Written by Mahalakshmi
If you've ever lived in South India, and you're interested in music, then you would've heard of Thyagaraja at least once. The O.G maestro's music still floats around us nearly 180 years later, soothing our souls and giving art it's the true meaning; Solidarity. Thyagaraja Aaradhanai can simply be explained as a musical gathering on the anniversary of the Vidhvan's death, but that wouldn't do it justice. For this isn't just a gathering. This is a day of purpose, beyond ourselves. The festival usually falls on Pushya Bahula Panchami day (Pushya is a Sanskrit word which means Thai – a Tamil month). To be precise its conducted in December through January every year. The festival is a conglomeration of musicians from the world over celebrating the art form. The songs rendered during this Panchami festival (celebrated for 5 days) is a tribute to his genius and concludes with the ‘Pancha Ratna Kritis’. These five songs are set in five unique ragas in and in Adi talam. Each song reflects emotions as a manifestation of Bakthi (devotion). Maybe they have stood the test time because of how relatable they have been to all those in pursuit of the Almighty. "The Pancha Rathna Kritis are meant to be 'living guidelines' and if understood properly it can benefit us personally."
Ragam – Nattai ; Kriti – Jagadhanandha Kaaraga: This kriti is rendered in Sanskrit in praise of Lord Rama (incarnation of Lord Vishnu).
Ragam – Gowlai ; Kriti – Dhuduku Gala: Thyagaraja in this kriti surrenders sins he committed during his lifetime to Lord Rama in search of moksham.
Ragam – Aarabhi ; Kriti – Sadhinchane o manasa: This kriti is in praise of Lord Krishna and it is completely different from the other four kritis. It is a jovial composition and many are fond of this kriti. It reassures that the Lord would do anything to save his devotees.
Ragam – Varali ; Kriti – Kanakana ruche ra: This kriti is a pleasant one. But is mostly avoided by Gurus because of the belief that if the guru teaches this kriti to their shishya the relation between them will end. It is my opinion that every student of music must study the ragam and learn the notation to excel in it.
Ragam – Shree ; Kriti – Endharo mahanu bhavulu: This kriti is famous among the Carnatic musicians and it celebrates saints who devoted their lives to the worship of the Lord.
When you start to learn these kritis you will understand why our music teachers keep insisting on Agharam practice. Musicians from all around the world visit India for the "God-experience". I hope this has ignites your curiosity to explore our culture.