Retracing the heritage and musical legacy
- The Mylapore Trio

January 17, 2015

Recently, we journeyed to a few places to quench our thirst for culture and history in connection with the month of Margazhi. Joined in this endeavor by Sugathan, Prof. Jayalakshmi, Dr. Vamsadhara, Gayathri and Thirumalai, we made a flying visit to a few historic and spiritual places to commemorate the December season. The group was a mixed bag consisting of professionals of various genre - Prof. of History, Presidency College, Creative Director, Chartered Accountant, Journalist cum dancer, retired Prof. of Dance from Kalakshetra, retired Director of Medical Education – Govt. of Tamilnadu, and Ph.D research scholar in History. It was a very different experience altogether, with interest in knowing the past and digging the roots with all great expectations.
The team visited Srirangam, Thanjavur, Thiruvaiyaru, Udayalur, Gangaikondacholapuram, Kaveripumpattinam, Tharangambadi, Thirukadayur, Thirupungur, Chidambaram etc.
Thirupungur is the place where the stone Nandi, facing the lingam, is supposed to have moved from its centre spot to its right, to enable Nandanar standing outside the temple to have darshan of the Lord inside the sanctum sanctorum. It reminded us of the famous song “Vazhi maraithirukkude malaipol oru maadu paduthirukkude…”
The purpose was to study the religious, cultural and the historic significance of these places once again in a different perspective. In Thiruvaiyaru, we were astonished to see the pathetic state of the samadhi premises of saint Thyagaraja. The area was isolated, deserted, neglected, full of litter, garbage and totally distasteful, so uncared for. The samadhi of Bengaluru Nagaratnamma (who contributed her entire wealth for the cause of saint Thyagaraja) is also totally disregarded. The local families also opine that except during the time of Bahula Panchami, rest of the year the area is ignored. They also express their grievances and pour their woes for this sorry state of affairs. The team also visited the house of saint Thyagaraja (where lord Rama with his paraphernalia is supposed to have given darshan to Thyagaraja) to see the humble saintly traditional house in its originality but alas, it was a bolt from the blue to see a house entirely remodeled in a modern style including the façade and interiors. Ultimately the antiquity with its spiritual vibration and divine ambience is lost.

Thyagaraja’s house

Thyagaraja’s samadhi

Raja Raja's so called samadhi
Another important visit was to the samadhi of the great King Raja Raja Chozha – a place nestled in the midst of paddy fields and plantain groves – totally insignificant and unknown to the outside world, except to the local villagers. It is situated in a remote village called Udayalur, east of Papanasam. At the entrance of the lane leading to the spot, a banner furnishes details of the great king’s achievements, titles and credentials. It also mentions an epigraphical note and an inscription found in a local temple, which claims to provide the evidence for this historic samadhi. The team visited the local Amman temple and made a survey of the inscription. Though the authenticity and the reliability is yet to be established, it was quite an interesting, thrilling and exciting experience to see the actual grave of the great emperor, whose military conquests apart, contributed in bringing the Thevarams to limelight. A lingam (just the shaft alone) in an angulated position is seen implanted on the spot under a roof.
We felt it was very significant and meaningful to have visited the samadhis of two great personalities during the auspicious month of Margazhi – a saint composer and a Tamil Emperor whose contribution to Carnatic music and Tamizh Isai is immeasurable and unparalleled.
Today in the name of renovation, historic sites and monuments are remodeled in modern style, thereby destroying the originality, antiquity, divinity of the site. The future generation would be misled about the real lifestyle led by those great legends. It is almost a distortion of historical facts. We have visited many such “Ninaivu Illangal” (memorials) and they are totally different today from what has been seen and read earlier. For example, the birth places of M.S. Subbulakshmi at Madurai and Saint Ramana Maharishi’s birth place at Thiruchuzhi.

‘The Mylapore Trio’ are Kalakshetra alumni Dr. Amarnath, Surendranath and Aparna, who promote south Indian culture and aesthetics through the Sri Sumukhi Rajasekaran Memorial Foundation based in Chennai.