Most compositions that we find in Carnatic music literature are dedicated to God or their favourite deities. The composer's dedication and devotion to that deity is expressed through their compositions. Very few composers have composed on other human beings or mentioned or saluted great personalities through their compositions. One very well-known example of this is Tyagaraja's Endaro Mahanubhavulu in Shree which belongs to his Ghana raga pancharatna set.
A similar theme can be found in Venkata Kavi's composition Bhajanaamrta (Nattai) belonging to the Saptaratna set, who was also a personification of humility.
bhaagavata santa charana renum
nirantaram vahaamyaham hari nija
"Let me float in the dust from the holy feet of great devotees and saints who have immersed themselves in the worship of the Lord."
In the final charanam of the same composition, he says :
kshanamapi hariguna kathita mahottama
kshanamapi shravana sukrta paramottama
kshanamapi darshita sat sanga parottama
janma janmamapi pankaja padamiha
antahkarana krta antaranga hari
"Even one moment of speaking the Lord's greatness, listening to it or looking at his devotees is exalting. I salute those who have worshipped his lotus feet birth after birth, cleansing their souls."
Another exemplary set of verses that show his extreme humility to the exalted Shaivite devotees is the krti, Aalaavadennaalo (Paras) in which he asks the Lord about when he can graduate to the status of the slave of the slave of his slaves?
aalaavadennaalo shivame un adiyaark-adiyaark-adiyanaai meelaada
In the charanam of the same song he also prays to the Lord to release him from the cycle of births and deaths and that if he be reborn, he should be born as one of the Shaivite saints.
punmai piravi poha vendum
eduttaal punniya piravihal aaha vendum
innavaril oruvarai pole
Eulogies on other great personalities
Venkata kavi's exemplary attitude also comes through in his compositions where he eulogises other great composers, poets and reverential personalities who lived before him.
His composition on Jayadeva (the 12th century composer), who was the creator of Geeta Govindam, is a very popular composition in Poorvikalyani – Padmaavati ramanam. In the final madhyamakalam of this song -
saha pandita samooha sevyam
shata manmatha jita mahaneeyam
satata krshna prema rasamagna
samaana rahita geeta govinda kaavyam
"One (refers to Jayadeva) who was venerated by the poets, more handsome than a hundred cupids, immersed in the Lord's love life and the creator of the unrivalled Geeta Govinda"
It has already been mentioned that Venkata Kavi was also inspired by Jayadeva to compose on Radha.
Valmiki (the Adi kavi) was also extolled by him, in his piece – Vande valmeeki kokilam (Athana).
vande valmiki kokilam
vaanikara veenaa gaana viramita
ramaneeya koojita madhura
varnita karna manohara raaghava
maadhurya chaaturya charitam
"I salute the nightingale that is Valmiki, who describes the intelligent story of Rama in the most pleasing manner."
In his piece, Nee sheida upakaaram (Umabharanam), he profusely thanks Sage Vyasa for having gifted us with the great work of Mahabharata. He has also composed another song in Khamach – Maa bhaaratam mahaa bhaaratam where he speaks about the epic's greatness.
Shuka muni is another sage on whom Venkata Kavi has composed two songs – Yaarum iyalaada and Pazhamo pazhamo – (both in Gowrimanohari)
pazhamo pazhamo pazham (bhaagavata)
bhava bhayamenum oru irulai kedutta shuka muni enum kili kotti kodutta
Andal, Tirumangai Aazhwar, the 63 nayanars, Arunagirinathar, Bhadrachala Ramadasa have also been extolled through one-off pieces and full-fledged operas by this grand composer.
Other personalities mentioned by him in operas or other compositions include:
Mythological characters: Vibheeshana, sugreeva, Angada, Manu, Maandata, Dileepa, Sagara, Bhoorishena, Rantideva, Ambareesha, Pippalada, Utanga, Muchukunda, Raghu, Nahusha, Shantanu , Bali, Prahlada, Vidhura, Viraata, Sudhama, Uddhava, Drupada, Krpa, Kuntibhoja, Kuntidevi, Subhadra, Rohini, Balarama, Ambika, Tilottama, Gandhari etc
Sages: Narada, Tumburu, Matanga, Sanaka, Sanandana, Vyaghrapada, Parashara, Markhandeya, Kapila, Gautama, Kanva, Kashyapa and Gargha to name a few.
Other great personalities: Purandaradasa, Tulasidasa, Bhadrachala Ramadasa, Patanjali, Panini, the 63 Shaivite saints, 12 Vaishnavite saints, Ramanuja and so forth.
Devotion to Guru: Venkata Kavi's devotion to both his divine and human preceptors is very evident from several compositions that he has composed on his Guru. He has composed 16 or more compositions on Guru and extols his great fortune of having a great Guru in the song, Enna punniyam (Reetigowla).
enna punniyam sheideno sadgurunaatha
ettanai tavam sheideno nin arul perave naan