The Purpose of This Book
I. To Present the correct-authentic-text of the compositions of Tyagaraja in National and international scripts viz. Devanagari and Diacritical roman, to reach the maximum people all over the world
II. To Provide a free style gist sufficient to understand the meaning of the songsenabling effective rendition. It is essential for the singers as well as the listeners to know this, in order to derive the optimum from the great compositions.
About the Commentary
So far, in the available sources, the commentaries in English have taken either the form of an essay or word to word meaning. Though the Essay type of commentaries highlights the meaning of the song in an interesting manner, they are at times prone to be blended with subjective imagination. Even the great scholars differ in the interpretation of the meaning and therefore, the meaning given is subject to difference of opinion. However, after compiling almost all the publications we have prepared a freestyle gist which we feel more appropriate. Minute care has been taken to give the meaning as it is for the Pallavi, Anupallavi, and Carana. At many places, where we felt the insufficiency due to different meanings for the same world, the same Sanskrit words have been mentioned in the meaning. A large number of such words are found listed in a glossary at the end of the book with its corresponding suitable meanings in detail in the context of the songs.
T.K.Govinda Rao, who hails from a family of musicians, is a leading vocalist of Indian classical karnatak music. In 1949 he joined the then central college of karnatak music at madras where, under the care of great musicians like Tiruppampuram Swaminatha Pillai and Smt. T. Brinda, he completed the course of “Sangita Vidvan’’.
All these assignments, however, did not deter him from his prime vocation as a vocalist and teacher that took him, over the years, all over India and abroad; Srilanka, Singapore, Malaysia, UK, USA (SV Temple, Pittsburgh, among other cities), Canada and Muscat, where he has taught hundreds of students. Titles like Sangita Cudamani, Sangita sastra Ratnakara, Ganakala Tilaka, Nadakkanal, Swara Samrat, Sangita Samrat and Sangita Acarya, besides the Academi award from the central Natak Akademi, the national academy of music, dance and drama, have been conferred upon him for his contributions to the field of Karnatak Music.
As the renowned senior music critic Sri P.N. Krishnamurthy, quoted in the well known music Magazine “SRUTI” said “T.K.G. is a veteran of the old school who has played a prominent role in the preservation of all that is precious in the truly classical rendition of Karnatak Music”.
A major facet of his activities over the years was and is connected with composing tunes and editing works of distinction. These include: “ composition of puranadara dasa”, “Tamizh songs of Periyasamy Tooran”, “Varnamanjari,”-42 Tana and 8 Pada Varna-s of well known composers, with notation is diacritical roman scripts; selected volumes of Tyagaraja Krti-s and also, transliteration of semmangudi srinivasa Iyer’s Sri tyagaraja Ghanaraga Pancaratna Kriti-s “ from Malayalam to Tamizh.
To promote the time –tested oral traditions of classical karnatak music, he has founded a body named “Ganamandir Trust, “ with the object of publishing works on music , producing audio/video cassettes, organizing seminars and workshops on music in India and elsewhere, and providing them to the donor members free of charge.
With the publication, T.K.G. has completed the first phase of his project by compiling and editing all the so far available, authentic compositions of the TRINITY of Karnataka music in diacritical roman and devanagari scripts with meanings and SRGM notations in English, presented in comprehensive volumes, the common scripts help to bridge, not only the language barrier, but also the generation gaps, while preserving the essence and identity of the originals that remain characteristically Indian.
The trinity viz. syama sastri, tyagaraja and muddusvami dikshitar are great saints. The heights that Karnatak Music has scaled today is certainly due to their compositions and it is our responsibility to preserve these precious works for the generations to come.
I have great pleasures in writing this foreword for many reasons. Importantly, through these publications, Tyagaraja, Maddusvami Dikshitar, and Syama Sastri are made accessible to all round the world.
The author Vidvan T.K. Govinda Rao is known to me from the time he was under the tutelage of my revered and intimate friend, sangita kalanidhi , Padmabhushan Shri Musiri Subrahmanya Iyer. I have no doubt in his virtuosity as a well integrated musician and able teacher. I can see the marathon effort behind these publications of Sri Tyagaraja , Sri Muddusvami Dikshitar , and shri Syama Sastri; of all their available compositions in three different volumes published in both Devanagari and Diacritical Roman scripts with SRGM notations in Roman script which is, thus, readable by all throughout the world. In all the three volumes, the mood of each composition is well portrayed in the commentaries. I am sure that these books will be a precious collection for each and every individual who respects traditional south Indian classical music.
It is gratifying to note that the funding for this project is donated mostly by a handful of music lovers and students of TKG who are the members of Ganamandir Trust, mainly from outside India( a majority of which are from Pittsburgh, USA) as well as from India.
May the Trinity shower their bountiful blessings on TKG for this commendable contribution to the world of music, useful now and forever in the field of karnatak music.
“Our law and politics, our arts and sciences, our manners and morals are derived from our fundamental faith, which makes for the spiritual unity of any community.”…. There is a moral law which governs the rise and fall of nations. Adherence to the moral law of Dharma elevates a nation : non adherence to it degrades it. If we are to progress , we must adopt the path of virtue… we have had in our country from the time of RG VEDA down to own days, a long line of torch bearers who have stressed the primacy of spiritual values
This fabric of spiritual unity, from time to time is reinforced by the presence and influence of poets, philosophers, and saint-singers, whose contributions have upheld this faith. Sri Tyagaraja was one such saint and singer whose music and spirituality provided an endearing alternative at a time when the country, after centuries of chaotic political and social strife enforcing a long period of Subjugation and decline in faith , needed a vital link that would ensure continuity of cultures, tradition and the revival of faith.
Tyagaraja provided this link with apparent effortless ease. He did not resort to the traditional glitter of pedantic and scholarly word building exercise aimed to please only the elite, but rather, made use of the language , music and folklore familiar to the common man and camp up with compositions that are wrapped up in two rare human virtues-simplicity and humility.
While the authenticity of historical records connected with Tyagaraja’s life continues to remain disputed, a widely accepted version based on two sources, the palm leaf manuscripts of his direct disciple Sri Valajapet Venkataramana Bhagavatar, and a notebook kept by the latter’s son , Sri Krishnaswamy Bhagavatar.
Tyagaraja was born on 27th caitra, sarvajit, a sukla saptami corresponding to 4th May, 1767 in Tiruvarur in the residence of his material grandfather, Sri Giriraja Kavi who has attached to the Tanjore Court. He was the third son of Sri Rama Brahman and Sitamma, who were living in a house gifted by Tulajaji of Tanjavur at tirumanjana Veethi in Tiruvayyaru.
Tyagaraja had his early tutelage under his father, Sri Ramabrahmam , a scholar of his own right and later from Sri Ramakrishnananda. It is recorded from the palm leaf manuscripts kept by his grandfather and later a treatise called ‘Swararnava’, that tyagraja had come upon the influence of Saint Narada, from whom he acquired a wide knowledge. The magnitude and quality of Tyagraja’s later achievements reveal an effort possible only with blessings of Saints like Sri Narada. Hence his compositions ‘Narada Guru Swami’ in the Raja Darbar, Sri narada in the Raja Kanada, and ‘Naradamuni’ in the raga Pantuvarali, and ‘Vara Narada’ in the raga vijaysri extolling Narada are seen as acknowledgements of his gratitude.
At some stage in his early life, Tyagaraja came under the influence of Rmayana and what followed was a period of undivided devotion to Lord Rama, a movement of tidal proportions in the field of music and spirituality that vies comparison with Ramadasa and tulsidasaa, especially the latter, whose picturesque description of Sri Rama on the suvela mountain, ‘Ehi Vidhikrpa rupa gunadhama ram … (Lanka, Doha, Ramacharita Manasa), according to scholars, finds an echo in Tyagaraja’s ‘Giripai’in the Raga Sahana and Paritapamu in the raga pratapa varali , two of his last pieces associated with salvation, where he narrates the experience of the divine presence.
Tyagaraja’s fame and the popularity of his songs brought him many disciples. Three branches of Sishya Parampara need specific mention, namely: Umayalpuram, Tillaisthanam and Valajapet headed by sundara bhagavatar & Krshna Bhagavatar, Rama Iyengar and valajapet Venkataramana bhagavatar respectively, who imbibed all that was Tayagaraja and , in turn propagated his Kritis.
An invitation from his far-flung disciples and admirers took tyagaraja on a pilgrimage which extended up to Tirupati where the drawn curtain at the sanctum sanctrom moved him to compose ‘Tera Tiyagarada’ in the Raga Gaulipantu. His next move was to the neighbourhood of madras where at the instance of Kovur Sundara Mudaliar, Tyagaraja visited the village kovur and composed five songs on Lord Sundresa. At Tiruvotriyur, he was drawn by Goddess Tripurasundari to sing Five kritis.
A srimukham from the noble sanyasin and ramabhakta, Upanishad brahmama took Tayagaraja to Kanchipuram where he sang in Praise of Lord Varadaraja and Goddess Kamakshi. At Nagapatnam he composed two pieces on Goddess Nilayatakshi.
Tyagaraja’s visit to srirangam is commemoratd by five kritis. The next shrine he visited was Lalgudi, known then as Tapatirthapura, where he composed three Pieces on Pravradaha ‘srimati and two pieces on saptarshivara. Besides these Kshetra-Panchratna kirtana’s, Tyagaraja also composed Utsava sampradaya and Divyanama kirtanas and operas like nauka caritra and prahlada bhaktivijaya.
In the final analysis , music is divine serving not only as a means but as an end itself has been the essence and mission , that was tyagaraja. With infinite poetic imagination and sheer simplicity of expression, TAYAGARAJA has composed his music. His work reflect the ardent outpouring of an intense urge of his own, to merge the LORD RAMA, his personal deity . His compositions are, thus, steeped In Bhakti Rasa.
As the sangita pitamaha, padmavibhushan, sangita kalanidhi Dr, Semmangudi srinivasa iyer mentioned in his blessings to this book in the form of a foreword,’ the heights that karnatak music has scaled today is certainly due to the composition of the Trinity…through these publications, the trinity of Karnatak Music, Viz: TYAGARAJA, MADDUSVAMI DIKKSHITAR, and SYAMA SASTRI are made available to all round the world.’’
We have imbibed the great oral traditions through GURUKUL VASA from our great masters. There are but a few amongst us who have had the privilege of GURUKUL VASA under our great masters of karnatak music.
My Guru, Padmavibhushan, sangita kalanidhi sri musiri subrahmanya iyer, had he been alive, would have turned a centainarian in this year, 1999. My close association of about 27 years, from 1948 to 1975, with him, has had a great influence not only in music but in all walks of my life. It is that powerful spirit within me which inspires and influences all of my activities . The result is I have been able to bring out all the so far authentically available compositions of the trinity in three separate volumes, in the Devanagari and Diacritical roman scripts, with English commentaries and SRGM nations. Thus they are readable and understandable by all throughout India and abroad, which will help propogate the great heritage of our rich, time-tested oral traditions of South Indian Classic Music, to have a worldwide acceptance. This book “composition of Tyagaraja” of 688 compositions ( the maximum number so far available from known, authentic sources)in Diacritical Roman and Devanagari scripts, with commentaries for all song sin English followed by SRGM notations, is dedicated to my revered guru, Sri Musiri Subrahmanya Iyer during this centenary year, 1999, as a special , commemorative edition.
I believed it is the bounden duty of all learned musicians to nature and propagate Karnatak music in its traditional, pristine form. They must derive the courage of conviction from within, to avoid diluting influences.
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