One of the most celebrated , most respected composer and most conducted event in the Carnatic calendar is Sadguru Thyagaraja and the Aradhana of this Nada Brahmam. The takeaway from his music and compositions to the art form , the practitioners and the listening audience is immeasurable. His music is as simple as his persona and yet as profound as his understanding of music as an art , as a way of life and as Nada yoga .
My tryst with Thyagaraja Aradhana started way back in the late 70”s .. I have had the honour , privilege and blessings to be a part of the Aradhana along with the greatest of musicians trancending generations , like Lalgudi ji, MSG ji, MS amma , MLV amma , Balamuralikrishna ji, and many more … There are great many devotees of this phenomenon called Thyagaraja.
His Aradhana is conducted world over to celebrate this great Nada yogi and his musical life . But there are a few ardent devotees who celebrate his star every month – Panchami as well as the yearly Bahula Panchami Aradhana. One such person whom I personally know and greatly admire is Smt . Padmavathy Ananthagopaln. Hailing from the Thyagaraja Shishya Parampara, with her forefathers being the direct disciple of Thyagaraja Swami, she feels a personal bond with the great composer. Thyagaraja Swamiis supposed to have visited her ancestral home in the town of Lalgudi and composed the famous Lalgudi Pancharatnam. She has been celebrating this great guru on his star (pancham) every month for the past 40 plus years and of course the annual Bahula Panchami , for the past 40 plus years . Though a very celebrated Veena Vidhushi herself , her dedication and reverence to this Saint is so inspiring and educative. Her penchant for details in organising the function will be lesson for many corporate CEO’s. From getting the right kind of flowers , the same one ,month after month , year after year- there is no compromise on that , it has to be the same flowers, ( Thulasi, Paarijatam Bilwa etc ) ,like wise getting the students to sing not only all the Pancharatnams but all the utsava sampradaya Krithis and the divyanama krithis .
During the bahula panchami Aradhana, the entire experience is of a festival, all the students and their parents will assemble at the venue, everybody will be made to have a nice breakfast and then the students with start with Sree Ganapathi nee and then Guruleka followed by the Thiruvaiyaaru Pancharatnams, and then the Utsava Sampradayam in the traditional format , from Churnika to Hecharika to Paripalaya , covering about 20 to 25 utsava sampradaya krithis, and then the Archana on Thyagaraja swami in a beautiful virtuam in ragamalika style rendition ,followed by the Mangalam .
I have observed Thyagaraja Aradhana in many places but this one is very unique because , I have not seen anybody follow this tradition in such an elaborate manner, even in Thiruvaiyaaru. The Archana and Mangalam is on swami thyagraja himself.
The entire experience is surreal. Her entire life has been like Naragatnamma version 2.0. For her Thyagaraja is kula devata and her day is not over without playing a few Thyagaraja Kriti in front of her favourite deity before she retires for the day . Our life is made that much more meaningful when we are able to connect to such wonderful people through the medium of music.