CHENNAI: We are aware that, Thyagaraja was the greatest among the music composers of South India, and one of the musical prodigies of all times. Undoubtedly, he was the father of modern carnatic music and his works are of melodic beauty, and artistic in the highest sense. He exerted the greatest influence upon musical art in South India during 18th and 19th centuries and revolutionised the very nature of carnatic music. His songs are accepted today, as the most adequate interpretation of classical carnatic music from both music and Sahithya’s point of view.
We should admit that Thyagaraja’s greatness as a composer of kritis overshadowed the other facets of his many-sided genius. It is evident from two of his operas, still extant, that he was a competent writer of Telugu verse, with a rare mastery over intricate meters, and a playwright with an innate dramatic instinct and excellent powers of characterisation. Musical ideas flowed within him, from various directions and he responded to them all, with genius application. Many ragas which were merely a name before his time and whose melodic sweetness lay unfathomed, began to dance their way through the human art, ever since his existence . The melody of carnatic music has become more rhythmical, flowing and graceful.
It is apparent, that Thyagaraja after composing number of kritis, in praise of Rama, wanted to pay homage, to the other two avatars of Vishnu, popularly worshipped by devotees as Narasimha and Krishna.
It is clear from the benedictory verses of both the operas, that his intentions was that they should also be read as scriptures, that is why, probably, he packed them with noble poetry, vivid descriptions and moving passages, chosen from the heart and to uplift our spirit.
Thyagaraja is stated to have composed three musical dramas in Telugu, Sitarama Vijayam, Nowka Charithram and Prahlada Bhakthi Vijayam. These opera, show his gifts as a playwright, his powers of characterisation, insight into human nature and talent for conceiving musical dialogues. Strangely enough, his first compositions printed even before his kritis, were his operas, and this vouches for their authenticity. It is said that bare text of the Sitarama Vijayam was published in Madras, 21 years, after Thyagaraja’s demise. It is really a misfortune that not a single one is traceable now, but the other two operas of Thyagaraja’s emerge, as shining examples of ’music dramas’ in South India. The Nouka Charithram is narrated in verse, song and dialogue. Undoubtedly, the operas, are Thyagaraja’s precious gifts to the musical world and the ethical influence of his teachings, contained in them, clothed in music, is really too overpowering as it flows from his high spiritual – artistic level of consciousness. We echo the sentiments of Sri Sathya Sai Baba who said “his music is part of the tradition, of purifying Indian culture.”