Sunday, February 22, 2015

Navalpakkam Ranganathan

Prabhandham classes to students all over the world on Skype
He initiated the now popular Anna Kooda Utsavam several years ago at the Desigar Temple
To start 'Purana' recital this year
Navalpakkam S Ranganathan (Rangappa to his friends) has been straddling between his work in the Secretarial department at the TVS Group firm Turbo Energy and his service at the Vedantha Desigar Temple in Mylapore for the last 25years.

His father Srinivas Thathachariar was completely devoted to Lord Srinivasa serving as an archakar for 45years from 1962.  His father lived a contended life and despite financially strained circumstances, he ensured that he did not deprive his children of any of the basic necessities of life, for which Ranganathan says ‘he is eternally grateful to his father’.

It was Ranganathan’s grandfather ‘Soolai Raghavachariar’ (an archakar at the temple for 20years from 1942 and the first one to tie the Raksha Bandhan on the occasion of the first Brahmotsavam at the temple over 60years ago), who was instrumental in personally initiating him into Prabhandham. He learnt 22 out of the 26Strotra lessons from his grandfather having started out when he was just 7years old.

Defining Moment in his life
1979 was a turning point in the life of Ranganathan for that was the year his grandfather entrusted the young boy in the hands of the legendary Prabhandham tutor Sevilmedu Srinivasachariar. Pleased with the commitment and sincerity of Ranganathan and finding him to be blessed with a sweet and sacred voice, Srinivasachariar showered special affection on him during the 7years of his ‘Prabhandham’ schooling.

If Srinivasachariar was the architect in making him outstanding in his field, Ranganathan’s grandmother Shenbagammal was instrumental in guiding him in the right direction at home not allowing him to deviate his thoughts from his ‘home work’ during his teenage days.

Joins Turbo Energy
Soon after he completed his graduation (in Commerce),  Ranganathan joined Turbo Energy at their office in Padi in 1989 as an accounts assistant. During the 25years there, Ranganathan, who has now risen to the post of Manager- Secretarial, has found his management and colleagues to be very supportive of his service at the temple.

Declined a Tirumala order
In 1997, he was selected as a Prabhandham teacher at the renowned Dharmagiri Dharma Prachara Paatshaala in Tirumala. It was a great honour for him but he declined the post for family and official reasons. He was personally saddened having to reject an offer that came from Lord Srinivasa of Tirumala and remains one of his big regrets to this day.

Presenting during Special Occasions
He learnt the secrets of presenting Gadyam and Arulapadu on special occasions from experts such as Navalapakkam Yagna Varaha Thathachariar, Thiruvahindrapuram Krishna Desikachariar and Vidwan Adoor Asoori Madhavachariar.

During this period, Ranganathan has also presented Upanyasams for which he credits Krishna Desikachariar who motivated him and taught him the nuances of reaching the message across to his audience. Kozhiyalam Dr. K Ananthachariyar was his anchor in guiding him towards presenting Upanyasams.

Ranganathan counts himself blessed that he stayed next to a temple dedicated to the great acharya Vedantha Desigar. From a very young age, he started reciting the Prabhandham sitting inside the temple and this has now continued for almost 30years. With utsavams round the year being a feature at this temple, Ranganathan leveraged that opportunity to present the 4000 verses several times during the year, one that helped him introspect and perfect himself in the recital of the Prabhandam.

Cutting an Album with Malola Kannan
Just over 10years ago, Ranganathan along with Malola Kannan brought out Nithyanusanthanam, an album comprising of select set of songs from the Nalayira Divya Prabhandham that turned out to be a big hit with the devotees all over the world. Buoyed by the success of their first album, the two combined again to bring out CDs containing the entire Nalayira Divya Prabhandham and Desigar Prabhandham.

Special Events at Srinivasa Perumal Temple
In the last couple of years, the two of them combined again on the occasion of Navarathri to present a special Padi Etra Gattiyam praising the Lord as he entered each step on the way to the sanctum.

Ranganatha has also created a special presentation during Azhvaar Thiruvadi Thozhuthal (NamAzvhaar Moksham) as part of the Era Pathu Utsavam at the Desigar temple. Along with his friend Late Narayanan (Nana), Ranganathan was instrumental in starting the Anna Kooda Utsavam in Maasi that has now become very popular.

On most of the festive occasions at the Desigar Temple, Ranganathan has been ‘informally’ bestowed with the rights to take the lead in the presentation.

Teaching Prabhandham Online
In recent times, Ranganthan has taken up to technology and has started teaching Prabhandham via Skype to worldwide audiences with students sitting far away in the UK and US.

His favourite is Thirumangai Azhvaar’s Periya Thirumozhi for its stylish verses and beautiful Tamil words (specifically Thiruvezhikootram and Periya Thiru Madal) and Asthigiri Mahatmiyam, Mummanikovai and Navamani Malai among the Desigar Prabhandham verses.

Future Plans
As part of his future plans, Ranganathan is looking to present more Upanyasams on varied topics, start teaching Prabhandham to young students inside Vedantha Desigar temple and reciting Puranas on special festive occasions at the temple.

Nothing left Untaught
He has been blessed with a sweet voice and has carved a niche for himself in this space with a special modulation in the recital of Prabhandham that stands out in a group. He has earned the respect both from the temple authorities as well as the devotees and among his peers with his knowledge of and in the rendition of the sacred verses.

Ranganathan dedicates the name and fame to his Prabhandham Guru Srinivasachariar who converted the inherent sweet voice that he was blessed with into a shining light through his special attention. When Ranganathan joined the DB Jain College in Thoraippakam, Srinivasacharya went out of the way and came home to teach Ranganathan at his door step, despite having a severe problem in his legs. Srinivasaachariyar also initiated him into Aagaaraniyam, a Grantham of Vedantha Desigar that provides insights into the kind of food to be consumed by us.

‘Nothing was left untaught’ says Ranganathan and one can spot tears rolling down his cheeks as he remembers his great guru.

Ranganathan can be reached on 98434 54448 or


Pam said...

Thank you for this write-up about NSR Swami. I have had the privilege of listening to his album but, this really puts a face and glorious paaramparyam to the name. Many thanks to you for taking up the task of bringing such great souls to light!

narasimhachari said...

Rangappa extremely happy kannan Lic