This Saturday, September 11th, 2010 is the fourth day of the bright phase of the lunar month of Bhadrapada. This is the day when the annual Ganesha pooja is celebrated. Ganesha, the remover of all obstacles, has been celebrated through the works of many composers. One of the most popular songs about Ganapati is Muttuswamy Dikshita’s song in Hamsadhwani raga, ‘vAtApi gaNapatim bhajEham’. Even if you have attended a handful of concerts, it is very likely that you have listened to this composition.

Muttuswamy Dikshita (1776AD-1835AD)has composed about 400 compositions, most of them in Samskrta. Notably, he has composed many songs with geographic references which make it possible to locate the specific temple or deity he is singing about. A majority of his compositions are about the Gods and Goddesses of temples located in the delta region of river Kaveri.

A painting of Muttuswamy Dikshita, by S Rajam

Chalukya king  ruling from Badami (then called Vatapi), Pulikeshi II invaded Pallava kingdom. In retaliation, in 643 AD, Pallava king Narasimha Varma invaded the Chalukya kingdom and laid seize on the Chalukya capital and defeated Pulikeshi.  During that time, a general of Pallava army by name Paranjyoti  (who became one of the 63 saints later on in his life , and became well known as Siruttondan) took away the Ganapati idol from the temple atop the fort in Vatapi, and installed it in his hometown of Tiruchchengattangudi.

Vatapi Ganapati Temple in Badami fort

(Photo by  Srinivas P S)

This temple is being (mistakenly) referred to as the ‘Lower Shiva temple’ now. There is no idol inside.

A view of Badami fort; Vatapi Ganapati temple can be seen at the left-center of the picture

(Photo by  Srinivas P S)

A closer view of Vatapi Ganapati temple

(Photo by  Srinivas P S)

Because the idol came from the city of Vatapi, it came to be called as Vatapi Ganapati, even after it’s relocation to Tiruchengattangudi.

Vatapi Ganapati idol, now located in Thirucchengattangudi (Pic: http://www.indiantemples.com)

Later on a similar idol installed in the Tyagaraja temple at Tiruvaroor as well, and this was also referred by the same name Vatapi Ganapati (perhaps because of the likeness of features).

The famous hamsadhwani composition, Vatapi Ganapatim Bhajeham of Muttuswamy Dikshita is about the idol located in the Tiruvaroor temple.

This is the 144th post on”allide namma mane“, which is turning  three years old now 🙂 . The first post was written on September 11th, 2007. Thanks to all of you, who came here, and those of you who posted  comments which encourages me to keep posting!

A very happy Ganesha festival to you all.

-neelanjana