Address by Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu, Honourable Vice President at an event to launch a monograph on the Musical Excellence of Mridangam, in Chennai on November 05, 2019.

Chennai | November 5, 2019

“Honourable Governor of Tamil Nadu Shri BanwarilalPurohitji,  Dr.UmayalpuramSivaraman Ji, Honble Minister of Tamil Nadu Sri Jayakumarji, Dr Ramasami, Shri  Murali, SmtGeethaRajashekar, Dr Kapuria, all contributing authors and editors, distinguished guests, musicians, scientists, staff and my dear citizens of Chennai,

 Let me first of all convey my warm greetings to all of you. Vanakkam!

சென்னைமக்கள்அறிவிற்கும்கலாச்சாரத்திரற்கும்பேர்போனவர்கள்.இசைஅறிவியல்கலாச்சாரம்ஒன்றுசேர்ந்து  Triple Helix ஆகபணிபுரியும்இடம்சென்னை.

Dr Nayudamma has worked in this institute and connected science to society. Today we celebrate another laudable connection between art and science.

Only yesterday Dr UmayalpuramSivaraman and Dr Ramasami approached me for the launch of this monograph on “Musical Excellence of Mridangam”. I congratulate the people of Chennai for the manner in which this remarkable event has been organized at such a short notice.

My heart connects to three aspects about this program.

The first is the seamless fusion of art and science.

The second is the use of modernity to serve traditional livelihood craft and third is a scientific proof for ingenuity of our civilization.

It presents a tribute to our civilizational legacy.

It reports new innovations in the present and opens up new possibilities for the future.

I am so pleased to note that the monograph is the fruit of path-breaking effort. 

Tools of modern science are brought to bear service to an ancient instrument namely Mridangam.

Making of the instrument is largely an artisanal activity relying on family inherited profession.

Science has a responsibility to add values to such livelihood craft for preserving and protecting cultural heritage.

The monograph bears ample evidence of its intent and responsible societal action. Mridangam is an instrument made with ordinary and locally available materials, but exhibits musical beauty like no other western counterpart.  Reference is made in our religious literature that NandikeshwaraBhagawan played Mridangam for the Thandava dance of Lord Siva. Mridangam is a part of our religion, history and culture.

Sir J C Bose once said It is for man not to quarrel with circumstances but bravely accept them, and we belong to that race and dynasty who had accomplished great things with simple means”. Mridangam provides a proof and inspiration for accomplishing of great things with simple means.

I compliment both authors and the publisher for bringing out a world class product. The monograph serves three key purposes. It makes a strong case for collaboration between music and science. It opens up new opportunities for future research on Mridangam. It is an outreach of South Indian music to the global musical community.

Modern science has now been applied for standardization of the fabrication methodology. The research presented might be the very first example of science meeting the technology needs of ancient Indian musical Artistes. I really wish that more such collaborations and many path-breaking contributions happen in future.

When rivers merge, we consider it a holy place. Here is a sangamam. Modern science and ancient music forms merge here.

We are just two days away from the birth anniversary of Sir CV Raman, the Nobel Prize winner of 1930 for his discovery of Raman Effect. I learn that the pioneering work on Mridangam was done by none less than Sir CV Raman as early as in 1920. He pays high encomium to the ancient Hindu culture in his lecture delivered in 1934. He also says “whereas western percussion instruments are noise producers, Mridangam is musical and elicits harmonics”

Next year will be the centenary year of his great finding on Mridangam. I know that the monograph is an outcome of nearly two decades of the sadhana of an artiste, Dr Sivaraman and scientists led by Dr.Ramasami. I must congratulate the entire team as well as the joint leadership of a musical vidwan and a scientist administrator.

The fusion of two different knowledge systems tries to connect to consciousness of both music lovers and scientists. Even without being a technical person, I can sense that this monograph may have moved the frontier of knowledge to the next level of innovations--they have built new types of Mridangam. They seek to set new standards for Nadham.

I am happy to see that it is now possible to make transport-friendly instrument. I am told that they have filed patents for new types of instruments. An instrument made with untanned skins and cooked rice needs to comply with phytosanitary laws of island countries like Australia if our art forms are to spread to other parts of the world. That it seems possible with the research is interesting and truly path-breaking.

Let me make some general remarks to the people of Chennai on this auspicious occasion when we are celebrating a rare synthesis. Artists generally feel, create, differentiate and set standards. Scientists as a group tend to measure, discover, standardize and calibrate. Here is a case where art and science have merged. This research is giving us benefits of measuring what is felt, discovering to create, standardize the differentiated and calibrate the new standards set.  It is a cooperation across the cross borders of knowledge domains.

I am aware that considerable research has been made using modern science of western musical instruments. Such is not the case in the case of Indian musical instruments. There are disconnections. Sir CV Raman was a pioneer among scientists. To me, UmyalpuramSivaraman is another such pioneer among percussionists. I have read his comments in the first part of the monograph.  He has strived to create new instruments and new playing methods. He has shown all the attributes of a scientist. He is renowned Artiste of high eminence. He is an inspiration to the next generation of Artistes for reaching out to methods of science for enhancing our musical beauty.

I have also a request for scientists of this country today. Sir JC Bose was truly a nationalist. He is perhaps the first modern scientist in my opinion. He gave prescriptions to Indian science which are relevant even today. He stood for advancementof knowledge that owes its birth to India and places the country in federation of science. He demonstrated first that plants respond differently to sounds of various frequencies and behave like emotional beings.

I am aware that our science was built on the foundation of spirituality. Our spiritual teachers throughout the ages insisted that they sensed connectedness. Indian systems of art, music, medicine and many others are built on the convergence of knowledge. The world view of the future is now slowly converging towards the concept of interconnectedness of all knowledge systems as envisioned by our thought leaders.

I see in this monograph the footprint of such connectedness without borders. “Isthmus” means small piece of land which connects two large land masses. “Musical Excellence of Mridangam”  by Dr Umayalpuram K Sivaraman, Dr T. Ramasami and Dr MD Naresh is like an isthmus which connects music and science. It strives to enable but not replace tradition with modernity. It has proved scientifically that our ancestors were able to design, develop and demonstrate musical excellence through human ingenuity.

As I launch this book, I wish to see this as a beginning of greater things to come in future through the multiplier effects of sangamam of minds. Let this be a new beginning. Let the future be shaped from the lessons of the past and aspirations of human minds which scale new heights.

Dear sisters and brothers.

India has a long, rich musical heritage starting with Samaveda and Natyasastra composed almost 2000 years ago.

The roots of Indian music can be traced to Vedic literature, Sama Veda in particular. This Sanskrit saying शिशुर्वेत्तिपशुर्वेत्ति वेत्ति गान रसं फणि: (Sisurvettipasurvetti, vettiganarasam phanihi) aptly sums up the magical power of music.

The classical music and dances of India, like Indias philosophical and religious thoughts, have flourished over ages. The unbroken tradition of musical excellence continues even to this day.

 What defines India is this rich heritage of music and its unifying role in bringing people together cutting across religions, regions, castes and communities.

 Art unites hearts.

 It enriches the quality of our lives.

Like every facet of India, there is a fascinating diversity, extraordinary breadth and incredible depth in Indian music.

 It has a treasure-house of songs that has been providing continuous nourishment to the mind, heart and soul.

Every note and cadence associated with our ancient music systems has to be preserved and propagated.

What the authors of the book have attempted is to add Vigyana” (science) to SangeetaGyaana” (musical knowledge) to bring out the musical excellence of one of the most important musical instruments, Mridangam.

I add my own support to the call of our Prime Minister in his message for collectively harnessing the diversity of our culture and classical music to realise our vision-- Ek Bharat - Shreshtha Bharat. I hope this monograph and research will be very well received and inspire many others to continue this tradition of knowledge creation.

Jai Hind!”