The Prakshipta Krithis of Saint Thyagaraja

Ashok Madhav (madhav_pgh@yahoo.com)

Thyagaraja  is considered to be the most popular vaggeyakara in Carnatic music. In music concerts one can hear his kritis being rendered more often than other composers. He continues to have a large following of admirers. True to the quote "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery", some later composers plagiarized his style, and in an attempt to get their compositions accepted and popularized, even tagged Thyagaraja 's name (mudra) onto their compositions. Prof. P Sambhamurthy - a noted scholar and musicologist has termed these imitation kritis "prakshipta" meaning not authentic or spurious. Some aspects of this situation will be discussed in this article.

K.V.Srinivasa Iyengar's three kritis-Needu charanamule and Natajana paripala-both in Simmendramadhyamam and third kriti-Vinatasuta vahanudai-in Harikambodi have Thyagaraja 's mudra. The following compositions too bear Thyagaraja 's mudra though they have been composed by others. Paramukha melara-Surati and Abhimana mennadu in Vivardhani raga was the work of Mannargudi Rajagopala Iyer and Diname Sudinamu in Latangi - was composed by Visalur Girisha Iyer. Tanjavur Krishna Bhagavatar composed a kriti in the raga Todi, Vedalenu Kodandapani. The original composition did not have Thyagaraja 's name in it, however, the mudra was inserted by an anonymous person later in order to give it wider popularity.

Many music scholars believe that the following popular kritis are not Thyagaraja 's compositions. They have come to this conclusion because these kritis do not conform to Thyagaraja 's style of composing. They also differ from the type of grammar used by Thyagaraja  in his compositions :

Sri Gananatham bhajamyaham-Kanakangi

Kalasavardhijam-Ratnangi

Ganamurthe -Ganamurthi

Kamalaptakula- Brindavana Saranga

Neelakanta niranjana-Abhogi

Kshetra palaka—Bilahari

Vanaja nayanudani-Kedaragoula

Sri Raghukula mandu-Hamsadhvani

Abhishta varada-Hamsadhvani

Rama namamu-Athana

Sadamatim daladu gadara- Gambhiravani

Sarasiruha nayane-Amrutavarshini

Diname sudinamu-Latangi

Tarama Nee mahima-Kalyani

Sandehamu yelara- Kalyani

Parulanna vedanu-Balahamsa

Paripurna kama-Hamsabhramari

Maravairi Ramani-Nasikabhushani

Narayana hari-Yamuna kalyani

Sarasa netra-Shankarabharanam

Ranganayaka Sri- Shankarabharanam

Abhimanamu ledemi-Andhali

Endu bayara daya-Dhanyasi

Evarunnaru-Malavashri

Garuda gamana-Gauri manohari

Ni balama nama-Anandabhairavi

Nee sari sati-Hemavathi

Pannagendra sayana -Simhendra Madhyamam

Thyagaraja 's musical compositions exerted considerable dominance in Carnatic music thereby influencing some skillful composers to use the ragas of Thyagaraja 's kritis for their own lyrics. The kriti -Srivallipate in raga Nagaswaravali of Subbarama Dikshitar has similar melodic structure as that of Thyagaraja 's kriti -Sripate Neepada in the same raga. Tanjavur Krishna Bhagavatar's kriti -Vedalenu Kodandapani in Todi sounds very similar to Thyagaraja 's Todi kriti- Brindavana lola. Patnam Subramanya Iyer's lyrics- Etula vrasi yunnado were made to fit Thyagaraja 's kriti -Etula brotuvo teliya in Chakravakam.

Some of Papanasam Sivan kritis are similarly tuned along the model of Thyagaraja 's kritis.

Karunai seivaai (Sivan)- Raghunayaka (Tya)- Hamsadhvani

Tunai purindarul (Sivan)- Manasuloni (Tya) - Varamu

Sharavana bhava (Sivan)- Rama katha sudha (Tya) - Madhyamavati

 According to Prof. Sambhamurthy - some of the ragas of kritis composed by Thyagaraja  have been rendered in ragas different from the ones that he originally set the kriti to. The kriti Jnanamusagarada was originally composed in Shadvidha margini (Mela 46) but is now being rendered in Purvikalyani (a janya of Gamanashramana - Mela 53). The kritis Intha soukhyamani and Mivalla gunadosha were originally set in Karnataka kapi raga by Thyagaraja  but now they are frequently rendered in Hindustani Kapi. The kritis in Kalyani- Sundari ni divya rupamunu and Vasudevayani are not being rendered the way Thyagaraja  had originally envisaged. This is the case with Thyagaraja 's Dhanyasi kriti -Sangita jnanamu too.

 Kritis are also being rendered in two different ragas as documented in books of Tygaraja's kritis. This could be due to variation in pathantharams practiced by disciples belonging to different schools. Following are some examples:

Ne morabettide - Rupavati (also rendered in Todi)

Nada tanu manisham - Chittaranjani (ragas derived from Melas 19 & 22)

Nityarupa - Kapi (Darbar)

Chetulara sringaramu - Bhairavi (Kharaharapriya)

Rama neeyada - Kharaharapriya (Dilipakam)

Ne pogadakunte - Varali (Desikatodi)

Sri Narasimha - Phalaranjani (Phalamanjari)

Pahi Rama duta - Vasanthavarali (Shadvidha margini)

Vallagadanaka - Shankarabharanam (Harikambodi)

Ennalu urake - Shubhapantuvarali (Pantuvarali)

Paraloka bhaya -Mandhari (Namanarayani)

Sita Kalyana vaibhogame -Shankarabharanam (Kuranji)

Na pali SriRama -Shankarabharanam (Navaroj)

Kantha judumi -Vachaspathi (Latangi)

Though changes in rendering of some Thyagaraja 's kriti's have occurred over the years, we have been fortunate that the bulk of his compositions have remained untainted. We have to laud the efforts of a few disciples like Walajapet Venkataramana Bhagavatar and some others who had the foresight to preserve Thyagaraja 's rich legacy for posterity

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