Attoor Krishna Pisharody, ആറ്റൂര് ക്രഷ്ണപിഷരടി was born on September 29, 1875[a]to Vadakkedathu Narayanan Nambudiri and Pappikutti Pisharasyar in Attoor, a small village in Thrissur district, Kerala. He received primary education from his father. A maternal uncle, Bharata Pisharody initiated him into classical Sanskrit. Further education in vyākaraṇa, advanced kāvyas, etc. was provided by Meledathu Ramunni Nambiar. A paternal uncle Vengeri Vasudevan Nambudiri, invited him to live in his house and taught him nyāya, vyākaraṇa, and alaṃkāra. For some two years he assisted an aged uncle in managing a vedic school at Ceruvannur Sabhamatham. At the age of eighteen, Attoor unhappy with managerial responsibilities, left for Kodungallur Kovilakam with the twenty-five rupees that he had saved.
Attoor who had already mastered alaṃkāra, specialized primarily in nyāya under Mahamahopadhyaya Bhattashri Godavarma Tampuran. The education and the experiences at Kodungallur Kovilakam were instrumental in shaping Attoor’s intellect and outlook, as he recalled later in life. At 22, Attoor returned home as a complete scholar and started instructing in Sanskrit. His first student was Mooppil Nair, the landlord of the house where he stayed. To the Nair, he imparted Sanskrit lessons receiving lessons on the veena in return. At 25, he married Nannikutti Pisharasyar of Vadakootu Pisharam in Pazhayannūr. This alliance was very propitious. Nannikutti was musically trained and a vainika, while the father-in-law, Bharata Pisharody was an expert vainika. It provided the perfect foil for Attoor to continue learning from them music and veena while pursuing his exploration into the science of music. The couple shared this wonderful relationship imbibibed in music for the next fifty-six years of their married life until the demise of Nannikutti.
His ascent as an academic began with his appointment as a teacher in Alathur High School. After that he worked for five years at the Bhaaratavilāsam Press in Thrissur. In 1911, at the invitation of Kerala Panini A. R. Rajarajavarma, he was inducted as a Professor at The Maharājas College, Thiruvananthapuram as a Professor. Following the tenure of Rajarajavarma, Attoor presided over the Oriental language department for a period of sixteen years when he retired from public teaching career. This was followed by a prestigious appointment as Tutor to His Highness, The Maharaja of Travancore in 1927 that lasted five years. After this, Attoor officially retired and returned to Thrissur where he spent a very active post-retired life in his newly built home appropriately named `Sree Thilakam’. Together with his wife, they ran a gurukulam where music flowed. After his wife’s death, Attoor retired completely into himself, away from public life, away from teaching, the passion of his life.
First and foremost Attoor was a generous teacher. He was multi-dimensional scholar, poet, dramatist, essayist, researcher and musicologist with Sanskrit and Malayalam as his medium. His ideal was: ‘of all wealth, learning and knowledge is the foremost’ (विद्या धनं सर्व धनात् प्रधानं) and his life exemplified the dictum ‘with learning and knowledge came humility’ (विद्या ददाति विनयं). He was the humblest among the humble and was always ready to oblige anyone who sought help. He was generous to a fault. His most illustrious student, the decorated Sanskrit scholar K. P. Narayana Pisharody (1909-2004) writes that Attoor was equally eager to teach or learn from anyone.
The association with Bharatavilasam press began Attoor foray into literary career. His critical review of Manideepika caught the attention of its author, A. R. Rajarajavarma which then led to his employment at the Maharaja’s College. The association with Rajarajavarma honed his research abilities and provided an avenue to demonstrate his high caliber and scholarship. As a critic, he once disputed with T. Ganapati Sastri, the renowned editor of the Trivandrum Sanskrit Series, on the origins of Bhāsa’s plays. Among his early works were Balaratnam, an elementary textbook on grammar followed by Leelatilakam, an authoritative text on literary, historical and linguistic information. Thereafter he went on to write several books in many subjects. In 1925, Attoor established the journal Rasikaratnaṃ that brought out many unpublished classics. The translation of Kalidasa’s Śākuntaḷaṃ titled Keraḷa Shakuntaḷam in 1937 was the most popular book he published. It was the King of Cochin who conferred Attoor the title `Panditaraja’.
His final work and magnum opus is Sangita Chandrika, a treatise of music published in 1954, following several years of research. This is a lakṣaṇagrantha that spans 700 pages with 12 chapters that cover: nāda, śruti, svara, vīṇā, grāmamūrcchana, meḷā, tāla, varṇālaṃkāra, gamakasthāyi, prabandha, rāga, and gīta. The text follows the sūtra–bhāṣya format with 1728 sūtras. The final chapter on gīta is a compilation of 443 gītams which are stories from Ramayana, each set to a distinct raga and tala complete with sahitya and svara. The treatise is a compendium with analysis, references, quotes to numerous great musicologists and teachers from the times of Bharata to present.
He continued his literary pursuits until the end. On June 5, 1964 he died at his residence ‘Sree Thilakam’ surrounded by his children, grandchildren and students.
- Sangeetha chandrika
- Bhashayum Sahityavum
- Bhasha sahitya charitham
- Kerala charitham
- Vidya vivekam
- Bhasha darpanam
- Uthara Ramayanam (Translation)
- Shakunthalam (Translation)