When Sri Sathya Sai remembered the singers and film personalities of yesteryears…

 January 21, 2003 (Tuesday) 

Saint Tyagaraja
Swami came at around 3.35 pm and started talking about the music programme planned at the Music College on the occasion of Tyagaraja festival. 

Swami : I told the Vice-Chancellor to send you all at 7.30 am. Evaru Lekunte Vaadu Elaa Paadutaaru? (If nobody is there, how they will sing?)
(To Warden) Announce in the Hostel. What time does the College start? 

Warden : 8.30 am Swami. 

Swami : (To Vice-Chancellor) Come there by 7.30 am and from there, go to College at 9 o’clock. (To School Warden) All of you also will come. Arrange the programme in the museum (the Music Museum located next to the Music College at Prasanthi Nilayam). 

Warden : Swami, we will all sit to a side and the Music College students can sit in the front and sing. 

Swami : I will sit in the centre and all can sit around Me. (Then Swami went to the interview room and came back at 4 o’clock.) 
(To Music College students) When you sing in the museum, it will resound, but it would be nice if the programme is organised in the museum. Do you have decoration material? 

Warden : We are taking from Mandir, Swami. 

Swami : Tie coconuts also. (To the Music College students) Wear dhotis; you will look fresh. Higher Secondary School boys can also come.
(To teachers) You also come. I will send a van.
(To the Music College students) Are you happy? 

Students : Yes, Swami. Very very happy, Swami. 

Swami : Actually the programme is not held in the morning, it is supposed to be held at night, but it does not matter. 

Warden : Swami, we will use mikes and check for echo. 

Swami : There is no use doing that because the situation will be different when people sit in the museum. Let them not perform sitting in the center. 
Let them sit to a side. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami, it is the first festival for the Music College. It is very nice Swami. 

Swami : Emi Samacharam? (What news?) 

Prof. A. K. : Swami, many people gather in the birth place of Tyagaraja and sing. 

Swami : His birth place is Kakarla in Kurnool. The place where they sing is his Samadhi. (To the Music College students) Who is the Guru of Tyagaraja? 

Student : Sonti Venkataramanayya. 

Swami : (To a student) Who is the other Guru? 

Student : Rambrahmam, Swami. 

Teacher : Swami, Nagaratnam had improved the place. 

Swami : She came to see Me in Ratnagiri. She was a very good devotee. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami please speak to us about Tyagaraja tomorrow. 

Swami : Vice-Chancellor has given only half an hour’s time for the programme. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami, let them sing for half an hour and then You speak. 

Swami : They will be able to sing only one song in half an hour. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami, do they have so much energy? 

Swami : Yes. Some songs are sung for five hours at a stretch. Tyagaraja was a court poet. He sang the song, “Endaro Mahanubhavulu Andariki Vandanamulu...” (a popular Kriti (song) in Carnatic music in Telugu language composed by Tyagaraja). When he sang this song, both his father and his Guru were in the court. 

Prof. A. K. : Even though he was a great artist, he was humble. 

Swami : Vidyaku Vinayam Alankaram (Humility is the ornament of education). 

Prof. A. K. : Earlier, during Dasera, many artists used to come here to perform. 

Swami : Varalakshmi used to organise the programmmes. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami, once Vani Jayaram (prominent Indian playback singer) said at a performance that she had performed at many places but the occasion which was very dear to her was the one in which she had performed in front of Swami. Sethuraman also used to come here. 
Smt. Vani Jayaram with Sri Sathya Sai in Chennai
Swami : Tamilians are good at singing; Telugu people are good at speaking. 

Prof. A. K. : Dwaram Venkata Swami Naidu also used to come here. 

Swami : He was blind; he used to play the violin. Even Chowdayya used to play the violin. Chowdayya used to accompany M. S. Subbalakshmi. 

Prof. A. K. : Those days, many people used to enjoy such performances. 

Swami : There were no mikes in those days. So they used to sing very loudly. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami, we heard only Ghantasala (legendary and distinguished Indian playback singer and music composer) .
Ghantasala with Sri Sathya Sai at Brindavan in Bangalore
Swami : He came towards the end. People were jealous of him. He had cancer. 
He stayed here for a month and taught our boys. 

Prof. A. K. : Once, after a performance in a Kalyana Mandapam (marriage hall) in Guntur, he searched for the Sai Samiti there and sang in the Samiti. He sang a song, “Nanu Chera Radaye…” expressing his sorrow when Swami did not see him first time. Then, when he was in the hospital, Swami visited him and he sang, “Yenta Hai Yenta Hai Eenaadu…”. Once, when the Tobacco corporation conducted a function in Guntur, he sang there and said, “Everywhere I go, people listen to me and give donations, but Swami raised His hands and blessed me.” 

Swami : I told him not to get operated for tonsillitis but he got operated and could not sing properly. Singers should never get operated for tonsillitis.They should be careful when they are cleaning their tongue. They should not clean very harshly, otherwise the formation that is there at the end of the tongue will be lost and then the Swaras (notes) will not come properly. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami, nobody knows all these things. Ghantasala was a very good man. He used to say that Swami was his mother, father, relative and Guru. 

Swami : He stayed in the Brindavan Hostel. He used to say that even though he was not a student, he had the good fortune of teaching the students. 

Prof. A. K. : He used to narrate the experiences of accompanying Swami in His car. 

Swami : He came with Me to Rajahmundry and Kovvur. He did not come to Guntur with Me. 

Prof. A. K. : Did the drama artists come too? 

Swami : Yes. Kannamba used to play many roles. She developed cancer and she used to cry to see Swami. (Pasupuleti Kannamba was a versatile actress, playback singer and film producer of Telugu cinema.) 

Prof. A. K. : Swami did Vedantam Sathyanarayana come here? (Sri Vedantam Satyanarayana Sarma is an iconic Kuchipudi dancer.) 

Swami : He gave a dance performance in Poornachandra. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami, all senior artists came here. 

Swami : Raani Vaadu Ledu (There is none who has not come here). Poems which Gaggayya wrote for Krishna Raayabhaaram are very beautiful. He used to sing them so loudly that he never needed a mike. Even Nagaiah came here. (Sri Chittor V. Nagaiah was a multilingual Indian film actor, composer, director, producer, writer and playback singer from Andhra Pradesh.) 

Prof. A. K. : He acted in the Lava-Kusha movie. (He played the role of Valmiki Maharishi.) 
Smt. Anjali Devi with Sri Sathya Sai at Sundaram in Chennai
Swami : In the middle, when he ran out of money, I gave him some money and encouraged him. Anjali Devi (veteran Tamil and Telugu actress) acted as Sita. There was sweetness in lyrics in those days, but now-a-days they have no meaning. Kanchanamala (popular Telugu film actress) also came here. She got a very good name after she acted in ‘Illalu’ (a 1940 Telugu drama film). Those days, dramas used to start at 8 o’clock in the night and go on till 5.00 am in the morning. People from the nearby villages also used to come. Subbamma used to take care of them. 

Prof. A. K. : The standards of the villagers were so high that they could appreciate the arts. Swami, was Gopala Reddy there during the old Mandir times? 
(Sri Bezawada Gopala Reddy was the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh (1955-1956) and later the Governor of Uttar Pradesh (1967-1972).) 

Swami : He inaugurated the Hospital. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami, even Chief Justice Koka Subba Rao used to come here. 
(Sri Koka Subba Rao was the Chief Justice of India (1966-1967) and former Chief Justice of Andhra Pradesh.) 

Swami : They were very good; they lived up to their name. Those days, at 4 o’clock in the evening, we all used to go to Chitravati. There used to be singing and we used to come back after it was dark. What to do, there was no electricity in those days and, moreover, it was cool near the river. So we used to go there. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami, did you go to Bangalore and Madras then? 

Swami : From the time this body was 12 years old, it was travelling. I stayed in the Mysore Palace. Everybody was allowed into the Durbar hall. 

Prof. A. K. : Swami used to speak to them in Kannada. 

Swami : Even now, I speak in Kannada. (Swami got up from the chair.) 

Prof. A. K. : It seems as though we went 40 years back in time. 

Swami : Not 40, but 50 years. 

After this, Swami spoke to a doctor and went inside interview room.


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