There are quite a few music scholars who have analysed saint Thyagaraja’s volume of compositions and more so, the Pancharatna kritis. This 45-page book Sri Thyagaraja Pancharatna Keertanalu-Aadhyatmika Samanvaya Prakashanamu (Telugu) by Kalaratna Komanduri Seshadri, a well known scholar-researcher in Carnatic music who has penned books on the subject.
This book is a reflection of the author’s deep study and ingenuity. It analyses the Pancharatna kritis of Thyagaraja from more than one angle. The kritis are there with notation as also with word to word translation, connotation, the grammar of music like rhyme scheme, alliteration and other verbal embellishments, the richness of imagery, etc. More than this, what is striking is the underlying philosophy that guided the saint to compose these ragas and kritis in strict adherence to the shastra of music as well as the Sanatana Dharma (ancient Hindu religious and spiritual principles).
There is a beautiful parallel to the five kritis and the five elements of nature-earth, water, fire, wind and sky (ether) and the five koshas (treasures) which complement these five elements. The koshas are explained in detail and with clarity. The five kritis are also looked upon as ‘panchatan maatra’ where the first kriti (‘Jagadananda karaka’) is earth element in which the physical body fed on food displays gratitude to the Giver-here the bhava (emotion), the author opines, is sound or shabda bhava; the second ‘duduku gala’ is touch (sparsha bhava) and it corresponds to ‘prana’ (life force); the third ‘Saadhinchane…’ is physical (roopa bhava); fourth ‘kanakana ruchira..’ is emotive or rasa bhava and the last ‘Endaro mahanubhavulu’ is gandha bhava (bliss through meditation/sadhana).
From the music point of view again, these kritis come under the ‘ghana ragas’ which are actually 10 in number as stated by ancient musicologists. Of these, the author points out that Thyagaraja chose the first five , ‘Naata, Gowla, Arabhi, Varali and Sri’ and in these lengthy kritis had incorporated not just beautiful content and musical framework but all the features that make for music in totality like ragam, tanam, pallavi, neraval, swarakalpana (improvisation), leaving nothing for the musician to create on the dais. And herein lies the intensity of the Pancharatnas or five gems. For instance, in the kriti ‘Endaro mahanubhavulu’ the tanam figures in the lines, ‘sama gana lola manasija…’ as also towards the concluding lines, ‘bhagavatha, ramayana’ (gaja tanam and gambheera tanam respectively). The underlying philosophy in terms of spirituality is also beautifully brought out by the author. Right from fundamental details like the parent raga (melakartha) to the ascen-descent (aarohana-avarohana) to the exalted truths, is capsuled in this book which is ‘must’ for all performing artists. Published by PS Telugu University and priced at Rs. 30, the book is available on the university premises.
Panchratna Keertanalu- -Aadyatmika Samanvaya Prakashanamu
by Komanduri Seshadri
PublisherDirector Potti Sriramulu Telugu Viswavidyalayam, Prachurana Vibhagam