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Gopalakrishna Bharathi (Tamil: கொபலக்ரிஷ்ன பரடி)

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Gopalakrishna Bharati – He was born the son of Shivaraama Bhaaratiyaar in the village Narimanam near NaagapaTTinam in Tamil NaaDu in 1810. He later lived in Mudikondan, Anaitandavapuram and Mayuram, places with which he later became associated. From childhood, he learned Carnatic music from every possible source, even from Ghanam Krishna Aiyyar, Hindustani from Raamadaas (as did Subbaraya Sastri), and Vedas from GOvinda Yati of Mayuram.

He lived life as a celibate, doing yoga and embracing no particular sect. He suffered and was outcast for the sake of composing and performing a katakalakshEbam on Tiruneelakanda Nayanar (one of 63 Shaivite saints, who was of a low caste). Mahaa Vidwan Meenakshisundaram PiLLai introduced him to his great friend whom he admired greatly VEdanaayakam PiLLai, who allowed Bhaaratiyaar to stay in his house and encouraged him to complete the famous Tamil opera “Nandanar Caritra Keertanai” which won Bhaaratiyaar much suffering because it centered around Nandan, another low caste saint among the 63.

This Nandanar Caritram was a great gift of Bhaaratiyaar – it describes how a Harijan (untouchable) saint Nandanar visited Tiruppungur where at the command of the deity, the bull Nandi which blocked teh entrance moved to the side to allow him to see the Shiva Linga from outside the temple. The composition describes the saint’s journey to Cidambaram along with 3000 Dikshitars and how he finally attained union with the Lord by fire. This piece includes both common and rare raagams, and different musical forms of Tamil NaaDu as well as MaharaashTra. The music is flowing and vigorous and dramatic. The piece was performed in many places and was once heard by the French Collector Seesay, who arranged its printing in 1861. Many men praised it and some popularized it by singing and acting. Bhaaratiyaar also composed 2 other operas, and many other keertanais.

The composer is said to have visited Tiruvaiyyaar to pay respects to Tyaagaraaja and composed Sabaa patikku after hearing a composition of Tyaagaraaja in aabhOgi sung by his disciples. He also composed pancaratna keertanais in Tamil in the same raagas as Tyaagaraaja had. The musicians Mahaa Vaidyanaata Aiyyar and Raamaswaamy Aiyyaroften learned from Bhaaratiyaar, as did the Tamil scholar Dr. U.V. Swaaminaata Aiyyar. His compositions are likely to number over a thousand, opera songs alone numbering 426. He died in 1896 at 86.


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