Carnatic Music and Threats to Hinduism

(by Rajaraman Krishnan)

I have been following the recent controversies over some of the Carnatic musicians singing Christian songs. While I have not been reading up on all the flames engulfing the issue, I have been seeing and reading some articles related to that and felt that there were many sides to the issue which are not addressed. Here are some of my thoughts.


Hounding the Artists

First thing all civilised people who desire a tolerant society should agree upon is that hounding the artists in this matter is utterly unjustified. We can debate all we want about whether this act aids the Christian conversion agenda. We can debate all we want whether Carnatic music came from a Hindu religious ethos and belongs only to that ethos or not. But as a tolerant society we should respect the right of others to have their opinions. The Carnatic musicians who sang the Christian songs may have done that just for money or may have done that with the idea that music transcends religion, or … They shouldn’t have to prove their beliefs to us. They shouldn’t be threatened with violence and concert boycotts.

I am reminded of something I believe Thoreau said. “Till my death I will disagree with what you are saying. But with my life I will defend your right to say it”. This is the essence of liberalism, of tolerance. It is very easy to be tolerant of someone we agree with. But tolerance is tested when we disagree with the opinion and in fact when it completely goes against our belief system. We need that tolerance to progress as a society, as a nation, or as a civilisation. Everyone who loves India, our Hindu ethos should argue for that tolerance and speak against the hounding of these artists.


Music and Religion

Several people a lot more knowledgeable than me like T.M. Krishna, V. Sriram etc. have written about the long history of Christian or Islamic religious songs in Carnatic music tradition. We also have a long tradition of aspects of other musical forms from other cultures / religions being integrated into the Carnatic music traditions like Persian/Arabic music, Western/European music and their instruments etc. Several Raagas like Sindhu Bhairavi and Yemen Kalyani, several of our instruments like Violin, Mandolin etc., why even words like Kutcheri, Mirdhangam and Sabaash have come from other cultures.

There is no doubt that a lot of what we see and practice as Carnatic music today comes from a Hindu religious tradition. But to reduce or restrict our Carnatic music to just that tradition is just ridiculous. Carnatic music transcends these traditions. There lies its greatness, its beauty. It can be used to express any Hindu religious, other religious, or secular thoughts that we may possess.


Religious Conversions and Threats to Hinduism

India during Mohammedan, Mughal and British rules has seen waves of religious conversions to Islam and Christianity. It is continuing even now in various ways. Many societies have completely lost their own cultural identify due to these externally originated conversions. This is indeed a tragedy for anyone interested in culture or in the preservation of the great artistic, cultural or even philosophical achievements of various peoples or in a more narrow sense our own people. When you see that most South Koreans are these days Christians, or that in weddings in Japan people more often wear gowns and suits rather than Kimonos, it makes my heart grieve. It is a tragedy we are living with and which we have to resist in whatever way we can.

While saying this we should also not whitewash the fact that Hinduism has also grown to what it is through colonisation of native cultures and traditions. I believe that Hinduism has been better and assimilating and incorporating within our Indian culture many of the native traditions. Civilising and bringing to mainstream any tribal society is always a cruel process. If we today were to mainstream some of the tribes of Andamans and impose our education, our language, our culture on them, it will not be without its cruelties. I once again leave it to historians and sociologists to study our own history in these cruelties and that of Islamic or Christian cultures in their “progress”.

That said, lets us look at the religious conversions that are taking place now. From my limited experience in this (mainly in areas on Thiruvallur district), there is indeed a lot of religious conversions going on. Conversion is mainly targeting the Dalit and tribal communities. People who are converting are mostly doing so for economic reasons. One thing that people seeing this from outside need to recognise is that the biggest damage or violence this does is to these Dalit or tribal communities. There are villages with churches and temples where there are constant tensions. There are families with half the members who are Christian and other half Hindus. There are people who have to change their culture and the way they live because of their marriage, the conversion of the family etc. There are some boycotts in small ways within these villages etc. that is constantly going on. We can idealistically bemoan the damages to the grand Hindu/Indian culture, but the suffering is much more at the local level within these communities.

Note also that the upper castes in the areas are usually not converting. The much better endowed, better funded parts of the village are not converting to Christianity in these villages. People wielding most of the power are still Hindu. So the threat of violence and boycott are typically directed at the weaker communities which are converting. Despite this, why are these communities converting? To a large extent it is because of the faults of Hinduism. Our caste system has been way more cruel than whatever threats they are facing due to these conversions. To be condemned to a perennial status of inferiority is something they are resisting and trying to throw away. Christianity at least in an idealised sense offers them a hope of equality which Hinduism doesn’t.

How many of these people who are fighting against these conversions are arguing for reforming Hinduism? How many of these people argue for aggressive affirmative action, inter-caste marriages, etc.? A person who bemoans the conversion without doing all he can to reform Hinduism is just a hypocrite. Let’s face it. Conversions are happening not just because of Gulf money or church money from US, it is happening because we are not serious about reforming Hinduism. Even today we have not lost our caste identities. Even when we talk of Hinduism, we are not referring to the identities, the cultural markers and the religious traditions of these disadvantaged societies. Without serious reform of Hinduism and a complete negation of caste system, conversions will continue and will eventually destroy all that we love about Hinduism as well.

In this context some singers singing Christian songs in a Carnatic music tradition is certainly not going to sway the balance one way or the other. Let them also sing some songs in praise of Chenchamma the popular Irula goddess. That may help Hinduism.


Motives and Culture of Intolerance

Actions in society do not happen in isolation. The current criticism of these Carnatic musicians needs to be seen in the context of the culture of intolerance that is growing in India. We hound authors like Perumal Murugan for writing about traditions that exist in some Vanniyar communities. We even kill rationalists for speaking about atheism. We kill journalists for attacking RSS and other Parivar organisations. We lynch people on rumours related to transporting cows or eating beef. We create gated communities which keep people from other religions and castes out. So the current criticism of these Carnatic musicians is not happening in isolation or be discussed and understood in isolation. While the debate on singing Christian Carnatic compositions may be a small one, the context makes these criticisms ominous.

One of the greatest aspects of Hinduism has been its tolerance. Five of the 6 vedic schools of philosophy were to varying extent atheistic. We have always believed that we may reach our spiritual destination through many paths. Why we even believe that each one of us is the Bramhan. So the current culture of intolerance in the name of Hinduism is the most un-Hindu act!


In Conclusion

This hounding of these musicians is completely unjustified. While there is a great concern about conversion and destruction to our culture, the threats to these are largely our own deficiencies. If the way in which we resist the conversion is by becoming more insular and conservative, that will indeed be a pyrrhic victory. What we have preserved and protected against the external conversion will not be Hinduism but the exact antithesis of Hinduism.

About the author: Rajaraman is a full time social worker. He used to be a software engineer but has been volunteering full time with Asha for Education, Chennai. The organisation works for the education of the underprivileged. Rajaram in particular does most of his work in rural Tamilnadu, esp. Thiruvallur Dist. Rajaraman can be contacted at Rajaraman Krishnan <>

Song List for the Thematic Concert Series


Song List for the Thematic Concert Series

From 22nd to 29th September,2018

Theme: Tamil Mooval & Gopalakrishna BharathiCompositions

Concert by Vidya Kalyanaraman,

Kalpana Venkat, J.Vaidhyanathan, Harihara Sharma.

1. Sharanagatham – Gowlai – Adhi – Gopalakrishna Bharathi 

2. Orukal Shiva Chidambaram – Arabi – Adhi – Marimutha Pillai

3. Anumaane –  Malayamarudham – Roopakam – Arunachala Kavi

4. Edho Theriyamal – Hamirkalyani – Roopakam – Gopalakrishna Bharati

5. Sevikka Vendum –  Andolika – Adhi – Muthu Thandavar

6. Enneramum – Thodi – Adhi – Marimutha Pillai

7. Sedhi Solla Vandhom – Dwijavanthi – Adhi – Gopalakrishna Bharati

8. Theruvil Varano – Kamas – Muthu Thandavar

9. Enakkun Irupadham – Ragamalika – Misra Chapu – Arunachala Kavi


Theme: Maharaja Swati Tirunal Kritis on different Deities.

Concert by Vishnudev Nambudiri,

B.U.Ganeshprasad, Trichur C.Narendran, Anirudh Athreya

1. Paripahi – Saveri – Adi – Ganesha

2. Gangeya vasanadhara – Hamir Kalyani – Adi – Padmanabha 

3. Narasimha Mamava – Arabhi – Khanda Chapu – Narasimha

4. Pahi Janani santhatham – Nattakurinji – Misra chapu – Devi of Kanyakumari

5. Sri kumara nagaraalaye – Atana – Adi – Devi of  Kumaranallur

6. Palayamaamayi – Kamas – Adi – Siva of Srikanteswaram

7. Anjaneya – Saveri – Adi – Anjaneya

8. Chaliye kunjan ho – Brundavana Saranga – Krishna

9. Jaya Jaya Raghurama – Sahana – Misra chapu – Raama

10. Visweswar – Sindhubhairavi – Roopakam – Kashi Visweswar

11. Mangalam (Bhujagasaayino) – Yadukula Kamboji – Roopakam – Padmanabha


Theme: ‘Ganapathi’ as visualized by different Composers

Concert by Archana & Aarathi,

M.R.Gopinath, Arjun Ganesh, S.Krishna.

1.Mudakarathamodakam – Ragamalika – Ganesh pancharatnam- Adi Shankara 

2.Jaya Jaya swamin – Nattai – nArAyaNA teertha 

3. Giriraja suta – Bangala Tyagaraja Swami

4. Ganapatiye karunanidhiye – Kharaharapriya – Papanasam Sivan 

5. Lambodaramavalamba – Kambhoji- Mysore Vasudevachar

6. Hastivadanaya – Navroj- Muttuswami Dikshitar 

7. Gananathane – Saranga – Periyasami Tooran 

8. Mahaganapatim vande – Muttuswami Dikshitar- Todi

9. SharaNu SharaNu – Behag – Purandara Dasa 

10. Vinayakar Agaval – Avvaiyyar 

11. Verses from Jnaneshwari – Sukhakarta – Samartha Ramadasa



Shanmatham as visualized by different Composers

Concert by Sunil Gargyan,

R.Rahul, Thanjavur Ramadas,S.Sunil Kumar.

01 Sri Shankara – Nagaswarvali – Rupakam – Sri Maha Vaidhyanatha Iyer. (Adi Shankara -Sthapakar) 

02 Manakkula vinayaga – Hamsadhwani – K. Chapu – Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharathi (Ganapathyam)

03 Sri Soorya Narayanam – Saveri – Adi – Kovvur Dr. Srinivasa sharma yanamandra. (Sauram)

04 Dhandayuda panim – Anandabhairavi – Rupakam – Sri Mudduswamy Dhikshithar (kaumaram)

05 Chinthaye Mahalinga moorthim – Paraju-Adi-Sri Mudduswamy Dhikshithar. (Shaivam)

06 Pahi jagajjanani –Hamsanandhi- Adi-Maharaja Swathi Tirunal. (Shaktham)

07 Aparadamula – Darbar – K. Chapu – Sri Thyagarajar 

08 O Rangasayee – Khamboji- Adi – Sri Thyagarajar (Vaishnavam)

09 Adum Chidambaramo – Behag- Adi – Sri Gopalakrishna Bharathi (Shaivam) 

10 Brovavamma – Neelambari – M.Chapu – Sri Shyama Sashtri (Shaktham)

11 Thiruppugazh – Sindhubhairavi- K. Chapu – Sri Arunagiri Nadar (Kaumaram)



Compositionsof Haridasas & Mysore Composers

Concert by Vasudha Keshav,

Usha Rajagopal, J.Vaidhyanathan, B.S.Purushothaman.

1.Varnam – Vedandagamana – Mysore Veena Venkata Giriyappa

2. Prasanna Ganapathe – Bahudhari – Mysore T.Chowdiah

3. Charachara Jagadrupe – Nayaki – Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar

4. Chintayami Jagadamba – Hindolam – Mysore Maharaja(Wodeyar)

5. Idi Samayamura – Natakapriya – Mysore Vasudevacharyar

6. Puluchellare – Anandabhairavi – Mysore Sadashiva Rao

7. Kallusakkare – Kalyani – Purandaradasar

8. Siriye – Senchurutti – Mysore Veena Sheshanna

9. Thillana – Hamirkalyani – Harikesanallur Muthaiya Bhagavatar

Few Devarnamas of Haridasas other than Purandaradasaru will be included

10. Mangalam – Sowrashtram – Purandara Dasaru.


Theme:‘Subrahmanya’ as visualized by Muthuswami Dikshitar & Tamil Composers

Concertby Vivek Sadasivam,

Chidambaram Badrinath, Vijay Natesan, S.Krishna

  1. Mal marugan (Varnam) – Hindolam – Adi – Thanjavur Sankara Iyer

2.Tirumurugatrupadai followed by Muruga muzhumathi– Saveri – Adi – Papanasam Sivan

3. Gajadheesha dhanyam – Nattaikurinji  – Misra Chapu – Muthuswami Dikshitar

4. Kandar alankaram followed by Marukkulaviya – Poorvi Kalyani – Roopaka talam – Arunagirinathar

5. Swaminathena – Brindavan Saranga – Adi – Muthuswami Dikshitar

6. Sri subramanyaya namaste – Kamboji – Thisra eka – Muthuswami Dikshitar

7. Yaar poi solluvaar (padam) – Thodi – Misra Chapu – Ghanam Krishya Iyer 

8. Sennikulanagarvasan (kavadi chindu) – Adi – Annamalai Reddiar

9. Paripadal followed by Paniyin vintuli polave – Harikamboji – Chanda talam – Arunagirinathar

10. Mangalam mayil vahanama – Surutti – Adi – Kotishwara Iyer

Theme: ‘Krishna’ as visualized by different Composers

Concert by KolkataPadmavathi Saranathan,

R.Rahul, Kallidaikurichi Sivakumar.

1.Varnam Ninne kori – Malavi – Adi – Calcutta Krishnamurthi

2.Sadinchene – Arabhi – Adi – Thyagaraja

3. Gana Murthe – Ganamurthi – Adi – Thyagaraja

4. Ninnu Sevinchina – Yadukula Kambhoji – Misra Chapu – Subbaraya Sastri

5. Aravinda Lochane – Neethimathi – Adi – Ambujam Krishna

6. Parama Purusham – Lalithapanchamam – Khanda Chapu – Swati Tirunal Maharaja

7. Govinda Rajam – Mukhari – Misra Chapu – Muthuswami Dikshitar

8. Sancharadhara – Ragamalika – Adi – Jayadeva (Ashtapadi)

9. Oruthi maganai(Thiruppavai) – Behag – Adi – Andal

10. Bhajan (Saavan De Rahyo) – Shudh Sarang – Adi – Meerabai

11. Muddu Krishna Memudam – Chenchurutti – Adi – Oothukaadu Venkatasubbier

12. Mangalam (Nauka Charitram) – Surutti – Misra Chapu – Thyagaraja

‘Forms of Devi’

Concert by Bharathi Ramasubban,

M.Vijay, Delhi Sairam, S.Krishna.

  1. Nilayatakshi – Paraju – Tisra Triputa – Shyama Shastri 

2. Lalite – Bhairavi – Adi – Tyagaraja

3. Mina nayana – Darbar – Rupakam – Subbaraya Shastri 

4. Shankari shamkuru – Saveri – Adi Tisra gati – Shyama Shastri 

5. Sri Kamalambike – Ghanta – Adi – Muthuswami Dikshitar

6Nannu kannatalli – Sindhukannada – Adi – Tyagaraja 

7Sri Kamakshi – Kalyani – Adi – Shyama Shastri 

8. Sharada Bhujangam – Ragamalika – Adi Shankara 

9. Ehi Annapurne – Punnagavarali – Adi – Muthuswami Dikshitar 

10Kalamam vanathil – Kavadichindu – Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati 

11. Kayau Sri Gauri – Basavappa Shastri 

12. Karpagame – Madhyamavati – Adi – Papanasam Sivan.


September 2018



85/2, Luz Avenue, Mylapore
Chennai-600 004. Ph: 2499 2672
Twitter:@ naadainbam1


September 2018

Rukmini Art & Music Trust Sangeetha Kala Acharya Bombay Sri.S.Ramachandran Memorial Concerts 1st & 3rd September,2018
6.15 p.m.
Rukmini Art & Music Trust –
Aruna Prabha Ranganathan & Samyukta Ranganathan,
S.P.Ananthapadmanabha, B.Ganapathiraman
6.00 p.m.
Parivadini & Naada Inbam, 24992672
Nagaswaram Concert by Injikkudi Mariyappan with Kollengode R.Subramanian, with Tavil by
Villiambakkam V.M.Ganapathy & Swamimali S.C.Gurunathan.
6.00 p.m.
Rukmini Art & Music Trust – Geetha Raja,
K.J.Dileep, Melakkaveri K.Balaji, Papanasam S.Sethuraman
6.00 p.m.
NAADA INBAM – V.K.Arunkumar,
Anayampatti G.Venkatasubramaniam, S.J.Arjun Ganesh.
6.00 p.m.
Shri. M.A.Kalyanakrishna Bhagavathar 105th Birth Anniversary Concert by
Sangitakalanidhi N.Ravikiran – Chitravina,
Akkarai Subhalakshmi, K.V.Prasad & Anirudh Athreya.
Sangitakalanidhi Dr.T.V.Gopalakrishnan presides.
6.00 p.m.
Kalki Krishnamurthy Memorial Trust,
Presentation of Kalki Krishnamurthy Memorial Award to J.A.Jayanth & Akkarai Sornalatha. K.Radhakrishnan, IPS, presides
6.45 p.m. Concert by J.A.Jayanth – Flute,

Akkarai Sornalatha, Manoj Siva, Trichy Murali

6.00 p.m.
Ramapriya – Lalgudi Vijayalakshmi – Violin Solo,
Sai Sarangan, Chandrasekara Sharma.
6.00 p.m.
Ramapriya – Akshay Padmanabhan,
R.Rahul, Sai Sarangan
6.30 p.m.
Isai in association with Lions Club of Chennai East Coast presents

Mahakavi Bharathi Rememberance Day – Villupaattu Concert
“Bharathi Darisanam” by Bharathi Thirumagan & Kalaimagan & Party

6.00 p.m.
Ramnad Krishnan Centenary Celebrations Concert –
A.S.Murali & Party
10.00 a.m.
DKJ Foundation – Kannan Balakrishnan-Madhuraveena,
Shreya Devnath, Nellai A.Balaji, Trichy Murali.
10.00 a.m.
DKJ Foundation – Hemmige S.Prashanth,
R.Rahul, N.C.Bharadwaj, Harihara Subramaniam
4.15 p.m.
Sarvani Sangeetha Sabha – 4Hours concert by Vasudha Ravi & Party
Sumanasa Foundation – Thematic Nagaswara Concerts From 17th to 20th September,2018
6.15 p.m.
Theme: Ragam Thanam Pallavi
Nemmara N.R.Kannan & N.R.Anand- Nadaswaram
Veliampakkam V.M.Palanivel & Eeguvarpalayam V.Ganapathi – Thavil
6.15 p.m.
Theme: Mallari & Rakthi
Thirumeyganam T.P.N.Ramanathan & Phandamangalam P.G.Yuvaraj – Nadaswaram
Koviloor K.G.Kalyana Sundaram & Adayar D.Sendhil Kumar – Thavil
6.15 p.m.
Theme: Shyama Sastri Krithis
Pazhaya Seevaram G.Kalidoss & Koleri G.Vinothkumar – Nadaswaram
Thirucherai T.K. Ranganatha Battachariyar & Thindivanam T.R.Sasikumar – Thavil
6.15 p.m.
Theme: Swati Tirunal Krithis
Chengalpet V.Muthukrishnan & Kancheepuram M.K.Palani – Nadaswaram,
Mambalam S.P.Arulanandam & Nanthampakkam H.Dakshinamurthi – Thavil.
6.00 p.m.
Nadopasana –  Prapancham S Balachandran – Flute,
V V Srinivasa Rao, Serthalai R Ananthakrishnan, Trichy K Murali
NAADA INBAM – Thematic Concert Series From 22nd to 29th Sept,2018
6.15 p.m.
Concert based on Tamil Moovar & Gopalakrishna Bharathi Compositions – Vidya Kalyanaraman ,
Kalpana Venkat, J.Vaidhyanathan, Harihara Sharma.
6.15 p.m.
Concert based on Krithis of Swati Tirunal on different Deities – Vishnudev Nambudiri ,
B.U.Ganesh Prasad, Trichur C. Narendran, Anirudh Athreya.
6.15 p.m.
Concert based on ‘Ganapathi’ as visualized by different Composers – Archana & Aarathi,
M.R.Gopinath Arjun Ganesh, S.Krishna.
6.15 p.m.
Concert based on ‘Shanmatham’ as visualized by different Composers – Sunil Gargyan,
R.Rahul, Thanjavur Ramadas, S.Sunil Kumar
6.15 p.m.
Concert based on Compositions of Haridasas & Mysore Composers
Vasudha Keshav,
Usha Rajagopal, J.Vaidhyanathan, B.S.Purushothaman.
6.15 p.m.
Concert based on ‘Subrahmanya’ as visualized by Muthuswami Dikshitar & Tamil Composers – Vivek Sadasivam,
Chidambaram Badrinath, Vijay Natesan, S.Krishna.
6.15 p.m.
Concert based on ‘Krishna’ as visualized by different Composers –
Kolkata Padmavathi Saranathan,
R.Rahul, Kallidaikurichi Sivakumar.
Concert based on ‘Forms of Devi’ –
Bharathi Ramasubban,
p.m. M.Vijay, Delhi Sairam, S.Krishna.
6.00 p.m.
Kedaram – V.Shankaranarayanan,
Nagai R.Muralidharan, Mannargudi A.Easwaran, S.Krishna.

Rasikas Welcome


A Hindu Rebellion? Let us stop and think…

The Carnatic World has been shaken by an issue hitherto unknown: Super stars have been accused of lending their voice to an album of Christian songs.

Worse, they have been found guilty of plagiarizing the songs of Saint Thyagaraja and adapting his kritis to the Christian concept. If this latter were so, then surely it would be an unpardonable crime. But when I heard the You tube recording of Nithyasree’s ‘Samanulevaro Prabho’, I was not able to identify any similarity between this and the original Thyagaraja masterpiece ‘Rama nee samanamevaru’ either by way of raga, or lyrics

In that case these ‘stars’ are finally judged solely because they have veered away from Hinduism. Are not the Convent schools still the most sought after today? Is it not commonplace to see Hindu students sing Chrismas carols and take part in Christian plays. Do these children ultimately turn Christians? Do we not visit hospitals run by Christian Missionaries, giving them preference over others because of cleanliness and other reasons. Votaries of Hinduism may argue that this will further fan the flames of conversion to Christianity that is prevalent today. But musicians are not reformers and Hinduism is not about violent reactions. In fact its very structure is centered on tolerance. Hence, these vituperative attacks on singers who are just doing their job-singing are big slaps to the fabric of Hinduism. Like a chain reaction, this so called ‘act’ has triggered off violent reactions leaving the hapless musicians with no alternative but to apologise. A sad state of affairs. May the public regain their senses.

Like our religion, Carnatic Music is also all inclusive. Dikshitar has freely used ragas with a Hindustani slant like Hamir kalyani, Yamuna kalyani etc. Much has been written about contributions of Abraham Panditar and Vedanayakam Pillai. We count among our galaxy of musicians many Greats such as Sheik Chinna Moulana, John Higgins Bhagavatar & K.J.Jesudas. Let us stop and think keeping all these in mind…