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Profiles of Artistes, Composers, Musicologists
Unless otherwise specified, the profiles in this section are from
The Garland, Another Garland, Yet Another Garland and The Fragrant Garland by Mr.N.Rajagopalan
Born of Ranganatha Ayyangar & Sengammal, Aravamudan had his training with Embar Vijayaraghavachariar, the celebrated Kalakshepa maestro. He left his employment, entered the field of musical discourse and has been giving musical discourses for Doordarshan, All India Radio, etc. A linguist, he has been honoured with the titles of :
Pravachana Pravina Kulasekharamrtavarsi
Bhakti Pravachana Peroli, Sangita Upanayasa Tilakam
Harikatharatnam and Harikathasudhanidhi.

ARUNACHALA KAVIRAYAR - EMINENT COMPOSER...................(1711 - 1778)
Pleased with the erudition and proficiency of Arunachala in Tamil and Sanskrit and his deep insight into agamas, Sri Ambalavana Desikar, the powerful Head of the Dharmapuram Mutt, was happy that he had found in him a worthy successor. Desirous of taking the lad of eighteen years into confidence, the Mutt Head mentioned that Arunachala could well look forward to become his successor anticipating nothing but a nod of gratitude and pleasure. Prompt was the reply of the disciple to his principal. He said that great works like Tirukkural and Ramayana extol the role of married life and that it was his desire to follow the path indicated. The mutt-head was a great-hearted soul. He accepted the reply and appreciated the honest response. Studies over, Arunachala delayed his marraige as he probably had faith in the parable 'Vivaham Vidyanasam', meaning marraige is fatal to acquisition of further knowledge. He married at the age of thirty only.

Born at Tillaiyadi in Thanjavur District in 1711 (or 1712), of Nallathambi Pillai and Valliammal, he had his initial education locally and then joined the Mutt Institution at twelve on the demise of his father. On completion of his course and after the incident alluded to above, he set up a small jeweller's shop. Business took him to nearby Sirkazhi, where he met his old colleague and then branch-head of the said mutt, Chidambaram Pillai. Responding to his wishes, Arunachala settled at Sirkazhi and established contacts with two musicians, Sattanadhapuram Venkatarama Ayyar and Kodandarama Ayyar, who found in Arunachala the genius and sparks of an eminent composer. They encouraged him to compose an opera agreeing to choreograph it. In a quid pro quo, tamil-teaching and music-tuition were exchanged

It was one of the most furitful collaboration in a noble task. 'Rama Nataka' upto 'Yuddha kanda' was composed and was composed and was taken by the two musicians to Madras. They came back pleased with the favourable response and recption to it. 'Rama nataka Kirthanas' were completed by Arunachala Kavirayar and taken to Srirangam for ceremonial release even as the great Kambar did. To establish his credentials, he composed the immortal piece 'En Palli Kondeerayya?' in Mohana raga. There have been few bharatanatya dancers who have not included this piece for their recitals. Grand in conception, exquisite in composition, the song brings out the artistic talents of the dancer to a high degree

Then the main opera 'Rama Nataka Kirthanas' was approved at the temple of the Lord Sri Ranganatha, to whom the dance-piece was addressed seeking reason for his reclining pose. This was in 1771 A.D. It ranks with the operas of Tyagaraja in Telugu and Tirtha Narayana in Sanskrit as well as Gopala Krishna Bharathi's Nandanar Charitram, which however was a daring brain-child of its author. The darus of Arunachala brought special encomiums

Arunachala Kavirayar was a prolific composer and is one of the greatest among Tamil poets. His works include
Sirkazhi Sthala Puranam
Sirkazhi Kovai
Hanuman Pillai Thamizh
Ajomukhi Natakam

besides rick kirtanas etc which are the favourite pieces of dancers like -
Yaro Evar Yaro - Bairavi
Anda Rama - Kedara gowla
Enakkun Irupadham - Ragamalika
Eppadi Manam - Kukhari
Kanden - Vasantha
Raghavane Saranam - Sahana
Ramasami Konda Kolam - Kapi
Saranam Endrane - Sourashtram
Saranam Raghurama - Asaveri
Vandan - Mohanam
Yarendru - Yadhukula Kambhoji, etc.

Other songs include -
Kadaikannal - Asaveri
Avataram - Mohanam
Kooni Vandale - Mohanam
Irundane - Atana
Dryodhana - Kalyani and
Ramanai Kannara Kandane - Mohanam.


A disciple of Kalakad Ramanarayana Bhagavatar, a senior vidwan, Arunachalam had further training in nagaswaram under the wizard T.N.Rajarathinam Pillai. Known for his melodius rendition, he was highly popular and was one of the most sought-after nagaswara artistes. He imbibed the vocal and instrumental styles and genius of his gurus. His nagaswaram play was captivating and exhilarating. As a boy he was making garlands of flowers for livelihood. At the height of his popularity, he expired, eight years after his perceptor Rajarathinam died.

Born of Balavesam and Chellammal at Karukurichi in Tirunelvelli district, he had initial training under his father and made his debut in his eleventh year and enjoyed a meteoric rise. His rendition in the disc of the film song 'Singara Velane Deva' is a masterpiece. It is said the the cine field colossus Sivaji Ganesan requisitioned this gramaphone record to the Bombay Airport to satisfy his craving to hear it again before his departure to the West. The song set a new trend of voco-nagaswara ensemble.

Arunachalam was honoured posthumously by the Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Mandram. He died prematurely at the prime of his professional career - a great loss to the Art. His rendition laid emphasis on soothing melody, public appeal and captivating delivery.

SAINT ARUNAGIRINATHAR - SAINT - COMPOSER..............................(c. 1450 A.D)
Thiruppugazh, Kandaranubhoothi, Kandar Alankaram, Kandarandadhi, Tiruvarutpa, etc., are all in praise of the bewitching child of Lord Parameswar, Kandan known by various names like Kartikeya, Muruga, etc. This Lord of the hills like Palani, Tiruchendur, Tiruttani, Tiruparankundram and Swami Mali is widely worshipped.

Saint Arunagirinathar is one of the finest flowers of Tamil composers, most devout and dedicated. His immortal songs and verses on his favourite God in Tamil are the delight of the devotee, the hymnodist and the musician. He enjoyed the most proper title of 'Chanda pavalapperuman' meaning 'unrivalled Master of Verse'. He is an incomparable master of rhythm. Tiruppugazh is a 'vast ocean of intricate time measure'. It is an eternal song on the attributes and glory of the Lord and is widely sung at temples, religious discourses, etc. The chandam type of composition reached its pinnacle of glory under Arunagirinathar.

Sri Kripananda Variar says that the emergence of saints at defferet periods has led people to uphold moral law and tread true spiritual path. iruvalluvar prescribed a personal code two thousand years back. Sixty-three saints (Nayanmars) like Sundaramurthy Nayanar (9th century), Pattinathar (10th century), Sekkizhar (11th century), Kambar 912th century), Meikandar (13th century), Arunagirinathar (15th century) Thayumanavar (17th century), Ramalinga Adigal (19th century), etc., have sustained morality and spiritualism.

A voluptuous life in the early part led to poverty and disgrace. His attempted suicide was thwarted by divine grace and Lord Subramanya inscribed the Shadakshara (Sa-Ra-Va-Na-Ba-Va) on his tongue, gave him deeksha, liberated him from karmas and initiated him in musical compositions and opened the flood-gates of bhakti revealed through poetry of supreme beauty and excellence of yoga. He was never tired of recalling his worthless life and the infinite mercy of the Lord. His magnum opus 'Tiruppugazh' is an eternal song, a matchless compilation which contains torrential outpouring of divine love and is incomparable for its rhythmic excellence and spiritual appeal. He is credited with composing 16,029 songs in Tiruppugazh, but only 1,311 are available.

Tiruchi Sankaran of the York University, Toronto says that rhythm is the backbone of Indian music and is embodied and manifested in its most elaborate system of talas. Tiruppugazh talas form a special category. For instance, it contains many hymns in the difficult 'Simhanandana' tala with 128 aksharas like "Baktiyaal yan Unai Paarkalaam". 'Arungari was an unrivalled master of chandams which he linked with intricate tales known and unkown.

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