Karaikurichi Arunachalam – Legend 2 – Compiled by Sashi Kulkarni & T.V. Ramprasadh

Karaikurichi Arunachalam

Resource Person: Sash iKulkarni
Recordings Courtesy: Pitchai Adilingam (Karaikurichi’s son-in-law)
Content Review: TV Ramprasadh(www.tvramprasadh.com)

A disciple of Kalakad Ramanarayana Bhagavatar, a senior vidwan, Arunachalam had further training in nagaswaram under the wizard T.N.RajarathinamPillai. Known for his melodius rendition, he was highly popular and was one of the most sought-after nagaswara artistes. He imbibed the vocal and instrumental styles and genius of his gurus. His nagaswaram play was captivating and exhilarating. As a boy he was making garlands of flowers for livelihood. At the height of his popularity, he expired, eight years after his perceptorRajarathinam died.

Born of Balavesam and Chellammal at Karukurichi in Tirunelvelli district, he had initial training under his father and made his debut in his eleventh year and enjoyed a meteoric rise. His rendition in the disc of the film song ‘SingaraVelane Deva’ is a masterpiece. It is said the the cine field colossus SivajiGanesan requisitioned this gramaphone record to the Bombay Airport to satisfy his craving to hear it again before his departure to the West. The song set a new trend of voco-nagaswara ensemble.

Arunachalam was honoured posthumously by the Tamil Nadu EyalIsaiNatakaMandram. He died prematurely at the prime of his professional career – a great loss to the Art. His rendition laid emphasis on soothing melody, public appeal and captivating delivery.

My most serious engagement with Nadaswaram came during my 4 year stay at Kancheepuram, The vacant hours of the evening gave me ample exposure to the practicing of the local temple Vidwan  on a daily basis.

And also on the day of special festivities each Friday. Hearing him over such extended periods made wonder:

Who would be more worthy of the Lord’s attentions – the crowds that milled around at appointed hours,or this Vidwan who was carrying on a legacy,son in tow keeping the thalam, always at a distance from the crowds.

As the instrument would sway from side to side and at times upwards, it would seem as though the spirits in all the directions were being invoked and invited .

My senior friends would speak of Karaikurichi doing the rounds, late in the night –

Around some South Indian temple in brilliant fashion, petromax lights glowing, urchins who milled around the Vidwan, would risk caning from their fathers, on reaching home early in the morning.These urchins would grow up into evolved listeners in later years , but the magic of Karaikurichi would stay with them, all their lives.

This segment is an attempt to capture some of that magic.

Tracks here are snippets  from such performances held in locations like Singapore , Nachiarkoil , Yazhpanam , ValangaimmanKoil .

The recording is not guaranteed to suit the taste buds of a modern day mike accustomed listener. They survive thanks to the efforts of some family members and rasikas. Many of these are presented here courtesy Karaikurichi’s son-in-law MrPitchai Adilingam.

A sad part to the whole story is that we tried to entice several recording companies to publish this large volume of readymade material – with practically negligible copyright revenue expectations. Yet the response was – We don’t have a market for this.

Markets Markets. Can they really be such a bad thing for classical stuff

Dip into these recordings and decide for yourself.

Tracks 1 – 4  are samples from those performances, which are difficult to label. They can only be experienced.
The sweet strains of
I vasudha – Sahana – Thyaagaraaja
 MariyadhaGaadhayya – Bhairavam – Thyaagaraaja
A Vasanthabhairavi that will linger in the mind for years
Ramaaramana – Vasanthabhairavi
A fascinating thavil interlude
A raga at its fiery best
Two memorable pieces
Maamavathu Sri Saraswathi – Hindolam – Mysore Vasudevachar
A scintillating version of a beautiful raga
Lastly two heavy weights
Sri Subramanyena-  SuddhaDhanyasi – Dikshithar
An unbelievable aalaapana!
Thaamasamen – Thodi – Paapanasam Sivan

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