Notes dedicated to the God | Daily News


Notes dedicated to the God

Indian Classical Music is mainly divided into two categories. One is Hindustani (North Indian classical music) and other is Carnatic (South Indian classical music). It is believed that this division took place around the 13th century A.D. South Indian classical dance forms are based on Carnatic music. Carnatic music comprises of devotional songs, patriotic songs, social songs, and the songs adapted to dance. Carnatic music encompasses South Indian languages and sometimes with an admixture of SANSKRIT words. Various factors have contributed to the development of music, mainly temple sculptures, paintings, and stone inscriptions.

Numerous musical instruments are clearly depicted on temple towers, mandapas (halls), and on temple pillars. In some of the temples notably in Thanchai, Madurai, and Alakar kovil, there are pillars, which reverberate with music on touch. Just as the dance was preserved in temples, and temple environs, so too music was also preserved, in the temples and temple environs. According to Hindu mythology, music and dance were given to the world by Lord Siva. The following verses are an example.

‘Nanthi played the drum

Thirumal kept the thala

Brahma sang and Lord Siva Danced’

It depicts the divine involvement in the growth of dance and music.

Many of the ancient Tamil works refer to the Lord as the fount of all music. Saint Appar in Thiruthandakam sings --`Thou art the song and music’.

According to Hindu culture dance and music are inextricably bound together. Saint Thirugnanasampanthar said that the Lord is the creator of dance and music. So too, there are numerous references in the devotional songs, that the Lord is the creator of music and dance.

From the 2nd century A.D. to the 20th century AD, music and dance grew up together. In the ancient Tamil classic Silapathikaram, there are numerous references to music and dance. Silapathikaram refers to some of the outstanding musical compositions of that time. Aachiyar Kuravai, Kunra Kuravai, and Vettuva Vari were some of the outstanding musical compositions used in those days. Similarly, there were many references, to dances prevalent at that time. And those dances were based on devotional themes, and dances were called ‘Theiva Viruthi'.

Silapathikaram period was followed by a dark age, in the history of Tamil music. This period was followed by Kaalapiar Kaalam. And about this time, Kaaraikaal Amaiyar appeared and gave to the world, ‘Thiruvalankadu Mutha Thiru Pathikam’. This was followed by the age of Saiva Saints and Vaishnava Alwaars. During this time Tamil music was at its peak, the main contributors were Saint Appar, Saint Sampanthar, Saint Suntharar and Saint Manikavasagar. Most of their compositions are still used in dance.

Similarly, among the Vaishnava saints perivalvular paasurams, nammalvar paasurams, and andal Paasurams are still in use in the present classical Bharatha Natya recitals.

In the 10th Century, A.D. Thiru Maalisai Devar and eight others composed Thiruvisaipa and Thirupallandu. This was followed by another dark era, which was brightened by the appearance of Saint Arunakirinathar, his exquisite composition of Thirupugal, still finds a place in the repertoire of the present day Bharatha Natyam.

During the period of the 17th century, Thanchai was under the rule of Nayaka Kings, and in the 18th century again it was under Maraathi rulers. This era was a turning point in Tamil Music. During this time many innovations were introduced in the traditional Tamil music. And these innovations were adopted in dance.

This period was followed by the age of Muthuthandavar, Arunachala Kavirayar and Kavikunchara Bharathi, and many others.

The composition of Arunachala Kavirayar’s ‘Ramanadaka Keerthanams’, Kandapurana Keerthanam’ by Kavikunchara Bharathi, Meenakshi Ammai Kuram by Kumara Kuruparan and the composition of Thirukuda Raasapa Kavirayar’s Kutrala Kuravanchi are still being used in modern dance stages. Earlier these were mainly used in dances. Therefore they were called Koothu songs.

In the 19th century AD, Gopalakrishna Bharathi composed Nanthanar Keerthanam based on the life history of Saint Nanthanar. Following Gopala Krishna Bharathi, numerous composers composed religious and devotional songs on various Gods. Most of these devotional songs are very popular and more suitable for Bharatha Natyam. Among the popular works Uthukadu Venkadasubaiyer and Papanasasivan stand out.

In the 20th century numerous traditional dance gurus and traditional musicians composed melodious songs on various gods and on various temples, which are suitable for dance. And in the 20th century, Tamil religious cinema based on various epics were produced. In the cinemas, deep Carnatic based devotional songs were used. Those devotional songs are suitable for the classical dances, but the modern artists are reluctant to use these songs on the basis that those have been used in cinema.

Bharatha Natyam is a spiritual art, and Carnatic music is divine music. Music base for classical Bharatha Natyam is the sacred soul-stirring Carnatic music.

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