Composers of the Isai Vellala Community

Carnatic composers (other than performing vidwans)
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rshankar
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#1

Post by rshankar » 30 Aug 2008, 20:21

(Mod note. post moved from the Narayana Titha yati thread)

Vidya,

Thanks for sharing those links - an awesome amount of work must have gone into it! Hats off (to both Dr. PPN and you)!

I do seek some clarification:

In http://www.ibiblio.org/guruguha/index.htm, I looked at the 3 padavarNam's notated, and have a question: isn't the difference between a padavarNam and tAnavarNam the presence of the caraNasvara sAhityam? If so, then, what makes these to be classed as pada varNams instead of tAna varNams. I am also puzzled by the introductory passage where it says that these varNams were part of the repertoire of nAdasvara vidvAns, and not of the temple dancers.
Last edited by rshankar on 30 Aug 2008, 20:23, edited 1 time in total.
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vidya
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#2

Post by vidya » 31 Aug 2008, 10:58

Thanks Arasi and Ravi , my contribution to the Krishna leela tarangini began and ended with FTP :)

Syntactically yes, one of the features of a pada varnam but not always a distinguishing feature. Thanks to Raviraj, a member of this forum who sent the notations and provided addl bibliographic details on this.The notations published by the Academy were in Tamil and it was translated into English. It is a part of the repertoire of the Nagasvara Vidwan Tiruvarur Chinnatambi Pillai, inherited through their traditions. Perhaps atleast one of them was part of a dance repertore considering the fact that kURainAdu Natesa Pillai the composer of the the shuddhasaveri piece was also a Nattuvanar in his early days. Infact, Dr.BM Sundaram in the book, 'Varna Swarajati' expands brilliantly on these and wonders how a varnam on Parimala ranganatha became part of the Tiruvarur repertoire and how the academy published it as 'Tiruvarur varnams'. He then adds saying that one of them was a composition of Koranadu Natesa Pillai who was responsible for the music in the temple of Tiru Indaloor and it passed on to the eminent vidwan Tiruvarur Swaminatha Pillai and thus it got added to the set that Chinnatambi Pillai had with him. Koranadu Natesa Pillai like Tiruvarur Ramaswami Pillai is an eminent vaggeyakara that Carnatic Music historians failed to hagiolize. I wish some good musicians would take upon themselves the task of rendering these fine varnams - the purnachandrika varnam and the shuddhasaveri varnam are very very beautiful and concert-worthy too!
Last edited by vidya on 01 Sep 2008, 02:28, edited 1 time in total.
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vasanthakokilam
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#3

Post by vasanthakokilam » 31 Aug 2008, 21:00

That is very informative, Vidya. Thanks.
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raviraj
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#4

Post by raviraj » 31 Aug 2008, 21:23

Thanks to Vidya for bringing these to the public domain. There are a number of thought provoking threads worthy of investigation , on the Tiruvarur temple varnas. A partial listing of these are as under:

1. Apart from Tiruvarur temple we have varnas dedicated to form part of temple repertoire such as the Tiruindaloor Parimalaranganatha temple, as alluded by Vidya. Another example is the beautiful rupaka tala varna in Kedaram by Tiruvottiyur Tyagaier - " Sami Nee Rammanave", which Sanjay sings these days, dedicated to Adipureesvara @ Thiruvottiyur. I guess such as how Ramasvami Dikshitar established the music paddhathi for the Tiruvarur temple , there are many such instances such as the foregoing which urgently needs to be researched/uncovered, before the surviving "repositories" namely the nagasvara vidvans & those attached to the temples, too pass away.

2. The Purnachandrika varna as reproduced from Vid Chinnatambi Pillai's version & the notated version in SSP offers an interesting study. SD's version has sahitya for both the muktayi & carana svaras whereas its not there in the Chinnatambi Pillai version as reproduced by the Academy. This varna is attributed to Ramasvami Dikshitar and from a raga lakshana angle offers an interesting insight of Purnachandrika as handled. RD's varna emphasises the mandhara stayi D usage via dRSR or Snpd & totally eschews madhya stayi D & does not have any sancara beyond tara stayi shadja. MD's treatment of Purnachandrika ( elaborately dealt with by Prof SRJ, he calls it the archaic Purnachandrika) differs from this. The opening pallavi notation of Sanka chakra gadhapaneem - has PPDDPMG ( in madhya stayi), and also tara stayi sancaras as well , making us wonder if Muthusvami Dikshitar reset Purnachandrika's boundaries or interpreted it differently.

3. The Mamata Rettinchina varna is in Devakriya of the Dikshitar school under Kedaragaula mela, to clarify. Also the MMG varna , is apparently on Vaidyanathesvara of Vedapuri. I guess Vedapuri is synonymous with Vaideesvaran Kovil. In which case the varna may be of a composition of Chinnatambi Pillai's ancestor & MD's shishya Tiruvarur Ramasvami Pillai who became a ascetic/recluse and retired to Vaideesvaran Kovil & died there. And this explains how this varna came into the temple repertoire of Tiruvarur. Thus (Y)elanamne alone is clearly attributable to Ramsvami Dikshitar and the diety at Tiruvarur.

5. As Prof SRJ would put it, the varnas should be labelled as cauka varnas rather than pada varnas. Cauka varna is the term that SD also employs in the SSP.

6. Just to let know the forummers here that Chinnatambi Pillai was made to perform in the MA due to the efforts of Dr V Raghavan, Dr T S Ramakrishnan & a few other.

Raviraj
Last edited by raviraj on 02 Sep 2008, 16:49, edited 1 time in total.
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raviraj
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#5

Post by raviraj » 02 Sep 2008, 16:47

To add:

A sampling of Tiruvarur of the days bygone and how the musical landscape was then , is pictured by Kothamangalam Subbu in his classic novel "Tillana Mohanambal", which is available in print in Tamil. Compositions including SD's Khamas piece-de-resistance " Entaninne Delpudura" find mention in the proceedings.

Chinnatambi Pillai belonged to that musical dynasty of Tiruvarur nainadiyargal who were rivaled only the dynasty of Gangaimuthu Nattuvanar - ancestor of Tanjore quartet and Tambiappan Pillai. They were uncherished , unwept & unsung and have been consigned to the dustbins of history.

Raviraj
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arasi
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#6

Post by arasi » 02 Sep 2008, 22:08

Raviraj,
Thank you for all your input which helps rasikAs learn about those great masters.. Vidya's post is gaining momentum.
Yes, full many a flower is born to blush unseen, let alone fade away into obscurity...
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vidya
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#7

Post by vidya » 02 Sep 2008, 22:47

Yes, a lot more can be added to this - except that it's gaining momentum under Narayana Tirtha Yati - Not a great way of celebrating
lesser-known vaggeyakaras and contributions of the Isai Vellala Community. (mods?)
Last edited by vidya on 02 Sep 2008, 22:48, edited 1 time in total.
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arasi
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#8

Post by arasi » 03 Sep 2008, 06:37

True!
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vidya
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#9

Post by vidya » 03 Sep 2008, 17:51

Every time I heard the Nattakuranji Varnam, Chalamela I had always wondered, who this Moolaiveetu Rangaswami Nattuvanar was. As was the case with most composers of the this community there are no biographies on websites, online and even offline. I finally found one tiny paragraph on Rangaswami Nattuvanar in the book marabu vazhi bharata perasangal

A few composers of this community include:

- KURainAdu Natesa Pillai
- Tiruvarur Ramaswami Pillai
- Moolaiveetu Rangaswami Nattuvanar
- Tiruvarur Ayyasami Nattuvanar

and ofcourse the brilliant descendants of the Gangaimuthu clan. They were all polyglots , all uttama vaggeyakaras - they set their own music and words and composed varnams, kirtanams, tillanas and ragamalikas. It would be nice to discuss these eminent composers from what was clearly a marginalized community and recognize their contributions to carnatic music.
Last edited by vidya on 04 Sep 2008, 17:56, edited 1 time in total.
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vidya
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#10

Post by vidya » 04 Sep 2008, 18:00

Continuing on the above.. KUrainadu natesa Pillai has composed the largest number of varnams for a single composer (116 - though 46 is available )

As for Moolaiveettu rangaswami nattuvanar here is the small biographical note..

A family that lived in the corner that was the intersection of the Kizhakku and Chittirai streets at Shrirangam. This house was hence known as moolaiveedu.
Rangasvami nattuvanar was the son of Parimala Nattuvanar. His compositions include : Chalamela (Nattakuranji), Palinchu sharvani (Kambhoji) and
Yarummai Pola (Atana). He would do the nattuvangam for his familial tradition in the Shrirangam temple only but did not do nattuvangam elsewhere in other places.

If someone has the lyrics of Palinchu Sharvani and Yarummai Pola or pointers to recordings of the same please add.
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raviraj
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#11

Post by raviraj » 04 Sep 2008, 18:54

1. Palimchu sharvani - Kambhoji - Madurai Somu's recording is available commercially. IIRC, Yarumaipol - Atana- a commercial recording of TVS is available. Need to check if there is no other kriti begining with Yarumaipol :-).

2. To think of if , is there any vocal version of the Tiruvarur Ayyasami Nattuvanar's Begada varnam " Intha priyamuga". I would greatly appreciate any pointers.

3. When one delves deep into the history of the music that pervaded Tiruvarur, we feel overawed by the contributions of these musical giants. From amongst the trinity only MD (& RD) were closely associated with this structure/system. There are versions that MD himself imbued the very best from some of these families & not just his father. It reflected latter in his catholic attitude and many of his disciples came from these families/backgrounds.
The Temple was the epicentre of this flourishing musical eco-system, aided in grants by the Tanjore kings. The crumbling of this edifice built around the temple and the royals, spelt the death knell, when the Kings of Tanjore faded away. The ensuing abuse of the adiyar system , its abolition and subsequent lack of livelihood ensured that these musical families, were wiped out. Chinnatambi Pillai was forced to work as a menial daily wager in a provision store in Tiruvarur . The hands which played the bhari nayanam were packing lentils and grains for a few annas. The sorry state of affairs stretched even far that manuscripts containing compositions were used as household fuel, wiping them out from the face of earth forever. ....
Last edited by raviraj on 04 Sep 2008, 19:00, edited 1 time in total.
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rshankar
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#12

Post by rshankar » 04 Sep 2008, 19:01

raviraj wrote:The hands which played the bhari nayanam were packing lentils and grains for a few annas. The sorry state of affairs stretched even far that manuscripts containing compositions were used as household fuel, wiping them out from the face of earth forever. ....
Raviraj,

What you write about is so unbearably poignant in it's pathos - a clear indication that when the so called evolved brains decided to do away with the 'adiyAr' system, they did not institute a system wherein these individuals who were literally repositories of arts and culture could be integrated into jobs that were appropriate. I think it just is another example of high handedness of the people in power with a characteristic lack of respect for individuals who were different from them.
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Lakshman
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#13

Post by Lakshman » 04 Sep 2008, 19:16

Vidya wrote:
KUrainadu natesa Pillai has composed the largest number of varnams for a single composer (116 - though 46 is available )
Are these varNAs available in print form? Do you have any means of getting the notations? Thanks.
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arasi
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#14

Post by arasi » 04 Sep 2008, 20:28

These accounts bring tears to one's eyes. The fate of many a creative soul languishing in poverty is the pathetic part the arts in world history. Add to it the caste system, and the resulting callousness which made those artistes abandon their gifts for menial jobs to feed their families!
This is where the government with its resources can help in a big way: save what there is of the old for posterity. It has the power and funds to make it happen. How we wish that among the ALunars (those who rule), there are at least a few who are zealous about the
creative artistes of yesterday and the welfare of their descendants!
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arasi
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#15

Post by arasi » 04 Sep 2008, 20:35

The aTANA composition I am familiar with is the following. One and the same??

P: Arundanaip pOl Adarippavar ARumugaththaraSE!

AP: pAr pugazhum pazhani giri mEviya
paramanE, divya param SuDarE!

C: allal Seyyum en vinaiyait tIrtIr
arum kavi nakkkIraraik kAttIR!
pollA asurar uDalai erittIr!
pugazhum naR.......................
mazhalaiyAy uduththIR!
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Lakshman
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#16

Post by Lakshman » 04 Sep 2008, 21:25

Here is what I have:
yAr undaianippOl. rAgA: aThANA. cApu tALA. Composer: Shrirangam Rangasami Pillai.

P: yAr undanaippOl Adarippavar ArumukhattarasE
A: pArp-pughalum pazhani malai mEviya paramanE divya param shuDarE
C1: allal sheyyum en vinaiyai tIrttir anbu koNDennai vandu kAttIr
(or) allal sheyyum en vinaiyai tIrttIr arum kavi nakkIrarai kAttIr
pollA sUran uDalai bhEdittIr puram erittavan shiru madalaiyAi udittIr
2: vellum pranavattin poruL ishaiththIr (Some sing as "UraiththIr) virumbum agattiyan ilakkaNam uraiththIr
vellum surargaLai sukhattil vaittIr sukhikkum tAnDavar agattil vashittIr
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gn.sn42
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#17

Post by gn.sn42 » 04 Sep 2008, 22:27

Do we know when the Nattuvanar and the other composers lived? If we don't have exact dates, any good estimates?
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raviraj
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#18

Post by raviraj » 04 Sep 2008, 22:41

Well this thread is just buzzing :-)

Aarumaipol - Atana - The version Lakshman sir has posted is indeed the one which TVS has rendered.

Lakshman Sir: As I understand the varnas of Kurainadu Natesa Pillai were published by Annamalai University, not even acknowledging his authorship. That speaks volumes about us !!! The book should be available. let me check.

rshankar/arasi :

May be it would be politically incorrect but nevertheless it wouldnt be far from truth to state that, had these noble souls " not been born" as isai vellalars they may probably have been recognized. They bore that cross for generations, which is an uncomfortable truth. The unfolding political climate where the balance of power shifted from royals to the British & then to nationalists and finally to an elected government, was something the isai vellars couldnt comprehend/cope up with, IMO. They lacked the agility and also the clout in the corridors of power during the period of 1850-1950, which proved to be their achilles heel. With the disappearence of the royal/political patronage, the 20th century modern State should have taken its place. It didnt happen. I understand in Japan, artistes are actually treated as State property and are financially sustained. We should probably adopt a similar welfare model.

Isai velalars were so well learned, devout & religious as well. Consider this. Tanjore Subbarayan ( the father of Tanjore Quartet) had a brother called Chidambaram. This Chidambaram renounced worldly life, became an ascetic called Chidambaranatha Yogi. Per their family records this Chidambaranatha Yogi was the one who gave Sri Vidhya Deeksha to MD. Consider another one. Tiruvarur Svaminatha Pillai ( belonging to the Tiruvarur nainadiyar clan) , father of Chinnatambi Pillai was a renowned nagasvara maestro and he was so well versed in arts and linguistics. Interestingly only a few of MD's disciples werent from the Isai vellar community such as Tevur Subramanya Iyer and Thirukkadaiyur Bharathi. Rest of all were from this community. Anyways time has moved on and things forgotten.

As Vidya posted earlier, concert performers should master some of these beautiful long forgotten compositions & render them in more numbers. So next time I am sure if the forummers hear the ethereal Nattakurnji of Chalamela, they will pause to remember Rangasvami Nattuvanar of the corner house @ Srirangam :-) . I just remember when I visited Tiruvarur last time, I just stood in the outer courtyard of the sprawling temple complex & thought back for a moment of all those noble souls who might have walked by.....my eyes simply moistened....

Raviraj
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arasi
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#19

Post by arasi » 05 Sep 2008, 01:33

Raviraj,
When the CM music world now seems to be astir with publictions (I am not thinking of coffee table volumes here), surely, there is scope for publishing a book on them, including their compositions.
Yes, vocalists should sing more of their krutis.
I have a personal request to one such. He is a complying vidvAn too, and a member here, to boot. It is none other than Suryaprakash. Since TVS has sung it, his disciple can revive 'Arundanaip pOL' again!

Suryaprakash,
A listener's request, please!

Yes, I had not recalled the song fully. In my childhood days, I
remember seeing Kumari. Rukmini dance to it. Did anyone else? Is there a clip of it somewhere?
Happy to note that calamEla is heard often these days...
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rshankar
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#20

Post by rshankar » 05 Sep 2008, 02:33

arasi wrote:Yes, I had not recalled the song fully. In my childhood days, I
remember seeing Kumari. Rukmini dance to it. .
Do you mean Kumari Kamala?
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arasi
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#21

Post by arasi » 05 Sep 2008, 04:56

Ravi,
No, I haven't seen Kamala dance for this song. Kumari Rukmini (Rukmani?) came before Kamala. A beautiful woman who acted with the singing star T.R. Mahalingam in RukAmangadA. CML would know. It was a short career for her in the movies.
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PUNARVASU
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#22

Post by PUNARVASU » 05 Sep 2008, 05:21

Actress Lakshmi's mother?
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PUNARVASU
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#23

Post by PUNARVASU » 05 Sep 2008, 05:34

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arasi
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#24

Post by arasi » 05 Sep 2008, 06:44

Thank you, Punarvasu!
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raviraj
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#25

Post by raviraj » 05 Sep 2008, 09:17

arasi wrote:Raviraj,
When the CM music world now seems to be astir with publictions (I am not thinking of coffee table volumes here), surely, there is scope for publishing a book on them, including their compositions.
DrBM Sundaram has already chronicled in detail the genealogy, life & time of these masters in his tamil works.

An analysis of the compositions of these masters reveals that it was predominantly dance pieces such as cauka varnas, jatisvaras, svarajatis, tillanas, sabdams/kowthuvams and to a lesser extent krithis. This compositional intent caught on with Ramasvami Dikshitar and to Subbarama Dikshitar. From a musical angle MD was influenced, but apparently not from a compositional angle. The SSP is a repository of the grand cauka varnas that RD composed including the ones in Hindola, Purnachandrika and Kamalamanohari. The anubandha has a smattering of MD sishyas compositions such as the Begada varna Intha priyamuga for example. A few of Tanjore quartet compositions find place such as MMG, Binnshadjam and Ramapriya.

Some of the other publications which record for posterity the compositions are:
Thanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai,
Dr BMS' latest book on tana varnas and the
Annamalai University publication of Kurainadu Natesa Pillai's varnas

I would appreciate if anybody else can lists out the other publications. I know for sure there are other unpublished manuscripts & if only time and effort could be expended, these are sure to go to keep the homefires burning. Who cares of carbon footprint !
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