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Tamilisai is like an ocean. The term “Pan” is used to denote the term “raga” in Tamil isai. This article will focus on the meaning of “Pan” and also the equivalent for the pans, which have not been mentioned in the first article.

     The term “Pan” means something which is done. In Tamil, “Pannappaduvathu” means something which is obtained by doing an act. Hence the term “Pan” is derived from the term, ”Pannappaduvathu”.

     We have the melakarta system in the present day music. 72 scales are considered important. In Tamil isai, the melakarta had its equivalent in “Palais”. Palais are scales which have all the seven svaras in the correct sequence. The svara was called as “Narambu” or “Isai”. Thus, the seven svaras were called as “Ezhisai” or “Ezh narambugal”. The term “Ezhu” means “Seven” in Tamil

     In present day music we have the shadava ragas, audava ragas and svarantara ragas. Though these types of ragas existed in ancient Tamil music, they had a different nomenclature. The following table gives the present day nomenclature and the nomenclature in Tamilisai. 

S.NoNomenclature in TamilisaiPresent day Nomenclature1Sampurna ragaPan2Shadava ragaPanniyal Tiram3Audava ragaTiram4Svarantara ragaTirattiram 

     The Sangam literature is full of references to these pans. A very important work belonging to sangam period is “pancha marabu”. The term “Pancha” refers to the numeral five. Thus, there are five essential elements discussed in this book, viz., isai, muzhavu, talam, koottu and abhinayam. There are lots of references to the types of dances and the various types of abhinayas in the chapters “Koottu” and “Avinayam”. The other chapters deal about the musical aspects like pan, pani(tala), isai uru(musical form).

     Since the topic for discussion here is about pans, the references to pans alone are taken up. Pancha Marabu mentions 103 pans. Many other works like Divakarm and Pingalandai also mention these 103 pans. Out of these 103 pans, Pancha marabu mentions that there are seventeen scales which are sampurna, seventy which are shadava, twelve which are audava and four svarantara. Out of the 103 pans 23 have been handled by Tirugjana Sambandar, Tiru Navukkarasar and Sundarar in their Tevarams. The Tamil isai Sangam has done extensive research on 103pans, with many eminent musicians, musicologists and oduvars participating in the research.  They have given the pans and their equivalent ragas as follows: 

Name of the pan and their Equivalent present day raga

Palai yazh -Harikambhoji
Udaya giri-Revagupti
     Out of the 103 Pans mentioned in Pancha Marabu, some are considered to be very auspicious according to its author. They are as follows:

1. Takkesi
2. Gandharam
3. Kausigam
4. Sadari
5. Puranirmai
6. Sendurutti
7. Sigamaram
8. Sigandhi

     This view holds good even today, though Panchamarabu was written before 1st century. Take the pan Sendurutti. The equivalent present day ragam is Madhyamavati. It is considered to be an auspicious raga. Sundarar has composed the Tevaram “Mila Adimai” in this ragam. Syama Sastri has composed the song “Palinchu Kamashi” in this raga. The word “Palinchu” gives the meaning “Let her protect”. Protection by the Goddess certainly gives peace and happiness to one’s self.

      Pancha marabu mentions many such classifications. The following pans are mentioned as those which are meant for Aryas (Probably meaning north):
  1. Todi
  2. Gauri
  3. Madhyamari (Sendurutti)
  4. Nattam
  5. Sudhdha gandharam
  6. Ramakri
  7. Desakri
  8. Naluttai (Indolam)
  9. Vangalam
  10. Varati
  11. Vayiravam

 The following pans are mentioned as those which exclusively belong to the Tamil Land:
  1. Takka ragam
  2. Pazhantakkaragam
  3. Tukkaragam
  4. Takkesi
  5. Kolli
  6. Indalam
  7. Andali
  8. Nattaragam
  9. Panchamam
  10. Gandharam
  11. Puranirmai
  12. Kurinji

 The following pans are listed as those which belong to both Tamil and Aryan traditions

  1. Gandhara Panchamam
  2. Megharagakkurinji
  3. Takkesi
  4. Kolli
  5. Gandharam
  6. Sayavelarkolli
     The Tamils had divisions in the Pans according to the time of singing.

 The Pans meant to be sung during the first samam (First part of the night) are as follows:
  1. Puranirmai
  2. Gandharam
  3. Kausigam
  4. Takkesi
  5. Varati
  6. Indalam
  7. Salarapani
  8. Sendurutti

 The Pans meant to be sung during the second samam are as follows:

  1. Todi
  2. Nattaragam
  3. Panjuram
  4. Gaudi
  5. Pazhantakkaragam
  6. Sadali
  7. Kamaram (Sigamaram)
  8. Sempalai

 The Pans meant to be sung during third samam are as follows:
  1. Kurandi
  2. Vayiravam
  3. Panchamam
  4. Kolli
  5. Desi
  6. Nattam
  7. Takkaragam
  8. Sigandhi

 The Pans meant to be sung during the fourth samam are as follows:
  1. Andali
  2. Savagakkurinji
  3. Megharagakkurinji
  4. Gandharam
  5. Tukkaragam
  6. Neidal
  7. Kurinji
  8. Arumpalai

 The Pans meant to be sung during the fifth samam are as follows:
  1. Kuchchari
  2. Mallari
  3. Megharagam
  4. Kurinji
  5. Maluvakiri
  6. Desakri
  7. Ramakri
  8. Kondarkiri

 The Pans meant to be sung during the sixth samam are as follows:
    1. Kavvanam
    2. Panchamam
    3. Kanchi
    4. Marul
    5. Viyazhakkurinji
    6. Sendu
    7. Andi
    8. Mudirnda indalam 

    The Pans meant to be sung during the seventh samam are as follows:
  1. Dipa varati
  2. Gaudi
  3. Ariya Nattam
  4. Periya Nattam
  5. Gandhara Panchamam
  6. Velar kolli
  7. Biyandai
  8. Periya varati

 The Pans meant to be sung during the eighth samam are as follows:
  1. Anuttira Panchamam
  2. Andali Padai
  3. Nagaragam
  4. Mullai
  5. Marudam
  6. Siragam
  7. Yamai
  8. Tanukkanchi
    Here the names of the Pans are mentioned, as given in the work Pancha Marabu itself.

         Pancha Marabu also mentions that if one composes songs on Tirumal or Tirumagal, it will bring prosperity. Even today “Tirumagal” or Goddess Lakshmi is considered as the Goddess of wealth. There are Pans listed as most famous Pans and Pans yet to become famous.

         We may find a parallel for all these, in the Sanskrit Tradition. For instance, Sarngadeva in his work Sangitaratnakara mentions a raga “Takka Vibhasha Tevara vartani”. Takka is a pan found in Tamil Tradition. Since Sangadeva belonged to 1247 AD he mentions about Tevaram. Some of the Tevaram hymns have this pan.

         Classifying ragas according to time exists even today in both Karnatik and Hindustani traditions. 


        This article focuses on the pans in Tamil Music. There are various other aspects like musical forms and talas, which are yet to be discussed.  

 End notes:    The Tamil isai Sangam has been pan research conferences from 24/12/1949. Both pans in Tevaram and Diyaprabandham are taken into accout for analysis. Each year around sixty oduvars from various parts of Tamil Nadu participate in the deliberations. Stalwarts like Lepa Karu Ramanathan Chettiyar, Dr. Tiruppamburam S.Shanmugasundaram, Hon’ble Justice A.R.Lakshmanan, Hon’ble Justice P.R.Gokulakrishnan, Academicians like Dr.M.Premeela and writer of this article participate every year in Pan Research. Oduvars like Dharmapuram Swaminathan and Tiruppanandal Muttukkandasami will not allow the research committee to come to a conclusion, unless they are satisfied. For egsample, when the pan Sigandhi was taken up, Tiruppanandal Muttukandasami desigar mentioned that he has already handled that pan in his tirumurai isai, without knowing its name. When the Pan “viyandam” was taken up, this writer mentioned about the prabandam in viyandam, to denote how it was handled.