When someone eulogises the bhakti of the devotees of yore, people express their inability to have the same devotion to God in the present day. Their excuse is that most of such people either lived in another yuga or several hundred years ago. Absolute devotion was possible then, but is difficult now, they say.
But Saint Tyagaraja, who composed many songs in praise of Lord Rama, reached God's feet only in the 19th century, bringing him closer to our times than other bhaktas whose devotion is extolled, Embar Kasturi said in a discourse on Tyagaraja's bhakti.
Tyagaraja saw himself as a dasa of Lord Rama. Tyagaraja's father used to recite the Ramayana to the king. Tyagaraja used to listen as his father recited; with his phenomenal memory, he imbibed the story of Rama and the values the Ramayana seeks to impart. Tyagaraja was drawn to the good qualities of Rama, which are like an unfathomable ocean.
In his lifetime, Tyagaraja is said to have repeated the name of Rama 96 crore times. When he finished reciting the Lord's name one crore times, Lord Rama appeared before him.
Through his many musical compositions, Tyagaraja expressed his Rama bhakti. The songs he composed are intended for everyone who seeks salvation. A true bhakta is never content with showing his bhakti to God; he wants the bliss of realisation to be experienced by others too. Like all those who realised God, Tyagaraja sought nothing from Rama, but Rama Himself. The Lord is inside every one of us as Antaryami. He is all pervasive, but cannot be understood through our senses. Yet if we have bhakti towards Him, He liberates us from the cycle of births and deaths. When He can give us such liberation, why should we seek anything else from Him? Tyagaraja shunned material wealth and, instead, saw Rama as His wealth.
Even a highly educated man, an expert in one subject, cannot claim to be an expert in all subjects.
But if we have spiritual gnana, we may be said to know everything else. Spiritual gnana helps us realise the Supreme One, and this is the gnana that Tyagaraja had.