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We like to remember the 97th anniversary of composer, singer and reformer Mosa Walsalam Sastriyar (1847 – Febr 20, 1916)

Posted by ElJay Arem (IMC OnAir) on February 20, 2013

Mosa Walsalam Sastriyar(1847 – February 20, 1916) was born in Thirupuram near Thriuvananthapuram, Valsala Shastriar was a poet, music composer, singer and social reformer. His actual name was Mosa Valsalam. He was christened “Valsala Shasthri” by the Metropolitan of Malabar in 1883 after listening to his music & discourse.

Biography – Works

English: mosa walsalam sastriyar

English: mosa walsalam sastriyar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

He has to his credit a large number of literary and musical works.A few of them were published during his lifetime itself. They include “Gitamanjari-Garland of Songs” (1903) and “Dhyanamalika-Meditation Songs ” (1916). Later on “The collected works of Valsala Shasthriar” was brought out by Mr. J.John, his grandson, in 1958.

Copies of the works published in 1908 and 1916 were brought to light by Dr. (Miss) Pushpita John, former Head of Dept. of Education and Dean, Faculty of Education, University of Kerala, a descendent of Shastriar. ‘Gita Manjari testifies Valsala Shasthriar’s in-depth knowledge of Carnatic music. Some of them have the “Chitta Swaras” attached to them. Only a person having real expertise in classical music can produce such compositions. “Cholkottu” like those in the compositions of Deekshithar and Swathi Thirunal have been attempted in some compositions, “Kaithukki Parane” in “Saveri-Rupakam“, “Ananda Kirtaname” in Shankarabharanam-Rupakam contain this embellishment. The first composition is presented as a ‘Chithrapadyam’- a matrix of letters arranged meticulously to generate the poem (“Neethithakaya” in Thodi). The swara notations are unfortunately not included. Even some of the raga and tala specifications seem to be confusing. “Bandhu Varadi” is possibly “Pantu Varali”. In some compositions, raga is specified as ‘English’. These compositions are probably set to Shankarabharanam and meant to be sung in the Western style. This, perhaps, is an indication that only songs specified as ‘English’ are meant to be sung in the Western style and the others are pure Carnatic classical compositions.


The Moses Walsalam Sastriyar Chorus was formed by Mr.Richy Walsalam as a tribute to his contributions to music.

(Source: 02/2013 –


including “Gitamanjari-Garland of Songs” (1903) and “Dhyanamalika-Meditation Songs ” (1916)

Valsala Shasthriar : Composer of Carnatic Music on Jesus Christ

Modified Version of Article Published in Samskara Keralam (Culture Dept, Govt of Kerala) in
1990. This article was edited by late Prof S Guptan Nair.



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