Muthuswami Dikshitar — 17 rarely heard kritis in popular ragas
A reading of T.L. Venkatarama Aiyar’s biography of Muthuswami Dikshitar [Part II]
In the first part of this series based on my reading of a biography of Muthuswami Dikshitar, I realized that I was not at all familiar with his Vibhakti kritis. I was struck by the number of compositions that were in rarely heard ragas. I was even more startled to discover many songs in popular ragas, which for some reason are not rendered frequently these days.
Apart from the Vibhakti kritis, T.L. Venkatarama Aiyar’s narrative of Dikshitar’s life is littered with names of specific songs. I noted down all the ones that I had never heard or heard of (or at least have no recollection of hearing) that are in well-known ragas. There are 17.
In this post, I list these 17 songs, and provide as many links to their renditions as I can freely find. The usual caveat applies — this list is a subjective reflection of my listening history, not an objective assessment of how ‘popular’ or not they are. Here’s the list:
Of these ragas, I don’t think I have ever heard any composition of Dikshitar’s in Manji (only Brovavamma and Varulagamo by Shyama Shastri and Gopalakrishna Bharati come immediately to mind) or Mukhari (a raga dominated by Thyagaraja). The first time I came across any song of his in Durbar was when writing my post a few weeks ago on his Vibhakti Kritis, where I came across Thyagarajad-anyam. Here’s the music:
Here’s a link to another rendition — quite different — by T.V. Ramachandran.[You’d have to scroll down to song #263, or search for ‘Swaminathena’ on the page to locate the song. You also need to log in using a Google or Yahoo id].
When looking for this song, I found many renditions by several different artistes, so I guess Parimala Ranganatham is well known after all.
I was simply unable to locate a recording of Kailasanatham in Vegavahini.
Ramachandrena seems to have been a hit of the Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer bani (if Youtube searches are anything to go by) — he, M.S. Subbulakshmi and T.M. Krishna all seem to have sung it. Here is another lovely version by Kalpakam Swaminathan on the veena, without any accompaniment:
Here are three versions of Anandeshwarena (so it can’t be all that obscure after all!).
And here’s another beautiful unaccompanied veena rendition by Kalpakam Swaminathan (she sings along, as she often does):
Going by Youtube hits, Shri Matah Raja Vamanake is another song which may not be so obscure after all. Here is an excerpt of a concert by Sanjay Subrahmanyam.
Here is a video from 2015 of Ramakrishnan Murthy singing Pahimam Ratnachala Nayaka, with his guru R.K. Sriramkumar accompanying on the violin (and Arunprakash on the Mridangam):
And Govindarajam Upasmahe, sung by R. Vedavalli.
Mangaladevataya, sung by Nisha Rajagopal.
Here’s another, more relaxed, and quite different rendition (with voice either unaccompanied or with accompanying instruments very faint in the recording). I find this style more captivating and in tune with the essence of Dhanyasi. Unfortunately, the singer is unidentified.
Seetha Narayanan’s rendition of Halasyanatham.
Here’s a Sangeethapriya link to a rendition of Salivatisvaram by V. Subramaniyam. As usual, you’d have to go through a one-click login process with either a Google of Yahoo account. The song is the 4th in the list.
Thanks for listening.