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Personal details of Lyricist Kannadasan

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Name: Kannadasan
DOB: June 24,1927
Birth Place: Sivaganga,Tamil Nadu, India
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Became a thorough professional with the movie Apoorva Raagangal(1975).


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Full Biography of Lyricist Kannadasan

Kannadasan given name at birth was Muthiah. But when he made his exit from this world, at the age of 54, on October 16, 1981, millions of Tamils remembered him only by the name Kannadasan. For Tamils all over the world, he epitomised Tamil poetry. Even the illiterate, who couldn't read and memorise the poetry of Kamban or the maxims of Valluvan, could hum the compositions of poet Kannadasan.

A number count of his publications shows a tally of 109 volumes, which include 21 novels and 10 slim volumes of essays on Hinduism, captioned Arthamulla Indu Matham (Meaningful Hinduism). In addition, he produced about 4000 poems and approximately 5000 movie lyrics, between 1944 and 1981, all with an eighth grade education at the formal level. He was also an excellent example of this century's Tamil goliard.

What made Kannadasan click? There is no doubt that he had a penetrating eye and keen observational powers. He also did not live a cocoon-type of life. He dipped into everything that  Tamil Nadu could offer - wine, women, drugs, gambling, politics, polemics, atheism and religious sanctuary. After enjoying everything, what he did was remarkable - he composed verses about all his experiences, with self depreciating humour and biting sarcasm. These verses touched the sympathetic chords of Tamils from all walks of life - school boys, undergrads, housewives, farmers, manual labourers, plantation workers, middle class representatives and even upper class elites.

He was at his best when he wrote lyrics on the philosophy of cycles of life. Let me reminisce on some of his most popular compositions in this column. It is a pity that Kannadasan's verses has not been translated into other languages yet. I have made an elementary effort here, while not attempting a literal translation.

(24 June 1927 – 17 October 1981) was a Tamil poet and lyricist, heralded as one of the greatest and most important writers in the Tamil language. Frequently called Kaviarasu (King of Poets), Kannadasan was most familiar for his song lyrics in Tamil films and contributed around 5000 film lyrics apart from 6000 poems and 232 books, including novels, epics, plays, essays, his most popular being the 10-part religious essay on Hinduism, Arthamulla Indhumatham (Meaningful Hindu Religion). He won the Sahitya Akademi Award for his novel Cheraman Kadali in the year 1980 and was the first to receive the National Film Award for Best Lyrics, given in 1969 for the film Kuzhanthaikkaga.

Kannadasan worked in Thiraioli, a cine magazine run by 'Papa' Rama.Thiyagarajan in Rayavaram. Pudukkottai Distt and in Chennai. He also worked for "Thirumagal" magazine in Ramachandrapuram, Pudukkottai Distt. M. Karunanidhi conferred the title Kavingar to Kannadasan in a public meeting held at Pollachi in 1949.

Proud to have him in Hinduism

Muthiah was a staunch atheist and a follower of the Dravidian atheistic movement. He had a great love for the Tamil language and culture, and excelled in Tamil literature, both prose and poetry. He read the Thiruppavai of Andal, and was amazed at its mystic poetry, which was to have a deep and lasting impact on him. After a lot of introspection, he decided to convert back to Hinduism. He renamed himself as Kannadasan, meaning the servant of Lord Krishna (In Tamil Kannan means Krishna, and in Sanskrit, Dasa means servant). He dug deep into understanding Hinduism, and wrote his series of books on Hinduism titled Arthamulla Indhu Matham.


Kannadasan's greatest contribution to Tamil culture is his songwriting. Lyrics with simple words but a profound philosophical message were his trademark style. Before Kannadasan, many lyricsists like Papanasam Shivam, Kambadasan, Vindhan, Maruthakasi, and Ku.Ma.Balasubramanian were sought after in the Tamil music industry, but after the advent of Kannadasan, the scene changed. He quickly became the most sought after lyricist in the industry and remained so until his death. Kannadasan was so popular that though there were many excellent poets like Vaali, Pulamaipithan, Alangudi Somu, Avinasimani, Panchu Arunachalam and Jayakanthan during that period, their hits are wrongly considered by many Kannadasan fans as songs written by him.  Though, after his death, film lyrics have come a long way from Vairamuthu to Tamarai, many people still consider Kannadasan to be the best songwriter.

He is considered to be the greatest modern Tamil poet after Subramanya Bharathi.

He was the producer of the historic Tamil film Sivagangai Seemai portraying the pioneers of the Indian freedom struggle "Marudhu Pandaiars". The song "Santhupottu" from that film remains popular.

Notable novels

  • Aval oru hindhu pen (1992)
  • Sivappukal mukkuththi (1992)
  • Swarna saraswathi (1992)
  • Nadantha kathai (1992)
  • Mica (1992)
  • Suruthi ceratha rakangkal (1992)
  • Muppadhu nalum pournami (1992)
  • Arangamum antharankamum (1992)
  • Ayiram thIvu angkayarkanni (1992)
  • Theivath thirumanangkal natakam (1992)
  • Ayirangaal mandapam (1992)
  • Athaivida rakasiyam (1992)
  • Kathal konda thennadu (1992)
  • Oru kavingnanin kadhai (1978)
  • Singkai partha chennai (1992)
  • Velangkattiyur vizha (1992)
  • Vilakku mattuma sivappu (1992)
  • Vanavasam (1981)
  • Athaivida ragasiyam (1981)
  • Birunthaavanam (1994)
  • Cheraman Kathali
  • Sandhithen Sindhithean
  • Yesu kaviyam


  • Enathu Suyasaritham
  • Enathu Vasantha Kaalangal
  • Vanavasam
  • Manavasam

Selected filmography


  • Singari (1951)
  • Aayirathil oruvan
  • Mannadhi Mannan
  • Thaai Sollai Thattadhe
  • Thaayai Kaatha Thanayan
  • Paasam
  • Karuppu Panam
  • Panathottam
  • Periya Idathu Penn
  • Dharmam Thalaikakkum
  • Ananda Jothi
  • Neethikkupin passam
  • Kudumbathalaivan
  • Kaanchi Thalaivan
  • Parisu
  • Vettaikaran
  • Panakkara Kudumbam
  • Thiruvilayadal
  • Saraswathi Sabatham
  • Pattikada Pattanama
  • Urimaikural
  • En Kadamai
  • Nadodi
  • Thanga Pathakkam
  • Moondram Pirai
  • Iruvar Ullam
  • Dheerga Sumangali
  • Aalayam
  • Annai
  • Naanum Oru Penn
  • Pazhani
  • Varumayin Niram Sivappu


  • Karuppu Panam
  • Madurai Veeran
  • Nadodi Mannan
  • Thirudadhe

Onscreen appearances

  • Karuppu Panam
  • Ratha Thilagam
  • Suryakanthi
  • Apoorva Raagangal
  • Kavalai Illatha Manithan
  • Parasakthi

Poet laureate

Kannadasan was the poet Laureate of the Tamil Nadu Government at the time of his death. He wrote two notable autobiographies, titled Vanavasam, a book about his past life whilst he was atheist, with the DMK and a sequel, titled Manavasam a book about his life after he had left DMK

His contribution to Tamil literature

Kannadasan was a prolific writer and his writing covered a variety of forms- poems, novels, lyrics for Tamil films and books on spirituality. His series titled Arthamulla Indu Matham (Meaningful Hindu Religion) is known for its simplicity in explaining the principles of Hinduism. He wrote a number of spiritual works in the later part of his life including Yesu Kaviyam the story of Jesus told in the poetic form. Many of Kannadasan’s poems have been translated into French.

He wrote and published several volumes of poetry. He was an admirer of Kambar and wrote a number of poems praising Kambar's artistry,contrary to the satire ("Kambarasam") on the same by C.N.Annadurai. He also spoke at several of the Kambar festivals. He sang the beauty of Seethai's gait and the shoulders of Rama; he spoke of beauty intoxicating and dropped me in a vessel of amrut(liquour)" This is one of Kannadasan's tribute to the poet Kambar.

He was a great person, he has no religious boundaries, He wrote a book about the life of Jesus Christ "Yesu Kaaviyam" rendered in a pristine poetical Tamil. It was published at Trichirapalli in the year 1981. The function was presided over by the then chief minister of Taminadu Mr. M.G. Ramachandran. Yesu Kaaviyam was the last literary work of Kannadasan.


Kannadasan died on 17 October 1981 in Chicago, United States, where he had gone from India to attend a Tamil conference organised by the Tamil Association of Chicago. He was aged just 54 at the time of his death. A house in Sirukoodalpatti is now a memorial for the Tamil film music's evergreen favourites. The Kannadasan memorial museum was inaugurated on 21 October 1992.  The evergreen song 'Kanne Kalaimane' from the film 'Moondram Pirai', released a few months later, was his last song.


The Government of Tamil Nadu erected a memorial hall as "Kaviarasar Kannadasan Manimandapam" at Karaikudi.  The road adjoining Natesan Park in T.Nagar, Chennai is named "Kannadasan Road" in his honour.

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