Monday, July 20, 2009

Two Dikshitar Stalwarts Pass Away

I was saddened to note Sangitha Kalanidhi D. K. Pattammal passed away. As well, I came to know almost a month late that Sangitha Kalanidhi B. Rajam Iyer also passed away. Both were very distingushed in rendering the krithis of Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar with the authentic grandeur, and a great loss for the Carnatic music community.

When I was in undergraduate college in Chennai, I had the opportunity to attend a live concert of Sri Rajam Iyer. He was rendering the concert in front of the Kanchi Swamigal Jayendra Sarawati, who had come to the college for the campus inauguration function. He rendered many krithis, including Dikshitar's Siddhi Vinayakam in Shanmugapriya, as well his own Sanskrit composition in raga Bhairavi. Obviously he knew Sanskrit very well, and had fully understood the Dishitar krithis he sang so well. I have noticed him mention Bhairavi raga's uniqueness and speciality in Carnatic music in other interviews in the news - it should have been his most favorite. The concert was a royal treat to my ears, and the depth in grammar, style and voice - the mastery and years of education and experience was evident all over. Though I had not heard much of him before, I then held him in high esteem, along with the types of Semmangudi or Maharajapuram. Also evident was his classical and majestic appearance with a broad forehead striped with vibuthi, large kadukkans in the ears, and panchakacham, that makes you quickly respect and wonder who this person might be. In front of the swamigal, he was so respectfully pre-announcing each krithi to him with folded hands, and sang through the concert without his shirt in the presence of the swamigal. Such humility with so much talent completely puzzled and amazed me - I learnt something important observing him. I still listen to his Jambupathe, Dikshitar's panchalinga krithi, and Navagraha krithis. I also had the opportunity to hear him sing Chinthayamam, during his concert on TV once.

I have also heard Chinthayamam sung by Smt. D.K. Pattammal, when my room mate was playing the Panchalinga Krithis cassette. I had not known much about D. K. Pattammal at that time, but listening to her the first time sing this Bhairavi song completely captivated me. There is simply no parallel. Again, the grammar, the style, the low voice, and managing the tempo and gamakas of Dikshitar's composition in an authentic way was bliss. I still listen to her Chinthayamam today - the format has changed from cassette to CD to MP3, but the voice and melody lives on. We are blessed that someone in her family spotted her talent and forced her dad to bring her to limelight - that wasn't as easy in those days for women, especially from brahmin orthodox families. We must appreciate and thank her husband Sri Easwaran's generous heart and broad mind in sharing with us her divine voice.

These two distinguished musicians have contributed immensely and for long time, to keep and pass on the everglowing divine compositions of Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar. My respectful homage to these great souls.

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