To the arts of dancing and music the community has contributed out of all proportion to its size. Siddhendra, a Brahmin, who was a scholar and mystic wrote, it is said, at the behest of Krishna, a great dance drama, 'Bhama Kalapam.' Not happy with the devadasi system he gathered a few Brahmin boys and taught them a particular style of dancing but as they were ostracized by the community. So he moved his troupe to another small village and settled there. As they were actors, the village came to be known as 'Kuseelapuram,' later changed to Kuchipudi, from which this style of the dance came to take its name.
The Bhagavata Mela Dance Drama, another dance form, was also created by a Telugu Brahmana, Narayana Tirtha and 12 other dance dramas which form the basis of mela repertoire today. These were created by another Telugu Brahmana, Melatur Venkatarama Sastri. In Andhra Pradesh, from the earliest times, the devadasis (temple dancers) had Brahmin gurus. The Yakshagana, another form of the dance drama, now so popular in Kannada, owes its origin to the authorship of and performance by Telugu Brahmins.
Born in Tiruvarur (near Tanjavur) in a Telugu Brahmin family, Tyagaraja spent a life time expressing his ecstatic bhakti for Rama in several Telegu songs. He built upon the Karnataka system of music giving it a form and supplying the living grammar of music that has survived to even today. He composed a few operas such as Prahlad Bhakti Viayaur and Nauka Charitram and over 700 krith, each producing the image of a raga and how it should be elaborated. The sangatis form the architectonics of his music. The text, mostly in Telugu, is not burdened by being recondite. It is rather poetic and emotionally appealing.
Other luminaries in the world of music are Kshetrayya (17th century), the composer of about 4,200 padams. Kancheria Gopanna (Ramdasa) composed devotional songs for Lord Rama while languishing in prison and Annamacharya (15th century), the author of the monumental work, Samkirta-lakshana. He has also composed nearly 32 thousand lyrics addressed to the deity of Tirupati and group songs for Yakshagana plays.
Muvvanallur Sabhapatyya, a contemporary of Tyagaraja, was also born in Tanjavur District. Inspired by Kshetrajna he composed padams which dexterously combine bhakti with sringam.
Melatur Venkatarama Sastri, also from the Tanjavur District, created 12 Yakshagna dramas based on the stories of Prahlada, Usha and Rukmini. These form part of the repertoire of the famous Bhagvata Mela dance dramas which are enacted in the village of Melatur.
Narayana Tirtha was a celebrated saint. His work, Krishnalila-turagini, is written in the form of a dance drama. Another work of his is Haribhaktisudbarnava.
Pallavi Seshayyar excelled in pallavi singing. He composed many songs in Telugu and his tillanas are particularly famous.
The Telugu Brahmin also traces his ancestry to one of the seven sages. He is lionked throughout his life to his gotram.
Two eminent Telugu Brahmins, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan and V.V. Giri, rose to become President of India. Visvesvarayya, the famous administrator, and the modern spiritual teacher, Jiddu Krishnamurti, were also Telugu Brahmins.
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