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Individual Issues

T.N. Rajaratnam Pillai
Issue : 171
Published on : December, 1998


Special Birth Centenary Feature - T.N. Rajaratnam Pillai; Special Feature - Kalanidhi Narayanan

Main Feature

Special Birth Centenary Feature - T.N. Rajaratnam Pillai

He was an epoch-maker who gave a new, enthralling dimension to nagaswara music and, through this music, to Carnatic music itself. None has excelled him— and this is a testimony to his musical achievements and stature. He was, in modern parlance, a superstar; and his life was a saga in itself.  Rajarathnam was born on 27 August 1898 in the village of Tirumarugal in Tanjavur district, Tamil Nadu. His father was Kuppuswami Pillai, a nagaswara player and his mother, Govindammal. The name given to him by his parents was Balasubramaniam. Kuppuswami Pillai passed away only months after this child provide nagaswara music to the was born and his widow and gods in two temples, he moved her daughter and son were then to that village, taking little taken under his protection by Balasubramaniam, his sister Dayalu Tirumarugal Natesa Pillai, the boy's and his mother Govindammal maternal uncle. with him. Natesa Pillai (1874-1903) was an accomplished nagaswara artist. His grandfather had been a nagaswara player but his career in music was not successful enough for him to feed his family.

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Special Feature

Profile - Kalanidhi Narayanan

This was the context in which Kalanidhi's parents, Sumitra and S.V. Ganapathy, decided that their child of seven years should learn Bharatanatyam. In making this decision, they had the personal encouragement of E. Krishna Iyer, even as Rukmini Devi had it when she, after witnessing a Bharatanatyam performance at the Music Academy by two disciples of Pandanallur Meenakshisundaram Pillai, asked Krishna Iyer whether she was not too old (at 32 years of age) to learn and perform the dance.

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Special Feature

Rasa, Bhava And Sanchari: Textual Prescription & Changing Practices

Two factors pushed the original Natya Sastra text into the background. We have already referred to the growth of local languages and how regional authors produced their own texts. Secondly, over the centuries, Bharata's composite art of dance-theatre spawned specialisation into three distinct branches, namely, music, rhythm (nritta) and abhinaya. Of these, abhinaya as such became the central theme in several texts, starting with Abhinaya Darpana, while rhythm or nritta received special attention in texts like Nritta Ratnavali of Jayappa. Musical texts, which gave some space for dance, gave it up altogether with Ramamatya's Swaramela Kalanidhi, if not earlier. A little earlier, the classic Sangeeta Ratnakara gave it just a single chapter and Autnapatham only two short chapters. With Venkatamakhi's Chaturdandi Prakasika, music became totally independent of dance.

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