Appreciation Essay

Chosen Composition: ‘Nidhi Chala Sukhama’ by Sri Tyagaraja Swamy

Aarohanam: S R2 G3 M2 P D2 N3 S

Aavarohanam: S N3 D2 P M2 G3 R2 S

Also called Mechakalyani, it is the 65th raga on the melakarta scale.

Kalyani is an evening raga and as it is said to be mood-setter, it is sung quite early on in a concert. There are simply hundreds of compositions in Kalyani. It also has a number of very popular Janya ragas like Yaman Kalyani, Hameer Kalyani etc. A few well known compositions are Vanajakshi varnam by Pallavi Gopala Iyer, Nidhi chala sukhama by Tyagaraja Swamy.

A raga with soothing touch in Prati Madhyamam lending the compassionate touch.

Scholarly exposition:

When melody underlines Sangita, the exposition gains in classical elegance. At the hands of a vidwan, the music’s beauty is enhanced in raga alapana and rendering of kritis.

In Kalyani alapana, it can be taken to best ranges and create spectaluar magic in effect. The lyrical articulation, can go beyond the platitudes of exposition. There is no music sans feeling.

In the dhatu of this popular kriti, it is seen at once how the Pallavi is of a tune not to be commonly seen in other kritis. It has a telling opening phrase with Samvadi swaras as “g d p”.

Context of Kriti:

The king Sharaboji maharaja, on coming to hear of Tyagaraja’s performance before Sonti Venkataramayya, which made Thanjavur Asthana Vidwans forget their courtly duties, wanted Tyagaraja to sing in his praise.

Tyagaraja was offered ten veils (26 ha) of land and “Bullion of gold” along with the invitation to the kings asthanam.

So, Tyagaraja pleases his good conscience to utter the truth if egoistic pleasure and praises of people, king please him or singing in praise of Lord Rama.

After composing this master piece Tyagaraja Swamy firmly says NO to materialistic wealth and opts to reject the kings offer.

Summary or the Essence of the Kriti:

Tyagaraja Swamy has chosen this raga because Kalyani when sung with devotion can eliminate fear. Here Tyagaraja Swamy had a fear of getting carried away by worldly pleasures because he wanted to stay selfless devotee of Sri Rama forever. Either ways Kalyani suits the best for emotional nature of this Kriti.

This kriti is a conversation between Tyagaraja swamy and his mind. There are a set of questions which he asks his mind to know about his self better. It is essential to note the tone in which the part “Nijamuga paluku manasa” is sung in the Pallavi, the words are given a kind of pressure to get a firm reply. He asks his mind if a lot of wealth gives him peace or Rama’s service gives him more pleasure.

In the Anupallavi he talks about the things which please the tongue. He asks “O Mind, does curd, butter and milk taste better or does meditation and chanting the holy names of Lord Rama taste better! Tell me honestly.” One more important thing to notice is as soon as the anupallavi is over the Pallavi closing lines are sung (i.e., Nijamuga  Paluku Manasa is connected and not Nidhi chala sukhama), this is done because it not only enhances the beauty but also adds a lot of meaning.

In the Charanam part Tyagaraja Swamy asks his self if taking bath in the holy waters of Ganga more blissful or bath in a filthy well. The holy Ganga is compared to self control and the filth is compared to the unwanted desires of life.

In the conclusion part of the charanam Tyagaraja swamy leads to the main concept of the kriti.

This is the essence of this kriti.

When Tyagaraja questions in all humility in Kalyani whether nidhi (wealth) chala sukhama; Ramuni sannidhi chala sukhama?”, the notation aptly conveys his joy and his detachment to the materialistic world.

This kriti expresses a sort of indignation at the common man’s neglect of religious life and pursuit of worldly things, is the main reason why I appreciate this kriti.