A Multi-faceted Genius

Paraphrasing what Lata Mangeshkar said about Kishore Kumar in the Album Shradanjali “Kya nahi the?” meaning What was he not?, I would like to start with the question “What was she not?”, the she referring to amma, my maternal grandmother Thiruvengadavalli alias Jayalakshmi Sudarsan who was born this day, 5th October in 1923.

Jayalakshmi Sudarsan

She was
a composer (aasu kavi) having composed hundreds of songs on many deities with the tune and the tala
a violinist,
a vocalist,
a person with a phenomenal memory for dates, names, events, slokas, paasurams and the like,
an excellent cook,
a brilliant administrator and organizer,
a stickler for discipline as well as an embodiment of love and affection,
a willing teacher and even more intense student,
a store house of knowledge about traditions,
a wizard in money management,
an engaging conversationalist,
an avid reader,
a genius critic of movies,
a tireless worker,
a shrewd assessor of people,
a person with a high threshold for pain and a penchant for subtle humour, skilled in card games like literature,
a person capable of forgiving those who had wronged her,
someone who wouldn’t think twice before extending a helping hand to others ….. I can go on and on but let me start with a few examples of some of the few qualities as above.

My earliest recollection of her in late 1960s was her attending classes in cookery including jams and squashes and doll making. Very quickly, her stuffed dolls of different shapes, nationalities and hues were adorning the walls and the huge glass case in the hall. I particularly remember the Japanese ladies that she made. I have relished her various dishes that she had learnt including the juices. In fact, she used to make grape juices and sold them in the neighbourhood as well. When she was in her mid sixties, she would walk to Triplicane in the late afternoons to learn a composition or two from Dr S Ramanathan and quickly teach me the same. A paralytic stroke that struck her put paid to her efforts to continue to learn.

This is just a beginning and I will attempt to bring to light the genius I was privileged to call “Amma”.



  1. N Ramesh said,

    October 6, 2015 at 6:24 am

    Even your Mother Shrimathi Vijalakakshmi Sreenivasa Raghavan, fondly called by all as ‘Vijima’, is no less talented than her illustrious Mother and your Grand Mother, as she is equally talented and fairly endowed with most of the aforesaid skillsets, which needs a special mention !

    In fact, she goes one step further in certain areas, like the role she plays as a writer of short stories and modern version of poetry, mainly in Tamil and also in English at times, under her Pen Name ‘Raghava Priya’, thanks to the modern day formal education received by her !

    Actually, she is an educationist, a star teacher and an academic administrator, who is still very active even as of now, even though she is ripe in age and with failing health conditions at time, and she is always enthusiastic and jubilant while handling her daily chores as of now !

    That’s it for the time being from me !

  2. N Ramesh said,

    October 8, 2015 at 3:32 am

    Adding further to what I have already stated in my previous lines of comment posted about a couple of days back, I wish to mention that your Mother has come up in Life much against all the odds that she has faced in her life and that alone makes her stand out from all other women around whom we may be coming across in our respective lives !

    She has single handedly overcome all the challenges in her life and emerged successful, and continues to inspire people through her grit and guts, through her sheer display and exhibition and demonstration of courage and conviction rolled into one, and more importantly continues to be victorious in life even at this ripe old age, as I see it at present !

    She was able to brush aside all the various odds that was stacked up against her and surmounted all the formidable challenges that came up in her life like the waves in a rough ocean, and she was able to literally brave it all with a smile – thanks to her firm resolve and will power, coupled with a sense of belonging and commitment towards life as such!

    That’s it from me for the time being !

  3. N Ramesh said,

    October 13, 2015 at 5:51 am

    Apropos to the two tranches of comments which I had made available to the Blog Post of yours, I wish to state that I am not at all contradicting what you have stated as part of your submission.

    To the contrary, I had only tryied to add value to the contents of your Blog Post, and I have not at all disagreed with you on any count, to say the least at this vital, crucial and critical juncture.

    Herein, I wish to say that, ‘I love not your Grand Mother less but your Mother more’, if you want me to put in a poetic language, and I am not in any way pitching Vijima against your Grandma !

    In this context, I also wish to declare I am not in any manner attempting to demean or belittle the credentials of your Nanny but only want to highlight the matching ones in your Mother as well !

    In fact, I merely wanted to mention that Vijima has equal stature and credibility cum prowess like your Grand Mother, if not more than her (her own Mother !), and is actually a bit better than her !

    And hence, I would like to make it very clear that I have not in any way intended to decry your efforts to eulogise your Grand Mother, when you literally have a replica of hers in your home now !

    And that’s it for the time being from my side !

  4. N Ramesh said,

    October 18, 2015 at 9:11 am

    Continuing with what I have been stating all along as a sequel to the Blog Post of yours by offering my comments I wish to state that you Mother is as good as (if not better than !) your Grandma, which is in no way a figment of imagination but virtually a fact of life, as it is !

    For example, to cite just one example, and that too on a comparative note, I would like to express that your beloved Grand Mother may be a ‘Vagyakara’ (which in Sanskrit means; a person who composes Lyrical Poems and also sets the tune for such creative contribution of hers, as per the Carnatic Tradition of Indian Music), but your Mother is no less gifted, especially with her proficiency in prosaic writing, and that is clearly evidenced by the plethora of published works credited to her name !

    Yes, your Mother too has excelled in many fields, including in several of those areas in which your Grandma had stood tall, thereby conforming to the Genetic traits and attributes that has been imbibed by her or rather passed onto her !

    Remember, she is very active even in this ripe old age and in spite of her health related issues that seems to crop up at times, and practically goes to School almost every day like a kid (or rather unlike a kid !) even after her retirement from being a member of the Core Teaching squad at Padma Seshadri Bala Bhavan, thus continuing to be a true working women and still earning for the family, which very few in the world of ours, or rather the society in which we belong to can literally match !

    In short, she is another workaholic cum genius of her own sorts available in our own backyard or rather in our own frontyard, if there is any word in English like that, and to put it just in a few words, she is an embodiment of all good things that one would like and aspire to have !

    That’s it for the moment from my end !

  5. N Ramesh said,

    October 23, 2015 at 4:39 am

    Walking on the lines as mentioned in the earlier comments of mine posted herein above, I would like to categorically state that your Mother is technically a shade better than your Grand Mother, even though both of them have several common traits and similar attributes to their credit !

    More so because she (your beloved Mother) not only has a multifaceted and multidimensional persona, besides being a multi talented person, but also possesses versatile interests, coupled with a lot of aesthetic sense, especially when we look at the kind of artifacts she has collected painstakingly and yet very fondly over a long period of time, sourced from different places during the course of her various travels – thus proving that she is very much a chip of the old block !

    And this (her exhibition of such stuff in her home !) is almost akin to the display of such other colourful items in a home at the time of ‘Festival of Dolls’ (‘Kolu’ in Tamil Language !) which is celebrated during the Navarathri time or for that matter during the Dusshera period (which just got over yesterday !), each time in the form of a Thematic representation by taking up a particular Theme in mind and going about the proper arrangement of it in an elaborate manner !

    And I have the habit of visiting her during this span of time and intensely look at the grand display of many Dolls, mostly Religiously oriented, apart from having ‘Sundal’ served by her, a protein rich delicacy she painstakingly and yet lovingly prepares everyday – remember, a different type of Sundal on each day during the course of this Ten day long Festival Time span !

    Even very recently, I visited her house this time too, and the Theme of this year’s version of her Kolu is ‘The Voice of Vaishnavism’, thereby once again conforming and confirming her decisive determination, dedication and devotion to Lord Vishnu as part of the Hindu Religion !

    In fact, it is worth mentioning that her home virtually has become a sort of a ‘Nithya Kolu’ and we can literally call it so, who is ably assisted by her Daughter-in-Law Shrimathi. Geetha Badrinarayanan (the only wife of the Author of the Original Blog Post, to which I am writing a series of Comments and duly posting it here periodically, if not regularly – only because he asked for it !)

    And that’s all from me for the moment !

  6. N Ramesh said,

    October 28, 2015 at 5:12 am

    Travelling on similar lines of thought as expressed by me in the previous comments during this series of postings, and by way of moving from generation to generation, I feel that the threads of Vijima’s artistic acumen (if not the baton !) has been ably picked up by her educated ‘Bahu’ (in Hindi meaning Daughter-in-law !), leave alone extending and handing over her traits to the next generation !

    Yes, much of her artistic traits have literally got rubbed onto Geetha who has also on her part strived to improve upon it and even bettered it in her own way !

    Indeed, Geetha has carefully imbibed some of the qualities and virtues of Vijima and has shaped it up and polished it with her own credentials !

    Actually, Geetha is practically following Vijima’s footsteps albeit as an Entrepreneur of sorts by manufacturing and selling Earthen Lamps, by adding value to it, by colourfully painting them and suitably decorating them too, which she formally calls it as ‘Shree Prosperity Lamps’ and sells it at a reasonable price tag !

    ‘This Lady with the Lamps’ has carefully branded it and making her product offerings available to the interested persons; both within India and abroad and is probably doing well in her well chosen business activity cum economic pursuit – thanks to the tutelage she has received earlier on from the Training Arm of the International Finance Major, Goldman Sachs, who has taken onto themselves to effectively produce 10,000 Women Entrepreneurs from and out of India !

    And that’s all from me for the present !

  7. N Ramesh said,

    November 2, 2015 at 5:28 am

    As one other piece of comment from my side, I wish to say very emphatically that she was a person made with steel, made out of a timbre that is rarely seen in the modern times !

    And this I gather from the way she has decisively braved through all the issues connected to a women going for employment, more particularly in an era (during the 60s of the previous century !) when Women going for work has almost been viewed like a taboo in our traditionally bound conservatively tuned society, more specifically in certain culturally tuned families like that of hers !

    Yes, she weathered all the storms and the stigmas attached to it, brushed aside all of such negatively oriented factors that were prevailing at that point of time, when she ventured into performing a job, or rather a noble service of being a Teacher, and kept walking on and on irrespective of what anybody said about it – and she does that even now at her ripe old age !

    Truly, she still keeps moving onwards and marches forward, and that alone keeps her going, and that alone actually makes her stand tall and stand apart from the rest of the crowd whom we come across in everyday life, even in the present times !

    That’s all for the time being from my side !

  8. N Ramesh said,

    November 5, 2015 at 6:06 am

    I think my entire range of well meant comments (numbering about half a dozen as of now !) to your Blog Post has far exceeded the length of your sole Blog Post, which was posted exactly about One Month ago !

    Yes, when I look back and go through all of those stuff contributed by me, I feel that the overall length of the Comments is at the least about a dozen times more than the total length of the Original Post of yours !

    However, on this anniversary day of its publication, may I request you to continue writing and posting such interesting materials for consumption by interested persons like me / us, ideally in the immediate days ahead !

    Also, may I take this opportunity to remind you that you had mentioned in your Blog that you will writing more on your Grandma, which is yet to materialise and I am eagerly looking forward to it in the days to come !

    Thus Spake the New Age Sage !

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: