Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavthar

Carnatic composers (other than performing vidwans)
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#1 Harikesanallur Muthaiah Bhagavthar

Post by Guest » 04 Nov 2005, 12:40

Posted: 07 Oct 2005 06:25

Hi All,

I am once again starting a thread dedicated to a great genius in Carnatic Music and a king among composers(he lead a royal life too).

I could not resist myself from starting this thread during the auspicious Navarathri festival.I invite one and all to share their views on the contribution of the great to the world of Carnatic music.

I am kicking off the thread aptly with a composition in Alankari, "Navarathrothsava Vaibhave" in Alankari.This is a composition that truly bowled me over when I listened to it for the first time.

Alankari seems to resemble the Hindustani raga Hindol more closely than Sunadavinodini.The scale is SGMDNDS/SNDMGS , a janya of Gamanasrama.Here is the composition for your judgement.(The recording is bad).
More kritis will follow soon.

http://rapidshare.de/files/5972569/nava ... a.zip.html
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Post by Guest » 04 Nov 2005, 12:41

Posted: 07 Oct 2005 14:31

Thanks for keeping up an old promise.

Though You have used an auspicious occasion to kick start the thread, please go full throttle only after the navarathri festivities taper down.We have still some distance to go in the Odeyar Thread.

The track was wonderful and the recording (as you mentioned)awful.
Hindol, like Bhibas gives me strange feelings , I wonder why.
Always looks like a tune floating in from a lost and forgotten world.Cannot explain though.
THe best Hindol I have heard is Gangubais classic..
: http://rapidshare.de/files/5974305/Gang ... e.mp3.html

here is also a lecdem kind of rendering by subra guha
: http://rapidshare.de/files/5974402/Subr ... l.mp3.html

a soothing flute by GS Sachdev
: http://rapidshare.de/files/5975497/GS_S ... l.mp3.html

and a haunting clip by Sultan Khan on the sarangi
http://rapidshare.de/files/5974818/Sult ... l.mp3.html

all these are "few mb" extracts.
And since I am in a mood to please Badri (to thank him for his wonderful effort elsewhere) Here is the last track of his favourite artist.
http://rapidshare.de/files/5974695/Ulha ... l.mp3.html
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Post by Guest » 04 Nov 2005, 12:42

Posted: 07 Oct 2005 15:42

Thanks Kartik

As one who was privileged to witness and hear HMB during his life I am eternally grateful to the memory of this mahaanubhaava. I do consider him one of the greatest all-rounder of the 20th century who should be ranked with the Trinity to make it a quartet. There may be folks who may not agree. The fault is theirs since they may not have seen or heard his CM contributions. It is indeed a pity that HMB's greatness was never realized during his lifetime nor after. Our gratitude to TNS for bringing back to life his immortal compositions as well as his Harikatha style.

I hope in this thread we will share memories of his life and works as well as his music as much as is available now. We will also remember with gratitude the Royalty of Mysore and of Travancore who patronized him. I hope every one who is a lover of CM and its forgotten 20th century history (HMB having an interesting Royal role) will pitch in.

Further, this thread is even more delectable due to HM connections (remember those are the initials of Muthiah bhagavathar ) which coolkarni and kartik will bring us.

The stage is set! I am all ears!!
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Post by Guest » 04 Nov 2005, 12:42

Posted: 08 Oct 2005 16:32

"kartik_krish" -he lead a royal life too

Indeed he was honored by four kings: King of Travencore mUlam tirunAL, Kings of Mysore Nalvadi Krsihna Raja Wadiyar & Jaya Chama Raja Wadiyar and King of Ramnad Muthuramalinga Sethupathy. He was also patronized by the chettinad chettiars.

When Maharaja of Mysore Nalavadi Krishna Raja wadiyar requested him to compose shree chamundesvari ashtottara shata kruti in kannada, he gave him a Daimler Car at his disposal. As Dr.HMB was not proficient in kannada , he was assisted by scholar Sri. Devottama Shastri to write the sahitya. Dr.HMB used to get up at 5 AM and go in the Royal Car to Chamundeswari Hill and sing his compositions before the Goddess till he achieved the required perfection and then he would come back to sing before the Maharaja ! In all he composed 6 invocations , 108 Ashtottara’s and 1 mangal ( total 115). For this he was given the title gayaka shikamani (1928) and given pre-eminent position in the Royal court . He was showered with a gift like Pearl Necklace with chamundewari pendant studded with gems and a very Royal sum of Rs.10,000.00 ! He was also given Emerald shiva linga by Sringeri Guru for composing Shivashtottara ( in Sanskrit) !
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Post by meena » 08 Nov 2005, 01:43


can u pl continue.thanku
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Post by harikesa » 15 Nov 2005, 13:53

Today is the 118th birthday of the mahaan.
I hence thought that today might be an auspicious day to get started with the discussions on him.

Can we start with the kriti in Alankari?
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Post by harikesa » 15 Nov 2005, 13:56

CML,can you share your experiences on his Harikatha performances?You were one of the few priveleged old timers in this forum who have enjoyed his performances.

Did he compose anything for the Indian freedom movement or some passing references during his performances?
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Post by meena » 16 Nov 2005, 13:57

For lyrics: (thanks to Lji)

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Post by Raja Chandra » 17 Nov 2005, 12:03

Scanned from articles in ALAPANE Series in the Deccan Herald, Bangalore
May 28, 1994


MYSORE VASUDEVACHARYA remembers Muthaiah Bhagavathar, the master who composed Bhuvaneshwariya nene manasave and other beautiful songs.


"WHERE do you have your bath?"
"There is the river, by God's grace. Three dips in it and my bath is over. I need neither a boiler nor any fuel!"

"What about your food?"
"It is enough if I get a few morsels of rice from a couple of houses. I am a Brahmachari, my Upanayana having been already performed. If I ask for alms, some kind-hearted woman gives me food. Each day I have a different sort of food and a different relish!"

"You bathe in the river, you get your alms, it need hardly be said that you must be living in some choultry."

"Your guess is right. Right from my twelfth year, this dharma chatra has been my home. What else do I need?"

This in brief was my very first conversation with Muthaiah Bhagavatar when we were students at Thiruvayyar. Even when he was speaking of the mis-fortunes he had faced, he maintained a cheerful countenance. One evening, when we were sitting in the front verandah of his choultry, we talked about our younger days and thought the Creator had made both of us sail in the same boat. Thereafter, we became fast friends.

Harikeshanellur in Tirunelveli district was Bhagavatar's birthplace. He was born in January 1887; Lingammayyar was the name of his father. When Muthaiah Bhagavatar was yet a boy of ten, Lingammayyar passed away and it was left to his uncle to bring him up. The uncle was an orthodox Vedic scholar who believed that music and dance were not for the respectable and tried very hard to make his nephew turn to the study of Sanskrit.

Muthaiah Bhagavatar studied Sanskrit for about two years but his heart was not in it. Finally, one day, he left Tirunelveli for Tiruvayyar without telling anyone. He had resolved to learn music even if it meant begging for a living.

Bhagavatar wandered about in search of a guru. At last, a reputed vidwan named Sambasivayyar agreed to teach him. Muthaiah Bhagavatar studied under him for seven years and acquired proficiency in music.

Muthaiah Bhagavatar was 20 when he returned to Harikeshanellur. He stayed in his hometown for about five years, and gave a few concerts. In those days music concerts did not receive as much encouragement as musical discourses did, and Muthaiah Bhagavatar decided to switch over to that form for a career. He had good scholarship in Sanskrit, he had fluency of speech, an excellent knowledge of music and a rich voice. No wonder his discourses became popular within a short while. He was able at last to make ends meet.

Meanwhile, he went to Travancore, where he displayed his learning at the palace and earned, as a mark of royal recognition, a pair of golden wrist-lets and shawls. The patronage and support that he received at Travancore encouraged him further to pursue music.

In his 25th year, Muthiah Bhagavatar settled down in Madurai. He made a living by teaching music; he ran a small music school of his own. Shortly after this, he went to Karur where he was able to gain the friendship of a wealthy landlord of Andipalli named Petta Chettiyar. Fortune smiled on Muthaiah Bhagavatar now. The Chettiyar, who was all admiration for his learning, honored him profusely. As suggested by Muthaiah Bhagavatar, he celebrated the Skanda Sashti festival every year at Karur. He invited well-known vidwans from all over south India to give concerts, and rewarded them liberally. This gave Bhagavatar an opportunity to come into contact with the famous artistes of the time, as also to further his scholarship. But those happy days did not last long. Petta Chettiyar passed away and Bhagavatar felt dejected. He left Karur and went on a tour to places like Calcutta and Rangoon and on his return settled down in Madras.

Mysore visit

In 1927, Muthaiah Bhagavatar visited Mysore during the Dasara festivities. He was about 50 then. He gave a couple of concerts at the palace and earned the benevolent attention of Krishnaraja Wodeyar. He secured a position of prestige among the musicians of the court. In 1928, the Maharaja bestowed on him the title of Gayaka Shikhamani. In Mysore, Muthaiah Bhagavatar used to go to Chamundi Hills every Friday and offer worship to the goddess. His Ashtottara Kirtanas are ample testimony to his devotion. He had been busy composing these kirtanas between 1929 and 1932. When he completed a kirtana, he sang it before His Highness and won his admiration. The words of the kirtanas were composed by Devottama Jois, who was a scholar in the court, while Muthaiah Bhagavatar composed the music himself. The Ashtottara Kirtanas, which were rich in musical and emotional content, delighted His Highness who honored Bhagavatar with a Golden pendant bearing the figure of Chamundeshwari.

In 1936, Muthaiah Bhagavatar received an invitation from the Travancore palace. At the request of Maharani Sethu Parvathi Bai, he stayed there for two years and entertained the court with his melodious performances. He was appointed the first Principal of the Swati Tirunal Music Academy which was established in 1938. Muthiah Bhagavatar systematized the notations of about 300 kirtanas of Swati Tirunal.

He wrote and published a book in Tamil on the theory of music, entitled Sangeeta Kalpadruma. In recognition of his invaluable contributions Travancore University honored him with a doctorate. He later returned to Mysore where he spent his last days. He passed away on June 30, 1945.

Muthaiah Bhagavatar, who had undergone several hardships in life, had great compassion for the poor. No musician who went to him returned empty handed. His was a small family himself, his wife and his daughter. Even the daughter passed away shortly after his coming down to Mysore. Though they were only two at home, husband and wife, at least 15 persons would be there for food, morning, and evening. Friends and relatives always flocked around him but Bhagavatar never encouraged idle talk; his life was dedicated to music and he spoke only about music. Those who went to him would hardly ever return without acquiring some valuable piece of information or other. Occasionally, when he felt bored, he played cards. On many occasions, he invited me to join him in the game.

Before he composed his kirtanas in Shankarabharana and kharaharapriya, he sent for me and made me sing half-a-dozen times the kirtanas I had composed in those ragas, namely, Harini BhaJinche and Rara Yenipilichithe. He then remarked:

"Acharya, I now have a complete picture of the emotional shades of ragas and I shall begin my composition".

Apart from his varnas and kirtanas which are rich specimens of melody and emotion, I had a great admiration and liking for his tillanas and darus. Many a time, when I sang at the palace, he accompanied me on the mridanga. No one could question his skill. After all, he had learnt under no less a vidwan than Narayanasamappa of Tanjore. He possessed an accurate knowledge of rhythm which explains the excellence of his tillanas and darus. He first sang his compositions before vidwans and welcomed their suggestions and comments. He accepted all the criticism he found valid, and incorporated the necessary changes. Though he could render all ragas equally well, fully elucidating their emotional content, Mukhari was his favorite and his rendering of that rag a was unique.

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Post by meena » 18 Nov 2005, 01:46

RC thanks for sharing the article.

i've read that sree HMB was also a mridanga vidwan and he trained sree MMi in the nuances of laya.
Any audio sample of HMB playing the mridangam is available kji/kartik?

Could someone pl alert kartik, we could atleast have this thread going, thanks.
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Post by cmlover » 18 Nov 2005, 02:35


Thank you ery much for those historical snippets. I agree with meena that we need kartik to have this discussion going. I am pretty sure we can persuade coolkarni to share TNS's glorious renderings of HMB whom I consider the greatest vaggeyakaara of the 20th century.

We need the input of all you good folks to get this thread going.

May I request chembai to reassure that the changes that he envisions will not throw a spanner in our discussiona :D :D
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Post by srkris » 18 Nov 2005, 03:02

Assured of non-interruption arising out of my actions. :)
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Post by coolkarni » 18 Nov 2005, 08:26

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Post by cmlover » 19 Nov 2005, 06:14

Thanks chembai!
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Post by harikesa » 19 Nov 2005, 14:42

Thanks everyone for the support.

Let us focus on Alankari.

Close to Sundavinodini,this raga differs in the arohana.Sunadavinodini has SGMDNS while Alankari uses a vakra SGMDNDS.The N-D-S phrase is repeated to distinguish it.The Hindustani equivalent is Hindol.

I hope Coolkarni will be kind enough to upload Paluskar's Hindol(78 rpm) which is a Sadarang composition.The meend from N to M is charc

The composition is dedicated Chamundeswari and addresses her as Navarathrotsava Vaibhave,perhaps reflective of her splendour during Dasara.
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Post by rshankar » 19 Nov 2005, 20:17

To allow uninterrupted access to these pages, and enjoy the genius of yet another great, I thought I would digress just a bit and post a song by HMB on gaNapathi: http://rapidshare.de/files/7853595/sidh ... _.mp3.html
This was a track posted earlier by Kulkarni sa'ab, but after the frustrations of the past few days, I thought I would repost this, and propitiate the remover of obstacles!
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Post by rshankar » 19 Nov 2005, 21:34

Can some one post the meaning for the karnaranjani piece, 'vAchathOnu' please?
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Post by meena » 20 Nov 2005, 07:55

vAncatOnu . rAgA: karNaranjani. Adi tALA

P: vAncatOnu nAvagalu delpavE ambA
A: vAncita phaladAyaki shrI vallI guhuni manasu karaga
C: mAninI nI pAluDau nAmAnamu kApADi abhimAnamuncavalenu
talli marakatavalli kalimAnavulanu brOva nI samAnamevaru
mArAyuta samAna rUpa harikEsha kumAra rANi vanajanEtri

Context: Author is requesting "srivalli"(?) to convey his
message to her husband "balasubrahmanya(murugan)" swami.

P: Please convey my situation with heart
AP: Oh mother, one who fulfills desires, (Please convey my message) so that
his heart would melt.
C: Oh! lotus eyed one, please help my dire situation and keep my
self-respect. Who is equal to you in protecting the people of kali
yuga. (Please convey my message!)

Pallavi: vAncatOnu nAvagalu delpavE ambA
vAnca + tOnu = with heart
nA + vagalu = my desparate situation
delpavE = convey
ambA = Oh! mother

Anupallavi: vAncita phaladAyaki shrI vallI guhuni manasu karaga
vAncita + phala + dAyaki = (Mother!) one who fulfills desires
shrIvallI + guhu + ni = husband of srivallai's
manasu = heart
karaga = melt

mAninI = (?)
nI = yours
pAluDau = I am at your rule
nA + mAnamu = my dire situation
kApADi = protect
abhimAnamu + uncavalenu = and keep my self-respect
talli = mother
marakata + valli = (?)
kali + mAnavula + nu = people of kali-yuga
brOva = protect
nI + samAnamevaru = who is equal to you
mArAyuta + samAna + rUpa = equal to mArAyuta(?)
hari + kEsha + kumAra + rANi = queen of the son of hari+kesava
vanaja + nEtri = oh! lotus eyed one

This seems to be song on Goddess Valli(aka Shrivalli), the younger wife of Subrahmanya, requesting her
to intercede on the singer's behalf, to her Lord.

Some additions to the above :
Shri valli - O Shri valli,
guhuni manasu karaga - such that Lord Guha(Subrahmanya)'s heart would melt
(you must say about me)

mAnini - O dignified lady
nAmAnamu kApADi - protecting the honour of me
nI pAluDau - who am your subject ( is this bAluDau?)

marakatavalli - resembling an emerald creeper!

rANi - O queen (of)
harikEsha kumAra - the son of Shiva
mArAyuta samAna rUpa - who is as handsome as 10000 Manmathas

(meaning was provided my murali-bboard)
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Post by coolkarni » 20 Nov 2005, 08:48

Boy !!.Is this thread starting on a great note.
Thanks Meena for the meaning.
By invoking HINDOL , you have opened a can of worms at my place .Let me see How I Can put them all back.

To start with I find this raga one of the best to welcome the day .
During the brief period I lived in a Shimoga in a wonderful House with a terrace ,nestling close to a hillock, I used to love playing this raga at 4.30 - 5.00 AM in the morning .
Nothing else between me and the start studded sky slowly yielding to the dawn of yet another great day .And the effect would be dazzling !!

Here is a track which works as a primer on this subject , by Subra Guha
http://rapidshare.de/files/7880458/Subr ... Hindol.mp3

And as i read todays newspaper , I learn that Sultan Khan is scheduled to play-yet again with U Srinivas- today.Wonder if they will finally come up with something different-instead of insulting the chennai audience's sensibilities with mohana, Rajasthani Folk song, Lullabies and fusion stuff..
How wonderful would it be if he could try the Hindol , like he does here in a solo.

http://rapidshare.de/files/7880417/Sult ... Hindol.mp3

Next is a great track from Gangubai Hangal(karthick-sorry I am yet to locate the rajguru track)
http://rapidshare.de/files/7880688/Gang ... a_Bole.mp3

Next is a track by bhimsen Joshi in Hindol Bahar-- He sings Hindol for about 4 minutes and then takes off into Bahar in a breathtaking manner and keeps moving to and fro(Cml - this is a well recorded track so please take care with the Volume level)

http://rapidshare.de/files/7879184/Bhim ... _Bole_.mp3

And Lastly , everytime I come across Sunadavinodini, I just cannot resist listening to that track of BMK-MSG-TVG at shanmukhananda hall

http://rapidshare.de/files/7881094/bmk- ... Part_1.mp3
http://rapidshare.de/files/7881966/bmk- ... Part_2.mp3

simply mind blowing stuff from all the three artists.
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Post by coolkarni » 20 Nov 2005, 08:53

If there is more interest in this raga, we can also look at Sachdevs bansuri rendering and two exquisite vocal renderings by venkatesh kumar and ulhas kashalkar.slightly bigger tracks
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Post by rshankar » 21 Nov 2005, 04:25

Thanks for the translation. I assumed from my meager knowledge of colloquial Telugu that this song (vAnchathOnu nA) was addressed to vaLLI, and your translation seems to confirm this: the sentiments expressed are very similar to the Ramadasa composition, 'nanu brOvamani cheppavE, sIthamma thallI'. Also, I think that as far as compositions go, a rare one addressed to vaLLI!
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Post by cmlover » 21 Nov 2005, 05:35


I think you meant sunadavinodini and not karnaranjani. Either case pl post the HM pieces. If RC is watching I would like to know whether MV created the immortal sunadavinodini through his HM contact and whether he had any HM connection. It will be equally interesting to know HMB's HM connection. The historical connections are vague even in the case of MD. HMB during his harikathas liberally used HM tunes as also Maharashtrian abhangs. How did he learn them?
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Post by meena » 21 Nov 2005, 05:50

Last edited by meena on 06 May 2008, 04:18, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by cmlover » 21 Nov 2005, 06:50

Thanks Meena
There is some similar story w.r.t amritavarshini too! I have heard him sing these ragas especially sohini (HM style) during the harikatha and keeping the audience spell bound. If only we could get Kartik we can get the complete details and even have the renderings of TNS posted by coolkarni!
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