Palghat Mani Iyer

Palghat T. S. Mani Iyer (1912–1981) , born Thiruvilvamalai Ramaswamy was one of the leading mridangists in the field of Carnatic music. He was awarded the Madras Music Academy's Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1966. Mani Iyer was the first mridangist to win the Sangeetha Kalanidhi and Padmabhushan awards of the Government of India.[1] He received the Sangeet Natak Akademi Award in 1956.[2] He, along with his contemporaries Palani Subramaniam Pillai and Ramanathapuram C. S. Murugabhoopathy, are revered as the "Holy Trinity of Mrudangam".

Palghat T. S. Mani Iyer
Born(1912-06-12)June 12, 1912
Pazhayannur, Kerala, India
DiedMay 30, 1981(1981-05-30) (aged 68)
Kochi, Kerala, India
GenresIndian classical
Occupation(s)Mridangam artist

Early life and backgroundEdit

He was born on 12 June 1912 at Pazhayanur, then in Tiruvilvamala Taluk, in Palghat District, (now located in Thrissur District) to Sesham Bhagavatar and Aanandaambaal as their second son. Mani was christened Ramaswami at birth— after his grandfather who was a school teacher besides being a good singer. [3]Mani Iyer learnt his music from his parents in his native Pazhayyanur. His maiden public performance was at the age of 10 at a harikatha discourses by Sivaramakrishna Bhagavathar. The mridangam player who was supposed to play had failed to turn up and Mani Iyer substituted. Later he caught the eye of Thanjavur Vaidyanatha Iyer who taught him the intricacies that invested his recitals with remarkable purity. Mani Iyer came into prominence in 1924, after accompanying Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhaagavathar in a music concert at Jagannatha Bhaktha Sabha in Madras (now called Chennai).[4]


Mani Iyer accompanied all the leading vocal artists of his era. He was also the guru for later mridangam players such as Late Palghat R. Raghu, Late Mavelikkara Velukkutty Nair, Umayalpuram K. Sivaraman, Thanjavur R.Ramadas, Kamalakar Rao, Late G. Harishankar (Kanchira),etc.

Before Mani Iyer’s arrival in the music scene, the three mridangists Nagercoil S.Ganesa Iyer, Alaganambi Pillai and Dakshinamurthy Pillai (who played the kanjira also), dominated the percussion scene. The way in which Mani Iyer played changed the style of mridangam playing from just keeping beat for the main artist's music to being an instrument in its own right. A comment from Y. G. Doraisamy: "It was Mani Iyer who started the now prevalent trend of the mridangam, not just keeping the time with tekkas and moras, but actively accompanying the musical phrasing, so as to be a rhythmic running commentary, reproducing on the drum all the subtleties and rhythmic complexities of the musical composition."

Palghat R. Raghu, a disciple of Mani Iyer, describes his guru as a genius in that he showed music followers the manner of blending with the music of the main artist in handling the kritis of every conceivable mood and tempo. By his consistent excellence he could raise the concert to thrilling heights.

Personal lifeEdit

Born on 12 June 1912, in Pazhayannur village near Palghat, Mani Iyer lived a full 70 years and died on 30 May 1981.[5][6]He was the father of the noted artists Mridangist T R Rajamani, vocalist Lalitha Sivakumar and violinist T.R. Rajaram. He was also the grandfather of the noted singer Nithyasree Mahadevan and Carnatic vocalist Palghat Ramprasad.


  1. ^ "Padma Awards" (PDF). Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Retrieved 21 July 2015.
  2. ^ "SNA Awardees' List". Sangeet Natak Akademi. 2016. Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. Retrieved 5 February 2016.
  3. ^ Magazine, Sruti (28 January 2012). "Sruti Magazine: Palghat TS Mani Iyer Centenary". Sruti Magazine. Retrieved 15 March 2019.
  4. ^ 18 November, Amarnath K. Menon; June 30, 2013 ISSUE DATE; October 13, 1981UPDATED; Ist, 2014 16:18. "T.S. Mani Iyer: The mridangam player par excellence". India Today. Retrieved 15 March 2019.CS1 maint: numeric names: authors list (link)
  5. ^ Retrieved 15 March 2019. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  6. ^ "Cultural festival to bring alive beat of mridangam artist". The Times of India. 28 July 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2019.

External linksEdit