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The indigenous music of Kerala essentially takes its origin from the life activities of the people. The rhythm of life in its subtle as well as gross dimensions finds expression in different walks of life and culminates in its artistic existence at Sopanam, the sanctum of the temple. There, all the different contributory elements merge into the sentiment of devotion, which is bhakthi. When the prayers are offered to the deity by the priest in the closed inner chamber, the musician sings the Sopanam music by playing rhythm on edakka, outside on the side of the steps leading to the sanctum while the devotees with folded hands and charged emotions pray.

Kunjan Nambiar, the great Malayalam poet of the 18th Century innovated the performing art of thullal by combining all the indigenous musical and literary qualities belonging to the tradition of Kerala. He had written numerous poems based on epic themes and enacted these stories with the accompaniment of Sopanam music, enthralling the audience with satire and social relevance.. His art was a critique of the then contemporary society. It contemplated on the resurgence of the organic music culture of kerala.

In the course of an authentic research on the traditional music of Kerala, Kavalam Narayana Panikkar has been primarily inspired by the work of Kunjan Nambiar. At Sopanam, Panikkar has been successfully leading an ongoing research in recreating the Sopanam music especially in its relevance in augmenting the indigenous dance system of Mohiniattam. Being a poet rooted in the rustic Kuttanadan life, Panikkar’s affinity towards Sopanam music was well founded in connecting his work to the inter-relationship as well as inter-dependence of music and movement, in other words, time and space. The credibility of this conviction of his was accepted by Smt. Kamaladevi Chattopadhyay, the Chariperson of Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi in the 1980s. Consequential to this a project on Sopana Sangeetham and Mohiniattam was launched by the Akademi. The talented Mohiniattam performer Smt. Bharathi Shivaji was a product of this venture in its early days. From there on, the research activities in this field flagged off bringing into its fold the active involvement of a veteran exponent like Smt. Kanak Rele. As the Director of Nalanda Mahavidyalaya affiliated to Bombay University, Rele has jointly organized workshops on Mohiniattam with Panikkar, in which his son Shri Kavalam Srikumar, reputed musician  contributed greatly towards the enrichment of the musical repertoire of Mohiniattam. The instrumental support in this creative work from Kavalam Padmanabhan (alias Monkuttan, Panikkar’s nephew) is noteworthy. It is gratifying that the system and structure of Mohiniattam recital developed by Panikkar from tradition has found its place in the Bombay University curriculum. Panikkar has to his credit more than hundred compositions which are today choreography and performed by many prominent dancers (Mohiniattam page).

A systemic training in Sopanam music has been evolved through the combined research work of Panikkar and Shri. B. Sasikumar, violin maestro and a doyen pedagogue who belongs to a traditional Sopanam family. Sasikumar has inherited the legacy of his father Late M.K. Bhaskara Panikkar, a prominent nagaswaram artiste. 

With the support of Sangeet Natak Akademi, New Delhi Sasikumar has imparted training to 10 young musicians for a period of five years under the Gurukula system. This group has to its credit a repertoire which comprises of items from traditional and contemporary sources.