[Advaita-l] Mutthuswami Dikshitar (1775 to 1835)

V Subrahmanian v.subrahmanian at gmail.com
Wed Oct 18 13:25:53 EDT 2017

Mutthuswami Dikshitar (1775 to 1835) is one of the celebrities in modern
South Indian Classical Carnatic music. The Dikshitar, a Tamil Smarta
Brahmana by birth, has produced more than 400 songs all of which are
written in sophisticated Sanskrit language and are deeply rooted in Adi
Shankaracharya's philosophy of Advaita Vedanta. Here is a short biography
of this brahmana saint written by Subbarama Dikshitar:

Reference: Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini of Subbarama Dikshitar/ Volume 5
Vaggeyakara Charitam (Biography of Composers)

He was born in Tiruvarur, during the Manmatha year and in the saka year
1692 (1775 A.D), as the son of Ramasvami Dıkshita. His mother was Subbamma.
Before he was sixteen years old, he progressively learnt the Vedas,
intricacies of kavyas and natakas, Siddhanta Kaumudi, other commentaries on
various texts, music, and also became an expert in the sciences of
astrology, medicine, and mantra, and became very famous. When he was
married and was staying with Manali Cinayya Mudaliyar, due to his good
deeds in his previous births, a siddha Cidambaranatha Yogi, came to Manali
and stayed there for sometime. Impressed by Muddusvami Dıkshita’s devotion,
he initiated him into Srıvidya maha mantra, and took him to the shores of
the Ganges with him. There, for five years, he gradually helped him attain
maturity with the help of mantra, and helped him attain the ashta maha
siddhis. Realizing that he was a great soul, he also taught him the science
of philosophy. After that, Muddusvami Dıkshita took permission from the
pious man, went back to Manali, and in order to please the gods and
goddesses, he gradually performed internal and external purification
rituals. He then went to Tiruttani, and while he was reciting the
Subrahmanya  Panchadashakshari mantra in the sanctum, one day Chengalvaraya
came there in the guise of a great soul, and asked him to open his mouth,
put some sugar candy in his mouth, and disappeared. Immediately, Dıkshita
started composing a kırtana in Sanskrit and in the Raga Malavagaula,
“Srınathadi Guruguho Jayati”, set in the prathamaa vibhakti.  Subsequently,
he composed seven more kırtanas on Guruguha, starting with sambodhana
prathama vibhakti. Then he went to Kanchipuram, and stayed with his
brothers for four years. In the presence of Kamakshi, he practiced the
Srividyopasana and composed many kirtanas, such as “Kanjadalayatakshi”,
“Ekamranatham Bhajeham” , etc., adorned with poetic words, and popularized
them through his younger brothers. He conducted philosophical dialogues
with Upanishad Brahmendra who lived there, and set the Ramaashtapadis
written by him, to music including the taala and notation. Later when he
returned to Tiruvarur with his family, he composed many kirtanas on “Sri
Tyagaraja Swami”, with “guruguha” as his stamp signature. He also composed
kirtanas on Anandeshvara, Siddheshvara, Acaleshvara, Hatakeshvara,
Valmikesvara, on Shodasha Ganapatis who  reside in that pious land, on the
Siva and Vishnu deities of various holy lands that belonged to Chola
empire, on the deities of earth and other pancha bhuta temples. He also
composed on Azhagar Koil and other pilgrimage centres that belonged to
Pandya empire, and also on Kashi. He composed the kirtanas in Sanskrit
language with a commanding over words, without deviating from the Advaita
philosophy, without deviating from Venkata Makhin’s Raga tradition, using
gamakas, embedded with raga’s jıva svaras, and also including the name of
the raga. He also composed navagraha kırtanas composed in shuladi sapta
talas, and nine kirtanas known as navaavarana kirtanas, that are composed
in the order of the ritualistic navaavarana puja krama of Kamalamba and,
through his disciples he popularized them and made them shine like
celestial objects. When his younger brothers, Cinnasvami and Balasvami, who
were learning music from him, were invited by the patron kings, they went
to Madurai and stayed for some years. During that time Cinnasvami Dikshita
passed away. Balasvami Dıkshita was dejected and was affected by the death
of his brother. So, along with a disciple called Hari, he went to Setu
Kshetram (Rameshvaram) and from there went to Ettayyapuram, where he was
taken care by the Maharaja. Dikshita thought of his brother’s demise to be
a natural occurrence but, as he considered his younger brother (Balasvami
Dikshita) as his own child, he was worried about his whereabouts and his
dejection. Hence, he, along with his two wives and a disciple called
Subrahmanyayya went to Saattur, via Madurai. There, at a mantapa that was
in front of the entrance to the temple of Saattur deity, while he was
performing his prayers, he heard a few sixteen year old Vaishnava brahmins
talking about the marriage that was to be celebrated the next day by the
Maharaja of Ettayyapuram, for a musician called Balasvami, of Tiruvarur
with a girl from Ramesvaram, and said “come on! Let us all go”. As soon as
he heard this conversation, Dıkshita was overwhelmed and in the presence of
the Lord, he composed a kriti, “Venkateshwara Ettappa Bhupatim Ashrayeham”,
in the raga Megharanji, and taught it to Subrahmanyayya. Then he asked the
Vaishnava brahmins there to take them along  with them to Ettayyapuram.  As
he was proceeding to Ettayyapuram, on the way he noticed the crop that was
drying due to draught. He felt pity for that and prayed to Amrteshwari with
devotion and composed a kirtana, “Anandamritakarshini Amritavarshini ”, in
the raga amritavarshini. It was said that, even while he was teaching the
song to his disciple, there appeared a black cloud in the sky (which was
until then clear) and it progressively developed into a massive one and
rain started pouring down heavily. As the ground was wet, the cart got
stuck in the mud and stopped. The accompanying Vaishnava Brahmins pushed it
with difficulty, and slowly he reached Ettayyapuram by the evening. There,
he saw his brother and felt very happy. Having come to know about the
arrival of Dikshita, the Maharaja came to the residence that was built by
him and given for them to reside, felicitated him, made him sing the
kirtana composed by him in the raga megharanji, felt extremely happy, came
back the next day and had the marriage performed. As soon as the marriage
was performed, Dikshita left his older wife as support to his brother’s
wife, took leave of the Maharaja, and went back to Tiruvarur and lived
there. After  sometime, he got the invitation from the king asking him to
attend the impending wedding of the eldest son of the Maharaja of
Ettayyapuram. Since he was nearing the end of his life, he took leave of
his friends and disciples saying that he would not be returning back, and
went to Ettayyapuram along with his family. The third month after the
wedding of the prince, saka year 1757 (1835 A.D), Manmatha year, on the day
of tulaa krishna chaturdashi, he left his mortal body and reached
Skanda-giri. Muddusvami Diksita was the author’s uncle (father’s elder

Copied from a FB post.

Subrahmanian. V

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