3 is a very special number. The divine Gods Sivan, Vishnu and Brahma were a triad, the composers who carved the path for Carnatic Music, Sri Thyagaraja, Dikshitar and Sri Shyama Sastrigal were a trinity. As many would have noticed in the Carnatic Music world, the acronyms of the evergreen legends such as DKP, DKJ, MLV, GNB, MSS, TKG also existed in threes. The list of special 3s in the world goes on. In all these special lists of triads, the list that we are fortunate to have is the 3 queens of music, DKP, MLV and MSS.

The trio achieved great heights of success with their talents at a time when women were denied of many of the rights that we enjoy now. One could not be happier that coming from conservative and traditional background did not stop DKP from performing on stage and showering us with divine music.

DKP was very closely associated with my family as she was very close to my father, Sri Papanasam Sivan, who was known as the Tamil Thyagayyar. The fact that DKP and her brother DKJ had the privilege of learning several compositions directly from my father is deserving of special mention. There is no one comparable to DKP to sing songs such as Sivakama sundari and Thaye Ezhaipaal with bhavam that would melt the hearts of all listeners. Her rendition of the songs would be etched in the listeners’ memories forever.

The DKP baani, one that is chaste and rich in bhavam, is not only succeeded by her family members but also by students who had the grand opportunity to learn from her. Listeners of all ages were awe-struck by DKP’s music. In the early 1950s, when I was just 10 years old, I remember DKP learning from my father and me listening to her in wonderment. She was as close to my father and I as my sister Neela Ramamurthi was; DKP was regarded as part of our family.

Apart from my father’s songs, DKP has also sung some of my sister’s songs. I recall going to DKP’s residence to sing the song ‘Maasil Ayodhiyin’ together with my sister. I will never forget the snacks, blessings and warmth that she showered us with. Needless to say, I wish DKP Amma was alive now to sing my songs too. However, I am grateful that her children and grandchildren have graciously sung my songs thus satiating my yearning.

When my father, Padmabushan Papanasam Sivan, passed away in 1973, DKP came to our residence to convey her condolences personally. We were very moved by her gesture.

In 1982, we started an organisation with the aim of popularising my father’s songs through music competitions, concerts, etc. Amma was elated upon hearing about our initiative. She blessed us with her wishes and gave us several suggestions. She also became our first president and was in the fore front of many of the events that took place, not to mention she also gave all the listeners a musical treat by singing in several concerts herself.

She stepped down after 5 years due to her deteriorating health. However, we still continued to award the ‘Sivanisai Selvar/Selvi’ title at her residence itself. We are so grateful to the support and warmth that she extended to my family till her last breath. It is with great pride and joy that I announce here that her granddaughter, Ms Nithyasree Mahadevan, is being awarded the ‘Sivanisai Selvi’ title this year.

Dr.Rukmini Ramani