Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer

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Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer
Thirukokarnam, Tamil Nadu
Died1958 (aged 69–70)
GenresCarnatic music
Sambasiva Iyer (first one from the right) received The Musician award from President Rajendra Prasad (r) in 1952.

Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer (1888 - 1958) was noted Indian classical musician and Veena player.

In 1952, he was amongst the first awardees of the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship the highest honour conferred by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama.[1]

Early life[edit]

Sambasiva Iyer was born in 1888 in Tirugokarnam, Pudukottai district as the second son to Veena Vidwan Subbiah Iyer. Sambasiva Iyer learnt Veena from his father along with his elder brother Subbarama Iyer. The duo belonged to the seventh generation to carry the family's high unbroken Veena tradition. The two brothers played together as "Karaikudi brothers" and enjoyed an unbroken career from their debut in their teens to the year 1934. Sambasiva Iyer was known for his tremendous hard work or "Asura Sadhaka". His mastery over the instrument was perfect and he constantly toiled to preserve the purity of knowledge he obtained from his ancestors.

Sambasiva Iyer did not have any children. However, as he lived in patriarchal society, he found it necessary to pass on the family legacy through a male member of the family. In 1957, he adopted Karaikudi S. Subramanian, who was the son of Subbarama Iyer's 3rd daughter Lakshmi Ammal.


He taught and lived at Kalakshetra, a noted arts institution in Chennai.[2]

He was awarded the first Sangeet Natak Akademi Award for Veena in 1952, given by the Sangeet Natak Akademi, India's National Academy of Music, Dance & Drama.[3] Also in the same year, he was awarded the Sangita Kalanidhi Award, one of the highest awards in Carnatic music, given by Madras Music Academy.[4]

He died in 1958.

Amongst his noted disciples are Kalaimamani and President's award winner (late) Ranganayaki Rajagopalan, Rajeshwari Padmanabhan, Jayalakshmi Sugumar and Karaikudi Subramhanian.[5]

Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer is not to be confused with his namesake musician Padinaindumandapa Sambasiva Iyer. PSI was much older, and guru to two recipients of Sangeet Kalanidhi award : Muthiah Bhagavatar, and his (PSI's) son Sabhesha (सभेश) Iyer.

See also[edit]


  • Birth Centenary of Sangita Kalanidhi Karaikudi Sambasiva Iyer 1888-1988. India International Rural Cultural Centre. 1988.


  1. ^ "SNA: List of Sangeet Natak Akademi Ratna Puraskarwinners (Akademi Fellows)". SNA Official website. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016.
  2. ^ Avanthi Meduri (1 January 2005). Rukmini Devi Arundale: (1904 - 1986) ; a Visionary Architect of Indian Culture and the Performing Arts. Motilal Banarsidass Publisher. pp. 95–. ISBN 978-81-208-2740-0. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  3. ^ "SNA: List of Akademi Awardees". Sangeet Natak Akademi Official website. Archived from the original on 30 May 2015.
  4. ^ "Sangita Kalanidhi recipients". Madras Music Academy website. Archived from the original on 30 December 2012.
  5. ^ Jeff Todd Titon (2008). Worlds of Music: An Introduction to the Music of the World's Peoples: An Introduction to the Music of the World's Peoples. Cengage Learning. pp. 289–. ISBN 978-0-534-59539-5. Retrieved 19 July 2013.

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