Bannikuppe Munivenkatappa Jayashree (India)

"Contemporary Views On The Kritis Of Sadguru Sri Tyagaraja"

Bannikuppe Munivenkatappa Jayashree

Dr.B.M.Jayashree is Professor of Music in Bangalore University since 1997 and has teaching experience of more than 29 years both as a lecturer and professor in the field of Karnatak Music. She has been successfully guiding many research scholars and under her able guidance 11 students have been successfully awarded PhD and M.Phil degree. She has several books and papers to her credit. Her recent publication “Vachana sahityadalli sangeethada hirime” is noteworthy. She is a member and chairperson of the Board of studies in various colleges and Universities in South India. She is also the recipient of prestigious awards like “Artist for the year” conferred by Karnataka Ganakala Parishad, Bangalore and ‘Karnataka sangeetha Ratna’ awarded by Sai International Academy, Bangalore. She served as Chairperson of the Department of Performing Arts, Bangalore University from 2008 March to 2010 March.

Presentation Overview

Music is that which pleases the mind and soul. May it be the Symphonies of Beethoven, Bach or Mozart or the compositions of the various Indian composers, the aim of music all over the world is to touch the heart and spirit of the living being. The advent of the musical Trinity, viz Sri Tyagaraja, Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar and Sri Syama Shastry has had a remarkable influence on the South Indian Classical Music. It was only after the compositions of the musical Trinity in the 18th and 19th centuries that music attained its present glory. Through them, the compositional forms like the Kriti, Keerathana and Ragamalika attained maturity and perfection.

Among the Trinity, Sri Tyagaraja’s musical contribution is remarkable for its quality and variety as much as its quantity. All his compositions reflect deep spiritual values and poetic excellence. The highest musical distinction is found in his composition which is known as the Kriti’s in which he has beautifully and effectively captured the essence of Ragas. His compositions range from very simple ones suitable for beginners and complex ones apt for concert performance. They offer wide variety of form and type, from metrical compositions and settings suggested by the European band-tunes that were then familiarized at Tanjore. For example, the kriti’s like Raminchuvarevarura in Raga Suposhini and Girirajasutatanaya in the Raga Bangala imply the above. There are compositions like O Ranga Sayee in the Raga Kamboji and Koluvaiyunnade in Raga Bhairavi which are heavy pieces with few words that offer scope for elaboration and embellishments. These kritis unlike the former are heaped with Sangati’s which helps one to understand the shape of the Raga.

Of the many specialty, one striking feature observed in the kritis of Tyagaraja is the establishment of the Arohana and Avarohana in the very first Sangati as can be seen in the Suposhini Kriti where the Arohana and Avarohana is established in the very first line. Another special feature is that Tyagaraja is credited for composing 65 Ekaikaraga kriti’s. Tyagaraja’s compositions have all the classification of Ragas: Audava, Shadava, Sampoorna, Bhashanga as well as the Vivadi ragas.

Tyagaraja has travelled widely and during his pilgrimages he has composed kritis on deities of that particular place. All this have been complied in to group of five kritis called the “Pancharatna” meaning five Gems. They are the Ghana Raga Pancharatna, Lalgudi Pancharatna, Kovur, Tiruvotriyur and Srirangam. Among these the Ghana Raga Pancharatna is the most popular and widely sung all over the world. Every year during the month of January, musicians and devotees gather at Tiruvaiyyaru, where the Samadhi of the composer is situated, pay their homage to the saint composer by singing his Ghana Raga Pancharatna Kritis in the Ragas: Natta, Gowla, Arabhi, Varali and Sree. Apart from singing at Tiruvaiyyaru, the saint’s Aradhana is celebrated all over the world.

Tyagaraja has also composed two Musical plays: Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam and Nowka Charitram. He is also famous for his Utsava sampradaya keerthanas and Divya Nama Sankeerthana which are meant for congregational singing. The Divya Nama Sankeetranas are in simpler, metrical settings suitable for group singing. The language used by the composer is mainly Telugu but there are few Kritis in the Deva-Bhasha, Sanskrit. The hero of the compositions of Tyagaraja is Lord Sri Rama in which the composer beseeches the almighty to show grace on him.

Tyagaraja’s compositions are like a huge ocean of knowledge. One is therefore justified in making a detailed study of the entire thought-material in the songs of Tyagaraja with a view to bring out the richness and the varied aspects of the spiritual heritage of Tyagaraja and to draw attention to the message of the songs that Tyagaraja composed for the salvation of Humanity.