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Thyagaraja Aradhana At Chinmaya Maruti

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Saint Thyagaraja is one of the greatest among the Carnatic music composers of South India and one of the musical prodigies of all times. His compositions are rich in devotional and spiritual content, full of melodic beauty and in the highest sense artistic. The world of Carnatic music owes a lot to him for the treasure that he is bestowed on them. Through Guru-Shishya paramapara, the great compositions have been preserved and the tradition of classical music has been passed on.


As in the case of many great men, Saint Thyagaraja’s greatness came to be known only after he attained Samadhi. His Samadhi where his Shishyas performed pooja could not be maintained properly due to poor patronage. Nagarathnammal, a Devadasi from Bangalore, a musician and staunch devotee of Saint Thyagaraja, dedicated herself to renovate and maintain the Samadhi. She was a feminist, aggressive enough to ensure that women were given equality to enter the Samadhi, pay homage to the Saint and participate in the Aradhana.


As a mark of respect and thanksgiving to the great Saint, every year, on Pushya Bahula Panchami coinciding with the thithi of the Saint’s demise, musicians come together in Thiruvaiyaru, the birthplace of the Saint to celebrate the Aradhana. Music concerts and performances by leading musicians marks the Aradhana celebrations of the Saint composer. The musicians rendering the Pancharatna Kritis, the five gems composed by Saint Thyagaraja, is the highlight of the celebration.


On January 25, 2020, Chinmaya Maruti Thyagaraja Aradhana celebration in its 9th year, started at 8.30 am by the rendering of Pancharatna Krithis, as Rama Abhishekam was being performed. Many musicians and devotees, united by their devotion to the great Saint, gathered in the Chinmaya Maruti temple to join in the chorus singing. When about 150 people sing the same intricate composition in chorus, no one tries to show any musical prowess or individuality. It is total surrender to that ultimate bliss of music. It was a divine experience!


After the Maha Arathi, Shashi ji thanked Hanuman ji for giving us a glorious day every year to celebrate the Aradhana in January. She was very grateful to the artists and participants for their participation and support to CMB. Following this the Music Gurus and their students went to the auditorium to get ready for the group performances. Music schools were given thirty to sixty minute slots to sing the rich compositions of Saint Thyagaraja. The recitals followed non-stop from 10.30 am to 7pm.


The very fact that the younger generation growing up outside India, learn Thyagaraja Krithis and render it with bhava and with an understanding of the meaning of the compositions, speaks volumes of the greatness of Saint Thyagaraja. We had about 230 students who performed in The Chinmaya Maruti Auditorium. Thyagaraja’s compositions are not just music but they are liberally coated with his bhakthi towards Lord Rama.  To musicians and rasikas, Thyagaraja remains the genius who has had the greatest impact on the Carnatic style of music. The dedication of the music teachers in passing on the legacy of Saint Thyagaraja to their students is remarkable! We thank all the Carnatic Music Gurus who trained their students for this event and continue their selfless service with passion.


All the performers and rasikas enjoyed delicious food throughout the day, cooked by the Chinmaya Maruti Annadanam team. Upma for Breakfast and Bisibela Bath and Yogurt rice with chips and pickle was served for lunch and dinner. Hot food served free to hundreds of visitors on Thyagaraja Aradhana has become a tradition that is truly appreciated by all.


Thyagaraja enshrined Nadopasana and Nadayoga as path to spiritual glory in the modern world. Chinmaya Mission Boston has been doing a great service to the memory of the Saint Composer and Poet Thyagaraja in ensuring a glorious tradition of musical homage is being carried forward.

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