Saturday, November 13, 2010

Arunaacala Kavi

Arunaacala Kavi (1712-1779 ?) was born in Tillaiyaadi in erstwhile Thanjavur district to shaivite parents Nallatambi Pillai and ValliammAL. He was sent to Dharmapuram Adheenam to study Thamizh and Sanskrit. While the head of the Adheenam encouraged AK to take up asceticism, AK would have none of it. He really wanted to experience family life. He married, set up a jeweller’s shop and in his spare time wrote literary works in Thamizh. He settled in the town SIrkAzhi.

It appears two musicians (Venkatarama Iyer and Kodandarama Iyer) wanted AK to give them an exposition of KambarAmAyaNam. That is the time AK composed the opera, Ramanatakam, which was then set to music by the two musicians. The debut of the opera was in Srirangam after some persuasion by AK who sang 'En paLLI koNDIrayyA', after which it seems Lord Ranganathar appeared in the dreams of the temple priest and AK, sanctioning the debut of the opera in Srirangam temple.

The enactment of Ramanatakam boosted the popularity of AK bringing royal patronage with it and the support of wealthy nobles, which brought pecuniary benefits. The opera includes verses sung in about 40 rAgams. Ariyakkudi Ramanuja Iyengar sang some of the songs from the opera in his concerts thereby adding clout for inclusion of AK's songs in mainstream concert music.

While Ramanatakam was the crown jewel of AK'’s literary works, he also wrote SIrkAzhi stala purANam, SIrkAzhik kOvai, anumAr piLLait thamizh, and ajamukhi nAtakam, in addition to other songs.

ArunAcala Kavi, Muttut tANDavar and MArimuttA piLLai together are hailed as the Thamizh Trinity for their immortal contributions to Thamizh music, along the lines of Carnatic music trinity (Syama Sastry, Tyagaraja, and Muttuswami Dikshitar).

Some of Arunaacala Kavi’s compositions that are very popular in textual form and music concerts are: En paLLi koNDIrayyA, and rAmanaik kaNNArak kaNDAnE (mOhanam), ramanukku mannan muDi (handloom), annai jAnaki vandALE (sankarAbharaNam), enakkun iru padam ninaikka* (rAgamAlikA), srirAmacandranukku (madyamAvati), kaNDEn kaNDEn (bAgEshri or vasantA) and caraNam caraNam enRAnE (saurAshtram).

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