Sri Tyagaraja Aradhana

January 8, 2007

Picture: RK’s Archives 

Every Kirtana is a beautiful temple in which the great composer has installed the God of his heart for worship by those who sing and those who hear. – Rajaji.

The contribution of Saint Tyagaraja, one of the Trinities of Carnatic music, has been immense not only through his compositions but also through his Sishya Parampara, who have preserved and enriched the true tradition of classical music. 

Saint Tyagaraja is seen as an Avatharapurusha, who came to this world to savour the souls that suffer in this world. In fact, he is considered an avathara (incarnation) of Saint Valmiki.  Tyagaraja’s compositions are rich in devotional and philosophical content. They are noted for their superior structure, superb handling of ragalakshanas and apt choice of raga and words. The world of Carnatic music owes a lot to Saint Tyagaraja for the treasure that he is bestowed on them

Every year on ‘pushya-bahula panchami’ day (incidentally today), thousands of musicians throng the sanctum sanctorum of Saint Tyagaraja at Tiruvaiyaru on the banks of the river Cauvery to offer their musical tributes to the great composer. Saint Tyagaraja is believed to have reached the abode of his favourite diety Sri Rama on this day, in the year 1847. Since then, the ‘Tyagaraja Aradhana’ is commemorated on this day every year.

It is believed that Saint Tyagaraja was born on the 4th of May 1767 at Tiruvaroor. (The life-history of Tyagaraja as we now know, is only from the palm-leaf document of his disciple Sri Venkatramana Baghavathar and from the notoebooks of Sri Krishnaswami Baghavathar (son of Venkatrama Baghavathar)). Tyagaraja was born as the third son to Sri Ramabrahmam and Smt. Seethamma. Sri Ramabrahmam was patronised by the Tanjore prince Thulajaji II. Sri Ramabrahmam earned his living by giving discourses in Ramayana and singing bhajans. Tyagaraja actively participated in the religious activities of his father. Once, during one of the daily ‘poojas’, Tyagaraja sang ‘Namo Namo Raghavaaya Anisam’ in the raga ‘Desiya Thodi’, a krithi which he composed spontaneously.

Upon hearing this krithi, Sri Ramabrahmam brought Tyagaraja under the tutelage of Sri Sonti Venkataramayya for advanced musical training. Then on, Saint Tyagaraja composed hundreds of krithis wherein he extolled his favourite diety as a brave warrior, a King, a Hero. Krithis praising Sri Rama’s eloquance, gait, skill in archery were also composed during this period. Saint Tyagaraja is said to have had a glimpse of Sage Narada through his immense devotion. Sage Narada is supposed to have had gifted the musical treatise ‘Swararnavam’ and Tyagaraja’s krithis ‘Sri Narada’ and ‘Vara Narada’ express his gratitude to the Great Sage.

The Five Keerthanas known as ‘Pancha Ratna Krithis’ sung during the Aradhana are Jagadananda (Nata), Dudukugala (Gowla), Sadinchanae (Arabhi), Kana kana Ruchira (Varali) and Endharo Mahanu Bhavulu (Sri). These krithis are like epics in size and content.

A word about his devotion and love of God. Like a doting child to its mother or the suckling calf to the cow, he runs to his Rama to report, explain, complain, appeal, solicit, beg, weep or to protest and get angry with. Rama was the warp and woof of his very existence.

Lyrics and meaning:
Kana kana Ruchira
Endaro Mahanu Bhavulu

Also read:
160th Sri Tyagaraja Aradhana at Srirangapattana


19 Responses to “Sri Tyagaraja Aradhana”

  1. nilagriva Says:

    Thanks for a good article to give us the spiritually and musically uplifting memory of that wonderful pUjya-vAggeyakAra.

    I used to watch the ArAdhana at tiruvaiyAru on TV every year but not any more. The almost vulgar showmanship there probably causes tyAgarAja lot of pain. These people sing that beautiful song of humility “endarO mahAnubhAvulu” with so much pride that the song loses its meaning completely. I understand that there are many genuine devotees as well for the ArAdhana. But when this behavior to get in the TV camera takes precedence, all else is lost.

    BTW, tyAgarAja believed that he was an avatAra of tumburu, the other legendary musician-saint who sings in vaikunTha in front of the Lord.

    A good biography in Kannada is “sadguru tyAgarAjaru” by VS sampatkumArAchArya.

    shrI-tyAgarAja’s biography is instructive, elevating and illuminating. Almost all of his kritis have a story associated with them. For example, there is a very interesting anecdote as to why there is only one available composition of tyAgarAja in the very popular rAga Anandabhairavi. For a devotee, Anandabhairavi is irresistible and how a devotee and composer of the ilk of shrItyAgarAja could resist composing a kriti in it is difficult to understand.

    Will you be singing or listening to some tyAgarAja kritis today?

  2. Srik Says:

    Wonderful insight!!

    very good tribute to the great composer.

    I agree with Nilagriva that now a days Thyagarajaradhane has become a TV centric affair. But at the same time, we are fortunate that the event is still being organised and all the great compositions are sung, so that the Parampara of the sage is afloat, forever.

    Thanks Bellur for this wonderful post 🙂

  3. Nice picture Bellur. I have to still read through the long post. Usha called to ask about GH program(which book is being discussed).. guess where is she now..
    Srirangapatna.. attending Tyagaraaja aaradhane. Awesome lady!

  4. praneshachar Says:

    great post by bellur as usual and fine comment which adds further fragrance to this by nilagariva
    I read the both with lot of interest and to read these things on thaygara aradhane is opt and thanks for both for providing an oppourtunity for this
    wah!!!! usha greatri nivu you are already there in participating in the aradhana hats off to your commitment for the music
    Thanks for one and all and have a great day for the remaining part

  5. rk Says:

    nice to see you after a long time. yes, showmanship is the norm of the day. sad.
    want to read the book by sri sampathkumaracharya soon! thanks for your comments.
    i sang the pancharathna krithis early in the day.
    i was fortunate to have sung in thiruvaiyaru, in front of sri tyagaraja, the next day i met MS.

    glad you liked the post.

    thanks. great to know that usha is in srirangapattana.

    i am happy you liked the post. thanks for your comments, sir. yes, nilagriva’s posts and comments are really very insightful.

  6. Diya Says:

    Wonderful post Bellur… Very informative… 🙂

  7. Vani Says:

    Wow….Thiruvaiyyaru kooda mugisiddeera…Kilaadi neevu.

    It is my dream to go and sing at that holy place…..ivattu morning I went to my teachers’ house where we did the “gaanaanjali”. Around 15 of us had assembled and we all sang the “Pancha Rathnas”. Office ge 1 hour late.

  8. Prasanna Sastry Says:

    Powercut started in Hyderabad today onwards, my mother was feeling like a fish out of water. I didnt get the Batteries that is used for music system, then i remembered of a old SONY walkman which i used whenever i travelled still it was working thank god. But it was only my mother cud listen to it but no probs i cud see her smile still.

  9. Usha Says:

    Nanna bahu dinada kanasu of attending a aradhane was fulfilled 🙂 today. Though i could not sing pancha ratna along with those blessed people i could defintely enjoy the divine music and offer my silent prayers to the great musician and sadguru of Indian Music, I was delighted to see my meshtru and took his blessings too , i am so happy that i cant descirbe in words….

  10. rk Says:

    thanks a lot.

    would like to visit tiruvaiyaru again. nice to hear about gaanaanjali.

    good work. i remember during school days, i was in scouts. we had to write one good deed everyday in our diary. we used to struggle somedays to write about the good deed we did. on such days the entry would be: helped grandma cross the road, chased a stray dog out of the house, read the newspaper to next door thatha….SO, if you had been a scout, you could have written in the diary: repaired an old radio for mother! 🙂

    got to know from veena that you were in srirangapattana y’day. felt very happy for you. may god give you (and all music lovers) the opportunity to attend aradhanes. one more wish: by next year i want you to sing the 5 gems. take care.

  11. DD Says:

    i love thyagaraja keerthanas..Even i sing them..
    Me know something about that great man..But what u did was awesome..nice info..especially for people like me…thanks..
    Well,me bloghopping very very less these days… for the next few months this scenario will go on…
    but you people keep in touch with me.. 🙂

  12. GN Says:

    i could nt get the second keerthanai meaning and lyrics .if i click on to the second song Dudukugala,it is giving only first ones lyrics again.please give me the second lyrics.

  13. rk Says:

    thanks for pointing it out. please check the link now.

  14. Padmaa Balasubramaniam Says:

    Pranams.I visited your website. I am very much interested to join for the next year Aradhana and other functions.Very grateful for providing such great things

    Padmaa Balasubramaniam

  15. N.C. Chudamani Says:

    I want to visit to Tiruvayur once in my life time for Thyagaraja Aradhana. How can I go there ? PLease suggest.

  16. rk Says:

    Hello Chudamani!
    Very happy that you want to visit Tiruvaiyaru for Sri Tyagaraja Aradhana. This year, as you might know, the Aradhana is on Jan. 27th.

    Hope you visit the holy place, and please do share your experiences with us here.


    A Rough Guide on the Thyagaraja aaradhana

    The aradhana is generally held in the third / fourth week of January,and this is the best time of the year to tour these parts. Tiruvaiyyaru, a quaint village near Thanjavur, seems to live just for the festival. A reasonably full Cauvery, cool mornings and the vast tracts of mist covered paddy fields complement the divine music at the aaradhana.
    Thanjavur, the nearest town to Tiruvaiyyaru, is 13 kilometres away and is easily accessible. State transport buses from Thanjavur take nearly 45 minutes to reach Carnatic music’s own pilgrimage destination. There is a bus every 20 minutes.

    Autorickshaws charge about Rs.70 for the ride upto Tiruvaiyyaru. Meter systems are non-existent for this route – so make sure you have fixed the fare before you jump in!

    The aaradhana is not the only attraction at Tiruvaiyyaru. The much forgotten and neglected tenth century Shiva temple of Panchanadeeshwarar and Dharmasamvardhani Ambal is a treasure trove of Chola architecture and paintings.

    As the name of the presiding deity and the town suggest, Tiruvaiyyaru has as many as five rivers running nearby. There are some interesting lores associated with this ancient temple. For example doing a pradakshinam of the Tiruvaiyyaru temple is not allowed because it is believed that Lord Shiva’s holy locks grow here. Having a local resident on your side will help you gather lots of wonderful tidbits like these.

    Get your lodging organised at Thanjavur as there are virtually no facilities in Tiruvaiyyaru. The good hotels are

    Hotel Oriental Towers – provides hotel accommodation services, travel services, shopping, secretarial service.
    Address: 2889, Srinivasam Pillai Road, Thanjavur – 613 001, India
    Phone: (91)-(04362)-230724,230850.

    Hotel Parisutham – offers continental and Indian cuisine, accepts major credit cards. Address: 55 , G.A. Canal Road, Thanjavur – 613 001, India
    Phone: +(91)-(04362)-231801/231844/231466

    Hotel Tamilnadu, Thanjavur
    Phone :(91) – 04362 – 231325, 231421, 231024, 231972

    Many aaradhana pilgrims opt to spend the nights under the pandal inside the Thyagaraja Temple. The smart traveller can befriend a local and be his guest for a couple of days but paying guests are not exactly the rage here – drop the idea if you are not the adventurous type! Walking is the best way of getting around in Thiruvaiyyaru. Autos charge Rs.15 even for short distances!

    Hotel Ganesh Bhavan, near the town bus stand, is the only good restaurant in Tiruvaiyyaru. But here too, as the aradhana approaches, the water levels in the chutney and sambar go up drastically! You can eat at the Thyagaraja memorial campus but only if you are prepared to fight it out for a place inside the dining hall. Don’t miss the mouth-watering local speciality called Asoka Halwa.

    Veterans of Thiruvaiyyaru bring their food packed from nearby towns. Otherwise, be prepared to survive on oily snacks, tender coconut water, fruits and hot coffee.

    Communication is not a problem at Tiruvaiyyaru, there are lots of STD booths around but don’t expect the luxury of a speedy Internet.

    Fax is your best bet for an urgent message. Arm yourself with a good camera for some great photo opportunities.

    Every village enroute to Tiruvaiyyaru from Thanjavur has a temple whose history dates back to a few centuries !

    [Source: Kutcheribuzz]

  17. krishnan Says:

    Tiruvaiyaru, near Thanjavur, is getting ready for the annual aradhana of saint composer Sri Tyagaraja. Tyagaraja Aradhana includes rare music concerts and is perhaps only one of its kind in the entire world.

    Carnatic musicians, budding and old, from all over the country descend and pay homage to the saint. The aradhana is observed on Pushya Bahula Panchami day when the saint attained samadhi.

    The venue of the festival is the samadhi of Tyagaraja on the banks of River Cauvery.

    On January 27, Pushya Bahula Panchami day, musicians will sit on either side of the samadhi and render the saint’s Pancharatna kritis in chorus as a mark of homage.

    One among the Music Trinity, (the other two being Shyama Sastrigal and Muthuswamy Dikshithar), Sri Tyagaraja was born at Tiruvarur in 1767 to Sri Ramabrahmam, a Telugu brahmin, who was an exponent of Ramayana.

    Later the saint’s family moved to Thiruvaiyaru. He lived at a house on Thirumanjana Veedhi till he attained samadhi in 1847.

    Influence of The Ramayana
    The saint had his learning from Guru Venkatramana and completed the study of Sanskrit and Telugu. He mastered the Valmiki Ramayana.

    Tyagaraja was initiated into Ramasadakshari Mantra by a saint called Ramakrishnananda, and was constantly chanting it. He chanted Rama Nama 96 crore times, after which it is said Lord Rama, along with Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, gave darshan.

    The saint was never tempted by wealth, pomp and power. The lotus feet of Lord Rama alone gave him comfort and peace not the wealth given by kings. He refused to sing their praise. Tyagaraja is said to be the incarnation of Valmiki. He attained samadhi on Pushya Bahula Panchami day in 1847. His mortal remains were interred at a spot on the left bank of the Cauvery.

    How it began
    The annual aradhana was performed by his grandson (his daughter’s son), Tyagaraja (named after his grandfather), till his death. Later his disciples Ramu Iyengar and Umayalpuram brothers, Panchu Bhagavathar and Sundara Bhagavathar, conducted the aradhana. In 1907 Umayalpuram brothers introduced music concerts in the aradhana. In 1925, a devotee of Saint Sri Tyagaraja, Bangalore Nagaratnamma constructed a temple over the samadhi. Nagarathnamma died in 1952 and her samadhi was built in front of the saint’s samadhi. Sri Tyagabrahma Mahotsava Sabha for which G. Rangaswamy Moopanar is president now, was registered in 1941, and has been conducting aradhana since then.

    The sabha has taken up construction of a memorial at the samadhi and conversion of the saint’s house on Thirumanjana Veedhi also into a memorial.

    >>> <<<

    Below is the link to an interesting article:

    Clueless in Tiruvaiyaru: A special report from AMBUJAM ANANTHARAMAN posted in ‘The Music Magazine’

  18. Anuradha N S Says:

    Hi RK

    The picture of Saint Tyagarajar with rama, sita, hanuman, lakshmana,shatrugna and Bharatha is soemthing my mother has been searching for a while. apparently that was something that her father had and got lost in time. I would like to know if i can have a printed copy of the same for her. If yes, how much would it cost. Expecting your response.




    I would like to buy the book containing the lyrics of all the Panchratna Kritis. I also would like to visit Tiruvaiyar & srirangapatna, if possible with a group of people from Bnagalore. Pls suggest.

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