Kannadasan – A Phenom

Kannadasan is one of the greatest philosophers this world has seen. He is widely known as lyricist in Tamil Cinema world. But he has given wonderful spiritual works. His greatest spiritual work is ‘Arthamulla Hindu Madham‘ – ‘Meaningful Hinduism’ is the rough translation. The book is of 10 volumes. He has written many other books like Yesu Kaviyam, Thai Paavai, Manavasam etc on spiritual genre. Many of his songs quench the philosophical and spiritual thirst of his listeners.

This post is about 4 beautiful songs written by Kaviyarasar Kannadasan. All the four songs are from the same movie but are of 4 different situations within the same story line. There is this iconic movie Thiruvilaiyadal, released in the year 1965. The movie is a mythological one which is based on the divine games played by Lord Shiva, to show the devotion of his devotees to the world. Many yestergen people love this movie. Even today the movie is fresh. It does act as one the references to delve into the divine plays of Lord Shiva. It leaves the viewers with a curiosity to know more on Nayanmars and their devotion. 

In the year 1965, with no great advancements on technology, the art direction, the screenplay, the writing and the direction by AP Nagarajan was at its best. The movie depicts few chosen Divine plays of Lord Shiva. 

In olden days, musicians, poets were greatly revered. There were competitions with fellow musicians from other lands and as one loses himself, he and his country would become the slave of the musician. Such was the rule in the Sangam Era. The musician becomes the musical king and is gifted with loads of money, gold, rare gems and the win is documented as he conquers the kingdom with his music. The last part of the movie is all about this. 

Picture taken from Wikipedia Images

Long story short for people who haven’t seen the movie. And for Tamil speaking people it’s close to impossible to miss the movie. Still just about the plot before delving into the songs.

There was a composer Banapathrar in Pandiya Kingdom. A great devotee who sings on Lord Shiva. He is known for his humility and devotion. Another singer, his contemporary, Hemanatha Bhagavathar, he being a head strong personality, with his musical talent kept conquering many kingdoms. And he comes to Madurai Kingdom to showcase his talent and conquer. The king seeked the help of his court musicians but seeing Hemanatha Bhagavathar’s performance they backed out . King’s last resort was Banapathrar and he was ordered to compete against Hemanathan. 

Banapathrar surrendered to Lord Sundareshwara, the presiding deity of Marudai, to safeguard him and his Kingdom from becoming a slave. The Lord wanted to teach a lesson to the head strong singer. He disguised himself as a wood seller and rested himself on the front ward of Hemanathan’s bunglow that night and sang a divine song which made him realise that he is just a speck of dust in this universe. Hemanatha Bhagavathar was fumbled and learns that the wood seller is the student of Banapathrar and elopes out of the kingdom, stating that he is the slave of Banapathrar and Madurai Kingdom. 

In the movie, there are 4 songs involved for this particular part of the movie. 4 sung in different moods and by different persons as per the plot. But all the 4 songs were penned by Kaviyarasar Kannadasan. Just a brief analysis on each song, change of moods that he has brought up into each of them with so much grace.

First is Oru Naal Podhuma – The song sung by a stalwart, Sri. Bala Murali Krishna on vocals, in the plot by Hemanatha Bhagavathar. The song depicts all about Hemanathan. Each line of the song is of different raga. The raga comes in words as well as in the tune. Such a musical treat by KV Mahadevan. Few lines that says what kind of person he is. “Endhan Kalaiku Indha Thirunaadu Samam Aaguma“, means “Is this kingdom equal to my talent?” The song ends with “Isai Deivam Naan Ada“, “I am the music god” he proclaims. 

The song shows what kind of person he is! Head strong and full of pride. 

Next is “Isai Thamizh Nee Seidha Arum Saadhanai“. This song says the mindset of Banapathrar is sung exceptionally well by TL Mahalingam both on onscreen and the vocals. Banapathrar is summoned by the king to contest against Hemanatha Bhagavathar. He surrenders to lord and ask him to safeguard from the impending assault for the kingdom. He sings “Verukku Neer Ootri Vilaikindra Iraiva! Un ooruku pazhi nerdhal unakindri enakillai“. “The one who grows a plant by watering the roots, if your kingdom is defamed it isn’t my fault. It’s yours.” Banapathrar argues with the lord as he fears the kingdom becoming the salve for the talent of Hemanathan. Banapathrar faints after the song and lord Shiva descends as a wood seller. 

As a wood seller the lord sings a philosophical song stating that he sings to ease out the pressure of work. The song “Parthal Pasu Maram” sung by TM Soundarrajan is a perfect philosophical song which simply summaries human life, desires in a span, less than four minutes. Each line tells the smallness of life that we live on this earth in comparison to the everlasting space and time. He sings about firewood but it suits human life and body; ending Pallavi with “Theeyil Itta Kariyum Minjuma“, meaning if put in fire only ashes remain both firewood and human body. Each stanza speaks about uncertainty of life in style. He doesn’t sell much at dusk and reaches Hemanathan’s place to spend that night, starts to sing in mosquito bite. 

The final divine song, “Pattum Naanae, Bhavamum Naanae“, “I am the song. I am the Bhava”. He hits the bullseye in the next line. “Paadum unnai naan paada vaithenae“. “It’s I who make you sing” sings the lord who disguised himself as the firewood seller. A beautiful rendition by TM Soundarrajan on vocals. Hemanathan surrenders and flies Madurai. 

Look at the change of moods, various situations over the plot. Single man has written all of the songs bringing the essence of character, aesthetically. Headstrong, ticked. Surrender and devotion, take it. Philosophy of life, have it in 20 lines. The voice of the divine, yeah here it is! says Kannadasan. He is able to speak as all. Even God himself.

It is usual for a poet, writer to write about things that had affected him greatly. There would be at least traces of it in each of his work. But only few writers outgrow and come up with excellence in all genres without letting their wounds bleed over their words. 4 different songs with such diversity and eloquence is possible only for Kannadasan.

Each of the songs is a gem of its kind. One cannot write better than what he has given. Such a phenomenal piece of art! 

The post is to celebrate Kaviyarasar Kannadasan’s birthday. 

A poet, a writer dies but his creations are immortal. It not just stays but makes people transcend from mere existence to living life to the fullest.

Happy Birthday! 

With Love,

Rukmini

To hear all the four songs, click on the below links. 

Oru Naal Podhuma – https://youtu.be/E__5KziNzB0

Isai Thamizh Nee Seidha Arum Saadhanai – https://youtu.be/UyTfKgHjC0c

Paartha Pasu Maram – https://youtu.be/NWDum95MyuQ

Paatum Naanae – https://youtu.be/LxXS3JgpwMI