Thursday, January 5, 2012


Oothukkadu Venkata Subba Iyer was a saintly composer of Tamil Nadu the 18th century.
One of the greatest ever composers in Indian music, Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi (also referred to as Oothukkadu Venkata Subbaier) is said to have lived between 1700-65.

OOTHUKKADU IS a small village in Papanasam taluk of Thanjavur district, about 7 km from Thirukarugavoor, where the famous shrine of Goddess Garbha Rakshambigai is located. The main deity of Oothukkadu village is, of course, Lord Veda Narayanar flanked by goddesses Sridevi and Bhudevi on either side. The temple gained popularity after the discovery of the panchaloka idol of Kalinga Narthana Perumal from the temple tank. It is believed that sage Naradha witnessed the Kalinga Narthanam that Lord Krishna performed in front of the divine cows Nandini and Patti, children of Kamadhenu. Sage Naradha prayed to Krishna to remain in the village in the dance posture and bless the devotees. Hence it is believed that Lord Krishna remained in the dancing posture in Oothukkadu.

The idol of Sri Kalinga Narthana Perumal in the sanctum sanctorum of the temple is about 2.5 ft high. Lord Krishna, portrayed as a five-year old boy, is seen dancing with His left foot on the serpent's head and his right leg in the air.

An ardent devotee of Lord Krishna and Muruga, his compositions are graceful and stirring. Kalinga Nartana Tillana, one of his popular creations, portrays the dancing of Lord Krishna atop the serpent Kalinga. Alaipayuthe Kanna, Bala Sarasa Murali and Brindavana Nilaye Radhe are among his other significant works.

The sight of the Lord holding the tail of the serpent with His left hand and showing Abhaya Mudra with His right hand is indeed a feast for the eyes. It is so intricately sculpted that one can insert a thin piece of paper between the Lord's left leg and the head of the serpent. The beauty is that the weight of the Lord's body rests on the left hand that holds the serpent's tail, says the temple Bhattacharya. One can also see the scars on the right leg of Lord Krishna formed due to the violent beating from Kalinga's tail.

Mahakavi Venkatasa Subbhayyar, popularly known as Venkata Kavi, spent his entire life in front of the thulasi mada composing a number of melodious songs in praise of this deity. Due to the extreme devotion of Sri Venkata Kavi to the Lord, he is believed to be a reincarnation of Sage Naradha who witnessed the Lord's dance in the village. He was a complete master of music in all senses of the term – melody, rhythm or lyrics and was fluent in Sanskrit and Tamil. He was proficient in a variety of musical forms such as the krti, javali, tillana and kavadichindu.

He composed several types of krtis apart from the usual style of pallavi, anupallavi and charanam with the tune of the last few lines coinciding with that of the anupallavi. Venkata Kavi composed many songs with madhyama kala passages, some with more than one charana but with the same tune, others with multiple charanas in different tunes, some with just a samshti charana, some with gati bhedam and so on. He used talas and themes that few other Carnatic composers have used before or since.

His popular song Alaipayuthey.. in Raga Kanada by YESUDAS


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