Tamil Tyagaiyya deserves more recognition

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Papanasam Sivan, born Ramaiya in 1890 at Polakam village of Thanjavur district, had a spark of genius in him as he composed and sang his first song Unnai Thudhikka Arul Thaa in Kuntala Varali raga and Malarinai Thunaiye when he was just 20 years of age, at the Tiruvarur car festival.

Overcome by emotion on hearing the youth compose and sing a song, vidwan Simizhi Sundaramaiyar immediately announced from the stage to the audience that Tamil Tyagaiyya had been born again in Tiruvarur!

Sivan was born to Yogambal and Ramam-rudha Iyer as their second son. At the tender age of 7, he left Thanjavur with his brother Rajagopalan for Thiruvananthapuram where he studied Malaya-lam, Sanskrit language, Vedic literature and Carna-tic music for 14 years.

After being groomed by Sri Nee-lakanta Sivan and other great musicians, Ramaiya left Thiruvananthapuram and toured the country.

He first stepped into the world of music in 1911. From then on, till October 1, 1973, he composed about 2,000 songs. Simple in appearance and extremely sweet in nature, Sri Sivan mingled freely with everybody.

His songs were in Tamil but the music, extremely melodious, touched and moved the listeners through sahitya and sangeetha.

Even a common man who knows little about music and its intricacies enjoyed his songs, especially when it was sung by M.K. Thiyagaraja Bhagavathar and other great cine artistes.

Songs likeSoppana Vazhvil Magizhnthu, Deena Kanuna Karane, and others reached the common man very fast and were sung very often in public places.

His film songs are, indeed, based on classical Carnatic music.

He received many titles and awards which include ‘Shiva Punya Gana Mani’ from Kanchi Parama-charya, ‘Sangeetha Kalanidhi’ and ‘Isai Perarignar’ awards, and Padma Bhushan from the Government of India.

He was greatly devoted to Lord Kapaleeshwarar and Goddess Karpagambal of Mylapore.
Till his 83rd year, during the cold winter of December, he regularly conducted Margazhi bhajan around the mada streets.

Considering his greatness as a devotee and composer, it would be a small gesture if all musicians, artistes and rasikas erected a statue for him at Kapaleeswarar temple and announced his birthday, September 26, as a national festival day.

(The writer is grandson of Papanasam Sivan and a carnatic musician)

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