(Last Updated on : 07-01-2009)
'Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini' is a treatise written by Brahmasri Subbarama Dikshitar. The classical music of South India touched a landmark in the history on February 15 in 1904 with the birth of this book on South Indian Carnatic music.
The book has its opening phrase in the very first page as 'Sri Guruguhaya natnah'. The identification of the author is established in the invocatory phrase of the book. It informs that the author Subbarama Dikshitar was born in 1839 and he was the last scion of the legendary Dikshitar family. It is said the he was the adopted child of his grandfather Balusvami Dikshitar's brother, Muthusvami Dikshitar.
'Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini' is not merely a book although has referred it like that only. It is divided into two volumes and consists of total 1700 pages. The book was written mainly in Telugu but few of it was written in Tamil also but the title of the book is in Sanskrit. If proper justification is done on the work, it can be regarded as the encyclopedia on Carnatic music.
'Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini' consists of 170 'jjitas' of Venkatamakhi, 229 kritis of Muthusvami Dikshitar, 10 pmbandbas, 41 chittci tanas, kritis of various composers. The book also contains over a hundred other pieces like suladis, varnas, svarajatis, darns, padams and the compositions of Subbarama Dikshitar and of so many others. The abstract of compositions of almost 70 composers can be found in the 'Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini'. All the compositions were written in a very detailed and descriptively style and they are notated with svara signs, gamakn indications and tala symbols.
The contents of the pages of 'Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini' is based on the details of the traditions of Carnatic music and brief notes that explain the characteristics of the ragas employed in the compositions. All the pages of the book established firmly the doctrines of traditional Carnatic music, which justifies the title of the book. Butit is surprising to see that only one kriti of Tyagaraja was included in the main body of the book. However, the five popular 'pancharatnas' have got place in the appendix of the book. Again, the Varali kriti cannot be found in the book. Apart from all these, the 77 biographies of musicians, musicologists, composers also found space in the 'Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini'. And interestingly, most of the composers included in the book belonged to the family of the authors and some others were royal patrons of Ettayapuram. It also contains a concise autobiographical sketch of the author himself. It was surely a difficult task for a single person to comose such a book. In earlier days, the process of information collection was very hard. Besides, the Indian printing had also just started then. At that time, the discovering of facts was very painful because of the well-known Indian tradition of a dull lack of historical sense.
The persistent effort of A.M. Chinna Swami Mudaliar in bringing out the 'Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini' is noteworthy. When the staff notation came about the publishing the kritis of Muthusvami Dikshitar, Chinna Swami made his mind to help Subbarama Dikshitar. So both of them joined together and created additional jamaka signs to suit the work on hand. Chinnaswami Mudaliar was a Latin scholar and a Roman Catholic, who was a musician and musicologist par excellence. He was influenced by the Carnatic music or Hindu music as he called it and he wanted to include the westerners to taste its boundless beauty. He got formal training in Western music and decided to use its methods to propagate Carnatic music. Thus, the most elaborate scheme of 'ramaka' signs and other notation symbols in the history of Carnatic music took birth. But Chinnaswami Mudaliar could not remain alive to see the 'Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini' being published. He had got Subbarama Dikshitar started on the project.
According to Subbarama Dikshitar, the work on 'Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini' started on December 21 in 1901. He completed writing the biographies of composers, and an essay on the theory and practical aspects of musk that also explain its 'jawaka' and tala aspects by December 17 in 1903. And the final book titled 'Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini' was finished and got published on February 15 in 1904 though not in staff-notation was given.