Manipravalam, a hybrid language used as a literary style by the medieval poets and music composers in South India. Manipravalam had its genesis in the then Tamilakam as an admixture of Tamil and Sanskrit, which incidentally gave rise to the transition to the early Malayalam from Tamil prevalent in the then Kerala region.
This particular school of poetry was patronized by the elite classes. The composition of this dialect also reflects the way Aryan and Dravidian cultures were moving towards a synthesis.
The second of the Trinities of Karnatic Music, Muthuswami Dekshitar, whose major works have been in Sanskrit, had however composed three major Kritis in Manipravalam.
Of the 485 published compositions of Dikshitar, 479 are in Sanskrit, 3 in Telugu and 3 in Manipravalam. In the Manipravala kritis, he had used both Tamil and Telugu, apart from Sanskrit in creating them.
- shrI abhayamba ninnu chinthinchinavAriki (shrI)
- vEnkaTacalapate (karnataka Kapi)
- sri maharajni (karnataka kApi).
The first song beautifully sung by Ms. Dhanya Subramanian can be accessed through the following web link::
The Text and meaning of this Kriti can be seen at Page 79 of my book ‘Core of Karnatic Music’(2003).
The Travancore Maharaja Swati Tirunal had composed 15 Manipravala kritis using Malayalam and Sanskrit as Mani and Pravala. They are:
- alar’sara Parithapam(suraTi)
- AndOlikAvAhanE (Anandaabhaairavi)
- hanta jIvanAyaka(nIlAmbari)
- hanta j~nAnEndu(gauri)
- hanta ~nAninnu(pantuvarALi)
- indirApati viLa.nguM(navarOj)
- kAntanOdu cennu(nIlAmbari)
- kulirmati vadanE(dhanyA’si)
- manasi dussahaM(Ahiri)
- tellu pOluM k.rpA(kuranji)
Kerala’s prestigious dance form, Viz.Kathakali is an area, where Manipravala is used by their lyricists extensively. I would cite a few examples:
- Unnaayi Variar’s Nalachaitam(1st Day)
Nala, who was in love with Damayanti and was on his way to attend her Swayamvara at Vidarbha, was caught on the way by the four lords, viz.Indra, Varuna, Agni and Yama and directed him to go to Damayanti as their emissary in an invisible form called ‘Tiraskarini’, conferred on him by the Lords and convey their desire that She must marry one of the four. The relevant Pada in Kalyani Raga is as under:
Amrutamati madhuram peeyatE, kaala-
manisam kaLikaLkoNTu neeyatE
maayuranavadhi jaayatE …
(Here only the word ‘kaLikaLkonTu’ is in Malayalam, meaning ‘with pleasantries’ and rest of the words are all Sanskrit)
2. Irayimman Tampi’s ‘Keechakavadham’
A piece of the DaNdaka, which portrays the pathetic picture of Draupati, who was compelled by the Queen of ViraaTa to go to Keechaka’s palace, is given below:
‘Daasyam samastajanahaasyam ninacchu, nija-
maasyam namiccu punarEshaa
VijitasurayOshaa vigata paritoshaa.
Muzhuki bata malinataraveEha…
(Here only four words are in Malayalam(Ninacchu=Thought; Namicchu=Bent AthiluTane=In It,at once; Muzhuki=drowned)
Droupati carrying ‘Madhu’ to Keechaka
You can observe this very ‘Dandaka’ scene being sung and enacted in Kathakali form from the following youtube link:
Kottayathu Thampuran who composed four great kathakali Aattakathas, viz. kirmeeravadham, kalakeyavadham, Bakavadham and Kalyanasougandhikam, had also extensively used Manipravalam in these works.