An exponent of the Pudukottai style of mridangam, Guruvayur Dorai (his real name being Vaidynathan) was born in Guruvayur, Kerala, to G.S. Krishna Iyer and Meenakshi. His father was a priest and mother, a housewife. He has two brothers and three sisters. His sister Guruvayur Ponnammal was a highly reputed singer at the time. His other sister is a reputed music teacher in Madras, while his brother, G.K.Rajamani is a notable violinist living in Palghat (Kerala).
Guruvayur Dorai is one of India’s senior-most exponents of the South Indian classical percussion instrument, the mridangam. He had his initial training under Palghat Subba Iyer and E.P. Narayana Pisharody, and later from the legendary master Palani Subramaniam Pillai.
Initiating his concert performances at the age of eight, Guruvayur Dorai has performed on the concert platform for the past 60 years. His wide range of efforts he has in the field of mridangam and music has helped propagate the art around the globe.
1949 was a watershed in Dorai’s career, as he came to Chennai for the first time to perform with Chembai in a concert. Meanwhile, Ponnammal got a chance to sing in a Malayalam film. The opportunities were more copious in Chennai for them, their father decided to settle there.
Dorai, Ponnammal, Rajamani and the father stayed in a rented house in the city while the rest of the family remained in Guruvayur. In the same year, he also happened to meet the legendary mridangam artist Palani Subramaniam Pillai in Thirupoontharai.
After Palani Subramaniam Pillai moved to Madras in 1953, Dorai commenced classes with the maestro. This helped him understand and absorb the complexities of the Pudukottai style of mridangam. Dorai stayed with Palani Subramaniam Pillai in his residence for nearly nine years in the gurukulavasam fashion. Dorai has accompanied Sr. Vinjamuri Varadaraja Iyengar on multiple occasions to concerts across Andhrapadesh.