2008: Discussion with Jaya Srinivasan
Nupuradhwani, meaning the sound of bells, resonates every year in Pittsburgh, USA. This series of workshops/lecture demonstrations held annually by Silambam Dance School is an attempt to bring different perspectives mainly to the students of Silambam and of course to the public. Renowned scholar Jaya Srinivasan conducted Nupuradhwani’08 on April 13th, at the Silambam premises.
Having started her career in the Indian Investment Centre, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, she is a graduate in Economics as well as Law. She was also actively interested in several social and cultural activities. It was in this context, that the unsparing and well- known critic, Subbudu wrote a feature on her describing her talents as "Four Faces of Eve." In a moment of divine inspiration in the early 70's, Jaya took to an intensive study of our great epics. She felt compelled to share her enjoyment and experience with the society at large by rendering musical discourses on these epics with extensive comparative and related quotations from several Indian religious scriptures in Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu, Hindi, Punjabi, etc.
Within India, she has been discoursing in several cities from Sikkim to Kerala and from Gujarat to West Bengal. Several devotees, temples and associations have repeatedly invited her to USA and her current tour this year will be the 19th. Her discourses have also taken her to the East Africa as well as the Far East.
Despite her tight schedule in Pittsburgh, she was more than happy to come and answer questions posed by the students at Silambam. It was unique not only for the students but also for her, as she had never talked before a mixed audience with ages ranging from 7 years to 30! Rising up to the challenge, she gamely answered questions, doubts, and misunderstandings much to the satisfaction of those gathered.
Young Sreethanay, all of 8 years, asked her about Andal. Of course the 'sudi koduthe sudarkodi' had such a wonderful and interesting life that a simple question proved to unfold a beautiful story. Sameera, a graduate on the threshold of a career, wondered about the colors attributed to the different Gods. It was surprising to hear Jaya Srinivasan explain that the colors were mere colors mortals painted the Gods with. Their real personality was bewitching and magnetic. Due to the inadequacy of words to describe them, they were given specific colors. A true account of groping for something to describe that, which can never be described adequately!
Sangeetha Iyer, entrenched in her personal journey to discover science through a PhD in Neurology, has just started reading the Ramayana and had many questions to ask. All her questions were patiently answered which just led to more queries and doubts. Mridula Anand, artistic director of Silambam Dance School, Pittsburgh, while talking to Jaya Srinivasan about everything from life in the US to common friends in India had an opportunity to get up close, sharing thoughts and news.
Jaya has been to the US innumerable number of times and Silambam eagerly waits another informative and interactive session with this 70-year young lady!