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KshEtrajna – (April 1600 -1680) Born in Andhra Pradesh, he hailed from the village of Muvva. This 17th century composer was originally called Varadayya. He learned music as a contemporary of VenkaTamakhi (author of the 72-melakartha scheme) and became a great scholar in the field. The musician composed and travelled, visiting temples and other sacred spots (kshEtras) in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, earning the name Kshetragna or Kshetrayya. He is still considered a great composer, though his compositions have only recently put down in notation.

His greatest contribution to music are his padams, composed mostly in Telugu, which he improved and composed in rare ragas, adding beautiful lyrics and moving tunes. The padams describe longing for the Lord and like Jayadeva, take the situation of naayaka-naayaki, lovers who feel sorrow on separation and jealousy. Many of his padams begin with the anupallavi, followed by the pallavi. He is credited with composing more than 4100 padams, and legend has it that he composed 1100 padams in four days! Kshetragnya’s padams are popular in both music and dance. Kshetragna seems to have been a great devotee of Gopala (Krishna), the presiding deity of his village. Thus, he chose the Mudra, Muvva Gopala, for his compositions. His mudra appears in any of the section of the Padam, as opposed to the usual norm where it appears in the last section. Popular compositions include Ramarama (Bhairavi), Gaddari (Kalyani), Yemandu namma (Kedaragowla), and Kontegadu (Surati).

Mudra: Muvva Gopaala, Muvva Gopaalaswaami

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