Carnatic Music became a hugely poorer and sadder world with the utimely demise of Chingleput Ranganathan Sir on July 12, 2011. Our association with him began in 1994 when at the suggestion of our Guru Anantharama Iyer, we met him and started learning pallavis from him. A very conscientious teacher and a perfectionist to the core, Ranganathan Sir’s classes would go on for nearly two hours, especially when 8-kalai and 4-kalai pallavis would be taught. He was one of those who believed that neraval was a very important constituent of carnatic music concert presentation, particularly in pallavis, and his methodical approach towards the art of singing neraval in three speeds in all its expansivity was mindboggling. He was a complete musician and a musician’s musician. The richness of pathantara can be experienced from the sangati oriented kritis like Nee daya kalgute (Reetigoula), Nee daya ravale (thodi), Kalinerula (Kuntalavarali), Mari mari ninne (Kambhoji), Ye papamu (Atana) and many more, which he taught us with utmost passion. He composed tillanas in all the 35 talas. It goes without saying that we were very fortunate to have learnt from him, and blessed and privileged to have been associated with him and the family for almost two decades. A mahavidwan, a legendary teacher and a great person.
Gurus are equal to, or even greater than, God himself; and this fact is best described in this Doha of Sant Kabir:
Guru gobind dou khade, kaake laagoon paaye
Balihaari guru aapne jin Gobind diyo bataaye
Pranams to his lotus feet. May his soul rest in peace.