Friday, December 29, 2006
Sri Gurubhyo Namaha
I,being an avid carnatic music lover and a Muthuswamy Dikshithar fanatic, thought it would be most appropriate to start my first blog with my salutations to the great musical genius(if not the greatest ever)..Nadhajyothi Shri Muthuswamy Dikshithar. So here i begin with a small introduction about the man behind the music.
On 25th March,1775 on a beautiful day in Panguni maasam, krithikka Nakshathram, God of music descended on earth in the form of dikshithar, the youngest of the trinity, to etch his name forever in the history of music and give us the pleasure of listening to all of his wonderful compositions. He came from a family of distinguished musicians. His father, Ramaswamy dikshithar was a great scholar and he is believed to have created the raga Hamsadhwani. His brother, Baluswami Dikshithar is believed to have been the first to adapt the violin to carnatic music.
Coming from a family with such rich heritage, Muthuswamy learnt music and different languages from his father. He was spiritually inspired by Chidambara yogi who took him to Varanasi, where he learnt Tantric Yoga, Sastras and the Dhrupad style of singing. Muthuswamy Dikshithar composed his first krithi after having a vision of Lord Subramanya and henceforth adopted the mudra of guruguha. He composed the Vara krithis, which are seven in number, one for each day of the week. These are set to the Sooladi Sapta talas. Drawing inspiration from Oothukadu Venkata Kavi, he also composed the Navavarana krithis in praise of Devi (Kamalamba), one for each of the nine days of the Navarathri festival. These Navavarna krithis, written in all the eight declensions show his prowess in sanskrit. His songs are normally slow in tempo and bring out the depth and beauty of the raga using ornamentation (gamakas). He also used what is known as Madhyamakala(medium tempo) Sahithya very effectively in his compositions.
He mostly composed in Sanskrit and a few krithis in telugu. He has also composed Manipravala krithis which are a mixture of the four primary languages, namely, Sanskrit, Telugu, Tamil and Kannada. He set out on a mission to revive dying ragas like Narayanagowla, samantha, andhali, salaganaata etc. From the middle of the 18th century to the beginning of the 20th century, the members of the Dikshitar descent, known as the 'Dikshithar Pentad' made rich and varied contributions to what may be called the Periclean age of Carnatic Music. These comprise of hundreds of compositions, 14 Ragamalikas including 2 of the longest, in South Indian music, Pada varnams suited to dance, darus and nottuswara sahityas, based on captivating English band tunes. All the 72 Raganga ragas introduced by Venkatamakhin have been covered by this illustrious family.
Finally, quoting Smt.Sulochana Pattabhiraman "Dikshithar's greatest service to Carnatic Music was that that he gave body and shape to nearly 200 ragas of Venkatamakhin. He has employed 191 ragas for 460 compositions, out of which 219 have been printed with notation by Subbarama Dikshithar in his monumental "Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini". The raga and thala mudras woven skilfully into the krithi fabric are exclusive to the songs of Dikshithar. No other composer has written so many group kritis in such a planned, orderly, meticulous fashion. He was a cosmopolitan, so far as deities were concerned and he fully deserved to be called the "Shanmata Sthapanacharya", after Adi Shankara. There is such an incredible wealth of astrological details, mantra sastra data, Puranic lore, Sri Vidya philosophy and temple rituals in his songs, that it is an education by itself to study them. "
Every year, around Deepavali, coincidinq with the mukthi thithi of Dikshithar, an annual series called guruguhanjali is conducted in an effort to thank and honour the invaluable contributions of the great composer. Sri Gurubyo Namaha. Henceforth, I will share my thoughts and whatever little bit of knowledge I have about carnatic music and in my upcoming blogs, I will try to shed some light on some of those wonderful compositions in carnatic music with a "Dikshithar"(I fondly refer to him as "thalaivar" meaning "captain/king") bias ofcourse.