Questionable Compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar

Ashok Madhav

Many compilations are available on Muthuswami Dikshitar kritis, each quoting a different number of kritis composed by him. However, authentic information about Dikshitar kritis can be obtained from Subbarama Dikshitar’s compilation –Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP).  It is the most sought after treatise to check on Dikshitar’s compositions. There are 223 compositions listed in the compilation.

There are several unauthorized or spurious kritis being circulated among musicians. These spurious kritis are called ‘Prakshipta’ kritis according to Prof. P. Sambhamurthy – the noted musicologist. The Todi varnam, ‘rupamu juchi’, attributed to Dikshitar was composed by Tiruvarur Muthuswami Nattuvanar . Muthuswami Nattuvanar was a disciple of Ramaswamy Dikshitar (father of Muthuswami Dikshitar).

‘Sri Gananatham’ set in raga Kanakangi has both mudras (guruguha) of Dikshitar as well as (Tyagaraja) Tyagaraja. It is definitely not composed by these two great vaggeyakaras. Some unknown author has inserted mudras of these two composers.

Some kritis have Dikshitar mudra, ‘guruguha’, but there are doubts about their authenticity since they do not have characteristic style of Dikshitar. Dikshitar whenever he composed a kriti on a particular deity, made sure of the historical, mythological significance of the place where the deity is located. These kritis do not have those characteristics at all. Sri krishnam bhaja manasa (todi), hariharaputram (vasanta), akhilandeshwari (dwijavanti) are some such spurious compositions. 

Other kritis that contain the ‘guruguha’ mudra but are not authentic Dikshitar kritis were popularized by a well-known musician. These include ganapathe mahamathe (kalyani), gopika manoharam (mohanam), sri venkatesham (kalyanavasantham).

In one of the books on Dikshitar kritis, the shad-ragamalika ‘purnachandra bimba vadane’ containing 6 ragas like purnachandrika, narayani, saraswathi manohari, shudda vasantha, hamsadhwani and nagadhwani has become ashta-ragamalika with 8 ragas. Two additional lines using ragas kedaram and bilahari (with raga mudras) have been inserted between shudda vasantha and hamsadhwani.

Among the Navagraha kriits of Dikshitar, two of them may not be his creations. Scholars believe that Dikshitar composed only seven vara kritis, one kriti for each day of the week and not a group of nine kritis for nine planets. The two additional kritis of the Navagraha kritis are “smaramyaham sada on rahu (ramamanohari) and mahasuram ketum on ketu (chamaram). The styles of these 2 compositions are distinctly different from those of Dikshitar. Kriti on Rahu is the creation of Balaswami Dikshitar and the kriti on Ketu is by Tiruvarur Veeraswami Nattuvanar, a disciple of Muthuswami Dikshitar.


Dr Ashok Madhav of Pittsburgh, USA is a prolific composer of Carnatic music.