RAO SAHIB M. ABRAHAM PANDITHAR - MUSICOLOGIST...............(August 2, 1859-August 31, 1919)
Born of Muthuswami Nadar and Annammal at Sabavar Vadagarai near Tenkasi, Abraham Pandithar studied at the Normal Teachers' Trainng School, Dindigul and became a teacher at the same school.
Abraham learnt music under Dindigul Sadayandi Patthar and a nagaswram artiste at Tanjore and blossomed into a knowledgeable musicologist and a princely patron. No other commoner had done so much in those distant days for music as Abraham Pandithar. Even subsequently, if one could be cited for great service of such magnitude in the cause of music, it was Annamalai Chettiar, Founder of the Annamalai University. Pandithar was a composer, research scholar and organiser. He had done considerable research into the intricacies of Carnatic music in the context of ancient Dravidian (tamil) literature on art and music. Perhaps few had excelled him in this.
His prodigious work 'Karnamrita Sagaram' is really an ocean, as its name bears, of information on musical history, science, literature, musicians, etc. An encyclopaedia and a thesaurus, it is in two volumes and it is really a wonder that in those days of few facilities, he was able to compile and publish such a massive work. The monumental work is an addition to another 'Karnamarita Sagara Thirattu' (1907) containing ninty-five songs (gitam, swarajati, varnam) with swaras etc. on the pattern of Purandaradasa.
He was the centre of activity for musicians and musicologists. What the Tanjore rulers did earlier, he did and perhaps had excelled in certain aspects. He kept up contacts with all musical luminaries in the whole of India. He was the first to convene All-India Conferences on Music at Tanjore on a scale not witnessed before in the South and rarely witnessed eversince. The Conferences were held on May 2, 1912 and on August 19, 20 and 21 1916. The Assemblies were impressive. The Agenda was a focus of real issues and problems. There was solid work and purposeful discussions among patrons, musicologists, musicians, etc. The list of participants is a remarkable catalogue of everyone who counted.
He started the 'Sangeeta Vidya Mahajana Sangham' at Tanjore on December 14, 1912 with stalwarts like Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Ayyar, Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, Panchapakesa Bhagavathar, etc. In 1913, Muthiah Bhagavathar promised to donate one performance per annum for the continued upkeep of its activities.
For his excellent and remarkable contribution, Abraham Pandithar deserves the gratitude of everyone. Richly he deserves posthumous recognition.
PACCHIMIRIAM ADIPPAYYA - RENOWNED COMPOSER...............(18th Century)
'Even though there are other varnams, there can never be another tana varna to equal the brilliance of 'Viriboni' even in the future, says Subbarama Dikshitar in 'Sangita Sampradaya Pradarsini'. Percussion wizard Dakshinamurthi Pillai would feel out of sorts if 'Viriboni' was not in the concert initially for the reason that the breezy tempo it generates and the vitality it lends were lost to the percussionist. Pacchimiriam Adippayya is the celebrated author of the Bairavi raga varnam 'Viriboni'. He has composed varnas for beginners and songs in rakti and desi ragas, besides gitas ad prabandhas. He is credited with systematising concert patterns and methods with raga alapana, madhyamakala and pallavi.
There is an interesting account in the life of Syama Sastri of the Trinity. Sangita Swami Yati Sreshta, who initiated him into the intricacies of raga and tala, advised Syama Sastri 'to listen to but not follow Adippayya'. Adippayya was, however, delighted to receive Syama as a disciple since he saw visions of Devi Kamakshi's blessings in taking him. Syama Sastri's family were doing poojahs to the deity of Kamakshi Amman at Tanjore as hereditary archakas. Pallavi Gopalayyar, Sanjeevayyar and Ghanam Krishnayyar were among his eminent disciples, apart from Syama; and all of them have left an indelible mark. Subbukutti Ayya, an eminent veena artiste (circ.1813-1846) was a grandson of Adippayya and he graced the Courts of the rulers of Pudukottai and ravancore (Swati Tirunal). Dr. U.Ve. Swaminatha Ayyar makes mention of one Tiruvaiyaru Pachimiriyalu Sesha Ayyar as a good vocalist and composer of gita prabandhas. Whether he is connected to Adippayya is not known. Vina Krishna Ayyar, his son, has authored the work 'Sapta Taleswaram'. Few families have such distinction in successive generations. Adippayya is reported to have followed Veerabhadrayya's style.
Adippayya was Asthana Vidwan under Rajahs Pratap Simha and Tulajaji of Tanjore (1741-1787).
It is unfortunate that fuller account of the lives of several stalwarts are not available. They chose to leave little account of themselves in conformity with the Hindu belief to shed egoism and promote anonymity, which find beautiful reflection in Owen Meredith:
KANDADEVI S. ALAGIRISWAMY - VIOLINIST:...............(b. 21 April 1925)
Son of Sundararaja Ayyangar and Alamelu Ammal, S. Alagiriswamy was born at Kandadevi near Devakottai and had studied upto fourth form. He had his initial training from 1936 under his grandfather, Srinivasa Ayyangar and Kandadevi Chellam Ayyangar. In 1940, he switched over to T.Chowdiah for advanced training in violin
Made his debut by accompanying in the solo concert at Mysore of T.Chowdiah and immediately on April 10, 1942 accompanied Ariyakudi Ramanuja Ayyangar at Devakottai. Religious and modest, he has been a popular vidwan.
'Thandi nada Visharadha' - Sri Sankaracharya of Kanchi Kamakoti Peetam.
'Kalaimamani' - Tamilnadu Eyal Isai Nataka Mandram, Chennai.
AMBHUJAM KRISHNA - LYRICIST.....................................(d.October 20, 1989)
Ambhujam Krishna, a Home Science Graduate of Delhi University came into the renowned TVS family of Mdurai-Madras on her marraige with the dintinguished industrialist T.S.Krishna. Daughter of Madurai Ranga Ayyangar, she had her training in music under Karaikudi Ganesan and Mudurai Ganesa Bhagavathar. A staunch devotee of God and an ardent lover of arts, she took to composing in Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil, Hindi and Manipravalam (macaronic). The compositions are noted for fragrance of imagination, chaste language, clarity of thought and spontaneity. Her lyrics are brought out in four volumes of 'Geethamala'. Her colossal output was not the result of planned exercise but were outpourings of a genius blessed with a mind that was sharp and an imagination that liaised with the best and the noble.
As she was not a musician, she availed of the services of a host of musical and dance stalwarts to set her six hundred songs to tune like:
MANGALORE K. ANANTHRAM - SAXOPHONE ARTISTE...............(b. January 1, 1946)
Ananthram was born in Kokada near Mangalore of Dharanappa. He had his initial training in music from his father. He had his professional training under Kanchana Venkata Subramanya Ayyar, Nagaswaram Munivenkatappa and Nagaswaram Karkala Narayanaswami. His debut performance was at Malleswaram Sagita Sabha in 1993. He has been performing in Sri Venkataramana temple for two decades and giving concerts on All India Radio, sabhas, etc. in Karnataka, Mumbai and Chennai.
Saxophone Samrat by H.H.Sri Keshavananda Swamiji of Ednir Mutt in 1994.
Saxophone Sarvabhouma by Sri Lakshminarayana Asrama of Sri Durga Parameswari Temple in 1994.
PARUR S. ANANTARAMAN(Sr.) - VIOLINIST...............(b.26 August 1924)
Son of Parur Sundaram Ayyar and brother of M.S.Gopalakrishnan, S.Anantharaman is a competent violinist - a chip of the family legacy. Naturally, he had his training under his father and at the early age of seven, made his debut at the Tyagaraja Vidwath Samajam. He is a graduate in Mathematics and diploma holder in music - both of the Madras University.
Anantharaman has been accompanying all leading vidwans and promising musicians with his skilled, adjusting and learned violin-play. Probably no Sabha worth the name is left out where he has not performed and his dignified, virtuous play is relished by all. He was lecturer and then Professor in the Central College of Carnatic Music, Madras from 1962 till he retired in 1983. All India Radio availed of his service for over forty years.
Kalaimamani by Tamil Nadu Eyal Isai Nataka Mandram
Asthana Vidwan, Sri Venkateswara Temple, Pittsburgh, USA
ANNAMACHARYA TALLAPAKA - ARCHITECT OF DEVOTIONAL ECSTASY:...............(1408 - 1503)
Annamacharya was born of Narayana Suri alias Kumaranarayana and Lakshmamba of Tallapaka in Cuddapah district, Andhra Pradesh. At the age of eight, Annamacharya had to leave Tallapaka for Tirumala on a command from Lord Venkataramana in dream. The child prodigy had the vision of Alamelumanga (the damsel standing on a flower), the divine consort of Lord Srinivasa. Young Annama poured forth inspired songs numbering a hundred immediatedly at the same place, Mokallamudupu. As he ascended the seven hills, he was scaling spiritual heights too and he reached the Abode of Bliss, which to this day is an unparalleled inspiration to all categories of the public. Like the sages and the musical trinity, he was initiated into Vaishnava fold by Ghana Vishnu with Panchasamskaram rituals. Annamacharya remained at Tirumala till he attained the age of sixteen, an age immortalised by Markandeya of Tirukadayur. He had the manifestation of Lord Venkataramana and the commad of the Lord to compose not less than a song a day. his he carried out to the last. Divine will took him back to Talapaka and he married Thimmakka and Akkalamma.
Annamacharya toured the whole of SOuth India worshipping and singing in praise of famous Vaishnavite shrines. Adivan Sathakopa Yathi of Ahobilam enlightened his life and mission. Inspired by the teaching of the guru, he sang the essence of Vasishtadwaita philosophy for the benefit of mankind. Saluva Narasingaraya, who ruled from Penukonda invited Annamacharya to his Court. But it was to last long. Delighted at the charm of the Poet's compositions, the Saluva expressed a desire for composing a song in praise of himself. 'Narastuti', (praise of man) was not within Annamacharya's comprehension. Quite in keeping with Prahalada's code Annamacharya told the chieftain that his compositions were of and for the Lord alone. Stung by the honest reply of the poet, the Saluva imprisoned Annamacharya. On release, Annamacharya left for his spiritual home, Tirumala.
Annamacharya, his son Pedda Tirumalacharya and his grandson Chinna Tirumala are together called as 'Tallapakam' composers. They were the first to compose songs in Telugu with Pallavi and Charanam which later composers adopted adding Anupallavi. A colossal output of thirty two thousand songs were sung by Annamacharya. Twenty thousand are not traceable. The copper plates onwhich they were inscribed are now with Sri Venkateswara Oriental Research Institute, Tirupati. The prolific composer had authored several works and the following are now available:
1. Sringara Manjari:
Poems of madura bhakti - Devotion and longing of the maiden for the Lord and her final union as in the case of Andal of Tirupavai songs symbolising the merger of the soul - jeevathma - with the ultimate - Paramathma.
2. Sringara Sankirtana:
Anthology of Nayaka - Nayika poems symbolising the Lord and the Poet in sringara.
3. Adhyatma Sankeertana:
Philosophical work expatiating on adoration.
The original Adhyatma Sankeertana in Sanskrit was transalated into Telugu by Chinna Tirumala and published by the Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam. The works are all addressed to the patron deity, Lord Venkateswara (Venkataramana). About ninety ragas had been used for the twelve thousand songs including rakti ragas like Ahiri and Bouli which predominate. Annamacharya also wrote the Sanskrit treatise on desi song forms titled 'Sankirtana Lakshana'. His songs cover temple rituals, utsavams and certain aspects of life and after. Annmacharya has also authored other works like:
Ramayana in Dwipada kavya
Venkatachala Mahatyam in Sanskrit
Satakas - eleven and
Prabandas in different languages.
Visishtadwaitam and Lord Venkateswara were the prime themes of Annmacharya as Rama was to Tyagaraja, Guha and Devi to Muthuswami Dikshitar, Krishna to Jayadeva. The language is simple, direct, colloquial within the reach of the lay devotee. He made liberal use of folk forms to popularise the message; and it was the message of God, Dharma and Humanism. He called his songs Sankirtanas and thus came to be called 'Sankirtanacharya'. The preceptor is also called as 'Pada Kavita Pitamaha', i.e., the progenitor of padam lyrics. The devotee, poet, composer and saint is revered. The Devasthanam is taking steps to popularise his songs which are the first of their kind combining bakthi, music and sweet Telugu ( sundara Telugu, as Mahakavi Subramanya Bharati extolled its sweet charm).
The Devasthanam has published 'Sri Balaji Pancharatnamala' and 'Sri Venkatesa Gita Malika' and is celebrating his jayanti annually.
First wife of the poet, she had authored 'Subhadra Kalyanam' in Manjari Dwipada style and was a Telugu poet.
Eldest son of Annmacharya followed the path shown and outlined by his illutrious father. He composed Sringara and Adhyatma Sankirtanams, besides authoring -
Son of Pedda Tirumalacharya, he is regarded as the 'Maha Purusha' (Originator) of Bhajana Paddhati. His Todayamangalam songs are sung at the beginning of bhjans and are the most well-known bhajan songs. Tyagaraja was using the same till he switched over to his 'Divyanama and Utsava Sampradaya kirtanas'. His other works are Ashtabhasha Dhandakamu and Sankirtana Lakshanamu. Some of the Todayamangalam songs are brought to a cassette by Swami Haridas Giri with rapturous effect.
Fourth son of Pedda Tirumaliah, he was the biographer of his grandfather. He wrote 'Annmacharya Charitamu' in Dwipada style, besides Paramayogi Vilasamu, Ushaparinayamu.
Tallapaka Tiruvengalappa: Revanuri Venkatarya:
Son of Chinna Tirumalacharya, Tiruvengalappa was an author like Revanuri Venkatarya, son of Annamacharya's daughter.
Talapaka Family was the torch-bearer of Sri Venkateswara's philosophy, totally dedicated to extol the pristine glories of the Lord of Tirumala - Tirupathi and the most popular and worshipped Deity.
ANNAMALAI REDDIAR - COMPOSER...............(1865 - 1890 or 1891)
'Kavadi Chindu' is one of the forms of light compositions in Tamil which are highly popular for their simplicity, emotional content and appeal. In praise of Lord Muruga of Kazhugumalai in Tirunelvelli, Annamalai Reddiar had composed kavadi chindus. Rich in poetic excellence and charming melody, his songs include pieces like 'Murugan Tirumal Marugan Perumai' (Atana). Has composed Thalapuranam, etc.
Annamalai Reddiar was born at Chennimalai in Tirunelvelli District. A charming person, he is stated to have led a reckless life and died in his twenty-sixth year. The Lord of Kazhugumalai has been praised by Muthuswami Dikshitar also in his 'Subramanyena Rakshitoham' (Suddha Danyasi) and Arunagirinathar in Tiruppugazh.
ANNASWAMI SASTRI (BHAGAVATHAR)- MUSICAL DISCOURSE ARTISTE.........(b.July3, 1899)
Born at Pettai, Tirunelveli District of Duraiswami Jadavallabar and Janaki Ammal, he had his general studies at The Sanskrit College, Tiruvaiyaru. He studied Sastras under Bhuvaraghachariar and Madurai Ramasubba Sastrigal. He had his training in harikatha rendering under the renowned Tirupazhanam Panchapakesa Bhagavathar and musical training under Madirimangalam Natesa Ayyar and Kottaram amasubba Sastrigal.
Varied training equipped Sastri with rich knowledge, command over religious and spiritual lore, capacity for robust presentation and singing with raga bhava. He was honoured by the Music Academy in 1955 as it has done Mangudi Chidambara Bhagavathar and Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar. Sastri was noted for the use of rakti ragas and his genial wit.
He was principal of the Harikatha School, Tanjore. Was honoured by the Madras Sangita Nataka Sangarn. Was Fellow of the Central Sangita Nataka Academy in 1962.