Kerala Panini A. R. Raja Raja Varma

Article below gives a brief biography of 'Kerala Panini',A. R. Raja Raja Varma the scholar who contributed to the structure of Malayalam literature. In Malayalam grammar and structural rules for writing a poetry were first clearly defined and compiled by A.R. Rajaraja Varma and were brought out in three works, Kerala Panineeyam, Vrutha Manjari and Bhasha bhooshanam.

'Kerala Panini',A. R. Raja Raja Varma had contributed a lot to the structure of Malayalam literature. In Malayalam grammar and structural rules for writing a poetry were first clearly defined and compiled by A.R. Rajaraja Varma and were brought out in three works, Kerala Panineeyam, Vrutha Manjari and Bhasha bhooshanam.

Early life of Kerala Panini

Kerala Panini AR
Those who have studied Malayalam language at least as a second language, would have learned about certain properties of poetry writing. Naturally, as reference books they would have gone through three books, Kerala Panineeyam, Vrutha Manjari and Bhasha bhooshanam. These are the authentic texts which explain everything about the grammar, metres and rhetorics in Malayalam language. The author of these books are none other than A. R. Rajaraja Varma, very often referred as Kerala Panini.

Rajaraja Varma was born to Pattiyal Vasudevan Namboothiri of Onamthuruth and Bharani thirunal Kunhikkavu Thampuratty of Lakshmipuram Palace on 9th Kumbham of 1038 (ME) (1863 February) at Changanassery. Bharani thirunal Thampuraty was the daughter of the sister-in-law of Kerala Varma Valiyakoyi Thampuran. Rajaraja Varma's mother and uncle had to move to a palace at Haripad, when he was only two years old. His life there was not comfortable. However, they had to continue there till he was eight years old. Then they shifted to Ananthapuram Kottaram in Haripad itself, built with the help of Ayiliam Thirunal Maharaja of Travancore. There he was happy playing chess with friends and rendering Akshara slokas and even writing poems in free time. (Rugmini varanam and Devi mangalam are two such works in his early age).

Rajaraja Varma's education

Rajaraja Varma was known in the pet name 'Kochappan' among relatives and friends. His early education was under a teacher called Chunakkara Variar. By the age of twelve, he learned arithmetics and some elementary poems in Sanskrit. Then he started learning under his uncle Kerala Varma Valiyakoyi Thampuran, who is known as Kerala Kalidasa since he translated Abhijnana Sakunthalam into Malayalam. Education under his uncle lasted for about five years and by this time he learned Nyshadham, Manavedachampu, Sakunthalam, Malathymadhavam, Kuvalayanandam, Rasa gangadharam, and others. These include Maha kavyas, Dramas and Grammar texts. In 1881 Valiya koyi Thampuran shifted his stay to Thiruvananthapuram. He took his nephew Kochappan also with him.

He was admitted in Government English High School in fourth standard. During this school study period he participated in literary activities. The maharaja, Visakham Thirunal also started encouraging him. Slowly he started knowing as Rajaraja Varma. At the age of twenty he completed matriculation. But,due to his mother's death he could not go for higher studies immediately. The very next year he joined F.A. and successfully completed it in the year 1061 (1886). then he joined for B.A. He took Chemistry as his optional subject, in which he failed in his first attempt. But, he again appeared for the examination next year (1890) and passed. He was the first degree holder in the Koyi Thampuran family.

Career in education front

Rajaraja Varma was appointed as Inspector in the Sanskrit School by the then Maharaja, Sree Moolam Thirunal. Rajaraja Varma introduced reforms in the curriculum and teaching methods in the school following the Western models. This gave a new outlook for the school. He could convert the school into a college during his tenure. Meanwhile he joined for M.A. in Sanskrit at the Presidency College, Madras. He successfully completed the examination earning a first rank.

In 1069 (1894) Rajaraja Varma was appointed as the Principal of Sanskrit College. As the Principal he worked hard for making the college a model college in Sanskrit. He had prepared several class notes for facilitating the teaching in languages while working in the college. These notes have been later modified and become the basic texts in grammar and other properties of poetry. The famous Bhasha bhooshanam, Vrutha Manjari and Sahitya sahyam are actually the modified versions of these class notes. He has contributed a total of 43 titles to the literature which include 22 Sanskrit and 21 Malayalam works.

Later in 1074 (1899) he was made the Superintendent of Oriental Studies at the Maharaja's College, Trivandrum. Again in the year 1087 (1912) he was promoted as th Professor of Sanskrit and Dravidian Languages. Because of his vast knowledge and proven ability as an administrator he was given the charge of the Principal of the college. He was the first non-British Principal of Maharaja's college. He served as the Chairman of the Text Book Committee, Secretary of the Lecturers Committee, Member of the Board of Studies, University Examiner in Malayalam and Sanskrit languages and similar other positions.

Rajaraja Varma's family

In the year 1889 he married Swathy Thirunal Mahaprabha Thampuratty of Mavelikkara Palace. This couple had eight children including five girls and three boys. Among these two, M.Raghava varmaraja and Bhageerathy amma Thampuran are known in the literary world for their contributions. They together have written the biography of Rajaraja Varma in a detailed manner in three volumes.
Rajaraja Varma died at his 55th age in the year 1918, before he retired from service.

Contributions to the literature

A. R. Rajaraja Varma is known among the lovers of Malayalam language as a literary worker who contributed to the grammar and rules of poetry writing. He was considered equivalent to Panini, who introduced the basis of grammar in Sanskrit language, and hence is called as 'Kerala Panini'. In the year 1908 there occurred among the Malayalam writers an issue related to Dwitheeyakshara prasam (the property of repeating the second letter in all the four lines in a poem – which was considered as a major rule to be followed while writing a poem). He was not for giving much stress to 'dwitheeyakshara prasam' in poems, instead he insisted on the contents and meaning of the poem. But his uncle, Keralavarma Valiya Koyi Thampuran was on the opposite side, who insisted on the dwitheeyakshara prasam. He was not even prepared to accept other poems.

Rajaraja Varma's contributions to both Sanskrit and Malayalam literature will always be remembered, especially in the grammar and rules regarding writing poetry (metre and rhetorics). As already mentioned the works Vruthamanjari, Bhasha bhooshanam and Kerala Panineeyam are typical works in those fields. Another work, Sahithia sahyam, provides guidelines for writing prose.

His major works in Sanskrit are Vitavibhavathi, Angala samrajyam and Laghu Panineeyam. He has translate some of the titles from Sanskrit into Malayalam which include Bhasha Meghadooth, Bhasha Kumara sambhavam, Malayala Sakunthalam, Malavikagnimithram, Charudathan and Swapna vasavadatham. In grammar books there are other publications like Sabda sodhini, Pradhama vyakaranam, Madhyama vyakaranam and Mani deepika.

His work Malayavilasam can be considered as the forerunner of Bhavageetham (romantic poem) in Malayalam. Another one, Prasadamala, was his last work.

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