The Blog


Photo Courtesy of Abhinav Seetharaman

Photo Courtesy of Abhinav Seetharaman

Meet Abhinav (Abhi) Seetharaman. Abhi is a sophomore from Ashburn, Virginia in Columbia College interested in Economics and Political Science and is on the pre-med track. On top of being a Columbia student, Abhi is the founder of MusiLinks, a 501c(3) non profit that uses music to raise funds for grassroots organizations as well as a professional South Indian classical drummer.

Intrigued about his eclectic interests, I decided to interview Abhi to learn a little bit more about his interests and off-campus performances.

What is mridangam (origins, what it sounds like, importance, etc.)?

‘Mridangam’ is an ancient South-Indian classical drum. Existing for several millennia, its origins go back to Indian mythology, where Nandi (the Bull God & escort of Lord Shiva) was a master percussionist and used to play the mridangam during the performance of Shiva’s powerful “Tāndavā” dance.

The mridangam has a unique metallic timbre – being a double-barreled drum, one side produces treble sounds, while the other side produces bass sounds. The combination of these two membranes allows for the production of distinct harmonics.

How long have you been playing it for? What led you to start playing the instrument?

I’ve been playing the mridangam for about 11 years. When I was around 5 or 6 years of age, my parents used to notice me playing beats on almost every hard surface I could get my hands on! Seeing this, they decided to initiate me into this art form.

Do you feel like there is/are any tension(s) between Western musical traditions and South Indian musical traditions?

Not at all – in fact, for the past few decades or so, South-Indian classical music has converged with Western music (pop, classical, rock, etc.) to create a fusion music concept. This dynamic concept has primarily strived to promote awareness of these music forms to both initiated and uninitiated audiences. Nowadays, many Western musicians have adopted certain South-Indian musical elements to add that new twist or dimension to their music, and vice versa.

It’s always a synergy between various world music genres.The bottom line is to make the music strike a chord with everyone, and really touch peoples’ souls.

How do you manage performing mridangam and your academic workload?

It’s simply my passion for the art form that constantly drives me to pursue it, along with academics.

Where can someone go if they want to hear you play and/or learn more about the mridangam?

My website!

The Lion Profiles project seeks to interview various students, staff, and faculty here at Columbia to offer a look into the diverse minds that makeup our academic community.

Have a recommendation for who we should interview next? Email your suggestions to with “Lion Profiles” in the subject line.

Looking over your schedule, but confused as to where your class is? To make the process of finding your classes easier, check out the guide below for decoding Columbia’s building abbreviations.

Refer to this map provided by the University for directions to each academic building.

Continue Reading..

Since its your first day experiencing a Columbia dining hall, namely the lack of space in Ferris, The Lion has compiled a guide to the dining halls. Take a peak into the many dining options that Columbia has to offer. 

Continue Reading..

It’s time for the start of another semester of classes here at Columbia. As classes begin, we at The Lion have decided to share some of our best sources for getting cheaper textbooks.

Continue Reading..

As the Class of 2019 reaches the half-way point of this year’s NSOP, throngs of upperclassmen and women have been rushing to fill these eager young students with pessimistic ideas of NSOP. With the number of articles being written about how “you won’t make any real friends from NSOP” to “we’re proud to tell you that you can just skip every ‘mandatory’ event,” it seems as if these people refuse to think about the purpose of the entire program.

Yes, there are parts of NSOP week that may seem boring or useless, but there is a reasoning behind every single event. As Kevin Chiu (SEAS ’17) describes the program, “New students come into this University experience expecting something big, grand, and altogether validating of the new chapter of their lives that they’re entering – and that’s what NSOP is meant to channel – it’s a welcome, but also intended as a catalyst for community and identity building and a social network jump starter.” Over the course of the program, new students are given an opportunity to adapt to this new environment, introduce themselves with hundreds of new students, and understand the people who compose their new community.

Now, for a program that has to cater to over 1,800 new students, there will be times when it feels as if you do not know what you are supposed to be doing or what event you have to be at. And that’s perfectly ok. NSOP is meant to be an event that allows new students to interact, get to know each other, and begin exploring what it means to be a Columbian. As Charles Sanky (CC ’16) notes, “The purpose of NSOP is to fully welcome new students to a place that we call home, which we hope they can learn to call home too. NSOP seeks to ensure that new students have all the resources and tools they need to be successful over the course of their time here.” A committee of students and staff have been hard at work planning this week to offer a glimpse into the vast resources available to all students on this campus.

So take advantage of all of this. NSOP offers you an entire week of being at Columbia while not having to deal with any classes or homework. Take advantage of the morning walks and runs in Riverside, trips to Harlem or SoHo, and late night walks across the Brooklyn Bridge. This is an amazing time to see new places and be able to interact with hundreds of new students all gaining their bearings in New York City who are all excited to be here.

So, yes, you might not meet your new best friend during NSOP week. And your OL group might not become your new clique, but will you ever know if you could be the exception if you do not at least try? You only have one NSOP and you shouldn’t let any person try and ruin it for you.