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Tranquil swaras
We always admire the musical creations of Muthusvamy Dikshitar. The ragas, archaic phrases seen in them, and the apt usage of phrases all garner our attention. An analysis of the text Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, an authoritative text to understand the compositions of the Dikshitar family, written by his grandson Subbarama Dikshitar gives us another perspective. This text clearly shows a unique style adopted by Muthusvamy Dikshitar, considerably different from his family members. Many of the elements seen in his compositions, if not all, were inspired from the earlier works like gitas of Venkatamakhin and the varnas and kirtanas of his father Ramasvamy Dikshitar.

Many of us are aware of the kriti ‘sri bhargavi’ in the raga Mangalakaisiki. This janya of Mayamalavagaula is a grand old raga and this is the only composition extant to understand the svarupa of this raga. (We do have a few other compositions in the raga composed by post Trinity composers. But, they all restrict this raga to a scale). This is a composition praising Mahalakshmi and it is indeed much a sedate one to listen. This was actually set to misra eka talam by Muthusvamy Dikshitar and when sung as specified, many unique features specific to this talam can be observed.

This kriti appears to be an inspiration drawn from a gita of Venkatamakhi! Since this gita is seen in many manuscripts, apart from Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, this could have been a much more popular gita of its period. The hero of this gita is Bhagavan Sri Ramachandra and a serial listening of these two compositions reveals many similarities. The svara madhyama used as a starting note, the prolonged use of madhyama at the beginning of the compositions, recurrence of the phrase ‘drr’ deserves to be mentioned. The rest can be grasped by careful listening.

The gita can be heard here:

The kriti rendered in misra eka talam can be heard here:

Dr. Aravind Ranganathan is a Carnatic vocalist and researcher.
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