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Muthuswamy Dikshitar

2:03 PM Posted by Vijayasri

Muthuswamy Dikshitar was the youngest of the celebrated trio of composers, revered as the Trinity of carnatic music.
Their compositions form a class by themselves: those of Shyama Sastri excel is intricate rhythmic patterns; those of Tyagaraja in the happy blend of emotion and melody; and those of Muthuswamy Dikshitar in their richness in the portraiture of melodic beauty and variety.

Muthuswamy Dikshitar's History :

There lived in the beginning of the 18th century a Brahmin couple - Venkateswara Dikshitar and Bhagirathi - in a place called Virinchipuram.

They had a son called Ramaswamy. In 1742, there was a political upheaval in the region, following which there was a huge exodus. The Cauvery delta, which was under the administration of the enlightened Maratha kings of Tanjore, was comparatively peaceful and prosperous. Venkateswara Dikshitar and his family migrated to the State of Tanjore and settled down in a village called Govindapuram. By about 1751, Venkateswara Dikshitar and his wife passed away, leaving the young Ramaswamy to carve out his own future.

Ramaswamy Dikshitar had by then received extensive training in the Vedas. As
he was gifted with a rich and sonorous voice, he was advised by his wellwishers
to take to the study of music. Ramaswamy Dikshitar accordingly went to Tanjore
and learnt music from Veerabhadrayya, an eminent musician who enjoyed royal
patronage. Ramaswamy Dikshitar believed that no music could be perfect unless

it was based on a firm foundation of theory. Accordingly he studied the
theory of music under the guidance of Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshitar, a well
known vainika of the times who belonged to the family of Govinda Dikshitar and
Venkatamukhi, the Panini of Karnatik music.

Raga Hamsadhwani is the creation of Ramaswamy Dikshitar. In fact, his compositions would have received far greater recognition and wider popularity had his son Muthuswamy Dikshitar not overshadowed him.

Ramaswamy Dikshitar was childless till his 40th year. He and his wife Subbammal performed rigorous tapas at the Vaideswaram shrine. They offered 'avarana' poojas to Kartikeya for 40 days. It is said that on the last day of the pooja, the Devi appeared to Ramaswamy Dikshitar in his dream and presented him with a muktaharam (pearl necklace). He related the dream to the elders of the place who assured him that a gem (mukta) of a son would soon be born to him.

It was the month of Phalguna. The annual Vasantotsava was being celebrated in the temple of Sri Tyagaraja Swamy with great eclat. The entire town was resounding to the Vedic chanting and the music of the nagaswaram.
It was in this divine atmosphere that Ramaswamy Dikshitar was blessed with a baby boy. He named the child Muthuswamy, after god Kartikeya.

Chidambaranatha Yogi, who had earlier initiated Ramaswamy Dikshitar into the Sri Vidya Cult and taught him the tantric mode of worship, was on a pilgrimage to Benaras. On his way from the south, he made a brief halt at Madras. Ramaswamy Dikshitar invited the guru for a bhiksha. The yogi accepted the invitation and went to his house at Manali. Muthuswamy and his brothers sang while the yogi performed the pooja.

The yogi, who visualised the eventful future ahead of Muthuswamy, asked Ramaswamy Dikshitar: "I have a request to make, will you care to comply?"

"You are my revered guru. Command me, Sir," said Ramaswamy Dikshitar.

"So then, send your son Muthuswamy with me to Kasi."

Ramaswamy Dikshitar was stunned and sat speechless.

Ramaswamy Dikshitar agreed, though reluctantly, to send Muthuswamy with Chidambaranatha Yogi.

Muthuswamy lived with the yogi for about six years in Kasi. This is the period that must be reganded as the most significant in moulding the personality of Muthuswamy Dikshitar.

Muthuswamy Dikshitar was to leave for his home town Chidambaranatha Yogi was
offering worship to Devi Annapoorneswari, and Muthuswamy Dikshitar was beside
him. The yogi told Dikshitar that the Devi would not only grant his desires in
this life but moksha thereafter and that he should worship her all his life.
The next day, while going to the Ganga for bathing, the Yogi said to
Dikshitar: "Go down three steps in the Ganga and tell me what takes place".
Dikshitar stepped down the Ganga and to his greal amazement. a veena with the
sacred name of Rama inscribed on it drifted into his arms. "This is the prasada
of Ganga Devi. May you grow to become a great vainika and celebrated
vaggeyakara," blessed the guru.

Muthuswamy Dikshitar is a prolific composer. His compositions run into hundreds and consist of kirtanas in multiple languages. Dikshitar is also reputed for his composition in groups based on particular themes with his mudra 'guruguha'.

One set among these group compositions is the Navagraha Kirtanas devoted to the nine planets . He alos composed the navavarnams knowns as the Kamalamba Navavarna kirtanas. These compositions are called Kamalamba Navavarna Kirtanas, even though they are devoted to the worship of Sri Chakra. This is because Dikshitar identified the Supreme Mother with Kamalamba, the consort of the presiding diety of Tiruvarur.

The year was 1834. In the month of Aswija, on the Chaturdashi preceding
Deepavali, Muthuswamy Dikshitar woke up in the early hours, as was his
practice, and after yogic practices went to take his bath.
He had a vision of Kasi Annapoorneswari. Even as he was gazing on it, the
vision vanished. Dikshitar remembered what Chidambara yogi had told him at
Kasi: "She will give you not merely feed in this life but 'moksha'
Dikshitar felt his end was nearing. He performed Navavarna pooja to the Devi
and sang the kriti Ehi Annapoorne. After the pooja, Dikshitar moved on to the
drawing room where his disciples had assembled. "Today is Chaturdashi, a day
sacred to the Devi. May you all sing kirtanas in her praise," said Dikshitar to
disciples. They began singing Meenakshi me mudam dehi in raga Gamakakriya.
"It looks as though the Devi is liberating me from the bonds of this world.
Sing the kirtana again," said Dikshitar. They did so. Even as they were singing
the sahitya of the anupallavi Meena lochani Pasha mochani, he cast off his
mortal coils.
Check out some of the the Dikshitar compositions in Sapthaswaras.


  1. rupa said...

    Thank you for the summary of MD 's life history
    I am speechless

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