Singing for prosperity

Shyamala Miss’ class explores the variety of compositions by Saint Tyagaraja and what makes them special.

July 21, 2016 04:59 pm | Updated 04:59 pm IST

Searching for salvation: Composing music for happiness.

Searching for salvation: Composing music for happiness.

The class greeted Shyamala Miss as she entered and wrote ‘Sri Tyagaraja’ on the blackboard.

“We know the name of one group of krithis that you asked us to explore miss,” said Laya.

“Yes, the krithithava dasoham that you taught us is one among them, isn’t it?” asked Rasa.

“You are right,” said Miss. “It belongs to a specific set of compositions by Saint Tyagaraja known as the Divyanama Keerthanas . Why are these compositions special and different from his other works? Can anyone tell me the answer?”

Absolute devotion

“Is it because they are like Namavalis ?” asked Rasa.

“Yes. In his composition Raga Ratna Malika, set in Ritigowla raga and Adi tala , the saint says that he has composed these sets of songs as a sole means of salvation and happiness to all yogis and bhagavathas as mentioned in the scriptures,” explained Miss. “He further says that singing these compositions also brings prosperity and all good tidings. These are an expression of devotion and are on the same lines as the traditional Bhajana Sampradaya . These comprise 78 compositions which are meant for group singing, and hence are set to simpler melodies and rhythm. This kind of composition is also known as Lambaka style with one pallavi and a series of charanams , with the dhathu or tune set for repetitive singing or Choral Singing. The themes are varied and many are based on incidents from the Ramayana .”

“The compositions are set in popular ragas like Todi, Shankarabharanam, Karaharapriya and Saveri , also in rare ragas like Andhali, Ahiri , and Palahamsa .”

“All important incidents from Srimad Ramayana are narrated. For example, in the Sourashtra raga composition, Vinayamunanu , the sequential narration begins from Yagasamrakshana to Pattabhishekam , soaked in lyrical beauty.”

“What a great composer,” Rasa wondered out loud.

“Truly,” said Shyamala Miss as the class came to an end. “In our next class, we will learn about another set of such compositions composed by the singing bard and devotee of Lord Rama.”

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