Gopalakrishna Bharati was a Tamil poet and a well-known Carnatic music composer. He was born in 1810 AD in a Brahmin family in Narimanam, near Nagappattinam District
in Tamil Nadu
. He was the contemporary of other famous Carnatic music composers like Tyagaraja
and Muthusvami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri
Early Life of Gopalakrishna Bharati
Gopalakrishna Bharati is still famous for his various compositions but mainly for his enduring Tamil opera, known as `Nanandanar Charitram`. It was about Nandanar, who was one of the sixty-three Tamil Saivite saints. Gopalakrishna had his early education at Mudikondan. He took his basic education from his father Ramaswami. Both his father and grandfather were `Veena
` artists. Later, he took teachings in Sanskrit and travelled to the places like Tiruvidaimarudur, Konerirajapuram and Anandatandavapuram for learning under many other teachers. But, he came back to Mudikondan at the end and that`s why he was also known as Mudikondan Gopalakrishna Bharati. Gopalakrishna went to Mayuram (Mayiladuthurai) also for spending some time there.
Life in Music for Gopalakrishna Bharati
Gopalakrishna Bharati composed many famous works like `Katakalatcepam` and `Nandanar Charitram` and few independent kritis. It said that once Tyagaraja asked him to write in the raga `abhogi`. Afterwards, Bharati wrote on his most popular kritis in `Rupaka Tala` and `Capapatikku`. He was never inclined to the worldly life and was devoted to Lord Siva
, which took him to Siva temples near the Kaveri River
. He also loved listening stories on the Saiva Nayanmars. He wrote many songs on Lord Nataraja of Chidambaram, as he was very attached with this deity. Gopalakrishna Bharati also composed musical narratives about other Saiva Nayanmars like `Iyarpakai Nayanar Charitram`, `Tirnnilakantha Nayanar Charitram` and `Karaikkal Amtnaiyar Charitram`. He also composed Varugalamo (Manji), Varuvaro (Sama) and Enneramum (Devagandhari).
While writing `Nandanar Charitram`, Gopalakrishna Bharati brought a little change in the original story. He added a new character named `Vediya` as the landlord. In this story, Nandan was assumed as an outcaste labourer and devotee of Lord Shiva
, who desired to get the darshana of his Lord. The landlord `Vediya` always prevented him in doing so. The story revolves around these two characters.
Gopalakrishna Bharati was an uncchavritti Brahmin, who supported himself by eating the food given as alms. He had also performed many katha kalakshepas and he raised the status of it. Many of his students, including Vedanayagam Pillai who was the District Munsif at Mayuram were taught a number of his songs by Gopalakrishna. His songs became very popular and they are also sung in many of the present day dance-recitals.
A recent renowned literary person named UV Swaminatha had given two sources for Bharati`s life. These are a biography of the composer and his own autobiography, which contains references to Bharati, who was his music teacher