All of this, all my work is dedicated to the memory of my mother Saroja Sriramaiah. She was an accomplished classical and devotional singer, taught chanting classes to over a thousand students at home and at 10 different chanting centres in Bangalore, India. 6 years after her passing, her students still continue to gather once a month in our family home to chant selected Sanskrit hymns.
After her passing, my dad spent over 2 years collecting bits of recordings from all of my mother’s students and piecing them together. The painstakingly edited collection was offered to her students and friends as a souvenir. Here’s a translation of my Dad’s tribute written originally in Kannada (one of the languages of the state Karnataka I come from).
Translation of Dad’s tribute:
It was divine grace that she was born with a melodious voice and received encouragement from pious, blessed parents to develop a deep love for devotional music from an early age. She went on to receive a strong foundation in classical Carnatic music from Akashvani’s (a music station) senior musician late Majulabai who cultured her voice for the devotional work that she would dedicate herself to in the future.
It was when she was introduced to māté or mother Anantalakshmi Natarajan, traditional and orthodox follower of scriptures and a great teacher of Sanskrit and chanting, that Saroja blossomed into a fragrant flower. She received divyadarśana or great insight into this ocean of knowledge, became her favorite student and dedicated 20 years of séva or service in the path of bhakti to her guru. During this time she received initiation into – Lalitā Sahasranāma, Soundarya Lahari, Śivānandalahari, Viśnu Sahasranāma, Durgā Saptaśati, Vidya Churnika, Raghuviragadya, Devaranāma (Divine names), Dāsarapada (Songs of wandering saints), classical kirtans and Bhāva Gita (sonnets).
Her friends and students experienced her bhāva or spiritual attitude through her chanting. Saroja openly and lovingly shared all this knowledge with the community and became a Bhakti and Dharma center. The collection on this CD has been my own spiritual journey of obtaining bits and pieces of recordings by students and friends and painstakingly piecing together Saroja’s life-work, including recovering about 15 songs from 1962 when she was barely 19 years old.
Saroja – a tribute – I am indeed very fortunate to have spent my life with this great spirit, Saroja.
Signed – B. Sriramaiah (my dad)