Author: Vidya Jayaraman

Composers, History, Manuscripts

Text and PDF of Ramashtapadi of Shri Upanishad Brahmendra Yogi

Shri Upanishad Brahmendra Yogi whose sanyasa nama was Ramachandrendra was an advaiti who wrote the commentaries on 108 upanishads and several works on vedanta and namasiddhanta. An article on his Ramatarangas and Ashtapadis by Dr. Aravindh Ranganathan can be found here.

We present the sahityam of his Ramashtapadi written as a set of Vibhaktyanta gitas here. The source of this is the handwritten manuscript copies from Adyar library (from Dr.V.Raghavan’s collection) procured for the personal research work of Dr. Aravindh Ranaganthan. A typed version of this with the Tamil translation by Smt. Vidya Jayaraman is provided here to enable people to further sing and popularise these compositions. In addition, each ashtapadi will be rendered as audio in the youtube channel of  The Lost Melodies   as a series of individual posts.

We thank Vidvan Brahmashri Dr. V. Shriramana Sharma for perusing through the contents, and suggesting corrections and clarifications.


History, Kshetra

Shri Tyagaraja Mahatmyam –

Sri  TyagarajaMahatmyam  – Text with English and Tamil

ஸ்ரீ த்யாகராஜ மாஹாத்ம்யம்  – தமிழ் மற்றும் ஆங்கில அனுவாதத்துடன்

“Tyagaraja” is the presiding devata at Tiruvarur or Kamalalaya (the birth place of Shri Shyama, Shastri, Shri TyagarajaSwamigal and Shri Muttusvami Dikshitar) and other six kṣetras collectively known as the Saptavitanka Sthala-s. Tyagaraja is siva in the form of Somaskanda. This devata-svarupa true to the name signifying the fourth purushartha as ‘tyaga’ as Shri Venkatamakhi states in his mangalacharanam to the Chaturdandiprakashika has inspired many sanyasis and yogirajas and paramahamsas. One such yatindra was Shri Paramasivendra Sarasvati Svamigal, the 57th Acharya of Shri Kanchi Kamakoti Pitham. The Dashapurāna-sangraha or Tyagaraja-Mahatmyam presented here is a “sangraha grantha” (compilation) that this Acharya created by painstakingly culling information pertaining to ShrI Tyagaraja from various puranic sources. It is noteworthy that many of the published recensions of some of these purāņas do not have these verses as some of these are available in Southern recensions only. Hence, these verses are valuable sources of information about these kṣetra.

On this auspicious Shravana shukla dashami day of Shri Paramashivendral’s aradhana, due to the anugraha of acharyas, we are happy to make a copy of this book available in PDF Format for astikas and admirers of Shri Muttusvami Dikshitar alike.

Thanks are due to Shri. B. Ganapati Subrahmanian, Karaikkal for his encouragement and support and to my guru Brahmashri Nerur Dr. V. Shriramana Sharma for his guidance.



History, Translated Articles

தென்னிந்தியாவில் எனது சங்கீத யாத்திரை – Translation of Pt. Bhatkande’s Travelogue

Pt. Vishnu Narayan Bhatkande in his quest for seeking answers about Sangita Shastra undertook various journeys across places in India, travelling and meeting different people. His South Indian Journey was published by Indira Kala Vishvavidyalaya Khairagarh as “Meri Dakshin Bharat ki Sangita Yatra. This is a translation of that work into Tamil and was completed in 2013 after receiving permissions from Khairagarh University for undertaking this translation.

My thanks and namaskarams to Professor. S.R. Janakiraman for reading through this and to Professor. N. Ramanathan for his innumerable clarifications and feedback.

தென்னிந்தியாவில் எனது சங்கீத யாத்திரை_VidyaJayaraman_2013

This ebook is made available freely for download and distribution for personal and academic use only. No part of this document may be reused in a commercial publication or reproduced and used for derivative works of a commercial nature.

Composers, Sahitya

A note on the sāhitya of Vātāpigaṇapatim

Before 1900, most kīrtanams of Śrī Muttusvāmi Dīkṣitar were well-known only within the small core group of śiṣyaparamparā. A few kīrtanams were published in early musical sources such as the works of the Taccuru brothers. It wasn’t until the publication of the Saṅgīta-sampradāya-pradarśini in 1904 that many kīrtanams saw the light of the day. Vātāpi-gaṇapatim in the rāga Hamsadhvani was one kīrtanam which has enjoyed a long history in the performance platform and is seen in early music publications. Accounts of Mahāvaidyanātha Iyer’s embellished and improvised version of Vātāpigaṇapatim with many saṅgatis are well known. Saṅgīta-sarvārthasāra-saṅgrahamu of Vīṇa Rāmānujayya (1857) and the Gāyakapārijatamu of the Taccuru brothers (1877) provide the sāhitya of this kīrtanam.

Recently, an issue with the charaṇa-sāhitya of this kīrtanam was brought to our attention by a samskṛta scholar, Vidvan Brahmaśri Dr.V.Shriramana Sharma.

पुरा-कुम्भ-सम्भव-मुनि-वर-प्रपूजितं त्रिकोण-मध्य-गतम् |
मुरारि-प्रमुखाद्युपासितं मूलाधार-क्षेत्र-स्थितम् |
परादि-चत्वारि-वागात्मकं प्रणव-स्वरूप-वक्र-तुण्डम् |

Here the issue is with the samāsa (compound word) in the phrase “परादि-चत्वारि-वागात्मकम्” (One who is the true import / nature of four-fold speech beginning with Parā – the other three being paśyantī, madhyamā and vaikharī) The correct expression should be “परादि-चतुर्-वागात्मकम्”. The form चत्वारि is a declined form in prathamā vibhakti and in napumsakaliṅga. In a samāsa, only the prātipadika(base) appears as there is lopa (elision) of the सुप् pratyaya that are affixed to the base. Therefore the base form of “चतुर्” is what would occur in this samāsa and not a declined form such as चत्वारि.

In this case, there are two possibilities. One is that there was an error in transmission and the second is that this was how it was composed by the composer. If we examine the first possibility, all existing published versions of the sāhitya and extant pāṭhāntara-s uniformly use the form परादि-चत्वारि-वागात्मकम्. In any case, Śrī Subbarāma Dīkṣitar himself has admitted to Pt.V.N.Bhatkande, when the latter visited him in Eṭṭayapuram, that he was not formally trained in Samskṛta (but knew enough prayoga or usage to compose kīrtanams). This is also corroborated by the fact there are some visargasandhi errors in the 1904 edition in the sāhitya of Bṛhadiśvaro rakṣatu in rāga gānasāmavarāli and the gauḷa kīrtanam Śrīmahāgaṇapatiravatu mām. However the trouble with asserting this viewpoint is that there is a second case of the identical expression used in the Aṭhānarāga kīrtanam on Bṛhaspati, “Bṛhaspate tārāpate. (incidentally this has also appeared in Gāyakalocanam, a 1902 publication).


Considering the second possibility, another Samskṛta scholar Smt.Dr. Sowmya Krishnapur adds that the ‘G r’ svara corresponding to “tvā ri” indicates the intended usage of a svarākṣara here. This svarākṣara occurs in Bṛhaspate as well. Therefore, the possibility that this is an error in transmission could be discounted.  Further, in this case, another explanation is possible to justify the composer’s usage. It could be that the composer had the famous śrutivākya “चत्वारि वाक्परिमिता पदानि तानि विदुर्ब्राह्मणा ये मनीषिणः |” in mind along with the usage in Gaṇapatyatharvaśirṣa where Gaṇeśa’s tattvasvarūpa is expressed as “त्वं चत्वारि वाक्पदानि” and used the expression “चत्वारि”, despite it being in a samāsa. According to Sri.Shriramana Sharma, such a usage can be considered as an ‘anukaraṇa’ wherein the quoted word is not to be analysed grammatically with its prakṛti-pratyaya-vibhaga and ‘artharūpa’ but in terms of ‘śabdarūpa’. The “word-form as-is” that occurs elsewhere is used for the express purpose of highlighting or quoting either for repetition or recall something that is well-attested or mentioned elsewhere. Thus, the initial “परादि” specified for the purpose of clarifying what the four-fold speech is and the words “चत्वारिवाक्” brought in as-is from śrutivākya. In other words, परादि “चत्वारिवाक्” आत्मकम् | In support of this, another example is cited in śāstra. One is the Pāṇini’s sūtra, “प्राग्रीश्वरान्निपाताः” that defines the term nipāta, explained as रीश्वरात् प्राक् निपाता: and discussed by commentary writers. Mahābhāṣyakāra asks why “रीश्वराद्” is used instead of “ईश्वराद्” and the explanation is given that “रीश्वराद्” is used so that “वीश्वराद्” (when the sūtras are read as samhitāpātha) शकि णमुल्कमुलावीश्वरे तोसुन्कसुनौ” (शकिणमुल्कमुलौ + ईश्वरे तो सुन्कसुनौ) which also matches the śabdarūpa specified does not get included here but only that used in another sūtra अधिरीश्वरे.  Shri. Shriramana Sharma also notes in passing that वारणास्यं is often rendered as वारणाश्यं but there is no known usage of आश्यं in the meaning of “face” to give the compound meaning “the elephant faced one”. आश्य is only known in the meaning of “eatable” and hence this could be avoided.

Based on the above, we requested Prof.S.R.Janakiraman to attempt to render the composition with expression “परादि-चतुर्-वागात्मकम्” to understand how this would impact the musical flow of the composition. Given that there is a valid explanation of such a usage, the usage of परादि-चत्वारि-वागात्मकम् can be left as such. With these, we leave the reader to ponder on the issue.


Kallidaikurichi Mahadeva Bhagavatar

An interview with Kallidaikurichi Mahadeva Bhagavatar

Kallidaikurichi Mahadeva Bhagavatar – torch bearer of the Kallidaikurichi school of the Dikshitar parampara, a student of Vedanta Bhagavatar and Ambi Dikshitar.

We requested him to sing .And he willingly obliged. He was accompanied by his grandson and disciple Narayanan.They sang ‘KamalambAm bhajare’.As they sang the very first line we could discern the distinct usage of his school.We also requested him to sing Chandram Bhaja [their version has the 5th line in the madhyama kala passage with the rashyadipathi reference ‘kamanIya vara kaTaka rAshyAdhipaM’ and the starting line ‘candraM bhaja re re mAnasa’]. He sings and goes on to explain, “asAveri does not have catushruti rishabham. But if one sings this krithi starting with shuddha rishabham then it will not be pleasing to the ears. People sing it with catushruti rishabham directly.One need not do that but one can start slightly higher(rishabhathai konjam kooTi pidikkalAm).”

After this we proceeded with a casual ‘conversation style’ interview.

Q : Please tell us the story of how Ambi Dikshitar came to Chennai?


KMB:(with a smile) O  That story…I shall tell you..It was in the 1930’s.AnantaKrishna Iyer was studying under Ambi Dikshitar at Ettayapuram.His brother-in-law was Vedanta Bhagavatar,my guru.Infact he had even met Subbrama Dikshitar in Ettayapuram through Sattanur Panju Iyer or someone. I think he met him sometime around 1889.My guru was in Kallidaikurichi.He was giving harikatha performances and concerts.So AnantaKrishna Iyer called Vedanta Bhagavatar and told him ,”Let us learn Dikshitar kritis from Ambi Dikshitar ..and in a few years they set up base in Chennai.So around 1934 they brought Ambi Dikshitar to Chennai in a place near MirSahibpet.It was later that they shifted.That house on Royapettah has not changed even now.

It was in Ambi Dikshitar’s pooja room that the palmleaf manuscripts and the hand-drawn picture of Dikshitar was kept.Not the one with the veena…This is the one published in the books of Veenai Sundaram Iyer.This portrait of Dikshitar was supposedly drawn by an artiste when Dikshitar was in his pooja by peeping into the room through an open window.Otherwise he did not allow him to draw.. So we had copies of around 470 odd kritis.One copy with me the disciple of Vedanta Bhagavatar,one with AnantaKrishna Iyer and one with Sundaram Iyer.

Q: How many kritis were there in total?

KMB:There were atleast around 1000 kritis.

Q: Were there any titles on the manuscripts?

KMB: The Kamalamba navavarana kritis had the title and the tatparyam.Do you see that picture [pointing to a picture in his pooja room].That is the picture of Kameshwari – a pictorial representation of the line “shrIpura bindu madyastha shivAkAramancastitha…” The rest were not labelled.Looking at the vibhakti structure we did the grouping.And the Rahu and Ketu kritis were not together with the other navagraha kritis.They were available as part of the Lalithopakhyana kritis.

I can tell you there were kritis for all the names of the LalitaSahasranama like shrImAta.

Q : Can you tell us something about the Harikatha which your guru Vedanta Bhagavatar used to perform ?

KMB: Yes.I have also accompanied him.He prepared the harikatha niroopanam for the Lalitopakhyana kritis and he used to perform them.That was about 1936-1937.The text available in the Sundaram Iyer book was prepared by me.

Q :Tell us something about Ambi Dikshitar

KMB: He used to sing very well.Even at the age of 65 his shArIram was very good.Infact his son Tiruvarur Baluswami and I were learning together for sometime.

Q :What about the abhogi kriti, “shrI lakshmI varAham”? How do we explain a raga which does not occur in the venkaTamakhin scheme or in the anubandham?

KMB: Wouldnt I have asked this question? I did ask this..It has come somehow and I have no explanations as to how it came.

Q.Regarding the krithi Chandram Bhaja manasa what about  the additional line in madhyamakala charanam..

KMB:Yes the line is “Kamaniya vara kataka rashyadipam”. (He sings the krithi and then goes on to explain..) People start this song with the chatusruthi rishabham.And people say that this raga has chatushruthi rishabam. It actually does not.When there is a “Ri Ma Ri Ma” prayoga if one uses the suddha rishabam it will not be aesthetic.Infact it will be horrible to listen to.One needs to use the rishabam a bit higher in such a situation.The rishabam must be sung a bit higher(rishabathai konjam kooti pidikkanam).People explicitly sing this with chatushruthi rishabam(pattavarthanamaa chatushruthi rishabathai pidikkaraa). One does not have to do that.Konjam kooti pidichaal porum.Let us take the case of “Angarakam” the Suratti krithi. The pallavi comes to seven avarthanas.People say that this is wrong when it is not.Let us take the case of “Halasyanatham”.Does anyone sing it the way it has to be sung? Traces of Kanada should come in Darbar. otherwise it is not correct.

Q: Are Devakriya and suddha saveri the same?

KMB:Thyagaraja’s Darini thelusukonti is Sudha saveri. Similarly Ekamresha nayike is suddha saveri. Whereas Sri guruguha tarayashumam and madhuramba samrakshatumam are in Devakriya.

People sing this Devakriya akin to Suddha saveri.That is incorrect. There is no panchamam in the avarohanam of Devakriya. It is sa ri ma pa da sa and sa da ma ri sa.There are many such ragas that have been tampered with.Even “Sri naathadhi gurugho” the first krithi has been tampered with. Our version of that krithi is different.Thus almost everything has been tampered with right from the beginning
(Aadhi lendhu ellaame thappaa thaan paadindirukkaa”).

Q: About Maye(The tarangini krithi)....

KMB: Maye and Rangapuravihara have been damaged beyond repair.I have decided never to sing these krithis again.There is no raga sudha tharangini.It is just “tarangini” and has only a suddha dhaivatham. People just make their own justification for their inability to sing ragas Likewise there is no raga called Kamala manohari. It is just manohari. People picked up a phrase from the krithi and made it a new raga. Kamala is just a part of the krithi and the raga mudhra there is manohari.

Shishya Parampara, Uncategorized


Interview – Dr.V.V.Srivatsa

1.You have achieved the magnum opus of recording all kritis of Dikshitar. What next?

Dr.V.V.Shrivatsa: Donate it to some organization which will preserve it for the public.

2.You had mentioned elsewhere that you go by the patantharam of your guru, What if there are differences from that and the sampradaya pradarshini itself?

Dr.V.V.Shrivatsa: I follow our guru’s pattern. About the chandram bhaja mAnasa ,I do not feel a rAshyAdhipathi line is a must to describe a graha.

3. There are no madhyamakala sangatis in some kritis.Why? Are they original ?? Ex: Gananayakam, Kshitijaramanam, Ekamranatham

Dr.V.V.Shrivatsa: It depends on the mood of the composers. There are krithis in fairly fast tempo on which day he might have been in a madhyamakala mood. All these do not have any hard and fast rules.

4.As for the krithis that were not in SSP, Were they in practise before they were found in manuscripts? I.e. did maha vaidhyanatha Iyer or anyone else sing them? Did they just exist in notation or were they ever in practise?


They were handed down vocally. The sangIta sampradAya pradarshini is just illustrative and not absolute.There are miniscule differences even in vAtApi gaNapatim(that is the one sung now) and our version.

5.The ragalakshanas and even the talas of the Dikshitar school are manipulated and mutilated by many artistes today.Have you or do you intend to take any step in that direction ( like Misrachapu instead of misra ekam, Khanda chapu in place of Jhampa)

One cannot correctly discern what would have happened. It is a distortion that has taken place over the years. I don’t intend to do anything about it. About raga change, we sing it correct in guruguhanjali. The public are aware that there is a correct version that exists so nothing needs to be done.

6. When you compare the grandeur of the sama of “GuruguhAya” to the sAma of “tripurasundari”. we can’t help feeling that something is amiss? Why this difference in levels?

There is no written rule that all compositions must be of the same standard. If you take parvathavardhini you can see that he has brought out sama beautifully..sings a (bit to illustrate)

7. When Dikshitar refers to VelAyudha as ShaktyAyudha in the krithi ShringAra shaktyAyudha, the use of Tamil word “Velayudha” in bAalasubramaNyam and Senapathe – Could you comment on the usage?


Shaktyayudha and velayudha are different weapons. Vel is a fully curved weapon as opposed to shaktyayudha There is no equivalent for vel in Sanskrit. I have verified the dictionaries. As for alamelu manga usage,he uses it as a proper noun.

8. There is a term nandiroopanjaneya in the kriti hAlAsyanAtham – darbAr .What does this signify?

Dr.V.V.Shrivatsa: There is an Anjaneya instead of nandi in one of the sannidhis at the madurai temple.

9. Why does Subbarama Dikshitar not give any Dikshitar kritis only the two melas Ramamanohari and Chamaram?
As I told you earlier the sampradAya pradarshini is only illustrative and not comprehensive. The RAhu kriti can be given the benefit of doubt but the Ketu kriti is clearly not Dikshitar’s original. There are a few phrases in the kriti which clearly indicate that they are not original.

10.What about the krithi in Aboghi, when caturdandiprakashika or the anubandham does not give lakshanam for that ragam?
There was a raga called Abhogi during his time as Thyagraja and Gopalakrishna Bharathi have composed in it. So Dikshitar has composed in that raga.


Shishya Parampara, Uncategorized

B.Rajam Iyer

Interview – B.Rajam Iyer

An interview with Sangita Kalanidhi B.Rajam Iyer

Q: Can you recount the circumstances that led you to Justice  T.L.Venkatrama Iyer?

In 1947,I accompanied my guru Shri. Ariyakudi Iyengarval to a concert in
Mysore.T.L.Venkatrama Iyer was also present there.He and my guru had a great respect for each other.He saw me there and asked me if I would come to Madras to learn from him.I replied that it was proper for my guru to make a decision on this.TLV then spoke to Iyengarval about this.After that my guru told me that it was definitely a great opportunity for me as TLV himself had sought me out and that I should go.I consider it  a great boon to have come under such great people.

After that, TLV who was the President of RR Sabha offered me a position as a teacher and I landed in Madras.I think it was a Thursday (If I remember  right) and it being an auspicious day he asked me to start right away. He told me “You have seen one ocean.I want to show you another ocean”.These were his exact words.The first krti that he taught me was the shrI mUlAdhAra cakra in shrI ragam.This opportunity to learn from him, I consider it the blessing of my guru.

Q: Could you share some of your experiences in the translation of the Sampradaya Pradarshini that you were part of under the auspices of The Music Academy?

I could say that it was the most enlightening experience in my life.I learnt several things – sUkshmams in music in that process.Dr.Raghavan and T.L.Venkatrama Iyer after obtaining the funding from the Central Government were responsible for this. I worked on the lakshya or the practical side and Dr.S.Ramanathan on the lakshana side.The whole work took us about 15-20 years.

Then he starts talking about the Sampradaya Pradarshini and Subbarama Dikshitar..

Subbarama Dikshitar had bottled up all his knowledge and when he finally relented to write the book he has poured everything out. What can we do for him –  Build a temple? – In return for this wonderful treasure that he has bestowed upon us?

We then proceed with some questions on ragas,versions in his pathantharam etc.

Q: Does your version of devamanohari permit DNS or is it always PNS – the latter as in the pradarshini and the former as in several other standard pathantharas?

Yes.The prayoga RMPNDNS is very much permissible.

Q: What is your opinion of the rishaba in asaveri?

I think it is exactly what has been in the Sampradaya Pradarshini. It is catusruti rishabha and I see no reason why it should not be so?

QLAbout some of the janyas of mayamalavagaula and How one could distinguish between ragas like Purvi

As per my experience this is what is characteristic of many Dikshitar krtis,the mUrchana is merely a guideline.The subtle shades are the ones that distunguish one raga from another.Take the case of gopikavasantam krti bAlakrshnam instead of trying in vain to confine this raga to a scale and analysing it ( He sings the line bAlakrishnam bhAvayAmi… ) I’d say that these subtle phrases and shades are what constitutes that ragam. Similar is the case for a sammelana raga like ghanta where you can percieve many ragas like dhanyAsi etc while singing it.So it is with this mindset that we must approach these ragas.

Q: You are one of the few who sing the pUrnapancama piece sAdhu jana citta..

It is a simple nishAda varjya rAga.That and the other krti AnandeshwareNa are the epitomes of advaita philosophy.Here he captures the philosophy in a nutshell and in AnandeshawareNa he describes the “process” of attaning that supreme state.


L.Ramakrishnan for his inputs
Shivakumar Bhat and Kasthuri Shivakumar for their help in arranging the interview.