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M.S. Subbulakshmi Biography

Bharat Ratna M.S. Subbulakshmi or M.S. as she was popularly known was born in the temple town of Madurai on September 16, 1916 and grew up in an atmosphere surrounded by music. Though her family led a frugal existence, her mother wanted M.S.Subbulakshmi to start formal training in vocal music, but unfortunately, her guru Madurai Srinivasa Iyengar passed away soon after she started training under him. Her musical genius was on display when she cut her first disc at the age of 10.

She used to sing in weddings. In 1932, her mother decided to go Madras(presently Chennai), where M.S. made a debut as a serious musician. She began acting in movies and her most memorable role was that of Bhaktha Meera in Meera (1945). M.S. married Sadasivam in 1940. She gave performances all over the world in places like London, New York, Canada, the Far East, and many others.

Mahatma Gandhi was so fond of her Meera bhajans that once he requested her to sing the song “Hari Tum haro Jan ki bheer.” It so happened that M.S. declined to do so as she was suffering from cold that day, upon which Mahatma Gandhi remarked “I would gladly hear Subbulakshmi speak it than hear it sung by others”. Her singing also bewitched Jawaharlal Nehru, among others. She sang hundreds of bhajans including Bhaja Govindam, Vishnu sahasranama and Venkateswara Suprabhatam

Awards came aplenty. She was awarded the Padma Bhushan in 1954, Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1968, Ramon Magsaysay award in 1974, the Padma Vibhushan in 1975, the Kalidasa Sanman in 1988, the Indira Gandhi Award for National Integration in 1990, and the Bharat Ratna in 1998. After the death of her husband, she stopped her public performances and passed away on December 11, 2004