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Unique poem from the Prabandha

Tiruchanda Viruttam of Tirumazhisai Azhwar— Sung by Sowbhagya Lakshmi and party in Tamil and English. Released by Sri Sadagopan Tirunarayanaswami, Divya Prabandha Pathasala, Jalladianpettai, Chennai-601 302. Not for sale. Suggested donation Rs. 100.

THE SUDDEN demise of Srirama Bharati two years ago was a great loss to the South Indian Vaishnava community in general and to the propagation of Prabandha literature in particular. Within a span of 25 years after his return from the U. S. in 1975, Bharati rendered monumental service to Divya Prabandham, and, for the first time in its history published, in 2001, a lucid English translation of all the 4000 verses along with the Tamil original.

Bharati's wife, Sowbhagya Lakshmi, a scholar in her own right, has been bravely continuing her husband's work with a missionary zeal and has produced this cassette of his favourite poem, the Tiruchanda Viruttam of Tirumazhisai Piran. This Azhwar is, perhaps, the most controversial in the hierarchy as he is supposed to have lived in the Dvapara Yuga.

Tamil scholars have, however, placed him in the sixth or seventh century A.D. as the Azhwar was a contemporary of a Pallava ruler of Kanchipuram. After critically studying all systems of philosophy like Jainism, Buddhism, Mayavada and Saivism, he became a staunch follower of Vaishnavism. A renowned Sanskrit scholar has identified this Azhwar as Dramidacharya referred to by Ramanuja and has furnished convincing evidence for his conclusion. The Tiruchanda Virutttam, comprising 120 verses, is a unique poem in the Chandam metre and is perhaps the earliest full-length prabandha of that genre. Its rhythm and unfailing alliteration, combined with the quintessence of Vaishnavism, has endowed the poem with an aura of its own.

Sowbhagya Lakshmi has set the 120 verses to music in a simple tune, which can be sung even by laymen. The last two verses are in Madhyamavati.

An orchestra, consisting of a flute, violin, veena, mridangam and ghatam, has given fine instrumental support. An English version of the Viruttam in the same Chandam metre, a literary feat by Srirama Bharati, has been sung in a separate cassette. The digital stereo recording is clear. A book containing the Tamil and English versions of the Viruttam and the life of Tirumazhisai Azhwar is given away with each cassette.

T. S. PARTHASARATHY

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