Remembering Thyagaraja

The Pete Beedi of Srirangapattana in Mandya district is a nondescript locality. But this dusty, narrow road and the area surrounding it come alive every year when Sri Kodandarama Temple becomes the venue for the annual Thyagaraja Aradhana in January.

The Aradhana, which marks the attainment of moksha by the musical prodigy, Sri Thyagaraja, is scheduled to be held this year on January 21 and 22. The organisers — the Thyagaraja Aradhana Committee and the Kodandarama Temple Trust — are expecting not less than 500 well-known Carnatic musicians to assemble in this small temple to participate in rendering Thyagaraja’s Pancharathna Kritis. This group singing, popularly known as Ghostigayana, is scheduled to be held on January 21, from 10 am to 12.30 pm. In addition, many renowned singers will be giving concerts on both the days. 

Thiruvayur in Tamil Nadu is where the Brindavan of saint-musician Thyagaraja is located. The Thyagaraja Brindavan in Srirangapattana has many similarities with the one at Thiruvayur, though the significance of both the places are different. But both the samadhis are located on the banks of River Cauvery. Here, the Brindavan is behind the Rama Temple, dating back to 1450, while in Thiruvayur, the Rama Temple is adjacent to the Brindavan. 

In India, after Thiruvayur, Srirangapattana is the only place to have the Brindavan of Thyagaraja. Renowned Nadaswara vidwan A V Narayanappa had brought mrittike (sacred mud) from the original Brindavan at Thiruvayur, and kept the same in the Brindavan at Srirangapattana. There is a statue of the saint too, installed by Narayanappa in 1971. Though he is no more, there has been no break in carrying out the tradition of conducting the Aradhana. 

For the last eight years, Narayanappa’s disciple V Murali, an established Nadaswara artiste, in his capacity as the president of the Aradhana committee and the Temple Trust, is meticulously conducting the annual event, though not seeking publicity. This year, he is expecting many established musicians to play an active role in the Ghostigayana.  Narayanappa began organising the Aradhana to encourage musicians of Karnataka to participate in Ghostigayanas in their own homeland. 

In this 167th Aradhana of Thyagaraja, Murali plans to get 12 musicians felicitated by Sri Abhinava Shankara Bharati Swamy of Avani Mutt. “We do bikshatane to raise funds for the programmes. We also conduct Sriramanavami and Purandaradasa Aradhana among other musical events. We have very limited resources but lofty ideas. The Mysore Wodeyars had gifted this temple to musicians. And, we need to carry on with the legacy started by late Narayanappa,” Murali said.

 Organisers ensure that participants in the Aradhana get sumptuous food. The temple is just a kilometre away from the railway station and the bus stand. For details, contact Murali over 9448522424. 

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