Galaxy of Composers

Musical Background: Venkatasubbayyar was an eminent composer with many firsts to his credit like the Navavarana and the Saptaratna kritis. He had learnt elementary music from Pooranur Natesa Bhagavatar and could find none to teach him further. He ultimately found his 'manasika' guru in the Lord himself. He followed the kriti pattern of  the earlier composers like Purandaradasa and Annamacharya and the Kannigal pattern of the Divya Prabandha of the earlier Alwars. Venkata Kavi is a fragrant link between Purandaradasa and Kshetragna and the Carnatic Trinity.

Region: Born to Vadula Ramachandra and Kamala Narayani, Venkata Kavi hailed from Mannargudi, a town in Tamilnadu.

Contribution: As mentioned earlier, Venkata Kavi has several firsts to his credit, having initiated the idea of composing thematic compositions like the Avarana kritis, which was followed by Muthuswami Dikshitar and Swati Tirunal subsequently. He was also the first to have composed the Saptaratna kritis, which many believe, inspired Tyagaraja to come up with  the Pancharatna kritis.


His compositions reveal absolute command over Sanskrit and Tamil, with flowing ideas executed to perfection. He has used a range of musical forms beginning from jatiswaras to kritis to slokas to kavadi chindus. He was also perhaps the first to use  madhyamakala sahitya prolifically. In short, his compositions have all the ingredients that puts him among the greatest of composers Ė soul-filling melody, command over rhythm and emotion-laden lyrics. They are also very popular among dancers. His famous works include Rudra Sabdam, Nandana Geeta, Kalinga Nartana Prabhavam, Rajagopala Nrityotsavam and Sri Krishna Ganam with a part that exclusively contain kritis, which  is known as Rasa padam.

Signature: Except for a few kritis like Sankari srirajarajeswari (the eighth Navavarana in Madhyamavati), in which the words Venkata Kavi appear, his compositions donít seem to have a mudra.

Languages used: Tamil and Sanskrit.

Theme: The theme he has adopted is basically devotional. He has composed on a variety of deities beginning from Lord Ganesha to you-name-it. But his favourite deity seems to be Krishna, on whom he has composed several songs.

Popular Compositions: Asaindaadum Mayilonru (Simhendramadhyamam), Alaipayude (Kanada), Taye Yasoda (Todi) and Kuzhaloodi manamellam (Kambhoji) etc are extremely popular.

An article on Oothukkadu Venkatasubbayyar by Chitravina N Ravikiran

Oothukkadu Venkata Kavi - The Divine Composer by Dr. P P Narayanaswami


Pre-trinity composers home

Galaxy of composers home

Trinity and contemporaries

Post-trinity composers

Living composers