Saint Tyagaraja Singing Hymns in Praise of Lord Rama

Y. G. Srimati Indian

Not on view

Music, painting, and devotion coalesce in this portrait of the Sri Vaishnava composer-poet Tyagaraja. Born in 1767 into a Brahmin Telugu family at Thiruvaiyaru, Thanjavur district, Tamil Nadu, he chose to remain in his village all his life, despite invitations to be celebrated at the Maratha court at Thanjavur. He is famed for a large corpus of devotional songs in praise of Lord Rama, many of which are still performed today. Here Tyagaraja holds a Thanjavur-style tambura; the model, from Srimati’s musical instrument collection, is exhibited nearby. Tyagaraja’s devotion radiates from this study, in which he is shown singing a hymn in praise of Rama, who appears, accompanied by Sita, Laksmana, and Hanuman, in the temple interior. Above, at left, hovers Narada, the divinity of creativity and inventor of the vina. This is devotional painting at its purest.

Saint Tyagaraja Singing Hymns in Praise of Lord Rama, Y. G. Srimati (Indian, 1926–2007), Watercolor on paper, India (Chennai)

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