Charumati Ramachandran in her lec-dem showed how each gem of the composer is associated with a place.

Charumathi Ramachandran’s Lec-dem on “Kasi to Rameswaram with Dikshitar - A Musical Journey” was an interesting voyage with her for the audience too. She began by touching upon the highlights of his life.

Muthuswamy Dikshitar was trained in Sanskrit, Telugu, music, veena, grammar, etc. by his father Ramaswamy Dikshitar who has composed songs on Kamalamba and Thyagaraja of Tiruvarur and his mudra was Venkatakrishna. He discovered the raga Hamsadwani.

Muthuswamy Dikshitar learnt jyotisha mantras and theory of music, etc., while staying with Manali Chinnayya Mudaliyar and he put them to use in his compositions. He went to Kasi with Chidambaranata Yogi, who taught him the secrets of nada, tantra and musical aspects of Carnatic and Hindustani, and also meditation. His stay there helped him to imbibe the Hindustani ragas and the drupad style which he incorporated in his compositions later.

Prayer and meditation on the banks of the Ganges, as ordained by his guru, brought him a divine veena with the inscription Sri Rama. He composed, after divine intervention, ‘Sri Nadadi’ in Mayamalavagowla,(which Charumati demonstrated) with his mudra “Guruguha,” and raga mudra, when he went to Tiruttani, again on the advice of his guru.

Charumathi sang Dikshitar’s compositions on Kasi Viswanathar and Annapoorani, ‘Visalakshim’ in Pantuvarali, and mentioned ‘Ehi Annapurne’ in Punnagavarali. In ‘Sri Viswanatham,’ the chaturdasa (14) Ragamalika composed by him he has incorporated raga mudra in each stanza. For instance, ‘SRI Viswanatham (Sriragam) Sritajana SamsARABHItya, GuruguhasamMOHANAkara, Sadasivam SAMAganavinutam, Satgatidaya KAMBHOJA charanam, etc. Charumathi sang some of these lines and gave the meaning also.

The next place was Ayodhya (mentioned as Saketapura or Nagara by both Tyagaraja and Dikshitar) and the kriti she took up for demonstration was ‘Ramachandram Bhavayami’ in Vasantha, where in the line, SAKETA NAGARE Ni VASANTHAm, both Ragamudra and Sthala mudra are incorporated.

It was in Kanchi that Dikshitar met Tygaraja’s Guru! Charumathi rendered ‘Sri Kanchi Nayike’ in Asaveri, ‘Ekamranatham’ in Purvikalyani, and ‘Varadarajam’ in Saranga. In the last mentioned kriti, Dikshitar dwells on the Garudasevai in that temple. Dikshitar juxtaposes the legends as well as description and beauty of the deities in these compositions. The Prithvi lingam of Kanchi is included in Dikshitar’s Panchabhuta linga sthala kritis. (Chintayama-Bhairavi).

Charumathi sang ‘Sri Parthasarathi’ in Suddha Dhanyasi with the observation that it could be on the presiding deity of the Triplicane temple. Sholingur (Narasimhagaccha) and Tirupati (Sri Venkata Girisam Alokaye, Suratti) were also included in his repertoire. A beautiful rendition of ‘Chandrasekaram’ on Siva in Marga Hindoam with raga mudra and ‘Akshaya Linga Vibho’ on the Kivalur deity were chosen for Siva. She sang niraval and swaram just to emphasise how well Dikshitar has incorporated these aesthetic elements in his songs.

Muthuswamy Dikshitar’s kritis were popularised by his brothers Chinnaswamy and Baluswamy and also by numerous disciples. Guru of the Thanjavur Quartet, Dikshitar also supervised the nagaswaram, dance and Sadir performances at the Tiruvarur temple.

Charumathi went on to explain the meaning of ‘Anandanatana Prakasam’ in Kedaram (also sang) on the cosmic dance of Siva (Akasa lingam of Chidambaram), ‘Brihadeeswaram’ in Lalita Panchamam (Thanjavur), the Gundakriya kriti (Gangai Konda Chozhapuram), ‘Rudrakopa’ in an appropriate raga Rudrapriya on Veerabhadreswarar of Velliangiri in which the deity’s consort, Bhadrakali is also mentioned.

She sang Dikshitar’s Dharmasamvardhani in Madhyamavathi with ragamudra in caranam (Thiruvaiyaru). He lived in Tiruvarur and composed a number of songs on Thyagarajaswamy as well as the Kamalamba and Abhayamba Navavaranams and a number of kritis on Nilotpalamba, and also the 16 shodasa Ganapathy kritis, etc. She demonstrated parts of some kritis and also explained the mention of different chakras in Navavaranams and how singing them is equal to the traditional Navavarana puja. The Navagraha kritis he composed on the nine planets are equivalent to Navagraha Puja. He has mentioned about the characteristics of the planets, vahanam, naivedyam and other things in these kritis.

Charumathi concluded Dikshitar’s musical pilgrimage at Rameswaram by singing ‘Sri Ramam’ in ‘Narayanagowla’ which gives a full description of Rama, and ‘Ramanatham Bhajeham’ in Kamavardani where he speaks of “Koti Tirta Prabhavam.” She summed up with the comment that with an encyclopaedic vision, Dikshitar included in all these compositions, sthalapurana, name of the deities, temple utsavam, practices, legends, vahanam, and also mantras, sastras, Vedas, etc. all in Sanskrit. The vocalist expressed regret that due to paucity of time she could not do justice to the subject.

Charumathi was accompanied by Ravi Srinivasan from the U.S. on the violin, Mudikondan Ramesh on the veena, and Aswin Sridhar on the mridangam. The lec-dem left one wondering why she did not present a concert this season.

Other destinations in Dikshitar’s pilgrimage:

Kumbakonam – ‘Kumbeswaraya Namaha’

Madurai – ‘Meenakshi Memudam’

Tirunelveli – ‘Sri Kantimatim’ and ‘Sri Lakshmi Varaham’

Tiruchendur – ‘Sri Subrahmanyo’ (mentions the practice of vibuti being given in leaf)

Nagapattinam – ‘Sri Soundararajam’

Ranganayakam – ‘Srirangam’ (with raga mudra RangaNAYAKIsameda)