T Brinda, one of the greatest Carnatic vocalists of the last century passed away on 6th August 1996. Senior vocalists Prof. S R Janakiraman and vidwan B Krishnamoorthy, who had the privilege of learning from her, pay their tributes on the occasion of her 5th death anniversary.

Prof. S R Janakiraman...

Among the greatest blessings of my life is my tutelage under Sangeeta Kalanidhi Smt. T Brinda, when she was on the staff of the erstwhile Central College of Carnatic Music, Madras. But for the advent of the Central College, I would have been denied the golden opportunity of sitting at the feet of that great vidushi. I have always felt grateful to God for having enabled me to fall under the influence of her music of pristine purity and aesthetic bloom in fullness.

Smt. Brinda had many credentials as a musician - heredity, expert tuition and her own intrinsic musical maturity. Apart from being the storehouse of Dikshitar and Syama Sastri kritis, which she inherited from her own family, being the grand-daughter of Vina Dhanammal, she built up her repertoire of Tyagaraja kritis through the maestro Kanchipuram Naina Pillai. However, Brinda’s biggest trump cards were Padams and Javalis. The rendition of Kshetrayya Padams, with total sublimity drawn out in a stately, majestic, elephantine movement was the asset of the Dhanammal family in general, and Brinda in particular.

It is a fact that high-flown poetry cannot be taught but should only be caught. This is cent percent true in the case of Brinda’s music. Her music cannot be easily caught or sought. Her voice, of superfine quality, high-pitched and malleable, but with depth appealed to the classes, and Brinda always seemed to attract a larger orbit of sensitive and sensible listeners amongst her contemporaries.

Though Padams and Javalis formed her forte, her concert was uniformly well packed with a balanced sequence of other musical compositions as well. Her renditions of Vina Kuppayyar's Anandabhairavi or Yadukulakambhoji Ata tala Varnams gave a most fitting start to her concerts, assuring optimum success. The proportionate and balanced performance of raga alapana, neraval and swara kalpana, though kept at a restraint, had full aesthetic splendour and was soul stirring. 

Brinda’s rendition of compositions also need special mention. Just to name a few, Ento premato (Surati Varnam), Vinave O manasa (Vivardhini), Manasa Sri Ramachandruni (Eshamanohari), Idi samayamura (Chayanata), Ika kavalasina (Balahamsa), Kulabirudunu (Devamanohari), Kantimatim (Kalyani), Tyagaraja yoga Vaibhavam (Anandabhairavi), Sri Matrubhootam (Kannada); Padams in Atana, Begada, Varali, Sahana, Surati, Yadukulakambhoji, Kambhoji, Bhairavi, Kalyani, Punnagavarali, Ahiri and Nadanamakriya and Javalis like Smarasundaranguni (Paras), Vagaladi (Behag), Vani pondu (Kanada), Parulannamata (Kapi) etc have made an indelible impression and would ever remain green in the hearts and minds of her rasikas.

If today I have grasped something, some glimpses of ragas like Sahana, Surati, Yadukulakambhoji, Anandabhairavi etc., it is no exaggeration to say that I owe a major part of it to her. Smt. Brinda requires to be adored more than admired.

Vidwan B Krishnamoorthy...

As a student of the Central College of Carnatic Music, Madras between 1950-52, I had the great opportunity to learn music under Smt. T Brinda or 'Brindamma', as she was popularly referred to. She was one of the lecturers at that time, and each and every class of hers would be so lively and educative that I would never miss them for any reason. The things that stand out in my memory even after all these years is that her voice would be seemingly inseparable from the sruti. So much so that we could never differentiate between the two! 

The main characteristic of her music was that it would be melodious, but very much within the boundaries of tradition. Her rendition of ragas and interpretation of songs would be full of bhava or emotion, and convey the essence succinctly. Her kalpanaswaras were graceful and replete with wonderful modulations. Her kalapramana needs special mention too - she could sing even chowka-kala (slow tempo) kritis and padams with a lot of grip - by no means a mean feat. Thus, her music was not only a feast to the ears, but would touch one's very soul. Mere words cannot express the sweetness one felt while listening to her music. One can only say that sugar is sweet, but cannot make others experience the same sweetness. Yes, her music definitely was like that.

I had the privilege of learning quite a few kritis, padams and javalis from Brindamma. She was such a good teacher that she would give individual attention to every student, and identify and rectify their mistakes expertly. She would not tolerate inattentiveness or indiscipline in her class, and expected her students to be sharp and grasp the nuances quickly. And being a woman of perfection herself, her irritation at apaswaras (false note) or wrong interpretations would immediately be mirrored in her face with a frown. On the other hand, she would also show her appreciation and satisfaction with just a simple but charming smile when someone sang well. A strong and brave woman, she would never flatter anyone unnecessarily, but would fearlessly express her opinion even with leading musicians of that time.

She showed great interest in my progress and I consider myself very lucky to have her blessings. One incident that I cherish very fondly is that she came to one of my performances at Sadguru Sangeeta Samajam in Purasawalkam, and to everyone's surprise started singing along with me. Many of my students have said that she used to ask them sing the kritis that I had taught them and appreciated it when they sang well. As a teacher there can be no greater award or reward for me. I am happy for this opportunity to share some of my experiences with my respectable teacher, and thereby pay my tribute to her.


Posted on 8th August 2001


Tributes to other musicians


themehome.jpg (1315 bytes)