Sivananda Vijayalakshmi, a versatile musician, passed away at her residence here on Tuesday. She was 74. Known the world over for her renderings of Lalitha Sahasranamam, Lalitha Stotram, Lalitha Pancharatnam, Abirami Andhadhi and several other devotional hymns, Sivananda Vijayalakshmi was also famous for her linguistic proficiency.


Sivananda Vijayalakshmi's talent was spotted by Swami Sivananda, founder of Divine Life Society, in Madurai at the age of 13. She was in the entourage that accompanied Swami Sivananda from the railway junction to Dhanappa Mudali Street, singing bhajans. Impressed by her voice, he asked her to visit Rishikesh, which she did along with her father. It was Swami Sivananda who initiated her into the reading of scriptures and music. Presenting her a set of Valmiki Ramayana, she blessed Vijayalakshmi saying that she would conduct discourses on the scripture in about six months, recalls S. Natanagopal, her son. She visited Badrinath and Kedarnath at the age of 15.


It was Swami Sivananda who authorised Vijayalakshmi to use the prefix, ‘Sivananda,' to her name, calling her ‘Sivananda Pratidwani.'


The privilege was vested on two other persons during the lifetime of Swami Sivananda. Besides singing devotional songs, Sivananda Vijayalakshmi was also involved in giving lectures on Indian culture, ethics and philosophy all over the country and abroad. She used to give discourses on the Ramayana by comparing 15 versions of the epic. She was responsible for popularising the hymns of Sourashtra saint Natanagopala Nayaki.


Though she is not from Sourashtra, Sivananda Vijayalakshmi donated her bangles to begin the renovation of Natanagopala Nayaki Mandir, says Mr. Natanagopal.


The Samvitkalaa Trust, started by her, involves itself in several works of charity with one per cent of the gross income of all family members deposited annually.


The family plans to digitise her songs, discourses and books.

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The uniqueness of her work is the rendition of 100 slokas of Lalitha Sahasranamam in 100 different ragas.