K. C. Kesava Pillai

K. C. Kesava Pillai

K. C. Kesava Pillai (1868 - 1914) was a composer of Carnatic music, Poet Laureate of Travancore and made contributions to Malayalam literature

Life and Education

K. C. Kesava Pillai was born in Paravur in Kollam (Quilon) District of Kerala in India in 1868. He had a school education up to the 5th grade and gained a proficiency in music. He watched Kathakali learnt the basics of Kathakali literature, costumes and mudras. Aged 15, he wrote his first attakadha, but was encouraged to learn Sanskrit so that he could correct his work himself and was subsequently taught it by Paravoor V. Kesavan Asan. and grammar by his brother Ennakkattu Rajaraja Varma. Later in his life, in 1896, he had become a teacher in Kollam Malayalam school; within a few years was promoted to the position of Sanskrit Munshi, or the A close associate of Kerala Varma and Rajaraja Varma, K. C. Kesava Pillai died in 1914, aged 46 years. On account of his musical and poetical achievements, he was awarded the title of "Sarasa Gayaka Kavimani" by Sangeethasahityakovda Kerala Varma Valiya Koyi Thampuran


*"Sangeetha manjari" and "Sthavaratnavali": both contain kritis and bhajana songs
*"Sangeethamaalika" and

Attakadha (Gesture Stories)

*"Prahlaada Charitham", later renamed, "Hiranyasuravadham" Written aged 15


*"Asanna Marana Chinta Satakam" (Reflections of a Dying Man)although written for a competition, is a touching lyrical monologue with a predominant elegiac tone and anticipates the Khandakavyas or shorter poems of the poets of the renaissance. It has an underground connection with C.S.Subramanian Potti's Oruvilapam (A Lament: 1903), V.C.Balakrishna Panikkar's Oruvilapam (A Lament:1908) and even Kumaran Asan's Oru Veena Poovu (A Fallen Flower:1907) which may be thought of an elegy in disguise.
*'‘Adimalarina’': A ragamalika in four languages: Malayalam, Tamil, English and Sanskrit.
*"Satya Swaroopavibho in Sankarabharana"
*"Bhajikka Nee Ramane in Mohana"
*"Koti Divakara in Dhanyasi"
*"Nana Jaathikal in Kamboji"
*"Vande Maatharam in Sindhubhairavi"
*"Vande Maatharam in Kuntalavarali"
*"Kamalanatha in Thodi"
*"Sree vasudeva in Kapi raga"
*"Sreemoolarajavijayam", 1894, submitted to Sree Moolam Thirunal Maharaja.
*"Aasannamaranachintasatakam": a work consisting of 104 slokas (songs in Carnatic music or Indian music praising God) in Saardoolavikriditham.
*"Kerala Bhashaa Narayaneeya"m: a translation of Narayaneeyam in Malayalam.
*"Kesaviyam": A mahakavya modeled on the Sanskrit pattern, adhering to the rules of structure and style of the classical rhetorician, Dandi.
*"Sadarama" (A popular Tamil musical play)
*A selection of attakkathas.


*"Lekshmi Kalyanam"
*"Raghava Madhavam"


Pillai composed over 100 keertanas, prayers in praise of God.


K.C. Kesava Pillai was a composer of songs, whose standard is comparable to that of Swathi Tirunal and Irayimman Tampi, both Kerala musicians.


* [http://www.kerala.gov.in/music/music7.pdf Kerala Government website]

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