Thyagaraja. Thyagaraja was a great poet-saint of South India. He has sung hundreds of melodious songs on Ganapati, Rama, Siva, Devi and others.
Thyagaraja was a great poet-saint of South India. He has sung hundreds of melodious songs on Ganapati, Rama, Siva, Devi and others.
Thyagaraja was born over 200 years ago in a village called Panchanada on the banks of the Kaveri river.
His father Ramabrahmam and mother Shanta were a poor but devout couple. As a result of worshipping Lord Rama, they were blessed with two sons, whom they named Jappesa and Thyagaraja. Jappesa, the elder, was less intelligent by nature and turned bad by association. Thyagaraja the younger, however, was astute and became well-versed in all the lores. Besides, he was pious by nature and helped his father in the worship of the family deity Rama.
In addition to these he studied Carnatic music under a local teacher. He also began composing songs in praise of gods.
When father Ramabrahmam passed away, Jappesa wasted his time and life in evil ways, Thyagaraja continued the worship of his family deities and composing new songs in their praise.
At that time, a sanyasi came to Thyagaraja’s house one day, asking to see him. He said, “I learn that you are a good composer. May I hear some of your songs?”
After duly worshipping him, Thyagaraja sang some of his songs. Hearing them the sanyasi said, “They are very good. May God bless you with greater success. Here, take this book. It is a rare musical treatise. You may find it useful.” Then Thyagaraja begged, “O Guru! You must partake of a little food at my humble home!” “All right, I shall; keep the food ready and I shall return.”
So saying, the sanyasi departed. Thyagaraja waited and waited. There was no sign of the return of the sanyasi. Thyagaraja became very sad. He fasted for the whole day and went to sleep with a heavy heart.
In his dream that night, rishi Narada appeared and said, “Son! It was I who came to you this morning as a sanyasi. Take this Taraka mantra. The musical treatise I gave you is Swararnava. Study it and you will become a great musician by the grace of Rama."
Waking up, Thyagaraja took out the book given by Narada and started reading it. He sang the praise of the Guru for his infinite grace.
After this event Thyagaraja went to the temple with his wife and repeated the Taraka mantra over a lakh of times every day. Within a short time he completed uttering the mantra to a staggering total of 96 million times which he dedicated to the Lord. As a result of it, Sri Rama Himself appeared before him in the company of Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman and blessed him.
Once an old man sitting in the crowd shouted, “Even the sruti on the Tambura is jarring! How can a man who has no ear for sruti compose good songs?” Everyone was aghast. Thyagaraja too was perplexed.
He took the Tambura and carefully examined the sruti. He found it flawless. Yet he said to the old man humbly: “Sir, I find the sruti all right, would you kindly correct it yourself?”
The old man came forward, took on the Tambura and, started fingering the strings. Everyone was so bewitched by hearing it, that they completely lost consciousness. When the sruti stopped they woke up, but the old man was nowhere to be seen.
Thyagaraja concluded: “God himself came here to cure me of my ego. How grateful am I for his grace!”