Sunday, 24 June 2018

Srimad Madhwacharya’s contribution to Carnatic Music

I happened to listen to a discourse by Bannanje Govindacharya on 'Dwadasha stothram'. The great scholar that he is, he gives a lot of information related to this composition. Those who only know the Acharya as the one, who propagated ‘Dwaitha philosophy’, will be pleasantly surprised to know of his rich contribution to Carnatic music.
I would like to share a few of those details.
‘Dwadasha stothram’, composed and set to pleasing music by Srimad Madhwacharya is the first ‘Stothra kavya’. It comprises twelve chapters. The popular ‘Preenayamo Vasudevam’, is the eighth chapter of the kavya. It can be said that these were the first compositions in Sanskrit that could be sung and they later became an inspiration for Dasa Sahitya.
The widely prevalent belief is that this Stothra was composed by Shri Madhwacharya when he carried the idol of Udupi Krishna on his head from Malpe beach to Udupi. Actually, they were composed on different occasions at different places in different metres, different ragas and different talas. They were composed to be sung during the Acharya’s visit to various kshetras. They have a refrain that can be sung as a chorus. For example, the following refrain ( 12th chapter) has been composed, comprising only the names of the Lord and can be sung and understood by anyone.
“Ananda Mukunda Aravinda Nayana
Ananda theertha Paraananda Varada.”
Though Saint Purandaradasa is considered to be the 'Sangeetha Pitamaha', there have been other Vaggeyakaras (those who composed and sang) prior to his times. The ealiest was Jayadeva of the 12th century. Before Purandaradasa, his guru Vyasa Theertha had composed many songs and was considered an authority on Carnatic music. (‘Krishnaa Nee Beganae Baaro’ is a favourite even today). Before him, Sripada Rayaru had composed many songs. (‘Kangalidhyaathako Kaaveri Rangana Nodadha’ is one of his famous krithis.) Earlier, Narahari Theertharu, a direct disciple of Madhwacharya had composed plenty of songs, out of which only three are available now. ‘Hariyae, Idhu Sariyae’ is quite well-known.
Srimad Madhwacharya is considered to be the ‘Moola Purusha’ of Carnatic music. In fact, ‘Carnatic music’ got that name because it originated through a saint ( Srimad Madhwacharya) from Karnataka . The Acharya has also been an inspiration for ‘Yakshagana’ or ‘Bayalata’.
It is recorded that Sri Madhwacharya was a great musician, endowed with a very rich voice. He is referred to as ‘Gandharva Vidya Nipuna’. (Gandharva Vidya is sageetha). People loved his singing and were totally absorbed in his music. Once he was asked by someone whether he could make a dry plant grow with his singing. Accepting the challenge, the Acharya sang in front of a withered plant and it became rejuvenated and started growing.


  1. All are excellent especially your thesis on Srimadh Acharya's Sri Dwadasa stotHRA working on the madhWA philosophy allthe best

    1. Thank you, very much.It was sweet of you to respond.