Mridangam Maestro ‘Guru’ Karaikudi R.Mani is one of the cultural ambassadors of India, as a mridangam player and an innovator in the field of Rhythm in South Indian Classical music.
Mani was born on 11/09/1945 at Karaikudi to Sri.T. Ramanatha Iyer and Smt. Pattammal. Shri Mani had his initial training in mridangam under Karaikudi Sri.Rangu Iyengar and later under Sri. T.R.Harihara Sharma and Sri.K.M.Vaidyanathan.
Shri Mani received his first award when he was 18, in 1963, at national level from Dr. Radhakrishnan, the President of India. In 1998 he won the “Sangeet Natak Academy” National Award.
By his total dedication and involvement in the art, a new dimension emerged in mridangam playing through Mani which later came to be known as Karaikudi R. Mani style (Bani). It has become so acclaimed and attractive that even artists and students belonging to other school have started adopting this style. Mani has under him directly, around 1200 disciples all over the world.
Sruthilaya, a novel percussion ensemble founded by Mani, has been giving performances all over the globe. This is a troupe consisting of top ranking artists in percussion instruments of India, with mridangam in the forefront, collaborating with similar artists of the Australian Art Orchestra in the Jazz form, headed by Paul Grobowsky, Australia and with Eerohameenniemi of Nada, Finland.
Sruthi Laya Seva Trust and Sruthi Laya Kendra founded by Mani, a premier institution dedicated exclusively for the cause of music and musicians, first of its kind to be run by a percussionist, now has sub-centers all over the globe i.e in 4 cities in India (Chennai, Mysore, Chalakudi and Hyderabad), Australia, U.K and Germany.
Layamani Layam, a bi-monthly magazine on music and dance of which Mani is the chief editor, has international circulation. Mani was the pioneer in projecting mridangam as capable of recognition as a main instrument on the dais, by successfully staging solo concerts. Mani has played in concerts to all the leading musicians of South India. Mani has innovated a new dimension of presenting rhythm in a visual form on the dais through Bharathanatyam.
He has founded an institution named “Sruthi Laya Kendra Natarajaalaya” with Smt Rajeswari Sainath, a niece of Karaikudi R. Mani, a leading Bharathanatyam exponent, as its Director which produces ensembles bringing melody, rhythm and dance together.
Mani has still on the mission with multiplied determination and enthusiasm, of propagating the value of rhythm in music and the role of mridangam in rhythm.
Author: Angel Romero
Angel Romero y Ruiz has been writing about world music music for many years. He founded the websites worldmusiccentral.org and musicasdelmundo.com. Angel produced several TV specials for Metropolis (TVE) and co-produced “Musica NA”, a music show for Televisión Española (TVE) in Spain that featured an eclectic mix of world music, fusion, electronica, new age and contemporary classical music. Angel also produced and remastered world music albums, compilations and boxed sets for Alula Records, Ellipsis Arts, Music of the World.