Grammar, Emotions, and Philosophy in Thyagaraja’s Compositions
Thyagaraja Swami, in his compositions, often uses words and proverbs, which are not strictly following the Telugu language or its grammar. This often brings criticism of Swami’s grammar. For example, he uses the expression, “Tholi Nenu Jeyu Pooja,” instead of Toli Nenu Jesina Pooja” instead of using the words, “Toli nenu jesina Pooja.” He uses Kechana, where Kachin has to be used (Yochana, Durbar). But, using these expressions with many effects on the entire song or verse is the privilege of great poets. If Shakespeare is allowed mixed metaphors and double superlatives, why not Swami be allowed these minor transgressions in grammar?
Many more examples of Swami’s poetic skill can be pointed out to highlight the point that he not only composed songs on deities but on nature and its beauty as well. Apart from the two kritis mentioned earlier in the context of his description of the Yamuna theera in Nowka Charitram and his choornika with Vaikunta varana in Prahlada Bhakthi Vijayam, we can also mention Anupama Gunambhudi Kanakapala dhara nannu gana kapata expressions, however, seems to rhyme Sudha with Katha, Dasaratha with Dayasradha, dha rhyming being a common fallacy noticeable in colloquial Telugu.
Emotions: To justify his being hailed as one of the foremost poets of his time, Swami has brilliantly captured all rasas in his compositions. Many people think that studying Swami’s kritis means only listening to long-faced and serious aphorisms and homilies. Few know that he has used Sringara (Romance), Soka (Sorrow), Saantha (Tranquil, Peace), and Haasya (Humor)with equal felicity. Before him and indeed even after his time, Mukhari was used only for the sokha rasa; but Swami proved that this n, however, it seems using Mukhari to produce Haasya in the kriti, Chinthisthunaade Yamudu, whose dhathu, Sri Gopalakrishna Bharathi adopted for his Chidambara darisanam. The description of the dowwarika in the music drama, Prahlada Bhakthi Vijayam, is full of hasya. “Mati Mariki meesamu duvvi, manmatha roopudu thanani krovvi, dati dati paduchuna” is hilarious. One scholar studying the Nowka charithram and in particular the criticism by some purists about the excessively sringara rasa ra in this drama, says that Sri Swami has walked the razor edge in keeping strictly in ethical and moral values and his sringara rasa, unlike that of Jayadeva, has not stepped outside the canons of decency. Whatever the rasa employed, the ultimate objective is Bhakthi and rasas have been employed only to emphasize the need for Bhakthi.
Philosophy: Practically, every school of philosophy has claimed Swami as its votary. Citing Swami’s later day kritis such as Gnanamosoga rada in Poorvikalyani and Paramatmudu in Vagadheeswari, the “dvaitis claim his.” The Visishtaadvatis claim him citing kritis such as Bhuvini dasudane in Sriranjani, where the Sri Vedanta Desikan’s Panchanga Prapatti is virtually reproduced. The Marjara Nyaya school quotes the Bhairavi kriti, Tananayuni Brova, in support of their claiming Swami as one of them. Sri Swami himself has been asked the question, whether he should follow one or the other margas; but, he never answered it. E dari sancharintur in Kanthamani and Dwaitamu Sukhama in Riti Gowla clearly tell us that the answer to the question is not easy. Indeed, he has clearly mentioned that the pathway to Godhead is a matter of individual preference and the label is inconsequential. “Vaga Vadaja buja iyinche variki tripthiaoureethi saguna dhyanamu paini sowkhyamu.” Like the satisfaction after a meal is wholly an individual affair and no one meal being the cause of universal satisfaction, the philosophical path is a matter of personal choice and preference. His main stress is on morals and ethics, humility and non-attachment or unattachment or Thyaga.
Hindus do not believe in one prophet for all time or one book for all time. Hindus believe that from time to time, there appear among us, Avatara Purushas, who interpret the gospel to fit in with the contemporaneous needs of the society. Men are only teachable; a genius is born one in several generations.
Dr. R. Krishnaswami
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