Recordings of Thyagaraja Kritis

Any amount of reading, writing and talking about Thyagaraja’s music is fundamentally secondary. To know it, to understand it, to enjoy it is to listen to it.

Please Click Here for Some Audio Recordings

Strictly speaking, this is not because of the greatness or something transcendent about Thyagaraja’s music. It is the basic fact that language has its limitations – just as it cannot describe the main point of seeing a rainbow, or the smelling a flower and so on.

Of course, I do not mean to suggest in the least that Thyagaraja’s music is lacking in its greatness nor its transcendence. It has tons of both! That it is great is universally acknowledged by all those who know Carnatic music. That it is transcendent and produces in the listener an affect that goes beyond the meaning of the lyrics and the intricacies of the musical structures is a fact known to many that have listened to – often with awe, devotion and a feeling of mesmerization.

So, I began to make a collection of as many recordings of Thyagaraja’s kritis as possible – hopefully one day, I will have them all – not only for my personal satisfaction and enjoyment, but also to be able to share them with like-minded friends of Thyagaraja’s music all around the world.

I would like to share with you the guidelines that I tried to follow as I populated my collection.

In any rendering of a musical piece, there are two basic components. One is the original creation of the composer and the other is the rendering of the performer(s). The former is the ‘prescriptive’ part coming from the composer and the latter the performer-dependent improvisational/creative part. In Carnatic music of today, the latter occupies a significant part of the overall rendering, giving ample scope for the creative capabilities of the performer. These include the key elements of Carnatic music renderings, namely Raga Alaapana at the beginning of the kriti, the Niraval which is cleverly and seamlessly embedded into the heart of the composer’s work and Swara Kalpana after the kriti rendering. Sometimes, the percussionist(s) end the rendering with a solo performance at the end of the kriti, namely Thani Avarthanam, which is also a major component.

As such, there is a wide variety in expanse and quality of the renderings of many of Thyagaraja’s kritis. So, at the outset, I decided that I will collect the recordings for the purpose of ‘documenting’ the rendering of the Thyagaraja’s kriti’s, almost for the sake of a reference. The ‘documentation’ would therefore consists of the essential elements of the kriti, attributable mostly to the composer himself. These would include a rendering of the ‘complete’ kriti and the sangathis, which, based on my knowledge, are attributable to Thyagaraja himself*. I highlight the ‘completeness’ of the rendering of the kritis, because all too often most musicians today tend to sing only one charanam (mostly the last, so-called mudra charanam that bears the signature of Thyagaraja) and skip the rest. I do not fully know and understand the reasons behind such taking ‘short-cuts’ to Thyagaraja’s great music*, but from a reference work point of view, I am inclined to think that not singing all the charanams makes it an incomplete rendering. Thankfully, Thyagaraja’s kritis with only one charanam are more than those with 2 or more charanams, but there are a good number of kritis with the number of charanams going upto some 23! You may see this histogram for complete information of the number of charanams for various kritis.

So, the first guideline I followed in making my collection is to retain the kriti, niraval and swara kalpana and skip the alapana and thani avarthanam (when it is rendered). Clearly, this is not to under estimate the value and beauty of the skipped parts in any measure whatsoever. In advance, I apologize to the artists and the listeners, if I have upset anyone’s sensitivities in so doing. I hope you understand my purpose and why I chose to do so.

Secondly, ‘documentation’ of Thyagaraja’s kritis would essentially consists of both his music and lyrics. So, I decided to restrict my collection to vocalists. I do realize that this unfortunately is a big loss of the renderings of the many great instrumentalist musicians.

Lastly, I believe that I am no one to select among the many gifted and great Carnatic vocalists of today and yesterday. So, in all humbleness, I decided to as “non-selective” as possible. So, I cycled through all the artists whose recordings I had access to (which was about 50) and repeated this process.

The sources of my collection were basically personal collections of me, my friends and a small number from the Internet. As of now, I have 467 renderings, which are listed below. In future, I hope to include in the list information about whether the rendering is complete – with all charanams – nor not.

Please Help

I would like to make a sincere and humble plea to musicians and music lovers and lovers of Thyagaraja’s music around the world, to kindly let me know if you have any recordings that are not in the list below. Also, if you have any “complete” renderings of those listed as “incomplete” recordings, I would appreciate if you could let me know.

One my primary goals in maintaining this website is collect authentic information about Thyagaraja. If you spot any factual mistakes or inaccuracies in anything on this page or others, I would be grateful if you could let me know. Please email me at

Once again, my sincere thanks to you I advance. Quoting Thyagaraja, “Endaro Mahanubhavulu, Andariki Vandanamulu”.


List of Recordings

Below are some (hopefully I will be able to provide a complete set in the course of time) audio recordings of Thyagaraja kritis and kirtanas. The main idea is to provide a musical reference to the compositions and as such, I have not included Alapanas, but did include niraval and kalpana&kalpita swaras, where available.
The recordings are meant for educational, reference and aesthetic purposes only and should not be used for any commercial purposes. Please respect the rights of artists and contact me by email, if you have any questions (

Copyright © Prabhakar Chitrapu 2013