Muthuswami Dikshitar

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Fast Facts
Other Names and Nicknames: 
carnatic trinity
Carnatic Music
Main Countries of Activity: 
Date of Birth: 
March 24, 1775
Place of Birth: 
Tiruvarur, Thanjavur, India
In His/Her Body ("alive"): 
Date Left His/Her Body: 
October 21, 1835


Muthuswami Dikshitar (Tamil: முத்துஸ்வாமி தீக்ஷிதர்; March 24, 1775 – October 21, 1835) is the youngest of the Carnatic music composer trinity.

He was born in 1775 to Ramaswami Dikshitar and Subbamma, as the eldest son, in Tiruvarur(of Thanjavur district in Tamil Nadu). Muttuswami is said to have born to the couple after they prayed for a child in the temple of Vaitheeswaran Koil.

According to the account of Subbarama Dikshitar, Muttuswami Dikshitar was born in the manmatha year, in the month of Panguni under the asterism Krittikaa. He was named after the temple deity, Muttukumaraswamy. He also had two younger brothers Baluswami, Chinnaswami and a sister Balambal.

In keeping with the educational trends of Brahmin boys of that time, Muthuswami learnt the Sanskrit language, Vedas, and other important religious texts. He also obtained his preliminary musical education from his father.

While he was still in his teens, his father sent him on a pilgrimage with a wandering monk named Chidambaranatha Yogi, to gain musical and philosophical knowledge. Over the course of this pilgrimage, he visited many places in North India, and acquired a broad outlook that is reflected in many of his compositions. During their stay in Kashi (Varanasi), his guru Chidambarantha Yogi, presented Dikshitar with a unique Veena, and died shortly thereafter. The Samadhi of Chidambaranatha Yogi can still be seen in the Hanuman Ghat area in Varanasi.

Muthuswami Dikshitar attained mastery over the Veena, and the influence of Veena playing is evident in his compositions. As per his guru's orders, he went to Tiruttani (a temple town near Chennai). There, while he was immersed deep in meditation, an old man appeared and asked him to open his mouth. He dropped sugar candy into his mouth and disappeared. As he opened his mouth, he had a vision of the deity Muruga and Dikshitar burst forth into his first composition "Shri Nathadi Guruguho" in the raga Mayamalavagaula.

This song addressed the Lord (and/or the guru) in the first declension in Sanskrit. Dikshitar later composed kritis in all the eight declensions on the Lord. These are mostly with epithets glorifying the guru and have very few references to Lord Muruga or specifically to the deity in the saguna form, as at Thiruthani.

He then went on a pilgrimage visiting and composing on temples at Kanchi, Arunachalam , Chidambaram, Tirupathi and Kalahasthi, before returning to Tiruvarur.



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Books & Media

Recommended Books: 
Cover image

Vijayanagara Visions: Religious Experience and Cultural Creativity in a South Indian Empire

by William J. Jackson


The book explores the religious imagination of the old Vijaynagar empire by investigating the culture of bhakti and the visionary experiences of bhakti saints.