Dancing Ganesa, Thiruvaiyaru Pushya Mandapam, as depicted in Sri Ganapathini

There are two very popular songs by Tyagaraja on Lord Ganesa. Of these, while his Giriraja Suta Tanaya (Bangala/Desadi) is a general prayer, the second, Sri Ganapathini Sevimpa Rare (Saurashtra/Adi) is the prelude to his opera Prahlada Bhakti Vijayamu. More significantly it describes a dancing Ganesa – rather appropriate considering that Geya Natakas like the Prahlada Bhakta Vijayamu usually ushered in the elephant-headed God as a propitious beginning only through a dance. 

A rough translation, as attempted by me, is given below:

Come, O devout people, to worship Sri Ganapati

Come, O devout people to worship Sri Ganapati,

who is arriving dancing beautifully after accepting the worship of Brahma and others

Come, O devout people to worship Sri Ganapati,

Who dances to varying gaits,

 is worshipped with humility by Tyagaraja,

meditates forever on the feet of Lord Hari,

presses his heavy feet on the earth making his anklets chime

And who partakes of jackfruit, coconut, wax apple and other fruit

Sri Ganapathini as depicted by S Rajam

What is most interesting is that by the side of the Pushya Mandapam, by the steps leading to the river Kaveri at Thiruvaiyyaru, there is a medallion of a dancing Ganesa let into the wall. Tyagaraja must have often come to this particular spot for he describes the surroundings in his Muripemu Galige Gada (Mukhari/Adi).

The Kaveri at Thiruvaiyyaru

Was he inspired by this dancing Ganesa to compose this song? We don’t know, but we can happily speculate on the possibility. S Rajam’s sketch of this song brings that picture much closer to us.