The following is a small list of Music Scholars. Click on their names to read their comments/opinion on the Saint's compositions.
Some reviews of the Saint and his compositions were published in the following publications.Click on the Name to read the article.
The Indian Express,Sunday Standard Dated : 14th Sep 1958
New Compositions in Telugu
It is an advantage that modern composers publish their own works in notation. Firstly, we have a permanent record of their contribution to music. Secondly, we have an authentic version of the music of their compositions. Instances are not lacking of songs which are composed less than a century ago but which have undergone mutilations beyond recognition both in world and in music.
Sri Ogirala Veera Raghava Sarma has now brought out the second part of his Devi Gana Sudha, a collection of his musical compositions in Telugu. Excepting the first kirtana which is in praise of the guru, all the songs are in praise of his personal deity,Gayatri Devi. The language of the pieces is simple and sweet.
It is felt by some that we have reached the saturation point in regard to our musical compositions. But new and original compositions like those of Sri Sarma go to prove that our raga system is a perennial fountain and hence an inexhaustible source for new ideas. For example, Sri Sarma has taken up a new scale Pranavapriya, derived from Simhendra Madhyama and has composed a fine piece in it.
The composer has also attempted Kritis, Arabhi and Goula after the immortal Pancharatna of Tyagaraja. Like Tyagaraja, he has also composed a few Kritis on the science of music. In a few pieces, he has employed such unusual talas like Sankeerna Triputa.
There is a short and useful description of every raga used in the book given at the beginning of each piece.
Music being a dynamic art, all the new attempts should be encouraged and it is hoped these compositions will receive a warm welcome both from the musicians and the public.
- S Ramanadhan
The Hindu,Sunday Dated : 17th April 1960
Sri Devi Ganasudha - 2nd Volume
The author of this book has already carved for himself a prominent place among contemporary composers. Himself a great Bhakta, his compositions in simple and flowing Telugu breathe the fragrance of devotion. The songs are presented in simple and understandable notation. That the ragas of Indian music furnish an inexhaustible fountain of rich ideas in the sphere of Sangeeta Kavitvam is proved amply by the compositions of Veera Raghava Sarma. The tunes of the pieces are full of raga bhava and some of them are cast in a forceful mould. In the Pallavi of the Kirtana in Todi raga-Adi tala beginning with the word Kaamaakshi Sadaa, the word sadaa is a swaraakshara.
The song Padaaravindamule Gatiyani is a new raga Pranavapriya. This is a janya of the 57th mela Simhendramadhyama and takes the following aarohana and avarohana sa ri ma pa ni sa - sa ni pa ma ga ri sa. The tune of the song is interesting and this raga opens up fresh possibilities.
- P Sambamoorty
Sruti May/June Issue in 1995
Sri GnanAnanda Teertha
The compositions of the trinity of Carnatic music, as indeed those of many other vaggeyakaras, are all in praise of deities, directly or indirectly. Many of the songs of Thyagaraja in addition refer to the transience of worldly things, the wrongs men commit in daily life and so on, and hail the ultimate bliss of God realisation. The songs composed by GnanAnanda Teertha are also of this kind: they dwell on human problems, the misdeeds of humans, the way to salvation and so on.
GnanAnanda Teertha was born Ogirala Veeraraghava Sarma, on 23 March 1908, as the son of Ramamurty Sastri and Mahalakshmi, in a village called Dhenuvakonda in Andhra Pradesh. Even in his childhood, he had a flair for composing songs which used to be sung by local people during bhajan meetings. But his life as a composer, dedicating his all to his chosen deity, would begin some years later.
Following his upanayana when he was eight years old, Veeraraghava Sarma started learning the vedas from his father. On the latter's advice he also began reciting the Gayatri mahamantra 1008 times every day. On completion of his studies under his father, he went to Kalahasti, a small town located on the banks of the river Swarnamukhi, for further studies. While awaiting admission to the Vedic school, he started spending long hours standing in the waters of river reciting the Gayatri mantra.
A sadhu known as Sri NathaNanda Teertha was residing in an asram located in a cave near the river. Well-versed in Vedic literature, he was also an upasaka of goddess Gayatri. He had been observing young Veeraraghava when the latter was meditating, standing in the river. In the event, he initiated Veeraraghava into Gayatri upasana. Such was Veeraraghava's devotion that he attained 'siddhi' in the mantra in only four years. Sri NathaNanda Teertha then asked the young man to return home, get married and live the life of a grihastha. He also gave the youngster a new name-GnanAnanda Teertha-but said that he should start using this name only later on, when he would receive an indication to do so.
Veeraraghava Sarma returned home and, soon after married a girl called Pitchamamba. In due course, he became the father of two sons and four daughters.
Veeraraghava decided to learn music. His first teacher in music was his own maternal uncle. After studying for some time under Kamteti Anjaneya Sastry and Kundurti Ramamurthy, he became a desciple of the late HariNagaBhushanam at Machilipatnam. After a descipleship of three years, he settled in Madras, since it was a better location for further learning as also for a career as a vocalist. Later during the second world war, he moved to Repalli in Andhra Pradesh.
It was soon after this that his career as a vaggeyakara began. It is said that, one day when he was engaged in prayer, he spontaneously began singing the song Kaavave Kamalakshi in the raga Jaganmohini. In course of time, he composed a total of 85 kritis and a tana varnam. His compositions were more the result of sudden inspiration or circumstantial provocation. Though he himself did not go on pilgrimage to holy places, the reigning deities of various temples are said to have appeared to him in visions, prompting him to compose songs in their praise.
As a composer, Veeraraghava Sarma 'invented' a raga: Pranavapriya for Padaravindamuley.
Veeraraghava Sarma's compositions are notable for their simple language and bhakti rasa. His 86 compositions are set in as many as 53 ragas : some are popular ragas like Anandabhairavi, Bhairvi, Kalyani, Mohana and Sankarabharanam, while some others are less common like Jhanjhuti, Mandaara, Regupti, Rudrapriya and Valaji. He also used a variety of talas, including some infrequently used ones like Khanda Thriputa, Tisra Triputa, Sankeerna Triputa and Mishra Jhampe. Till the year 1982, he used the mudra Raghava in his songs: in later compositions he adopted the mudra Gyanananda Teertha. A few of the songs also contain the mudra Deviganasudha, the name he gave to the book containing his compositions.
The decision of Sarma to publish his songs came about fortuitously. Once he heard one of his compositions, which he had taught to a musician, being rendered by the latter with the substitution of his mudra with the singer's own name! It was then that Sarma decided to publish his songs. These books, containing the songs with notation came out in three volumes, in Telugu and Tamil, in the years 1947, 1958 and 1983. His compositions began to be sung by some senior musicians during his own life time like D.K. Pattammal, whose rendering of Sundari Sada, in Suddha Dhanyasi, has been heard by many. 'Sunadamala', an all-women music group based in Hyderabad, has recorded some of his songs.
In 1948, Sarma gave up his concert career and spent the rest of his life in teaching music and in the worship of goddess Gayatri . He established the Gayatri Panchayatana Peetham.
Sarma was a kind but strict instructor. His lessons were given freely to anyone who wanted them and he did not take money for them. Even the books, 'Deviganasudha' were given away free to musicians and others. Sarma had no attachment to worldly wealth. Once he had an attractive offer of the post of principal of a music college in Kuala Lumpur, but he declined it, as 'divine' permission was not forthcoming. Instead, he took up a teaching job in Kovvur.
Sarma assumed the name of GnanAnanda Teerha in the year 1982, after he received an indication to this effect from his spiritual guru, Sree NathaNanda Teertha.
His mortal life came to an end on 4 January 1989.
(This article is one of a series sponsored by Swadharma Swaarajya Sangha, Madras: Mr B.V.S.S Mani, Director.)
T L Venkatarama Aiyar B.A., B.L.
Judge, Supreme Court
13th Oct 1945 - Madras
Sri Ogirala VeeraRaghava Sarma has composed a number of kirtanas in praise of the ParaDevata & published them in a book entitled "Devigana Sudha". He has learnt Lakshana Sangeeta under VaggeyakaraRatana Hari NagaBhushanam Pantulu Garu and it is needless to add that his technical knowledge is accurate. I heard a few of them rendered by him - those in Rudrapriya, Valaji, Madhyamavati & Dhanyasi. They are full of devotion. The songs are to be commended both for their technical skill and for their Bhakti rasa.
P Samba Murthy B.A., B.L.
Head of Music Dept - University of Madras
14th Oct 1945 - Madras
I had the pleasure of listening to the compositions of Shri Ogirala VeeraRaghava Sarma of Repalle,Guntur. They are good and deserve to be widely known. I wish all success to the efforts of this contemporary composer.
12th Jan 1957 - Madras
The music of a country grows through the contributions of her musicologists and composers. This is patent to anyone who reads through the pages of musical history. The raga system of India is a rich fountain from which composers have been able to draw and present aural dishes of inexhaustible variety.
Shri Ogirala VeeraRaghava Sarma is one of our noted contemporary composers. His compositions breathe the fragrance of bhakti. Their musical construction is easy and flowing. The sahitya is beautiful . It is a good thing that he has published the second volume of Devigana Sudha. The songs are given in understandable notation.
It is the duty of the society to evince keen interest in the compositions of contemporary composers. Performers should learn them and popularise them from the concert platform. Music teachers should learn them and teach them to pupils in schools.
I wish all success to the creative efforts of Shri Ogirala VeeraRaghava Sarma
"Sangeeta Vidwan" Shri Vinjamuri Varadaraja Iyengar
Producer, Carnatic Music - AIR , Hyderabad.
"Out of abundance of the heart, music floweth" , so goes the saying. The great vaggeyakarakas of the past have enriched our cultural heritage through their immortal compositions as nectaral outpour of their Bhakti, Gnana & Viragya bhavas of highest magnitudes. We have therefore as much regard and reverence for the great and masterly compositions of Thyagaraja, Muthu Swami Dikshitar or Shyama Shastri as we have for Ramayana , Mahabharata or Mahabhagawata. Recent and modern composers have been very faithfully following in worthy footsteps of the musical trinity of south-India and have given us priceless gems of Geyakalpanas. IT is now our proud privilege to be able to learn them, sing them and enjoy the devine bliss by chanting them time and again.
That Shri VeeraRaghava Sarma is a great bhakta of Mata Sri Gyatri is a fact beyond doubt or controversy. His sannihitas know him fully well. He has had his musical education under an eminent mastermind like "Vaggeyakara Ratna" Shri HariNaga Bhushanam in the age old gurukula fashion and has imbibed all the great qualities of his guru. The composer of no mean ability, Shri VeeraRaghava Sarma has already gained for himself a covetable place among the modern Vaggeyakarakas and the fact that his kritis are popularly sung by some of the top ranking Vidwans of the south is enough testimony for the high qualities of Lakshya and Lakshana contained in their setup.
Shri Sarma needs no more introduction to the world of Music. I consider it a matter of pride to be able to write this forward to the second volume of Devi GanaSudha.
C Ramachandra Murty
Principal, The music College of the Syndicate of Fine Arts - Madras.
5th Oct 1945 - Madras
It is extremely gratifying to go through the Devigana Sudha book on music in Telugu composed by Chy. Ogirala VeeraRaghava Sarma of Repalle,Guntur. The songs are highly devotional, emotional, and pregnant with meaning. His compositions are commendable for its rhythmic excellence and flow.
I wish him all success which he rightly deserves. I appeal to all music lovers to encourage him in his endeavours.
"Sangeeta KalaNidhi" Veenai Sambasiva Ayyar
Principal, Kalakshetra - Madras.
19th June 1954 - Madras
I've great pleasure in writing a few lines of appreciation on the quality of the compositions in Telugu by Shri Ogirala VeeraRaghava Sarma. Without the slightest violation of the rich traditional style, the words flow in the blending grace and simplicity. I wish him the choicest blessings of the Devi in whose praise he has sung.
T V Subba Rao
7th Oct 1945 - Royapetah
I had the pleasure of hearing Shri Ogirala VeeraRaghava Sarma render his own compositions. Their Sangeeta and Sahitya are quite good. I wish him all success and prosperity.
Musiri Subramania Iyer
20th June 1954 - Madras
I had the pleasure of hearing one or two compositions of Shri Ogirala VeeraRaghava Sarma.
He has already published a volume called Devi GanaSudha containing one varnam and about 30 krithis.
He is about to publish a second volume containing a similar number of compositions.
All the compositions are sung in praise of the Mother. Simple in language, ideas and music they can be learnt even by children. Extemporisation is the essence of Carnatic Music and if these are handled by great musicians, I am sure they will acquire the grace and lilt so necessary for music.
I wish him all success
Vice-President, Kalakshetra - Madras.
23rd June 1954 - Madras
I've heard with great pleasure some of the kirtanas composed by Shri Ogirala Veera Raghava Sarma in praise of Shri Gayatri Devi. These kirtanas are composed in a lucid style both in Sanskrit and Telugu and abound in technical skills and bhakti rasa. He has published some of his compositions in the form of a book. I wish that the remaining of his compositions are also published so that it will be of immense benefit to the world at large.
"Sangeeta Kalanidhi", "Sangeeta Ratnakara", "Kalaprapurna"
Dr. Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu
10th Jan 1957 - Madras
I am glad to know that Shri Ogirala VeeraRaghava Sarma is bringing out the second volume of his compositions - Devi GanaSudha. His songs some of which he sang to me are Bhakti Rasa Pradhana and are sweet and simple in Sahitya and music.
I am sure that his compositions will receive all the encouragement and popularity among lovers of music that they deserve.
I congratulate Shri Sarma and wish him Success.