The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Carnatic Musicians
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vasanthakokilam
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#76 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by vasanthakokilam » 10 Oct 2011, 08:08

RaviSri wrote:What do you want to know about the lineage? The question is not clear.
RaviSri, I just wanted to know if Smt. MSS/RV learned Karubaru from Smt. Brinda can be confirmed with Smt. Radha Viswanathan. No big deal, just an idle curiosity.
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RaviSri
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#77 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by RaviSri » 10 Oct 2011, 10:59

Most probably, yes. Otherwise Shanmukhavadivu must have learnt it from Dhanammal and passed it on to MS. Because, I don't think the other gurus of MS like Musiri and Semmangudi knew this song.
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RaviSri
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#78 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by RaviSri » 10 Oct 2011, 11:08

In pst #68, I had written thus:
With some more money provided by the Dare house people, Dhanammal bought the Ramakrishnan Street house.
I am sorry it is a mistake. Dharmapuri Subbarayar and the Dare House Naidu family only gave money to Dhanammal to tide over the crisis. Once these were over, Dhanammal rented the house on Ramakrishnan Street. Her own house on Nattu Pillayar Koil Street was the one that was auctioned to pay for loans taken. This was in 1910. Dhanammal paid a rent of Rs.5 for the house, paid Rs.2 for a cook and Rs.2 for a maid servant. These were monthly payments. Thanks to Sriram V. who reminded me of the conversation with Muktha at which he was also present.
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kittappa
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#79 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by kittappa » 10 Oct 2011, 11:44

RaviSri, delightful anecdotes. I was expecting the Vijayadasami anecdote invloving Sridhar and Mukthamma, but probably you did not want to share a pesonal anecdote. But it was so delightful, why not share it with others? Also, if possible, about your trip to Tanjore, Tiruvaiyyaru etc., probably in another thread. At least some people might be interested.
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Ramasubramanian M.K
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#80 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K » 10 Oct 2011, 18:11

RaviSri: Enjoying your anecdotes about an illustrious family who have done so much to the preservation of hoary traditions in the face of adversity and lack of recognition(not to be confused with lack of respect -because they rightfully "COMMANDED" RESPECT with their Vidwath).
I can very well understand your reticence if any for sharing some intimate anecdotes
If I can offer a piece of advice based on my own chronicles about SSI and MSS--so long as the narration does not sound like bragging or self-serving(only YOU can be the judge) and brings out a key facet to the personalities (which the general public may not be aware of or may have been misled into believing some unfounded rumors about the personalities reluctance to share their treasures ),I feel the anecdotes have a rightful place in the historical archives.

Personally speaking-- I am consciously aware of the fact that I have been nothing more than a "fly-in-the-wall" in bearing witness to the anecdotes that I have mentioned in my postings and a "none-too-reassuring-but-none-the-less-true recognition of well-deserved consignment to the dust heaps of history!!!lucky to have been around those times!!

So keep those anecdotes flowing!!
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RaviSri
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#81 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by RaviSri » 10 Oct 2011, 19:07

OK, kittappa and MKR. Here is the anecdote.

Since Muktha's father was an Iyengar, she had a soft corner towards her Iyengar students of whom were R.Vedavalli, vainika Nirmala Parthsarathy, vocalists Nirmala Sundararajan and her daughter Subhashini Parthasarathy and my friend Sridhar. Not that she was biased towards others. Never. Just that extra look or word of affection. Now the anecdote:

It was our practise to seek Muaktha's blessings every Vijayadasami day and begin a new song. That year, maybe 1996, we went. Both of us prostrated. She asked for the vibhUti DabbA to be brought. She applied the vibhUti on my forehead and turning to Sridhar she said, "nyAyamA pAthA unakku nAn nAmam dAn pODaNum. AnA ippo vibhUti iTTu viDarEn".

I am sorry it is untransalatable into English. Maybe, Kannadigas and Telugus may have this expression in their languages. But Tamilians can have a good laughter at this delightful banter. It was instantaneous and spontaneous. The family was known for its wit.
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Ramasubramanian M.K
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#82 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K » 10 Oct 2011, 21:17

Nice anecdote!! I know they were extremely partial to those students(Iyers or Iyengars or any other human specie!!) who were truly dedicated to their Bani* and who were talented and receptive to their teaching to begin with. Apparently both these necessary and sufficient conditions were met in your case as well as that of your friend !!(* Banikku Innu Usirai Vidaravanga--we give our life for the Bani--famous oft-repeated quote of Brindamma ref: my anecdote in this thread!!)

Would love to hear you both sing!! Will there be an opportunity in Chennai--I will be in Chennai between Nov 25and Dec 19.w
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RaviSri
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#83 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by RaviSri » 11 Oct 2011, 11:25

Will try to be in Madras at that time MKR.

We travelled to Tanjavur and Tiruvaiyyaru four times from Trichy this first week. This time we travelled via the Kallanai (Grand Anaicut) route which is actually the shorter route to Tiruvaiyyaru from Trichy, just about 48 km. This is also the ancient route taken by Kannagi when she went to Madurai from Kaveripoompattinam. With the Cauvery in full flow, the whole route was breathtakingly beautiful. What is somewhat relevant to this thread is that just about 10 km before Tiruvaiyyaru you pass the village of Sathanur. Absolutely out of this world, with Cauvery on one side, and to its North, the green fields of rice, cocoanut and banana. The teak, banyan, neem and other trees lining the route with their shade.

Sridhar remarked, "With such beauty, with the river flowing like this creating a magical atmosphere why will this man not be able to sing great music and produce such a great disciple as Dhanammal?" Yes, this is the native place of Sathanur Panchanada Iyer, grand-disciple of Dikshitar and guru of Dhanammal.
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There was a Mysore palace vidvan called Krishna Rao. He had moved with Dhanammal when she had visited Mysore once. Krishna Rao once came to Madras wanting to learn certain special pieces from Dhanammal. He stayed at their house. Try as he might he could not get certain nuances right. One week passed, Dhanammal became impatient. She told him, "rAyarvAL, you are not getting the nuances properly, it's time you gave up. Rao protested and said that he had over the week painstakingly prepared notations of his lessons and he had them all now. Rao showed Dhanammal the sheaf of papers he had. An amused Dhanammal told him, "rAyarvAL, appo nInga pADa pOradillayA, inda kAgidam dAn pADa pOradA" (so it is these papers which are going to sing and not you!). The lessons came to an end but Rao and Dhanammal remained friends till he died.
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There was a musician called Kittappa (neither you kittappa, nor S.G.Kittappa). This Kittappa was Dhanammal's neighbour. He eked out his living by teaching a few students and giving the odd concert. He was friends with the Dhanammal family and would willingly run errands for them. The entire family loved him, except for one thing. Whenever he came to the house he insisted on singing at least two songs. Not wanting to offend such a good soul, they would tolerate his singing suppressing their giggles. "bEShA irundudu", Dhanammal would remark. Kittappa would take leave of the family, proud as a peacock of his feathers. The entire family would burst out into peels of laughter with Dhanammal herself, not even smiling but with an amused look on her face. Once, after Kittappa had left, she remarked, "Kittappa, snEhathukku kiTTappA, sangIdathukku dUrappA" (Kittappa is a dear friend but his singing is far removed from music). kiTTa means near and dUra means far.
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RaviSri
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#84 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by RaviSri » 11 Oct 2011, 11:49

I forgot to write about the Navaratri durbar of Dhanammal. For those nine days she would sing and play on the veena to a select, invited audience.

On the first floor of her Ramakrishnan Street residence, they would put up a pandal of roses and jasmine. Underneath the pandal would be placed silk carpets. Dhanammal would sit under the pandal with her veena. With roses and jasmine around her hair, she would decorate her veena also with these flowers. She applied, not oil, but attar to the veena strings. Her mouth would be full of the choicest of bêtel leaves and some of the finest tobacco (jarda) from Lucknow. Enough of fragrance? Not quite. Kirtanacharya C.R.Srinivasa Iyengar would remark after the concert, “Dhanam, your music is more fragrant than all these fragrances put together.

Kirtanacharya has also remarked that Dhanammal would be like Goddess Saraswati Herself on these nine days.

A word about her chewing. Dhanammal would herself choose the betel leaves from the market. Also the pAkku. She would purchase raw betel nut and fry them in ghee along with certain other ingredients. She would then make the mixture more fragrant by adding sugar-candy, jAdi pathiri, saffron and other nuts. This mixture would then go into a small mortar and she would grind it to her own specification with a pestle. I think there is a photo of her grinding the mortar. Will try to locate it.
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rshankar
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#85 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by rshankar » 11 Oct 2011, 18:57

RaviSri - just as I have asked Sri Veeyenes and his children to collect, edit and publish his memories that he recounts for all of us to appreciate in this thread, I urge you to please do the same. These priceless personal memories that you have, offer the likes of us a teeny tiny glimpse into the complex lives and psyches of the matriarchs of this unparalleled family. A few of us have been lucky to listen to their music - but reading these anecdotes enriches our understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of their art. Otherwise, I am afraid that posterity will have little to remember these amazing women by.
I think Smt. Gowri Ramnarayanan has done a superb job in capturing and publishing the life, the times, and the forces that shaped Smt. MSS. Something along those lines is necessary for other stalwarts as well - I wish someone would give us such personal glimpses into the life of say, Smt. DKP, for instance. And you, with your unique insights, iare wonderfully poised to do the same for this family, IMO. And possibly, you could use the (professional) services of our very own Sri MKR to edit and embellish them!
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Ramasubramanian M.K
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#86 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K » 12 Oct 2011, 04:38

RaviSri: I agree with R.Shankar--My services are available 24 by 7 by 365 days. I know of no other family(multi-generational) who have imbibed the Trinity's compositions and passed the same to subsequent generations of disciples.
The annals of CM would be enriched by Rasikas like you who have had the privilege of knowing the family and learning from them.
As Shankar says Posterity will thank you for the effort.

If you so desire I can volunteer the services of some of the members of my family who have learnt under Band M.
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mohan
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#87 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by mohan » 12 Oct 2011, 04:50

Very informative thread ... is there a Dhanammal family tree online?
I understand Balasaraswati's grandson (Annirudhha) and Mukta's grandaughter (Uma Vasudevan) are dancers based in North America.
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ravir
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#88 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by ravir » 12 Oct 2011, 10:13

RaviSri wrote:
What is somewhat relevant to this thread is that just about 10 km before Tiruvaiyyaru you pass the village of Sathanur. Absolutely out of this world, with Cauvery on one side, and to its North, the green fields of rice, cocoanut and banana. The teak, banyan, neem and other trees lining the route with their shade.

Sridhar remarked, "With such beauty, with the river flowing like this creating a magical atmosphere why will this man not be able to sing great music and produce such a great disciple as Dhanammal?" Yes, this is the native place of Sathanur Panchanada Iyer, grand-disciple of Dikshitar and guru of Dhanammal.
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RaviSri Sir - I can state quite confidently that the village near Tiruvayyaru is not the Sathanur from where Panju Iyer hailed from. Dhanammal's guru hailed from the Sathanur which is couple of kms from Aduthurai ( Kumbakonam -Mayiladuthurai route) on the countryside route connecting Aduthurai with Komal village. Our family has been associated with him a few generations ago ( we hail from that village) and that apart this can be independently confirmed with Dr BM Sundaram.

Ravi
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RaviSri
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#89 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by RaviSri » 12 Oct 2011, 11:26

ravir, I know about this other Sathanur near Aduthurai. But I remember Sankaran telling me that Panju Iyer's Sathanur was the one near Tiruvaiyyaru. He himself might have been mistaken. And I am open to correction. I have personally no faith in the 'history' of B.M.Sundaram. If you can tell me about your family's association with Panju Iyer that will be a good proof for your claim. I personally have no hesitancy in accepting either Sathanur in Tanjavur district. As long as someone else does not come along and say that Panju Iyer's Sathanur is the one near Tiruvannamalai - Sathanur Dam.

rshankar and MKR. I have taken your suggestions seriously but we must conduct more research. Also the biographies of the daughters and grandchildren, at least the performing ones will also have to be written alongside. Let's see. Let me finish this first.
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keerthi
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#90 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by keerthi » 12 Oct 2011, 15:14

Like the number of Ravi-s posting on this thread, there seems to be a surfeit of places called SAthanur with musical connections.

Not far from Bangalore, is a place called sathanur, which was the birthplace of PaNDarIka viTTala, the 16th century musicologist, and author of the rAga-lakSaNa.
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ravir
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#91 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by ravir » 12 Oct 2011, 16:30

RaviSri wrote: If you can tell me about your family's association with Panju Iyer that will be a good proof for your claim. I personally have no hesitancy in accepting either Sathanur in Tanjavur district. As long as someone else does not come along and say that Panju Iyer's Sathanur is the one near Tiruvannamalai - Sathanur Dam.
RaviSri Sir - Thxs for your response. My assertion is based on the family accounts I have heard plus off-course the fact that the ancestral house of Panju Iyer in Sathanur was bought by a branch of our family sometime during the 1950's after the demise of his son, Sri Mahadevan, a violinist. The account I have heard tallies with the account of Rangaramanuja Iyengar ( vide his translation of the revered Sulamangalam Vaidyanatha Bagavathar's memoirs, published by Sunadham ). One of my mother's grand uncles, a Madras based barrister used to have music jam sessions with Sri Mahadevan every time he used to come to Sathanur. I had verified this information sometime back with a grand aunt of mine who lived a ripe old age of 100 as well and it leaves me in no doubt that the village near Aduthurai is the one where Panju Iyer hailed from.
RaviSri wrote: I have personally no faith in the 'history' of B.M.Sundaram.
And there you go , setting the cat amongst the pigeons ;-). It may not be fair to ask you to elaborate on this opinion, in this thread :-). Anyways, the flautist Sri T S Sankaran ( who hails from this Sathanur ) and Sri Neelakantan s/o of the late violinist Tiruvalangadu Sundaresa Iyer are the other independent sources who can vouch for this information.

Ravi
Last edited by ravir on 13 Oct 2011, 12:55, edited 1 time in total.
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uday_shankar
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#92 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by uday_shankar » 12 Oct 2011, 17:43

ravir wrote:the flautist Sri T S Sankaran ( who hails from this Sathanur )
Indeed. Sankaran sir is my flute guru from a past life and I just called him to check this out. Sankaran sir is no historian but he explained to me that "Sathanur Panju Iyer, the guru of Veena Dhannamal and Tirupambaram Natarajasundaram Pillai" came from his hometown Sathanur and when I asked him if it was the one near Tiruvaidaimarudur he said indeed that was his hometown. I did not ask him if he knew of the other Sathanur near Tiruvaiyar. He has a personal connection with this story too for although Sankaran sir comes from the "Mali school" and is a disciple of Mali, he considers Tirupambaram Swaminatha Pillai also a mAnasika guru and has immense regard for him and freely admits that he tries to follow that style too in his playing.

Is it possible that somebody (T Sankaran?) presumed that "Panchanda" Iyer was named after the Panchanatheesvarar located close to the other Sathanur ?!
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RaviSri
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#93 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by RaviSri » 12 Oct 2011, 18:58

Like the number of Ravi-s posting on this thread
There may be a number of Ravis, but there is only one keerthi - one with true keerthi. And when it comes to music, it must be admitted that Karnataka also has a lot of 'keerthi'

ravir, you have clarified well. I have now no hesitation in accepting that the Sathanur near Aduthurai is the native place of Panju Iyer. Especially after T.S.Sankaran's clarification. I'll speak to Neelu Sir (Tiruvalangadu's son) too when I meet him next.
Thanks uday_shankar.

I have things to say about B.M.Sundaram's sense of history. But not in this thread, not now. Sometime, somewhere. One of his gems goes like this: Thyagaraja was not born in Tiruvarur but in Tirvaiyyaru. Some people surely like to be ridiculously different.
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RaviSri
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#94 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by RaviSri » 12 Oct 2011, 19:28

Here's another photo
Image

Kamakshi and Soundararaja Iyengar with their six children, from left to right: Kodandaraman, Muktha, Abhiramasundari (sitting on the ground with a doll), Govardhan (dressed as a girl), Brinda and Vijayakrishnan (standing behind Brinda).
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RaviSri
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#95 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by RaviSri » 12 Oct 2011, 19:34

The photo was taken immediately after Brinda and Muktha returned to Madras after completing their studies with Kanchipuram Naina Pillai in 1925.
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cienu
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#96 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by cienu » 12 Oct 2011, 20:40

What a delightful picture ! :)
Thank you RaviSri for bringing to us pieces of history of a family whose contribution to Art is unparalleled.
I checked with Amma on "Karubaru" and she says that this was learnt in connection with a Ramanavami program in the late 50's or early 60's from Semmangudi (who had learnt this in turn from Brindamma).
When I pointed out that Semmangudi had never sung this in a concert she said that there have been songs which Mama had passed on to them but which he himself never performed in a concert & gave other examples of "Rangapura Vihara" & "Ksheera Sagara Shayana" (Devagandhari)
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Ramasubramanian M.K
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#97 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by Ramasubramanian M.K » 13 Oct 2011, 04:38

Not to veer from the subject,re: Karubaru--I have heard that Kallidaikurichi Vedanta Bhagavathar was credited with popularising this krithi(Thyagaraja),notwithstanding the fact that his family claims that they are one of the authentic disciples of the Dikshitar lineage. I have not heard the Vedanta Bhagavathar version(wonder where he learnt it from) but the B-M version is very sweet and lilting.

Semmangudi Mama was tenacious in 'unearthing" these gems from the Dhanammal family(the sisters never missed an opportunity to tell him that the road to genuine CM passed thro their portals and it is about time the SSI's and the Ramnad Krishnans acknowledged the leagacy!!!) when friends used to berate him for lowering himself being their senior Mama would diplomatically dodge the question saying the legacy was "too rich" to be standing on protocol or formalities-"you cannot pluck the Rose without enduring the thorns"!!!
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arasi
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#98 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by arasi » 13 Oct 2011, 07:18

A pokkisham of a picture!
And such an engaging thread, thanks RaviSri and all!

MKR,
I do not know if TinnEli area can boast of any SattanUrs, but there is a SAttAn KuLam, I think...

Is Komal mentioned here the same as Gomal? If so, one of our information-bees hails from there.
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ravir
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#99 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by ravir » 13 Oct 2011, 09:18

arasi wrote: Is Komal mentioned here the same as Gomal? If so, one of our information-bees hails from there.
No Arasi madam. FYI the late Tamil playwright 'Komal' Svaminathan hailed from this Komal, the Komal of Thanjavur district.

Sathanur, Komal, Tiruvalangadu, Tiruvavaduthurai, Thirukkodikaval et al are adjacent villages of the delta formed by veerachozhan and manjalaru, the distributaries of the Cauvery. Legends have it that the Saivaite siddhar Thirumular wrote the Thirumandiram consisting of 3047 poems at Sathanur only & he hailed from that village, a hoary one at that !

A good soul has also blogged about it here : http://ardhra-shivakrupa.blogspot.com/2 ... again.html

Ravi
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ravir
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#100 Re: The Dhanammal Legacy - with Family Photos

Post by ravir » 13 Oct 2011, 11:08

uday_shankar wrote:Indeed. Sankaran sir is my flute guru from a past life and I just called him to check this out. Sankaran sir is no historian but he explained to me that "Sathanur Panju Iyer, the guru of Veena Dhannamal and Tirupambaram Natarajasundaram Pillai" came from his hometown Sathanur and when I asked him if it was the one near Tiruvaidaimarudur he said indeed that was his hometown.
Thanks Uday for chipping in by reaching out to Sri TSS . And do accept my thanks as proxy,in gratitude for the collateral evidence - the Sunadham publication of the memoirs of Sri Sulamangalam Bagavathar :-)

Ravi
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