Shri Muthuswamy Dikshitar: One of the Trinity and A Pillar of Carnatic Music

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage


Muthuswamy Dikshitar, one of the trinity of Carnatic music alongside Tyagaraja and Syama Sastri, remains a monumental figure in the world of South Indian classical music. Born in 1775 in Tiruvarur, a town in the Tanjavur district of Tamil Nadu, Dikshitar is celebrated not only for his vast and diverse compositions but also for his unique blend of Indian traditional music with the Western musical elements he encountered during his life.

Early Life and Influences

Muthuswamy Dikshitar was born into a devout and musically inclined family. His father, Ramaswami Dikshitar, was a scholar and musician, providing a robust foundation in both the theory and practice of music. Dikshitar’s musical journey was profoundly influenced by his extensive pilgrimage across India with his family, a journey during which he was exposed to a wide array of musical styles, practices, and the philosophical underpinnings of Indian spiritual traditions.

Musical Style and Innovations

Dikshitar’s compositions are renowned for their structural rigor and the seamless integration of lyrical beauty with melodic sophistication. He composed primarily in Sanskrit and adopted the ‘kriti’ form of music, which includes a pallavi (refrain), anupallavi (sub-refrain), and charanam (verse). What sets Dikshitar apart is his incorporation of Western musical motifs, which he likely encountered through the British presence in India. This synthesis is most notable in his Navagraha (Nine Planets) kritis, where the influence of Western marches is discernible.

Contributions to Carnatic Music

Dikshitar’s contributions to Carnatic music are vast and varied. He is perhaps best known for his kritis on the deities of various temples in India. Each kriti is not just a piece of music but a devotional and philosophical oeuvre, reflecting deep spiritual and theological insights. His Navavarana kritis, dedicated to the worship of Goddess Lalita, encapsulate a profound tantric symbolism mingled with melodious scales that are both grand and intricate.

Dikshitar was also a pioneer in composing in all the 72 melakarta (parent) ragas, a feat that showcases his profound understanding of the raga system. His compositions such as “Anandamritakarshini” in the raga Amritavarshini are celebrated for their ability to invoke specific feelings, such as the onset of rain.


Muthuswamy Dikshitar passed away in 1835, but his legacy endures through his vast repertoire of compositions which continue to be an integral part of Carnatic concerts today. His works are studied, performed, and revered for their lyrical finesse, depth of emotion, and compositional mastery.


Muthuswamy Dikshitar was not merely a composer; he was a cultural icon who bridged the traditional and the modern, the Indian and the Western, the spiritual and the musical. His life and works are a testament to the rich cultural tapestry of India and his music, a continuing source of inspiration and reverence in the world of Carnatic music. Through his compositions, Dikshitar has left an indelible mark on the music and culture of Tamil Nadu and continues to influence generations of musicians and music lovers around the world.

Spread India's Glorious Cultural & Spiritual Heritage

By Mala Chandrashekhar

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