Today is 9/28/2014, the fifth day of Navaratri. In the first four days of the festival, I had written about some music compositions about dEvi, whom we celebrate during this festival season. In the post yesterday, I mentioned how Mysore and Thiruvanathapuram stood out among the last princely states in their support of classical music. Thus today, I thought of sharing a well known composition of a composer who was associated with both these places.
Harikesanallur Muttaiah Bhagavatar is one of the very well known composers of the 20th century. He was a Harikatha Vidwan, as well as played on instruments such as Chitraveena. He lived in Mysore as the Asthana Vidwan of the Odeyar court for a few years. Later on, he lived in Thiruvananthapuram for a while where he gave second life to some of Swathi Tirunal’s compositions. Some of Swathi Tirunal‘s compositions which had lost their original musical form were re-tuned by Muttaiah Bhagavatar.
Sometime in 1927, when he was performing at the Mysore palace for the first time, the concert did not go too well because Bhagavatar had a bad throat that day. He was honored as per palace traditions and sent off. However, few days later Muttaiah Bhagavatar payed a visit to the Chamundeshwari temple atop the hill, and was singing to himself when king Krishnaraja Odeyar visited the temple. Very impressed with his singing, the King requested Muttaiah Bhagavatar to be the Asthana Vidwan.
During the time Bhagavatar lived in Mysore, Krishnaraja Odeyar requested Muttaiah Bhagavatar to compose 108 compositions on Goddess Chamundeshwari, the presiding deity of Mysore. A scholar Devottama Joisa wrote the sahitya for which Muttaiah Bhagavatar gave the musical form. The composition I have chosen is one from this series. Sudhamayi Sudhanidhi – It is set in a raga called Amrtavarshini.
This raga Amrtavarshini, in popular thought is said to be the creation of Muttuswami Dikshita. But textual traditions prove otherwise, because we have references not only to a name, but even the musical structure several decades before him. It is possible that Muttuswamy Dikshita was the first major composer to use this raga. There is a disputed composition of Tyagaraja in this raga as well. Muttaiah Bhagavatar’s Sudhamayi Sudhanidhi remains one of the very popular compositions in this raga even today.
Now, here is a lovely rendition of Sudhamayi in Raga Amrtavarshini, played on the Veena by artist Rajesh Vaidhya: