Community loses a stalwart to eternity

Several religious and social organisations are mourning the death of Appayya Swaminathan (popularly known as Sam), a Chartered Accountant by profession, on Thursday, June 13, 2013 at his residence in Auckland.

He was 65 years old and was not in good health for some time. He left behind his wife Shanthi, mother-in-law Vasantha Srinivasan (both in Auckland), daughter Smriti (London) and son Srinivas (Sydney). More than 500 people attended his funeral service held on Sunday, June 16, followed by a private cremation at Davis Funerals in Henderson.

Mr Swaminathan worked in a number of multinational companies in India, Africa, UK and New Zealand. He migrated to this country in 1995 and last worked at John Duncan & Wells based in Ellerslie in Auckland.

The firm’s Director said that Mr Swaminathan was a brilliant accountant, who was known for his thorough knowledge of accounting practices and relevant laws.

“A was one of the most important members of our team. He was a great friend, wonderful colleague and a fantastic human being,” he said.

Former Shri Shridi Sai Baba Sansthan of New Zealand Inc Bhaskar Duvvuru writes:

The demise of Mr Swaminathan has left a void that would be hard to fill.

Even during his illness, he remained devoted to his music and community causes.

At a time when the migrant population from South India and Sri Lanka yearned to reinforce their cultural identities in their new abode, Mr Swaminathan identified the need to nurture the cultural roots, especially in the field of Carnatic Music, one of the ancient musical forms.

He was the driving force and Founder-Secretary of the New Zealand Carnatic Music Society, which was established in 1999 with Dr Somaskandan as the President.

His intense devotion to Shirdi Saibaba encouraged him to lead a team of like-minded people to form the Shri Shirdi Saibaba Sansthan of New Zealand Inc in 2002. The Sansthan is currently constructing a Temple for Shirdi Saibaba Temple with a number of facilities and amenities for the community.

New Zealand Carnatic Music Society (NZCMS) President Malathi Vasudevan writes:

Mr Swaminathan was one of the founder members of NZCMS and till his last breath remained a backbone for the Society. Realising the need to foster Carnatic Music, which was then practiced by about five families, he helped in the establishment of the Association, which was incorporated as a Society in August 1999.

Beginning with a Concert by Sudha Raghunathan, NZCMS has an impressive record of organising performances of several vocalists and instrumentalists to enthral Carnatic music aficionados. Mr Swaminathan was an active part of that process.

He lived the dictum that ‘art for art’s sake.’

Mortal frame

While he was in his mortal frame, he never aspired for any post in the Society that he created but remained an active committee member, lending unconditional support.

His contribution to the music world did not stop with organising events. He was an ardent believer of fostering the youth in the pursuit of arts and was in the sub-committee setup by NZCMS to run examinations for them.

His quick wit and amiable personality charmed the youth and never failed to encourage even the slightest spark he found in a child’s progress in Carnatic music.

A proficient violinist, he never flinched at a suggestion to accompany a budding artiste, however young they were. His encouraging appreciation of the performer while on stage was a delight to watch and showed his belief in the propagation of this art form.

Ardent devotee

His devotion to the Carnatic Musical Trinity (Saint Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshithar and Syama Sastry) was boundless. At the annual Thyagaraja Aradhanas organised by NZCMS, he would explain the poetic beauty and esoteric meanings in the bard’s compositions, coupled with anecdotes, which were educational and enlightening to both young and old.

Many of the musicians reminisce with delight the practice sessions that Mr Swaminathan organised for Pancharatna Krithis, which are traditionally sung at Saint Thyagaraja’s Aradhana.

His love and devotion to the musical trinity was not confined to yesteryear compositions alone. When he learnt that the descendants of Syama Sastry were living in poverty, he felt the need to assist them by joining a global donation drive which raised the highest amount.

His absence and guiding hand will be missed by all.

On behalf of the Society, we offer our heartfelt condolences to his bereaved family.

Sangeetha Bharathi School of Carnatic Music Principal Padma Govardhan writes:

All of us, including Govardhan Mallela, Vishnu Priya Mallela and Balu Mallela, were deeply shocked at the sad demise Mr Swaminathan, our beloved guide and great supporter of Carnatic music and other forms of Indian culture. His support to the youngsters and timely guidance on various matters can never be forgotten.

We express our deep condolences to his family. May the departed soul rest in peace.

Read related story, ‘Concert in homage to Carnatic Musician’ under Entertainmentlink

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