"Kaviarasu" Kannadasan
Born A. L. Muthiah
(1927-06-24)24 June 1927
Sirukoodalpatti, Tamil Nadu, India
Died 17 October 1981(1981-10-17) (aged 54)
Chicago, Illinois, United States
Pen name Karaimuthu Pulavar, Vanangamudi, Kamakappriya, Parvathi Nathan, Arokkiya Saamy
Occupation Poet, novelist, lyricist, politician, film producer, literary editor
Notable works Arthamulla Indumadham
Notable awards National Film Award for Best Lyrics
1961 Kuzhanthaikkaga

Sahitya Akademi Award
1980 Cheraman Kadali
Children 15

Kannadasan (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 lyrics apart from 6000 poems and 232 books,[1] 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




  1. Aayirathil oruvan
  2. Mannadhi Mannan
  3. Thaai Sollai Thattadhe
  4. Thaayai Kaatha Thanayan
  5. Paasam
  6. Karuppu Panam
  7. Panathottam
  8. Periya Idathu Penn
  9. Dharmam Thalaikakkum
  10. Ananda Jothi
  11. Neethikkupin passam
  12. Kudumbathalaivan
  13. Kaanchi Thalaivan
  14. Parisu
  15. Vettaikaran
  16. Panakkara Kudumbam
  17. Thiruvilayadal
  18. Saraswathi Sabatham
  19. Pattikada Pattanama
  20. Urimaikural
  21. En Kadamai
  22. Nadodi
  23. Thanga Pathakkam
  24. Moondram Pirai
  25. Iruvar Ullam
  26. Dheerga Sumangali
  27. Aalayam
  28. Annai
  29. Naanum Oru Penn
  30. Pazhani
  31. Varumayin Niram Sivappu


Onscreen appearances

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 Vanavasam 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.

He wrote and published several volumes of poetry. He was an admirer of Kambar[2] 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. 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.[3] 'Kanne Kalaimane' from the film 'Moondram Pirai', was his last song.


[1] http://www.localnewspaper.in/gallery/gandhi-kannadhasan/

  1. Gandhi Kannadhasan
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