K G Jayan was the master of divine melodies.
K G Jayan was the master of divine melodies.

Divine music that touched the souls

K G Jayan was the master of divine melodies. His devotional compositions and Carnatic concerts elevated the minds touching the hearts and filling it with devotion.

KOCHI : As we wait in the long queue for darshan at Sabarimala, the loudspeaker will air a song announcing the opening of the temple at 4 am.

The song ‘Sreekovil Nada Thurnannu,’ announcing the opening of the sanctum sanctorum, will transcend devotees into a world of divine ecstasy filling the air with ‘Saranam Ayyappa’ chanting.

Such is the power of K G Jayan’s music that it touches the souls and elevates the mind to a divine world. Another example of Jayan’s musical brilliance is ‘Mayilpeeli,’ the devotional album venerating Lord Guruvayoorappan. The songs written by S Rameshan Nair, composed by Jaya-Vijaya and rendered by K J Yesudas remain the most popular devotional songs in Kerala even after three decades. Each song in this album evokes strong feelings of emotion and transcends the mind into a state of spiritual ecstasy. 

K G Jayan was the master of divine melodies. His devotional compositions and Carnatic concerts elevated the minds touching the hearts and filled it with devotion. 

“I met him for the first time decades ago at Sabarimala. Over the years we grew very close but I didn’t get an opportunity to work with him. He had a unique style of composition that was simple but rich in classical content. He had the rare ability to communicate with the people through his music. His compositions, ‘Nakshatra Deepangal Thilangi’ and ‘Hridayam Devalayam’ are my favourites. I met him last at Muthalamada Ashram a few months ago and he was very happy. It is a big blessing to be content at the age of 90. Though he had some physical difficulties he used to sing till recently. After his brother’s death he preferred to retain the identity of Jaya-Vijaya and recorded songs in two voices to keep his memory alive,” said music composer and lyricist Kaithapram Damodaran Namboothiri.

“The music of Jayan carried a hallmark of simplicity and classical content,” says music critic Ravi Menon. “He had composed Mappilapattu, comedy songs and light music in the early 70s that were trendy at that time. His composition “Hippy, Hippy, Hippy,” was popular in the 70s. The song was written by K G Sethunath and sung by M G Radhakrishnan. Though he did not compose many songs for the movies, his compositions had an identity. Though the movie ‘Theruvugeetham’ was not released, the song ‘Hridayam Devalayam’ became a roaring hit. The concerts of Jaya-Vijaya were unique as the voice had a rare energy and divinity,” he said.

K G Jayan with his actor-son Manoj K Jayan
K G Jayan with his actor-son Manoj K Jayan

A legendary composer who delivered melodies that enthralled all alike

Carnatic musician K G Jayan, who enthralled music enthusiasts with devotional melodies that touched souls, evoked myriad emotions, and connected people across generations, passed away at his residence in Tripunithura on Tuesday following age-related ailments. He was 89. Actor Manoj K Jayan is his younger son. An ardent Lord Ayyappa devotee, K G Jayan started his career as a musician 60 years ago, composing songs with brother K G Vijayan. The Jaya-Vijaya composer combo gifted many soulful songs still revered by devotees.

Born to Gopalan Thantri, one of the disciples of social reformer Sree Narayana Guru, and Narayani Amma at Kadamboothra Madom at Nattassery in Kottayam on November 21, 1934, Jayan started learning carnatic music with Vijayan at age six and made his debut (arangettam) at Kumaranalloor Devi temple in Kottayam when he was just 10.

It was Nair Service Society founder Mannathu Padmanabhan who advised the brothers to pursue a career in carnatic music after they sang a devotional song at the Hindu Mandalam meeting in Kottayam. SNDP Yogam leader and former chief minister R Shankar too encouraged Jaya-Vijaya to learn music.

Soon, Jayan and Vijayan joined the Swathi Thirunal Sangeetha Academy and passed the ganabhooshanam course with first class. They got an opportunity to perform before Sri Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma, the Maharaja of Travancore, at Kowdiar Palace. Following this, the Maharaja provided them an opportunity to learn music under the Alathur Brothers. The duo later learnt carnatic music under legends like Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar and M Balamuralikrishna. The Jaya-Vijaya compositions always carried a classical touch and the duo possessed the rare ability to infuse emotions in their compositions, touching souls and creating a divine ambience. The songs composed by Jaya-Vijaya for Malayalam movies like ‘Dharma Sastha’, ‘Nirakudam’, ‘Sneham’, ‘Theruvugeetham’ were immensely appreciated. They also composed songs for Tamil films ‘Padapooja’, ‘Shamukhapriya’, and ‘Pappathi’.

The songs they composed for the devotional album ‘Thiruvabharanam’, including ‘Vishnu Mayayil Piranna Viswa Rakshaka’, and ‘Sreekovil Nada Thurannu’, continue to enjoy immense popularity among Lord Ayyappa devotees and temples continue to resonate with the songs during mandala season. Their melodies like ‘Nakshatra Deepangal Thilangi’ from the film ‘Nirakudam’, and ‘Hridayam Devalayam’ from ‘Theruvugeetham’ have captivated generations.

After Vijayan’s death in 1988, Jayan continued composing devotional songs and conducting concerts. He has won several awards, including the Harivarasanam award of Travancore Devaswom Board, and performed at Sabarimala Sannidhanam every year. He was honoured with the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi award in 1991 and Padma Shri, India’s fourth-highest civilian honour, in 2019. Jayan’s wife, late V K Sarojini, was a school teacher. He is survived by sons Biju K Jayan, Manoj K Jayan and daughters-in-law Priya Biju and Asha Manoj. The mortal remains are kept at the Tripunithura government hospital mortuary. The funeral will be held at the Tripunithura crematorium at 5pm on Wednesday.

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