Sogasu Juda Tarama – A spiritually elevating experience

The other day I was listening to a Thyagaraja kriti SOGASU JUDA TARAMA in the raga KANNADA GAULA sung by the great musician Madurai Mani Iyer. (I have uploaded this song at this link to share my experience). The rendering of the song was so scintilating that I instantly fell in love with it. It was just a 7 minute piece and within that short time the musician transported me into a completely new world. What is it about this song and the rendering that captivated me?:

First and foremost is the SAHITYAM, which is in very simple Telugu.  ‘SOGASU’ in telugu means Beauty. Thyagaraja, in this song, is glorifying the beauty of Rama….. Besides the captivating beauty of the Lord, nicely brought out in the Sahityam, one is treated with beauty in several dimensions – the stunning simplicity of the language, skillful usage of phrases as he describes Srirama’s face shining with glossy cheeks, His red lips resembling a Bimba fruit, His charming smile,  Forelocks beautifully decorating His face etc. The simplicity of the SAHITYAM is matched every bit by the brilliant rendering of the song by  Madurai Mani Iyer. To elaborate on the great maestro’s rendering of the song, Mani Iyer (as he is fondly referred to by his fans) chooses the right tempo for the song (neither too fast nor too slow) laying emphasis at the right words and phrases. And his  ‘swara kalpana’ is excellent as usual, bringing out rich ‘raga bhava’ with each phrase. In particular, watch out for the moment when the artist reaches a crescendo by touching on the Swaras GA & MA in the higher octave. That is, indeed, a magical moment! It is a double treat for the listeners as Lalgudi Jayaraman, accompanying on violin, matches Mani Iyer phrase for phrase in KALPANA SWARAS and at times even improvised over the vocalist’s efforts.

I guess the listeners of music are more privileged than either the composer or the musician because as listeners, we are exposed to all the above dimensions of beauty at the same time. The composer is merely immersed in the beauty of the Lord, while we, as listeners of the song, are thrice-blessed to experience  the beauty of the Lord besides the  ‘sahitya bhava’ of the composition and the musician’s brilliant rendering – all adding to a great mystical experience!

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