Raga Lakshana – Madhavamanohari

Raga Lakshana – Madhavamanohari
PREFACE:

One of the first impressions that an observer or student of our music gets is that Muthusvami Dikshitar was a strict conformist to sampradaya and to the raga lakshanas that were laid out by Venkatamakhi. But if one undertakes a scrupulous analysis of the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, one can see how hollow that statement is. Dikshitar was a vageyyakara-par-excellence and he never himself considered absolutely bound by past practice or tradition. If occasions or situations so warranted he deemed it fit to depart from tradition or from the laid down raga lakshana. Like Tyagaraja, Dikshitar was an innovator who endeavored to enhance melody and aesthetics by redefining raga lakshanas and thus redraw the musical landscape of Carnatic Music.

The conception of the raga Madhavamanohari under the Sriraga mela, by him illustrates how he transformed the existing raga lakshana through a subtle value-add, driven by aesthetics, which is the subject matter of this blog.

For me this blog post has a collateral objective. I dedicate this to Prof. C S Seshadri, a distinguished mathematician on the occasion of his having been very recently honoured with the Padmabushan for his outstanding contribution in his field of eminence. The uniqueness of Dikshitar’s version of Madhavamanohari was unveiled to me by him a few summers ago one afternoon when he taught me the kriti as notated in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini(SSP)¹ Having been fed on Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer’s benchmarked version, Prof Seshadri’s rendition of the kriti opened my eyes to that hitherto unknown side of Dikshitar.

Read on!

INTRODUCTION:

Madhavamanohari is a raga from the Dikshitar School placed under the Sri raga mela. The extant version of the raga is as illustrated by Dikshitar’s composition ‘Mahalakshmi Karunarasalahari’. The first mention of the raga in musical works, is encountered in the Sangita Saramruta (1735) of King Tulaja, where it is given as a janya of Sri raga mela. The next mention of this raga is in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini(SSP)¹of Subbarama Dikshitar(SD). Neither Tyagaraja nor Syama Shastri have composed in Madhavamanohari. However 3 latter day compositions are found in this raga.

  1. One is “Kripasagara” by Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar.
  2. The other is “Madhava Priya Mahima” composed in this raga by a composer by name Hari Nagabushanam (1884-1959).
  3. The raga also finds place in the Manohari Ragamalika composition “Manohari Maatangi” composed of Spencer Sri Venugopal in 9 ragas which have Manohari as suffix in their names.

In so far as this blog post is concerned, I am basing the analysis on the strength of the solitary Dikshitar composition and its notation as found in the SSP.

RAGA LAKSHANA:

Lets first look at Tulaja’s mention as found in the Sangita Saramruta. According to him, th features of Madhavamanohari are:

  1. A sampurna raga with dhaivata varja in the aroha and the pancama in the avaroha
  2. Shadja is graha, amsa and nyasa
  3. Prayogas include: GMPDMGR, GMGGGMPNDMPND, NSSNDMNDMGRGMG, RDNSR & NDMGRS

Based on the Sangita Saramruta , we see that both Sriranjani and Madhavamanohari came into vogue about the begining of the 18th century.In the SSP Subbarama Dikshitar provides us the following references & notes for Madhavamanohari:

  • Mention of the raga as a bhashanga janya in the Sriraga raganga gitam attributed to Venkatamakhi
  • The lakshana shloka for the raga attributed to Venkatamakhin
  • His commentary on the raga lakshana
  • Illustration of the raga through the notation of the compositions:
    • Gitam attributed to Venkatamakhi
    • ‘Mahalakshmi” of Muthusvami Dikshitar
    • His Sancari

Subbarama Dikshitar’s account of Madhavamanohari can be summarized as under:

Arohana: S R2 G2 M1 P N2 D2 N2 S

Avarohana: S N2 D2 M1 G2 R2 S

Jeeva svaram: Madhyama

Visesha prayogams: MNDNs nGRMGRS, PD1M

Analysis:

The Sangita Saramruta Of Tulaja is the first of the musicological texts which offers a glimpse of the evolution of Madhavamanohari as well as it sibling Sriranjani. The Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini offers captures for us the svarupa of the raga via the 3 extant notated compositions namely the gitam attributed to Venkatamakhi, the kriti “Mahalakshmi Karunarasalahari” of Dikshitar and the sancari of Subbarama Dikshitar. In SSP, along with Sriranjani and Madhyamavathi ragas, Madhavamanohari is classified as a bhashanga janya of the Sriraga mela. Madhavamanohari is mentioned in the Sriraga ragaanga gitam as a bhashanga janya. One must understand why ragas like these are labeled as “bhashanga” in SSP by Subbarama Dikshitar. The term as used by SD is meant to indicate the bhasha or regional origin of the raga in contrast to the modern connotation of the term. Lets now look back in time , probably the first half of the 18th century and in Tulaja’s time, as to how Madhavamanohari was. The surviving earliest composition available to us is the gitam .

Venkatamakhi’s Raga Lakshana:

The gitam is most probably a composition of Muddu Venkatamakhi or Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita, the descendant of Venkatamakhi. The gitam lacks the colophon & the raja mudra and hence attribution is impossible. Anyways the the summary of the raga lakshana as per this gitam is like this:

Arohana: S R2 G2 M1 P N2 D2 N2 S

Avarohana: S N2 D2 M1 G2 R2 S

Jeeva svaram: Madhyama

Visesha prayogams: MNDNs nGRMGRS, GrND, GMGR

Jiva/Amsa svara: Ma and Ga as seen in profusion.

Notes: By and large the composition is centered in the uttaranga and in the tara stayi. Also given the murccanas as above, its clear that the raga has been conceived as a upanga janya of Sri. As per Tulaja, Dhaivata is absent in the arohana while it is vakra in Subbarama Dikshitar’s assessment. The addition of the vakra dhaivata should have happened in the period interim to Tulaja and Muddu Venkatamakhi.

Moving on, next we have the solitary composition of Dikshitar – ‘Mahalakshmi Karunarasalahari’ in Adi tala.

Dikshitar’s Conception of Madhavamanohari:

When one analyses the Dikshitar composition, it can be noticed that he sticks to the contours of the raga as laid down in the gitam. However he introduces the note D1(suddha dhaivata) ( a note foreign to the Sriraga mela) via the murccana ‘P/D1M1’ to his conception of Madhavamanohari (the / indicating the ettra jaaru or the upward glide – the jaaru gamaka adornment).The following is the summary of his conception.

  1. Characteristically enough Dikshitar commences the pallavi and the anupallavi with the raga’s jiva svara namely M1.
  2. He uses the characteristic visesha murccana MNDMGR, for the lyric “Mamava Madhavamanohari’ in the pallavi.
  3. The motif PD1M is used a total of 5 times, once in the anupallavi and 4 times in the carana.
  4. The notes M1 and G2 are ornamented with the kampita gamaka.

The salient features of Dikshitar’s Madhavamanohari are:

Arohana: S R2 G2 M1 P N2 D2 N2 S

Avarohana: S N2 D2 M1 P D1 M1 G2 R2 S

Salient murccanas : M1N2D2M1, P/D1M1

Jiva svaras ; M1 and G2

Gamaka: Kampita on M1 and G2, jaru from P to D1

In summary as one can see the improvisation that Dikshitar has made is in effecting the use of the motif PD1M1 to the preexisting form of Madhavamanohari or in other words, in modern parlance, converted it into a bhashanga derivative under Sri with D1 as anya svara.

THE MANOHARI OF MADHAVA:

This composition of Dikshitar is a generic one on Goddess Mahalakshmi and is not ascribable to any kshetra as such details are not found in the composition. It carries Dikshitar’s standard colophon “guruguha” in the anupallavi and the raga mudra in the pallavi itself. Dikshitar uses the raga name to signify that she is beloved one (Manohari) of Madhava (Lord Vishnu). Though not categorized so by Subbarama Dikshitar or other authorities on Dikshitar’s compositions, there are those who hold the belief that this kriti is a part of the set of 7 kritis, the so called “Lakshmi Saptakriti Mala”, dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi. The other members of this “informal list” includes:

  1. Hariyuvatim Haimavatim – Hemavati or Desisimharava
  2. Hiranmayeem Lakshmim – Lalitha
  3. Sri Bhargavi – Mangalakaisiki
  4. Sri Varalakshmi- Sri
  5. Varalakshmim Bhajare – Saurashtra
  6. Mangala Devataya – Dhanyasi

It is worth noting that all the above kritis said to form part of this so called series or set of compositions are found notated in the SSP.

Apart from the SSP (1904), this kriti in Madhavamanohari has also been published by:

  • The Tatchur Brothers in Gayakasiddanjanam (Telugu, 1904-1906)
  • Veenai Ramanujacarya in Sangeetha Sarvartha Sara Sangrahamu (Telugu,1908)
  • S Ranganatha Iyer in Sangita Rajarangam and Sangita Vidyarangam (Malayalam, 1920)
  • K V Srinivasa Iyengar in Adi Gana Bhaskaram(Telugu, 1943)
  • Veenai Sundaram Iyer in Dikshita Kritimala Vol V
  • Rangaramanuja Iyengar in Kritimanimalai, Vol IV

DISCOGRAPHY &ILLUSTRATIONS OF THE INTERPRETATIONS OF DIKSHITAR’S MADHAVAMANOHARI:

The credit of popularizing this composition on the concert platform goes to Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. He has popularized a good number of Dikshitar’s rare compositions such as Sriramam Ravikulabdhi Somam in Narayanagaula and the Gopikavasantam composition “Balakrishnam Bhavayami”. Apparently Sangita Kalanidhi and veena vidvan K S Narayanasvami also used to render this composition beautifully. However no recording of his rendition exists.

First is the audio clip of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, rendering the composition, possibly rendered in a concert in Mumbai. His interpretation continues to be the standard version for many performing musicians as well as students of music. One can notice that Semmangudi’s version tracks to the notation in the SSP, except for the fact that he eschews usage of D1. D2 is utilized by him throughout the composition. The measured gait in the 2 kalai adi tala is seen in his rendition.

Audio Clip 1: Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer rendering Mahalakshmi

Semmangudi’s version does not conform to the newer conception of Dikshitar as it is bereft of D1. In modern parlance & usage of the term upanga/bhashanga, Semmangudi’s version is in the upanga version.

Second is the rendering of the composition by Sangita Kalanidhi R Vedavalli². The clip is a portion of the caranam featuring the usage of D1. As one can observe the kalapramana of the rendition is slightly faster than the Semmangudi version. Vid.Vedavalli adheres to the SSP notation in full. One can see that she emphasizes D1 in the kriti as in “baktiyukta manasa” , “amara vandite”and “neerajasanaste”( those underlined in bold font are the D1 usages as per the SSP notation). Needless to say therefore that her version of the raga is in its bhashanga form as was conceptualized by Dikshitar.

Audio Clip 2: Vid R Vedavalli rendering Mahalakshmi –An excerpt

Next is the rendition of Sangita Kalanidhi D K Pattamal.The following points stand out in her rendition:

  1. Her version is different from Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer’s in that its kalapramana is slightly faster. In the anupallavi section attention is invited to the lyrics “…..manonmani ma(M1)ra(P)ja(D1)na(M1)ni(G2)”. The D1 ‘seems’ very faintly intoned & if indeed so, its encountered in her version only at this place in the entire composition. As pointed out earlier, D1 is notated in 5 places in the SSP. In all these places in contrast to Semmangudi’s approach, Smt Pattammal loops the sancara at the pancama itself as if there is a hesitation to render the D1. In Semmangudi’s version, instead of D1, D2 is substituted and rendered.
  2. In the carana portion with the lyrics “….varijaasanadyamara vandite na(P)ra(N2)da(N2)adi(s) muni vandite..”, we hear PNNs , with the janta Ni sounding as in Ritigaula, closer to the tarashadja & not NDNS as it should be.

It is interesting to note that from a patanthara perspective, Smt D K Pattamal traces to Ambi Diksitar himself.

Audio Clip 3: Sm D K Pattammal rendering Mahalakshmi

Third is the clip of a rendering of the composition by Vidvan Vijay Siva³. His version closely follows Smt Pattammal’s version . Again D1 is not seen in his rendition in the carana portion.

Audio Clip 4: Vid Vijay Siva rendering Mahalaksmi-An Excerpt

The final clip is of the veteran vainika Smt Kalpakam Svaminathan. Below is an excerpt of her rendition featuring the same madhyamakala portion ” varijaasana- dyamara vandite…”. In her version as well the D1 is muted and does not sound conspicuous .

Audio Clip 5: Vid Kalpakam Svaminathan rendering Mahalakshmi – An Excerpt

The only other commercially available recording of “Mahalakshmi” is by Sangita Kalanidhi M S Subbulakshmi and as I understand it is on the lines of Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer’s version.

If one were to interpret the notation in SSP, in my opinion, of this composition, the D1 should be strongly intoned and is not a weak or a passing note. The analysis here is based on that premise. The justification for such an interpretation is detailed in the section below.

WHY DID DIKSHITAR REDEFINE THE MUSICAL CONTOUR OF MADHAVAMANOHARI:

First a disclaimer is in order. The foregoing is my surmise and I think it is plausible with the set of facts we have. And I have no other authority for this. Given the information at our disposal especially the mention in the Saramruta one can surmise that this raga is a circa 1700 entrant into our music system.

Sriranjani (SRGMDNS/SNDMGRS) is another raga of the Sriraga clan which shares a very close melodic affinity/svarupa with Madhavamanohari. Muddu Venkatamakhi is his ragaaga gitam for Sriraga gives both of them as as bhashanga janyas.The ascent murccana MNDNS though prescribed for Madhavamanohari is used in Sriranjani as well, which SD himself gives in the ragalakshana for Sriranjani. So the common jiva sancaras like MNDNS and RGMRGS cause Sriranjani and Muddu Venkatamakhi’s( or Tulaja’s) older Madhavamanohari to melodically overlap. Also the pancama, found in Madhavamanohari’s arohana, is apparently weak as it is in essence tagged on to the prayoga PNDNS. So it does not qualitatively contribute, to enable Madhavamanohari to be melodically distinct. from Sriranjani. One can also consider the possibility of Madhavamanohari being a derivative of Sriranjani itself. One can surmise that Sriranjani itself being “regional” /bhasha in origin, it is plausible another variant of Sriranjani existed with pancama in its arohana. Though this “with pancama” form of Sriranjani was assimilated into the music world formally with the nomenclature of Madhavamanohari, it probably couldn’t get sufficient traction with practitioners/listeners because of its melodic closeness to the more popular pancama varja Sriranjani.

Confronted with this problem, Dikshitar utilized the anga feature to differentiate and enhance the musical material of Madhavamanohari. The use of notes, foreign to the parent raganga is only via the use of the anga or a murccana and not by a plain vanilla addition of the individual note(s) themselves, if we were to take Dikshitar’s construction as example. The anga or the motif that Dikshitar chose to embellish Tulaja’s & Muddu Venkatamakhi’s older Madhavamanohari with, was the P/D1M1. The embellishment P/D1M1 brings a different quality & uniqueness to the Madhavamanohari of Dikshitar.

CONCLUSION:

The SSP abounds in many such examples where one can see that Dikshitar departs from the existing lakshana and proceeds to expand the scope of the raga or embellish the raga lakshana appropriately. His kriti(s) so created, itself becomes the lakshana for us. Again it wouldnt be far from truth to state that nothing would please Dikshitar more if we were to sing his compositions in the true spirit that he had composed them.And in this instant case, musicians should render the krithi with the P/D1M. Again to adhere to the path he has shown, the SSP and the notation therein serves us as the beacon lights.

BIBLIOGRAPHY/REFERENCES:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (Telugu) and its Tamil translation published the Music Academy, Madras.
  2. R Vedavalli- Album-“Varalakshmi Vrata Paadalgal” – Cassette # GCR309 – Produced and Marketed by Giri Trading Agency P Ltd, Chennai 600004
  3. Vijay Siva(2003) –Album -“Mayuranatham – Compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar” – CDNF 147791 –Produced by Saregama India Ltd, Calcutta, India.
  4. Dr V Raghavan (1975)- “Muttuswami Dikshitar”- Special Bicentenary Number – National Center for Performing Arts – Quarterly Journal – Vol IV, Number 3 September 1975
  5. Oppiliappan Kovil Varadacari Satakopan(2001) -‘Dikshitar’s Mahalakshmi Kritis’ – Available as an eBook online at http://www.scribd.com/doc/1028746/mahalakshmi-kritis and at http://www.ahobilavalli.org/mahalakshmi_kritis.pdf
Foot Notes: Those who know Prof Seshadri personally will vouch for the musician in him(vide N Ramanathan (2007) – “Harold Powers & India” – Published online at http://www.musicresearch.in) He is not only a disciple of the revered Rangaramanuja Iyengar ,having learnt formally from him but also inherits a musical lineage tracing back to Kancipuram Naina Pillai via his grandmother. Humility personified, Prof Seshadri, heads the CMI in Chennai. His love for chaste music becomes obvious, given the fact that he has roped in Prof.N.Ramanathan as an Adjunct Professor in the Institute.

Andhali – An Enigma

Andhali – An enigma – Ravi Rajagopalan
INTRODUCTION:

Andhali is an old raga with a textual tradition which is now virtually extinct. Its close cousins, Purnachandrika and the much latter born Janaranjani have usurped much of its musical material. We have compositions of both Tyagaraja and Dikshitar in this raga. There is an element of a controversy, nay a puzzle about the nativity of this raga, which we will see while we look at the raga lakshana of this raga. For this blog post I shall use the Dikshitar composition ‘Brihannayaki Varadayaki’ as the benchmark to understand this raga.

THE TWO SETS OF TRIADS:

There have been several writers of musicological texts since 10th century AD. Vidyaranya, Parsvadeva, Sarangadeva, Pundarikavittala,Ramamatya, Somanatha and others. Each one of them has captured the snap shot of the musical milieu as it existed during their times, in their works. Every one of these illustrious authors took a step forward for us in understanding the science of melody and harmonics and of instruments and voice. They drafted the technical aspect of musicology or the science of intonation & svarasthanas on one hand and the raga lakshanas of ragas, gramas, jaatis on the other. Many of the melodies that they have dealt with have long since died. It has also become irrelevant for us to investigate those melodies for, the ever dynamic system of ours has spawned newer melodies in their place. At best a discussion of those ancient melodies serves to understand history but nothing beyond.

However from a raga lakshana angle and formulation of ragas perspective, especially for the extant/present day ragas, 3 musicological works produced during the 16th & 17th centuries remain relevant to us even today. They can be labeled as the ‘Early Triad” and are:

  1. The Caturdandi Prakasika of Venkatamakhin(circa 1620)
  2. Raga Lakshanamu by King Shahaji ( circa 1700)
  3. Sangita Saramruta (1735)by King Tulaja

These 3 works remain till date, a constant source of reference for us in understanding the ragas that existed in the run up to the Trinity’s time period. They deal with many a raga, which are still with us today either in practice or atleast in text. These 3 works offer us clues and a surfeit of musical material to help us understand the musical transformation that the Trinity undertook in the period of 1765-1835. They also offer us assistance in terms of assessing the musical worth of 3 other subsequent musical works or the “Latter Triad” that came about in the period of 1800-1910, namely:

  1. The Anubanda to the Caturdandi Prakashika (circa1750)
  2. The Sangraha Cudamani of Govinda ( Late 18th century-Early 19th century or possibly late 19th century according to scholars)
  3. The Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini of Subbarama Dikshitar (1904)

The authorship as well as the timelines of works 1 and 2 above of the ‘Latter Triad’, is a subject matter of dispute and controversy. Additionally the formulation of the heptatonic system and janaka/janya relationship amongst melas/ragas by Sangraha Cudamani through the “Kangi-Priya” or the Kanakangi- Ratnangi scheme and its allied text, “The Meladhikaralakshana” has been a subject of debate & controversy. Be that as it may, the point remains & is undeniable that all these works have had a remarkable & profound impact on the world of music as we see/hear today.

So whenever we get to discuss a raga especially one which the trinity have handled, we need to reach out the Early Triad as these texts shaped up the musical acumen of the trinity and constituted perhaps the very basis of their learning.

A BRIEF HISTORY:

Andhali is a raga of antiquity which probably went by the name of Andol or Andola prior to the times of Ramamatya (1550). Ramamatya was the first to capture it in its current name as a raga belonging to the Sriraga mela in his Svaramelakalanidhi. The next mention of Andhali is by Venkatamakhi in the Caturdandi Prakashika. Again Venkatamakhi places Andhali under the Sriraga mela. Next Tulaja in his Saramruta places it under Kambhoji mela. This is carried forward by the Anubandha to the CDP as well as Subbarama Dikshitar(SD) who classify it as a janya raga under the Kedaragaula mela. We have a kriti of Muthusvami Dikshitar as notated in the SSP, “Brihannayaki Varadayaki”. Tyagaraja also seems to have a kriti in triputa tala, “Abhimanamu ledemi” in this raga which is not in currency. There are no other available compositions in this raga.

RAGA LAKSHANA:

Pre 1700 :Let’s look at Andhali’s raga lakshana through the eyes of Venkatamakhi first. According to him¹:

  1. Andhali has pancama as its graha svara and is also its nyasa and amsa
  2. Its an audava raga of the Sriraga mela

Circa 1735: Tulaja in his Saramruta takes a different view¹:

  1. Its is a shadhava raga, dhaivata varjya of the Kambhoji mela
  2. Shadja is its graham and is sung in the evenings
  3. RGMR is it key murccana
  4. Given Tulaja’s murccanas, the nominal arohana/avarohana is SRMPNS/SNPMRGMRS

Circa 1750 – Muddu Venkatamakhi creates the Anubandha² and also composes the lakshana gitam for Andhali. At this juncture it is worth noting that there is evidence on hand that Anubandha and the Kanakambari list is clearly latter to Tulaja’s Saramruta³. The raga Andhali is mentioned along with Devakriya and others as an upanga janya in the Kedaragaula raganga gitam, which is given in the SSP, attributed to Venkatamakhi himself by Subbarama Dikshitar. Needless to say that the gitam based on facts is ascribable only to Muddu Venkatamakhi. His gitam captures the following raga murccanas²:

  1. RGMRS
  2. RMRMPPM
  3. rmgrsN
  4. MPNPs

Dikshitar’s Interpretation:

Circa 1800 and Dikshitar constructs his ‘Brihannayaki Varadayaki’ . From Subbarama Dikshitar’s notation² we see the following:

  1. The nominal arohana avarohana that Dikshitar employs is SRMPNS/SNPMRGMRS under Kedaragaula.
  2. Nishada and Gandhara are adorned with nokku type of gamaka, Madhyama is adorned with kampita and jaarus are encountered as in PR, R/M and MR.
  3. PM-RGMR is a motif that is that is repeatedly emphasized by Dikshitar.
  4. The raga is purvanga centric and spans from the mandhara nishada till tara madhyama.
  5. Ri seems to be the jiva svara and Dikshitar commences both the pallavi and the anupallavi/samshti carana section with Rishaba.
  6. His raga conception is encapsulated in the pithy cittasvara section which gives the essence of his conception of the raga.

Very clearly one can see that the conception of Andhali by Dikshitar is in line with the raga lakshana as laid down by Tulaja in his Saramrutha.

Circa 1900 – Subbarama Dikshitar composes the Sancari for this old raga². Needless to say he follows Dikshitar in emphasizing PM-RGMR and also reaches till mandhara pancama in one place. Subbarama Dikshitar’s raga lakshana commentary implies that SRGM and MGRS are allowed, but as one can see Dikshitar refrains from using these krama murccanas.The gitam of Muddu Venkatamakhi, the Dikshitar kriti and the sancari all find place in the magnum opus Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini.

SUMMARY OF RAGA LAKSHANA:

From Venkatamakhi on to Tulaja & Muddu Venkatamakhi and to Muthusvami Dikshitar & Subbarama Dikshitar we see the following two transforms taking place:

  1. Andhali moves from Sriraga mela to Kambhoji/Kedaragaula mela
  2. The graha svara is shifted from pancama to shadja and back to pancama.

In other words, during the late 16th century /early 17th century the gandhara of Andhali morphs from sadharana to antara gandhara, making this raga move from the Sriraga clan to the Kedaragaula clan. This transformation is captured by the 3 compositions that one finds in the SSP.

Subbarama Dikshitar summarizes the raga lakshana for our benefit, crisply² :

  1. A shadava raga, dhaivata varjya
  2. Pancama is graham and can be sung at all times
  3. On the strength of the (Muddu)Venkatamakhi shloka, SD gives a krama murccana arohana/avarohana as SRGMPNS/SNPMGRS under Kedaragaula mela However Muthusvami Dikshitar prefers SRMPNS/SNPMRGMRS, which Subbarama Dikshitar highlights in his explanatory notes.
  4. The key murccanas include pnSRGMR and sNPMRGMR. One is constrained to note that the murccana SRGMR is suggestive of Janaranjani and SNPMRGMR suggest Purnachandrika¹ .
  5. The key motif for Andhali is RGMR as Dikshitar illustrates in his kriti. Prof SR Janakiraman says that the gandhara found in the phrase RGaMR is a dheerga gandhara¹ . The true import of this statement will become obvious when we discuss the renditions in the section below.

Before we move to the composition and its renditions, we can have a quick look at the lakshana of this raga as found in the Sangraha Cudamani ¹ .It gives the arohana/avarohana as SRMPNS/SNPMRGMRS, which tallies with the Dikshitar conception. However the lakshana shloka curiously states that the dhaivatha of this raga is suddha dhaivatha, when there is no dhaivatha to be found in the raga murccana! Obviously it looks like a transcribing error but nonetheless it is one of the several such issues that one faces with the Sangraha Cudamani.

THE COMPOSITION:

Thus the Andhali of today is defined and survives through the Dikshitar composition which is modeled in the so called samashti carana format. Composed by Dikshitar on Goddess Brihannayaki at Tanjore, the consort of Lord Brihadeesvara the kriti carries both the raga mudra as well as his colophon ‘guruguha’. The contrasting usage of the word ‘Ahanta’ can be seen in the lyrics ‘Ahantaa svarupini”, in this composition and “Ahantadi rahitam” found in “Mahaganapatim vande” in Todi. The raga name ‘Andhali’ as used in the lyric as “Andhaali harana carana”is used to mean ‘ignorance’. The cittasvara encompasses the entire raga lakshana in a nutshell.

‘Brihannayaki Varadayaki’ is found notated in the following publications ⁴ :

  • Subbarama Dikshitar’s Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (1904)
  • Tatchur Singaracharya’s Gayakaparijatamu(1877 & 1927)
  • K V Srinivasa Iyengar’s Gana Bhaskaramu(1934)
  • Dikshita Keertanai Prakashikai of Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai(1936)
  • Vina Sundaram Iyer’s Dikshitar Kirtana Mala ( series from 1941)
  • Chinnasvami Mudaliar’s Oriental Music in Staff Notation (1892-96)
  • Veenai Ananthakrishna Iyer’s Ganamanjusha(1934)
  • Rangaramanuja Iyengar’s Kritimani Malai Vol V(1963)

DISCOGRAPHY:

We have 2 extant renditions of this rare Dikshitar composition and both are from famous scions belonging two different sishya paramparas of Muthusvami Dikshitar.

  1. The first one is by Smt Brinda from the Muthusvami Dikshitar Bi-Centenary year Concert broadcast by AIR originally in the year 1975 where she is accompanied by her daughter Vegavauhini Vijayaraghavan. Her version/patha traces back to Sathanur Panchanada Iyer and to Suddhamaddalam Tambiappan Pillai the disciple of Muthusvami Dikshitar himself.
  2. The second is by ‘Dikshitarini’ Kalpagam Svaminathan who traces her patantharam directly to Ambi Dikshitar himself via Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer & Calcutta Ananthakrishna Iyer. Her rendition is from a chamber recital in 2007 where she is accompanied by Vid Tanjore Kumar on the Mridangam and is supported on the veena by her disciple Vid Ramakrishnan.

ANALYSIS OF THE RENDITIONS:

Smt Brinda renders “Brihannayaki”

Smt Brinda renders the kriti in a steady vilambakala typical of Dikshitar’s compositions. A number of features of her rendition invite our attention:

  1. She starts the kriti with M…P rather than R…P, which is given in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini.
  2. Secondly, her intonation of the gandhara svara portions in the composition is (sadharana gandharam) G2 rather than G3.
  3. The gandhara is shaken much with the kampita gamaka and the sequence of G2M1R2S impart the color of Kanada to Andhali. The words Brihannayaki and sahasradala are examples where the G2 is seen conspicuously along with the Kanada flavor.
  4. The cittasvara as given for this composition in the SSP is not rendered by Smt Brinda.

It’s worth reiterating here that Venkatamakhi in his CDP assigns Andhali to the Sriraga mela. Its only Muddu Venkatamakhi and Tulaja who record that Andhali belongs to the Kedaragaula/Kambhoji mela. One is forced to consider the possibility of the composition having been taught with the raga being in the Sriraga mela itself given the fidelity to patantharam that the Dhanammal family is justly known for. Is it the Andhali of Venkatamakhi, which Dikshitar himself composed in? Did he want to follow the grand patriarch rather than his (great) grandson Muddu Venkatamakhi? We do not know. All that we know for sure is on the authority of Muddu Venkatamakhin’s lakshana gitam and the Dikshitar’s kriti as well Subbarama Dikshitar places Andhali under the Kedaragaula mela.

Interestingly this kriti is notated by Sri Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai (TNS) in the Dikshita Kirtanai Prakashikai⁴ . Sri TNS is a disciple of Sathanur Pancanada Iyer as well. An examination of the notation therein holds out a clue to us in assessing the gandhara intonation.

  1. In his notation Sri TNS clearly gives the mela for this raga/kriti as Kedaragaula (28th mela) and uses the notation sign for antara gandhara (G3) only.
  2. The key difference between his notation on one hand and SSP’s notation on the other is that Sri TNS gives the kampita gamaka as an adornment for G3 which is not given in the SSP. On the contrary the adornment for G3 by SD is nokku in the SSP
  3. Sri TNS also gives the cittasvara for this composition as given by Subbarama Dikshitar.

It’s thus obvious that the kampita gamaka that is seen in the gandhara of Smt Brinda’s rendition is reflected in the notation seen in the DKP.Apparently its is on the strength of this perhaps that Prof SRJ avers that the gandhara is ‘dheerga’. It needs to be pointed out that the SSP does not make any mention of this ‘dheerga’gandhara. The notation of this composition by both TNS and SD clearly point to only usage of G3. The G2 that one gets to hear is apparently a patanthara variation. Because of the influence of Kanada, the G3M1R motif of Andhali may have morphed to G2M1R the Kanada ang is a surmise one can make. Thus one is unable to justify this version of Andhali uing G2.

Smt Kalpagam Svaminathan renders “Brihannayaki”

Vid Kalpagam Svaminathan renders Brihannayaki, in a faster kalapramana in comparison to Smt Brinda’s version. Her version is very close to the notation as seen in SSP. The gandhara is G3 and is very prominent as one can hear in the cittasvara section as well. There is no trace of the wide oscillation on the gandhara, which one gets to see in Smt Brinda’s version. Both in the sahitya and in the cittasvara, I invite attention to the sequence R/M ( the madhayama being oscillated wih the kampita gamaka (as in Brah (R)/madhi(M)) and also in the cittasvara section. These are the embellishments that one needs to observe & render and indeed goes to show the greatness of the performer and in the instant case it is no wonder Musiri Subramanya Iyer coined the epithet of ‘Dikshitarini’ for her. Also it needs to go on record that Smt Kalpagam Svaminathan has been the only vidvan who has been rendering this rare composition frequently in concerts these days.

I have also heard a vocal rendition of this composition from another musician Vidvan Radhakrishnan who learnt it from Kaliddaikurichi Ramalinga Bhagavathar another Dikshitar sishya parampara member. The patantharam of the composition as well as the kalapramana was the same as that of Smt.Kalpagam Svaminathan.

A NOTE ON PATANTHARAM/VERSIONS OF KRITHIS & RAGA LAKSHANAS:

Given the variation in the treatment of the gandhara in this kriti of Dikshitar, it is worth examining some precedents and also analyze the fact of existence of such variations as well.

  1. It goes without saying that the values of the different svarasathanas/srutis have been generalized across the board with the advent of the Melakartha system. Many of the older ragas & scales which were anterior to the current Melakartha system will/do not have these so called ‘normalized’ sruti value for some of its svaras. For example the Rishabha of Gaula is ekasruti and not dvisruti as is applicable to Malavagaula’s generic Ri. Is Andhali’s Gandhara a variant to be sung with a lower sruti value?
  2. The value of the G3 in Sahana is another case in the point. Subbarama Dikshitar classifies Sahana under Sriraga mela and thus Sahana should have predominantly G2 with G3 also occurring occasionally as per his raga lakshana. Over a period of time, the gandhara of Sahana has morphed. Today Sahana is placed under the Kedaragaula mela with the gandhara being ‘only’ G3. In fact some of the practitioners as well as musicologists strongly believe that Sahana’s gandhara is neither G2 nor G3 per se but something in between, the so called tri-shanku gandhara!
  3. The G2/G3 of Sahana as well as the fact that Sahana has the GMR has an interesting point of comparison with Andhali as Sahana also has moved from being under the Sriraga mela to Kedaragaula mela. While the Sahana gandhara is termed ‘trishanku’, Prof SRJ terms the gandhara of Andhali as a ‘dheerga’ version.The gandhara intoned by Smt.Brinda ‘may’ be a version of this. Or it can also be theorized that this Andhali ( with G2) is an archaic version. Suffice to state that we do not have any textual evidence to advance this hypothesis.
  4. The deviation that one notices in versions especially as between authentic sishya paramparas needs to be analyzed and dealt with carefully. These variations or interpretations have come to us via an authentic lineage and should not be just dismissed in a cavalier fashion. These instances need to be differentiated from instances , where contrary to established raga lakshana as obvious from texts as well as authentic oral traditions, ragas of compositions have been short changed or raga lakshana itself changed, inflicting much damage to our musical fabric. Kritis & the ragas thereof composed by Tyagaraja as well as Dikshitar have been subject to such changes and in the absence of a reliable mechanism to capture orally/textually, authentic patantharams, we have issues in dealing with these changes.
  5. In the instant case given the facts on hand, one can observe with certainity that the version of Andhali & the kriti by Smt Kalpagam Svaminathan is aligned to the raga lakshana as seen in the Saramrutha and in line with the notation in the SSP.

Let me hasten to add that to comment on the music of these great masters would be construed as impudence. Readers may be rest assured that observations herein have been made in good faith in furtherance of the sole objective to understand our music better. Nothing more and again if there are additional facts or points that need consideration, do let know so that they can be taken in the right perspective.

CONCLUSION:

In summary, the raga lakshana of Andhali is encapsulated by the Dikshitar composition and the cittasvara as notated by Subbarama Dikshitar. The operative arohana and avarohana murccana is SRMPNS/SNPMRGMRS with repeated use of the motif RG3MRS. The raga is almost extinct today in the popular concert platform. One hopes that Andhali would get some air-time atleast as a filler in recitals, going forward. and performers should render this Dikshitar composition with its elegant cittasvara as well.

Tailpiece: There is a rendition of the Tyagaraja composition in Andhali, “Abhimanamu ledemi” which I did hear. The raga lakshana closely mapped to the one found in the Dikshitar composition as played by Smt Kalpagam Svaminathan, without any flavor of Kanada. Given the antiquity of the raga, Tyagaraja could have definitely composed in this raga. However in the absence of details as to authenticity of the kriti, patantharam of the said version and also the notation of the said composition, I am refraining from posting any further observations. I would greatly appreciate further inputs from readers of this blog in this regard.

REFERENCES:

  1. Sangita Kalanidhi T V Subba Rao & Dr.S R Janakiraman(1993) – “Ragas of the Sangita Saramruta by King Tulaja of Tanjore” – First Edition- Published by The Music Academy, Madras
  2. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) – Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini – Published in Tamil by the Music Academy
  3. V Raghavan (1941) – “Venkatamakhin and his 72 Melas” – Journal of the Music Academy Vol XII Pages 67-79
  4. Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai(1936)- ‘Dikshita Kirtanai Prakashikai’- Part 1 ( Tamil)
  5. Dr V Raghavan(1975) – Muttuswami Dikshitar – Special Bicentenary Number – National Center for Performing Arts- Quarterly Journal – Vol IV Number 3 September 1975

Raga Lakshana – Vamsavati – A Sequel

Raga Lakshana – Vamsavati – A Sequel – Ravi Rajagopalan

Preface:

Since the original post and the feedbacks that were received, an update to the post had become imperative. This sequel is intended to cover 3 areas:

  1. Update the discography by providing audio links to the renditions, to illustrate raga lakshana as found in the Dikshitar kriti “Bhaktavatsalam”
  2. Consider one other rendition, that of “Bhaktavatsalam” by Vid Kalpagam Svaminathan, to complete the analysis.
  3. Discuss in brief the raga lakshana of 2 ragas allied to Vamsavati, namely Mandhari and Vijayavasantam.

Audio Links:

  1. Here is the link to the Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer’s rendition: Bhaktavatsalam – SSI .
  2. Here is the link to the rendering of the same composition by a lady duet (not by Lalitha Sivakumar as the label/link says), probably the Mambalam Sisters: Bakthavatsalam – Duet .
  3. Here is the link to the rendition of Vid. Kalpagam Svaminathan: Bhaktavatsalam – Vamsavati -KSw
  4. Here is the link to the rendition of the other Vamsavati kriti of Dikshitar, “Vamsavati Sivyuvati” by Vid Kalpagam Svaminathan: Vamsavati – Sivayuvati – KSw

Observations:

Since the original blog post, I have heard the rendering of “Baktavatsalam” by Vid. Kalpagam Svaminathan. Her rendering closely follows the notation in the SSP. I invite the attention to pR1S that she emphasizes as in the notation, which is the motif that Dikshitar has employed in his Vamsavati. She intones the D3N3 in all the 3 places. The intonation is similar to the one found in her rendition of the other Vamsavati kriti “Vamsavati Sivayuvati”. One other observation is that in some places where PNS is notated in SSP, one hears PNDNS (as in the place paakashasa naadi).

I also invite the attention to the D3N3 intonation ( the lyric “vataka”) in the kriti rendered by the lady duet in the recording, around the madhyamkala portion in the carana, as in “…Sushobito utpala vataka sthitam suramaya…..”,which I believe is fairly close to the way in which it can be rendered to bring out the SND/NS which is notated for Vamsavati. The depth and extent of intonation, the interpretation of the notation or how it was taught/learnt (the patantharam in other words) are relevant factors, which makes this exercise of determining D3N3 intonation very subjective.

That said, the most relevant factor in the intonation of D3 in succession to N3 “adequately”, is melody and aesthetics. From an acoustic/aural perspective, the D3 sruti occupies the level of 9/5, with the Madhya shadja at 1, pancama at 1.5 and tara shadja at 2. In fact Prof N S Ramachandran says that with shadja at 256 vibrations per sec, D3 would be at 474 Hz.1 or 50/27 (not 9/5) for Naganandhini mela¹. Let’s consider the scenario where the vocalist prepares to execute the sND/Ns sancara. He starts off at the tara shadja(factor 2 or 512 Hz) and then “jump” to N3(15/8 or about 480 Hz). Now from N3 position the short downward journey to D3 (460 Hz) is to be executed via the erakka jaaru or the downward glide. This is not a “jump” but a downward glide & so all the microtones in that band 480Hz-460Hz should be heard when one executes the N3D3 and then rise back to the N3 sruti and then on to tara shadja.Needless to say the 480Hz-460Hz jaaru is the key component which has to be rendered in an aurally aesthetic manner. Thus the intonation of D3 will be weak if the drop in frequency from N3 level is small /inadequate to touch the D3 sruti zone (around the 460Hz) or where the vidvan jumps over to the D2 sruti level to gloss it over.

So the moot point is how strong or adequate should the intonation be & that is where subjective’ness steps in. In that context we can discuss a number of other ragas which use the D3N3 combination, but that can wait for now. In this blog post sequel, let’s quickly look at 2 melodically allied ragas of Vamsavati, both of them being much younger to Vamsavati in our music.

ALLIED RAGAS TO VAMSAVATI

 

RAGA 1 – VIJAYAVASANTAM

This raga can be said to be a creation of Tyagaraja vide his ekaika composition “Nee Cittamu”. However no mention of this raga is found in the Sangraha Cudamani. The raga and the kriti can be found from the books of S.Parthasarathy of the Tillaisthanam school of Tyagaraja’s disciples² who give its arohana and avarohana as follows:

Aro :S P M2 P D3 N3 S

Avaro: S N3 D3 N3 P M2 G3 S

However Nadamuni Pandita³ gives its Arohana and Avarohana, slightly differently as:

Aro: S M2 P D3 N3 S

Avaro: S N3 D3 P M2 G3 S

Under the sampurna mela scheme, Vijayavasantam is placed as an upanga janya under the 54th Mela Vishvambari. It’s worth noting here that the avrohana murccanas SN3D3P and SN3D3N3P will be melodically very different. The Tyagaraja composition as per the Tillaistanam sishya parampara has predominantly SN3D3N3 and D3N3S prayogas. Incidentally, one can also observe that there are patantharams/version of the composition which do not use D3. Devoid of D3 this raga will sound like Amritavarshini. The jeevasvaras of this raga are M2, D3 and N3.

There is apparently another composition, “Kamalambike” in this raga by Sri N S Ramachandran set to rupaka tala.

Discography:

I am venturing to add this section for Vijayavasantam as it sports the D3N3 combination and provides us an opportunity to understand the svarupa of this raga through the kriti of Tyagaraja. I have perused 2 available renditions of this composition.

  1. First is an excerpt of a Lec Dem by Prof S R Janakiraman on raga lakshana and a clip of his rendition of the Tyagaraja composition “Nee cittamu”.
  2. Second is the rendering of the same kriti by Vidvan Madurai G S Mani . The details of this recording are not available.

First is the demonstration of the raga itself by Prof S R Janakiraman. He has in the recent past done a number of Lec-dems on the Ekakriti ragas of Tyagaraja, including the latest one in the Music Academy during Season 2008. An album, recording one of his Lec-Dem for posterity is commercially available with his pithy analysis⁴. His delineation of the lakshana of Vijayavasantam and his rendering of “Nee Cittamu” is available therein.

In the first clip, Prof SRJ outlines the contours of Vijayavasantam here : Vijayavasantham – Ragalakshana -Prof SRJ

I invite attention to the intonation of D3N3S and that of the D3 svara in the murccana SN3D3N3S by Prof SRJ. There can be no better illustration of how D3 needs to be intoned in succession with N3, other than this.Prof SRJ follows up with the kriti rendition. Here is the link for the clip, with the rendition of the pallavi of the composition of Tyagaraja : Nee Cittamu – Excerpt – Prof SRJ

We end this section with the rendition of the same kriti by Vidvan Madurai G S Mani, who is usually known for his no holds barred, zestful rendering of vivadi ragas. Here is the link to the Vidvan Madurai G S Mani rendition of kriti: Nee Cittamu – GS Mani.

Surprisingly his version is devoid of D3 and is much less colorful than the effervescent D3 flavored version of Prof SRJ. As pointed out earlier, shades of Amrutavarshini show up in the absence of D3.

Tailpiece : This Vijayavasantham kriti of Tyagaraja finds place in the one of the oldest, professionally recorded gramophone disc dating back to 1913 . An artiste by name Ms Godaveri ( from Salem, probably the third or fourth Indian lady to have her voice recorded, the first one being the legendary Gauhar Jan) has recorded this along with other kritis such as Paridanamichite(Bilahari), Ennadu Jutano ( Kalavati) and Cetah Sri Balakrishnam (Dvijavanti). If somebody can get hold of a copy of this recording, let me know!

The Vamsavati kriti of Dikshitar has been rendered in the past by Sangita Kalanidhi T L Venkatarama Iyer and also by his disciple and Sangita Kalanidhi B Rajam Iyer in the Music Academy as a part of the Experts Committee lecture demonstrations. I would be grateful if somebody can share the recording if they have it.

RAGA 2- MANDHARI

We consider Mandhari as an allied raga for the simple fact that if D3 is not intoned or avoided totally in Vamsavati it “may” morph into Mandhari.

Mandhari is another raga without a textual tradition. It is known to us for the first time through the composition “Paraloka Bhayamu” of Tyagaraja.The origins of this raga seems shrouded in mystery. As per books published during the early 20th century, the raga for this composition (Paraloka Bhayamu) is given as Yamuna ( Yamunakalyani). K V Srinivasa Iyengar in his preface to his own publication “Tyagaraja Hrudayam” (1922) alludes to this & bemoans saying that the valuable compositions {of Tyagaraja} have been mutilated beyond recognition by the musicians and singers of South India. Other glaring instances of Tyagaraja’s compositions getting short changed of their original ragas include “Marubalka” ( originally Abheri as per books while the current/popular version is in Sriranjani) and “Sujana Jeevana” ( Nattakurinji as per books while the extant version is in Khamas)! ⁵

Leaving aside the controversy, which itself merits a seperate blog post, suffice to say “Paraloka Bhaya” is currently rendered in Mandhari. The raga is considered to be the janya of Kamavardhani, the 51st mela by musicologists with the following arohana/avarohana⁶.

Aro: S R1 G3 M2 P N3* S

Avaro: S N3* P M2 G3 R1 S

*-There were some differences of opinion on the nishada in this raga. Some were of the opinion that Kaishiki nishada(N2) ought to be employed and this raga to be considered as a janya of Namanarayani(50th melakarta). The Experts Committee of the Music Academy has however decided that the nishada is only kakali nishada (N3) and that this ought to be reckoned as a janya of the 51st mela⁶.

The svaras R,G,M,N – provide raga chaya and are mRdu kampita swaras. The raga has a range from mandhra sthayi panchama to tara sthayi prati madhyama. Mandhari is considered a madhyama kala pradhana raga where Jantai, dhAtu, pratyAhata and Ahata prayogas abound.In the phrases P N3 P M2 and M2 N3 P M2 the kakali nishada “may be” softened but in prayogas like p n N S and in s n N P there is no scope for nishada to sound lowered⁶.

Compositions in the raga:

We have a tana varna each from Patnam Subramanya Iyer and Mysore Vasudevacar. Apart from the Tyagaraja Kriti “Paraloka Bhaya” we have “Ninnu jeppa ” and “Endukitu capalamu”, both of Patnam. Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar has composed “EnnALu tirigedanu”, “Atishaya Varaprasadhini” and “Anagham Akhilanda nayakam” in Mandhari.

Addendum:  Izuppur(Illupur) Ponnusvami Pillai – vocalist & violinist of the late 19th century & composer of the Adi tala tana varnam ‘Taruni Ninu pasi” in Kambhoji, has composed a kriti in Mandhari – “Sri Sugunakara Seetamanohara” in tisra rupakam. The notation of this rare kriti has been published in the Music Academy Journal by Prof. T Visvanathan ( Journal of the Music Academy XXXIV Pages 174-175)

Bibliography:

  1. Prof.N.S.Ramachandran( 1938& 2003) – “Ragas of Carnatic Music”-Published by Trinity Music Book Publishers, Chennai. Chapter VII, pages 162-164 & 197
  2. Tillaistanam Narasimha Bagavathar (1908) -“Tyagaraja Swami Keertanalu” (Telugu)
  3. Naadamuni Panditar (1914) – Sangita Svaraprasthara Sagaramu
  4. Prof S R Janakiraman (2005) – “Tyagaraja’s Ekaika Kriti Ragas” – Twin CD Album – Parampara – Vintage Classics Series, Product Code:CAR CD 134/35 – Produced & Distributed by Shristi’s Carnatica P Ltd, Chennai
  5. Prof N Ramanathan(1994) – “Indian Musicology in the Early Modern Period – A Survey of the Pre-1940 Publications”- extracted from “Music Publications From 1800-1930 In Tamiz, Telugu And Malayalam” – Paper presented on 08-11-1994 at a Seminar organised as part of the Thakur Jaidev Singh Centenary Celebrations organised by INTACH Foundation, Varanasi held from 7th to 11th November, 1994.
  6. S R Janakiraman(1995) – Raga Lakshanangal (Tamil) – Published by the Music Academy, Madras
  7. Michael S Kinnear (1994) – “The Gramophone Company’s First Indian Recordings- 1899-1908” – Page 120-Published by Popular Prakashan P Ltd, Bombay