Arunachala Kavi, was a Tamil poet and a composer of Carnatic music. He was born in Tillaiyadi in Thanjavur District. The three Tamil composers Arunachala Kavi, MuthuThandavar and MarimuthuPillai are considered the Tamil Trinity who contributed to the evolution of Carnatic music.
He was the fourth son of NallathambiPillai and Valliammai. His father was a Jain by birth but later embraced Saivism. Arunachalar was well versed in both Tamil and Sanskrit. He wasmesmerised byThiruvalluvar’sThirukkuraland Kamban’sRamayanam. These two great works were his guiding forces which led him to write Rama NatakaKirtanas later in life.
His contemporaries requested him that with his great scholarship, he could compose an opera for which they could help him in setting the ragas and talas. He thought deeply on the choice of a subject for an opera. It was hardly surprising that the life of Sri Rama came to his mind as the only fitting theme for his opera. He wrote and completed the opera and wished to have its arangetram at the same Srirangam temple before Sri Ranganatha as Kamban did with his work. It is said that he received a divine directive in a dream that he should sing Thodayams, invoking other deities and sages just as Kamban did, since he had transformed the poet’s work in the form of kirthanas. This was the eventful occasion for the delightful piece, Yen Pallikondeerayya in Mohanam, aditalam.
Yaroivaryaro (Bhairavi, Adi), Saranamsaranam Raghu Rama (Asaveri, Misrachapu), kandenKandenKandensitayai (Vasantha, Adi) are some of the famous kirthanas from the opera that have maintained their classical excellence. Carnatic music has been enriched by his numerous compositions.
Compiled by Anandhi Sundar