepped out to survive this silly world) of a once-in-a-lifetime… Nah… Once-in-a-millennium… Uh, huh… Once-in-a-creation kind of artisan, whose name is synonymous with her craft. Yet, as far as Swamy knows, none of the prime time media – including the most democratic of ’em all, the Social Media – did much to commemorate the momentous occasion!

Graphic: Awards, accolades & global recognition for the legendary MuSician (source: msstribute.org)

Before we get to the name, here are a few (there are very few in the entire history of human existence, btw) parallels, to give you a perspective of what we’re conversing about…

Football (no, we won’t call it soccer, like the unsure citizens of the global big brother nation) – Pele’

ScienceEinstein (no silly comparisons with Edison et al here, he remains incomparable)

WritingTwain (very debatable, but let’s just go with the longevity here)

ArtMichelangelo (we can add Craft too here as he dabbled in far too many things, so well)

PoetryBhArathi (as far as Swamy is concerned, there has been no one as versatile & skilled as the MahAkavi

ComposingBeethoven (yep, there are far too many like Back et al, but no one will have any problem with nodding their head for the big B)

PhilosophySages who wrote the Upanishads (if you haven’t read them, then you’ve no idea about the purpose of your human birth)

ActingChaplin (you’ve no idea – just shut up & go watch his silent classics)

StrategyChAnakyA (start reading his ArthasAstra, before buying yet another strategy tome) 

AutomobileFord (“you can have the model-T in any colour as long as it’s black” – ‘nuf said)

DefianceGandhi (just imagine the ‘half-naked fakir’ standing up against the once-mighty empire where the sun never sets – according to them, of course)

Leadership – Captain Cool aka MS Dhoni (just Google him & you’ll know why)

Guess you have a fair – even if only faint – idea of where we’re getting to by now.

Graphic: Life time line of the legendary vocal artist who simply has no equal (source: msstribute.org)

The legend – truly, in every sense of the word – we’re conversing about is MS Subbulakshmi, fondly known as MS Amma. She’s to Classical (& Devotional) Music what Pele’ is to Football (& all the aforementioned greats were to their respective art / craft / chosen space). 

She was popular at the age of 10. The popularity graph kept going up, up & away, defying celebrity gravity, all the way to her being awarded the Bharat Ratna – the highest civilian honour in India. She sang all over the globe, including the UN. Heck, even Gods wake up daily listening to her melodious rendering of their praise (e.g. Venkatesa Suprabhatam rendered by her is officially used in Lord Venkatachalapathy aka Balaji temple at Thirumala to wake the Lord up, daily – incidentally, millions of households too wake up with her signing the same – even today).

Her list of honours knew no limit, yet she remained humble all her life.

Her remuneration & gifts were sizeable, yet she donated most of it for charity (still goes on).

Her popularity was more than heads of states and celluloid celebrities, yet she remained intensely private.

She could’ve easily been a Diva, yet chose to remain deeply rooted in devotion – to her craft & the creator.

She went all over the world with an entourage, and she always travelled, stayed and ate with them, without any airs. 

She was the symbol of devotion, piety, simplicity, eminence, elegance, grace, gratitude, benevolence, humility, loyalty and a lot more things that we hardly see in a celebrity today.

Yet, this once-great nation seem to have collectively ignored this legendary performing artist’s existence, on the momentous occasion of her birth centenary. Other than a few concerts by true devotees (who saw her as divine incarnate) and probably a commemoration lecture or two, the voice that still wakes up millions – including the Gods themselves – has already faded away!

This isn’t the first time this has happened. Human memory (& loyalty) is a fickle thing. It forgets greatness easily – especially when the great ones aren’t around anymore. Humans are silly beings stuck in their mUlAdhAra chakra, who will remember only things that they can feel and experience with their sense organs, collectively. 

Someone like MS – arguably the greatest classical + devotional artist of all time – is still remembered when they hear her Suprabhatam or Sahasranamam in the morning. But that’s only one of the 5 senses – auditory. As soon as the song is done, she fades away from their pointlessly busy survival mind. Until the next morning.

Sujatha – arguably the most diverse & exceptionally talented (& needless to say, hugely successful) is remembered during the annual book fair. Or while reading one of his many amazing books – fiction, non-fiction, poetry, classics, science, God… You name it. And then forgotten entirely, until the next book.

MahAkavi BhArathi – arguably the greatest poet that ever walked the earth – had just a handful of people attending his funeral. His poems will make even a Millennial kid go wow, even today. 

KBalachandar – arguably the most daring director ever in the history of Tamil cinema (& TV), who also happened to mentor two of his greates superstars Kamal Hassan & Rajinikanth – is hardly remembered by the fans now.

Tagore, Palke, Premchand, Rajaji, Balasaraswathi, Mali, Ravi varma, Ray, RK brothers, Patel, GD Naidu, Sarabhai, Ramanujan, Dhyan Chand, … 

All of them, and a lot many more global celebrities – sportspersons, musicians, actors, writers, leaders, business icons, astronauts, artists, architects… – who once were celebrated as immortals, are all probably lamenting at how mortal they indeed are, muttering with a sigh, “I’m-mortal”! 

MS probably isn’t regretting it one bit because she treated her celebrity status – almost unheard of in her time, making her even more mystical – adulation, awards, accolades like one of those enchanting sarees she used to wear for her concerts. Useful & valuable at that point in time, but of no importance whatsoever once the concerns was over. 

In a way,

MS was a Yogini. Nada Yogini. Music was her sadhana


Singing with utmost devotion, from the core of her being, was her daily penance – to attain the ultimate liberation. She seems to have been created, nurtured, celebrated and protected by the creator exclusively to sing his praise (that her husband + mentor was named Sadasivam isn’t a coincidence). And boy did she do that.. And how!

MS, the mortal being, became the MuSic, the immortal being! 

You may cherish Swamy’s hymn tribute to the true legend of Classical & Devotional Music MS Subbulakshmi here ~ Isaiyarasi (இசையரசி – Queen of Music) 

You may know more about the legendary perfect performing artist here ~ msstribute.org

Who cares if the media didn’t care to acknowledge the immortality of her MuSic? They must be too busy chasing the next Im-mortal story. Until the next one. BAUHumbug!

Slide an audio CD of MS into your hi-fi or just search for one of her many immortal songs like Kurai Ondrum Illai on your smartphone or tablet. Close your eyes & open your ears. Listen deeply as her immortal voice caresses the deeply hidden devotion within you. Let the joy drops, i.e. tears flow. Repeat. Until you comprehend why (& how) MS is synonymous with MuSic!  

Be Joyful & Spread the Cheer 🙂

~Swamy

@PrakashSwamy   

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