I am delighted to be here in Chennai with all of you to present the ‘Hamsadhwani Thyagaraja Award’ to the violin maestro Shri M. Chandrasekharan.
At the outset, let me extend my heartiest congratulations to Shri Chandrasekharan for winning this coveted.
This Award is a very well-deserved recognition of the talent and skill of this musical genius.
I am also very happy to be here at ‘Kalakshetra’, the temple of art and culture.
This noble institution has served as a springboard for a number of nationally and internationally acclaimed artistes.
It is a Center of Excellence for Indian arts.
I am happy that this event of Hamsadhwani is coinciding with Kalakshetra’s founder Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale’s birth anniversary celebrations.
Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale was a multifaceted personality; she was a gifted Indian classical dancer, a learned philosopher, an accomplished orator and a dedicated philanthropist.
She is truly an inspirational figure who has left an indelible impact on the cultural landscape of our country.
She was the first woman to be nominated to the Rajya Sabha. Though she was offered a number of high positions, she declined and preferred to devote her time and energy to promote Indian art and culture.
I take this opportunity to pay my respectful tributes to Smt. Rukmini Devi Arundale.
My dear sisters and brothers,
I am also very happy to be here in Chennai, the cultural gateway of Southern India with a long and rich musical tradition.
It is a matter of great pride and joy that Chennai, the Carnatic music capital of the country, has found a place in UNESCO’s list of “creative cities” of the world. The credit for this stellar achievement, in no small measure, goes to the cultural organizations of Chennai, such as Hamsadhwani.
I am delighted to note that ‘Hamsadhwani’ is now a household name among the fine arts enthusiasts, especially the music lovers of Chennai.
It is truly noteworthy that this cultural organization, devoted to the protection, promotion, propagation of traditional Indian music and performing arts, has had a meteoric growth in just three decades since its establishment in the year 1990.
I applaud the foresight and vision of Shri R Ramachandran, the founder secretary of this organization, who identified the urgent need for creation of platforms for propagation of Indian culture, especially in the suburbs of Chennai, in view of the massive growth of Chennai as a mega-city.
It is wonderful that Hamsadhwani organizes several recitals and performances round the year, including concerts that celebrate several iconic composers and musicians.
I have had the good fortune of attending programs organized by the Sabha on earlier occasions and have been truly captivated by the excellent performances.
I call upon corporate entities, business houses, philanthropists and the government to lend patronage and support to cultural organizations such as Hamsadhwani so that they succeed in their mission to protect and preserve India’s cultural heritage and take it to the world.
My dear sisters and brothers,
I am very happy to have presented the Award named after the Saint composer, Sathguru Thyagaraja.
Saint Thyagaraja was, beyond any doubt, a stalwart, one of the tallest figures in the world of music.
The contribution of Saint Thyagaraja to the enrichment of our cultural heritage is immeasurable.
One of the three extraordinary musical legends of Carnatic music, Saint Tyagaraja blended music with devotion, melody and meaning in an extraordinary manner.
I am indeed happy that Dr Preetha Reddy and Shri Vijayakumar Reddy have instituted this award in the name of the great Saint composer for recognizing Carnatic musicians who have contributed to preserving and promoting the immortal compositions of Thyagaraja through their performances in India and abroad.
Several eminent and deserving artistes have already received this prestigious award in the previous years. The winner of this year’s award, Shri Chandasekaran, a violin virtuoso, exemplifies excellence and is a symbol of extraordinary perseverance and determination.
His mastery over the violin, achieved painstakingly through relentless ‘sadhana’ over decades, starting from the early years of learning from his mother, is truly remarkable.
M.Chandrasekharan occupies a place of pride in the famed quartet of violin maestros, the others being – Lalgudi Jayaraman, T.N.Krishnan and M.S.Gopalakrishnan .
He has accompanied many stalwarts such as Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer and M. Balamuralikrishna in concerts and is much admired for his melodic rendition.
I congratulate Shri Chandrasekharan and wish him all the very best in all his future endeavors.
My dear Sisters and brothers,
India is one of the most ancient civilizations of the world and is home to astounding natural beauty and amazing cultural diversity that has been shaped by a history that is several millennia old.
One of India’s greatest bards, Subrahmania Bharati who is from Tamil Nadu sang of India’s beauty:
“The mighty Himalaya is ours
There is no equal anywhere on earth
The generous Ganga is ours
Which other river can match her grace?
The sacred Upanishads are ours
What scriptures else to name with them?
This sunny golden land is ours
She is peerless, let’s praise her!”
India is famous for its splendid culture in which different religions, races, communities, languages, art forms, cuisines, customs and traditions sail in one ship.
Our culture and values are our identity. It is what makes us unique. It is what has earned us the respect of the whole world.
Etched in the DNA of India’s tremendous diversity, are timeless stories of unbreakable bonds of unity.
Our cultural diversity must form the platform on which we build the future of our nation and chart a path for its rapid growth and development.
Our cultural diversity must always remain the vehicle of unity, peace, prosperity and joy.
Even though we speak different languages, eat different food and wear different clothes, we must acknowledge that fundamentally, we are one nation, one people.
Here, I must applaud the Government for coming up with innovative programs like ‘Ek Bharat Shresta Bharat’ where states are paired with each other and people are encouraged to learn about each other’s language, literature, cuisine, festivals, cultural events and tourism.
Our cultural diversity is a delight that must always be celebrated through enhanced exchanges and reciprocity between people of different States and UTs so that a spirit of harmony resonates throughoutthis great country.
We need this sense of understanding especially now, when a large number of rifts threaten to divide us and fragment the bonds of our socio-cultural cohesion.
Mutual understanding and trust have always been the foundations of India's strength and all citizens should feel culturally integrated in all corners of India.
For this to happen, we must open our doors and our hearts to people of all faiths, cultures and regions.
The philosophy of our civilization has always been that of ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’. We have always embraced the whole world as our own. ‘Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavanthu’ has always been our prayer.
We must protect this ancient culture and the immortal, humanitarian values that are our legacy.
The most effective way to ensure this is to take the treasures of our culture to future generations.
They must know of the stalwarts like Saint Tyagaraja and must be proud of their glorious cultural inheritance. They must draw inspiration from its brilliance and unite to chart a path forward for the nation.
The name ‘Hamsadhwani’ itself is very suggestive. It denotes the sound of a swan, hamsa, a bird which has a special place in Indian culture. It symbolizes the wisdom to separate the good from the bad, to differentiate the pure from the impure. This is the wisdom we need today. We need the wisdom to choose a path that is good and harmonious, not only for us but for all humanity.
In this quest for wisdom, let us seek the blessings of “Siddhi Buddhi vara phalamu nosagina Abheesta Varadha Sri Mahaganapati”, as Sadhguru Tyagaraja in his composition in Hamsadhwani Raga has said.
We must teach our children to respect, accept and appreciate cultures that are different from their own.
Schools must sensitize children to different cultures and ways of life through frequent exchanges, cultural programs and exposure visits.
We have great opportunities now.
Technology has narrowed down distances in terms of connect and communication.
We must use technology to the best possible to extent, both to facilitate cultural exchanges and to document, archive and preserve the various unique aspects of our unique culture.
Let me conclude by quoting a few words penned down in Tamil 3000 years ago, by a great poet of India, Kaniyan Pungundranar, “Yaadhum Oore Yaavarum Kelirwhich” meaning, ‘We belong to all places, and to everyone'.
I hope that this sense of belonging will permeate India’s consciousness and lead us forward in our quest for prosperity, peace, harmony, universal fraternity and welfare of the world.