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Thyagraja Thyagaraja (1767-1847) is hailed as 'the King of Carnatic Music'. Born and bred in a highly cultured family, Tyagaraja was a profound scholar and poet. He studied Sanskrit and astrology and was a highly trained musician, having been the disciple of Sonthi Venkataramanayya, one of the foremost singers of the day. Thyagaraja is credited with the invention of 'Sangatis' and with numerous other creative ideas in rhythm. Thyagaraja's most famous compositions are the five Pancharatna Kritis set in the Ragams Nattai, Goulai, Arabhi, Varali and Sree. Apart from thousands of songs of kriti type, he composed utsava sampradaya keertanas and divya nama sankeertanas which are sung in devotional congregations. Even today most Carnatic concerts are dominated by his compositions. He has also created two operas: Prahlada Bhakti Vijayam and Nauka charitram. While a number of his songs exist in Sanskrit, the majority of them, including the operas, are in Telugu. It is not known how many songs he has composed, but nearly a thousand songs are available at present, completely notated and interpreted. Thyagaraja is regarded as the combination of Vedanta, devotion and literary treatment. He took sanyasa towards the end of his life and attained samadhi on Pusya Bahula Panchami on 6 January 1847. At his samadhi in Tiruvayyaru, where a shrine has been built in his honour, his anniversary day becomes an annual pilgrimage, visited by hundreds of musicians who pay tribute to his genius by rendering his compositions/songs en masse. This has come to be known as the Thyagaraja Festival.

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