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Editor's note: Tyagaraja and Muthuswami Dikshitar occupy a lofty position in the Carnatic music firmament. While Tyagaraja's compositions are described as Drakshapakam (grape fruit), signifying the ease with which one can learn and understand the beauty of his compositions, Dikshitar's are aptly described as Nareekelapakam (coconut), indicating the effort required to break through the layers to reach the hidden treasures embedded in his compositions.

Here is the second part of this article, written by the well-known musician-musicologist Prof. S R Janakiraman comparing and contrasting the works of these two equally eminent composers. (Click here for the first part)


A close examination of the kritis of these two great composers in one and the same raga side by side will bear ample testimony to the fact that they vie with each other in point of purity and richness of raga bhava and they form a class by themselves.


Sri Subrahmanyaya - Kambhoji - Dikshitar
Mari Mari Ninne - Kambhoji - Tyagaraja
Abhayamba - Kalyani - Dikshitar
Etavunara - Kalyani - Tyagaraja
Karuvelpulu - Kalyani - Tyagaraja

Tyagaraja's mental experience was diverse in character and made him pour forth ragas depicting different moods and phases of rasa-s. Tyagaraja speaks of "Navarasayuta Kriti". He is the master of 'Raga and Rasa'.


Naradaganalola - Atana (evoking bhakti)
Epapamu Chesitira - Atana (A raga chiefly known for portraying veera and raudra rasa-s)

Serenity and poise in Dikshitar's kritis:

Dikshitar's kritis evoke mostly a feeling of serenity and poise. Santa rasa pervades the atmosphere. His raga forms are the finest specimens of pure or absolute music. Gana rasa is the sole feeling experienced while listening to Dikshitar's raga structures. His raga forms are large scale products, massive in structure and closely knit in texture. In Tyagaraja, we have abridged editions as well as enlarged ones of ragas.


Aragimpave & Kaddanuvariki (Todi, Tygaraja), in one and the same raga are uniformly of the same magnitude, though in different form. Akshayalinga & Dakshinamurte (Sankarabharanam, Dikshitar)

New raga creations:

The manner of handling of certain ragas by Dikshitar and Tyagaraja may particularly be noted in this context. A good number of ragas are accredited to Tyagaraja as having been created for the first time through his kritis. Dikshitar has given us the benefit for the archaic forms of some ragas. 


Kamalamba Samrakshatu - Anandabhairavi
Shankha Chakra - Poornachandrika 

Dikshitar has given a mould to Poornachandrika which is rather archaic. It is, to my mind, an amalgamation of Poornachandrika and Janaranjani, the latter being an off-shoot of the former. Poornachandrika is older while Janaranjani came later. Tyagaraja evolved Janaranjani, out of the archaic Poornachandrika and individualised and immortalized both Poornachandrika and Janaranjani in his kirtis. The old fashioned Poornachandrika as preserved by Dikshitar in his Shankha Chakra brings in an elongated Ga and Dha, now transmitted into Janaranjani. Dikshitar has not composed in Janaranjani.


Shankha Chakra - Poornachandrika - Dikshitar
Palukave emi - Poornachandrika - Tyagaraja

It may incidentally be mentioned that the treatment of a few other ragas mentioned by Dikshitar is altogether different. God only knows whether Dikshitar is the real author or whether it is Subbarama Dikshitar's making. But Subbarama Dikshitar is not subject to much accusation in this regard. Isamanohari and Saraswatimanohari have had Kakali Nishada and the same could be evidenced textually. 

Different atmosphere:

Creation of an altogether different atmosphere is quite perceptible in one and the same raga, cast by the two different composers.


Kanjadalayatakshi - Kamalamanohari - Dikshitar
Neemuddumomu - Kamalamanohari - Tyagaraja

Neerajakshi - Hindolam - Dikshitar
Samajavara - Hindolam - Tyagaraja

Anandanatana - Kedaram - Dikshitar
Marachevadana - Kedaram - Tyagaraja

Madhyamakala (medium tempo) Sahitya in Dikshitar's kritis:

The rendering of raga should have its own perceptible laya, though not marked into regular intervals of time. There is, after all, a sense of rhythm in every aspect of nature. The raga has been featured by these two composers in quick moving pace and slow pace, with individualistic expressions each unsurpassed for its beauty and splendour. It seems to me that their respective presentation or raga feature is perfectly balanced, one with the other, that of Dikshitar in vilamba or slow tempo, while Tyagaraja's kritis in even slow tempo have a underlying rhythm of madhyamakala. Dikshitar conceived the raga in slow pace, independent of any thought of acceleration. The Indian musical genius conceived melody as independent of any thought of harmony, as against a Westerner who conceives melody harmonically, that is to say, melodic ideas pivoted on relationships of harmony. But at the same time, Dikshitar never lost sight of the intrinsic beauties, while interpolating relatively fast moving phrases in some ragas which were eminently suitable for such a treatment though their basic mode was cast in slow tempo. 


Anandanatana - Kedaram
Kanjadalayatakshi - Kamalamanohari

It is with a definite purpose that Dikshitar chose to set apart the musical setting in any section or sections of the song in relatively quicker tempo, to do adequate justice to the raga concerned. But here too, one can observe that Dikshitar chose to introduce madhyamakala movement, not as a matter of routine in his structure for, some kritis are conspicuous for the omission of madhyamakala movement, though there may be an apparent impression of its inclusion created by the closely knit sahitya-s with more words, as against the paucity of words in the other sections of the song.


Abhayamba - Kalyani
Meenakshimemudam - Gamakakriya 

Contrasted with this category of kritis, there are kritis of Dikshitar which no doubt present madhyamakala sahitya with lilting beauty.

Bhajare rechitta - Kalyani
Sri Subrahmanyaya - Kambhoji

Dikshitar created variation as opportunity for himself to cover a large orbit of the raga structure in the kritis. The dhatu of the music (of the kritis) never repeats itself in any section of the song. There are, of course, the kritis of Dikshitar only with the Pallavi and Anupallavi; the latter is commonly known as Samashti Charanam but not found as such in the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini

In a good number of compositions of Tyagaraja set particularly in perceptible madhyamakala, the latter half of the Charanam is on the lines of the Anupallavi. Further, there are also kritis of Tyagaraja having plural Charanams all sung to the same dhatu. Splendid instances of these are Darinitelusu (Suddhasaveri) and Dorakuna ituvanti (Bilahari). In a few kritis of Tyagaraja, the plural Charanams are sung in different dhatu-s as in Sri Raghuvaraprameya (Kambhoji), Brochevarevare (Sri Ranjani) and Endukunirdaya (Harikambhoji).

To be continued


Posted on May 8, 2002


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