This article was published in the journal “Shanmukha” 2019 issue.
identifying raga-s sung by a musician, another exercise that enthuse a listener
and musician alike is identifying the composer (vaggeyakara) of a song. This is important as sahityam forms the basis
of our music and a vaggeyakara expresses his feelings only through the
sahityam. Identification of a vaggeyakara becomes simpler if we have a basic
knowledge about the ‘mudra’ employed by each one of them.
Mudra used by a
vageeyakara is not uniform; it can be his name (svanama mudra), his patron’s
name (poshaka mudra) or the place with which he is associated with (sthala
mudra) and so on. Also a vaggeyakara can
use one or more mudra-s and conversely two or more vageeyakara-s can use a same
mudra. For instance, the mudra ‘venkatesa’ was used by Manambuchavadi
Venkatasubbaier, Patnam Subramanya Iyer and Kothavasal Venkatarama Iyer. This
has created confusion in attributing a composition to a particular composer. For
instance, ‘dhanyudevvado’, a krithi in the ragam Malayamarutham is attributed
to both Patnam Subramanya Iyer and his Guru Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaier.
Another interesting krithi which suffers this identity crisis is
‘parabrahmamu’. When a musician considers this as a composition of Patnam
Subrahmanya Iyer, he is supposed to sing this in the ragam Kapinarayani.
Whereas, if a musician feels it was composed by Manambuchavadi Venktasubbaier,
he should sing this in the ragam Pravalajyothi.
musician can use one or more mudra-s too. Kshetrayya and Melattur Virabhadrayya
can be cited as examples. Kshetrayya has used the mudra ‘muvva gopala’ in
majority of his works where muvva is the sthala mudra. In few of his padam-s we
can also see the mudra-s like ‘kanchi
varadudu’ and ‘cevvandhi lingudu’. 1 Virabhadrayya, a famous
composer of the medieval period has used the mudra ‘pratapasimha’ in few of his
compositions. Mudra-s like ‘achudabdhi nilaya’, ‘unnathapurisha’ and
‘achuthapuri’ are seen in his other compositions. Whereas pratapasimha is to be
taken as poshaka mudra, achudabdhi nilaya and achuthapuri indicates the sthalam
Melattur to which he belonged to and unnathapuri denotes the svami mudra
(Unnatapurishvarar is the deity in Melattur).
Deekshithar, father of Muthuswamy Deekshithar was born in the year 1735 and
attained the heavenly abode on Mahasivaratri in the yaer 1819. He was a prolific
composer of 18 th century who has composed innumerable compositions, many of
them does not even exist in paper, leave alone recordings. His initial training
in music was from Melattur Virabhadrayya and later learnt the intricacies of
music from Venkata Vaidyanatha Deekshithar, grandson of Venkatamakhi, propagating
Venkatamakhi’s illustrious legacy to his disciples. His early years were spent
at Tiruvarur, where he codified the raga-s and compositions to be sung by Nagasvaram vidvans in Tyagarajasvamy temple
upon the divine instruction by Tyagaraja himself. He was then patronized by the
father-son dubashi-s of Manali, Chennai (erstwhile Madras) – Manali
Muddukrishna Mudaliyar and Chinnaswamy (Venkatakrishna) Mudaliyar in later part
of his life. Unfortunately, not many of his compositions are available and it
is Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, which gives us a significant number of
compositions. Though, mudra of Ramaswamy Deekshithar is considered to be
‘venkatakrishna’ (poshaka mudra), it will be illustrated from the following discussion
that he can be considered as a dvi-mudra vaggeyakara.
Compositions of Ramaswamy Deekshithar
Sampradaya Pradarshini of Subbarama Deekshithar 2 lists the
following compositions of Ramaswamy Deekshithar:
Paga jupa – Mohanam – Ata – Varnam (not mentioned in Sangita Sampradaya
Analysis of these compositions
Of these available
compositions, the mudra ‘venkatakrishna’ is seen in svarasthana varnam, krithi
in the ragam-s Vegavahini, Anandabhairavi, Sahana and in the lakshana
prabandham. This mudra is also seen in
the ragamalika-s natakadi vidyala and sivamohana. Hence, 7 compositions out of
18 bear the mudra ‘venkatakrishna’.
Let us see the 11 compositions without
the mudra “venkatakrishna” in detail.
1. Varnam in Hindola
This ata tala
varnam ‘rammanave tyagaraja sami neevu’ is on Tyagarajaswamy of
Tiruvarur. This is a cauka varnam with 4 ettugada svaram-s.
2. Varnam in Hindolavasantha
This is a cauka
varnam is set to rupaka talam. Interestingly this varnam has only 3 ettugada
svaram. This is on Tyagesha of Tiruvarur. Anupallavi of this varnam reads
‘velayu sripuravasa veeravasantha tyagesha’. The epithet ‘veeravasantha’
is used only for Tyagaraja of Tiruvarur and this was used only by vaggeyakaras
linked personally and intimately with that deity like Ramaswamy Deekshithar and
3. Varnam in Sriranjani
This adi tala
varna was also composed on Tyagesha of Tiruvarur. Anupallavi reads as
‘tamasamika seyaku mrokkera tyagaraja dayasagara sri’. This varnam has 4
ettugada svaram-s. Of these, only the first svara passage was composed by
Ramaswamy Deekshithar. Second, third and fourth svara passages were contributed
by Syama Sastri, Chinnaswamy Deekshithar and Muthuswamy Dekshithar
4. Varnam in Shankarabharanam
This grand ata
tala varnam follows an old varna template seen with the varnam-s like ‘viriboni’
(Bhairavi) and ‘sami nine’ (Shankarabharanam). Contrast to his other varnam-s,
this one has an anubandham which is linked to anupallavi and mukthayi svaram-s.
Hence, this varnam is finished by singing pallavi. This is again on the Lord
Tyagesha and he describes Tyagaraja as ‘koti lavanya tyagaraja maharaja’.
5. Varnam in Purnachandrika
This rupaka tala
varnam is again on the Lord Tyagaraja and he asks him ‘jalamelara natho sami
sri tyagesha’? This is a pada varnam with sahityam for mukthayi and
7. Varnam in Mohanam
This is a rare
work of Deekshithar not found in Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini. This can be
seen in few private manuscripts too. We find the epithet ‘veerasantha tyagaraja
sami’ again here in anupallavi.
is a string of 20 ragas composed on the Raja Amarasimha of Tanjore. It is said
Deekshithar praised Amarasimha with this garland when the latter visited
Tiruvarur. This is one of his best creations wherein he has skillfully woven
the raga mudra into the sahityam. Though this is a pean to Amarasimha,
Deekshithar has invoked Tyagesha too – ‘aharindruni pujinchu tyageshu
From the above
discussion, it becomes clear that, of the 11 compositions lacking the mudra
‘venkatakrishna’, 6 were composed on the Lord Tyagesha of Tiruvarur. All these
bear the mudra ‘tyagesha’ or its variant. Of the remaining compositions, the
ragamalika ‘samaja gamana’ has the mudra ‘tyagesha’ though the ‘nayaka’
glorified there was Amarasimha.
The remaining 4 compositions
namely the kriti in Sankarabharanam, ragamalika ‘manasaveri’, daru and the
varnam in the ragam Manohari does not possess any of the mentioned mudra,
though “venkataramana” can be seen in the ragamalika mentioned. It can be
understood that this krithi was composed on the Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi.
The above discussion shows Ramaswamy Deekshithar was a ‘dvi-mudra vaggeyakara’ with ‘tyagesha’ and ‘venkatakrishna’ as his mudra-s. It can also be assumed that he has used the mudra ‘tyagesha’ when he spent his life in Tiruvarur and used the mudra ‘venkatakrishna’ when he was in Manali, in memory of his benefactor Venkatakrishna Mudaliyar. It is a must to visit and analyse other compositions with the mudra ‘tyagesa’ as they could also be the compositions of Ramaswamy Deekshithar !!
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.
a rāga – concept prevailed during 17th and18th century
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
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.
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
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.
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:
is not grouped with the other kṛti-s in the rāga Rudrapriyā (by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar).
is different from other kṛti-s notated in the rāga Rudrapriyā.
of this kṛti (more modelled like dēśādhi which is unusual for a kṛti of Muddusvāmy
of this kṛti is extraordinarily identical with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
The following can be
concluded from the above discussion:
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
It is advisable
to not label the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ as Pūrṇaṣadjam; preferable to call
it by the name Rudrapriyā.
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
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.
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.
Stephen LI, Popley HA. Handbook of Musical Evangelism.
The Methodist Publishing House, 1914.
P.C Sitaraman : Mazhavai Subbarama Iyyarin nottupusthakalilulla
sangita vishayangal. Journal of Music Academy:106;1972.
– 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.
– 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.
– 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’.
Kapi or Karnataka Kapi is an old raga. Sahaji’s Raga Lakshanamu, Tulaja’s Saramrutha,the Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika and the Sangraha Cudamani have documented this raga. We have compositions in it from the pre-trinity times which are available to us through the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP). We have grounds to believe that Trinitarians have composed in this raga perhaps with different musical flavors. The northern raga Kafi is spoken of, more as an equivalent of Karaharapriya while Kapi is truly different and in terms of the Hindustani music scheme, it belongs to the Kanhra/Kanada family of ragas.
Kapi is a raga which has become extinct in its original form but survives today in a much metamorphosed version or versions. Apart from its evolutionary history, one additional aspect of this raga merits attention. It probably spawned or was at the epicenter of a family of ragas which shared a common melodic motif G2M1R2S. Each of the ragas in this family went on to transform itself in an evolutionary process and are today in our midst, each with their own distinct melodic identity and remarkably distinguishable from one another.
In this blog post , we would take a deep dive into this raga and also cover the aspects highlighted above. In a later blog post we will cover the comparison of this raga with a few other ragas with which it shares common melodic material.
KAPI – ITS CURRENT FORM:
Before we look at the history of Kapi, it would be appropriate to take stock of the current form of this raga.
Kapi (rather modern Kapi) is grouped as a bhashanga janya under the Kharaharapriya mela/Sriraga raganga with anatara gandhara, suddha dhaivatha and kakali nishada as anya svaras, depending on the version of the composition. There is no strict arohana or avarohana for the raga today².This modern day Kapi is encountered in renderings of Tyagaraja’s kritis such as “Meevalla Gunadosha”, Papanasam Sivan’s “Enna Tavam seidhanai”, the javali ‘Parulannamata’ and the tune melody of “Jagadodharana” of Purandaradasa.
With this brief introduction let us look at the antiquity of this raga and the transformation it had undergone to reach its present stage.
Sahaji’s Ragalakshanamu (Circa 1700):
Kapi is not encountered in older texts including that of Govinda Dikshitar and Venkatamakhi. The first person to record this raga in the post 1700 period was King Sahaji who had captured the ragas in currency during his lifetime in this work “Ragalakshanamu’. According to him, the raga is sampurna, desya and is under the Sriraga mela and in the avarohana sancaras sometimes madhyama and dhaivatha are eliminated.⁴
As regards the usage of the terminology ‘sampurna’, it is to be noted that in all old musicological texts a raga is treated as sampurna if the seven svaras occurred in the arohana and avarohana taken together.
Tulaja’s Saramrutha (circa 1736 AD) ⁶:
Next is the text “Saramrutha” which records the raga. According to Tulaja, this raga is under the Sriraga mela , sampurna with sadja as graham, amsa and nyasa with the svaragati of the raga being niraghata or unlimited. The murccanas that Tulaja gives for alapa and gita indicate a sequential progression of svaras, much like modern day Kharaharapriya! Also according to Tulaja this raga is auspicious and is to be rendered in the evenings.⁶
Raga Lakshana anubandha of Muddu Venkatamakhin³:
Venkatamakhin in his CDP does not deal with Kapi or any other raga which shares a similar melodic structure or with a different name. The Anubandha to the CDP which is most probably a work of his great grandson Muddu Venkatamakhin or his son Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshitar who was the preceptor of Ramasvami Dikshitar, provides reference with a lakshana shloka for Kapi under mela 22 (Sriraga) as under:
Kapi ragascha sampurnah sagrahah sarvakalika
The shloka does not denote any anya svaras occurring or whether any svaras are vakra or varja in the arohana or avarohana.
Summary of the above:
The raga Kapi as documented by the three authors as above has one common theme. It was more or less modern Kharaharapriya in terms of its scalar structure. Additionally according to Sahaji, the dhaivatha and madhayama were sometimes skipped in the avarohana. Based on this observation one can postulate that Kapi probably featured prayogas like sNPMGRS or sNDNPMGRS (which are found in Karnataka Kapi of today) and madhyama varja prayogas such as NPG…R (which also do occur in Karnataka Kapi). With that we move on the Subbarama Dikshitar and his work the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini to take stock of what Kapi was.
KAPI OF THE SSP ¹:
Subbarama Dikshitar provides us with three sets of inputs in the Sampradaya Pradarsini:
Muddu Venkatamakhin’s raga lakshana shloka and his lakshana gitam
His own commentary on the raga lakshana and his sancari
Compositions of Muthusvami Dikshitar and that of three pre-trinity composers namely Margadarshi Sesha Iyengar, Srinivasayya and Bhadracala Ramadas
The Muddu Venkatamakhi gitam too offers us no further light in terms of raga lakshana. It is Subbarama Dikshitar’s commentary that provides us with some practical insight as to the Kapi of yore.
SUBBARAMA DIKSHITAR’S COMMENTARY:
According to Subbarama Dikshitar, the arohana and avarohana murccanas of Kapi under mela 22 ( Sriraga) are SRGMPDNs/NDPMGGRS. Attention is invited to the usage of the nishada without touching the tara sadja and the janta gandhara and the dirgha rishabha. Further according to him the gandhara and rishabha are the jiva & nyasa svaras. Subbarama Dikshitar also gives us a few choice phrases which he says are native to the raga:
Subbarama Dikshitar also observes that kakali nishada (N3) and antara gandhara (G3) occur in the phrases sNPMP DsNPMP, PMGMR and MPGMRS, though the same is not found notated in the compositions that he gives subsequently including his own sancari. So his observation is really a conundrum as we do not have a record of the said compositions or renderings incorporating the said prayogas.
For us the Kapi that Subbarama Dikshitar paints has one major feature which is the occurance of the anga/leitmotif “GMR” which is the hallmark of modern day Kanada. The melodic tinge of GMRS is so pronounced for example in the notation of the kriti “Rangapate Pahi” of Sesha Iyyengar that it sounds more as modern day Kanada for us and it should be remembered that the composition dates back to the pre-trinity era which did not have a raga called Kanada. In that sense, Karnataka Kapi can surely be called the precursor of modern Kanada.
ANGAS – A NOTE ON MUSICAL LEITMOTIFS
The murcchana or leitmotif ‘GMRS’ which occurs in profusion as a melodic signature is not just a property of Karnataka Kapi but also a host of other ragas and the notation in SSP is evidence of it. Beyond the raaganga-janya or Melakarta-janya relationship, in olden times in our music, ragas had a common melodic bond through a shared murrcana or anga. Even ancient texts like Anupa Sangeeta Ratnakara of Bhavabhatta give ragas which have been grouped / classified on such a premise. For example the Kanhra group consists of 14 ragas such as Suddha Karnat, Nayaki,Bageshri, Adana, Shahana, Mudrik, Gara, Huseini, Kafi Kanhra etc. The architect of modern Hindustani paddhati, Pandit Bhatkande, formalized the anga based classification of ragas and he codified a few types of angas in the process¹°:
Kafi ang – RRGGMMP is the motif and the ragas sharing it include Sindhura & Pilu
Kanhara ang – GMRS, NDNP and NPGM are the key motifs and ragas sharing it include Shahana, Adana, Durbari etc
Malhar ang – MRPm MPDs and DPM are the motifs with the ragas being Shuddha Malhar, Mian ki Malhar, Gaud Malhar etc
Sarang ang – NSR, MR, PR are the motifs and the ragas being Gaud Sarang, Madhmadh Sarang and Vrindavani sarang
Some of the other types include Dhanashree ang, Shree ang, Lalit ang and Gaud ang. Attention is invited to the motifs of the Kanhara/Kanada ang namely GMRS, MNDNP and NPGM which are seen in Kapi. Additionally the janta gandharas of the Kafi anga too merit attention in the context of our Kapi as it is seen as well.
Based on the raga lakshanas and notations that Subbarama Dikshitar gives in the SSP, one can see that this GMRS motif is shared by a host of ragas under the Sriraga mela namely Kapi, Durbar, Nayaki and Sahana. The raga Andhali though grouped under the Kedaragaula mela, shares a similar feature with the gandhara having morphed. The modern day Kanada and Phalamanjari ragas (though not featured in the SSP) sport the GMRS motif as well.
The anga as a musical aspect or a raga attribute has lost its relevance in modern Carnatic musicology. Emphasis on individual notes rather than murcchanas, sequential progression and alignment of the raga’s contour to its melakartha etc have taken roots at the expense of aesthetics and harmonics which were the only yardstick, one upon a time. The anga aspect though a deprecated concept at this point in time, is a useful tool for us to assess the musical contours of Kapi and also to understand the evolutionary path it went through with its sibling ragas such Kanada, Sahana, Durbar etc.
One other music text (older than the SSP) that features the raga Kapi is the Sangeetha Sarvatha Sara Sangrahamu of Vina Ramanujayya published in the years 1859 and 1885 . There is a ragamala gitam given in the work( 1885) starting with the words ‘Karnata konkana’ which is set to 36 ragas each having a line of sahitya in one tala avartha of 10 beats (misra jhampa or catushra matya). Here the Kapi raga portion ( svara and sahitya ) is as under:
P D N P M G , G , R
Two unique motifs are featured here namely the usage of PDNPM and janta gandhara which would give a Durbar effect to the Kapi.
SUMMARY of SSP’S RAGA LAKSHANA :
The melodic features of raga Kapi as featured in the SSP notation can be summarized as:
The sequential descent such as sNDP is rare and instead sNPM can be used. So avarohana phrases can be sNPMGMRS, NPGMRS, NDNPMGRS or NDPGMRS
Again PDNs is also rare and is dispensed with in favor of aroha phrases such as PDNPNs or PNDNs.
Thus a straight SRGM and PDNs can be avoided and GMRS used in profusion along with DNP (as in PDNP or MPDNP or MNDNP) to establish a unique melodic identity much in line with the northern Kanhra/Kanada ang
The dhirga gandhara, the janta gandhara or gandhara shaken with kampita gamaka and the nishada which is intoned uniquely as in NPG are hallmarks of this Kapi which again are the key components of the Kanhra/Kanada anga.
For Subbarama Dikshitar, the raga name is only Kapi. Given the evolution that it underwent and to identify its old form, the term Karnataka Kapi was probably coined during the early/mid 20th century to commonly denote all upanga versions.
The above summary provides us with some practical insights about this raga and also gives us clues as to why this form of Kapi has virtually become extinct. Before we look at that, let us look at what some experts/authorities had to say on the raga lakshana of Kapi.
THE COMMENTARY ON KAPI BY MUSICOLOGISTS/AUTHORITIES:
Four documented authorities pertaining to raga Kapi’s lakshana, one of Prof Sambamoorthi, on of Dr T S Ramakrishnan and two instances from the proceedings of the Music Academy discussions are available to us.
THE ACCOUNT OF PROF SAMBAMOORTHI⁷:
According to him, in the lakshya of Karnatic music, we have three varieties of Kapi.
First is the pure/old Kapi or Karnataka Kapi, immortalized by Kshetrayya in his padas, by Tyagaraja in his piece ‘Cuta murare (Nowka Caritram) and other songs and by Syama Sastri in ‘Akhilandesvari’. This Kapi, in modern day parlance is upanga, meaning it inherits only the svaras of its parent mela Kharaharapriya/Sriraga.
Apart from this upanga Kapi, there is another upanga Kapi which is evidenced by the tillana ‘udharana dhim’, which is a composition of Pallavi Sesha Iyer (1842-1909). This type of Kapi has srmpns-sndnpmgrs as its arohana/avarohana with Mmp as a visesha prayoga. The kriti ‘Manamohana syamala rama’ is another example of this upanga Kapi. These two type of Kapi’s do not take anya svaras namely antara gandhara, kakali nishada or suddha dhaivatha.
The third/last type is the bhashanga type made familiar to us by javalis like ‘Vaddani ne’. This bhashanga Kapi is also known today as Hindustani Kapi, Desya Kapi or Misra Kapi. Prof Sambamoorthi further adds that the current tunes (incorporating these anya svaras) of the compositions “Meevalla gunadosha” and ‘Intasoukya” are 20th century innovations.
Prof Sambamoorthi’s observations are exceedingly in line with the forms of Kapi that one encounters in practice. But he seems to have overlooked the version as documented in the SSP including the kriti of Muthusvami Dikshitar.
THE ACCOUNT OF DR T S RAMAKRISHNAN
Dr T S Ramakrishnan, a past member of the Experts Commitee of the Music Academy and acknowledged authority of the Venkatamakhi sampradaya and the SSP, in a lecture demonstration in the Music Academy had this to say when he discussed the position of Sriraga as the 22nd Mela in the Asampurna mela scheme.
The raga Kapi, a rakti raga, would have been perhaps more apt as the ragaanga raga for this 22nd mela, but it had the bashanga tinge and hence could not represent the mela. Even before Venkatamakhin’s days, this raga Kapi , being really the same as our present day popular and major raga Kharaharapriya, had migrated to the North, where it was considered as a ‘thaat’, in their system of music. Later it came back to us with its Northern hue as our modern day Kapi ( with an intermediate stage as our Rudrapriya- It may be noted that Rudrapriya is Harapriya) with pronounced bhashanga features. Venkatamakhin has a lakshya gita for this raga Kapi , which when rendered , sounds entirely like our present day mela raga Kharaharapriya, with no difference whatsoever in its raga picture. Venkatamakhin considered this Kapi as a bhashanga janya under the 22nd mela and has given its name accordingly in the bhashanga khanda of the lakshana gita for the ragaanga raga Sriraga.
THE ACCOUNT OF THE EXPERTS COMMITTEE OF THE MUSIC ACADEMY:
The Experts Committee of the Music Academy does not seem to have discussed individually the lakshana of this raga and its evolution in detail. We have two instances however where in relation to proceedings of related ragas or presentation of rare kritis, the ragas has been discussed.
First is the one when during the 1967 Music Academy session on 24th December of that year, Vidvan Salem D Chellam Iyengar presented 3 rare kritis of Tyagaraja as learnt by his father, the late Salem Doraisvami Iyengar from the legendary Pooci Srinivasa Iyengar. Vidvan Chellam Iyengar presented ‘Anyayamu Seyakura’ in Karnataka Kapi devoid of anya svara kakali nishada. Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer referred to the controversial nature of the raga of this composition and his own patham according to the Umayalpuram school which featured kakali nishada.
One can take note of the fact that the compositions of Tyagaraja in the raga Karnataka Kapi are today either rendered in Durbar or in the modern form of Kapi with anya svaras. The commentary of Subbarama Dikshitar and the assertion of Prof Sambamoorthi also substantiate this point.
EXPERTS COMMITTEE DISCUSSION ON THE RAGA KAPI⁵:
During the Expert Committee Meeting held during the Music Academy Session in the year 2008, the raga lakshanas of a set of allied ragas including that of Kapi had been discussed and the same has been collated & presented by Expert Committee member Dr N Ramanathan. The raga lakshana of four allied ragas Rudrapriya, Karnataka Kapi, Darbar and Kanada were discussed by the Experts panel consisting of Vidvan Chinglepet Ranganathan, Vidushi Suguna Purushothaman, Dr Ritha Rajan, Dr R S Jayalakshmi apart from Dr N Ramanathan. The Academy’s Expert Committee had in the past discussed the raga lakshana of all the other ragas in this set namely Rudrapriya, Durbar and Kanada and had also prescribed the arohana/avarohana of these ragas, but not of Kapi.
The following facts are available to us from the discussions as documented in the Academy’s Journal of the year 2009.
According to Dr Ramanathan, K V Srinivasa Iyengar has documented Kapi with the use of kakali nishada but use of antara gandhara has not been mentioned by him. According to him the song ‘Anyayamu seyakura’ is in this form of Kapi and he also observes that some render this composition in Durbar.
According to the Umayalpuram sishya parampara of Tyagaraja, the compositions ‘Anyayamu seyakura’, “edi ni bahubala’ and ‘cutamu rare’ have shades of both Kanada and Durbar without any resemblance of Hindustani Kapi.
According to Dr Ritha Rajan, the Tyagaraja composition ‘Nitya rupa’ was rendered by Vidvan Ramnad Krishnan in Durbar. Additionally Rangaramanuja Iyengar has documented two versions of the composition, one in raga Kapi and the other in Durbar. Further the compositions ‘Naradagurusvami’ and ‘Edi ni bahubala’ exists both in Kapi and Durbar.
The Nauka caritra composition “cutamu rare” when sung as notated, has shades of Durbar.
In general, the Dikshitar school version of Kapi had shades of Kanada with the usage of the phrase ‘sNPMGMRS’, while the compositions of Tyagaraja has shades of Durbar with usage of phrases such as ‘sNsD,PMP,G,MRS’
From a raga chaya perspective, the raga Rudrapriya is closer to Hindustani Kapi than Karnataka Kapi.
While Prof Sambamoorthi’s account ignored the Dikshitar treatment of the raga, the Academy Experts Committee in its deliberations do not seem to have considered the version of Kapi as envisaged in the Svati Tirunal composition ‘Sumasayaka’ and in the compositions of the Tanjore Quartet.
SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE THIS FAR:
Using these data sets to crystallize our understanding, one can divine at least four forms of Kapi, rather than the three forms that Prof Sambamoorthi documents in his account. The four such flavors of Kapi are:
1: This old version or Karnataka Kapi as it is now called profusely uses GMRS along with kampita gamaka ornamented gandhara.The Dikshitar manipravala classic “Venkatachalapate” found documented in the SSP is an example of this flavor. This form is more aligned to modern day Kanada which as a scale goes as SRGMDNs or SRPGMDNs/sNPMGMRS. This flavor of Kapi is completely extinct and the sole surviving example to us is the Dikshitar composition. Any other older kritis in this form of Kapi has been normalized to Kanada. In the context of this statement we need to evaluate the raga lakshana as found in the kritis attributed to Muthusvami Dikshitar, not found in the SSP but published subsequently by Vidvan Sundaram Iyer. See foot note 2.
One other kriti with this flavor which survives today may probably be Svati Tirunal’s composition ‘Sambho Satatam’. As we will see later the melodic fabric of this kriti is different from that of his other composition, the cauka varna ‘Sumasayaka’. The notation of ‘Sambo Satatam’ reveals a profusion of GMRS and a near sequential svara progression. It may be noted that we have Svati Tirunal’s compositions in 3 flavors of Kapi.
2: This flavor of Kapi has lot of janta gandhara with GGRS as leitmotif and features a near sequential svara progression. Flavor 2 Kapi shares nearly the same melodic structure as that of modern day Durbar. In fact, many modern musicologists believe that many of Tyagaraja’s Kapi compositions were normalized to be rendered in Durbar. An example is the composition ‘Nityarupa’. One can also surmise that the GMRS prayoga of flavor 1 Kapi morphed as GGRS to produce this flavor. The GMRS connection between Durbar and Kapi is also seen in the notation of the Dikshitar’s Durbar composition “Tyagarajad anyam najaneham” as found in the SSP. A version of the Syama Sastri composition ‘Akhilandesvari durusuga’ is rendered in this flavor . Tyagaraja’s Nauka Caritra composition is an other example of this flavor.
There is also a hybrid of flavor 1 and 2 as well, having both the GMRS and the GGRS giving both the Kanada and the Durbar effect. Versions of the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Anyayamu Seyakura’ is an example.
3: This flavor of Kapi is bereft of the prayogas GGRS or GMRS. Instead, it has a profusion of gandhara with an elongated kampita gamaka and characterized by the arohana/avarohana of SRMPNs/sNDNPMGRS. This Kapi is not much in currency and is rarely encountered in concert circuits. The pada varna “Sumasayaka”, the Quartet kriti ‘Sri Mahadevuni” and the Chinnayya tillana in this raga are excellent examples of this type of Kapi. The Music Academy Experts Committee Discussion of the year 2008, presented above had discussed flavor 1 and 2 in detail but not this flavor. This is the type of upanga Kapi that Prof Sambamoorthi has referred to in his commentary given above, with the Pallavi Sesha Iyer tillana as an example. It is indeed our loss that we hardly look upon the compositions of the Quartet as authority for raga lakshana. The Kapi in this flavor is found in the following Quartet compositions:
Kriti ‘Sri Mahadevuni’ – On Goddesses Brihannayaki of Tanjore
Javali ‘Elara Naapai’
Tillana ‘Dheem nadru dheem’ on King Camaraja Wodeyar of Mysore
Cauka varna ‘Sarasala ninnu’ on Lord Brihadeesvara ( the varna is almost similar to the Svati Tirunal pada varna ‘Sumasayaka’)
4: The Kapi which sports additionally the anya svaras namely antara gandhara and/or kakali nishada with or without suddha dhaivatha, which is the modern day Kapi. Examples are the javali Parulannamata and the the Purandara dasa composition Jagadhodharana.
Curiously we have compositions of Svati Tirunal notated⁸ in 3 of the above flavors and rendered so as well. They are:
Flavor 1 : The kriti ‘Sambo Satatam’
Flavor 3 : The pada varna ‘Sumasayaka’
Flavor 4 : The kriti ‘Vihara Manasa rame’
Though one cannot say with certainty if they were indeed composed so, but the fact we have compositions so rendered is relevant to further our understanding of this raga and the flavors in which it existed. Vihara Manasa sports N3, G3 and D1 as well with N3 occurring in the prayogas such as sN3s while G3 occurs in prayogas like MG3M, MG3S and suddha dhaivatha is found in prayogas like PMD1P⁸.
Subbarama Dikshitar’s commentary in the SSP as to usage of kakali nishada and antara gandhara merits a mention here. According to him sN3PMP and DsN3PMP features kakali nishada while PMG3MR and MPG3MRS feature antara gandhara. Its at variance with what one sees in modern usage. Usage of sN3P or MPG3MRS would cast a different melodic color to Kapi¹.
Amongst the four flavors above, only flavor 4 is the bashanga form and the one which is the most popular today. Flavor 2 does not exist today in practice as it has lost itself to the melodic structure of Durbar in essence. Again save for the Dikshitar composition ‘Venkatachalapate’, flavor 1 type compositions do not exist for they are grouped off under Kanada. From a naming convention perspective, flavors 1, 2 & 3 are called as Karnataka Kapi and flavor 4 alone is either referred to as Kapi or more specifically as Hindustani Kapi.
The cause of Karnataka Kapi’s demise in its old form, the melodic overlap it has with allied ragas or rather its siblings and the evolution of this group of ragas can all be seen in the above categorization ( see Foot Note 1). We next move over to review renderings of the different flavors of Kapi.
Kapi – Flavor 1 or Karnataka Kapi:
On the authority of Subbarama Dikshitar, one can state that this flavor should have been/was the Kapi of yore, the Kapi handled by Sesha Iyyengar, Virabadrayya and others. We do not have authentic oral patantharam of these pre-trinity compositions save for those who might have learnt it from the SSP notation. We can with the evidence of Dikshitar’s composition take it for granted that this version of Kapi was the oldest of the lot and was conforming to the then sampradaya. Presented first is the the kriti as rendered by Vidushi Kalpakam Svaminathan who learnt it first hand from Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer.
The version presented by the veteran faithfully follows the notation in the SSP. The profusion of GMRS and the kampita gamaka on the gandhara in this old version of Kapi needs to be highlighted here. Also this composition stands out in several counts.
This is probably Dikshitar’s only kriti with its sahitya being an admixture of Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil as documented in the SSP. We have two other kritis (one in Sriraga and the other again in Karnataka Kapi ) ‘Sri abhayambha’ brought out by Vidvan Sundaram Iyer and ‘Sri Maharajni’ brought out from the Tanjore Quartet manuscripts, being attributed to Muthusvami Dikshitar.
The raga name has been adroitly woven into the sahitya of the madhayama kala portion of the kriti as “dIna rakshakA pItAmbaraDhara deva deva guruguhan mAmanAna”, along with his own mudra.
This composition is on the Lord Venkatachalapathi at the kshetra of Pulivalam, a few miles from Tiruvarur.
The kriti ‘Rangapate Pahi’ as notated in the SSP has been rendered after being normalized to Kanada and as well as to Durbar. The clipping below is an excerpt, being a Kanada version:
As pointed out earlier Svati Tirunal’s composition ‘Sambho Satatam’ is documented with a profusion of GMRS prayoga⁸. Let’s look at a rendering of this composition. Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer in this Navaratri Mantapam Concert from the 1970’s renders this composition
One can notice that the GMRS is intoned with a muted madhyama in the prayoga and does not give the complete kAnadA effect that one will get with a strong intonation of the madhyama. Listeners may well compare this with the strong madhyama intonation in the GMRS prayoga of the Dikshitar composition particularly the sahitya line in the carana ‘seegramai vandhu’ which combines a kampita gamaka on the gandhara as well. Apart from the GMRS, another motif which is found in both the compositions is the phrase RP as in RPMP.
In this Music Academy concert of 1970, Sri Srinivasa Iyer renders this composition between 1:36: 40 and 1:41:06 I invite attention he makes at the fag end of his rendition at 1:41:07 – “This raga is called Karnataka Kapi and it is neither Durbar nor Kanada” in Tamil.
Here is another edition of the veteran, presenting the same composition, this time at the hallowed precincts of the Temple of Lord Padmanabha at Trivandrum from one of his innumerable Navaratri Mantapam Concerts
The Syama Sastri kriti ‘Akhilandesvari durusuga’ is rendered in both flavor 2 and flavor 4. The hybrid flavor having both Kanada and Durbar in Kapi is best exemplified by Vidvan Ramnad Krishnan’s presentation of the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Anyayamu Seyakura’. In this clipping below, the raga outline that he provides us ahead of the kriti conveys the melodic contours of the kriti to follow with the shades of both Kanada and Durbar.
The presentation is very neatly done in modern Durbar, bereft of any trace whatsoever of Kapi.
Kapi Flavor 3:
The pada varna of Svati Tirunal’s ‘Sumasayaka’ is one of the best versions of this type of Kapi, characterized by SRMPNs/sNDNPMGRS and a dirgha gandhara. We do have some oral versions of this composition where tints of modern Kapi (flavor 4) are thrown in. There is also an equivalent composition that is with the same melodic setting but with telugu lyrics which is a creation of the Quartet being ‘sArasAlanu’. This pada varna starting with the sahitya ‘Sarasalanu’ has a few differences with ‘Sumasayaka’:
The varna has sahitya for the muktayi svaras and for the ettugada svaras barring the last one , which like Sumasayaka is in a raga malika format. Sumasayaka does not have sahitya for the muktayi svaras and ettugada svaras.
In terms of ordering of the carana ettugada svaras there seems to be a small change. The 2nd & 3rd ettugada sequences of ‘sumasayaka’ are reversed in ‘Sarasalanu’.
While ‘Sumasayaka’ has Kalyani, Khamas, Vasanta and Mohanam as the ragamalika svaras for the last ettugada, the Quartet creation has Hamirkalyani, Chakravakam, Vasantha and Mohanam instead.
The varna mettu of the varna is exactly the same as that ‘Sumasayaka’.
While the ankita for Sumasayaka is ‘sarasijanabha’ in ‘Sarasala ninnu’ it is ‘brihadeesvara’
The essence of this type of Kapi is best encapsulated by the muktayi svara of Sumasayaka/Sarasalanu, which begins with the well oscillated gandhara.
Attention is invited to the oscillated gandhara which is the hallmark of this version and punctuated with prayogas such as PNDN, GRnS, PNsr and sNDNP. Attention is also invited to the intonation of the nishada as in the carana refrain where it appears as a svarakshara, “mAnInI hAtE hrt tApam”. As one can observe that the nishada is different from the one we find in Sriraga for example, to which clan, Kapi belongs to.
We next move over to the two other compositions of the Quartet namely the kriti ‘Sri Mahadevuni” composed on Goddess Brihannayaki of Tanjore and the tillana ‘Dheem Nadru dhim dhim” composed on King Chamarajendra of Mysore by Cinnayya of the Tanjore Quartet. Though we do not have renderings of these two compositions, the notations from the manuscripts have been published in the “Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai”⁹. The notations clearly bear out the fact that the Kapi is of flavor 3 with an operative arohana/avarohana SRMPNs/sNPMGRS with dhaivatha being vakra as in PNDNP, MNDNP and sNDNP. Gandhara is obviously kampita and is encountered in its dirgha variety. GMRS is not to be seen in this version. Sangita Kalanidhi Ponnayya Pillai while publishing the compositions has added the footnote that the composition has been structured skillfully avoiding the use of anya svara⁹.
In so far as flavor 4 of Kapi is concerned, the kritis pointed out elsewhere in this post features this form such as “Meevalla Guna dosha” or “Enna Tavam saidhanai” of Papanasam Sivan.
ALLIED RAGAS OF KAPI:
The ragas Sahana, Durbar, Nayaki and Kanada along with Phalamanjari share a close melodic relationship to Karnataka Kapi. But from the standpoint of modern Kapi, the ragas Saindhavi and perhaps Salaga Bhairavi share a close affinity. In a followup post we will look at the comparison of these ragas.
The raga Kapi and its evolution is an interesting study. The modern Kapi is most probably the final product of this long cycle of evolution. There does not seem to be any other raga with such different shades and implementations spanning centuries in our musical firmament. Interestingly in Hindustani Music, this raga/scale was considered the scale of suddha svaras and hence was given a pride of place and Rajan Parikkar’s take on the raga is a must read. One will find that his observation as to Kafi of Hindustani music would apply like a glove to Karnataka Kapi or pehaps to the fourth/modern Kapi and I quote him verbatim, to conclude this blog post:
“Kafi is accorded a great deal of latitude in the interest of ranjakatva. In all kshudra ragas, ‘contamination’ on account of swaras not part of their intrinsic makeup is par for the course. A ‘pure’ version of Kafi is seldom heard in performance; almost all instances fall to the Mishra Kafi lot. With this understanding, here and in the ragas to follow, the explicit Mishra qualifier shall be dispensed with altogether. Bear in mind that strict conformity to etiquette is not expected of kshudra ragas.”
Subbarama Dikshitar (1904)- Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – Published by the Madras Music Academy
Prof S R Janakiraman(2002)-‘Ragas at a Glance’- Published by Srishiti’s Carnatica P Ltd, Chennai
Hema Ramanathan(2004)- ‘Raga Lakshana Sangraha’- Published by Dr N Ramanathan, Chennai, pages 662-665
Dr S Sita (1993) – “The Raga Lakshana Manuscript of Sahaji Maharaja” -Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol LIV, pp 140-181, Madras India
Dr N Ramanathan (2009)- “Ragas Rudrapriya, Karnataka Kapi, Kanada and Durbar- A Comparative Analysis”- Pages 103-114 Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol 80, 2009
Subba Rao & S R Janakiraman(1993) – “Ragas of the Sangita Saramruta” published by the Music Academy, Chennai
Prof S Sambamoorthi(1970)- ‘Pallavi Sesha Iyer” – Article in ‘The Hindu’ dated 27th Jul 1970
Govinda Rao T K (2002)- ‘Compositions of Maharaja Svati Tirunal’ published by Ganamandir Publications, Chennai
K P Sivanandam(1964) – ‘Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai’ – Compositions of the Tanjore Quartet, compiled by Sangita Kalanidhi T Ponnayya Pillai
Sobhana Nayar (1989)- ‘Bhatkande’s Contribution to Music’ – Published by Popular Prakashan P Ltd, India ISBN 0 86132 238X
Dr T S Ramakrishnan(1972) – ‘Venkatamakhin’s 72 Mela Scheme’ – Journal of the Music Academy Vol XLIV Pages 24-26, 61-83
FOOT NOTE 1: How did Kapi go extinct – A Hypothesis
During the period of 1600’s to late 1700’s, flavor 1 of Kapi held sway as evidenced by the kritis of Sesha Iyyengar, Virabadrayya and Srinivasayya. Flavor 2 perhaps coexisted into the late 1700’s. Despite being a famous sampurna raga then, it could not qualify as a raganga given the presence of Sriraga and it had to stay put under that clan.
Circa 1800- However with the onset of the 19th century, this Karnataka Kapi stood imperiled. Two new ragas were appearing on the horizon which proved life threatening. Probably by early 1800 – Kanada had started gaining ground. One can consider the evidence of the 2 Tyagaraja compositions namely Sukhi Evvaro and Sri Narada in Kanada. The period of 1800-1830 was perhaps marked by both the old Kapi and Kanada co-existing as evidenced by the kritis of Tyagaraja and of Dikshitar. Given Kanada’s dominance, flavor 1 Kapi probably cast off GMRS and morphed off into flavor 3 Kapi. The flavor 2 Kapi too went into oblivion as it could not sustain its melodic identity against the might of the Durbar. Durbar too sported GMRS and over the 1800’s, its GMRS morphed into GGRS, spelling the death knell for the flavor 2 Kapi.
In so far as the more traditional flavor 1 Kapi, Muthusvami Dikshitar or Svati Tirunal were perhaps the last to compose in this form of Kapi. One can even surmise that by that time (early 1800’s) it was on the verge of extinction and Dikshitar had attempted to resurrect it.
Flavor 3 Kapi derived out of the remnants of flavor 1 managed to survive between the 1800-1850 as evidenced by compositions of Svati Tirunal and the Quartet. The 1800’s also marked the rise of Kharaharapriya the full blown heptatonic melakartha, driven by the emergence of the Sangraha Cudamani and Tyagaraja’s prolific treatment of this raga through his kritis. And to Kharaharapriya, Kapi had to cede its scalar structure which resulted in Kapi losing almost all its melodic identity. Tyagaraja having composed in Kanada and Kharaharapriya might have composed in the old Kapi as well. We do have versions of kritis like Anyayamu Seyakura which is rendered both in Karnataka Kapi (flavor 1 or 3) and in modern Kapi or flavor 4.
The emergence of Kanada and Kharaharapriya meant that even the surviving flavor 3 Kapi had to go as it had little by way of melodic individuality to survive on its own. And so it went on to acquire 3 anya svaras namely kakali nishada followed by antara gandhara and suddha dhaivatha. The modern Kapi had now emerged ( by the latter half of the 19th century) from the skeletal remains of flavor 3 Kapi and today it exists ain a form much different to what it was once upon a time.
The life cycle that Karnataka Kapi underwent was probably also tied with the parallel evolution of the modern forms of the ragas Sahana, Durbar, Nayaki and Andhali. All of these ragas were at one point in time siblings along with Kapi under the Sriraga mela, sharing the motif GMRS and unique gandhara with kampita gamaka. They underwent a skeleton wracking transformation:
Sahana gave up its sadharana gandhara, acquired a full blown antara gandhara with the result that it moved from the Sriraga clan into the Harikambodi/Kedaragaula melakartha/clan. As evidenced by the SSP, one can see that Sahana as captured by Subbarama Dikshitar sported both the gandharas and given the dominance of sadharana gandhara it was placed under the Sriraga mela. The notation of the kritis “vasi vasi” of Ramasvami Dikshitar, ‘Sri Kamalabikayam” of Muthusvami Dikshitar and the tana varna “Varijakshi” of Subbarama Dikshitar can be cited as concrete examples of the older Sahana.
Durbar gave up its GMRS, acquired full ownership of the GGRS. The notation of the Dikshitar composition ‘Tyagarajad anyam najaneham” and that of Kuppusvami Ayya’s kriti ‘Sri venkatesvaruni’ found in the SSP and anubandha respectively can be cited as evidence for the older form of Durbar sporting GMRS.
Nayaki too gave up GMRS and in lieu acquired an exclusive RGRS. The notation of the Dikshitar composition “Ranganayakam” and that of Tyagaraja’s ‘Dayaleni’ as found in SSP are evidences to this effect.
Andhali which was during the times of Venkatamakhi under Sriraga mela, gave up its sadharana gandhara and moved to Kedaragaula mela. The notation of the Dikshitar kriti “Brihannayaki varadayaki” and the rendering of the kriti with sadharana gandhara by Smt T Brinda can be cited as authority for this. This has been discussed in an earlier blog post.
FOOT NOTE 2: Dikshitar’s 3 other kritis published by Sundaram Iyer
We have three more kritis in Kanada attributed to Dikshitar and published by Sundaram Iyer subsequently. They are ‘Veera Hanumate’, ‘Vishveshvaro’ and ‘Balambikaya param nahire’. This apart we have a kriti again in an admixture of Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil starting as ‘Sri Maharajni’ which was discovered in the manuscripts of the Tanjore Quartet and published subsequently. The notations of the three compositions as published by Sundaram Iyer and their popular renderings seem to be aligned to modern Kanada rather than the Kapi documented in the SSP. It is indeed debatable whether Dikshitar composed in Kanada given that the raga is not found indexed in the Anubandha to the CDP and Subbarama Dikshitar too hasn’t given the raga in his SSP (though he mentions of a raga called Kanhra, which had gone out of vogue). Also in one of Sundaram Iyer’s publication it’s given that the raga name Kapi is synonymous with Kanada itself without any authority. A similar such reference is found in the Kritimanimalai of Rangaramanuja Iyengar.
In this section we take up just two of the kritis namely ‘Vishveshvaro Rakshatumam’ and ‘Balambikaya’.
The kriti “Vishveshvaro Rakshatumam” has most of its sahitya/lyric mirroring the Samavarali kriti of Dikshitar, “Brihadeesvaro’ documented in the SSP, making us look at this attribution with suspicion. Parking this issue aside ,we take a look at the presentation of this composition by Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. In this undated concert he prefaces this so called samashti carana composition with an alapana and follows up with a few rounds of svaras. The interpretation in full has Kanada all over it.
Vidushi Raji Gopalakrishnan renders the composition, “bAlAmbikAyA param nahIrE” in an AIR Navaratri Concert broadcast from the year 2007, accompanied by Vid Usha Rajagopalan on the violin, Vid Tanjavur Kumar on the mridangam and Vid Raman on the morsing