AS AN ORGANIZER
Astounding ability to make a musical event extravagant has been the imprint of Sri R. K. Padmanabha. The purpose solely being upliftment and highlighting the greatness of Karnatik music. Sri Padmanabha has organised many mega events across the state like the Conferences through Karnataka Ganakala Parishat, Veda Naadotsava, Vadiraja Gana Jnana Yagna, Srimadhwadiraja Kalamahotsava, where in the intent is purely to unearth the rich tradition of Karnatik music and encourage budding artists. To preside over an audience of stalwarts, connoisseurs, students and public as high as thousands, for days together with calibre is something that one cannot even think of.
He has instituted ‘Nada Sanmana’ – an exclusive gesture to felicitate the artists through a composition about their accomplishments and contributions in their fields, specially composed for the occasion.
He is also credited with organising musical excursions called the “Gaana Yatra” where he is accompanied by his students to various holy places like Thiruvaiyar, Thiruvarur, Varanasi, Pancha Dwarka, Singapore etc. that brings in the zeal for the love of the tradition. Few events that he has organized are:
‘B. V. Jagadish youth festival’, an annual music festival held in the month of January for encouraging youngsters in the music fraternity.
Successful Presidency of ‘Karnataka Ganakala Parishat’ since 14 years.
Tyagaraja aradhana mahotsava, on the banks of River Kaveri at Rudrapatna every year.
‘Rudrapatna sangeetotsava’, one of the very rarest among the music festivals across the country where a variety of musicians, both leading and upcoming musicians perform in this festival every year.
‘Sri Madhwadiraja aradhana mahotsava’ in the US since last four years.
Also every year, an eminent scholar is recognised and conferred upon with A.Na.Kru prashasthi at Arkalgudu in a special event organized by him.
Aaradana mahotsavas at Vadiraja Kala Bhavana 4 times a year of different Vaaggeyakaras and Haridasas.
Most of the houses in Rudrapatna have stories to tell, of musicians, of Vedic experts with its rich musical heritage. The village has the honor of having contributed numerous artists to Karnatic music who had once occupied the position of court musicians at the Mysore palace! It was the Rama Mandira here that stood as a testament for one of the finest and exceptional music since this time. Sri R.K. Padmanabha along with the Rudrapatna Sangeetotsava Samiti formed an organization to revive the dilapidated Rama Mandira and restore its past glory. Not only does the Mandira has a remodeled and refurnished enclosure now, but also has continued to witness the Sangeetotsava held every year under R.K. Padmanabha's presidency attracting musicians from various parts of the country. The Mandira has a new look yet involving all the glorious memories from the past with pictures of veterans displayed on the wall.
The Rudrapatna Sangeetotsava was instituted in the year 2002 and is a 5 day long music festival that has people from all over the country drifting into this village during May each year. Grand recitals, concerts are though the center of attraction, lecture demonstrations and talks are a must here. A distinctive part of this festival is of the last day with more than 200 musicians and the villagers rendering the TyagarajaPancharatna in unison on the banks of river Kaveri. Also an award in honor of Nacharamma (a female leader who lead a group of Sankethi's out of Sengottai (T.N) to Rudrapatna) is conferred upon artists to recognize their work of art.
Rudrapatna has gained rather revived its glory and recognition today. Thanks to the efforts of Vid R.K. Padmanabha and the Sangeetotsava Samiti for their constant efforts in preserving the culture and heritage of Rudrapatna.
AS A SOCIAL REFORMER
Sri R.K. Padmanabha plays a vital role in contributing to the betterment of the society. He has brought into light, the beauty of Karnatik music compositions through the concept of goshti gayana, to a wide variety of people in the society; especially among the women and the youth. This helps preserving not only the musical heritage but also the rich culture and the tradition.
Also R.K. Padmanabha creates history by choosing music as a mode of protest for a social cause by rendering krithis during the protest for extensive hours with his students.
He also has published more than 100 books and CDs on music to propagate the rich heritage and sanctity of this great art form.
His contributions to the village of Rudrapatna has been remarkable with the reviving of ‘Sri Rama Mandira’, lodging space for the artists, Swachha Bharat Abhiyaan on the streets of Rudrapatna and planting saplings with dedicated names (72 melakarta ragas) on either side of the streets, tutoring the rural children about the importance of art and music in life, etc. In 2016, an eye camp was organized at Rudrapatna, where more than 2000 villagers were facilitated with free eye check-up and approximately 150 people were operated free of cost. The Primary school at Rudrapatna was given a new landscape which enhanced the beauty of the school’s environment and was renovated in various aspects such as a Ranga-Mantapa newly built for cultural activities, separate toilets, repainting the walls of the schools with new and educative quotes. Also, a Kalyani was rejuvinated in Arkalgudu taluk with the help of the RKP abhimanigala sangha.
AS A GURU
Ganakalabhushana R. K. Padmanabha has to his credit of training more than 1000 students to perform august and noble krithis such as Navavarna, Navagraha, Chaturdasha Raga Malika of Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar, Swarajathis of Sri Shyama Shastry, Ghana Pancharatna of Sri Tyagaraja, Lakshmi Shobhane of Sri Vadiraja Swami through Goshti Gayana in unison and perfect harmony with a perfect grip over the raga and laya. Also, many of his disciples are front runners in today’s Karnatik circuit. It is incredible that he has taught around 900 classical compositions to the ghoshti group alone.
He encourages and helps build confidence among the students by providing them an opportunity to perform at various platforms on different occasions, individually. One such opportunity is at Vadiraja Dhyana Mandira as a part of ‘Vadiraja Nada Seve’ concerts, which is a monthly concert series. Various thematic workshops are conducted where students perform and learn the several intricacies of Karnatik music. Apart from this, he has also trained a lot of young artistes who continue to add their touch to this genre’s unique beauty. He also conducts workshops and classes every year at the United States for students abroad.
AS A COMPOSER
Guru Sri R.K. Padmanabha has penned more than 500 krithis with his pen name ‘Padmanabhadasa’ that include the entire variety of compositional forms of Karnatik music like the Varnas, Kritis, Devaranamas, Javalis, Ugabhogas, Suladi, Namavalis etc.
He has to his merit of constituting more than 25 new ragas which have been presented effectively at elite platforms.
He also has composed krithis in the entire melakarta raga system that is undemanding and accessible by the commoners.
His special research work on Shiva-nama ragas which were confined to musical treatises were brought to light by composing krithis in ragas such as Shivakamboji, Shambhudyuthi, Chandrashekharapriya, Rudrabhisheka, etc.
Compositions on the Navagraha in Kannada, as a tribute to Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar; tuning of Adi Shankaracharya’s 100 Soundarya lahari shlokas in 100 individual krithi format and of Purandara kritis in 72 melakarta ragas for which not only does he bag the credit of being the only composer to have composed in Kannada in all the 72 melakartas but also to have received State Academy Award for the same. Countless endeavoursand ventures as these makes him a nyja Vaggeyakara.
AS AN AUTHOR
Sri R.K. Padmanabha continues to inspire thousands with his narrative publications. As one reads along his books, goes into a state of bliss that he/she could only imagine of. Such is his prowess of narration. While musical novels - Anantanada, Nadabindhu, Vipravikrama are the public favourites, ‘Purandaradasa Sangeeta Pitamahare…re’, a factual research book is the latest. He has also penned down his autobiography, ‘Nenapinangaladali’ that brings in a lot of excitement to its readers to peek through the life of this doyen. He has also composed ‘Padma Kavithe’ – a book comprising of Bhavageethes in Kannada.
AS A DRAMATIST
Sri R.K. Padmanabha has composed music and enacted in musical plays on the life of Karnatik musicians like the trinities- ‘Nadajyothi Muthuswamy Dikshitar’, ‘Sadguru Tyagaraja’, ‘Devi Upasaka Shyama Shastry’, ‘Prahlada Bhakta Vijaya’ and on Haridasas such as ‘Sri Dasa Purandara’, ‘Sri Vadiraja Vaibhava’ etc. and has also scripted new dramas such as ‘Naada’ , ‘Purandara Mahima’ that has left an everlasting memory of these worshipped personalities of the musical guild in the hearts of its audience with an outstanding and soul stirring performances.