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:

Brindavana Saranga

Swaminathena (raga Brindavana Saranga), sung by Maharajapuram Santhanam

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].

Hamirkalyani

Parimala Ranganatham (raga Hamirkalyani), sung by Vijay Siva

When looking for this song, I found many renditions by several different artistes, so I guess Parimala Ranganatham is well known after all.

Kambhoji

Kashi Vishweshwara (raga Kambhoji), sung by B. Rajam Iyer
Shri Valmika Lingam (raga Kambhoji), sung by Vijay Siva [complete kriti, but kalpanaswara cut-off]

Vegavahini [404]

I was simply unable to locate a recording of Kailasanatham in Vegavahini.

Manji

Ramachandrena Samrakshitoham (raga Manji), sung by M.S. Subbulakshmi

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:

Ramachandrena (raga Manji), played on the veena by Kalpakam Swaminathan

Atana

Sri Vaidyanatham Bhajami (raga Atana), sung by Vijayalakshmi Subramaniam

Bilahari

Hatakeshwara (raga Bilahari), sung by Ramakrishnan Murthy

Anandabhairavi

Here are three versions of Anandeshwarena (so it can’t be all that obscure after all!).

Anandeshwarena (raga Anandabhairavi), sung by D.K. Pattammal
Anandeshwarena (raga Anandabhairavi), sung by T.M. Krishna
Anandeshwarena (raga Anandabhairavi), sung by S.Sowmya

Neelambari

Siddhishwaraya Namaste (raga Neelambari), sung by R. Vedavalli

And here’s another beautiful unaccompanied veena rendition by Kalpakam Swaminathan (she sings along, as she often does):

Begada

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.

Shri Matah Shiva Vamanake (raga Begada), sung by Sanjay Subrahmanyam [video concert excerpt; Neyveli Venkatesh on mridangam and S. Varadarajan on violin]

Mukhari

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):

Pahimam Ratnachala Nayaka (raga Mukhari), sung by Ramakrishnan Murthy

And Govindarajam Upasmahe, sung by R. Vedavalli.

Govindarajam (raga Mukhari), sung by R. Vedavalli

Dhanyasi

Mangaladevataya, sung by Nisha Rajagopal.

Mangaladevataya (raga Dhanyasi), 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.

Mangaladevataya Tvaya (raga Dhanyasi); singer unidentified

Kannada

Palayamam Parvatisha (raga Kannada), sung by Vishnudev Namboodiri

Durbar

Seetha Narayanan’s rendition of Halasyanatham.

Halasyanatham Smarami (raga Durbar), sung by Seetha Narayanan

Devagandhari

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.

I write mainly about my experience as a listener of Carnatic music.

I write mainly about my experience as a listener of Carnatic music.