S.Rajam’s (Music Appreciation notes)

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

V.S. Muthuswami Pillai

Birthdays & Anniversaries

Vaitheeswaran Koil Sethuraman Muthuswami Pillai, the first Bharatanatyam guru and the first person from Tamil soil to receive this honour, had indeed covered long distances in space and time to arrive at this point in the twilight of his life. It had been a life of waiting — waiting for the right guru, the right disciple, waiting to be understood, to be appreciated, to be honoured. With hope sometimes, with despair mostly, he had waited and persevered with unflinching faith in his own creative instinct. Ultimately when the honours came, they came not as single spies but in battalions.

His career had been a study in paradoxes. Moulded in tradition, he had a strikingly modern perspective in Bharatanatyam. Having taken up a profession he hated, he was uncompromising in its pursuit. Knowing to speak or understand only his mother tongue Tamil, he had nearly all his students from France. With them he had no communication problem whatever. Unsought by disciples of his native land, he was the one guru who appealed most to the Western mind. In some respects, he was way ahead of his time and in others sadly behind.

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