Shri G. Harishankar

{June 10th 1958 – February 11th 2002}

Son of Shri T.T. Govinda Rao, who was a disciple of Pudukkottai Shri Ramaiah Pillai. Shri Ramaiah Pillai was a disciple of the ‘Inventor of Khanjira’ “Laya Bramham’ Pudukkottai Shri Manpoondiya Pillai. Thus Shri Harishankar became the torch-bearer of the Pudukkottai tradition and carried it on by adding his own colour to the instrument and its rendition.

At first, his father Shri T.T. Govinda Rao tutored him Khanjira, at the age of five. He then had his training of Mridangam under Ramanathapuram Shri C.S. Murugabhoopathy. Shri Sankara Sivam, elder brother of Shri C.S. Murugabhoopathy, who was known for his mastery over Laya and calculations, also guided Shri Harishankar at a later stage in various aspects of Laya.

The turning point came when Shri Palghat Mani Iyer himself tutored Shri Harishankar in Rishi Valley School, where Shri Palghat Mani Iyer spent his last years. This was possible due to Smt. M.L. Vasaenthakumari’s strong recommendation. Shri Palghat Mani Iyer himself used to play Khanjira. He was very happy about Shri Harishankar’s talent of playing Khanjira, understanding the intricacies of laya and modifying the rhythmic patterns in to various other forms without spoiling its aesthetics. Shri Palghat Mani Iyer gave Shri Harishankar several tips & guidance towards modulation and refinement in the playing and also gave references as to how Shri Dakshinamurthy Pillai & Shri Palani Subramanya Pillai used to play the Khanjira. Shri Harishankar was mould to become a rare star shining in the art of Khanjira.

As we all know, Shri Harishankar took the Khanjira playing to unimaginable heights. He is a 'Trend-setter' & 'Role model' for people who play the Khanjira, young or old. Till date, he is the only Khanjira player to be awarded the ‘Sangeeth Natak Academy Award’ (2001), the highest National recognition given to performing artists. He was a staff artist of the All India Radio, Chennai.

Amrit had the good fortune of tutelage and association of legendary ‘Khanjira Maestro’ Shri G. Harishankar. Amrit’s life had changed course turning his name synonymous with the ancient instrument.