BY Swami Harshananda
The science of music gradually got crystallized into two broad traditions:
- Uttarādi - It is the North Indian tradition.
- Dakṣiṇādi - It is the South Indian tradition also called Karnatic.
If the saint Purandara Dāsa laid the foundation for the present form of South Indian music, the three jewels of the same system have enriched it abundantly. They are:
- Muddu-svāmi Dikṣitar
Muddusvāmi Diksitar is also known as Muttusvāmi Diksitar or just ‘Diksitar’. He was the son of Rāmasvāmi Diksitar and Subbalakṣmi Ammāl, born as a result of the grace of the Divine Mother Bālāmbikā. This is obviously reflected in many of the compositions of Dikṣitar on the Mother Divine.
In earlier days, Muddusvāmi was known as Kumārasvāmi. He was the eldest son and had three younger brothers. He was well-educated by his father himself in several branches of knowledge like the Vedas, Sanskrit language and literary works, health sciences, mantraśāstra and music. Cidambaranātha, a great yogi, who was the guru of Rāmasvāmi Dikṣitar, took him and Muddusvāmi to Kāśī where they spent six years. During this sojourn in the north, the boy not only visited many places of pilgrimage but also picked up a fairly good knowledge of the North Indian music. Its influence can be noticed in some of his compositions like ‘raṅgapuravihara,’ ‘jambṅpate māih pāhi,’ and ‘akhilāṇ- ḍeśvari.’
Muddusvāmi Dikṣitar then returned to his native place Maṇali. Once he went to Tiruttaṇi, a nearby sacred place and practiced special spiritual disciplines, meditating on the deity Subrahmaṇya. A strange mystical experience here induced in him a remarkable power to compose songs. This is the reason why his songs always contain the words ‘Guruguha’ towards the end.
In his late life, he toured South India extensively and composed songs on the various deities of the religious pantheon. He had met both Tyāgarāja and Śyāmāśāstri in his tours. Dikṣitar was not only a composer and singer but also an accomplished player of vīṇā. All his compositions are in Sanskrit and excel not only in diction but also in rousing our devotion. His ‘navāvaraṇa-kṛtis’ are special compositions on the esoteric worship of the Divine Mother. He intuitively perceived that his death was very near and passed away when his disciples were singing at his behest his famous song ‘mīnāksi me mudaih dehi’. He left behind him a galaxy of disciples to continue his tradition.
- ↑ He lived in A. D. 1484-1564.
- ↑ These jewels are called as 'ratnatraya’.
- ↑ He lived in A. D. 1767-1847.
- ↑ He lived in A. D. 1775-1835.
- ↑ He lived in A. D. 1763-1827.
- ↑ This goddes is Pārvatī of Vaidīśvaran Koil, a famous temple in Tamil Nadu.
- ↑ Mantraśāstra means esoteric science of sacred formula.
- ↑ Guruguha means Subrahmaṇya.
- ↑ Pantheon means the presiding deities of the places visited.
- ↑ Vīṇā means lute.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore