In June 1937, GNB gave a magnificent concert at Madras. Kalki the editor of Ananda Vikatan paid rich tribute to GNB’s genius in the issue of 27 June 1937. The greatest cartoonist in the history of Tamil Journalism Mali portrayed GNB for Kalki’s article. I am presenting below Kalki’s article together with Mali’s cartoon of GNB.
In December 1943, the Tamil Isai Movement started thanks to the great leadership qualities of Sir.Annamalai Chettiar. Many senior Vidwans of the earlier generation deliberately did not participate in the Tamil Isai Festival and disgraced themselves for all time.
GNB’s performance at the Tamil Isai Festival was hailed as Mahattana Kacheri by Kalki. In fact in that year, GNB, was the only great artist who sang that year in all the 3 Festivals—-those of the Music Academy, in the Indian Fine Arts Society and in the Tamil Isai Sangam. In the succeeding year, one after other of the senior Vidwans started participating in the Tamil Isai Sangam concerts and GNB thus got hid bold stand vindicated by the musical profession as a whole. This is ample proof of the catholicity of GNB’s thinking, his freedom from prejudice and narrow mindedness.
Music Concert by GNB with Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai (Violin)and Paghat Mani Iyer (Mridangam)
Early in 1959, GNB received the other equally coveted President’s Award. Early 1964, GNB was appointed as Principal of the Swathi Thirunal Academy of Music in Trivandrum. The Rasikas and admirers of GNB arranged for a farewell to him at the Krishna Gana Sabha on the 28th of March 1964. Sangeetha Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer was the Chairman of the Felicitation Committee. The function was presided over by Justice KS Venketraman ICS. Rich tributes were paid to GNB by a galaxy of great musicians like Musiri Subramania Iyer, Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Mudikondan Venhkatrama Iyer, Budalur Krishnamoorthy Shartrigal, TL Venkatrama Iyer and K.Balasubramania Iyer.GNB was a great composer in his own right. He did not compose his songs mechanically; he simply gave musical form to the products of his artistic imagination. This is how GNB himself put it:
Of the all time great Nadaswaram Vidwan wizard Thiruvaduthurai T.N.Rajarathanam Pillai, GNB wrote eloquently as follows:
THE GOLDEN MEAN
You know the golden mean
That makes us all, both strong strong and clean
The horse that saints from far and wide
Have given to us – which few can ride.
Be strong and supple, be bold and kind
Be rich and simple, improve the mind
In joy in pain, with equal grace
Your life to lead and death to face.
In all the things of earthly life
It is a mixture true and rife
Of Good and Evil for even entwined
For nought is single in all mankind.
The truth is always in between
Between goodness and evil mean
No one is good, no one is bad
Not as you think, or he feels, my lad.
We all do know this common fact,
The trouble arises when we act,
Our words and thoughts may seem alright
In deeds alone we prove our might.
It has been said of Evil and Good
A nation’s poison, another’s food
The two are but relative forms
In social values shifting norms.
GNB would never be forgotten by this generation which had the pleasure and privilege of hearing his incomparably superb music, rendered in a voice and with a manodharma for which there were only 2 equals, Madurai Pushpsvansm and SG Kittappa. His name will live fore ever in the music of his vast shishya-parampara. The new genre—GNB Pani—created by his aesthetic and intellectual improvisations and spirited singing will continue to mock at time, remaining intact and imperishable.