The chariot festival at the
colossal Mahalinga Swami temple at Tiruvidaimarudur to be
Temples in India have
always been centers of art and culture. Apart from playing host
to performances, they have served as magnets that attracted
composers and poets to sing their praise.
Tiruvidaimarudur has been sung by Sambandar,
Tirunavukkarasar and Sundaramurthy Nayanar of the 1st
millennium CE. (See essay on the
Shiva temples sung by Saints of the 1st millennium).
Later Saivite poets such as karuvur Tevar,
Pattinattar and Mahavidvan Minakshisundaram Pillai have also
sung praises of this shrine.
Ramaswami Dikshitar the
father of the great composer
migrated from the
Kanchipuram area to Govindapuram near Tiruvidaimarudur.
He later learned music from
Thanjavur. He later
migrated to Tiruvidaimarudur
and learned musicology and the art of the vina from Venkata
Vaidyanatha Dikshitar, a descendant of the great musicologist
Venkatamakhi. It was here that Ramaswami Dikshitar soaked in the
tradition of music expounded by Venkatamakhis work
Ramasvami Dikshitar was
patronized by the Thanjavur ruler Amarasimha.
It is a known fact that the
Thanjavur Maratha kingdom extended great patronage to the arts.
Thanjavur was ruled by Amarasimha until 1797 and after the
ascension of Saraboji to the throne moved to Tiruvidaimarudur
where he held miniature court and continued to patronize the
Muthusvami Dikshitar was
born in 1775. His first composition came into being after his
return from North India and
Tiruttani perhaps in the late 1790s or the early 1800s.
It was in the 1800s that Dikshitar visited Tiruvidaimarudur and
composed cintaye mahalinga murtim in praise of
Mahalingesvara enshrined there.