THE FIRST SABHA
SRI PARTHASARATHY SWAMI SABHA
(Established in the Year 1900)
Sir C.P.Ramaswami Iyer on Sabha in 1950 said :
Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha continued its laudable efforts in Promotion of Music and Art and proved itself a pioneer Institution. The Sabha therefore rich in tradition, you have a rich heritage and rich in everything except in resources .
Sri C. Rajagopalachari ( Rajaji ) on Sabha. 1955 :
Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha has been one of the pioneers of the renaissance of Carnatic Music and Bharatasastra in South India and during its long continuous career of usefulness, it has taken every opportnnity to cultivate sound taste and to encourage worthy exponents of the Musical and Dramatic Arts.
In the Year 1896, Sri Manni Tirumalchariar our founder, felt the need for an Institution to foster all aspects of Indian Culture and began this Organisation, which was originally called “Sangeetha Vidwad Sabha”. Later, in 1900 it was registered as a Sabha to make it as a public institution; it was named as “Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha” to invoke the blessings of presiding deity of Triplicane. It is the oldest music Sabha in South India and it is the First Institution of its kind to be started. From 1900 to 1905 the programmes were held in the residence of Sri Tirumalachariar. Great G.N. Balasubramanian’s father Sri. G.V. Narayanaswamy Iyer was our Sabha’s secretary in 1930’s. Our founder, a prominent citizen of Triplicane also helped in establishing ‘ The Hindu’ the national newspaper in 1870.
In the Initial stages, retired Diwans from Mysore and Travancore Durbars, High Court Judges and members of the Madras Presidency were involved in the Executive Committee.
The former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Sri. M.G. Ramachandran and the present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Miss. J. Jayalalitha are the Members of the Sabha
In fact, a performance in our Sabha was considered as a Certificate of Excellence. Artistes of Five Generations and all the present day leading musicians, dancers and dramatic troupes have been patronised by the Sabha.
Even during the World War in 1939, Programmes were still conducted on Important Festival Days.
Lectures in Sri Parthasarathy Swami Sabha is more than 100 years old.
The veterans in Harikatha Sri Krishna Bhagavathar were regular performers in the Sabha. In 1905 the discourses of Rao Bahadur Prof. M. Rangachari on ‘ Srimad Bhagavad Geethai’ was released in book form in Three Volumes.
In 1906, Pandit Madhan Mohan Malaviya delivered a lecture in the Sabha. He was posthumously conferred with Bharat Ratna in the year 2015.
In addition to classical music the sabha also arranged Harikatha kalakshepams rendered by eminent vidwants These discourses proved very popular and among them the names of Krishna Bhagavathar, Panchapakesa Sastrigal, Mangudi Chidambara Bhagavathar and Muthiah Bhagavathar may be mentioned.
In the initial years sabha also organised a series of lectures on Bhagavatha Geetha by eminent scholar Professor M. Rangachariar, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya sldo frlibrtrf s lrvyutr in out Sabha in 1906. In later years discourses were delivered by Srirangam Sadagopachariar, Sri Karpangadu Venkatachariar, Sri Embar Vijayaraghavachariar, Sengalipuram Anantharama Dikshitar.
All great artistes of those days well versed in vocal and instrumental music were patronised by the sabha. The gaints of vocal music like Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer, Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Iyer, Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar, Bidaram Krishnappa, Tiger Varadachariar, Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Musiri Subramanya Iyer, Chembai vaidyanatha Bagavathar.
Like wise instrumental music like : Saraba Sastrigal, Thirukkodikkaval Krishna Iyer, Govindaswami Pillai, Karur Chinnasami Iyer, Alaganambi, Dakshinamurthy, Gottuvathiam Sakaramarao, Veena Seshanna, Rajamanickam Pillai, Mysore Chowdaya, Thiruzvavaduthurai Rajarathinam Pillai – Nadaswaram.
The former chief minister of Tamil Nadu and Sri. M.G. Ramachandran and the present chief minister Miss. J. Jayalalitha are the members of the Sabha.
The great G.N. Balasubramaniam’s (GNB) father Sri. Narayanaswamy was Secretary of the Sabha those days. ( When GVN, as Narayanaswami Iyer was often called, became a maths teacher at the Hindu High School, and became involved in the Sri Parthasarathi Swami Sabha, he came into close contact with great musicians. GNB recalled in a 1967 article, “Violinist Karur Chinnaswami Iyer lived next door to us in Triplicane. I lived in an atmosphere drenched in music and this helped me to nurture, develop and sustain my ardour for music.”)
Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar has given more than 100 concerts in our Sabha.
In 1960s modest funds were raised to sustain the activities of the Sabha through Music Concerts by “Bharat Ratna” Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi, Dance Dramas by Ms. Vaijayanthi Mala, Hema Malini, Travancore Sisters Lalitha, Padmini and Ragini.
Music Education, as we feel it, is a particular activity of importance for which we have been showing special interest. As main part of this activity we are arranging useful Lecture Demonstration sessions by experts and musicologists during our December Music Festival with sole intention that these programmes should reach to the students of Music and musicians and carnatic music rasikas, in general. Through this session, we aim to give a glimpse of the rich treasures of our Indian Music.
Carnatic Music Classes are being held at our place in triplicane.
Apart from Celebrating Thyagaraja Aradhanai, Shyama Sastri, Annamacharya Festival, Purandarasa Festival, we Celebrate Sangeethanjali to Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar, one of the Music Trinities, at Ettayapuram at Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar Memorial Mandapam every year. Artistes, Vocal and Instrumental are taken from Chennai, Trichy, Thanjavur and Madurai to Ettayapuram and they render the kritis of Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar at the memorial with accompaniments. All Artistes arrives at the place in the morning, spend the whole day and leave for their stations the same night.
Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer gave a Special for the Centenary Year Celebrations at his age of 92 for 2 and half hours.
Our Sabha has instituted three awards annually namely , “Sangeetha Kalasarathy” for a Indian Classical Music Exponent, “Natya Kalasarathy” for Indian classical dancer and “Nataka Kalasarathy” for a Theater Artiste. The Sabha Has also instituted ‘ Acharya Kalasarathy’ Exemplary Guru mentoring students all over the world.
Apart from the above Awards, also present Endowment awards each year in the name of Palghat Mani Iyer Centenary award (Instituted by Dr. Nithyashree Mahadevan),
Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu Award ( Instituted by Sri. Mohan Parasaran), Gottuvadyam Narayana Iyengar Award for Visesha Vadyam ( Instituted by Chennai Fine Arts ), G. Ramanathan Award ( Instituted by Sathanur Sri. V. Parthasarathy), GNB Award for Young Musician ( Instututed by Sri. Vedanth Ramanujam ).
Best performer awards for young talents were given for Vocal, Violin, and Mrudangam two awards on each category adjudged as the best performs during the December Music Festival in the afternoon concerts.
Young students from Dance ( all forms of classical dance) were given certificates and mementos, who perform during our Dance Festival for Youth each year.
The Sabha is proud to have a long list of Musical genius who have performed at the Sabha. Apart from musicians from South India our Sabha hosted performances by Vidwans from North also, like Pandit Ravi Shankar, Omkarnath Thakur, Gangubhai Hungel, Ustad Bismillah Khan and Roshan Kumari during our annual celebrations.
The Sabha which was started in 19th Century has successfully served for the cause of cultural arts through the 20th Centruy and stepped into the 21st Century. We take pride in this unique distinction.