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The Mummurthigal – The Trinity of Carnatic music - Thiruvarur

The names of Sri Thagaraja Swamigal, Sri Shyama Sastrigal and Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar are woven inextricably into Carnatic music. Both a lay man who enjoys carnatic music and the connoisseur, who revels in the finer nuances and intricacies of this divine art, are eternally grateful to the Mummurthis and their contribution to Carnatic music.Their compositions are a unique combination of lyrical splendour, musical magnificence and bhakthi, all blended together to give the fortunate listener, the most spiritual experience. It is because of these qualities that their compositions are enduring, revered sand in vogue even today.The extraordinary coincidence is that all three Mummurthis hail from the same town Tiruvarur in Tamil Nadu

Shyama Sastri (1763-1827)

Shyama Sastri’s career was slightly different from the other two Mummurthis, having been born in a family of Archakas , worshippers of Devi Kamakshi at Thanjavur for several generations, and thus being fairly affluent. His birth name was Venkatasubramanium and his pet name was samakrishnan, one he adopted as his mudra in his compositions.

He showed remarkable aptitude for music, singing in different ragas while performing archanas, right from a very young age. Just like Dikshitar, the fortuitous visit of a holy man, was the starting point of his musical career, Sangeethaswami, an Andhra Sanyasi from Kasi, was on a visit to Rameswaram and visited Thanjavur on his way back. He initiated him into the techniques and intricacies of music and gave him some of the musical treatises he had. Like Thyagaraja, he learnt music from the then Samasthana Vidwan of Thanjavur Audiappa Iyer, the author of the famous Bhairavi varna
“viriboni” , one of the alphabets for every music student.Although the total number of his compositions is not known, about 60 to 70 compositions have come down to us, Sangeetha was an upasana in the same way it was to his two great cotemporaries, Shyama Sastri’s krithis reflect the love and affection of a child for its mother. His music is rich in gamaka, rhytham and bhava. His style has very few imitators, except his own famous son Subbraya Sastri. The raga Ananda Bhairavi, as is sung today, is largely the creation of Shyama Sastri, reflected in his compositions “Marive” and “O Jagadamba”

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Thyagaraja (1767-1847)

Thyagaraja is the most popular of the musical Trinity, all born in Thiruvarur, the sacred town which has been placed on the same pedestal with Kasi(Benaras), as having the unique distinction of giving salvation or mukthi to the person born in the former and shuffling of his mortal coils in the latter.

Grand son of Giriraja Kavi and son of the Ramabrahmam, a scholar learned in Vedas and Shashtras, he had his first music lesson from Sonti Venkataramanayya, the Palace Vidwan of Thanjavur. At the age of 16, he was initiated into the tharaka mantra of Sri Rama by a sage from Kanchi.
He spent most of his time doing pooja and singing to the idols  of Rama, Lakshmana and Sita, and thus his compositions were inspired and infused with Rama bhakthi. His music as extensive, yet direct and instantaneous. His compositions in vogue may be about 600 to 700, as his journey far and wide in the realms of his imagination created melodic patterns in various varjya and vakra ragas.
At Tirupathi, he is said to have miraculously raised the drawn curtain with his song, “Theradiyzka RAdha” and breathed life into a person who had drowned in a temple well with his kriti, “Najeevadara”, Another incident is related of how Rama and Lakshmana armed with bows and arrows guarded his palanquin when it was attacked by robbers.Aware of his approaching end, he took Sanyasa. On the 10th day of his Sanyasa, he merged with eternity.

 

Muthuswami Dikshitar (1775-1835)

Muthuswami Dikshitar’s family had a tradition of accomplishments in music. His father, Ramaswami Dikshitar, a gifted composer, was a disciple of Venkata Vaidyanattha Dikshitar, grand son of Venkatamaki. He had his first lesson from his father.The turning point in his life was the visit of a Chidambaranatha Yogi who was the mantra updesha Guru of his father. The yogi was impressed with the promise in him and took him to Benaras , where Muthuswami Dikshitar spent 5 years under his guru learning mantra shastra, music and Sri Vidya mantra.

On his visit to “Thiruthani, he got his first inspiration to sing and compose. His first kriti was “Sri Nadadi” in Mayamalava gowla. He is said to have composed 1000 kritis but only about 400-500 have come to us. He compositions reveal his mastery of agama sastra, mantra sastra and the sthala visesha of the temples he visited.Muthuswami Dikshitar is pre-eminently the musicians’ musician. His music was intensive and he explored the hidden beauties on the outskirts of a swara, the dasavitha gamakas and the subtle sruthis, which give Carnatic  ragas their peculiar and distinctive flavour.

He had a premonition of his end. He gathered his disciples, asking them t0 sing the kriti  “ Meenakshi me Mudhamdehi”. When they sang the phrase “Meena lochani pasamochani”, the end came and his soul winged its way to heaven.

The Mummurthis – The Trinity of Bajans - Kumbakonam

Govindapuram is a spiritual  village near Kumbakonam. In 1685, after leading Kanchi Peetam, Sri Bodendral left it to his successor and departed for Govindapuram, a village named after Sri Govindhappa Dikshithar, a minister in Nayak dynasty.  In 1692 AD Prajotpathi year Purattasi month full moon day, Sri Bodendral, treating himself as consort to Lord Rama, achieved Jeevan Mukthi, by burying himself in ground on the banks of River Kaveri in this village For a while, this place was lost and forgotten.  In 1803, Sri Maruthanallur Sadguru Swamigal discovered the place after hearing Rama namam in this bank kavery. Sri Bodendral devoted his life to preach the importance of Nama Japam and Bhajan. Among the miracles attributed to Sri Bodendral, he made a dumb boy chant Bhagavan Namam Sri Bodendral had great respect and affection for Sri Ayyaval, who reciprocated the emotion.

BOTHENDRAL

Govindapuram is a spiritual  village near Kumbakonam. In 1685, after leading Kanchi Peetam, Sri Bodendral left it to his successor and departed for Govindapuram, a village named after Sri Govindhappa Dikshithar, a minister in Nayak dynasty.  In 1692 AD Prajotpathi year Purattasi month full moon day, Sri Bodendral, treating himself as consort to Lord Rama, achieved Jeevan Mukthi, by burying himself in ground on the banks of River Kaveri in this village For a while, this place was lost and forgotten.  In 1803, Sri Maruthanallur Sadguru Swamigal discovered the place after hearing Rama namam in this bank kavery. Sri Bodendral devoted his life to preach the importance of Nama Japam and Bhajan. Among the miracles attributed to Sri Bodendral, he made a dumb boy chant Bhagavan Namam Sri Bodendral had great respect and affection for Sri Ayyaval, who reciprocated the emotion.

SADGURU SWAMIKAL

Marudanallur is a traditional village near Kumbakonam. Sri Sadguru Swamigal was in this village. He is a great scholar and  compiled the current Bajan tradition which has been kept intact for over 200 years. Sadguru swamigal whereas framed the now existing Bhajana sampradhayami. It was he who established the tradition of singing ashtapadis and concluding with the Radha kalyanam.  "Namasankeerthanam" is not simply a traditional  discourse. Unlike bhakthi discourse , it is based on devotional songs sung in praise of God with Bhakti. His mutt now exists at Marudanallur The next generation are now inthis village and keep the samprathayam till date.

SRITHARAIYAVAL

TIRUVISALUR(THIRUVISANALLUR)  is a small village near by  Kumbakonam. From this village the saint Sri Sridhara Ayyaavaal  spread the Bhagavan Namam.  Sri Ayyaval was the contemporary of Sri Bodendral That Sri Bodhendra Swamigal always looked forward to a meeting with him, discussed various subjects of spiritual interest There are few miracles traditionally noted about his life On a New Moon day in Karthigai month, he is said to have brought Ganges itself to the well in his house for purification.From this incident Gangavataranam is celebrated for 10 days in this village  and this utsavam is celebrated on the end of the day.  This utsavam falls during the Tamil month of Karthigai  Sri Ayyaavaal composed several slokas about bahavan namas in Sanskrit

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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