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Echoes From The Banks Of The Cauvery: Thyagaraja Aradhana At MIT

Haribabu Arthanari
03/02/2011

It was not the warm riverbanks of the Cauvery with cows meandering by; rather, it was the frozen Charles with cars buzzing by, but still the melodies of Thyagaraja briefly transported the audience from MIT to Thrivauyaru. It was a tribute to Saint Thyagaraja (Thyagaraja Aradhana) by the student organization MIT-SWARA on Feb 18th 2011. Thyagaraja Aradhana is traditionally held on Pushya Bahula Panchami (mid Jan-early Feb) at Thrivauyaru where Saint Thyagaraja attained samadhi.

However, despite their foreign location, the group consisting of Vivaek Shivakumar (Violin), Jay Rajan, Varun Ganesan, Mathura Sridharan, Saloni Jain, Hamsika Chandrasekar, Divya Srinivasan, Shweta Dravida, Arun Saigal (mridangam), Ram Bhaskar (mridangam), Varun Pattabhiraman (mridangam) and Anandh Swaminathan (mridangam) rendered the Pancharatna Kritis of Thyagaraja in perfect unison, a celebration befitting the great composer.

The evening began with the invocation song in praise of Lord Ganesha, Sri Ganapathi Nee in the ragam Sowrashtram. This was followed by the five Pancharatna kritis of Thayagaraja, Jagadananda Karaka (Naatai), Dudukugala (Goula), Sadhinchane (Aarabhi), Kanakana Ruchira (Varaali) and Endaro Mahanubhavulu (Sri) rendered in the five Ghana ragams. The concert culminated with a soulful rendition of Geethaarthamu in the ragam Suruti, in which Thyagaraja wonders why the mind is restless and unable to emulate Lord Hanuman in his contemplation of the Bhagavat Gita and the pleasure of music. This concert closed the evening with a traditional mangalam, a composition of Thyagaraja in the ragam Sowrashtram.

In conclusion, I would like to leave the readers with these questions.
Why are these five songs (so called the Pancharatna Kritis) rendered during Thyagaraja Aradhana? Who choose them? Were they composed as a collection, or were they selected for some other unifying quality? Regardless of their origin, the Pancharatna Kritis are perfectly suited for group renditions and indeed some of the gems composed by Thyagaraja.

MIT-Swara is a young and dynamic student organization that has presented a number of performances, lectures and lecture demonstrations at the MIT campus over the years. 

In collaboration with MITHAS, Swara will next be presenting a unique
lecture demonstration and concert by the Vidwan Delhi P. Sunderrajan,
this Saturday, March 5th, 2011 at 6 pm in the Wong Auditorium. This event is free, interactive, and open to the public.



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