My friend Usha had the good fortune of attending this years’ Sri Tyagaraja Aradhana at Srirangapattana, which was held yesterday (Jan.8th). Read the engrossing narrative about the event in her own words….
Tyagaraja Brindavana was constructed in Srirangapattana 50 years ago, behind the Sri Kodandarama temple. This 15th century temple, according to inscriptions, was donated to the Naadaswara players, by the kings of Vijayanagara empire.
A statue of Tyagaraja in a sitting posture has been installed in front of the Brindavana. The “Mrittika” (sacred earth) of the Tyagaraja “Moola Samadhi” in Tiruvaiyaru is placed in the samadhi. Thus it is the only ‘Mrittikka Brindavana’ of saint Tyagaraja in Karnataka. Since the aradhana is held in Srirangapattana, the place is also known as ‘Mari Tiruvaiyaru’.
It was Mukhaveena Vidwan AV Narayanappa (1912-1994) who was responsible for the construction of the Brindavana and starting “Aradhana Celebrations” here. Saint Tyagaraja (1767-1847) is the most popular musician among the Carnatic music Trinity.
The 160th annual Tyagaraja aradhana celebrations were held in Srirangapattana on 8th January, 2007. Musicians from all over the state gathered here on the morning of the first day (panchami) of the festival and went round the streets of the town, singing divyanama keerthanas. I could get to the sabha only by 10.30 am since I started from Bangalore in the early morning. I missed out attending this colourful traditional procession. A senior musician in the traditional Tyagaraja outfit, lead the ‘Unchavrithi’ and accept ‘Bhiksha’ from the devotees.
We were welcomed by the volunteers and office members of Kodanda Rama Trust as soon as we reached the temple premises. We were directed towards the dining room where we were served delicious Uppittu, Kesaribhath and hot tea for breakfast. I was dumbstruck by the hospitality of the organizers. Although all of us were strangers to them, they treated us with a lot of affection. I guess India is the only place on earth where we get so much ‘Upachaara’ even if we are strangers. Vande Mataram.
Then while we were having tea we were informed that Gosti Gaana is about to begin and we rushed to the assembly hall. Gosti Gaana is the most important event of the aradhana. The ‘Pancharathna Krithis’ of the saint was rendered in the ensemble. Conductor of the Gosti Gaana Sri Vid.Kumaraswamy was introduced by the compere. Shruthi (pitch/ scale) was set to the Gosti. The compere requested everyone to silently observe and listen to the Shruthi and Thaala that Sri Kumaraswamy set for the Gosti. The compere also announced the rules and frame the Gosti was set to …and lo it began, the divine trance! Pillari Geethegalu of Sri Purandara Dasa (Lambodara Lakumikara, Kereya neeranu Kerege chelli etc.) were rendered. While the idol of Tyagaraja was being offered abhisheka, melodious voices offered Jagadananda Karaka in raaga Naata. It was a beautiful rendering and all were immersed in the ocean of music as the ghantanadha and the mangalarathi offered to the swami brought us back. Next, Dudukugala in raaga Goula, Sadhinchane in raaga Aarabhi, Kanakana Ruchira in raga Varali and Endaro Mahanu Bhavulu in raaga Sri were rendered wonderfully one after the other while offering of Hoovina alankara and mangalarathi to Sri Tyagaraja.
I was delighted to attend this traditional way of thanking the sadguru for blessing us with his divine music. This practice is unique to our culture. Musicians young and old, veteran and upcoming celebrities and the new entrants, without bothering about their age or status, sang in unison. I saw a child aged about eight singing the pancharatna krithis with devotion. It is an unforgettable experience for me. Every year, nearly hundreds of voices sing together! After the Gosti gaana individuals rendered beautiful rare compostions of Sri Tyagaraja as Guruvandana and two blind artists, a child artist also sang melodiously on the occasion.
I was very happy to see my meshtru who taught me in my childhood and took his blessings. His affectionate pat took me to the seventh heaven. The priest was kind enough to allow me to take a picture of Sri Tyagaraja swami after the alankara. I visited the books and the CD/ Cassette stalls and bought a few collections. I saw few of the great musicians’ photos on the walls of the Sabha. I am sure they would be pleased listening to the music today. I silently thanked them for their contribution to music .
Later, we were directed to go and have lunch by the same hospitable team of volunteers who saw to it that each had sumptuous meal.
I would like to mention here the message conveyed by the organizers of the Aradhana ‘Kodanda Rama Trust. Every year the Tyagaraja aradhana mahotsava is being held here on the morning of the first day (panchami). They need monetary as well as physical help. They requested for more people to participate, especially youngsters. They want all music lovers and music students to attend the aradhana in a sizeable number and keep this cultural practice going. Everyone is welcome to encourage the organizers make it a better fest next year and help them popularize the movement . They need technical help like better sound equipments and in event arrangement coordination. The irony is that most of these aradhana assemblies are more focusing on the media attention and coverages which should stop. Participants should gather with the objective of rendering music and seek the blessings of Sadguru Tyagaraja.
All Good things has to come to an end. We left Srirangapattana, bidding good bye and thanking the hosts for the wonderful arrangements.
Sri Tyagaraja Aradhana