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Hiriyadka Gopala Rao, Yakshagana artist, freedom fighter, maddale maestro, passes away at 101


“My message to the future generation is that a man should live as a man,” Hiriyadka Gopala Rao had once said. Karnataka mourns the loss of a great patriot and an artist. Hiriyadka Gopala Rao, a centenarian, passed away at his home on in Ontibetti near Hiriyadka in Udupi on Saturday.

Gapala Rao, popularly known as “Maddale Mantrika” for he was a maestro in playing the maddale, an Indian music instrument native to Karnataka. The veteran Yakshagana artist was unwell for the last two days and breathed his last at his home on Saturday evening. He had spoken to a few family members on the morning of the same day.

Gopala Rao is credited to have introduced the forearm-long maddale, which usually comes in 30-inch length. Thanks to him, these maddales are used in Yakshagana shows. Gopala Rao, a Rajyotsava awardee, served in many melas and played maddale in ballets of Kota Shivaram Karanth, The Hindu reported.

Hiriyadka Gopala Rao

Hiriyadka Gopala Rao

Who was Hiriyadka Gopala Rao?

Born to Ayurveda doctor and Yakshagana artist Sheshgiri Rao and homemaker Lakshmibai on December 15, 1919, Gopala Rao went on to learn maddale from his father, Yakshagana dance under Nagappa Kamath and further trained in the instrument under Perdoor Venkata Rao.

He taught Yakshagana to many students over the years, which includes American national Martha Bush Aschan in 1969. He also served as the principal of the Yakshagana Kendra and was associated with Mandarthi Yakshagana Mela for three decades. He also played an incremental role in the Indian independence.



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