Maestro from the Lineage of Music – Vidwaan S. V. Subramaniam

Music is a harmony that makes life melodious. It is that pulse which beams life through an artist. Everyone has the Punya (Merit) to listen and enjoy music, but punya itself makes the life of an artist. He/she transforms himself/herself into a right instrument for the eternal music to flow through. Though there are musicians all over the world, it is something special to be born in an ancestry of musicians. So is S. V. Subramaniam one of the scions of Sarkarsamakulam Ramachandra Venkatramana Sharma (S. R. V.) and Vijayalakshmi family.

“Even though my native place is Sarkarsamakulam, I grew up in Coimbatore. I studied till my S. S. L. C. at Veerasamy Mudaliar High School in Coimbatore. Thereafter, my educational career came to a swift stop, as I continued to learn music from my parents and grandparents. They also had taught music to innumerable children and others alike, which I think is an art,” exclaimed the glad Subramaniam along with his wife Usha.

The skillfull S. R. V. Sharma had learnt harmonium from Chidambara Aachariyar and violin from Kolangod Vishwanatha Bhagavathar who was the son of the connoisseur, K. V. Narayanaswami. K. V. N. happened to be the disciple of Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar.

It seems that Venkatramana Ramachandra Sharma had established the Hemambika Vidyalaya Music School in 1940 at Coimbatore. Followed by Sadguru Shri Tyagaraja Gana Nilayam at Telugu Brahmin Street in Coimbatore. He had pioneered the Aadi Vellikizhamai Mahotsavam which continues to take place even now since 1947. Artists like Maani Bhagavathar; Mani Bhagavathar; Kannan brothers; K. V. Nataraja; K. Bhashyam; Hemalatha Ganesan; Nirmala Sreenivasan; and Meenakshi Subramaniam; had delivered their performance in the program.

Aadi Vellikizhamai Mahotsavam had taken place at Bhajana Venkatramana Swamy Kovil, Raghavendraswamy Vrindhavanam, Ananda Theertha Mandir, and continues to happen at Dr. T. V. Shivananda Memorial Hall. S. R. V. Sharma had been the music-teacher for many great Coimbatoreans including the daughters of the famous Kannan Jubilee Coffee, Coimbatore; and Arya Vaidya Pharmacy Rama Variar’s daughters. He had taught music till 1996 and attained sadgathi in 1999. Through these institutions, the accomplished musician, S. R. V. Sharma, had created a legacy of Carnatic music which stands parallel to time.

“The house in which we live was erected in 1987 (located at Robertson Road, Coimbatore). When I was a kid, I have seen music classes happening all throughout the day in my house. This helped me to be with music most of the time excepting the school hours. I did not attend any special classes for music but learnt it through observation when others studied from my parents. I can say that I have got a good hand at violin, vocal, mridhangam, and gangira and have been teaching many popular people of Coimbatore,” humbly uttered the expert-musician S. V. Subramaniam.

The S. R. V. Sharma family was blessed with 4 sons & 2 daughters and with Ishvara’s grace all continue to stay with music and preserve their heritage. S. V. Ramachandran is a violinist at Bombay; S. V. Subramaniam is a gangira and electronic organ artist; S. V. Vishwanathan, a ghatam artist; S. V. Guruvayoorappan, a violinist; Srimathi Lakshmi Balasubramaniam, and Srimathi Shyamala Venkatesan are Carnatic singers. The latter two of the six children of S. R. V. Sharma are commonly known as the Samakulam Sisters.

The traditional musicians, S. V. Subramaniam (S. V. S.) and his wife Usha, got married in 1988 were blessed with Vijayalakshmi Ramasubramaniam & Meenakshi Prashanth, who are often referred to as Kovai Sisters. It is praiseworthy that both the sisters could sing more than 500 verses of ‘Thiruppugazh’ effortlessly. The notable occurrence that one could have observed is that Usha Subramaniam stood supporting her husband in recalling the incidents all through the interview. Usha said with absolute conviction, “Humble and simple family life, love towards parents, regard and respect, are the foundation of a family.”

The famous Music-director, Playback and Carnatic Singer, Venkatesh Prasanna was a student of S. V. Subramaniam. The music-teacher had also taught a mentally challenged student; visually challenged, Selvi Usha (A-Grade Artist in Pondicherry A. I. R.); and also, Vidushi Swarnalakshmi Sai Prasad, Music teacher in Mani Higher Secondary School, Coimbatore. D. Varadarajan of Varadaraja Textiles; and C. R. Gopinathan, music enthusiast; are some of the patrons of the musician.

Vidwaan S. V. S. is not only famous in India, but even abroad. Several foreign students, including Harini Ramakrishnan, daughter of the leading Civil Lawyer, P. R. Ramakrishnan, are learning electronic organ and violin under his guidance. Several of the popular names in Tamil Nadu including; R. Hariharan, great grandson of N. C. Rajan; C. G. Kumar; Asoka Betel Nut Company M. A. Krishna; Kulur K. Vyas; Vikram Mohan, Managing Director of Pricol and his wife Lakshmi Mohan; Ayyappa Ghee Honey Murali; and Eye Surgeon Dr. Vidya Murali of the Eye Foundation; are his disciples. It could also be noted that B. K. R. Prabha Rajashekaran had also learnt from the vidwaan.

He had also taught music at the Avinashilingam University. It seems that more than 200 students attend his class in a period. Vidwaan Subramaniam is said to have taught more than 1000 students. The interesting part is that he has been also training people who learn art for its aesthetics, would-be brides who learn music to sing in front of would-be bridegrooms, people who learn to become teachers, one who wants to perform on stage, etc.

The house of the artist, S. V. Subramaniam, was filled with trophies, medals, and shields. The prizes won by the three-generation of artists decorated the shelves. The awards received by Vidwaan S. V. S. includes Kovai Subri Muruga Gana Award (2019) from Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan, Organ Samrat from Lion’s Club, Organ Isai Rathna from Government Music College, Organ Isai Thendral from Udumalai Kalaimagal Mandram and many others.

S. V. Subramaniam is a B-High grade gangira artist in Coimbatore A. I. R., and has been performing at Pongal festivals, Tyagaraja Aradhanai-s, Kamakshi Amman Temple occasions, etc. He had also accompanied several musicians like T. V. Sankaranarayanan, M. S. Gopalakrishna Iyer, M. Chandrashekaran, Trichur V. Ramachandran, B. V. Raman & B. V. Lakshmanan, Unnikrishnan, T. M. Krishna, Sanjay Subrahmanyan, Sudha Ragunathan, Nithyashree Mahadevan, S. Sowmya, Bombay Jayashri, Aruna Sairam, Ganesh & Kumaresh etc.

Indeed, the expert-musician S. V. S. had performed before the very eyes of Pujya Sri Jayendra Saraswati Swamigal of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam. Swamigal had awarded him the title, Asthana Vidwaan. Subramaniam is a perfect example of a karma yogi. He says, “I play music, and I do it for Ishvara. Even if one person is listening, I continue to busk.” At the insistence of Sri Tridandi Ranga Ramanuja Jeeyar Swamiji, the Kalakaar (Artist) had performed at the Ranganathaswamy Temple, Sri Rangam.

Even a narrow glance of Lord Narayana is enough for a person to prosper. By His grace, the artiste had rendered his performance at the occasion of 1008 Vaishnava Yaaga which had taken place at Sastri Maidan, Coimbatore. It was interesting to note that both Usha & Subramaniam kept helping each other to recall the past and the anecdotes kept flowing like the perennial Ganga.

One can never neglect the fact that Sangeetha vidwaan (Music teacher) like S. V. Subramaniam stand like banyan tree rendering their shade and support in music to many. Usha Subramaniam concluded by pointing out a gripping story of Yudhishtira and Duryodhana who had once visited Krishna. The couple was far more matured to their age, and it could be observed that they do not stop teaching music based on any discrimination.

“It would put an abrupt end if I fail to mention about the tasty tam-brahm chicory-less filter coffee that they offered the Verandah Club Team.”

Many legends are known and a lot many remain unknown. It is time for the down-to-earth legends like S. V. S. to be known to the world.

T. R. Surya is the special correspondent of the company. He is an eloquent speaker and compendious writer of English. An avid learner of Sanskrit and Indian scriptures under the guidance of Swami Ganeshaswarupananda and Gita Chaitanya of Arshavidyalaya. His inclination and interests are towards studying Metaphysics and philosophies. 

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