kSEtra k.rtis of muttusvAmi dIkSitar
P. P. NARAYANASWAMI
The Pilgrim’s Path
It is difficult to trace the chronological order in which dIkSitar composed his k.rtis, or the correct sequence in which he visited various shrines. From the available biographical sketches, it is evident that he was born in the village, vaidyEshvaran koil, and was named after the Lord muddukumAra, the deity of the temple there. He spent his early days at maNali, a small place near the delta of the sacred river kAvEri. The saint guru, cidambara yogi took him to kAshi (vArANasi) in Northern India, where he spent five years learning rigorously the various systems of knowledge, such as vedAnta, jyotiSa, mantra shAstra, and musical theories. Obviously, he had the impact of the Hindustani system of music, and their dhrupad style of singing. It is believed that during the farewell, the guru cidambara yogi instructed him to take a holy dip in the holy river ga.nga, and accept whatever he finds there as the blessings from the teacher. What dIkSitar found was the divine instrument vINa, which bore the inscription “rAma'' in Sanskrit. It is believed that this particular vINa is still preserved in the dikSitar family. Inspired by his guru, he adopted vINa as his favourite instrument. All of his compositions reflect the style of singing, for which this type of musical instrument can be adopted On his return from kAshi, he went to tiruttaNi near the city of Madras, where he had the blessings of the temple deity Lord subrahmaNya (guruguha). DikSitar incorporated the phrase “guruguha” as a mudra (signature) in all his compositions, and the k.rti “shrI nathAdi guruguho jayati” in the rAgam mAyAmALavagauLa is believed to be the first song that he composed - of course, in praise of the deity at the temple of tiruttaNi.
The next destination was the temple city of kA~ncIpuram. He travelled to many important shrines in the nearby cities of mAyUram, cidambaram, vaidyEshvaran koil, and kumbhakoNam. He frequently visited tiruccirapaLLi, where his daughter was married to and was living. He then moved to tiruvArUr, where he must have spent many years composing many k.rtis on the temples in and surrounding that area.
He continued his ambition to visit many shrines, and reached tanjAvUr, the seat of South Indian culture. Here, he composed several k.rtis, mainly to explore and illustrate the possibilities of the scheme of 72 mELakartA rAgA.nga rAgas (parent scales) propounded by the musical grammarian ve.nkaTamakhin, and so, we find many compositions in rare and difficult rAgas. He then proceeded deep south to visit the shrines at sAttUr, tirunelvEli, and rAmEshvaraM. At the village of eTTayApuram, some evil omen occurred in the form of a wild elephant rushing through the village, which forecast some calamity. This was the end of dIkSitar's life. The last song he composed was “Ehi annapUrNE” in rAgam punnAgavarALi. But the k.rti, which he composed much earlier, and wanted his disciples to sing, during the time when he was breathing his last, was “mInAkSI mE mudaM dEhi” in the rAgam gamakakriya. In this k.rti, we find the phrases “mInalocani pAshamocini” (fish eyed Goddess, who removes all worldly bondages), an indication that he knew his end (from the worldly life) was nearing. When this phrase was sung, he shed off his mortal coils.
In what follows, we shall classify the k.rtis under several convenient geographical headings that suit our purpose, and not necessarily according to the order in which they were composed.
Groups of k.rtis on a single theme
dIkSitar was fond of composing groups of songs on the same unifying theme, and where possible, with bhakti (devotion) and vibhakti (the various cases that occur in the declination of a noun) running parallel to each other. The most striking example is the first batch of eight k.rtis he composed in praise of Lord subrahmaNya of tiruttaNi, with the mudra (author's signature) guruguha, soon after he received the Divine Blessing. Sanskrit language employs eight cases (vibhaktis) for the declination of a noun, namely nominative (prathamA), accusative (dvitIyA), instrumental (t.rtIyA), dative (caturthi), ablative (pa~ncami), genitive (SaSThi), locative (saptami). and vocative (sambhOdhanA). The eight cases for the noun guruguha would be: guruguhaH (= guruguho), guruguham, guruguhENa, guruguhAya, guruguhAt, guruguhasya, guruguhE and (hE) guruguhA. The following sequence of eight k.rtis contain these eight cases, one for each k.rti. They are:
shrInAthAdi guruguho - mAyAmALavagauLa - Adi (A recording of Smt. D. K. Pattammal )
mAnasa guruguha - Anandabhairavi - rUpakam (A recording of Ariyakudi Sri. Ramanuja Iyengar )
shrI guruNA pAlitOsmi - pADi - rUpakam
guruguhAya - sAma - Adi
guruguhAdanyam - balahamsa - Jhampa
shrI guruguhasya dAsosmyaham - pUrvI - mishra cApu
guruguhasvAmini - bhAnumati - khaNDa tripuTa
shrI guruguhamUrtE - udayaravicandrikA - rUpakam
The fact that some of these are in rare rAgams bears testimony to his versatility as a composer even at such an early age. There are a few other k.rtis beginning with the phrase "guruguha'" that do not belong to the above group, but were composed later, at the same temple. They are:
shrI guruguha - dEvakriyA - rUpakam (A recording of Smt. D. K. Pattammal )
guruguhapada pa.nkaja - sha.nkarAbharaNam - tishra Ekam
guruguha sarasija - sha.nkarAbharaNaM - caturashra Ekam
gurumUrtE - sha.nkarAbharaNam - rUpakaM
A second group of k.rtis that follow the above pattern of bhakti and vibhakti scheme was composed at tiruvArUr, in praise of the presiding deity, Lord tyAgarAja ( shiva) of tiruvArUr temple. The noun declined in eight cases here is tyAgarAja.
tyAgarAjO virAjatE - aThAna - rUpakaM
tyAgarAjaM bhaja rE - yadukulakAmbhoji - mishra cApu
tyAgarAjENa saMrakSitoham - sAlagabhairavi - Adi
tyAgarAjAya namastE - bEgaDa - rUpakam (A recording of Sri. K. V. Narayanaswamy )
tyAgarAjAdanyaM na jAnE - darbAr - Adi
shrI tyAgarAjasya bhakto - rudrapriya mishra cApu
tyAgarAjE k.rtyAk.rtyam - sAra.nga - jhaMpa
vIravasanta tyAgarAjA - vIravasantam - Adi
In addition to the above, the following five k.rtis on Lord tyAgarAja are equally famous.
tyAgarAja pAlaya - gauLa - Adi (A recording of Sri. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer )
tyAgarAja mahadhvajAroha - shrI - Adi
tyAgarAjam bhajEhaM - nIlAmbari - rUpakam
tyAgarAjayOga vaibhavam - Anandabhairavi - rUpakaM (A recording of Sri. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer )
tyAgEsham bhajarE - rudrapriya - Adi
The next batch of eleven songs is the famous kamalAmbA navAvaraNa k.rtis (on the nine ornamental enclosures of Goddess kamalAmbA) in praise of Goddess kamalAmbA of tiruvArUr Temple. The huge tank inside the temple courtyard is aptly called kamalAlayam. These songs are:
kamalAmbikE (dhyAna k.rti) - tODi - rUpakam (A recording of Madurai Sri. Mani Iyer )
kamalAmbA samrakSatu mAm - Anandabhairavi - tishra tripuTa
kamalAmbAm bhajarE - kalyANi - Adi (A recording of Sri. D. K. Jayaraman )
kamalAmbikayA - sha.nkarAbharaNam - rUpakam
kamalAmbikAyai - kAmbhOji - aTa
shrI kamalAmbikAyAH param - bhairavi - jhaMpa
kamalAmbikAyAH - punnAgavarALi - rUpakam
shrI kamalAmbikAyAm - sahAnA - tripuTa
shrI kamalAmbikE - ghantA - Adi
shrI kamalAmbA jayati - Ahiri - rUpakam
shrI kamalAmbikE (ma.ngaLa k.rti) - shrI - khaNDa Ekam
The above list of k.rtis is held in great respect and veneration, since they describe the abstract forms of the Goddess and contain highly sophisticated and very sacred philosophical phrases. The first song is usually referred to as a dhyAna k.rti (invocative); the next eight are in the eight vibhaktis for the declination of the noun kamalAmbA, the ninth contains phrases in all eight vibhaktis, and the final one is a maN^gaLAcaraNa k.rti (auspicious conclusion).
The shrine of Goddess nIlOtpalAmbA is situated in the same temple complex at tiruvArUr. On nIlOtpalAmbA, dIkSitar composed his famous gauLAnta k.rtis, a series of eight k.rtis, all rendered in rAgas whose names have the suffix "gauLa". These are:
nIlOtpalAmbA jayati - nArAyaNagauLa - mishra cApu
nIlOtpalAmbAm bhajarE - nArIrItigauLa - mishra cApu
nIlOtpalAmbikayA - kannaDagauLa - Adi
nIlOtpalAmbikAyai - kEdAragauLa - Adi
nIlOtpalAmbikAyAH param - gauLa - rUpakam
nIlOtpalAmbikAyAstava - mAyAmALavagauLa - mishra cApu
nIlOtpalAmbikAyAm - pUrvagauLa - rUpakam
nIlOtpalAmbikE - chAyAgauLa - rUpakam
It must be pointed out that pUrvagauLa and chAyAgauLa are rare and difficult rAgas, so the k.rtis seven and eight in the above list are considered precious compositions by musicologists.
In mAyUram (mAyavaram or mayilADuttuRai, as it is called nowadays), north of tiruvArUr in the delta of the river kAvEri lies the famous shrine of Lord mayUranAtha. In praise of the consort goddess abhayAmbA in that shrine, dIkSitar composed a series of k.rtis in the vibhakti pattern.
sadAshrayE – cAmaram – rUpakam (dhyAna k.rti)
abhayAmbA jagadambA - kalyANi - Adi
AryAM abhayAmbAm - bhairavI - tripuTa
girijayA ajayA - sha.nkarAbharaNam - Adi
abhayAmbikAyai - yadukulakAmbhOji - rUpakam
abhayAmbikAyAH - kEdAragauLa - jhaMpa
ambikAyAH abhayAmbikAyAH - kEdAram - Adi
abhayAmbAyAm - sahAnA - tripuTa
dAkSAyaNI abhayAmbikA – tODi- rUpakam
shrI abhayAmbA – shrI –Adi (ma.ngaLa k.rti)
The last one in this series is the famous maNipravALa k.rti (a single song employing many languages, in this case, Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil).
The navagraha k.rtis of dIkSitar glorify the nine planets in the inner courtyard of tyAgarAja Temple in tiruvArUr. These compositions are strikingly beautiful in their tALa structure, which employs the seven shULAdi tALams, namely, dhruvam, maTyam, rUpakam, jhampa, tripuTa, aTa and Ekam. Further, they describe the astronomy of these planets elegantly and contain the essence of jyotiSa (science of astrology) and mantra shAstra (science of sacred chanting). DIkSitar composed these songs in order to heal a stomach disease of his shiSya (disciple) tambiyappan, who played the shuddhameLaM (a kind of drum). It is believed that the planet b.rhaspati has the divine power to heal such incurable diseases; rather than composing one song just to please one planet alone, dIkSitar chose to sing in praise of all nine planets. The names of the nine planets in Sanskrit language are: sUrya, candra, a.ngAraka, budha, b.rhaspati, shukra, shani, rAhu and kEtu. The last two k.rtis in this series are considered spurious by many. These nine k.rtis are listed below.
sUryamUrtE - saurAStram - dhruvam
candram bhaja - asAvEri - maTyam
a.ngArakam - suraTi- rUpakam
budhaM AshrayAmi - nATTakura~nji - jhaMpa
b.rhaspatE - aThAnA - tripuTa
shrI shukrabhagavantam - paraju - ATa
divAkaratanujam - yadukulakAmbhOji - caturashra Ekam
smarAmyaham sadA rAhum - ramAmanohari - rUpakam
mahAsuram kEtumaham - cAmaram - rUpakam
Lord shiva, according to the Hindu belief, is manifest in the form of the five basic elements, ether, air, light (fire), earth and water, which make up the universe. The pa~nca li.nga k.rtis are dedicated to these five forms of Lord shiva. These k.rtis are composed respectively at the temples of cidambaram (ether), kALahasti (air), tiruvaNNAmalai (fire), kA~ncIpuram (earth) and jambukEshvaram (water).
Ananda naTanaprakAsham - kedAram - mishra cApu (cidambaram)
shrI kALahastIsha - husEni - jhampa ( kALahasti)
aruNAcalanAtham - sAra.ngA - rUpakam (tiruvaNNAmalai)
cintaya mAkanta – bhairavi - rUpakam ( kA~ncIpuram)
jambUpatE - yamunAkalyANi - rUpakam (jambukEsvaram)
A secondary set of pa~nca li.nga k.rtis were composed on the five lingams of Lord shiva located in the temples in and around tiruvArUr. These are the temples of acalEshvara, hATakEshvara, valmIkEshvara, AnandEshvara, and siddhIshvara. These are referred to as tiruvArUr pa~ncali.nga k.rtis, and for distinction, the previous group is appropriately called bhUlOka pa~ncali.nga k.rtis.
sadAcalEshvaram - bhUpALam - Adi (acalEshvara)
hATakEshvara - bilahari - rUpakam ( hATakEshvara)
shrI valmIkali.ngam - kAmbhOji - aTa (valmIkEshvara)
AnandEshvarENa - Anandabhairavi - mishra cApu (AnandEshvara)
siddhIshvarAya - nIlAmbari - mishra cApu (siddhIshvara)
Yet another batch of eight compositions, this time in Lord rAma, feature the same pattern of vibhakti, employing the eight declination of the proper noun rAmacandra, (or rAma in a few cases). Unlike the earlier groups, these k.rtis were composed in various locations in the southern tip of India that are associated with the epic story of rAmAyaNam.
shrI rAmacandrO - shrIra~njani - mishra cApu
rAmacandram - vasanta - rUpakam
rAmacandrENa - mA~nji - rUpakam (A recording of Sri. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer )
rAmacandrAya - tODi - mishra cApu
rAmacandrAdanyam - dhanyAshi - khaNDa cApu
rAmacandrasya - dhAmavati - Adi (A recording of Sri. B. Rajam Iyer )
rAmE bharata pAlita - jyOti - khaNDa cApu
rAma rAma - rAmakali - rUpakam
Similarly, we find a partial collection of songs with the vibhakti style, dedicated to Goddess mInAkSi of madurai. The k.rtis in the fourth and fifth vibhaktis, as well as the ma.ngaLa k.rti are missing.
shrI madhurApuri - bilahari - Adi (dhyAna k.rti)
madhurAmbA samrakSatu - dEvakriya - Adi
madhurAmbAm bhajarE - stavarAjam - Adi
shrI madhurAmbikayA - aThAnA - mishra cApu
madhurAmbAyAH - bEgaDa - mishra cApu
madhurAmbikAyAm - dEshIsimhAravam - rUpakam
shrI madhurAmbikE - kalyANi – khaNDa cApu
madhurAmbA jayati- dEvakriyA - Adi
According to gANapatyam (the science of worship of Lord gaNapati), and tantra shAstra, (the science of mystical powers), the elephant-faced God, ganEsha, who is believed to remove all obstacles, has been described and worshiped in sixteen different forms (SoDasha gaNapati). DikSitar is believed to have composed on some (or all) of these forms of gaNesha idols in the courtyard of tiruvArUr temple.
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