Indian Music Maestro Tyagaraja

Indian Music Maestro Tyagaraja:
Ancestors of Tyagaraja:

Vijayanagara Empire was famous for great culture and glory. The invasion from the North brought all its glory of Vijayanagara Empire fell at the end of the 16th century. The empire gave a lot of value to the poets, musicians some belonged to the Brahmin family, with the decline of Vijayanagara emperor; the ancestors of Indian music maestro tyagaraja family had to flee to Southern areas which were still peaceful. Some got the shelter under the good natured rule of the Nayakas and the Maratha kings of Tamilnadu.

Particularly, a number of Telugu families went South performed their skills in art and culture and Tyagaraja’s ancestors belonged to one such family. Once Tyagaraja describes himself as descending from the Kakarla family. Kakarla present in the Kurnool District of Andhra. Tiruvarur in the Tanjavur district of South India is small in size.

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Early days of Indian Music Maestro Tyagaraja:

Tyagaraja was born on 4th May 1767 in Tiruvarur. His father’s name was Rama Brahmam and mother Seetamma. His grandfather Girija Kavi, a poet-composer worked in the court of Thanjavur. When Tyagaraj was a boy Ramabrahmam shifted to Tiruvayyaru, leaving Tiruvarur. The king of Tanjavur had gifted a house to him in this village and here Tyagaraja spent the major part of his life and also attained Samadhi in the same village.  Tiruvayyaru, on the bank of the Kaveri and the abode of saints, poets, and musicians. Tiruvayyaru seems a lot of tradition follow village. Most of the people belong to this village are interested in Indian music practice and composition of ragas.

Marriage and Family:

Tyagaraja married, at the age of eighteen, a girl called Parvati who died without leaving any children. He then married her sister, Kanakamba. A daughter, Seetalakshmi, was born to them and she was given in marriage to Kuppuswami. They begot a boy who was named Tyagaraja some called him Panchapakesa. He died issueless.

Composing the Ragas:

Tyagaraja was a profound scholar and poet. He studied Sanskrit, astrology and well versed in his mother tongue, Telugu. He became the disciple of Sonthi Venkataramanayya, under his guidance Tyagaraja become of the foremost singers of the day. His genius is evident in every raga of his creation. His genius composition of Pancha Ratna kritis (the five gems ragas) reveal the mastery he had over musical technique. Apart from thousands of ragas of kriti type, he composed utsava sampradaya keertanas and Divya nama sankeertanas which ragas are sung in devotional congregations. He has also created two operas: Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam and Nauka charitram. Besides them he composed a number of songs in Sanskrit, some are in Telugu also.

Most of his songs indicated the beauty of his art. There is no unwanted phrase, there is no labored juxtaposition of the word there is only music and feeling. He did not follow the traditional concept of music, he created in his own way with no bounds. With new melodies, he created the ragas like Kharaharapriya, Harikambhoji and Devagandhari, which are the masterpieces in his composes. With so many efforts he brought the glory to Indian music.

His command over Telugu and Sanskrit lent him to create ragas which rare felicity and homeliness to the listeners. Spiritually he was one of the rare souls who gave up everything except bhakti and cared for nothing else beyond the Grace of God. The early influences on his life make this trend more pronounced.

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Tyagaraja and Lord Rama:

Tyagaraja was a great devotee of Lord Rama. While he was singing the song on Rama, he treats Rama as a friend, a master, a father anything he could conceive of. Hearing of Rama’s name was to Tyagaraja like “obtaining a large kingdom”.

Miracle in Tirumala Temple:

Tyagabrahma traveled to the sacred places of South India. Wherever he went he sang of the deity of the place. There is the famous incident happened when he visited the Venkateswara temple at Tirupati. He goes into the temple to have darshan (vision) of the Lord, but the entrance of the sanctum is covered with a curtain which prevents him from seeing the idol. The priests refuse to part the curtain. In great sorrow, he sings a raga that, “Will you not remove the curtain?” The curtain miraculously slides aside by itself and he is face to face with Lord Venkateswara.

Left the Physical Body:

Tyagabrahmam took sannyasa at the end of his life and attained samadhi on 6th January 1847. There is a story about his death once he says in one of the most moving songs, “Unerringly I saw Sri Rama installed on the hill…Thrilled with ecstasy, with tears of joy, I tried to speak. He promised to bless me in five days.” And so it happened.

His service to the Indian music caused present musicians, composers still following his traditional songs.