Word Melodies of Kovai Subri

    Songs are word sequence, rich in musical note, that can bring the feminine quality to a prose form. It is usually written by a poet or a lyricist when one is inspired by an event, a movement, or an imagination. The poetic inspiration instills the emotions, unveils the latent words which are removed from its grossness and made edible for the minds. The lyricist may employ a peculiar form of rhyme and rhythm that cannot be overlooked by time. The ancient poets also added beauty to the words by using different meters. There had been many poets and lyricists prevailing all throughout the history of India. They usually gain inspiration from nature, women, love, and things divine by keenly observing the creator’s beauty in them. 

         Spirituality remained the inspiration for the classical Indian poets. Several poets had sung in the praise of different Gods. Poets of the south, especially Tamil Nadu were inspired by the glories of Lord Muruga and His Aarupadaiveedu. The most famous was ‘Kanda Shasti Kavacham’ written by Devaraya Swamigal. There are also other famous songs like, ‘Thiruchendurin Kadalorathil’, ‘Kundrathile Kumaranukku’, ‘Marudhamalai Maamaniye’ etc. Lands of Coimbatore had seen the rise of many patriot-poets all through the century and one of the most reputed was Kovai Subri.

         Kovai Subri was an ardent devotee of Mahatma Gandhi and served tirelessly from 1921 to 1942 for the freedom of the nation. He was imprisoned six times. Despite being in prison, he utilized his time in studies and shaped his creativity as he knew the importance of knowledge. He was inspired by the songs of Mahakavi Bharathiyar and was drawn towards Tamil poetry following the footsteps of Mahakavi. He began by writing patriotic songs, and then gradually started writing devotional songs. He had altogether composed 426 songs. He wrote the book, ‘Muruga Ganam’ and published it in the year 1953. T. K. Chidambaranada Mudaliar, inspired by the book and his knowledge, wrote the preface for it. 

         In 1970, he retired from political involvements and eagerly started composing songs on Lord Muruga. Altogether he had composed 12 volumes of poems. One ought to possess musical interest and knowledge to sing his songs. K. N. Venkatraman, who was his best friend, helped to render music to his songs. The saint of Tamil Nadu, Thiru Muruga Kripananda Varrier provided the foreword note for the second edition of the book. Contemporary vocalist, T. V. Sankaranarayanan sang the songs and provided the pure carnatic touch to them. Belonging to the kongu district of Tamil Nadu, he was an ardent devotee of Chennimalai Murugan and tributed his divine compositions to the Lord. He appealed to Lord Muruga through the artistic collection of songs to protect him from all selfish thoughts.

         Whenever one spoke of the Lord of Chennimalai, he was sure to remember the story of ‘Maangani and Murugan’. He was the child-God known for travelling around the world in his mayilvahanam just for the sake of the fruit. He had killed several daemons and punished the wrong doers, until they realized their mistake. He protected the virtuous and granted various boons to one who prayed with an unflinching heart and devotion.

         The first song in the book on Lord Muruga was titled ‘Yenna Punniyam’. He had said poetically that he had found the true ecstasy on singing the grandeur and glories of the Lord of Chennimalai and seldom futilely serenading about building castles in dream with the treasures of the world.

“…Mannulaga Bogamathil   Yenulameedupattu

Kannum Karutthumaaga   Karpanaikottai Katta

Yenni Yemaramal   Annale Unnaithuthi

Pannumipaamalai   Punaiandhu Magizhndhida.”

         The quality of surrendering at his holy feet through his overflowing bhakthi for the Lord could be noticed in the first two lines of the song ‘Paamaran Yenakkarula’, where he pleaded Muruga for not being moved by his true devotion and not to make any delay in showering his blessings over the commoner.

“Paamaran Yenakkarula   Nee Manam Irangamal

Thamadham Seidhyenai   Thavikkavidadhe Muruga…”

         In every part of the collection, he had poured his infinite love and devotion to Lord Velavan. In one of his songs, in the second part, ‘Kavalayin Thollai’ means disturbance of anxiety, he gave solution to this anxiety in the opening lines,

“Kavalayin Thollai   Illai Yen Maname

Kandhanin Karunai   Undhanukkirundhaal…”

         When Lord Muruga had become your thoughts there is nothing to be worried. Subri had written several devotional songs on Lord Muruga which had become an inseparable part of Tamil literature and added more value to the grand history of Coimbatore.  


         It becomes impossible to store the waters of Arabian in a trough, similarly, the poet in the poet cannot be limited to a book. Kovai Subri, a patriot turned poet, has given a new outlook to the Tamil poetry through his eternal devotion and absolute surrender to the omni-present, Lord Muruga. Whenever one falls, he is sure to get hurt but the only fall that gives the everlasting bliss is the fall for the divine. Subri is an ideal example for this divine fall. Let us forever remember this great man and his divine love for Lord Muruga.


“…Padapadathathenmanam   Padhari Thudikkamal

Thadakkum Nalam Arindhu   Thidamudan Irukka – Yennai

Kadimanam Purindhu Kollven Yendraan

Adainden Kadhalin Amutha Perumitham…”