Of art and music: Enjoying bhava in Trinity

For a musical composition to be meaningful and beautiful, it should be rich in bhava.

We are aware the ultimate aim of every composer and musician is to achieve the coalescence of the essential factors of classical music - bhava, raga and tala. We know that bhava literally means expression. In a composition, bhava encompasses rasa, raga and laya. 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, 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 manner and devotion is the predominating 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 of Thyagaraja, Dikshitar and Syama Sastri who were contemporaries in the 18th century. Considering bhava in Thyagaraja's compositions, we can say that he has mainly drawn his perspective from the Ramayana. Thyagaraja appeals to Rama in various moods, expressing his lofty thoughts in simple spoken Telugu. When we look at Dikshitar's expression of bhava in his compositions, which is very different from that of Thyagaraja, it strikes us that firstly, the choice of the language - Sanskrit lends dignity and richness to his compositions. A Vedantin, philosopher and a mature devotee, his language never descends to a mundane level.

In Syama Sastri, we can 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, and his feelings flow abundantly and spontaneously in his compositions. Both he and Thyagaraja address their chosen deities in a familiar and personal manner and in colloquial Telugu.

(The writer is a well known music critic who has won awards both in India and abroad for propagation of classical arts and music)

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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