Lec dem on the Carnatic Music Trinity by Smt Vidya Shankar – Part 2

Part 1 of this post can be found here

… cont. from Part 1

Sri Thyagaraja:

  • Sri Thyagaraja wrote his first composition on the wall of his house. He is said to have been only about 13 years of age then
  • He composed a lot of songs in bhajana sampradAyam while singing during unchavritti, where he would wander around the streets of Tiruvaiyyaru along with his disciples, collecting any food that was willingly given by the inhabitants of the place
  • Many of his compositions had simple tunes and the same tune for all the caraNams. This was done to facilitate easy grasping of the songs by the disciples who would then sing along with him
  • In his first composition namO namO rAghavAya anisham, he is a living example of how a bhakta should be, i.e, one who wants mOksham not only for himself but for all others in the world too (reference: the line “suka nutAya dIna bandhavE sakala lOka dayA sindhavE”). He also wants good health and longevity for everyone (reference: “AyurArOgya dAyinE” in the 5th caraNam of the same song)
  • One of his great contributions to Carnatic music was the introduction of sangatIs and illustration of where to sing them. He developed sangatIs step by step in his songs. Ex: chakkani rAjamArgamu in kharaharapriyA has 15 (?) sangatIs for the pallavi line that get built step by step. mari mari ninnE (kAmbOji) and O ranga sAyi (kAmbOji) are majestic compositions replete with the use of beautiful sangatIs
  • Another thing to be noted is the use of sangatIs at appropriate places – he put them at places where rAgabhAvam and arthabhAvam converged
  • sagatIs act like an introduction to neraval singing for students. Ex: the sangatis in dAriNi telusukoNTi (suddha sAvEri) at rAjita maNigaNa
  • Sri Tyagaraja has delineated the ragas very clearly at the beginning of his compositions. Ex. tatvameruga taramA para in garuDadhwani starts as S d p g r s …. r g m …. p d n which gives the avarOhaNam and ArOhaNam of the rAgA: S d p g r s; s r g m p d n S. (Interestingly, as pointed out by Vid Vidya Shankar, the reverse of garuDadhwani is bilahari: s r g p d S; s n d p m g r s and this can be seen in the composition kanukoNtini in bilahari).


Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar:

  • Sri Dikshitar was a vaiNika gAyakar
  • He gave the essence of saraLi varisais in 3 kAlams in a nutshell right in the beginning line of his first kriti itself. He also employed janTa swara prayOgas and alankAram-like patterns in the same kriti.
  • He gave great importance to viLambakAlam (slow speed). But the use of madhyamakAlam (medium speed) was his forte. He would make us get soaked in the beauty of the ragam and composition in viLambakAlam and then introduce the madhyamakAlam at the right moment when we would seem to be longing for it. Ex: varaguruguha sOdarENa … in pancamAtangamukha gaNapatinA (malahari)
  • An important feature of his kritis is the presence of rAgamudrAs (name of the raga on which the song is based comes as a part of the sAhityam). Ex: samsAra bhItyApahE in shrI sarasvati namOstutE (Arabhi)
  • He kept rAgam as the central force in his compositions and gave a lot of importance to developing the rAgam in the compositions. rAgam is the life of our music
  • Lower, middle and upper octaves have been used proportionately in his compositions according to the rAgam handled (She gave a few examples from kAshivishvEshvara and shrI subramaNyaya namastE in kAmbOji)



I was in a totally different world after listening to this excellent lec dem about the greatness of the trinity. Guess what song was playing on television when I reached back home? No, it was not jagadanandakArakA or any other composition of the Trinity from Tiruvarur but the song “Tiruvarur Therae Pakkam Vaadi” from the movie Pazhani. Tiruvarur eppadi ellam famous-aa aagirukku 😦


Kudos to the people at Naada Inbam for organizing such an informative session and for organizing concerts featuring veterans. Hope they continue their dedicated service for many more years to come


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