My Sydney Music Guru is no more



It was early January 2000 and I was about a week old in Sydney having gone there to start business operations for my Indian employer.  We (my wife Geetha, son Anirudh (then 3 years) + and self) were  searching for a home in the suburbs.  We had heard about a Murugan temple nearby and went there to offer prayers.

A festival was on in the temple premises and the reigning deity was being taken in a procession around the sanctum sanctorum.  I was walking behind the procession and was humming a raga.  Suddenly, the person in front of me turned and asked me ” Are you from India?  Your Bilahari (name of raaga that i was humming) is really good.  Have you learnt music formally? From whom?”

I told him that i have come very recently from India and that i have learnt music quite informally from my grandmother and in patches from some gurus in India.

What he said next really floored me.  “Thambi! neenga enkitte pattu kathukareengalaa? which can be roughly translated as “Young man! will you learn music from me?”

I did not know anything about this person and so i wasn’t sure how to respond.  He gave me his address and phone number and asked me to meet him soon.

That was my first encounter of Shri Param Thillairajah, my music guru in Australia and this was a rare case of a teacher finding a student than the other way around.

My life in Australia wasn’t the same until I left in mid 2001.  Will share some of the highlights of our relationship in subsequent posts.




  1. N Ramesh said,

    August 18, 2012 at 8:42 am

    My Dear Badri,

    I am really sorry hear the news. I am glad that you are very passionate about your association with him though it was only for a short time !

    I am sure you will get many more such instances and experiences in life !

    Thus Spake N Ra

    • badrirag said,

      August 18, 2012 at 9:01 am

      Dear Ramesh,

      Thank you. Perhaps you attended the chamber concert that both of us gave at a3 Rohini. I intend to share some of my interactions with him shortly.


  2. balaclass7 said,

    August 18, 2012 at 2:02 pm

    It is strange how sometimes we meet some very important people in the most unexpected place.Imagine finding a music guru in australia even without searching!! You must have been lucky.

    • badrirag said,

      August 18, 2012 at 2:06 pm

      Indeed I was. it is my intention to share some of the most memorable moments in this relationship in a few posts. keep reading and stay in touch

  3. Srikrishnan.R said,

    August 23, 2012 at 5:09 am

    Dea Badriji,
    So sad to hear it. For I know how difficult it is to lose your guru.
    May his soul rest in peace.

    • badrirag said,

      August 23, 2012 at 5:48 am

      Thank you Sri. I really want to share what this relationship meant to me through my subsequent posts.

  4. August 25, 2012 at 3:07 am

    […] my previous post, I had written about how I came to meet my music guru in Sydney and promised to share some […]

  5. December 15, 2013 at 8:27 am

    […] Anil brought the concert to a close and  thanked everybody for being there, when my friend Ramesh shouted from the audience asking for one more composition.  When this snowballed into a huge demand, Anil gracefully accepted and the artists rendered the well-known Swati Tirunal Tillana in the raga Dhanashree (also known as Abheri) in a brisk fashion. (I had learnt this Tillana from my guru Param Thillairajah at Sydney and we sang this at the Sydney Murugan temple performance and at Melbourne.  You can read my memories of my guru who passed away last year here, here and here) […]

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