THE DIKSHITAR SISHYA PARAMPARA
|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
composers grandson, Tyagaraja.
Dikshitars sishya parampara is primarily represented by his direct descendants. Muthuswami Dikshitars 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 Dikshitars migration from Ettayapuram to Chennai. It is only during Ambi Dikshitars 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 Dikshitars compositions, with the support and guidance of the Sanskrit scholar, Dr. V Raghavan.
|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
Dikshitars 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 Dikshitars
kritis like Vina pustaka dharini, Saraswati manohari, and
'Mamava Pattabhirama. Vegavahini carries on this tradition, in an
However, Panchanada Iyers 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. Ponniahs 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 Dikshitars 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 Dikshitars days. Credit, perhaps, should go to Subbarama Dikshitar. At the turn of the 20th century, Dikshitars 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 Bhagavatars disciples included Mahadeva Iyer and Pattamadai Sundaram.
Sangeeta Kalanidhi Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer took pioneering efforts to learn and teach Dikshitars kritis. He interacted closely with Ambi Dikshitar and Vedanta Bhagavatar. Venkatarama Iyers 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 Dikshitars 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 Iyers 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 Dikshitars kritis. Sangeeta Kalanidhi G N Balasubramanyams 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