Namagiripettai Krishnan was one of the most popular Nagaswara vidwans in recent times. A veteran with over 5 decades of experience, his demise on April 30, 2001, at a private hospital following a cardiac arrest, is indeed an irreparable loss for Carnatic music. It is with deep sorrow that Carnatica brings you this obituary.

Namagiripettai Krishnan was born on April 2, 1924 to Kunjammal and Kathan. He had his initial training under his father and grandfather, Chinnappa Mudaliar. He underwent further training under Arupukottai Ganesa Pillai. Very soon, Krishnan made a mark with his Nagaswara prowess. A highly respected vidwan, he was featured in several prominent festivals in India and abroad and has also been the recipient of numerous awards including the Padma Bhushan, Sangeeth Natak Akademi Award and an honourary doctorate. He has also played in numerous films. Not many are aware of the fact that he was also proficient in playing the violin.

Tributes from others:

Seshampatti Sivalingam, Nagaswara vidwan: Namagiripettai Krishnan was an excellent vidwan of the previous generation and an excellent human being. He was a very nice, simple and lovable man. I have great regard for him. I have been to his house several times for various reasons. When I would sit down on the floor as a mark of respect, he would compel me to sit on the chair. A simple man with a lot of equanimity. When I heard the news of his death I was very upset and could not control my tears. The music field has certainly lost a very great musician.

It is a very nice and interesting fact that he did not change his accompaniments for nearly 35 to 40 years both in India and abroad. Arumugam used to play Tavil and Murugan provided Nagaswaram support. He was well known for his choice of melodious ragas in his concerts. He has been a role model for musicians like us.

A Natarajan, Former Director of Doordarshan: Namagiripettai is in Salem district. In those days, only people from Tanjavur district were very knowledgeable in music. So it was unusual that a person from Namagiripettai became a great Nagaswara vidwan. Krishnan was interested in Vocal music too. He learnt vocal music from Mahalakshmi Ammal as he wanted to 'sing' with his Nagaswaram. He also learnt Telugu so as to have knowledge of the kritis that he played. Many Tavil Vidwans have accompanied him and he also toured in US, UK, Russia, Srilanka, and South-east Asian countries. His performances on AIR and Doordarshan were also memorable.  His favorite ragas were Kalyanavasantam, Kalyani, Revati etc. He has played for many films too.

He had great regard for T N Rajarathnam Pillai. He once said that the sky was the limit for Rajaratnam Pillai in playing raga alapana, whereas musicians like him were more limited in their renditions.

Once T N Rajaratnam Pillai asked him to sit with him and play Nagaswaram along with him. He told the audience that Krishnan was like 'Ekalyva' for considering him his guru, and then passed a witty comment that he would however not ask for his thumb!

Namagiripettai Krishnan was a receipent of  the Sangeeth Natak Academi award and was the Asthana Vidwan of Tamil Nadu Government and the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. Periyar also conferred on him the title of 'Nagaswara Chakravarty'. He was a very simple man with lot of respect for other musicians. Simply, he can be referred to as a musician who was a bridge between the past and the present. His death is definitely is a great loss for the music world.

Mambalam M K S Siva, Nagaswara Vidwan: Namagiripettai Krishnan established a memorable status in the music world. There are very few musicians who have attained his level of perfection on the Nagaswaram. Such flawless rendering! I have had the great honour of being the Asthana Vidwan of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, next to him. I pray for his soul to rest in peace and for the recovery of their family members from this grief.

Valayapatti Malarvannan, Tavil artiste: I have had the great honour of having played Tavil for Namagiripettai Krishnan along with my father Valayapatti Subramanyam when I was 14 years old. I have heard many of his concerts and used to admire his crisp and neat rendering of raga alapanas. I have heard that this great Vidwan used to practice vigorously when he did not have concerts, which was the reason for his perfection in his performances. He is the one who stood famous among great Nagaswara Vidwans, after T N Rajaratnam Pillai and Karaikurichi Arunachalam. He was a very simple man and an apt example for a dignified musician. His death is a great loss for the world of music. I feel the younger generation should follow musicians like him.

Tiruvalaputtur T S Balu, Nagaswara Vidwan: Namagiripettai Krishnan was a great nagaswara vidwan, and a nice and polite human being. He was in such a leading position in the Nagaswara world that nobody could reach his heights. Kalyani was his favorite and specialty, though he was good at playing any raga with perfection. I feel nobody can play the kriti 'Chalamelara' in raga Margahindolam as beautifully as he used to.


   Posted on 2nd May 2001

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