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In Memory of Sundari Teacher

Periya Sarada's 90th birthday

The passing away of Sundari teacher has snapped one of the last connections with the past! It is a great loss for all those who were closely connected with her from the early Kalakshetra days. I am one of them. She has lived a full purposeful life, serving a great cause – an institution for Arts – “Kalakshetra”.

Periya Sarada and Sundari teacher

Sundari teacher was a happy, smiling, and lovable person with a light-hearted and admirable head-held-high attitude. She single-handedly and cheerfully took care of “Periya Sharada”, a pillar of Kalakshetra. She was compassionate, principled, unrelenting in her views, traditionally spirited but not bound by unmindful customs and habits, and helpful to the utmost extent possible without any expectations of personal benefits. She loathed falsehood and hypocrisy and spoke the truth fearlessly. She was a passionate lover of animals. In other words, she was a true theosophist in every sense!

On the humorous side, I have a few memories of her. I hear her calling me “Cozha! Inge vaada! Eppadida irukke? (“Cozha! Come here! How are you?”), and I would jokingly reply: “Teacher call me Paandiya. That will be more appropriate as I was born in Madurai!” This would be the greetings every time I went to meet her.

(L-R): KSS, Sundari teacher, Periya Sarada, Vasanta Vedam and Uma Nilakanta

She was my geography teacher at Kalakshetra. As a student, I got a big zero from her in the model exam for matriculation. There were two reasons for this disappointing result: 1) during her classes I would be playing vina in front of the Principal of Kalakshetra – my granduncle Karaikudi Veenai Sambasiva Iyer who would not permit me to leave for her class unless I played faultlessly what he taught me; 2) assuming that I wouldn’t attend her class, she would stay in the office with Sri Sankara Menon! The only other student in the class was a student of dance, Vijayalakshmi (Viji was a dancer of merit and a wonderful teacher). So, whenever I happened to attend the class, Sundari teacher would not be there! Viji and I would be chatting happily, perched on one of the top branches of a jackfruit tree! When she saw this, she would wave at us with a smile! Even though I failed geography and lost one year of school, it was clear that Sundari teacher, who held great respect for Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer, was, in fact, happy that I gained valuable vina lessons from him.

I will greatly miss Sundari teacher! I lost an era visibly! She is a great soul who would not like anyone to mourn for her. She has attained liberation and peace. Rare are such genuine people giving their lives for a cause without expecting a return! My homage to this unsung hero.

G. Sundari passed away on February 3rd, 2022.

Sahapedia documented her in 2013. Please visit their website to listen to her recollections of her childhood and early days at Kalakshetra.


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