Associates of SVN RAO

Its an honour to highlight about the very important associates of SVN RAO

Violin Chowdiah

Tirumakudalu Chowdiah was a colourful personality. He was a well accomplished violinist who was famous for his 7 strings Violin. Chowdiah had a very strong bonding with Narayanaswamy Rao and he used to call Rao as Maruti. Narayanaswamy Rao before his marriage used to stay at a room in the erstwhile Malabar lodge in Chamarajapet. Chowdiah too had a room in the same lodge. Chowdiah participated in every Ramanavami Celebration giving both solo and accompaniment concerts. Chowdiah often said that Mandali acted as Armor to Indian Classical Music. Chowdiah often traveled to Bangalore to meet Narayanaswamy Rao. Chowdiah had great affection and respect for Narayanaswamy Rao even though Rao was much younger to him. In the year 1964 when the 4th son of Narayanaswamy Rao was born, Chowdiah who had great knowledge of Astrology said that this child will succeed Narayanaswamy Rao. This became a reality in 2000 when S.N.Varadaraj, Narayanaswamy Rao’s 4th son succeed Rao.

Flute T.R.Mahalingam

T.R.Mahalingam was one of the best flautists in the country. Affectionately called by people as Mali, he revolutionised the style of playing flute in Karnatic Music. Mahalingam was very stubborn and did not care for anyones request. When the then President of India Dr.S.Radhakrishnan requested Mali to pay Bhairavi, he rejected the request and said he did not have mood to play it. However he showed a different attitude towards Mr.Rao. Rao and Mali were very close friends. In late 1950’s someone wrote a telegram to Mali in the name of Narayanaswamy Rao that his tomorrow’s concert at Mandali. Mali thought this was real and had surrendered to drinks. Narayanaswamy Rao came to know about this at around 11 am on the day of Mali’s concert. He immediately arranged a car and went to Chennai and brought Mali along with him. By the time Narayanaswamy Rao and Mali reached Bangalore it was 12 am. After a hot water bath Mali became normal and said to Rao that he would perform on one condition, Narayanaswamy Rao must play the Tambura for him. The concert started at around 1 am in the night and went for a span of 6 hours. 5000 people witnessed this historic concert. This incident amplified the bond between Narayanaswamy Rao and Mali. In 1965, when Mali shifted to Bangalore he stayed in the Malabar lodge that was next to the old Mandali premises and was very near to Narayanaswamy Rao’s #21/1 residence. Mali had a great devotion for Narayanaswamy Rao. Mahaligam & Narayanaswamy Rao visited Kolkata for a concert and the famous photo of Mali & Rao was captured here at the Eden Garden Cricket Playground.

Kalki Sadasivam & MS Subbalakshmi

M.S.Subbalakshmi gave her first concert in the Mandali in late 60’s. Narayanaswamy Rao used to visit Sadasivam’s residence every year during the December season and invited her to perform in the forthcoming Ramanavami Celebrations. Concert of Bharata Ratna M.S.Subbalakshmi had become an integral part of Ramanavami Celebrations. Bharata Ratna MSS gave about 33 concerts in Mandali which is the highest she has performed in any sabha. This was because of the bonding between Sri Sadasivam and Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao. The wavelength of both Rao & Sadasivam matched. Both of them were very religious and spiritual in nature. Sadasivam helped Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao to invite H.E. R.Venkatraman, the President of India to inaugurate the Golden Jubilee year of the Mandali. If any people requested Sadasivam for M.S.Subbalakshmi’s concert in Bangalore, he would say that please come to Sree Ramaseva Mandali if you want to listen to MS Subbalakshmi. Such was the affection he had for Rao and Mandali. Sadasivam and MS amma visited Rao’s residence many times. After the departure of Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao an award was instituted in his name by Sri Ramaseva Mandali Trust, the sister organisation of Sree Ramaseva Mandali. The first award was presented to MS Amma to recognize this spiritual relationship between Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao, Sadasivam & MS Subbalakshmi.

His Highness Sri Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar

The Maharaja of Mysore dynasty, His Highness Sri Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar had a good relation with Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao. His Highness called the Mandali as Gnana Gana Sudha & admired Narayanaswamy Rao’s effort in preserving, protecting and promoting Indian Classical Music. The Maharaja’s government recognised Sree Ramaseva Mandali as a Cultural & Religious Institution. His Highness who had special interest in Karnatic music paid nearly 10 visits to the Mandali. Ramanavami Celebrations in City Institute premises brought a lot of goodwill to the Mandali. His Highness Sri Jayachamarajendra Wodeyar helped Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao to organise Ramanavami Celebrations in City Institute Premises. The iconic brass Mantap of Sree Ramaseva Mandali is actually a magnified replica of a golden Mantap belonging to Wodeyar dynasty. That’s why Mandali’s mantap has the royal Gandaberunda mark of Mysore Dynasty embedded on it.

Sri C Rajagopalachari

Chakravarti Rajogopalachari who was the last Governor General of India was a close associate of Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao and an adherent supporter of Sree Ramaseva Mandali. He attended around 15 Ramanavami concert series of the Mandali. He was impressed with Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao idea of conducting Ramanavami in an open Pandal, and said that ‘By conducting Ramanavami Celebrations in a massive Pandal, Narayanaswamy Rao is taking Indian Culture to the masses’. He also said that Sree Ramaseva Mandali should conduct Ramanavami only in Pandal every year and called Mandali as the Temple of Music.

Chembai Vaidyanatha Bagavatar

Chembai Vaidyanatha Bagavatar is a widely respected figure in Karnatic Music. He gave his first Music concert at Mandali in the year 1945, the year in which Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao renamed Balakara Rama Bajana Seva Mandali as Sree Ramaseva Mandali. Bagavatar performed in Mandali from 1945 to 1974, he gave a whooping 30 concerts at the Mandali. Bagavatar and Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao both had a sentimental value for each other. Every year after completing the Mantralaya Yatra in the month of November, Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao used to visit Chennai to book artistes for the forthcoming celebrations in the month of December. The first artiste Narayanaswamy Rao used to meet was Vaidyanatha Bagavatar. If this was Narayanaswamy Rao’s sentiment, Chembai Vaidyanata Bagavatar’s sentiment was about the Parimala Prasada of Mantralaya and the `5 advance that Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao used to give. Vaidyanataha Bagavatar religiously participated in Ramanavami celebrations continuously and offered his service to lord Rama. Chembai Vaidyanatha Bagavatar also instructed his beloved disciple Padamabhushana Dr K J Yesudas to continue this tradition and relation.

Dr K J Yesudas

Padmabhushana Dr K J Yesudas in an interview had said “My concert every year at Sree Ramaseva Mandali is purely a prayer towards Lord Rama. I am continuing what my guru Chemabi Vaidyanatha Bhagavatar did and advised me to do so”. Dr.K.J.Yesudas was introduced to Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao by the legendry Mrudangam artiste Sri T.V.Gopalakrishnan. Initially Dr.K.J.Yesudas used to give both duet concert with his guru and solo concert. He has been performing in the Mandali for the past 5 decades. After the death of Bagavatar, Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao used to book the concert of K.J.Yesudas on 25th December every year and would give him the Mantralaya Prasadam along with an advance of `20/-. This practice is being followed even to this day. Like his revered Guru, Yesudas also has a great sentimental value attached with performing in Ramanavami Celebrations and shared a great bonding with Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao. On 25th December 1999, Narayanaswamy Rao like every year met Yesudas along with his son Varadaraj and extended Christmas greetings after giving the customary Mantralaya prasada and token advance. With a divine urge Narayanaswamy Rao said to Yesudas that from next year Varadaraj will be coming to meet you and he requested Yesudas to extend his cooperation to Varadaraj like the way he had given to him. Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao departed from this world exactly after 10 days from saying this i.e he expired on 5th January 2000. Even to this day Yesudas will perform at Mandali for a very nominal remuneration, which shows his respect for Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao.

His Excellency Dr. Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan

Sarvapalli Radhakrishnan had a great interest in Music. He first visited the Mandali as Vice President of India in the year 1959. He was very impressed with Narayanaswamy Rao’s style of functioning which created a strong bond between them. He inaugurated the silver jubilee celebrations of the Mandali in the year 1963. He also inaugurated the celebrations in the year 1964. In 1965, when His Excellency could not come down to Bangalore to inaugurate the celebrations due to health reasons, he inaugurated the Ramanavami Celebrations via All India Radio. Such was his commitment to Mandali. Radhakrishnan & Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao continued the relation. Family members of Dr.S.Radhakrishnan are continuing this musical relationship even to this day.

His Excellency Govind Narain

Govind Narain was one of the most respected civil servants in Indian history. He was appointed as Governor of Karnataka in the year 1977 and continued till 1983. Like many other people he developed lot of affection and respect to Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao in their first meet itself. From the year 1978 to the year 1983 he regularly attended almost every function of Sree Ramaseva Mandali. He and his wife even visited Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao’s #21/1 residence. Govind Narain and his wife Smt.Chandra Narain shared a very cordial relationship with Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao. They used to address Rao with great devotion.

A.N.Rama Rao

The first President of Mandali, A.N.Rama Rao helped Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao in various ways. Rama Rao was speaker of Vidana Parisha, Karnataka’s upper House & was a very influential man. He had a great respect to Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao and served Mandali for almost 30 years.

Smt M L Vasantakumari

Born in the year 1928, MLV popularised unfamiliar ragas and her Raga Thana Pallavis were considered cerebral. Additionally, she popularised the compositions of the Haridasas especially that of Purandaradasa. Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao was introduced to MLV by none other than her guru Sri G.N.B. MLV had a lot of devotion and respect for Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao. MLV who was one of the ‘female trinity’ of Karnatic Music in her era paid visits to Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao house to confirm her concerts. MLV has performed nearly 40 concerts at Sree Ramaseva Mandali.

Chitti Babu

Chitti Babu Challapally was synonym with Saraswati Veena. He was one of the greatest Veena artistes in Karnatic Music. Like the way Chemabai Vaidyanatha Bagavatar asked Yesudas to continue his legacy. Vidwan Emani Shankar Shastri who was very close associate of Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao asked Chitti Babu to continue his legacy at Mandali. Chitti Babu was so close to Narayanaswamy Rao that he performed in Mandali as a seva to lord Rama and did not accept any remuneration. He would visit Narayanaswamy Rao if Rao did not call and fix Chitti Babu’s programme by 26th December every year.

The Violin trinity

Lalgudi G Jayaraman, Parur M S Gopalakrishnan & Prof T N Krishnan was the greatest violinist known to Karnatic Music and was referred as the Violin Trinity. All the three of these great gems were very close to Narayanaswamy Rao. They have performed solo performances, Jugalbandhi performances and they have also accompanied almost all the artiste of Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao era. All the 3 of them have offered unconditional service to the lord Rama. In no occasion has these legends rejected any concerts offered by Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao, if fact they have canceled other concerts to perform in Sree Ramaseva Mandali. Such was their affection towards Narayanaswamy Rao. The Jugalbandhi concert model was popularised in Bangalore thanks to Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao who arranged Jugalbandhi concerts of the Violin trinity with Hindustani artistes like Amjad Ali Khan, Vishnu Govind Jog, Smt N Rajam to name a few.

Begam Parveen Sulthana

Begam Parveen Sulthana treated Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao like her own father. She has never refused to perform at the Mandali’s celebrations. Even though she was a Muslim she was very particular about taking Prasada of lord Rama. She has about 4 decades of association with Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao family.

Mandolin U Shrinivas

Called as Mozart of classical Indian music, U Shrinivas who first performed in Mandali at the age 14 shared a very strong bonding with Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao. SVN was so impressed with U Shrinivas’s music that he gave 3 hour concert at a very tender age of 15. Rao also arranged senior violin, mridanga artistes for his concert. U Shrinivas till his death in 2014 performed at Mandali without any remuneration as a respect to Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao.

Sri.N.Lakshman Rau, Sri.N.Narasimha Rau, Sri.L.Bheemachar, Ustad Ali Akabar Khan, Pandit Ravishankar, Bharata Ratna Bheemsen Joshi, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, Ustad Bade Gulam Ali Khan, Ustad Bismillah Khan, Sri.T.R.Satish Chandran, Sri Vasudeva Rao, Sri Badari Narayan Iyengar, Justice Vasudev Rao, Veena Vidwan Doraswamy Iyengar, Sri.K.S.Manjunath, Sri.M.S.Ramachandra, Sri.T.S. Somashekar, Sri.H.L.Srivatsa, Sri.R.Rajanna, Sri Narasimhamurthachar, Sri.C.V.S.Rao, Sri Neelkantachar, Sri Mysore Mahadevappa, Sri A Veerbhadriah were also very close associates of Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao and had helped him in many ways.

Spiritual Relationship

Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao had great love and affection towards Sri Vidya Manya Theertharu, who is one of the most respected and worshiped saints in Dvaita tradition. Sri Vidya Manya theertharu was a great supporter of Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao’s cause of bringing out a Ramayana Consciousness by the means of Gnana & Gana. When Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao got the divine urge to make Panchaloha idols of Rama Parivar and a beautiful Mantap for it, Vidya Manya theertharu blessed Narayanaswamy Rao by worshipping the idols and fulfilling all the requirements of Prana Prathistapana. He used to give discourses on Ramayana every year at Sree Ramaseva Mandali. The Mandali is what it is today because of divine blessings of Vidyamanyaru. Sri Sri Vidyesha Theertharu & Sri Sri Vidyadisha Theertharu who succeeded Vidya Manya Theertharu at Bhandarakeri Mutt and Udupi Palimaru Mutt respectively are very close to Sree Ramaseva Mandali even to this day.

Vidya Prasanna Theertharu of the Purvadhi Rajendra Theertha Samsthana was one of the most dynamic personalities in Madhwa Yathi Parampara. He was a lyricist and has penned hundreds of krithis praising the lord. He was a great scholar and even a great athletic. His Holiness Sri Vidya Prasanna theertha had a great taste of Karnatic Music; this created a strong bonding between him and Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao. He regularly gave discourses on Ramayana at the Mandali. His Holiness had great affection towards Narayanaswamy Rao and had performed Samsthana Pooja along with Darbar at Narayanaswamy Rao residence in many occasions.

Being an adherent worshipper of Raghavendra Swamy, Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao shared a very good relationship with all the pontiffs of the Mutt during his life time namely His Holiness Sri 108 Sri Sri Suyameendra Theertharu, His Holiness Sri 108 Sri Sri Sujayeendra Theertharu & His Holiness Sri 108 Sri Sri Sushameendra Theertharu. Prominent persons of the Mutt were residing in complex of Mutt which was opposite to Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao residence. This increased the spiritual bonding Narayanaswamy Rao had with the Mutt.


Sri Poornachar who became Vidya Payonidhi Theertharu of the Purvadhi Rajendra Theertha Samsthana, in his Purvashrama was a very close associate of Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao. Poornachar assisted Narayanaswamy Rao in performing pooja of Lord Rama for 12 years. After ascending the Peeta, he gave Ramayana Upanyasas regularly at Mandali. He has also performed Samsthana Pooja & Darbar at Mandali as well as Narayanaswamy Rao’s residence many times.

Satya Pramodha Theertharu was the 41st pontiff of the Uttaradhi Mutt after Acharya Madhwa. Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao had great respect to his holiness. In 1970’s Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao met His Holiness Satya Pramodha Theertharu and requested him to visit the Mandali Premises at Chamarajapet. His Holiness accepted Narayanaswamy Rao’s request and visited the Mandali. It is here that Narayanaswamy Rao invited his holiness to give Ramayana Upanyasa at Mandali. Since then His Holiness blessed the Mandali by giving Ramayana Upanyasas on many occasions. What has to be noted is His Holiness did not give Ramayana discourse in any other public function apart from Mandali’s Ramanavami Celebrations. Satya Pramodha Theertharu also performed special pooja to Rama idols at Sree Ramaseva Mandali. In 1988 which was the Golden Jubilee year of the Mandali Satya Pramodha Theertha Swamiji gave 25 days discourse on Ramayana. His Holiness Sri 1008 Sri Sri Satyatma Theertha swamiji who succeeded Sri Satya Pramodha Theertharu shares a very special and strong bonding with Sree Ramaseva Mandali.

Being the disciple of Sri Vidya Manya theertharu, Sri Vishvesha theertaru gave his first discourse on Ramayana at a tender age of 12. He used to also accompany his revered guru for the discourse. His Holiness shared a very cordial and strong relation with Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao. His Ramayana discourse had become an integral part of Ramanavami Celebrations during Narayanaswamy Rao’s regime. His discourses attracted thousands of people every year. His Holiness attended every function of the Mandali. He was the Chief Guest for many Inaugural functions including the Golden Jubilee and the Diamond Jubilee year. Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao also organised a Ramayana Samvada wherein Sri Vidya Bhushana (Erstwhile Peetadhipathi of Kukke Subramanya Mutt) used to sing verses of Ramayana which was later explained by H.H.Sri Vishvesha Theertharu. His holiness always used to emphasis on Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao’s contribution to spreading Gnana & Gana.

Sri.S.V.Narayanaswamy Rao also shared a very cordial relation with Shankaracharya’s of Shrungeri Sharada Peetam, Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam and Puri Jagannatha Peetam who also visited the Ramanavami Celebrations of Mandali on various occasions. In fact till today, His Holiness Sri Shankaracharya of Shrungeri Sharadha Peetam sends his Anugraha Sandesha to Mandali before the start of Ramanavami Celebrations.


Some of the philosophers who were associated with Sri S V Narayanaswamy Rao were: Sri Nijagal Narasimhamurthachar, Sri Jalahali Srinivasachar, Sri Raichur Krishnachar, Sri Jayatheerthachar (Vidya Vachaspati Theertharu), Sri S.V.Bheem Bhat, Sri Raja Gururajacharya to name a few.

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