Vikku Vinayakram

Shri Thetakudi Harihara Vinayakram (more famous as Vikku Vinayakram) is credited with popularizing the ghata with his mesmerizing renditions and extraordinary soundscapes of rhythms. Through his dedicated efforts, the ghata, which had fallen from its premier percussion status, is now ranked high again as per its hallowed legacy as a truly Vedic musical instrument.

Vikku Vinayakram was born in Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu, India, to Shri T. Harihara Sarma and Smt Neelambal. His father, a well-known percussionist himself, was his first guru. After learning from his father, he gave his first public performance at the age of 13 in Chennai. Thereafter he accompanied renowned musicians of his era: Ariyakudi Ramanuja Bhagavatar, Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Dr. Balamurali Krishna and Chembai Vaidyanadha Bhagavatar. He also played alongside renowned percussionists like Palakkad Mani Iyer and Palani Subramaniya Pillai.

Vikku Vinayakram offered his first overseas performance in 1966 when he accompanied “Nightingale of India and Bharat-ratna” M.S. Subbulakshmi in a stellar concert at the United Nations in New York. Since then he has travelled widely across Europe, North America and Australia giving concerts. He has also undertaken a musical tour under the auspices of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) and Sangit Natak Academy. In 1974, he served as guest lecturer at the Centre of World Music at Berkeley, San Francisco, USA.

Vikku Vinayakram is currently serving as the principal of a percussion school, Shri Jaya Ganesh Tala Vadya Vidyalaya, Chennai, founded by his father T. Harihara Sarma. This school teaches percussion free of charge to enthusiasts including under-privileged students. Many accomplished artists like Karaikudi Mani and Sukanya Ramgopal graduated from this school.

Spanning six decades of service to Indian music, Vikku Vinayakram is the only musician to have received awards from four different presidents of India. He is the recipient of many accolades and a few of the notable awards are: the Ghatam Nada Mani award by the Kanchi Swami; Kalaimamani by the Government of Tamil Nadu; Sangit Natak Academy Award recognizing ghata playing; Grammy Award in the USA.


Ghata

This ancient percussion instrument is a baked clay pot made with a narrow mouth made specifically to be played as an instrument. Different pitches can be produced according to the size of the ghata. It is also widely held that ghata produced in the town of Manamadurai in Tamil Nadu have a special nature due to the quality of mud used in the production. Additionally, shards of brass are mixed into the mud which helps to create a sharper ringing tone that many ghata players prefer. This instrument is also known as ghatam in Tamil and is usually transliterated as ghatah in Sanskrit.


Collaboration with Hansavedas

Vikku-ji, as is he is lovingly called, is a disciple of the wondrous monk of India, His Holiness Swami Chandrashkharendra Saraswati, the erstwhile Shankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Matth (monastery). Following up on this profound inspiration and connection with monastic lineages, His Holiness Swami Vidyadhishananda, the head monk of Hansavedas Matth and founding monk of Self Enquiry Life Fellowship, requested Vikku-ji to recreate the Vedic rhythmic mystique using the ghata-vādya-yantra. This specially composed meditative ghata music was inspired by the traditional repertoire of Vedic rhythms attributed to Lord Natarāja Shiva and is part of the preservation project undertaken by the nonprofit organization Self Enquiry Life Fellowship to record and archive meditative Vedic music and chants.


Album Release