Beach 5: DEVOTEES OF THE LORD

Wave 2: Ten Gems of Superlative Devotion

Namdev. Kabir. Chaitanya. Purandara. Eknath. Tulsi. Bhattadri. Bhaskararaya. Thiagaraja Swami. Srila Prabhupada.

Thiagaraja (1759 ? - 1847), the great celebrity in the world of Carnatic music was born in Tiruvarur but lived all his life in Tiruvaiyaru on the banks of the Kaveri, both places known for their traditions of learning and spirituality. He started composing devotional music even while in his teens. In him was seen the rare combination of a complete knowledge of philosophy, devotion, musicology and poetics and a talent of singing his own compositions in the most moving voice. Most of his compositions were in Telugu and were composed and sung while he was in trance. He would be thrilled at the very thought of the Lord. We owe the propagation of his songs to his pupils who came from far and wide. He would not sing the praises of mortal men for favour of riches and presents. He is said to have composed 24000 songs out of which 800 or so are extant. His songs have not only a great spiritual value and an excellent variety but a remarkable musical excellence, coming as they did as a natural climax in an age of giants at Tanjore. He introduced the technique of sangati in Carnatic music by which the composer already conceives the variations and finer modulations of a phrase. The infinite excellences of the name, form, glory and majesty of Rama get infinitely multiplied by the traditional musical techniques which Thiagaraja imparted into his divine compositions and the nuances which he himself gave in singing them. According to Thiagaraja, God is the fittest object of music and music bereft of devotion is lifeless and useless. God protects those who combine divine love with music. 'I pray for nothing more than that my tongue should be given to continuous repetition of the name Rama' says Thiagaraja. With Shyama Sastri (1762 - 1827) and Muthuswamy Dikshidar (1775 - 1834) he forms the well-known musical trinity of Carnatic music.

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April 12, '99 Copyright V. Krishnamurthy