Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana Festival
Saint Tyagaraja was born on May4,1767. his upanayanam was performed on 1774. Tyagaraja was the greatest among the music composers of South India and one of the musical prodigies of all time. He was the father of modern Karnataka music and his works are of delicate spirituality, full of melodic beauty and in the highest sense artistic. As a child he as already remarkable for his predilection for music and a gift for composing and wrote his first song when he was hardly 13. Soon he reached the loftiest pinnacle of musical fames and composed the grandest songs ever written and two music plays of uneqalled beauty. Sri Tyagaraja attained mukti in the year 1847. The mortal remains of this great soul were interred on the banks of the Kaveri and a Brindavana was erected over the spot.The Umayalpuram brothers, Krishna Bhagavatar and Sundara Bhagaavatar and othes used to go to the Samadhi every year on the Pushya Bahula panchami day, do puja and then return home and perform the aradhana proper. From the year 1907 onwards, the Samadhi Utsava entered a new phase. Tillisthanam Narasimha Bhagavatar and Panju Bhagavatar, along with Tiruch Govindasami Pillai, the great violinist, began to celebrate the festival on a grand scale.
Thyagaraja is the most popular of the musical Trinity, all born in Thiruvarur, the sacred town which has been placed on the same pedestal with Kasi(Benaras), as having the unique distinction of giving salvation or mukthi to the person born in the former and shuffling of his mortal coils in the latter.Grand son of Giriraja Kavi and son of the Ramabrahmam, a scholar learned in Vedas and Shashtras, he had his first music lesson from Sonti Venkataramanayya, the Palace Vidwan of Thanjavur. At the age of 16, he was initiated into the tharaka mantra of Sri Rama by a sage from Kanchi.
He spent most of his time doing pooja and singing to the idols of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, and thus his compositions were inspired and infused with Rama bhakthi. His music as extensive, yet direct and instantaneous. His compositions in vogue may be about 600 to 700, as his journey far and wide in the realms of his imagination createdmelodic patterns in various varjya and vakra ragas.
At Tirupathi, he is said to have miraculously raised the drawn curtain with his song, “Theradiyzka RAdha” and breathed life into a person who had drowned in a temple well with his kriti, “Najeevadara”, Another incident is related of how Rama and Lakshmana armed with bows and arrows guarded his palanquin when it was attacked by robbers. Aware of his approaching end, he took Sanyasa. On the 10th day of his Sanyasa, he merged with eternity
Tyagaraja Aradhana seva held every year at tiruvaiyaru attracts musicians and devotees from all over the world. The Sri Thyagabrahma Mahotsava Sabha has unfailingly made arrangements for the annual festival year after year. Preparations begin three months before the Aradhana festival and the selection of artistes for singing during the Aradhana is an important task. Artistes of the All India Radio are given priority on the basis of their grade. Young and upcoming artistes too are given opportunities.
When a great person achieves distinction in two fields of human endeavour which are related, it is difficult of assess the value of his eminence in any one of them separately. Tyagaraja was a great saint as well as a great musician. In his mind, music played a subordinate a part and devotion to his chosen deity played the dominating part. He used music as an appropriate vehicle for the journey towards salvation. Posterity, however, remembers him primarily as a great composer and the association of religion, with his music is very often taken as part of the musical tradition of India of which he was a leading light. This difference in approach between the composer himself and the inheritors of his contribution has led to estimations of his contribution has led to estimations of his music based on spiritual sympathy and panegyrics of is sainthood based on musical appreciation.
About 165 years ago,saint composer, Sadguru Tyagaraja attained Samadhi on the banks of the Cauvery river in Tiruvaiyaru on Pushya Bahula Panchami.The fifth day from full moon of the month of pausham under the Chaandramanam system is celebrated as Tyagaraja Aradhana day at his Samadhi. Abhishekam is performed to his idol in the morning as vedic scholars chant verses from the Vedas. Simultaneously, vidwans and vidushis and violin,veena and flute artistes render the Ghana raga Pancharatnam with mridangam, ghatam and kanjira vidwans accompanying them. This is preceded by a performance of select kritis of the saint by a large group of nagaswarm-tavil vidwans. In 1941, Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavatar selected five songs or the Ghana raga Pancharatna Keerthanas to be rendered by musicians who gathered at the Samadhi. Since then, the system has been in vogue. The Aradhana is still attended by vidwans and vidushis in large numbers.