(Our “Artist of the Month”, Sri Vijay Shiva shares his experience in learning music from his renowned guru D K Pattammal who was also like his friend and a philosopher.)

One evening in early August 1991, just about six months  after my  guru Sri D. K. Jayaraman’s demise, D. K. Pattammal’s son I. Sivakumar presented me before her: “Vijay has accepted to sing a concert of patriotic songs on 15th August. He needs your help.” She was sitting with her eyes closed, listening to her practising students seated around. She raised her head on hearing her son’s voice and affections welcomed me. She then must have read in me the same helplessness she experienced when Ambi Dikshitar was snatched away from this world after imparting to her only a couple of Dikshitar kritis. She still rues over his demise. She knows that helping me would mean reaching out beyond the capacity of her memory, an arduous task at her age. But she sounds positive and she asks me to come after two days.

Obviously she is reluctant to say ‘no’ to an earnest student and as ever as she does, she is going to bank on her corpus of grit to recollect the songs for me. This is the grit, the world speaks of in profusion, which made DKP the first Brahmin woman to ascend a concert platform, challenge male preserve in pallavi singing, cross swords with the British through patriotic songs and bring to the fore numerous Tamil and Dikshitar kritis which were unapparent in concert circuit.

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