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Syama Sastri

Syama Sastri
Born 1762
Tiruvarur, Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu
Occupation Composer
Nationality Indian
Genre Carnatic music
Music of India
File:A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735.jpg
A Lady Playing the Tanpura, ca. 1735 (Rajasthan)
Media and performance
Music awards
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    Syama Sastri (also commonly transliterated as Shyama Shastri) (1762–1827) is one of the most renowned composers of Carnatic music. He is the oldest among the Trinity of Carnatic music, Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar being the other two.[1]


    SYAMA SASTRI was born to Visvanatha Iyer and Vengalakshmi on April 2, 1762.[2] He was a Tamil speaking brahmin known as Auttara Vadama. Visvanatha Iyer and his forefathers were archakas in the temple of Goddess Bangaru Kamakshi. Syama Sastri's actual name was Venkata Subrahmanya.

    Although Śyāma Śastri did not compose as so many kr̥ti-s as his two prolific contemporaries, his compositions are still well known due to the literary value. It is said that he composed about three hundred pieces in all.

    He did not have many disciples to propagate his compositions, nor was the printing press an easy convenience during his time. More importantly, the scholarly nature of his compositions was not appealing to the layperson, they needed to be studied to be savoured.In his compositions there is a perfect blend of Supreme Bhakti (Utmost Devotion), Manodharma Bhavam with adequate Sahityam, but very important all put into the cup of Absolute Talam (Rhythm).

    He composed in Telugu and Sanskrit, mostly on goddess Kāmākṣhī.

    He composed kr̥ti(s), varṇa(s) and svarajati(s) with the ankita or mudra (signature) Śyāma Kr̥ṣṇa. He was probably the first to compose in a new form of the svarajati musical genre. Prior to this, the svarajati was primarily a dance form, and was close in structure to the dance Varṇaṃ (padavarṇaṃ).

    His set of three famous svarajati(s) are intended to be sung in concert rather than danced, and are sometimes referred to as "Ratnatrayam" (Three jewels). They are in ragas Bhairavi, Yadukula kambhoji and Todi, and are called Kāmākṣhī Anudinamu, Kāmākṣhī Padayugamē, and Rāvē himagiri kumāri, respectively. The former two are set to Miśra Cāpu Tāḷa, while the third is set to Ādi Tāḷa.

    He was known for his ability to compose in the most complex of Tāḷa(s).[3] He was also known as "Talaprasthara Shyama Sastri" in music circles in those days. He was as adept in composing in rare ragas as he was in composing the popular ones. He was widely revered for his voice and singing ability during his time.


    Syama Sastri's son, the illustrious Subbaraya Sastri (1803–1862), had the unique privilege of learning under each of the trinity. His kritis with the signature 'Kumara' are known for encapsulating the entire structure of a raga in the space of a single composition. Syama Sastri's adopted grandson, Annasvami Shastri (1827–1900), was also a fine composer.


    The below sections mention some of his compositions.

    Svara Jati

    Composition Raga Tāḷa Language Description
    Kāmākṣhī anudinamu maruvakanē
    కామాక్షీ అనుదినము మరువకనే
    Bhairavi Miśra Cāpu Telugu
    Kāmākṣhī padayugame sthiramaninē
    Yadukulakamboji Miśra Cāpu Telugu
    Rāvē himagiri kumāri
    రావే హిమగిరి కుమారీ
    Todi Ādi Telugu


    Composition Raga Tāḷa Language Description
    Śaṅkari Śaṃkuru candra mukhī
    Sanskrit: शङ्करि शंकुरु चन्द्र मुखी
    Telugu Script: శఙ్కర శంకురు చన్ద్ర ముఖీ
    Sāvēri Ādi – Tiśra Gati Sanskrit
    kanaka śaila vihāriṇī
    Sanskrit: कनक शैल विहारिणी
    Telugu Script: కనక శైల విహారిణీ
    Punnāga Varāḷi Ādi Sanskrit
    Birāna varālicci brōvave
    బిరాన వరాలిచ్చి బ్రోవవె
    Kaḷyāṇi Ādi – Tiśra Gati Telugu
    Dēvī brōva samayamu
    దేవీ బ్రోవ సమయము
    Cintāmaṇi Telugu
    Himādri sutē pāhimāṃ
    హిమాద్రి సుతే పాహిమాం
    Kaḷyāṇi Ādi Telugu
    Māyammā yani nē pilacite
    మాయమ్మా యని నే పిలచితె
    Ahiri Ādi Telugu
    Mari vērē gati evvarammā
    మరి వేరే గతి ఎవరమ్మా
    Anandabhairavi Miśra Cāpu Telugu
    Nannu brōvu lalitā
    నన్ను బ్రోవు లలితా
    Lalita Miśra Cāpu Telugu
    O jagadambā nannu
    ఓ జగదమ్బా నన్ను
    Anandabhairavi Ādi Telugu
    Pārvati ninu nē nera nammiti
    పార్వతీ నిను నే నెర నమ్మితి
    kalkaḍa Telugu
    Sarōja daḷa nētri himagiri putrī
    సరోజ దళ నేత్రి హిమగిరి పుత్రీ
    śaṃkarābharaṇaṃ Ādi Telugu
    Tallī ninnu nera namminānu vinavē
    తల్లీ నిన్ను నెర నమ్మినాను వినవే
    Kaḷyāṇi Miśra Cāpu Telugu

    See also

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    1. ^ P. Sambamoorthy, Great Composers, pp69–94. (Madras: The Indian Music Publishing House)
    2. ^
    3. ^ Gopal, Madan (1990). K.S. Gautam, ed. India through the ages. Publication Division, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India. p. 231. 

    External links

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