The Compositions of Lalgudi G. Jayaraman

Written By Mohan Ayyar for Pallavi's Lalgudi G. Jayaraman concert souvenir, November 1995.

Padmashri Lalgudi G. Jayaraman is recognised as one of the most prolific composers in Carnatic music of the modern era. He has composed many tana and pada varnams, tillanas as well as krithis. He has composed in the Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit languages. The following article will give an insight into Lalgudi Jayaraman, the vaggeyakara or composer.

As a way of enhancing his own violin concerts, Lalgudi Jayaraman began to compose new varnams and tillanas to add to his concert repertoire. Later, he has composed on the request of leading dancers and musicians. He has chosen appealing ragas in which not many other popular compositions. Also he has introduced attractive laya or rhythmic intricacies into the compositions.


The varnam is the foundation of Carnatic music. By practising varnams one acquires raga and swara gnana (knowledge) as well as tala purity. The tana varnam has only lyrics for the pallavi, anupallavi and charanam sections of the compositions. Other sections have only swaras. Musicians will usually begin a concert with a tana varnam. The pada varnam differs from the tana varnam in that lyrics are also set for chitta swara sections. Finally, in the daru or padajathi varnam jathi or rhythmic syllables are sung in addition to swaras. Pada varnams are often the central piece of a bharatanatyam performance.

Good varnams will strictly conform to the structure of the raga of the composition. They will give students of music much insight into the essence of the raga. Lalgudi Jayaraman has composed many varnams that have come to serve as guides to various ragas. By composing in ragas like Devagandhari and Nilambari he has disproved the belief that such ragas would be unsuitable for varnams. Some his most popular varnams are those set in Charukesi, Valaji, and Bahudari ragams.

Lalgudi Jayaraman's Varnams

Composition        Raga                           In praise of   

Chalamu séyanéla   Valaji                         Muruga         
Parama karuna      Garudadhvani                   Muruga         
Neevé gatiyani     Nalinakanthi                   Muruga         
Neevégaani         Mandari                        Muruga         
Tirumal maruga     Andolika                       Muruga         
Tarunam en tayé    Sama                           Ambaal         
Aruna dayamé       Bowli                          Shakti         
Ento prématonu     Bahudari                       Muruga         
Jalajaksha         Asaveri                        Muruga         
Inta tamasaméla    Kannada                        Muruga         
Vallabhai nayaka   Mohana kalyani                 Ganesha        
Devi un paadamé    Devagandhari                   Saraswathi     
Unnai yand'ri      Kalyani                        Parvathi       
Innum en manam     Charukesi (pada varnam)        Krishna        
Senthil mevum      Neelambari (pada varnam)       Muruga         
Devar munivar      Shanmughapriya (pada varnam)   Venkateswara
Angayarkanni       Ragamalika (Navarasa pada      Parvathi       


A tillana consists of primarily jathis or rhythmic syllables. These syllables have no meaning. Usually there are only lyrics for the charanam or final section. Often swaras will be interspersed with the jathi combinations. It is traditional to include a tillana towards the end of a music concert or dance recital.

Sri Jayaraman's first composition was a tillana in Vasanta more than thirty years ago. This was the period when he was accompanying the grand masters of Carnatic music such as Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar and G. N. Balasubramaniam. The tillanas of Lalgudi Jayaraman are characterised by rhythmic brilliance and melodic purity. Many of the ragas he has chosen for the tillanas are Hindustani in origin. He has also used a variety of talas. They are very popular among leading musicians and bharathanatyam dancers. Some of the most popular "Lalgudi" tillanas are in Behag, Mohanakalyani and Kaanada ragas.

Lalgudi Jayaraman's Tillanas

Raga              Language    In praise of  

Vasanta           Telugu      Muruga        
Darbari Kaanada   Tamil       Muruga        
Bageshri          Tamil       Muruga        
Desh              Tamil       Muruga        
Hameer kalyani    Telugu      Muruga        
Behag             Tamil       Muruga        
Anandabhairavi    Telugu      Venkateswara  
Kapi              Tamil       Muruga        
Tilang            Tamil       Muruga        
Dwijavanti        Sanskrit    Krishna       
Pahadi            Sanskrit    Siva          
Kaanada           Tamil       Krishna       
Kuntalavarali     Tamil       Muruga        
Brindavani        Tamil       Krishna       
Kadanakuthuhalam  Tamil       Krishna       
Mohanakalyani     Sanskrit    Muruga        
Yamuna kalyani    Tamil       Krishna       
Sindhubhairavi    Tamil       Muruga        
Chenchurutti      Tamil       Parvathi      
Bhimplas          Tamil       Muruga        
Rageshri          Telugu      Nataraja      
Revathi           Tamil       Muruga        
Vaasanti          Tamil       Muruga        
Madhuvanti        Tamil       Krishna       
Khamas            Tamil       Muruga        
Misrasivaranjani  Tamil       Muruga        
Mand              Tamil       Kamakshi      
Hamsanandi        Tamil       Krishna       
Karnaranjani      Tamil       Krishna       
Nalinakanthi      Tamil       Shiva-Shakti   
Bindumalini       Tamil       Parvathi


Krithis are the main component of the modern concert repertoire. They generally consist of a pallavi, anupallavi and one or more charanam sections.

Lalgudi Jayaraman's Krithis

Krithi            Raga            Language     In praise   

Vinayakunnadeva   Dharmavathi     Telugu       Muruga      
Kandan seyalanro  Natakurinji     Tamil        Muruga      
Ten madurai       Hamsaroopini    Tamil        Meenakshi   
Kumara guruguham  Shanmukhapriya  Sanskrit     Muruga      
Nee dayai         Begada          Tamil        Muruga      

In addition to his krithis, varnams and tillanas, Lalgudi Jayaraman has composed and conducted 5 orchestral pieces for All India Radio's 'Vadya Vrinda' programme. They are in the ragas Priyadarshini, Nagaswaravali, Kannada, Amrithavahini and Mohana Kalyani. He has also composed a Pushpanjali in Gambhiranattai and a Jathiswaram in Rasikapriya. Both of these are compositions for dance. Recently, he composed the lyrics and music for the operatic ballet 'Jaya Jaya Devi' which premiered in 1994 at Cleveland, USA.

In conclusion, Lalgudi Jayaraman has not only made a mark on the Carnatic music world as a brilliant violinist but has proved to be a wonderful, distinguished composer also.


Jayaraman, Lalgudi G. (1994), Lalgudis' Creations: Compositions of V. R. Gopala Iyer and Lalgudi G. Jayaraman, Indian Foundation for Performing Arts, Madras.

Panchapakesa Iyer, A. S. (1989), Karnataka Sangeeta Sastra, Ganamrutha Prachuram Madras.

Pattabhi Raman, Sulochana (1991), 'Aesthetics of an Auteur', Sruti, Issue 80.