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Ramaswamy Shivan

Raamaswaamy Shivan – A musician of the late 1800s, he was the elder brother of Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer, and a composer and musician in his own right. They were born to Duraiswami Iyer alias Panchanatha Iyer and Arundathi. Duraiswami himself was a great musician and proficient in Tamil, Telugu and Sanskrit. Once while he was singing Thyagaraja’s “Chakkani Raja” (Kharaharapriya), Sri Thyagaraja, who was passing by, blessed him saying that his two sons would become very famous in music. Duraiwami had four sons – Sambamurthy, Ramaswami, Vaidyanathan and Sivaraman (or Appaswami). They learned music from Anai and Ayya brothers and from Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbayyar, who was a direct disciple of Tyagaraja. Ramaswami was eleven and Vaidyanathan seven when their upanayanam was celebrated at Vaiyacheri. Later, Ramachandra Thondaiman, the ruler of Pudukkotai, invited Ramaswami and Vaidyanathan to his samasthanam, where they performed to great acclaim. Once Vaidyanathan was singing Dikshitar’s “Aananda Natanaprakasam” in Kedaram. Ramaswami signalled to him make it into a pallavi in Tisra chapu, Khanda chapu and Misra chapu talam. This talam is called “dattaryeyam”, that is one with three faces. At Tiruchedur temple, Ramaswami composed “Tiruchedur sandha virutham, Thiruchendil yamaha-anthathi.” Vaidyanathan sang. Many compositions of his were co-authored with Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer. It was he who added additional brilliant cittaswaras to his brother’s famous 72-mela ragamalika. In this composition, each line has a poorvanga (first half) in the same raga, but the uttaranga (second half) is in the next raga. Ramaswami Sivan composed Periyapurana Krithis, released in the Thiruvadudurai Adhinam. Both Ramaswami and Vaidyanathan composed the Guruvanakkam. Vaithyanathan began it and Ramaswami completed it. In concert, when Vaidyanatha Iyer sang, Ramaswami sitting to his right would keep the tambura in a horizontal position and keep sruthi. The concert would begin with Vatapi Ganapatim in hamsadvani followed by Ramaswami Sivan’s “Ekkalathilum Maraven”. The two brothers had two houses in Vaiyacheri (now destroyed). They had two houses in Tiruvayyaru in Bavaswami Agraharam in one of which the Aruvathi-moovar portrait existed and which are still intact.

Of Ramaswamy Sivan’s kirtanas a few are quite popular, like “Paahi-maam-Sri Raja Rajeswari” (Janaranjani), “Ekkaalaththilum-maravene” (Nattakurinji), and “Neeye-manamaghizhvodu” (Kalyani). As for ragas, he used several and was fond of begada, as in his “Kadaikkann Vaittu”. A rarer song is Muthu Kumaraiyane in 2-kalai roopakam rendered in six beats. His son MR Venkataraman succeeded him.


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