You are here: Sri Vaishnava Home Page : Bhakti List : Archives : February 1998

carnatic compositions

From: Chandrasekaran. V (vcs_at_wipro.com)
Date: Mon Feb 09 1998 - 10:56:44 PST

Dear members,
   Sri Nagu Satyan had mentioned the following:

> Why did Saint Thyagaraja prefer to compose music in Telugu even though
> he was raised in Tamilnadu near Tanjore?   Could it be that Telugu as a
> language is softer and easier to sing with emphasis on vowels, similar
> to Western Classical Music composers who have used Italian in most of
> the major operas? Why did Mutthuswamy  Dikshithar choose Sanskrit for
> his great compositions?  Sri Purandara Dasa family origin is from Poona
> (I think Marati language).  He composed in Kannada.  Granted that
> Kannada and Telugu have lot of Sanskrit words, with some Tamil.  Of
> course we have great Carnatic Music Compositions in Tamil also.  I am
> glad that more and more Musicians are rendering at the concerts Tamil
> Compositions of, including Azhwars' pasurams, Papanasam Sivan, Ambujam
> Krishnan, Oothikaadu etc.

   The two examples quoted here viz., Saint Thyagaraja and Muthuswamy
Dikshitar are slightly out of place. Every one of us knows that Telugu
was the Saint's mother tongue. So even though he was born, became 
a saintly composer and finally attained samAdhi in "tamizh thazhaikkum 
tanjai", he might have felt telugu (obviously) more easy to compose.
And Muthuswamy Dikshitar spent most of his early days till he came to be 
known as a great composer, in north in kAsi sthalam. So he might have 
chosen sanskrit instead of tamizh for his works. More apt example would
have been the second member of the trinity (in the chronological order)
viz., shyAmA shAstrigal. His mother tongue was tamizh. But for some
reason he was taught from his childhood telugu as the language of 
songs and he adopted it for his works too. I would tend to think this 
way: during the trinity period (1750 - 1850) the kings who were ruling 
tanjAvUr were marAthA rulers. So in this age, there might have been 
heavy influx of scholars from outer states who might have influenced
others into adopting languages other than tamizh for compositions.
This derivation may be flawed. But the point is that, by no means can
anyone just like that discount the greatness of any language that has
survived the sweeps of time. Every one knows (patently) that tamizh
is the only language which has more vast linguistic heritage than 
any other 'living' indian language. It has its grammar defined by great
sages, like sanskrit. It has five epics as a part of its heritage. Our
Azhwars and Nayanmars poured out their love for God in this language...
   But it wouldn't make sense to keep talking in these lines in this
mailing list. Our Lord Himself must be wondering now, "what's happening
with these people! why are they arguing and discussing on something
as material as their body itself instead of spending that energy in 
realising me":-) After all words of a language are vibrations of air 
beating one's ear drum and making some brain cells interpret them.
Could it be any higher in subtlety than our gross body itself?:-)

   adiyArkku adiyEn,
   chandrasekaran.