2016, M.S. SUBBULAKSHMI PERFORMANCE AT UN HQ IN 1966

TYPE:
COMMEMORATIVE
DATE OF ISSUE:
2 OCTOBER 2016
ISSUED BY:
US POSTAL ADMINISTRATION
TOTAL STAMPS PRINTED:
75 000
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"THIS PERFORMANCE WILL LIVE
IN MY MEMORY FOREVER"

- HAROLD SCHORNBERG,
NEW YORK TIMES, OCT 25 1966

मैत्रीं भजत अखिलहृज्जेत्रीम्
आत्मवदेव परानपि पश्यत ।
युद्धं त्यजत स्पर्धां त्यजत
त्यजत परेषु अक्रममाक्रमणम् ॥
जननी पृथिवी कामदुघाऽऽस्ते
जनको देवः सकलदयालुः ।
दाम्यत दत्त दयध्वं जनताः
श्रेयो भूयात् सकलजनानाम् ॥

Maitreem Bhajata Akhila Hrijjetreem
Atmava Deva Paranavi Pashyatha
Yuddham Tyajata, Spardham Tyajata
Tyajata Pareshwa Krama-Aakramanam
Jananee Prithvee Kama Dudhasthe
Janako Deva, Sakala Dayalo
Damyata Datta, Dayadhwam Janataa
Shreyo Bhooyat Sakala Jananaam

Let us link our hearts for the cause of global harmony.
Let us abandon differences, hatred and divisiveness.
Let us respect the earth as our Mother
Let all of humanity come together for peace.

India's most celebrated Carnatic singer M.S. Subbulakshmi was invited to perform at the UN General Assembly in New York on October 24th 1966 by Secretary-General U. Thant. At the time of the performance, she was already iconic in India, but largely unknown outside of the country.

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At the reception held after the recital are: M.S. Subbulakshmi (second from right, front row); Secretary-General U Thant (centre); G. Parthasarathi
(India), Ambassador and Permanent Representative to the UN (second from right, second row); and C.V. Narasimhan, Under-Secretary
for General Assembly Affairs and Chef de cabinet (right, second row). Copyright: UN Photo Library.

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C.V. Narashiman is shown introducing the musicians, who are seen sitting behind him, 1966. Photo: UN Photo

Subbulakshmi and her husband, Kalki Sadasivam, were accompanied by five other musicians. Wearing a blue sari and adorned with garlands of flowers, she took to the stage to roaring applause.

She was introduced by Under Secretary-General C.V. Narasimhan MBE, the UN's highest-ranking Indian official, and himself a scholar and connoisseur of Indian classical music as the "First Lady of Carnatic Music".

The audience was enthralled by the journey through the South Indian musical
tradition she took them on, and the concert was met with rapturous reviews,
cementing M.S. Subbulakshmi's international fame.

The hymn 'Maitreem Bhjata" was composed especially for the occasion, with lyrics provided by her spiritual mentor Acharya Sri Chandrashekharendra Saraswati. The hymn ends in a rousing call for universal friendship and world peace in Sanskrit: "Srey o bhooyat sakala jananam (Let grace and happiness abound for all mankind)".

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The memory of the performance is commemorated by a series of stamps issued by the UN Postal Administration on the 50th anniversary of the performance. Carnatic vocalist Sudha Ragunathan, herself one of the most celebrated living artists in the tradition, unveiled the stamps of M.S. Subbulakshmi's performance at the UN New York Headquarters, on the occasion of the International Day of Non-violence, October 2nd 2016.