Venkataramana Bhagavatar deified Tyagaraja and perhaps regretted the economic necessities that made him migrate. He therefore taught his son music and when the latter was 16, he was sent to Tyagaraja to learn further. The introduction happened perhaps when Tyagaraja visited Walajahpet during his pilgrimage tour of 1839. Krishnaswami Bhagavatar learnt the violin while studying music under Tyagaraja’s guidance. This is the only instance of a father and son being disciples of the bard.
Rather uniquely, father and son were to write the earliest biographies of Tyagaraja as well. And rather refreshingly, there are hardly any myths. While Venkataramana Bhagavatar was to write of a second brother of Tyagaraja’s called Panchapakesayyah who died despite Tyagaraja’s earnest prayers to God to save him, latter day biographers have waxed eloquent on how Tyagaraja revived a dead man! The manuscript of Venkataramana Bhagavatar ends with Tyagaraja’s marriage to Kamalamba, sister of his short-lived first wife, Parvati.
Krishnaswami Bhagavatar’s biography traces the entire life of the composer including his visit to Madras. Significantly, neither father nor son mentions the famed tale behind the composition “Nidhi chala sukhama,” though both independently state that Tyagaraja was above material considerations. In addition Krishnaswami Bhagavatar wrote that ruler Serfoji invited Tyagaraja to the court many times only to have him refuse.
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