Born at Aduthurai in Thanjavur district, N. Rajagopalan retired from the Indian Administrative service. He exposure tohistroinics even from in amateur dramas like Sansara Bandham (as heroine)and Saroja (as hero) with merit and grace. (Venues: Museum Theatre, Victoria Public Hall at Chennai; Vani Vilas Sabha at Kumbakonam, etc) He studied music under Sanita Kalanidhi Papanasam Sivan, Subbhurama Bhagavatar and Trichy Sundarrajan (at Chennai).
Was interviewed by The Hindu, Dinamani, The Week, Doordarshan, Jaya T.V., etc. The monumental work and contributions have been appreciated by the media and institutions specifically by The Madras Telugu Academy Karnataka Gana Kala Parishat, Bangalore Carnatica Archval Centre for Music and Dance, Chennai Sri Shanmukhananda Fine Arts & Sangeetha Sabha, Mumbai Honorary Patron, The Carnatic Music Association of North America and The Government of India (Department of Culture) with a Senior Fellowship.
The Present book, "The Holistic Garland" is his unique contribution on a 'mindboggling topic which had not been explored fully by anyone hitherto'. The book shall provide sumptuous food for all art-lovers, researchers, students and the public. 'The Holistic Garland has a number of thoughts well connected by a golden string of devotion, affection and respect to music, art, atc'.
Shri Rajagopalan is a great lover of Carnatic Music. In this book 'The Holistic Garland', his love for every aspect of Carnatic Music its close link with Religion and Spiritualism is spelt out practically in every page and every sentence. The book has to be read slowly every. Every sentence in his book has been written with so much of affection and effort to pack as much thought as possible that one cannot just skim through the book and get a broad idea about the rich contents of the book. This is a book for all those who love Carnatic Music, written by probably one of the great rasikas of Carnatic Muic, which Shri Rajagopalan is.
The book has been rightly called 'The Holistic Garland'. A garland has a number of flowers and this is a book which has a number of thoughts and they are all connected by a single string of devotion, affection and deep respect for Carnatic Music and those who practice it. The book, I am sure, will be welcomed by all lovers carnatic Music and will find a place in their libraries.
Shri Ragagopalan deserves the heartfelt thank of all the lovers of Carnatic Music for coming up with this rich tribute to it.
Write something worthy of the labour! Passionate sane advice with solicitude to all and relevant for all times, indeed. Such a thought strangely presented itself to me in late 1987 as I did not wish to be held out as a living specimen of the ballad 'Solomon Grundy was born, died and buried. The is his story'. After a hectic a hectic search, I chose the theme 'Biographical Dictionary of Carnatic Composers and Musicians'. Quite strangely, such a work had not been attempted at in India, though highly eminent men had graced the field for long with merit and standing, mainly due to the crushing workload, heavy costs, constant travel, correspondence, lack of response and absence of Viability. I wished that that it should that it should not be a mere dictionary of facts and figures as has been in the West but be something more than that in tune with the manodharmic arts and culture of Bharat by bringing to record the best in the lives of artistes, their attainments and glory. So I shaped the work into thesaurus as the books have been described by men of learning,. One of legendary artistes advised [shall I say, 'directed'?] me that I 'need not do the work'. I pitied his advice and commenced work on the Garland series unmindful of physical and mental strain,. Costs, hazards, impediments, etc. By the grace of God, fir hefty volumes have been presented to the world of musicians and rasikas, teachers and students, apprentices and researchers titled 'A Garland', 'Another Garland', 'Yet Another Garland', 'The Fragrant Garland' and 'The Melodic Garland'.
In the evening of my humble life, the writing of these books has given me immense mental solace, a humble sense of service and achievement and spiritual satisfaction. I have resurrected the valiant lives of over 1500 composers, musicians, musicologists and hymnodists from Bharata Muni to date particularly those belonging to Carnatic Music, dancers in bharata natya, etc., besides articles and vital features of eternal interest. Such a massive collection of lives, with all the available data by an individual after arduous work covering full fourteen [double the sapta swaras and one for each of the 'Erezhu ulagabgal'!] years of single-minded dedication, had not been attempted at before. The pioneering books have been well and validly appreciated by authorities of repute as 'a soutce book of reference' and 'a treasure house' of highly valuable fact and information. The series present in a single collection all that is basic, necessary and available for further research and his fact has been substantiated by the lavish use to which it has been put to. The first volume has to go its second edition.
The memorable series has, incidentally, earned me as bonus the name'Garland' Rajagopalan. What is there in name as rose smell sweet howsoever it is called, one may view. True, and yet! Ah! Yet!! The The renowned Padma Vibhushan and Sangita Pitamaha Dr. Semmangudi Srinivasa Ayyar once boarded the first class compartment in an express train. Theticket examiner came, stared at the Vidwan clad in panchakaccha dhoti [in Indian orthodox fashion] and told him curtly, 'Sir, this is reserved for a Doctor. Please vacate.' He believed that did not come up well with one was a doctor and that the panchakaccha gentleman could never be a doctor! And only when he learnt that 'a doctor in music too can wear dhoti in panchakaccha' [words of the Doctor], he turned apologetic and affable. Sure, one will now agree that pseudonyms, titles, etc., of course honestly well-earned, have a place and relevance,
Incidentally the theme chosen by me for my books 'confer immortality' to the artistes covered, especially to those who were/are not fortunate to attain fabulous popularity and public acclaim which are the privilege of but a few; but all shall live in and through my books eternally and be remembered perpetually the gaze and admiration of posterity as they shall always be available in family studies and in national and university libraries. Such books do not command commercial viability. Were the Classical Carnatic Trinity, or Beethoven or Mazart affluent while alive because of their magnificent, matchless and immortal output? I confidently entertain the sincere view that my endeavour is 'the best and noble service' rendered to 'Sangitam [the art and science of music and dance]. To artistes, culture and our dear Nation' on par with my service to Lord Sri Ramanathaswamy ['Ramanatham bhajesham'. Muthuswami Dikshitar hails the Lord] during my official tenure four decades back.
Bharat, indeed, is a unique nation with a splendiferous past that extends to the most, undivided distant pre-historic period, of unparalleled attainments in the field of spiritual and philosophical probes and pursuits to the envy of the world, and of a history of dharmic, cultured and simple living deeply wedded to the sixty-four arts. It is a nation where arts rule and reign in personal and public lives. Nay, even goddesses are reputed to be the source and inspiration, illumination and manifestation of arts – 'Catuslslaslti Kalamaye', 'Kalamala' are phrases of adoration in Sri Lalitha Sahasranama. Soundarya Lahari glorifies this aspect in 'Catuslslasltya tantrai sakalamati santaya bhuvanam stith.' In India arts are not for mere mundane, occasional entertainment and pleasure alone but constitute as much part parcel of life, basically spiritual and secondarily temporal. Invested with august divine origin, image or merit, that act of profound vision lends the utmost aura and aroma. Arts virtually rule over the lives of Indians in a measure that is non pareil and it is a matter of doubt whether the average Indian, be he a connoisseur or lay rustic, can ever stand isolate artistic involvement. Thus the field is vast, the material limmense and scattered and coverage unlimited. The Indian manodharmic attitude and application stimulate, govern and pervade most of the arts and one can easily perceive the close affinity and similarity between what he sees, hears or appreciates in Kashmir and those at Kanyaumari, the soul being intact and differences being peripheral. The swarupa, charactistics [gunas], mode of presentation, in short everything that pertains to any art, may be marginally or apparently different but the inner soul, lifeline and spirit shall be same as if notifying that the art is Indian in conception and mould. Into this perplexing vast vast and profound world of art that has lured millions of illumining lives, dedicated savants, artistic yogis and tyag is from ancient times, imperceptibly destiny had led me with grace and solicitude entrusting me with a mission. How could I hope to thank it adequately? The pioneering, dedicatory work done in consequence has been briefly adverted to in the last pages of this book, appropriately titled 'Holistic Garland' – 'holistic' as deals with what the Indian faithfully believes as absolutely so and 'garland' since I could opt for nothing better to offer my humble tribute especially in the context of the adoption of 'Garland' for the titles of my five earlier books. 'Mala '[garland represents all that is cultured, graceful and the noble. 'Raga ratna malikace' [Ritigaula], garland of a hundred ragas is theme of a song of Tyagaraja, the bard of Tiruvaiyaru.
Wrotr Dr. A.A. Macdonell, the renowned Sanskrit scholar. What Macdonell, the renowned Sanskrit scholar. What Macdonell observed about Sanskrit literature applies to Music literature as well. Wehave voluminous works on the Natya Sastra of Bharata, the Sangita Ratnakara of Sarngadeva, the 22 srutis, the 72 melakarta scheme of Venkatamakhi and the Tala Dasa Pranas but no dictionary of composers and musicians. The only Dictionary of South Indian Music was attempted by the late Prof. Sambanurthy, the father of our musicology; but he could not complete it. It stopped with the letter 'N'. In his dictionary, however, the Professor covered the biographies of many composers and musicians also.
When N. Rajagopalan, [now popularly known as "Garland Rajagopalan"], found in the British Council Library massive editions of the 'Biographical Dictionary of Western Artistes', he wondered why such publication were not brought out in South India. Well-meaning friends advised him that such a work could be undertaken only by universities and similar institutions. But Rajagopalan was well aware that the surest way of 'killing' a project was to entrust it to a committee. So, like Dr. Samuel Johnson, who produced a 'Dictionary of the English Language' "single and unaided", Rajagopalan plunged into the ocean and produced five massive volumes, all by himself. I once wrote to him that "God seems to getspecified jobs done by His chosen people". Rajagopalan intended to eave six massive garlands and decorate with them Sri Matangi Devi, the Goddess of Music. Five of them have already become part of the musical history of South India. And here is the sixth!
Recognizing his worth, contribution and sacrifice, the Government of India made him a Senior Fellow of the Department of Culture for two years and this enabled him to come out with this 'Holistic Garland', this time not covering the lives of musicians, but the 'Growth and Contribution of Classical Carnatic Music vis a vis Religion, Other Arts and Occupations'. This is another mind-boggling production of Rajagopalan on a subject not covered by any previous writer.
What reward does Rajagopalan expect for his work? At the end of the book, he repeats what his idol, Sri Tyagaraja says in his Ganavaridhi Kriti 'Daya Juchuta', viz
'I have sedulously carried out Thy behst with all my heart and steadfastness' Lord Rama will surely accept Rajagopalan's kainkarya and bless him with Him Grace.
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