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The Vice President of India, Shri M. Venkaiah Naidu said today that music was at the core of India’s cultural heritage and it not only provides solace but also unites and connects people.

Inaugurating 173rd Aradhana Festival of Sri Thyagaraja at Thiruvaiyaru in Thanjavur district today, he observed thatart unites hearts and added that music, painting and art were important facets of our civilization.

Calling for preservation and protection of our unique cultural heritage, he said “Our culture and values are our identity. It is what makes us unique. It is what has earned us the respect of the whole world”.

Paying rich tributes to Saint Composer, Thyagaraja, he described himas one of the greatest music maestros of India. “Sadguru Thaygaraja is one among the most revered 18th Century Trinity of composers–the others being Shyama Sastry and Sri Muthuswami Dikshithar”, he added.

The Vice President said that Saint Thyagaraja’s contributions to the enrichment of our cultural heritage cannot be quantified or estimated. He not only embodied ethical and philosophical truths in his songs but also put them into practice in his daily life. His style was simple, beautiful, and charming, which appealed to the learned and laymen alike, Shri Naidu stressed.

Praising Saint Thyagaraja as the composer of countless immortal kritis in various ragas, Shri Naidu said that Sri Thyagaraja’s compositions were treasures for the world of Music and would live in our hearts forever. “His heart poured out his Bhakti for Lord Rama and his songs are full of bhava/emotion that melts your heart”, he observed.

Lauding the tradition of conducting the festival of Thyagaraja Aradhana every year, he said that there was a growing interest and participation in the annual event to pay tributes to Saint Thyagaraja .

He also called upon the schools and educational institutions to sensitize children to the diverse elements of our rich culture. From reading the Jataka tales to experiencing the architectural marvels of ancient India, they must be encouraged to explore the various fascinating facets of our culture and learn life lessons from them, VP said.

Stressing the need to take the treasures of our culture to future generations, the Vice President said that they must know of the stalwarts like Saint Tyagaraja and must be proud of their glorious cultural inheritance. They must not forget their roots and must draw inspiration from its brilliance, he added.

The Vice President complimented the Thyagabrahma Mahotsava Sabha Shri Moopanar’s family for maintaining the tradition of conducting Annual Aradhana Festivals every successive year.

Thiru Vellamandi N.Natarajan, The Minister for Tourism, Govt of Tamil Nadu, Shri G.K. Vasan, President of the Thyagabrahma Mahotsava Sabha, Shri A.K. Palanivel, Secretary of the Sabha and Shri V. Raja Rao, Secretary of the Sabha, were among those who graced the occasion.

The following is the full text of the speech:

I am very happy to be here at the 173rd Aradhana Festival of Sri Thyagaraja at Thiruvaiyaru, a holy place on the banks of river Cauvery. It is heartening to note that this tradition has been maintained for 173 years and that year after year, there is growing interest and participation in this Aradhana festival that pays tributes to Saint Thyagaraja.

As we pay tributes to one of the greatest music maestros of India, we celebrate his life, his compositions and, his unparalleled legacy.

Saint Thyagaraja was, beyond any doubt, a stalwart, one of the tallest figures in the world of music.

The contributions of Saint Thyagaraja to the enrichment of our cultural heritage cannot be quantified or estimated.

It is infinite in its resonance.

His compositions which have been cherished over centuries will continue to be treasured by the young and the old for all time to come.

I compliment the Thyagabrahma Mahotsava Sabha for maintaining the tradition of conducting Annual Aradhana Festivals.

I am confident this Aradhana Festival will inform and remind all who participate, of a golden which marked a high point in the history of classical music in India.

My dear sisters and brothers,

In the turbulent times that we live in, it is comforting and invigorating to pause and reflect on our unique cultural heritage.

India is one of the most ancient civilizations of the world and is home to astounding cultural diversity. Indian culture, often described as an amalgamation of several cultures, spans across the Indian subcontinent and has been influenced by a history that is several millennia old.

Many elements of India’s diverse culture, such as relegions, philosophy, cuisine, languages, dance, music, yoga and movies, have a profound impact world over.

There is no doubt that ‘art unites hearts’. Music is among those elements of our culture that have great potential to unite people, to help us connect and understand each other.

From the first lullaby that is lovingly sung by mother to her child, music penetrates almost every part of our life, our work, our relationships and even the way we worship the almighty.

Music, in its pure form, is spiritual nourishment for our souls.

It is at the core of our cultural and age old heritage.

Our classical music, which has its origin in the Vedas, is said to be a gift of God himself; it is ‘Nadabrahma’, the sound of God, the music that pervades the universe.

Saint Thyagaraja is the composer of countless immortal kritis in various ragas. Most of his compositions are in Telugu, a sweet language which has been described as a suitable language for music by Mahakavi Subrahmanya Bharati.

Born in Thiruvarur in 1767 to Sri Ramabrahmam and Sitammal, Sri Thyagaraja settled down in the holy town of Thiruvaiyaru, where he learned music under the tutelage of Shri Sonti Vennkataramana Sastri.

A composer of kritis in rare ragas, Saint Thyagaraja, a Rama Bhakta, made his devotion to Lord Rama the theme for almost all of his kritis. As his heart poured out his Bhakthi for Lord Rama the songs are full of bhava/emotion that melts your heart. The conversation between a bhaktha and the God are profound messages to mankind .

Many of his compositions in Telugu are rendered as centre pieces in the concert by artistes young and old and  convey  the beauty of the raga as well as the emotional content so well making the listeners go into raptures . In singing his compositions such as మోక్షము గలదా (Mokshamu Galada) or వందనము రఘునందనా (Vandanamu Raghunandana) the bhava rules supreme!

Ramabhakthi and nadopasana were the two cardinal features of his compositions. He realized that music, in all its aspects, formed part of nadayoga.

In his songs, he reveals the supremacy of nadayoga as a means of realisation of God.

Another important contribution of Saint Thyagaraja to music lies in his improvisation of sangathis in kirthanas. His style was simple, beautiful, and charming, which appealed to the learned and laymen alike.

It is the richness of the raga bhava of his compositions that gives him a place amongst the greatest composers of music.

Saint Thyagarajanot only embodied ethical and philosophical truths in his songs but also put them in practice in his daily life.

He rejected riches and opted for austerity. The pious soul felt that a poor and honest life spent in ‘nadopasana’ was preferable to chasing earthly pleasures and riches.

This philosophy of life has been revealed in his famous song, (నిధి చాలా సుఖమా?)“Nidhi chalaa sukhama?”

His followers believed that he was a re-incarnation of Sage Valmiki.

When he attained the lotus feet of Sri Rama on Pushya Bahula Panchami Day in 1847, his mortal remains were interred on the left bank of River Cauvery with the honour and religious rites due to a Sanyasi.

Sadguru Thaygaraja is one among the most revered  18 th Century Trinity of composers –the others being Shyama Sastry and Sri Muthuswami Dikshithar.The majestic Pancharathna Krithis – the five gems in five ragas are sung with utmost devotion by all musicians coming together from various parts of India and the World  in the Annual Aradhana .A Brindavan was erected over that spot and his disciples started performing the Aradhana every year on Bahula Panchami day at the Samadhi.

All the disciples of Saint Thyagaraja were deeply devoted to him, but the contributions of Bangalore Nagaratnam Ammal are worth mentioning.

She was an ardent devotee of Saint Thyagaraja. I am happy to know that befitting the memory of Nagaratnam Ammal, it is in front of her mandapam that musicians now perform during the Aradhana.

Thyagaraja’s compositions are truly treasures for the world of Music  and will live in our hearts forever.After all these years, if we congregate at this holy place even today to pay our humble respects to Saint Thyagaraja every successive year, it is because of the yeomen services rendered by Shri Moopanar’s family and the past and present Office-bearers of the Sabha to the memory of Sri Thyagaraja and to the Thyagabrahma Mahotsava Sabha.

I am happy to know that Shri G.K. Moopanar was associated with the Sabha as its President from 1966 for 36 years and that it was during his days of Presidentship that the Sabha rose to great heights and the Aradhana became an international festival.

After his demise, the legacy was carried on by his brother Shri G.Rangasamy Moopanar who has been spearheading the development of the Sabha and its activities for 18 long years successfully.

Now, the mantle of Presidentship of the Sabha has passed on to Shri G.K. Vasan. Having observed the performance of Shri Vasan, in public life, in Parliament, and in Government, and also going by his meticulous planning to make this Aradhana festival a grand success, I am sure the Sabha is in very safe hands.

I am confident that he will take the Aradhana festival to greater heights in the time to come.

My dear sisters and brothers,

Our culture and values are our identity. It is what makes us unique. It is what has earned us the respect of the whole world.

The philosophy of our civilization has always been that of ‘vasudhaiva kutumbakam’. We have always embraced the whole world as our own. ‘Sarve Jana Sukhino Bhavanthu’ has always been our prayer.

We must protect this ancient culture and the immortal, humanitarian values that are our legacy.

The most effective way to ensure this is to take the treasures of our culture to future generations. They must know of the stalwarts like Saint Tyagaraja and must be proud of their glorious cultural inheritance. They must draw inspiration from its brilliance and unite to chart a path forward for the nation.

Our schools and educational institutions must strive to sensitize children to the diverse elements of our culture. From reading the Jataka tales to experiencing the architectural marvels of ancient India, they must be encouraged to explore the various fascinating facets of our culture and learn life lessons from them.

Our future generations must never forget their roots. But they also must not be confined by it.

Mahatma Gandhi once said that “Nothing can be farther from my thought than that we should become exclusive or erect barriers. But I do respectfully contend that an appreciation of other cultures can fitly follow, never precede, an appreciation and assimilation of our own”.

I hereby declare the 173rd Thyagaraja Aradhana Festival open.

I am hopeful that it will succeed in taking the treasures of India classical music to future generations.

Vanakkam.

Thank You!Jai Hind!

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