Today marks the 4th year anniversary of my sweet mother Saroja leaving her body. My father has dedicated his life to keeping her teachings alive and produced a CD collection of her life work for her friends and students to have. I present here the English translation of the tribute he wrote on the album cover. It was originally written in Kannada and unfortunately the translation does not do his poetic mastery any justice!
Translation of Dad’s tribute:
It was divine grace that she was born with a melodious voice and received encouragement from pious, blessed parents to develop a deep love for devotional music from an early age. She went on to receive a strong foundation in classical Carnatic music from Akashvani’s (a music station) senior musician late Majulabai who cultured her voice for the devotional work that she would dedicate herself to in the future.
It was when she was introduced to māté or mother Anantalakshmi Natarajan, traditional and orthodox follower of scriptures and a great teacher of Sanskrit and chanting, that Saroja blossomed into a fragrant flower. She received divyadarśana or great insight into this ocean of knowledge, became her favorite student and dedicated 20 years of séva or service in the path of bhakti to her guru. During this time she received initiation into – Lalitā Sahasranāma, Soundarya Lahari, Śivānandalahari, Viśnu Sahasranāma, Durgā Saptaśati, Vidya Churnika, Raghuviragadya, Devaranāma (Divine names), Dāsarapada (Songs of wandering saints), classical kirtans and Bhāva Gita (sonnets).
Her friends and students experienced her bhāva or spiritual attitude through her chanting. Saroja openly and lovingly shared all this knowledge with the community and became a Bhakti and Dharma center. The collection on this CD has been my own spiritual journey of obtaining bits and pieces of recordings by students and friends and painstakingly piecing together Saroja’s life-work, including recovering about 15 songs from 1962 when she was barely 19 years old.
Saroja – a tribute – I am indeed very fortunate to have spent my life with this great spirit, Saroja.
Signed – B. Sriramaiah (my dad)
I have the greatest gratitude to my mother for throwing light on the path of Śrī Vidyā (a Śakta tradition that holds the Goddess as Supreme) and initiating me into the Lalitā Sahasranāma mantra sādhana. For her work she earned a mention in the publication titled ‘51 Shakti Peethas’ – a book listing and explaining the 51 seats of Shakti, the sacred pilgrimage sites.
She contributed lovingly and actively to the Soundarya Lahari project which under the direction of Shringeri Matt Swamiji, involved chanting of this eminent Śakta text on a mass scale. I continue to study and learn the Śrī Vidyā practices four years after my mother’s passing and it feels like much like a treasure hunt with invaluable revelations.