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Category: Music

Tyagaraja Profile

  • Name:
  • Tyagaraja
  • Father:
  • Kakarla Ramabrahma
  • Mother:
  • Sitamma

Tyagaraja Biography

Tyagaraja or Kakarla Tyagabrahmam was one of the greatest composers of Carnatic music. Born in 18th century, he was one of those influential composers who provided the basement in the improvement and growth of Carnatic music. He was highly influential in the development of the classical music tradition. Tyagaraja composed thousands of devotional compositions and still they are popular. Most of his compositions praised Lord Rama. His compositions called the ‘Pancharatna Kritis’ are often sung in programs in his honour.


Tyagaraja was born in 1767 in Tiruvarur of Tamil Nadu. He was born in a Telugu Brahmin family to Kakarla Ramabrahma and Sitamma. He was named Tyagaraja after Lord Tyagaraja, the presiding deity of the temple at Tiruvarur. His paternal grandfather Giriraja Kavi was a poet and musician. His maternal grandfather Kalahastayya was a veena expert, from whom Tyagaraja studied to play this instrument. After his death, Tyagaraja found "Naradeeyam", a book related to music. Tyagaraja obtained musical training under Sri Sonti Venkata Ramanayya. Years later, his guru invited him to perform at his house in Thanjavur. Tyagaraja sang Endaro Mahaanubhavulu and Guru was impressed by his singing talent. He informed the King of Thanjavur about Tyagaraja's genius. Though Raja invited Tyagaraja to his court, he declined the offer quoting the keerthan, Nidhi Chala Sukhama. He was not at all impressed by wealth and he sang only in devotion to god.  


Tyagaraja, who was totally immersed in his devotion to Lord Rama, moved far away from comforts. It is said that a major portion of his incomparable musical work was lost to the world due to natural and man-made calamities. While Tyagaraja used to sing, his disciples noted down the details of his compositions on palm leaves. But after his death, majority of his works were lost in carelessness. There was not a definitive edition of Tyagaraja's songs. It’s indeed sad to know that out of 24,000 songs said to have been composed, only 700 songs remain now. Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam and the Nauka Charitam are two Telugu music plays written by Tyagaraja.

Updated: January 07, 2014

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