SRI THYAAGARAAJA VAIBHAVAM
Vaibhavam is a theme conceived by S Viswanathan of Kalamandir Trust and
presented first time for the fund collection of the Thyaagaraaja Vidwat-Samajam
on June 21, 1992 at the Music Academy, Chennai.
It was the
rendering of nannuvidachi by M D Ramanathan that inspired Dhananjayan to
produce a dance drama on Thyaagaraaja. It does not study the life of the
poet but delves into his mind, his detached attitude towards life and his
obsession with the metaphysical. Thyaagaraaja krithis were never considered
great favourites in Bharatanatyam as their concentration on bhakti and
lack of shringara bhava discouraged dancers from exploring their potential
as dance music. Thyaagaraaja Vaibhavam however succeeds in portraying bhakti
as the highest form of shringara. It was Rukmini Devi who started including
Thyaagaraaja’s songs in her recitals and received brickbats for eschewing
sringara in dance.
Vaibhavam is about 2 hours long and has been performed more than 22 times.
It was broadcast on television and as a result, lost out on its theatre
value of live performance.
is an ancient kshetra on the banks of the Cauvery River, renowned for its
saints, traditions and musicians. Saint Thyaagaraaja was born here into
a Telugu Vaidika family in the year 1767. During a span of 80 years, he
composed and sang hundreds of lyrics in praise of his beloved deity Lord
Sri Rama. Thyaagaraaja along with his great contemporaries, Shyama Shastri
and Muthuswami Dikshitar, has enriched Carnatic classical music. His spiritual
attainments can be equalled only by his musical excellence. The name THYAAGA-RAAJA
means the Prince of renunciation. The music of this great saint composer
is dedicated to the attainment of peace and happiness through sacrifice
and renunciation. It is Bhakti Yoga at its highest.
The dance drama
Thyaagaraaja Vaibhavam attempts to portray the essence of this musical
achievement through the compositions of Thyaagaraaja himself. It also highlights
some of the main events in the composer’s life, which shaped his musical
achievements. After describing the loving care he bestows on his precious
Rama idol, it goes on to portray his eternal search for the real Rama.
Thyaagaraaja spurned offers of wealth power and position in his single-minded
devotion to God. When his brother, who tried to exploit his genius, threw
away the Rama idols into the Cauvery, the result was more music expressing
the Bhaktha’s anguish. When he miraculously recovered the idols, there
was still more music of a rapturous mood.
episodes in Thyaagaraaja’s life, the ballet brings out the best of his
compositions. Thyaagaraaja Vaibhavam is a fitting tribute to a musical
genius. Choreography is by Dhananjayans based on lyrics of Thyaagaraaja
and Mysore Vasudevacharya.
A novel approach
in this production is the use of shadow play in the background to interpret
the song being portrayed on stage, so the audience can understand the meaning
clearly. Thyaagaraaja’s solo seated in the corner of the stage is expanded
in the unfolding of the storyline in the shadow play. Uday Shankar had
done it many years ago in Mahamanav and this technique was revived by the
Dhananjayans in this production. It was telecast nationally on the occasion
of Thyaagaraaja Aradhana and an edited version is still being telecast
starts his daily routine with unchavrithi, on the streets of Thiruvaiyaru,
propagating the Bhaktimaarga through music…here depicted with his song
to Vani or Saraswathi was rewarded by the power of writing poems with which
he wrote and meditated upon Sri Rama. (Vaani ninne vedadunu, Kharaharapriya).
While seated and lost in the thoughts of Rama, he hears a knock at the
door, just for a second he sees Rama in all splendour but He vanishes…out
comes the song…in Atana…eala nee dayaradu…
his own pooja vidhi…he intensifies his worship with special variety of
flowers, which he narrates in the Mayamalavagowla song…Tulasidalamula
so much prayer and meditation he does not get another glimpse of his beloved
Rama, and disgusted and anguished he tells the Lord ‘after all I am not
asking any worldly pleasure, but only a glimpse of your smiling face’…the
in Abheri, pours out his utter sorrow and disappointment….
As he scans
through his mind, he sees Sri Krishna in Rama, and sings the beautiful
Raasaleela…the song Venuganalolunikana….
in Kedaaragowla, an example
of his advaitha siddhantha…that God is one but He is named differently…
In the song…`Evarikkai…
Devamanohari, Thyaagaraaja relives the whole Ramayana and wonders which
of the incidents is the main purpose of his birth on earth. He finally
says, whatever reason there may be, the one who is responsible for bringing
Him down is a great soul.
his glory reaches the ears of kings and lords…He is invited to sing in
the court of Tanjavur Raja with great wealth offered in return. His brother
begs him to accept the offer. But to Thyaagaraaja, happiness comes from
Ramanama and not from material wealth…the song in Kalyani…nidhichalasukhama
is the result of his turning down the wealth offered to him…annoyed with
his philosophy of detachment, his brother takes away the Rama idol and
throws it into the Kaveri…Next morning Thyaagaraaja imagines, himself waking
Rama with the song…`melukovayya…
the idol in its place he cries in agony…and thus pours out the song…’where
can I search for you oh Rama…you have not shown any mercy on your son Brahma,
then how could I expect that from you…nenenduvedakudura…
Behag raga kriti reveals his utter helplessness. Then he complains to the
Lord Evarimaatta vinnavo…
in Kamboji raga, "whom did you listen to,
thus showing so much indifference to me…" After wandering like an insane
person asking every living thing about his Rama, Thyaagaraaja finally jumps
into the waters of the Kaveri where he recovers his idol…the ecstasy in
the Bilahari song…’Kanukontini Sreeramuni nedu…’
brings forth his
child like love for Rama.
In the song
in Ritigowla, nannuvidachi
he commands Rama not to leave him any
more…plunged into the happiness of getting his idol back, in his vision
he imagines the marriage of Rama with Sita…comes forth the beautiful Kurinji
song…Sita kalyana vaibhogame…
Though he attained
samaadhi, singing and leaving a legacy of Bhakti Sangeetham, he lives with
us and will live with generations to come…whether it is a music or dance
concert, there is no auspicious finale without his saurashtra…. Pavamanasuthudupattu….
when we performed it in Hyderabad for SICA, an old gentleman came backstage
after the program and asked me if I knew M D Ramanathan. He said, "In nannuvidachi
I can see M D Ramanathan in you". It is true that M D Ramanathan was my
inspiration because his rendering on Thyaagaraaja, especially that number,
used to be so emotional and every time I do that portion, I think only
about M D Ramanathan. I have heard that song hundreds of times to get into
that devotional mood. I was amazed as to how this gentleman had observed
and so keenly interpreted the rasanubhava in my dance to make that association.
Truly miraculous. Whenever I do nagumomu, I always think of Balamurali.
I enjoy doing Thyaagaraaja so much that the people literally see Thyaagaraaja
SRI THYAAGARAAJA VAIBHAVAM
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