Sri Thyagaraja – The Musical Legend of all times

By Swati Mohan

In the history of Carnatic classical music, 18 th century is known as the “Golden Era”.

Thyagarajaru is popularly known as one of the three legends of Carnatic classical music (Sangeetha trimurthigalu). The other two being Shyama Shastrigalu and Muthuswamy Deekshitharu. Thyagarajaru was not only an unparalleled composer of Krithis but was also an exquisite singer and a vainika.

He was born on 4 th May 1767, in Thiruvayyur in a humble family. Even today ‘Thyagarajara Aradhane’ is celebrated all over South India to commemorate the day when the saint attained Samadhi.In Thiruvayyur, thousands of musicians from different parts of the country come together on this day and perform the pancharatna Krithis (5 gems) of Thyagarajaru. It is the ultimate dream of every amateumusician to learn the pancharatna Krithis.

He was a great devotee of Lord Sree Rama. One can observe a deep spiritual connection in his Krithis on Lord Sree Rama. These are some of theKrithis which come to mind when one remembers the compositions on Sree Rama -Bantureethi kolu, Nagumomu ganaleni, Marugelara O Raghava, Seethamma mayamma sreerama maa thandri, dorakunayituvanti seva all of which have been composed by Thyagaraja.

If you go through the lyrics of the compositions of Thyagaraja, you start thinking how can one feel so close to God? It seems as though Thyagaraja has interacted with the Lord!

In Bantureethi kolu, Thyagaraja pleads with Lord Rama to give him the privilege of being his guard! In Nagumomu ganaleni, he says that he misses seeing the beautiful smiling face of the Lord, In Marugelara O Raghava, he praises Lord Rama as the Supreme one and also says that he has realized and perceived this truth!, in Seethamma mayamma, he says that Goddess Seetha is his mother and Lord Rama is his father, in dorakuna he wonders if he will ever be able to climb the steps of liberation and reach the lotus feet of the lord!

In all these compositions the Bhakti Marg of Thyagaraja becomes very evident. There was no limit to his immense devotion. His compositions are almost like conversations with God. Just by listening to them one can go to greater depths in understanding the Supreme Lord. The beauty of the Krithis of Thyagaraja is that they are so simple to understand, yet carry such a great depth.

His spiritual knowledge seems unlimited! He is one saint who dedicated his entire life to music and spirituality. In a deeper sense his compositions also tell us what Bhakti is and also shows the path to a wandering mind.

Probably even a lifetime would not be sufficient to just understand all his works! Such is the greatness of his works.

Without a mention of ‘Endaro Mahanubhavulu’ a discussion on Thyagaraja would be incomplete. He teaches us a lot of life lessons with this Krithi. By abandoning the ego and bowing to all the great people, he teaches us that humility is the only way on the spiritual path. By adopting theKrithis of Thyagaraja itself as his teachings one can achieve greater heights and gain deeper insights.

An exemplary book on Sri Thayagarajaru is available on – Click on this link to get it – Spiritual Heritage of Sri Thyagaraja

This article is written by Mrs.Swati Mohan, a carnatic music enthusiast and flautist based in Bangalore.


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