Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar (1877 – 1945) was a 20th century carnatic music composer, and a ra’ga creator. Let us call him HMB for ease from now on.
HMB learnt from Padinaindumandapa Sambasiva Iyer for 9 years and made his name as a Harikata Vidhwan. (harikatha is an art of story telling infused with music) He was also adept at playing the chitra veena and mridangam.
He had to his credit almost 400 musical compositions, the largest among the post-Trinity composers, that included many different types of Varnams as well as Kritis and Thillanas. His inventions included ragas such as Vijaysaraswathi, Karnaranjani, Mohana Kalyani, Niroshta, in which the trademark songs were “charanam vijaya saraswathi”, “vanchathonuna”, “bhuvaneshwaria”, “raja raja radhite”.
The famous English notes made popular by Madurai Mani Iyer was actually written by HMB himself. Though the Trinity composed many nottuswarams in their period, this is the one that first comes to our mind.
Until the invention of Niroshta, all the audava ragas (with notes per scale) had at least PA or MA in its grammer. This raga is sans PA and MA, the only two swaras which are pronounced by closed lips (bilabial). Leave it to the genius of HMB to also compose a song whose lyrics are devoid of bilabial sounds.
Listen to… TN Seshagopalan singing mathe malayadhwaja, a dharu varnam in raga Khamas. A speciality in the last chitta swaram of this varnam is it is fully a swaraksharam (same syllables denote swara and lyric) praising the Goddess. Also to be noted is that TNS was the disciple of Sankara Sivam, who in turn was the disciple of HNB.
Mudhra Harikesa after his birth place
Disciples include Sankara Sivam (as mentioned above), Madurai Mani Iyer. HNB also opened a music school called the Tyagaraja Sangita Vidyalaya in Madurai in 1920 on the lines of a gurukulam.