The South Indian Bhajana Sampradaya was codified by three Acharyas: Sri Bhagavannama Bodhedra, Sri Sridhara Venkatesha Ayyaval and Sri Sadguru Swamigal - all the three of who were smArtas or Advaitins. In fact, the Bhajana Sampradaya starts from the Greatest of Gurus - Sri Dakshinamurti incarnate - Sri Adi Shankara Bhagavatpada. It was he who gave the divine teaching - bhaja govindam and started the Bhajana Sampradaya. The next Guru was Sri Totakacharya. As Acharya once walked majestically holding his danda, Totaka, who was following the Acharya with bent head, looked up for some reason and burst into a joyful song when he saw Acharya appear as Sri Ramachandra holding his Ko-danda. This composition - jaya janaki ramana - is used as Totaka Mangala (spelled incorrectly as todaya mangalam) as the primary invocation at the commencement of the Bhajana.
Moksha is the ultimate goal and this is possible only through the liberating knowledge of the Upanishad-s. This requires chitta shuddhi which is obtained through various upAsana kramas, practiced with Bhakti. And Bhakti is characterized by:
shravaNaM kIrtanaM viShNoH smaraNaM pAdasevanam |
archanaM vandanaM dAsyaM sakhyamAtmanivedanam ||
The Archarya traya of Bhagavannama Samkirtana Sampradaya have beautifully embedded all these elements into what we know today as dAkShiNatya bhajana sampradAya. Like other upAsana krama-s such as shrIvidyA, bhajana is not a replacement for nitya karmas or the duties prescribed by one's varNa and Ashrama. Non-performance of nitya karma-s in the name of shrIvidyA upAsanA or bhajana is like applying moisturizers after abandoning bath completely. Also, the trinity of Carnatic music - Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Dikshitha and Sri Shyama Shastri, have all been smArta-s and Advaitins. As long as it is realized that such upAyas are for chitta shuddhi which can further lead one to Moksha through anusandhAna of Upanishad vakya, they form immensely useful tools for spiritual advancement. Does not merely listening to MS Amma render ranga pura vihAra take one to sAketapuri or listening to Bombay Jayashree sing Ananda natana prakAsham bring the picture of Ananda Tandava of Chit-Sabhapati or the joyous raptures of Pandit Jasaraj take one to the banks of Yamuna, where jIva having attained premikA bhava, melts in Lord's embrace, becoming one with him?
bAlaM mukundaM manasA smarAmi