At Brhaddhvani, we give you the essence of the traditional practices on the veena as intensely experienced by Dr. Karaikudi S. Subramanian during his 'gurukulavasa' (1957-1958) with the legendary maestro Karaikudi Veenai Sambasiva Iyer, the younger of the "Karaikudi Vina Brothers". Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer was the younger brother of Subbarama Iyer who was Subramanian's direct grandfather through Subbarama Iyer's third daughter, Veenai Lakshmi Ammal.


The Karaikudi Tradition is a composite style of playing vina and basic practices severally shared by all those who belong to this Karaikudi family tree, collectively identifiable as 'Karaikudi Vina Bani'. The quintessence of the Karaikudi Bani remained with Sambasiva Iyer’s two well-known disciples, one outside of the Karaikudi family, Srimathi Ranganayaki Rajagopalan (the senior most disciple) and the other within the family, Srimathi Rajeswari Padmanabhan, Subramanian's elder sister. After Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer's demise, Subramanian continued to learn and perform with both his sister and Ranganayaki Rajagopalan. This enriched his experience of the Karaikudi Bani from two different perspectives. His work "South Indian Vina - Tradition and Individual Style", a doctoral dissertation as partial fulfilment for a PhD in Ethnomusicology submitted to Wesleyan University, analyses the Karaikudi Style of vina playing from an ethnomusicological perspective. This study further enriched his understanding of the Karaikudi style. Dr. KSS believes that the seed of the Karaikudi Bani is in the fundamentals with its musical aesthetics, techniques and the discipline that circumscribe the Karaikudi Tradition.


Dr. KSS' aim is to expand the Karaikudi Vina tradition through the COMET principles and thereby making it globally relevant. The students are carefully guided throughout the learning process. The study of vina in the COMET methodology insists on a holistic practice of the basic principles of Karnatak music - sruti, sthana, svara, laya and gamaka, through relevant techniques and multiple approaches. This alone eventually empowers the student to accurately self-learn any composition from any musical style.

Karaikudi Vina Tradition: Sri Varalakshmi

Dr. Karaikudi S. Subramanian & his five disciples perform 'Sri Varalakshmi' - a characteristic composition from the Karaikudi Vina repertoire