It is no idle exaggeration to say that Mridangam Maestro Palghat (Late) T.S.Mani Iyer was looked upon as an institution in himself.Born on June 12, 1912, in Pazhayannur village near Palghat, Mani Iyer lived a full 70 years and died on May 30, 1981; His last music performance was in Bangalore.I have it from Mani Iyer’s son, RAJAMANI that, even before Mani Iyer (as we knew him though he was actually named Ramaswamy by his parents) was born, his maternal grandfather had predicted that Mani Iyer would make a name and fame for himself in his life. Again, I have it from Mani Iyer, in spite of good beating from his father, refused to go to school and learn the three R’s. His first and foremost inclination was to learn the art of Mridangam - to which his parents gradually gave, ultimately, when he stood his ground and began to make his mark, opportunities for him to come up were not lacking. Like Oliver Goldsmith’s "The village School Masters", Mani Iyer captured the imagination of his audience who wondered that "such a small head could carry all he knew" - though literally Mani Iyer did not measure terms and tides, but mastered the art of LAYAM with all its intricacies.It was given to Chembai Vaidyanatha Bagavathar to bring the 14 years old Mani before the Madras audience sometime in 1926 and from then onwards, Madras was Mani Iyer’s home until his death. He started at the top and stayed there till the end.Having had the good fortune of furthering his talents under Maha vidwan, Tanjore Vaidyanatha Iyer, Mani Iyer came into the limelight straightaway. Pudukkottai Maha Vidwan Dakshinamoorthy Pillai attained Samadhi sometime in 1936 and Pillai had laid down his Mridangam and Ganjira for good an year earlier - that is, Mani Iyer was then about 23 years old. On his own admission, Mani Iyer deemed it an honour and privilege to share the concert platform with Dakshinamoorthy Pillai. In an interview with the All India Radio, Trichy, Mani Iyer has confessed to have played with Pillai in about 300 to 400 concerts - an unforgettable experience for him and which stood him in good stead in later years. Not a day passed in Mani Iyer’s life without his making a mention of Dakshinamoorthy Pillai.Mani Iyer had the swiftness of a panther and the suddenness of its spring and resorted to uncanny speed whenever he wanted and astonished his audience by his sudden beats.Though Mani Iyer outlived another Maestro Palani Subramania Pillai (who died on 27th of May 1962) by 19 years, he had the greatest respect for Pillai’s vidwath - which was spontaneously reciprocated by Pillai. There were a good number of concerts in which Mani Iyer and Pillai (Ganjira) teamed up in various Sabhas.Mani Iyer did not let go his vidwat unnoticed in each and every Music Academy December Series, he played some scintillating Thaniavarthanams (with Pudukkottai D.Swaminatha Pillai, S/O Dakshinamoorthy Pillai on Ganjira on a few occasions) and held his fort.Awards, titles and honours came to him thick and fast, but, these did not affect him in the least. Simple to the core, he lived a life of contentment. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer paid him a magnificent tribute by saying that, as the sky was its own equal and as the Ocean was its own equal, Mani Iyer was his own equal.Very few people know that the eminent scientist, Sir C.V.RAMAN, specially invited Mani Iyer to his Laboratory in Bangalore to experiment the effect of sound on water.Whence comes another Palghat Mani Iyer ?


Home |Tributes