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Papanasam Sivan (26 September 1890 – 1 October 1973) was a prominent composer of Carnatic music and a singer. He was awarded the Madras Music Academy’s Sangeetha Kalanidhi in 1970. He was also the foremost film score composer in Kannada cinema as well as Tamil cinema in 1930s and 1940s.
A famous composer, Sivan was also known as Tamil Thyagaraja. Using Classical South Indian as a base, Sivan created numerous hits popularised by M. K. Thyagaraja Bhagavathar and M. S. Subbulakshmi.
In 1962, he was awarded the Sangeet Natak Akademi Fellowship the highest honour conferred by Sangeet Natak Akademi, India’s National Academy for Music, Dance and Drama
Papanasam Sivan’s early years were spent in the Travancore area of Kerala where the kings patronised fine arts. He was born at Polagam Village in the district of Thanjavur, which was home to the illustrious musical trinity of Carnatic music. His given name was Ramaiya. In 1897, when Ramaiya was just 7, his father died. His mother Yogambal, along with her sons, left Thanjavur and were forced to move to trivandram in 1899 to seek the aid of his uncle. At Thiruvananthapuram, Ramaiya learned Malayalam and later he joined the Maharaja Sanskrit college and obtained a degree in grammar.
Ramaiya was very religious, and with death of his mother Yogambal in 1910, when he was 20, became even more so. He wandered from place to place visiting temples and singing devotional songs. Ramaiya used to be an active participant in the devotional music sessions at the home of Neelakandasivan in Thiruvananthapuram. Thus he learned many of the musical compositions of Neelakandasivan. In this period, his wanderings would take him regularly to the temple at Papanasam, where he would smear bhasma all over his body. Hence people began to refer him as Papanasam Sivan, the name by which he was to become well known later.
He picked up his first music lessons from Noorani Mahadeva Bhagavatar, son of Parameswara Bhagavatar. Later he became the disciple of Konerirajapuram Vaidyanath Iyer, a well-known musician, under whose tutelage Sivan blossomed into a consummate artiste that he was.
In spite of his deep knowledge of music, Papanasam Sivan was more interested in the devotional aspect of music. He preferred to sing devotional songs and encouraged other singers take part in sessions of devotional music with him. Papanasam Sivan was a regular in all the major temple festivals in South India with his devotional songs.
Later in 1962 Papanasam Sivan received the President award and in 1969 he received the Sangeetha Kalasikhamani award bestowed on him by The Indian Fine Arts Society, Chennai. He was conferred the Sangita Kalanidhi in 1971.
Ramaiya (Papanasam Sivan) has a daughter Dr. Rukmani Ramani who is a leading Carnatic Musician in Chennai. Shri Papanasam sivan had three daughters and two son. Ashok Ramani who is his grandson is also a successful Carnatic Musician. Another daughter by name Nila Ramamurthy also used to compose Carnatic music.He had two sons named Ramadoss and P.S.Krithivasan, and is survived by children named K.Ganapathy and K. Balathiripura sundari. K.Ganapathy is a mechanical engineer by full-time profession and is also into part-time light music- performing for various orchestras in and around chennai. K.Balathiripura sundari has learnt carnatic music and currently teaches music to aspiring students of Mumbai. Many of Sri papanasams kritis has the mudhirai ‘ ramadasa’ in tribute to his son. Sri Papanasam sivan had an elder brother Rajagopal Iyer whose daughter V. N. Janaki was an actress and wife of former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Rajagopal Iyer also had a son P. Narayanan who was a great educationist in Chennai.
Sri Papansam Kumjumani Bhagavathar, Sri Papanasam Ramani Bhagavathar, Smt Radha Kalyanaraman(Vocalist), Sri Papanasam Kumar (Mrudangist), Master Sankaranarayanan R (Mrudangist), Master Gokul Kumar (Violinist), Kum. Sruthi Kumar (Vocalist and Veena player), Kum. Anita Sivaraman (Dancer) are noted artists, Kumar Rajendran (Advocate) and Dr.Latha Rajendran (Special Educator) Smt.Srilatha Balaji (vocalist-daughter of Smt.Radha Kalyanaraman)Smt.Girija Harikrishnan (vocalist),master Bharadwaj Harikrishnan,Sai sisters kum.Sai sathya and kum.Sai sruthi (bharathanatyam dancers)who are grand/great-grandsons and grand/great-grand daughters of Rajagopala Iyer and related to Papanasam sivam.