Composers, CompositionAppreciation, History, Notation, Personalities, Raga, Sahitya

The Ragamalikas of Subbarama Dikshitar

Among the various compositions notated in the text Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, ragamalikas are more interesting and intriguing. Among the composers belonging to the family of Ramasvamy Diksitar, Subbarama Diksitar has employed this musical form extensively. He has composed nine ragamalikas, including the raganga ragamalika. These ragamalikas form vital study material, from the aspects of both sahitya and sangita. An attempt is made here to understand the ragamalikas of Subbarama Dikshitar as a whole, despite understanding the importance of analyzing them individually.

Though the majority of these ragamalikas were composed on the royal patrons like Pusapati Anada Gajapati Raju (kaminchina kalavatira), Raja Jadvira Muddusvamy Ettendra (endhuku ra ra ), Bhaskara Setupathy (garavamu) and Sri Rama Tiruvadi of Travancore (ni sari), he has also dedicated his ragamalikas to deities like Rajagopalasvamy (vedukato) and Kartikeya of Kazhugumalai (manatodi). All of them were composed in Telugu, excluding ‘manatodi’, which is a Tamiz composition.


Ragamalika Number of ragas Tala
Enduku rara 9 Rupakam
Ni sarileni 9 Tisra Ekam
Garavamu 9 Rupakam
Kaminchina kalavatira 32 Tisra Ekam
Valapumiri 4 Rupakam
Manatodi 6 Adhi
Vanidaroye 4 Rupakam
Vedukato 5 Rupakam
Priyamuna 10 Tisra Ekam
I kanakambari (sahitya by Krishna Kavi and music by Subbarama Diksitar) 72 (raganga ragamalika) Adhi


The sahitya of these ragamalikas not only have their raga mudras interwoven, but also have the ‘poshaka’ mudra like ‘sri muddusvami jagadvira ettendra candra’ (endhuku ra ra), ‘bhaskara mahipala’ (garavamu) and ‘pusapati ananda gajapati’ (kaminchina kalavatira).

Many of these sahityas are also replete with ‘anuprasa’. Anuprasa is an alliteration, a single syllable is repeated, but as a part of a different set of closely connected words. Using anuprasa is actually an option and not a mandate to be used in a composition. The Sama raga segment featuring in the ragamalika ‘kaminchina kalavatira’ is taken as an example. The sahitya reads as ‘kurulu mogula tegalu nagavalarulunu duru nela saga manuduru’, wherein the aksara ‘la’ is used as anuprasam. Though it is esthetically appealing, it is much more challenging for a musician to sing, especially when it occurs as a madhyamakala sahitya.



The structure of these ragamalikas can be divided into two types – those with a structured pallavi, anupallavi and caranam and those without any defined structure. The ragamalikas ‘manatodi’, ‘priyamuna’ and ‘i kanakambari’ fall under the first category. It is indeed these unstructured ragamalikas that captivate, as they are much abstruse in their construction. In many cases, the composer has prescribed stringent ways to render these compositions, making them much complex and intricate. For instance, in the ragamalika ‘kaminchina kalavathira’. This is perhaps the most asymmetric composition available. This is a ragamalika comprising 32 ragas, wherein the first 16 ragas were given an elaborate treatment, with a detailed svara-sahitya segment. Contrastingly, a single tala avarta was allotted to the second 16 ragas! The composer has grouped these 32 ragas into 16 pairs. These raga pairs are to be sung alternatively after the elaborate section consisting of 16 ragas.  The composer has also prescribed unique guidelines for the ragamalikas ‘endhuku ra ra’ and ‘valapu miri’. This kind of grouping and giving directions to render these compositions are unique to Subbarama Diksitar. Though this adds value to the composition, it also makes the composition sound difficult and complex.


Analysis of the eight ragamalikas (‘i kanakambari’ is excluded from being a raganga ragamalika), shows the composer has indeed included a wide array of ragas. It ranges from the common ragas like Kalyani, Sankarabharanam to rarer ones like Rudrapriya and Balahamsa. It also reveals his personal preference for Todi. It features in all the eight ragamalikas. Kamas, having been used in five compositions, follow this. Other ragas like Bhairavi, Sriragam, Yamuna, etc., occur more than once. The raga selection seems to be completely influenced by Ramasvamy Diksitar. Every raga used in these ragamalikas, except three were used by Ramasvamy Diksitar. Pharaju, Kamas, and Rudrapriya form this trio and the above statement can be confirmed only if we get the complete corpus of the compositions of Ramasvamy Diksitar.

The composer has taken utmost care to give a new flavor to a raga when it occurs more than once. For instance, Todi was used as a panchama varjya raga in the ragamalika ‘priyamuna’, but used as a routine raga though with its different phrases in other ragamalikas.  In addition, many phrases that were known/used by his family alone are seen aplenty. Be it ‘PNM’ in Kedaram or ‘SDP’ in Manohari, they stand alone. Besides these, these ragamalikas also serves us to understand the old svarupa of these ragas. For example, the phrase NSGGM in Nilambari  (not in vogue today) was used profusely in his ragamalika ‘garavamu’.

An interesting feature was employed by Subbarama Diksitar in his raganga ragamalika. This is a ragamalika, serving as a lexicon to understand the 72 raganga ragas used by the Diksitar family, starting from Kanakambari and ending with Rasamanjari. In this ragamalika, when he transits from one raganga raga to its immediate successor (within a cakra), he preferred not to use the svaras unique to them!

Being raganga ragas, every member within a cakra has the same svara varieties in the purvanga (sa to ma), and they differ only in their uttaranga (pa to ni). If a difference is to be shown between any two ragas that occur in succession (within a cakra), it is much easier to show if the differing svaras are used at the beginning of the raga segment as its opening phrase. This was followed by Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer in his 72 ‘mela ragamalika’ (though we do see few exceptions). Subbarama Diksitar surprisingly did not resort to this practice (at the majority of the places). Instead, he shows the phrases unique to these raganga ragas. Therefore, at many places, we will not be aware of the change in the ragas, unless we are cautious, as the successive ragas share the same svara variety in their purvanga. For example, in the first cakra, the raga segments Kanakambari, Phenadyuti, Ganasamavarali, Bhanumati and Manoranjani starts with the phrase SRGRMPM, MGGRMP, MGRMP, MPMRR, PDPMR respectively. Tanukirti alone starts with the phrase SNDNP. Hence, the opening phrases are not suggestive of the ragas used. The ragas unveil themselves only as we travel with the composition.


Excluding the ragamalikas ‘manatodi’ and ‘i kanakambari’, all the others were composed in either rupaka or tisra eka tala. Analysis of the tala reveals the musical acumen of the composer in the arena of talaprastara. Almost in every ragamalika, we see the usage of three speeds seamlessly and skillfully resulting in various unique patterns. Again, this is an influence from the works of Ramasvamy Diksitar.


The ragamalikas of Subbarama Diksitar not only serve as reference material for understanding the raga svarupa; they also help us to understand the music of the gone era.  Analysis of each of these ragamalika separately will not only help us to understand the musical thoughts of Subbarama Diksitar, but also the thoughts of Ramasvamy Diksitar as the seed of the latter’s musical thoughts and/or influence can be seen in the composition of all the Diksita-s.

Few reconstructed versions of these ragamalikas can be heard in the author’s YouTube channel The Lost Melodies – TLM. 

This article appeared in Sruti April 2021 issue.




Composers, Oral Traditions, Sahitya

சில தமிழ்ப்பாடல்கள்

நாம் இன்று மிகவும் ப்ரஸித்தமான பரிசிதமான கீர்த்தனங்களை மட்டும் அறிவோம். இவற்றுக்கு முன்னோடியாக ஆங்காங்கே வீடு தோறும் அந்தந்த க்ஷேத்ரங்களில் குறிப்பாக பெண்களால் பாடப்படும் செவிவழியாக பாடப்பட்டு வரும் நாட்டுப்பாடல்களில் பல உண்டு என்று அறிய முடிகிறது. வாஞ்சேஶ்வர கீர்த்தனைகள் என்ற தலைப்பில் ஸரஸ்வதி மஹாலில் உள்ள சுவடியில் பல பாடல்கள், மன்னர் ஶஹஜி எழுதிய த்யாகேச பதங்கள் இவைகளைப் போல தமிழிலும் இத்தகைய பாடல்கள் இருந்தன என்பதை  கி.வா.ஜ அவர்கள் வெளியிட்ட நூல்கள் மூலம் அறியலாம். அதிலிருந்து திருவாரூர் ஸ்ரீ த்யாகராஜ ஸ்வாமி விஷயமாக உள்ள சில பாடல்களின் ஸாஹித்யங்கள் தொகுத்தளிக்கப்படுகின்றன. இவற்றின் ராகம் தாளம் அல்லது மெட்டுக்களோ இல்லை.  யாரேனும் இவற்றின் மூல வர்ணமெட்டுக்களைக் கற்றவர்களோ கேட்டவர்களோ இருந்தால் தொடர்பு கொள்ளவும்.

(1) அறிவார் ஆர்? 

அறிவார் ஆர் உன் மகிமை, ஆரூர்நின் றாடிய பெருமையை?


1. அறிய வேணுமென்று அநுதினம் நினைத்து
அங்கம் முழுவதும் பொங்கிச் சிலிர்த்துத்
தெரியவே எனதுநா அச்சம் தீர்த்துத்
தித்திக்கத் தித்திக்கச் சிவநாமத்தை ஜபித்து (அறி)

2. கருவி கரணங்களும் கலந்துநின் றுருகக்
கண்ணினில் ஆனந்த வெள்ளங்கள் பெருக
மறுபடி ஜனியாத மார்க்கங்கள் தருக
மாலும் அயனும் தேடித்தினம் வருக (அறி)

3. முப்புரம் எரித்திட்ட முகமந்த ஹாஸா
முத்தி அளித்திடும் பக்தப்ர காசா
அப்பர்சுந் தரர்தங்கட் கருள் புரி ஈசா,
ஆரூர் அமர்ந்தருளும் தியாகாதி ராஜா! (அறி)

(2) ஆச்சரிய மான சேவை !

ஆச்சரிய மான சேவை ஆசை என்ன என் ஐயனே!


வாச்ச மங்கை சிரத்தின் மீதில் மதுக்குடம் தரித் ததைக்கண்டு சொன்னேன் (ஆச்)


அத்திமுகனும் வேலவனும் அருமையால் கறுத்ததும்
நெற்றிக் கண்ணோ டொத்தமேனி நீசர்போல் பூரித்ததும்
முக்தி அளிக்கும் ஹஸ்தத்தினால் பற்றித் தப்பெடுத்தடித்ததும்
வக்ஷஸ்தலத்தில் செத்தகன்று விளங்கவே உள்ளம் களித்ததும் சொன்னேன். (ஆச்)

மாலும் அயனும் தேடிக்காணா மலரடியால் நடந்ததும்
சூலபாணி யான நாதன் துண்டு சங்கிலி அணிந்ததும்
கோல மறைகள் ஸ்வான மாகக் கூடப்பின்னே தொடர்ந்ததும்
ஆலால சுந்தரர் உம்மைத் துதித்ததும்மதுக் குடித்தோர்போல ஆனீர் (ஆச்)

யோகியான அந்தணர்முன் -தேகி என்று சென்றதும்
வேகமாக யாகத் தில் அவிர் பாகம்வாங்க நின்றதும்
ஆகமாதி வேதமெல்லாம் ஏகம்ஏகம் என்றதும்
ஊகித் தோர்கள் உள்ளம் மேவும்
தியாகியான தயையினால் சொன்னேன். (ஆச்)

(3) ஆடினார் ஆரூர் ஐயன்

ஆடினார் ஆரூர் ஐயன்-மனமகிழ்ந்தே ஆடினார் ஆரூர் ஐயன்.

அன்பர் இருதயத்தில் வாசன் செம்பொன் அம்பலா காசன். (ஆடினார்)


1. தேடித் தினம்பணியும் ஆடக க்ஷேத்ரந்தனில்
தேவர்களும் துதிக்கத் திவ்ய சபையதனில்
நாடி வசனித்தோர்கள் நாத முடிவதனில்
நாராயணன் ஸ்ரீஹரி நாபிக் கமலந் தனில்  (ஆடினார் )

2. சங்கமத் தளதாள வாத்யச மேதராக
எங்கும் நிறைந்தஈசர் ஏக ஸ்வரூபமாகப்
பொங்கி மகிழ்ந்தோர் உள்ளம் பூர்ணப்ர காசமாகப்
பொற்பணி அணிந்தபாதர் நிர்க்குண ஸ்வரூபமாக (ஆடினார்)

3. சுத்தப்ர காச திவ்ய ஜோதி திகழ்ஜொலிக்க
நித்திய மாகநினைந் துருகும் மனம்களிக்க
பற்றிப் படிக்கும் ஜன்ம பாசபந் தம் ஒழிக்கப்
பங்கஜப் பிரகாசசுக சங்கரி சமேதராக (ஆடினார்)

4. அண்டபா தாளமும் கிடுகிடென் றதிரத்
தொண்ட ரிடத்திலுள்ள தோஷங்கள் உதிரக்
கண்டு தரி சித்தவர் காதலித் துக்கதறக்
கர்த்தரா கியசபேசர் நிர்த்தனப் பிரியத்யா கேசர் (ஆடினார்)


(4) திருவாரூர் தேடி வருவேனோ நான்?

திருவாரூர் தேடி வருவேனோ நான்? தேவனைக் கண்டு தெளிவேனோ நான்?
மருவும் மனசு மணியா சனத்தில்என் மன்னனைக் கண்டு மகிழ்வே னோநான்?
1. வையக வாழ்க்கையை மறக்கேனோ நான்?
வழிகொள்ளும் மாயையைத் தடுக்கேனோ நான்?
நெஞ்சுக் கதவைநெம்பித் திறக்கேனோ நான்?
நேசமாய் நிமலனோ டிருக்கேனோ நான்?

2. அஞ்சி அடியார் தூளி அணிவேனோ நான்?
அம்பலத் தைநம்பி இருக்கேனோ நான்?
சஞ்சித கர்மத்தை மாய்ப்பேனோ நான்?
சாட்சியும் நீ என்று இருப்பேனோ நான்?

3.பாசக் கடலைத்தள்ளிக் கடப்பேனோ நான்?
படுகுழி கூபத்தில் கிடப்பேனோ நான்?
ஆசைகொள் ளும்மனசைத் தடுப்பேனோ நான்?
ஐயன் த்யாகராஜன்கை பிடிப்பேனோ நான்? (திரு)

(5) வாமபாக தேவியோடு மைந்தனை

வாமபாக தேவியோடு மைந்தனை மடிமேல் வைத்த மகானுபாவனே
வானோர் புகழச் சித்தம் மகிழ்ந்த தேவனே!

பூமி புகழும் ஏற்றம் பொருந்திநின்ற ஆரூர்ப்
பூபதியாய் என்றும் ஸ்ரீபதி இதயத்தில் (வாம)

1. பக்தி விரக்தியால் பலபேதங்க ளான
பரிபூர ணானந்த பாக்கியங் கள் காணச்
சித்தத்துக் குள்ளே சிவபோதம் தானான
சின்மயா னந்தத் தெளிவு முடிவுதோண (வாம)

2.கரை இல்லாத இன்பக் கரை ஒன்றைக் காண்பிக்கக்
கருணை நிறைந்த கடாட்சத்தினாலன்றோ
அருமையாய் அழைத்த அநுக்ரகங் கள் செழிக்க
அந்தரங்கத்தில் அதி சுந்தரமாய்ச் சோபிக்க (வாம)

3.அபரிமி தானந்த போகத்தில் முழுக்காட்டி
அநுக்ரக நிக்ரக மானசக் தியைக்கூட்டி
விபவமா கும் இன்ப வெள்ளத்தில் நிலைநாட்டி
விடங்கத் தியாக ராஜனாய் விளங்கும்பா தத்தைக்காட்டி (வாம)


(6) மனமே, நினையாய் அநுதினம் பணிந்து

1. மனமே, நினையாய் அநுதினம் பணிந்து
மங்கை சங்கரி மனோகரனை
நினைவில் ஒளியாய் நின்று விளங்கிய
நித்யசு கந்தபரி பூரணனை (மனமே)

2.ஆதிரை நாள் கொண் டாடும் ஐயனை
ஆலம் உண்டமழுக் கையனை
ஜோதி யாகி உள்ள தோற்ற மாகியே
தொண்டர்கள் கண்டிடும் மெய்யனை (மனமே)

3. பாவித்தோர் உள்ளம் பதித்திட வே இரு
பாதம் உள்ள என் பண்டிதனைக்
காமி தார்த்தபல விஷயங்கள் காணாக்
காட்சி தரும்கரு ணாகரனை (மனமே)

4. எங்கும் நிறைந்து புகழ்மலிந்திடும்
கங்கை எடுத்துத் தரித்தோனைத்
திங்கள் அணிந்து சிறந்து விளங்கிய
மங்கள ஸ்ரீதியாக ராஜனை

(7) ஆரூரில் தியாகராஜர் யாகசா லை க்குவந்த
அதிசயம் என்ன

ஆரூரில் தியாகராஜர் யாகசா லை க்குவந்த
அதிசயம் என்ன சொல்லுவேன்?

பார்க்கப் பதினாயிரம் கண்களும் வேணுமே
ஏற்கையாய் ஈச்வரியோடு சேர்க்கையாய் வந்த (ஆரூ)


1. கண்டோர் களும்மலைக்கச் சண்டாள வேஷம்கொண்டு
கள்ளுக் குடம் தலையில் தூக்கிஅம் பாளும் நிற்கச்
சாமிசொன்ன ரூபமிது தானோ இதுதான் என்று
சர்வக்ஞ மூர்த்தியை நேராய்க்கண் ணால் கண்டு (ஆரூ)

2. நாலுவே தத்தைநாலு நாயாய்ப் பிடித்துக்கொண்டு
நடுவிலே செத்தகன்றைத் தோளில் தூக் கியேநின்று
தம்பட்ட மும்தப்பும் தம்கையி லேகொண்டு
தாபத் துடன் பூஜிக்கும் சோமயா ஜியைக்கண்டு (ஆரூ)

3. காளியோடே வாதாடும் காலால் நடந்து ஓடி
கனப்பிரியத்துடன் சுந்தரர் சொன்ன பக்தரைத் தேடி
கையிலவிர் பாகம் வாங்க யாகசா லையை நாடிக்
கந்தன் கணபதியுடன் தந்தனப் பாட்டுப் பாடி (ஆரூ)

4.ஆரூர் தன் னில்வசிக்கும் அருமை த்யாகராஜரை
அன்பர்களுக் கின்பந்தரும் கமலா லயவாசரைத்
தூதுளங் கீரையுண்ட தோழர்க்கு நேசரைத்
துன்பங்கள் தீர்த் தின்பந்தரும் கமலா லயவாசரை (ஆரூ)


(8) மங்கள ஸிம்மாஸனாதிபதி  

மங்கள ஸிம்மாஸனாதிபதி மலைமங்கைமனைக்கு வருகிறார்

1. செங்கை ம்ருதங்கம் ஒலிக்க
சங்கரி விரததவம் பலிக்க
அங்க நாயகியும் பூசிக்க
இங்கித மாய்க்கங்கை களிக்க (மங்கள)

2. காதில் குழையும் தோடும் அசையக்
கரியுரி புலிய தளும் அசையச்
சாதுக்கள் போற்றும் சரணம் அசையத்
தாங்கு சேஷன் முடியும் அசைய (மங்கள)

3. பச்சைக்கற்பூரம் சுகந்தம் வீசப்
பரிமளத்திருச் சாந்தும் வீச
இச்சையாய்க் கிருஷ்ண கந்தம் வீச
ஈச்வரியுடன் மகிழ்ந்து பேச (மங்கள)

4. பாமரர் தம்மைக்காக்கும் நாதன்
பரவை வீட்டுக்கு நடந்த பாதன்
காம தகனம் செய்த வேதன்
காரண காரியவி நோதன் (மங்கள)

5. நிஜபோதம் பெற்ற ஹ்ருதயர் நேசன்
நித்தியகல் யாண உல் லாசன்
அஜபா நடனம் செய்யும் ஈசன்
ஆண்டவன் தியாகாதி ராஜன் (மங்கள)

(9) அரிஸ்வாஸ நடன தேவ

அரிஸ்வாஸ நடன தேவ திருமேவிய சித்கன தீப!

1. ஸனகாதி முனிதொழும் பாதா
தினகர கோடி சுந்தர நாதா
விநோத மானஸ விக்ரகா பவ நிக்ரகா!
கனரத்னஸிம் மாசனாதீச, காத்யாயனிப் பிராணேசா

2. சகலாகம் ஸார, ஸர்வ மங்களகம் பீர
அகிலஜகத்துக் காரணா பரி பூரண
அகண்டிதா னந்தஸ்வரூபா  ஆச்ரிதவத்ஸலப்ரதாபா! (அரி)

3. ஆனந்தநடன சிதாகா சப்ரம் மானந்த ஸிந்துவதனேசா
தீனரட்சக தேகி கருணா பாஹிமாம்
ஆனை உரித்த திகம்பரேச ஹம்ஸநடன த்யாகாதிராஜ! (அரி)

(10) தேவியுடன் கூடிச் சிறந்து நடம்புரியும் திவ்யரதா ரூடனே


தேவியுடன் கூடிச் சிறந்து நடம்புரியும் திவ்யரதா ரூடனே, சித்ரூபனே!


1. மேவும் அடியார்க்கு விளங்கும்சர் வேசனே
பாவிப்போர் ஹ்ருதயத்தில் பரமப்ர காசனே
மூவு லகமும் குலுங்கி அதிர்ந்திட
முழங்கும் வாத்யாதி கோஷம் சிறந்திடத்
தேவ தேவர்கள் கண்டு மகிழ்ந்திடச்
சேர்ந்து பரிமள கந்தம் பொழிந்திட  (தேவி)

2.பாலநேத் திரந் தன்னில் காந்திப்ர காசிக்கப்
பாத நூபுரப் பிரபை சோபிக்க
மாலும் மனமகிழ்ந்து ம்ருதங்கம் வாசிக்க
மங்கைமுக கமலம் விகஸிக்க
நாலு முகவரும் ஜாலர் வாசிக்க
நங்கை சரஸ்வதி வீணை கோஷிக்க
சீல முனிவர்கள் கண்டு பூஜிக்கத்
திக்குப் பதிகள் பூமாரி வருஷிக்க  (தேவி)

3. வஞ்சகத்தை விடுத்து வந்து பணிந்தோர்
மாயை தன்னைத் தடுத்துச்
செஞ்சடை யை விரித்து முயலகனைச்
சேவடி யால்மி தித்து
பஞ்ச முகத்தாலும் கிருபை கொடுத்து
மிஞ்சின ஜனன வித்தினைக் கிரகித்து
அஞ்சிக்கீழ் நின்ற அடியார் முகம்பார்த்து
ஆரூர்தனில் வந்தென்னை ஆளவே உதித்து. (தேவி)

(11) அஞ்சிப் பணிவோர்க்கு மெய்யன்


அஞ்சிப் பணிவோர்க்கு மெய்யன்- எங்கள் ஆரூர் அமர்ந் தமழுக் கையன்


வஞ்சி யுடன் மகிழ்ந்து கொஞ்சுவ தைஅறிந்து (அஞ்சி)


1. ஐயஞ்சுக்கு மேற்பட்ட தீரன்
அஜபா நடனம்செய் சூரன் – நல்ல
உய்யும் ஞான விவேக சாரன்- மறை
ஓதும் குணங்களுக்குப் பாரன்
ஐயம் விலக்கி எனை ஆளும் அதிகம் பீரன்  (அஞ்சி)

2. அல்லல் அறுக்கும் ஆதி மூலன் – ஐயன்
அருமைத் துதிக்கு அது கூலன் – நல்ல
வெள்ளம் நிறைகரக்க பாலன்
சடையில் மதிசூடுங்கங் காளன்
செல்வம் பொருந்திய செங்கோலன் தயாளன் (அஞ்சி)

3. ஆசா பாசதுக்கவி நாசன் -அஞ்சு
கோசங்களை அழிக்கும் ஈசன் -நல்ல
வாச மலரில் விச் வாசன் -மலை
மங்கை சங்கரிப்ரா ணேசன் – தாசர்
துதிக்க திப்ர காசன் தியாகராஜன் (அஞ்சி)

(12). ராஜஹம்ஸ ரூபி யாகி


ராஜஹம்ஸ ரூபியாகி நடம்புரிந்த மாசற்ற மாமணியே!


நேசத்துடன் தினம்தினம் பேசித் துதிக்கும் நிஜ தாஸர் மனவிசேஷ ஸாரக்ராகி யாகிய (ராஜ)


1. மிஞ்சும் விவேகத்தின் மேல்படி ஆகவும்
செஞ்சடை கொண்ட சிவயோகி ஆகவும்
வஞ்சகச் சித்தர்க்கு மறைபொருளாகவும்
மனனமுற் றோருள்ள மணிவிளக்காகவும் (ராஜ)

2. திங்கள் அணிந்த திகம்பர னாகவும்
பொங்கிய செல்வம் புகழ்ச்சிய தாகவும் – மலை
மங்கை மகிழ்ந்த மகாதேவ னாகவும்
மங்கள ரூப மனோன் மணி யாகவும் (ராஜ)

3. தீராது தீர்க்கும் திருவருளாகவும்
மாரனைக் காய்ந்த மகாப்ரபு வாகவும்
பாரில்லா இன்பப் பிரவாகம தாகவும்
ஆரூரில் வாழும் ஐயன் தியாகனாகவும் (ராஜ)

(13)  சிந்தித்தோர் அதிக சொந்தா!


சிந்தித்தோர் அதிக சொந்தா!

சந்தி அந்திப்பிறை சூடி நின்ற
அந்த வைபோ கானந்தா! (சிந்தித்)

1. பாசஇருள் தீர்க்கும் மன்னா
தாஸ கோடிஸம் பன்னா
சேஷ சாயி மனம்கொண்ட
சாஸ்வத சுப்ர ஸன்னா! (சிந்தித்)

2. கூடும் வினை அறச்செய் தன்யா
கோடி மன்மத லாவண்யா
பூடகசம் சார பந்த
போதம் விலக்கும் புண்யா (சிந்தித்)

3.வந்த டைந்தோம் பாபநாச
சுந்தரர் மனப்ர காச
வந்தனம் வந்தனம் ஈச
வஸந்தத்தியா காதி ராஜ! (சிந்தித்)

Composers, History, Personalities, Sahitya

Ramashtapadi – Shrirama tubhyam – Bilahari


॥ श्रीरामाष्टपदी-प्रारम्भः ॥

श्रीमद्विश्वादिष्ठान-परमहंस-सद्गुरुश्री-रामचन्द्राय नमः


स्वाविद्यापद-तत्कार्य-त्रैपद-वैभवम् ।

श्रीरामचन्द्र-साम्राज्यं नौमि सच्चित्-सुखात्मकम्  ॥

नत्वा श्रीमद्देशिकेन्द्रं कैवल्य-पदमिच्छताम् ।

तदाप्तये त्रिपाद्राम-गीतावलिरुदीर्यते ॥

अष्टाविंशाधिक-शत-गीत-रत्नाकरोत्तमे ।

आद्यं त्रयोदश-पदं शिष्टं त्वष्टपदं भवेत् ॥

श्रीराम-शब्द-सम्बुद्ध्या साकमष्ट-विभक्तिकः ।

एकैकस्या विभक्तेस्तद्गीतं षोडशद्योच्यते ॥

पञ्चाशद्वर्ण-सन्मालालङ्कारवर-कन्धर ।
श्रीमत्त्रिपाद्रामचन्द्र नमस्तुभ्यं पुनः पुनः ॥


ஆத்மஸ்வரூபத்தை (மறைக்கும்) அவித்யை மற்றும் அதன் செயல்பாடுகளால் ஏற்பட்ட மூன்று பாதங்களைக் (வித்யா, ஆனந்தம் மற்றும் துரீயம்) கொண்ட (ப்ரஹ்மத்தின்) ஸச்சிதானந்த ஸ்வரூபமாக இருக்கும் ஸ்ரீ ராமசந்த்ரனுடைய (மோக்ஷ) ஸாம்ராஜ்யத்தை வணங்குகிறேன்.


ஸ்ரீ குருவை வணங்கியபின், முக்தியை விரும்பியோர்க்கு அது கிடைப்பதற்காக த்ரிபாத்ராமனுடைய கீதங்கள் வரிசையாக சொல்லப்படுகின்றன.


128 கீதங்கள் கொண்ட கீத ஸமுத்ரத்தில் முதல் (கீதமானது) 13 பதங்கள் (கொண்டதாகவும்) எஞ்சியவை எட்டு பதங்கள் ஆக உள்ளது.


ஸ்ரீ ராம என்ற பதத்தை ஸம்போதனத்துடன் (விளி வேற்றுமை உட்பட) சேர்த்து எட்டு விபக்திகள் கொண்டது. ஒவ்வொன்றும் ஒரு விபக்தியில் என கீதம் பதினாறாக முதலில் சொல்லப்பட்டது.


51 (அக்ஷரங்கள் அமைந்த) வர்ணமாலா ரூபமாக அலங்கரிக்கப்பட்ட கழுத்தை உடைய ஸ்ரீ த்ரிபாத் ராமசந்த்ர! உனக்கு மீண்டும் மீண்டும் நமஸ்காரம். (வ்யாகரணாதிகளின் அடிப்படையில் தீர்க்க लॄ போன்றவை இல்லையெனில் மந்த்ர சாஸ்த்ர அடிப்படையில் இவைகளைச் சேர்த்தே 51 அக்ஷரங்கள்.)




श्रीराम तुभ्यम् – गीतम् – बिलहरिरागः  




श्रीराम तुभ्यम् – गीतम् – बिलहरिरागः 




श्रीराम तुभ्यं नमोऽस्तु भो राम ते नाम वाचि ममास्तु ।

तव [द्द]दक्षपादो हृद्यस्तु विदेहकैवल्यभाग्यं ममास्तु ॥ श्री ॥ १

अद्भुतत्वद्भक्तिरस्तु आवयोरन्तरं कदापि मास्तु । 

इन्दिरा मत्कैवल्येऽस्तु ईश्वर त्वद्भक्तिबृन्दक्षेमोऽस्तु ॥ श्री॥ २

उत्कृष्टतत्त्वं ममास्तु ऊर्ध्वादिदिग्व्यापि मज्ज्ञानमस्तु ।

ऋतवाख्यातिस्तवास्तु ॠकारार्थमोहवैरल्यमस्तु ।। श्री ॥३

ऌमायाविद्वेषो मे[मा]स्तु लॄमोहग्रासनिर्मोहचिन्मेऽस्तु ।

एकमेवाद्वैतं मेऽस्तु ऐश्वरदिव्यविज्ञानं ममास्तु ।। श्री ॥ ४

ओङ्कारलक्ष्ये हृन्मेऽस्तु औपाधिकातीतानन्दो ममास्तु।

अंतमविद्यायां मेऽस्तु अःकारमायामृत्युभावमस्तु ॥ श्री॥ ५

कल्याणरामो हृद्यस्तु खलषड्वर्ग निग्रहो ममास्तु ।

गीतावेद्यरतिरस्तु घोरसंसारस्त्वद्भक्तेषु मास्तु ॥ श्री ॥ ६

ङार्णविषशान्तिरस्तु चक्रराजागारतैव ममास्तु ।

छन्दश्शिरो वाचि मेऽस्तु जीवब्रह्मैक्यं निरङ्कुशमस्तु ॥ श्री॥ ७

झषकुलेशकृपा मेऽस्तु ज्ञानविज्ञानसम्यग्ज्ञानं मेऽस्तु ।

टभवरुक्छान्ति मे[र]स्तु ठचन्द्रशीतलं मच्चित्तमस्तु ॥ श्री ॥ ८

डजविषग्रासो मेऽ[मा]स्तु ढलक्ष्यैक्यनित्यसंपन्ममास्तु ।

णलक्ष्याचित्सिद्द्धिरस्तु त्रिपात्तुर्यत्तुर्यचैतन्यं मेऽस्तु ॥ श्री ॥ ९

थधर्मप्रवृत्तिरस्तु दास्यं सीतापतेर्नित्यं ममास्तु।

धीलक्ष्यसंविन्ममास्तु निर्गुणब्रह्मात्मरूपं ममास्तु ॥ श्री॥ १०

परमानन्दो ममास्तु फणीशपर्यङ्कशायिदयास्तु ।

बन्धमोक्षभ्रान्तिर्मास्तु भक्तपटलकटाक्षो ममास्तु ॥ श्री ॥ १९

मायाकार्यावेशो मास्तु योगमुख्यफलचिद्रूपं मेऽस्तु।

रामचन्द्रभक्तिरस्तु लोकदेशिकोपदेशो ममास्तु ॥ श्री॥ १२

विष्णुता सर्वत्र मेऽस्तु शान्ताविद्याद्वयतत्कार्यमस्तु।

षड्गुणैश्वर्र्यं ममास्तु सत्यप्रतिज्ञाबिरुदं तवास्तु ॥ श्री ॥ १३

हृदि त्वद्दक्षपादोऽस्तु ळशक्तिशक्तिदपरचिन्मेऽस्तु ।

क्षीराब्धिशायिभावोऽस्तु श्रीरामचन्द्रेन्द्र कैवल्यं मेऽस्तु ॥१४


॥ ॐ  ॥


ஸ்ரீராம! உனக்கு நமஸ்காரம்! ஓ ராம! உன் நாமம் என் வாக்கில் இருக்கட்டும்! உன்னுடைய நைபுண்யம் பொருந்திய திருவடிகள் என் இதயத்தில் இருக்கட்டும்! விதேஹ முக்தி என்ற பெரும் பாக்யம் எனக்கு கிட்டட்டும்.  (१)


உன்னிடத்தில் அத்புதமான பக்தி தோன்றட்டும். நம்மிடையே இடைவெளி எப்போதும் இல்லாமல் இருக்கட்டும். என்னுடைய முக்தியில் லக்ஷ்மீ (கடாக்ஷம்/அனுக்ரஹம்) இருக்கட்டும்.
ஓ இறைவா! உன்னுடைய பக்தர் கூட்டத்தில் நன்மை இருக்கட்டும். (२)


மேலான உனது தத்வம் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும். மேல் நோக்கிச் செல்வதாக என் ஞானம் இருக்கட்டும். ருதத்தில் (தார்மீகமான உலக நியதி என்று ஸ்தூலமாக பொருள் கொள்ளலாம்) உன்னுடைய பெருமை இருக்கட்டும்.  பாம்பைப் போன்ற மோஹம் குறைவாக இருக்கட்டும். (३)


மலை போன்ற மோஹம் விழுங்குகையில் மோஹமற்ற தன்மை உள்ள புத்தி என்னிடம் இருக்கட்டும் இவ்வுலக விஷயமாக மாயையும் த்வேஷமும் என்னிடம் இல்லாமல் போகட்டும். இரண்டற்ற ஒன்றே என்னுள் இருக்கட்டும்! ஈஶ்வரனைப் பற்றிய புனிதமான ஞானம் என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும். (४)


ப்ரஹ்மவித்யையில் என்னுடைய (மனம்) இருக்கட்டும். மாயையால் ஏற்படும் தோற்றங்களுக்கு அழிவு உண்டாகட்டும். என் ஹ்ருதயம் ஓம்கார லக்ஷ்யத்தில் இருக்கட்டும். உபாதிகளுக்கு அப்பாற்பட்ட ஆனந்தம் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும். (५)


கல்யாணராமன் என் ஹ்ருதயத்தில் இருக்கட்டும்! தீமை செய்யும் (காம க்ரோத லோப மோஹ மத மாத்ஸர்யங்கள் ) என்ற (பகைவர்களான) ஆறினை ஒதுக்குதல் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும்! கீதத்தை அளிக்கும் ஆசை இருக்கட்டும்! கோரமான சம்சாரம் உன்னுடைய பக்தர்களுள் இல்லாமல் இருக்கட்டும்  (६)


உன் சக்ரமெனும் (ராம யந்த்ரம்) தங்குமிடம் மட்டுமே என்னுடையதாகட்டும்.  விஷய ஆசைகள் என்ற கடலின் ஶாந்தம் உண்டாகட்டும். உபநிஷதங்களில் என் வாக்கு லயிக்கட்டும். ஜீவனும் ப்ரஹ்மமும் ஒன்றென்ற கொள்கையில் தங்கு தடையற்றதாக இருக்கட்டும் (७)


(மத்ஸ்யாவதாரம் செய்தவரானதால்) மீன் குலத்தின் அரசரின் க்ருபை என்னிடம் இருக்கட்டும். ஞானம் விஞ்ஞானம் என்ற சரியான ஞானம் என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும். ரோகமான சம்சாரத்தின் சாந்தி என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும். சந்த்ரமண்டலத்தின் குளுமை என் புத்தியாக இருக்கட்டும் (८)


கடலில் உண்டாகும் விஷமிக்க முதலைகள் இல்லாமல் போகட்டும்! பறைசாற்றும் ஒரே நோக்கமாகிய நித்யமான செல்வமான  முக்தி என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும்! வித்யையின் நோக்கம் என் சித்தத்தில் கிட்டட்டும். மூன்று பாதங்கள் கொண்ட அந்த சைதன்ய ஸ்வரூபமானது என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும் (९)


அறிவின் நோக்கமான ஞான ஸ்வரூபமான பேரொளி எனதாகட்டும். காக்கும் தர்மத்தில் ப்ரவ்ருத்தி இருக்கட்டும். சீதையின் தலைவனிடத்தில் அடியவனாக இருக்கும் தன்மை  எப்போதும் என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும் (९०)


பேரானந்தம் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும், பாம்பணை மேல் துயில்பவரின் தயை இருக்கட்டும். பிறப்பு இறப்பு என்ற இரு நிலைகளான குழப்பம் இல்லாதிருக்கட்டும். பக்தர் கூட்டத்தின் கடாக்ஷம் எப்போதும் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும் (९९)


மாயையின் செயல்பாடுகளால் உள்ள தாக்குதல் இல்லாதிருக்கட்டும். யோகத்தின் முக்ய பலனான சித்ரூபம் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும். ராமசந்த்ரனிடத்தில் பக்தி இருக்கட்டும்! உலகில் குருவின் உபதேசம் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும் (९२)


(ஶமம் தமம் உபரதி, திதிக்ஷா, ஶ்ரத்தா, ஸமாதானம்) ஆகிய ஆறு குணங்களெனும் செல்வம் எனதாகட்டும். விஷ்ணுத்தன்மை எங்கும் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும். ஸத்யத்துக்கு கட்டுப்பட்டவன் என்ற விருது உனதாக இருக்கட்டும். (१३)


அனந்த ஶக்தியும் ஶக்தியை அளிக்கும் அந்த பரப்ரஹ்மம் என் சித்தத்தில் ஒளிரட்டும். ஹ்ருதயத்தில் உன்னுடைய ஶக்தி வாய்ந்த திருவடிகள் இருக்கட்டும். ஸ்ரீ ராமசந்த்ரேந்த்ர! முக்தி நிலை என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும்! (१४)




Composers, CompositionAppreciation, Raga, Sahitya

Sri Rama Pattabhisheka, as envisioned by Tyagaraja Svamigal

Sri Ramachandra always served as a source of inspiration for poets for his ideal and desirable characters. We have innumerable compositions composed over the ages on the ‘martyavatara’ (Bhagavan who has taken the form of a human). Among all these compositions, the compositions or poems on his crowning ceremony ‘pattabhisheka’ deserve a special mention. It is said that reading or even listening to the ‘pattabhisheka’ sarga, available in the Yuddha Kanda, the sixth book of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana confers auspiciousness.

Almost every other composer or poet takes an attempt to describe the ‘pattabhisheka’ in his own inimitable way. The kriti ‘mamava pattabhirama’ in the raga Manirangu is much popular. The composer Muthuswamy Dikshitar describes this celestial event almost along the lines of Valmiki. There exists a lesser-known composition of Vaikunta Sastri in the raga Pharaju. This kriti ‘sreyase dhyayami’ starts as a paean to Ramachandra, but proceeds to mention ‘pattabhishekam’.

A very elaborative Sri Rama Pattabhishekam was picturized by Arunachala Kavirayar. Though his Rama nataka kritis are famous, this kriti intricately describing the pattabhishekam is obsolete. This kriti was set to the raga Saurashtra and has a pallavi, anupallavi and three charanas, each comprising fifteen lines. On all probabilities, this kriti ‘makutabhishekam kondane’ could be the longest composition available explaining all the events mentioned in Pattabhisheka sarga of Valmiki Ramayana.

Tyagaraja Svamigal (1767-1847) is a popular South Indian composer, well known for his devotion towards Sri Ramachandra. He is said to have composed thousands of compositions, but only around seven hundred are available. Despite being a Rama bhakta, the theme seen in his compositions is much varied. Even his ‘Rama’ based kritis can be divided into several groups. The first type of composition is those wherein he records the personal communications he had with his deity Ramachandra. Kritis like ‘adaya sriraghuvara’ in Ahiri, ‘eti yochanulu’ in Kiranavali can be cited as examples. In the second type, he delves into the Rama nama and its mahima. The kritis ‘melu melu’ in the raga Saurashtra, ‘smarane sukhamu’ in the raga Janaranjani helps us to understand this theme. The third type of composition describes his ishta devata Sri Ramachandra. The Mayamalavagaula raga kriti ‘merusamana’, ‘nee muddu momu’ in the raga Kamalamanohari can be remembered. He has also extolled the story of Rama and the kingdom ruled by Rama in the kritis ‘rama katha sudha’ and ‘karu baru’ in the ragas Madhyamavathi and Mukhari respectively. This forms the next set of kritis. The last set of kritis would be the ones wherein the incidents from Ramayana were listed. The divya nama kriti ‘vinayamu’ in the raga Saurashtra, ‘e ramuni’ in the raga Vakulabharana are good examples. This list becomes endless and we can visualize the various ways by which this composer has envisioned his devata Sri Ramachandra, his nama, and the epic Ramayana through his kritis. He literally was transported to the days of Rama Rajya!

Strangely, it is rare to see kritis explaining Sri Rama Pattabhisheka. The possibility of not getting such compositions is also to be kept in mind. From the available corpus, we will be seeing a composition that gives a vivid description of Sri Rama Pattabhisheka.


Sri Rama Pattabhisheka and Tyagaraja Svamigal

Though, the majority of the kritis of Svamigal are composed in pallavi-anupallavi-charana format, there are a sizeable number of kritis composed in pallavi-charana format and these are usually labeled as divya nama keertanas. There exist a Kapi raga kriti among the latter set wherein Svamigal has pictured pattabhisheka.

The kriti ‘sundara dasaratha’ has a pallavi and six charanas. It is a dvi-matu keertana, wherein the tune of the pallavi is different from the charanas, whereas all the charanas are set to the same tune. Here is the sahitya of this kriti


sundara dasharatha nandana vandana monarincedarA

caraNam 1

pankaja lOcana dharajAyankamuna velungaga gani

caraNam 2

parama dayAkara shubhakara girIsha manOhara shankara

caraNam 3

karamuna goDugiDukoni sOdaru bharatuDu karagaga gani

caraNam 4

suguNadanila tanayuDu gavaya gavAkSulu goluvaga gani

caraNam 5

ghaTaja vasiSTha mrkaNDuja gautamadulu bogaDa gani

caraNam 6

akaLanka mukha tyAgarAjunu brOcina avyajA karuNAsAgara


The kriti starts like any composition on Rama, not giving any clue on the theme of ‘pattabisheka’. He is described as a handsome son of the King Dasharatha. Sri Rama Pattabhisheka is visualized beginning from the first charana. Svamigal says, “O Rama! Beholding Dharaja (Sita) in your lap, I pay obeisance to you”. Though Rama is always described to be with Sita, an equal asana to Sita is given only during the pattabhisheka. The words of Valmiki ‘rAmAn ratnamayopiTE sahasItam nyavESayat’ can be remembered here. The third, fourth and fifth charana again paint us the image of pattabhisheka. Whereas the third charana mentions Bharata holding an umbrella, the fifth charana makes a rare reference to monkey chieftains, Gavaya and Gavaksha, who helped Rama to reach Lanka.

During the coronation ceremony of Sri Ramachandra, Gavaya, ordained by Sugriva brought cool water from the western ocean, in a jar set with jewels, says Valmiki (gavayaha paschimAttOyamAjahAra mahArNavat I ratnakumbhEna mahatA SItam mArutavikramaha II). Though it is common to see  Anchaneya, Sugriva, Angata, and Vali being referred to in the compositions of Svamigal (or other composers), a reference about Gavaya and Gavaksha is extremely rare. The fifth charana speaks about Ghataja (Agasthya), Vasishta, Mrukandu and Gautama. These sages were invariably referred to in any keertanas describing Sri Rama Pattabhisheka.

The raga Kapi

At this juncture, it is pertinent to make a note about the raga Kapi. This is an old raga and placed as a janya of mela 22, Karaharapriya. But, the raga Kapi used by Svamigal is much different from the present form heard commonly in concerts. The svaras kakali nishadha and antara gandhara, which form an integral part of this raga are not seen in old Kapi, used by Svamigal. The accounts by Sambamurthy and Ranga Ramanuja Iyengar attest this fact. Interestingly, Turaiyur Rajagopala Sarma makes a note in Sudesamitran that the original tune of the kriti ‘mivalla gunadosha’ was lost (another kriti of Svamigal in the raga Kapi), even as early as in 1938. This evidence shows the present tune available for this kriti (also for the other kritis of Svamigal in the raga Kapi) could be a later tuned one. The Valajapettai transcripts (written by Valajapettai Venkataramana Bhagavatar and his son Krishnasvamy Bhagavatar), which gives few Kapi raga kritis in its old form, did not give this kriti in notation. It is much unfortunate that the original tune of a kriti which mentions Sri Rama Pattabhisheka is unavailable to us. Let us hope Svamigal will bless us to get the original tune in the near future. Valajapettai version of the kriti ‘intha saukhya’, in the old Kapi raga can be heard here  :


This was published in the magazine Laksquare, May issue.



Composers, CompositionAppreciation, Manuscripts, Personalities, Sahitya, Shishya Parampara

Sri Tyagarajaya mangalam

The term mangalam indicates auspiciousness amongst its many other denotation that it conveys. Mangalam is usually heard at the end of a Nama samkeertanam, Sita kalyanam or at the end of a concert to be propitious to both the listener and reciter.  Mangalam can be compared with the ‘phalastuthi’ recited at the end of any sloka and usually eulogizes a deity. Though presently very few mangalam-s are in vogue, each family inherited their own repertoire of mangalam-s in the past. The deity extolled here will a family deity or a deity enshrined in a town to which the family belongs to. This author has listened to his grandmother singing a mangalam addressing the Lord Devanatha of Tiruvahindrapuram in the ragam Kamavardhani. Also, age old mangalam-s runs in the family through the generations. ‘Sri ramachandranukku’, a common mangalam appended to Rama nataka kirtanam of Arunachala Kavi and often sung in Madhyamavathi is sung in Asaveri in this author’s family. Interestingly, the oldest book which mentions this kriti too gives Asaveri as the raga for this kriti.  

Occasionally, mangalam-s were also composed on Saints and mortals. Though the sahityam of these compositions might superficially appear inconsequential, they provide a lot of biographical details, especially when they are composed by individuals who are closely associated with the nayaka of the mangalam.

Disciples of Tyagaraja Svamigal

Svamigal could have been one of the very few composers to have a lot of disciples. Many of them were also composers and two of them who are of interest to us are Valajapettai Venkataraman Bhagavathar and Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaier.  Both of them have composed mangalam-s furnishing a lot of details about their Guru.

Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaier

Venkatasubbaier was related to Svamigal and he had trained a lot of disciples like his preceptor. He was a composer and sadly, only a few of his compositions survive through few isolated recordings like ‘avarakuta’ in the ragam Kuthuhalam and a kriti ‘samiki sari’ in the ragam Devagandhari resounding the glory of his Guru. His unknown compositions include a ragamalika ‘sivabhupathe’ and a mangalam ‘giriraja pautraya’ on his teacher among others.

Giriraja pautraya

Many of us are benighted about this mangalam in the ragam Surati set to khanda chapu. Only the sahityam will be analyzed to know more about Svamigal, as provided by his direct disciple.Sahityam of this mangalam is provided first followed by a discussion on some of the salient details seen in this kriti (The sahityam provided here is taken from a thesis by Nityasri on the disciples of Manabuchavadi venkatasubbaier).


giri raaja pautraaya kaarunya sindhave  

gaana rasa purnaaya  sri  tyaagaraajaya  mangaḷam  subha mangalam


raama brahmaankita  bhuvara suputraaya

naadabrahmaananda sri  tyaagaraajaya  mangaḷam  subha mangalam

Caranam – 1

sitamma kruta punya baagyaaya

vimalaaya gitaya nitaya sri  tyaagaraajaya  mangaḷam  subha mangalam

Caranam – 2

panca nada tiraavataaraaya  naadaaya bandha  sihaaraaya

sri  tyaagaraajaaya buloga ava tirṇa vaalmikaamsine  

venkataanugraha  sri  tyaagaraajaya  mangaḷam  subha mangalam

This is a mangalam composed in simple Sanskrit. This gives the geneology of svamigal starting from his grandfather. Mangalam start as ‘giritaja pautraya’ meaning the grandson of Giriraja. This indicates Giriraja was his paternal grandfather (dauhitra is the term to be used to denote maternal lineage), resolving the confusions surrounding the relationship between Svamigal and Giriraja. In the anupallavi, Venkatasubbaier says Svamigal was the blessed son of a brahmana by name Ramabrahma. Interestingly, the next line gives the sanyaasa diksha name of Svamigal, ‘naadabrahmaananda’ (this is a prevalent information given by various accounts covering the biography of Svamigal). Though, the occasion which saw the birth of this mangalam is not known, it could be speculated that this could have been composed after his beatitude. It is in this context, the line ‘panca nada tiraavataaraaya’ occurring in the caranam is to be studied.   

There are controversies regarding the birth place of Svamigal. Whereas the predominant view is in support of Tiruvarur, few hold a view that Tiruvayyaru should get this privilege. Though outwardly seeing, this line might refer Tiruvayyaru as the avatara sthalam of Svamigal, when combined with the previously disclosed significance of the word ‘naadabrahmaananda’, it can be well presumed that ‘panca nada tiraavataaraaya’ might refer to the second birth place of Tyagaraja ; him taking the order of Sanyaasa and taking a new birth altogether as Naadabrahmaananda. This kriti also mentions Sitamma, his mother, and considers him as an amsa of Valmiki.

Valajapettai Venkataramana Bhagavathar

Guru kritis and Guru ashtakam of Venkataramana Bhagavathar are quite famous and require no introduction. What is less known is his mangalam on Svamigal. This mangalam with notation, tuned to Madhyamavathi and set to adi talam can be seen in the book by S Parthasaradhi, a disciple of Srinivasaraghavan. This kriti, with some additional carana-s  feature in Valajapettai transcripts, preserved at Government Oriental Manuscript Library, Chennai. This mangalam is seen interspersed with the transcript dealing with ‘Nauka Caritramu’ of Svamigal. Whether this mangalam was composed along with the said natakam (of Svamigal) by Bhagavathar or it was written just alongside the natakam by the scribe cannot be ascertained. Only the text of the mangalam is provided; no notations or raga – tala marking is seen.  This make us to doubt whether this was rendered as a kriti or recited only as a padyam. The text seen in the transcripts verbatim are provided first followed by analysis.

  1. Sri mad kaakarla vamsaadhi Candra yaamala tejase – raama rasagyaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  2. Raamabrahma suputraaya sitamma garbhajaaya cha – raamachandra svarupaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  3. Paarvati kamalaamba sad bhaarya samyathaaya cha – sarva sadguna purnaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  4. Naaradaacharya karunaa paatraayadbutha kirtaye – dhiraaya nirvikaaraya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  5. Sri karunaa samudraaya lokaanugraha kaarine – saakedhaadhipa bhaktaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  6. Yogi pungava mitraaya yogaananda svarupine – raaga lobha vimukthaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  7. Gaana saastra pravinaaya kali kalmasha naashine – naanaa sishya samuhaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  8. Kaaveri tira vaasaaya karunaamruta varshine – paavana sucharitraaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam  

Sanskrit was the language used similar to the first mangalam. No distinction of the text into pallavi and carana-s can be noted.

This mangalam gives more insight into the biographical details of Svamigal. He starts with a mention about the ‘vamsa’ of Svamigal – Kakarla. He then proceeds to say he was the divine son of Ramabrahmam and Sitamma. He is the amsa of the Lord Sri Ramachandra itself and he had two wives – Parvati and Kamalaamba. This mangalam depose the incident wherein Svamigal had a vision of Sage Narada and blessed by him – ‘naaradaacharya karuna paatraaya’. He extols his Guru by using the phrases like the ‘one who is devoid of desire and greed’ (raaga lobha vimukthaaya), ‘well versed in sangita’(gaana saastra pravinaaya), ‘always surrounded by various disciples’ (naanaa sishya samuhaaya) etc., This mangalam does not mention about his diksha name or his place of birth. But, a biography written by Valajapettai father-duo affirms he was indeed born in Tiruvarur.

Apart from slight differences in the sahityam, the third kandika cannot be seen in the version given by S Parthasaradhi. Instead, we have a new sahityam starting with ‘dhina maanava poshaaya’.


Svamigal was revered and extolled by more than one disciple, even during his lifetime. These two mangalam could have been composed at different occasions, though the exact event or incident that kindled them to compose is not known. Nevertheless, these mangalam-s stand as a testimony to know the personal details about Svamigal with an authority.

The article appeared in Sruti, January 2020 issue.

CompositionAppreciation, Notation, Sahitya

“vadAnyEsvaram bhajEham” – A Critical Appraisal


One key aspect in our assessment of the authenticity of Muthusvami Dikshita’s compositions is the reliance we place on the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (“SSP”) of Subbarama Dikshita. The SSP published in 1904 AD is the numero uno in this aspect as Subbarama Dikshita had evaluated both the lyric as well as the melody of every composition and presented it in an almost original form. Rare are the instances of a composition in the SSP being doubted for authenticity, though some questions have arisen especially in the case of kritis documented in its Anubandha.

Apart from the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (“SSP”) which was published in 1904 AD, chronologically the next publication that merits our attention is the Dikshita Kirtanai Prakashikai (“DKP”) of Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai (in the lineage from Tambiappan Pillai and Sathanur Pancanada Iyer). This publication made in the year 1936 AD was a compilation of 50 kritis of Dikshita, of which 49 kritis found herein was also found in the SSP. And it had one which was not in the SSP being “Mahaganapatim Vande” in Todi which was covered in an earlier blog post.

Post this during the 1940’s after the death of Ambi Dikshita, the son of Subbarama Dikshita, a large number of compositions from outside of the SSP bearing the colophon “guruguha” came to be published by the disciples of Ambi Dikshita, which have been attributed to Muthusvami Dikshita. All these compositions are documented by Veena Sundaram Iyer who published the same during 1940’s & 50’s as the “Dikshitar Keertanai Mala” (“DKM”).

In so far as compositions not found in the SSP and those which came to published as above and seen in DKM, many questions arise as to whether these compositions not found in the SSP are truly Dikshita’s compositions.

In this blog we will take up one such composition, not found in the SSP but which came to be published in the 1940’s as above. The kriti is “vadAnyEsvaram bhajEham” in the raga Devagandhari under Mela 29, in Adi tala. The said composition is not found listed in the SSP or in the DKP. We will look at the kriti and also its antecedents along with renderings of the same to develop a point of view as to its attribution to Muthusvami Dikshita.

In this blog it will be argued that this composition too, much like “Mahaganapatim Vande” in Todi has all the hallmarks of a true composition of Muthusvami Dikshita and based on available extrinsic and intrinsic evidence can be attributed to him, notwithstanding the fact that it is not notated in the SSP.

But first let us take up the composition text for our consideration.

The Composition:


bhajE-ahaM                  – I worship

sadA                        – forever

vadAnyESvaraM               – Vadanyeshvara (the great benefactor).

tyajE-ahaM                  – I renounce

mada-Adi vRttiM             – tendencies such as arrogance,

mudA                        – joyfully


pada-aravindaM              – (I worship) the one whose feet are (lovely) as lotuses,

Ananda kandaM              – the root-source of bliss,

pAlita dEva gAndhArava bRndaM – the protector of the multitudes of Devas and Gandharvas,

sadA-arcitaM                – the perennially worshipped one,

vinata vidhi mukundaM       – the one saluted by Brahma and Vishnu,

sadguru guha cidAnandaM     – the bliss of consciousness of the noble Guruguha,

sadA                        – always.


paSu pASa mOcanaM           – (I worship) the one who liberates creatures from bondage,

tri-lOcanaM                 – the three-eyed one,

panca-AnanaM                – the five-faced one,

praNata gaja-AnanaM         – the one saluted by the elephant-faced – Ganesha

SiSu bAla gOpa viditaM      – the one well-known even to infants, children and cowherds,

muditaM                     – the joyous one,

SivaM                       – the auspicious one,

bilva vana vaibhavaM        – the splendorous one in the Bilva forest,

bhavam                      – the one who has become everything in this universe,

viSuddhi-Adi nilayaM        – the one residing in Visuddhi and other Chakras,

maNi valayaM                – the one wearing bejewelled bracelets,

vigata vikalpakaM           – the one in whom variations have ceased,

Srita kalpakaM              – the wish-fulfilling divine tree to those who seek refuge,

paSu patiM                  – the master of all creatures,

jnAnAmbikA patiM            – the Consort of Goddess Jnanambika,

paraSu mRga dharaM          – the bearer of the axe and deer,

nIla kandharaM              – the blue-throated one,

aSubha kshaya karaM         – the annihilator of the inauspicious,

abhaya vara karaM         – the one whose hands gesture freedom from fear and granting boons,

anAdi-avidyA haraM          – the remover of primordial ignorance,

Sankaram                    – the causer of welfare and good fortune.


  1. The kriti is on the Lord Siva enshrined at Vallalar Kovil in Mayuram / Mayavaram / Mayiladuthurai, Lord Vadanyesvara and whose consort is Goddess Gnanambika
  2. The raga mudra is indirectly embedded in the composition in a slightly truncated fashion in “dEvagandharva brindham”
  3. The composer’s colophon is also found in the composition in “sadguruguha cidAnandam”.
  4. The kriti is a paean to Lord Shiva with epithets in his glory strung together as a composition.

The Provenance of this Composition:

What sets this composition apart in our analysis is the very source of the pAtham of this composition. As pointed out this composition is not found in the SSP (1904). Nor is it notated in the “Dikshitar Kirtanai Prakashikai” (1934) of Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai, which was the next authoritative publication of Dikshita’s compositions. Up and until 1940, these two publications were the most authoritative compilations of the compositions of Muthusvami Dikshita.

The composition “Vadanyesvaram” crops up from an unexpected source in the year 1943, when it was published in the Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol XIV (1943)- pages 147-149 (“JMA“) -see header to this blog post.

As the notes to the composition make it clear, it is obvious that:

  1. The kriti has been edited by Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer.
  2. The source of this pAtham is attributed to Vidvan Keeranur Subramanya Iyer.
  3. The text as well as the notation of the composition is provided therein. It is in the regular SRGM notation, with 1st and 2nd kala markings and does not carry any other gamaka signs or such other embellishments/ ornamentations.

Unfortunately, nothing is known as to the identity of this Vidvan Keeranur Subramanya Iyer and if ever he belonged to the sisya parampara of Muthusvami Dikshita. It can be safely concluded that outside of the regular sources of Dikshita compositions, this source is an odd/unique and yet refreshing fount. And it was only later that this composition figured firstly in Veenai Sundaram Iyer’s “Dikshitar Kirtanai Mala -Volume 2- Song No 21” and then in Rangaramanuja Iyengar ‘s Kritimanimalai Vol 5 – Song No 142.

Suffice to state that this source is ex-facie of unimpeachable fidelity and we will examine the notation further to confirm the same.

Key structural aspects of the composition:

It can be seen from a stylistic perspective, the composition is Dikshitar’esque in its form.

  1. The language and style of the lyrics, the prAsA concordance, the gait of the composition, the construct of the pallavi-anupallavi- carana as well as the colophon and the ‘sUcita” raga mudra embedded in the composition all point to this conclusion.
  2. The melodic material is expanded in an organized manner first in the pallavi, then in the anupallavi and finally in the carana section.
  3. Akin to quite a few compositions, the lyrics commencing “pasupatim jnanambika patim” and ending with “…anadya vidya haram sankaram” appended to the final carana section seemingly looks to be a madhyama kala sahitya section, but is not. It has to be pointed out that to qualify as a madhyamakala sahitya section the lyrics in question must be set to exactly half the duration of the immediately preceding carana/anupallavi sahitya section.
  4. The raga “Devagandhari” of Mela 29 is kept musically beautiful in this composition.

Notation of the Composition:

Given below is the notation as published in the aforesaid JMA.

  1. The composition is replete with svaraksharas on the
    1. dhaivatha note as in “madAdi”,”mudA” in the pallavi
    2. pancama note as in “padhAravindam” and “pasupAsa mOcanam
  2. Jumps are seen at “sisupAla” going directly to pancama from sadja note with R/P MP prayoga. The S/D and S\d prayogas, launched from the madhya sadja note are also found in the composition. The said jumps are reminiscent of the prayogas found in the cittasvara section of the Dikshita composition “ksitijAramanam” which is found documented in the SSP.
  3. The sama kAla and dhruta kAla sections are marked as plain and line-on-top respectively with 2 kalai caukam as the rendering mode of the composition.

The overall musical setting, the way the raga progresses in the individual sections and the usage of adulatory paeans on Lord Siva as seen in the composition all of them attests to the fact that the composition should have been composed by Muthusvami Dikshita. It has to be pointed out that Dikshita has visited the ksetra as evidenced authoritatively ( vide the kriti “Abhayambayah anyam na janEham” in Kedaragaula on the Goddess enshrined in Lord Mayuranathasvami Temple) in the SSP and it is therefore very well possible that he visited the nearby temple of Vallalar Kovil as well, which is the subject matter of the composition on hand. As an aside it can be noted that one of Dikshita’s disciples was Vallalar Kovil Ammani which is recorded by Subbarama Dikshita in his biography of Dikshita, who likely hailed from this place.

Thus viewed from multiple angles including the sangita, sahitya, likelihood of his visiting the ksetra and the stylistic aspects and further given the independent source of this composition coming to us through the patham of Vidvan Keeranur Subramanya Iyer ( outside of the known lineages or sisya parampara of Dikshita), all of them attest to the fact that this composition is not a spurious one and an overwhelming body of evidence exists to accept this as an authentic composition of Muthusvami Dikshita himself.

From a ksetra perspective, today the place is famous for its shrine of “medha dakshinamurti” which is located within the precincts of this Temple.


Arguably one of the finest renderings of this composition is that of the legendary Vidvan Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. I present the composition sung by him in his 1966 Music Academy recital accompanied by Vidvans Lalgudi Jayaraman on the violin, Umayalpuram Sivaraman on the mrudangam and Narayanasvami on the ghata.

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer renders “vadAnyEsvaram bhajEham” in Devagandhari of Muthusvami Dikshita

In this recording, the veteran embarks first on an alapana of the raga and then proceeds to the kriti. It’s a trifle unfortunate that the recording is truncated in a few places. Nevertheless the recording is complete in itself. It can be noted that the pAtham as sung, sticks closely to the notation as published by Mudicondan Venkatrama Iyer (supra). The veteran sings it in the sedate cauka kalam bringing out the essence of Devagandhari so distilled by Dikshita in this composition.

From the past, Veena Vidvan K S Narayanasvami too is recorded to have brilliantly rendered this composition. Here is his rendering of the composition excerpted from his 1972 Music Academy Concert accompanied by Vidvan Vellore Ramabadran on the mrudanga.

Veena Vidvan K S Narayanasvami renders “vadAnyEsvaram

Hark at the sowkhyam with which plays the carana beginning with “pasupAsa mOcanam” and his rendering of the finale “pasupatim jnanambika patim“.

And presented finally is the full suite of alapana-kriti-svaraprastara for the composition by Vidusi Seetha Rajan from a chamber recital to complete our understanding and how the composition can be melodically extended and exploited to its fullest potential to maximize ranjakatva. Attention is invited to the 2nd kala svaras sung for the composition for the pallavi line at the fag end of the svaraprastara, skillfully avoiding Arabhi in its wake, lest the color of Devagandhari is lost.

Vidushi Seetha Rajan renders “vadAnyEsvaram” with alapana and svaraprastara


Thus, for all these aforesaid reasons, the composition “vadAnyEsvaram” in Devagandhari can be attributed to the authorship of Muthusvami Dikshita, beyond reasonable doubt. However it is indeed a puzzle why it was left out of the SSP. And as always one hopes that modern day performers will keep this kriti alive on the concert circuit by singing it frequently.

Update History:

19-Aug-2020: Since the first posting, I have updated the post to include the rendering of the composition by Vidvan K S Narayanasvami and Vidushi Seetha Rajan.

History, Manuscripts, Notation, Pathantara, Raga, Sahitya

Intriguing raga-s – Kamas


It has been reiterated several times that Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has not explained many tenets explicitly in his treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini.  It is up to the reader to comprehend the information given by reading and analyzing various evidences published before and after this treatise. One such tenet is bhāṣāṅga rāgas which was covered here. Another such example will be the point of discussion in this article – rāga-s with more than one mūrcana.

One cannot stop exclaiming seeing the lakṣaṇa of few rāga-s when we go through Pradarṣini. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has explained these rāga-s by giving more than one mūrcana (ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa) [1]. Rāga-s like Takka, Sālagabhairavi, Kannaḍagaula and Kamās can be placed under this category. By this we get to know, multiple variant lakṣaṇa-s existed for some rāga-s even during the period of Dīkṣitar and he was in approval of all these variants.

Kamās as described by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar

Kamās is considered as a dēśīya, bhāṣāṅga janya of Harikēdaragaula. Madhyama and dhaivata are jīva svara-s. This rāga has a restricted range between mandra sthāyi nishāda to tāra sthāyi gāndara. At some places like RGRS in tāra sthāyi, gandhāra is sādharaṇa in nature. What is more interesting here is the mūrcana given for this rāga. Though SRGMPDNS and SNDPMGRS is the mūrcana given for this rāga, it can also have other ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa like SGMPDNS/SMGMPDNS/SMGMNDNS – SNDPMGS says Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. In all the compositions notated by him, Kamās is dealt only as a sampūrṇa janya of Harikēdaragaula. In such a case, it is unavoidable for any reader to get a query – the relevance of the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa SGMPDNS – SNDPMGS, as it is totally devoid of the svara ṛṣbham. This scale was very well accepted by Dīkṣitar can be understood from the fact that it was not affixed with any other (derogatory) remarks as seen with the rāga-s Husēni or Kāpi. Hence this article will cover only this variant form and look for the presence of available compositions by analyzing older versions. Neeedless to say, analysis of the rāga Kamās that we hear today will not be attempted.

Kamās in treatises

This rāga has not been catalogued by Śahaji, Tulajā or other musicologists before their period [2]. The Rāga lakṣaṇa, attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhi by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar too do not mention this rāga. It is interesting that Subbarāma Dīkṣitar had made a note of this rāga, without furnishing a single composition of Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar or any other member of his family. The only old composition notated there is that of Svāti Tirunal and the lakṣaṇa there well abides with the structure described by Dīkṣitar.

But Kamās is seen in Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi and its allied texts. The scale given in Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi is SGMPDNS – SNDPMGS. An absolute discordance is seen between the scale given and the lakṣaṇa gīta notated therein. In the gīta notated in Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi, many phrases alien to the scale like SGP, GPMG and GPDN can be seen [3]. The ascend form pūrvāṅgam to uttarāṅgam is always by SGP despite the scale being SGMPDN. The phrase SGMP is conspicuously absent in the gītam. Similarly, RSNDP is to be noted, as the svara ṛṣbham is not mentioned in the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa.  Also the phrases characteristic of Kamās like SMGM, MNDN can also be not seen. Though we are able to locate a scale given by Dīkṣitar in the treatise Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi, the scale in no way is related to the lakṣaṇa portrayed in the gītaṃ.  When the gītaṃ is reconstructed, the melody appears totally different from the Kamās described by Dīkṣitar or heard now.

Kamās in other texts

Many texts have been published by the musicians to understand rāga lakśaṇa. They serve to understand the crystallized structure of any particular rāga and when many such publications published over the period of time were analyzed, evolution of a rāga can be understood.

One such book, perhaps the first of its kind was published by Pazamanēri Svāminātha Ayyar in the year 1901 [4]. Rāgavibhōdini, as it is called was also mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his Pradarṣini. Svāminātha Ayyar was a disciple of Mahā Vaidyanātha Ayyar and represents the śiṣya parampara of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal. This book help us to understand the rāga lakśaṇa prevailed in a single branch of Mānambucāvaḍi lineage (See foot note 1). Kamās is mentioned as a janya of Harikāmbhoji with the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa SMGMPDNS SNDPMGRS. He also mentions about the usage of kākali niṣādham in the phrase SNS. Perhaps this could be the first textual evidence regarding the use of kākali niṣādham. He then proceeds to describe this rāga by mentioning various phrases, including the one with ṛṣbham.

Kamās was explained with other dēśī rāgas by S Ramanathan in The Music Academy conference held in 1966. He has mentioned about the presence of kākali niṣādham and made a note that it is not seen in the earlier compositions [5]. A much detail description of this rāga comes from S R Janakiraman. He avers the structure of this rāga has changed over the period of time. He proceeds to give the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa as SMGMPDNS  SNDPMGRS  and its variant SNDPMGRGS. He emphasizes on the alpatva of the svara ṛṣbham [6]. Though we are able to get a clear definition of this rāga, our question on the scale without ṛṣbham, mentioned by Dīkṣitar remains unanswered.

Mūrcana in Pradarṣini

Before proceeding further, we wish to add a note on the mūrcana given in Pradarṣini and its relevance in understanding the rāga lakṣaṇa. Though Dīkṣitar provides mūrcana for every rāga he describes, in many cases reading mūrcana alone can mislead us in understanding a rāga. A comprehensive examination of all the compositions notated by him inclusive of the notes provided at the beginning is a must to get a picture of any rāga. In other words, mūrcana is just a delineation; even worser than a scale in describing a rāga in many instances.

In this case, the mūrcana resembles the scale of Harikāmbhōji. But the notes given by him regarding the nyāsa svarā-s, various illustrative phrases gives us a picture about Kamās. When this is combined with a study of the notated compositions, a clear picture of Kamās and possible ways to differentiate it from Harikāmbhōji can be learnt. This rāga could have not posed any problem if he had stopped with this discussion. The presence of an additional information, that SGMPDNS SNDPMGS can be a mūrcana confuses as this lakṣaṇa can nowhere be seen in the notated works. No single composition notated there is devoid of the svara ṛṣbham. As we have mentioned earlier, this scale too is to be taken with a pinch of salt. This scale doesn’t mean an entire composition could have been constructed only with this scale going up and down; rather the phrases given here must form a bulk of the composition and that version should be bereft of ṛṣbham or should have used ṛṣbham sparsely. We wish the readers to remember the phrase SRGMPMR in the rāga Balahamsa and its importance which we have discussed earlier. This phrase is nowhere seen in the compositions notated by Dīkṣitar in the rāga Balahamsa, but it was an arterial phrase mentioned in various treatises and seen in few old version of the kṛtis-s of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal in this rāga. The link between these treatises and the practice became evident only after examining the older versions.


Rāga-s live through compositions and a study of these compositions not only help us to understand a rāga, but also aid us in understanding the various ways in which a particular rāga was exploited. In the absence of gita-s in this rāga, we are left with the available old versions of kṛti-s, svarajati-s and jāvali-s in this rāga. A detailed analysis of  jāvali-s in this rāga can be heard here (See footnote 2). Though the first evidence of jāvali in this rāga can be traced back to 17 CE, the musical structure is much similar to what we hear today.

We do have two kṛti-s of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal in this rāga – ‘sujana jīvana’ and ‘sītāpate nā manasuna’. Excluding these two kṛti-s none of the compositions deserve a special mention in this regard.

Sujana jīvana

This is a well-known kṛti in this rāga set to the tāla rūpakam and needs no introduction. Renditions of this kṛti are plenteous and we do not see much variation in the versions. Uniformly, all these renditions use the svara ṛṣbham as an alpa svara. But we get a different picture when textual versions were examined.  Despite being a rare find, both in manuscripts and in the texts published in the early part of the last century, the versions sketched there is common, all devoid of ṛṣbham! All the texts – ‘gāyaka siddhānjanamu’ [7], ‘saṅgītānanda ratnākaramu’ [8], ‘saṅgīta raja raṅgōm’ [9] and ‘gandarva gāna kalpavalli’ [10] give us the variant form of Kamās mentioned by Dīkṣitar. Though the scale followed is SGMPDNS SNDPMGS, we do find phrases like SMGM, PDM, PDS, NDN and SP. The combination of these oft heard phrases in the basic melody condition us to an extent that we don’t feel the real absence of ṛṣbham. These versions does not record a mere scale; rather they paint us the rāga Kamās in its variant form. Now we are left with a question, a vital one to understand the svarūpa of this rāga – can Kamās be outlined without the svarā ṛṣbham? Though the ‘alpa’ nature of this svara is mentioned everywhere and even the oral renditions attest the same, none of the oral versions are available for this kṛti which totally eschew this svara. There are few rāga-s wherein inclusion or exclusion of a particular svara is up to the wish of a composer. The svara dhaivatam in Nāta and ṛṣbham in Hindōlavasanta can be cited as examples. Dīkṣitar provides gīta-s with and without these svara-s in both these rāga-s. But such an indication is not given for Kamās!

Let us look into the Vālājāpeṭṭai version of this kṛti. The rāga and tāla of this kṛti is mentioned as Kamās and rūpaka respectively. The basic version is relatively similar to the textual versions, though the structure of the saṅgati-s differ. An important observation noted include the restricted usage of ṛṣbham. The svara ṛṣbham is seen only once in anupallavi in a saṅgati as GRRS. Vālājāpeṭṭai version of this kṛti can be heard here.

Whereas in the textual versions described earlier, we were able to see many Kamās defining versions. This version lacks those phrases; instead has some other like SMGS and GPMG. The phrase GPMG is totally new, but seen in a sañcāri by Dīkṣitar. As said earlier, we lack gītas, prabandās or other earlier works in this rāga and description by Dīkṣitar alone stand as a pramāṇa. Based on the above discussion, it can be concluded this version best fits into the variant Kamās mentioned by Dīkṣitar, without deviating from its sampūrṇa nature. Many of the āvarta ends with the svara madhyamaṃ highlighting its use as a nyasa svara. But dhaivata is not used extensively as a gṛha svara, though can be considered to be used as an amsa svara.

Also the pada-s in each āvarta are segregated differently than the commonly heard version. The second tāla āvarta in anupallavi starts from ‘cita’ instead of ‘budha’ as we hear now. Same with ‘nana’ instead of ‘dharma’ in the caraṇam (see below).   This kind of pada segregation is not only followed in the Vālājāpeṭṭai version, but also in the books ‘gāyaka siddhānjanamu’ and ‘gandarva gāna kalpavalli’. In these texts, sāhitya reads differently; ‘cita’ (in anupallavi) and ‘nana’ (in caraṇam) were replaced by ‘śrita’ and ‘vana’ respectively (‘ghana’ in ‘gāyaka siddhānjanamu’). Gāyaka siddhānjanamu reads ‘dharma pālaka’ as ‘dharma pālana’.


                        bhujaka bhūṣanār  II cita budha janāvanāt II

               maja vandita śruta candana II daśa turaṅga māmava  II


                          cāru nētra śrī kalatra  II śrī ramya gātra II

                          tāraka nāma sucaritra  II daśaratha putra  II

                          tārakādhipā  II nana dharma pālaka  II

                                          tāraya raghuvara nirmala  II tyāgarāja sannutha II

From the analysis of these old versions, it appears the Kamās handled by Svāmigal could have used ṛṣbham to the minimal extent or not used at all. But going with the latter hypothesis creates an impression Kamās was visualized as a shādava rāga by Svāmigal. As we don’t have any evidence to prove that and from the knowledge gained by analyzing the mūrcana seen in Pradarṣini, the first option suits well. In that instance, Vālājāpeṭṭai version stands distinctly as the frequently heard phrases like SRS, NRS, SMGM and MNDN were not seen. But we do see other rare phrases like SMGS and GPM.


Though the aim of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is to archive the compositions known to him, he also took efforts to make a note on other contemporary accepted practices. In this regard, Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini is indeed a valuable treatise to not only learn the compositions of Dīkṣitar, but also serve as a medium to understand the music of the past.

The liberty extended to vāggēyakāra-s by our music is incomparable and they have utilized it to the maximum extent.

Analysis of all the older versions and Vālājāpeṭṭai versions is of paramount importance to understand the music of the past.

Readers must have wondered in not seeing any note on the kṛti ‘sītāpati nā manasuna’. It will be dealt as a separate essay to do justice to the information that it carries.


Footnote 1 – Though we place many musicians into a single family, like Umayālpuram, Tillaisthānam or Mānambucāvadi, differences in the versions do exist between them. This can is more pronounced in Umayālpuram disciples. Such a difference also exist among the disciples of Mānambucāvadi lineage. This is a generalized statement and not related to this kṛti as this kṛti is a hard find in manuscripts and this author was unable find this manuscript in more than one musician in the Mānambucāvadi lineage.

Footnote 2 – The tune of the jāvali sung by Subhashini Parthasarathy is more modern. She has reconstructed the tune or sung a version tuned version by a contemporary musician is to be determined.


1. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini. Vidyā Vilāsini Press, Eṭṭayapuraṃ  Samasthānaṃ, 1904.

2. Hema Ramanathan. Rāgalakṣaṇa Saṅgraha (collection of Rāga descriptions) from Treatises on Music of the Mēla Period with translations and notes, 2004.

3. Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi – Kamās lakṣaṇa gītaṃ – Pg 164. The Adyar Library, 1938.

4. Pazamanēri Svāminātha Ayyar: Rāga Vibhōdini, 1901.

5. Rāmanāthan S : Desi rāga-s in Karnātik music. Journal of Music Academy, pg 24-25, 1966.

6. S R Janakiraman. Rāga lakṣaṇaṅgal – Part 1, pg 128. The Music Academy, Madras, 1995.

7. Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu. Gāyaka siddhāṅjanamu, Part 1, pg 137. Kalā Ratnākara, Mudrākśara Śālā, Cennapuri, 1905.  

8. Tenmaṭam Vēṅkaṭācāryulu, Tenmaṭam Varadācāryulu. Saṅgītānanda ratnākaramu, pg 53. Śrīnikētana mudrāyantramu, Madras, 1917.

9. Reṅganātha Ayyar. Saṅgīta raja raṅgōm, pg 289, 1928.  

10. Rāmulu Ceṭṭi. Gandarva gāna kalpavalli, pg 56. Śrī ‘Rāma’ Mudrākṣaraśāla,1929.

Composers, Manuscripts, Sahitya

Nirupana-s of Sri Muddusvamy Diksitar




Śri Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, a well-known composer of 18 th century is credited with around 230 compositions in the treatise Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini, written by his grandson Śri Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Of these compositions, excluding two, all are kṛti-s. The standalone compositions are a daru in the rāgaṃ Śriraṅjani and a varṇam in the rāgaṃ Tōdi. Both these compositions lack the mudra ‘guruguha’. Since Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is considered to be veracious in giving us the details, the authenticity of these compositions need not be questioned.

The general opinion that Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has composed only kṛti-s, excluding the two mentioned dispersed when this author descried a manuscript in the possession of Śri Śivakumār, a descendant of Nālvar. This paper manuscript is said to be written by Nālvar themselves and contains around 90 compositions of Dīkṣitar and a few compositions of Nālvar in notation. Of these 90, only 5 are unknown and yet to be published. The rest 85 compositions can be seen in the treatise Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini. More about this manuscript can be read here.

The interesting aspect of these 5 unpublished compositions is that they cannot be called as kṛti-s. Based on the structure of the sāhityam, they can be categorized into tōdayam, śaraṇu or maṅgalam. To be more specific, these compositions might be the fragmented components of a much bigger dance based drama form called as “Nirūpaṇam”.

The word “nirūpaṇam” is usually related with Harikatha performances, wherein the singer narrates the main story accompanied with songs and jathi-s. But the nirūpaṇam that we are going to see is a different form used mainly in Bharatanāṭyam performances.

Though our music and the various forms therein can be traced back to Bharatā, the growth of dance-drama reached its peak from the period of Nāyak rulers of Tanjāvūr. This developed into a new dimension called as nirūpaṇa, mainly during the period of Marāṭha King Śerfoji II. Nirūpaṇa-s are dance-drama encompassing various musical/dance forms and are mainly composed in Marāṭi language. The theme of these nirūpaṇa revolve around bhakti and an entire mythological story is enacted in a nirūpaṇa. The musical forms seen here and the order in which they are performed also conform to a sequence that is followed in the ‘mārgam’ format of the present day Bharatanāṭyam.1 The King Śerfoji II, who patronized this form of art also has composed few nirūpaṇa-s like ‘Kumārasaṃbhavam’ and ‘Umā Mahēśvara pariṇayam’.2


Parts of a Nirūpaṇa

In general a nirūpaṇa is considered to have 18 sections and similar to Bhāgavata mēḷa, it starts with an invocation to the Lord called as “Jaya-jaya” or “Tōdayam”.
The various parts of a nirūpaṇa includes:

1. Jaya-jaya                               10. Tillānā
2. Śaraṇu                                  11. Abhinayapada
3. Śērvā                                    12.  Jakkiṇi
4. Collu                                     13. Gītam
5. Śabdam                                14.  Prabandham
6. Varṇam                                 15. Tripuṭam
7. Padam                                   16. Ślōka-varṇam
8. Svarajati                               17.  Kavuttam
9. Abhinayapadam                   18.  Maṅgaḷam

One more important to be remembered here is that all the components of a nirūpaṇa are set to a single rāgam !!


Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has composed nirūpaṇa-s?

The readers were already introduced that the manuscript under consideration contains some unpublished compositions of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Here, we give the list:

Jaya jaya gauri manōhari – 22 janyam (to be identified)
Kāmakṣi namōstute – Pāḍi
Śaranu kāmākṣi – Mēgarañjani
Manōnmaṇi bhavatutē maṅgaḷam – Mēcabauli
Śaranu śaranu mahēśa śaṅkari – Ārabhī

It is to be mentioned here that, except for the last uruppaḍi in the rāgaṃ Ārabhī, the rāga-s for the other compositions were not mentioned. Based on the rāga svarūpam seen in the notations and inputs from Dr Ritha Rajan, the rāga-s were assigned. The rāga for the composition “Jaya-jaya” is yet to be ascertained (See Footnote 1).
When the sāhityam of these compositions are analysed, the first can be classified as a ‘todayam’ or ‘jaya jaya’, the first component of any nirūpaṇam. The uruppaḍi-s in the rāga-s Mēgarañjani and Ārabhī can be placed under “Śaranu”, second section in a nirūpaṇa. The composition in the rāgaṃ Mēcabauli, needless to say is a maṅgaḷam. Kāmakṣi namōstute is more like a gītaṃ. It is clear now that all these compositions might represent different sections of a nirūpaṇam. These compositions seen in the manuscripts written by Nālvar adds credibility to our hypothesis.
Of these 5, the first three are addressed to Goddess Kāmākṣi and the last two are generic kṛti-s addressing the Divine Mother.


Nirūpaṇā-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Śerfoji II – A comparison

A preliminary analysis of these unpublished compositions gives us a clue that these can be a part of nirūpaṇa-s. But, there are few differences between these compositions of Dīkṣitar and the established nirūpaṇa-s of Śerfoji II.
Whereas the nirūpaṇa-s of Śerfoji are always in Marāṭi, all the compositions under study were composed in Sanskrit. Second difference is seen with the rāga-s employed. It is a general rule that all the components of a nirūpaṇa are to be composed in a single rāgaṃ. Here, we find five separate rāga-s employed for these five compositions. This is a major concern to be addressed.

When the five rāga-s used were studied, three of them are the janya-s of the mēla Māyāmālavagaula; other two were the janya-s of Śri and Dhīraśaṅkarābharaṇam. Of the three belonging to the mēla Māyāmālavagaula, two were addressing the deity Kāmākṣi. So, we are not wrong, if we say these two might have been a part of one nirūpaṇām. The maṅgaḷam, being a generic composition addressing Dēvi, might have been a part of this same nirūpaṇām itself. This hypothesis gets more weightage if we consider the rāgaṃ of this maṅgaḷam; Mēcabauli is also a janya of Māyāmālavagaula. So, we have three components in a nirūpaṇām composed in a janya of a single mēlam, Māyāmālavagaula. If this hypothesis is correct, Dīkṣitar, instead of composing a nirūpaṇām in a single rāgaṃ, has used a single mēlam. We don’t have a nirūpaṇa of any composer other than that of Śerfoji II to know the practice that was existent before his period. With the present available evidences, it is difficult to say whether or not Dīkṣitar has deviated from the practice that has prevailed during his time regarding the selection of rāga-s.
If we go by this theory, Dīkṣitar might have composed, at least three nirūpaṇa-s. One with the janya-s of Māyāmālavagaula and the other two using the janya-s of the other two mēla-s mentioned. Even a mere thought of this possibility make us to imagine the various janya-s that he could have used, criteria that he has followed for selecting those rāga-s as the three rāga-s used in this set are all upāṅga janya-s of Māyāmālavagaula and so on.
Of the other two, an entire nirūpaṇam could have been composed in the rāgaṃ Ārabhī, as we have a nirūpaṇam of Śerfoji II in this rāgaṃ. Alternatively, he could have used various other janya-s of Dhīraśaṅkarābharaṇam in this nirūpaṇam too. A reconstructed version of the Śaraṇu in the rāgaṃ Ārabhī can be heard here.



The available evidences make us to believe Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has composed nirūpaṇa-s. If we go by the above mentioned hypothesis, he could have composed at least three nirūpaṇa-s. Also, there is a high possibility that only Nālvar might have been aware of these nirūpaṇa-s, as they are seen only in the manuscripts written by them and we are not aware of any other śiṣya learning from him during his stay in Tanjāvur. These compositions or a mention about these cannot be seen even in Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini, a lexicon of authentic Dīkṣitar kṛti-s.

It is to be remembered here, we have a daru and a varṇam in Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini. This opens up another question, whether or not Dīkṣitar has composed any operas during his stay in Tiruvārur? We allow the readers to ponder over this question till we get some more evidence in this line.


Footnote 1
The first three compositions (of the unpublished compositions) were brought to light for the first time by Dr Ritha Rajan, in her monumental thesis. Though she has not mentioned the rāga names in her thesis, she suggested the rāga names to this author in a personal communication. Rāga mudra is incorporated in the sāhityam of the maṅgaḷam in Mēcabauli.


I personally thank Dr N Ramanathan for educating me about these nirūpaṇa-s.


1. Ramanathan N . Evolution of Musical forms used in Bharatanatyam
2. Krishnaswami Mahdick Rao Sahib A, Nagaraja Rao G (ed). Dance pieces in Marati by Śerfoji Raja (1958).

Personalities, Repertoire, Sahitya

O Goddess mInAkshI ! Princess of Kerala!


The blog’s heading may be a bit of a surprise. While, Goddess Meenakshi, the presiding deity of Madurai was a legendary Pandyan Princess and has been so eulogized by very many poets and composers, yet hidden in the heap of history and long forgotten is a Goddess Meenakshi, a look alike of her who made Kerala her home and thus veritably became a Queen of the Land of Parasurama and a tutelary deity enshrined in the precincts of the Palace of the Kerala Royals. And eventually while we shall look at a musical composition on this Meenakshi of Kerala in the process, we would also evaluate collateral historical information and remember a Royal who set up the Imperial House of Travancore (to which the musical composer Svati Tirunal belonged to) and who had a hand in this history.

At the outset I should confess that the inspiration for this blog post came from another avid blogger Sri Sharat Sundar Rajeev, a professional conservation architect and a history buff and an original one at that!  Again, my interest in the Royal family of Travancore got kindled last year since reading the classic work “Ivory Throne- Chronicles of the House of Travancore” of Manu Pillai which went on to get him the Sahitya Akademi Yuva Purasakar. It’s indeed sad that very many historical personages and events not to say of temples and other historical monuments lie forgotten. In these blog posts I have attempted to provide that insight as well even while we get to know and relish a raga or a composition. In other words, the idea is to know and enjoy the historical context as well when we get to hear, know or learn a composition.

Over to the Goddess!

FLASH BACK CIRCA A D 1635 – Tirumalai Nayak invades nanjil nadu/southern Kerala

Map of Kerala

Tirumalai Nayak the founding father of the Royal lineage of the Madurai Nayakas ruled from Madurai, his regnal years being 1623-1659 AD. A vassal earlier to the Emperors of Vijayanagar, the Nayaks of Madura, after the collapse of the Vijayanagar Empire, in the epic Battle of Talikota had broken free and become rulers in their own right. Tirumalai Nayak was one of the greatest in that line. And when he ascended the throne, he ruthlessly went about expanding his empire and, in his conquests, laid siege to many of the small principalities of south western coastal regions of peninsular India. He was the Nayak King who moved the Capital from Trichirapalli to Madurai and thus his tutelary deity was Goddess Meenakshi enshrined at Madurai. Tirumalai Nayak thus adopted the ancient signage of the erstwhile Pandyan sovereigns, imparting both political as well as religious legitimacy to their power by anointing Her as his kuladevata. Royals of those days, to derive power and authority always aligned themselves and their lineage to a well known and fiercely venerated Temple and/or godhead. Lord Tyagaraja at Tiruvarur, Lord Brihadeeswara of Tanjore, Lord Rajagopala at Mannargudi are classic examples where the reigning Kings and Chieftains took those deities to be their mascots and shortly we will see that the Royal House of Travancore took it a step further. (See Note 1)

Tirumalai Nayak circa 1635 forayed into nAnjil nAdu (vide Satyanatha Iyer ‘s ‘Nayaks of Madura” page 121) being modern day southern Kerala, which shared its borders with his kingdom. Kerala at that point in time, was an aggregation of small principalities and for the powerful Nayak King they were no match. History has it that perhaps as a mark of his conquest and victory, Tirumalai Nayak perhaps renovated and consecrated the 13th century temple at Padmanabhapuram, the imperial seat of the Royals of Travancore, modelled on the Dravidian architecture, rather than the typical Kerala style, and installed the icon of his tutelary deity, Goddess Meenakshi therein. And legend has it that he ensured that the mUla vigrahA or idol in the sanctum sanctorum too was stylistically made on the lines of the one at Madurai, complete with a parrot on her hand! Unsurprisingly he named this deity too as Goddess Meenakshi, in the process transplanting the hoary history of the Pandya Princess into the Land of Parasurama.

And thus, while history has left us with this piece of information, if one were to embark on a search today at Padmanabhapuram, for this Nayak enshrined deity, it will yield no Goddess named Meenakshi!

CIRCA 1720 – The House of Kulashekaras or Kupakas, the Travancore Royal Family, assume sovereignty

Sri Padmanabha Dasa Vanchi Pala Anusham Thirunal Marthanda Varma”

Venad, the strip of land which stretches from Attingal to Kanyakumari in modern day Kerala was the small principality nominally ruled by the Royals of the House of Travancore or the Kulashekaras or the Kupaka dynasty as they were held, with their seat at Padmanabhapuram.  Emasculated of their power they were nominal figureheads while, the real power lay with two entities. One being the Ettuveetil Pillamar (Lords of the Eight Houses) an aggregation of powerful Nair nobles, on one hand and the powerful Ettara Yogam which was an entity which managed and controlled the Temple of Lord Padmanabhaswami at Travancore. And it was at this point in time that in this Royal House of Kulashekaras/Kupakas was born Prince Marthanda Varma, known later as Anizham (Anusham- the star) Tirunal Marthanda Varma (born 1706 AD) whose regnal years was AD 1729-1758. When he ascended the Ivory throne, he quietly went about consolidating power by annexing the principalities of Quilon, Kayamkulam, Kottarakara, Ambalapuzha & Changanaserry. Marthanda Varma extended his dominions further by taking control of the holdings of the Kings of Cochin and the Zamorin of Calicut. In the famous Battle of Colachel (circa 1741) he defeated the Dutch who had interceded on behalf of the Kottarakara Royals and in the process, he became one of the handful of sovereigns of the sub-continent who had defeated a European colonial power. And finally, years later the Dutch completely succumbed to his suzerainty when they signed the Treaty of Mavelikkara which for all practical purposes anointed him Marthanda Varma as the Lord of Keralaputras. Assisted ably by his trusted Prime Minister (“Dalavai”) Ramayyan , he consolidated the Kingdom of Travancore, ushered in reforms and cut to size the entities including the Ranis of Attingal, the Ettuveetil Pillamar and the Ettara Yogam being the Devaswom Board known as Yogakkaras. (See Foot Note 2). Also realizing that all battles cannot be won militarily, Marthanda Varma calculated that he had to sue for peace with external powers as necessary including the British who were on the anvil of getting a toehold in Southern India. And so, he entered into friendship treaties including the one with the Nayaks of Madurai, who anyway by that time were a spent force. And thus, within a century after Tirumalai Nayaka had seized Padmanabhapuram, the Kulashekaras of Travancore had regained the place back, making the Royal Estate and the Palace there as their imperial seat of power. And in fact, it was his edicts and the policy that he set, which was followed to the T by his descendants all the way till 1950 when Travancore was subsumed by the Indian Union.

But Marthanda Varma wasn’t done yet. Even as he consolidated his hold over the entire Venad, he was about to perform an act that no other sovereign before him had done, which would endure all the way up to the 21st Century.

17th January 1750 – Truppadidanam

Surrender of the Dutch before his Highness Marthanda Varma after the Battle of Colachel

Whether it was a political master stroke to enable his suzerainty and establish and completely legitimise the rule of his Royal House of Kulashekaras into perpetuity or whether it was his unbridled devotion to Lord Padmanabha, we do not know. (See Note 5). On this date January 1750 AD, when the then 44-year-old Marthanda Varma who was at his very pinnacle of glory, made his coup de maître.

History tells us that this great King went in all pomp and splendour to the Temple of Lord Padmanabhaswami and in a ceremony called ‘thruppadi dAnam’ he laid down all his Royal regalia including his ceremonial sword before the Lord and dedicated all that he had including the kingdom to Lord Padmanabha. Travancore as a whole, thus became the property of Sri Padmanabhaswamy, the deity of the Travancore Royal family or in other words it became “God’s Own Country” as Kerala is called today!

In essence Marthanda Varma firmly ensconced himself as a mere vice regent or nominee of Lord Padmanabha/a mere dAsA who would rule for and on his behalf! Adversaries and foes would dare not wage a war again against his Kingdom for its Ruler was Lord Padmanabha himself.

And then on Anusham Tirunal Marthanda Verma went on to assume the complete Royal title “Sri Padmanabha Dasa Vanchi Pala Anusham Thirunal Marthanda Varma”. After this date all sovereigns of the Kulashekara/Kupaka House ruled in the name of Lord Padmanabha, with this title. In fact, Marthanda Varma went on to lay down the protocol that all Royal children in the matriarchal line as was the line of inheritance in the Royal families of Kerala, upon attaining the age of one would be laid before the Lord as a symbol of this dedication. Even female rulers adopted a corresponding title, for example Rani Gauri Lakshmi Bayi who was a Regent was titled as “Sri Padmanabha Sevini Vanchi Rajeshwari Maharani Ayilyam Thirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi, Attingal Mootha Thampuran, Rani of Travancore”.

Goddess mInAkshi, the giver of eternal bliss becomes Goddess Anandavalli

mInAkshI – A painting

Having made this lasting contribution to the history of his Kingdom, this sovereign Marthanda Varma perhaps one fine day sometime circa 1755 turned his attention to the quaint temple of Lord Neelakantaswami near the precincts of his Padmanabhapuram palace which was his imperial seat. It was his successor Karthika Tirunal who in 1795 AD shifted the imperial seat from Padmanabhapuram to Travancore.

And Marthanda Varma must have mulled the fact that it was his Nayak ally, the sovereign of Madurai then back in 1635 AD nearly 100 years ago, who had consecrated this Temple and named the consort of Lord Neelakanteswara as Meenakshi, after the great guardian deity of Madurai, building it completely in the Dravidian style. And he perhaps thought that without in anyway erasing the legacy of the Temple or remodelling or rebuilding the temple in the Kerala style, wanted to just make a symbolic change perhaps by anointing the Goddess anew with a different name. Was it that perhaps in gratitude of this Goddess having gotten him what he wanted in life, did he deign to change the name of the Deity? One does not now, but we do know for sure that this padmanabha dasa during his reign went on to change the name of Goddess Meenakshi to Goddess Anandavalli, the giver of eternal bliss!

And thus, ends our search for that old Goddess Meenakshi of yore consecrated by Tirumalai Nayak. History tells us this for sure and whence one gets a chance to visit the Temple of Lord Neelakanteswara and Goddess Anandavalli nee Meenakshi, today at Padmanabhapuram one can witness the fact that the temple bears the heritage of both its patron royale, Tirumalai Nayaka as well as Marthanda Varma whose figurines still adorn the temple. And the Goddess in the sanctum sanctorum will be holding a parrot just as the celestial Pandya Princess does in Madurai, with that suppressed smile, manda hAsa !

And before we move to matters musical, it is over to Sharat Sundar Rajeev to provide his narrative of this Temple at Padmanabhapuram along with the photos– read his blog post here which actually appeared in print in The Hindu.

Sharat Sundar Rajeev – The Hindu & his blog post – Tales from Travancore

And the personality of Marthanda Varma pervades even today (see Foot Note 3). And as to his master stroke in performing the Truppadidanam, his dying instructions to his successor may prove his credentials to one and all and would show why perhaps he was and is so revered even today. (See Foot Note 4)

Circa 1840 – the Musical Chapter of Goddess Anandavalli nee Meenakshi

The successors of Anusham Tirunal Marthanda Verma who ruled till modern India came into being, were:

  1. Anusham Tirunal Marthanda Varma 1729–1758
  2. Karthika Tirunal Rama Varma (Dharma Raja) 1758–1798
  3. Avittam Tirunal Balarama Varma 1798–1810
  4. Maharani Ayilyam Tirunal Gowri Lakshmi Bayi 1810–1815 (Queen from 1810–1813 and Regent Queen from 1813–1815)
  5. Maharani Uthirattadi Tirunal Gowri Parvati Bayi (Regent) 1815–1829
  6. Swathi Tirunal Rama Varma 1829–1846
  7. Uthradom Tirunal Marthanda Varma 1846–1860
  8. Ayilyam Tirunal Rama Varma 1860–1880
  9. Visakham Thirunal Rama Varma 1880–1885
  10. Sree Moolam Thirunal Rama Varma 1885–1924
  11. Maharani Pooradam Tirunal Sethu Lakshmi Bayi (Regent) 1924–1931
  12. Chithira Thirunal Balarama Varma 1931–1991
  13. Uthradom Thirunal Marthanda Varma 1991– 2013

The 6th in the lineage above who came to occupy the Ivory Throne of Travancore was the musical composer Svati Tirunal who needs no introduction. And it was left him to the immortalize this Goddess by etching her on the fabric of our music by composing the beautiful composition ‘Anandavalli’ in the haunting melody of Neelambari.  Legend had already associated this sovereign known as ‘gharbha srImAn’ with the raga Neelambari, when Irayimaan Tampi the Royal Courtier composed ‘Oomana thingal kidavo’ as the lullaby for the baby King Svati Tirunal. ‘Anandavalli’ ranks on par with the other beautiful compositions in this raga and it is trifle unfortunate that it has not been rendered very frequently. Besides quite a few publishers/editors of Svati Tirunal’s compositions classify this composition as a padam. Given the lyrics of the composition, attempting to class it as padam for the simple reason it is rendered slowly in cauka kAlam does not seem logical and for all practical purposes this composition is only a kriti.

We do not have any further information as to the background of this composition and one may perhaps just conjecture that this Maharaja perhaps on one of his frequent sojourns to the Padmanabhapuram Palace must have composed it in a trice. Be that as it may this bewitching composition in chaste Sanskrit, is replete with similes and other linguistic adornments.

The text and meaning of this composition runs thus.

 Anandavalli kuru mudam 

पल्लवि :

आनन्दवल्लि कुरु मुदमविरतम्



धृत-शुक-पोत-विलासिनि जय परम




गिरि-राज-सुते (अम्ब)



सारसाक्षि हृदि विहर दिवानिशं

  rAgam: nIlAmbari                                                                       tALam: Adi

shrI  svAti tirunAL viracita 


Anandavalli kuru mudamaviratam


dIna-jana-santapa-timirAmrtakiraNAyita suhasE

dh.rtashukapOtavilAsini jaya param (Anandavalli)


jambhavimatamukha sevita padayugaLe girirAjasutE ghanasAralasita

vidhukhaNDasad.rshaniTileshambhuvadanasarasIruha madhupEsArasAkShi h.rdi vihara divAnisham  || 1 ||

keshapAshajita sajalajaladanikare padapa”nkajasevaka-khedajAlashamanaika

paramacaturEnAshitAghacarite bhuvanatraya-nayike vitara me shubhamanupamam || 2 ||

shAradendurucima~njuLatamavadanEmunih.rdaya nivAsini cArukundamukuLopavara

radanE pArijAtatarupallava caranE padmanAbhasahajE hara mE shucam || 3 ||

Pallavi :

Oh Anandavalli! Grant me happiness without fail!


Your smile is like a ray of nectar which can wipe off the darkness of grief. O the one holding a young parrot! Hail!

Caranam 1:

One whose feet are worshipped by Indra, foe of Jambha; daughter of the king of mountains. One who is adorned with camphor on the crescent like forehead. You are like the bee to the lotus face of Shiva. O the one with lotus-like eyes. Always dwell in my heart.

Caranam 2:

Your long tresses surpass the water bearing collection of clouds. You are the only skilful one in dispelling the misfortunes of those who worship your lotus feet. One who has the glory of removing the afflictions of the three worlds. Please grant me insurmountable prosperity.

Caranam 3:

One whose face is beautiful like the charming autumnal moon; resides in the hearts of ascetics. One who has charming teeth like the beautiful jasmine buds and feet like the tender leaf of Parijata. O The sister of Lord Padmanabha! Dispel my grief!

 And one should for a moment savour the lyrics at ‘dhruta shuka pota vilAsini’ in the anupallavi for that marks the fact that the icon of Goddess Anandavalli sports a parrot, the only reference in this kriti which links the past of this Goddess, when once she was Meenakshi a full hundred years ago even prior to the times of Svati Tirunal. ( See Foot Note 5)

And it wasn’t Svati Tirunal alone who had sung on this Goddess. The quite well own composer Nilakantha Sivan too had composed verses on this Goddess of Padmanabhapuram.

aiyndhu mOraaRu mIraindhu mIraaRu

mOraindhu mOrpatthumaana

ay mUnRu mOronRum aTcharamaga

manthram aruL vaDivamaana thaayE

ayndhu karanODu IraaRukaranaiyumInRa

ambikE inbha nidhiyE,   akhilaaNDa kODi pugazh magaraasiyaana

paramaanandha valli umaiyE

ஐந்து மோராறும் மீரைந்து மீராறும்
மோரைந்து மோர்பத்துமான
ஐமூன்று மோரொன்றும் அட்சரமாக
மந்திரம் அருள் வடிவமான தாயே
ஐந்து கரனொடு ஈராறுகரனையுமீன்ற
அம்பிகே இன்ப நிதியே அகிலாண்ட கோடி புகழ் மகராசியான
பரமானந்த வல்லி உமையே

 (Nilakanta Sivan from his “Anandavalli Dasakam”- See Foot Note 6)

Two clarifications are in order :

  1. Older publications of Maharaja Svati Tirunal’s kritis such as the one by Sri Sambasiva Sastri( see Bibliography) provide the tala of the composition as ‘cempata’ which in Kathakali too is a 8 beat cycle tala ( some give it as 16 beats as well, a multiple) with probably a difference in the kriya or the way the beat is struck/visually demonstrated.
  2. To the best of my knowledge none of the publications including the very latest being Sri T K Govinda Rao’s, provide the stala of this composition as Padmanabhapuram. There is a actually another ksetra known as Anandavallishwaram in Kollam, Kerala where too the Devi is named as Anandavally. Nevertheless given the facts such as the holding of the parrot by the deity and also the association of the dramatis personae to the shrine at Padmanabhapuram, this kriti can only be assigned to the Devi in that ksetra.


Sangita Kalanidhi Sanjay Subramanian, Vidvan Rama Verma and his disciple Vidusi Amruta Venkatesh have presented this composition in the public space. But for this blog I seek to present the version by Vidvan Dileep Kumar who sings two of the three caranas of this composition in this rendering of his:

And here is a brief excerpt of Sangita Kalanidhi Sanjay Subramanian singing the cittasvara section of the composition. The cittasvara section is not found notated in T K Govinda Rao’s publication.

Audio & Visuals – See Foot Note 7


The Kerala Royals are all but gone with the passing away of the last of them Utharadom Tirunal (see Foot Note 8) in 2013 and whoever survives from the very many branches are already commoners. Yet today the Royal composer’s kriti and the emotions that it evokes convinces one that a visit at least once to that hallowed shrine in the backdrop of the verdant vELI Hills at Padmanabhapuram has to be made. And one can’t but wonder what an ethereal experience it would be to sit, one autumn evening, perhaps during Navaratri on the banks of that emerald green water filled temple tank’s stone steps with the dark sky lit with the autumnal moon, the grand pavilion at the centre resplendent with the oil lit lamps even while the soft fragrance of jasmine pervades the air suffused by a soft tanpura drone and one soulfully sings or listens to an enchanting rendering of this Neelambari composition! And I am sure as one dissolves oneself in the melody, the reverie would take us all the way starting from the 13th century when the Temple was perhaps built and on to the 17th century when Tirumalai Nayak consecrated his iconic Goddess Meenakshi therein and then to Marthanda Varma who thus in the mid-18th century changed Her name to Goddess Anandavalli and on to Svati Tirunal of 19th century who composed this beautiful piece and to that moment is time in the present to feel the ambrosial experience of extolling Her as “paramAnandavallI”.



  1. Manu Pillai (2015) – Harper Collins – ‘The Ivory Throne’ – Introductory Chapter- pp 1-20
  2. Satyanathier (1924) – Oxford University Press- ‘History of the Nayaks of Madura’ – Chapter VIII pp 110148
  3. Shungoony Menon (1878) – Higginbotham & Co – ‘A History of Travancore from the Earliest Times’ – Vol 1- Chapter II pp -112- 175
  4. K Sambasiva Sastri (Editor)(1932)-Trivandrum Sanskrit Series No CXIII – “The Sangita Kritis of Swati Sri Rama Varma Maharaja” pp 101-102
  5. T K Govinda Rao (2002) – Ganamandir Publications- ‘Compositions of Maharaja Swati Tirunal’- Music Series VI pp 370-371


  1. Sovereigns of yore have always invoked divinity to add legitimacy to their rule in one form or the other. Royal lineages, clans and dynasties have always invoked godhead and history is replete with examples. Rajeswari Ghose’s – ‘The Tyagaraja Cult’ especially Chapter 9 titled ‘Tyagaraja as Cult Typology and Legitimization of Power’ is an illustrative text on this subject.
  2. Ettuveetil Pillamar or the Lord of Eight Houses of Kerala and Madempimar were the Nair nobles who held sway at that point in time in the run up to the ascendancy of Marthanda Varma. Curiously they bear an uncanny resemblance to the Chieftains/feudatories of the Chola Kingdom of the 9th and 10th century AD pictured so beautifully by Kalki in his “Ponniyin Selvan”, who held considerable sway and control over their overlord the Chola Kings. The Mazhavarayars of Ariyalur/Tirumalapadi, Sambuvarayar of Kadambur, Pazhuvettarayars of Pazhuvur, Malayamans of Tirukkoilur & others are the illustrated feudatories of the Colas.
  3. Marthanda Varma was an iconic personality so much so novels and movies came to produced eulogizing him. C V Raman Pillai brought out a novel on him in 1891 adding a romantic angle as well to his history. A critical appraisal of the novel can be read here:

And just as how later in the 20th century ‘Ponniyin Selvan” (of Kalki K Krishnamurthi) a historical novel with Arulmozhi Varman (later Raja Raja Chola I) as the protagonist went on to capture the imagination of the Tamil readers, Raman Pillai’s Malayalam work too became a best seller. Raman Pillai’s novel has been published by the Sahitya Akademi in Malayalam and along with the English and Tamil translations ( by Padmanabhan Tampy) as well which makes an interesting read.

A movie too was produced based on the novel which was released after a court battle over copyright, in 1933. One can read about it here:

And Marthanda Varma and his exploits is poised to hit the screens once again as filming gets underway for the movie starring actor Rana Daggubatti, complete with visual special effects:

And again much like how “Ponniyin Selvan” has been staged Raman Pillai’s novel too has spawned stage versions:

  1. According to Shungoony Menon (page 175 of his work), when Marthanda Varma in 1758 AD was on his death bed, he ushered in his successor, being his nephew, the next King designate Karthika Tirunal Rama Varma and gave him his instructions which provide a glimpse of this great founder of the modern Kupaka Dynasty & his innermost thoughts for his land and his subjects. His dying instructions to his successor were :
    1. There shall be no deviation whatever made to the dedication of the Kingdom to Sri Padmanabha Swamy and all further territorial acquisitions if done shall be made over to the Devaswom
    2. Not a hair’s breadth alteration or deviation shall be done to the established charities and institutions connected to the Devaswom
    3. There shall be no dissension or quarrel in the Royal House
    4. Expenses of the State should not be allowed to exceed the income at any cost
    5. The Palace expenditure should be defrayed only from the profits of the commercial Department
    6. And above all the friendship existing between the Kingdom of Travancore and the English East India Company shall be maintained at all costs and that full confidence should always be placed in the support and aid of that honourable association.

These six commands would show his great foresight, statesmanship and conviction without doubt.

  1. For me ‘Anandavalli’ makes me reminisce on the similarly structured Neelambari composition ‘karunAnda catura’ of Kumara Ettendra which we featured in a blog post some time ago. The subject matter being Goddess Parvati and usage of words such as ‘nitilE’, kunda mukula radanE, padmanAbha sahajE or sAranga varada sahajE’ seems to prompt the same, while few others might see a musical correspondence with ‘shringAra lahari’ of Lingaraja Urs.


  1. Nilakanta Sivan has to his credit a number of Tamil compositions which were a rage once upon a time. Sivanai ninaindhu (Hamirkalyani), Enraikku Siva krupai (Mukhari), Navsiddhi Petrallum (Kharaharapriya), Sambo Mahadeva ( Bhauli), Ananda natanamaduvar ( Purvikalyani) and Teruvadeppo nenje (Khamas) are some of the kritis which were sung frequently and immortalized by the likes of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, M S Subbulakshmi and D K Pattammal by their gramophone records. Sivan’s original name was Subramanian and he changed his name due to his great devotion to this Lord Neelakantaswami of Padmanabhapuram. A play list of his compositions on YouTube can be heard/viewed here: .



  1. The clippings have been sourced from Sangeethapriya and thanks are due to Sr TVG for his painstaking effort to record and collate recordings on the website. And some spectacular visuals of the Padmanabhapuram Palace, I would recommend the Flickr account of Manfred Sommer which you can access here:

and off course the Official web site :

  1. The last royal died in 2013 and in its wake the treasures which lie in the vaults of the Lord Padmanabhaswami Temple is yet to be fully uncovered and settled.

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.