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The Doyenne of ‘Music of the Charkha’


Vasuki Auditorium at Lok Kala Manch came alive as music enthusiasts gathered for a mesmerising journey through Hindustani classical music. Rama Sundar Ranganathan presented the much-anticipated concert, “Music of the Charkha”—Gandhi’s Ram. Her unique blend of tradition, spirituality, and musical brilliance captivated the audience.

Rama Sundar Ranganathan, a luminary in Hindustani music, hails from the prestigious Indore Gharana and is recognised as an All-India Radio A-grade artist. She is a researcher in Classical music. For the past six years, apart from her thesis, she has been doing independent research on Gandhian ideologies as reflected in her music, which has now come to be known as Music of the Charkha.

This project delves into the symbolism of Charkha, its correlation to music, and what it represents in the Indian socio-economic-cultural context. The study has been distilled into six songs representing the core values that the spokes of the charkha/wheel stand for truth, nonviolence, Non-possession, Equality, Self-reliance, and non-discrimination. The Charkha represents self-reliance, economy,and spirituality. “I feel that people learn a lot about these values, and the visuals of a live Charkha add immensely to the learning,” said Rama.

The Charkha rendition

The concert, conceived as a musical interpretation of Lord Ram’s teachings through the lens of Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy, offered a profound exploration of India’s cultural and spiritual heritage: Rama, a devoted disciple of Pt. Tejpal Singh and the late Shanti Sharma interwove her profound understanding of Bhakti saints’ teachings into her musical renditions. Her dedication to preserving and promoting India’s rich musical legacy was evident as she took the audience on a transcendent journey through centuries-old compositions.

The concert marked yet another milestone in Rama’s illustrious career, which has seen her grace prestigious festivals hosted by renowned organisations such as HCL, Are You Lit, Spic Macay, Swaranjali, Seher, IGNCA and many more.  Her dedication to her craft and unwavering commitment to exploring thematic elements inspired by Mahatma Gandhi’s life and philosophy have solidified her reputation as one of India’s foremost vocalists.

Rama also performs Khayal Gayaki in the traditional format of Vilambit and Dhrut. Rama is well into her doctoral research programme on women saints of India under the guidance of Dr L Subramaniam.

Recently, as part of Zaika Zuban Ka at the renowned Are You Lit annual event, Rama was soaked in love and appreciation by the discerning audience of Gurugram. When asked about her inclination towards learning music, she responded that music came to her naturally as a childhood passion, as she was born into a traditional South Indian family where music and culture are foundation pillars.

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