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Rare Music and Dance Composition of King Sahaji of Thanjavur (With Notation, Text and Meanings)

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Item Code: NAL377
Author: Smt. Madhavi Rajagopalan
Publisher: Giri Trading Agency Pvt Ltd, Chennai
Language: English and Tamil
Edition: 2014
ISBN: 9788179506516
Pages: 112
Cover: Paperback
Other Details 9.5 inch x 7.5 inch
Weight 170 gm
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Book Description
About the Author

Smt. Madhavi Rajagopalan obtained her M.Litt degree from the University of Madras on her research work on" Tamizh Padam Composers and their contribution to Carnatic Music".

She had her practical training in music from Padma Bhushan Sangita Kalanidhi Sri. T.N.Swaminatha Pillai and later from Sangita Kalanidhi Sri R.K.Srikantan. She also had special training in Tamizh Padams from Smt. T Jayammal and Sangita Kalanidhi Dr. T. Viswanathan. She is a graded artist of All India Radio and still performing at Chennai.

She has to her credit a number of lecture demonstrations given at various reputed organisations in Chennai, Bengaluru, Thiruvananthapuram and Delhi, besides many music concerts. She has and is still training a number of students both in India and abroad.


Here is a unique selection of 15 compositions of Sahaji Maharaj, the Marathi ruler of Thanjavur, carefully and skilfully presented in this compilation by Smt. Madhavi Rajagopalan. Sahaji Maharaja's genius is reflected in his title, "Abhinava Bhoja" and he is credited with about 500 compositions including some dance dramas. His "Pallaki Seva Prabandham" was published due to the efforts of Prof. Sambamoorthy way back in 1955 and it is significant that Smt. Madhavi had done her research for M.Litt Degree under this pioneer in Modern Indian Musicology. In fact my dance school Nrithyodaya had produced this dance drama at the request and guidance of Prof. Sambamoorthy in 1960 for forming part of the Sarva Vadya presentation at Cheyyar temple, where this colossus of the musicologist had managed to bring to light 100 old musical instruments.

Sahaji’s multifarious facets like literary, linguistic and aesthetic achievements got reflected in his works. Smt. Madhavi' s meticulous choice of compositions mirror his insight into music, dance, Alankara Sastra as well as his Bhakti. His multi lingual compositions seem to have paved the way for the later manipravala compositions of Svati Tirunal Maharaja. His ragamalika compositions reflect the tradition of including the raga mudra which again seems to have continued during the time of Muttusvami Diksitar. Musical forms such as the Todayam, Kauthvam, Padam, Sallamu and Jakkini seem to have existed in Sahaji's time. It is surprising that the form Prabandham which was popular in Venkatamakhi' s time continued to exist in his time.

Smt. Madhavi deserves to be congratulated for the rich variety in the selection of the songs in matters of the musical format, raga, tala, language and content. She has presented the original notations wherever available and composed the music based on the ragas and talas mentioned in the manuscript. She is not only a theoretician but also a singer of repute. She is blessed to be a disciple of stalwarts like T.Jayammal, T.N.Swaminatha Pillai and R.K.Srikantan, apart from being a close associate of the legendary T.Balasaraswati and her family. She has an indepth knowledge of Padam Sampradaya which was her topic for the dissertation for M.Litt Degree. Hence the present book is based on research methodology, giving the sahitya followed by notation and meaning in both Tamil and English.

In these days of linguistic frenzy, this book is an eye opener to the catholicity of our earlier composers and it reaffirms that our artistic tradition is beyond the restrictions of language, region and time. The book has been beautifully printed by Giri Trading Agency who are known for their values of heritage. This will be of immense use for the dance world.

I am very happy to note that some of these rare compositions addressed to Lord Tyagesa in the form of Padams depicting different Nayikas have already been taken for dance improvisation and presentation by Smt. Nandini Ramani, the worthy daughter of the great scholar Dr.V. Raghavan. This book will go a long way towards fostering our rich music and dance treasures.


The name of Sahaji Maharaja of Thanjavur is one to reckon, with reverence, not only for the Royal composer's patronage to music and dance, but also for his own compositions which provide an exquisite corpus for the twin fields of music and dance. Most of his works are in the form of manuscripts preserved in the Sarasvati Mahal Library at Thanjavur.

Padmabhushan Dr. V. Raghavan, an eminent authority in the fields of Music, Dance and Drama had written on the contribution of King Sahaji and presented a paper on the same subject at the annual conference of the sessions at the Music Academy in 1974. Earlier, Dr. Raghavan had edited the "Sahendra Vilasa" authored by Sri. Sridhara Ayyaval giving a comprehensive account thereof the literary activities of his times. This was published by the Sarasvati Mahal Library in 1952. An important dance drama called the "Pallaki Seva Prabandham" of Sahaji was originally codified by my revered guide, Padma Bhushan Professor P. Sambamoorthy, with the help of the text given by Dr. V. Raghavan and the songs rendered by dancer Smt. Veerarnmal was printed and published in 1955.

A book consisting of various compositions of Sahaji with text and notation in Tamizh, has been published by Sri. Srivanchiyam Ramachandra Iyer and Sri. N. Viswanathan, the then Telugu Pandit ofthe Sarasvati Mahal Library in 1988. A few more books on Sahaji's Padams have been published by the staff of the Sarasvati Mahal Library.

In 1998, when I visited, Sarasvati Mahal Library, mainly to study the compositions of Sri. Vasudeva Kavi, one of the court poets of King Sahaji, I met Sri.N.Viswanathan, the Telugu Pandit who helped me to go through the manuscripts of Sri.Vasudeva Kavi' s songs; he also explained to me about the various types of compositions of King Sahaji and their high standards. I was enthused to study the songs with a deeper attention and interest and in the process, I was inspired to work on King Sahaji' s compositions. This study over a long period, culminated with a lecture demonstration on the Royal Composer's contribution to music at the Music Academy in 2009, receiving wide acclaim. Again on request, I gave another lecture demonstration on the same subject in Bengaluru for a longer duration in May 2013.

To highlight some of the salient features of King Sahaji' s works, it would be interesting to note that most of his works were operas in different languages; each opera contained a story with a number of events and scenes enacted by various characters. There were also a few songs resembling the format of Padams in their meanings and expressions. The manuscripts contain compositions that have only the text with Svara Sahitya (notation) not mentioned. Some have the name of the Raga and Tala and many do not have even these.

In assembling the musical format for Sahajis compositions, I have adhered very meticulously to the same Raga and Ta!a as specified by the king. In this work, my process has been nourished with a musical knowledge personally received from my own illustrious gurus, flute maestro, Sangita Kalanidhi T. N. Swaminatha Pillai and Smt. T. Jayammal, the renowned exponent of Padam and Javali and the mother of Sangita Kalanidhi T. Balasaraswati. Hence my training through practical sessions of Padam and Javali singing, from the oral traditions of these eminent masters, have guided me in a proper procedure of notating the compositions, thereby creating a collection of dance- musical repertoire for the benefit of performing artists.

Fifteen songs of different varieties have been chosen by me for this publication for which I have provided text, notation and meanings in both Tamizh and English. I am sure this collection will be used by musicians and dancers and will get propagated through their performances. Such an effort from the artistic community will be a great service to the popularization of the exquisite Bhakti laden compositions of the devout king composer, Sahaji Maharaja of Thanjavur.

I would like to thank profusely Smt. Nandini Ramani, Bharatanatyam Exponent and Managing Trustee of Dr. V. Raghavan Centre for Performing Arts, for all the support and encouragement given to me throughout the project and also providing the meanings for the songs and correcting the text.

My sincere thanks are due to Dr. T. V. Vasudeva, Scholar in Sanskrit and Marathi and the Deputy Director of Sri. Kuppuswami Sastri Research Institute, Chennai, for helping me in transliterating and translating all the compositions; I thank Sri. D. Ravi, Telugu Pandit of the Sarasvati Mahal Library, Thanjavur for assisting and reading the manuscripts.

I acknowledge Smt. Nandini Ramani, for introducing me to the publishers of this book, MIS Giri Trading Agency, well known patrons of our Culture and Heritage. I wish to thank the Giri Trading Agency for readily accepting my request and undertake this publication.

My sincere thanks are due to Dr. Padma Subrahmanyam, veteran exponent of Bharatanrityam, herself a senior musician, musicologist, composer, dance scholar and choreographer for giving her valuable foreword to this publication.


The Maratha ruler, King Ekoji, after defeating the Nayak rulers of Vijayanagar Empire, took over Thanjavur in 1673 and became the king. His son, Sahaji Maharaja became the next king who ruled between 1684 and 1712.

King Sahaji was a great scholar and patron of arts and literature. His versatility extended in both Sangha and in Sahitya, His patronage was so great that he was called the "Abhinava Bhoja". Sahaji also created a colony in Tiruvisanallur near Kumbhakonam to accommodate 45 musicians and writers from all over the South. He donated the village and renamed it as "Saharajapuram" or "Sahajirajapuram". His period may be described as the golden era of literature, art, religion and philosophy in the Cauvery Delta. Hence he earned the title of "Daksina Bhoja". His erudition in all aspects of art emanated in innumerable dance and music compositions in different languages. His court poets were all great writers and scholars in Sanskrit; his mother tongue was Marathi. Sahaji’s father was originally a feudatory of the Sultan of Bijapur where the court language was Hindustani. The language of the people in the state of Thanjavur was of course Tamizh. The court language of the then Nayak rulers was Telugu. In view of the above reasons, Sahaji became a versatile linguist which could be seen in his own short work "Panca Bhasa Vilasa Nataka" consisting of five languages. His Mudra or signature was "Sahendra" or "Sahanuta" as found in many of his compositions.

Sahaji had authored a number of works comprising of Drama, Poetry, Prabandha, Darus, Padams and technical treatises like Raga Laksana. He had composed Pada sahityas, for more than 500, in Marathi and Telugu. *There are around 20 Telugu Dance Dramas, 22 in Marathi, 3 in Hindi and one each in Tamizh and Sanskrit. These operas consist of philosophical, devotional and romantic types of songs. We find the name of his family deity, "Tyagesa" in many of his Padams. The precious collections of these Padams, preserved for posterity in the Sarasvati Mahal Library, have been classified on the basis of the themes as Bhakti Padams, Bhava Padams, Vairagya Padams, Srngara Padams, Hasya Padams, Nlti Padams etc. There are totally around 208 Padams in number.

Sahaji was an Advaitin and a staunch devotee of Lord Tyagesa of Tiruvarur. It is said that he used to have his mid day meal only after ascertaining that the mid day worship of Lord Tyagesa was completed at Tiruvarur, which fact was conveyed to him by a system of relay bells.

A study of some of Sahaji's works reveals that the four Prabandhas namely the Sankara Pallaki Seva, Visnu Pallaki Seva, Pancaratna and Tyagaraja Vinoda Citra represent unique productions wherein the dramatic, literary, musical and dance elements find a fine co-ordination. It may be construed that he was more interested in the art of dance rather than in a regular music pattern. Several of his compositions contain Jatis and Cittasvaras. Besides common Rakti ragas, he has handled rare Ragas also like Padi, Lalita Pancarmam, Saindhavi, Revagupti etc. and also rare Talas like Hamsa Lila, Simhanandana etc. besides the Suladi Sapta Talas . There are many technical beauties found in his songs like Svaraksaras, Yamakam (alliteration) and Slesas (double meaning).

Last but not the least, Sahaji Maharaja had made a valuable contribution to the Science of music by analyzing the Raga Laksanas for Twenty Melas and Hundred Janya ragas. His own work containing his views on the Science of music is known as the "Sahaji Raga Laksanamulu". His monumental works have still remained UNKNOWN or partially known, without a comprehensive study of his compositions, leading to a publication, for greater dissemination to the dance and music fields.

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