David Shulman: "Listening to Muttusvāmi Dīkṣitar: The Formation of Classical Carnatic Music"

Saturday May 18th 2024, 1:00 - 4:00PM
Event Sponsor
Center for South Asia
Department of Religious Studies
The Ho Center for Buddhist Studies

The Evans-Wentz Workshop


In the late eighteenth century, three famous composers created a new canonical corpus of South Indian music-- in effect a revolution in sound. Muttusvāmi Dīkṣitar, following in the wake of his teacher Śyāma Śāstri, played a major role in this process, which in his case involved a musical enactment of the Tantric system of the Śrīvidyā. We will  listen carefully to two or three Dīkṣitar compositions, study the verbal texts that are intrinsic to the music, and trace the Śrīvidyā philosophy that permeates these works. If time permits, we may also spend some minutes with a Śyāma Śāstri text.


David Shulman is Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University. Trained in Tamil by John Marr at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Ph.D. 1976), he has specialized in the cultural and intellectual history of pre-modern southern India and in the languages and literatures of the south. He has worked closely with Velcheru Narayana Rao, Yigal Bronner, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, and Don Handelman. Among his books are Tamil: A Biography (Harvard University Press, 2017) and More than Real: A History of the Imagination in South India (Harvard University Press, 2012). At present he is directing a research team funded by the European Research Council on "The New Ecology of Expressive Modes in Early Modern South India." His passion is for Carnatic music, with Hindustani music a close second.



David Shulman at Borobudur









David Shulman at Borobudur, Indonesia