CHENNAI: We are aware that the ultimate aim of every composer and musician is to achieve the coalescence, the essential factors of classical music namely bhava, raga and tala. We know bhava literally means, expression, the expression of existence. In a composition, bhava encompasses the aspects rasa, raga and laya and for a musical composition to be meaningful and beautiful, it should be rich in bhava. In short, bhava is that which enables the transmission of experience of thoughts and emotions from the composer to the musician and from the musician to the listeners. We understand that bhava has to be experienced by every individual, in a personal and subjective manner and devotion is the pre-dominating aspect depicted in a musical composition. I am sure it would be of immense value to study the aspects of bhava, expressed by the musical trinity Thyagaraja, Dikshitar and Syama Sastri, who were contemporaries in the 18th century.
Considering the bhava aspects in Thyagaraja’s compositions, his sahitya expresses the fact that for his theme he has mainly drawn his perspective from Ramayana, which remains immortal for its simplicity in style and the clear depiction of human emotions and experience. Thyagaraja appeals to Rama, in various moods, expressing his lofty thoughts, in simple spoken Telugu language. Undoubtedly, the number of episodes, allusions and narrations from classics, which Thyagaraja has dealt with, form a literature by itself, as his raga bhava enhances the artha bhava.
When we look at Dikshitar’s expression of bhava in his compositions, which is different from that of Thyagaraja. Firstly, the choice of using Sanskrit itself lends its dignity and richness to his composition. Since Dikshdar was a Vedantin, philosopher and a mature devotee his language never descends to a mundane level. Do the vilamba-kaala compositions, add sobriety to them? In Syama Sastri, we could see that his expressions of bhava are those of a fond child demanding the love of its mother in various moods. Like Thyagaraja, Syama Sastri shows an absolute surrender to his ishta devatha, the mother goddess. His feelings flow abundantly and spontaneously in his compositions.
An analysis, reveals a similarity between Syama Sastri and Thyagaraja, in the expression of bhava. This has arisen from the trend in which both of them address their chosen deities in a familiar and personal manner in colloquial Telugu.