Yamuna Kalyani–A Journey Back in Time-Part I

INTRODUCTION:

Raga Yamuna Kalyani, also called as Yamuna, is a supposedly lighter melody and a minor raga today, under the Kalyani raganga/melakartha. A look at the musical history as available to us and also given the fact that we have major compositions from both Tyagaraja and Muthusvami Dikshitar, would show that this raga was not a minor one. In fact there is even an authoritative reference that one of the kritis of Syama Shastri (“Birana Varalichi”) was composed in Yamuna Kalyani, implying that this raga should have been a member of that exalted list of 28 ragas (making it 29) that were utilized by the Trinity in common for their compositions. Many of the 20th century authorities such as Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer have been of the firm opinion that Yamuna Kalyani was an import from Hindustani Music and that the melodic equivalent of our Yamuna Kalyani was Yaman or Iman as it is referred to. In fact the “import” is ascribed to Muthusvami Dikshitar himself with the storyline that he learnt it during his Kashi sojourn.

When one traces our musical history, it can be deduced that Yamuna Kalyani had its roots in the old mela of Venkatamakhi called as Kalyana or Suddha Kalyan. This Suddha Kalyana spawned modern Kalyani even while it metamorphosed into Yamuna Kalyani as evidenced by the Dikshitar’s “Jambupate Mam Pahi”, the Panchabhuta kshetra kriti on the Lord at Tiruvanaika (Trichy) in this raga. Thus it would be erroneous to state that Yamuna Kalyani is a janya or offshoot of Kalyani. Rather Yamuna Kalyani was Kalyani’s precursor or at least Kalyani’s sibling, having been spun off from Suddha Kalyan. To suit the convenience of modern day classification it came be bundled under the Kalyani Ragaanga, in other words as a member of the Kalyani clan.

Coming back to the main thread, this Yamuna Kalyani as envisioned by Dikshitar underwent a further modification in the 20th century as evidenced by the melodic setting of the two current day famous compositions, “Krishna Nee Begane” and Annamacharya’s “Bhavayami Gopalabalam”. This modern Yamuna Kalyani can also be seen in modern interpretations of Tyagaraja’s better known compositions namely “Haridasulu vedale” and “Vidhi Chakradulaku”.

This blog post is an attempt to outline this history or metamorphosis as understood from the study of the musical history of Yamuna Kalyani through the ages from the time of our music’s great patriarch Venkatamakhi to Muddu Venkatamakhi to Muthusvami Dikshitar to Subbarama Dikshitar & to our times.

MODERN RAGA LAKSHANA OF YAMUNA KALYANI:

This raga’s current or modern day attributes/lakshana can be summarized as :

A sampurna bashanga janya of the 65th mela/raaganga Kalyani with usage of suddha madhyama in descent or avarohana phrases.

Given the current treatment of Yamuna Kalyani on concert platforms, one can additionally ascribe the following attributes:

  • Yamuna Kalyani almost as a rule, is today sung in madhyama sruti & thus having its sancara restricted in the upper octave.
  • Apart from the usage of suddha madhyama, Yamuna differs from Kalyani on two additional grounds:
    • Kalyani is rendered with more intense usage of kampita gamakas in the so called “sampurna varika style” by which every note is invested with kampita gamakas. On the other hand Yamuna Kalyani is rendered with more jarus and with vakra sancaras rather than sequential progression of svaras.
    • In terms of performance Yamuna Kalyani is relegated to lighter compositions, shlokas or javalis but is never taken up for a detailed exposition or for tillanas.

The modern form of Yamuna Kalyani is best illustrated by the following 3 compositions:

  • The Dasar pada “Krishna nee begane” as immortalized by Smt T Balasarasvathi,
  • Annamacarya’s composition “Bhavayami Gopalabalam” as popularized by Smt M S Subbulakshmi
  • Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer’s music setting of Sadasiva Brahmendra’s composition”Pibare Ramarasam”

TEXTUAL REFERENCES TO YAMUNA:

There are two references to the raga lakshana of this raga, which one can refer to:

  1. First is the raga lakshana as outlined by Subbarama Dikshitar in his monumental work, the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (1904), SSP for short.
  2. The raga lakshana as documented by Subba Rao in his work Raga Nidhi (1996), which is a comparative study/documentation of ragas featured in the Carnatic and Hindustani idiom.

There are no references to this raga ( that is Yamuna)in older texts including Caturdandi Prakashika or Sangita Sudha or the works of King Shahji or King Tulaja. The raga name figures as a desya raga in the listing found in the Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika.

YAMUNA KALYANI AS OUTLINED IN THE SSP:

The SSP offers the first glimpse into this scale, wherein Subbarama Dikshitar refers to this raga as Yamuna. Let’s review first the information presented by SSP in connection with this raga.

  • In the (Shantha) Kalyani Raganga lakshya gitam it is given that Imma Kalyani and Mohanam are the bashanga janyas of Kalyani. As a side note, we do not see Hamir Kalyani and Saranga mentioned as Kalyani’s janyas in this raaganga raga lakshana gitam. However Subbarama Dikshitar lists out Hamir Kalyani and Saranga as Kalyani’s janyas subsequently in SSP.
  • Subbarama Dikshitar does not provide any lakshana shloka for Yamuna as he usually does. It’s indeed a puzzle for us that (Muddu)Venkatamakhi gives a reference to Imma Kalyani in the Kalyani raagaanga gitam, but no lakshana shloka or prabandha or tana or gita of (Muddu)Venkatamakhi is provided for this raga!
  • Subbarama Dikshitar gives the murccana arohana/avarohana as SRGMPDNS/SNDPMGRS under the Kalyani raagaaga. However he defines the lakshana with the following caveats.
    • Arohana is usually SRGPDs or SRGPMPDs
    • Avarohana is usually sNDPGRS or sDPMGRS
    • Sa is grahasvara and Ga, Ri and Dha are jeeva svaras
    • Suddha madhyama occurs in the prayogas GmRS or GmGRS
  • The oldest lakshana providing composition given by Subbarama Dikshitar is the “Khabay Prabandha” attributed to pUrvikAs or old timers. This composition has the ‘udgraha’ or refrain as “tha thai thaiyya”.
  • Subbarama Dikshitar provides 4 other compositions to illustrate the raga:
    • ‘Jambupate Mampahi’ of Muthusvami Dikshitar
    • ‘Chintaye Janakiramanam’ of Krishnasvami Ayya
    • Jatisvaram beginning with ‘SDPM’
    • His own sancari set in matya tala
    • The anubandha to the SSP lists out a ragamalika with 10 ragas starting with the words “Priyamuna” which has the raga mudra itself in its pallavi refrain, composed by Subbarama Dikshitar in the ragas Yamuna Kalyani, Todi, Sri, Hamir Kalyani, Durbar, Padi, Huseni, Sahana , Mohanam & Bhupalam.

YAMUNA IN THE SSP – Analysis of the Compositions:

The ‘Khabay’ or Gavai Prabandha:

To understand the origins and evolution of Yamuna, one has to look at the notation of the Prabandha which Subbarama Dikshitar credits as being composed by pUrvAcaryAs. When one looks at this prabandha, many points show up:

  1. Though Subbarama Dikshitar uses the term “Khabay”, it should rightly be “Gavai” for reasons we can see shortly.
  2. Unusually for a prabandha this one is well ornamented/notated. The only other “khabay’ type of prabhanda in SSP is under Pharaz which also is notated well. The ankita/raja mudra of the Pharaz khabay clearly indicates that it is on Tulaja II (1763-1787) & son of Pratapasimha).
  3. The lyrics in the Yamuna prabandha indicate that it has been composed on one Vijayaranga Cokkanatha , son of one Rangakrishna Muthuveera. A quick look at the Nayak Rulers of Madurai reveals that this Vijayaranga Cokkanatha was the great grandson of Thirumalai Nayak of the Madurai Nayaka clan. He shifted his Court from Madurai to Trichy & ruled between 1704 -1731.  This Chieftain has a statue in the Srirangam temple. Given the epi-graphical details, we can conveniently place the composition as having been composed circa 1720 or thereabouts. See Footnote 1 below.
  4. In the prabandha, the nishada is virtually not seen, except in one place as a podisvara & it can ignored.  The contours of Yamuna as outlined in this composition are SRGPDS, SDPMGRS without any suddha madhyama or nishada. From a musical structure perspective the following emerge.
  5. It’s very clear that G is the jeeva/nyasa svara for Yamuna. The Prabandha opens with the classic ‘GGG’ prayoga.
  6. M1 is not present & is not notated at all in the prabandha.
  7. Ga is janta with kampita gamaka thrown in liberally.
  8. Jarus are another embellishment  usages spanning GR, PG,R/G, G/P & P/s
  9. S, G, R and P are the nyasa svaras. Ga comes in as first among equals as the jeeva svara & is accompanied by the kampita gamaka as the default adornment.

Based on the internal evidence from this prabandha, some observations/conclusions follow:

  • The word “khabay” or “gabay” or “kapay” apparently had its roots in the term “Gavai”. Interestingly, the northern origins of the word become obvious, as Dr Sita in her “Tanjore as a Seat of Music” gives one musician of the name of “Gavai Khamas” Madhava Rao who had been in the Court of King Sivaji of Tanjore. Gottuvadhyam Sakha Rama Rao is named as his descendant. The word “gavai” stands for “musician” or “vidvan”. In the samasthanas of Deccan/Maharashtra, the Royal Courts had the so called AstAna vidvan who was called as a ‘Durbari Gavai” or in other words the Court Musician. The composition was probably composed by such a visiting singer or perhaps a musician from the North of the Naik Court itself. Incidentally, the composer of the famous Kuranji padam “Sivadikshaparulanu”, Ghanam Sinnaya was the Chief Minister of King Vijayaranga Cokkanatha.
  • The other “khabay’ prabandha found in the SSP is under Pharaz, which also is another raga imported into Carnatic Music. Persian/Arabian/Moslem origin thereof of both Pharaz and Yamuna is thus something which is very plausible.
  • The Kalyani raganga gitam refers to this Kalyani janya as “Imma Kalyana”, perhaps indicating its roots to the Persian melody Iman. While we may attach importance to the Kalyani raganaga gitam a number of questions remain to be answered such as :
    • The authorship, timelines and the lack of a lakshana shloka for Yamuna Kalyani makes one look at the Kalyani lakshana shloka suspiciously. It must have been the work of Muddu Venkatamakhi dateable to circa 1750 or thereabouts.
    • The other janyas of Kalyani such as Hamir/Hamvira or Saranga find no mention in this raganga gitam.  Also is the question whether this “imma kalyana” is Yamuna at all.

ARCHAIC YAMUNA:

Thus the contours of the older version of Yamuna emerge from out of the prabandha with SRGPDS/SDPMGRS as its murccana arohana & avarohana. It was devoid of Ni & suddha madhyama as well and had gained currency in our music system by the late 1600/early 1700 close to a hundred years before the trinity. For the purposes of this  post I am labeling this Yamuna as the archaic Yamuna as we will see that this metamorphosed with few variations into the modern Yamuna Kalyani as we know today.

Before we proceed further, we need to take a look at the nexus between the archaic Yamuna and the Kalyani or Suddha Kalyana of Venkatamakhi, which is considered as the forerunner of our modern day Kalyani.

ARCHAIC YAMUNA & THE KALYANA OF VENKATAMAKHIN:

Kalyana or (Suddha) Kalyana is an old raga referred to even by Somanatha in his Raga Vibodha (circa 1600). In his work he refers to Kalyana as one of his primary 23 mElas. The next reference to Kalyana is by Venkatamakhi in his CDP. This is what he has to say of Kalyana, in summary:

A desya raga, not fit for gita, thaya & prabandha, with Ma and Ni varjya in the arohana, sampurna and liked by Turuskas, having pancashruti rishabam,antara gandharam,varali madhyamam, pancamam, pancashruthi dhaivatham and kakali nishada.

The description of the Kalyana of Venkatamakhin bears an uncanny resemblance to the archaic Yamuna as found in the prabandha. The Kalyana scale of Venkatamakhin is next echoed by King Shahaji (1684-1712) in “Ragalakshanamu” where he mentions this scale as Suddha Kalyani. King Shahaji illustrates the Suddha Kalyani with prayogas such as GPDs,  sNDPMGR and GDPMGR etc. While the CDP talks of (Suddha) Kalyani being a desya raga, the Anubandha elevates Kalyani to that of a ‘rakti’ raga !

Be that as it may, the (Suddha)Kalyana of Venkatamakhi which can be resolved as SRGPDS/SNDPMGRS, probably spawned the older Yamuna as a variant while at the same time it became the nucleus of the sampurna/heptatonic modern Kalyani ( mEca kalyAnI/shAntha kalyAnI). Modern Kalyani as referred to in this post is the sampurna Kalyani sporting only the prati madhyama and rendered in the sampurna varika style as evidenced by the classic ata tala varna of Pallavi Gopala Iyer, “Vanajakshi”. This qualification to Kalyani is warranted and would be appreciated in the light of the fact that the origins of Kalyani are tied to Yamuna as well through Suddha Kalyani. This Suddha Kalyani ruled the roost for a century or two before it died leaving in its wake two off-springs namely Yamuna Kalyani or Yamuna and our modern Kalyani. The archaic Suddha Kalyan(i) was revived/resurrected as a ‘scalar structure’ by Gayakashikamani Harikesanallur Muthiah Bagavathar during mid 20th century, when he set to music Svati Tirunal’s kriti “Seve Srikantham” and composed his two own kritis “Siddhi Vinayakam Seveham” and “Bhuvaneshvarya” in the raga now known as Mohanakalyani.

DIKSHITAR’s Composition “Jambupate”:

Since the gavai prabandha was composed (circa 1720), for the next approx 100 years, till circa 1810 or thereabouts Yamuna must have perhaps remained so as dealt with therein. It must have been then that Dikshitar composed ‘Jambupate mam pahi”. This composition is found notated in several publications old & new and forms part of the oral tradition as well. The analysis of the notation given by Subbarama Dikshitar reveals quite clearly that Dikshitar interpreted the raga very differently in contrast to the prabandha version. It is obvious that Dikshitar proceeded to provide a makeover to the older Yamuna. The changes he brought forth can be summarized as :

  1. He gave the Ni svara a formal position in the avarohana passages.
  2. He brought in “sparing” usage of M1 via GM1R & as a fleeting podisvara/anusvara to G ( only in the madhya stayi) while M2 shows up in profusion as always. In essence from a Hindustani Music equivalence perspective, Dikshitar flipped Yamuna to be closer to Yaman & thus moving it away from Shuddha Kalyan.
  3. He moved the pivot of the raga slightly away from G towards P. One can see a lot of pancama pradhana sancaras in Jambupate, vide the caranam portion of the composition. From a purvanga centric raga, Dikshitar moved it to make it uttaranga centric.
  4. He continued to mark the gandhara with janta and kampita gamakas. He also invested Ri, Dha and Pa with the kampita gamaka.
  5. In contrast to the more Mohanam based legacy treatment, Dikshitar moved it to a more Kalyani based treatment. The prayoga PDS was deprecated and PNDs or DNDs PDPS or PDrS were brought in by him to impart a different hue to Yamuna.

Thus the end result as conceptualized by Dikshitar was a fairly gamaka laden raga, in contrast to what we think of Yamuna Kalyani today as a plainer & lighter raga.

Comparison between the Archaic Yamuna and Dikshitar’s Yamuna:

Before we proceed further with some more analysis of the Dikshitar composition a quick comparison between the older Yamuna and that of Dikshitar’s interpretation is required.

  • Arohana/Avarohana :

Archaic Yamuna : SRGPDS/SNDPGMRS

Dikshitar’s Yamuna : SRGPDNDS/SNDPMPGmRS

  • Key murccanaas:

Archaic Yamuna: GGRGP, GPDPD,PDS, SDP, SDPPGRS. M2 appears more as a podi svara with pancama and gandhara & thus gives the raga the hue of Mohanam. The raga is melodically equivalent to Bhup based version of Suddha Kalyan of Hindustani Music.

Dikshitar’s Yamuna: NsNDNDP, PDr, PNDPM, GM1RS. M2 appears distinctly and thus brings the raga closer to Yaman.

  • Melodic movement:

Archaic Yamuna: Purvanga centric with emphasis on arohana murccanas. Gandhara is the key jeeva/nyasa svara.

Dikshitar’s Yamuna: Uttaranga centric with emphasis on avarohana phrases. Gandhara and pancama become the key jeeva/nyasa svaras.

  • Gamakas:

Archaic Yamuna: Kampita on gandhara.

Dikshitar’s Yamuna : Kampita on gandhara, rishabha, pancama and dhaivatha

ARCHAIC YAMUNA & SUDDHA KALYAN OF HINDUSTANI MUSIC:

In relation to Suddha Kalyan as is dealt with in the world of Hindustani music, I invite readers to read Deepak Raja’s blog post on the different flavors of Suddha Kalyan as is handled in Hindustani Music. To put it simply the raga in northern music is SRGPDS/SNDPMGR with only M2. For our ongoing , I quote the relevant portion from his blog post to understand the nuances/flavors of  the Hindustani Suddha Kalyan.

“According to Manikbuwa Thakurdas (Raga Darshan), this raga can be performed in either of its two distinct variants — a Bhoop-biased treatment, and a Kalyan-biased treatment. In a Bhoop-biased treatment, the use of the Ni/Ma swaras in the descent should be subtle enough to be “apratyaksha” (subliminal/ implicit/ imperceptible). This is normally achieved by using the two swaras only in a meend (glissando) as grace swaras in the transition from Sa to (Ni) Dha and Pa to (Ma) Ga. When presented in the Kalyan-biased treatment, the Ni/Ma swaras can be “pratyaksha” (explicit) or “apratyaksha” (implicit), and therefore not limited to being treated as grace swaras.Subba Rao (Raga Nidhi, Vol.IV) points out a third interpretation of the raga which omits the Ma/Ni swaras altogether. In such a treatment, distinguishing the resulting music from Bhoop/Bhupali requires great skill. This version was heard occasionally until the 1960s, and is virtually extinct now.”

Needless to say here that the Bhup based version of Suddha Kalyani and the archaic Yamuna are similar and it must have been the one which was used by the anonymous Court musician when he composed the Gavai prabandha on King Vijayaranga Cokkanatha. The words that Deepak uses- “subtle or imperceptible use of Ni and Ma” would strike us when we view the notation of the prabandha as found in the SSP.

K V Ramachandran the noted critic of the last century advances the very same argument with authority, that our (archaic) Yamuna and Suddha Kalyan are one & the same:

“I agree with the conclusion of the Academy that Yamuna Kalyani employs both the Ma, but the raga is not the equivalent of Yaman as as stated by Hulugur Krishnachar. Suddha Kalyan is its Northern prototype, which omits Ma and Ni in the ascent and employs Ma1 occasionally. Ga is vadi, Dha is samvadi, meend between PaGa, PaRi, SaNiDha, PaMaGa, Mandhara sanchara is characteristic. Sa Ri Ga Pa Dha Sa – Sa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga Ri Sa – Ri Ga Dha Pa Ma Ga Ri- Pa Ma2 Ga Ri- Ri Ga Ga Ma1 Ga Ri- Sa Ni Dha – Ri Ga Pa Dha sa Ni Dha Pa – Pa Sa Dha Pa Ma2 Ga. The Kalyani of Venkatamakhi, Ahobala, Pundarikavittala and Locana is just this – a blende of Kalyani & Mohanam. The marriage song when the bride and the bride groom play the ball, the kolattam song “Lokasakshi”, the mettu known as “Indra Sabha” ( see Footnote 2), the Tamil padam “Maruva Oru” are all in this raga. Sri K V S Iyengar remarks that the Syama Shastri’s “Birana Brova”, though now sung in Kalyani was sung in a different way by others. That different way is Yamuna Kalyani.”

K V Ramachandran’s reference is to the older or the archaic Yamuna and not to the Yamuna as redefined by Dikshitar in his “Jambupate”. The melodic contours of Dikshitar’s conception of Yamuna are much different in comparison with the 2 flavors of Suddha Kalyan that Deepak Raja mentions. To analyse a little more, Hindustani Suddha Kalyan is an avaroha pradhana raga with Sa, Ri, Ga and Pa as nyasa svaras, Ni and M2 being used “imperceptibly as a passing note, with PDPs and Prs as the chief uttaranga prayogas. Also the sancaras range from mandhara pancama till Madhya stayi panchama and Ri is the jeeva svara and the raga does not use suddha madhyama at all. On a side note, it is indeed puzzling for me why Sri KVR did not refer to the Dikshitar magnum opus in this lec-dem.

Dikshitar’s Yamuna Kalyani as found in “Jambupate” has Sa, Ga and Pa as the chief nyasa svaras, Ni and Ma figuring prominently with M1 as an alpa prayoga figuring in avarohana passages through the murccana GM1R & Ni is  vakra in aroha passages. Ga and Pa seem to be the amsa svaras with Ri being very weak. The sancaras range from mandhara Pa/Dha to tara sthayi Ga. In fact there is no tradition of singing Dikshitar’s Jambupate in madhyama sruti, while all others including the modern tuned up compositions such as  “Krishna nee begane” and “Bhavayami Gopalabalam” are all sung in madhyama sruti.

It’s indeed important to underline this aspect before we move on to Subbarama Dikshitar’s conception of Yamuna Kalyani as evidenced by him compositions namely the Jatisvaram, sancari and the ragamalika.

( To be Continued)

FOOTNOTE 1:

For those who are interested in the historical angle, Vijayaranga Cokkanatha was the grandson as well of the famous Rani (Queen) Mangammal, who valiantly threw tradition out of the window, by refusing to perform ‘sati’ upon the death of her husband. She instead chose to ascend the throne upon the death of her husband to bring up the minor son (Rangakrishna Muthuveera)  , who also died suddenly leaving behind his pregnant wife. Mangammal bore these losses with great fortitude and continued to reign as the sovereign regeant for her grandson Vijayaranga Cokkanatha. Sadly she couldnt prevent her daughter-in law ( wife of Rangakrishna Muthuveera & mother of the new born Vijayaranga Cokkanatha ( the patron king eulogized in this gavai prabandha) from performing Sati after she gave birth to her son. And Mangammal went on to make history, probably on the model of the legendary Rani of Jhansi. The end of the reign of Mangammal circa 1703-04, is shrouded in mystery as she reportedly became a victim of palace intrigues. Prof R Sathianatha Iyer’s ‘History of the Nayaks of Madura” is an original account of this history and readers may well refer to the same.

FOOTNOTE 2:

I am unsure which composition Sri K V Ramachandran refers to starting with the words ‘Indrasabha’. Mahamahopadhyaya U Ve Svaminatha Iyer in his work “Urainadai Noolgal” refers to a padam of Ghanam Krishna Iyer on his patron, the Tanjore King Amarasimha of Madhyarjunam ( Tiruvidaimarudur), which starts with the words “indra sabhai mAdiyil’. Probably the reference may be to this composition.

The Mystery about Kambhoji -Part 2

SUMMARY OF THE ANALYSIS :

To summarize the understanding from the 3 works from the post 1750 era :

  1. Ma or Ga and Ni were vakra/varja in the arohana, according to (Muddu) Venkatamakhi.  In arohana/avarohana terms the archaic Kambhoji as one should call it, would be defined as SRGPDS/SNDPMGRS. Or to restate, that since Ma was vakra, the aroha can be given as SRMGPDS as well.
  2. The ever changing dynamics of our system possibly “linearized”/standardized the older Kambhoji to its modern standard form SRGMPDS/SNDPMGRS.
  3. Only Kaishiki nishada was used throughout in the archaic Kambhoji. The usage of kakali nishada in avaroha phrases such as SNPD had not been in currency at least till 1750 as is obvious from the lack of its mention in Tulaja’s Saramruta for example. It’s worth noting that Tulaja mentions about SNP phrase but doesn’t state that its kaishiki. Prof S R Janakiraman² opines that even during that time kaisiki nishada must have been used in that phrase.

SOME QUESTIONS:

The analysis of Kambhoji’s musical history shows us again how dynamic and ever changing our music is. But two questions would still remain with us:

  1. Is it Ga or Ma, which is vakra/varja in the arohana of the old Kambhoji?
  2. Can we safely say that the Kakali nishada usage in Kambhoji was a much latter day introduction? If it’s indeed to be used, how strong/weak is its intonation/usage?

For question 1 above, the only answer that seems to strike us as plausible is that in the archaic Kambhoji both Ma and Ga were vakra ! To look at the options before us, the 4 possible purvanga combinations for Kambhoji can be:

  1. SRGMP – Lineal- which is found in profusion in the Kambhoji of today
  2. SRGMGP – Ma is vakra, but Ga is not. This murrcana is slightly tricky and can be dispensed with in favor of SRGP.
  3. SRMGMP – Ga is vakra but Ma is not
  4. SRMGP – Ma and Ga are both vakra, in the sense the arohana kramas would be SRMG, GPDS and MGPDS

Let me hasten to add here that what matters is not the svara and its location per se in the sequence but the tonal color that is imparted to Kambhoji if one were to use the Ga and Ma as vakra in the sancaras. It also proves a point that linearization is not a binding factor for some of the purva prasiddha ragas. Thus for example in Sankarabharana SRGPM can also be a legitimate murcchana & need not signify Bilahari alone , so long it’s sung in such a way (in terms of intonation and sequencing of the succeeding murcchanas) that the flavor of Sankarabharana is not lost. Similarly the SRMG usage need not bring Yadukulakambhoji here, for the madhyama intonation and the way the purvanga gets structured finally is different for both the ragas. I will revert back to this point in the end of this post.

So now the question in corollary would be that if SRMGPDs was indeed the melodic contour of the archaic Kambhoji, is there a way to have of a glimpse of that old form which was not lineal in its purvanga? Today, much of the Trinity’s compositions are being rendered in the modern flavor of Kambhoji and hence it “may” not provide us a complete view of the older Kambhoji. Based on available data, one can conjecture that by even 1800’s Kambhoji’s metamorphosis into its modern lineal form was complete. But luckily for us, Subbarama  Dikshitar in his magnum opus SSP has documented the notation of an Ata tala tana varna in Kambhoji “Intacalamu” of Pallavi Gopala Iyer (circa 1800). Coming as it does from the post 1750’s, this varna offers us a splendid ringside view of the old Kambhoji. It is indeed fortuitous that the original varna  had also been part of our oral tradition. Also varnas have always been traditionally considered by us as repositories/examples of raga lakshana. And thus our analysis of Kambhoji’s musical history/lakshna would be complete & our 2 questions as above could be answered, if we were to examine and analyze the varna.

THE VARNA:

The Kambhoji varna of Pallavi Gopala Iyer in Ata tala is found notated in the following publications /manuscripts.

  1. Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini of Subbarama Dikshitar¹
  2. Manuscript B 11618 & B 11605C  of the Sarasvathi Mahal Library, transcribed in Telugu/Sanskrit in the year 1842 & published by Dr B M Sundaram⁵
  3. Manuscript of Nagasvara Vidvan Rakti Veerasvami Pillai written in circa 1870 as published by Dr B M Sundaram⁵
  4. Notebook (Part II) of MazhavarayanEndal Subbarama Iyer ( Sangita Kalanidhi 1942) which has in notation about 30 varnas of which 19 were rare.⁹

It’s quite interesting to note that the sahitya of the varna or in other words, the Royal patron on whom the varna has been composed is divergent if we view the oral as well as the documented texts as available to us:

  1. In the SSP the sahitya reads as “syAmarAjendra vara tanaya appuraya chamdra” ¹. Apparently syAma and chAma seem to be treated as equivalents!
  2. In the older manuscripts cited by Dr B M Sundaram, the sahitya reads “chamarAjendra vara tanaya abhraraya chamdra”⁵
  3. As per Prof S R J’s version the sahitya goes as “chamarAjendra vara tanaya pUraya chamdra”
  4. Interestingly there is yet another version/patham of this varna where the sahitya is “tulajendra ghanUni tanaya sarabhOjendra”, on the lines of the sahitya of the Todi varna “Kanakangi” with the composition being attributed to the Quartet! Its worth noting here that the composition is not listed in the publication ‘Tanjai PeruvudaiyAn Perisai”. Reference is to Sarabhoji II (1798-1832), son of King Tulaja II (1763-1787) who ruled Tanjore.
  5. In the aforesaid notebook of Subbarama Iyer the varna bears the sahitya ‘Sri Kadarajendra kandu Srivara tanaya pura chamdra”⁹, which doubtless gets confusing.

Dr B M Sundaram forcefully argues that the correct sahitya of this Kambhoji varna, (as given by the older manuscripts) is -“Chamarajendra vara tanaya abhraraya chamdra”. According to him the word “abhra” means cloud, implying dark/black , i.e Krishna and hence alludes to Krishnaraja Wodeyar III who was the son of Chamaraja Wodeyar(1776-1796).⁵ Also Prof Sambamoorthy in his brief biography of Pallavi Gopala Iyer states that this is a varna indeed composed on Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. ( See Foot Note I & II on my notes on the mudra ‘krishnarajendra’ on King Krishnarajendra Wodeyar, respectively)

The analysis of the musical material of this varna of  Gopala Iyer reveal following points which underscore the conclusion reached earlier in this post about the archaic Kambhoji:

  1. The purvanga murcchanas of Kambhoji having G and M appear only as vakra/non linear as MGPDS, GPDS and SRMGPDS. It needs to be reiterated here that the lineal murccana SRGMPDS is melodically much different to SRMGPDS.  To be even more clear, it’s the melodic movement encompassing the jumps from Ri to Ma first and then to Ga and then to Pa before moving on to the uttaranga region which was thought to give the unique melodic hue to Kambhoji, in olden times- not the lineal movement from Ri to Ga to Ma and then to Pa. The vakra prayoga of Ma and Ni in Kambhoji, is even highlighted by Ahobala² when he says that “Kambhoji tivragandhara gandharadhika murcchana |Arohe maniheenasyan  madhamsasvarabhushitah||”
  2. Gopala Iyer’s conception of Kambhoji in this smallest Ata tala tana varna is thus defined by the following murcchanas: MGPDS, GPDS, SRMGPDS, RMGMP, GRGS and RPMGS. Rightly so Subbarama Dikshitar highlights these sancaras on the authority of this varna when he gives his commentary on Kambhoji’s raga lakshana in the SSP. The other composition of Gopala Iyer, a kriti in Kambhoji (“Harisarva”) found in the Anubandha to the SSP is also similarly structured without the lineal prayoga SRGMPDS. To the best of my knowledge there is no oral version of this composition. I would be grateful to have a copy of a rendition if available.
  3. Also one can see from the rendering in the section below,that the SRMG & other purvanga phrases as seen in the varna do not suggest Yadukulakambhoji at all.
  4. Kakali nishada usage is virtually nil or is very alpa occurring in the phrase sNPDs. Prof SRJ opines that  even there the kakali nishada is only a shade, occurring as one descends from the tara sadja directly to the pancama without going via the kaishiki nishada -chatushruthi dhaivatha route. The frequency of the note drops in the SP descent to give a shade of kakali nishada, nothing more.

DISCOGRAPHY:

First is Prof S R Janakiraman rendering “Intachalamu”. In the first clipping below he first explains the nuances of Kambhoji. He also outlines the confusion around the svaras Ga and Ni being vakra/varja in the shloka as published in the SSP.

He delineates in brief the older Kambhoji with alpa N3 and also the uniqueness of this Ata tala varna.

He follows up by rendering the varna peppering his rendition with his insightful remarks.

Here is the text of the sahitya of the varna as per his patham.

Pallavi:                Inthachalamu sEya idi mEra gAdurA sAmi

Anupallavi:      kAnthudaina ShrI chAmarAjendrA gHanunI varatanayA pUraya chamdra

Charanam:       chiNNa nAti mOdalu kOrina

(For the svara sahitya and for the  muktayi & ettugada svaras, readers may refer to the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, ¹edition published by the Music Academy and also available online here. The notation is also available in full with the multiple versions in the book published by Dr B M Sundaram⁵).

During the course of his demonstration, Prof SRJ reminisces how the legendary Alathur Srinivasa Iyer would elaborate Kambhoji.

KAMBHOJI’s OLDER STRUCTURE – SOME THOUGHTS:

Purva prasiddha ragas like Kambhoji or Sankarabharanam should not be viewed in the context of the modern linearized krama arohana/avarohana regime  which is the legacy of the Sangraha Cudamani or the Melakarta system designed sometime during the 18th /19th century. It’s indeed sad that today ragas are viewed as a mere aggregation of notes strictly defined by an arohana/avarohana. The concept of murcchanas and how they need to be sequenced to define a raga has now been lost in our music. Hindustani Music still has as its pivots those very concepts, with terminologies such as calans, pakads etc. The concepts underlying the structuring of these older ragas & the way of understanding them are best illustrated by Dr S Sita ³and by Sri K V Ramachandran⁶. I will quote them verbatim to substantiate my understanding.

“…….The chaya or complexion of a raga is a sum total value of many aesthetic factors including the raga form. What is of real significance is not the actual number or quantity of svaras present either in the aroha or avaroha but how the respective svaras progress in their characteristic movement ( calana) gAnakriya in the raga involving arohana, avarohana and combination of both kramas. In this larger sense, the concept of arohana and avarohana is of very little significance. Essentially the nature of the tonal movement or behavior in the raga taken as a whole is the crucial factor.

For instance the arohana/avarohana of Bilahari is SRGPDS/SNDPMGRS. It is definitely not to be understood as a misra of Mohanam and Sankarabharanam. After all the form of a raga cannot be understood either from the arohana or avarohana, but only from the whole or entire progression of svaras…….”³ (Emphasis is mine)

While Dr Sita in her Music Academy lecture demonstration pitches her argument against delineating ragas merely based on the arohana/avarohana as above, noted critic Sri K V Ramachandran takes it one step further in his lecture demonstration, in the same portals of the Academy, some 40 years before her.

“…Svara is one of the materials out of which ragas are fashioned, even as out of bricks, the architect makes the dome. The end product dome is entirely different from the bricks of which it was made. And each raga has its own idiom and vocabulary; Bends and twists and omissions are the rule and very rarely do Ragas progress regularly. By the mere omission or addition of a note a Raga cannot be altered….”⁶ (Emphasis is mine)

And both Sri KVR & Dr Sita, in my very humble understanding are spot on! And for Kambhoji and the discussion above as to its raga lakshana as it was once upon a time, their words apply like a glove!

Extending the rationale to Kambhoji and to conclude :

  1. The vakra tAnas/sancAras of Kambhoji mandate SRMGPDS. The linearization as SRGMPDS must have been a change effected much latter, probably when we designed the melakarta scheme with its inbuilt rules as to progression of svaras and structuring of a raga via a plain arohana avarohana.
  2. The Kamboji tone poem can be delineated as MGPDS, GPDS & SRMGPDS in the aroha phrases. Also as Subbarama Dikshitar mentions & on the authority of Pallavi Gopala Iyer’s varna, other (vakra) sancaras include RMGMP, GPDS, GRGS, RPMGS which constitute the melodic hue of Kambhoji of yore.
  3. The Kakali nishada was a much latter addition but alpa in usage. It may not be out of place to mention that the Kambhoji gitam “Mandhara dhara re” composed by Paidala Gurumurti Sastrigal starts off with the phrase sN3P.
  4. On a related note, it needs to be mentioned that it would be an exercise in futility to talk about some sancaras belonging to Kambhoji and not to Harikambhoji etc for the simple reason that Kambhoji is much older and much of Harikambhoji must have been carved out latter, from out of Kambhoji’s scalar material. In fact now, one can also convincingly argue that SRGMP being linear/sequential, should belong to Harikambhoji while the vakra sancara SRMGP can be Kambhoji’s & rightly so as it would also help differentiate the 2 ragas much better in the modern context!

REFERENCES:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) – Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini – Reprinted in Tamil by the Madras Music Academy, India
  2. Sangita Kalanidhi T V Subba Rao & Prof S R Janakiraman (1993)-“Ragas of the Sangita Saramrutha” – Published by the Music Academy, Madras India
  3. Dr S Sita (1993) – “The Raga Lakshana Manuscript of Sahaji Maharaja” -Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol LIV, pp 140-181, Madras India
  4. Dr S Sita (2001)- “Tanjore as a Seat of Music “- Published by the University of Madras, India
  5. DR B M Sundaram (2002) – “Varna Svarajathi” – Published by Sarasvathi Mahal Library, Tanjore, India
  6. Ramachandran K.V. (1950) – “Apurva ragas of Tyagaraja’s Songs” – The Journal of the Music Academy, Vol XXI, pp. 107-109, Madras, India.
  7. Kamat & Jyothsna Kamat (2006) – “Wodeyars of Mysore” – Available online at http://www.kamat.com/kalranga/deccan/wodeyars.htm
  8. Dr B M Sundaram (1984)- “Mudras in Tana Varnas” -Lecture Demonstration in the Krishnagana Sabha, Chennai – available online here.
  9. Dr P C Seetharaman(1972) -“Musical contents from Mazhavai Subbarama Iyer’s Notebook” (Tamil)- Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol XLIII, Pages 32-33,100-107, Madras, India
  10. Chennakesavaiah. N (1964) -” Four Rare Compositions” – Edited and published in the Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol XXXV, Pages 175-179 Madras, India

Foot Note  – I

Determining the authorship of varnas is another arcane area of our musicology. Experts typically look at the internal evidences within the composition such as ankitas ,mudras or colophons ( svanama mudra, raja mudra etc) not only to ascertain authorship and also the period in which they were composed, apart from other attributes. Interestingly , in connection with the use of the raja mudra “krishnarajendra”, it must be noted that we have several varnas with this raja mudra referring both to Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar and his descendant Nalvadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar ( those of Veena Seshanna, Muthiah Bagavathar & K V Srinivasa Iyengar).

  • For example the Kamalamanohari varna “Neevanti” was composed by Chinniah of the Tanjore Quartet on Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar. Also varnas with this raja mudra seem to have some controversy/confusion associated with them pertaining to authorship. Specific instances include the varna in Nattai “Marulaiyunnadi”, the Mandhari varna “Vanajaksha” and the pada varna “E Maguva BodincerA” in Dhanyasi !
  • Subbarama Iyer’s aforesaid notebook has a beautiful Huseni Ata tala varna ( composer not given) starting with the words “ninnu jUci”. The sahitya runs as “….bakthudaina srI rAmarAjendra vara tanaya karnAvatAra srI krishnArajendra gAna rasika shikAmanE…”⁹. Again it can be speculated that this varna should have run as syAma or chama rAjEndra, instead of rAmarAjendra.
  • There is an anonymous varna sporting the ankita ‘krishnaraja’ begining with the word ‘Viribhoni’ in the rare raga Suddha Velavali.
  • Another anonymous rare varna is the one in the raga Kedaram ( Khanda Ata) with the following lyrics. Given that it was found in manuscript dating to circa 1870, could it be another composition of Pallavi Gopala Iyer or perhaps Tanjore Chinniah on Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar ? One doesnt know ! But here is the text of it :

Pallavi :           vanajalOcana nIpai cAla vanajAkshi valaci yunnadirA

Anupallavi:    ghanudaina cAmarajEndruni vara tanaya srI krishnarAjemdra dIra

Caranam:        camdrakula sirOmani

In passing, one cannot but help lamenting the fact that such beautiful varnas are no longer in circulation and instead a handful of varnas are reeled off ad nauseum in modern concerts depriving rasikas of the oppurtunity to hear these long forgotten masterpieces, which are also invaluable repositories of raga lakshana. Researchers and performing musicians should actively collaborate to bring these compositions back from oblivion, including the Kambhoji varna under discussion !

Foot Note 2: King Krishnaraja Wodeyar III

mummadi

Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar(1794-1868)
(Photo courtesy : © K.L. Kamat/Kamat’s Potpourri )⁷

Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar was one of the great patrons of arts and music. One of the modern day Abhinava Bhoja’s, as he is addressed to in some works ! The title of ‘Abhinava bhoja” is found conferred on many Southern Indian rulers and chieftains including King Shahaji and King Pratapsimha of Tanjore, Yuvaranga Bhupati of Udayapalayam, for example. Many musicians were patronized by Mummadi Krishnaraja Wodeyar including Tanjore Chinniah of the Quartet, Mysore Sadasiva Rao & others ⁵.Apart from Pallavi Gopala Iyer, Veena Kuppier has also been honoured by this Mysore King. The rare Begada kriti ‘ Inta parakelanamma’ of Kuppier with its bewitching cittasvara was composed by him on Goddess Camundeshvari during his Mysore sojourn. Again this Ruler and the compositions on him deserve a seperate blog post.

The Mystery about Kambhoji -Part 1


INTRODUCTION:

Kambhoji is a purva prasiddha raga of yore which has ornamented  Carnatic music for ages. There are many  beautiful compositions adorning this raga. Sometime ago I happened to study some of musicological books to understand Kambhoji’s raga lakshana and its evolution, in the context of the earlier blog post on Pallavi Gopala Iyer.,which is when I was struck by a mention in the Subbarama Dikshitar’s Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini ¹, under Kambhoji (Pages 671 & 672 – Vol III of the 2006 Tamil edition as published by the Music Academy) that according to Venkatamakhi, madhyama & nishada are varjya in the arohana ! Confounded, I did a deep dive and so one thing led to another.  Thus this blog post is about 2 points:

  1. Kambhoji’s is not a linear scale to be given just as SRGMPDS/SNDPMGRS. Rather it is/was SRMGPDS/SNDPMGRS. The madhyama and gandhara svaras are vakra and the lineal progression SRGMP is very very rare or was even totally eschewed in olden times.
  2. The kakali nishada(N3) is very alpa/rare in usage and is probably a post 1800 development. N3 appears more as an anusvara of the tara sadja during a direct descent to the pancama. In other words, in modern parlance, Kambhoji was upanga & not bashanga. Even today a complete Kambhoji can be presented without using N3.

Another related aspect is the way purva prasiddha ragas like Kambhoji, must be understood and sung. It is my understanding that these ragas ( other examples are Sankarabharanam, Bhairavi, Samantha etc) are not bound by the conventions and strictures that abound in today’s modern musicology. For example they cannot be delineated and understood by just an arohana/avarohana or by mere linear progressions of notes as demanded by the Melakarta scheme.

Read On!

Kambhoji – A Quick Primer:

As on date, there is a complete consensus on the melodic structure of Kambhoji amongst all musicologists and musicians. Its attributes in the conventional current day parlance can be summarized as:

  • It is a shadava sampurna raga. S R G M P D S/ S N D P M G R S is the arohana and avarohana under the Kedaragaula/Harikambodhi raganga/mela, with kakali nishada (N3) as anya/bashanga svara which appears in sancaras such as SN3PDS, N3PDS where ” is the downward glide or jaaru gamaka.
  • A rakthi raga par excellence, Kambhoji has been found in the Tamil pann system as well, known as  “Takkesi”.
  • Kambhoji is famous in musicology for an altogether different reason. Venkatamakhi went hammer and tongs at Ramamatya for his having said in the Svaramelakalanidhi that Kambhoji sported only the kakali nishada.

An analysis of the raga & its compositions can be found in the following link:

http://www.carnatica.net/special/kambhoji-ppn.htm

Vidushi Seetha Narayanan provides a performer’s perspective of this magnificent raga:

http://seetha-narayanan.sulekha.com/blog/post/2003/02/great-ragas-kambhoji.htm

A historical perspective of Kambhoji can be glimpsed here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kambhoji

For this blog post let’s first look at what Kambhoji was till circa 1750 the notional cut-off year by which perhaps the asampurna mela scheme must have been formulated by Muddu Venkatamakhi/Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshitar.

LAKSHANA OF KAMBHOJI – PRE 1750:

The following musical texts can be examined in this regard:

  1. Govinda Dikshitar’s Sangita Sudha (SS) – Circa 1600
  2. Venkatamakhi’s Caturdandi Prakashika (CDP)- Circa 1650
  3. Shahaji’s Ragalakshanamu (RL)- Circa 1700
  4. Tulaja’s Saramrutha (SM)- Circa 1735

The analysis of the above musical texts in relation to Kambhoji can be summarized as :

Circa 1600:

Govinda Dikshitar in the SS says Kambhoji sports the Kaishiki nishada.²

Circa 1650:

In his seminal work CDP, Venkatamakhi the son of Govinda Dikshitar has this to say as Kambhoji’s raga lakshana:²

“Kambhoji ragah sampurnopyarohe ma ni vakritah”

(Vide Shloka 70 & 71, Raga Chapter, Caturdandi Prakashika (Sanskrit) – Edited by Pandit Subramanya Shastri and published by Music Academy)

The key operative words thus are ‘ma ni vakritah’, meaning madhyama and nishada are vakra in the arohana.

Circa 1700:

Shahaji in his “Ragalakshanamu” has this to say about Kambhoji:

Ma and Ni are varja in the arohana. It is a basha (raga) of Kakubha with shadja as graha/amsa/nyasa and to be rendered in the evenings. For the sake of rakti however Ma appears in some arohana phrases.³

Circa 1735:

King Tulaja mentions Kambhoji as one of his 21 melas and says that Kambhoji is described as “Ma Ni varjarohaniyam”- i.e Ma and Ni are varja in the aroha phrases and his illustrative murcchanas for Kambhoji are devoid of a linear RGMP, echoing Venkatamakhi’s stated position in the CDP. Also he does not mention usage of kakali nishada- alpa or otherwise.²

In the context of the above discussion, a few points need to be clarified:

  1. The Anubandha to the CDP as well as the lakshana shloka that Subbarama Dikshitar gives as Venkatamakhi’s in his SSP are considered as post 1750 works attributable to Venkatamakhi’s great grandson Muddu Venkatamakhi/Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshitar. What has been considered above is the shloka found in the CDP as edited by Pandit Subramanya Sastrigal & published in Sanskrit. As we will see latter, the CDP’s Anubandha as well the shloka found in the SSP varies from what was actually said by Venkatamakhi in the original CDP.
  2. The usage of the term “Sampurna” in older texts signifies a meaning slightly different from what it connotes today. In older times, a raga was considered sampurna if the seven svaras occurred in the raga’s murcchanas or in other words either in the arohana or avarohana. ³
  3. Similar to the usage and connotation of the term ‘sampurna’ as above, terminologies like raganga, bashanga, kriyanga & upanga meant something else in older days. Thus if Shahaji says Kambhoji was a bhasha of Kakubha, it meant that Kambhoji resembled or had the cchaya of that bhasha. In turn the bhasha raga is a melodic extension or elaboration of a grama raga.³

Now the pre 1750 position of Kambhoji can be summarized as:

  1. Madhyama was vakra or varja in aroha phrases and Ni was varja. Or in other words the purvanga portions of the raga’s murcchanas didn’t have the lineal SRGMPDS at all.
  2. The nishada of Kambhoji was undoubtedly kaishiki only and kakali nishada was not used at all.

As pointed out earlier, Venkatamakhi in his CDP had castigated Ramamatya in severe terms for his having documented in the Svaramelakalanidhi that Kambhoji sported the kakali nishada.² We have no means of going into that controversy as it may truly have been so & in that period between Ramamatya and Venkatamakhi ( ~100 years), Kambhoji’s nishada might have morphed. Or it could also be the case of printer’s devil or rather copyist devil.

govindadikshitar

Govinda Dikshitar and his wife Nagamambal (parents of Venkatamakhi) Photo Courtesy : THE HINDU

LAKSHANA OF KAMBHOJI – POST 1750:

For this time period namely 1750-1900 the following music texts can be considered:

  1. The Anubandha to the CDP as edited & published by the Music Academy
  2. Sangraha Cudamani of Govindacarya again as edited & published by the Music Academy
  3. Subbarama Dikshitar’s Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini

ANUBANDHA TO CDP (CIRCA 1750):

The lakshana shloka for Kambhoji found in the Anubandha to the CDP (attributable to Muddu Venkatamakhi) defines Kambhoji thus: ²

“Kambhoji ragascharohe gani varjitah”

While the recital in the original CDP goes as “Ma Ni Vakritah”, the anubandha shloka talks of Kambhoji being “Ga Ni varjitah”! Was it by chance “Ma Ni varjitah” & probably some copyist erred in reproducing it? Again we will never know for sure. And so this confusion is there, etched in history for ever! Also there is no mention of usage of kakali nishada in this shloka.

We need to consider this shloka in the light of the lakshana gitam for Kambhoji composed by Muddu Venkatamakhi which is given by Subbarama Dikshitar in his SSP. In this gitam we can notice that in line with the lakshana shloka found, the gitam does not have SRGM phrase at all. It is SRMG only. In fact the gitam starts off with the murcchana ndSRMGR.¹

SSP 1904:

Interestingly Subbarama Dikshitar provides us a shloka in SSP attributing it to Venkatamakhi which is aligned to the Anubandha, but gives an extra line of verse to the effect that kakali nishada can be “appropriately” used in Kambhoji.¹

Kambhoji ragah sampurnah carohe gani vakritah |

Nishadah kakaliyuktah kvacit sthane prayujyathe ||

So according to Muddu Venkatamakhi (the author of the CDP Anubandha ) Ga and Ni are vakra in aroha phrases. And now per the SSP version of the shloka kakali nishada also appears appropriately in Kambhoji !

Subbarama Dikshitar in his SSP commentary skirts the issue. He says that the murcchana arohana/avarohana is SRGMPDNDS/SNDPMGRS. His representation gives the workaround for the nishada varja definition but none for M1 which appear as a straightforward sequential svara in the arohana as SRGMP. Also in all fairness, Subbarama Dikshitar to keep the record straight makes the reference to Venkatamakhi’s definition (in the CDP) of madhyama being varja in the arohana, but he does not develop/dwell on it further much to our disappointment.

So for us the other interesting aspect is the second added line (not found in the CDP Anubandha) which talks of Kambhoji also sporting kakali nishada and thus becoming bhashanga in modern day terms. We have no clue as to Subbarama Dikshitar’s source for this ‘modified’ shloka with the extra line pertaining to usage of kakali nishada. But nevertheless, it provides documented authority for us, for the first time in Kambhoji’s musical history, that kakali nishada is used in its sancaras, laying the foundation for modern day Kambhoji.

SANGRAHA CUDAMANI- CIRCA -18th/19th CE :

Moving over to Govinda’s Sangraha Cudamani , this is what he has to say of Kambhoji’s raga lakshana:²

Catushruti rishaba antara gandhara catushruthi dhaivatha svara kaishiki nishada |

Itara suddha aroha ni varjitha avaroha sampurna sa grahanyasamsa truputa yukta |

Harikambhoji mela janita Kambhoji ragah ||

Govinda’s enunciation of Kambhoji’s raga lakshana is clear as to nishada alone being vakra and again there is no mention of kakali nishada being used. Given the facts we have today, it wouldn’t be far from truth if we were to state that the modern day Kambhoji has its roots in the lakshana as propounded by Subbarama Dikshitar.

(To be continued)