Background information
Birth namePuttayya
Also known as"Ubhaya Gayana Visharada", "Ganayogi", "Shivayogi", "Kavishiromani", "Thribhasha KaviRathna", etc
Born(1914-03-03)3 March 1914
OriginDevagiri, Hanagal, Karnataka
Died17 September 2010(2010-09-17) (aged 96)
Gadag, Karnataka,
GenresHindustani classical music, Carnatic music etc.
Occupation(s)singer, instrumentalist
Years active1933–2010

Pandit Puttaraj Gawayigalu (3 March 1914 – 17 September 2010) was an Indian musician in the Hindustani classical tradition, a scholar who authored more than 80 books in Kannada, Sanskrit and Hindi, a music teacher and a social servant. A member of the Gwalior Gharana (school),[1] he is renowned for his ability to play many instruments such as the veena, the tabla, mridangam, violin etc., as well as for his popular renditions of devotional music (bhajans) vachanas.A famous vocalist both in Hindustani and Carnatic Music. He is the recipient of the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, awarded in 2010.[2]

Early life

He was born into a poor Kannada Lingayat family in Devagiri in Haveri taluk of Dharwad district (now in Haveri district) of Karnataka.[3] His parents were Revaiah Venkatapurmath and Siddamma.[4] He lost his eyesight at the age of 6 months.[5] He lost his father when he was 10 months old. His maternal uncle Chandrashekharaiah took him under his wings and raised him.

Musical training

Seeing Gawai's interest in music,when he was playing a harmonium of his uncle his uncle took him to Veereshwara Punyashrama, run by Ganayogi Panchakshara Gawai. Under the guidance of Panchakshara Gawai, he mastered Hindustani. He mastered carnatic music under the guidance of Mundarigi Raghavendrachar (belonging to Vishesha Parampara). He had mastered many instruments harmonium, tabla, violin and 10 other music instruments.[6]


Puttaraj Gawai set up a theater company which would not only to help in raising funds to provide free food, shelter, education to disabled orphans but also to contribute to the theater culture. Thus,"SriGuru Kumareshwara Krupa Poshita Natya Company "was established. His first play 'Sri Sivayogi Sidharama' written and directed by him brought in profit and was applauded. This was followed by many other successful productions.[7]


Puttaraj Gawai has authored over 80 books on spirituality, religion, history as well as biographies of many 'sharanas' of the Bhakti movement of the 12th century. He has authored books in Kannada, Hindi and Sanskrit. He re-wrote the Bhagavad Gita in Braille script.

Social service

Puttaraja Gawai is one of the pioneers of Veereshwara Punyashrama, a music school dedicated to imparting musical knowledge to people who are differentially able-d. Disabled people, especially blind from all castes, religions and sections of the society are taught music in the ashram. Pt. Dr. Puttaraj Kavi Gavai has been the pontiff of Shree Veereshwara Punyashrama Since 1944, after the demise of Pt. Panchakshara Gavai who founded this Ashrama for the upliftment of the born-blind children and orphans. Since its inception in 1942, Shree Veereshwar Punyashrama has been feeding and educating the born-blind and the orphans and the poor children free of cost, without discrimination on the basis of caste and creed. The Ashrama is solely run on the strength of voluntary donations by its devotees. The mission of the Ashrama is selfless service to the community, especially and poorest and the blind. The disciples trained and educated in Music. and Fine Arts have become music teachers, stage-artists, radio-artists, musicians and professionals in the field of arts in thousands. "Pt. Panchakshari Gavai Drama Theatre" organized and founded by Pt. Puttaraj Gavai has given innumerable performances and has been considered one of the pioneering feats of Theatre Movement in the North Karnataka. Being solely dedicated to furthering the art of stage drama, this dramatic company has produced thousands of stage artists who have earned national and international fame. Punyashrama has produced thousands of "Kirtanakaras" who are busy delivering Puranas and Pravachanas and Keertanas all over the state. Thus, Shree Veereshwara Punyashrama is rendering valuable services in the field of literature, music, religion, literacy and social service. It is dedicated to the cause of the welfare of the blind and down-trodden for over seventy years in its own humble way. The very secular credentials of this institution has made this Ashrama typical and a class by itself. The Pontiff of Shree Veereshwara Punyashrama, Gadag is viewed by the devotees as a "Walking God on the Earth". Shree Veereshwara Punyashrama of Gadag is a very popular and influential Ashrama in Karnataka. It is a charity institution solely dedicated to the upliftment of the blind, orphans and poor children. More than 1000 children reside in the Ashrama and are fed free of cost. The Ashrama runs Thirteen institutions comprising musical as well as general education.

Shree Veereshwara Punyashrama is run on its own strength without any aid from the Government. It has been contributing to the society the talented musicians, radioartists, music teachers, stage - artists and the professionals in the field of music and fine arts. Shree Veereshwara Punyashrama is thoroughtly a secular institution and admits students from all sections of society without discrimination on the basis of caste and creed.

The pontiff, Pt. Puttaraj Kavi Gavai has been serving out society in different capacities and is a catalyst of social and communal harmony. He richly deserves any coveted prize and honour like "Padma Vibhushan Award".


Gawai has taught many students which presently runs to a count of more than 1000 visually impaired.[8] he was a great singer Some of his well-known students are:

  1. Chandrashekhar Puranikmath.[9]
  2. S. Ballesh[10]
  3. Veerashwar Madri[11]
  4. Rajguru Guruswami Kalikeri,[12][13][14]
  5. Venkatesh Kumar


Antima Yatre of Puttaraj Gawai in Gadag, c. 18 September 2010

He died 17 September 2010, at Veereshwara Punyashrama, Gadag, Karnataka. He was buried at the ashram as per the veerashaiva traditions with respectful government honours. More than 1 million devotees attended his funeral ceremony in Gadag on 18 September 2010. The Karnataka state government declared state mourning on Saturday and holiday for government offices as a mark of respect to the multi-faceted personality.[15]

Literary works

Some of his important works are listed below.[16]

Books on music

Books in Kannada

Books in Sanskrit

Books in Hindi

Theatre and drama in Kannada

Books in Braille

Awards and recognitions

Pt Gawai has been bestowed with many awards for his contributions to music, literature and social service. Some important awards are listed below.


  1. ^ "Puttaraj Gavai in critical condition, taken back to hometown Gadag". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 14 September 2010. Archived from the original on 19 September 2010.
  2. ^ "Puttaraj Gawai dedicates Padma Bhushan to students". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 26 January 2010. Archived from the original on 3 February 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010.
  3. ^ Basava Journal. Basava Samiti. 1997.
  4. ^ "Puttaraja Kavi Gavai is no more". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 18 September 2010. Archived from the original on 18 September 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  5. ^ "Pandit Puttaraj Gawai The leading light of music passed away". Archived from the original on 19 September 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  6. ^ Kattimani, Basavaraj F (18 September 2010). "Torch-bearer who guided many a musician". The Times of India. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  7. ^ "Pandit Puttaraj Gavai: A beacon for thousands". Press Trust of India. 17 September 2010. Retrieved 18 September 2010.
  8. ^ "Hindustani music doyen Puttaraj Gavai is dead". Archived from the original on 19 September 2010.
  9. ^ "Puranikmath dead". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 25 July 2010. Archived from the original on 30 July 2010.
  10. ^ Lalithaa Krishnan (20 August 2009). "Clear and sparkling-Advanced training under grand maestro Pt. Bismillah Khan and being a member of the Panchakshara Gavai brotherhood". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 January 2014.
  11. ^ Lalithaa Krishnan (27 July 2007). "Melodic meet in a serene milieu-Veereshwar Madri, managing trustee, Sri Guru Ganayogi Panchakshara Sangeet Yogashram Trust". The Hindu. Retrieved 25 October 2014.
  12. ^ "Winners of Shishunala Sharief, Venkatappa awards announced". 20 May 2015.
  13. ^ "Santa Shishunala Sharif award". The Hindu. 21 May 2015.
  14. ^ [1] [dead link]
  15. ^ "Bangalore Thousands Bid Tearful Farewell to Hindustani Music Doyen Gavai". Archived from the original on 11 October 2012.
  16. ^ "S a N G e E T y O G a S H R a M T R U S T". Archived from the original on 3 September 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
  17. ^ "Puttaraj Gawai dedicates Padma Bhushan to students". The Hindu. Chennai, India. 26 January 2010. Archived from the original on 3 February 2010.