Colorful Bhashanga-s – Rudrapriya – Part II

The rāga Rudrapriyā is mentioned twice by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśini; once under the rāgāṅga rāga Śri rāgaṃ and second time in the Anubandham. The first mention has 5 kṛti-s and a sañcari and in the Anubandham, two kṛti-s of Śri Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar –”gaṇanāyakam bhajēham” and “tyāgēśam bhajarē” were given. Analysis of the notations reveal a considerable difference in the lakṣaṇa of these two kṛti-s from other kṛti-s notated in the main section and also the svarūpa of Rudrapriyā differ considerably between these two kriti-s to an extent that they need a separate discussion. Hence these two kṛti-s will be covered separately and this article will cover the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’. It is advisable to read Part I for better understanding of this rāga. Before we embark into the kṛti, it is pertinent to know about the structure of rāga-s prevailed during 19th century and prior.

Approaching a rāga – concept prevailed during 17th and18th century

From 17th/18th century or even prior to that, there could have been two school of thoughts in approaching or handling a rāga. First one is to treat a rāga in such a way that a definite scale (ārōhaṇam or avarōhaṇam) cannot explain the svarūpa of a rāgaṃ as they transcend these scales (Scale-transcending rāga-s). Second thought is to approach a rāgam in a scalar manner. Both could have enjoyed popularity and there could have been proponents for both these systems; the exact time period which saw the inflow of these systems cannot be framed with the available evidences.  

Whereas the latter is really a simple method to approach a rāga, only the former method gives an adequate structure to the svara-s to be called as a rāga. Whereas the treatment of a rāga in the latter approach can be compared with a small water canal, which has only a single course with the water flowing through it monotonously, the former approach can be compared with a river. A rāga has its own delineated course and it is our duty to cruise through it and identify its tributaries and distributaries, the area where it bifurcates, various ways through which it reaches its destination etc. 

Whereas the Scale-transcending approach is seen with the treatises like Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śahāji and Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulaja, to cite a few, the scalar approach is seen with the treatises like Saṅgīta Sāra Saṅgrahamu of Tiruvēṅkaṭa Kavi and Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi. So, if a composer is a follower of the first school, he handles a rāga as an organic structure (Scale-transcending approach); whereas a composer who believes in the latter thought handles a rāga exactly in concordance with the scale prescribed for that rāga (Scalar approach). In due course, a scalar rāga could have been developed as an equivalent to ‘scale transcending’ rāga and used by the Scalar school. Pūrṇacandrika and Janarañjani can be cited as an example to explain this. Whereas the former is limited to a scale now, it was actually a rāga with a wider scope. The latter could have been developed to get a feel of Pūrṇacandrika and at the same time making it simple to approach by making it to abide a scale. Alternatively, many Scale-transcending rāga-s were converted into scales. This concept can be easily understood by studying the rāga Gauḍamalhār.

Though we generally believe Harikēśanaḷḷur Muttiah Bhāgavatar handled this for the first time, we do have evidence to say this could have been handled by another composer preceding him. ‘Cinta dīrca’ is a kṛti of Tiruvoṭṭriyūr Tyāgayyar in this rāga and belongs to the set “Śrī Vēṇugōpāla Svāmy Aṣṭottara Śata Kṛti-s” composed by Tyāgayyar. Many rare scales feature in this set and this is one amongst them. Both Tyāgayyar and Muttiah Bhāgavatar had strictly adhered to the scale SRMPDS SNDMGRS, considering it as as janya of mēḷa 29, Dhīraśaṅkarābharaṇam. Interestingly, Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi gives the scale as SRMPDS  SDNPMGRS and the scale followed by them is seen only in the treatise Saṅgīta Sāra Saṅgrahamu ! This is again an instance showing, even 20th century composers were not strict followers of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi.

The above discussion might give an impression that this was a recently developed rāga. In reality, this is an old rāga finding its presence for the first time in the Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śahāji and Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulaja in its present form (as a janya of mēla 29). In these treatise, this was more a rāga and we do find phrases outside the scale like SRGR.

Whereas Śrī Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has followed the former method (though with few exceptions like the kṛti in the rāga Navaratnavilāsa), Śrī Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ was a follower of both these schools. The rāga-s handled by Svāmigaḷ can be divided into two types – rāga-s which are seen in both the schools and the rāga-s which are unique to the scalar school. In the former category, Svāmigaḷ has handled only a Scale-transcending approach. An analysis of Vālājāpeṭṭai notations and other reliable sources clearly indicate this.

Until the dawn of 20th century, both schools were active and we can see the rāga repertoire being built in by both the schools; but the second school dominated the scene from the last century onwards. Though we find plenty of new rāga-s being developed in the last century, they were mere scales and lack the skeleton inherently present in the Scale-transcending approach.

Gaṇanāyakam bhajēham

This is a kṛti by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar on Lord Vināyaka. This does not have any reference to a kṣētra or a purāṇa and it is structured more like a hymn to the Lord. Structurally too, this is much smaller with a paḷḷavi and anupaḷḷavi.1 This is not even affixed with a ciṭṭa svara passage as seen with many other kṛtis composed in the paḷḷavi-anupaḷḷavi format. Many doubt the authenticity of this kṛti as:

  1. This is not grouped with the other kṛti-s in the rāga Rudrapriyā (by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar).
  2. Lakṣaṇa is different from other kṛti-s notated in the rāga Rudrapriyā.
  3. Tālam of this kṛti (more modelled like dēśādhi which is unusual for a kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar).
  4. Melody of this kṛti is extraordinarily identical with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ of Svāmigaḷ.

The points mentioned above are overtly visible and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar himself could have been aware of these facts. Considerable thought must have gone into his mind before including this in Anubandham and labelling it as a kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Hence it can be believed that this kṛti was a genuine construction of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and having this in mind let us try to understand and solve the discrepancies.  

In general, the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar propagated through the printed texts in the early part of the last century are very minimal. If we analyse the Dīkṣitar kṛti-s in the available texts, the number might rarely cross 25-35, implying singing or hearing a kṛti of Dīkṣitar was a rarity in those days. The same inference can be again drawn from the available gramophone records. Whereas kṛti-s like bālagōpāla, śrī vēṇugōpāla and ananta bālakṛṣṇam can be seen frequently either notated or otherwise, it is surprising to see the absence of (presently) popular kṛti-s like raṅganāyakam, saundararājam or jambupatē. It was at that juncture Pradarśini was releasedhaving around 230 kṛti-s of Dīkṣitar notated. Needless to say the kṛti in hand is seen here for the first time.

A rāga can be visualised and envisaged only from its phrases and each rāga has its own special phrases and common phrases that it share with its allies. It can be redacted from a simple examination of Pradarśini that this kṛti follows the scale SRGMNNS SNPMGRS. This scale is now called by the name Pūrṇaṣadjam and we have two kṛti-s of Svāmigal in this rāga, ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ and ‘lāvaṇya rāma’. But a stringent examination will reveal the presence of a phrase PNS which cannot be fitted into the mentioned scale. The readers are now requested to recollect our discussion on the two schools of approaching a rāga. The Scalar rāga-s generally are faithful to their scale and we cannot find even a single phrase outside the prescribed scale. In that case, where do we place this rāga? This phrase PNS is to be neglected (considering it as an error on the side of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar) and calling it as Pūrṇaṣadjam or it is to be considered as an inkling that this could have been a Scale-transcending rāga? In the latter case, is it advisable to call it as Rudrapriya? Before trying to find out a solution for this question, let us get introduced to the rāga Pūrṇaṣadjam.

The rāga Pūrṇaṣadjam

It has been mentioned at various occasions that the lakṣaṇa and the nomenclature of the kṛti-s of  Svāmigaḷ in the apūrva rāga-s always pose a problem and the readers are requested to understand the facts given here before proceeding further.

It was a general consensus made in the last century that Svāmigaḷ followed Saṅgraha Chūḍāmaṇi, a text of late origin and unknown authorship. Scholars date the period of this text to be somewhere around late 18th century and in that case we are forced to believe Svāmigaḷ followed this treatise leaving behind the tradition that was extant for very many centuries. Strangely, no one focused or questioned this aspect, excluding few lone voices like that of renowned musicologist Śrī K V Rāmacandran.  A study of this rāga shows, we have much deviated from the truth and it is pertinent, at least at this point of time to search for the same.  

Pūrṇaṣadjam appears to be a rāga of recent origin with the present available evidences, as we do not get to see this rāga in the treatises belonging to the medieval period, from Svaramēlakalānidhi of Rāmamāṭya to Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulajā. This rāga is first seen in the text Saṅgīta Sarvārtha Sārām attributed to Tiruvēṅkaṭakavi (See Footnote 1) and later, we do find it in Saṅgraha Chūḍāmaṇi. This rāga is considered as a janya of mēla 20 in both the texts though with a different lakṣaṇa. Whereas the former treats this as a rāga with the scale SRGMDS SDPMGRS, the latter consider SPMPDPS SNDMGRS as the scale.2 In both cases this is a rāga with dhaivatam unlike the rāga, that we now call it as Pūrṇaṣadjam.

Books on Tyāgarāja kīrtanā-s published in the last century follow a dichotomous approach for labelling the kṛti-s ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ and ‘lāvaṇya rāma’ of Svāmigal. Few mention as Rudrapriyā and few others as Pūrṇaṣadjam, but the lakṣaṇa remains the same. Any ways it becomes clear that scale or the structure of the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ in its present form (and also the commonly available version of the kṛti ‘lāvaṇya rāma’ of Svāmigaḷ) cannot be fitted into the scale of Pūrṇaṣadjam mentioned in these treatises. This again is an indication that the belief, Svāmigaḷ was a follower of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is a hoax.

Henceforth the discussion will pertain only to the kṛti  ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ as this is related to the main topic and the other the kṛti ‘lāvaṇya rāma’ will be covered at a later period of time. Though, the commonly available version and the versions given in the majority of the texts follow the scale SRGMNS SNPMGRS, few texts published in the last century and some unpublished manuscripts harbour the phrase PNS! So, it is not the rāga name alone that has been appropriated, an immaculate service had also been done by removing a phrase which do not fit into the scale and this is definitely not a fate of this kṛti alone. Be it as it may, it can be concluded that the rāga of this scale cannot be called as Pūrṇaṣadjam and few versions in the past do had the phrase PNS is emphasized.

Having reiterated the problem seen with these apūrva kṛti-s and inclusion of the phrase PNS at least in the few versions of the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’, it is essential for us to turn into another related question – was the melody of these two kṛti-s (gaṇanāyakam bhajēham andśrī mānini manōhara) were same in the past? This will also give us a solution to the question on the rāga of the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’.

The two kṛti-s

Unlike Dīkṣitar kṛti, we  lack an authentic source to study this kṛti of Svāmigaḷ, as Vālājāpēṭṭai manuscripts, said to be written by his direct disciple Vālājāpēṭṭai Śrī Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar do not give us this kṛti in notation (in the corpus available to us).  From the recordings available to us and from the books and manuscripts which give this kṛti in notation, it can be said that the currently heard version could have been a common version in the past. Hand written manuscripts written by Dr Śrīnivāsarāghavan, Śrī B Kṛṣṇamūrti (as learnt from Umayālpuram Śrī Rājagōpāla Ayyar) and a musician by name Śrī Bālasubraḥmaṇya Ayyar (possibly a student belonging to Umayālpuram lineage) too record the same, though with minor differences. Śrī C R Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār, too gives almost the same version. In all these versions, the paḷḷavi starts with the svara ṛṣabham (see Footnote 2). There is an exception to this common version which will be dealt soon.

Gaṇanāyakam bhajēham in Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśini

The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ as given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be heard here. It can be seen that the kṛti starts with the svara gāndhāram (unlike ṛṣabham in most of the presently available versions). Paḷḷavi has only two lines in contrast with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’. Also, the line ‘vara bāla guruguham’ is rendered in a madhyama kālam (see Footnote 3). The sāhitya akṣara-s in the mentioned line is doubled when compared to other parts of the caraṇam, indicating this was the intent of the composer and not changed later. Though in some renditions we do hear the word ‘guruguham’ slightly rendered fast, and in some others, this was treated as a śabdam in the sama kālam. All these points not only convey us, the melodies of these two kṛti-s were not identical, but also add value to the authenticity of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in considering this composition as a genuine construct of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.

The structure of these two kṛti-s: are they identical?

We have seen that hearing a kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar itself was a rarity in those days. When this kṛti came into circulation, the similarity in the rāga lakṣaṇa between these two kṛti-s could have made some musician to transpose the melody of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ (to start with ṛṣabham) and made it to be identical with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’, either voluntarily or inadvertently!

We have seen, the way in which the original version of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ has been changed to resemble the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’. Now we will look into a lost version of ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ which resembles ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ as notated in Pradarśini. The rāga handled in this version is more like ‘Scale-transcending’. Incidentally, this version published by Tenmaṭam Brothers was the earliest published version and it starts with the svara gāndhāram, similar to ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ given in Pradarśini.3 Also, it has the phrases MGRG, RGS which out lie the prescribed scale! Though the tāḷam of this kṛti is given as dēśādhi in various texts, it is notated only in ādhi tāḷam starting from 1.5 idam in this text and can be heard here. This version can better be called as Rudrapriya (as it has all the phrases seen in the Rudrapriya mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in the main text).

It can be very well observed that these kṛti-s are not exact copies of each other and the present version of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ was modelled like the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ in the last century. The original version of the former kṛti is quite different from the latter (be it a common version or the version given by Tenmaṭam Brothers) despite having few similarities. The similarities can be attributed mainly to the key phrases highlighted in these compositions and handling of the rāga, in general.

A common inspiration

Irrespective of the rāga nomenclature, it is clear that the rāga lakṣaṇa and handling of the phrases is same with both the kṛti-s. This might be an indication that both the composers might have had a common source of inspiration.

The cultural and social canvas of Tanjāvūr was always inclusive. Though it had its own indigenous culture, it always invited and incorporated the customs and practise from other regions. This is much so with music. What we now call as Karnāṭaka Music is actually a digestion and integration of all these cultures. Whereas we had indigenous rāga-s and musical systems flourishing there, we also see Kings patronising other forms of music. The pillars of Tanjāvūr Mahal had witnessed the musicians playing God save the King and Marlbrook. The streets in Tanjāvūr were reverberated with Mahārāṣtra Bhajans and Abhangs. Varāhapayyar, an eminent musician in the court of Śerfoji was fined for not learning Hindustani music in the stipulated time. Hence, melodies of various genres were prevalent during the period of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Svāmigaḷ. These composers too never restricted themselves from including these melodies into their repertoire. It is like having multiple ‘maṅgaḷam’ and ‘tālāṭṭu’ set to a single tune differing only in sāhityam, sung by household women of yester generation.

The basic melody or the original tune seen in these two kṛti-s could have been a popular melody belonging to any of these genres; these composers having inspired by that tune could have  shaped them in their own imitable way. Hence, calling them as copies and believing one copying another is going to be a futile and stale discussion. 

Such tunes were a strong source of inspiration even in the last century as can be seen from the work of Popley and Stephen4, two Christian musicians, in the last century, has used them to fit into their own sāhityam as a method to evangelise the natives, though just mentioning as Mahārāṣtra meṭṭu and without mentioning the original tunes.

Rāga of these kṛti-s

Having established that it is a vagary to consider ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ as to have been composed in Purṇaṣadjam and this was not a copy of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’, it is essential to discuss the lakṣaṇa portrayed in these kṛti-s.

The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’

In the Part I of this series, we have seen Rudrapriyā blossoms when G or N is used as a janṭa svara, use of phrases like SNP, SNDN, SDNP and the use of dhāṭṭu prayōga-s. R,G,M and N can be the jīva svara-s (starting notes) and nyāsa svara-s (ending notes). In the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ G,N and N,M were the jīva and nyāsa svara-s respectively. The kṛti starts with the janṭa G and we do see a profuse use of janṭa R and N throughout the kṛti. None of the phrases used here were outside the realm of Rudrapriyā including MNN, though it is to be accepted that Rudrapriyā is not shown in its full potential. For the matter of fact, Rudrapriya was exploited to its full potential more by Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar than Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar as discussed in Part I. The phrase GRR is used frequently similar to the kṛti-s in the rāga Rudrapriyā (notated in the main section of Pradarśini). These findings could have made Subbarāma Dīkṣitar to name the rāga of this kṛti as Rudrapriyā and he is certainly not wrong in doing that.

We have mentioned in Part I of this article that Rudrapriyā could have been called by several names in the past and Karnātaka Kāpi was one amongst them. We hypothesized Subbarāma Dīkṣitar could have been a single proponent in using the name Rudrapriyā. We also made a point that the name Rudrapriyā could have also been shared by many rāga-s. We can conjecture from these facts that the rāga that we see here in these two kṛti-s could have been called as Rudrapriyā and the other 5 kṛti-s seen in the main section of Pradarśini could have been called by the name Karnātaka Kāpi! This statement gets more valid when we remember the rāga mudra is not seen in the kṛti kṛti ‘rudra kōpa’ of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and the pada varṇam ‘suma sāyaka’ is still called as Kāpi (provided the version that we hear is original) despite resembling Rudrapriyā. We also have another evidence to support this.

We also like to place another view. We were discussing the proponents of the Scalar approach tried to have an equivalent for a Scale-transcending rāga. So, Rudrapriyā (seen in ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’) could have been invented by the proponents of the Scalar approach as an alternate to Karnāṭaka Kāpi. Hence, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar who was well aware of these facts placed the kṛti-s in Karnāṭaka Kāpi separately, naming it as Rudrapriyā, thereby differentiating from the Scalar Rudrapriyā.  A manuscript written by Mazhavarāyanēndal Subbarāma Bhāgavathar names the scale SRGMNS SNPMGRS as Rudrapriyā and not Purṇaṣadjam. But the problem in relying this manuscript is that it does not attest involving the phrase PNS.5

Alternatively, we can also consider the rāga of this kṛti as Karnāṭaka Kāpi akin to the kṛtis given as Rudrapriyā in Pradarśini (main text).  Going by this statement, a doubt arise on the authenticity of not using all/ majority of key phrases in a rāga. Though this question cannot be satisfactorily replied with the available evidences, it can be said that we do have examples to show ‘out of the box’ handling of a rāga. A beautiful exemplar to explain this is the kṛti ‘pāliñcu gōpāla’ of Vīṇa Kuppaier in the rāga Husēni. The rāga, in this kṛti is explored only from mandra niṣādham to madhya pañ chamam! Though it is unimaginable now to see such a handling of Husēni, this shows the inclusive nature of our music and the liberty enjoyed by our composers in the past.

The kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’

Regarding the rāga of the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’, if we go by the common version, it can be called as (or ought to be called as?) Rudrapriyā (the Scalar one) and if we go by the version by Tenmaṭam Brothers, it can be considered to be close to Karnāṭaka Kāpi (Rudrapriyā of the main section in Pradarśini). Any more observations will be updated if we happen to get a Vālājāpeṭṭai version or a version from other veritable sources.

Conclusion

The following can be concluded from the above discussion:

  1. The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ and ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ were not cast in the same mould. Both the composers could have been inspired from a single source, a popular melody of their times.
  2. It is advisable to not label the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ as Pūrṇaṣadjam; preferable to call it by the name Rudrapriyā.
  3. Many details are unsaid explicitly in the treatise by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. It is up to us to reconcile with the available evidences rather dismissing his thoughts out rightly. 
  4. Though Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is much popular now, it might not have been the case in the past. Svāmigaḷ had his own lexicons of rāga-s and it is not wrong if it is said he was a creator many rare rāga-s.
  5. Manuscripts serve as a living evidence to understand the past. It is pertinent for us to search all the available manuscripts and preserve them for posterity.

The third part in this series can be read here.

References

  1. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. Prathamābhyāsa Pustakamu, Vidyā Vilāsini Press, Eṭṭayapuraṃ Subbarāma Samasthānaṃ, 1905.  
  2. Hema Ramanathan. Rāgalakṣaṇa Saṅgraha (collection of Rāga descriptions) from Treatises on Music of the Mēla Period with translations and notes, 2004.
  3. Tenmaṭam Brothers. Saṅgītānanda Ratnākaramu, 1917.
  4. Stephen LI, Popley HA. Handbook of Musical Evangelism. The Methodist Publishing House, 1914.
  5. P.C Sitaraman : Mazhavai Subbarama Iyyarin nottupusthakalilulla sangita vishayangal. Journal of Music Academy:106;1972.

Footnotes

Footnote 1 – Though Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is much popular in understanding the scalar rāga-s, this is not a singular treatise dealing rāga-s like this. Saṅgīta Sarvārtha Sārām was written earlier than Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi and we do have manuscripts just having rāga name with their scales lying in various libraries. Many musicians lived during the last century had a lexicon of these scalar rāga-s.

Footnote 2 – The kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ too has many versions as with any other kṛti of Svāmigaḷ. An in-depth analysis of these versions was not attempted. Though we frequently hear MNNS in the renditions available, we do rarely hear PNS/PNNS, especially in the mandra sthāyi.

Footnote 3 – The name ‘madhyama kāla sāhityam’ itself is self-explanatory. It refers to only the sāhityam and not the melody. For example, in any segment of a composition in ādhi tāla, if the first two lines has 16 sāhitākṣara-s (calculated by giving a value of 1 for short vowel/consonant and a value of 2 for long vowel/consonant) and the succeeding line has 32 sāhitākṣara-s, the latter line is called as ‘madhyama kāla sāhityam’.