Read Part I
Kritis in Rare Ragas
Although the bulk of the kritis of the Bhagavatar
are in common rakti ragas of Karnatic music, some of them are in a rare ragas
like Namanarayani, Jyotisvarupini, Svarnangi, Natanavelavali, Vijayanagari and
Nadavinodhini. Each kriti has three or more charanas and he generally follows
Tyagaraja’s pattern of word building replete with assonance and prosodical
beauties.The Bhagavatar thus emerges as one of the noteworthy composers of the
post-Tyagaraja era in Karnatic Music.
His son, Krishnaswami Bhagavatar (b.1824)
practiced the violin and became the disciple of Tyagaraja during the closing
years of the latter's life. He was 23 when Tyagaraja shed his mortal coil at
Tiruvaiyaru in 1847 and was present when the saint accepted the Sannyasa
asrama before attaining sammadhi. He has graphically described this incident
in his full-length biography of Tyagaraja already referred to.
European Notation for
Bhagavatar also composed some kritis and svara–jatis. But his greatest
contribution to Karnatic music was the assistance he gave to A. M. Chinnaswami
Mudalliar when the latter undertook the publication of his ‘Oriental music in
European Notation’ in 1893. Mudaliar had to lean heavily on the Bhagavatar for
getting at the correct versions of the kritis of Tyagaraja and goes into
ecstasy when acknowledging his indebtedness to the latter. He writes thus:
’For the purpose of annotating Tyagaraja’s works, which are by far the most
scientific ,charming ,voluminous and variegated in all Dravidian music, the
services of Krishnaswami Bhagavatar of Walajapet, one of the most intelligent
and trusted among the last pupils of the great master, have fortunately been
secured and have proved to be of the greatest value and utility. The great
loyalty and devotion with which he preserved, in its integrity, every one of
the productions of his guru, the admirable precision and scientific accuracy
with which he repeats every sangati in the same way as he first sang it, etc.
Krishnaswami Bhagavatar is stated to have supplied Mudaliar with hundreds of
kritis of Tyagaraja with notation.
Kavi Venkata Suri was
an interesting disciple of Venkataramana Bhagavatar. A Saurashtra Brahmin by
birth, he was a scholar and a poet. He studied philosophy under Sri
Dhupatirtharya of Ayyampetai and music under the Bhagavatar. He composed a
Sanskrit kavya called the “Nauka Charitam” on the model of Tyagaraja’s Telugu
opera of the same name.
Mysore Sadasiva Rao, the famous composer, was
another disciple of Venkataramana Bhagavatar and had the good fortune of being
present at Walajapet when Tyagaraja visited the place. He composd the kriti
“Tyagaraja Swami Vedalina “in Todi in commemoration of the saint’s visit to
Another distinguished disciple of the Walajapet
Sishya Parampara was Tiruvottiyur S.A.Ramaswami Iyer, who was the principal
pupil of Krishnaami Bhagavatar . He was the first scholar to publish
‘Tyagaraja Kirtanalu’ under the nom-de-plume of Ramananda Yogi.
Need to keep Tradition
K. K. Ramaswami Bhagavatar was the third son of
Krishnaswami Bhagavatar and the last repository of the Walajapet tradition. In
1935, he published the Tamil work “Sri Tyagabrahmopanishat” also called
‘Sangita rahasya siddanta suryodayam’ in which he has furnished brief
biographies of Tyagaraja and his own forebears and a few rare kritis in
notation. He had promised a larger volume but made his submission to
all-consuming time before he could accomplish the task.
Venkataramana Bhagavatar, his descendants and
disciples have thus rendered inestimable service to the preservation and
propagation of Tyagaraja lore for nearly a century and half. The Saurashtras
of South India have every reason to be proud of these illustrious scions if