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Feature

Kritis for good health?

A Madras foundation prescribes Muthuswamy Dikshitar's compositions for physical and spiritual ailments

Time: A morning 200 years ago.

Place: The wide granite stairs that lead to the Ganga.

The pious disciple quietly follows his guru, who steps into the holy river and says, "Son, your lessons are over. Make a wish."

The disciple steps into the running stream and scoops up the water. He makes a wish and pours the water down. Lo! There is a veena in his hand.

The legend goes that Muthuswamy Dikshitar began his musical career thus.

Dikshitar, one of Indian music's most revered composers, wrote all his 1,000 kritis in Sanskrit. "When he composed, he adhered strictly to mantra shastra. He was not just a musician, he was a tantrik, a mystic and an astrologer," says Balakrishnan, founder of Muthuswamy Dikshitar Foundation.

The foundation, he says, will work to show the power of Dikshitar’s compositions to cure physical and spiritual illnesses. Dikshitar forms the Trinity of Karnatak music -- its most widely performed composers -- with Syama Sastry and Thyagaraja.

An astrologer himself, Balakrishnan first scans the horoscope of the person who approaches him. On detecting the problem, he prescribes one of Dishitar's Navagraha kritis. "I particularly look for the weak planet in the horoscope and prescribe kritis composed on that planet. All the cases I have dealt so far have reported success," claims Balakrishnan.

This isn't something rationalists will believe easily. Apparently, Balakrishnan takes the ritualistic aspects of Dikshitar's art, and builds on the faith people already have to make them feel better.

Balakrishnan says he first chanced upon the effects of Dikshitar’s kritis as a teenager. Following his guru’s instructions, he started chanting a kriti and found its effect beneficial. He then started prescribing it to his friends. "They all told me that it was effective," says Balakrishnan.

Before he takes up a case he looks at several factors. The person seeking remedy has to be a vegetarian, should not seek retribution or perform black magic. "Above all, the problem must be genuine. I maintain strict confidentiality. All I expect is faith in what I prescribe," he explains.

Apart from using Dikshitar kritis as cures, the foundation also helps musicians and researchers by giving out material about his life and works. It organises dance and music programmes to bring to the notice of music lovers Dikshitar's lesser known kritis.

Recently, the foundation collaborated with veteran Bharatanatyam teacher Krishnakumari Narendran to produce programmes on Dikshitar's compositions. "Our aim is to make everyone enjoy the benefits of his kritis," says Balakrishnan.

Astrology or art, mysticism or music, Dikshitar has left a treasure from which people take what suits their needs.

The foundation celebrated his birthday on April 8.

L Subramani



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