The true identity of the raga of Tyagaraja’s ‘nannu kanna talli’

Introduction:

There are two raga names assigned to this composition ‘nannu kanna talli’ of Tyagaraja, by the authors of the different compendia of Tyagaraja kritis. One is a raga called Sindhu Kannada and another is Kesari. The kriti is found documented in almost all of the collections of Tyagaraja’s kritis with the ragas as above and the melody being assigned to the 28th Mela Harikambhoji.

The idea of this short blog post is to determine what is the true and original contours of this raga or in other words what indeed in the original raga of ‘nannu kanna talli’.  The standard text of this composition goes as under. There may be minor variants with some of the words though.

pallavi

nannu kanna talli nA bhAgyamA nArAyaNi dharmAmbikE

anupallavi

kanakAngi ramApati sOdari kAvavE nanu kAtyAyani

caraNam

kAvu kAvumani nE morabeTTagA kamala lOcani karagu cuNDaga nIvu brOvakuNTE nevaru brOturu sadA varambosagu tyAgarAjanutE

Read on!

DISCOGRAPHY:

For a change let us first hear how this kriti of Tyagaraja is rendered in practice, understand the melody with our ear and then proceed to the theory of the raga.

There are very many popular editions of this composition in the public domain. All of them are fairly similar and the melody is only a derivative/Janya of Harikambhoji, the 28th mela. Exemplar renderings include those by Sangita Kalanidhis M S Subbulakshmi, Dr M Balamuralikrishna, T M Thyagarajan and a whole galaxy of other artistes.

A sample rendering is presented which is by a Vidvan of an age bygone, late Srivanchiyam Ramachandra Iyer, a disciple of Sangita Kalanidhi Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer.  ( courtesy Sangeethapriya)

ANALYSIS OF THE MELODY AND THE KRITHI AS PRESENTED:

  1. The raga’s svarupa is fairly obvious for a student of music. It is unambiguously taking the notes of the 28th Mela Harikambhoji
  2. The operative arohana/avarohana is easily discernible from the rendering as under:

  Arohanam:    S M1 G3 M1 R2 G3 M1 P D2 P S or S M1 G3 M1 P D2 S

 Avarohanam:  S N2 D2 N2 P M1 G3 R2 S

  1. The standard notation for this kriti is available here, along with the text, meaning and notation. http://www.shivkumar.org/music/Nannukannathalli.pdf
  2. Almost all musical texts provide the raga name – the melody as embodied in this extant rendering of this composition as Kesari or Sindhukannada under Mela 28.
  3. There may be minor changes to the way in which the composition is rendered by different vidvans but the soul of the melody / raga is always the arohana/avarohana krama as above under mela 28.

EVALUATING THE MUSICAL HISTORY/MATERIAL OF SINDUKANNADA/KESARI:

One of the earliest authentic texts notating this composition is the work of Chinnasvami Mudaliar. Towards the closing quarters of the 19th century and the first few years of the 20th century, he went about meticulously collecting the kritis of Tyagaraja in their authentic form, sourcing them particularly from the Walajapet sishya parampara of the bard, which was considered authentic for very many reasons. The manuscripts of the notation and text of many compositions were zealously maintained by this sishya parampara in true fidelity to the original melody of the compositions.

While a few other texts gave the raga of this composition as Sindhukannada a raga name which first appears in a raga compendium ‘ragalakshanam’ (RL hereafter – see foot note 1) under Mela 28, the Chinnasvami Mudaliar’s compilation assigns the raga name of Kesari to this composition. Sindhukannada is not found in the Sangraha Chudamani the musical text which is thought to have been utilized by Tyagaraja or which is also considered a lexicon of all ragas that Tyagaraja is said to have composed in.

In contrast the raga name Kesari appears in the Sangraha Cudamani and hence most likely the raga of ‘Nanu kanna talli’ can only be the melody which goes with the name of Kesari.

AND SO IS THE AVAILABLE SVARUPA OF THE RAGA OF NANNU KANNA TALLI, CORRECT AS PER THEORY:

Now while the raga of the composition as seen in practice is under Mela 28, the raga name now being known with clarity as Kesari, the next step is to evaluate to find whether the mathu is right. The raga Kesari according to the Sangraha Cudamani is under Mela 25, Mararanjani ! And as per the lakshana shloka of Sangraha Cudamani the raga should be having the following arohana avarohana.

 Arohanam:    S M1 G3 M1 R2 G3 M1 P D1 P S

 Avarohanam:  S N1 D1 N2 P M1 G3 R2 S

As one can see it is exactly same in structure to the Sindhu Kannada lakshana of RL except that Kesari is under mela 25 with D1 and N1 while Sindhukannada has D2 and N2, that is under Mela 28. Structurally they are akin, while melodically they are different.

Thus one can safely conclude at this juncture that the extant version of the composition ‘nannu kanna talli’ is rendered with D2 (catusruti dhaivata) and N2 ( kaishiki nishadha) while the theory backed up by Sangraha Cudamani ( a perfect lexicon of the ragas of Tyagaraja’s compositions) says that the raga for this composition should instead use only D1 ( suddha dhaivata) and N1 ( suddha nishadha).

So somewhere somebody threw a spanner in the works by which all renderings of ‘ nannu kanna talli” by prominent sishya paramparas of Tyagaraja got normalized to a version with D2 and N2 ( mela 28) with the result that the probably original raga of the composition was simply morphed by shifting the notes especially the dhaivata and nishadha from D1 and N1 to D2 and N2 ! This version with D2 and N2 became prolific and mainstream completely eclipsing the original version.

SO WHAT WAS THE ORIGINAL FORM OF THE RAGA OF ‘NANNU KANNA TALLI’ ?

As one can see the change that took place was that the raga of the Tyagaraja’s composition ‘nannu kanna talli’ was simply amended by replacing the notes D1 and N1 with D2 and N2 . The notation and lakshana by Cinnasvami Mudaliar and the Sangraha Cudamani, respectively – two unimpeachable witnesses in so far as Tyagaraja’s composition goes are the mute witnesses to this disfigurement done to ‘nannu kanna talli’ . The raga Kesari under mela 25 was done away with by replacing the D1 and N1 notes with D2 and N2 and a new raga Sindhukannada was created to replace it. And this morphing of the raga of this composition was most likely done during the first half of the 20th century.

And what was the need to deprive the composition of its original tune? The motive is perhaps not too complicated. The raga sported D1 and N1, a vivadi combination. In very many schools, especially at that time it was considered ‘traditional’ not to render vivadhi combinations as it was thought of as a ‘dosha’ so much so in private it was believed that the dosha brought misfortune. Musicians with such a belief system eschewed rendering such ragas/compositions which sported vivadhi combinations. Its quite likely that instead of avoiding rendering ‘nannu kanna talli’ with D1N1, one/ some or many considered that the composition being so beautiful should be brought to ‘mainstream’ by flipping its raga, by replacing the D1N1 combo with D2N2 and thus working around the problem!

So much so, notwithstanding the evidence of the Sangraha Cudamani which the musicians of that era adored, the notes D1 and N1 for the raga of ‘nannu kanna talli ‘were set aside without much ado as they suffered vivadi dosha, perhaps on the strength of the text RL and also perhaps of Nadamuni Panditar. It must have been as well considered that the D1N1 rendering was not harmonically facile , notwithstanding the fact that the sampradaya of Venkatamakhin provided for the workaround – PD1N1D1Ps and SN1D1P respectively for the arohana and avarohana. See foot note 2.  Such a change could not have been so easily propagated unless musicians/practitioners of those days had acted ‘in concert’.

Au contraire, the acclaimed music critic of those times, a titan who was feared both for his formidable knowledge and an acerbic tongue, Sri K V Ramachandran argued from the portals of the Music Academy that the new melody of nannu kanna talli was not authentic. And neither was the the raga Sindukannada of mela 28 found in the hoary musical tradition of Dikshitar or Tyagaraja. He records that he had heard the original version of ‘nannu kanna talli’ being rendered with D1. But apart from being recorded in the JMA for posterity, his sole voice of truth and reason was and has long been ignored and forgotten.

And post 1950, for certainty there is no version of Kesari/’nannu kanna talli’ with D1 and N1. Kesari was long dead and all musicians therefter and well now in to the second decade of the 21st century, unaware of this raga change, have proceeded to sing ‘nannu kanna talli’ with D2 and N2.

AND SO IS THIS THE TRUTH ?

Well the answer is yes. The raga of ‘nannu kanna thalli ‘ is not Sindukannada under Mela 28 but it is Kesari under mela 25. The problem is it is still not yet the  complete truth! So isn’t Kesari which sport D1 and N1, the raga of ‘nannu kanna talli’ the original tune of the composition?

On the authority of ‘Sangraha Cudamani’, Kesari is indeed the raga of the composition and indeed it sports the vivadhi notes D1 and N1. But Kesari is not its original name. It is the name given by Sangraha Cudamani whose date is debatable. Kesari is a name without a textual history. And this melody masquerading under the name of Kesari is older than many of us think. It is older than the Trinity. It was not discovered by Tyagaraja. The melody of Kesari which goes by the arohana/avarohana murcchana as given by the Sangraha Cudamani, is found documented in the Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika dateable to the first half of the 18th century, prior to the days of the Trinity.

On the authority of the Anubandha to the CDP, this raga sporting D1/N1can be found documented in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini as a raganga, head of the clan of Mela 25. Subbarama Dikshitar provides the arohana/avarohana krama as under:

Arohana :      S M1 G3 M1 P D1 N1 D1 P S

Avarohana:   S N1 D1 P M1 G3 R2 S

The raga is Sharavati, a pre trinity raga which was derived by Muddu Venkatamakhin to be the head of the clan 25. Subbarama Dikshitar provides the Muthusvami Dikshitar kriti ‘ Sharavati tata vasini’ as the exemplar. As we can see the implementation of Sharavati both by Tyagaraja and Dikshitar goes by the text book definition afforded by Muddu Venkatamakhin as documented and commented upon by Subbarama Dikshitar. While the heptatonic Mararanjani is the melakartha and Kesari a janya thereunder ( in sangraha Cudamani), Sharavati which shares the same structure as that of Kesari, is the raganga under Muddu Venkatamakhin’s scheme.

The comparison of the raga lakshana given for Kesari in Sangraha Cudamani under Mela 25 and that of Sharavathi as a raganga for mela 25 by Muddu Venkatamkhin will completely tally. Sharavati and Kesari are one and the same !

So if we were to know the original setting of the Tyagaraja composition, we can see the exemplar provided by the Dikshitar composition for Sharavati and use that to reconstruct the original melody/mathu of ‘nannu kanna talli’. Here is the rendering of ‘sharavati tata vasini’ by Vidushi Gayathri Girish learnt by her from the Late  V V Srivatsa and rendered by her for one of his Guruguhanjali Programs.

DIVINING THE ORIGINAL TUNE OF ‘NANNU KANNA TALLI’

From the notation of the Tyagaraja composition it is very clear that the same device used by Dikshitar for dealing with D1 and N1 svaras has been used as the arohana/avarohana murcchana given by Subbarama Dikshitar would show.

  1. PD1PS or PDN1DPS is the arohana krama
  2. SN1D1P is the avarohana krama.

In the existing patham of ‘nannu kanna talli’ by simply intoning D1 instead of D2 and N1 instead of N2 and by respecting the arohana and avarohana krama as above the possible original melodic svarupa of ‘nannu kanna talli’ can be obtained. Also the feature to note is both Tyagaraja and Dikshitar invoke the same arohana purvanga krama SM1G3M1P though SRGM suffers no dosha/dis-harmony. Yet the motif of the older Sharavati is only SM1G3M1 which both of them faithfully enshrine in their compositions, which is additional proof that Sharavati is the raga of ‘nannu kanna talli’.

Muthusvami Dikshitar has also appended a cittasvara section to pithily provide the raga lakshana of Sharavati.  Here is the rendering of the kriti together with the cittasvara section by the disciples of Vidushi Ambujam Vedantham. Though the kriti rendering has been augmented with embellishments for some of the lines, the spirit of the sharavati of Dikshitar is kept overall. Attention is invited to the ragas motifs in the cittasvara section. See foot note 4.

Based on the above here is my reconstruction of the beautiful Tyagaraja composition with D1 and N1, in Kesari, originally known as Sharavati.

NOTE: A note has to be placed here, which is the point which was reiterated in the earlier post on the raga Kalavati which too sported the PD1N1S in its uttaranga. The svara N1 can never be a nyasa, meaning one should not park on that note, when delineating the raga or singing the composition. The suddha nishadha has to be shown while executing a glide PD1/N1\D1, as a shade when intoning the suddha dhaivatha. While in the descent it should fleetingly appear when moving from the tAra sadja to the suddha dhaivata svara as S\N1\D1P. In all the renditions above presented, one would find that this mode of rendering is not strictly adhered to. While rendering, vidvans and students alike should take care to stick to the true spirit of this mode of rendering and not violate the same. In the same breath it is to be noted that in a few places the suddha nishadha appears as dheergha as well which has to be treated accordingly – For example mOdhinI in the madhyamakala sahitya which is a svarakshara is a dhirgha nishadha. Also we see Dikshitar using P/N1D1P as well in the composition.

CONCLUSION:

The likes of Sri K V Ramachandran and Vidvan Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer have always voiced their  opinion that the original ragas of very many compositions of Tyagaraja’s has been lost or mutilated. The raga of ‘nannu kanna talli’ is one such instance. Much water has flown under the bridge. Much of the evidence if any for such statements are now no longer available due to efflux of time. But with the texts and the so called internal evidence of the compositions themselves, we can attempt to divine the true melodic contours of some of these classics so that an attempt can be made to restore the pristine original beauty of these works of art.

While Tyagaraja apparently kept the ragas of his compositions secret, Muthusvami Dikshitar made it obvious, embedding them in the very sahitya/text itself. And with his composition “sharavati tata vasini’ as an exemplar, this blog post has been an attempt to re-examine and determine the melody of his illustrious contemporary, Tyagaraja. The raga Sharavati, a raganga enthroned by Muddu Venkatamakhin as the head of the clan/mela 25 has been the vehicle for both DIkshitar and Tyagaraja and on this day one can celebrate their memory and their shared/common heritage with ‘nannu kanna talli’!

REFERENCES:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904)- Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini Vol III– Tamil Edition published by the Madras Music Academy in 1968/2006
  2. Dr Hema Ramanathan(2004) – ‘Ragalakshana Sangraha’- Collection of Raga Descriptions
  3. Ramachandran K.V. (1950) – “Carnatic Ragas and the Textual Tradition” – The Journal of the Music Academy XXI, pp. 99-106, Madras, India.
  4. Ramachandran K.V. (1950) – “Apurva ragas of Tyagaraja’s Songs” – The Journal of the Music Academy XXI, pp. 107-109, Madras, India.
  5. C Ramanujachari (2008) -The Spiritual Heritage of Tyagaraja – Reprint- Published by Sri Ramakrishna Mission – page 67- Text & Translation of song

FOOTNOTES:

  1. A suspicious entry or rather an insertion is found in a musicological text confusingly named ‘Ragalakshanam’ ( Andhra text) of unknown authenticity, provenance and date. Dr Hema Ramanathan in her work ( page 1312) states that without any preamble, the raga name Sindukannada with the aroha/avaroha krama is inserted as just a line with no other information under another raga Isamanohari under mela 28. It is certainly grist for the mill and fodder for conspiracy theorists. The raga listing of Nadamuni Panditar (1906) gives Sindhukannada under mela 28. Similarly Ragakosam of RR Kesavamuthi too lists this raga Sindukannada under mela 28.
  2. In humor it also makes one wonder, if the entire episode of the raga of ‘Nannu Kanna talli’ getting flipped was a freak incident. Perhaps it was a work of a musician with a poor sense of svara gnana who ignorant of the actual raga and its svarupa began to mistakenly render or went on to teach the raga/composition with the facile notes D2/N2 so much so a mistake became the standard !
  3. We do have similar such changes that were introduced during the first half of the 20th century. Example is the raga of another Tyagaraja’s well known composition ‘nagumOmU ganalEnI’. The account of old timers as well historical/musical records would show that the raga sported only D1/suddha dhaivatha. But for some reason a particular school of Tyagaraja or a particular musician started rendering the raga with D2/catusruti dhaivata with the result that the spurious edition became popular/mainstream. It has lead to a comedy of errors, with the result today one treats the original tune of ‘nagumOmU’ with suspicion. The same has been the case with quite a few other vivadhi raga compositions of Tyagaraja.
  4. The permission granted by Smt Gayathri Girish to use the recording of her rendering of ‘sharavati tata vAsini’ in this blog post is gratefully acknowledged. The recording of the kriti by the disciples of Smt Ambujam Vedantham is already available in the public domain.

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‘sAmajagamana’ – An ode to a banished Tanjore King

Introduction:

History is littered with instances of many Kings falling from grace due to political bickering, back room or royal intrigues, machinations of foreign powers or neighboring Kingdoms, outright misrule bringing about a palace coup or public revolt and the like. The period of 1765 to 1800 in the case of Tanjore regionlikewise was a period of great political turmoil and polarization. Apart from the native rulers of the area which included the Maratta clan of Tanjore, the Nawab of Arcot and the smaller fiefdoms of Udayarpalayam and others, the dramatis personae also included Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan from Mysore. Pitching these rulers one against the other, in the game of elimination were the two foreign powers namely France and England. The British East India Company was attempting to consolidate its hold through its Governor at Madras Fort St, Sir George Pigot while the French were trying to be one up with their Governor in Pondicherry the famous Dupleix providing the stewardship.

Amidst all this war and political turmoil, Art was patronized and it grew to its zenith. Kings & Chieftains played patrons to the hilt even while as they involved themselves in wars and in cunning machinations to stay in power. For many of us, Tanjore and hence that Maharatta rule of Tanjore is synonymous with King Sarabhoji whose regnal years were 1799 to 1832 ( see foot note 1) .

This blog post is about his predecessor, King Amarasimha or Ramaswami Amarasimha Bhonsle ( the full Royal titular name) who ruled for a brief period of 1787 to 1799 as a Regent of the minor Prince Sarabhoji. This King Amarsimha was a patron in his own right like many of his illustrious kinsmen who ruled before him, right from King Sahaji who was a composer & musicologist (author of Ragalakshanamu), King Tulaja I who is tagged with the authorship of the Saramruta and Pratapasimha who was a great patron of arts & music and who was called as Abhinava Bhoja. Amarasimha too was a patron of many musicians including Ramasvami Dikshitar the father of the Trinitarian Muthusvami Dikshitar. Amarasimha is referred to as Amar Sing(h) as well in very many documents and also as Madhyarjunam Amarasimha, for later in his life he was banished to live in exile at Madhyarjunam / Tiruvidaimarudur, a few miles from Kumbakonam. This blog is about this King Amarasimha ( always referred to as is) & his times and from a musical angle we will see an exemplar composition sung on him by Ramaswami Dikshitar. This piece is a ragamalika documented in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP hereafter) of Subbarama Dikshitar and from a performance perspective it is extinct for all practical purposes. As pointed out in an earlier blog post in this series , the overall enjoyment of a composition is enhanced by knowing about the historical background, the setting, the composer’s perspective and such other factors like the nayaka of the song etc. . Hence the profile of the patron King Amarasimha, the context of the composition – time, place etc. and the composition ‘sAmajagamana’ along with the discography is sought to be presented.

THE ROYAL HOUSE OF BHONSALES- The TANJORE MAHARATTAS:

The Mahratta rule of Tanjore commenced in the year 1675 (from the remains of the erstwhile Nayak rule). The lineage of Kings who ruled from Tanjore from this Royal House is given in the genealogy chart below. They were apart o the extended Bhonsale clan of Maharashtra to which King Shivaji of fame, belonged to.

The Geneology of the Royals of Tanjore

The Geneology of the Royals of Tanjore

Though the Tanjore Bhonsale clan were rank outsiders from a territorial perspective, the Kings of this Royal House went about enmeshing themselves in the social fabric of the then Tanjore area. The Kings of this House made Lord Rajagopala at Mannargudi, Lord Tyagaraja of Tiruvarur and finally Lord Brihadeesvara at Tanjore as their titular deities and for practical purposes even attempted to rule in the name of these Gods. Along with Marathi they made Telugu as well as the lingua franca of the Court, taking the previous Nayak rule as a template. The local Brahmin learned men were made the Prime Minister or Rayasam akin to how the Nayak Kings had, including the way they administered the kingdom. And lastly if not the least, the Kings though hailing from Central India, became great connoisseurs and patrons of South Indian music. The “Modi records” as they are called, which are the Royal records of this rule which has been preserved in the Sarasvathi Mahal Library in Thanjavur vouches for the retainers which has been paid to the musicians, courtesans and others attached to the Royal Court. That apart several compositions are still available to us composed on these Kings which bears testament to their munificence as well. Dr Sita ‘s ‘ Tanjore as a Seat of Music’ is a fairly complete reference for the musical history of this period.

THE HEADY DAYS OF THE RULE OF PRATAPASIMHA:

We begin the journey with King Pratapasimha whose regnal years were 1739 to 1763, one of the longest rulers in the Tanjore Maharatta Royal house. Despite many external threats he was a powerful ruler and administrator. Given his acumen, the British East India Company accorded high regard for him and he was the last King of Tanjore to be referred to as “His Majesty” in the company records from that period. All subsequent Kings became puppets in the hands of the British. Pratapasimha faced considerable odds in holding on to Tanjore given the threats from the Nawab of Carnatic and from the French. He allied with the British and in 1761, participated in the siege of Pondicherry which resulted in a crushing defeat for the French. Despite all these political upheavals, Pratapasimha played the role of benefactor and patron of arts. Many musicians and artistes flourished during his rule. Amongst so many compositions from his reign, one fine exemplar stands out, the magnum opus, the Huseini Svarajati composed by Melattur Virabadrayya, the guru and preceptor of Ramasvami Dikshitar, whom Subbarama Dikshitar alludes to in awe as ‘Margadarshi’ or “Trailblazer”. For very many decades and even well into the 20th century this Svarajathi was a piece-de-resistance with its lilting carana refrain “au rE rA sAmi vinara…….”. This masterpiece in adi tala started as “sAmi nEnarElla”, was composed on Lord Varadarajasvami of Melattur spawned many copies inspired by its melting tune and evergreen popularity. In fact Subbarama Dikshitar in his SSP has documented one such copy commencing with the words ‘ emantayAnarA’ attributing it to Patchimiriyam Adiyappayya, which bears the poshaka mudra/colophon as ‘Pratapasimha’. Pratapasimha who himself was a son of a concubine had ascended the throne by banishing the legal contender to the throne Prince Sahuji. Records indicate that when he died he had atleast two sons. The elder one and next to the throne, was Prince Tulaja II (born in 1738) through his Royal Queen. He later ascended the throne as a rightful heir. And the younger one was Prince Amarasimha, the protagonist of this blog post, a son through Pratapasimha’s concubine. Pratapasimha died on 16th Dec 1763 after reigning for 24 long years and the 25 year old Tulaja II ascended the throne.

THE TURMOIL DURING TULAJA II’s RULE

The British with an eye on assimilating the Royal Kingdom of Tanjore to its growing empire, started destabilizing King Tulaja II’s rule right from day one. Tulaja II by nature was not a formidable character like his great father and he became amenable to the intrigues, both inside and outside of the Fort at Tanjore. Implementing the divide-and-rule policy which they perfected as a fine art to perpetuate their imperialistic rule for more than 3 centuries, the British set Tulaja II against the Rajas of Ramanathapuram and the Nawab of Carnatic. To defray the cost of wars, Tulaja II was forced to borrow money and incur huge debts with the British East India Company at usurious interest rates. In fact it was Manali Muthukrishna Mudaliar ( the later day Patron of Ramasvami Dikshitar) who was then the Dubash of the then Governor of Madras, Pigot, who came periodically to negotiate financial matters with Tulaja II at Tanjore and to Tiruvarur. It was then when the Mudaliar came to be introduced to Ramasvami Dikshitar which would prove fortuitous for the Dikshitar clan, later on. The British finally forced Tulaja II into a Treaty with the result he was divested of his army and thus was rendered into a yet another tribute paying vassal of the British. Their plan to annex the Tanjore territory was complete. See Footnote 2.

Turning to matters musical, probably some time, circa 1768 is when Ramaswami Dikshitar was perhaps directed by Tulaja II to go to Tiruvarur to formulate the musical paddhathi for the Tyagaraja temple. Subbarama Dikshitar is his Vaggeyakara Caritamu, alludes to this with a dream that Ramasvami Dikshitar had, in which Lord Tyagaraja bade him to come over to Tiruvarur to carry out the divine task. We can see later that it was sometime circa 1770 that Prince Amarasimha came visiting Tiruvarur. Between the years 1780 & 1786, Hyder Ali and his son Tipu Sultan plundered the Tanjore region, driving out Tulaja II into exile. According to the records of the Christian Missionary Schwartz, children numbering more than 20,000 were carried away and the entire region was ransacked. The scorch-the-earth policy of Tipu Sultan between 1780 and 1786, the impoverished Treasury of the Tanjore King together with successive famines in the Cauvery delta due to poor monsoons during the period of 1780-1800 took a toll. Records show that the region lost the 2 decades and it recovered only after 1800, following the political stability afforded by the ascension of Serfoji II in 1799. Many people including the likes of Ramasvami Dikshitar & his family fled to Madras to be under the protective cover of the British. They were absorbed into the society by the cognoscenti of the City ( Chennapattana/Madras) namely Manali Muthukrishna/ Cinnaya Mudaliar & others. ‘Sarva Deva Vilasa’ the Sanskrit work narrates the state of the City and also the high and mighty who served the British during the last decade of 1700’s and the early years of 1800’s. Reverend Schwarz ( 1726-1798) the renowned Danish Christian Missionary was a close confidant of Tulaja II for very many years and was a faithful interlocutor for the King when he dealt with the local British Resident and the Commandant of the Tanjore Garrison. In fact given the proximity between the two, it was rumored, as accounts show, that Tulaja II had either converted to Christianity or was a closet Christian. In fact when Tulaja II adopted Serfoji II (born 1777, a son of Tulaja II’s cousin) as his son sometime 1787 or thereabouts, the British retrieved Tanjore and reinstated him on the throne, Rev Schwarz was a source of great solace and his memoirs offer a glimpse as to how Tulaja II was grieving inwardly. So much was Tulaja’s faith in this Padre that on his deathbed in the year 1787, wanted Rev Schwarz to be the guardian of the minor Serfoji. It was apparent that the dying King feared for the life of the young adopted Prince Serfoji. But the Missionary refused. We would see that he would later go on to become a philosopher and guide to the young Serfoji and support his claim to Kingship through his minority till 1799.

THE ASCENDANCE OF AMARASIMHA

Tanjore Palace painting - Photo courtesy Takako Inoue

Tanjore Palace painting – Photo courtesy Takako Inoue

Tulaja II passed away in 1787, a year or two after he had taken back Tanjore. On his deathbed he summoned the British resident and the Commandant of the Tanjore garrison and held over the minor Serfoji to their care. This was when intense jockeying started as to who would be the Regent and rule the Tanjore Kingdom till Serfoji attained majority. Prince Amarasimha the paternal uncle of Serfoji played his cards well notwithstanding the support of Rev Schwarz who was the interlocutor for the Minor Serfoji. It was quite a departure from established mores for a religious missionary to be interfering in the political affairs of the country where he had come to preach. The existing Hindu establishment in Tanjore had animosity towards Rev. Schwarz whom they considered as a meddler who was instrumental in Tulaja II’s religious bias towards Christianity which they had greatly resented. Moreover given Schwarz’s influence over the young Prince, the palace establishment was of the firm view that he too could be a potential Christian convert which would be anathema to them. Arguably this greatly tilted the balance of power in favor of Prince Amarasimha who with the connivance of the local British resident and his masters in the Madras establishment, successfully wrested the Regency for himself in 1787. The problem was also arbitrated upon by religious experts from Kashi to provide inputs on Sastraic sanction for rule by Regency, royal succession etc, which in turn gave rise to allegations of bribery and chicanery.  See foot note 4.  It would not be out of place to mention that there were bickering going on even within the British establishment of Madras with the East India Company’s London Directors taking a very dim view of many a political happenings in India and the financial malfeasance of the Company’s Officers in India. They believed that the Company officials in India including the Governor of Madras were accumulating wealth by taking bribes from the local Princes in return for Kingship and reduction in the peshcush/tribute payable to the Company. Firmly ensconced as the Regent, King Amarasimha began his 12 year rule from Tanjore. Accounts have it that he ill-treated the minor Serfoji greatly and Rev Schwarz together with Serfoji paid several visits to Madras to plead with the British establishment there for succor. It was not to happen so easily. Matters only turned for the worse for Serfoji on his return to Tanjore as it made his uncle King Amarasimha even more inimical to his interest. (see foot note 2). Even though the rivalry and discord was simmering inside, Amarasimha could not wish away the fact that he was a Regent and so he had to necessarily present himself in public along with the boy King Serfoji. In fact many paintings from that era depict both of them in the Royal regalia, for an example see here. One account has it that in 1793, Amarasimha went ahead and proclaimed himself the King and absolute ruler, much to the chagrin of the British and the faction of the family supporting Prince Serfoji which included Tulaja II ‘s Queens. While from a political standpoint Amarasimha appears in a different light, from an arts perspective he played his role to the hilt. With an efficient Prime Minister Sivarayamantri on hand, he patronized a great number of scholars and musicians.  The composer of the famous Anandabhairavi kriti, ‘Nee mati Callaga’ and that of Parijataapaharana’, Kavi Matrubhutayya was one such recipient. Apart from the Anandabhairavi kriti, we also have a couple of more available from this composer, one such being ‘tarali boyyE” in Todi, which is found notated in the SSP. (Refer pages 160-169 of Dr Sita’s work – Reference # 5 below).

 THE ANOINTMENT OF SERFOJI in 1799 & THE BANISHMENT OF AMARASIMHA

Circa 1797 – Portrait of Amarsingh/Amarasimha of Tanjore Wearing a feathered turban lined with pearls and gold lace, a white chemise trimmed with fur, pearls and jewels, with a red and yellow sash, a dagger within the sash, the Brihadishwara Temple beyond, gilt-metal mount, ebonized frame inscribed on the verso of the frame: Miniature of the Rajah of Tanjore in / the East Indies given by him to Major Wiliam Monson then Commandant at Tanjore 1797; Watercolour on ivory: 9.6 by 8 cm.; 3 3/4 by 3 in.

Due to the continued efforts of Reverend. Schwarz and the change in perception of the British, fortuitously for Serfoji, moves were afoot to restore him to the throne with the taking over of Lord Wellesley as the the Governor General of India. The fact that Amarasimha’s rule wasn’t auguring well for the British became obvious and a deal was struck by the then Resident Benjamin Torin at Tanjore acting on the instructions from Governor General Lord Wellesley.  ( See Foot note 3). As a part of the tripartite deal the British negotiated, Amarasimha was to move to Tiruvaidaimarudur (also known as Madhyarjunam), a few miles from Kumbakonam, where he set up his Samasthanam/Royal Estate funded by the Treasury at Tanjore. Serfoji for his part would ascend the throne giving away all the powers to the British and relegating himself as a nominal ruler from the Fort at Tanjore converting the Kingdom in essence to a Principality, in return for the Privy Purse. The British plan to annex Tanjore to the Empire was complete. Some accounts have it that Amarasimha grew ill even during the Regency and in the run up to this tripartite deal. Records from a British standpoint go cold after 1799 in so far Amarasimha goes. The details if any about him reduces to a trickle thereafter. Few of such sources includes Dr U Ve Svaminatha Iyer. He is recorded as “Madhyarjunam Amarasimha” and apparently according to Dr. U Ve Svaminatha Iyer, he was the patron of Ghanam Krishna Iyer, Hindustani musician Ramdas & others. In fact the above referred Ramadas taught music to Gopalakrishna Bharathi (1811-1881)  who used to reside in Mayavaram. A reconciliation of the dates of these personages and the life time of Amarasimha reveal even more confusion. It could be that Dr U Ve Svaminatha Iyer is confusing himself with Madhyarjunam Pratapasimha, the son of Amarasimha who was the successor to his father.  Dr Sita in her treatise ( Reference 5, pages 104-106) provides a historical summary of the King. Given the chronology of events and logical reasoning, Amarasimha should have died sometime during the early years of the first decade of the 19th century, 1805 or thereabouts. (See Footnote 5 below)

 AMARASIMHA’s DESCENDANTS:

Amarsimha’s son Madhyarjunam Pratapasimha (named after his illustrious grandfather) is briefly profiled by Subbarama Dikshitar in his Vaggeyakkara Caritamu which gives us some clue as to the timelines. He says that Madhyarjunam Pratapasimha was well versed in music and mrudangam playing. He was also a composer having created a Navaratnamalika and a ragatalamalika in mahratti language with beautiful svara patterns. According to Subbarama Dikshitar he died sometime before the period of Sivaji Maharaja. Now King Serfoji died in 1833 and Sivaji ascended the Tanjore throne that year. Thus it is quite possible that Madhyarjunam Pratapasimha died circa 1832. Barring the dilapidated palace & buildings at Tiruvidaimarudur, ( see note 6 )there exist no other artifact attributable to this branch of the Royal House of Bhonsales. We do have a couple of paintings of Amarasimha and one of  Madhyarjunam Pratapasimha his son.

COMPOSITION & DISCOGRAPHY

Ramasvami Dikshitar is said to have moved to Tiruvarur after his stay in Tanjore where he was patronized by King Tulaja II. About 1768 or 1770, he visited Tiruvarur, according to Subbarama Dikshitar, to take part in the Temple festivities. It was during this time by Royal decree from Tulaja II and/or by divine orders in his dream that Ramasvami Dikshitar embarked on codifying the musical rituals for the Tyagaraja Temple. During the temple festivities, Prince Amarasimha (as he was then, during the reign of Tulaja II) happened to visit Tiruvarur. Ramasvami Dikshitar must have been granted an audience with the Royal. And in a trice he perhaps composed & rendered a ragamalika piece ‘sAmajagamana’, which is the musical core of this blog post. The objective as pointed out earlier is to first deconstruct and quickly understand the history, the situation and the setting in which the composition was born and then deep dive into the composition, to make the experience wholesome. Now moving over to the very composition, one can see from the musical history that the entire Dikshitar clan reveled in composing Ragamalikas. The SSP has captured them for posterity in notation from which one can recreate therefrom. This ragamalika of Ramasvami Dikshitar notated in the Anubandha to the SSP,is an archetype and has the following features:

  1. ‘sAmajagamana’ has a Pallavi (2 ragas), anupallavi( 2 ragas) and 4 caranas( 4 ragas each). In sum we have 20 ragas which have been utilized in this composition.
  2. The composition is set in Adi tAla
  3. The Pallavi is made of 2 ragas – sAma and Lalitha which has a makuta svara section in sAma for ½ tala avarta which is rendered after the anupallavi and caranas to loop back to the Pallavi refrain.
  4. The anupallavi consist of 2 ragas – Hamvira ( or Hamirkalyani) and Bhupalam and muktayi svara in Bhupalam for ½ avarta of tala
  5. The carana section ragas are:
    1. 1st carana – Natta, Padi, Mohanam, Sahana, followed by muktayi svara/jathi in Sahana for ½ avarta tala
    2. 2nd carana- Manirangu, Kapi ( Karnataka), Shri and Durbar followed by muktayi svara/jathi in Durbar for ½ avarta tala
    3. 3rd carana – Kannada, Ramkali, Kalyani and Saranga followed by muktayi svara in Saranga for ½ avarta tala
    4. 4th Carana – Ghanta, saurashtra, Varali and Ahiri followed by muktayi svara in Ahiri for ½ avarta tala
  6. The raga names are expressly made part of the sahitya, segueing with it seamlessly. Ahiri appears as “A harI”, Sahana appears as ” sogsusAnanI, Hamirkalyani appears as ‘hamvIrU’, rAmakali appears right at the conjunction of the Kannada and Ramkali section  and so on.
  7. The poshaka mudra is found in the anupallavi sahitya which goes as “Sri mahA hamvirU pratApa simhEndrUni tanaya ; chiranjeevI amarasimha bhUpAla” extolling Prince Amarasimha as the son of that great warrior King Pratapasimha. Reference is made again in the Saranga raga section as ‘ mA cakkani amarasimhEndra sAranga’.
  8. The entire sahitya is structured as an erotic composition with the nAyika pining for Prince Amarasimha.

A couple of important points stand out from a musical perspective:

  1. Usage of ragas sharing common murcchanas, being placed next to each other is a marked feature. Ramasvami Dikshitar himself in his 108 raga tala malika, ‘nAtakadi vidyAlaya’ uses the same stratagem. Even as one sings for that ½ or 1 avarta, the raga structure is made out distinctively in the midst of other ragas from the same family. In this case Manirangu, Kapi, Shri and Durbar bring that feature.
  2. Ragas like Hamir, Ramkali etc have traditionally been believed to have been imported into our music, by Muthusvami Dikshitar post his visit to Kashi. In this ragamalika, assignable to a date much earlier to the birth of Muthusvami Dikshitar (1775), we see the ragas Ramkali and Hamir being used, pointing to the fact that the usage of these ragas predate the Trinity.
  3. With the greatest of gratitude to Subbarama Dikshitar for gifting us with the SSP, one can see that he has notated Ramkali in this composition with both the madhyamas ( m and m#). In the SSP main raga lakshana text, Subbarama Dikshitar assigns Ramkali under Mela 15. And therein he mentions that it is the convention to render the madhyama of the raga as m# and gives a few sample murcchanas. But in the notation for the solitary exemplar composition(kriti) for the raga, ‘rAma rAma kalikalusha virAma”, he does not notate the prati madhyama (m#) at all. Whereas for this composition ‘sAmajagama’ in the anubandha he marks the place where the prati madhyama has to be rendered and thus provides a formal authority for the sanctioned usage. In fact the prati madhyama is so positioned by Ramasvami Dikshitar in this composition that the sahitya line in Kannada ends in M1 ( the preceding sahitya line) and the Ramkali portion begins with M2, producing the Lalitanga like effect via GM1M2G . In North Indian music this classic musical motif is called ‘lalitAnga” with the improvisation that the M2 is sandwiched between two M1’s. Additionally Ramasvami Dikshitar skillfully spreads the rAmkali raga mudra over the Kannada portion and rAmkali portion as well showing that perhaps the GM1M2G is a motif for Ramkali!
  4. The final carana ends with the benedictory appeal for the benign Grace of Lord Tyagaraja – “A harIndrUnI pUjincU tyAgEsa krupa nijamU”
  5. Just as a passing observation, we do not see the standard colophon that Ramasvami Dikshitar usually uses namely “venkatakrishna” in this composition.

This ragamalika composition as far as one knows, has never been part of the concert platform repertoire and there exists no known recording of this composition. During the music festival season of 2015, Parivadhini presented a thematic concert on Pre-Trinity compositions @ Nada Inbam by Vidushi Smt. Gayathri Girish. (See Note 7), wherein this piece was rendered. Here is the complete composition rendered by her from that concert. Accompanying her, on the violin is Dr Hemalatha and on the mrudangam by Sri. B Sivaraman.

CONCLUSION:

The virtuosity and proficiency of the great composers needs to be researched further in the context of both musical and social history. Such an effort should encompass identifying & publishing hitherto undiscovered compositions and archiving the music material to be preserved for posterity. Performing musicians too should take the lead in adding these rare and unheard compositions in their repertoire and presenting them frequently in concerts.

 REFERENCES:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar(1904) -Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini with its Tamil translation published by the Madras Music Academy
  2. William Hickey (1875) -The Tanjore Mahratta Principality in Southern India- Second Edition- Published by Foster & Co. eBook published by Google
  3. K R Subramanian(1928 & 1988) – The Maratha Rajas of Tanjore – Published by Asian Educational Services
  4. Dr U.Ve.Svaminatha Iyer (2005) – Urainadai Noolgal – Part 1( Reprint)
  5. Dr Sita (2001)- Tanjore as a Seat of Music

FOOTNOTES :

  1. Tanjore was actually called the ‘Eden of the South’ as it was lush & green, a picture of prosperity coupled with the fact like just like Silicon Valley in modern U.S.A, the place became a beehive for all of performing arts. The water of the Cauvery, the fertility of the delta alluvial soil, the inclination of the people to arts, temple, religion and culture ensured that the cognoscenti flocked to the Tanjore Kings who ruled the area.  In her treatise, “Tanjore as a seat of Music”, Dr Sita says that at some point the Tanjore Court hosted more than a 1000 vidvans !
  2. Much of the intrigues surrounding the Royal House of Tanjore during the period of 1760-1775 can be found documented in the “Original Papers Relative to the Restoration of the King of Tanjore and the Arrest of the Rt. Honble George Pigot” available here.
  3. This Royal skulduggery and the untold misery of Prince Serfoji was much later a subject of a historical novel “Old Tanjore” written by Seshachalam Gopalan & published by P R Rama Iyer and Sons, Madras (1938). This novel has as its plot, the intrigues at the Tanjore Court. The aspirations of Prince Serfoji, Maharaja Tulaja’s lawfully adopted son is checkmated by Amarasimha who aspires for the throne and for achieving that he even deigns to liquidate him. But the Dowager Maharani (Tulaja’s mother) and two of Tulaja’s wives who didn’t commit Sati, namely Queen Sujanabayee and Queen Girjabayee save Serfojee with the help of the famous Danish Christian missionary Schwarz. Assisting them is Tukaram Rao, a courtier and friend of Tulaja . They finally succeed in removing the Amarasimha from the throne and anointing Serfoji as King. “Old Tanjore” is a historical novel dealing with a period in Tanjore history which is at once the twilight of the Mahratta royal rule and the dawn of the British Raj. We get in it preserved with great skill, the aroma of days by-gone. And the characters and events assume a living dimension. Rev Schwarz  and Tukaram, the energetic courtier who though on the same side to promote the interest of Prince Serfoji, frequently come into conflict in these pages and they realize at the last for a fleeting moment the kindred nature of their mission on earth. All these are vividly portrayed by the author Sri. Gopalan and it lends its own peculiar charm to the story. The underlying religious ferment in the ancient city which throws up a lofty character like Tukaram, the intrigues of Amarasimha to usurp the throne from the young Serfojee & persecute him, his final rescue by Schwarz & others thus constitutes the central theme of the story. One does not know whether these characters and their actions as depicted in the novel are completely true or fiction, save for a few. Wish one does. The author, Seshachalam Gopalan a resident of Tanjore much like Madhaviah another English writer from the early 20th century,seems to have written a bunch of novellas apart from ‘Old Tanjore’. These include ‘Jackal Farm or Jungle of good Jackals’ (1949) a satire, “Tryst with Destiny” (1981), “From my Kodak” and ‘Distant Views”.
  4. The Memoirs of Lord Wellesley, archived here by Google offers the view of the British establishment then with respect to the question of making Prince Serfoji the King. For more on Reverand Scwarz and his take on the entire affair one can refer to Lives of Missionaries in Southern India archived here by Google books. Many other documents too have been referred to and this listing is not complete.
  5. In those days with life span hardly exceeding 50 years on an average it is quite possible that Amarasimha’s life time was 1755-1805. It agrees well with Pratapasimha’s reign of 1739-1763 and Tulaja’s life time of 1740-1787. In the same breath given King Serfoji’s life time was 1777 to 1833 or an age of 56 years, Madhyarjunam Pratapasimha (who is a cousin) could have lived between the period of 1780-1832, assuming Subbarama Dikshitar is correct in stating the date of demise.
    pAvai Vilakku - History - Narration at the Mahalingasvami Temple in Tiruvidaimarudur

    pAvai Vilakku – History – Narration at the Mahalingasvami Temple in Tiruvidaimarudur

    However another contrarian evidence emerges from the precincts of the sprawling temple of Lord Mahalingasvami in Tiruvidaimarudur where one can see in the outer prahara, a statuette of a lady with a lamp called ‘pAvai vilakku’. The temple authorities have written a commentary – see photograph, roughly translating the note written on the base of the statuette, as under:

“The Maharatta Raja Amar Singh (Amarasimha) used to reside in the palace on North Street. His son was Pratap Singh (Pratapasimha). Yamunabhayee Sahib and Sagavarbayee Sahib were respectively his first and second wives. Neither of them had any progeny. Pratap Singh desired to marry Ammanubayee Saheb, a daughter of his maternal uncle. They were deeply in love with each other. The said Ammanubayee prayed to Lord Mahalingasvami and undertook to light a 1000 lamps if her heart’s desire was fulfilled. And when the marriage indeed took place the Rani lit those 1000 lamps and she had this figurine of herself forged and installed in the temple. This is dated to Salivahana era 1775, 22nd day of the month of Jaiyshta(AnI),a sOmavAra, corresponding to 4th July 1853 of the English calendar”

This certainly complicates matters as the date of demise given by Subbarama Dikshitar doesn’t tally with the date inscribed in the figurine which should be accorded higher evidentiary value. If we are to take this into consideration, Madhyarjunam Pratapasimha must have lived well into the second half of the 19th century. On the left  is the photo of the narration in Tamil found in the temple precincts, mentioned above.

6. V Sriram( 3rd Jan 2014, The Hindu) has his account of the abode of Amarasimha at Tiruvidaimarudur here. His brief narration of the historical background is entirely based on Dr Sita’s ‘Tanjore as a Seat of Music’, reference # 5 above.

7. In that concert, ‘sAmajagamana’ was presented as an exemplar for the ragamalika archetype composition and this blog author had a hand in that choice. The permission granted by Smt Gayathri Girish to share a recording of his composition in the public domain is gratefully acknowledged.

Safe Harbor Statement: The clipping and media material used in this blog post have been exclusively utilized for educational / understanding /research  purpose and cannot be commercially exploited or dealt with. The intellectual property rights of the performers and copyright owners are fully acknowledged and recognized.

A Tribute to a Munificent Benefactor

INTRODUCTION:

Subbarama Dikshitar in his preface to his Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP) mentions a number of personalities who played a major role in enabling him to complete the treatise. They are:

  • The past rulers and members of the Royal family of Ettayapuram (profiled by Subbarama Dikshitar in his Vaggeyakara Caritamu – entries 67 to 71)
  • Sri Cinnasvami Mudaliar
  • Rao Bahadur Jagannatham Chettiar the then Divan of Ettayapuram
  • Sri Radhakrishna Iyer, the then Principal of the Maharaja’s College, Pudukottai.

Subbarama Dikshitar singles out his benevolent patron His Highness Raja Jagadveera Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa who ascended the Ettayapuram throne in December 1899, in his preface saying he was eternally in gratitude to the Raja for having provided him with the support to bring out the SSP and thus making him famous. It was to this ruler that Chinnasvami Mudaliar earnestly appealed to convince Subbarama Dikshitar to document all that he knew. And it was under this Raja’s direction that Subbarama Dikshitar embarked on the creation of the SSP. And on top the Raja sanctioned a princely sum of Rs.10,000/, arranged for importing the typesets and the machinery so that Vidya Vilasini Press could complete the production of the entire treatise with all its notations.

The photo on the left features a  page from the original Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, capturing the notation in telugu of the tana varna in Atana that Subbarama Dikshitar had composed on Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa(1878-1915)

December 2010 marks the Raja’s 132nd birth anniversary as well the 111th anniversary of his coronation in the year 1899 which was when the groundwork was done by Chinnasvami Mudaliar to get the task of collating the SSP started. According to Dr. T. S. Ramakrishnan, the actual work began on 21 December 1901 (a full two years later) and ended with the publication of the SSP on 15th February 1904. This article is to commemorate the memory of Raja Venkatesvara Ettappa and that of the Royal House of Ettayapuram without whom the magnum opus would not have seen the light of the day. And the musical tribute is through a chef-d’oeuvre conjured up by Subbarama Dikshitar, a bewitching cauka varna in the raga Surati, along with 3 rare compositions of an Ettayapuram ruler.

A BRIEF ACCOUNT OF THE ROYAL HOUSE OF ETTAYAPURAM:

Ettayapuram is today a small town in the district of Tuticorin in Southern Tamilnadu. Prior to the British annexation in the year 1775 (appr), it was a principality ruled by Poligars/Kings with quasi independence having the Vijayanagar Kings or the Nayaks of Madura as their overlords. We do have historical accounts of this royal family from the British chronicler Robert Caldwell. In the local language, we have the historical account of one Swami Dikshitar (circa 1860) who was patronized by the Ettayapuram Royals, called “History of Ettayapuram” which provides the lineage of a total of more than 30 rulers, till 1870. Apart from this, as mentioned in the introduction, Subbarama Dikshitar has provided a brief biographical sketch of the Royals of Ettayapuram in his Vaggeyakara Caritamu. The Ettayapuram Royals have also been profiled by Sri A Vadivelu (a chronicler of Indian royal families from the last century), Dr T S Ramakrishnan (a past member of the Experts Committee of the Music Academy) and Dr V Raghavan.

The members of the Royal House and the rulers during the period of 1775-1905 are given in the genealogy chart below for  reference. Quite a few musical books and historical accounts, given the commonality of names of the different Rajas, give a confusing account of the Rajas mixing them up and also wrongly attributing compositions. For example, many publications blindly attribute all available compositions to Kumara Ettendra. For the sake of clarity I have documented the correct Raja name as attributed by Subbarama Dikshitar and cross-validated with other accounts as found in the references section, in the footnote.

The history of the Royal House of Ettayapuram apparently traces back to circa 856 CE. However, evidence in the form of historical documentation is traceable only from circa 1423 CE onwards. There is a stone inscription in the town of Devikapuram dateable to 1479 AD that mentions of Ettappa Nayaka making available devadasis to the temple. There are also stone inscriptions dating to 1690 which talks of the acts done by Nayakas of Ettayapuram.

Throughout this article and also in all historical accounts, the principality of Ettayapuram is referred to synonymously as a palayam or zamindari or estate or samasthana(m) and those in-charge are addressed as King, Raja, Zamindar and poligar. The names of the rulers/zamindars are usually prefixed by Jagadveera and the common suffixes include Ettappa, Ettendra, Ayyan, Pandian and Nayaka(n).

Genealogy chart of the Ettayapuram Rajas CE 1775-1904

The Rajas of Ettayapuram were originally called  Nayaks/ Nayakkar with a common surname of Ettappa Nayaka and were a warrior clan hailing from the Chandragiri region which is in modern day Andhra Pradesh. They had been local chieftains who then moved into the Madurai region and became a vassal of the Pandyan Kings in 1423 CE. According to Robert Caldwell (‘A History of Tinnellvely’ p.49)  Kumaramuttu Ettappa Nayaka, an ancestor of the Ettayapuram Rulers fled from Chandragiri with his huge retinue to the Madurai region fearing reprisal from the Bahmini Kings. They perhaps represented the first wave of Telugu speaking people to migrate to the Tamil hinterland. The Pandyan Kings conferred the title of ‘Jaga(d)veera Rama’ on these chieftains which is used by them till today. The 20th Ruler in this line was one Raja Jagaveera Ramakumara Ettappa Nayaka who in January 1567 (vide Henry Heras’s ‘The Aravidu Dynasty of Vijayanagara’) founded the present day Ettayapuram and moved his headquarters there. Bishop Caldwell in his book ‘Political and General History of Tinnelvelly’ records the year as 1565.

During the 1500’s, when the Vijayanagar Empire was at its zenith these chieftains of Ettayapuram became poligars (or palayakkarar in Tamil i.e royalty paying Chieftains) under the overall suzerainty of the Vijayanagar Kings. The Nayakas of Madura and Tanjore were higher in terms of their pecking order while the Nayakas of Ariyalur, Gingee, Udayarpalayam and Ettayapuram were next in line. The Nayakas of Ettayapuram were on very friendly terms with the Nayakas of Madura and in turn they were conferred the title of ‘Ayyan’ oor the support and friendship that was extended. They Nayakas of Ettayapuram were also granted the village of Kazhugumalai in 1500’s. The temple of Lord Subramanya was constructed by the Ettayapuram rulers there and the Lord enshrined therein became the presiding deity of the Royals from then on. During early 1800’s when the British consolidated their hold over Southern India, the Ettayapuram rulers like the rest of the others followed suit and became vassals of the British and became kist/peshcush paying Zamindars.

Extract from Kadigaimuttu pulavar’s panegyric ‘Samudravilasam’ (Tamil)

Extract from Kadigaimuttu pulavar’s panegyric ‘Samudravilasam’ (Tamil)

The Rajas/Zamindars of Ettayapuram (those who are given in the genealogy chart above) have been profiled in detail by Subbarama Dikshitar in his Vaggeyakara Caritamu and I refer readers to the same available in English online. The Rajas were patrons of music, arts and literature. Subbarama Dikshitar lists out a number of great musicians and poets who ornamented the Nayaka Court at Ettayapuram.

The famous Tamil poet Kadigaimuttu Pulavar, who was patronized by the Royals, wrote a panegyric of a 100 Tamil verses on Raja Venkatesvara Ettappa (marked as Ruler 2 in the genealogy chart above), was patronized by the Ettayapuram Royals. Above is an excerpt from that work called ‘Samudravilasam’ extolling the Raja.

MUSICAL COMPOSITIONS OF THE RAJAS:

As Subbarama Dikshitar points out, the Rajas and the family as whole were great patrons of arts and culture. Some of the rulers were also composers in their own right, such as Rama Kumara Ettappa Maharaja or Kumara Ettendra (as he is named in the SSP), who ruled between 1840 and 1850. The SSP lists out 13 compositions of this Raja Kumara Ettappa (herein after referred only as Kumara Ettendra) such as ‘Gajavadana Sammodita’ in Todi, ‘Karunananda Catura’ in Neelambari and ‘Sivananda Rajayoga’ in Surati with the ankita ‘kartikeya’.

The discography section features three of his compositions. See Foot Note 1 for a compilation of the compositions of the Rajas of Ettayapuram.

Some of compositions of Kumara Ettendra given the style and also considering the fact that they were on Lord Subramanya have been mistakenly attributed to Muthusvami Dikshitar himself by the Taccur Brothers in their works/publications.

The compositions of the Rajas have been encountered very rarely in the concert platform. ‘Gajavadana Sammodita’ in Todi has perhaps been the sole exception and that too these days the piece has become a rarity. Dr T. S. Ramakrishnan in his Music Academy Lecture demonstration on 18th December 1976, rendered a number of rare compositions along with his daughters, accompanied on the veena. The compositions that were rendered were:

  • Ashtangayoga prabhava – Sankarabharanam
  • Nityananda Kartikeya – Asaveri
  • Sarasadala Netra – Atana
  • Karunarasa madhura – Mukhari
  • Karunarasalahari – Yadukulakhamboji

Apart from the musical contributions, the Rajas have also contributed to arts and literature especially. G U Pope’s and L D Barnett’s “Catalogue of Tamil Books in the British Museum Library’ in two volumes, bear out that Raja Venkatesvara Ettappa had written a Tamil drama  in three acts called ‘Gnanavalli – A Creeper of Wisdom’ with an English translation by S A Tirumalai Kozhundu Pillai, published in 1915. Subbarama Dikshitar also lists out the contributions and literary acumen of the personalities from this family in the Vaggeyakara Caritamu.

The name of these Rajas came to be sullied in history in relation to the episode of the capture of Kattabomman, the polygar of the neighboring Pancalamkurici, dating to the year 1799. See Footnote 2.

A BRIEF PROFILE ON RAJA RAMA VENKATESVARA ETTAPPA AND HIS DEWAN JAGANNADAM CHETTIAR:

It would be befitting to formally record what is known of these two eminent personalities instrumental in the publication of the SSP. Profile # 71 of the Vaggeyakara Caritamu of Subbarama Dikshitar is of Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa.

Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa was born in December 1878 as the first son of Raja Rama Kumara Ettappa who reigned between 1875 and 1890. When Rama Kumara Ettappa died in circa 1890, Venkatesvara Ettappa was a minor and hence could not ascend the throne. The British instrumentation of Court of Wards was invoked and the minor Raja was placed under the care of a group of Englishmen and an Indian. Mr.Potts, Mr.Ellison, Mr. Morrison, Mr.Payne and Sri.Jagannadam Chettiar were handpicked by the Court of  Wards to handhold the minor Raja till he attained the age of 21. Till the minor Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa attained majority in 1899, this group of tutors kept a watchful eye as guardians and ensuring he was educated and well informed. He was taken around the country and to Sri Lanka to make him worldly wise as well. The affairs of the Zamindari Estate, was in the meanwhile first handled by Sri Venkata Royar and then by Sri Sivarama Iyer as the Dewan or Manager working under the supervision and control of the British Collector. Sri Sivarama Iyer was also  the tutor/guardian of Raja Bhaskara Sethupati who was profiled in an earlier article.

The photograph on the left ( circa 1900 ), features Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa Nayaka(the benefactor who funded the publication of the SSP) in his royal regalia. To his right is Dewan K Jagannadam Chettiar on whose authority the SSP was published. Photo Courtesy: ‘Aristocracy of Southern India’ by A.Vadivelu

Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa’s paternal uncle (brother of Raja 6 in the genealogy chart), Venkatesvara Ettendra Pandian took significant interest in running the zamindari during the Raja designate’s minority. This Venkatesvara Ettendra Pandian is also mentioned by Subbarama Dikshitar as a great patron and connoisseur of music and arts. Apparently there were litigations galore between Rama Venkatesvara and his uncle as well. It may not be out of place to mention here that Krishnasvamy Ayya (whose compositions are notated in the SSP) was a solicitor/advocate, who had his residence in Tirunelveli and it was he who handled litigations in connection with the Zamindari and provided legal advice to the Royals.

Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa attained majority in the year 1899 and he became the Zamindar/Raja in December of that year. His marriage was also performed just before this coronation. Upon his ascension, Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa made K Jagannadam Chettiar as the Manager of the Estate/Dewan. Jagannadam Chettiar was also honored with the title of ‘Rai Bahadur’. Records indicate that he was an officer of marked ability, unblemished reputation and long experience. Jagannadam Chettiar during 1904 retired from service on a hefty pension and was succeeded by Mr. S T Shanmugham Pillai who had earlier served as a Deputy Collector.

Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa was also a patron of Subramanya Barathi the renowned tamil poet and freedom fighter. Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa Nayaka  died circa 1915.

In the Prathamabhyasa Pustakamu and Vaggeyakara Caritamu, three kritis are recorded as having been composed by Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa. They are:

  1. ‘Muruga Tarukilaya’ – Raga Khamas
  2. ‘Va Va nee valli manala’ – Raga Bhairavi
  3. ‘Engal Valli Deivanai’ – Raga Mohanam

In the SSP the lyrics of the first composition are also found notated additionally under ragas Anandabhairavi and Vasanta. The second composition is also notated under Sankarabharanam. Did Subbarama Dikshitar set the lyrics to these ragas? One does not know. The third composition is found notated in the 1905 work of Subbarama Dikshitar, Prathamabhyasa Pustakamu and was probably composed post 1902.

COMPOSITIONS BY SUBBARAMA DIKSHITAR ON HIS BENEFACTOR:

Subbarama Dikshitar has composed two varnams, a padam and a daru in honor of these two personages.

  1. ‘Sri Raja Raja Maharaja’ – Purnacandrika – Ata tala – Tana varnam
  2. ‘Sri Raja Raja Maharaja’ – Atana – Ata tala – Tana varnam ( same sahitya as the above)
  3. ‘Imdemdu vaccitira’ – Begada – Misra eka – Padam
  4. ‘Emani Pogadudune’ – Pharaz – Adi – Daru

Notes:

  • Compositions 1 and 2 are found in the SSP, 3 in the Anubandha and 4 in the Prathamabhyasa Pustakamu.
  • Compositions 1-3 are in honor of Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa.
  • In the case of composition 3, the telugu lyrics have been composed by Sri Jagannadam Chettiar and Subbarama Dikshitar has set it to music and is in honor of Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa.
  • Composition 4 is an ode on Sri Jagannadam Chettiar composed by Subbarama Dikshitar. This daru is constructed with a crowning makuta svara or muktayi svara passage which has sahitya as well.

No known renderings of these compositions exist.

MUSICAL TRIBUTE AND DISCOGRAPHY:

In this section, four compositions are sought to be presented as a musical tribute to the munificent benefactor Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa and his Royal House.

The first is a cauka varna composed by Subbarama Dikshitar on his patron Raja Muttusvami Jagadveera Rama Ettappa who ruled between 1858-1868. This Raja is marked with the number 5 in the genealogy chart above and is profiled by Subbarama Dikshitar in the Vaggeyakara Caritamu under serial number 69. Also known as Muddusvami Ettendra this Raja was the grandfather of Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa who ascended the throne in 1899 and was instrumental in funding the publication of the SSP.

The text of this cauka varna is available in full in all its regal splendor in the SSP. Set in rupaka tala and the raga Surati, the varna is a connoisseurs delight. It is also encountered in the dance circuit and is performed in full as the center piece.

Before we present the rendering of this composition, Prof S R Janakiraman talks first of raga Surati and how Subbarama Dikshitar has handled the elongated dhaivatha of raga Surati in the varna. It’s not without reason that the Professor says that the varna is a veritable encyclopedia of Surati.

Prof SRJ -Surati -Ragalakshana

According to Prof S R Janakiraman , the following are salient aspects of the raga:

  1. The raga called as Sorata or Surati is clearly a post 1700s raga with a skeletal arohana/avarohana murrcana of SRMPNs/sNDPMGRS which it shares with Kedaragaula.
  2. And without doubt it’s a documented melody of Muddu Venkatamakhi and not of Venkatamakin as the raga is not found in the Caturdandi Prakashika.
  3. It is to be noted that the avarohana murrcana sNDPMGPMR is a later day refinement. On the authority of the kritis of Muthusvami Dikshitar and of the adi tala tana varna of Veenai Kuppaier, ‘Ento Prema’ we can say that sNDPMGRS is the older or in terms of today, a rather visesha avarohana krama.
  4. In this raga, the notes gandhara and dhaivatha are not intoned at their respective svarasthanas as applicable for Kedaragaula/Harikambhoji mela. Rather the gandhara is rendered close to/as madhyama and the dhaivatha close to the nishada itself. Surati is thus a raga to be dealt with and understood from lakshya rather than lakshana.
  5. The dhaivata that is found documented in Subbarama Dikshitar’s composition is elongated in its intonation, rare and has been so used in Muttusvami Dikshitar’s Surati compositions including ‘Angarakam’ and ‘Sri Venkatagireesam’.

Sami Entani – Surutti – Varnam by Prof S.R.Janakiraman

Apparently the composition was learnt by the Professor from Tiruppamburam Svaminatha Pillai in the company of Sangita Kalanidhi T K Govinda Rao. Years ago in an Academy concert as Sri Govinda Rao was rendering this mammoth composition, he beckoned over to Prof Janakiraman who was in the audience to join him in rendering the remaining portion of the varna! In sum this composition in its pristine glory exemplifies the greatness of Subbarama Dikshitar as a musicologist and as a composer par excellence.

Next is a composition of Kumara Ettendra’s ‘Karunananda Catura’ in Neelambari. Vidushi Padma Varadan the daughter of renowned musicologist and veena vidvan Sri Rangaramanuja Iyengar, who passed away some time back, renders this gem of a composition. This rendering is a one to cherish for its singular beauty and aesthetic presentation of a very high order.

The source of this patham of the composition ‘Karunananda Catura’ could be interesting to know. This composition of Kumara Ettendra dates back to the time when Balusvami Dikshitar was the Court Musician or astana vidvan of the Ettayapuram Court. Whether he played any role in contributing to this creation, particularly in terms of the musical setting, is not known. For example, the cittasvara section of the Todi composition of Kumara Ettendra, ‘Gajavadana Sammodita’ with its emphasis on the different shades of the gandhara svara is a creative addition of Balusvami Dikshitar. In this case Subbarama Dikshitar clearly marks it as a composition of Kumara Ettendra himself. It is not known for sure how this Neelambari composition went on to ornament the repertoire of the legendary Veena Dhanammal. Was it through Satanur Pancanada Iyer/Panju Iyer by any chance as it was also known to Tiruppamburam Svaminatha Pillai  also given that Panju Iyer taught both Dhanammal and Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai? One does not know. Dhanammal’s Friday musical soirees featured for sure a rendering of this composition on the veena to the solitary accompaniment of her lilting voice. Rangaramanuja Iyengar for sure must have learnt it as rendered by the femme royale of our music of the last century and passed it on to his daughter. Not surprisingly, Vidushi Padma Varadan renders vocally the song even as she plays it on the veena in a style typical of Dhanammal herself.

Karunananda Chatura – Neelambari

Attention is invited to the madhyama sruti rendering of this composition which gives Neelambari a different lilt and hue.

This section concludes with the renderings of two other compositions of Kumara Ettendra which are extremely rare. Featured first is a rare rendering of Kumara Ettendra’s composition in Surati, ‘Sivananda Rajayoga’. Again this recording is from an AIR Concert of Vidushi Padma Varadan from the year 2008.

Sivananda Rajayoga – Surutti – Krithi

Incidentally these two compositions namely ‘Karunananda’ and ‘Sivananda’ seem to be part of a set of compositions (the ‘Ananda’ series) which are listed in the SSP as composed by Kumara Ettendra. The others in this so called series are ‘Nityananda’- Asaveri, ‘Nikhilananda’ – Saveri and ‘Paramananda’ – Bhairavi. It’s worth noting here that the text of this Surati kriti features the word ‘pranava hrimkara’ being repeated four times as the starting point for each of the carana lines of the kriti.

Presented finally is Kumara Ettendra’s Sriraga composition ‘Shadadhara tatva’ rendered by Vidushi Srirangam Gopalaratnam.

ShadaDharachakra – Sri

As one can see that the composition is melodically modeled on Muttusvami Dikshitar’s Sriraga composition ‘Sri Muladhara cakra vinayaka’. While Dikshitar’s creation does not feature the vakra dhaivatha usage, this composition as per practice utilizes the dhaivatha via the murccana PDNP just once in the kriti and once in the cittasvara section.

REFERENCES:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar(1904)- Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini
  2. Subbarama Dikshitar(1905)- Pratamabhyasa Pustakamu
  3. Burton Stein(1990)– Vijayanagara Vol 1- Pages 77-80 published by Cambridge University Press ISBN: 9780521266932
  4. Anthony Good (2004) – Worship and the ceremonial economy of a royal South Indian Temple, Edwin Mellen Press
  5. A. Vadivelu (1903)- Aristocracy of Southern India- Volume I, pp 154-178
  6. Dr T.S Ramakrishnan(1973)–‘Subbarama Dikshitar & his contributions’- JMA Volume XLI pages 194-207
  7. Dr T.S Ramakrishnan(1976)- ‘Compositions of Kumara Ettappa Maharaja’ – Lecture Demonstration, JMA Volume XLVIII, pages 28-29
  8. Prof S.R. Janakiraman(1995) – ‘Raga Lakshanangal’ Volume I published by the Madras Music Academy, pp 132-134

CREDITS/ACKNOWLEDGMENTS:

  1. The audio recordings and photographs in this blog post have been used purely for educational/research purpose and is covered by fair use and the copyrights for the same vests with the authors/performers as applicable.
  2. I am grateful to Sri Naresh Keerthi for providing me with a copy of the recording of ‘Shadadhara cakra’ in Sriraga.

FOOTNOTE 1: LIST OF COMPOSITIONS OF THE ETTAYAPURAM ROYALS

1.    Ashtanga yoga prabhava —Sankarabharanam—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

2.    Enduku (padam)—Kambhoji—Misra Eka—Kumara Ettendra

3.    Gajavadana sammodita vira gajavalli ramana—Todi—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

4.    Iha para sadhana —Nata—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

5.    Kamalasanadi chintita –Brindavana Saranga—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

6.    Karuna sara madhura prasada kamala vadana—Mukhari—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

7.    Karunananda catura sahasradala —Nilambari—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

8.    Karunarasa lahari katakshena—Yadukulakambhoji—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

9.    Muruga tarugillaiya –Khamas—M/Eka— Rama Venkatesvara Ettapa
Muruga tarugillaiya —Anandabhairavi—M/Eka— Rama Venkatesvara Ettapa
Muruga tarugillaiya —Vasanta—M/Eka— Rama Venkatesvara Ettapa

10. Muruga unai nambinenayya —Rudrapriya—Rupaka—

11. Nikhilananda nitya pradipa —Saveri—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

12. Nityananda kartikeya nityam manasa—Asaveri—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

13. Paramananda sara pravaha parvati ramana—Bhairavi—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

14. Sarasa dala netra svaminatha sarvaloka—Atana—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

15. Shadhadhara tatva —Shri—Adi—Kumara Ettendra
Shadhadhara tatva —Kharaharapriya—Adi—Kumara Ettendra (Taccur Singaracar’s publication)

16. Siva guru nathanai —Mukhari—Adi— Raja Venkatesvara Ettendra

17. Sivananda rajayoga prakasha shivakama vallisuta—Surati—Adi—Kumara Ettendra

18. Va va va ni valli manala –Sankarabharana—Adi—Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa
Va va va ni valli manala —Bhairavi—Adi— Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa

19. Engal Valli Deivanai — Mohanam—Adi– Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa (Prathamabhyasa Pustakamu)

The references to the Rajas in the above listing are as under:

  • Kumara Ettendra refers to Kumara Ettappa Maharaja (name found in the SSP), the raja listed with number 3 in the genealogy table above and 67 in Subbarama Dikshitar’s listing in Vaggeyakkara Caritamu.
  • Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa refers to the Raja listed with number 7 in the table and 71 in Subbarama Dikshitar’s listing.
  • Raja Venkatesvara Ettendra refers to the Raja listed with number 2 in the table & number 66 in Subbarama Dikshitar’s listing in Vaggeyakkara Caritamu

Of the above barring the two compositions the source/publication of which are given in braces, the rest are found notated in the SSP and its anubandha.

For an academic analysis of the compositions of the Ettayapuram Royals, readers may please refer to the Journal of the Music Academy Volume LXII 1991, pages 82-94, ‘Compositions of the Ettayapuram Rulers’ by Dr Gowri Kuppusvami and Dr N Hariharan.

FOOTNOTE 2: THE ETTAYAPURAM RAJA & THE KATTABHOMMAN EPISODE

It needs to be mentioned here that popular historical/folklore accounts also reference the Rajas of Ettayapuram in poor light in the context of the episode relating to Veerapandiya Kattabhomman the chieftain/poligar/palayakkarars of Pancalamkurici. So much so that in Tamil vernacular, the word ‘Ettappan’ is used to signify a person who performs an act of betrayal or treachery. The popular version of the story/events is that Veerapandiya Kattabomman, the recalcitrant poligar of Pancalamkurici, who had defied the British Raj was caught by the British with significant assistance from Raja Muthu Jagadveera Ramkumara Ettappa (1784-1816) and executed. This popular version is recorded for posterity by Ma.Po.Sivagnanam (1980) in his work ‘The First Patriot Veerapandiya Kattabomman’ which for all purposes is relied upon as authentic account by the general public. We do have older versions of this incident by Caldwell and others as documented in the ‘Political and General History of Tinnelvelly’.

The facts as it appears documented is that, right from day one the Rulers of Ettayapuram were not at all on friendly terms with the polygar of the neighboring Pancalamkurici namely Kattabomman. Kattabomman and his kinsmen seem to have raided the villages under Ettayapuram as well as other neighboring polygars and were plundering them regularly. And on top Kattabomman was refusing to submit himself to the British sovereignty. In the face of such belligerence, the British launched an offensive to capture Kattabomman and sought the assistance of all the friendly poligars of the area. The chief support thus came from the Ettayapuram Raja. Accounts have it that Kattabomman even came down to Madras and had an audience with the British Governor. He offered gifts to the Governor and in turn was showered with gifts and pardoned by the British. The truce apparently was short lived with the Pancalamkurici polygar reverting to his ‘old ways’ in the eyes of the British. With the British Collector Mr.Lushington at the helm of affairs, the operation to quell Kattabomman took place between 17th August and 21st Oct 1799 and it set Kattabomman on the run. And in the end he sought refuge with Raja Tondaiman of Puducottai who took him into custody and handed him over to the British.

Thus it is indeed open to question whether such an unfortunate consequence of being branded a traitor or performer of an act of betrayal can be fastened on to the Ettayapuram Ruler who had provided overt logistical support to the British and had not acted covertly/treacherously. And neither does history record the Ettayapuram Rajas as having played any role whatsoever in the final capture of Kattabomman at Puducottai. And yet reality is that it has come to stay as part and parcel of Tamil history that it was the act of betrayal by the Raja of Ettayapuram that cost Kattabomman his life with their royal name being besmirched with the taint of treachery and betrayal. Readers may refer to Kanakalatha Mukund’s ‘The View from Below: Indigenous society, Temples and the early Colonial State in Tamilnadu, 1700-1835’, published by Orient Longman, pp 176-185 and “A Manual of the Tinnevelly District in the Presidency of Madras” by A J Stuart pages 54-58 which sums up the entire sequence of events as documented by Caldwell and in traditional tamil ballads. The account of the British Collector Mr.Lushington and his appreciation of the role played by the Rajas of Ettayapuram as a loyal tribute paying principality are recorded in the pp 543-546  of  “The Fifth Report from the Proceedings of the Select Committee on the Affairs of the East India Company ( Madras Presidency)” Volume 2 (1812).

Interestingly this question came up for judicial resolution before the Madras High Court in 2008 when a Tamil movie was named ‘Ettappan’ and the descendants of the Ettayapuram royal family sought to restrain the producers from naming the film so with a negative connotation.

FOOT NOTE 3: OTHER COMPOSITIONS OF SUBBARAMA DIKSHITAR IN HONOR OF THE ROYALS OF ETTAYAPURAM

1.    ‘Sareku’ – Anandabhairavi – Adi – Cauka Varna – In honor of Raja Muttusvami Ettappa

2.    ‘Sami Entani’ – Surati – Rupaka – Cauka varna – In honor of Raja Muttusvami Ettappa

3.    ‘Sri Maharajasrita’ – Atana – Adi- Tana varna – In honor of Venkatesvara Ettendra Pandian ( brother of Raja numbered as 6 in the genealogy chart)

4.    ‘Sri Raja Raja’ – Atana – Ata – In honor of Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa

5.    ‘Sri Raja Raja’ – Purnachandrika – Ata- In honor of Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa

6.    Parikkani – Kalyani – Adi- Svarasthana padam – In honor of Raja Rama Venkatesvara Ettappa

7.    Enduku rara – Ragamalika – Adi – In honor of Raja Muttusvami Ettappa

8.    Manathodinangi – Ragamalika – Adi – In honor of Raja Muttusvami Ettappa

Balasvami Dikshitar during his tenure as astana vidvan of the Ettayapuram Court has composed on his patrons or has set lyrics to music as under:

1.    Neeve rasikashikhamani – Rudrapriya –Adi – Daru – Balasvami Dikshitar on Raja Venkatesvara Ettendra ( Raja with number 2 in the genealogy table above)

2.    Collakel – Sriranjani – Adi – Tamil padam – Mukku Pulavar & Balasvami Dikshitar-( Raja with number 2 in the genealogy table above)

3.    Sarasa durai unnai – Sama – Misra Eka – Tamil padam – Mukku Pulavar & Balasvami Dikshitar-( Raja with number 2 in the genealogy table above)

4.     Virakamu – Vamsavati – Adi – Cauka varna – Muttukumara pulavar & Balasvami Dikshitar (In honor of Raja Muttusvami Ettappa)