tTyaagaraaja - Among the most famous of Carnatic composers and considered the greatest of the Carnatic music trinity, he was the third son born to RAmabrahmam and SItamma in 1767. His grandfather was GirirAja Kavi, a great Sanskrit poet. He began his musical training in 1782 under Sonti VenkaTarAmanayya and learned a number of songs from his mother. He lost his first wife but married Kamalamba in 1790. In 1802, he was invited to perform at his teacher's house before a select group of musicians - he sang bilahari and then the kriti "Dorukuna ituvanTi." At anotehr time, he sang at the request of his guru, beginning at 8 p.m. and finishing only at 4 a.m. Serfoji Maharaja heared of his performance and invited him to visit the temple to be rewarded, but TyAgarAja rejected the offer, singing "Nidhi cAla sukhama?" in kalyANi, which means Does abundance of wealth bring happiness? The king realized his mistake and visited the saint-composer, who cured him of a stomachache. In 1805 TyAgarAja lost an idol of RAma, thrown into the river Cauvery by his brother, but got it back after 3 months. When he lost the idol, he sang sadly "Endu dAgi nAdo," Where has He gone and hidden Himself? TyAgarAja usually went from strIt to strIt singing and begging for rice. Once a sage named Haridas asked him to recite the name of RAma 960 million times. After doing so, TyAgarAja went to offer his prayer when he heard a knock on his dUr. RAma, SIta, and HanumAn were entering his prayer rUm and he was blessed to sI the coronation of RAma. Moved with wonder and devotion, he sang "BAlakanagamaya" (the anupallavi of the kritis "Ela nI dayarAdhu" and "Bhavanuta"). In 1810 his daughter was married, and his disciple WalajapeTTai Vekataramana BhAgavatar brought a picture of RAma, walking all the way from WalajapeTTai to TiruvaiyAr. TyagarAja sang "Nannu pAlimpa," overwhelmed by this act. Once he visited Tirupati, but when he went to the temple, it was closed. In sadness, he sang "TeratiyagarAdA" and the temple officials gathered round in admiration when they saw the dorr opening by itself and the scrIn falling aside. He sang "VenkaTEsha ninu sEvimpa" in his happiness at sIing the Lord. TyAgarAja's compositions include the Ghana RAga Pancaratnam (5 gems) in rAgams nATTai, gowLa, Arabi, shrIrAgam, and varALi, his most famous and scholarly contributions to Carnatic music, and he delighted in singing them. At the request of KOvUr Sundaram MudaliAr, he sang the 5 kritis of the KOvar Pancaratnam. When he visited TiruvOTTiyUr at the request of his disciple VInai Kuppayyar, he sang the TiruvOTTiyUr Pancaratnam. At the invitation of his disciple LAlguDi RAmayya, he composed the LAlguDi Pancaratnam. He also composed the ShrIranga Pancaratnam in praise of RanganAta of ShrIrangam and 5 kritis in praise of Sage NArada. His numerous kritis include beautiful rAgam, bhAvam and tALam, with lovely lyrics, music, and devotion. 690 kritis in 160 rAgams are available today. In 1847 TyAgarAja became a hermit, and the next day, on January 6, he died in the presence of his disciples at the age of 80.
Muttuswaamee Dikshitar - The youngest of the Carnatic Musical Trinity was born in 1776, brought up with 2 brothers and a sister with great care and acquiring proficiency in both music and Sanskrit. His family moved to Manali, where he became a disciple of Cidambaranaata Yogi and went to Varanaasi. For 5 years he stayed there and learned Hindustani music, especially the Dhrupad style of music. After his guru died, he returned to the south and came to the holy shrine of Tiruttani to pray and meditate before Lord Subramanya. One day the Lord appeared to him, asked him to open his mouth, placed a piece of sugar candy in his mouth, and disappeared. After this, Dikshitar began composing beautiful kritis. The first piece he sang was "ShreenataDi guruguhO jayati jayati." Then he went to Kaanceepuram and sang songs in praise of Ekaambaratanaata and Kaamaakshi. He visited various temples to compose songs, from the TaamrapaaNi River (Shree kaantimateem) and Rameshwaram (Raamanaatham bhajEham) to Kaasi (Kaasi visaalakshi). Then he returned to Tiruvaaroor, where he gathered disciples and taught them his composition. His brothers became proficient at rendering his compositions as well and went to Madurai to teach these songs. Once, because of poverty, Dikshitar did not have the means to make his offerings to the deity. His disciple, the famous dancer Kamalam, offered to pledge her jewels and raise the money. He refused and composed "Tyaagaraajam bhajarE," trusting in God. Soon 2 cartloads of food and articles reached his house as a gift from the manager of the choultry. After the death of his brother Cinnaswaami, his brother Baalaswaami left and was made a Samastaana Vidwaan at ETTayapuram in 1824. Dikshitar left to meet his suriving brother, and on the way fervently sang "Aanandaamruta" in amritavarshini, seeing the dry condition of the land. Apparently, there was a heavy downpour soon afterward. Dikshitar met his brother and attended his marriage as well. Then he returned to Tiuvaaroor. His group kritis include the navagraha kritis in praise of the 7 principal planets and the Kamalaambaa navaavarana kritis - 9 songs in praise of the deity of Tiruvaaroor. He also composed small kritis with SamaashTi caraNams (which include both Anupallavi and CaraNam). 461 songs in 191 raagams are available today. He used characteristic phrases of raagam and was a master of rhyme. He often chose a slow tempo. In 1835 he went to ETTaiyapuram to attend a marriage in the royal family and stayed there. "Meenaakshi mE mudam" is supposed to be one of his last compositions, created in Madurai on his way to ETTaiyapuram, where he passed away on October 21, 1835.
Shyaamaa Shaastree - This member of the Carnatic Music Trinity was born in 1762 and became well-versed in Sanskrit and Telegu early on. At 18 he moved from Tiruvaaroor to Tanjaavoor with his family and became a great devotee of Bangaaru Kaamaakshi. He began learning music from his uncle but then became a devout disciple of Sangeeta Swaami, and then of Pacimiriam ADiappayyar. Even when young, he began composing keertanams in Sanskrit and Telegu, especially on Fridays, when he meditated in the presence of his favorite deity. One day, when he went to PudukoTTai and offered prayers to the temple, a stranger asked him to go to Madurai and compose a few kritis in honor of the presiding deity Meenaakshi. He began the next day on his journey to Madurai to compose nine kritis, his navaratnamaalika. He is considered the creator of the song form swarajati - originally a dance form, but he made it a beautiful musical piece by removing the jatis. The raagam aananda bhairavi is considered his property because 5 of his compositions expound the raagam so fully. Most of his songs are in Telegu, with a few in Sanskrit and Tamil. He had a preference for the caapu taalam (especially mishra caapu, 4 plus 3). Only 47 compositions in 29 raagams are available today. His disciples include Alasur Krishnayaar, Subbaraaya Shaastree, and TaarangambaDi Pancanaatayyar. He died on February 6, 1827 at 65.