Written by London swaminathan

Date: 5 March 2019

GMT Time uploaded in London – 15-58

Post No. 6155

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Rare book on 30 Devadasis of Tamil Nadu (Post No.2614)


Research Article written by london swaminathan

Date:  9 March, 2016


Post No. 2614


Time uploaded in London :–  19-21


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I came across a very rare TAMIL book on Rudrakanikas or Devadasis of the Tamil Speaking World. It was written by Anjukam of Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka in 1911. I consider this book not only rare but also valuable for future researchers. Devadasis were women dedicated to temples and they devoted their full time to dance and sing at the temple. It is part of daily worship. Dance and music are part of honours offered to God every day. Nowadays devotees do this.


There are no books written by Devadasis available now. Miss Anjukam also belongs to the community of Rudrakanikas alias Devadasis. She collected details from Tamil literature starting from Tamil Epics Silappadikaram and Manimegalai to the modern day. Her mother Kamalambikai was also a Rudrakanika serving a Siva temple in Colombo.


Old women writers are not recognised. They are completely ignored by the male dominated literary world. I come across a new woman writer every week at the British Library who found no place in the later Tamil writings. Tamils knew only KarIkal Ammaiyar, Andal and Avvaiyar and the later writers were not listed.


Rig Veda, the oldest religious book in the world mentioned at least 20 poetesses. Sangam Tamil literature which came 1500 years after the Vedas also had the poems of over 20 poetesses. Several souvenirs released by the popular Tamil magazines and World Tamil Conferences forgot to mention the contribution of 19th and 20th century women writers. Lot of novels and poems were written by them.


Anjukam is one of those forgotten writers. She was bold enough to write about a subject which no one else would dare to touch. She was well versed in Saivite literature and knew very well about the Devadasi system that existed in Shiva temples of ancient Tamil Nadu. Anjukam has consulted Saivite scholars and took references from 45 Tamil works. RAJARAJAN, one of the greatest Choza Kings, inscribed the beautiful names of all the 400 Devadasis employed by him n the Big Temple in Thanjavur.


Anjukam had collected the profile of 30 temple or Royal dancers and had written in a high style. Stories of Madhavi and Manimegalai are known to many Tamils . She had collected more names who were famous in the regions where they lived. She divided them into two groups of good and bad women. Epic woman Madhavi earned a bad name because she lived with a married man Kovalan. Paravai, wife of the Saivite Saint Sundaramurthy Nayanar and others lead a decent life.



Several Unknown stories or locally known stories in the book are very interesting to read. One of them is the story of Kondiammal of Tiruvarur. She was a devoted dancing girl attached to the famous Shiva temple there. Tiruvarur chariot (Ther) is one of the biggest chariots in Tamil Nadu. During the Panguni Uttaram festival it will be pulled like the chariots of Puri Jagannath. During Chola period the chariot festival day was celebrated on a grand scale. During one year they met with a problem. In spite of the efforts of thousands of devotees assembled there the chariot did not budge even an inch. The king tried all the tricks but it did not work. He went to bed with the worries and he had a strange dream. God told him that If he called the dancer Kondiammal to honour the god with chowries (Whisk, bushy tail of a Yak) then the chariot would move. As soon as he woke up in the morning, he sent for Kondiammal and she was brought to the chariot with all the Royal honours. She willingly came forward to do the job ordered by the king,  but put a few conditions to the King. The conditions were that she should be cremated on the banks of River Kaveri after her death. She also asked the king to erect one Ganesh temple at every mile from her house to the river banks. Choza king not only accepted her conditions, but also executed them faithfully after her death. Thus Devadasi Kondiammal left her memories for posterity.


Short life story the following Devadasis are found in Anjukam’s book:-


Anajanakshi, Abirami, Abishekavalli, Amporsilambi, Arunagirinathar’s mother, Kuththaal, Kondiammal, Shanmukavadivu, Chintamaniratnam, Silambi, Sirkazik Kanikai, Somi, Njanavalli, Tiruvaranai Panneerayiravar, Tiruvarunaik kanikai,Paravaiyar, Punkotai, Ponnanaiyar,Manimegalai,Madanasundari, Madanabishekam,Manonmani, Manikkavalli, Her daughter, Manikka Nachiyar, Madhavi, Mananthai, Mohanangi, Vilasavathy, Vellaiyammal, Kamatchi, Kamalambikai, Santhanavalli and Anjukam.



Ganges and Coovam Rivers in Carnatic Music!(Post No.2597)


Compiled by london swaminathan

Date: 4 March,2016


Post No. 2597


Time uploaded in London :–  16-12


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tiger you tube

Tiger Varadachary was a famous vocalist. At a Carnatic music concert in which, by a strange turn of circumstances, a senior violin vidwan of high rank had to accompany a beginner,  Tiger Varadachariar was asked to say a few words at the end.  Tiger never uttered a word of disparagement about anyone. He complimented all the party in general terms. Bout the violinist he said: “What shall we say of our senior vidwan? His experience and knowledge are deep like an ocean. He is verily a mighty sea which receives ito its wide bosom such pure and holy rivers like the Ganges as also the gutter water of Coovam”.The implications are obvious.


Cooum/ Coovam was a highly polluted river in Chennai/Madras and known for its bad smell.



purandara stamp

Purandaradasa flogged!

Many miracles are attributed to Sri Purandaradasa, Father of Carnatic music. His Ishta devata was Sri Vittalaraya of Pancharpur. Allowing for possible exaggerations, certain incidents may be said to be authentic. In the temple at Pandharpur, there is a Dwajasthamba (Flag Staff) called Dasarasthamba. Pilgrims entering the temple worship this pillar first before entering the holy of holies. There is an anecdote connected with this.


In Pandharpur there was a Devadasi (singer and dancer of the temple) who was also a true devotee of Lord Vittala. One day the Lord himself in the guise of Purandaradasa went to the dancer and desired to see her dance and hear her song. The dancer who was a great admirer of Purandaradasa as a devotee sang and danced, with self-forgetful devotion. Highly pleased with her performance the visitor presented her with a bracelet. Next morning it was found that the bracelet of the image of Lord Vittaa in the temple was missing and it came out that Purandaradasa had given it to the dancer. In spite of his entreaties Purandaradasa was dragged to the temple, tied to the post and flogged.  At that moment a Voice was heard from the inner shrine saying that it was the Lord who disguised as Purandaradasa went to the dancer, because the dasa had some little karma to work out and by that apparent disgrace and flogging Purandaradasa had been completely cleared of all old karma and became a free soul, a ‘Mukta’ . The Lord also indicated his desire that the pillar should thereafter be considered a sanctified post and named Dasarasthamba.

Source: Facets of Indian Culture by R Srinivasan, B V Bhavan Publication 1990)


My previous articles on music:–

Mystic No.7 in Music, Post No.977, 13-4-14

Musician who pledged a Raga, Post no.1074, 30-5-2014
True Art is Never Made to Order, post No.1066, 26-5-14

Acoustic Marvel of Madurai Temple 13-5-13

Superstition in the World of Music 12-4-14 (Post No.975)

Musical Pillars in Hindu Temples

Interesting Anecdotes from the World of Music (29 May 2014;Post No.1072)

Saint who went to Heaven with a Flute in Hand (16 April 14,Post No 983)

How did Rare Indian Animal Asunam become extinct? (15 April 14,Post No 981)

Rain Miracles: Rain by Fire and Music (7 January 2012)


மழை அற்புதங்கள் (7 ஜனவரி 2012)

இசைத் தமிழ் அதிசயங்கள் 31-1-2013

சங்கீதம் தோன்றிய வரலாறு- ஒரு புராணக் கதை 13-4-14 (976)

சப்தம் கேட்டால் இறந்துவிடும் அசுணமா? 15-4-14 (980)

கையில் புல்லாங்குழலுடன் சுவர்க்கத்துக்குப் போன மனிதர் 16-4-14 (982)

ஸ்ரீராமர் மீது முத்துசுவாமி தீட்சிதர் கிருதிகள் 8-4-14 (963)