Pandit Puttaraj Gavai: A beacon for thousands

An exponent of the Gwalior gharana, Puttaraj was born in 1914 at Charanthimata in Karnataka's Dharwad district. He lost his father in his infancy and began his first music lessons under his uncle Chandrashekarayya.

His uncle sent Gavai to musician Gangayogi Panchakshara Gawai, under whose tutelage Puttaraj blossomed.

Gavai's talent for learning languages did not go unnoticed by his guru, who also engaged different masters to teach him various languages, turning him into a polyglot, well versed in Kannada, Sanskrit and Hindi.

He penned works -- literary, spiritual and musical -- in all these languages.

Gavai's zest for musical excellence also led him to master various musical instruments, including the violin, tabla, harmonium, mridangam and veena.

The master was bestowed with several awards both from states and the Centre. He has been honoured with the Padma Bhushan, the Karnataka Rajyotsav Award, the Basvashri award, Kanaka Purandara Prashasti, Rajya Sangeet Vidwan Award.

The recitals of the guru and his disciples enthralled audiences, leading to an invitation from HMV recording company in 1933. The duo rendered Kanganava Mora in Raag Kedari, Chaina Nahin Mere in Hageshri and two Kannada Padas Magana Toogiro and Dhyanava Madiro. The records received a good response in the state.

Gavai's penchant for the literary word saw him penning many books on music, including Sangeet Shastra Jnana and Tabla Shikshaka GuruSudha in two volumes. In Kannada, he wrote several books, including Akkamahadevi Purana, Siddeswara Purana, Purathanara Purana Veerabhadreshwara Purana and Sharana Basaveshwara Purana.

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