The column earlier came in The Hindu, Know Your Tyagaraja, was an effort to showcase the composers bhakti for Rama but in a way, SVK was paying obeisance to the Bard of Tiruvaiyaru. According to him, a concert without the compositions of the Trinity was a futile exercise and one without Tyagaraja was absolutely useless. He had reached a point when he stopped attending concerts of musicians, whom he felt, were not on the same wavelength. Ironically, some of them, in their formative years, had been generously complemented by him.
ABOUT THE BOOK: A comprehensive assessment of the greatness of Sri Thyagaraja.
The analytical study of the poetic lyrics of the songs pro- vides a fascinating insight into his music.
The philosophical depth and the message of the Upanishads and epics incorporated in Sri Thyagaraja's songs have been highlighted.
The exposition of some of the songs by the author, enlivens the music lore of Sri Thyagaraja.
The sentiments expressed in the prefaces, highlight the deterioration in the present day standard of Carnatic music performances.
The comments are aimed at the preservation and improvement of Carnatic music.
The write-ups present the state of Carnatic music handled by veterans of the past and its present status. The nearly one hundred songs included in this volume, gives an idea of the greatness of the comprehensive Saint composer ..
Although Sri Thyagaraja was first and foremost a music Composer and a creator of new expressions and forms in music, the fact that he was a competent poet and a master of felicitous expression has added great charm to his compositions and made them virtually 'poems set to music.' The beauty of the language to which music is set has a great deal to do with the permanency and popularity of the music. The diction of vaggeyakara, however, differs from that of poet because the diction most suited for music has to be euphorious and composed of soft and flowing words. The songs of Sri Thyagaraja are unrivalled in this respect.
SVK is not only a musicologist and music critic but also a literateur who has soaked himself in the poetical and philosophical beauties of the kritis of Sri Thyagaraja. His series in The Hindu was entitled "Know Your Thyagaraja" and was avidly read by musicians and music lovers over the years. SVK has his own way of interpreting Sri Thyagaraja in simple English, driving home his points with clarity and assurance.
Know Your Thiyagaraja;
Prefaces on Carnatic Music;
Bhakti and sadhaka pillars of excellence;
Changing styles, Changing tastes;
Times to bestow thought on improving standards;
Used as camouflage;
On the pretext of saving Carnatic music;
Vyavaharam how much?;
Time for soul searching;
A rasika movement is called for;
Rigorous training holds the key;
Concert or quiz programme;
The floodgates are open;
Why floodgates are open;
Primacy for lakshya or lakshana?;
Tambura makes the bow;
Insulated music circuit;
Where art descends to craft;
The tempo of the triad;
Concerts down the decades;
Opportunities and the responses;
Guidelines past and present;
America beckons musicians;
This vicious music circle;
Speed, swara motivation;
Vision and values of music;
The past, present and the future;
The delicate balance;
From clap hunger to piety;
A legend in lifetime;
Crucial link between past and present;
Does carnatic music need promotional efforts?;
The enigma of poor attendance;
No place for exhibitionism;
A treasure preserved;
Thyagaraja Aradhana: A suggestion;
Part Two Songs and Meanings.
BOOK REVIEWS: I would like to talk from a rasikass standpoint, rather than a vidwan. SVKs Know Your Tyagaraja (4 volumes) and his recent book on Valmiki Ramayana and Tyagaraja which I had the privilege of launching, are treasures that offer deep insights into the saints kritis. His reviews offered valuable inputs for rasikas, music connoisseurs and performing artists. He was a reference point not only for the music but also for his language. I feel blessed to have known him both as a rasika and a vidwan. - BOMBAY JAYASHRI.
Review from The Hindu: Saint Tyagaraja had led the life of a grihastha before taking up sanyasa in his last days. He was fully aware of the travails of a common householder and the paths that would lead them to bliss. His compositions provide enough material in this regard.
His kritis offer his thoughts and advice to the laymen and suggestions on how to lead a righteous life. Many a kriti of the bard offers guidance to those who face a dilemma, caught between theist and atheist thoughts.
The author of these volumes under review, S. V. Krishnamurthy, is a steadfast devotee of Tyagaraja and one can equate the writer's devotion to that of Tyagaraja's towards Lord Rama. Being well versed in the nuances of Carnatic music and in the Telugu language, the author is able to bring out in a crisp and clear manner, the meanings of the compositions which are in Telugu and Sanskrit. Rendering of these songs after having assimilated their meanings will certainly add lustre and finesse to the presentation by vocalists and instrumentalists.
The first volume introduces the composer as a messenger of Rama and proceeds to dealing with The Baagyam of Sabari, The story of Sita, Sri Ramas valour and the greatness of Lakshmana and Bharata among other chapters on similar subjects. The second part of the initial volume has word to word meanings of the five Ghana raga kritis, popularly known as the Pancharatnas, while 74 other compositions have been given meanings in an easy-to-grasp style.
For some of the kritis such as Dharini Telusukonti (Suddha Saveri ) and others, the author has chosen only the charanams, which are popular in the concert arena.
The second volume deals with, among other topics, the secret of Tyagarajas avatar as well. That Tyagaraja considered himself a messenger of Rama to enunciate profound truths, is well elucidated in this chapter. The meanings of 58 compositions find a place in the second part of this volume.
The third volume has an interesting chapter in which the author has painstakingly selected compositions of the saint such as Padavini (Salakabhairavi), Tulasidala (Mayamalavagowla) and Madilona (Kolahalam) to substantiate incidents from the Valmiki Ramayana. Crisp and lucid explanations to the slokas are worth reading. Meanings of 98 kritis constitute the second part of this volume.
The final volume (fourth) has many interesting chapters which reflect the author's views on many aspects of the current day Carnatic music scenario.
He also subtly touches upon how earlier stalwarts never diluted their classical approach, yet were capable of drawing huge turnouts for their performances.
The suggestions offered need to be given a serious thought by organisers. That organisations in a particular locality may collectively celebrate the aradhana of Tyagaraja is welcome and hopefully the major and minor sabhas will take cognisance of this suggestion. Yet another 98 songs with their lyrics and meanings are featured in this volume.
These four volumes will be worthy additions in the libraries of institutions imparting training in Carnatic music. - PVK, The Hindu.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: SV Krishnamurthy, the well known The Hindu's Senior music critic who wrote under the nom de plume SVK. His reviews during music festival was noted and had fan followers. SVKs Father was a well known Novelist Humour Writer SVV.