‘tyAgarAjEna samrakshitOhaM’ in Salagabhairavi – A Critical Appreciation

Prologue:

prAthasmArami girijAnkitha vAmabhAgham

bakthAnusaktha hrudayam hrutha-daksa yAgam |

vAthAshanArchita padAmbuja mUrdhnibhAgam

 vandhArupOshamanisham sahajAnurAgam ||

(Meaning: I, SahajA offer my morning salutations to the Lord who took the (daughter of Mountain) Parvati as the left part of His body; who lives in the heart of his devotees, who destroyed Daksha’s sacrifice, who is worshipped by the sages and the one who protects those devoted to Him)

So did the great musicologist King Sahaji of Tanjore belonging to the Royal House of the Marathas pay obeisance to Lord Tyagaraja of Tiruvarur or Arur, in the first of his set of 5 slokas titled ‘Tyagaraja Stotram”. King Sahaji ruled Tanjore between circa 1690-1720 AD and without a child to succeed him, he abdicated the throne in favour of his younger brother Tulaja I and retired to live in Tiruvarur near his ishta-devata, Lord Tyagaraja. Sahaji left us the ‘Ragalakshanamu’ (circa 1710 AD) while Tulaja I gave us the ‘Saramrutha’ (circa 1736AD) both being compendia of ragas along with their lakshanas, as were in vogue at that point in time when they were respectively written. These two treatises together with the Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika (CDP) dateable to circa 1750 AD, form the triad of musicological sources with which we can evaluate the music of the 18th century and particularly that of Muthusvami Dikshitar.

Three quarters of a century after King Sahaji, towards the end of the 18th century the Trinitarian Muthusvami Dikshitar a votary of his music paddhathi of Venkatamakhin propitiated the Lord of Aroor with a series of 8 compositions each of one being in a vibakthi/declension as his offering. Out of them, 7 are found documented in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP) of Subbarama Dikshitar. This blog post is about one of those compositions which is, ‘Tyagarajena samrakshitoham’ in the raga Salaga Bhairavi set in adi tala.

As always at the outset I begin by exploring the raga’s history and how it was dealt with by Muthusvami Dikshitar.

Overview of the lakshana of Salagabhairavi:

At the outset readers are forewarned that the raga of “Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham” of Muthusvami Dikshitar and the raga of ‘Padavini sadbaktiyu’ of Tyagaraja, as heard today though called commonly as Salagabhairavi,, are melodically not the same. We will deal with the difference at the end of the blog in the context of the raga as defined in Sangraha Cudamani which is the lexicon of the ragas found utilized by Tyagaraja.

We will evaluate the lakshana of the raga as found documented in the Triad and evaluate

  1. where the lakshana of the Salagabhairavi as found in ‘Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham’ sits in the context of the Triad and the
  2. difference between the melodies of Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham’ and ‘Padavini sadbaktiyu’ though both of them are called Salagabhairavi in the context of Sangraha Cudamani.

The Overview of the definitions of the raga Salagabhairavi as dealt with the Triad:

The table below summarizes the lakshana of the raga as dealt with in the treatises which are dateable to different points in time during the 18th Century in the run up to the times of the Trinity.

Attribute/ Lakshana Sahaji’s Ragalakshanamu (Circa 1710 AD) Tulaja’s Saramruta (Circa 1736 AD) Anubandha to the CDP (Circa 1750) – as provided in the SSP
Mela 22 (Sriraga) 22 (Sriraga) 22 (Sriraga)
Svaras varjya or vakra in arohana Dha is vakra and ni is varjya; PDPS occurs along with SNS and SRGR; complete sex or five note sequences do not occur Dha is vakra and ni is varjya; PDPS occurs along with SNS and SRGR;complete sex or five note sequences do not occur Pancama and dhaivatha are varjya in arohana
Svaras varjya or vakra in avarohana Sampurna in the avarohana Sampurna in the avarohana Sampurna in the avarohana
Time of the day it has to sung Fourth watch of the day (tUri yAmE) Fourth watch of the day (tUri yAmE) Last watch of the day (caramE yAmE)

While this is so, if one were to compare the above definitions with the lakshana as found in the Dikshitar kriti “Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham” the chart below would emerge.

SSP/Muddu Venkatamakhin (circa 1750) Muthusvami Dikshitar as evidenced by his kriti ‘tyAgarAjEna samrakshitOham’ Remarks provided by way of commentary by Subbarama Dikshitar
Pancama and dhaivatha are varjya in arohana Dhaivatha is vakra and nishadha is varjya in the arohana and thus the uttaranga becomes PDPS SRGM PDPS/SNDPMGRS The alternated arohana krama is SRGRPMPDPS. Murccanas such as SRMGRPPDPS; NSDPGGRS and SGRMPDPMGRS also occur
Sampurna in the avarohana Sampurna in the avarohana Sampurna in the avarohana

The following conclusions would flow forth from the SSP Commentary:

  1. The raga lakshana as found in the kriti and so notated in the SSP completely deviates from the Anubandha definition as well as from the Subbarama Dikshitar commentary.
    • The Lakshana sloka and the arohana-avarohana murchanas are contradicting
    • The prayogas found notated in the three compositions thereunder are also in contradiction to the stated lakshana sloka
  2. This contradiction within the SSP is reminiscent of the case of Gopikavasanta which we saw in an earlier blog post.
  3. Further the lakshya gita provided in the SSP (“Sri Nanda tanu’) attributed by Subbarama Dikshitar to Venkatamakhin himself has the following prayogas:
  4. SNSDP, SNDPS, PMGR, GGRS, SRMMGRPPDPS
  5. SGR, SMGR, SRGS, PPNPM
  6. Subbarama Dikshitar’s sancara sports the same prayogas found in the above said lakshya gita.
  7. The lakshana shloka found in the SSP beginning ‘sampUrnO sagrahOpeta’ is obviously of AD 1750 vintage probably of Muddu Venkatamakhin and cannot be of Venkatamakhin. For, the original lakshana sloka found in the CDP for Salagabhairavi runs as under (and not as what the SSP says)

               ‘shrIrAga mEla sambhUthO ragaH sAlagabhairavI |

               sampUrna-svara-samyuktA yAmE-gEya-tUrIyakE ||

  • It is well possible that the raga definition had perhaps changed again between AD 1736 (post Saramrutha) and AD 1750 (the time Anubandha was probably compiled) resulting in the change in the lakshana shloka.
  • It is important to note that even the modern-day contour of for Salagabhairavi – SR2M1PD1S/SN2D2PM1G2R2S is even different, to which we will turn to once we analyse the kriti of Tyagaraja in this scale.
  • To state simply, Muthusvami Dikshitar’s Salagabhairavi is
    • aligned more to Sahaji and Tulaja’s version.
    • Aligned also to a fair extent to the lakshya gita ‘Sri Nanda tanu’

And it sports only a sub-set of prayogas from those and eschews the rest. But the conception does not conform to the lakshana shoka provided by Subbarama Dikshitar in the SSP.

It is Subbarama Dikshitar in the SSP who attempts to bridge the Dikshitar version of Salagabhairavi with the one of Muddu Venkatamakhin by providing an alternate arohana/avarohana, as a part of his commentary.

Analysis of ‘Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham”:

With this high-level overview of the theoretical definition of the raga let us move to the kriti. While that may be so what may be of importance for us is to understand Sahaji’s definition and look at the Dikshitar kriti for comparison. The following points would emerge:

  1. Sahaji in his commentary says about complete or 7 note, six note or five note sequences or phrases do not occur. The implication here is that the phrase should not have sequentially svaras beyond 4 notes. Thus, SRGMGR would be how the phrase would flow to stay in conformance to this constraint. One can logically conclude that taking sadja as the starting note, SRGMPDN or SRGMPD or SRGMP phrases would not occur. Similarly taking rishabha next, RGMPDNS or RGMPDN or RGMPD would not occur. Quite oddly Dikshitar kriti lacks SRGM or RGMPD usage whereas we do find RGM usage via RGMGRS for example. As pointed out , the upshot of this would be that Dikshitar’s conception of Salagabhairavi would be closer to the Salagabhairavi of Sahaji rather than the one laid out in the Anubandha to the CDP, which version of the raga drops pancama and dhaivatha in its ascent. And this is a very curious way of raga construction and delineation, probably native to the 18th century or prior.
  2. And both the pallavi as well as the carana of ‘Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham’ begins on the rishabha note. It has to be pointed out that for the ragas under Mela 22 under Sriraga, rishabha is a pivotal note and this raga is perhaps no exception. Thus Dikshitar, perhaps for this raga deemed that rishabha was the jiva svara and so he began the pallavi and the carana on the said note. And for good measure the kriti has the note pancama as svara akshara in a number of places.
  3. In sum Dikshitar in this composition uses the following phrases:
    • Mandhara stayi – Sndp, dpS, Sdp
    • Madhya stayi – SRGM, RGMP, DPS, SNDP, MGRS, RGS, PGRS  
    • Tara stayi – SRMGRS
  4. Phrases such as SNSDP or SMGR found profusely in the lakshya gitam is not found in the kriti.
  5. In the carana for the first two avartas /lines of sahitya he spans mandhara pancama to madhya pancama. And for the next two avartas/lines he spans madhya dhaivatha to tara gandhara and back to madhya sadja. The final madhyamakala sahitya of the carana, as always, he encompasses the entire melodic body of the raga.
  6. Leaving out the 18th century construct of the raga – vide point 1 above- purely from a modern perspective, the perusal of the notation of the composition would show that the murccana arohana/avarohana krama of this raga as per Dikshitar’s conception under          Mela 22 would be as under:

S R2 G2 M1 P D2 P S

S N2 D2 P M1 G2 R2 S

               The above would go with the caveat that nishadha or madhyama or gandhara varjya          prayogas such as SDPMGRS, RPMP, PGR and RGS can also occur in profusion.  

The lyrics of the kriti together with the meaning can be had from here. And with that we move on to hear the renderings of the composition.

Discography:

The version of a violinist:

Oddly in this blog post, I seek to first present a version of this beautiful Dikshitar composition as rendered on the violin by an unknown perhaps amateur artiste, and uploaded on the Youtube, for I found it to be concise, complete, beautiful and a high-fidelity rendering/ interpretation of the notation of this composition found in the SSP. It has been rendered to the accompaniment of the tanpura sruti only. Here are the Youtube and audio links to rendering.                                              

Audio of the above rendering

Let us now turn our attention to the notation of the composition as found in the SSP and do a compare with the above rendering.

  1. I invite attention first to the way in which the kAlapramAnam of the composition has been pegged from start to end. Typically, in recitals, the rendering of a given composition for varied reasons gets accelerated and it will be noticeable towards the end of the composition’s rendering. In this case one can notice that the pace in which the pallavi for example is rendered at the beginning is the same when the song concludes at the end of the 6th minute. The violinist was perhaps helped by the fact that there was no percussion accompaniment. It is generally true that for many vocalists, more so in the case of Dikshitar compositions, after singing the madhyamakala sahitya rarely do they exactly land back to the original tempo/kalapramanam of the sama kala pallavi segment of the composition. More so, this composition is likely to get more than accelerated as it has sparser sahitya conforming to the ati citra tama marga, that we saw in a previous blog post in the context of the Kannada Bangala kriti ‘Renuka Devi Samrakshitoham’.
  2. There are no blemishes, sruti/svara lapses or staccato notes, anywhere in this rendering.
  3. In the pallavi rendering while keeping to the notation a few melodic extensions are done, for example for the sahitya ‘sAgarEna srI’ the violinist employs janta prayogas NNDDP MMGGRRS.
  4. In the anupallavi, attention is invited to the rendering of ‘yativarAdyupA-sitEna-bhavEna’ which goes as ndpSdp-GR.G-MP.P which vocalists do not properly render (see editions below). The phrase “upA” should land on the mandhara pancama and not on the madhya pancama. Moreover, vocalists tend to take a breather/pause just after yativarAdyupA-. The jump from the mandhara pancama(‘upA’) to the madhya gandhara(‘sitEna’) is the beauty here which needs to be listened to. This motif pG repeats elsewhere as Pg, from the madhya pancama to the tara gandhara, in the composition and needs to be highlighted. The violinist does complete justice to the two samakAla lines of the anupallavi, rendering it seamlessly providing us complete satisfaction.
  5. I again invite attention to the continuous playing/phrasing by the artiste of the carana lines each seamlessly segueing into one other resulting in a continuous fluid flow of melody right through the carana.
  6. One would also find that the melodic extensions with which the artiste ends the pallavi, anupallavi or the carana are very aesthetic and in conformance with the lakshana delineated in the kriti proper.

Students of music aspiring to learn this composition ought to do so by hearing this version with the SSP notation in hand. It is complete, for I find it to be a very purposive and aesthetic interpretation of the notation. And thus one is indebted to him/her, for such a splendid rendering, sans any blemish whatsoever.

Other interpretations:

We next present other renderings of Dikshitar’s ‘tyAgarAjEna rakshitOham’. Below are the presentations by a couple of Sangita Kala Acharyas.

Vidushi Suguna Varadacari renders the composition next and is from an AIR Concert of hers.

http://www.sangeethamshare.org/tvg/UPLOADS-1601—1800/1617-Suguna_Varadachari-Thyagaraja_Vibarthi_Krithis/

(Would require Yahoo/Google ID for Log In)

And, the venerable Prof S R Janakiraman renders the composition.

Vidushi Kalpakam Svaminathan a scion of the Dikshitar sishya parampara, recorded the Tyagaraja Vibakti kritis which includes this composition as well, as a commercial album, details of which are here.

Dikshitar’s Salagabhairavi and the popular modern version of the raga as found in Tyagaraja’s ‘padavini sadbaktiyu’:

The modern version of the raga Salaga Bhairavi as available us through ‘padavini sadbakti’ is documented in the Sangraha Cudamani as SRMPDS/SNDPMGRS under Mela 22.  

The legendary vidvans, the Alathur Brothers render the composition in this link, prefaced by a raga vinyasa.

Attention is invited to the opening phrase of the pallavi which begins as SRMP itself. A quick comparison between the raga as found in the composition of Dikshitar and Tyagaraja would thus yield the following table for us:

Muthusvami Dikshitar as evidenced by his kriti ‘tyAgarAjEna samrakshitOham’ Tyagaraja as evidenced by the modern day mettu of ‘padavini sadbakthi’
Dhaivatha is vakra and nishadha is varjya in the arohana Gandhara and nishadha are varjya in the arohana
Sampurna in the avarohana Sampurna in the avarohana
The conception is characterized by jumps and turns as well and more avarohana pradhana/centricity of the raga. Fairly straightforward progression of the raga.

The question whether the scale found in ‘padavini’ being SRMPNS/SNDPMGRS was the original one adopted by Saint Tyagaraja when he composed the same is questionable & not beyond reasonable doubt for the following reasons:

  1. When the raga of the composition ‘padavini’ was discussed in the Music Academy on 26-Dec-1942 (documented in pages 17-18 of JMA XIV, see reference section below) a personage no less than the great Vidvan Tiger Varadacariar, placed on record that he had heard the kriti being rendered with RGMP.
  2. Another musical authority, Sri M S Ramasvami Iyer went on to sing a cittasvaram composed by Patnam Subramanya Iyer for ‘padavini sadbakti’ which incorporated RGM phrase as support /proof for the prayoga having been in vogue.
  3. Prof Sambamoorthi & Dr T V Subba Rao too agreed with the proposition that SRGMP was in vogue and textual authorities too had recorded it.
  4. Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer a votary of the so called Dikshitar school, put forth the case for SRGMPDPS on the authority of the Dikshitar kriti and the documentation in the SSP.

In fact, Sri Tiger Varadacariar even suggested perhaps as a compromise that SRMRGMPDPS can be the recommended arohana krama accommodating the RGMP prayoga. The records of the JMA show that in that discussion that day, Tiger Varadacariar, M S Ramasvami Iyer, Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer & T V Subba Rao were arrayed on one side. However, the acolytes of the Sangraha Cudamani led by the President of the Conference that year, Sangita Kalanidhi Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavathar had their way making SRMPDS/SNDPMGRS as the nominal arohana/avarohana krama of the raga, based on the then contemporaneous version of ‘padavini’.

The question thus we are left with is whether RGM and PDPS exists for Salagabhairavi. For, Dikshitar uses RGM and PDPS while the same is not so in the case of Tyagaraja based on the evidence of modern-day version of ‘padavini’ available to us & the lakshana as documented in the Sangraha Cudamani. Also, Dikshitar has utilized prayogas documented by all musicologists of yore right up to Tulaja.

Be that as it may, the discussion in the Academy clearly shows that ‘padavini’ was rendered in the past with SRGMP and not SRMP, indicating the possibility that the modern version/musical fabric of ‘padavini sadbakti’ is probably a “normalized” or “truncated” version. It’s likely that perhaps the original version of the composition was in line with the Salagabhairavi of Sahaji or Tulaja or of Muthusvami Dikshitar which was perhaps the defacto standard during the1800’s. Meaning, Salagabhairavi had vakra dhaivatha & nishadha varjya in the arohana and complete/sampurna in the avarohana and perhaps admitting gandhara varjya phrases as well.

Similar perhaps has the been the fate of ‘manavini vinuma’ a Tyagaraja composition, which is assigned a raga name of ‘Jayanarayani’ not found in any musical record save for Sangraha Cudamani which goes with the arohana/avarohana krama as SRGMPDS/SNDPMGRS under mela 22. It may sound like a ‘conspiracy’ theory but nevertheless it is a matter of great concern that the musical material of very many Tyagaraja kritis especially in eka kriti ragas has been subject to controversy and the available melody as on date/assigned, has not been beyond the pale of controversy. If one were to consider the logic and arguments advanced by the noted critic of the previous century Sri K V Ramachandran, one can conclude or at the least suspect that the ragas of ‘padavini sadbaktiyu’ and ‘manavini vinuma’ were perhaps only Salagabhairavi as documented in Muthusvami Dikshitar’s ‘tyAgarAjEna samrakshitOham’.

One is disconcerted by the fact that disciples or certain lineages have not properly transmitted the composition over the centuries, with the result today, we a corrupted version of what was originally composed. And we need not look far for one more proof, paart from what was placed on record by Tiger Varadachariar as in the case of ‘padavini’. It can be immediately demonstrated with this very Dikshitar composition, ’tyagarajena Samrakshitoham, how tradition can be turned on its head by musicians ignorant of both lakshya and lakshana.

 Here is a modern-day performing musician, Vidushi Shyamala Venkateshwaran who casts the Dikshitar composition ‘Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham’ completely in the garb of the Salaga Bhairavi, not the one expounded by Dikshitar but with SRMPDS/SNDPMGRS as found in the Tyagaraja kriti ‘padavini’) with total impunity and contempt of the authentic notation of the composition found in the SSP.

( The photo used in the video upload is not of the artiste concerned but of Vidushi Rama Kausalya and readers ought to take note of the same)

Not just the kriti rendering, but we have a full suite of alapana and a svaraprastara to boot for this close to 20 min long presentation, providing ripe evidence for us as to how performers/sishyas/sishya paramparas could have and can misinterpret compositions/raga lakshana down the line, doing the greatest of disservice to a composer and his intent. Nothing can be farther from injustice when such musicians are called upon to adjudicate competitions on Dikshitar compositions !

It is indeed sad that this spurious version will most likely be taught to unknowing students of music and will be perpetuated as an authentic edition of the kriti.

Epilogue:

Vigilance they say is the price of liberty and the foregoing is a warning to the discerning listener of our music. Beware of peddlers of spurious music- would be an understatement. However, it is comforting to note that as against these transgressions a non-descript amateur musician is able to hold fort with an authentic interpretation of this rare kriti of Dikshitar, Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham, which was presented first in the discography. And one does wish & pray that known and popular musicians & teachers emulate this worthy example in the days to come and they in turn bequeath an authentic tradition true to the intent of the great composers of the past.

References:

  1. Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (Telugu Original 1906) – Tamil edition published by the Madras Music Academy (1961) along with the Anubandha – Pages 462-466 of the 2006 Edition of Vol II: Link
  2. Ragalakshana Sangraha –Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – Published by Dr Ramanathan – pp 1173-1180
  3. Ragas of the Sangita Saramruta (1993) – Edited by Sangita Kalanidhi T V Subba Rao & Dr S R Janakiraman-Published by the Madras Music Academy – pp 26-27
  4. The Raga Lakshana Manuscript of Sahaji Maharaja of Tanjavur (1983) -JMA Volume LVI Published by the Madras Music Academy-pp 140-182
  5. Salagabhairavi Raga lakshana Discussion – Proceedings of the Experts Committee of the Madras Music Academy on 26-Dec-1942 – 16th Music Conference – Published in JMA Volume XIV (1943) -pp17-38

Safe Harbour Statement

The recording of the renderings provided through YouTube or audio links as exemplars are the exclusive intellectual property of the artistes concerned. The same has been utilized here strictly on a non-commercial basis, under fair use for study & research, fully acknowledging their rights and no part of it may be copied, reproduced or otherwise dealt without the consent of the artistes or the concerned IP right holders.

Colorful Bhāṣāṅga-s – Rudrapriyā – Part I

The colourful nature of the bhāṣāṅga rāga-s, their ability to be used flexibly according to the intent of a composer were explained in an introductory article on these rāga-s. In this article, we will be venturing into Rudrapriyā, a representative of the bhāṣāṅga clan.

Rudrapriyā is not a very popular rāga though few can reconcile this rāga and relate it with the kṛti ‘amba paradēvatē’. But Rudrapriyā was very popular once and we do have a significant number of compositions to analyse this rāga.

But Rudrapriyā was very popular once and we do have a significant number of compositions to analyse this rāga.

Rudrapriyā – A bhāṣāṅga

The first treatise to elaborate this rāga is Saṅgita Saṃpradāya Pradarśini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and Rudrapiyā is introduced as a dēśīya, bhāṣāṅga  janya of the rāgāṅga rāga Śrī and takes the svara-s therein. Though the given mūrcana is SRGMPDNS – SNPMGRS, this is really a grand rāga and use various phrases outside the given mūrcana. In fact, Rudrapiyā cannot be conceived with this scale alone and can be considered akin to Kharaharapriyā. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar also says antara gāndhāra is employed in some places where the phrase MGM occurs and this Rudrapriyā is called as Hindustani Kāpi. We can infer two points from this valuable statement:

  1. Antara gāndhāra do not or need not necessarily feature in all the places wherein the phrase MGM occurs. MGM with antara gāndhāra is used only by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, that too only once in his sañcāri. This was the hypothesis proposed in our previous article; use of a svara not seen in the parent scale, in a bhāṣāṅga is an option!!
  2. A rāga is given two different names based on the presence or absence of a svara.  The necessity to employ two names for a single rāga is not known. Does Subbarāma Dīkṣitar mean to say Rudrapriyā (Rudrapriyā is a dēśīya rāga is to be remembered) was used in some other regions with antara gāndhāra, wherein it was called as Hindustani Kāpi ? Anyways this is a very clear indication that this rāga was called by more than one name. This point will be elaborated later.

Anyways, this antara gandhāra is not seen in any other compositions notated in Pradarśini.

Compositions in Rudrapriyā

The mystical nature of this rāga does not end only with its bhāsāṅga nature. The way it was handed by various composers is equally intriguing. Before proceeding to analyse the lakṣaṇa of this rāga, let us acquaint with the available compositions.

Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives the following compositions notated in his treatise in addition to his own sañcāri.

Rudra kōpa – Rūpakam – Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar

Vaḷḷī dēvasēnāpati – Rūpakam – Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar

Nīvē raśika śhikāmaṇi – Ādhi – Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar

Amba paradēvatē – Maṭya cāpu – Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya – Subbarāma Dīkṣitar

Murugāvunai nambinēn – Rūpakam – Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Mahārāja

Enduku rā rā – Rūpakam – Subbarāma Dīkṣitar (occurs as a small segment in this rāgamālika)

For the kṛti ambā paradēvatē, both Śrī Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya and Śrī Subbarāma Dīkṣitar are to be given the credit. Whereas the former has written the lyrics, the latter tuned it. Since we are concerned with music, only Subbarāma Dīkṣitar will be associated with this kṛti henceforth.

In the anubandham of the same treatise, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives two more kṛti-s, named as Rudrapriyā but with a different rāga lakṣaṇa:

Gaṇanāyakam – Catusra Ēkam – Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar

Tyāgeśam bhajarē – Ādhi – Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar

Since the last two compositions differ considerably from the rest, they will be covered separately in two subsequent articles. We will be analysing only the main Rudrapriyā here.

Apart from those mentioned, three other compositions are attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar:

Śivakāyārohanēśaya – Rūpakam

Śri tyāgarājasya bhakto bhavāmi – Misra capu / Triputa

Parāśakthim bhajarē – Ādhi

These Non – Pradarśini kṛti-s require special attention and they too will not be covered here.

Antiquity of Rudrapriyā

Only the Dīkṣitar tribe has handled this rāga is clearly fathomable from the above discussion (Eṭṭappa Mahārāja, the composer of Tamiz kṛti was also a disciple of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar).  Apart from the kṛti-s, we do not find any gīta in this rāga (gīta–s are usually given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar to demonstrate old phrases in a rāga). Also, there is a conspicuous absence of a kṛti by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar. This rāga was not even included by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar in any of his rāgamālika-s. These, along with the fact of not seeing this rāga in any of the earlier lakṣana grantha-s might make us to surmise this is a relatively a new rāga which must have come into circulation around 18th century. But, what is the reality?

It is to be remembered, absence of a rāga in the lakṣana grantha-s do not demote antiquity of a rāga. These treatises are not comprehensive in cataloging the rāga-s prevalent when they were written (also see the related discussion here). The information given in these treatises are to be conjunctively analysed with the available compositions to date a rāga.  The following evidence show the perspicuous presence of this rāga even before the arrival of the mentioned kṛti-s.

Dakśiṇāśāsyam gurum vandē

This is a composition of Śrī Bhadrācalam Rāmadāsu (1620-1680) in the rāga Rudrapriyā. It is very surprising to see a composition on Dakśiṇāmūrti by Rāmadāsu. But worshiping Dakśiṇāmūrti is an integral part of Bhajana saṃpradāya and this kṛti could have been used to invoke Him in his daily bhajana. This kṛti, to the best knowledge of this author is not in circulation and this is the only version available.

This is more like a divyanama kīrtanam with a pallavi and multiple caraṇā-s. All the caraṇā-s have the same melodic structure. The melodic structure is much simple and devoid of any decorative saṅgati-s, characteristic of any old version. Rudrapriyā portrayed here highly confirms with the mūrcana mentioned earlier excluding two significant signature phrases, SDNP and SNDNP which transgress the mūrcana mentioned proving it a non-scalar rāga. 

Interestingly, Māṅcāla Jagannatha Rao, who gave us this version make a note that this is also called as Śuddha Kāpi. We request to reiterate the point mentioned earlier; this rāga had multiple names !!

The following two evidences additionally prove the existence of this rāga during 18th century.

Ambā kṛupai tandu

This is a composition of Śrī Mazavai Cidambara Bhārathi who lived in early part of the19th century. He is said to be a contemporary of Kavikuñjara Bhārathi, whose period is said to be between 1810 and 1896.

This kṛti can be seen in the book published by The Music Academy, but labelled as a different raga – Karnāṭaka Kāpi !! Perhaps, this name could have been in common use and a variant of this rāga with antara gāndharam was called as Hindustani Kāpi. Subbarāma Dikṣitar having been aware of this polyonymy (especially Karnāṭaka Kāpi) gives us the variant name alone. This is extremely possible, as Subbarāma Dīkṣitar was proud of his heritage and he must have felt this rāga is to be named as Rudrapriyā as Vēṅkaṭamakhī followed this nomenclature (in the treatise that was available to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar). Our doubt gets more validated if we observe the fact that the kṛti ‘rudra kōpa’ by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar lacks the rāga mudra Rudrapriyā!!

The rāga portrayed here is exactly like Rudrapriyā sans two phrases – SNDNM and SDP. The phrase SNDNM occur in the beginning of this kṛti as seen below:

sa    n    da  n   m    m   ga    r      ri    s    r     g  I m ; ; r g I s   ri    m  pa ni ri II

am…….baa….. krupai.. tan..dhu..rak.shi yiyam    yo…ga   ga na..yi..ke..jaga

                                        Svara-s in bold denote tāra sthāyi

SNDNM is replaced by SNDPM in the second saṅgati. This phrase was an original construction or a printing error is not to be identified. Though SNDNM appears odd, a similar phrase PDNM is seen in the Rudrapriyā segment seen in the rāgamālika of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. The phrase SDP is found nowhere in the compositions notated by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar; rather, it is seen in the kṛti by Rāmadāsu. This is an allowed phrase and not used by Dīkṣitar Quartette or is a corrupt phrase that occurred due to the passage of time or a printing error cannot be ascertained.

Sāmaja gamana

This is a hitherto unknown svarajati composed in the rāgam Karnāṭaka Kāpi. It is seen in a manuscript whose authorship too is not traceable. This is composed in the style of Svarajati-s composed by Śrī Śyāma Śāstri. This has a pallavi and four caraṇā-s. Predominant phrases seen include ṠNDNP, ṠNPM, NGR and ṠNPṠNPM. It very well corresponds with the rāga lakṣaṇa described above excluding a single phrase MNDPM.

From the above discussion it is unquestionable that Rudrapriyā was indeed a very old rāga. More importantly, it must have been called by various names at different part of this country. This rāga being mentioned as Karnāṭaka Kāpi also has an important implication which will be dealt in the next section.

The structure of Rudrapriyā and its possible relationship with Karnāṭaka Kāpi

Though the lineage is same for all the Dīkṣitar members, each one has carved their own style in approaching a rāga. This is explicitly seen in the rāga-s which are bestowed with a composition from more than one Dīkṣitar. Rudrapriyā is one such and this heterogeneity is seen its full glory here. The main feature of Rudrapriyā will be described in brief, which will be followed by a discussion on their individual style.

Striking features of Rudrapriyā

As mentioned earlier, a broad picture about this rāga is given only by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and the compositions therein are lexicons to understand this rāga in its full grandeur. This rāga has many unique features to distinguish it from its saṃpūrṇa allies like Kharaharapriya and Kāpi (the old one) which can be grasped by learning and analysing these compositions.  

Subbarāma Dīkṣitar says niṣādha, gāndhāra, madhyamaṃ and riṣabha are the pivotal svara-s. Compositions start or end only with one of these svara-s. There is a profuse use of janṭa niṣādha and gāndhāra. With this idea let us analyse the individual compositions. When the compositions are analysed, there are some important prayōga-s which traduce the mūrcana given, like SDNP, SNDNP, DNDNP, SRM and SMGM. Apart from this, plenty of dhāṭṭu prayōga-s like MGNPGR, GDGN can be seen. All these prayōga-s, are unanimously used in all the sthāyi-s, unlike Rītigaula wherein the phrase NPNNS is used only in the mandra sthāyi.

Rudra kōpa of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar

This kṛti-s follows the lakṣana mentioned above. The āvarta-s start only with the above mentioned four pivotal svara-s apart from sadja and pañcama. Janṭa ṛṣabha as GRR is more commonly used other janta niṣādha and gāndhāra. We see dhāṭṭu prayōga-s like MGNPGR. In all these aspects, we see similar handling of this rāga among the Dīkṣitar Trio.

The differences seen are as below:

  1. The use of janṭa svara is much less than that used by Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar. Also, the gamakam used for these janṭa svara-s are different. Apart from spuritam, we also find kampitam and nokku for these janṭa svara-s.
  2. The predominant avarōhaṇa phrase in this kṛti is SDNP and SNP. We never get to see the phrase SNDNP. Though a composer is not expected to use all the phrases to visualise his rāga, certain phrases become important as either they define a rāga or has been by all the composers whomsoever has handled that rāga. SNDNP, being such an important phrase can be in the kṛti-s of Rāmadāsu, Cidambara Bharati, Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. It is surprising that this was not used in this kṛti.
  3. To compensate for the phrase SNDNP, we find a new phrase seen in this kṛti – MN(N)G. This occur twice, first in bhadrakāli and second in mālikā, both in anupallavi. This phrase is not seen in any of the compositions mentioned above, inclusive of the kṛti-s of Rāmadāsu and Cidambara Bharati. This phrase reminisce the composition ‘suma sāyaka’ of Svāti Tirunāḷ. The first text to publish this Kṛti with notation is Bālāmṛtam by S Raṅganātha Ayyar. He mention the rāga of this varṇam as Kāpi. The present version has plenty of ṠNP, ṠNDNP, NRG which all feature in Rudrapriyā. On the other hand, these are not found in the old Kāpi. The old Kāpi is now living through the compositions of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and other Pre-Trinity composers notated in Pradarśini. We too have Vālājapeṭṭai manuscripts giving the compositions of Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ in this rāgaṃ (the kṛti-s of Svāmigaḷ that we commonly hear in the rāga Kāpi were all mutated and mutilated in the last century). Interestingly this phrase MNG is not seen in any of the old Kāpi compositions. All these might make us to surmise Rudrapriyā could have been alternatively called as Karṇāṭaka Kāpi in the past (along with its other known and unknown names). We are now left with another question – the reason for not seeing this phrase in the composition of other composers. We can exclude the compositions of Rāmadāsu and Cidambara Bharati, as they are small kṛti-s. But, not seeing even in magnificent edifices of Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is absorbing.

A vocal interpretation of the textual representation of this kṛti given in the treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī is attempted to the best abilities of this author. The readers are invited to observe unique phrases like MNGG, GRR, ṠNP and ṠDNP (see Footnote 1).

Vaḷḷī dēvasēnāpati and Nīvē raśikhāmaṇi of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar

The kṛti ‘nīvē raśikhāmaṇi’ could have been one of the initial compositions of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar on Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Maharāja. The kṛti ‘vaḷḷī dēvasēnāpati’ is unique in that it is one of the three compositions composed by Bālasvāmy on Kazugumalai Subraḥmaṇya Svāmi. Rest of his compositions were all on various Maharāja-s of Eṭṭayapuram.  

These two kṛti-s are better exemplars, even more than the ‘rudra kōpa’ of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Plenty of janṭa gāndhāra and niṣadha can be seen in these kṛti-s. Here the janṭa svara-s are handled predominantly with the spurita gamakam. The predominant avarōhaṇa phrases are PDNDP, PDNDNDP, ṠDNP, ṠNDNP and ṠNDNṠ (the last two phrases are absent in ‘rudra kōpa’). We also find phrases SMGM, GRR, NG and NR, PDNS (in mandra sthāyi). All these phrases give a wholesome structure covering an entire gamut of this rāga. Rudrapriyā flows through the dhāṭṭu prayōga-s and the ciṭṭa svaram affixed to the kṛti ‘nīvē raśikhāmaṇi’ is captivating. The third āvarta goes as NṠṘN GNDN MGNP GR with plenty of three-s. Also, ṠṘĠṀ can be noted.

The kṛti nīvē raśikhāmaṇi interpreted from the treatise of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be heard here.

Murugāvunai nambinēn of Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Mahārāja          

This is much in line with the other kṛti-s and uses some special phrases used like ṘDD. Also, extreme importance is given to riṣabham as a jīva svaram. This was composed by Jagadvīra Rāma Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭappa Mahārāja who ruled between 1853 and 1858.

Ambā paradēvatē and Enduku rā rā of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar

The rāga approach by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be considered as a combination of both Muddusvāmy and Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar. Whereas we find almost all the prayōga-s used by Bālasvāmy in these two compositions, we also find some phrases like PDP, PNṠ, ṘDD and PDNM which are not seen in the compositions of Bālasvāmy. Though the janṭa svara prayōga-s are more seen in this kṛti when compared to that of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, it is certainly lesser than what is seen in the works of  Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar.

The ciṭṭa svara segment attached to this kṛti is very unique and displays the craftsmanship of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. It runs for 32 āvarta-s and every āvarta starts with ṛṣabham. This 32 āvarta svara segment composed by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is much different from the abridged version that we hear today and it is a question to ponder on the composer of this abridged version. Also, the manōdharma that we hear frequently only display the scalar Rudrapriyā. Though we enjoy the modern versions and are equally pleasant to hear, these old tunes conceived by the composer are to be at least archived as they not only serve as an example to understand the rāga conceived by the composer, they also teach us the svarūpa of the rāga extant during their times. Here, the various ways in which the jīva svara ṛṣabham can be employed in various ways is demonstrated. These can be adopted by us to resurrect the rāga Rudrapriya, rather than following the scale.

The presence of the phrase ṘDD along with an importance given to ṛṣabham makes us to understand the influence of Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Mahārāja on Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.

Conclusion

Rudrapriyā, a grand rāga of the past is mainly characterised by janṭa and dhāṭṭu prayōga-s. This rāga has very many phrases outside the prescribed mūrcana and only an untainted version of the kṛti-s preserved by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and from other older/original versions help us to understand this rāga. The kṛti-s of Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar epitomize this rāga more than even the mentioned kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Sadly, the rāga portrayed in majority of the versions that we hear today is mainly scalar and fail to project the beauty of this rāga in its full capacity.

Unlike Rītigaula, the phrases in this rāga are not sthāyi specific – all the phrases occur in all the octaves.The name Rudrapriyā could have been in circulation only with the family of Dīkṣitar and this rāga could have been called by multiple names in the past. Perhaps, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar could have been the single person endorsing this name. The rāga Kārnāṭaka Kāpi mentioned in various texts could be this Rudrapriyā and we need to search for original versions to get a clear picture.

This also highlight the importance of collecting the manuscripts preserved at various places to understand rāga-s of the past.

References

Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī, Vidyavilasini Press, 1904.

Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī – Tamiz edition published by The Music Academy.

Mazavai Cidambara Bhārati Pādalgal. Edited by PC Sitarama Ayyar. Published by The Music Acedemy. This can be accessed in http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/show/2713

Footnotes

Footnote 1 – Whereas the Tamiz edition of Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī read as ‘anuvadana’ in anupallavi, the original Telugu version read as ‘ajavadana’. This difference was overlooked by this author in his rendition. This is a mistake and is deeply regretted.

The Mystical Rudrapriya of the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini


Preamble:

This raga Rudrapriya as listed in the Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini (“SSP”) which we take up in this blog post along with the compositions available to us, would confound any student or practitioner of music when viewed against the available musicological texts and musicological history. The objective of this blog post is to evaluate the material available to us and seek a plausible explanation for the confusing or contradictory aspects. This raga belonging to the mela varga or the clan of ragas under Mela 22 Sriraga, is a raga of late 18th century vintage (post 1750 AD), as it is not seen in the prior musicological texts, such as those of Shahaji or Tulaja. 

Overview of Rudrapriya:

In the modern musical parlance, the raga Rudrapriya is an upanga janya under Mela 22 Sriraga, taking all the 7 notes in the arohana lineally while dropping the dhaivata note in the avarohana.

Arohana krama/murcchana: S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N2 S

Avarohana krama/murcchana:  S N2 P M1 G2 R2 S

Simple as the definition may sound, yet the raga plays hosts to a number of unique features beyond what is conveyed by the above skeletal definition, which is also the source of confusion for us. We will start the exercise of dissecting the raga, from the commentary provided by Subbarama Dikshitar in the SSP and the exemplar compositions provided thereunder.

The SSP’s take on Rudrapriya:

According to Subbarama Dikshitar:

  1. The raga is bhashanga
  2. It is sampurna with dhaivatha being varjya in the avarohana
  3. Sadja is the graha svara of the raga
  4. It is a desya raga
  5. The raga can be sung at all times
  6. Nishadha is a key note of the raga, identified by the dheergha note in the arohana krama and the Janta combination with which it occurs in the avarohana
  7. Rishabha and gandhara are the other jiva and nyasa svaras

A brief evaluation of the above commentary in the modern context is required for us to understand the raga and let us taken them up seriatim.

  1. Though Subbarama Dikshitar says that the raga is bhashanga, it is not so in the modern sense. As pointed out earlier in our other blog posts, such as the one on Gopikavasanta raga, a proper reading of the SSP as a whole would show that Subbarama Dikshitar has presented the term “bhashanga” in its older sense, when ragas were classified as upanga, bhashanga and kriyanga ragas on an entirely different aspect. The perusal of the Lakshya Gitam of Sriraga, the parent raga of the 22nd Mela varga in the SSP would show that Sriranjani, Madhyamavati and Devamanohari are also shown as bhashanga janya ragas of the mela (22), which we know, they are not, in the modern sense. Today we call a raga bhashanga if it takes a note which is foreign to the parent scale. Rudrapriya does not take any note from outside the notes of Mela 22 so is upanga in the modern sense.
  2. In the context of the SSP, it has to be pointed out that Rudrapriya is not mentioned in the Sriraga lakshya gitam either as a upanga or a bhashanga janya thereunder.  Suffice to state that the raga must have been inducted into the Anubandha listing (to the Catur Dandi Prakashika probably authored by Muddu Venkatamakhin) much later in time.
  3. Curiously as a foot note at the very end of the last composition provided as the exemplar, Subbarama Dikshitar makes a mention that the prayoga M1G2M1 in certain places is rendered as M1G3M1 which is called as Hindustani Kapi. Without wading into this controversial point at this juncture as to the usage of G3/antara gandhara alluded to by Subbarama Dikshitar and confining ourselves to Rudrapriya alone, we can safely conclude the following points:
    1. In none of the exemplar compositions that Subbarama Dikshitar cites in the SSP, does MG3M occur or is so notated.
    1. The usage of G3 may have been seen by Subbarama Dikshitar during his times but was not an intrinsic part of the sastraic definition of Rudrapriya.
    1. Rudrapriya for us today therefore is a upanga janya under Mela 22 taking no foreign notes.
  4. Next, Subbarama Dikshitar says that the raga is sampurna. What it meant in the older context was that taking together both arohana and avarohana krama all the seven notes occurred in the raga. And given that dhaivatha was varjya in the avarohana, Subbarama Dikshitar rightly provides his summary so. From a practical perspective thus the musical motif SN2P becomes defining to mark out this raga. Further since D2 is said to be varjya, or avoided in the avarohana, the phrase SN2D2N3P should not occur in the raga.
  5. Subbarama Dikshitar’s reference to sadja being the graha svara of the raga is superfluous for us today, for even by the late 18th Century ragas had adopted the sadja note only as the graha svara. The erstwhile architectural construct of svaras other than sadja, being graha or the commencement/basal note had long been superseded/deprecated.
  6. According to Subbarama Dikshitar, Rudrapriya is a desya raga. The concept of desi/desya ragas as referred to by him relates to the aspect of the origin of the raga. Ragas were classed as Ghana, Naya and Desi right from the days of Shahaji (circa 1700). A century before Shahaji, Venkatamakhin (circa 1620 AD) in his trail blazing ‘Caturdandi Prakashika’ is seen using the term ‘desi raga’ and identifies Kalyani and Pantuvarali/Ramakriya as desi. Venkatamakhin uses the term “turuska”, meaning Turkish or a Moslem import into Indian music. Though the practice of classifying ragas as ghana, naya and desya had gone out of vogue, still in the SSP, Subbarama Dikshitar has in his commentary of the ragas called out certain ragas as desya ragas- for example Pharaz, Nayaki etc. These so called ‘auttara’ or foreign origin ragas probably imported into our Music from the North were nevertheless seen as ranjaka or pleasing to the ear and hence came to be accepted along with the other established and ordained ragas, by the cognoscenti.
  7. Again, Subbarama Dikshitar’s description that Rudrapriya is a raga which can be sung at all times of the day, relates to a concept which has long since died out in our system of music. As we saw in prior blog posts, SSP still latches on to this concept of ragas and the time of the day in which they are to be rendered, for instance the raga Ahiri is supposed to be sung in the first quarter of the night ( bhANa yAmE pragIyatE). Again, suffice to say that this concept of singing a raga at the anointed time has long since gone out of vogue.
  8. Next according to Subbarama Dikshitar, the janta nishadha is a unique feature of the raga which is reinforced in the arohana/avarohana murchana krama that he provides. It is janta in the arohana krama and dheergha in the avarohana krama.
  9. This apart Subbarama Dikshitar also identifies gandhara (dhirgha) and rishabha as preferred jeeva and nyasa svaras. We can see the import of these when we discuss the exemplar kritis in the sections to follow.

In sum, the Rudpriya of the SSP goes as under:

  1. It is an upanga janya raga under mela 22.
  2. It is sampurna in the arohana and devoid of dhaivatha in the avarohana krama.
  3. Janta Nishadha, dirgha nishadha and gandhara are the hallmarks of this raga with rishabha figuring as a preferred jiva and nyasa note.

Though Subbarama Dikshitar does not specify unique motifs for the raga, nevertheless we will endeavour to identify them when we study some of the exemplar kritis later on in this blog post.

Exemplar Kritis in the SSP:

Apart from providing the lakshana of the raga, Subbarama Dikshitar lists out the following compositions for us in the SSP as illustrating Rudrapriya:

  1. “Rudra Kopa Jaatha Veerabadhram Ashyraye” of Muthusvami Dikshitar in rupaka tala, composed on Lord Veerabadhra, the Lord of the Shiva Ganas and considered an aspect of Lord Shiva Himself in the Hindu mythology.
  2. “Vallideva Senapathi” of Balasvami Dikshitar in Rupaka tala, a composition in Telugu propitiating Lord Subramanya at Kazhugumalai (or Kazhugachalam or Grudhra Giri) wherein he seeks the Lord’s benign blessings for his Royal patron Kumara Ettendra. It may be pointed out here that the Lord at Kazhughachalam/Kazhughumalai was the presiding deity of the Ettayapuram Royals who were the patrons of the Dikshitars.
  3. “Neeve rasikashikamani” a daru (ode) again of Balasvami Dikshitar in Adi tala on his Royal patron Venkatesvara Ettappa, the then Ruler of Ettayapuram.
  4. “Amba paradevate” of Krishnasvami Ayya in matya capu tala
  5. “Muruga Unnai nambinen ayya” a composition by Venkatesvara Ettappa, again on the Lord at Kazhugachalam
  6. His own sancari in matya tala.

While this is the listing from the main SSP, in the Anubandha, Subbarama Dikshitar lists out two more compositions in this raga attributing the same to Muthusvami Dikshitar:

  1. The first being a kriti on Lord Ganesha, “Gananayakam Bhajeham” in Adi tala. It is the notation of this kriti and the extant versions of the same which causes considerable confusion to a discerning listener of music, which we will deal with in the relevant discography section.
  2. The second is “Tyagesam  Bhajare” again in Adi tala.

Outside the ken of the SSP, from amongst the lot of kritis which came to be published by Veenai Sundaram Iyer purportedly from out of the palm leaf manuscripts of Ambi Dikshitar, the son of Subbarama Dikshitar, we have three kritis attributed to Muthusvami Dikshitar, available to us:

  1. “Tyagarajasya Bhaktobhavami” (misra capu tala) as part of the set of vibakti kritis on Lord Tyagaraja of Tiruvarur
  2. “Sivakayarohanesaya” in Rupaka tala
  3. “Parasaktim” in Adi tala

While we take up a few key individual compositions for analysis, we will also briefly look at the other collateral aspects of the composition and its subject matter to bolster our understanding and also enhance our appreciation of the raga and the composition, in unison.

“Rudra Kopa Jaatha” of Muthusvami Dikshitar:

This kriti is on Lord Veerabadhra, considered by some as a form of Lord Shiva himself, but yet the popular mythology places the deity as having been born out of Lord Shiva’s wrath as Muthusvami Dikshitar very neatly encapsulates it in the opening pallavi of the composition. Let’s first look at the lyrics and the meaning of the composition.

pallavi

sadA                          – Always,

hRdaye                        – in (my) heart,

AshrayE                        – I surrender to

vIrabadhram                  – Lord Virabhadra,

rudra-kOpa-jAta               – He whose arose from Shiva’s wrath,

anupallavi

bhadrakALI-ramaNam           – the Consort of Bhadrakali,

bhava-haraNam                 – the remover of (the sorrows of) worldly existence,

bhadra-pradAna-nipuNa-charaNam- the one whose feet are adroit in granting prosperity,

rudrAkSha-mAlikA-bharaNam- the one ornamented with garland strung of Rudraksha beads,

kShudra-Adi-nivAraNam- the preventer of petty or cruel effects,

bhakta-bharaNam               – the supporter of devotees,

caraNam

vijita-vidhi-hari-hari-hayam  – the one who subdued Brahma, Vishnu and Indra (who has golden horses),

vira-adhi-vIram               – the bravest of the brave,

abhayam                             – the fearless one,

rajata-parvata-Ashayam        – the one residing in the silver hued mountain, Kailasa,

ravi-vidhu-tEjOmayam          – the one who embodies the sun, moon and fire,

gaja-mukha-gaNEsha raksham     – the protector of the elephant-faced Ganesha,

aja-vadana-daksha-shiksham     – the one who taught a lesson to the goat-faced Daksha,

nija-rUpa-dAna-daksham        – the adept at granting knowledge of one’s real self,

nija-guruguha-svapakShststayiam    – the one who has his preceptor Guruguha on his side.

The composition encapsulates the portion of the story of Sati or Dakshayani, Daksha’s (son of Lord Brahma) daughter who married Lord Shiva, much against Daksha’s objections. When She attempted to seek the rightful share of the sacrificial offering (haavis) in the yajna that her father conducted, without duly inviting Lord Shiva, Daksha insulted her & Lord Shiva and thereupon Sati immolated herself. It was at this juncture Lord Shiva upon hearing the fate of Sati, was subsumed by anger at Daksha. And in wrath he plucked the locks of his matted hair and split them into two. From one rose Lord Veerabadhra or Aghora Veerabadhra and from the other, his consort Goddess Mahakali appeared. Lord Shiva bade them to go and destroy Daksha’s sacrifice in divine retribution for the sacrilege that he had committed. When Lord Veerabadhra leading Shiva’s bhutaganas, descended on the place where Daksha was conducting his yajna, a great war ensued between them and the Gods including Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Indra on Daksha’s side. Lord Veerabadhra defeated the Gods and exacted revenge by slaying Daksha. When Lord Shiva was thereafter duly propitiated by the Gods, he condescended and revived Daksha by fixing a goat’s head on his decapitated torso. Sati was thereafter reborn as Parvati (daughter of Himavan) and she duly reunited with Lord Shiva. The esoteric worship of Lord Veerabadhra and the related mantras propitiating him can be accessed here.

Muthusvami Dikshitar adroitly weaves this puranic lore dealing with Lord Veerabadhra in this composition by the following lyrics:

rudra kOpa jAta, – Veerabadhra being born out of Lord Shiva’s wrath

Bhadra-kAli-ramanam – Veerabadhra being the consort of Bhadra Kali.

 Vijita-vidhi-hari-hari hayam – In the war that took place between Veerabadhra and Daksha’s forces, Veerbadhra vanquishing Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Indra

Rajata-parvata-Ashryam – As a Commander of Lord Shiva’s Ganas, Veerabadhra being a resident of Mount Kailasa, referred to as a silver hued mountain

aja-vadana-dakSha-sikShaM. – Veerabadhra by slaying Daksha for his act of sacrilege thus teaching him a lesson.

As is his wont, in the body of the composition, Dikshitar weaves in part, the raga mudra and his colophon ‘guruguha’ in the lyrics, even while keeping his date with prasa concordance. It has to be mentioned that the lyrics provides no specific stala/ksetra reference as the abode of the deity.

The notation of the composition in the SSP would show the following for us:

  1. SRGM, SGRGM, SGRS (especially in tara stayi) forms the alternative progression of the raga on the purvanga. Actually, SRG is not seen in tara stayi and almost as a rule only SGR is seen.
  2. In the uttaranga, PDNS in the madhya stayi and MPNS in the mandhara stayi, (for example the notation of the lyric “abhayam” in the caranam) are the prayogas seen. It has to be noted that both PDNS and PNS are thus used in the composition with the caveat that PDNS figures in the madhya stayi and PNS in the mandhara stayi.
  3. The foregoing would clearly show that the raga conforms to the 18th Century raga architecture whereby different/multiple progressions in purvanga-uttaranga are taken in the madhya and mandhara stayi.
  4. PDNPM, NgrsNP and sgrsNP along with MGM are recurring motifs with rishabha being a preferred phrase ending note.
  5. Janta nishadha and kampita gandhara are seen used. In fact,the NNsNPM can be anointed as the leitmotif of the raga (the lower case sadja being the tara sadja note). However, this specific murccana is not found explicitly in this composition, though.
  6. In terms of octaval traversal, the kriti stretches from mandhara madhyama to tara madhyama.
  7. As always Dikshitar unveils his conception of the raga with its delectable turns and twists, in the madhyama kala sahitya section starting “gajamukha”. The musical notation of this segment of the composition being the finale goes thus:

GRnS-  GR.G -MM,,                      | PMPD – NS.R -M.GR ||

gajamukha -ganesa-raksham | ajavada-nadaksha-sIksham

NS,N – PM,, – GGRS                      | nSGR – MG.N – P,GR ||

nijaru-padAna-daksham         | nijaguru-guhasva-paksham               (Rudrakopa)

Note: Notes in lower case is mandhara stayi, upper case is madhya stayi and italics is tara stayi.

Discography:

For this composition, presented is a compact and almost close to the SSP notation, rendering of the composition by the Rudrapatnam Brothers in this Youtube audio recording with a raga vinyasa, kriti rendering followed by a few avarta of svaras.

However, the following points merit attention in the context of the rendering above:

  1. The raga vinyasa could have been structured with more janta nishadhas and by ending the musical phrases with rishabha note so as to remove any traces suggestive of Karaharapriya.
  2. The lyrical portions of the caranam being “harihayam” and “abhayam” ought to have been rendered as per SSP with the notation as RnRGM and npmpns respectively. Instead it is heard as SRGM and npdns. To that extent the fidelity to the notation of the SSP is not seen in the rendering barring which the rendering otherwise closely aligns to the SSP.
  3. The madhyama kala carana portion is brought out satisfactorily in accordance with the SSP notation.

There are other renderings of this composition but they do not meet the benchmark set by SSP and are at best left alone. With this we move on the next kriti.

“Gananayakam Bhajeham”

Before we embark on dissecting this composition, a brief note on some aspects of this composition merit our attention.

  1. This composition was published as a part of the Anubandha to the SSP by Subbarama Dikshitar attributing the same to Muthusvami Dikshitar. Some scholars cite this as an infirmity, in a sense, whether the composition was indeed Dikshitar’s and why was it that Subbarama Dikshitar made it part of the Anubandha rather than making it part of the SSP itself.
  2. Further in support of this point of view it is argued that:
    • The eduppu or the take-off of “Gananayakam” (½ edam of the second beat of the adi tala) and it overall rhythmic format is reminiscent of the style of Tyagaraja. This feature is not seen in any kriti of Muthusvami Dikshitar and thus is stylistically alien to him.
    • The melody or musical setting/mettu of this composition is uncannily similar or exactly the same as that of “Sri Manini Manohara” a composition of Tyagaraja which goes with the raga name of Poornasadjam. It has to be pointed out that the Anubandha to the SSP states that raga of ‘Gananayakam” as Rudrapriya and not Poornasadjam.

Thus, we are left holding with an issue as to the antecedents of this composition which can boiled down into the following questions:

  1. Is it a composition of Muthusvami Dikshitar?
  2. What is the raga lakshana of Rudrapriya found documented for this composition in the Anubandha to the SSP?
  3. Are Rudrapriya and Poornasadjam same or similar, or are they different?

We will proceed to find a satisfactory explanation for these vexing questions by adopting the following methodology:

  1. Analyse the composition from a lyrical and musical perspective (both with the notation found in the Anubandha and the extant renderings of the composition)
  2. Evaluate the composition from a musical perspective with “Rudrakopa Jaata” and ‘Sri Maanini”
  3. Evaluate the take of musicologists on these questions, if any and summarize our understanding.

The notation of the composition:

The Anubandha to the SSP documents the notation of “Gananayakam” ( catusra eka tala). The perusal would show a number of distinctive aspects:

  1. Dhaivatha is completely avoided both in the arohana and avarohana
  2. The kriti itself is architected with the nominal arohana/avarohana murchanas as under:

S G R G M N N S / S N P M G R S

  • As if to emphasize the core raga lakshana of Rudrapriya, Nishadha note is made the pivot of the composition both the dheergha and the janta variety littering this short and exquisite piece.
  • Attention is invited to stark contrast between the musical texture of “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” and “Gananayakam” especially the dropping of the dhaivatha note in both arohana & avarohana and pancama in the ascent.

Discography:

When we examine the available recordings of this composition, we have two main varieties of rendering:

  1. Version 1 -Rendering strictly based on the Anubandha notation eschewing dhaivatha completely in both the arohana and avrohana while pancama in avoided in the aroha phrases.
  2. Version 2- Rendering of the composition by normalizing the phrases to incorporate PDNS wherever MNNS occurs, throughout the composition. This would make the raga lakshana of the composition to accord with the version laid out in the main SSP of which ‘Rudrakopa Jaatha” is the exemplar.

Version 1:

In this I present the mellifluous vocalist Sangita Kalanidhi Dr M L Vasanthakumari rendering the composition fully in accordance with the Anubandha to the SSP notation. Attention is invited to the musical notes of the lyrics “dayakam” in the anupallavi, “viradham” in the carana and the svara kalpana sally on the pallavi wherein the MNNS (not PDNS) figures as the building block for her. Both “dayakam” and “viradham” are notated as MNNS in the anubandha to the SSP and she sings the same in strict accordance with the notation.

Sangita Kalanidhi D K Jayaraman of the Ambi Dikshitar sishya parampara sings in accordance with the notation found in the Anubandha:

If we surmise that this was the Ambi Dikshitar version was this how it was taught?

Version 2:

I present the rendering of the legendary Sangita Kalanidhi Dr M S Subbulakshmi who begins one of her innumerable concerts with ‘Gananayakam Bhajeham”. Attention is invited to the musical notes of the lyrics “dayakam” in the anupallavi, “viradham” in the carana and the svara kalpana sally on the pallavi wherein the PDNS figures as the building block for her. Both “dayakam” and “viradham” are notated as MNNS in the Anubandha to the SSP and NOT as PDNS as she sings.

I next present a detailed exposition by Sangita Kalacharya Dr S Rajam who too traced his patham to Ambi Dikshitar.

Attention is invited to the introduction he provides to the raga before commencing his recital. Again, if he too had learnt it from Ambi Dikshitar, why is the version of the composition is different as between him and Sri D K Jayaraman? Food for thought, one should say.

Dichotomy in the Raga Lakshana:

The discography above as evidenced by the two versions poses us with the further question whether the raga of Gananayakam is Rudrapriya, as exemplified by “Rudra Kopa Jaatha”. The raga seen in ‘Gananayakam’, being totally devoid of dhaivatha and eschewing panchama in the ascent, cannot be melodically equated to the Rudrapriya of “Rudra Kopa jaatha”. Yet Subbarama Dikshitar in his wisdom calls the raga of both the compositions as Rudrapriya.

It is in this context that the raga lakshana found in ‘Gananayakam” came to be found as being exactly like the one in Tyagaraja’s “Sri Manini” and similar to the famous ‘Lavanya Rama” which are labelled in all musical texts as being in the raga by name Poornasadjam. Without wading into the two Tyagaraja kritis, lest we deviate away from the subject matter Dikshitar kritis on hand, I refer the reader to the rendering of the two compositions by the late Vidvan Ramnad Krishnan, available in the public domain.

 Which now leaves us with the question as to the difference between Rudrapriya and Poornasadjam.

Poornasadjam and Rudrapriya:

The two ragas can be compared with the available musicological records as summarized below:

Detail Rudrapriya Poornasadjam
Musicological textual reference Rudrapriya is found mentioned only in Muddu Venkatamakhin’s Ragalakshanam and in Subbarama Dikshitar’s SSP. No other prior musicological text talks about this raga Poornasadjam is found documented only in Sangraha Cudamani and the later Ragalakshanamu. As reiterated in these blog posts the Sangraha Cudamani (SC) is found to be documenting the ragas of the compositions of Tyagaraja.
Mela of the raga Mela 22 – Sri Raga or the equivalent heptatonic mela Karaharapriya Mela 20 – Natabhairavi or Narabhairavi, as SC calls the Mela, the raga is seen documented in SC.
Arohana/ Avarohana S R G M P D N S S N P M G R S S P M P D P S and S N D M G R S
Notes varjya or vakra Dha is omitted in the descent Ri, Ga and Ni omitted in ascent and Pa being omitted in the descent. The sloka in the SC as well as the Ragalakshanamu are individually as well as mutually, noticed to be inconsistent
Exemplar Compositions we hear today “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” of Muthuswami Dikshitar and “Amba Paradevate” by Krishnaswami Ayya No known composition exists in this scale

The very perusal of the authoritative musicological texts would show that the ragas going by the names of Rudrapriya (found only in Muddu Venkatamakhin’s raga compendium and the SSP) and Poornasadjam (found only in the Sangraha Cudamani and its related text called Ragalakshanamu) are so dissimilar originating in different melas and having different scales. And further there is no raga similar to Rudrapriya (of SSP) documented in the Sangraha Cudamani. The facts as above would lead us to only one conclusion:

  1. The raga of “Sri Manini Manohara” is not Poornasadjam as the notes found in the composition belong to the 22 Mela, given that Purnasadjam is a janya of the 20th mela, on the authority of the Sangraha Cudamani.
  2. The assignment of the name Poornasadjam as the raga of “Sri Manini” is most possibly a misattribution, borne out of ignorance of musicological history, a phenomenon we have seen repeatedly in the case of a number of instances as documented in these blog posts, by which some name has been randomly been assigned to the raga.
  3. Certainly, the raga of “Sri Manini Manohara” is therefore not Poornasadjam as defined by Sangraha Cudamani

The above table for the raga that we today call as Poornasadjam will be thus:

Detail The raga that we today call as Poornasadjam
Musicological textual reference No textual or musicological authority exists for the raga. Only Post 1906 AD publications talk about this raga.
Mela of the raga Mela 22 –Karaharapriya
Arohana/Avarohana S R G M N (N) S /S N P M G R S
Notes varjya or vakra Dha is completely omitted in the raga and pancama is omitted in the ascent
Exemplar Compositions we hear today “Sri Manini Manohara” and “Lavanya Rama” Though the raga of certain oral versions of “Gananayakam” (as we saw by Dr M S Subbulakshmi) and the notation that is given in the Anubandha to the SSP conform to this scale, we still call the raga of “Gananayakam” as Rudrapriya only and NOT as Poornasadjam.

Therefore, the question that survives for our consideration is given the similarity of the tonal material of “Sri Manini” with “Gananayakam” and on the authority of the Anubandha to the SSP, can the raga of “Sri Manini” also be Rudrapriya?

Amba Paradevate of Krishnasvami Ayya:

But before we embark to find the answer to this question, we should look at the other compositions, renderings of which are available for us. In the same breath we have to note that the other compositions in the SSP, being the two compositions of Balasvami Dikshitar, the kriti of Venkatsvara Ettappa and the sancari are aligned to the Rudrapriya described by Subbarama Dikshitar and delineated in “Rudra Kopa Jaata”. All these compositions go with the SRGMPDNS/SNPMGRS as the common murccana arohana/avarohana, whereas “Gananayakam” goes with the melodic structure of SRGMNNS/SNPMGRS in stark contrast.

Leaving this at this point, we take up the exposition of Rudrapriya by the renowned Sangita Kalanidhi Flute T Visvanathan who prefaces his demonstration of Krishnasvami Ayya’s “Amba Paradevate” with his commentary of the raga and its lakshana.

Here is the audio of the rendering: Link   (requires Yahoo or Gmail sign in credentials)

Here is a live video of his rendering (excerpt) of the same: Link

It has to be said that though the doyen’s presentation of the composition is par excellent, it is tinted much with Karaharapriya, with no distinguishing features in place. The rendering may be immaculate from a scalar grammar perspective duly avoiding the dhaivatha in the descent but does it convey the melodic idea of Rudrapriya as a scale distinctive in itself? I leave the answer to a discerning listener to decide for himself. One can however say with certainty that the musical texture and conception of Rudrapriya as seen in “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” is nowhere seen in ‘Amba Paradevate” atleast from this popular rendering of the composition.

And to conclude our exploration of Rudrapriya we move over to the final piece of this discography section.

“Sri Tyagarajasya Bakthobhavami” of Muthusvami Dikshitar:

We move on next to this composition which is not found in the SSP. This composition is identified by certain musicologists as being part of a set of compositions being the Vibakti set/series of kritis on Lord Tyagaraja at Tiruvarur. While in the SSP, Subbarama Dikshitar clearly identifies such sets of compositions (example the Vaara kritis and the Navavarana Kritis on Goddess Kamalamba) by way of his foot notes, no such reference is made by him in so far as this set of compositions go. Be that as it may I first take up the rendering of the composition by Vidushi Neela Ramgopal.

The evaluation of this rendering assuming it is as per the published notation of this composition would yield us the following findings:

  1. The Vidushi embarks first on an alapana embellishing it liberally with PDNP and phrases ending with rishabha. Every time she fleshes out a musical phrase, she keeps the DNP or SNP as a refrain so as to keep any trace of Karaharapriya at bay.
  2. At the same time quite controversially, she repeatedly uses PDNPGR in the madhya stayi descent phrases, while it ought to be PDNPMGR. These madhyama varjya sancaras bring a different texture to the raga (tinting it with the feel of Rathipatipriya – Mela 22- SRGPNS/SNPGRS). The madhyama has a solid pride of place in the raga Rudrapriay both in the ascent and descent and hence while a casual or one-off rendering of madhyama varjya phrases could be artistically supported, repeatedly or only using the phrase PDNPGR almost as a rule is certainly unwarranted. Similar is her usage of the MGS in the tara sancaras which conveys a very different feel to the raga.
  3. In sum her rendering of the composition too seems to carrying these phrases as well lending a different feel to the raga, in contradistinction to the one delineated in the SSP and ‘Rudra Kopa Jaatha”.
  4. The perusal of the notation of the composition as published by Veeni Sundaram Iyer reveals a few puzzling aspects. In more than one place the phrase PMNDN and DND figure prominently. Further phrases such SNDS, PNDNS too occur. Grammatically speaking these phrases do not conform to the laid down lakshana and if the composition is so notated with these non-kosher phrases not seen in the SSP, it certainly needs further explanation and authority. And it would be yet another flavour or variant of the Rudrapriya apart from the versions found in “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” and “Gananayakam”

Thus, neither does the musical setting of the composition strictly conform to the lakshana of the raga as found in “Rudra kopa jaatha” or SSP nor does it sound stylistically aligned to how Dikshitar would set the melody of the composition. It must have been perhaps for this reason that Subbarama Dikshitar in his wisdom decided to keep the composition out of the SSP (assuming that he had the lyrics with him). Given this problem I keep this composition out from further discussion in this blog post.

It must be pointed out that from a lyrical content perspective the kriti is replete with references to the hoary traditions and mythologies surrounding the Tyagaraja Temple. To conclude this section, it is observed that this kriti too does not take us any further in resolving the dichotomy that we see in the raga’s lakshana.

Summary:

The foregoing thus shows that:

  1. The kriti “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” is the benchmark or standard or exemplar which conforms to the laid down lakshana of Rudrapriya and evidenced by Subbarama Dikshitar’s commentary of the same in the SSP.
  2. The raga as conceptualized by Muthusvami Dikshitar in the said composition is unique like Reetigaula ( different prayogas in the different registers) by sporting PNS and not PDNS in the mandhara stayi (and) PDNS and not PNS in madhya stayi and again sporting SRGM in madhya stayi while its equivalent tara stayi prayoga being SGRS, reinforcing the 19th Century raga architecture tenet that multiple progressions for a raga are permissible in its purvanga and or uttaranga and/or in the mandhara/madhya/tara registers/octaves.
  3. The mettu of ‘Gananayakam” and ‘Sri Manini” being the same/similar, the raga of the composition is certainly not Poornasadjam (as defined under Sangraha Cudamani)
  4. Therefore, the scale SGRGMNNS/SNPMGRS found in these two kritis should probably be treated as a form/variant or a truncated version of Rudrapriya.

One could possibly reconcile the foregoing and conclude that this variant of Rudrapriya (SGMNNS/SNPMGRS as seen in “Sri Manini Manohara”/”Gananayakam”) was perhaps an offshoot of the original Rudrapriya whereby primacy was given to janta nishadha by dropping dhaivatha altogether. Hence the Rudrapriya found in “Gananayakam”/”Sri Manini” represents yet another interpretation of the raga. Harmonically speaking it can be reasoned that only when dhaivatha is absent will dheergatva and janta prayoga on the nishadha note make musical sense.

Compositions in Rudrapriya by other Composers:

Leaving aside the case of the kritis “Lavanya Rama” or ‘Sri Manini Manohara” of Tyagaraja which are obviously not in the same musical mould as the Rudrapriya found in “Rudra Kopa Jaatha”, there are no other available compositions in the raga. The only known composition from the post Trinity composers in this Rudrapriya, seems to be the kriti “Nee Dasudani” of Veena Varadayya (AD1877-1952). A recording of the same is available on the web –Link.

The lyrics of this kriti can be found here: Link

And the Final Question:

Is the composition “Gananayakam” really Muthusvami Dikshitar’s, given the points as to the stylistic aspects which has been raised? In this regard we should take notice of the following factors:

  1. The Anubandha to the SSP also documents a few other compositions of Muthusvami Dikshitar including the famous Caturdasa Ragamalika. On the strength of Subbarama Dikshitar’s assertion we have to go with this attribution. Further along with “Gananayakam”, Subbarama Dikshitar also provides ‘Ananta Balakrishnam” in Isamanohari, ascribing it to Muthusvami Dikshitar. And again, he provides ‘Ananta Balakrishnam’ in the Prathamabyasa Pustakamu as well. Considerable thought must have gone into his decision to make these kritis part of the SSP Compendium attributing authorship to Muthusvami Dikshitar and therefore it would be in the fitness of things to acknowledge his call at face value and accept that the kriti is indeed of Muthusvami Dikshitar despite the stylistic reservations as aforesaid.
  2. The respected music critic of the last century Sri K V Ramachandran in his erudite Music Academy lecture demonstration, published in the Journal titled “Apurva Ragas of Tyagaraja’s Songs” (The Journal of the Music Academy XXI, pp. 107-109, Madras) has this to say:

“Indeed, the two composers (Tyagaraja and Dikshitar) have composed several songs with the same dhatu as though in friendly rivalry: –  Sri Venugopala and sri Rama in Kurinji, Kamakshi Mampahi and Sri Rama padama (Suddha Desi), Syamale Meenakshi and Pahi Ramachandra ( Sankarabharanam), Gananayakam and Sri Manini (Rudrapriya), Gatamoha and Gurumurte ( Sankarabharanam),Ananta Balakrishnam and Dinamani vamsa ( Isamanohari); and Eramuni of Tyagaraja resembles a Dikshitar song in Vasantabhairavi. If a diligent search is made, we could find many other songs with the same musical idea…………..”

And rightly so in olden days, composers used to conjure lyrics for a popular captivating tune and that was never frowned upon as plagiarism. It may be pointed out that the famous Svarajati of Melattur Virabhadrayya in Huseini spawned many a copy. As it is said imitation is the best form of flattery. In this instant case of “Gananayakam” and “Sri Manini”, who imitated whom, will never be known. Yet here are these compositions for us to hear, learn and relish with the full knowledge of all these contradictions and confusions. With passage of time, none of this will ever be resolved.

In so far as the question of what is Rudrapriya and what is Poornsadjam, the following points merit our attention.

  1. The Music Academy Experts Committee in the year 1955 (JMA Volume 27 1956 pp 27-28) took up the detailed discussion on the raga Rudrapriya. After discussing the lakshana laid down in the SSP and the musical setting of “Lavanya Rama” and the identical progression of the raga in “Gananayakam” the Committee reiterated the position that we see today: Rudrapriya is SRGMPDNS/SNPMGRS under Mela 22 and the other being Purnsadjam with SRGMNS/SNPMGRS under mela 22 as well.
  2. Unfortunately, the Committee never went into issue of the textual authority supporting the parent mela of raga Purnasadjam as Mela 20 nor did they get into the other aspects of Rudrapriya such as the janta/dheergha nishadha and the usage of MPNS, PDNS and SGR as some motifs as found in ‘Rudra Kopa”. Nobody seems to have even come forward to sing “Rudra Kopa”. Further the kriti “Sri Manini” and its melodic closeness with “Gananayakam” is not even mentioned in the said discussion. It can be noted from the discussion, that the divergence between the stated SSP lakshana and the melodic progression in “Gananayakam” seem to have troubled the veteran Sangita Kalanidhi Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer, who has ventured to explain it away by suggesting that with passage of time the raga’s structure might have changed.
  3. The Music Academy Experts Committee again in the year 2009 (JMA Volume 80 2009 pp 103-114) discussed the raga Rudrapriya along with its allied ragas without any definitive conclusion as to its individual lakshana. According Dr N Ramanathan, who has summarized the said discussion as an article in the JMA:
    • The original musical setting of the kriti “Gananayakam” must have been lost and therefore the composition possibly must have come to be rendered in the tune of “Sri Manini”. Subbarama Dikshitar wary of this therefore relegated it to Part B of the Anubandha and not presenting it in the main SSP.
    • The phrase ‘MPNS’ seen in “Rudrakopa Jaatha” is reminiscent of Hindustani Kapi but there the nishadha is kakali. The phrases RMP too occurs in profusion along with NPMGR and NPGR in “Rudrakopa” and “Sri Tyagarajasaya”
    • K V Srinivasa Iyengar mentions the raga of “Sri Manini” as Purnasadja and “Lavanya Rama” as Rudrapriya. In the absence of a reliable notation of these two Tyagaraja compositions it is difficult to determine what the melodic forms of these compositions.
  4. It is respectfully noted that this discussion of the Committee of Experts of the Music Academy in 2009 seems to have taken no notice of the earlier discussion made in the year 1955, cited above. The 2009 discussion too seems to have completely ignored the fact that the raga Purnasadja as documented by Sangraha Cudamani belonged to Mela 20. Further the analysis of the raga has been done mainly with reference to Hindustani Kapi and the sibling ragas Kanada, Durbar and Karnataka Kapi, without getting in depth into the raga Rudrapriya’s contours on a standalone basis.
  5. For us, the raga name ascribed to “Lavanya Rama” as Rudrapriya by Sri K V Srinivasa Iyengar adds yet another twist to the tale, making us doubt whether the raga of that composition too has been normalized by dropping dhaivatha completely and aligning it to the nominal structure of SRGMNNS/SNPMGRS. Could it have been that “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” and “Lavanya Rama” were in one bucket while “Gananayakam” and “Sri Manini” were in another? One would never know.
  6. Be that as it may, right or wrong, one silver lining in this entire controversy is the final conclusion drawn by the 1955 Music Academy Experts Committee Meeting supra, which for us today resolves the naming convention of the raga found in the compositions so that students of music of today aren’t confused as to the raga and it name in the context of these compositions. Thus, if the scale used is SRGMPDNS/SNPMGRS then it is Rudrapriya and if it is SRGMNNS/SNPMGRS it is Poornasadja, both under Mela 22, notwithstanding the assignment of the raga name as Rudrapriya to “Gananayakam” in the Anubandha to the SSP. Despite this, today we still see Dikshitar’s compositions being called only as Rudrapriya and the Tyagaraja compositions being called as Poornsadjam.

Conclusion:

In this blog post I have consciously avoided discussing the raga Rudrapriya in the context of its allied ragas as well as its melodic affinity if any to the Northern Kafi. Instead I have focussed only on the determination or examination of Rudrapriya’s core musical form as available to us through the SSP.

At this juncture it must be reiterated that any work of art must always be represented with utmost fidelity to the intent of the composer, of which we have cognizance based on appropriate facts and circumstances. In the instant case on hand one therefore ought to conclude that:

  1. The kriti “Gananayakam” ought to be sung as notated in the Anubandha to the SSP (vide the rendering of Sangita Kalanidhi Dr M L Vasanthakumari) and should not be normalized to the nominal arohana/avarohana krama given in the main SSP. There is no need to apply our judgement in this matter in the light of the proper notation as provided by Subbarama Dikshitar for “Gananayakam” in the Anubandha.
  2. Again, the kriti “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” ought to be sung duly emphasizing the MPNS & avoiding PDNS in the mandhara stayi and by using only PDNS in the madhya stayi and SGRS in the tara stayi. Again, there is no need to normalize the prayogas by replacing the MPNS with the PDNS and rendering the same, based on our defective belief that ragas must have octaval symmetry or that it can be only of one form.

Thus, in sum, compositions ought to be rendered with complete adherence to the composer’s intent as found in the composition and any transgression from the same ought to be eschewed completely. Similarly attempting to morph raga lakshanas by standardizing the svaras/combinations is a pernicious tendency which we must get rid of. Under the garb of normalization, we have mauled or mutilated the compositions of the Trinity, which we have repeatedly been seeing this these blog posts. We must accept and acknowledge that two or more variants of a raga can be there (musical isomerism) and no harm will be caused by rendering the kriti properly in accordance with the raga lakshana found therein.

It is sincerely hoped that students as well as professional performers of our music would respect these aspects as to lakshya, lakshana and the adherence or fidelity to the laid down lakshana in the composition are kept in mind, to the best of ability, while learning and rendering compositions of the great vaggeyakaras.

Bibliography:

  1. Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (Telugu Original 1906) – Tamil edition published by the Madras Music Academy (1961) along with the Anubandha – Pages 556-567 of the 2006 Edition of Vol III and Pages 1359-1361 of the 2006 Edition of Vol V and the English version available online here: Link
  2. Ragalakshana Sangraha – PhD Dissertation of Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – Published by Dr Ramanathan – pp 1084 and 1158
  3. Dr V Premalatha – Note on Ghana Naya Desya Ragas – Link
  4. Journal of the Music Academy Madras (2009) – JMA Volume 80 – Editor Pappu Venugopala Rao – pp 103-114
  5. Journal of the Music Academy Madras (1956) -JMA Volume 27 – Editor T V Subba Rao & Dr V Raghavan- pp 27-28
  6. Journal of the Music Academy Madras (1950) -JMA Volume 21– Editor T V Subba Rao & Dr V Raghavan- pp 107-109

Epilogue

The proof of the pudding always lies in eating it. And with that note & on this Vijayadasami Day I present my amateur interpretation of Dikshitar’s “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” duly prefaced with a brief raga vinyasa just to highlight that indeed a very professional and thoroughly delectable presentation of the raga is in the realm of possibility.

Rendering of the “Rudra Kopa Jaatha”

I learnt this SSP interpretation from the revered Prof C S Seshadri, a guru of sorts for me. However, all errors and omissions in this rendering are entirely mine and I have also further improvised the version I learnt from him. As can be noticed, in the rendering, my first sangati for a line of lyric will always be completely aligned to the SSP while the second/additional sangatis if any thereafter shall be fully in consonance with the laid down lakshana seen in the composition.