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Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar and Sri Vidya (3 of 8)

Dikshitar and Hindustani music

While you read the article….listen to
  Jambu pathe maam pahi  in Yaman Kalyani sung by Shri TM Krishna

(Thanks to Sashidhar Vasisth)

[The majestic Jambu pathe (Yamuna Kalyani, Rupakam) a masterpiece by Sri Dikshitar, is based in Hindustani raga Yaman Kalyan. The stately gait of the composition is akin to the Dhrupad style of singing.  The kriti is one of his Pancha linga group kritis extolling the manifestations of Shiva among the five elements of nature (Panchabhuta); and, is in celebration of the water-element (Appu), singing in praise the glory of Jambukeswara the deity in the temple at Tiruvanaikaval near Trichy in Tamil Nadu.

Jambupathe -Shri SRajam

The final passage – Madhyama-kala- sahitya – nirvikalpaka samAdi nishta Siva kalpakataro ; nirvisesha caitanya niranjana guruguha guro – is a rare gem , a true classic, where Sri Dikshitar calls out to Shiva , pure consciousness (caitanya), devoid of attributes (nirvisesha); the Supeme Guru (Guro);  and the one from whom originated the pristine purest (niranjana) Lord Guruguha.

 To  summarize Sri Ravi Rajagopalan in the series of articles  on : Yamuna Kalyani–A Journey Back in Time-Part III :

Sri Dikshitar invokes the deeply meditative and contemplative structure of the devotional Dhrupad in this composition. The Devotional Dhrupads are always composed in cau tala and are sung in slow tempo. The rendition of the complete composition is compulsory and no part of the devotional text is indispensable. The Alapa is either omitted or reduced to a few characteristic phrases of the raga. Rhythmic and melodic improvisation too is given little space and in some temples and traditions, improvisation is avoided.

The similarities ‘Jambupate’ has with the devotional Dhrupad give us a clue as to how the composition has to be rendered and there can be no doubt about it.

Sri Dikshitar’s Yamuna Kalyani as found in “Jambupate” has Sa, Ga and Pa as the chief nyasa svaras, Ni and Ma figuring prominently with M1 as an alpa prayoga figuring in avarohana passages through the murccana GM1R & Ni is  vakra in aroha passages. Ga and Pa seem to be the amsa svaras with Ri being very weak. The sancaras range from mandhara Pa/Dha to tara sthayi Ga. In fact there is no tradition of singing Dikshitar’s Jambupate in Madhyama sruti, while all others including the modern tuned up compositions such as  “Krishna nee begane” and “Bhavayami Gopalabalam” are all sung in Madhyama sruti.


Please check the link for the text and brief explanation ]


During his stay at Varanasi, Muthuswamy Dikshitar enjoyed splendid opportunities of listening to Hindustani music in its pristine forms. He seemed to be impressed greatly by the ancient Drupad form of singing and of playing the string instruments; particularly by its elaboration of raga (alap), the tempo and the structure of the lyrics . He diligently studied and learnt the Druphad. This had a profound influence on his creative genius, and apparently modeled his portrayal of ragas in general and in transforming the Hindustani ragas into Carnatic form, in particular. His synthesis of Carnatic and Hindustani Music systems is creative and original.


The influence of Hindustani music on Dikshitar and his works are manifold. It is not confined to composing some kritis based on Outhareya that is Hindustani ragas. The influence is evident in the structure of his kritis, the tempo of his music, in the selection of the Talas and in elaboration of the raga too.

His kritis are well structured, close knit and written in graceful Sanskrit akin to Druphad compositions. Dikshitar’s kritis do not have more than one Charanam; and many of his creations areSamasti-charanams carrying no Anupallavi or the Anupallavi acting as Charanam. His rhythm is subtle and lyrics are divine.

The Druphad way of elaboration appears to have captured his imagination. The tempo of his songs is mostly the Vilambakala– slow, measured and majestic; rich in gamaka just as the meends on a Been. Dikshitar’s treatment of the raga exemplifies the essence of raga bhaava and brings out its delicate shades. It is as if the musician is immersed in contemplative meditation. A scholar aptly remarked “…. Dikshitar’s kritis are epitome of the spiritual record of India”.

This is amply reflected in his works: for instance in  Chetasri   (Dvijawanthi),  Balagopala (Bhairavi), Sri Rajagopala), Meenkshi  Me Mudam  (Poorvikalyani)  , Jambu pathe maam pahi (yaman kalyani) and in  Sri Subramanyaya  Namasthe (Kambhoji).

It was not all slow and spacious. He built into his compositions exhilarating bursts of Madhyamakala gathi, of speed and sparkling delight as if in celebration of the divine, towards the end.

He did not merely import the Hindusthani ragas but transformed them and gave them an entire new form and luster. That was the creative genius of Dikshitar. For instance, his interpretation and rendering of ragas like Dwijavathi, Ramkali, Yamakalyani, Hamirkalyani, and Brindavan sarang are highly original and creative. He made them into his own. His Cheta sri is so wonderfully well adapted to Carnatic raga_bhava that one scarcely notices the Outhereya traces in its character. 

Similar is the case with his Kriti in Raga Bhairavam (Kaala Bhairavam bhajeham) which has the shades of Ahir Bhairav. And, his Kriti in Raga Kashi – Ramakriya  (Soma-skanda vimanastam) has the flavour of Raga Pooriya.

He took in the best aspects of the other system, transformed them and enriched both the systems.

His Jambupathe (Yamankalyani), Parimalaranganatham (HamirKalyani),  Rangapuravihara  (Brindavana Saranga) and Mamava pattabhrama (manirangu) bear testimony to his virtuosity. They are the bench mark kritis in those ragas and are splendid examples of aesthetic excellence of the ragasancharas.

The Hindustani influence spilled over to some of his compositions in Carnatic ragas too, by way of elaborate beginning and by gamakas resembling sliding meends;  as , for instance , in the grandeur and slow paced majesty of Akshyalinga Vibho (Shankarabharanamin contemplation of the Shiva the Yogior in Balagopala (Bhiravi), portraying the delight and  beauty of the divine child  Krishna. His Nirajakshi Kamakshi in Hindolam with dha flat re-defined the way Hindolam was sung by his contemporaries and by the later Carnatic musicians.

Dikshitar was a scholar well grounded in good tradition (sampradaya).To him, music was more than an art; it was serene contemplation, a way of worship in tranquility and it was also an outpouring of his soul in celebration of the divine. He took his music seriously. His involvement in Western or Hindustani music was not flippant .The influences of those other systems on the traditional Carnatic music, which he practiced with great devotion and diligence, was purposeful and did not in any manner diminish the pristine tradition of Carnatic music, his forte . He took the best in the other systems and adorned the Carnatic System; enriching both the donor and the recipient systems. Dikshitar revolutionized Carnatic classic ethos while firmly positioned within its orthodox framework.

The efforts of Sri Dikshitar to forge a meaningful link between the two Music traditions soon bore fruit. Hardly about seventy years after his departure , the monumental  Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini  published by his Grandson Sri Subbarama Dikshitar in the year 1903 records all those Ragas adopted from Hindustani system as having been well integrated into Karnataka Music and classified as derivatives of the Melakarta Ragas.

Such integration was brought into effect even in practice of Music. For instance; initially , the Musicians of the Mysore Durbar such as the Vainikas – Veena Seshanna, Veena Subbanna and Vekatagiriyappa – introduced new compositional format  called ‘Nagmas’ , inspired by the Music of North India. Later, Mysore Dr. V Doraiswamy Iyyangar carried on the innovative tradition by playing regularly, in the concerts, the Tillanas in Ragas, Durbari Kanada, Jhenjuti, Kapi, Behag etc.

Now, of course, most of the vocal and instrument artist do sing the adopted Ragas, regularly , without distinction.

[ Now , listen to another  delightful version of Jambu pathe  beautifully  rendered by a group of youngsters]


I cannot resist posting here some excerpts (in a summarized form) from a wonderfully well researched paper ‘North Indian Ragas in the compositions of Muttuswami Dikshitar’ written by the Musicologist, Composer and Scholar Dr.V.V.Srivatsa, an authority on the compositions of Sri Dikshitar.

Dr. V.V. Srivatsa

While discussing the relations between the Ragas adopted from the Hindustani Music into the Karnataka Music tradition, Dr.Srivatsa treats them under four broad heads:

(i) Ragas adopted from the Hindustan Music, maintained with the same nomenclature (e.g. Ramkali)

(ii) Ragas adopted from Hindustani Music, and retained with Northern music content , but with different names (e.g. Hamveer Kalyani which is Raga Kedar in Hindustani Music)

(iii) Ragas of Hindustani Music which have been integrated into Karnataka Music (e.g. Jhenjuti)


(iv) Ragas of Hindustani Music which have musical equivalent in Karnataka system (e.g. Karnataka Devagandhari – Bhimpalas)

[The Ragas carrying similar names but with different musical content are ignored]


According to Dr.Srivatsa, though Sri Dikshitar did introduce some Ragas into Karnatik Music; several were in vogue even before his time. For instance, he mentions, Lalitha, a Raga of North Indian origin, was used by all members of the Musical Trinity. And, the Ragas like Gurjari, Hamveer, Kalyani and Ramkali were in use at the Trinity’s time. Ragas like Bhairavi (Sindhu Bhairavi), Behag and Bageshri came in shortly thereafter. Recent infusions include Ragas like Shivaranjani, Bairagi-Bhairav (Revati), Basant-Bahar and so on.

Raga Lalita was in vogue in the Karnataka Music even prior to the era of the Trinity. Then, Sri Shyama Sastri’s ‘Nannu brova Lalita’; Sri Tyagaraja’s ‘Seethamma maayamma’; and, Sri Dikshitar’s two compositions ‘Agasteeshwaran Bhajeham’ and ‘Hiranmayeem Lakshmim’ immortalized Raga Lalita in Karnataka Music.

The Raga Lalita closely resembles Raga Vasanta (which sometimes is called Dakshinatya Vasanta to differentiate it from Basant of Hindustani Music).It is surmised that Raga Vasanta was from the North; and, integrated into Karnataka Music.

Raga Hamveer Kalyani was in use in the Karnataka Music from even before the times of the Trinity. The sixteenth century text ‘Rasa-kaumudi’ ( ascribed to Śrikanha, dealing with music, dance, and related general topics from the Nava Rasas to the ornamentation of women) mentions this Raga. Further; Sri Paidala Gurumuthy Sastri* had included Raga Hamveer Kalyani in the list of 22 Bhashanga Ragas that were in vogue during his time. He had clearly mentioned that the Raga was adopted from Northern system.

However, the Hamveer kalyani of the present-day Karnataka Music corresponds to Raga Kedar of Hindustani Music; but, not to Hamveer Kalyan also of Hindustani system.

There are compositions of Sri Dikshitar (Pashupatheeswaram) in Shiva Pantuvarali which corresponds to Hindustani Todi. It is believed; Shiva Pantuvarali was in use in Karnataka Music even in the days prior to Sri Dikshitar.  There is a Kriti of Sri Tyagaraja – Ennallu Oorage’– in this Raga.

(*Paidala Gurumurthi Sastri was a disciple of Sonti Venkatasubbayya and a contemporary of Sri Ramaswamy Dikshitar. He was a Telugu Brahmin belonging to the Murikinati sect ; and , lived during the 17th century in the village of Kayatar in Tirunelveli district of Tamil Nadu.   He was famous as great composer of one thousand geetams (Veyigita Paidala Gurumurti) illustrating the Janaka and the Janya Ragas ; and also lakshana geetams that illustrate the characteristic features of the Ragas . He was a composer of kritis in Rakti ragas, and had a vast knowledge of sastras and Vedas. It is said that Paidala Gurumurthi was the first to mention that Raga Sahana as a derivative of raga Kambhoji. He was highly regarded for his technical knowledge of the Ragas – Sastrajna and Raga bheda dureena .)


There are some Ragas that have come from folk tradition, And, Jhenjuti is one such. Sri Dikshitar has used the Raga-mudra (in his kriti Gajanba Nayako) as Jhenjuti and its South Indian name ‘Chenjurti’ or ‘Chenchurutti’.

Similar is the case with Raga Piloo, which is proximate to Hindustani Raga Kafi. The Karnataka Kapi  has three versions : Maharaja Swathi Tirunal ‘s version being close to Kharaharapriya; Sri Dikshitar’s being similar to Kaanada ; and, Sri Shyama Sastri’s version being midway between Durbar and Kharaharapriya.


As regards Karnataka Shuddha Saveri; it is an Audava Raga with Shuddha Svaras (Rishabha, Madhyama, and Dhaivata), and does not have the Gandhara or Nishada Svaras. The Karnataka Shuddha Saveri is equivalent to Hindustani Raga Komkali. Sri Dikshitar while introducing this Raga into Karnataka Music named it as ‘maana-danda’ or the standard format. His Grandson Sri Subbarama Dikshitar later classified Karnataka Shuddha Saveri as an Upanga of the First Melakarta Raga.

Similar was the case with Kamala-manohari, a non-Vivadi Raga which is Janya of a Vivadi Melakarta.


The characteristic of Karnataka Shuddha Saveri is elaborate and elongated prayoga of Rishabha-Svara. It has a strong resemblance to Komkali, a Prabhat Kaala (morning) Raga of the Hindustani Music. And, Karnataka Shuddha Saveri was one among the favourites of Sri Dikshitar. His Ekamresha Nayike in Shuddha Saveri is a true classic.

The Karnataka Raga Shuddha Saveri approximates to Raga Malahari and to Kannada Bangala, which has a limited use of Nishada Svara. The Raga Malahari, which has no Nishada (Nishada-varjya) and which has Gandhara only in the Avaroha, is an old Raga of the Karnataka system in which Sri Pauradaradasa composed Pillari-geetas for the benefit of the beginners. Of the Trinity, only Sri Dikshitar has composed in these three Ragas- Shuddha Saveri, Malahari and Kannada Bangala. And, Sri Dikshitar alone has composed Kritis both in Kannada Gowla and Karnataka Devagandhari. 

The Karnataka Devagandhari which approximates to Raga Abheri has only Shuddha Daivata. Sri Subbarama Dikshitar in his ‘ Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini’ mentions of a Suladi composed by Sri Purandaradasa in the Raga Karnataka Devagandhari ( Hasugala kareva dhvani) set to Rangana Jati Mattya Tala.

[Dr.Srivatsa opines that the current popular version of the Abheri of ‘Nagumomu ganaleni’ is rather corrupted; and, it is not the same as Raga Abheri of Sri Dikshitar’s ‘Panchashat peetha rupini’.]

Sri Dikshitar’s Kriti in Raga Karnataka Devagandhari (Kaayaaarohanesham) has the shades of the Hindustani Bhimpalas (as in Sri Bhimsen Joshi’s rendering of Haribhajane mado nirantara).

The examples of Hindola and Malkauns can also be considered. However, the Hindustani influence is not significant in Sri Dikshitar’s Kritis – ‘Nirajakshi Kamakshi’; ‘Sarasvathi Vidyuvathi’; and, ‘ Govardhana Girisham’.


There is a special group of Ragas that use both Shuddha Madhyama and Prati Madhyama Svaras. The instances of Such Ragas are: Yamuna Kalyani, Hamveer Kalyani and Saranga. Of these, Hamveer Kalyani and Yamuna Kalyani (Yaman Kalyan) are of Northern origin.

The Ragas Yaman and Yamuna Kalyani differ in that the latter has the Shuddha Madhyama in the passage ‘Ma-Ga-Ma-Ri-Sa’ .  The Astapadi ‘Saa virahe tava  deena’ and the Devaranama ‘Hari smarane mado niratara’ are good examples of Yamuna kalyani.

In Raga Yaman, though the Shuddha Madhyama Svara is used in passages like ‘ Ma-Ga-Sa-Ni-Ri-Sa’ you will not find ‘Ma-Ga-Ma-Ri-Sa’.

The two compositions by Sri Dikshitar in Raga Yaman is an adaptation of the Northern Raga Yaman. And, Jambu Pathe is one such


There are some Ragas which are Dwi-Madhyama in structure; but, with Shuddha Madhyama as the dominant Svara; and, Prati Madhyama as the subordinate Svara. The instances of such Ragas are: Ramkali, Arda-deshi, Ahir-Marwa etc. It is only Sri Muttuswami Dikshitar that has used such Ragas.

Sri Dikshitar’s Kriti in Ramkali resembles, in structure, a Dhrupad composition. Further, the Pallavi – ‘Rama Rama kali kalusha virama’ (meaning Rama mitigates the evils of the Kali era) hides the Raga-mudra.


We go back to the case of Dwi-Madhyama Ragas . The Raga Marwa is of folk origin; and, is a Janya-Raga of Maya-malava-cowla . The Raga Marwa omits Rishabha Svara in ascendent scale, Arohana; and , has a Sampurna Arohana. The raga-scale makes it a distant cousin of Ragas Lalita and Vasanta – the difference being the presence of Rishabha Svara (Ri) in the raga Lalita and the use of Panchama Svara (Pa) in the descendent scle Avarohana of Raga Marwa.

However, the use of Prati-Madhyama Svara in prayogas like ‘Ni-Dha-Ma-Pa’ or ‘ Dha-Ma-Pa-Ni’ makes it a Bhashanga Raga and Dwi- Madhyama Raga.

We have Sri Dikshitar’s  Kriti in Raga Marwa  (Maruvaakadi Maalini).  This is similar to Raga Ramkali where the Shuddha Madhyama dominates.

Raga Poorvi, a Bhashanga Raga, which has its origin in the Northern tradition, has also Dwi-Madhyama. The only Kriti in that Raga (Ekaika Raga) – ‘Shri Guruguhasya daasoham nochet Guruguha eva hum’- is a part of the Guruguha Vibhakti Series.


Raga Brindavana Saranga is quite different from Raga Brindavani. In the tradition followed by Sri Tyagaraja, the rendering of Brindavana Saranga involves emphasis on Gandhara Svara, bringing it very close to Sri Raga (as in his Kriti Kalamalpta kula).

But, in Sri Dikshitar’s kritis – Rangapura Vihara and Soundara rajam – the Gandhara is rather weak. His Brindavana Saranga is closer to Madhyamavati.

The Raga Brindavani of northern origin; and is equivalent to Raga Shuddha Sarang of Hindustani system. The dominant Svara of the Brindavani is Kakili Nishada, which is alien to the 22nd Melakarta Raga; and, is classified as a Bhashanga Raga of the 22nd Melakarta system. Sri Dikshitar’s kriti in this Raga is ‘Swaminathena Samrakshitoham’.


The Ragas in Karnataka system are categorized and classified in as many as twenty ways. One among such methods is to group the Ragas under the broad heads of Shuddha (Pure); Sankeerna (Unclassified); and Chaayalaga (having the shadow or flavour of other ragas) – Shuddha, Chaayalakah prokto Sankeernaani thataivach.

The Shuddha Ragas are those which possess the intrinsic character (Lakshana) of the Raga; and, provide ample scope for its exposition in all the facets of its elaboration- Alapana, Sangathi, Neraval and Svara-prastara.  Further, even a flash or a single movement (Sanchara) is adequate to identify it. The celebrated examples of the Shuddha Ragas are: Kalyani; Kambhoji; Saveri; Shankarabharana, Todi; Bhairavi; Dhanyasi and so on.

Sankeerna Jati Ragas are those which are not facile enough to full exploration of Alapana; but, are usually identified by the Kritis in that Raga. The instances of such Sankeerna Ragas are : Devamrutavarshini; Mandari; and Manji etc.

A Chaayalaka Raga is one which carries the flavour of nuances of other Ragas. Lets say when one sings Raga Natakapriya, the shades of Ragas Chakravaka, Kharaharapriya and Todi pass through. And, while rendering Raga Ghanta the passages of Punnagavarali and Dhanashri with a pronounced play of Shuddha Nishada appear. Similarly, Raga Dwijavanti (Cheta Shri balakridhnam) could be said to be a Chaayalaka having the shades of Sahana, Dhanyasi and Yadukula Kambhoji.


Continued in Part Four

The music of Sri Dikshitar


Muthuswami Dikshitar – A Creative Genius by Chitravina N Ravikiran

I gratefully acknowledge Shri S Rajam’s  painting of Jambu-linga


Posted by on September 13, 2012 in Music, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Sri Vidya


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Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar and Sri Vidya (1 of 8)

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar- a life sketch

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775 – 1835), one of the trinity of Carnatic Music, was a complete musician; a scholar and a Sadhaka, the one who attained his goal. The genius of Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar was that he was a remarkable synthesis of a versatile composer adept in several distinctive forms of music; of a towering scholar in Sanskrit which adorned his music with grace, dignity and tranquility; and , of a Sadhaka steeped in devotion and good tradition (Sampradaya vit). Each of his compositions is unique; brilliantly crafted and well chiseled work of intricate art. The most fascinating aspect of Sri Dikshitar’s songs is the grandeur and majesty of his music; the intellectually sublime lyrics;  and,  the overall tranquil joy.

There is hardly a composer comparable to Sri Dikshitar, in versatility, in enriching his work with such poetic imagery, technical sophistication; and, above all in permeating his compositions with soulful repose.

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar was the son of Sri Ramaswami Dikshitar (1735 – 1812), a well-known scholar – composer- musician of his time.

Ramaswami Dikshitar is described as the son of Bhagirathyamma and Vekateshvara Dikshita, a Dravida Brahmin belonging to Auttara Kashyapa Gotra, Apastamba Sutra. Ramasvami Dikshita was born in the Saka-samvathsara 1657 (1735 AD) at Kanchipuram. When he was of about seven years of age, his parents moved from  Virachipuram (?) or Kanchipuram to Govindapuram, near Tanjavuru. In order to pursue his interest in music, Ramaswami Dikshita is said to have stayed as an Ante-vasin, a resident student, for a period of about two years,  with the famous composer-musician of those times –  Meratturu Veerabhadrayya of Tanjavuru; and , learnt Kritis composed by  him in Rakthi and Desi Ragas. He also learnt to sing, with ease and understanding, the Svaras, Alapana, Pallavi and the Svara-kalpana.

Thereafter, he studied further under Venkata-Vaidyanatha Dikshita of Madhyarjuna (maternal-grandson of the Great Venkatamakhin). Here,  for one year he learnt Veena; and, followed it up with the study of Venkatamakhin’s Chaturdandi Prakashika with its Raga, Upanga, Bhashanga Ragas, Gitas and Tala-lakshanas. And, much later, at the instruction of his guru Yogi Chidambaranatha, Ramasvami Dikshita shifted his family from Govindapuram to Thiruvavur in the Tanjavuru district. He settled down in Tiruvavuru having gained reputation as a much learned scholar, composer and musician.

tiruvarur_temple (1)

Ramaswami Dikshitar had to his credit a large number of Tana varnas, Pada varnas, Darus, Ragamalikas and Kirtanas. His Mudra, signature, was ‘Venkatakrishna’ . His Ragamalika composed in 108 Ragas and set to different Taalas (Ashtottara Shatha Raga Taala Malika) was an outstanding composition, not merely for its sheer size but also for its melodic charm and rhythmic patterns; and , for deployment  of some uncommon Ragas and Taalas.

 Dr. Dhanya writes : The first 7 sections of this composition are in the Suladi sapta Taalas and the remaining in the I08 Taalas. Rare Taalas like Lali, Lakshana, Srimatkirti, Simhavikrama, Rarigalila, Kavilokita,  Akshara, Kala and Sri are used in it. This is a rare composition in Carnatic music of its style. But unfortunately its complete text is not available and only 61 Ragas and Taalas now exist.

Sri Ramaswami Dikshitar also gained fame through his improvisations of the popular melody, the Raga Hamsadwani. He is said to have composed a Prabandha, in this Raga, beginning with the words ‘Chandasela‘ , . 

Thyagarajasvami and his consort Nilotpalamba

Sri Ramaswami Dikshitar , for a major part of his life, lived during the reign of Tulaja II , Amarasimha and the early Sarabhoji period. His other patrons were Manali Venkatakrishna Mudaliar and his son Chinnayya Mudaliar.

It was at Thiruvavur that Ramaswami Dikshitar, just past forty years of age; was blessed with a son in the Manmatha year, Phalguna month and Krithika nakshatra (March 25th, 1775), just as the annual Vasantotsava was being celebrated in the temple of Sri Tyagaraja Swamy and Sri Nilothpalambika.


He named the baby boy as Muthuswami , after his protecting deity Karthikeya. After Muthuswamy, two sons – Chinnaswamy (formally- Venkata-vaidyanatha Sharma, named after his Guru) – (17781823) and Baluswamy (formally Balakrisna Sarma) – (17861859) ; and , a daughter – Balambika or Balambal – were born to Ramaswamy Dikshitar and Subbalakshmiammal . (According to some, Chinnaswamy and Balambal were twins)

Dikshitar Family tree

[ for more details on family history : please  check : ]

[Unlike in the case of Sri Thyagaraja, the Shishya-paramapa (the line of disciples) of Sri Dikshitar was, mainly, his descendants. According to Dr. V. Raghavan, in his book entitled Muttuswami Dikshitar, published by the National Center for the Performing Arts, 1975 :

The main line of Dikshitar’s pupils is represented by his own family. After Baluswami Dikshitar, there was the great Subbarama Dikshitar…. His son was Ambi Dikshitar (full name: Muttuswami Dikshitar) who succeeded him as court musician at Ettayapuram; and, stayed there for a long time. Late in life, he migrated to Madras where he lived for the rest of his life. While in Madras he built  a school around himself; and, it was the starting point of a strong and fruitful movement. The well-known Vedanta Bhagavatar of Kallidaikurichi, who also happened to live in Madras at that time, threw himself enthusiastically into this active propagation of Dikshitar Kritis. There were two young Veena brothers of Tirunelveli, Anatakrishrna Iyer and Sundaram Iyer, who made copies of Dikshitar kritis from the manuscripts of Sri Ambi Dikshitar. These formed the basis on which they propagated Dikshitar kritis……

Of Dikshitar’s own direct line, Sri Ambi Dikshitar’s son Tiruvarur Baluswami Dikshitar is the present living representative. (Note: this article was written earlier to 1975)

It was mainly due to the devotion, dedication and efforts of Sri Ambi Dikshitar, while he was in Madras, the musical heritage of Sri Muttuswami Dikshitar came to be extended outside of the family. In the early years, the disciples of Sri Ambi Dikshitar such as Smt. D.K.Pattammal and Justice T.L.Venkatrama Iyer did loyal service, with great enthusiasm, in popularizing the compositions of Sri Muttuswami Dikshitar.]


Apart from the traditional education in Veda and Vedangas, the boy Muthuswami received training in the lakshana and lakshya (theory and practice) aspects of Karnataka Samgita. The lakshana geethas and prabandhas of Venkatamakhin formed an important input of his training . He gained proficiency, in Veena and in vocal music as well. He also gained training in Vyakarana (through a text named Kaumudi – it could be either Siddhānta-Kaumudī by Bhaṭṭoji Dīkṣita or its abridged version Laghu-kaumudi by his student Varadarāja), Kavya, Nataka, and Alamkara aspects of poetics. By about the age of sixteen, Muthuswamy had gained familiarity with Jyothisha, Ayurveda and Tantra.

Muthuswami was a studious lad; rather absorbed in himself . Concerned with the boy’s detached attitude; his parents got him married at an early age. That didn’t seem to change the young man’s attitude; and, therefore he was married the second time.

At the invitation of Muddukrishna Mudaliyar, Zamindar and an art connoisseur, Ramaswami Dikshitar moved his family to Manali, a Zamindari near Madras. Muddukrishna Mudaliyar was a Dubash (interpreter) closely connected with the East India Company. He was succeeded by his son Venkatakrishna Mudaliar, who continued the patronage to the Dikshitar family. Venkatakrishna Mudaliar (sometimes referred to as Chinnaswami) was also a Dubash of the East India Company; and , in that capacity  he used to visit, quite often, Fort St George, the official seat of East India Company in South India. He would often take Muthuswami and his brothers to Fort St. George, to listen to ‘airs’- Western Music played by Irish men in the British band. It was here that Muthuswami Dikshitar gained familiarity with Western music.

Madras St. Thome Street, Fort St. George, Madras - 1804

It is said ; at the suggestion of Col. Browne who was in the service of the East India Company, Dikshitar composed the text in Sanskrit and Telugu for well known Western tunes. He also composed songs in Sanskrit and Telugu based on Western notes. The collection of these compositions , numbering about forty , later came to be known as “Nottuswara Sahithya“.

Another significant fallout of the Dikshitar family association with the court at the Fort St. George was that Baluswami, the younger brother of Muthuswami became fascinated by an instrument called Fiddle whose well tuned sounds seemed to approximate human voice. Baluswami learnt the Fiddle from an Irish musician; and, soon became quite an adept in playing Carnatic music over fiddle. And , thereafter  the family wondered why it could not replace traditional Veena as the accompanying instrument. They tried it out ; and, it worked very well. Since then Fiddle (Violin) has become an indispensable accompaniment for a Carnatic music concert.


[ About his  uncle Cinnasvami Dıksita  and his  adopted father  Balasvami Dıksita, Sri Subbarama Dikshitar writes in his Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini:

38. Cinnasvami Dıksita (Venkata-vaidyanatha Sharma)

He was Muddusvami Dıksita’s brother. He was well educated in Sanskrit and Telugu. He was an expert in music. He was a great veena player. He was a great soul who possessed expertise in vocal as well as in instrumental music. He was felicitated in the courts of Manali Cinnaya Mudaliyar, and in the court of other kings.

He composed two krtis, on Narada. One was Ganalola karunalavala, in the Raga Todi; and, the other was Narayanananta in the Raga Kalyani. He went to Madurai along with his younger brother, and passed away in his forty-fifth year.

39. Balasvami Dıksita (Balakrsna Sarma)

He was born as the third son of Ramasvami Dıksita in the Saka year 1708 (1786 A.D) in the year of Parabhava, in Mithuna rasi, Asvinı naksatram and in Kanya lagnam. He was the younger brother of Muddusvami Dıksita. He was named Balakrsna Sarma. He was an expert in Telugu and very well versed in music. He was an expert in playing the instruments such as Veena, Svarabat, Fiddle, citar (sitar) and Mrdangam . He knew the intricacies of musical laksya and laksana.

Even when he was very young, Cinnaya Mudaliyar at first arranged for him to learn violin from an English man. He learnt western music as well as Hindu music for three years and played very well in front of Manali Mudaliyar and other music-lovers. During his childhood, one day in a gathering of Mudaliyar,  Sonti Venkatasubbayya played the Gıta, and Taana  in the Raga Takka, looked at the Mudaliyar and told him that that Raga is known only in their family. Immediately, the young Balasvami Dıksita looked at the Mudaliyar and told him that he was going to sing that Takka Raga Gıta; and, to listen. As he sang it as, Aramajju aparadha, he was felicitated with a pearl necklace and a pair of earrings.

Afterwards, he along with his intelligent brothers lived in Kanci and other holy places ; went to Tiruvarur;  and lived there for some time. Then, with a disciple called Hari, who was with him since his childhood, and with his second older brother he went to Madurai and lived there for some time. When his brother passed away, he went to Setu with Hari and from there reached Ettayapuram and visited the Maharaja.

There, when he played Fiddle, the instrument that was new for those times, the Maharaja was very pleased and felicitated him greatly. He also recognized his talents in laksya and laksana, and his delicate playing on the Veena. The Maharaja also built a house for him, made him the court musician and got him married a second time.

The oldest son of the then Maharaja, Kumara Ettappa Maharaja (who was later coroneted) , learnt laksana and laksya of music from him. For the krtis he had composed in Sanskrit, in many Ragas following the patterns of Varnas, he (Balasvami) composed Muktayı svaras with intricate innovations, which pleased the Maharaja. Apart from that, he composed Kırtanas in Telugu on Srı Grdhracala Kartikeya in the Ragas Saranga, Darbar, Kannada and Rudrapriya.

With the permission of Kumara Ettappa Maharaja, who was well versed in astrology, he took me under his wings as his grandson, and initiated me to Brahmopadesa, taught me Veena and educated me in musical laksya and laksanas. He composed an Atta tala Varna in the Raga Naata, and made every Svara in that Tana Varna shine magically and in the last four Avarta Svaras he embedded the four Jatıs,  one in each of the Avarta. After hearing this Tana Varna, the Maharaja felicitated him with a pair of todas (bangles), which were valued at one thousand gold coins and which were adorned with rubies and the face of lion. He also presented him with a pair of valuable (shawls) cloths. He also rewarded the disciples who sang the Varna.

After that Maharaja, his brother was crowned; and, he too learnt music from him. He composed Darus on Venkatesvara Ettappa Maharaja, who was the embodiment of music, in the Ragas Rudrapriya, Darbar and Vasanta, with Muktayi svaras with paatava. After listening to them, the Maharaja felicitated him by presenting him with two shawls and thousand gold coins for each Daru. He used to sing Gıtagovinda (Astapadi) ; and chant the name of God on every ekadasi day without fail. As the days passed thus, in the Saka ´ year 1931 (1859 A.D) in Pingala year and on Kumbha Rasi, Shukla trtıya day, he attained the heavenly abode.


Balasvami Dıksita adopted his  youngest daughter’s son  –  Subbarama Dikshita , the author of the monumental Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini.

 Sri Subbarama Dikshita writes about himself:

72 . Subbarama Dıksita

With the name ‘Balasubrahmanya Sarma’, I am the adopted son of Balasvami Dıksiita, the youngest brother of Muddusvami Dıksita. Balasvami Dıksita’s youngest daughter’s name was Annapurniamma. Her husband was Sivaramayya who belonged to Bharadvaja Gotra, and Drahyayana Sutra.  They had two sons. Ramaswami Ayya, who was their  first son, was very talented in music and Veena was felicitated by kings and attained heavenly abode at the age of 45. And, Ramasvami Ayya had two sons, Veena Cinnasvami; and, the other was the third principal of the Maharaja’s High School and musical connoisseur, Venkatarama.

I was born as the second son (of Sivaramayya and Annapurniamma) in Tiruvarur in the Saka year 1761 (1839 A.D.) during the year of Vilambi, Tula Rasi, and Hasta Nakshatra.

When I was five years old, Balasvami Dıksita took me to Ettayapuram, and got me tutored in Sanskrit, Telugu, and music. At that time, Jagadvıra Rama Kumara Ettappa Maharaja, who was very well versed in astrology, summoned the great astrologers, and studied my horoscope. He looked at Balasvami Dıksita, and told him, “The bearer of this horoscope is the son to all the three of you. So, adopt him. He will be famous like Dıksita.” Just as his command, my maternal grandfather, Balasvami Dıksita adopted me during Plavanga year, Makara Rasi; and , initiated me into Brahmopadesa and Srı Vidya-upadesa. I learnt the sciences of epics and drama, great epics like Manu Caritra and Vasu Caritram, Grammar, and poetic meters from Vilattikolam Krsnayamatya, who was a great Sanskrit and Telugu scholar. I not only learnt Veena from my father, but also learnt in detail the secrets (intricacies) of laksya and laksana of music. ]

lotus design

When Muthuswami was about 25 years of age, he accompanied his family guru Yogi Chidambaranatha to Varanasi, in obedience of  the guru’s wish.  Muthuswami’s wives too followed their husband. Muthuswami spent seven fruitful years in Kashi. Those were his most wonderful and educative years ; and , left a lasting influence on his life and works. A whole new world opened to Muthuswami at Kashi. During this period, Dikshitar acquired a wealth of knowledge under yogi’s tutelage. The yogi taught him Advaita Siddhantha, Tantra; and , also initiated him into Sri Vidya Upasana. During these years, Dikshitar visited several holy places in the Himalayan region – such as , Badrinath, Kedarnath and Pashupathinath; and , worshiped the deities in those shrines.

During his stay at Varanasi, Muthuswamy Dikshitar had splendid opportunities to listen to Hindustani music in its pristine forms. He seemed to have been greatly impressed by the ancient Drupad form of singing and of playing the string instruments; particularly by its elaboration of Raga (Aalap), the measured tempo and the structure of the lyrics. This had a profound influence on his creative genius; and, apparently on his portrayal of Ragas in general ; and, in transforming the Hindustani Ragas into their Carnatic form, in particular.

[ It is said that while in Varanasi , Sri Dikshitar stayed with his Guru Sri Chidambaranatha yogi in a house situated in one of the lanes near Hanuman Ghat. Attached to the house is the temple of Sri Chakra Lingeshwara worshiped by Sri Dikshitar and his Guru. The  temple had fallen into ruins for many years. In the year 1936, when Kanchi Kamakoti Maha Periyava Sri Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswathi Swamigal visited Varanasi , he identified this temple and arranged for its restoration. Thereafter. Sri T M Arunachala Sastrigal of Tanjore  and his descendants devoted themselves  for the worship and maintenance of the temple.

Sri Chakra Lingeshwar where Dikshitar stayed with his Guru

The remarkable feature of the Sri Chakra Lingeshwara is that the Linga  is embedded with Sri Yantra.

chakra lingeswara varanasiSri Chakra Lingeshwar

Next to the Linga is the image of Sri  Dakshinamuthi swaroopa Ardhanarishwara    worshiped by Sri Dikshitar.

Dakshina murthi as Ardhanarishvara

The  image panel on the temple wall includes a portrait of Sri Dikshitar.

Mutthuswamy Dikshitar’s idol sculptured on the walls of the temple.Mutthuswamy Dikshitar’s idol  on the walls of the temple.

[Source : I gratefully acknowledge the web-page of  Dr Meera Rajaram Pranesh  at ]

At the end of the seven years, Yogi Chidambaranatha advised Muthuswami to return to South; and, to commence his music and spiritual career with the worship of Karthikeya on the hills of Tiruthani. Soon after that, the Yogi attained his Samadhi. Dikshitar performed the final rites of his departed guru and left Varanasi.

Chidambaranatha yogi samadhi

Yogi Sri Chidambaranatha’s Samadhi is located within the temple near Hanuman Ghat on the banks of the Ganga.

The family at Manali, in the meanwhile, had fallen on bad days. The life there was becoming increasingly difficult ; and, Ramaswami Dikshitar too was in poor health. The family therefore, decided to return to Thiruvarur. After making arrangements for the family’s return to Thiruvarur, Muthuswami headed straight to Tiruthani as ordained by his Guru. It is said; immediately after being blessed by the Lord there , Dikshitar started composing kritis. The first kriti he composed was Srinathadi Guruguho jayathi in Raga Mayamalava-gaula. His first group of kritis called Guruguha vibhakti krithis were also composed in Tiruthani. It was here that Dikshitar became a proper Vak-geya Kara, the composer who sets his lyrics to music. The Mudra, his signature to his creations was Guruguha, which approximates to ” the Guru dwelling in the cave of my heart”. Dikshitar was then around 33 years of age.

Manasollasa (also called Abhjilashitarta Chintamani) ascribed to the Kalyana Chalukya King Someshwara III (1127-1139 AD) is an encyclopedic work, written in Sanskrit, covering a wide range of subjects.  Its Chapter Three: Prakirnaka: deals with topics such as: Guna–Dosha (merits and de-merits) of Vak-geya-kara (composers who set  songs to music). The text grades the composers (Vak-geya-kara) into three classes. According to its classification,  the lowest is the lyricist; the second is one who sets to tune the songs written by  others; and, the highest is one who is the  Dhatu Mathu Kriyakari – who writes the lyrics (Mathu), sets them to music (Dhatu) and ably presents (Kriyakari)  his compositions.

Sri Dikshitar was indeed a Vak-geya-kara of the highest order.]

On his way back home to Thiruvarur, Dikshitar stayed for sometime with a Yogi , Sri Ramachandra Saraswathi, popularly known as Upanishad Brahmendra who lived and taught in Kancipuram.

[Incidentally, Sri Upanishad Brahmendra  was also an early teacher of  Sri Tyagaraja , the great composer musician.]

During his stay in Kanchipuram, Dikshitar set to music “Rama Ashtapadhi” a collection of stanzas composed by Sri Upanishad Brahmendra. Dikshitar returned to Thiruvarur in the year 1809. The Ashtapadi , sadly , is no longer available.

The years at Thiruvarur were very productive. Here, Dikshitar composed sixteen Kritis on the various attributes of Ganesha; eleven Kritis of Navavarana group on Sri Kamalamba; and, a set of Kritis on Thygaraja and Nilothpalambika the presiding deities of the town. The Nilothpalambika set of krithis enlivened certain rare Ragas like Narayanagowla that were almost fading away.

Three years after Muthuswami returned to Thiruvarur (1814), his father Ramaswami Dikshitar, at the age of eighty-two, passed away in  Saka-Dhatu-Nama- samvathsara  1739 (1817 AD) in Magha-masa on the auspicious Shiva-rathri night.

Further, it was becoming increasingly difficult to carry on life at Thiruvarur. The Dikshitar brothers , therefore , decided to move to Tanjavur in search of a living. Tanjavur, in those days, was relatively peaceful, secure ; and, was a center for culture and learning, while most of the Southern regions was under the threat of the Sultan.

[ It is said that at Thanjavur,  the Dikshitar-brothers met Sri Shyama Sastry, another of the Trinity; and,  the four , together, composed/completed a Varnam. It is said ; that the Chowka Varna, ‘Sami ninne kori‘, in Sriranjini Raga composed by Sri Ramaswamy Dikshitar, had only one Svara passage. And, to that Sri Shyama Sastry added by composing  the second chararna-svara; while Sri Chinnaswami Dikshitar added the third charana-svara; and, Sri  Muthuswamy Dikshitar contributed the fourth.  (please check page 47 of Justice venkatarama Aiyar’s biography of Sri Dikshitar)

The association of Sri Shyama Sastri and Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar in Thanjavur is indeed one of the most fascinating aspects in the history of South Indian Music. ]


At Thanjavur,  the Dikshitar-brothers , in order to earn a living, began to accept students interested in learning music. They were then approached by one Mahadeva Annavi (Subbarayan), a Veena player  and a dance-master (Nattuvanar) to teach his sons. His four sons who became disciples of Sri Muthuswamy  Dikshitar and propagated his musical compositions  –  Chinnaiah Pillai (1802-1856); Ponnayya Pillai (1804-1864); Sivanandam Pillai(1808-1863) and the legendary Vadivelu Pillai (1810-1845) – gained great fame as Thanjavur Quartet. Of these , Chinnaiah and Sivanandam were Bharatha_natyam masters and composers of some popular Tana Varnams, Pada Varnams, and Thillanas etc. 

They were the pioneers of  the Bharatanatyam Margam as we know it today. This Margam includes Alarippu, Jathiswaram, Shabdam, Varnam, Padam/Javali, Tillana and Shloka. Many of these dance items were composed specially by Ponnaiya Pillai, As he was a musician, the names for the dance items follow their musical forms. 

Mural at the Big Temple - The quartet

Chinnaiah , the eldest of the four, was a great teacher of dance; and, he later moved to the Mysore court of Sri Krishnaraja Wodeyar III  (1794-1868) who was a great patron of art and literature ; and , who was himself a poet and an author of many works . Some of Chinnaiah’s compositions are dedicated to Wodeyar. He also wrote a Telugu work  called Abhinaya Lakshanamu, a version of the reworked  Sanskrit text  Abhinayadarpana of Nandikeshvara .

Ponnaiah was a composer of great merit. Several of his kritis , including Ambaneelambari’  (Neelambari),  ‘Satileni’ (Poorvikalyani) and Tillanas as also other Nrtta compositions (Jatisvarams and Thillanas),  are  popular among musicians even to this day.

During their stay at King Serfoji’s Durbar in Tanjavur, they brought into  use western musical instruments such as  violin and clarinet , as an accompaniments for Carnatic music and performance of dance. Sivanandam , in particular, is credited with introducing the clarinet to Carnatic music.

Vadivelu, the youngest, was a virtual genius , praised by Dikshitar as eka-sandhi-grahi , one who grasps immediately after just one listening. Vadivelu contributed significantly to Dance also. The great Tyagaraja too admired Vadivelu’s musical skills. Vadivelu popularized violin among the Carnatic musicians. He soon became  a favorite of Swathi Thirunal Maharaja who appointed him his Court Musician. It is said ; in 1834,  Swati Thirunal  Maharaja gifted him a rare Violin made of ivory (which is now said to be placed in  the Quartet’s ancestral home at 1818, West Main Street, Behind Brihadeswara Temple).   Both these geniuses, sadly , died at their young age – Swati Thirunal at 34; and, Vadivelu at 35.



The brothers propagated the famed Pandanallur style of Bharata Natyam.  The renowned Nattuvanar Sri Meenakshisundaram Pillai descended from the Thanjavur Quartet.


[Souurce :]


Sri Dikshitar during his stay in  Thanjavur composed a number of Samasti Charana Kirtanas.

[A kriti generally follows a certain structure: Pallavi the opening passage of two lines is followed by Anupallavi. Raga is introduced with the cyclical rendition and improvisation of Pallavi and Anupallavi. The body of the kriti is its Charanas. Each Charana usually has four lines. The final Charana contains the Mudra or the signature of the composer. However, certain kritis of Dikshitar have only two segments Pallavi and Anupallavi, where the latter acts as the Charana. Such kritis are called Samasti Charana Kritis. They perhaps represent a stage in the evolution of the kriti format. E.g.Anandamritakarshini (Amritavarshini); Hari Yuavatheem Haimavathim (Hemavathi) etc.]

Dikshitar brothers stayed in Thanjavur for about three years (about 1817 -1820).

Baluswamy who was proficient in Veena, Swarbat, Sitar and Mridangam, along with his brother  Chinnaswami joined the court of Venkateshwara Eddappa I [1761 – 1839] the Raja of Ettayapuram (Tirunelveli district) , as Asthana Vidwans of Ettayapuram Samsthanam.

Soon after that, Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar too left Tanjavur; and, he went on a virtual pilgrimage visiting a number of temples; and composing kritis in honor of the deities he visited. In a way of speaking, his life was a long pilgrimage.

Please click here for a map of his probable temple visits.

[Please click here for the lists of about 150 temples/deities featured to in Dikdhitar’s kritis]

Years later, Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar also settled down in Ettayapuram at the request of the king. A few years later , Dikshitar’s both wives passed away. Some sources mention that Dikshitar had a daughter and she lived in Tiruchirapalli; but, not much is known about her.


Dikshitar comes through as a very astute scholar-devotee, a Sadhaka. He was a viraktha, unattached to possessions, to places or to emotions. He was voluntarily poor and accepted his poverty with equanimity. He did not seek favor or patronage from anyone. He was an intense devotee ; but, was  undemonstrative. In his compositions, you never find despondency, helplessness or begging for divine grace or intervention. There is certain composure, measured grace, dignity and a mellow joy in his works as in his life. He was solely devoted to Sri Vidya Upasana and to his music which was his medium of self-expression. His works exude serene contemplation and soulful joy.

It was on Naraka Chaturdasi ,the fourteenth day of the lunar calendar, in the month of Ashwija, the day preceding Deepavali (October 18th, 1835), Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar performed Parva Mandala puja to Devi and sang Ehi Annapurne (Punnagavarali). This was Sri Dikshitar’s last composition. Thereafter, he asked his disciples to sing Meenakshi mey mudam dehi (Purvi Kalyani) . When they sang the Anupallavi , he asked them to repeat the phrases Meena lochani pasha mochini. As they were singing, Muthuswami Dikshitar uttered “Shive pahi, Shive pahi, Shive pahi” and breathed his last , like a true yogi.

dikshitar sketch

Muthuswami Dikshitar had been yearning for Videha Mukthi. He beseeches the Divine Mother repeatedly and addresses her as the one who grants Videha mukthi (Mamaka videha mukthi sadanam– Ranganayakam-Nayaki); the bestower of videha mukthi (vikalebara kaivalya danaya-Guruguhaya-Sama); and , at times, he feels he is nearing videha mukthi (Videha kaivalyam yami-Tyagaraje-Saranga).

Videha mukthi is a concept of the later Advaita schools. It believes, one can attain liberation (moksha) from attachments even while still encased in a body. Such an attained one is a Jivan Muktha. The body continues to function till its Prarabdha Karma is exhausted; thereafter, the mortal coils fall away. Videha mukthi , that is to say , is shedding off the body by a Jivan muktha, the one who has already attained liberation.

In the Sri Vidya tradition, a jivan muktha is a devotee, a Bhaktha as well as a Jnani the wise one. Here, the wisdom consists in realizing his identity (sva svarupa prapti) with the Mother goddess. It is this wisdom that liberates him (jivan Mukthi). This liberating wisdom is granted to him by the Mother out of pure love, when he completely surrenders to Her in absolute faith and loving devotion.

Jivanmukthi, emancipation while yet alive, is also a concept of the Tantra Siddantha which believes that it is possible for a person to transact with the world without getting involved in it. In other words; one lives on actively and cheerfully, amidst distractions and confusions of the world without letting his self reflect them. His moorings in the phenomenal world have withered away; and,  his instinct of self-preservation and insecurity has  minimized. He is alive only to essential thing , the very source of life. The real world continues to exist for him; but, he does not rest in the world; instead, he rests in himself (Svarupa pratishta). Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar, either way, was a jivan Muktha.

The king and Baluswami Dikshitar performed the last rites of the departed genius. The Samadhi of Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar is at Ettayapuram;  but, it appears to be in a rather poor condition. In a petition submitted to Shri. Abdul Kalam then president of India, the petitioners submitted “It is the fervent desire of all music lovers as well as all lovers of Indian culture across the world that this Samadhi be declared as a heritage site and treated as a National Monument, ideally with a beautiful museum. We are extremely concerned that there has been a move made to demolish this important cultural and artistic memorial.”

dikshitar-postalstamp (1)

Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar was a many splendored genius. He redefined the paradigm of Carnatic music. Each of his compositions exemplifies the essence of Raga Bhava and captures the depth and soulfulness of the melody. His vision of some of the Ragas and their structure is sublime. He achieved what the revered Venkatamakhi, at one time, thought was not possible; he gave form and substance to all the 72 Melakarta-ragas. Besides, he breathed life into several ancient Ragas that were fading away from memory. His compositions are crisp and well chiseled. His Sanskrit is delightfully captivating. His synthesis of Carnatic and Hindustani Music systems is creative and original. His kritis replete with soothing, graceful Sanskrit lyrics, many with winsome Samashti Charanams, comparable to the Dhrupad stanzas, occupy an exclusive niche in the world of Indian Music. The technical sophistication, intellectual brilliance and the majesty of his music is unsurpassed. Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar is a crest jewel of Indian music and spirituality.

Dikshitar's idol with the veena he used in the forefront.


Continued in Part Two:

Sri Dikshitar and Western Music


Map: courtesy of

I gratefully acknowledge Shri S Rajam’s paintings of Shri Dikshitar’s life-events

All other pictures are from Internet


Posted by on September 13, 2012 in Music, Muthuswami Dikshitar, Sri Vidya


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