An abode of spirituality: Tiruvayyaru

THE HANS INDIA |   Jul 22,2017 , 11:17 PM IST

Tiruvayyaru is a place of great musical and spiritual significance not only for Tamil Nadu but for the entire world of Carnatic music lovers. However, the most admired place wears a deserted look

Tiruvayyaru in Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu,
Tiruvayyaru in Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu,

It had been my long-cherished dream to visit Tiruvayyaru in Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu, ever since I heard a lot about it from the speeches of lovers of music in Hyderabad and elsewhere. But to my astonishment, it was quite different from what I dreamed about it. 

I imagined the small village to be a place where there would be intense musical activity daily, with special programmes on auspicious or important occasions. I visited the temple with a view to take a dip in the lore of music. But alas! One’s travels will be only travails in vain to such a distant place from various corners of the country to visit the temple of the Saint and only to be returned disappointed.

Saint Sri Tyagaraja lived at the five river kshetram known as Tiruvayyaru in Tanjore district for about 80 years worshipping his favourite deity Sri Rama for whom he had immense devotion. The saint composed 24,000 keerthanas on Lord Rama describing various aspects of the story of the Lord. 

The place has become sacred and world famous since the Saint had the audience of Lord Rama after he recited the Lord's name for 96 crore times. In January 1847 on Pushya Bahula Panchami tithi, Saint Tyagaraja attained salvation at the banks of the sacred river Cauvery. 

Sri Tyagaraja Sarma, son of the great grandson of Saint Tyagaraja now resides near the temple and performs daily worship in the temple. Beyond this, there is no other programme that satisfies the staunch lovers of the saint’s compositions. The only event conducted is the seven-day programme ending the Pushya Bahula Panchami every year when musicians from all over the country reach Tiruvayyaru and render Pancharatna Kritis en mass.

Devotional music has a profound influence on human mind unlike any other form of art. That is why great seers who regarded recitation of God’s name as the most potent means of salvation not only practised Nada yoga but have also made a significant contribution to the progress of this cult. 

Of these, Tyagaraja of the universal fame, the greatest of the exponents of the classical Karnataka music is an outstanding one. He provided a rich musical medium for this method of worship. Such a great spiritual leader and musical genius who enjoys reputation all over the world is least known or popular in the small sleeping village called Tiruvayyaru, where Tyagaraja lived and attained communion with Lord Sri Rama.

Tyagaraja in his compositions relates the truths of the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita and handed over to mankind the story of Rama in a musical form. He is one of the long-line of torch bearers of spiritual enlightenment like Jayadeva, Purandaradasa et al born right from the times of Rig Veda. He occupies a unique place among the best representatives of the Indian hymnology. 

Does he not deserve to be remembered daily through a rendition of his compositions in the temple dedicated to him in Tiruvayyaru, on the banks of the sacred river Cauvery in Tanjore district of Tamil Nadu?

Tiruvayyaru is a place of great musical and spiritual significance not only for Tamil Nadu but for the entire south and the world of Carnatic music lovers. The organisers of music festivals or music concerts in the entire South India may organise similar concerts monthly, if not daily, in the temple of Tyagaraja in Tiruvayyaru to perpetuate the great musical traditions of India.

By: Dr Chaganti Nagaraja Rao
The writer is Senior Faculty at Centre for Urban Development Studies,
Dr MCR HRD Institute.

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