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Other compositions of
Besides composing several
kIrttanams and padams, tampi has to his credit, some superb ATTakkatha
(kathakaLi dance music) compositions. They reveal his creative scholarship,
and outstanding musical abilities. Three of tampi’s ATTakkathas have
survived. They are (i) kIcaka vadham, (ii) uttarA svayaMvaram
and (iii) daKSa yAgam. Tampi wrote kIcaka vadham ATTakkatha at the
request of the prince, utRam tirunAL yuvarAja. The story of uttarA svayamvaram
is a continuation of the theme dealt with in kIcaka vadham. Both depict
stories taken from the epic mahAbharatam. DakSa yAgam ATTakkatha is based on
the story from the bhAgavata purANam. KIcaka vadham consists of 15 acts, 25
shlOkams, one daNDakam, and 28 padams; uttarA svayamvaram has 19 acts, 31
shlOkams, and 32 padams; dakSa yAgam has 18 acts, 36 shlOkams, and 30 padams.
All these three ATTakathas have acquired a monumental status in the
Many of the padams and
shlOkams scattered in these ATTakkatas have won wide appreciation. The famous
daNdakam “kSONIndrapatniyuTE vANim nishamya” (that appears in his
kIcaka vadhan ATTakkatha) is filled with lyrical beauties. Some of his padams
find a right place in mohiniyATTam dance. Many pieces, like the famous 'kummi'
– “vIra virATa kumAra vibhO” from the uttarA svayamvaram, are often
used for the tiruvAtira kaLi, a festive female dance form, vogue in
In addition to the lullaby,
kummi, and three ATTakkathas, tampi has also composed the following:
-- a collection of songs describing the navarAtri utsavam in Trivandrum, in
four segments (khaNDams), each khaNDam starting with a padyam (poem) in
draviDa v.rttam (tamil version of a poetical metre). The rAgams are
pantuvarAlLi, yadukula kAmbhOji, nAdanAmakriya, and punnAgavarALi.
tiruvAtirappATTu (kaikoTTi kkaLi ppATTU)
muRa japa pAna
-- a “pAna” (type of composition) describing the “muRa japam” in
And a few stuti shlOkams (prayers) in
malayalam, and sanskrit.
The poet, uLLUR paramEshvara iyer states that he
has not seen the lyrics of vasiSTam kiLippATTu and rAsakRIDa.
While residing in an kizhakkE maDam, an almost-torn down old
house, irayimman tampi wrote the following shlOkam (verse) in maNipravALam,
employing shlESham (double meaning -- comparing his old house to the
epic bhAgavatam), and submitted to maharAjA svAti tirunAL.
mahA purANam bhavanam madIyam
Meaning: Oh King! My house is very very old (purANam) just like the Epic
bhAgavata purANam; those who glance through it will have immediate detachment
(virakti), just like the feeling you get when you read the Epic; but there is
one small difference -- my house has no arttham (monetary value) whereas the
epic is deep in arttham (meaning).
The King was
immensely pleased with this poem, and immediately ordered the renovation of
the house, to the fullest satisfaction of irayimman.
another occasion, there was a minor love-quarrel (praNaya kalaham) between
svAti tirunAL and the wife, and it lasted for a few days. Irayimman wrote an
appropriate love song,
an eotic sh.r”ngAra padam in kAmbhOji for the queen, and requested the her to
sung it loudly, when the King was passing through. On hearing the song, the
King understood everything, and there was complete reconciliation. This
particular work of tampi is one of the most beautiful sh.r”ngAra padams
There existed a healthy
competition between tampi and svAti tirunAL in composing songs. The famous
lyrics “pa~ncabANan thannudE” of svAti tirunAL, and tampi’s “prANanAthanenikku
nalkiya.” were the results of such competitions. The mahArAjA loved to
show his compositions to tampi for his approval, and certainly valued his
opinion and appreciation of them.
composer, who penned the monumental toTTil pATTu (cradle lullaby) for
svAti tirunAL, lived long enough to write a carama shlOkam” (elegy)
also for svATi tirunAL who died in 1846. Tampi lived another 16 years.
The Lyrics of the famous lullaby
CLICK BELOW FOR THE TEXT OF “OMANATTI”NKAL KITAVO”
kuRa~nci (or navarOj or nIlAmbari or rAgamAlika)
Omanatti”nkaLkkiTAvO ? nalla
pUvil niRa~n~na madhuvO ? pari
pURNNEndu tanRe nilAvO ?
puttan pavizhakkoTiyO ? ceRu
tattakaL ko~ncum mozhiyO ?
cA~ncATiyATum mayilO ? m.rdu -
pa~ncamam pATum kuyilO ?
tuLLumiLamAn kiTAvO ? shObha
Ishvaran tanna nidhiyO ? para
mEshvariyEntum kiLiyO ?
pArijAtattin taLirO ? enRe
bhAgyadrumattin phalamO ?
vAtsalyaratnatte veyppAn mama
vAccoru kA~ncanacceppO ?
d.rSTikku veccOram.rtO ? kUri
ruTTattu vecca viLakkO ?
kIRttilatay+kkuLLa vittO ?
kETu varAtuLLa muttO ?
ARtti timiram kaLavAn uLLa
mARttANDa dEva prabhayO ?
sUktiyil kaNTa poruLO ? ati -
sUkSmamAm vINaravamO ?
vampicca santOSavalli tanRe
kompattu pUtta pUvallI ?
piccakattin malaR ceNTO ? nAvi
nniccha nalkunna kalkkaNTO ?
kastUri tanRe maNamO ? pERttuM
sattukaLkkuLLa guNamO ?
pUmaNamERROru kARRO ? ERRam
ponnil kalaRnnOru mARRO ?
kAccikkuRukkiya pAlO ? nalla
gandhamezhum paninIrO ?
nanma viLayum nilamO ? bahu -
dhaRmma”n”naL vAzhum g.rhamO ?
dAham kaLayum jalamO ? mARgga
khEdam kaLayum taNalO ?
vATAtta mallikappUvO ? ~nAnum
tETiveccuLLa dhanamO ?
kaNNinnu nalla kaNiyO ? mama
kaivanna cintAmaNiyO ?
lAvaNyapuNya nadiyO ? uNNi -
kkARvaRNNan tanRe kaLiyO ?
lakSmIbhagavati tanRe tiru -
neRRi mEliTTa kuRiyO ?
ennuNNik.rSNan janiccO ? pAri
li”n”nane vESam dhariccO ?
padmanAbhan tan k.rpayO ?
bhAgyam varunna vazhiyO ?
by line meaning of the Lullaby
in each line of this beautiful lullaby, in deceptively simple malayALam,
compare the newborn (royal) baby with the best things in the world that one
can imagine. Each phrase is an exclamation (in the form of a query): "Is this
(baby)... like this one?" Since some of these vernacular words do not admit
precise translation into English, we have only provided only an approximation
to the actual meaning. The exact meaning can be fully enjoyed only with some
experience in malayALam language.
IS THIS (baby)...
The bright crescent moon? Or
the charming lotus flower?
The honey filled in a flower?
Or the lustre of the full moon?
The fresh coral gem (could
mean the fresh creeper of the pavizhamalli flower)?
Or the pleasant chatter of the
A joyously dancing peacock?
Or a bird singing the soft pa~ncamam?
A bouncing young deer? Or a
bright shining swan?
A treasure gifted by God? Or
the parrot in the hands of Ishvari (goddess)?
The tender leaf of the
pArijAta tree? Or the fruits of my tree of fortune?
A golden casket --- to enclose
the jewel of my affectionate love?
Nector in my sight? Or a light
to dispell darkness?
The seed for the creeper of my
climbing fame? Or a never-fading bright pearl?
The brilliance of the sun ---
to dispell the shields of misery?
The essence of knowledge in
the vEdas ? or the very minute sounds of the vINa?
The lovely blossom put forth
by the stout branch of my tree of enjoyment?
A clustre of piccaka
flower buds? Or sugar candy that sweetens the tongue?
The fragrance of musk? Or the
quality of all good deeds?
A breeze laden with the fresh
scent of flowers? Or the essence of purest gold?
A bowl of fresh boiled milk?
Or the sweet smelling rose water?
The field that grows all
virtues? Or the abode of all dhrama?
A bowl of thirst-quenching
water? Or the shade that provides shelter for the weary?
A ever-fresh mallika
flower? Or the wealth stored by me?
The auspicious objects of my
gaze? Or my most precious jewel?
A stream of virtuous beauty?
Or playfulness of the youthful k.rSNa?
The bright forehead mark of
Is it an incarnation of k.rSNa
himself in this beautiful form in this world?
Or is it the mercy of Lord
padmanAbha? Or is it the source of all future happiness?
tampiyuTE ATTakkathakaL”, Kerala Sahitya Academy, Trissur 1964 gives
complete text with meaning in malayalam of three ATTk katha (kIcaka vadham,
uttarA svayaMvaram, dakSa yAgam), and concludes with a small appendix giving
lyrics of 12 k.rtis.
2. “abhinaya s”ngItam” compiled by Lila OmcEri (Kerala
Bhasa institute 1982) includes 23 padams, 4 pada varNams (three in sanskrit),
one tAna varNam, the lullaby, a kummi, and two bhakti prabandhams
s a”ngIta caritram”, K. T. Ravindranath (in malayalam), National Book ,
Kottayam 1984. (contains a nice write-up irayimman tampi’s life and works)
4. “The Music of
Hindoostan”, A.H. Fox Strangways, (Oxford, The Clarendon Press) 1914