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Thursday, December 2, 2021

A jewel of Tripliane fades away - Kalaimamani Smt Ranganayaki Jayaraman is no more !

Thiruvallikkeni aka Triplicane is a famed land…   It is a place where religion, nationalistic fervour, patriotism, sports, education and the individual dignity have interspersed for the benefit of the State and the larger interests of the Nation. The place acquired its name from the famed temple pond ‘Kairavini’ – the pond of lilies – thus becoming ‘Thiru Allik Keni’ – the pond consisting of lily flowers.  Our lives dwell around the Great Sri Parthasarathi Swami which has existed for thousands of years,  


Triplicane houses some best historic educational institutions driving home the point of scholastic excellence for decades. It has the Vivekanandar Illam in Marina, where Swami Vivekananda  stayed in  February 1897, and delivered seven electrifying lectures revealing his plan of campaign to restore India to her pristine glory.  A great landmark of Triplicane is of course ‘Barathiyar illam’ – the house in TP Kovil Street, nearer Azhagiya Singar sannathi vasal, where Mahakavi Subramanya Barathiyar lived and passed away in 1921.  There are also many famous people, some of whom live a simple life.  There have been people of literary fame – those who patronized and developed  ‘Iyal, Isai & Nataka thamizh’. 

Pycrofts Salai thankfully renamed ‘Bharathiyar Salai’ wounds from Marina grounds / Presidency college till the now famous EA Mall in Royapettah.  There are many lanes and by-lanes crisscrossing – and one could easily miss ‘Thoppu Thanikachalam Street’ – a small bylane nearer Ratna Café hotel.  

Inside stands a majestic albeit narrow gate – “Sri Saraswathy Gana Nilayam Trust (SGN)” dating back to 1939, a veritable house of dance and fine-arts, founded  by Late Smt. K. Lalitha to impart training in Bharatanatyam, Veena, and Vocal music to the children in the Triplicane neighborhood.   The institution has trained hundreds of  students in Bharatanatyam and some of them run their own institutions too. 

Smt. Ranganayaki Jayaraman took over the leadership of the school after the demise of Smt. Lalitha. Smt. Ranganayaki is well-known being one of the leading exponents in the field of Bharatanatyam today. She was specially known for her group choreography and was  hailed as a master in the art of Nattuvangam. A versatile artist – she was multi-talented  in Carnatic vocal, veena, flute, harmonium and mridangam. Her  popular group productions include: Lalitha Prabhavam, Deiveega Vahanangal, Shakthi Prabhavam, Navarasa Nayaki, and Bhakthiyin Shakthi.  A sad day for Tripliane, for Smt Ranganayaki is no more, she passed away aged 89 after brief illness.


She had released eight full length Bharatanatyam dance audio cassettes and CDs – Lalitha Vandanam, Nrithya Geetham, Bharatha Geetham, Guru Samarpanam, Nardhana Priya, Krishnam Smarami, Pranamamyaham and Lalithaamrutham. Smt. Ranganayaki received the prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi award from the President of India in 2018 and Kalaimamani award from the Government of Tamilnadu in 1995, for her contribution to the art. Her many awards and titles include: Nritya Rathna by Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan in 2011, Bheeshma Award by Lata Rajnikant and Ashram School in 2010, Nrithya Kala Nipuni by Mylapore Fine Arts in 2009, and Nrithya Ratnakara by Cleveland Aradhana in 2013.

Pic taken in 2018 – Mrs Ranganayaki in the middle  

Besides her dancing and vocal talents, she was a graded Veena artist in the All India Radio and has composed some popular Veena ensembles, such as ‘Pancha Tala Priya Malika’ and ‘Pancha Raga Oudava Malika’ for Doordarshan TV, India.  For decades, she continued the legacy left behind by Smt. K. Lalitha - a tradition of sincerity, perseverance, and selfless dedication to arts.  Alas, she is no more ! 

Saraswathi Gana Nilayam that started with just 4 students – 80 years ago, blossomed big and grew steadily with more than 500 young learners at its peak.  The school prides itself on being one of the first institutions to popularise group arangretarms of students.  Thoppu Street and Triplicane would miss this gentle, great artiste !  .. ..  The Nilayam is a divine place where great Vidwans like Madurai Mani Iyer, Ariyakudi Ramanujam, Musiri Subramaniyam, Maharajapuram Vishwanatha Iyer, G.N. Balasubramaniyam, Dandapani Desigar, Alathur brothers, M.L. Vasanthakumari, Veena Balachandar, Chitti Babu, Parur Sundaram Iyer family, V.V. Sadagopan, S.V. Parthasarathy, Chowdiah, Sethuramaiah, R.K. Venkatrama Sastry, M.K. Thiagaraja Bhagavadhar, S.V.S. Narayanan, Madurai Venkateesan have performed.  SGN also provided venue to promote drama and theater. Notable drama and cine artists who wrote and inaugurated their plays at the SGN Lalitha Kala Mandhiram hall include director K. Balachandar, actor Poornam Vishwanath, director Nagaraja Iyer and actor A.R. Srinivasan.   

Sad !!

 With regards – S. Sampathkumar
2nd Dec 2021.  

PS : in mid 1970s, there was a budding drama group and one of its stage-play was Mahabartham at SGN witnessed by more than 200 people.  Sri Veeramani Raju was Arjunan, all my friends had a role, yours truly was Dhrutharashtra .. .. late Sri DB Ramachandran, another doyen was the music director. There was Swami Aiyappa play too.

In the same street, Thoppu Street lived, the genius Kanithamethai Ramanujan for some time and later at Hanumantharayan koil street.  The genius had a trouble life and died in 1920 due  to illness, malnutrition and possibly liver infection.  He was only 32. !!  

In 2011 - SANSKAR Cultural Organisation – thought it fit to celebrate the spirit of Triplicane with tagline “ Thiruvallikkeni Thiruvizha – Namma Thiruvizha”.  The event was greatly organised by the Committee headed by the effervescent Vittal Narayanan, Project Director of SANSKAR.  On the podium were : Mr  Jayaraman,  Dy commissioner of Sri Parthasarathi Swami temple, S ve Sekhar, Vikku Vinayakram – the gadam vidwan, Dr.  MA Venkatakrishnan, DGP R Natraj,  the great tamil scholar Vaidyanatha Iyer,   Mrs Ranganayaki Jayaraman of Saraswathi Gana Nilayam, Vizha vendhan Sri NKT Muthu (patron of tamil drama) and yours truly. (the last picture)

1 comment:

  1. The great saraswathy ghana nilayam. I know from my childhood and have good memories. Yes.. Including this......PS : in mid 1970s, there was a budding drama group and one of its stage-play was Mahabartham at SGN witnessed by more than 200 people. Sri Veeramani Raju was Arjunan, all my friends had a role, yours truly was Dhrutharashtra .. .. late Sri DB Ramachandran, another doyen was the music director. There was Swami Aiyappa play too. Feeling very sad...