• Dhanammal
  • Balasaraswati
  • T Viswanathan
  • T Brinda
  • Lakshmi knight

In 1900 it is said that there were several hundred, if not thousands, of families who performed the artistic and ritual practices of bharata natyam.By 1950 there remained only one family with an intact continuously performed style, known by the name of the matriarch of the family, the vina artist Vina Dhanammal (1867 – 1938). Several of Dhanammal’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, had brilliant careers. These included three awardees of the Music Academy’s highest distinction, the birdhu of Sangitha Kalanidhi: T. Balasaraswati, T. Brinda, and T. Viswanathan. In 1950 about a dozen musicians populated the family; in 1970 a similar number of artists remained.

Today, in 2011, there are three remaining professional artists from this great family lineage, and in fact only three who remain from the hereditary system of the practice of the performing arts of South India: T. Brinda’s daughter Vegavahini Vijayaraghavan, a vina player and singer; T. Brinda’s grandson, Girish Surendrababu, a singer; and Aniruddha Knight, T. Balasaraswati’s grandson and T. Viswanathan’s grandnephew, a dancer and singer.

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