Sunday, August 9, 2009

Dikshitar krithis and Learning History

Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar's compositions include many historical or mythological anecdotes that make an excellent poetic or literary effect, and a good learning for the rest of us. The song "Pannaka Sayanaa Padmanabha..." in raga Madhyamavathi is a classic example. I had a feeling it was dedicated to Sri Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, and Dikshitar confirms it in "...Pandya Kerala Nivasa...", an historic reference to the part of Kerala ruled by Pandya kings. On closer observation, Dikshitar also mentions "...Parashurama Kshethra Prabhakara..." in the lyrics. Legend has it that Sage Parashurama and his followers settled in parts of Kerala, and Dikshitar has wonderfully used this history to his advantage, and subtly indicate Kerala.

In the same composition, there is another historical or mythological reference in "
...Parama Bhaktha Prahladhaadhi Vinutha...", which alludes to the story of Prince Prahladha, the child worshiper of Lord Vishnu (or Padhmanabha) that brought the impending doom of his evil father and king.

It's a great way to learn history taking a closer look at Dikishitar's compositions, and doing a little bit of research. Dikshitar's krithis are a feast to the intellect.

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