Friday, October 9, 2009

Shyama Shastri


Actual Name : Venkata Subrahmanya
From : 26th April, 1762 To : 6th Feb, 1827
Father : Visvanatha Iyer
Mother : Vengalakshmi
Place of birth : Thiruvarur in Tanjavur Dist of Tamilnadu

Shyama Shastri was the oldest of the Trinity of Carnatic music. He was a contemporary of the other two, Tyagaraja and Muthuswamy Dikshitar, and was a personal friend of the former

Early years and background

He was born in Tiruvarur (of Tanjavur district in Tamil Nadu) on April 26 1762, into the scholarly and priestly Tamil Brahmin family of Viswanatha Iyer; a family not particularly interested in music. Though Shyama Shastri attained scholarship in Telugu and Sanskrit at a young age, he got no further than the elementary stages in music education, in spite of his melodious voice. When he was eighteen years old, his family moved to Tanjore.

Around then, his family got a chance to host a sanyasi (monk), sangitaswami, a master of dance and music, who was spending some four months in Tanjore. The sanyasi was quick to discover Shyama Shastri's keen intellect, melodious voice and musical talent and foresaw greatness in him. He obtained the father's consent to tutor the son in music and taught Shyama Shastri all aspects of raga, tala and swara prasthara-s. The teacher found that the student could absorb even the intricate details very quickly.. all in a matter of four months or less. Sangitaswami presented Shyama Shastri with a few rare treatises on music and certified that the student had gained full knowledge on the theoretical aspects of music. He advised his student to seek the friendship of and listen to the music (but not learn anything from) one Adiyappayya, a composer of the famous bhairavi ata tala varnam, viriboni, and a court musician in Tanjore. shyama Shastri duly did as he was advised.

Shyama Shastri – Prime years

Over the years, Shyama Shastri became a well-known and respected musician, scholar and a composer. He was quite admired and respected by Tyagaraja and it appears that the two of them often held scholarly and lengthy discussions on their latest compositions. Shyama Shastri, like his father was the archaka (priest) in the Bangaru Kamakshi Temple in Tanjore. Always worshipping Kamakshi at the temple and at home, Syama Sastri had little occasion to go out of Tanjavur, but from his pieces, it is seen that he went to the neighboring Tiruvayyaru and sang of Dharmasamvardhini; to Jambukesvaram and sang of Akilandeswari, and also to the more distant Madurai where he sang nine pieces on Meenakshi.

While all his pieces are on Devi, chiefly Kamakshi, and also some of her other forms including Brihannayaki at the Big Temple at Tanjavur, there are also, among the published and the unpublished kritis, a few on Subramanya. We may not find among his compositions several types as in those of the other two masters, but besides Kritis, he composed also Tana Varnam and Swarajatis. The Bhairavi, Todi and Yadukalakambhoji Swarajatis of Syama Sastri could be counted as the composer’s specialities by the side of the Pancharatnas of Tyagaraja and Ragamalikas of Dikshita


* brOva samayamidhE dhEvI

* dhayajUda mamchi samayamidhE

* dhurusugA kRupajUchi

* Emani migula varNimthu

* ennEramum un pAdhakamalaDhyAnam

* janani nathajanaparipAlini

* kanakashaila vihArini

* karuNAniDhi ilalO

* mAyammA yani nE palichithE

* mInalOchanA brOvayOchanA

* nannu brOvarAdhA

* nannu brOvu lalithA vEgamE

* ninne namminAnu sadhA

* pArvathI ninnu nE

* puraharajAyE pAlaya mAm

* shamkari shamkuru chamdhramukhi

* shrIpathimukha virachitha

* tharuNamidhammA ennai

* thrilOkamAthA nannubrOvu


Shyama Shastri had two sons, Panju Shastri and Subbaraya Shastri. The former became a priest and the latter was a versatile musician (and a disciple of Thyagaraja). Through Panju Shastri, the family tree grew and produced quite a few scholars. Shyama Shastri's great grandson was alive till the age of 94 and passed away only in 1950. Hence, many incidents of Shyama Shastri's life are known. He was reportedly a tall and a rather stout person with a fondness for betel leaves! Shyama Shastri, like Thyagaraja and Dikshitar, was well-versed in astrology.

Like his great contemporaries, he too correctly predicted the time of his passing. He passed away on February 6, 1827, six days after, his devoted wife passed away.

P.S. Prj done by Brunda Ramesh
Ref: Internet

Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775 - 1835)

Muthuswami Dikshitar (Tamil: முத்துஸ்வாமி தீக்ஷிதர்; March 24, 1775 – October 21, 1835) is the youngest of the Carnatic music composer trinity. He is said to have born to the couple after they prayed for a child in the temple of Vaitheeswaran Koil.

Early life and background

Muthuswami Dikshitar was born in Tiruvarur (of Thanjavur district in what is now the state of Tamil Nadu) to a Tamil Iyer Brahmin couple Ramaswami Dikshitar and Subbamma,as the eldest son. According to the account of Subbarama Dikshitar, Muttuswami Dikshitar was born in the manmatha year, in the month of Panguni under the asterism Krittikaa.

He was named after the temple deity, Muttukumaraswamy. He also had two younger brothers Baluswami, Chinnaswami and a sister Balambal. In keeping with the educational trends of Brahmin boys of that time, Muthuswami learnt the Sanskrit language, Vedas, and other important religious texts. He also obtained his preliminary musical education from his father.

While he was still in his teens, his father sent him on a pilgrimage with a wandering monk named Chidambaranatha Yogi, to gain musical and philosophical knowledge. Over the course of this pilgrimage, he visited many places in North India, and acquired a broad outlook that is reflected in many of his compositions. During their stay in Kashi (Varanasi), his guru Chidambaranatha Yogi, presented Dikshitar with a unique Veena, and died shortly thereafter. The samādhi of Chidambaranatha Yogi can still be seen in the Hanuman Ghat area in Varanasi.

His Music

Muthuswami Dikshitar attained mastery over the Veena, and the influence of Veena playing is evident in his compositions. As per his guru's orders, he went to Tiruttani (a temple town near Chennai). There, while he was immersed deep in meditation, an old man appeared and asked him to open his mouth. He dropped sugar candy into his mouth and disappeared. As he opened his mouth, he had a vision of the deity Muruga and Dikshitar burst forth into his first composition "Shri Nathadi Guruguho" in the raga Mayamalavagowla.

This song addressed the Lord (and/or the guru) in the first declension in Sanskrit. Dikshitar later composed kritis in all the eight declensions on the Lord. These are mostly with epithets glorifying the guru and have very few references to Lord Muruga or specifically to the deity in the saguna form, as at Thiruthani. He then went on a pilgrimage visiting and composing on temples at Kanchi, Arunachalam , Chidambaram, Tirupathi and Kalahasthi, before returning to Tiruvarur.

Dikshitar's Prime

On his return to Tiruvarur, he composed on every deity in the Tiruvarur temple complex including Thyagaraja (an amsha of Lord Shiva), the presiding deity, Nilotpalambal, his consort, and the Goddess Kamalambal an independent deity of high tantric significance in the same temple complex. This is when he composed the famous Kamalamba Navavarana cycle, filled with exemplary sahityas which proved to be the showcase of his compositions. These navavaranams were in all the eight declensions of the Sanskrit language and are sung as a highlight of Guruguha Jayanti celebrated every year. He continued to display his prowess by composing the Navagraha Kritis in praise of the nine planets. The sahitya of the songs reflect a profound knowledge of the Mantra and Jyotisha sastras. The Nilotpalamba Kritis is another classic set of compositions which revived dying ragas like Narayanagaula, Purvagaula, and Chayagaula.

His total compositions are about 450 to 500, most of which are very widely sung by musicians today in Carnatic music concerts. Most of his compositions are in Sanskrit and in the Krithi form i.e. poetry set to music. Muthuswami Dikshitar traveled to many holy shrines throughout his life, and composed krithis on the deities and temples he visited. Each of his compositions is unique and brilliantly crafted. The compositions are known for the depth and soulfulness of the melody - his visions of some of the ragas are still the final word on their structure. His Sanskrit lyrics are in praise of the temple deity, but Muthuswami introduces the Advaita thought seamlessly into his songs, resolving the inherent relationship between Advaita philosophy and polytheistic worship. His songs also contain much information about the history of the temple, and its background, thus preserving many customs followed in these old shrines.

Muttuswami also undertook the project of composing in all the 72 Melakartha ragas, (in his Asampurna Mela scheme) thereby providing a musical example for many rare and lost ragas. Dikshitar was a master of tala and is the only composer to have kritis in all the seven basic talas of the Carnatic scheme. Dikshitar shows his skill in Sanskrit by composing in all the eight declensions. For richness of raga bhava, sublimity of their philosophic contents and for the grandeur of the sahitya, the songs of Dikshitar stand unsurpassed.

Muttuswami Dikshitar was approached by four dance masters from Tanjavur: Sivanandam, Ponnayya ,Chinnayya and Vadivelu. They expressed their desire to learn music from him and entreated him to accompany them to Tanjavur. There, Dikshitar imparted to them the 72 mela tradition handed down by Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita.The students showed their gratitude by composing a set of nine songs called Navaratna Mala glorifying their guru. These four disciples became what is known as the Tanjore Quartette and are revered as the prime composers of music for Bharatanatyam.


On Deepavali day,in the year 1835, Dikshithar performed puja as usual and asked his students to sing the song "Meenakshi Me Mudam" in the raga Gamakakriya. As his students sang the lines "Meena lochani pasa mochani" he raised his hands and saying "Sive Pahi" left his mortal coil.


Baluswami Dikshitar, brother of Muthuswamy Dikshitar is believed to be the pioneer who introduced the violin to Carnatic Music, an instrument now an integral part of almost any carnatic ensemble. Muthuswamy Dikshitar also shows influence of the Baroque style of western Classical music in some of his compositions (eg., "Varashiva Balam" ).


Muthuswami Dikshitar died on 21 October 1835. Dikshitar had a daughter but it was the descendants of his brother Baluswami who have preserved his musical legacy, and his compositions have been popularized due to the efforts of people like Subbarama Dikshitar and Ambi Dikshitar.

Baluswami Dikshitar, the sixth descendant in the line, a well known vainika by his own rights, resided in Trichy and then moved to Chennai in 1957. He died in November 1985. He has two sons and two daughters. The eldest son, Muthuswamy, the seventh descendent in the line, retired as a top executive in the State Bank of India group of banks and then was the Managing Director and CEO of a private sector bank. He now resides in Coimbatore. The younger son runs his own small scale industry near Madurai. Both the daughters are married and well settled in Chennai. The Raja Rajeswari, Vallabha Ganapathi, Sree Chakra, Banalingam, Saligramam and other idols, given to Shri Muthuswamy Dikshithar by his guru Chidambaranatha Yogi is in the family with the eldest son Muthuswamy along with the veena (with the upturned Yaali Mukha) with the Sanskrit inscription "Sri Ram" said to have been given to Dikshithar by Goddess Sarasvati, when he bathed in the river Ganges, as indication of his having attained Mantra Siddhi.


Important Krithi Groups
• Guruguha Vibhakti krithis - Songs in praise of the guru;

• Kamalamba Navavaranams - Songs in praise of Kamalamba;

• Navagraha Krithis - In praise of the Sun, Moon and other planets;

• Nilotpalamba vibhakti Krithis;

• Panchalinga Kshetra kritis;

• Rama vibhakti Krithis;

• Tiruvarur Pancalinga kritis;

• Thyagaraja vibhakti Krithis;

• Abhayamba vibhakti Krithis

• Madhuramba vibhakti Krithis

P.S. Prj done by Deepa

1. ^ 2. ^
External links
• A website dedicated as a tribute to Dikshithar. • Compositions of Dikshitar, with meanings. • Compositions of Dikshitar with meanings. • Muthusamy Dikshithar - A Creative Genius. • Statistics on Dikshitar's Compositions
Retrieved from ""

Purandhara Daasar (1484 - 1564)

Purandara Daasar was a great composer of Carnatic music before the time of the Trinity of Tyagaraja, Dikshitar and Shyama Sastri. He was one of the most prominent composers of Carnatic music and is widely regarded as the "Father of Carnatic Music".

Purandara Daasar was born in 1484 in Pandarpur, an obscure village near Purandargarh near Poona, Karnataka . He was originally named Shreenivaasa (or Krishnappa) Naayaka. His father's name was Varada Naik. Purandara Daasa was considered an avatar of Sage Narada.

Purandara Daasar's Carnatic music compositions are mostly in Kannada; some are in Sanskrit. He was the one who standardized the early lessons in music and has given us many beautiful compositions on Vishnu and Krishna. His works include many different types of compositions, from bhajans and geetams to kritis. Purandara Daasar is believed to have systematized the early music lessons - sarali varisai, jantai varisai, geetams and also chose Maaya MaaLava GowLa as the raagam to be used for these.

Some of his compositions are
1. Aanalekara (Geetam) - Sudda Saveri

2. Amma Nimma Manegalalli - Sowraashtram

3. Aparaadi Naanalla - Revati

4. Bandadella Barali - Kaapi

5. Bhaagyada lakshmi baarammaa - Shree, Madyamaavati

6. Bhayasamaya (Geetam) - Desaakshi - PD

7. CandracooDa - Raagamaalika

8. DayamaaDo DayamaaDo - Kalyaani

9. Deva Banda - Shankaraabharanam

10. Devaki Nandana - Raagamaalika

11. Dharma shravanavetake - Durga

12. Dharmave jayavemba - Shenjurutti

13. Gajavadanaa beduve - Hamsadwani

14. Govindaa Ninna - Jana sammodhini

15. Hari naaraayana - Revati

P.S. Prj done by Prathiksha
Ref: Internet
Courtesy: Rambling with Bellur blog
Thanks to RK and Vani

Sri Puradara Dasa is known as the Karnataka Sangeetha Pra-pithamaha (founder of Carnatic classical music). Purandara Dasa is believed to have been born in 1494 in Pandarapura in Karnataka. This was the golden age of Kannada literature too, under the most famous Vijayanagar emperor Sri Krishnadeva Raya. The influence of of Sri Purandara on Carnatic music and Kannada literature is immense. He virtually started the branch of literature which is now known as Dasa Sahithya. It was a blend of sublime poetry and music emphasising the virtues of good life over material wealth and religious ceremonies. Kanaka Dasa is another composer who was his contemorary and an important contributor to Dasa Sahithya.

There is a legend as to how he gave up a life of wealth to become an ascetic. He worked as a money lender and was infamous as a miser. Once, a Brahmin man wanted to perform the sacred thread ceremony (upanayana) for his son and came to Purandara Dasa’s wife for money. She gave him her nose-ring to sell for money, and the man went to Purandara Dasa himself to get the money. The miser lent the man his money, but his wife was worried about what to say to her husband, so she prayed to her favorite deity who gave her a nose-ring just like the one she had. When Purandara Dasa hurried home, anxious to know if the nose-ring was hers, he was bewildered seeing her wear the same one! She narrated the story, and he was converted, believing in the virtue of his wife and the virtue of a charitable life.
He renounced his riches and became disciple of Vyasa Raya who titled him “Purandara Vittala,” which became his signature. Then he is said to have composed 475,000 songs in both Kannada and Sanskrit.

He sang many rare ragas with the most beautiful lyrics. Thyagaraja’s praise in “Prahalada Bhakti Vijayam” is for him. He composed many devotional songs in Kannada known as Devaranama.

Purandara Dasa set the highest value on good conduct. The strength and greatness of Sri Hari’s name have been beautifully enshrined and sung in this world. People who do not know Sanskrit find it hard to understand the Vedas and Upanishads. But Purandara Dasa has explained the whole essence of these scriptures in simple Kannada and show the way that one should live.

He practiced in his life what he preached. It is important to note this aspect of his life. He gifted away all his wealth and lived the life of renunciation which he preached to others. Although he took to the life of renunciation and asceticism he did not desert his wife and children. He lived with them.

He made it clear to others by his conduct how it was possible to achieve purity of thought, word and deed regardless of caste, religion or creed. He did not believe that man could understand God by mere external purity unless it was accompanies by purity of mind.

Whatever Purandara Dasa says, the way he introduces it and explains it is very pleasant. His similes are very simple and telling. He compares wicked men to the knotted tree of thorns. He warns the non believers that life is being wasted at every stroke of the bell. When he saw a post man he sang ‘Kaagada bandide, namma Padumanabhanadu…” (a letter has arrived from Padmanabha.) He preached several moral precepts making use of familiar incidents like the postman delivering letters.

It was God’s gift that Purandara Dasa was able to preach, in simple Kannada, what is difficult even for philosophers to put across in a way which the ordinary people can understand. He left Ihaloka in 1564 at the age of 70. If you have learnt karnatic music, you will find that the initial lessons are all from Purnadara Daasa…. The Geethams, right from “Lambodara.. to Padumanaabha” are composed by this great saint. In fact, the way we begin training, singing the scale in Mayamalavagoula was initated by Purandara Daasa. So as such, his contribution, though not stark, is very substantial.
Some 40 devaranamas compositions..

1. Narayana Ninna

2. Bharathi Deviya

3. Jagadhoddharana

4. Tharakka Bindige

5. Mareteyeno Ranga

6. Jaganmohanane

7. Idu Bhagya

8. Aarige Vadhuvadhe

9. Venkatachalanilayam

10. Ambiga naa ninna

11. Pogadhirelo

12. Devaki nandamukunda

13. Gajavadana

14. Isa Beku

15. Kandu kandu nee enna

16. Hannu bandide

17. Madi madi madi endu

18. Gummana kareyadire

19. Pillangoviya

20. Mella mellane

21. Sharanu siddhi vinayaka

22. Amma nimma manegalalli

23. Nara janma bandaga

24. Karuniso ranga

25. Udara vairagya

26. Ragi thandirya

27. Neenyako ninna hangyako

28. Ramakrishnaru manege bandaru

29. Makkala manikya

30. Hanumana mathave

31. Nageyu baruthide

32. Krishnamurthy kanna mundhe

33. Allide nammane

34. Ranga baro

35. Sakala grahabala

36. Yarige yaruntu

37. Anjije inyathako

38. Sundaramooruthi

39. Nandatanaya govinda

40. Rama mantrava japiso

Saint Sri Thyagaraja (1767 -1847 AD)

Saint Sri Thyagaraja (1767 -1847 AD) was one of the most important composers of Carnatic music. He is regarded as one of the "trinity" of Carnatic music composers, along with Muthuswami Dikshitar and Syama Sastri. He was a devotee of Rama. Sri Thyagaraja, the most celebrated Carnatic Music saint was a great devotee of Lord Sri Rama.

A son was born to Kakarla Ramabrahmam and his wife Seethamma under the Pushya nakshatram [star], that is on May 4, 1767, and they named him Thyagaraja. Thyagaraja's father Rama Brahmam taught him to worship Rama daily. Even as a boy, Thyagaraja composed his first song on Rama, Namo Namo Raghavaya when he was only 13 years old. Sri Thyagaraja continued to recite the Rama Nama every day and had many darsans of Sri Rama, which inspired him to write songs on his beloved Lord, Sri Rama.At 18 years of age, Thyagaraja married Parvati, who died when she was only 23. He then married Kamalamba (sister of Parvati). They had a daughter named Sitamahalakshmi, through whom he had a grandson. Seetalakshmi's only child, also named Thyagaraja, died progeniless at a very young age; with that, the line of direct descent from Thyagaraja came to an end.

Thyagaraja had an elder brother, Japyesa, whose descendents still abide in the same area of Tamil Nadu. Japyesa is often made the villain in stories about Thyagaraja, in the role of the brother who could not understand Thyagaraja's devotion to Sri Rama.

Being a great devotee of Lord Rama, the only things that mattered to Thyagarajawere Music and Bhakti. Much later in life, his guru, Sonti Venkataramanayya, wanted to listen to Thyagaraja's new talent and invited him to perform at his house in Thanjavur. On that occasion, Thyagaraja presented Endaro Mahaanubhavulu,the fifth of the Pancharatna Krithis. Intensely pleased with Thyagaraja's song, Sonti Venkataramanayya told the king about the genius. The king sent an invitation, accompanied as was traditional with many rich gifts, to Thyagaraja, inviting him to grace the royal court. To the unworldly Thyagaraja, the prospect of wealth or fame was no incentive; he clearly had no inclination for a career life at court, which doubtless in that age. He rejected the kings invitation outright, composing another gem of a kriti, Nidhi Chala Sukhama on this occasion.

Angered at his rejection of the royal offer, Thyagaraja's brother took revenge by throwing his idols of Rama Pattabhisheka in the nearby River Cauvery. Thyagaraja, unable to bear the separation with his Lord, made a pilgrimage to all the major temples in South India and composed many more songs in praise of the deities of those temple. Once a sage named Haridas asked him to recite the name of Rama 960 million times. After doing so, Thyagaraja went to offer his prayer when he heard a knock on his door. Raama, Seeta, and Hanumaan were entering his prayer room and he was blessed to see the coronation of Raama. Moved with wonder and devotion, he sang "Baalakanagamaya". Mr. Shyama Rao, one time thasildar of Thiruvayaru, records that after Swami sang this kriti, an Omkara Naadha was heard and a jytoi was seen to emanate from the head of Swami and travelled upward. Swami then slumpted on the thambura he was holding, and become one with the Lord.

In 1847 Thyagaraja became a hermit, and the next day, on January 6, he died in the presence of his disciples at the age of 80. He is said to have finally found the idols with the help of Rama himself. Thyagaraja attained Moksha on a Vaikunta Ekadasi.During his lifespan Sri Thyagaraja has composed more than 800 songs in his long devoted life to Lord Rama, most of them written in his Mother tongue Telegu, but a few in Sanskrit.

Some Famous Compositions of Sri Thyagaraja Swami are
A daya shri - Ahiri
Adamodi galade - Charukeshi
Adavaramella Gudi - Yadukula Kamboji
Ananda Sagara - Garudadhvani
AnandamAnandamAyenu - Bhairavi
Aragimpave - Todi
AbhishhTa Varada - Hamsadwani
AbhimAnamennadu galgura - Vivardhani, Kunjari
AbhimAnamu Iedimi - Andhali
Adi kadu Bhajana - Yadukula Kamboji
Adigi sukhamu - MadyamAvati
Adugu varamula - Arabi
Alakalalla - MadyamAvati
Allakallola - Sowrashtram
Amba Ninnu Nammiti - Arabi

P.S. Prj done by Archita Sai
Ref.: Internet