The Monk Who Recreated Missing Historical Tamil Musical Instruments

Silappathikaram is one of five poetic drama will work of epic proportions in Tamil. It was created far more than 1,500 several years back. Aside from the very well-recognized depiction of the ferocious mother nature of divine feminine, the get the job done is a treasure trove of data on these issues as ancient musical devices, ragas, and dance sorts.

Swami Vipulananda (1892-1949)

But can these historic musical devices, used in Tamil Nadu more than a millennium in the past, be reconstructed from info out there in historic literature? And not just theoretical reconstruction but a physical reconstruction?

Sure, it was accomplished. By a monk of Sri Ramakrishna Mission.

He was Swami Vipulananda.

Swami Vipulananda was born on 27 March 1892 in the region of Mattakalappu, Sri Lanka. Born into a conventional Saivaite family, the name his parents gave him was Mayilvahanan.

In the beginning, he was taught Tamil and Sanskrit by Vaidyalinga Desika, who was the priest at the neighborhood Ganesha temple and also the headmaster of the nearby Saivaite faculty. He was also taught English and Tamil by a tutor named Kunju Thampi. His father familiarised him with the will work of Sri la Sri Arumuga Navalar, which ignited in the younger boy a Dharmic fireplace.

In 1902, he joined the Methodist school when it was just started out. Right here, he turned acquainted with classical Western languages and Christian theology.

A prodigy, Swami Vipulananda passed the Cambridge evaluation for senior college even in advance of he turned 16. The identical year, he turned a tutor and served in that potential for two many years. With assorted interests, he mastered ancient Tamil classics and the operates of Shakespeare (whom he fondly termed ‘Jagat Sirpi’, the sculptor of worlds) and received a diploma in the all-natural sciences in 1916.

All through this time period, he bought released to the Vivekananda movement. He also passed the Tamil Pandit exam performed by Madurai Tamil Culture. His chemistry lectures were popular. Quickly, he received a Bachelor of Science degree from London College.

A young Swami Vipulananda

A younger Swami Vipulananda

Through this time, Swami Sarvananda of Sri Ramakrishna Mission in Madras visited Sri Lanka. Pandit Mayilvahana fulfilled the Swami. This conference remodeled the Tamil pandit. He made the decision to dedicate himself to support and spirituality.

At that time, since of his awareness in the sciences and the classical Hindu languages Tamil and Sanskrit, he was requested by popular citizens to develop into the principal of the Hindu College or university. In this article, he would instruct not only chemistry but, when want arose, also Latin and he liked Shakespeare. Involving all this, he would make students understand the richness of their individual Tamil language.

In 1922, Swami Vipulananda joined Sri Ramakrishna Math in Chennai. Before long, he grew to become the editor for both of those the Tamil and English magazines of the Math, Sri Ramakrishna Vijayam and Vedanta Kesari respectively.

Throughout this period of time, he commenced interacting with Mahapadhyaya Sri U Ve Swaminatha Iyer, the grand previous gentleman of Tamil renaissance who saved, as a result of superhuman dedication, the historical classical literature of Tamil.

In 1924, Swami Vipulananda was ordained as a monk on the complete moon day of the Chaitra thirty day period. Swami Sivananda gave him the title “Swami Vipulananda.”

Swami Vipulananda's inspiration Swami Vivekananda (L), his guru Swami Sivananda of Sri Ramakrishna Math (R)

Swami Vipulananda’s inspiration Swami Vivekananda (L), his guru Swami Sivananda of Sri Ramakrishna Math (R)

In 1925, he returned to Sri Lanka and started out delivering lectures. The exact calendar year, he began a university for girls’ instruction in Jaffna, named Sarada Vidyalaya. In 1927, he done a college student convention at Jaffna and also welcomed and interacted with Mahatma Gandhi, who was visiting Sri Lanka.

Swami Vipulananda inspired and organised student circles to analyze Tamil adequately and extensively. He taught them Sanskrit as well. It was the company belief of Swamiji that the know-how of Sanskrit was important to knowledge and appreciating Tamil in its depth.

A school started by Swami Vipulananda in Sri Lanka

A university begun by Swami Vipulananda in Sri Lanka

Swami Vipulananda also established a household university that catered to the instructional wants of all sections of modern society, specifically the marginalised.

In 1931, he was asked for by Raja Sir Annamalai Chettiar, the founder of Annamalai University, to arrive to the freshly founded university at Chidambaram. Swami went and there much too he executed amazing instructional and social assistance.

He carried out a night time faculty for the scheduled community youngsters whose family members could not pay for standard college instruction. Swami himself ordered the essential publications for the little ones.

Throughout the convocation ceremony of 1933, whilst on just about every house prime the Union Jack was hoisted, in the home of Swami the Swadesi tricolour was hoisted. This led to a law enforcement investigation. But Swami was not bothered.

Both Raja Annamalai Chettiar, a great patron of traditional Tamil music, and Sri U Ve Swaminatha Iyer, the grand old man of Tamizh, supported Swamiji.

Both of those Raja Annamalai Chettiar, a good patron of standard Tamil music, and Sri U Ve Swaminatha Iyer, the grand old man of Tamizh, supported Swamiji.

Throughout this time, Swami Vipulananda began researching historical Tamil audio traditions. His lecture at Madras University titled ‘The ancient musical devices of Tamils and their other fantastic arts’ was an crucial milestone in the restoration of the misplaced historical earlier.

In 1933, he still left his job at the University. Officials from universities in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka utilised to petition Sri Ramakrishna Mission to lend the monk as a professor in their universities for a tenure. Swami in the meantime went to North India and was, for a period, the editor of the prestigious Vedantic journal of the Mission, Prabuddha Bharata.

But all this whilst, he was also performing on the authentic reconstruction of historical Tamil musical devices.

Present-day issues of the three Vedantic magazines in India of which Swami once served as the editor.

Existing-day troubles of the 3 Vedantic journals in India of which Swami once served as the editor.

The culmination of his analysis was the e book Yaazh Nool (The ebook of Yaazh Yaazh is the historic missing Tamil musical instrument). On 5, 6 June 1947, the ebook was given to scholars for essential analysis and acceptance.

The Iravatheesvara temple (12th century CE) shows Thiruneelakanda Yaazhpanar with his string instrument.

The Iravatheesvara temple (12th century CE) shows Thiruneelakanda Yaazhpanar with his string instrument.

This was the regular Hindu way of releasing a reserve and it was completed at the Thirukollamputhur Vilawaranyeswara temple. The place could not have been more appropriate for the event. It was Nambiandar Nambi, a devotee of Ganesha at this temple, who was instrumental in rescuing and reorganizing the sacred Tamil literature of Vedic Saivism a thousand several years back in the course of the reign of Raja Raja.

At the functionality, a demonstration of the reconstructed musical instruments was completed by a really well-known string instrument musician of that time — Ka Po Sivanandam Pillai.

Swami's book on Yaazh, his reconstructions, and the Aadi Yaazh, the working model he constructed

Swami’s reserve on Yaazh, his reconstructions, and the Aadi Yaazh, the operating design he made

Following numerous students critically examined the book and the reconstruction, the e book was acknowledged. The operate finished with a ceremonial procession of the deity of the temple. The achievement of Swami Vipulananda concerned his exhaustive information of historical Tamil literature, from Silappathikaram to Thevaram and Periya Puranam and also his know-how of music.

To this was combined Swami’s awareness in the all-natural sciences, particularly acoustics. He was also a excellent mathematician. By combining knowledge from all these different domains, Swami Vipulananda gave back again to Tamil modern society its shed musical devices.

Swami Vipulananda became unwell soon after this accomplishment and, following two decades, on 19 July 1949, at the age of 57, attained samadhi. Quite a several Tamil students think that Ilango Adigal, the prince who grew to become a Jain monk in order to steer clear of opposition to the throne and who was the author of Silappathikaram, reincarnated as Swami Vipulananda to restore the shed understanding.

Samadhi of Swami Vipulananda

Samadhi of Swami Vipulananda

To this working day, his samadhi in Sri Lanka is a place of pilgrimage to the enthusiasts of conventional music of India.

Right now is the 130th beginning anniversary of Swami Vipulananda.

Writer’s take note: The pics of Swami Vipulananda, his school, and the reconstructed Yaazh are taken from the 1951 biography composed by Sri Ganapathi Pillai, compiled by Sri Thirunavukkarasu, and printed by Sri Gopalakrishna Kon.