Pithukuli Murugadas, a noted Tamil devotional singer, passed away in Chennai early on Tuesday morning after a brief illness. The 95-year old Murugadas was a writer, lyricist and music composer.
Born in Coimbatore on January 25, 1920, in a Brahmin family, Murugadas (Balasubramanian) learnt bhajans from his grandfather Gopalakrishna Bagavathar. While participating in a freedom struggle in 1936, he was severely beaten up by police and lost vision in his left eye completely.
Murugadas, who started his musical career in 1947, has written and composed thousands of devotional songs and performed in Singapore, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Africa and the USA.
Brahmananda Paradesiyar, a saint, named him ‘Pithukuli’ (a spiritual person) and Swami Ramadas, head of Aanandashram in Kanjangad in Kerala, added the title Murugadas meaning ‘the servant of Lord Muruga’.
Murugadas, founder of Sri Jyothir Maya Devi Charity Trust in Chennai, used to instruct organisers of his musical programmes to feed the poor in lieu of his fee. He was recipient of Kalaimamani, Sankeerthana Samrat and Thyagaraja awards.