Doctorate decorates our celebrated musician

Venkat Raman – 

To hundreds of students, peers, friends and admirers, Padma Govardhan Mallela is a name that resonates Carnatic Music with all its nuances and epitomises a pedagogue who is keen to ensure that the ancient, timeless art is continued by ensuing generations with the same penchant as her own children do.

Staying on that note, we are pleased to announce that Padma Govardhan Mallela (henceforth with the ‘Dr’ honorific) received her Doctorate in Music from Tamil Nadu Governor Konijeti Rosaiah at the 24th Convocation of the Kodaikanal based Mother Teresa University held in in Chennai on February 13, 2016.

Versatile Shankarabharanam

Dr Padma was recognised for her thesis on ‘Shankarabharanam,’ one of the finest and ‘extensive’ Ragas known to humankind over the centuries.

Never known to shirk from duties as a wife, mother and teacher, she took time and effort over many years to develop her thesis on ‘Shankarabharanam’ under the guidance of Dr Radha Venkatachalam, a renowned singer and teacher in India.

Dr Padma incorporated the ‘Janya’ Ragas in her thesis.

Ragas are stated to be inexhaustible, with unknown origins but ‘Shankarabharanam’ is a submission to Lord Shiva (also known as ‘Shankara’). It evokes piety, artistic talent, and a volley of emotions that must be ‘experienced’ and not read.

Indian Newslink has been promoting Dr Padma and her Sangeetha Bharathi Music School since its establishment in 2004, although she has been teaching music to a growing number of younger and older members of the society since her arrival with her family 17 years ago. Her husband Mr Mallela has been a great pillar of strength in her musical career, while their daughter Vishnu Priya and son Balu have proved to be the chips of the old block with their prowess in music, the former as a singer and the latter as a singer and an artiste adept in Mridangam, Ghatam and Octopad.

Dedicated Teacher

Even as she pursued her own educational pathway as a doctorate student, Dr Padma has been imparting her knowledge to hundreds of students, with ten of them completing their graduation in Carnatic Music examinations conducted by the London based Academy of Fine Arts and the New Zealand Carnatic Music Society (Auckland), recognised by the University of Madras.

This in itself is considered a major achievement, since graduate qualification is reserved only for a few who are persistent in their training and performance.

The stalwarts

Tribute to ‘Annamacharya,’ the famous 15th Century poet, is an annual feature of Sangeetha Bharathi Music School which breaks new grounds, thanks to the efforts of Dr Padma, Mr Mallela and their children. The event allows scores of people, young and old, to demonstrate their proficiency in Carnatic Music to discerning audiences.

As well as an impressive record of stage performances in New Zealand and India (appearance in Chennai include the Hamsadhwani Sabha, Music Educational Trust and other avenues), Dr Padma has organised performances of a number of musical stalwarts, the foremost among who is Dr Balamuralikrishna, a doyen of Carnatic Music. He acknowledges Dr Padma as one of the finest singers and students.

Impressive beginnings

Dr Padma evinced interest in Carnatic even during her formative years but it was when she was 12 years old that she began learning the art in her native Vijayawada, from Annavarapu Ramaswamy and Ramakumari.

Years later, moving to Chennai, she completed the ‘Sangeetha Ratna’ course from the Music Academy, under the guidance of Sangeetha Kalanidhi B Rajam Iyer and S R Janakiraman.

Relocating to Hyderabad, she learnt Carnatic Music from Dr Balamuralikrishna and Neti Rama Sharmashe and completed her post-graduation in Music from University of Madras. She is also a graduate in Science with Botany as a major subject and a postgraduate in Public Administration.

Children’s Tribute

As a part of their tribute to their Mother and Guru, Vishnu Priya and Balu will present a Carnatic Music vocal concert at Dorothy Winstone Centre, Auckland Girls Grammar School on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at 530 pm. They will be accompanied by Bhairavi Raman on Violin and Ashwini Vishwanath on Flute.

Further information can be obtained from Govardhan Mallela on 021-1455708.


About Shankarabharanam

Shankarabharanam is a 29 Dhira Shankarabharanam Melakarta Ragam with the same name in Muthusamy Dikshitar’s Asampoorna Melakarta system.

It is a Sampoorna Ragam with Panchama Chakram and Madhyama Bhana.

It is known as ‘Bilaval Thaat’, a major building block in Hindustani Music.

Apparently its Western classical equivalent is C Major with the notes Doh, Re, Mi, Fah, So, La, Ti set to this Raga.

By definition, Melakarta Ragams are symmetric, moving up in octave or down.  Arohanam and the Avarohanam are reversed in Melakarta Ragams, and are hence called Sampoorna Ragam. This Raga has tremendous scope for elaboration and is very popular among all singers in the Ragam-Tanam-Pallavi segment of a concert.

Shankarabharanam is stated to be a Ragam suitable for evening performances.

It has the largest number of Janya Ragams (the Janya entry is still under construction), namely Arabhi, Athana, Bangala, Begada, Behag, Bilahari, Durbar, Durvanki, Devagandhari, Garudadhwani, Gaudamalhar, Hamsadhwani, Hamsavinodhini, Janaranjani, Kadanakuthoohalam, Kanada, Kannada, Kedaram, Kuranji, Maahuri, Navaroj, Nagadhwani, Narayani, Narayanadesakshi, Nilambari, Phalamanjari, Purnachandrika, Purvagowla, Sahana, Sama, Saraswatimanohari, Sindumandari, Suddha Vasantham, Suddha Saveri and Vasantha.

Muthusamy Diskhitar, one the Trinities of Carnatic Music has composed 40 songs in Shankarabharanam known as Nottu Swara Sahityam.


What: Tribute to Dr Padma Govardhan Mallela

Music Concert by Vishnu Priya & Balu Mallela and others

When: Saturday, March 5, 2015 at 530 pm

Where: Dorothy Winstone Centre

Auckland Girls Grammar School

16 Howe Street, Freeman’s Bay

Contact: Govardhan Mallela on (09) 6245922 or 021-1455708


From our Archives (August 1 2004 Issue)

Carnatic music school launched

An institution to impart Carnatic music was officially launched on July 31 in Auckland.

The event, held at the Mt Roskill Intermediate School Hall, paid tributes to the 15th century composer Annamacharya who attained fame with his devotional songs (‘Sankeertanas’) in praise of Venkateswara, the Lord of the Seven Hills in Tirupathi.

The School, called, ‘Sangeeta Bharathi,’ aims to impart Carnatic music among Carnatic music enthusiasts and boasts of 40 students.

Principal Padma Govardhan Mallela said it was only apt that the institution was began with homage to the great 15th Century Saint, whose 32,000 Sankeertanas have inspired piety in men, women and children for more than 500 years.

“Carnatic musicians usually pay tribute to great composers such as Annamacharya (reverently addressed, ‘Annamayya’) Thyagaraja, Purandaradasa and Muthusamy Dikshitar and mark occasions singing their songs. Annamayya’s songs are easily understood by the common people,” she said.

Related posts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: