Ragalaksanam was composed by Mudduvenkatamakhin in Tanjore in the early 18th century A.D. It is an important text of Karnataka Music and appeared in an effervescent epoch in the development of this music system of which it deals with only raga. It collects, classifies, codifies and characterizes the entire music base of the Indian peninsula. The author was a musician, musicologist and music composer of a high order. His contribution to the world of music is twofold: the systematisation of the theory of raga content of his times and creating music to crystallize the character and scope of each raga described.
The author derived his inspiration from his great grandfather, Venkatamakhin who revolutionized the theory and practice of Indian music through his scheme of 72 melas. His Caturdandiprakasika illustrates the four fundamental components (dandi) of music - gita, alapa, theya and prabandha, which is paramaguru (teacher's teacher) Tanappa postulated and illustrated. His own guru was his father Govindadiksita who made the first efforts to stabilize the four dandis in practice in his Sangitasudha. Thus a line of four important musicians musicologists-composers of South India: Tanappa, Govindadiksita, Venkatamakhin and Mudduvenkatamakhin built up or reorganized a textual tradition that supported a living dynamic tradition of performed music in which hundreds of composers, thousands of performers and countless listeners endeavoured to continuously strengthen and nourish it. Ragalaksanam marks an important phase of this great evolution.