Carnatic music is reeling under the shock of the demise of two great Khanjira vidwans, V Nagarajan and G Harishankar. While the former passed away on February 4, 2002 at the age of 72, the latter's demise last night, at the young age of 44 is indeed very shocking. Khanjira is an instrument that not many have taken to, and the unexpected demise of two of its greatest exponents within the span of a week is certainly a great loss not only to this instrument but Carnatic music as well. 

V Nagarajan was the son of the legendary violinist, Papa Venkataramiah. A highly loved and respected musician, Nagarajan had his own unique place in the field as an artiste par excellence. Trained under none less than the percussion gaint, Tanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer, Nagarajan was a top class artiste and accompanied 3 generations of musicians over a period of 5 decades. 

G Harishankar, one of the brightest percussionists ever, was considered a genius even during his lifetime. He commanded the respect and admiration of fellow-musicians as well as rasikas. A disciple of the mridangam legend, Ramanathapuram C S Murugabhoopathy, he was in fact was one of the few upapakkavadya artistes who had his own fan following. There was no limit to what the Khanjira could do under his hands. His love for challenge and sharp mind were evident in the way he could immediately grasp even the most complex rhythmic patterns and reproduce them upside down in a flash, holding everyone in awe.

Both vidwans were employed by the All India Radio and served the Chennai station for several years. They were also top-grade artistes with several awards and honours to their credit.

Carnatica, along with the rest of the Carnatic community, deeply mourns the death of these mighty pillars of Art and prays that their souls rest in peace.

Posted on February 13, 2002


Tributes to other musicians


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