Gayathri Venkataraghavan

GURUS

They say that the Guru is the bridge between the paramatma and the jeevatma. This is true in the case of our great arts too. It is the guru who guides us and lights the lamp of knowledge within us. Our great tradition is such that the relationship with the guru is the vital link which enables the jeevatma (us) to be linked with the paramatma (our music).

I come from a family of music lovers. Although no one in the family learnt music, they were all passionate about our classical music. My father Ramani and mother Indira where the force behind my learning this wonderful art form. Gentle pressure from them turned into a deep passion because of my gurus.

Smt. Rajalakshmi nurtured the love for music with small songs and kritis. She affectionately comes and graces many of my concerts even now. Smt. Rukmini Ramani taught me various Papanasam Sivan kritis.

Smt. Padma Veeraraghavan mami came into my life and changed it for ever. I have been very fortunate to have been her student. I came to her at a very young age and have been amazed at her dynamism and astounding spirit.

Music is but a single facet in her life. She is a multi-faceted genius, an artist, painter, writer, composer and vainika all rolled into one. Soaked in the rich tradition of Ariyakudi Sri. Ramanujam Iyengar’s and Palghat Sri.K.V.Narayanaswamy’s music, mami has instilled in all her students the importance of’ Bhava and Sadhana. I have always been awestruck at her capacity to manage so many different things simultaneously. As a teacher, mami always gave more than what any student could ask. Willing to let her students experiment, she is ever encouraging, and her students are fortunate to have her continuous blessings and affection. The mammoth task of writing songs on a single deity (Lord Oppilaiappan) in 72 melakartha ragas is her landmark contribution to music.

It was in Padma Veeraraghavan mami ’s class that I was introduced to KVN mama’s music and thought that he was a GOD. Padma mami would take me to KVN mama’s house for Sai Bhajans and we would get the rare privilege of hearing mama sing ChitaChora Yashodake Bhal Navaneeta Chora Gopala. Mama would use the cymbals himself and play different nadais as he would go on and on with the neraval style of singing; repeating the chosen line while most of us would be moved to tears.

His concerts were a pilgrimage. Each of mama’s concerts are etched in my memory. From his arrival on stage, to the way he set the tambura sruthi, to the first note (Gandaram) that he sang, the entire concert till the mangalam and the way he shied away from compliments after the concerts are all important pages in the mind. From the Bhairavi varnam to Somasayaka to Hecharika to Krishna nee begane or the inimitable Varugalamo in Maanji are some of the most precious things the world has seen. I have included a page from Sri. N. Manoj Siva’s blog. He had the privilege of playing for KVN mama for many years. I thank him for letting me share his thoughts on Sri. KVN mama’s music.

The Semmangudi Srinivasier Scholarship gave me the opportunity to learn from Sri. V. Subramaniam sir for a few years and it was another memorable journey.

Coming under the tutelage of Acharya Choodamani Sri. A. Sundaresan mama was a turning point in my musical journey. Sri. A. Sundaresan was born on September 9th 1932. He took to music at the age of 5 and old timers remember his involved presence, as a ten year old, at the concerts of maestros like GNB, Alattur Brothers, Ramnad Krishnan, MDR and others. His musical tutelage was first under Sri. Kittamani Bhagavathar, Sri. Ramnad Krishnan, Alattur Brothers and Smt. D. K. Pattamal. When he started performing in his teens all the stalwarts came forward to accompany him. Giants like Sri. Palghat Mani Iyer encouraged and recommended and played for him in many centers. Sri. Lalgudi Jayaraman, Sri. M. S. Gopalakrishnan, Sri. Umayalpuram Sivaraman, Sri. Palghat Raghu and others joined to make his concerts memorable to those who were fortunate enough to have heard them.

Sri. A. Sundaresan was one of the most sought after teachers. He has worked on varied aspects of Carnatic Music. His forte is his ability to trace and revive a number of rare kritis of the Trinity and other composers. He has given a number of lec-dems in India and abroad on various topics. He is known to infuse his students with energy and enthusiasm. He readily shares and imparts to them his extensive knowledge.

His classes would go on for hours on the end. He had a single minded devotion to the composers – especially the Trinity – and he had a passion for notating rare compositions. This was followed by his keen desire to hand these down to the next generation of musicians. He would make sure that every nuance was absorbed by each and every one of his students.

It is a big blessing that Sri.P.S.Narayanaswamy mama continues to guide all of us. The wealth of his knowledge is unfathomable. He is the most light hearted soul I have ever known. I have never heard him say anything negative about anybody. He is a great human being and he lives by example for his students to emulate. He is literally a friend, philosopher and guide to all of us his students; teaching us with his spirited comments as well as a generous dose of humour.


Smt. Gayathri VenkataraghavanSmt. Gayathri Venkataraghavan is presently under the guidance of one of the most revered teachers Vidwan and Sangeetha Kala Acharya Sri P.S. Narayanaswamy. He is the torch bearer of the effervescent Semmangudi bani, which is the touchstone of a wholesome Carnatic kutcheri experience.

She had a firm grounding in lakshya and lakshana music under the tutelage of Acharya Choodamani Shri.A. Sundaresan. He was a teacher par excellence, who shone with rare musical acumen. He was known for his penchant for rare kritis and his impeccable notations. He was a torch bearer of the Alathur and Ramnad style.

Smt. Padma Veeraraghavan, one of her earlier gurus, opened her eyes to the magic of sangeetha Kalanidhi Shri K.V. Narayanaswamy’ s music. She internalised the Bhava laden approach to music and shruti sensitivity from exposure to this school. She has also learnt from Vidwan Sangeetha Kala Acharya Sri.V.Subramanyam ,Smt Lakshmi Natarajan, Smt Rajalakshmi and Smt.Rukmani Ramani.

My GURUs:

  • Sri P.S. Narayanaswamy
  • Sri.A.Sundaresan
  • Mrs.Padma Veeraraghavan
  • Sri.V.Subrahmaniam
  • Smt.Lakshmi Natarajan
  • Smt.Rukmini Ramani
  • Smt.Rajalakshmi