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Shahaji-I – a Prolific Music Composer

October 31, 2010 4 comments
Shahaji I (1684 - 1712).

Shahaji I (1684 - 1712).

Shahaji’s compositions don’t figure in music concerts, a lesson worth learning for all who seek to create a culture. Great music, created by him and his royal successors, died with the short-sighted abolishment of the Devadasi community in the early 20th century. They never thought of popularising their music to a larger group nor did their descendants fund musicians to learn it. Among a constellation of royal composers, Shahaji I stands unsurpassed. His magnificent operas and padams that focus on the heroine seeking merger with the lord are soaked in metaphor and elegance, and must have had very creative deployment of the ragas. Sadly, all of this is relegated to dusty corners of the Thanjavur library in palm leaves that are rarely touched today. We have one tantalising glimpse of the music in an opera the king wrote, to be danced in his favourite temple for Siva as Tyagaraja in Tiruvarur. For this we need to thank that redoubtable musicologist Prof. P Sambamoorthy. (via The Hindu : FEATURES / SUNDAY MAGAZINE : Songs of a forgotten genius.).

Not in my dreams

In all my life, I was not prepared for Shahaji-I being a music composer.  A Maratha king, who composed poetry and music in Telugu and Tamil! I am still not quite able to accept this magnitude of achievement.

But then Shivaji’s dynasty, though short-lived were possibly the last great Indic rulers. Can anyone point out one palace that Shivaji or his immediate successors built. Or the erudition or learning displayed by Sambhaji or Shahaji! Instead look at the opulent palaces of the Holkars, Scindias, Gaikwads – who finally divided Shivaji’s legacy amongst themselves.

Another writer a lawyer-admirer, Anant Darwatkar is writing a book on  Chhatrapati Shri Sambhaji Maharaj, a job that a specialist should have done a long time ago. Shahaji-I’s descendant,

Sambhaji even wrote books— Boodhbhushanam in Sanskrit and Saatshatak, Nakshika and Nayika Bhed in Hindi. “While Boodhbhushanam talks about politics, governance and defence strategies, Nakshika and Nayika Bhed are based on how women have been perceived and idolised over the centuries. Unfortunately, even these authentic works have never been translated,” mentions Darwatkar.

I wonder why is it that Indian history does not bring out this part of forgotten history.

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