Song of Surrender

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Manna

By V Ramnarayan

I came to know Manna in 2006, when I rejoined Sruti after a 20-year hiatus, to take over as editor from KV Ramanathan. On his visits to Chennai, he and I struck a very pleasant rapport, often walking over to the restaurant next door for a typical south Indian meal on banana leaves. In food as in music and dance, Manna was a true rasika, enjoying the fare and appreciating the service wholeheartedly.

Though he was essentially a traditionalist, Manna was always ready to welcome fresh talent and innovation. He was a man of considerable reading and scholarship, though he did not make a show of it. For instance, his knowledge of the history of Tanjavur as a granary of all that’s good and great in art and culture was both extensive and intensive. No less impressive was his understanding of the history of the North, in particular the various streams of thought and artistic endeavour responsible for its rich and vibrant heritage. He brought enormous energy and enthusiasm as well as academic rigour to the many research projects he undertook, both out of his own interest and to help other individuals and institutions. He was ever helpful to artists and scholars alike and had an active and questioning mind that illuminated the many interesting discussions we had at Sruti and elsewhere whenever we were closeted together.

Nearly 15 years older than me, I know he did not approve of my addressing him as Mannaji. “Manna will do,” he said to me repeatedly in the recent past, though I was never sure that he was not making a facetious reference to Sruti’s avoidance of the use of honorifics in the way we refer to people in our pages, no matter how eminent.  On this and a couple of other issues, Manna did not see eye to eye with some of us at Sruti, and he made no secret of his feelings, but our affection and respect for him did not diminish one bit as a result.

Manna Srinivasan was our window to the North and a friend in fair weather and foul.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful tribute to Manna sir. I met him last December at The Sruti Stall in Madras Music academy. He was renewing his annual subscription to Sruti and said that was Sruti's policy (that even contributors had to buy their own copies of the magazine):). May his soul rest in peace.

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