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  • Writer's picturesri venkateswara charitable trust

Contribution of Parur’s family to Carnatic Music


It’s almost sunset on a hot summer evening. There is a clear sound of

harmonium coming from one room and there is a violin tune of Sa Paa

coming from another. From the latter, comes out, Parur

Ananthalakshmi, the elder daughter of Parur MA Krishnaswamy.

After bidding goodbye to her students, she goes in and comes back in

jiff all dressed up in traditional attire. She waves me goodbye saying

that she is performing kutcheri nearby that evening.

Along the many houses on Apparswamy Koil Street (North), lies the

century old house of the legendary Parur family. Currently, Mr. Parur

M.A Krishnaswamy, the second son of late Parur M.S Anantharaman

and the grandson of late Parur Sundaram Iyer, resides here with his

wife and two children.

The house serves as an exemplar of a rich culture and traditions. The

living room is filled with the awards, accolades, statues and frames of

different gods, old and new pictures of the entire Parur family.

The house begins in one street and ends at the next street, just like how

the olden days houses used to be.  After finishing her evening music

classes Lakshmi Krishnaswamy, wife of Parur M.A Krishnaswamy joined

me for chitchat.

Before we could begin, she reminds her students of their homework

and bids good bye to the parents as well. Mrs. Lakshmi hails from

Madurai and is a dedicated student of TN Seshagopalan. After learning

music from her guru for 15 years almost in the form of Gurukulavasam

she married M.A Krishnaswamy and moved to Chennai.

Lakshmi distinctly remembers how her father in law MS Anantharaman

encouraged her to learn and teach violin to others. After learning the

Parur style of music, Mrs. Lakshmi started her own music academy,

Skanda Gana Vidyalaya in 2000.  Her passion of giving her students the

experience of learning music, is clearly visible in her attitude and

love towards them. Her students range from six year olds to 60 plus, all

learning through online and offline classes. She takes her students to

the concerts within and outside Chennai and thoroughly relishes the

experience of singing together

In the world where hunger for commercial success overtakes

passion and inner peace, she truly is a living example of a true music

lover. Apart from teaching, she thoroughly enjoys interacting with her

students and even cooking for her students.

When I asked for her message to all music lovers and learners, she

replies “Gnanam or talent in music is something that is inborn; however

the dedication and not attaching yourself to materialistic success will

take you a long way in music.”

After finishing his Sandhyavandhanam Krishnaswamy joins us in the

foyer prior to the living room. This Kalaimamani recipient learnt music

from both his father and grandfather Krishnaswamy begins by

confessing that he is a very short tempered and straight forward


His choice of not pursuing any of the light music chances has landed

him in a tight spot many times. But he seems to be not at all bothered

about it. His passion for the instrument, which he says in his own words

is the toughest instrument to learn, overshadows all criticism he faces.

Retired recently from All India Radio, he performs solo and group

performances in and outside India. His brother Parur MA

Sundareswaran is also a renowned artist in the music field. His sister Dr

MA Bhagirathi is a retired principal from Queen Mary’s College.  One

thing very common to all members of this family is that they are not

able to remember when they actually started learning Violin. As early as

they could remember they learnt to play violin, which makes us imagine

that their elders involved them in their practices when they were


“12 hours together and 12 years together” - he remembers the exact

words taught to him by his father to become a good musician. But he

states that the generation today, especially the parents of small kids

aspiring to learn music/instrument looks at music as a hobby. He

remembers that he never learnt anything from book; it was all from his

grandfathers practice sessions that he listened and practiced.

He has ample stories to tell about his father and grandfather, especially

the ones that taught him the value of music and life. Once when he was

in college, he attended a competition and had won first prize. It got late

that day for him to return home with his prize and a heart full of


Once he reached home, he happily told his father about his victory for

which the reply was “Madaiya, yen late?” That time he could not

understand why his father didn’t appreciate or praise him for winning

the competition.

Months later, a critic had written bad reviews about his violin

performance. Reading the review made Krishnaswamy lose his

confidence. He went and shared his feelings with his father for which

the reply was “Madaiya, practice ku time aachu”

Recollecting these incidents Krishnaswamy proudly says that his father

and grandfather were never affected by praise or criticism. It is their

utmost dedication and discipline that made them the legends that they

truly are! During the final days of his father Krishnaswamy recalls his

father as an active violin player who even performed kutcheris

Krishnaswamy used to sit near his dad for half an hour everyday

recording his stories, statements and highlights of his life experiences.

He was very much in pain when both the computer and the video

cassette which had detailed recordings of the legend Parur MS

Anantharaman crashed recently.

Presently, each day he makes up some time to share all his memories of

his father and grandfather to his children. Through this knowledge

transfer, he hopes that the Parur style of music along with the rich

culture and tradition of the family continue to be followed in the


Ananthalakshmi is now back from her kutcheri and shares her pride to

be part of this legendary family. After finishing her M.S music, she is

currently pursuing her PhD in music, the topic being Bharatheeya

Sangeetham of Parur Violin Style, she teaches violin to many students

across ages and is an online faculty of Raaga School of Music.

Her brother M K Anantha Balasubramaniam has just finished his tenth

grade with distinction and is pursuing commerce with Math. Though he

plays Mridangam and Violin, he says he has enormous passion towards

the latter. Be it academics or music, the kids in the house seem to have

a very good hang of things.

As i wrap up my long talk with the family my mind was trying to figure

out how to bring out an article out of my notes, when the contents

seem right for a book. Meanwhile in the background the mother-

daughter are excited about the 20 guests arriving during weekend and

are discussing detail menu plans.


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