Tribute to Radha Viswanathan

1) Vishnu Sahasranamam

In the interview, A daughter remembers, Radha shares, ‘It was Musiri who had advised them about the importance of ‘voice synchrony;’ he had told Radha, “Your voice should blend with MS’s and sound like a single, integrated tenor.” No wonder their Vishnu Sahasranamam recording is known for this quality! “In the line, “Amaaani Maanado Maanyo,” when MS briefly stopped to take a breath, it had to be re-recorded, but Amma insisted it be left alone. ‘Let people know that Radha sang along,’ Amma said.”’

Youtube Link to Vishnu Sahasranamam at the start of this line  

2)  Radha singing in the higher octaves in the Padam learnt from Smt T Brinda

moratopu in ragam sahana, composer : kshetrajna


3) Radha singing the Raga Alapana for Purvikalyani before the song Jnanamosagarada


4) Radha explaining Ragam Tanam Pallavi at a concert in USA in 1966 


5) Radha doing the Anulomam for the Pallavi (at the very end of the Pallavi in Ragam Bhairavi – Dharavi Dalita Kuvalaya


6) Radha leading the Bhajan Kasi Pate (when MS and Radha participated in a Bhajan Mandali at Vasant Vihar Chennai

Solo Concert by Radha Viswanathan in All India Radio 

Accompanists : Shri Kandadevi Azhagiriswamy(Violin) and Shri T K Murthy(Mridangam)

Source :

1.Sriman Narayana in Ragam Bhouli, composer : Annamacharya, tuned by Kadayanallur Venkatraman


2. Devi Neye Thunai in Ragam Keeravani, composer : Papanasam Sivan


3. Sobillu Saptaswara in Ragam Jaganmohini, composer: Thyagaraja


4.Bhajare Re Chitha in Ragam Kalyani, composer: Dikshithar


5. Kitne Dosh bhajan in Raag Kaafi


6. Athane Paduve in Ragam Hamsanandi, composer:Purandaradasa


7. Aliveni Padam in Ragam Kurinji. composer :Svati Tirunaal


Radha, the BharataNatyam Artist

From Veejai Sai’s Tribute to Radha 

“The world of music knew Radha as MS’ daughter. She was a dancer, to begin with, a student of Vazhuvoor B Ramaiyah Pillai, Radha was his first student along with Anandhi, daughter of famous writer Kalki Krishanmurthi.
Today, the Vazhuvoor tradition is thriving and we should thank Radha for being the trigger for it. Now, it is all codified and we know the vocabulary of the dance form. She is the uncrowned queen of the Vazhuvoor tradition.”

Read about Radha-Anandhi Arangetram

As Bala Meera in the movie Meera 

  1. Song : Nandabala ;  YouTube Link (Tamil Meera Movie)
  2. Dance : Radha(Bala Meera) dancing with Kamala Lakshman – Youtube Link 
  3. Song: Asharana sharaney shyaama harey – Youtube Link 

As Bharata in the movie Sakuntalai 

Youtube Link to the Movie Sakuntalai


MS Repertoire – Range of Genres

The galaxy of genres span South Indian Classical (Carnatic) and North Indian Classical (Hindustani) Music.

A glimpse from the vast repertoire of MS.


MS and Radha participated in a Bhajan Mandali held at Vasant Vihar Chennai.   MS is leading this Namavali – Gowri Nandana Gajanana

2. Adi Tala Varnam 

Entho Prema in Ragam Surutti composed by Tiruvottiyur Thyagaraja

3. Ata Tala Varnam

Viribhoni – in Ragam Bhairavi  sung in 1960s

4. Abhang 

Sundarathey Dhyana in Raga Yaman Kalyan

5. Bhajan 

Gave Guni Gani  in Raga Desh sung in 1950s

6. Kavadi Chindu 

Manju Nihar

7. Svarajathi 

Amba Kamakshi in Ragam Bhairavi, Mishra Chapu Talam composed by Shyama Sastri

Nee Saati in Ragam Shriranjani composed by Dikshithar

8. Pancharatnams composed by Thyagaraja

Link :

9. Devar Nama composed by Purandaradasa

The Karnataka Government had organised the 400th Purandara Jayanti at the Purandara Mantap on the banks of the Tungabhadra in Hampi. M.S. was to inaugurate the concert in the evening.On the morning of the concert, a few women near the riverbank were talking among themselves in Tamil, wondering whether they would get a darshan of M.S.At the same time, a group of Tamil women was walking towards the river to have a holy dip. The women walked up to those seated and inquired about their welfare.On learning about their desire, a middle-aged woman instantaneously squatted on the sands and sang Dasana madiko enna swami, Elliruvano Ranga emba samshaya beda and Enduro mahanubhavulu!u. TRS who was present there was so overwhelmed by the bhakti that he fell prostrate before the great M.S. “Every rasika is a Purandara-Kanaka-Tyagaraja and other saint composers to me. So a rasika’s wish is a command to be obeyed at once,” she told him.G.T. Narayana Rao, Tiruchi, T.N.” (from Letters to the Editor, Hindu)

Listen to the songs from this concert at Hampi, 1964 at the link below


10. Dadra 

Muraliya in Raag Mishra Khamaj

11. Shabad

Thakur Tum Charan in Raag Maand

12. Rabindra Sangeet

Link :

13. Tarangam composed by Narayana Teertha

Govinda Miha in Ragam Bageshri, Talam Khanda Chapu

14. Pasurams –  verses written between 7th – 9th Century AD

Link :

15. Tevaram – verses written in 7th century AD 


16. Viruttams

Link :

17. Sanskrit Slokas


18. Suprabhatam – Recordings

Venkateswara Suprabhatham

Kamakshi Suprabhatham

Kasi Rameshwara Suprabhatham

tiruvenkatamudaiyaan tiruppalliye (Sri venkatesa suprabhatam in tamil)

Meenakshi Suprabhatam

19. Kritis 

Marubalka in Ragam Shriranjani composed by Thyagaraja

Shri Krishna Bhaja manasa in Ragam Thodi composed by Dikshithar 

Mayamma in Ragam Ahiri composed by Shyama Sastri 

20. Thillana 

Surutti Thillana composed by Mysore Vasudevacharya

21. Ghazal  

Ishrate Qatra composed by Mirza Galib; Part of  11 Languages Record

22. Thiruppugazh 

Apakaara Nindai in Ragam Chakravaham ; Verses written by Arunagirinathar

23. Javali

Cheli nenetlu in ragam Paras,  composition of Tanjore Chinnayya,

24. Ragam Tanam Pallavi 

Link :

25. Padam

moratopu calada in ragam sahana, composer Kshetragna

26.  MelaRagaMalika Chakra composed by Shri Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer  – Recording in 1989


MS Centenary Tribute – Born to Sing

Excerpts from Gowri Ramnarayan’s  script for Born to Sing with links to the songs referenced

Read the full script in the book Song of SurrenderA Centenary Tribute to M S Subbulakshmi published by JustUs Repertory and the Sruti Foundation ; excerpts being shared with Gowri Ramnarayan’s permission.

Ma Ramanan – Tamil

‘MS made her film debut in Sevasadanam, 1938 one of the earliest Indian films to advocate women’s emancipation. The film had music by the venerable composer Papanasam Sivan with whom MS shared a special rapport. These songs were set in the usual devotional kriti mould to familiar ragas. They have therefore passed into the Carnatic concert repertoire. But in the context of the film, MS sang them as pleas, urging God to emancipate women, to educate women, to empower women.

Brochevarevarura – Telugu 

‘MS had the privilege of singing Brochevarevarura in Kalakshetra with the nonagenarian composer Mysore Vasudevacharya sitting before her !  And when Vasudevacharya came up leaning on Rukmini Devi’s arm to felicitate her, he began with a story: “There was a father who was so poor that his daughter had to be married in a cheap cotton sari, black beads and glass bangles. However, a few months later, the daughter comes home from her in-laws home to pay a visit. Dressed in silks, she is adorned with gold and diamonds from head to toe. Today, hearing Subbulakshmi sing my Brochevarevarura, I feel like that poor father who sees his daughter is transformed., oh so gloriously, from a simple girl into a stunning goddess. I wonder, Is this my song ? How did it become so divine?”

Kahan ke Pathak – HIndi 

“One morning when MS came to the spacious verandah in Kalki Gardens to find Devdas Gandhi on an easy chair, newspaper in one hand, filter coffee in the other, teaching young Anandhi, a favorite song of his. MS listened for a minute and quickly sat next to Anandhi and started learning the song. Other children came to swell the group. That is how Kahan ke Pathak, a Tulsidas poem, became a part of the MS repertoire.

Narayana nu – Gujarati


“Before a concert at St Xavier’s college in Bombay, MS hesitated to include Narayananu as she was unsure of the words. Sadasivam closed his eyes and sang the whole song for his wife. She listened, asked him to sing it once again, and rendered it that very evening.”

Mallika bone – Bengali

“What made her deploy that perfectly toned voice was her sensitivity to poetry. When she taught a new song she invariably began by explaining the meaning first. How could she not fall in love with Tagore’s moving scene of the jasmine wood ?

When the jasmine wood in my heart bore its first buds

I strung the blooms and my offerring to you

Will you not come ?”

Dhav Vibho – Marathi


” A Marathi abhang that MS learnt from a gramaphone plate in her youth. The year is 1933, the place Kumbakonam during the once in 12 years Mahamagham festival.  Sadasivam is in charge of the khadi stall at the fair. He hears music from the makeshift theatre. He stops spellbound. The voice implores the Lord to save humanity, Janana marana bhaya.  He did not know it then, but he would meet her years later.”

MS and Visalam

Thaaye Seyagi
Original Article published in Kalki Magazine in Jan 2006
A rough translation of the original article is enclosed below

When the mother became the child
Memories shared by Visalam Ammal

“I must have been around 10 years old. Both my father and mother were working in Kalki Gardens. A palatial home, a huge beautiful garden, and many other children Radha, Vijaya, Thangam and Anandhi to play with. So, I used to like going there often to play. It is there that I saw MS Amma for the first time. Such a smiling face, curly hair, soft spoken and so much beauty and grace. Noticing how precocious I was, MS Amma said “ Why not let her stay here, for a few days, with us ?” Who would have known that those ‘few days’ would really end up being the next 64 years ?

From that day, I had the good fortune to stay with MS Amma and help her with anything she needed till the very end of her life. Sadasivam Sir would tease her and say “Kunjamma, I think in your entire life, the name you have called the most must be Visalam ! “ Somehow, Amma had so much affection for me. She always wanted me to be by her side.

When my father informed them that my marriage had been arranged and was going to take place in Senji(about 3 hours from Chennai), I am not sure if Amma thought I was going to leave forever; she ran into her bedroom, threw herself on the bed and sobbed. Sadasivam Sir comforted her and said that I will not be going away forever and that I will be coming back after my wedding.

Amma had concerts or recordings all the time and so I used to take meticulous care to make sure she was in good health. Amma used to be even more strict about my well-being ! Amma would scold me and say “ You keep washing your hair because it is the month of Krithigai, Monday or Wednesday and then running to do your work without drying your hair properly; you might fall sick. Make sure you dry your hair properly and also put Sambrani on it “ If Amma even heard a small sneeze from me, she would come running and to touch my forehead and check to make sure I did not have fever.

Whenever I brought her anything to eat, Amma would first ask me – “ Have you eaten ?” I would insist that I was only bringing her food after I had eaten; but she was not fooled. She would shake her finger playfully and admonish “ Don’t you lie to me !”

As they grew older, Sadasivam Sir was not picky about food; even if it was curd rice with a tasty Peerkangai Thogayal, he would enjoy and eat it. But Amma was not like that; it took a lot of effort to convince Amma to eat properly. Sadasivam Sir would jokingly tell me “ You better come with us to heaven, Visalam. I am not sure if there are people there to give us our medicine correctly and to make sure we eat properly every day!”

Day to day, Amma would dress with simple elegance. Till the very end, she used Kasturi Manjal(Turmeric), and cosmetics made with naturally occurring ingredients like Hyderabad Kum Kum for her Bindi, Kohl made with the herb karisalankanni, dry shikakai powder. In her younger days, her curly hair used to spread out on her back, like the feathers of the peacock. Many women used to ask me what shampoo Amma used. They would not believe it when I said Amma only used a dry mix of powdered shikakai and moong dal.

Amma was really not that interested in gold jewelry. She used to love wearing glass bangles and used to have two boxes full of glass bangles in various colors. When Sadasivam Sir used to see it, he would say “ Why so many ? It is a burden. “ And, Amma used to give even that away, four at a time, to various friends.

When Amma was seriously ill and at Isabella Hospital, she was very weak and only communicating via gestures. I did a namaskaram to her and gestured, asking if I may leave. Amma immediately responded in a feeble voice “Where are you going ? Why are you going? Come back quickly. “
That was the last time I saw and spoke to Amma. It has been one year since Amma told me to come quickly.

Amma may not have given birth to me but I am also like a daughter to her. Radha and Vijaya treat me like a sister even now. I consider it an incredible boon that someone like me from such a humble background got the opportunity to serve such a world famous and great musical legend.”

MS Repertoire – Viruttams

A compilation of many of the soulful Viruttams that MS has sung in various concerts.


“MS is one of the most inspired interpreters of poetry, not in one language but many languages; her musical imagination was stirred by the words as well and therefore when she sang, the verse unfurled its hidden latent meanings like a bud opening its petals at the touch of the sun. In every language she sang, MS remained sensitive to the sound of the words as much to their sense. She also knew that meanings were never literal; they had connotations, implications even ambiguities.

Linguistic sensitivity not just perfect diction, that is the hallmark of the MS style and it is inimitable. ”  – Gowri Ramnarayan in the Tribute to MS titled ‘Star Trek’ at the Hindu Lit for Life 2016.

1. Petra Thai; Lyrics : Tiruvacakam by Manikkavacakar

Translation by Gowri Ramnarayan

”One of her signature vitruttams, which involved improvised ragas across an exquisite Tamil lyric goes :

Even if the mother forgets the child,

and the child forgets the mother who bore it, 

even if life forsakes the body, and the body forsakes the soul,

even if the heart abandons the art it had absorbed, and eyes fail to blink,

I shall not forget the lord who resides within pure souls

a) Petra Thai in ragam Nadanamakriya followed by Araar Asai Padaar

Concert at Mysore, 1960s

and decades later

b) Petra Thai in ragams Revati and Yamunakalyani followed by Shiva Panchaksharam – Youtube

2. Viruttams in Tamil Meera; Lyrics : Kalki Krishnamurthy 

a)  Chara Charam in ragam Hamsanandi 

b)  Udal Uruga 

3.  Paal Ninaindhuttum in ragams Centurity, Nadanamakriya ; Lyrics : Tiruvacakam by Manikkavacakar

Concert at Madras Music Academy, 1965

4. Ettanai Vidangal Thaan; Lyrics : Anandhamana param by Thayumanavar

    Translation by Seetha Ravi 

“All my knowledge and learning have not humbled me
My ego persists unchanged
The mind is transfixed with desire for everything it perceives
I have not known compassion and generosity in my entire life
Nobility of character and penance elude me even in my dreams
Untruth is all I speak and have not uttered even a sampling of truth
I helplessly indulge in endless discourse instead of dwelling in silence divine
Tell me, Have you even heard of or seen another as insolent ?
Oh blissful presence in whom the cosmos comes to rest and finds itself….!”

a) Ettanai Vidangal Thaan in ragams Dhanyasi, Charukesi, and Sivaranjani followed by Kurai Onrum Ilai

AIR Concert 1980s

b) Ettanai Vidangal Thaan  in ragams Kedaragowla, Varali, Mohanam and Kapi                                    

Concert in Bengaluru 1988

5.  Viruttam – Udum Atheen kuzhal in ragams Shanmukhapriya, Dhanyasi, Paras, Mohanam

6. Viruttam Oru Tharam Saravanabhava 

a)  Oru Tharam Saravanabhava in ragams Saveri, Dhanyasi,Shanmukhapriya,

Air Concert

 b) Oru Tharam Saravanabhava in ragams Begada, Shanmukhapriya, Kedaragowla, Chandrakauns, Mohanam

Concert at Narada Gana Sabha, 1969

7. Viruttam – Vakkundam in ragam Madyamavati; Lyrics : Avvaiyaar

8. Vedam Padiya Viruttam in ragam  Poorvikalyani followed by slokam Aruna Saroruha and Suryamurte in ragam Saurashtram

Concert at Asthika Samajam, 1969

9. Thiruve En Selvame in ragam Hari Kambodhi ; lyrics :  Tevaram written by Appar Tirunavukkarasar Nayanar 

10. Kulam Tharum in Ragam Mohanam followed by Narayana Divya Namam

11,Chediyaya valvinaigal theerkum in ragam Hamsanandi ; lyrics : Kulasekhara Alvar 

Concert at Madras Music Academy in 1960; Sung by Radha Viswanathan

12. Magic of MS Album (Sanskriti) includes Chelpattu Azhindhadhu 

13. Paddhati Brahma Gana Sabha Concert Album  (Charsur) includes Enba Kalandila Paaviyar Padum Tuyaram

14. Thamizhe Isaiyai Album (SaReGaMa)  includes Kuthagayai,  Thazh Sadaiyum and Ulagam Yaaviyum