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Thread: A Study of the Traditional "Tamil Music" of Tamil Nadu from the Ancient Times

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    A Study of the Traditional "Tamil Music" (Thamil Isai) of Tamil Nadu from the Ancient Times - Part 1


    The Tamil Language of Tamil Nadu has an antiquity going beyond the period of at least B.C.1250. The Paandiyan kings were the foremost and the oldest dynasty among three great Tamil dynasties of ancient Tamil Nadu - namely the Cherar, Cholar and Paandiyars.

    The earliest reference to Paandiyar are found in the earliest Indian Literature namely the Sanskrit Valmiki's Ramaayana of the period B.C.550, and Sanskrit Viyasa's Mahabharatha of the period B.C.450 confirming that the Pandiyar dynasty and hence the Tamil Language were much older than these two Sanskrit Epics.

    The earliest History of Pandiyars traces its origin from the vast Land Mass known as the Kumarikkandam which existed long before that region went under Sea around B.C.650. It was only after this disaster the present Island of Sri Lanka seperated from mailand India.

    The Paandiyar were well known for their fostering the growth and development of the "Muth Thamil" (three Forms of Tamil) namely - Iyal (Grammer & Literary Compositions) , Isai (Music both Vocal & Instrumental) and Natakam (Dramaturgy) while Naattiyam (Dance) formed a component of the Natakam.

    These Iyatthamil, Isaiththamil, and Natakath Thamil including Naattiyath Thamil were developed in the Tamil Academy known as the "Thamil Sangam" instituted by the Paandiyan kings in their kingdom. Many great Tamil - Poets, Musical and Dance Exponents manned all the three Academies of Pandiya country during various periods of that time.

    Period of First Thamil Sangam (B.C.1250-650)

    It was in the submerged Kumarikkandam the first capital city of Paandiyar named "Madurai" also known as "Koodal Maa Nagar" existed. The Tamil Treatises on Music composed during the period of first Thamil Sangam have been lost to us today in the big Under-Sea Avalanche in which the Kumarikkandam with the first Pandiyan capital city Madurai or Koodal Maa Nagar too submerged. However we come to know from Nakkeeranaar's Urai to 'Irraiyanaar Ahapporul' and Adiyaarkku Nallaar's Urai to 'Silappathikaaram', that among the Tamil Music Compositions belonging to the period of the First Thamil Sangam that are lost to us today were the Tamil Music Treatises named as,

    (a) "Paratham"
    (b) "Ahaththiyam"
    (c) "Perum Paripaadal"
    (d) "Perunaarai"
    (e) "Perungkuruhu"

    Period of Second Thamil Sangam (B.C.650-325)

    With the Kummarikkandam going under sea the Paandiyar dynasty made "Kapaadapuram" adjacent to the sea (which was on the east of the present Ramanathapuram district of Tamil nadu now under sea) as their new capital city and started their rule from this region. The Pandiyar re-instituted the Second Thamil Sangam at Kappadapuram from where the great Poets and Music and Dance Exponents continued to make their Literary and Fine Art compositions. From the same source we note during this period there existed the follwing Tamil Music Treatises which too are lost to us today.

    (a) "Isai Nunukkam"
    (b) "Indirakaaliyam"
    (c) "Muruval"
    (d) "Sayanththam"
    (e) "Kuna Nool"
    (f) "Seyittrium"
    (g) "Panchapaaratheeyam"
    (h) "Mathivaanar Naataka Thamil"
    (i) "Paratha Senapathiyam"

    Period of Third Thamil Sangam (B.C.325-A.D.350)

    The second Paandiyan capital city Kappadapuram too was swallowed up by sea in a great Sea Erosion (Tsunami) that took place around B.C.325. The Paandiya kings shifted their capital city to the present Madurai in interior Tamil Nadu. They re-instituted the Thamil Sangam at this new capital city which was known as the Third Thamil Sangam also manned with great Tamil - Poets, Music and Dance Exponents. Among the Music Treatises composed during this period were the

    (a) "Sittrisai"
    (b) "Perisai"
    (c) "Kooththa Nool"
    (d) "Pancha Marabu"

    From the Third Sangam period Tamil Dance treatise "Kooththa Nool" we note the Composer Saaththanaar studied many Tamil Dance & Tamil Music Treatises that were prevalent during his time, prior to composing his Music & Dance Treatise named "Kooththa Nool". They were namely the,

    (a) Agathiyam by Agaththiyan
    (b) Then Isai of Sikindi
    (c) Perisai
    (d) (Peru)Narai
    (e) (Perung)Kuruku
    (f) Kooththu
    (g) Sayantham
    (h) Kuna Nool
    (i) Muruval
    (j) Seyitriyam
    (k) Thanduvam
    (l) Nanthiyam
    (m) Pannisai
    (n) Thakkam
    (o) Thaalam
    (p) Thannumai
    (q) Adal Muvoththu

    From the above we note that even during the Third Sangam period, the First Sangam period Music Treatises namely Agaththiyam, Perunaarai and Peungkuruhu and the Second Sangam period Music Treatise namely Sayantham, Kuna nool, Muruval, Seyitrium were available for the study of Poet Saaththanaar before he composed his own dance treatise the Kooththa Nool. From the foregoing it also evident that the other Music Treatises too belonged to the Third Sangam period.

    All these combined Tamil Music & Dance Treatises are lost except for "Kooththa Nool" and "Panchamarabu" which withstood the ravages of time and available to us today. "Kooththa Nool" and "Pancha Marabu" belongs to the period of Third Thamil Sangam.

    We also have few other Third Sangam period Music Treatises today, which have not been mentioned in the above list of Treatises in the Kooththa Nool. They are namely "Vaaththiya Marabu" and "Thaala Samuththiram". There are few other Tamil Treatises said to belong to the Third Sangam period, which are still in the Ola Manuscripts form and not put to Print available at the Indo-French Institute at Pondichchery, Tamil Nadu, under the names "Isai Nool", "Thaala Varisai" and "Pann Villakkam".

    A Survey of the nine Main Sections of the original Tamil Music & Dance treatise the "Kooththa Nool"

    (1) Suvai Nool (Aesthetic Emotions)

    Divine origin of dance, music, drama, the evolution of sounds, shapes and emotions both natural and aesthetic, their manifestation, in all their possibilities and limitations as a theoretical art and craft.

    (2) Thokai Nool (Dictionary of Dance Forms)

    108 Thandavas of Siva of which 12 are important. (Bangas & Abangas) Static and standind poses involved, 39 poses of the 12 Siva thandavas and the 12 types of dance derived from them developing altogether 144 dance patterns.

    (3) Vari Nool (Folk Dances)

    Pura Vari - dances representing varied natural phenomena in terms of "Iynthinai" (five fold division of earth), Aha Vari - psychic dances pertaining to love, Mukha Vari personal, exhibitional and acrobatic dance in single and group patterns, Vasai Vari - ludicrous dances.

    (4) Kalai Nool (Dancing Limbs)

    This is the largest book and contains more than 1000 sutras on anatomical divisions of the human body, actions and poses of feet, toes heels, ankles, calves, knees, and thighs, standing leg poses, moving poses 360, 120, 300 and 90 single, supplementary, double and Nritya hand gestures and poses, actions of the neck, jaw, chin, ears, mouth, nose, etc and facial expressions plus their appropriate physical modifications, such as horripilations, tremors etc.

    (5) Karana Nool (Combination of Dance Gestures)

    120 Karanas with their appropriate mudras, sthanakas, and charis 90 kalasas (varpu) or angaharas, 9 thandavas in full and 6 lasyas.

    (6) Thala Nool (Time Measure)

    Thala samudra or the ocean of angas, grahas, murchanas etc (Iyal Thalam) 5 original thalas and 35 derived from them with their accompanying swaras and jathis, (Atta Thalam) 108 thalams of Agastya and 52 of others, their jathis, etc.

    (7) Isai Nool (Music)

    This books deplorably mutilated, still we get here only the arohanas and avarohanas of 30 extinct panns some of which are used by Thevarem Saints.

    (8) Avai Nool (Theatre Architecture)

    Theatre architecture, lighting, curtains, dress, theatrical effects, makeup, green room problems, etc.

    (9) Kan Nool (Summation)

    The aim of Dance, yoga through Dance, medicines, oinments and exercises to keep health and voice fit in tact, pranayama in dance, Dhyana (meditation) of dancers, Moksha.

    The following URL leads to the Website where Readers could "Select & Download" 505 - Pages Printed Format.

    A brief survey of the five Main Sections & Sub-Sections of the original Tamil Music & Dance treatise the "Pancha Marabu"

    The Tamil Music & Dance Treatise namely the "Pancha Marabu" belongs to the period of third Thamil Sangam (B.C.325-A.D.350). The precise period of this treatise could be assigned to the time of the first Paandiya king of Third Thamil Sangam namely "Maaran Valuthi" (B.C.325). This is confirmed by the references to the Paandiya king by Poet Arivaanar in his Treatise the Pancha Marabu as "uthar polintha Manna(n) Thirumaara(n) van koodat(Mathurai) komaane" in the verse 7 of the Pancha Marabu and "vin paai Manimaadam oongum Mathuraiyar Kove" in verse 51, and as "Inthu valivantha Maaraa, Valuthiyar Kove" in verse 81.

    The Pancha Marabu has five sections namely Yarl Marabu, Vangiya Marabu, Kanda Marabu, Kooththa Marabu, and Thaala Marabu the details of which are as follows.

    (1) Yarl Marabu

    (a) Yaaliyal
    (b) Isai Karanaviyal
    (c) Isai Elaviyal
    (d) Vatta Paalaiiyal -1
    (e) Vatta Paalaiiyal -2
    (f) Alakup Peyarppiyal
    (g) Naanilap Panniyal

    (2) Vangiya Marabu

    (a) Vangiyaviyal
    (b) Pindaviyal
    (c) Kulaliyaviyal

    (3) Kanda Marabu

    (a) Oliiyal
    (b) Poothaviyal
    (c) Aalaaththiiyal
    (d) Niraththaviyal
    (e) Arangaviyal
    (f) Osaiiyal
    (g) Paadaliyal - 1
    (h) Paadaliyal - 2
    (i) Mulaviyal
    (j) Pindaviyal
    (k) Eluththiyal

    (4) Kooththu Marabu

    (a) Aadaliyal
    (b) Avinayaviyal
    (c) Thandiyaviyal

    (5) Thaala Marabu

    (a) Thaala Uruppiyal
    (b) Thaala Maanaviyal
    (c) Thaala Theivaiyal
    (d) Thaala Vahaiiyal

    A much insight into the details of the "Thamil Panns" (Ragas) in the "Pancha Marabu" are beautifully portrayed by Dr(Ms) M.A.Bageerathi in her Web-Site Article with the following URL which throws much light on them.

    The basics of Thamil Isai as seen from Sangam Period Musical, Dance and Literary Treatises

    Ilakkanam (Grammer) of Tamil Music

    During the Sangam Period the "Thamil Paadalkal" composed within the Grammer of Tamil Language with respect to Tamil - Eluththu (letter), Sol (word), Porul (substance) and Yaappu (composition), were sung in their respective Panns (Ragas) accompanied with the basic musical instruments the Yarl, Kulal, Midaru, and Thannumai.

    The following References confirm the above:

    ".....Eluththu odu punarnta Sol ahathu elu Porul iy
    illukkaa Yaapu in ahanum puranum
    avattru valipaduu um sevvi siranthongiya Paadal...."
    Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adikal, Vanjikaandam, Nootkatturai, lines 3-14

    Ealisai (Seven Tamil Musical Tones = Saptha Suwaras)

    The foundation of the Tamil Music of Sangam periods were based on 'Ealu Isai' (Seven Musical Tones) that were prevalent during those Periods which were known by their Tamil 'names' as "Kural", "Thuththam", "Kaikkilai", "Ulai", "Ili", "Vilari", and "Thaaram".

    The following References confirm the above:

    "....Kurale, Thuththam, Kaikkilai, Ulaiye, Iliye, Vilari, Thaaram - earl Isaiye"
    Kooththa Nool - by Saaththanaar, chapter titled Isai Nool. soothiram 15 (Third Sangam Period)

    "....Kulalinum Yarlinum Kural muthal Ealum valuvintri isaiththu valithiram kaattum arum perum marabit perum Paan irukkaiyum...'
    Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adikal, Indra Vila eduththa kaathai, lines 35-37

    "kalaiyaru Kurale, Thuththam, Kaikkilai, Ulaiyinode
    Iliyodu, Vilari, Thaaram enba velisaiyin naamam....."
    Chudamani Nihandu - by Kunapaththiran

    "Kurale, Thuththam, Kaikkilai, Ulaiye, Iliye, Vilari, Thaaram, enba
    elu vahai Isaikkum eaithum peyare"
    Thivakara Nihandu - by Senthan, Soothiram - 1884

    ".....Kurale, Thuththam, Kaikilai, Ulaiye, Iliye, Vilari, Thaaram entru evai
    ealum Yaalin Isai elu narambe...."
    Pingala Nihandu - by Pingala Munivar, Soothiram - 1402

    "Thuththam, Kaikkillai, Vilari, Thaaram
    Ulai, Ili, Osai (Kural), Pann elumap paadi..."
    Thiruvaalankaattu Mooththa Thiruppathikam - by Kaaraikkaal Ammaiyaar, Verse 9, 11th Thirumurai (early Third Century A.D.)

    The earliest Tamil Atcharankal (Tamil Alphabetical Notations) of Ealisai

    The Second Tamil Sangam Period Tamil Alphabetical Notations (Tamil Atcharankal) that were used to denote the sounds of each respective 'Earlu Isai' were "Aa", "Iee", "Uu", "Ee", "Ayi", "Oo", "Auv".

    The following References confirm the above:

    ".....Aa, Iee, Uu, Ee, Ayi, Oo, Auv ennum ap paal ealum
    iir alapu Isaikkum nettu eluththu enbe.......'
    Tholkaappiam - Tholkaappiar, Chapter 1 on Noon Marabu, sooththiram 4.

    '....Aangula Aa, Iee, Uu, Ee, Ayi, Oo, Auv, enum ealum
    theengila vakkarangal seppu Earl Isaikkum thaane'
    Chudamani Nihandu - by Kunapaththiran

    ".....Aa, Iee, Uu, Ee, Ayi, Oo, Auv entru ealu melisaikku eithumak karangal...."
    Pingala Nihandu - by Pingala Munivar

    "Aa, Ee, Uu, Ee, Ayi, O, Auv, enum
    iv Ealu Eluththum Ealisaikkuriya"

    Change in the earliest Tamil Atcharankal of Ealisai

    The names of the Tamil Ealisai and the Tamil Alphabets attributed to this Ealisai were in practice even after the destruction of Second Sangam at Kapadapuram in the sea erosion. However a new development in the Ealisai of Tamil Music took place in the Third Thamil Sangam with the introduction of the new Tamil Alphabetical Notations (Tamil Atcharangkal) of the Ealisai changing from Aa, Ee, Uu, Ee, Ayi, O, Auv to the new Tamil Notations for the Ealisai as "Sa", "Ri", "Ka", "Ma", "Pa", "Tha", "Ni".

    The usage of these new Tamil Alphabetical Notations could be seen for the first time in the Tamil - Music & Dance Treatise namely the "Kooththa Nool" of the Third Thamil Sangam Period.

    The following References confirm the above:

    "Sa Ri Ka Ma Pa Tha Ni : Ni Tha Pa Ma Ka Ri Sa
    Thathithom Namjem Jemnam Thomthitha
    Enu muthal Variyum Puriyum Achcharame"
    Kooththa Nool - by Saaththanaar, Chapter on Thaala Iyal, Sooththiram 851

    "Sa Ri Ka Ma Pa Tha Ni enum saththa eluththaal
    vari parantha kanmadavai vaikka - therivariya
    Ealisaiyum thontrum ithanulle Pann Pirakkum
    Sool Isaiyaayi thaan vanthu urum"
    Pancha Marabu - by Arivaanar, chapter on Vangiya Marabu, verse 28 - as seen from the copy of 'Pancha Marabu' prevailing today

    'Sa'vvum, 'Ri'vvum, 'Ka'vvum, 'Ma'vvum
    'Pa'vvum, 'Tha'vvum, 'Ni'vvum, entrivai
    ealum avatrin eluththe aahum"
    Thivakara Nihandu - by Senthan, Soothiram No 1886

    "....Sa Ri Ka Ma Pa tha ni entru ealu eluththaal Thaalam
    vari arantha kanninaai, vaiththuth therivu ariya
    Ealisaiyum thontrum ivatrulle Pann pirakkum
    Sool muthal aam suththath thulai...."
    Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adikal - The Adiyaarkku Nallaar Urai of Ayichchiyar Kuravai - metkol from the copy of 'Pancha Marabu prevailing during his time in 10th/11 century A.D.

    Kuril Isai (Short Tones) and Nedil Isai (Long Tones) of Ealisai

    The Ealisai (Seven Tamil Musical Tones) were further classified as "Kuril Isai" (Short Tones) the - Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Tha, Ni, and as "Nedil Isai" (Long Tones) the - Saa, Rii, Gaa, Maa, Paa, Thaa, Nii.

    Ealisai Maaththiraikal

    The Ealisai in Tamil had their respective timings (maaththiraikal) as follows:
    Kural - 4
    Thuththam - 4
    Kaikkilai - 3
    Ulai - 2
    Ili - 4
    Vilari - 3
    Thaaram - 2

    The following References confirm the above:

    "......Naanku Naalu Muntru Irandu Nanku Muntru irandu Maaththirai Kuran muthalaaka kurumenba...."
    Pingala Nihandu - by Pingala Munivar, sooththiram 1413.

    "Kurale Thuththam Ili evai naankum
    Vilari Kaikkilai mum muuntraki
    thalaraa Thaaram Ulai evai eer erandu
    ena elum enba arinthu isinore....."
    Silappathikaram - Ilangko Adikal

    "Kural Thuththam naanku (Kai)kilai muuntru
    irandu varaiyaa Ulai, Ili naalaam viraiyaa
    Vilariye muuntru, irandu Thaaram ena sonnaar
    kalari ser kannuttravar"
    Pancha Marabu - by Arivaanar, verse 19

    "......Ili Thuththam Kural earkum nannaanke
    (Kai)Kilaiyum Vilariyum, mum muuntru Ulaiyum
    Thaaramum iv virandu ealisai Maaththirai"
    Thivakara Nikandu - Thivakarar, sooththiram.....

    Panns (Ragas) from Ealisai

    The Korvai (linkage) of these 'Ealisai' (Seven Tones) in a definite form and order was known as "Pann" in Tamil Music.

    "......Pann entrathu narap padaiyaal niram thontra
    pannappadaa nintra Pannum, Panniyatthiramum, Thiramum, Thiraththiramum.....'
    Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adikal, Arangetru Kaathai, page 64 - Adiyaarkku Nallaar Urai

    "......nalanth tharu Pannum Thiranum vaaippa
    nilang kalang kanda nikalak kaattum
    Paanar entru evar palvakai marukum........"
    Manimekalai - by Seeththalai Saaththanaarl, Kachchimanakar pukka Kaathai, lines 41-43

    Aarosai (Aarohanam) and Amarosai (Avarohanam) in Tamil Panns

    In the ancient Tamil Music the 'Panns' sung in an ascending tone was referred to as "Aarosai" and in a decending tone was referred to as 'Amarosai'. These are referred to in the present day Karnatic Music as 'Arohanam' and 'Avarohanam'.

    The following References confirm the above:

    ".....oththa nilai unarnthathat pin ontru muthal padi muraiyaam
    ath thahaimai Aarosai Amarosai kalin amaiththaathu
    Periyapuranam - by Seikkilaar Swamikal, chapter on Aanaaya Nayanaar, verse 24

    ".....Paalaiyil eluppi Amarisai (Amarosai) payitrit thoongalum......"
    Kallaadam - by Kallaadanaar verse 100

    Aalaththi (Aalaapanam) of Pann in Tamil Music

    Aalaththi are of three types namely Kaatta Aalaththi, Nira Aalaththi, Pann Aalaththi.

    Kelvi (Suruthi) in Tamil Music

    Kelvi is the measure of instrumental and vocal pitch of human voice. They were known as Mantha Isai, Saman Isai, Val Isai also as Melivu, Saman, Valivu.

    The following References confirm the above:

    "Mantharaththum Maththimaththum Thaaraththum varan muraiyaal
    thanthirikal Meliviththum Samamkondum Valiviththum........"
    Periyapuranam - by Seikkilaar Swamikal, chapter on Aanaaya Nayanaar, verse 24, 27

    "Valivum Melivum Samanum ellaam
    poliyak koaththa pulamaiyon
    Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adikal, Arangettru kaathai, lines 93-94

    ".....Enniya noort Peruvannam Idaivannam Vanappu ennum
    Vanna Isai vakai ellaam maathuriya naathaththil
    nanniya Paaniyum Iyalum Thuukkunadai muthat kathiyil
    Pann amaiya elum Osai emmarungum parappinaar..."

    Periyapuranam - by Seikkilaar Swamikal, chapter on Aanaaya Nayanaar, verse 27 & 28

    Paani (Thaalam) in Tamil Music

    The Paani are the beats of the hand or of the accompanying Instruments setting the rythem for the songs sung with the Pann.The "Paani" controls the flow of Panns in a rythemic way. The Pann and Paani are the essential elements of Tamil Music.

    "Kottum Asaiyum Thookum Alavum otta punarvathu Paani aakum....'
    Silappathikaaram - by Ilanko Adikal, Adiyaarkku Nallaar urai in Arangettru Kaathai

    'Isai Paadal' in the ancient Tamil Musical tradition

    A Tamil Prose composed within the norms of Tamil Ilakkanam, sung with accompaniying 'Panns' (Ragas) composed of Ealu Isai or Ealu Pathamkal (Ealu Swarangal) in a definite form and order, in Kuril and Nedil Tones with modulations the Melivu, Saman and Valivu and acending and decending namely in 'Aarosai' (Aarohanam) and 'Amarosai' (Avarohanam) with a selected 'Thaalam' with the accompanying Musical Instruments namely Yarl, Kulal, Thanumai, Midaru was known as the "Thamil Isai Paadal".

    ".....pathinoar Aadalum Paattum Kottum
    vithimaan kolkaiyin vilanga arinthu aangu
    Aadalum, Paadalum, Paaniyum, Thookkum
    koodiya neriyin......."
    Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adikal, Arangetru kaathai, lines 14-17

    ".....Nan noort Pulavan Aadal - Paadal Isaiye Thamile, Panne, Paani Thookke, Mudame, Thesikam entru ivai aasi unarnthu...."
    Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adikal, Arangetru kaathai, lines 44-47,

    ".....Yaalum Kulalum, seerum Midarum, thaal kural Tannumai Aadalodu ivatrin
    isaintha Paadal isayudan paduththu......"
    Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adikal, Arangetru kaathai, lines 25-28

    ".....Kulalvali nintrathu Yaale, Yaalvali
    Thannumai nintrathu thakave, Thannumai
    pinvali nintrathu Mulave, Mulavodu
    koodi nintru isaiththa thaamanth thirikai
    Silappathikaaram - by Ilango Adikal, Arangetru kaathai, lines 139-143

    "......Kooththum, Paattum, Thookkum, Thunivum, Panni Yarl Karanamum, Paadaip Paadalum
    Thannumai karuviyum thaal Theeng kulalum....."
    Manimekalai - by Seeththalai Saaththanaar, Urralar Uraiththa kaathai, lines 19-21

    "......Aadal kooththinodu Avinayam therivoar
    Naatahak Kaappiam Nannool nunippoar
    Panni Yaal narambit Pannumurai niruppoar
    Thannumai karuvi kanneri thervoar
    Kulalodu kandang kola seer niruppoar
    paluniya Paadal palarodu makilvoar......"
    Manimekalai - by Seeththalai Saaththanaar, Sirai Kottam Mar Kottam aakkiya kaathai, lines 79-84

    The earliest reference to Tamil Music on Stone Inscription was found at Arachalur of the period fourth century A.D. which read as follows:
    "eluththum punaru than maniya Vannam kan Thevan Saaththan"

    The Sanskritisation of Thamil Isai in the Pallava country of Tamil Nadu

    The creation of Pallava Kingdom

    It was in Tamil Nadu the earliest reference to "Saptha Suvaras" (Ealu Isai) and "Ragas" (Panns) in it's earliest Sanskrit forms were derived in mid sixth century A.D. during the period of Pallava dynasty in the North Tamil Nadu. The Pallava dynasty from south Karnataka captured the Thondaimandalam region of north Tamil Nadu defeating the ruling Tamil 'Thiraiyan king', married his daughter and ruled the Thondaimandalam region with their capital at Kanchipuram. It was during the period of their rule the Sanskritisation of the Tamil Music (and even the practice of Temple Worship) prevailing in the northern regions of then Tamil Nadu took place.

    Sanskritisation of Tamil Ealisai and Tamil Pannkal

    The process took place with the introduction of the Sanskrit equivalents to Ragaas (Panns) as Madhyama grame Svaragamah, Shadja grame Swaragamah, Sadabe Svaragamah, Sadhariteh Svaragamah, Panchame Svaragamah, Kaisikamadhyyame Svarragamah, Kaisike Svaragamah - in place of the existing Ealu "Tamil Isai" (Musical Tones) having the original Tamil names the Kural, Thuththam, Kaikkilai, Ulai, Ili, Vilari, and Thaaram - based on their "Tamil Alphabetical Atcharangal (Notations)" Sa, Ri, Ka, Ma, Pa, Tha, Ni that were prevalent in Tamil Nadu from the period of Third Thamil Sangam.

    These original Tamil Ealisai Atcharangal (Alphabets) were referred for the first time in the Third Thamil Sangam (B.C.320-A.D.350) Dance Treatises namely the "Kooththa Nool" and "Pancha Marabu", were adopted as they are in the Sanskritised South Indian Music during the Pallava period using Sanskrit Letters having the same sounds. These Tamil Ealisai Alphabetical Notations in their Sanskrit form were not found in Dance Treatises from any other part of India earlier than the Pallava period.

    It was for the first time during the period of the Pallava king Mahendravarman - 1 (A.D.570-630) we come across the Tamil Isai (Musical Tones) being referred "in Tamil Nadu" under their newly Sanskritised Tamil Names of his "Kudumiyanmalai (in Pudukkottai Tamil Nadu) Sanskrit Inscription on Music in the newly developed Grantha Script of Pallava kings of Tamil Nadu".

    The Tamil "Ealu Isai" (Seven Musical Tones) that were prevalent during the Sangam Periods of Tamil Nadu - renamed into Sanskrit during the rule Pallava kings in northern Tamil Nadu, continued to be in practice in the very capital city of the "Pallavas of Kanchipuram". However in the other regions of the contemporary period Tamil Nadu the earlier Tamil System of Music with the base as Tamil - Ealu Isai and Panns prevailed.

    Composition of Naatya Saastra in the Pallava Country

    The Sanskrit Treatise Naatya Saastra by Bharatha undoubtedly belongs to the early period of the Pallava rule in north Tamil Nadu, and was composed in the Pallava kingdom. This is confirmed by the very fact that the two chapters titled "Rules on the use of Languages" and "on "Instrumental Music" in the above treatise refers to the Sanskritised form of Ealisai (seven Suvaras) as Sadja, Risabha, Gandara, Madhyama, Panchama, Dhaivata, and Nisada and the respective Alphabetical Notations (e.g. Sa, Ni, Da, Pa, Ma, Ga, Ri) as seen for the first time in the Kudumiyaanmalai Inscription of Pallavas.

    Further there is a mention of a "Pallava gesture" in the chapter titled "Purvaranga" in this Music & Dance treatise. In this same chapter there is a reference to "Parivartini Song" and we find a reference in the Kudumiyaanmalai Pallava Inscription to "Parivartini Veena". Natya Sastra also refers to the Tamil Country as Dramida and Dravida region. Further in the first chapter of Naatiya Saastra on the "Origin of Naatya" there is a references as follows:

    "......the right occasion for a performance is there. Now is the flag festival of Mahendra. So let the Naatiya Veda be performed...."

    We are aware the Sanskritisation of Tamil Music and Dance took place commencing from the Pallava king Mahendravarman - 1 of Kanchipuram. If the reference to Mahendra in the above was to the Pallava king Mahendravarman - 1, it further confirms that Naatya Saastra of Baratha was composed during the early period of Pallavas, and staged in the city of Kanchipuram in the presence of the Pallava king Mahendravarman. (to be further researched for reliabilty in connection with same).

    Hence it is quite possible that Poet Baratha composed his Naatiya Saastra "also" borrowing some elements of Tamil Music from the ancient Tamil Music & Dance treatises that were available in the Pallava country of Tamil Nadu of this period, in addition to the other Music & Dance traditions prevailings in Northern and Central India of that period.

    The lost Tamil Music & Dance Treatise named 'Baratham'

    We are also aware there had been an ancient Tamil Music & Dance treatise named "Baratham" of the second Thamil Sangam period in Tamil Nadu, which is lost to us today.

    The following References confirm the above:

    ".......Idai Sangaththu......Naatakath Thamil noolaakiya 'Baratham', 'Ahaththiyam', muthalakavulla thon noolkalum iranthana......."
    Silappathikaram - by Ilango Adikal, Adiyaarkku Nallaar Urai (U.V. Saminatha Iyer Publication), page 9.

    "......kattrai sadila Sangaramoorththi thaandavam puriya thaiyal udan amarnthu thisaikal koora othiya
    puvanam ellaam padarum 'Muththamil athaakiya Baratham' undaayittru antre......"
    Baratha Sangkirakam - by Aram Valarththaan, (Annamalai University Publication) page 4.

    The Thamil Isai during the period of Thamil - Saiva and Vaishnava Saints of Tamil Nadu

    The period from mid sixth century to around late 9th century was the period when many of the 63 Tamil Saiva Saints (Naayanaars) and 12 Tamil Vainava Saints (Aalvars) appeared in Tamil Nadu. Among the Tamil Saiva Saints of this period the foremost were the Thirugnana Sampantha Nayanaar, Thirunaavukkarasa Naayanaar and the Sunthamoorrthy Nayanaar.

    They all felt the growing impact of the Sanskritisation of the existing traditions of the Tamil - Music and Dance, and its gradual practice in Royal court of the King, in cultural and religious functions of the People and in Temple Worship of the Tamil Saivites and the Vaishnavites, initially in the Pallava country (Thondaimandalam region, the regions of the Chola country and northern regions of Paandiya country, when they came under the sway of the Pallava kings)

    The feeling against the Sanskritisation of Fine Arts, Culture, Practices, and Temple Worship in the above regions had been there during this period among the people of Tamil Nadu and met stiff resistance. The Tamil - Saivite Naayanmars and the Vaishnavite Avaars too showed their feeling in respect of same in their Tamil - Thirumurai Paadalkal and Naalaayira Thivya Pirapantham Paadalkal.

    Among the 63 - Tamil Saiva Saints and 12 - Tamil Vaishnava Saints of the pre-medieval and medieval period Tamil Nadu, those who composed "poems of praise and prayers" to God Siva & God Vishnu did so in beautiful Tamil, which are classifed as 11 - Thirumurais and Naalaayira Thivya Pirapantham.

    The Tamil - Saiva and Vaishnava Saints found it a great pride to sing their "poems of praise and prayers" to God Siva and God Vishnu in Tamil. This is confirmed from their own references in their poems, some of which are as follows:

    "......Thamilodu esai paadal maranthu ariyen......"

    Saiva Saint Thirunaavukarasa Naayanaar, 4th Thirumurai

    ".......Thamilin virakan uraiththa Thamil maalai......."

    Saiva Saint Thirugnanasampantha Naayanaar, 1st Thirumurai

    ".......In Thamilaal Navaluran sol padalhal......."

    Saiva Saint Sundaramurththi Naayanaar, 7th Thirumurai

    ".......irunth Thamil nan maalai inaiyadikke sonnen
    perunth Thamil nallen perithu......"

    Vaishnava Saint Poothathaalvaar, 2nd Thiruvanthaathi

    ".......Puthuvai Pattan uraiththa Thamil innisai maalaihal....."

    Vaishnava Saint Periyaalvaar, Thirumoli

    "........Puthuvaiyar koan vittu Siththan Kothai
    viruppudai yin Thamil maalai

    Vaishnava Saint Aandaal, Naachchiyaar Thirumoli

    ".......koalamaam Kulasekaran sonna nallisaiththa Thamil maalai.....'

    Vaishnava Saint Kulasekaraalvaar (Kulasekara Perumal), Thirumoli

    The Tamil Saiva & Vaishnava Saints sang the songs in praise of God Siva and God Vishnu in "traditional "Tamil Panns" (Ragaas) that existed during this period. The Tamil Panns used by them for each Pathikams are given in the Tamil - Thirumuraikal and Naalaayira Thivya Pirapandam.

    Further the complete list of the traditional Tamil Pankal used with the Thevaarap Paadalkal from the Thirumuraikal were also given in the Thirumuraikanda Puraanam of the Tamil Santhana Kuravar (13th century) namely the "Meikanda Thevar". They were popularly known as the "Thevaarap Pannkal".

    The Thamil Isai during the period of Imperial Cholas

    The period of rule of the Chola dynasty over Tamil Nadu was from mid nineth century to mid 13th century. During the period of Cholas too the impact of the Sanskritised Tamil Music continued in parallel with the traditional Tamil music. The foremost among the Chola Emperors namely Rajaraja Chola - 1 we see his intense feeling to revive the Tamil Thevaara Isai Paadalkal which gradualy lost its standing in Temples and Tamil Religious Functions of Tamil Nadu. He searched and brought forth the Thevaarap Paadalkal back again into practice in Temples. He appointed accompaniying Instrumental Musicions in these Temples. He brought forth the Othuvaars to sing the Thevaarap Paadalkal in the Temples.

    The Thamil Isai during the period of post Imperial Cholas and Paandiyas

    The above Sanskrit names for Tamil Ealisai and Panns that developed in the Pallava region gradually reached its final form in the Sanskrit Music Treatise of Saarangadeva (A.D.1210-1247) named the "Sangeetha Ratnaakara" of the thirteenth century. Sarangadeva born in the Karnataka region developed the Sanskritised Tamil Music to its complete form borrowing many elements of Tamil Music system including many "Tamil Thevaarap Pannkal" prevailing in then Tamil Nadu, and the other traditions that were prevailng in the northern regions of India.

    Pallava dynasty ruling the Pallava kingdom in north Tamil Nadu with their capital at Kanchipuram from the mid 6th century collasped and disintegrated in Tamil Nadu around mid 9th century, and this region came under the Tamil dynasty the imperial Cholas. During the contemporary period of Saranga Deva in the early 13th century in Karnataka, the Rajaraja Chola - 3 was ruling the Chola Nadu and the former Pallava kingdom (Thondaimandalam region) of Tamil Nadu. The names of the Tamil Ealisai received their final forms in the Sanskrit treatise of Saarangadeva based on the Tamil Alphabetical Notations of these Ealisai as follows:

    Kural - Sa - 'Sa'djam
    Thuththam - Ri - 'Ri'shabam
    Kaikkilai - Ka (Ga) - 'Ga'ndharam
    Ulai - Ma - 'Ma'dhyamam
    Ili - Pa - 'Pa'nchamam
    Vilari - Tha (Da) - 'Da'ivatham
    Thaaram - Ni - 'Ni'shadam (Ni).

    The "Earl Isai (Earl Patham during Thervaram period)" in Tamil ("the Seven Musical Tones") with the Sanskritisation of Tamil Music were referred to as "Earlu Swarangal". The linkage of these 'Earl Isai' (Notes) in a definite form and order known earlier as "Pann" in Tamil Music, too was subsequently referred to by the Sanskritised name as "Raagam".

    "Ealu Swarangalil eththanai Raagam" referred to today, can now be re-written with respect to ancient Tamil Terms as "Ealu Isayil eththanai Pannkal".

    The Thamil Isai during the period of rule of Karnataka and Telugu kings in Tamil Nadu

    The "traditional Thamil Isai" nurtured and nourished over 2000 years by the great kings of Tamil Nadu the Cholas, Pandiyas, Cheras and others, which lost it's grounds with the cultural waves that struck Tamil Nadu during the periods of Karnataka rule - in Kanchipuram and Madurai (A.D.1376-1520), and Telugu viceroy rule under Karnataka kings from A.D.1520-1565, and Telugu independent rule as it's kings thereafter - in Thanjavur (A.D.1520-1674), in Madurai (A.D.1520-1736) and in Senji {Gingee}(A.D.1520-1640), and with Maraattiyar rule also in Thanjavur. "Kallinatha" of Karnataka of the 15th century in his 'Treatise on Music' in Sanskrit language refers to the music of South India as Karnataka Sangita, and refers to it's practice in the region between the rivers Krishna in the north and Kaveri in the south.

    During this period was born the Muththu Thandavar (1525 - 1600 CE) (Tamil origin) of Seerkaali closer to Thanjavur in Tamil Nadu was the first to compose songs in the present day "Keerthana Paadal format" in Tamil with Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charanam, but to Carnatic music norms that was in existance in Thanjavur during this period of Nayakkar rule. Muththu Thandavar, along with two other composers of Keerthanas namely of the eighteenth century the Arunachala Kavi (1712–1779) (Tamil origin) and Marimuththu Pillai (1717–1787) (Tamil origin) who composed Keerthanas in Tamil, were known as the "Tamil Isai Mummoorththikal" to the norms of Carnatic music.

    In this same period attracted by employment opportunities and the political stability under Nayakkar kings, several Brahmins from Andhra region moved into Thanjavur and surrounding regions. This sect of "Mulakanadu Smartha Brahmins" played an important role in the development of Karnatic Music in Tamil Nadu. Many Karnatic Music composers lived in Thanjavur and it's environs in Tamil Nadu and the language of their compositions were in Telugu as it was the language of the court of the Nayakkar kings.

    This resulted in the three great exponents of existing Carnatic Music of yesteryear namely Thiyagarajar Swamikal (A.D.1767-1847) (Telugu origin) from Thiruvarur having composed many Keerthanas (Pannodu koodiya Padalkal) in Telugu, while the second among them the Shyama Sastri (A.D.1762-1827) (Telugu origin) also from Thiruvarur having composed Keerthanas in Telugu, while the third the Muthuswamy Deekshithar (A.D.1776-1835) (Tamil origin) again from Thiruvarur having composed Keerthanas mostly in Sanskrit - instead of all being in Tamil Language, despite the fact all three of them were born and have lived their life in the heart of Tamil Nadu. However due to their great Keerthanas composed in Telugu and Sanskrit to the norms of Karnatic Music they were given a common title by the music lovers of Tamil Nadu as "Karnataka Sangeetha Mummoorththikal" of Karnataka Isai.

    The later Maratha influence brought about the development of the Harikatha or the tradition of discourses on the greatness of God in the form of stories, accompanied by music.

    Thamil Isai during the period of British rule and in present day Tamil Nadu

    During the period of British rule over Tamil Nadu three other great composers of Tamil Keerththanas came into existance, namely the "Gopala Krishna Bharthiyaar (A.D.1811-1896)", "Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathiyaar (A.D.1882-1921)" and "Paapanasam Sivan (A.D.1890-1973)". All three of them (of Tamil origin) hailed from Thanjavur, Ettayapuram, and Nagapattinam regions of Tamil Nadu respectively. They all composed many "Tamil Keerththanas" which along with the Keerththanas of the three "Tamil Isai Mum Moorththikal" are now "gradually" being included in the Music Festivals in Tamil Nadu by native Tamil Musicians, as against the complete domination by "Telugu Keerththanaas" at Tamil Music Festivals in Tamil Nadu.

    In the process of re-Tamilising the 'present day Tamil Nadu' in many spheres, at "Tamil Music Festivals" only Tamil - 'Keerthanas', 'Isai Paadalkal' taken from Tamil Literature (e.g Silappathikaaram - etc), 'Thevaarappaadalkal' from the eleven Thamil - Thirumuraikal, the 'Vainavappaadalkal' from the Thamil Naalaayira Thivya Pirapantham, the Paadalkal of the 'Tamil Isai Mum Moorththikal' namely Muththu Thandavar, Arunachala Kavirayer, Marimuththa Pillai, and of the Uuththukadu Venkada Subbaiyer, Gopalakrishna Bharathiyaar, Subramaniya Bhaarathiyaar and Papanasam Siven of yester year - all sung or played in their relevent Tamil Isai Panns (Ragas) either as 'Vocal' or on 'traditional Musical Instruments' of Tamil Nadu, with programme schedules too printed in Tamil which should refer to them accordingly.

    At "Karnatic (Carnatic) Music Festivals" only the 'Telugu and Kannada - Keerththanas' and 'Sangeethamkal' should be sung, and in their programmes schedules too they should be referred to accordingly - without giving a wrong interpretation that the 'Music of Tamil Nadu' is nothing but the Karnatic (Carnatic) Music with much Telugu & Kannanda Keerththanas sung at Music Festivals. The antiquity of the Tamil Music of Tamil Nadu is well over 2000 years old, and was purely "Tamil Isai (Music)" all along this period. However it was suppressed during the period of Karnataka, Nayakka and Mahaaraatiya rule in Tamil Nadu, while Karnatic (Carnatic) Music was elevated to supreme position.

    This sad state of affairs was realised soon by many Tamilians including Sir Raja Annamalai Chettiyaar who initiated the "Thamil Isai Iyyakkam" to re-instate the "Tamil Music" back on its pedestal, and to re-establish that it was the"Traditional Music of Tamil Nadu" from the time immemorial.

    While reviving the traditional Tamil Music, we should also appreciate the other forms of Music that are prevalent in Tamil Nadu today - namely the Karnatic (Carnatic) Music, Hindustanic Music, etc, etc - as Music is beyond the barrier of languages. What matters is the correct "Interpretation and Practice" of the "Tamil Music of Tamil Nadu", among the existing Tamil population and the up-coming Tamil Generation in Tamil Nadu and World over..

    All associations and institutions promoting Tamil Isai (Music) should be known as 'Thamil Isai Kalakam or Sangam or as 'Thamil Isai Valarchi Kalakam or Sangam'' and not as 'Sangeetha Saba or Sageetha Gaana Saba'. Same should be the case with the associations and institutions which are developing and promoting the Thamil Naatiyam and Naatakam as 'Thamil Naatiya Kalakam or Sangam' or 'Thamil Naadaha Kalakam ' or Sangam instead of 'Naatitya Saba' or as Naatiya Naadaha Sabaa.

    The "Tamil Isai - Mummoorththikal" namely the "Muththuthandavar", "Arunachala Kavirayer" and "Marimuththapillai" and other three composers namely "Gopalakrishna Bharathiyaar", "Mahakavi Subramaniya Bharathiyar" and "Papanasam Sivan" should be widely celebrated, and their 'Tamil - Keerthanam and other Compositions' should be given much prominence at the annual "Maarkali Isai Peruvila (Maarkali Maha Utsavam)" held widely in Tamil Nadu during the month of December.

    Video at following URL leads to the Tamil Isai Sangam - Website relevent to the foregoing:

    Last edited by virarajendra; 27th December 2016 at 09:18 AM.

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  3. #2
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    One suggestion - If you add the linkage & influence of the following would be better and complete

    1. Prakrit
    2. Buddhism/Jainism

    We always tend to stop our comparisons & influences at Sanskritisation which happened much later period.

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    Dear Thiru NOV - Please alter Thread Name of the Second Part and First Part of the two Threads in the first web page to read as follows:

    A Study of the Traditional "Tamil Music" of Tamil Nadu from the Ancient Times -1
    A Study of the Traditional "Tamil Music" of Tamil Nadu from the Ancient Times -2
    Last edited by virarajendra; 29th December 2016 at 08:06 AM.

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