A set of Tyagaraja compositions composed in Lalgudi formed the basis for a special AIR programme

Saint Tyagaraja is one of the greatest composers in the field of Carnatic music. It is believed that some of his disciples residing at Thiruthavathuri (now Lalgudi near Tiruchchirappalli in Tamil Nadu) invited Tyagaraja to visit Lalgudi. Honouring their wish, Tyagaraja went there and composed a set of five compositions during his stay, two on Lord Sapta Rishiswara and three on Goddess Pravriddhe Srimathi, the deities of the temple in Lalgudi. All India Radio, in its national programme “Ravivasriya Akhil Bhartiya Sangeet Sabha”, last Sunday broadcast a special programme featuring these compositions. . Seasoned vocalists C. Saroja and C. Lalitha, popularly known as the Bombay Sisters, who were trained by veterans like late Musiri Subramania Iyer and late T.K. Govinda Rao and who have about five decades of singing experience in the Carnatic music concert circuit, were therefore a fitting choice for this special programme.

Saroja and Lalitha began their vocal recital briskly with “Ninne bhajana” in raga Nata (though not forming part of the five songs composed by Tyagaraja during his stay in Lalgudi), suffixing some lively kalpana swaras towards the end. The sisters then went on to present the compositions on Lord Sapta Rishiswara and Goddess Pravriddhe Srimathi. With a brief alapana of raga Todi, the duo presented “Gati Nivani”. In this song, Tyagaraja pleads with the Goddess to protect him as he had come to her and fixed his faith on her holy feet after a prolonged search, convinced that she is the sole refuge of true devotees. Tyagaraja also refers to the goddess as the one who resides at Sri Tapastirtha (known otherwise as Lalgudi).

The duo then presented “Isa Pahimam” in raga Kalyani. In this composition, Tyagaraja pleads with Lord Sapta Rishiswara to protect him. For this song too, the sisters presented kalpana swaras towards the end. The duo then sang “Lalite Sri Pravriddhe” in raga Bhairavi. Here, Tyagaraja addresses Goddess Pravriddhe Srimathi as the mother of beauty and ever-growing wisdom. The duo also presented neraval of the phrase “Kanna talli subha vadane” from the charanam portion of the song. The next item was “Mahita Pravriddha” in raga Kamboji, where Tyagaraja pleads at the feet of Goddess Pravriddhe Srimathi that he may always be a true devotee.

The Bombay Sisters, as the final item of their recital, presented “Deva Sri Tapastirtha” in raga Madhyamavati. The duo took up this up this composition for a somewhat detailed rendition, with raga alapana and swaraprastaras. In this song, Tyagaraja beseeches Lord Sapta Rishiswara to protect him and fill his heart with devotion. Usha Rajagopalan on violin, Madipakkam P. Suresh on mridangam and V. Suresh on ghatam provided good and understanding support to the sisters. While Usha’s delineation of raga Madhyamavati was delightful, the tani avartanam of the percussionists was enjoyable. The recording was done at the Chennai station of All India Radio.