I knew I forgot something. How did I forget  4th of May happens to be Tyagaraja’s birthday? Stuff happens, but I guess it was somewhere in the back of my mind. Otherwise  I would not have remembered even now! Anyway, better late than never.


Any time  is a good time to listen to some nice compositions of good old Tyagaraja. So off we go.

First, a feast of Kalyani. In my opinion, Tyagaraja must have played an important role in making this ‘alien’ raaga into one of our own, by composing 30 compositions in it – giving it the same status as the other big two – Shankarabharana, and Todi. 

Instead of listening to the oft-repeated nidhi chAla sukhamA or E tAvunarA, here is another lesser known, but equally grand compositon – kAruvElpulu sung by Sri SRJ. I had written about this composition in another post earlier too.

Poor Venkatamakhi should eat his own words saying -“there are millions of rAgas like kalyAni, which are not fit for compositions such as geeta, thAya and prabandha” when he listens to this composition🙂

Tyagaraja seems to have used dEshAdi tALa profusely. In my observation, most of his compositions in this tALa follow a general pattern. Pallavi mostly starts off the first part of madhya sthAyi, exploring parts of mandra sthAyi and madhya styAyi in different sangatis. Anupallavi typically goes from the middle of the madhya sthAyi, all the way to the middle reaches of tAra sthAyi. In many kritis, the landing in the anupallavi is on upper shadja. The charaNa comes back to madhyasthAyi, typically taking off from the madhyama, or panchama. I could give many examples, but I will limit it to three or four here.

First one is ‘atukArAdani balka’ in manOranjani, played on the flute by Sri Tejaswi Raghunath. The pallavi of the song takes off from the middle sa. Anupallavi starts with madhya sthAyi da, and goes all the way to tAra ma, and the charana takes off from madhya panchama.

Next is ‘Ora jUpu’ in kannaDa gouLa sung by Sri Sikkil Gurucharan. You can make similar inferences here too.

The next is ‘brova bhArama’ – another popular composition of this sort sung by Sri Vijaya Siva.

Finally, another such popular composition in a pratimadhyama rAga – ‘bA gAyenayya’ played on the flute by Sri VK Raman.

Why did Tyagaraja follow this pattern? I don’t know, but I find these compositions somewhat easier to learn. Was this his intent? Might be, may be not. I don’t know. But my guess is as good as any!

Tyagaraja passed away in his 80th year, and by known accounts, continued composing till his last days. And his spirit of exploring the unknown and new must have stayed with him till the very end.

Here is ‘Paramatumudu velige’ in Vagadheeshwari, which is one of his last compositions, and probably the first ever composition in this raga, sung by Dr Nagavalli Nagaraj.

Enjoy the clips! As I said, any day is a good day to remember Tyagaraja through his compositions. Isn’t it?