Perspective Music

Many moods of Tyagaraja

Music apart, reading Tyagaraja’s kritis is more interesting than reading the krithis of Dikshithar or Syama Sastry. Tyagaraja does use epithets like the other two to describe Rama and other deities but he is unique in that he is the only one to engage in a conversation with his deities. The conversation is in many moods and tones ranging from an oonjal song to admiration, from plaintive appeals to sharing personal problems, from complaint to remorse, from teasing and taunting to mild castigation. He even compliments Rama on his skill as a ruler conveniently forgetting Rama’s unilateral banishment of a pregnant Sita based solely on local gossip!

Emotions in kritis

Let us look at a few examples: Oonjal song: “ Uyyala lugavayya , nava mohanangulaina surasathulu vivaramuga baadaga, navaratna mantapamuna, Shri Rama” (Pray, enjoy the swing, Sri Rama, in the gem-bedecked hall with bewitching celestial maidens singing. Kriti: ‘Uyyalalugavayya’). A mild challenge: “Naalone nee chelo jikkithi, nee lopamani viduvu elo teliydu” (I am captive in your hands of my own accord. I do not know why you are persisting in your niggardliness – ‘Narayana Hari’). Sharing a personal problem: “Veda sannutha! bhavamu veru chesithinani naadhu pai palikeru narulu” (One who is praised by the Vedas! People are accusing me of creating a divide in my family. Krithi: ‘Naadhupai palikeru’) Remorse and pleading: “Naa chithamu vanchana chanchalamani nannu vidanaadakumi (My mind is deceitful and unsteady. On that account please do not give me up. Krithi: Nee chithamu).

Taunting: “Ilalo pranatharthiharudani perevaridire?” (Whoever called you the destroyer of devotees’ sufferings and giver of boons when you have not even bothered to respond to my prayers? “ - ‘Ilalo pranatharthi’ )

Remorse: “Paranindha vachanamu bhaaguga naaduchunu, orula bhaamala juchi uppongithnigani, vara sivakshara japamu seyanaithi. Siva darshanamu seya naa tharama?”(I have indulged in slander and exulted in gazing at others’ wives. I have not done Siva japam. Am I fit to have your darsanam? - ‘Darshanamu seya’).

Teasing and castigation: “Edhuta nilachithe nee sommemi podura? Taraana dorakani paraaku naayedanu Rama chesithe suraasurulu methura? (If you appear before me, will you lose some of your wealth? If you show this kind of unprecedented indifference towards me, will the celestial beings applaud you for it? - ‘Edhuta nilachithe’)

Plaintive pleading: “Innallavale vintha seyake. Sandadiyani manasuna maravake. Kaluvarinchina nannu juchi nee manasu karagadhu? Aataluku balikanani yechaku, Ambike.” (Do not treat me like a stranger as you have done all these days. Do not forget me on the excuse that you are busy with other things. In spite of my plaintive pleadings, why does your heart not melt? Do not think I am saying it in fun, Ambike. - ‘Innalluvale’)

Admiration: “Kaaru velpulu neeku sari kaaru. Dhivatiki deepamu rithi; Kaavetiki kaaluvala rithi; thammavairiki thaarakala rithi; kammavilthuniki kanthi narula rithi; saagaramunaku sarassu rithi” (No God is equal to you. To compare you with them is like comparing a small light to a torch, a channel to Kaveri, the stars to the moon, an ordinary human being to Manmatha and a lake to the sea - ‘Kaaru velpulu’)

Child-like pleading: “Teliyani baludu gadha, telivi nee sommu gadha, chalamu seya maryaadha, challani maata balka raadha ?” (Am I not just an innocent child? Is not wisdom your treasure? Is it fair to be hostile towards me? Could you not say something pleasant to me? - ‘Lalithe Sripravruthe’) Challenge and castigation: “Ennallu urake undhuvo juthamu, adigevarevaru lera?” (Let me see how long you can be indifferent and inactive like this. Is it beause you think there is no one to question you? - ‘Ennallu urake’)

Teasing: “Bhooloka vaikuntam idiyani neelona neeve uppongi shriloludai unte ma chintha theere naadennado?” (If you think that Srirangam is as good as Vaikuntam and get lost in the company of Lakshmi, when will there be an end to my worries? - ‘Oh Rangasayi’) Compliment: “Kaarubaru seyuvaru evare? Urivaru desa janulu varamunulu upponguchu bhavukulayye” (Has there been anybody who has reigned over Ayodhya like you, protecting the subjects, exercising authority and securing the happiness of townsmen, countrymen and rishis alike?) ‘Kaarubaru’ is a corrupt form of the Urdu word ‘kaarobar.’

It is sometimes said that, in comparison with the other two composers of the Trinity, Tyagaraja’s language is too colloquial. This is more than made up by his conversation with the deities in a variety of emotional states.

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Printable version | Dec 9, 2021 4:20:44 AM |

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