For him, music is worship
Kollegal R Subrahmanyam known for his mellifluous singing soaked in bhakti rasabelonged to the select class of musicians for whom music was a form of worship (Nadopasana) incomparable to any other. Teaching and writing books on music, conducting Tyagaraja aradhanas and participating in all activities that propagated music, the eminent musician born in Kollegal in Karnataka made Hyderabad his home way back in 1945. The much-feted musician, who received numerous titles and awards was also an erudite scholar who wrote dance ballets and Kritis in several languages like Kannada, Malayalam, Telugu, Tamil and Sanskrit. His concerts attracted a large number of audiences all over South India as well as in places like Delhi, Lucknow and Varanasi in the North.
Born on November 9, 1929 in Kollegal situated in the region bordering Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, Kollegal Subrahmanyam popularly referred to as "Kollegal' after his birthplace, learnt music initially from R. Balakrishna Iyer and later in the Gurukula tradition from Brahmasri Belawadi Varadaraja Aiyangar, a Vidwan of the Mysore Royal court and disciple of the renowned guru Harikeshanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar. Kollegal maintained that the most memorable occasion of his life was the time when Muthiah Bhagavathar placed his hand on his head and blessed him at a concert in Bengaluru. An important part of Kollegal's musical journey was the Tyagaraja Aradhana that he conducted at Hyderabad beginning with the year 1967 after receiving blessings from the Kanchi Paramacharya. Initiated into the "Unchavritti tradition" he would dress like Sri Tyagaraja and walk the streets with his portrait in hand, followed by disciples and music lovers from the Seetharamaswamy temple in Vidyanagar in Hyderabad reminding many people of the great saint Tyagaraja himself. Sogreat was his devotion to Tyagaraja that he later installed an idol of Tyagaraja at the temple which music lovers referred to as "Chinna Thiruvayur".
Kollegal Subrahmanyam also conducted uthsavams or festivals for Muthuswami Dikshitar, Shyama Sastri, Annamayya, Bhadrachala Ramadasa and Purandaradasa driven by an unswerving devotion to music and musical greats who left behind a great legacy. Apart from a small booklet which contained the "Tyagaraja Sahasra namavali" Kollegal authored two books titled "Tyagaraja Shatha Ratna Malika" and a book containing exclusive Shiva Kruthis of Tyagaraja. Balancing books on music with those devoted to worship became an integral part of Kollegal Subrahmanyam's life as he performed homas and wrote books on navavarana kritis dedicated to goddess Lalita devi, Shringeri Keertana manimala, Vyasapuri Saraswathi, Navadurga and Manipravala keertanas. A book titled "Nadopasanayil Sri Vidya" containing 50 kritis in Tamil is also credited to him. Among a string of titles he received was the "Kala Vipanchi" bestowed by the musical genius Dr. Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna at the Madras Music Academy.
Kollegal Subrahmanyam's sublime devotion and large body of work is remembered with gratitude by his many disciples and the release of CDs with 41 kritis on "Nadopasanaya Srividya" written by himat the"Sri Sringeri Shankara Matham" in Hyderabad recently was an occasion to recall his yeoman contribution to music. Eminent musicians like Yanamandra Srinivasa Sarma, a Sanskrit scholar, musician and "Srividyopasaka" from Rajahmundry and B. Vaidyanathan, Sangeeta Vidwan and founder Sangitha Vijayanthi, a school of "sampradaya sangeetham' graced the occasion attended by a discerning audience aware of Kollegal's greatness.