3. ‘Kaiyil Panam Illamal’ – ‘Without Money in Hand’

Song in the construction of tamil South Indian history and identity

3. ‘Kaiyil Panam Illamal’ - ‘Without Money in Hand’


A second padam brings to light an aspect of the devadasis’ social and artistic world which was suppressed in 19th-20th century social reform movements and substantially forgotten in histories of 20th century South Indian music. While many padam texts portray a female heroine longing for her lord, adopting a posture of supplication, lamenting the hero’s betrayal and pleadingly beseeching him to return to her, some songs take an entirely different tack. ‘Kaiyil panam illamal’ is a padam that begins with the heroine baldly stating flat out: “Without money in hand did you come here to make love with me? If you’re asking for a loan or saying you’ll pay later, get up and go, Lord.” The singer is addressing Murugan as enshrined in his famous mountain temple of Pazhani, and she (here in the voice of a male singer, Karumbu Iyengar) is humorously castigating him for his philandering, rather than blaming herself for his transgressions.


The Effect of Audio Recording on Performance

Commercial audio recordings were first sold in India in the first decade of the 20th century. In the 1930s, when this song was recorded, the 78RPM recording industry was thriving. As a format one of its primary limits was that of time; each side of a disc could accommodate no more than approximately three minutes and ten seconds. This limitation led to creative adaptations on the part of performers. For example, the improvisational genre alapana, a melodic improvisation in free rhythm, normally occurs at the beginning of a performance, before beginning the composed song. On 78RPM records musicians often opted to complete the composed song first, and then use any remaining leftover time to perform a short alapana right at the end of the recording. This inverted the normal order of performance but became a well known practice in the 78RPM era. In this particular recording, Karumbu Iyengar inserts brief alapana passages at the beginning of the record and just before the caranam. Iyengar also brings in another genre of improvisation, svara kalpana, after singing the first phrase of the anupallavi. In svara kalpana, the musician constructs a melodic improvisation using the solfege names of the svaras, notes, calculating the svara sequences to return to a phrase of departure at a designated place in the tala and raga.

Song 3. ‘Kaiyil Panam Illamal’ - ‘Without money in hand’
Composer: Vaidisvarankoil Subbarama Ayyar (ca. 1829-1870)
Raga: Todi
Tala: Adi.
Sung by Karumbu Iyengar, before 1939

Note: Iyengar begins with alapana; performs svara kalpana after first phrase of anupallavi; & does another brief alapana before caranam


Kaiyil panam illamal kalavi seyya vandiro?
Without money in hand, did you come here to make love with me?

Kadan anal ezhundirum swami
If it’s a loan you’re asking for, stand up and go, Lord.

Aiyare ten pazhani azhagu kumaresa
Oh Lord of Pazhani in the south! Oh beautiful Kumaresa (Murugan)

Amman makal analum summa vara poralo?
Even if a woman is your maternal uncle’s daughter, do you think she’s going to go along with you just like that?

Asai irundal enna? kasai vidavum pomo?
Even if I were to want you, what of it? Would one just go ahead, forgetting about money?

Azhagu mappilai anal valavukku sellalamo
Even if a man is very beautiful, would one go to a secluded place with him?

Vesaikku kasu illamal vere piriyam undo?
For a courtesan, where there is no cash, is there going to be love?
Vinay ni inge vandal, engal vittu kizhavi vaival
If you come here empty handed, the elder woman of our house will curse you.



1. Maraintu Iruntu - What is the Secret?
2. Inimel Avarkkum - From Now On
3. Kaiyil Panam Illamal - Without Money in Hand
4. Ella Arumaigalum - My all-knowing all-seeing Lord
5. Pazham Ni Appa - You are the Fruit
6. Nadamadi Tirinda - You Used to Get About Quite Well
7. Ethukkittanai Modi Tan - Why This Love Quarrel?

8. En Palli Kondir - Why are You Stretched Out on the Ground?
9. Jagajjanani - Mother of the Universe

10. Taye Yasoda - Oh Mother Yasoda
11. Vazhi Maraittu - My View is Obstructed
Musical examples


By Matthew Allen

© Médiathèque Caraïbe / Conseil Départemental de la Guadeloupe,  2016-2020