The Alluring Bhogachayanata
The raga name is just Chayanata as has been dealt with from yore, with the prefix “bhoga” being a later day addition, made in the “Ragalakshanam” of Muddu Venkatamakhin so as to yield the mela number of 34 under the katapayadhi samkhya system. And this Chayanata bears no melodic relation whatsoever to the Northern Chayanat ( a very popular raga) which is an altogether different melody, which goes as under:
Arohana krama: SR2G3M1PS or SR2G3M1N2D2PS
Arohana krama: SD2N2PR2G3M1R2S
with RG3M1N2D2PR2 being the salient murcchana (M1/N2 and P\R2 being the salient building block. Watch out for the occasional M2 which may also be used ( see video below for a primer on this interesting Northern melody)
Finding the Carnatic scalar equivalent albeit a close one for the Hindustani Chayanat is left as an exercise for the discerning listener.
The Carnatic heptatonic 34th melakartha “Vagadeeswari” (exemplified by Tyagaraja’s “Paramatmudu”) is a scalar equivalent. For this brief post I will be keeping focus on (Bhoga) Chayanata as dealt with by Muthusvami Dikshita only.
Chayanata is an old raga but curiously has not been documented by both Govinda Dikshita and his son Venkatamakhin in their works. It has been documented by Sahaji in his Ragalakshanamu (Circa 1800 AD) and also by Tulaja in his Saramruta (1832 AD) and the same melodic contour being documented by Muddu Venkatamakhin (Circa 1850) which is available to us through the Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP).
Arohana : S R3 G3 R3 G3 M1 P N2 N2 S
Arohana: S N2 D2 N2 PM1R3 S
Anointed as the head of the mela No 34, Chayanata for all practical purposes has dhaivatha which is varjya (dropped) in the arohana both dhaivatha and gandhara are vakra (devious) in the avarohana krama, with janta nishadha and madhyama indicated to be the life-giving notes by Subbarama Dikshita. Along with its ilk, such as Desakshi and Samantha, Chayanata in its form has all but been forgotten by us.
The beauty of this raga is the purvanga murchanas employing R3G3M1P, PN2N2S and PM1R3 in combination with the SN2D2N2P which is leitmotif of the uttaranga, used by a number of ragas we have seen in this series of blog posts, such as Devamanohari and Malavi.
In sum in terms of the grammatical construct of 19th century raga architecture, in this raga Chayanata:
- SRGMP alone is permitted. PDNS, SNDP and PMGRS are to be eschewed.
- PNNS, SNDNP and PMRS are the vakra sancharas and motifs.
- Dhaivatha is varjya in the arohana (PDP should not be used) and both dhaivatha and gandhara are vakra in the avarohana krama. PNNS and PS occurs in profusion.
It has to be mentioned here that though the R3G3 may be a vivadhi combination, yet like Natta, this raga Chayanata permits SRGM in its ascent. A raga that we saw in a previous post Ragachudamani SM1R3G3MPN2N2S dropping the dhaivatha in the ascent is structurally similar to Chayanata from an ascent perspective.
The SSP apart from documenting the raganga lakshana gitam and a tanam, documents the sole kriti in this raga, being the one by Muthusvami Dikshitar apart from the sancari of Subbbarama Dikshitar.
bhOga-chAyA nATaka priyE – O one who takes pleasure in the enjoyable puppet-play (that is this universe)!
bOdhaM dEhi – Give me enlightenment!
bRhadISa jAyE – O wife of Lord Brihadeesvara !
SrI guru guha janani – O mother of Guruguha!
niranjani – O the blemish-less one!
Srita jana rakshaNi – O the protector of people who have sought refuge!
Siva santOshiNi – O the one who pleases Shiva!
bhOga mOksha vitaraNa nipuNa-tarE – O the great expert at bestowing (both) enjoyment and liberation!
bhU-sura-Adi sannuta – Oh one well-extolled by all people, beginning with Brahmins ,
kamala karE – Oh the one with lotus-like hands!
The raga name as well the composer’s mudra (colophon) makes it appearance in the composition which is bereft of the carana but has a concise cittasvara passage appended to it. The composition is on Goddess Brihannayaki, the consort of Lord Brihadeesvara of Tanjore (Big Temple). Legend has it that during Dikshita’s sojourn to Tanjore (when the Tanjore Quartet were under his tutelage), he composed a number of kritis on the deities situated in an around Tanjore in the mela ragas tabulated by Muddu Venkatamakhin. This composition is one such and is sole exemplar of the 34th mela.
Though there are quite a few renderings, I choose to present the one very close to the notation found in the SSP here:
The artiste is Vidvan Ravi Kiran who renders the composition true to the notation documented in the SSP.
Attention is invited to the following aspects:
- The pallavi commences with SG3SM1 and NOT SR3SM1. In many renderings it is heard only as SR3SM1, which is not what is notated in the SSP.
- Secondly the madhyama kala sahitya portion is to be ONLY sung with the notation as MGMP-RGMP-MPNNS; SSNN-SNDN-PMRPMR – (underline indicates portion is in second kalam) as is done in the exemplar above cited.
Much liberty is seen taken in other renderings, which is not in conformance with the notation as pointed above.
3. One other aspect to be noted is that in all ragas where the combination R3G3 occurs, the descent as employed by Dikshita in his compositions is almost as a rule PM1R3S and not PM1G3M1R3S. However, in the cittasvara section of this composition, GMRS is seen used.
Its in very much in realm of possibility that a concise alapana, neraval and svaraprastara can be presented for this raga/composition by a performing musician. Yet neither this composition nor an exposition of the raga is encountered in the music circuit. It is hoped that the kriti and this raga is taken up for exposition and rendered frequently in the days to come in true fidelity to the notation found in the SSP.
- Subbarama Dikshitar (1904)- Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini Part IV– Tamil Edition published by the Madras Music Academy in 1977 – pages 973-978
- Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – ‘Ragalakshana Sangraha’- Collection of Raga Descriptions- pages 300-308
- Dr S. Sita (1983) – “The Ragalakshana Manuscript of Sahaji Maharaja’ – Pages 140-182- JMA Vol LIV
- Prof S. R. Janakiraman & T V Subba Rao (1993)- ‘Ragas of the Sangita Saramrutha’ – Published by the Music Academy, Chennai, pages 298-299