Tiruvaiyaru, a sacred spot for musicians

A view of Tyagaraja's samadhi at the n=banks of the Cauvery river in Tiruvaiyaru, Thanjavur. Photo: B. Velankanni Raj   | Photo Credit: B_VELANKANNI RAJ

Like Mecca for a Muslim, Bethelham for a Christian, Kasi for a Hindu, Tiruvaiyaru, the place where Tyagaraja attained samadhi, is a pilgrimage spot for a true Carnatic musician. Today's musician aims to imbibe at least the devotional qualities of the saint composer if not the non-desire for worldly comforts as he lives in a competitive world.

The three gakaaras Gita, Ganga and Gayatri, have pride of place in Bharata varsha. Tyagaraja, who was in knowledge of this core truth, chose to spread the message from the then small village of Tiruvayyaru, as his family had migrated from Andhra Pradesh. Tiruvaiyaru, situated on the banks of the beautiful Cauvery (representing Ganga) could have been his source of inspiration. Gayatri has been mentioned in many of his compositions, as in Shobhillu saptaswara in Jaganmohini raga, wherein the charanam, he sings dhara rig saamaadulalo, vara gayatri hridayamuna. The bravery and virtuosity of Rama (mentioned in many kritis by Tyagaraja) could be compared to qualities preached by Krishna to Arjuna, in the Bhagavad Gita. One remembers afresh, a pilgrimage to this beautiful village during the bicentenary year of the Saint in 1967 along with legendrary musician M.D. Ramanathan. It was an exciting experience to watch and listen to all the doyens of that era all at the same instance. In addition to the musical feast, a visit to the temple of Pranatarthihara and Brihadeeshwara in Tanjavur were sources of inspiration and wonder. The unchavriti bhajana on the streets was awesome and unimaginable. The trip also included visiting the residence of the bard, which was then the abode of famed vocalist Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer. A visit to the Tanjore palace was historical too as one remembered Tyagaraja's composition Nidhi chala sukhama, in which he refused to sing in praise of the ruler and made a strong statement that he would never budge to riches.

The Pancharatnam on that occasion was performed by outstanding musicians such as Maharajapuram Viswanatha Iyer, Semmangudi Sreenivasa Iyer, M.D. Ramanathan, K.V. Narayanaswamy, Madurai Krishnan, D.K. Jayaraman, D.K. Pattamal, M.L. Vasanthakumari and many others with doyens like T.N. Krishnan, M.S. Anantharaman, V.V. Subramaniam and others on the violin. Many stalwarts on the mridangam, ghatam and kanjira, formed the group of percussionists. Memorable renditions of the Arabhi kriti Nada sudharasambulanu by KVN, as well as MDR's Mokshamu galada in Saramati, stay fresh in one's memories.

Every year, on the occasion of Pushya Bahula Panchami, the Tyagaraja aradhana in Tiruvaiyaru continues to be celebrated with much grandeur.

Prominent coverage on television has brought the world even closer as against an earlier era when All India Radio was the only broadcaster. Many other sabhas and institutions throughout India and abroad also conduct Tyagaraja utsavam such as the Chennayil Tiruvayyaru and the Cleveland Thyagaraja Aradhana. However, Tiruvaiyaru will always stand tall as the original pilgrimage for the true musician for this is the land of the bard.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2022 9:32:47 PM |

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