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Muthuswami Dikshitar


Muthuswami Dikshitar (March 24, 1775 October 21, 1835), is the youngest of the Carnatic music composer trinity. He was born in 1775 to Ramaswami Dikshitar and Subbamma, as the eldest son, in Tiruvarur(of Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu). Muttuswami is said to have born to the couple after they prayed for a child in the temple of Vaitheeswaran Koil. 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.

Early years

Consistent with the education of Brahmin boys of that time, Muttuswami learnt the Vedas, Sanskrit 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 Chidambarantha Yogi, presented him with a unique Veena, and died shortly thereafter. The Samadhi of Chidambaranatha Yogi can still be seen in the Hanuman Ghat area in Varanasi.

Muttuswami 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 . 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 the darshana of the God Muruga and the composer burst forth into his first composition "Shri naathaadi guruguho" in the raga Maayaamaalavagaula. 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 God in the saguna form, or to the form at Tiruttani. He then went on a pilgrimage visiting and composing on temples at Kanchi, Arunachalam , Chidambaram, Tirupathi and Kalahasthi, before returning to Tiruvarur.
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