by R. Muthu Subramaniam

    The system of Carnatic music has a glorious and rich tradition. The legacy handed down to the posterity by the Trinity namely Thyagaraja, Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri has enriched the performing art, attracting layman’s interest and promoting a wide spectrum of listeners. The three divine Composers poured forth long livings of their awakened souls, transforming them into immortal compositions, with marvels of verbal imagery and musical architecture, to attain Godhood.

    Thyagaraja’s compositions are remarkable in their poetic excellence and spiritual value. Each composition is oozing bhakthi and could be compared to flowers of gold (fragrant too). While listening to a composition of Thyagarja, one has the thrill of taking the bath in a water fall, whereas the compositions of Dikshitar are expansive, full of raga bhava, and also enchanting. Listening to a Dikshitar krithi one will get the scintillating pleasure of immersing fully in a slow running water. While Thyagraja’s krithis bring before you a sense of renunciation essential to attain Godhood, those of Dikshitar bring before you a continuous flow of God thoughts, as the Composer describes the beauty of the Devtas. The music of Dikshitar has a slow, measured tempo and majestic gait. The characteristics peculiar to Thyagaraja are the range and extent of his treatment of ragas, the astounding variety in tempo and style alongwith the spiritual favour and aesthetic liveliness. Syama Sastri’s compositions are known for their devotional outpourings with exhaustive treatment of laya judiciously blended to impart an appeal, intellectually and emotionally.

    The first line of the Thyagaraj’s composition itself reveals the raga bhava with the outline of arohana and avarohana order. Like a sugar coated pill, Thyagaraja’s compositions kindle layman’s interest, at the very first opportunity of listening.

    About comparing the greatness of Trinity, it would amount to sacrilege, if we compare the greatness of one with the other, because each Composer is great in his own way.

    The system of Carnatic music gives wide scope of imagination to the performer while rendering Raga, Swara, Thanam and Pallavi. The compositions of the Trinity have to be rendered with a sense of discipline by maintaining the traditional purity. A good performing artist aspires to do justice for both, without sacrificing the lyrical contents of the compositions.

    Thus, the repertoire one commands at his possession stands him in good stead to enrich his capacity for fertile imagination either in portraying a raga or swaraprasthara.

    So long as music retains its hold on our minds as a source of joy and solace, Thyagaraja Dikshitar and Syama Sastri will live enshrined in the hearts of all true lovers of art and culture.

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