kSEtra k.rtis of muttusvAmi dIkSitar

Part II


 Rasika Forum
 Galaxy of Composers
 Artistes Panorama
 History of Music
 Music Handbook
 Composition Bank
 CAC Newsletter
 Music Clinic
 Event Management
 Career Prospects
 Utility Services
 Special Features
 Guru Vandanam
 Brain Stimulators
 Kiddies Corner
 Dancers' Paradise
 Devotional Music
 Tamil Music
 Country Tunes


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.


Click here for Part III: The Temple Towns

Questions or comments? Send us E-mail.
Copyright: Srishti's Carnatica Private Limited