Tyagayya or Tyagaraja was one of the supreme creative composers of Carnatic music or Indian classical music and extremely significant in the development of the classical music tradition. His original name was Kakarla Tyagabrahmam and was born on 4 May 1767 at Kurnool District, Andhra Pradesh to Kakarla Ramabrahma and Sitamma, a Telugu Brahmin couple. He was named Tyagabrahmam or Tyagaraja after the name of the presiding deity of the temple at Tiruvarur.
Tyagaraja was born to a family that had the tradition of music. His paternal grandfather Giriraja Kavi was a poet and musician and maternal grand father Kalahastayya/Veena kalahastayya was a Veena player. In the early days of his childhood, Tyagaraja learned playing Veena from Kalahastayya.
He composed thousands of devotional compositions, praising of Lord Shrirama. Today also many of them are very much admired. In his honour, his five compositions the Pancharatna Kritis (English: “five gems”) are presented in concerts.
At an early age Tyagaraja had his musical training under Sonti Venkata Ramanayya. For him music was an approach to reach to God. He always practiced music devotionally. In his teens, he composed his first song, ‘Namo Namo Raghavayya’, which was in the Desika Todi ragam and wrote on the walls of the house. His musical guru Sonti Venkataramanayya informed the Thanjavur king about the child prodigy Tyagaraja . With an invitation to attend the royal court, the king sent wealthy gifts. On the contrary, Tyagaraja had never any intention for a career at the court. So, on such a circumstance, while declining the invitation out-and-out, he composed another kriti, Nidhi Chala Sukhama (English: “Does wealth bring happiness?”).
Angered by this, Tyagaraja’s Shriram prayer statues were thrown into nearby Kaveri river. Incapable to accept the parting with his Lord, Tyagaraja went on pilgrimages and composed many songs in honor of the temples deities there. He would sing his compositions sitting before Lord Shriram statue, while his disciples recorded the composition details.
Tyagaraja , who was so absorbed in Shriram devotion that he never bothered about the worldly comforts. He didn’t methodically complie his musical output. Most of his unparalleled musical work is lost due to natural and man-made calamities.
Tyagaraja Aradhana, is a tributory week-long music festival held every year at Thiruvaiyaru in the months of January to February in his honour. A crater on the planet Mercury is named Tyagaraja.
On the 6th January 1847 he left this wolrd forever to be with his Lord Shriram.