Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Vayalar Ramavarma (1928-1975)

Born in the village of Vayalar, in Alappuzha district, Kerala, Vayalar belonged to an aristocratic family but became a poet of the proletariat inspired by revolutionary ideals. His parents were Vellarapplly Kerala Varma and Vayalar Raghavaparambil Ambalika Thamburatty. He was awarded Kerala Sahithya Academy Award (Kerala literary academy award) in 1961 for Sargasangeetham, the President's gold medal for best lyricist in 1974, and the Kerala state film award for best lyricist three times. The Vayalar award for Malayalam literature, given on October 27 each year, was instituted in his memoryWorks-Paadamudrakal(1948) Konthayum poonoolum Enikku maranamilla(1955) Mulankaadu(1955) Oru Judas janikkunnu(1955) Ente Maattolikkavithakal(1957) Sargasangeetham(1961)


Cherussery Namboodiri is believed to have lived between 1375 and 1475 AD. Cherussery is the name of his ancestral Illam (home). He was born in Kaanathoor village in Kolathunadu in Kannur Dist. in north Malabar. Many scholars think he is none other than Punathil Sankaran Namboodiri. He was a court poet and dependent of Udayavarma Raja of Kolathunadu. His masterpiece is "Krishnagaathha" a long poem of epical dimensions written at the behest of the Raja. It is the first "Mahaakaavyam" in Malayalam. Udayavarma rewarded him with "Veerasrimkhala" and other honours. Some scholars think that he also wrote "Cherussery Bhaaratham". Cherussery is the originator of the "Gaathha" style of poetry in Malayalam. "Krishnagaathha" is the detailed description of the boyhood pranks of Lord Krishna based on the 10th canto of "Srimad Bhaagavatham".

Kalakkathu Kunjan Nambiar (1700-1770)

Kunchan Nambiar was born at Kalakkath Tharavad in Killikurisimangalam of Palakkad district in the beginning of the 18th century.
He was the master of satirist poetry. The chief contribution of Nambiar is the invention and popularization of a new performing art known as Thullal. The world literally means "dance", but under this name Nambiar devised a new style of verse narration with a little background music and dance-like swinging movement to wean the people away from the Chakkiyar Koothu, which was the form popular till then. He was to use pure Malayalam as opposed to the stylized and Sanskritized language of Koothu. One of the oft-quoted lines from his poems is "Nokkeda nammude margey kidakkunna markada neeyangu maari kida saddha". (In Nambiar's retelling of the Mahabharatham, Bhima tells Hanuman to move from his way, by saying "Go lie elsewhere, you obstinate monkey").

[edit] Poems

Thunchathu Ramanujan Ezhuthachan

Thunchathu Ezhuthachan was one of the greatest writers in Malayalam .His translation of Adhyathma Ramayanam Kili Pattu and Maha baratham are revered treasures in almost all houses in Kerala even today. He was supposed to have lived in the 14th century. His name, his caste and even the number of other books he wrote are subject of lot of controversy. But universally it is agreed upon that he wrote the book called “Hari Nama Keerthanam.”(Song of the name of Hari).Either Narayanaya Mama (salutations to Lord Narayana) or Hari Narayanaya Nama (Salutations to Narayana who is Hari) has been added to the 66 verses of this book. These are added to philosophical thoughts of Ezhuthachan. The stanzas of the book start with the alphabets in the great initial invocation “Hari Sri Ganapathaye Nama.” And then the 51 alphabets of the Malayalam of those days. It was a time when the alphabet reform was going on in Malayalam. Previous to this work, the common people used 30 alphabets of Vattezhthu, which was phonetically inadequate, and the people who wanted to write Sanskrit used Grandhaksharam which was a mixture of Tamil and Sanskrit alphabets. Thunchathu Ezhuthachan was possibly an active member of the alphabet reform process and this great book is his signal contribution to this movement.
From the book, it is clear that Thunchathu Ezhuthachan was a Vaishnavite who was fondly in love with the Advaitha philosophy. He mentions that his Guru was one Neelakanta Somayaji in one of the verses. Researchers think that he learned these aspects of religion from Tamil Nadu.
AS in my other translations, I have tried my best to reflect the meaning intended by Ezhuthachan. This was difficult because, in this case he was not addressing the common man but the student of philosophy and religion. I crave your pardon, if I have erred.)