The most remarkable feature about our 'Sangita Trimurtis' is
that they were not only contemporaries but belonged to the Tanjore
District of South India. According to the usual tradition, all the three
were born at Tiruvarur although there is a school of thought who
avers that Tyagaraja was born at Tiruvaiyaru. They must have been
on the most cordial terms, met each other frequently and exchanged
notes on music. Syama Sastri’s son Subbaraya Sastri became a
disciple of Tyagaraja.
Although our 'Music Trinity' were contemporaries and belonged
to the same area, they were cast in different moulds.
Tyagaraja was a great river into which the noblest traditions of
music, bhakti and renunciation flowed. He was the father of modern
Karnatic music and his works are of delicate spirituality, full of
melodic beauty and in the highest sense, artistic. His songs are
accepted today as the only adequate interpretation of classical
Karnatic music from both the music and the sahitya points of view.
Dikshitar was a royal composer, a staunch Advaitin and a
wandering minstrel. His kritis are often called the 'impersonal art
forms of Dikshitar'. He decided to compose only in Sanskrit, the
'Girvana Bhasha' as his thoughts could be properly expressed only in
Syama Sastri was a sweet bard who treated his Kamakshi as
his mother and himself as her child. It was a Talli-bidda relationship.
But his music is great and superb.
Although voluminous literature exists on the Trinity, particularly
on Tyagaraja, there has been no comparative study except stray
articles. An old proverb says that 'comparisons are odious' and
perhaps this was followed by writers. On the other hand, a comparative
study of the Trinity and their works was long overdue but it was a
challenging job. Comparisons must be made with care and. in the
proper perspective. Otherwise, they may become 'odious'.
Fortunately, a qualified scholar has now come forward to make
a comparative study of the life and works of Tyagaraja, Dikshitar
and Syama Sastri.
The achievements of K.N.Shrinivasan in the fields of Law,
Music, Musicology, Composing, Sanskrit scholarship, Literature,
Religion and a host of other subjects are mind-boggling. From the
amount of work turned out by him during the past 50 years, one
would think that his day has 48 hours. His 'Dikshita Kriti Muktavali'
containing Dikshitar's musical compositions with critical notes on
certain variations is a masterpiece and the only one of its kind. His
'Sriranga Gitanjali' shows his extraordinary command over Sanskrit
and his capacity to invent new ragas like Indumukhi, Neelotpala,
Charubhashini, Hatakabhushani, Manimala, Priyankari, Hastinada etc.
The present book 'The Contribution of the Trimurti to Music' is a
comprehensive research work covering every aspect of the subject.
There are 24 chapters in which the author analyses thoroughly the
different facets of the Trimurti like supernatural elements in their
lives, evolution of the kriti form, the music of their compositions, tala
structure, sahitya, poetic diction, group kritis and operas. His
presentation is incisive and his comments are based on wide research
and understanding of the theme dealt' with.
The work must have involved hard work but cheerfully
undertaken. Shrinivasan has placed the world of music in his debt. I
read through the book with great interest and I am sure that the
music world will benefit by this labor of love by Shrinivasan.
It may be argued that lingual frames are not necessary for
enjoyment of music, but preservation of any form of music is not
practicable unless it is housed in a set of words. It is noteworthy
that even the swaras are represented only by the consonants of a
language like, Sa Re Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni or C D E F GAB.
A piece of musical sequence when fixed upon the matrix of a
lingual passage or of a set of consonants is known as a musical
compositition. Today we have plenty of musical compositions among
us and new compositions are being produced as days pass.
There was music, there were musical compositions, there
were ragas and talas; there were artists entertaining the aristocracy
and connoisseurs; there were also minstrels singing songs on the
roads out of devotional ecstasy or just for alms;
But the musical compositions generated during the Golden
Age were received as classical by connoisseurs of music as standard
forms and thus preserved to serve as models for succeeding
generations of music composers.
Three of the composers of the Golden age are respected as
outstanding masters and are acclaimed as having produced a large
number of songs worthy of eternal preservation; they are
Tyagarajaswami, Muthuswami Dikshita and Syama Sastri. Though
each one of them was great, certain special features are noticeable
in their compositions. Without any invidious motive, an evaluation of
their compositions has been attempted here by the humble writer/
It will be pertinent to mention that certain orthographic
deviations have been made in non-English words in this small book,
for instance, the use of the letters 'v' and Own' in the book; Own' has
been adopted wherever round lips are needed to produce the
consonant and 'v' where rows of the teeth touch each other.
the spelling, 'svara' instead of 'swara' as commonly spelt. The
spelling of the word 'swami' has, however, been retained as this
word has entered the English dictionary.
The matter contained in this book is based upon lectures
delivered by the author as "Chakravarthy Endowment Lectures" in
the department of music of the University of Madras on 24
October, 2000 and the author is obliged to the University for having
invited him to deliver the lectures.
The author is also indebted to Sangita Kala Acharya
Sri.T.S.Parthasarathy Iyengar for having written a commanding
foreward to the book. His son, Sri.K.S.Vamsidhar, B.Com. B.L.,
AI.C.W.A, AC.S., Advocate, High Court and daughter-in-law
Smt.Bharathi, B. Com. , AI.C.W.A, for having helped the author in
getting the text typeset and ready for print. The author is also
grateful to Smt.Jagada Nagarajan, Director, Technotech Print Systems
Pvt. Ltd., No. 45, V.V. Koil Street, Vellala Teynampet,
Chennai -86 for having brought out the publication of this book in
I will be failing in my duty if I do not express my sincerity to
Sri. R Srinivasan, Columnist, Indian Express, Dr. N. Ramanathan,
Retd. Professor of Music, University of Madras and
Dr. N.Y. Vasudevachariar, Secretary, Sri Ahobila Muth Oriental
Higher Secondary School, West Mambalam, for reading the proofs
and offering suggestions.
Book's Contents and Sample Pages
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