Syama Sastri
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Syama Sastri

Shyama Shastri
Shyama Shastri 1985 stamp of India.jpg
Venkata Subrahmanya

(1762-04-26)26 April 1762
Died1827 (aged 64-65)
Other namesShyama Krishna
OccupationCarnatic music composer

Shyama Shastri (IAST: ?y?ma stri; 26 April 1762 - 1827) or Syama Sastri was a musician and composer of Carnatic music. He was the oldest among the Trinity of Carnatic music, Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar being the other two.[2]

Early life and career

Shyama Shastri was born on 26 April 1762 in a Telugu Brahmin family, who are said to have migrated from Cumbum, Andhra Pradesh.[3][4] He was born in Tiruvarur in what is now the state of Tamil Nadu.He received his instruction in the vedas, astrology, and other traditional subjects early on and learned music from his maternal uncle. He was later trained in music by Adiappayya, a noted durbar musician of Thanjavur.[5]

Although ?y?ma ?astri did not compose as many kritis as his two prolific contemporaries, his compositions are still well known due to the literary, melodic and rhythmic proficiency observed in them. 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 widely accessible during his time. More importantly, the scholarly nature of his compositions made them more appealing to the learned than to the lay. Additionally, they feature a more formal form of Telugu which borrows heavily from Sanskrit. In contrast, Tyagaraja composes in generally more colloquial dialect of Telugu.

There are also a number of krithis in Tamil attributed to him. Most of his compositions propitiate the Goddess Kamakshi.

He composed kritis, var?a(s) and svarajati(s) with the ankita or mudra (signature) ?y?ma Krishna. He was probably the first to compose in a new form of the svarajati musical genre, where the compositions could be rendered solely in a singing or instrumental manner. Prior to this, the svarajati was primarily a dance form, and was close in structure to the dance Var?a? (padavar?a?).

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 K?m?k?h? Anudinamu, K?m?k?h? Padayugam?, and R?v? himagiri kum?ri, composed in the ragas Bhairavi, Yadukula kambhoji and Todi respectively. The former two are set to Mi?ra C?pu Ta, while the third is set to ?di Ta.

He is known for his ability to compose in the most complex of tas.[6] He was also widely revered for his voice and singing ability during his time.

Death and legacy

Shyama Shastri died in Thanjavur in 1827. He had two sons, Panju Shastri and Subbaraya Shastri. Panju was a devoted worshipper of the deity, Bangaru Kamakshi. Subbaraya was trained in music by his father and became a gifted composer as well as a noted player of the veena. At his father's behest, he was also trained by Tyagaraja, Shyama Shastri's renowned contemporary.[5] Shyama Shastri's adopted grandson, Annasvami Shastri (1827-1900), was also a fine composer.[]

Shastri had a number of disciples who excelled at the art. Alasur Krishna Iyer became a musician at the royal durbar in Mysore. Porambur Krishna Iyer popularised many of his guru's works. Another disciple, Talagambadi Panchanada Iyer also made his mark as a composer. Another disciple named Dasari gained fame as a noted n?gaswaram player.[5]


The below sections mention some of his compositions.

Svara Jati

Composition Raga Ta Language Description
K?m?k?h? anudinamu maruvakan?
Bhairavi Mi?ra C?pu Telugu
K?m?k?h? n? padayugame sthiramanin?
Yadukulakamboji Mi?ra C?pu Telugu
R?v? himagiri kum?ri
? ?
Todi ?di Telugu


Composition Raga Ta Language Description
?a?kari ?a?kuru candra mukh?
Sanskrit: ?
Telugu Script: ?
S?v?ri ?di - Ti?ra Gati Sanskrit
pAlayAshu mAM paradEvatE Arabhi Sanskrit
kanaka ?aila vih?ri
Telugu Script:
Punn?ga Vari ?di Sanskrit
Bir?na var?licci br?vave
Ka?yi ?di - Ti?ra Gati Telugu
D?v? br?va samayamu
Cint?ma?i Telugu
kAmAkSi lOka sAkSiNi madhyamAvati Sanskrit
Him?dri sut? p?him
? ?
Ka?yi ?di Sanskrit
M?yamm? yani n? pilacite
? ?
Ahiri ?di Telugu
Mari v?r? gati evvaramm?
? ?
Anandabhairavi Mi?ra C?pu Telugu
Nannu br?vu lalit?
Lalita Mi?ra C?pu Telugu
O jagadamb? nannu
? ?
Anandabhairavi ?di Telugu
P?rvati ninu n? nera nammiti
? ? ?
kalka?a Telugu
Sar?ja da?a n?tri himagiri putr?
? ?
?a?kar?bhara?a? ?di Telugu
Tall? ninnu nera nammin?nu vinav?
Ka?yi Mi?ra C?pu Telugu
P?hi Sr? Girir?jasut? Karukalit? Anandabhairav? R?paka? Telugu-Sanskrit
Dev? M?na N?tr? Br?va Shankarabharanam Adi Telugu
Enn?ramum un N?mam
P?rvikaly?ni Misra caapu Tamil
Enn?ramum un P?da Kamalam
Punn?gavari Mi?ra C?pu Tamil

See also



  1. ^ "Thiruvaiyaru Thyagaraja Aradhana". Archived from the original on 14 January 2016. Retrieved 2015.
  2. ^ P. Sambamoorthy (1962). Great Composers. Indian Music Publishing House. pp. 69-94.
  3. ^ Rajagopalan, N. (1994). A Garland: A Biographical Dictionary of Carnatic Composers and Musicians. Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. p. 264.
  4. ^ Ramakrishna, Lalita (2003). Musical Heritage of India. Shubhi Publication. p. 176. ISBN 978-81-87226-61-1.
  5. ^ a b c OEMI:SS.
  6. ^ Madan Gopal (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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