All the kritis , as is the case with almost all of Tyagaraja's compositions, are penned in Telugu , except the first one, which is composed in Sanskrit. Tyagaraja lived in the late 18th century and early 19th century in Tiruvarur in present-day Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu. Of the five Pancharatna Kritis , four are in Telugu and one in Sanskrit. The Pancharatna kritis were written in praise of the Hindu deity Rama. They are set to Adi Tala and each raga represents the mood of the song and the meaning of its lyrics. All the kritis were composed in the style of a Ragam Tanam Pallavi RTP with the charanams stanzas substituting for the kalpana swaras improvisatory passages in the pallavi section of the RTP.
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Part Part 2 Part 3 Part 4. They were first presented at the lotus feet in the year of Swami's 90th Birthday on Aradhana Day Watch Aradhana Day Sai Pancharatnas — Lyrics and Meaning. Outside Inside Deep Inside Discussions. Presented below are edited excerpts of the first 'Outside Inside Deep Inside' discussion. In this, Radio Sai's C. Sai Prakash in conversation with Radio Sai's Bishu Prusty shares about the genesis of this beautiful endeavour.
This is followed by a conversation with Mr. Balarama Chandran, who talks about his experience of being part of the team that made this presentation in the Sai Kulwant Hall on April 24, You have diligently worked behind the scenes and have been involved at every step of the making of the Pancharatna Kritis.
Tell us the whole story of how these songs finally found their fulfilment and also how so many lives have found fulfilment through them. So many lives have found fulfilment through this endeavour. Well, almost immediately after 'Prema Pravaham' — the grand program on the evening of Swami's 85th Birthday, Prof. G Venkataraman was repeatedly saying that we should have an offering of traditional Carnatic music to Bhagawan.
In fact he had been expressing this time and again whenever he saw Carnatic musicians in Puttaparthi. So this was something deeply entrenched in his heart. When Swami suddenly left His mortal coil in April , he now felt more strongly than ever that this should be taken up.
However the first year after Swami's physical departure was a very difficult phase; everyone was struggling to cope with the situation. It would have been so nice if Swami was physically present. He would have loved to hear these kritis because He loves classical music.
That would have been excellent. In any case, Swami is listening. So let's get started with this. CG : No. It was always going to be a mixture of Telugu and Sanskrit. Tyagaraja Pancharatnas too are a mixture of both these languages. So now we needed a person who has not only commendable knowledge of music and literature but also has deep love for Bhagawan; it has to be someone who has seen Swami for decades and is fairly familiar with His life and message.
The person has to be a poet too. In fact writing lyrics for a kriti is one step beyond poetry. Sanskrit and Telugu have this tremendous ability to condense a lot into one sentence. But we needed someone who is a master of both these languages. Tyagaraja of course just sang from his heart; it seamlessly emerged from his being. But in Kaliyuga, where do we find a Tyagaraja?
One Tyagaraja now has to be segmented into two! Now where do we go for a musician who can compose without lyrics? We had no clue who is going to do the lyrics but Prof. Venkataraman felt that we should find someone who can give a structure to the kritis and based on this framework the lyrics could be written and retrofitted in. So based on these discussions with Sir, I would make a list of points to be covered for each of these kritis. In fact each kriti had a theme of its own.
The first one is about early life, His lineage, leelas , and so on. The second is about the divine aspect of Bhagawan — He is the maya manusha. The third is about the human aspect of Bhagawan — how He was so close to His students and gave Himself completely to them. The fourth is about His divine projects and activities. And the fifth is about His glory as well as His teachings. So for all of these kritis I had written about points each — ideas which could possibly be included while writing the lyrics.
After a lot of discussion, we went first to Mandolin Srinivas Sir. He was an epitome of humility — one of the greatest musical wizards the world will ever know. He had been coming to Swami since his childhood. There was always a radiance and a glow on his face. And when we mentioned to him that we want to do Pancharatna kritis on Bhagawan, his eyes just lit up!
You will not believe it, within a month he came up with five tunes with pallavi, anupallavi and charanams. CG : Yes. He had selected five ragas and created the tunes for the five Kritis. But now came the challenge.
We needed someone who is not only skilled in music but also is scholarly in literature, and of course is a devotee of Bhagawan. Only such a person could write the lyrics for the pre-composed music. Mandolin Srinivas Sir is an instrumentalist. So his break-up of swaras was very nice compared to what a vocalist would have done. Therefore it was all the more challenging. A few big names were suggested but we felt it has to be someone who has been a devotee for years.
She is a very good scholar and understands music too. I went to music college and met her. She was totally surprised.
Her name is Mrs. Vasantha Lakshmi. She is indeed a long standing devotee; she has been coming for nearly years. Besides being a scholar in Telugu and Sanskrit, she has also done her Masters and Doctorate in Music. When I told her about the project in detail, initially she was a bit nervous. This is purely Swami's prompting. Aunty then took up this project. She worked hard; she had to do justice to the tunes Mandolin Srinivas Sir had created.
So on one hand she had to keep in mind the theme of the song and on the other hand she had to make sure the lyrics suited the tune of the composition. I knew it was no easy task.
It was extremely difficult. But somehow she finally managed to fit in the words. BP : So the five kritis were now ready! We in fact did a rough recording and showed it to a few musicians for their frank opinions. See, this is where we should be really open to what Swami wants. The tune by itself is great.
The lyrics by itself too are great. But when they come together, at some places it sounds rushed in, at other places it is stretched, and so on. Why don't you take some more time? Now that you have the lyrics, maybe you can modify the tune accordingly to suit the lyrics. So if you see our journey so far, we started with the basic structure of music and then got the lyrics. But now we had to take the lyrics and change the tunes accordingly. So it had to be a give-and-take between the lyrics and the tune.
We did try this out. Still, we felt something was missing. It is at this point that the idea came up to present these lyrics to Mr. Raj Kumar Bharathi. Now Raj Kumar Bharathi Sir took the lyrics and started composing based on the ragas that came to him naturally. For instance, he had composed the second song in Mayamalavagowla raga. Mandolin Srinivas Sir too had chosen the same raga. But the way Bharathi Sir brought out the music was totally different.
The moment he saw the lyrics for the first song which is like a grand opening of the Sathya Sai Avatar with the glory of His birth, early life and so on, he felt the raga should be Gambheera Nattai. The songs selected their own ragas. CG : There are a lot of subtleties in these kritis.