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Temples of Tamilnadu

Tiruvidaimarudur and Music
Special Feature - January 2011

The chariot festival at the colossal Mahalinga Swami temple at Tiruvidaimarudur to be revived

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, Manikkavacakar, Pattinattar and Mahavidvan Minakshisundaram Pillai have also sung praises of this shrine.

Ramaswami Dikshitar the father of the great composer Muthusvami Dikshitar 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 Venkatamakhi’s work chaturdandi prakasika.

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 arts.

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.