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Indian Music

T.R. Subrahmanyam

By V. Raghavan
National Centre for Performing Arts, Bombay, 1976, 15.00

VOLUME I NUMBER 4 October - December 1976

National Centre for the Performing Arts, Bom­bay deserves all praise for devoting the September 1975 issue of their quarterly journal to Muttuswami Dikshitar, whose 200th birth anniversary was obser­ved with eclat all over the country last year. As rightly pointed out in the Foreword, Dr. Raghavan is eminently suited to be the author of this venture. This is perhaps the only book wherein a student or any lover of music can get such authentic and almost exhaustive information on Dikshitar. Hail­ing from Tiruvarur, where Dikshitar himself was born and wanted to live most of his life, Dr. Ragha­van gives us enlightening details upon both Dikshi­tar and Tiruvarur in an inimitable manner. Few people, for instance, would know that Dikshitar has composed a song on the great Saivite saint, Sundara­murthy Nayanar; that there was a patron called Nagalinga whose name has suggestively figured in two kritis—Abhayamba in Kalyani and Abhaya­mba Nayaka in Anandabhairavi. The telling des­cription of Ajapa Natana, Hamsa Natana and all such grandeur of the temple rituals at Tiruvarur which inspired Muttusvami Dikshitar to pour out many gems of kritis, could have come naturally only to a Tiruvarurian author, who in the conclud­ing sentences gives touching reminiscences of his boyhood days. The appended bibliography and discography are of immense value to students of music. Another very useful and flawless portion of the book is that of the Navagraha kritis of Dikshitar given in swara­lipi (notation). The index at the end gives an exha­ustive list of kritis of not only Muttuswamy Dikshitar but also Ramaswami Dikshitar, his father, and all the younger Dikshitars. The chapter on Dik­shitar’s shishya parampara is highly informative and interesting. While speaking or writing about music almost everybody falls into a rut of resorting to what can be called ‘musicological cliches’—like trying to equate Brahma-Vishnu-Rudra trinity to Syama Sastry-Tyagaraja-Dikshitar musical trinity, or compartmentalizing them into bhava-raga-tala ‘specialists’. The analysis of Dikshitar’s forte being raga—bhava and tala being ‘allocated’ as it were to his illustrious compeers Thyagaraja and Syama Sastry—is one such virtuosic argumentation. A more plausible explanation for less of bhava in Dikshitar’s kritis lies perhaps in the medium chosen. Telugu, the lingua franca of most other composers, is a spoken language. Prosaic, conver­sational bhava-laden passages of such a language can be employed to great effect and ...

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