Srimad Venkataramana Bhagavathar was the devoted chief disciple of Sadguru Sri Tyagaraja. He was instrumental in
recording the numerous compositions of Tyagaraja in palm leaves for posterity. Nearly 26 years he served his Guru and earned
his appreciation and blessings which is evidenced by the kritis of Tyagaraja.
One such kriti is 'Nannu palimpa' in Mohana raga which was sung in ecstasy at the time when Venkataramana Bhagavathar
presented the portrait of Sri Kothandarama on the eve of the marriage of the daughter of Tyagaraja.
This Boswell of Tyagaraja was born on 18.2.1781 to Nannusamy of Ayyampettai of Thanjavur District in Tamil Nadu.
He was a child born as the Grandson of Kuppaiyer who was father of Nannusamy in answer to his prayer
to have a son of great music knowledge. Besides Sourashtram, his mother tongue, he learnt Sanskrit and Telugu
and became a scholar. His longing for music drove him to the house of Tyagaraja in Thiruvayyaru. Initially he used to
listen the music standing outside the house of Tyagaraja. Later this was noticed by Tyagaraja at the instance
of his wife and asked Venkataramana whether he would like to learn the music from him. Venkataramana was very
happy to join the band of Tyagaraja's disciples and started taking keen care of his Guru by rendering all the
services needed for day to day life for a number of years until he settled in Walajapet for his livelihood.
Initially Venkataramana was a bit slow in grasping the lessons taught by his Guru. Noticing this Tyagaraja prayed
Sri Rama and composed "Gnanamosagaradha" in Shadvidhamargini raga to bestow the knowledge of music to Venkataramana.
From next day onwards Venkataramana became an expert in music and was able to record all kritis in palm leaves.
He also recorded the brief biography of Tyagaraja. In later years he also composed songs in Telugu emulating his guru
with his own mudra 'Ramachandrapura vara Venkataramana'. His handwriting was very beautiful like printing which
is evidenced by the bound paper volume Pothana Telugu Bhagavatham which is still preserved by Madurai Sourashtra
Sabha along with all the palm leaves and paper manuscripts written by Venkataramana and his son Krishnasamy Bhagavathar.
Venkatarama's devotion to Tyagaraja continued even after his settlement at Walajapet. When Tyagaraja visited Walajapet,
Venkataramana requested his Guru to stay with him for 12 days doing Bhajans. When he was taken through the procession on the last day,
Venkataramana's disciple Mysore Sadasiva Rao composed the song ''Tyagarajaswami vedalina'' in todi raga and recorded this event.
Venkataramana attained mukthi on 15-12-1874. His descendants handed over the relics of Tyagaraja like Paduka, Tambura, etc.
to Madurai Sourashtra Sabha where they are preserved. His Jayanti day celebrations are held at Ayyampettai every
year where a number of his disciples and carnatic music lovers pay their homage.
Courtesy: Sri O.S.Subramanian's posting on the internet.
Srimath Venkataramana Bhagavatha Seva Samajam, Madurai, a registered body had
been striving hard in several ways for the last few decades.They are conducting Bhagavathar's Jayanthi(Birthday)
festival every year to last for three days,when music concerts are held singing
the kiritis of Srimath Bhagavathar.To immortalize his memory, a separate shrine
duly installing his idols had been constructed in the premises of Sri Prasanna
Venkatesa Perumal Temple of Sourashtra Sabha at Madurai and the same was
consecrated on February 11th 2008.
The Samajam at Madurai had also been taking ceaseless efforts to the last more
than a year with the Government of India to bring out a commemorative postage stamp in honour
of Srimath Venkataramana Bhagavathar and the same have fructified in that
the department of post,Government of India, have arranged to release the stamp
depicting the portrait of Srimath Venkataramana Bhagavathar on December 27th 2009 at
Madurai.A grand function has been organised by the proponents, Srimath
Venkataramana Bhagavatha Seva Samajam, Madurai for the release of the stamp.
Musicians,music lovers and general public,especially those belonging to the
Sourashtra Community to which Srimath Venkataramana Bhagavathar belonged
participated in the function. (Below are the photos taken during the installation of
Sri Bhagavadar's idol at Sri Prasanna Venkatesa Perumal temple, Madurai. More photos can be found in photos section.)
Book on Sri Venkataramana Bhagavadar - By KR Sethuraman