Colorful Bhāṣāṅga-s – Rudrapriya – Part II

Dr Aravindh Ranganathan

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

Approaching a rāga – concept prevailed during 17th and18th century

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaṇanāyakam bhajēham

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

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

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

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

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

The rāga Pūrṇaṣadjam

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

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

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

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

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

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

The two kṛti-s

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

Gaṇanāyakam bhajēham in Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśini

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

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

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

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

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

A common inspiration

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

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

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

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

Rāga of these kṛti-s

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

The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’

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

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

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

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

The kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’

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

Conclusion

The following can be concluded from the above discussion:

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

References

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

Footnotes

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

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

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

Kapi – A Raga of Myriad Hues

INTRODUCTION:

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:

  1. Muddu Venkatamakhin’s raga lakshana shloka and his lakshana gitam
  2. His own commentary on the raga lakshana and his sancari
  3. 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:

NSGMGmRS , NNSDPMGmRS, RGMPDNPMGMRS, SNPMGMRS, PMGGMRS, NPMPDRS, NSDNSRGMRS etc

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

Ka………………………….pi

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:

  1. The sequential descent such as sNDP is rare and instead sNPM can be used. So avarohana phrases can be sNPMGMRS, NPGMRS, NDNPMGRS or NDPGMRS
  2. Again PDNs is also rare and is dispensed with in favor of aroha phrases such as PDNPNs or PNDNs.
  3. 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
  4. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. The Nauka caritra composition “cutamu rare” when sung as notated, has shades of Durbar.
  5. 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’
  6. 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:

  1. Kriti ‘Sri Mahadevuni’ – On Goddesses Brihannayaki of Tanjore
  2. Javali ‘Elara Naapai’
  3. Tillana ‘Dheem nadru dheem’ on King Camaraja Wodeyar of Mysore
  4. 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.

DISCOGRAPHY:

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.

Clip 1: Smt Kalpagam Svaminathan renders Dikshitar’s Venkatacalapate

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

Clip 2: Vidushi Prema Rangarajan renders Rangapate

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

Clip 3: Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer renders ‘Sambho satatam’

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 entire concert can be heard here:

http://www.sangeethamshare.org/gvr/SSI_Concerts/SSI_Navarathri/

( Requires Google or Yahoo ID)

Kapi Flavor 2:

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.

Clip 4: Vidvan Ramnad Krishnan renders Anyayamu Seyakura

The contrast is provided by Vidvan Nedunuri Krishnamurthi, whose presentation of the same kriti is in modern Kapi.

Clip 5: Sangita Kalanidhi Nedunuri Krishnamurthi renders Anyayamu-seyakura-Kapi

As evidence of the morphing of flavor 2 Kapi to Durbar, the kriti ‘Nitya roopa’ of Tyagaraja is presented next, rendered by Smt Mythili Nagesvaran a votary of the Dhanammal school ( Jayammal ).

Clip 6 : Vidushi Mythili Nagesvaran renders Nityaroopa-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’:

  1. 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.
  2. 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’.
  3. 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.
  4. The varna mettu of the varna is exactly the same as that ‘Sumasayaka’.
  5. 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.

Clip 6: Vocalists C Saroja & C Lalitha render the Sumasayaka-Muktayi svara

Presented below is the complete pada varna ‘sumasayaka’  by the scion of the Dhanammal family, Sangita Kalanidhi T Brinda.

Clip 7: Smt T Brinda renders Sumasayaka-Karnatakakapi

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.

CONCLUSION:

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.”

REFERENCES:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904)- Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – Published by the Madras Music Academy
  2. Prof S R Janakiraman(2002)-‘Ragas at a Glance’- Published by Srishiti’s Carnatica P Ltd, Chennai
  3. Hema Ramanathan(2004)- ‘Raga Lakshana Sangraha’- Published by Dr N Ramanathan, Chennai, pages 662-665
  4. Dr S Sita (1993) – “The Raga Lakshana Manuscript of Sahaji Maharaja” -Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol LIV, pp 140-181, Madras India
  5. 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
  6. Subba Rao & S R Janakiraman(1993) – “Ragas of the Sangita Saramruta” published by the Music Academy, Chennai
  7. Prof S Sambamoorthi(1970)- ‘Pallavi Sesha Iyer” – Article in ‘The Hindu’ dated 27th Jul 1970
  8. Govinda Rao T K (2002)- ‘Compositions of Maharaja Svati Tirunal’ published by Ganamandir Publications, Chennai
  9. K P Sivanandam(1964) – ‘Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai’ – Compositions of the Tanjore Quartet, compiled by Sangita Kalanidhi T Ponnayya Pillai
  10. Sobhana Nayar (1989)- ‘Bhatkande’s Contribution to Music’ – Published by Popular Prakashan P Ltd, India  ISBN 0 86132 238X
  11. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Clip 8 :  Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srivasa Iyer renders Vishveshvaro-Kanada

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

Clip 9 : Vidushi Raji Gopalakrishnan renders Balambikaayah-Kanada

Again the melodic material of this composition is all but modern Kanada. Both these compositions do not feature the raga mudra but sport the ankita ‘guruguha’.

Credits/Acknowledgements:

The clippings in this blog post have been used for purely educational purpose as illustration only and all copyrights therein lies with the performers or the music distributors.

‘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

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