In memory of Smt. Rajeshwari Padmanabhan

In memory of  Rajeshwari teacher.(1939-2008), daughter of Lakshmi Ammal and grand daughter of Karaikudi Subbarama Iyer (the elder of the Karaikudi Veena brothers), was a ninth generation descendent from the Karaikudi Veena tradition.

Nostalgic at this time of the year. Memories of Rajeshwari teacher and Kalakshetra keeps rushing through me…. It’s the fifth anniversary of the passing away of my teacher and Vainika Smt. Rajeshwari Padmanabhan. Her relaxed and meticulous style of playing the veena comes to my memory. She used to sing the sahityas along with the veena sometimes, matching the veena so perfectly that you were not really sure who was singing – the veena or she! A wonderful and gentle woman who will always remain in the hearts of those who came across her and who were blessed to have been in her presence.

Smt. Rajeswari Padmanabhan passed away on the 15 August 2008.

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In Memory of Smt. Rajeshwari Padmanabhan ~ (1939-2008)

The Yajnavalkya Smriti mentions: 


“Veena vadhana tathvangna sruti, jathi, visartha talanjaaprayasena moksha margam niyachathi” 
(“The one who is well versed in veena, one who has the knowledge of srutis and one who is adept in tala, attains salvation without doubt.”)

August 15 th 2008 is an unforgettable day to me. This was the day Smt. Rajeshwari my guru left her mortal body. I haven’t kept in touch  nor seen her  for many years, but her memory is still freshly etched in my mind. Nostalgic thoughts of her still keep recurring. To me she will always remain a very special and beautiful person. The one and only Rajeshwari teacher…..

The passing away of  Rajeshwari teacher  came in as a shock. Even though you know that everyone has to go some day, every time we hear of someone passing away especially if the person happens to be someone you have known leaves a feeling of loss. A motherly figure, she was someone who was gentle at the same time a strict disciplinarian. She was my teacher 30 yrs ago. She is amazing as always. I cried listening to a recording of her on the veena.  Her music will always bring nostalgic memories . 

Rajeshwari teacher was a very modest person who rarely revealed what she possesed. One has to watch her play the veena to realize what a talent she carried. We have lost a musician of par excellence. It is rare to find someone like her. My prostrations to the great legend our Rajeshwari teacher. More of her music should become available to the public.

Remembering Smt. Rajeshwari Padmanabhan

The Yajnavalkya Smriti mentions: 

“Veena vadhana tathvangna sruti, jathi, visartha talanjaaprayasena moksha margam niyachathi”
(“The one who is well versed in veena, one who has the knowledge of srutis and one who is adept in tala, attains salvation without doubt.”)

Well it is exactly one year since Smt. Rajeshwari Padmanabhan, the veena maestro and my Guru, passed away. It had been a day filled with listening to her veena pieces. While the day went by, I felt a celebration of music.

Yes, I would like to remember her as a great maestro, a warm motherly figure and someone whose talent was  not commercialized. She was a musician of par excellence.

Nostalgic memories of her classes rushed back to my thoughts. While playing one of the pieces – Vinayaka in Hamsadvani, a surge of emotions overwhelmed me and I found myself crying for a while. Then composing myself, I decided that her life should be celebrated in her remembrance. I found this short video of her taking classes by Raghunath Manet on youtube.

Rajeswari Padmanabhan, daughter of Lakshmi Ammal and grand daughter of Karaikudi Subbarama Iyer (the elder of the Karaikudi Veena brothers), was a ninth generation descendent from the Karaikudi Veena tradition. From the very young age of five, she was under the tutelage of her grandfather Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer (the younger of the Karaikudi Veena brothers) in the Gurukula system and remained under his guidance until the demise of the maestro in 1958. Later, under the Government of India scholarship, she continued her training in vocal from the composer Late Sri. Mysore Vasudevachar. She was principal of Kalakshetra where she worked and taught for many years. Among the numerous awards she has received, she was also the recipient of the Kalaimamani and Sangita Kalanidhi.

Smt.Rajeshwari was known for her musical integrity and virtuosity. Besides performing, she has composed a few varnams and tillanas, has set to tune the text of Kumbeshvarar Kuravanji for a dance drama, and is also credited with innovative approaches towards making the portable Veena and designing a new acrylic ‘melam’. In the new acrylic ‘melam’, the conventional honeybee wax on which the Veena frets rest is replaced with acrylic. The acrylic design offers durability without sacrificing the tonal quality of the Veena. Smt. Rajeshwari padmanabhan passed away on the 15th of August 2008.