Category Archives: Music

G N Balasubramaniam

Peace and Prosperity with Ragas – Part V

[This series of six posts are excerpts from my Guru, violin maestro (late) Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan's interview with 'The Hindu'. The therapeutic effect of music has been elucidated. Also in each article is a picture of one famous musician from the Golden era of Carnatic music.]

G N Balasubramaniam
G N Balasubramaniam


My father was the guiding force in my research studies. When he was ill he had more faith in the curative power of  music than the medicines administered to him. I was once preparing to show the remedial power of Ananda Bhairavi. Kannadasan had challenged in public to test his blood pressure after hearing Ananda Bhairavi from my violin.

He had promised to preside over a function but became ill with hypertension. Cajoled by the organisers he reluctantly came  and to my utter surprise requested me to render any raga, which could soothe him. I played Ananda Bhairavi elaborately.

At the close of the concert, Kannadasan came up to the dais and announced that he was feeling much better. Ananda Bhairavi has such soothing effect. Saint Tyagaraja in ‘O, Jagadambha’ prays for the deity’s blessing.

Muthuswamy Dikshitar underlines the importance of concentration and focus in `Manasa guru guha kripam bajare; Maya mama hrith thapam thyajare’ indicating Ananda Bhairavi’s close link to matters of the heart.

Tamil Odhuvar Moorthigal generally use Ananda Bhairavi in rendering Thevaram, Thiruvachakam and Dhivya Prabantham in temples.


The suppression of the senses releases a negative force. The process of sublimation needs a spiritual path. Rag Desh can provide that. Its positive energy gives one serenity, peace, inner joy, right valour, universal love and patriotism.

The mellifluous ‘Vande Matharam’ has been aptly composed in Desh. ‘Vaishnava Janatho,’ Mahatma Gandhi’s favourite, is set in Desh, which is a favourite in both Carnatic and Hindustani streams of music.

‘Shanthi nilava vendum,’ ‘Inda ulagil irukkum mandaril ezhil udayon engal tamizhan’ (M.M. Mariyappa for the film “Kanjan”), ‘Leelaigal purivane’ in the film “Meera,” ‘Thunbam nergayil’ in “Or Iravu,” ‘Maadu meykum kanna’ sung by Madurai Somu, ‘Muthamizhil Pada Vanden’ — that I composed for “Mel Nattu Marumagal” are well known examples in Desh.

« Part 4

Thyagaraja Aradhana ’09 @ NIT Trichy

The Thyagaraja Aradhana is celebrated every year at saint – composer Thyagaraja’s samadhi at Thiruvaiyaru. Hundreds of Carnatic musicians pay their homage to the saint composer by rendering his `pancharathna kritis’ (five jewels of his renderings) in chorus on the banks of the Cauvery at Thiruvaiyaru.

In NITT, the Thyagaraja Aradhana is organized by Amruthavarshini, the Carnatic Music Club of NITT. Various professional musicians from Trichy and SriRangam participate in the Aradhana, along with students and faculty of the college. The Pancharatna kritis are sung in the same style as is done at Tiruvaiyaru, followed by rendering of Thyagaraja kritis by the artistes and students.

This year’s Aradhana was conducted on March 1st, in A23 hall. On the previous day, Ganamrutham, the music competition for school students, was conducted by the club. The prize winners were given a chance to perform on the day of the Aradhana. The children sang really well. They were accompanied on percussion and violin by the club members.

The artistes arrived by van at around 5: 30. After a brief introduction by Satish, the President of the club, the rendering of the kritis started.

The first song was Sri Ganapathini in Sourashtram. This song was followed by Gurulekha Etuvanti song. Then the five pancharatna kritis – Jagadanandakaaraka, Dudukugala, Saadinchane, Kanakanaruchira and Entharo mahanu bhavulu were rendered, under the guidance of Shri T.K.V.Ramanujacharyulu.

After the rendering of the pancharatna kritis, the winners of the Ganamrutham competitions received their prizes from the artistes. The programme concluded with a ‘banana leaf’ dinner.

It was a memorable evening, with loads of music to the ears and peace to the heart.

D K Pattammal

Peace and Prosperity with Ragas – Part IV

[This series of six posts are excerpts from my Guru, violin maestro (late) Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan's interview with 'The Hindu'. The therapeutic effect of music has been elucidated. Also in each article is a picture of one famous musician from the Golden era of Carnatic music.]

D K Pattammal
D K Pattammal


Once upon a time it was considered a sacrilege to use Carnatic music ragas to compose film songs. This in spite of the fact that artistes were chosen only based on their training in classical music. Stories were narrated mainly through dance and music. Thus Carnatic singers made an entry into cinema and became quite popular. Carnatic ragas were adapted with telling effect. One of them was Aaberi. Almost all the songs set in Aaberi were super hits. `Nagumomu’ of saint Tyagaraja is still a popular choice of Carnatic lovers. Mysore Vasudevachar has presented `Bajare manasa’ in the same raga. Both ragam and the lyrics are bound to give a healing touch to the perturbed mind. ‘Singaravelane Deva’ (“Konjum Salangai”), ‘Vaarayo Vennilave’ (“Missiyamma”), ‘Amaidhi Illada Maname’ (“Pathala Bhairavi”), ‘Malarndum Malarada’ (“Pasamalar”), ‘Kannodu Kanbadellam’ in “Jeans” and ‘Gomatha Engal Kulamatha’ (“Saraswathi Sabatham”) are some of the enchanting songs set in Aaberi. I have a special love for Aaberi because ‘Thiruparang-kundrathil nee sirithal’ was a curtain raiser to my cinema entry!


The raga rejuvenates the mind helping one to age gracefully. It enlivens the singer and the hearer. The success of the song, `Manmatha leelayai’ sung by MKT confirms Charukesi’s poetic and phonetic vitality. `Adamodi kalathe’ by Tyagabrahmam. `Kripaya palaya’ by Swathi Thirunal are noted for their aesthetic values. `Aadal Kaaneero’ in “Madurai Veeran,” `Vasanthamullai pole,’ `Adal Kalaye Devan Thandadu’ in the film Sri Ragavendra, `Unakkum Enakkum Isaindha Porutham’ (of Ramalinga Adigal) are some of the hit songs in Charukesi.

« Part 3

Sri Madurai Mani Iyer

Peace and Prosperity with Ragas – Part III

[This series of six posts are excerpts from my Guru, violin maestro (late) Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan's interview with 'The Hindu'. The therapeutic effect of music has been elucidated. Also in each article is a picture of one famous musician from the Golden era of Carnatic music.]

Sri Madurai Mani Iyer
Sri Madurai Mani Iyer


Kalyani dispels the darkness of fear. It gives motherly comfort and increases confidence. Kalyani means Mangalam. Recited with faith and devotion, the raga is believed to clinch marriage alliances. There are many authentic reports about the raga’s power to destroy fear which takes many forms, fear of poverty, of love, of power, of ill health, of death and so on. The great Tamil poet, Muthuthandavar sang “Chidambaram Ena En Manam Maghzinthida Japam Cheyya, Kodiya Janana Maranam Ozhinthidum” in Kalyani. Tyagaraja, unmoved by the request of the King of Thanjavur to compose a song in his praise, instead sang ‘Nidhi chala sukama, Ramuni sannidhi seva sugama’ in Kalyani. The raga bhava suits its emotional keerthana bhava. Shyama Sastri in ‘Himadrisude Pahimam’ appeals to Devi for a continuous flow of energy. Muthuswami Dikshithar has given a treasure in the Kamalambal navavarnam which acts as a shield, protecting one from the ill effects of planetary movement. In those days, Kalyani was very popular in the film industry. Pakshi Raja Films produced a film, “Kannika”, for which Papanasam Sivan wrote ‘Sundareswarane’, a super hit. I tuned a devotional song, ‘Kaatchi Thanthu Ennai Aatchi Seyvai Amma’, in the raga. ‘Chindanai Sey Maname’ and ‘Mannavan Vandanadi’ are some of the famous songs in Kalyani.


Karaharapriya is an excellent remedy for worry, distress and neurotic disorders. Tyagayya dissolves himself in the raga as he sings “Chakkaniraja.” ‘When the royal road is available with all the comfort, why do you opt for dreaded lanes and bylanes’ asks the saint.

Another Karaharapriya song ‘Mithri Bagyame’ counts the blessings of Sita and Lakshmana for being lucky enough to be nearer to Rama for his beck and call, and longs for the same proximity. Muthuthandavar sang in ecstasy, “Maayaviddhai Seigiraane Ambalavanan.” Many music composers have used Karaharapriya in their films to convey sentiments. Rajeshwara Rao used it to express the lovers’ mood in the song `Ariya Parumavada Madana.’ Earlier, ‘Bagavan Avatharippar’ composed by S. M. Subbaiah Naidu for the film “Valmiki” was also a hit. Another superhit is ‘Madhavi Ponmayilal.’ For “Agathiyar,” I composed ‘Esayay Tamizhay Iruppavane.’

« Part II

Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer

Peace and Prosperity with Ragas – Part II

[This series of six posts are excerpts from my Guru, violin maestro (late) Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan's interview with 'The Hindu'. The therapeutic effect of music has been elucidated. Also in each article is a picture of one famous musician from the Golden era of Carnatic music.]

Sri Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer


Shanmugapriya has the effect of sharpening the intellect of the singer as well that of the listener. It instills courage in one’s mind and replenishes the energy in the body. This is not surprising. Shanmugapriya being the beloved raga of Shanmuga, who was born out of the blazing wisdom-eye of Shiva. I would attribute the success and prosperity I have attained in life to the constant chanting of Shanmuga stothrams in the Murugan temple of Kunnakkudy. “Parvathi nayakane,” “Saravanabhava Ennum Thirumanthiram” of Papanasam Sivan are known for their sparkling verses. Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavathar’s “Vallinayakane” is another example. Shanmugapriya was beautifully used to make the song “Maraindirundu Paarkum” in the classic “Thillana Mohanambal” immortal.


The power of Sankarabaranam is incredible. It cures mental illness, soothes the turbulent mind and restores peace and harmony. Sankarabaranam, if rendered with total devotion for a stipulated period, can cure mental disorders said to be beyond thescope of medical treatment. Arunachala Kavirayar, Muthuthandavar, Suddhananda Bharathi, Marimutha Pillai and Mayooram Vedanayakam Pillai, have rendered many sweet compositions in the raga. Sankarabaranam has the power to shower wealth. Papanasam Sivan’s `Mahalakshmi Jaganmatha’ is a gem in this raga. Muthuswamy Dikshithar equates Sankarabaranam with `Akshayapathram,’ which supplies endless bounty in all forms. `Akshaya Linga Vibo’ composed by him is a popular kriti.

« Part 1

Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar

Peace and Prosperity with Ragas – Part I

[This series of six posts are excerpts from my Guru, violin maestro (late) Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan's interview with 'The Hindu'. The therapeutic effect of music has been elucidated. Also in each article is a picture of one famous musician from the Golden era of Carnatic music.]

Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar


BHILAHARI is associated with love.  ‘Naajeevadara’ of Tyagaraja in this raga has always been popular. The saint, it is said, composed this in order to alleviate the acute stomach pain a man was suffering from. His prayer was answered and the man had relief. ‘Krishnaleela Tarangini’ of Narayana Tirtha has the song `Poorayamamakamam’ in Bhilahari. The saint cries out, “Hey! Gopala, bestow me with all the goodness so that I can continue to sing your praise”. This Bhilahari song ensures one vigour and good health.

In “Konjum Salangai” Ramalinga Adigalar’s bakthi verses ‘Orumayudan Unadhu’ set in Bhilahari and rendered by Sulamangalam Rajalakshmi was a popular hit. Another popular song is ‘Unnai Kandu Naan Ada Ennai Kandu Nee Aada’ from “Kalyanaparisu”. “Thalaiva  Thavapudhalva,” the song I composed for the film “Agathiyar” was set in this raga. The Hindi song “Korakagaz” (“Aradhana”) owes its melody to the charm of Bhilahari.


Rathipathipriya adds strength and vigour to a happy wedded life. This five-swara raga has the power to eliminate poverty. The very prayoga of the swaras can wipe off the vibrations of bitter feelings emitted by ill wills. ‘Jagajanani Sukavani Kalyani’ composed by M. M. Dhandapani  Desikar is a very popular song in this raga. Singing or listening to Rathipathipriya bestows on one happiness and has a stimulating effect.

Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan – the end of an era

Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan

There is a void left behind in the music world. A void which no one can fill in the future. The demise of violin maestro Dr. Kunnakudi Vaidyanathan is a great loss to the whole world. He was a man who entertained all class of audiences. He was a person who had in store something for every person among the audience. He described himself as a departmental store, which is fully true.

I am a student of the great legend. I had been learning violin under his tutelage for the past 8 years. He brought out the talent in me. He transformed me into a violinist. He passed on his knowledge and technique to every student of his.

I still feel like packing my violin and going to his violin class. The classes will be very informal,  without any teacher-student divide.  He rarely used his violin to teach us. He would sing the lines and we were expected to follow, bringing out the exact tune on the violin. This helped us in developing our accompanying skills too. When most music schools claim that to be proficient enough in music to perform concerts, it would take at least ten years, my guru trained us to perform concerts in less than two years. He himself started accompanying great artistes almost one year after he started learning violin from his father.

He was never a serious-looking and reserved person. He had a great sense of humour and his own style of keeping everyone around happy and laughing. He was a very good orator too. His alliterations and word plays were enjoyable. His “one minute stories” require special mention. He often would tell us short stories during class which used to be humorous and they carried a strong message. we used to enjoy the time we spent with him. We used to be like a family.

His confidence in his students was much more than our own and that brought out the best in us. He never used to tell us what songs we must play for the concerts. So we have never been able to practice. Every decision would be on stage. He was always confident that we would perform well at all times. That confidence of his, together with his blessings, helped us perform well during concerts.

He had a very good memory. He used to remember dates as if he were a history encyclopedia. He also remembered almost everyone whom he met in his life. He was a very humble person, never had any pride. He respected everyone and was very devoted to music and God.

I have still not come to terms with his loss. Every human is mortal. But his music is immortal. His violin would continue to play brilliant music and speak directly to our hearts. There can never be a violinist like him. He would continue to remain in all our hearts in the form of music. He would bless us all. May his soul rest in peace.