Nellai P.S. Devarajan – my mridangam guru

Today, on January 1st, 2018 it is EXACTLY 50 years since I met my mridangam guru P.S. Devarajan and had my first lesson on the mridangam! You can hear that first lesson below.

When my tabla guru left Bombay for U.S. in 1967 to teach at CalArts I looked south and thru Swamy Haridas (who later changed his name to Swamy Haridhos (for “numerological reasons) I found my mridangam guru in Tirunelveli where I spent more than a year studying the mridangam, staying in his house in true guru-shishya parampara tradition.

In 1968, while my friends were trying to get the revolution going in Sweden, my mridangam teacher and I went to the photographer’s in Tirunelveli.

This is how mridangam lesson 1 (1:46) sounds when he does it. The four basic strokes Ta Di Tum Nam are recited and then played at multiple speeds.

Hear him do some Konnakol (4:38) spoken mridangam rhythms.

Devarajan was often accompanying the charismatic Swamy Haridhos durimg the time I was with him, so I was also going along for yatras (pilgimages) and a lot of other religious functions, including visits to his Guru Swamy Gnanananda in Tirukkoilur and other holy places. Haridhos was a fantastic singer of bhajans and later constructed a beautiful temple town in Thennangur, a work which is carried on by his successor Swamy Namananda, Namaji and after his demise by Swami Namanandagiri. More about that soon on the Swamy Haridhos page.

Devarajan appears on the albums with Swamy Haridhos, on the triple Nedunuri Krishnamurthy album, on Karnatic Harmonium and on his own album of mridangam teaching