Sri Swathi Thirunal Rama Varma (April 16, 1813 - December 25, 1846) was a South Indian king of the state of Travancore, in India. His reign lasted from 1829 to 1846. He was born a king, and was in power even before birth. Therefore, he is called Garbha Sreeman.
Besides being an able ruler, he was a patron of music and a musician by himself. He encouraged both broad systems of Indian music, Hindustani and Carnatic music, though he was essentially a connoisseur of the carnatic music tradition.
He was born in the royal family of Travancore in 1813 and learned English, Sanskrit, Hindi, Telegu, Marathi and Kannada at an early age, along with music. At 16, he became King of Travancore and had in his court famous musicians such as Kannaiah Bhaagavatar (disciple of Tyagaraaja); the Tanjaavoor brothers Ponniah, Shivaanandam, and VaDivElu; COlaapuram Raghunaata Rao; Harikata Meru Swami; and Irayimman Tampi along with a few renowned Hindustani musicians. He is said to have composed about 400 songs in both familiar and rare raagams. His "Navaraatri Keertanais" and "Navaratna Maalika Keertanais" are famous, and his "Navaratna Maalai" contains 9 songs representing the 9 kinds of devotion. He has composed many beautiful raagamaalikas (songs in multiple raagams). His "Bhaavaiyaami raghuraamam" was composed entirely in the raagam saavEri but was made into a raagamaalika by SemmanguDi Shreenivaasa Ayyar. He also composed 65 padams and many tillaanaas. His songs are composed in a variety of taaLams and his varnams are popular. Being a great patron of the dance form KatakaLi, he invited dancers to come perform - and composed swarajatis and jaavalis as well as Hindustani-style songs. Some say that some compositions attributed to him were really composed by some great musicians of his court. His life was short and he died on December 25, 1846, at 34. At least 125 of his compositions are available today.
Musical Background: Swati Tirunal was groomed to be a king and he was trained in various areas in which a king was expected to be proficient. He was fluent in 13 languages and was able to write poems and songs. He was also well-versed in other arts like painting and sculpture and was himself a great patron of these arts. Region: He was born in Travancore, Kerala.
Contribution: He is believed to have composed around 500 songs. Besides Varnams, Kritis, Swarajatis, Padams and Javalis, he authored two musical plays. Besides these, he also composed Dhrupads, Khyal, Tappas, Thumris and Bhajans in the Hindustani style. Like Dikshitar, he composed a set of Navaratri kritis, one for each day of the Navaratri festival, in praise of Goddess Devi.
Theme: Mainly devotional and occasionally romantic. Most of his compositions are on Lord Padmanabha but as mentioned earlier, he has also composed on Goddess Devi (Parvati).
Languages used: His compositions were mainly in Sanskrit, but he has also composed in Malayalam, Telugu and Hindi.
Signature: He used the mudra Padmanabha and its variations, Jalajanabha, Pankajanabha and Sarasijanabha.
Popular compositions: Bhavayami (Ragamalika), Bogindra sayinam (Kuntalavarali), Deva deva (Mayamalavagowla), Kripaya palaya (Charukesi) and so on.
Mudras: Padmanaabha, Pankajanaabha, Sarasijanaabha, Saraseeruha naabha, Kanja naabha, Jalaja naabha
adrisutavara - kalyani
aliveni - kurinji
bhavayaami - ragamalika
bhogeendra shayanam - kuntala varali
chaliye kunjanamu - brindavan sarang
deva deva jagadeeshwara - poorvi kalyani
deva deva kalayaami - mayamaalava gowla
devi jagajjanani - shankaraabharanam
gopalaka pahimaam - boopaalam
gopanandana valaripunuta - bhooshavali
indumukhi - shankaraabharanam
itu sahasamula - saindhavi
jaya jaya devi - yamuna kalyani
jaya jaya padmanaabhaanujesha - manirangu
mamavasadaa janani - kaanada
pahi jagajjanani - hamsanandi
pahi jagajjanani - vachaspati
pahimaam shree - kalyani
pahi parvatanandini - arabi
pahi shreepathe - hamsadwani
pankajaaksha tava - thodi
paripaahi maamayi - kalyani
paripaalaya maam - reetigowla
raajeevaaksha baaro - shankaraabharanam
raama raama gunaseema - simhendra madhyamam
saamajendra bheetiharana - bhoopalam, revagupti
tillana - dhanashree
vande sadaa padmanabham - navarasa kannada
vihara manasa - kapi
vishveshvara darshana - dhanashree