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Origins of Kalarippayattu-- SRD Prasad narrates

Updated: Apr 20, 2023

Kalaripayattu, the traditional martial arts form of Kerala, is often called the mother of all martial arts. But what do we know about its origin?


SRD Prasad Gurukkal of Sree Bharath Kalari explains the story of Kalaripayattu and how it was shaped over centuries. He is a scholar and leading exponent of Kalaripayattu and a Padmashree recipient (2022). The son of Chirakkal T. Sreedharan Nair, a Kalaripayattu legend in his own right, Prasad is also the author of an encyclopedia on Kalaripayattu training. Prasad has been teaching Kalaripayattu since 1999 at the Sree Bharath Kalari, Valapattanam, which his father had established in 1948.



Watch him narrate the story of the martial art form and its evolution.




According to Prasad, the martial arts form is speculated to be the product of the interaction of the Dhanur Vedic traditions brought by the Brahmins from the north with the indigenous Dravidian martial forms.


He goes on to narrate how Kalarippayattu reached its peak between the 15th and16th centuries, the time of warriors like Thacholi Othenan, and how it declined afterwards due to the impact of political upheavals caused by the Mysoreans and Europeans.


The martial art form later saw a revival from the first half of the 20th century as a part of the Swadeshi movement, with the initiatives of freedom fighters like K Kelappan, who was a trained Kalarippayatt artist.


Prasad also goes on touch topics such as the impact of caste on the martial art form and how Kalaripayattu in turn influenced other art forms such as Theyyam, Kolkkali and so on.


You can also watch SRD Prasad narrating the story of the feud between two doyens of Kalaripayattu, CV Narayanan Nair and Chirakkal Sreedharan Nair.




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