Yesterday, I wrote about the first day of Navaratri. Today is the second day the ten day festival. Navaratri is a  major festival in the state of Karnataka. The travelogues of French and Persian travelers describe the festivities during Vijayanagara times.  The Mahanavami dibba at Hampe stands today as a silent testimony to those wonderful times. It was not a coincidence that this tradition of Navaratri festival was carried forward by the Odeyars of Mysore.

The Odeyars of Mysore were in the forefront of the princely states when it came to supporting artists. So, Mysore was one of the favored destinations of artists in those days. One such artist who came to Mysore was Harikesanallur Muttaiah Bhagavatar.

There is an interesting story about Muttaiah Bhagavatar being appointed as the Asthana Vidwan at Mysore palace. Usually, visiting artists got a time slot to perform in the court. Unfortunately for Muttaiah Bhagavatar, he had a bad throat on that day, and the concert did not go as well as it should have. Krishna Raja Odeyar wasn’t very impressed, but the artist was  was duly honored as per palace traditions  and sent off. No need to say this  left Muttaiah Bhagavatar quite disappointed.

Few days later Muttaiah Bhagavatar payed a visit to the Chamundeshwari temple atop the hill, and was singing to himself when king Krishnaraja Odeyar walked in for a darshana of the Goddess. Impressed with Bhagavatar’s singing prowess, he requested him to be the Asthana Vidwan. This happened in 1927.  Later Muttaiah Bhagavatar spent several years as the court  musician.

During his tenure, the Krishnaraja Odeyar requested Muttaiah Bhagavatar to compose 108 compositions on Goddess Chamundeshwari. Another palace scholar Devottama Joisa composed the sAhitya, most of which were in Kannada language, and Muttaiah Bhagavatar gave them the form of  musical compositions.

Today the composition I have chosen is one from this series.  Bhuvaneshwariya nene mAnasave – is in Mohana Kalyani raga, set to Adi tALa.  Although this raga name appears in texts before his time, it was Muttaiah Bhagavatar who was the first composer to compose in this rAga as we know it.The raaga is named Mohana Kalyani, as it resembles Mohana in ascending phrases, and Kalyani in descending phrases.  Although the language of the song is Kannada, it is in a style that uses a lot of Samskrta words.

Listen to this composition sung by Smt Nagavalli Nagaraj.

In the 1980s, this song was also featured in a Kannada movie, ‘mareyada hADu’.

By the way, the second composition in the Navaratri Kritis of Swathi Tirunal, sung today at the Navaratri Mandapam in Thiruvanantapuram is “pAhi mAm Sri vAgIswari” in kalyAni rAga. You can listen to it by clicking here, sung by Trichur V Ramachandran.

Tomorrow,  let’s meet with another special composition!

-neelanjana