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A musical advent, Renaissance, or movement requires for propagation, a bulwark of disciples. The musical lineage of Tyagaraja is characterized by the back up of the Umayalpuram, Tillaisthanam, Walajahpet and Konerirajapuram schools. That apart, we do reckon the redoubtable Manambuchavadi Venkatasubba Iyer whose ‘Pancharatna’ disciples included Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer, Patnam Subramania Iyer, Sarabha Shastri, Venkoba Rao and the composer’s grandson, Tyagaraja.

Dikshitar’s sishya parampara is primarily represented by his direct descendants. Muthuswami Dikshitar’s brother, Baluswami Dikshitar is followed by Subbarama  Dikshitar, Ambi Dikshitar, and Baluswami Dikshitar (great-grandson of Dikshitar). The liberal attitude discovered in the Tyagaraja parampara was not prevalent in the Dikshitar school, which tended to be more conservative and secretive. The release of Muthuswami Dikshitar ‘s compositions to the masses, synchronized with Ambi Dikshitar’s migration from Ettayapuram to Chennai. It is only during Ambi Dikshitar’s sojourn at Chennai that veterans like Kallidaikurichi Vedanta Bhagavatar, Anantakrishna Iyer, Sundaram Iyer and Kallidaikurichi Mahadeva Iyer came under his aegis. This heralded the advent of a liberal, strong and fruitful movement. Ananthakrishna Iyer, Sundaram Iyer and Mahadeva Iyer transcribed several compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar from the palm-leaf manuscripts treasured by the  family. Sundaram Iyer published several volumes containing Dikshitar’s compositions, with the support and guidance of the Sanskrit scholar, Dr. V Raghavan.

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Reference is found in the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini, to some persons who were direct disciples of Muthuswami Dikshitar. First among them was Tirukkadaiyur  Bharati, the Tamil scholar, who was present at Ettayapuram along with His Holiness Mahadevendra Saraswati of Kamakoti Peetha at the ‘Arangetram’ of the kriti ‘Sankaracharyam smara myaham’ by Subbarama Dikshitar. Tiruvarur Ayyaswami, the author of Tana Varnam and Padams, is also an accredited sishya of Muthuswami Dikshitar. We are told that Avudayarkoil Venkatarama Iyer was a Vainika, who learnt from Muthuswami Dikshitar. Reference is also found about Tenur Subramanya Iyer. Nagaswara vidwans of Tiruvarur and Mayavaram, particularly vidwan Vilvamangalam of the latter, did have close interaction with Muthuswami Dikshitar. Ramaswami Dikshitar and his sons did formulate and standardize kritis to be rendered by Nagaswara vidwans at Tiruvarur. However, very few or perhaps, none of Muthuswami Dikshitar’s compositions were included in the initial repertoire for these vidwans. This fact is further accentuated by virtue of the fact that the items rendered by Bharatanatyam exponents who were contemporaries of Muthuswami Dikshitar, like Vallalarkoil Ammani and Kamalam, included compositions of Ramaswami Dikshitar like ‘Entaninne delupudura’, ‘Roopamu joochi’ and ‘Sarigani dani pamari’ but apparently none of Muthuswami Dikshitar. While the creativity and compositional ability of Muthuswami Dikshitar, during his stay at Tiruvarur is established beyond doubt, there appears to be no concerted effort by his disciples of Chola region to propagate his kritis. The solitary exception was Sattanur Panchanada Iyer who taught Dikshitar kritis to several Nagaswara vidwans including Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai. Natarajasundaram Pillai, published fifty kritis of Dikshitar in notation in 1936. His sons, Sangeeta Kalanidhi Swaminatha Pillai and Sivasubramanya Pillai followed him. Swaminatha Pillai brought the Chatusdasa ragamalika kriti of Muthuswami Dikshitar into kutcheri-paddhati. Vina Dhanammal learnt Dikshitar kritis from Panchanada Iyer. Her descendents Brinda and Mukta are known for their pristine renditions of Dikshitar’s kritis like ‘Vina pustaka dharini’, ‘Saraswati manohari’, and 'Mamava Pattabhirama’. Vegavahini carries on this tradition, in an attenuated manner.

However, Panchanada Iyer’s association with Muthuswamy Dikshitar, was more likely at Tanjavur, then at Tirvarur. Tanjavur will forever be remembered for the quartet - Ponniah, Chinniah, Vadivelu and Sivanandam. Ponniah’s compositions like ‘Mayateeta swaroopini’ and ‘Satileni’ refer to Muthuswami Dikshitar as their guru and of their having been blessed by him. Manuscripts are said to be in possession of this family. We implore Sangeeta Kalanidhi Sivanandam and guru Kittappa, to bring to light, unheard of kritis composed by Muthuswami Dikhitar.

The dissemination of Dikshitar’s compositions, has for its epicenter, Ettayapuram. Disciples did gather at Ettayapuram, in the last days of Muthuswami Dikshitar. Yet, there is not adequate proof of propagation in Baluswami Dikshitar’s days. Credit, perhaps, should go to Subbarama Dikshitar. At the turn of the 20th century, Dikshitar’s kritis spread in south Tamilnadu. Semmangidu Srinivasa Iyer, observed at a seminar that the repertoire of Dikshitar kritis available at the Chola region was limited. The Tirunelveli region produced many disciples – Kalakkadu Subramanya Bhagavatar, Pallakurichi Subbiah Bhagavatar and Srivilliputtur Muthaiah Bhagavatar, amongst them. Kodaganallur Subbiah Bhagavatar was a later personage. However, the treasure trove of kritis was in the care of Kallidaikurichi Vedanta Bhagavatar and Ramalinga Bhagavatar, who popularized Dikshitar kritis through Lalitopakhyana. These vidwans imbibed knowledge from Ambi Dikshitar. Vedanta Bhagavatar’s disciples included Mahadeva Iyer and Pattamadai Sundaram.

Sangeeta Kalanidhi Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer took pioneering efforts to learn and teach Dikshitar’s kritis. He interacted closely with Ambi Dikshitar and Vedanta Bhagavatar. Venkatarama Iyer’s association with Dr. V Raghavan was a boost to this movement. If Venkatarama Iyer heralded the renaissance, Dr. Raghavan symbolized high-noon. Dr. Raghavan was instrumental in the publication of the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini and also for the periodic publication of Dikshitar’s kritis in the journal of the Music Academy by Sundaram Iyer. Venkatarama Iyer taught several disciples, prominent among them being Sangeeta Kalanidhis D K Pattammal and B Rajam Iyer. His disciples include Sandhyavandanam Srinivasa Rao, Vidya Shankar and B Krishnamurthy. Mention has to be made of the fact that Ambi Dikshitar himself has taught D K Pattammal a few Dikshitar kritis.

Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer was introduced to Dikshitar kritis by his disciple Vasudevanallur Subbiah Bhagavatar. Vaidyanatha Iyer popularized kritis like ‘Vatapi Ganapatim’,Tyagaraja namaste’ and ‘Chintaya Makanda’. Konerirajapuram Vaidyanatha Iyer gave masterly expositions of ‘Balagopala’ and ‘Sri Subramanyaya Namaste’. Rajam Iyer’s associations with Ariyakkudi and Madurai Mani Iyer brought out the Navagraha kritis and compositions like 'Seshachala Nayakam' and 'Sarasijanabha sodari'. Alathur Venkatesa Iyer became an ardent devotee of Dikshitar, though he was basically Tyagarajophile.

D K Pattammal is known for her perfect diction and lucid rendition of Dikshitar’s kritis. Sangeeta Kalanidhi G N Balasubramanyam’s name is associated with kritis like ‘Sivakameswareem’, ‘Karikalabha mukham’ and ‘Varadarajam upasmahe’. This tradition is currently in the hands of vidwans like Vedavalli (a disciple of Mahadeva Iyer), N. Ramanathan, Kalavathi Balakrishnan, V Ramachandran and a few others. The next generations should now emerge.

Dr. V V Srivatsa


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