Narayana Teertha

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Narayana Teertha
Birth nameTallavajula Govinda Sastrulu
OriginAndhra Pradesh, India
GenresCarnatic music
Occupation(s)Carnatic music composer

Sri Narayana Teertha (c. 1650 – 1745 CE) was a great saint, devotee of Sri Krishna and sang many songs on him.

Brief lifesketch[edit]

Narayana was born in South India in the region covered by the present-day Andhra Pradesh. He lived in Kaza, Guntur district near Mangalagiri. They belonged to Tallavarjula family.[1] His birth name was Govinda Sastrulu. They eventually moved to Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu.

While there is significant dissention as to his exact time, historians place him between 1610 and 1745 AD. An extensive research done with the help of archives preserved in Saraswati Mahal Library has helped place the time closer to 1650 AD – 1745 AD, and he reportedly lived a long life.

He mastered music at a very early age and studied Puranas, Bhagavata Purana and other Sanskrit works. He renounced family at a very early age and took on a life of a religious devotion. He went to Varanasi to spread his philosophy.

Teertha was very well versed in Music and, Natya Shastra, and a great scholar in Sanskrit. He used at least 34 popular ragas. He used Triputa, Adi, Rupaka, Chapu, Jampa, Matya, Vilamba, Eka and Ata taalams. Many of the songs are structurally well set for direct use as nritya or natya padams. He carefully avoided complex usages and utilized easy expressions. His Gadyams and Padyams are exquisite in beauty. He used 17 different Chandas or meters such as Anushtup, Arya, Indravajra, Bhujangaprayadam, Shardula vikriditam, Vasanta tilaka, Prithvi.

He wrote 15 books and some of them are available in Benares Hindu University and Parijatapaharanam at Saraswathi Mahal in Tanjore. He is also credited with composing two other operas, Parijaa Apaharanam and Haribhakti Sudharnavam.

Sri Narayana Tirtha received divine blessings at Varagur in Thanjavur Dist.. His mukthi sthalam ( Place of eternity) is at varagur.

Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini[edit]

Narayana Teertha was the author of a Sanskrit opera called Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini on the life of the Hindu god Lord Krishna. It deals with the life story of Krishna starting with his birth, childhood pranks and ending with his marriage to Rukmini. Narayana Teertha uses various literary and musical forms such as songs, prose passages, Slokas (praises in verse), Dwipadis (couplets), etc. The songs are popularly called "Tarangas" means waves. The lyrics are simple yet beautiful and effective. The Astapadis of Jayadeva are said to be the inspiration.

Legend has it that the inspiration to compose this piece occurred when he was along the banks of Naducauvery. He was suffering from a serious stomach ailment and prayed that he should be given the strength to go back to Tirupati, where it all started. A divine voice asked him to follow a boar (varaha) to wherever it led him. The varaha led him to Bhupatirajapuram, which came to be known as `Varahur' later. The people of the village knew that a maha-purusha was coming. With their help, he raised the temple for Sri Lakshmi Narayana and Lord Venkateswara and settled down on the banks of river `Kudamurutty' the name by which the Cauvery was known at this place.[2]

Tarangini is an opera highly suitable for dance drama and it has been very well utilized by Indian classical dancers, especially in Kuchipudi over the last two centuries. Tarangini consists of 12 Tarangams and encapsulates 153 songs, 302 slokams and 31 choornikaas. Teertha followed Veda VyAsa’s Bhagavatam and concentrated on the 10th skandam.

Other works[edit]

  • Subodhinī – treatise (in Sanskrit) on Brahma Sutra śaṅkara Bhāṣyam;
  • Vivaraṇa Dīpika (in Telugu), a treatise on Panchīkaraṇa vartika of Sureswarāchārya;
  • Pārijātāpaharaṇam, the well known Yakshaganam in Telugu
  • Hari Bhakti Sudhārṇavam, and
  • śāṇdilya bhakti sūtra vyākyānam

Popular compositions[edit]

Some of the popular compositions are listed here:


Sri Narayana Teertha Trust of Kaja, at the birthplace of Saint Narayana Teertha celebrated his 264th aradhana. As a part of the celebrations, guru pooja, morning worship, sahasranama chanting, vedic renditions and tarangam singing were conducted. Bhajan troupes from various parts of the State rendered tarangams with devotion.[3]

The residents and devotees of Varagur have been celebrating Tharangini Mahotsav every year, all popular artists are performing Tharangam in front of Lord Venkateswara Perumal who has given Darshan to Sri Narayana Theerthar. Later on Sri Narayana Theerthar, the composer of Krishna Leela Tharangini, attained mukti at Varagur.

The devotees of Thirupoonthuruti have been organising music festivals at the Samadhi shrine for over 300 years, at Tirupoonthuruti on Masi Sukla Ashtami Day.[4] A regular Aradhana Committee was formed in 1965. They annually organises programmes consisting of music concerts, lecture-demonstrations, bhajans, musical discourses and unchavriti.

The Thirupoonthuruti Sri Narayana Tirtha Swamigal Trust was established at Chennai in 1986 with the great efforts of Shri Krishnaswamy, Secretary, Narada Gana Sabha, Shri N V Subramanian and Thirupoonthuruthy Shri V Venkatesan. Dr K J Yesudas is also one of the Trustees with the three great persons who contributed to our music immensely. The inaugural function was held at the Krishna Gana Sabha, with a memorable recital by M. S. Subbulakshmi. K. J. Yesudas produced a 13-part serial on Sri Narayana Tirtha for Chennai Doordarshan. The most significant achievement of the Trust is the construction of the "Nama Sankirtana Mani Mandapam" near the Jeeva Samadhi temple.


  1. ^ On a lyrical note, Y.Ramaprabha rendered Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini, The Hindu, 4 December 2009.
  2. ^
  3. ^ 264th Aradhana celebrations at Kaja, The Hindu.
  4. ^ [1]