Papanasam Sivan
Profiles of Lyricist

Papanasam Sivan (1890-1973) was born as Ramaiah in Polagam in Thanjavur district. He spent a lot of time with his older brother in Papanasam (near Kumbakonam). It was common in the early 20th century to confer the title of Sivan on men of God. Thus he acquired the name, 'Papanasam Sivan'. He was influenced greatly by nIlakaNTa Sivan (another great composer) in his early life for a couple of years. He also drew inspiration from Gopalakrishna Bharathi. He did not have a traditional musical curriculum but learnt music occasionally from several musicians. Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Iyer served as his mentor and sponsor in his adult life.

He was committed to Thamizh, Thamizh music and the freedom movement. He composed around 2,500 songs (mainly devotional, and occasionally social and national themes) and performed in several theatrical productions. He was a teacher at the famed Kalakshetra during 1934-39. He composed classical music for several movies and also acted in four movies. He composed mainly in Thamizh but also penned a few compositions in Sanskrit and Telugu. He used the signature ?Ramadasan?. But many of his compositions did not contain his signature, including the song discussed here.

He was awarded ?Sangeetha Kalanidhi? by the Music Academy in Chennai in 1971. During his lifetime, he published around 400 of his songs which are currently out of print. Currently, his daughter, Dr Rukmani Ramani, is (re)publishing many of his songs with monetary help from philanthropists, music organisations and foundations.

Sri Papanasam Sivan composed more than 2500 songs, mostly in Tamil. 800 of these were for Tamil films. This set contain just 400 of his Carnatic music compositions. It appears that the rest are yet to appear in print.

He received several titles including "Tamil Tyagaraja". Some of the films for which he composed songs are Ambikapathy, Nandanaar, Sakuntalai (sung by MSS), Savithri (sung by MSS), Sivakavi (sung by MKT), Thyagaboomi (sung by DKP). The Music Acadamy of Madras was extremely late in recognizing him. He was born in 1890 in Polagam near Thanjaavoor to Sri Ramamritha Iyer and Yogambal. He was called Ramaiah by people close to him.

The Papanasam of Sri Sivan is between Kumbakonam and Thanjavoor, with its own railway station served by passenger trains. That is where his brother stayed and he used to pass much of his time there. From 1898 to 1910 he lived in Thiruvanthapuram. In 1917 he married Lakshmi, daughter of Sri Ayyaaswami Iyer of Nagapattinam. He also translated many Malayalam and Sanskrit works into Tamil. He passed away in 1973 at the age of 83.