Carnatic Music Krithis

By P. R. Ramachander

Most of the lyrics have been taken from different web sites. There is a possibility of typographical errors. There is a possibility of errors in translation also. I humbly request readers to point out these to me, So that I can correct them.

Krithis in Telugu:

The classical music of South India is known as Carnatic Music. These are written in Sanskrit as well as all the South Indian Languages viz., Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and Malayalam.

The most popular in these are Krithis (compositions) written in Telugu. Possibly this is because Telugu with all its words ending in vowels is most suited to this type of music. The greatest pioneering Vaggeyakaras (people who wrote lyrics to suit this music) are Saint Thayagaraja, Saint Annamacharya and Shyama Shastri. Most of my translations from Telugu are the compositions of Thyagaraja. I have a working knowledge of Telugu and have perforce consulted other translations.

Krithis in Kannada:

As the name of the classical music of South India suggests, it might have originated in the Kannada speaking places. Though there are several Vaggeya Karas the most prominent among them is Purandara Dasa.

Purandara Dasa (1484-1564) is possibly one of the greatest names associated with Carnatic music and considered as the Father of Carnatic music. He belonged to Karnataka and wrote his songs mostly in Kanada. Since he was one of those minstrel poets of that era, trying to popularize devotion to God, he mostly wrote in colloquial Kannada of those days. He is credited to have written more than 40000 songs. Only few of these are available now. His name was Srinivasa Nayaka and he belonged to the rich merchant community. Some incidents in life made him give away all his property and become a minstrel mendicant. He was the one who systematized the teaching of Carnatic music. His greatness is indicated by the fact that even today his method is followed and the first Carnatic song which is taught to the student is his composition. Apart from songs on devotion, he has also sung about the different aspects of day to day life. He was followed by the minstrels of God called Dasas in composition of this type of music till recently. In the modern times several people have taken up the job of composing these songs.

I am again having a very good working knowledge of Kannada but I am mostly confining myself to songs which are simple and easy to understand.

Krithis in Tamizh:

Most popular classical carnatic songs sung are either composed in Telugu or in Sanskrit. Possibly this started because of the musical trinity of Thivaiyaru and due to the excellence of their compositions. It is well known that there were many forerunners of great composers who wrote in Tamil. These compositions are poetically excellent and there are very large number of great composers who wrote in Tamil. The Tamil Trinity (also known as the Tamil Moovar) commonly refers to the three Tamil composers of early Carnatic music. They were Muthu Thandavar (1560 - 1640 CE), Arunachala Kavi (1712-1779) and Marimutthu Pillai (1717-1787) and lived five decades before the Tiruvarur Trinity or Trinity of Carnatic Music. They introduced several innovations that led to the evolution of the Carnatic Kriti (song). Oothukadu Venkada Subbayyar, Gopakrishna Bharathi, Arunachala Kavi are examples.

Krithis in Malayalam:

Though there are great exponents of Carnatic music in Kerala, very few of them composed music in Malayalam. The greatest composer of Kerala was of course Maha Raja Swathi Thiru Naal. He also devoted his attention in composing songs in Sanskrit, Tamil, Telugu and even Hindi. There are very few songs written in Malayalam by him. The greatest Malayalam composer was Irayamman Thampi. His writings were popularized by Chembai Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar and Sri Jesudas.

Krithis in Sanskrit:

The Carnatic music is the Indian classical music of the South Indian states. In the initial stages the Sanskrit Sthothras were sung in the classical music Raga. Slowly compositions to suit the Raga were being written. The first voluminous contribution to this end was by Sage Purandara Dasa in Kannada. He too wrote a few Krithis in Sanskrit. There was a great contribution of Tamil lyrics immediately afterwards. The next great contribution towards this was by the musical trinity of Thiruvayaru. Of the trinity while Thyagaraja mostly wrote in Telugu, Muthu Swami Deekshithar and Shyama Shasrigal wrote mainly in Sanskrit. After this all these languages became popular for writing lyrics.