By B.M. Sundaram
In the recent few issues I find some have complained that Dr. Balamuralikrishna is not using suddha dhaivata (as specified by Subbarama Dikshitar in his Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarsini) in the raga Reetigaula. It is quite surprising that these complainants are ignorant that there are mainly two schools – one of Tyagaraja and the other of Dikshitar, where in the cases of many raga-s, the arohana-avarohana or even the nomenclature differ. Mazhavai Subbarama Bhagavatar, Chittoor Subramania Pillai, Mannargudi Rajagopala Pillai, T.M. Thyagarajan and many other greats sang this particular raga using only the chatusruti dhaivata. The kriti Bale balendu bhooshani of Tyagaraja in this raga is found only with the usage of chatusruti dhaivata, in the manuscripts of Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbayya.
Almost every raga in our Carnatic system has a number of arohana-avarohana-s, as given by different authors. One may refer to my book Palai Azhi. In the case of the raga Chintamani (Devi brova), the arohana-avarohana-s are many. T.N. Swaminatha Pillai followed one and others like Sarabha Sastri and Gajapati Rao (seniormost disciple of Annaswami Sastri) used another. This in no way decreases the stature or greatness of a musician, be it Sarabha Sastri or Swaminatha Pillai. There is no doubt that Subbarama Dikshitar has done yeoman service to our music by giving in notation a number of Dikshitar’s and some others’ compositions. But, at the same time, we cannot take his version as the final and decisive authority.
While speaking about Melattur Veerabhadrayya, for instance, Subbarama Dikshitar says that he came from the north to Tanjavur. Which was the place in ‘the north’ really? Even Tiruvaiyaru is to the north of Tanjavur! Similarly, he has given the pada varna Roopamu joochi in Todi as a composition of Muthuswami Dikshitar, whereas, all of us know that the latter never composed other than in the Sanskrit language. The varna is actually by Patnam Muthuswami Nattuvanar, a student of Muthuswami Dikshitar. The notebook containing the original is still available with the descendants of the famous dancer, Tiruvarur Rajayee.
Before complaining or writing on such delicate matters, one must get acquainted with other things related to it. Further, it is a pity that today we find very young people placing their feet on the very first step of the ladder, trying to sling mud on aged, senior and very versatile musicians who have reached the pinnacle, as if they have incarnated endowed with the “kavacha-kundala” of musical authority.