Photo Gallery


Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavahar

PLACE OF BIRTH - Harikesanallur
PERIOD - 1877   -   1945
MUDRA - Harikesa
A- A A+
HarikEshanallur Mutayyaa Bhaagavatar - (1877-1945) He was a charismatic exponent of Harikatha as well as a seasoned punster. He was born on November 15, 1877 in Harikesanallur, a small village in the Tirunelveli district, in the late 19th century. The death of his father forced young Muthiah to move from Punalveli to Harikesanallur, a village he made famous by affixing its name to his own. Muthiah was sent to Tiruvaiyur by his uncle Lakshmana Suri to learn the sastras. But the atmosphere there was charged with the melodies of Carnatic music and soon Muthiah found himself at the residence of Guru Sambasiva Iyer of the sishya parampara of Tyagaraja, to become a skilled musician. In 1904, Muthiah shifted to Harikatha and made an indelible mark there. T. N. Seshagopalan, disciple of Ramanathapuram Sankara Sivam, who in turn was taught by Muthiah Bhagavathar, says: "The most common reason cited for this shift is that his voice lost its timbre. But I prefer to look at the positive side. Bhagavatar had five attributes most essential for a Harikatha performer. He had knowledge of the sastras, was well-versed in music, had a captivating stage presence, could keep the audience enraptured and above all had a voice that could reach a large audience, so important in those mike-less days." Mutayyah Bhagavatar composed almost 400 musical forms, the largest among the post-Trinity composers. Tana varnams, Pada varnams, Daru varnams (his has been the first to come down to us), raagamaalikais, individual and group kritis (that include Navavarna, Navagraha, 108 songs each in praise of Siva and Chamundeswari apart from `stuti' kirtanas), patriotic songs, Tillanas, and folk tunes. The songs were on a number of Hindu gods, his patrons, and in four languages - Telugu, Tamil, Sanskrit and Kannada. Almost 20 ragams owe their existence today to this great composer, including vijaysaraswathi, Hamsagamani, Karnaranjani, Budhamanohari, Niroshta and Hamsanandi. When someone asked if he could compose something that would appeal to Westerners, he composed the English notes made famous by Madurai Mani. He popularized shhanmugapriyaa and mohana kalyaaNi. He was adept at playing both the chitravina and mridangam. In addition to musical talents, his theoretical knowledge was also vast. He wrote a treatise on musical theory, Sangita Kalpa Drumam, and regularly gave lectures on musicology at the Music Academy. He opened a music school called the Tyagaraja Sangita Vidyalaya in Madurai in 1920 on the lines of a gurukulam. Madurai Mani Iyer was one of its star disciples. He was also the first musician to be awarded a doctorate in India when the Kerala University awarded him the D. Litt. for his Tamil Treatise in 1943. He was also the first principal of the Swati Tirunal Academy of music started in Trivandrum in 1939. Muthiah Bhagavatar has also authored a Sanskrit poetic work called ``Tyagaraja Vijaya Kavya''. Seshagopalan says, ``He was also the first to introduce the practice of nagaswara vidwans playing during the puja time at the Thiruvananthapuram temple. In fact there is an anecdote that once some people jealous of the Bhagavatar instigated the Raja who, remarked in a deriding tone about the unsatisfactory calibre of these artistes.'' Muthiah Bhagavatar responded, ``How can you expect T.N. Rajarathnam to come and play every evening for this fee?'' He was awarded the Sangita Kalanidhi title in 1930. The composer and musician lived like a king, but was as magnanimous as he was rich. When others grabbed the credit for work done by him he would remark ``Let them also earn some name and fame. What more do I need at this stage?'' His disciples include K.A. Sreenivasan whom he proudly announced as his number one disciple. Mr. K.A. Sreenivasan has acted in old films like Maya Machindra, Mayabazar and many more and he was one of the best friends of the famous cine actor "Cherukalathur Sama." He was awarded the title " Vidwan " by the then Mysore samasdhanam. K.A.Sreeenivasan's wife's name is Pitchumani Ammal and she has also passed away leaving 2 sons and 2 daughters. Muthiah Bhaagavatar died in June 30, 1945. The Harikesanjali Trust (promoted by his descendants) has been established to propagate his compositions. Mudra: HarikEsha