under review

Oottukkaadu Venkata Subbaiar

From Tamil Wiki

இந்தப் பக்கத்தை தமிழில் வாசிக்க: ஊத்துக்காடு வேங்கட சுப்பையர்

Oottukkadu Venkata Subbaiar or Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi (1715-1775) was one of the most celebrated Carnatic music composers of Eighteenth (18th) century. He has composed many popular keerthanas[1] in both Tamil and Sanskrit. As a vaakiyakara[2], he has composed many varieties of musical compositions like Javali[3], Tillana[4], Kavadi Chindu.

Birth, Education

Venkata Kavi was born to couple from Mannargudi, Ramachandra Iyer and Kamalanayani (also called as Kamalanarayani) in the year 1715, Panguni [5]month and Makha nakshatra (birth star)[6]. He lived in Oottukkadu which is between Mannargudi and Kumbakonam. This place had a temple of Kalinganarthana Krishna. It is said that until the twentieth century, this place had been conducting Bhagavatha mela,[7] . He has composed Kirthanas on this Kalinganarthana Krishna. Venkata Kavi was scholar in both Tamil and Sanskrit. Venkata Kavi learnt his music from Raja Bhagavatar (also known as Natesa Bhagavatar) of Needamangalam. It is said that when Venkata Kavi approached Krishna Yogi by expressing desire to learn music from him, he rejected the proposal[8]. Subsequently, based on his mother's advise, Venkata Kavi took lord Krishna as his guru and started intense training.

Personal Life

Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi led an ascetic life and did not marry. His brother Kattu (Oottukkadu) Krishna Iyer wrote all his compositions as manuscripts.

Life Period

Generally, his period is said to be between 1700-1765. Venkata Kavi's younger brother Kattu Krishna Iyer was one of the poet in Tanjore king Prathap Simha's court between 1739-1763. Hence Kattu Krishna Iyer's period could be said as 1710-1780. Given these pointers, Venkata kavi's period could be estimated to be between 1710-1775[6]. Based on the period, he could have been a contemporary of poets like Mari Muthaiah Pillai and Arunachala Kavirayar. In October 29, 1959, his birthday event (Jayanti) was celebrated.

Music Work

'Idu Oru Tiramamo' in Begada raga[9] is the first Keerthana composed by Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi. He has composed 11 kirthanams in Sanskrit language titled 'Nava varna Keerthanam'. Of his compositions, 289 have been tabulated of which 3 are Tillanas, 102 are Sanskrit kirthanas and 180 are Tamil kirthanas. His compositions include many 'Madhyama Kala' (Medium Tempo) kirthanas. Venkata Subbaiar has composed as many as 246 kirthanas on Lord Krishna. Below are the distribution of compositions on other deities.

  • Vinayaka - 6
  • Shanmuga - 7
  • Siva - 5
  • Ambigai - 12
  • Rama - 5
  • Radha - 4
  • Hanuman - 1
  • Saraswathi - 1

Apart from the above, he has also composed kithanas on Suga Bramharishi, Valmiki and Jayadeva.

After the period of Trinity of Carnatic Music starting with Tyagaraja, Carnatic concerts predominantly used Telugu kirthanas owing to which compositions of Venkata Kavi were not widely known. Nadhaswara vidwan Rudhrapasupathi from Tanjore learnt his kirthanas and popularized them by playing them regularly.

Needamangalam Krishnamurthy Bhagavathar[10] who is from Venkata Kavi's lineage (6th generation from daughter of Kattu Krishna Iyer, brother of Venkata Kavi) found Venkata Kavi's compositions from the Manuscripts, and contirbuted in compiling, publishing and singing them in his Kathakalakshepams. Kalyanasundaram, Rajagopalan and Muthukrishnan collectively known as Oottukkadu brothers who hail from another branch of the same lineage of Kattu Krishna Iyer's daughter, have been popularizing the compositions of Venkata Kavi. They have so far notated 70 of Venkata Kavi's composition.

Today most of the senior and upcoming musicians are learning the compositions of Venkata Kavi and singing them in the Carnatic music concerts. Various South Indian dance forms (Bharatnatyam, Kuchipudi etc.) are using Venkata Kavi's composition for dance performances because of the musicality, layam[11], raga[9] and its bhavam[12].

His compositions 'Alai Payude Kanna', 'Thaye Yeshoda', 'Paal Vadiyum Mugam' are very popular.

Raga Usage

Venkata Kavi has mostly used Rakti ragas, that are considered sweet ragas, like Hindolam, Nadanamakriya, Arabhi, Balahamsa etc. in his compositions. He has also indicated name of Pann in one of his composition like Puraneermai Pann (refers to Neelambari raga). He has also used some of the rarely used talam[13] like Sankeerna Matya talam in his compositions. He has composed twelve (12) Tamil kirthanas in as ragamalika[14]. Of this 3 of them contain 3 ragas in its ragamalika, 4 of them contain 4 ragas in its ragamalika and rest 5 of them containing 7 ragas in its ragamalika construct. Venkata Kavi has composed in few rare ragas like Lalithagandharvam (Sri Sivanayike) and Dheeparam (Padha sevanam). They have not been used by any other composers. Venkata Kavi has also handled few intricate talam[13]'s like Kanda Dhruvam, Sankeerthana Madhyamam and Kanda Thirputam. In his kirthanas he has also handled few tricky laya usage called as Eduppu (broadly mapped as syncopation in western music)[15] with ease.

List of Songs

Some of the selected songs of Oottukkadu Venkata Kavi:

  • Thaye Yashoda Undan (Ragam [9]- Thodi, Talam - Adi)
  • Pullaai Piravi Tara Vendum (Ragam - Chenchurutti, Talam - Adi)
  • Alaipayuthe Kanna (Ragam - Kanada, Talam - Adi)
  • Paal Vadiyum Mugam (Ragam - Nattakurinji, Talam - Adi)
  • Paarvai Ondre Podhumey (Ragam - Surutti, Talam - Adi)
  • Endha Vidhamaagilum (Ragam - Kambhoji, Talam - Adi)
  • Aadaadhu Asangaadhu (Ragam - Madhyamavathi, Talam - Adi)
  • Swagatham Krishna (Ragam - Mohanam, Talam - Adi)
  • Enna Punniyam Seidheno (Ragam - Ritigoula, Talam - Mishrachapu)
  • Uyndadu Uyndaden Maname (Ragam - Devamanohari, Talam - Adi)
  • Innum Enna Venum Solladi (Ragam - Kambhoji, Talam - Adi)
  • Kan Kanda Deivame (Ragam - Begada, Talam - Adi)
  • Thedi Kandene (Ragam - Malayamarutham, Talam - Adi)
  • Solli Therivadhillaye (Ragam - Sriranjani, Talam - Adi)


Other References


  1. Krithi, Musical composition
  2. Person who can write krithi, set to tune and sing it
  3. Javali is a quick composition that lasts around one to four minutes
  4. Rhythmic Carnatic music usually performed at the end of a concert
  5. a Tamil month
  6. 6.0 6.1 Tamil Isai Ilakkiya Varalaaru - Mu Arunachalam
  7. Festival of performing arts (dance and music) based on Bhagavata Purana, the mythology on Lord Krishna's childhood
  8. Oottukkaadu Venkata Kavi - Chitraveena Ravikiran
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Musical Scale in Carnatic music
  10. Needamangalam Krishnamurthy Bhagavatar - Kathakalakshepam
  11. Melodicity
  12. Expressions in music to communicate or evoke feelings
  13. 13.0 13.1 Rhythm
  14. Combining various ragas in a song
  15. Eduppu - Place of the beat where starting line of the song is set

✅Finalised Page