The colourful nature of the bhāṣāṅga rāga-s, their ability to be used flexibly according to the intent of a composer were explained in an introductory article on these rāga-s. In this article, we will be venturing into Rudrapriyā, a representative of the bhāṣāṅga clan.
Rudrapriyā is not a very popular rāga though few can reconcile this rāga and relate it with the kṛti ‘amba paradēvatē’. But Rudrapriyā was very popular once and we do have a significant number of compositions to analyse this rāga.
– A bhāṣāṅga
treatise to elaborate this rāga is Saṅgita Saṃpradāya Pradarśini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
and Rudrapiyā is introduced as a dēśīya, bhāṣāṅga janya of the rāgāṅga rāga Śrī and takes the
svara-s therein. Though the given mūrcana is SRGMPDNS – SNPMGRS, this is really
a grand rāga and use various phrases outside the given mūrcana. In fact,
Rudrapiyā cannot be conceived with this scale alone and can be considered akin
to Kharaharapriyā. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar also says antara gāndhāra is employed in
some places where the phrase MGM occurs and this Rudrapriyā is called as
Hindustani Kāpi. We can infer two points from this valuable statement:
Antara gāndhāra do not or need not necessarily feature in all the places wherein the phrase MGM occurs. MGM with antara gāndhāra is used only by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, that too only once in his sañcāri. This was the hypothesis proposed in our previous article; use of a svara not seen in the parent scale in a bhāṣāṅga is an option!!
A rāga is given two different names based on the presence or absence of a svara. The necessity to employ two names for a single rāga is not known. Does Subbarāma Dīkṣitar mean to say Rudrapriyā (Rudrapriyā is a dēśīya rāga is to be remembered) was used in some other regions with antara gāndhāra, wherein it was called as Hindustani Kāpi ? Anyways this is a very clear indication that this rāga was called by more than one name. This point will be elaborated later.
nature of this rāga does not end only with its bhāsāṅga nature. The way it was
handed by various composers is equally intriguing. Before proceeding to analyse
the lakṣaṇa of this rāga, let us acquaint with the available compositions.
gives the following compositions notated in his treatise in addition to his own
Enduku rā rā – Rūpakam
– Subbarāma Dīkṣitar (occurs as a small segment in this rāgamālika)
For the kṛti ambā paradēvatē, both Śrī Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya and Śrī Subbarāma Dīkṣitar are to be given the credit. Whereas the former has written the lyrics, the latter tuned it. Since we are concerned with music, only Subbarāma Dīkṣitar will be associated with this kṛti henceforth.
anubandham of the same treatise, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives two more kṛti-s,
named as Rudrapriyā but with a different rāga lakṣaṇa:
Gaṇanāyakam – Catusra
Ēkam – Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
– Ādhi – Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
Since the last
two compositions differ considerably from the rest, they will be covered separately
in two subsequent articles. We will be analysing only the main Rudrapriyā here.
Apart from those
mentioned, three other compositions are attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar:
bhakto bhavāmi – Misra capu / Triputa
bhajarē – Ādhi
These Non – Pradarśini kṛti-s require special attention and they too will not be covered here.
Only the Dīkṣitar tribe has handled this rāga is clearly fathomable from the above discussion (Eṭṭappa Mahārāja, the composer of Tamiz kṛti was also a disciple of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar). Apart from the kṛti-s, we do not find any gīta in this rāga (gīta–s are usually given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar to demonstrate old phrases in a rāga). Also, there is a conspicuous absence of a kṛti by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar. This rāga was not even included by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar in any of his rāgamālika-s. These, along with the fact of not seeing this rāga in any of the earlier lakṣana grantha-s might make us to surmise this is a relatively a new rāga which must have come into circulation around 18th century. But, what is the reality?
It is to be remembered, absence of a rāga in the lakṣana grantha-s do not demote antiquity of a rāga. These treatises are not comprehensive in cataloging the rāga-s prevalent when they were written (also see the related discussion here). The information given in these treatises are to be conjunctively analysed with the available compositions to date a rāga. The following evidence show the perspicuous presence of this rāga even before the arrival of the mentioned kṛti-s.
Dakśiṇāśāsyam gurum vandē
This is a composition of Śrī Bhadrācalam Rāmadāsu (1620-1680) in the rāga Rudrapriyā. It is very surprising to see a composition on Dakśiṇāmūrti by Rāmadāsu. But worshiping Dakśiṇāmūrti is an integral part of Bhajana saṃpradāya and this kṛti could have been used to invoke Him in his daily bhajana. This kṛti, to the best knowledge of this author is not in circulation and this is the only version available.
This is more like a divyanama kīrtanam with a pallavi and multiple caraṇā-s. All the caraṇā-s have the same melodic structure. The melodic structure is much simple and devoid of any decorative saṅgati-s, characteristic of any old version. Rudrapriyā portrayed here highly confirms with the mūrcana mentioned earlier excluding two significant signature phrases, SDNP and SNDNP which transgress the mūrcana mentioned proving it a non-scalar rāga.
Jagannatha Rao, who gave us this version make a note that this is also called
as Śuddha Kāpi. We request to reiterate the point mentioned earlier; this rāga
had multiple names !!
two evidences additionally prove the existence of this rāga during 18th
This is a composition of Śrī Mazavai Cidambara Bhārathi who lived in early part of the19th century. He is said to be a contemporary of Kavikuñjara Bhārathi, whose period is said to be between 1810 and 1896.
This kṛti can be seen in the book published by The Music Academy, but labelled as a different raga – Karnāṭaka Kāpi !! Perhaps, this name could have been in common use and a variant of this rāga with antara gāndharam was called as Hindustani Kāpi. Subbarāma Dikṣitar having been aware of this polyonymy (especially Karnāṭaka Kāpi) gives us the variant name alone. This is extremely possible, as Subbarāma Dīkṣitar was proud of his heritage and he must have felt this rāga is to be named as Rudrapriyā as Vēṅkaṭamakhī followed this nomenclature (in the treatise that was available to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar). Our doubt gets more validated if we observe the fact that the kṛti ‘rudra kōpa’ by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar lacks the rāga mudra Rudrapriyā!!
portrayed here is exactly like Rudrapriyā sans two phrases – SNDNM and SDP. The
phrase SNDNM occur in the beginning of this kṛti as seen below:
da n m
m ga r
ri s r
g I m ; ; r g I s ri m
pa ni ri II
krupai.. tan..dhu..rak.shi yiyam yo…ga ga na..yi..ke..jaga
Svara-s in bold denote tāra sthāyi
SNDNM is replaced by SNDPM in the second saṅgati. This phrase was an original construction or a printing error is not to be identified. Though SNDNM appears odd, a similar phrase PDNM is there in the Rudrapriyā segment, seen in the rāgamālika of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. The phrase SDP is found nowhere in the compositions notated by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar; rather, it is seen in the kṛti by Rāmadāsu. This is an allowed phrase and not used by Dīkṣitar Quartette or is a corrupt phrase that occurred due to the passage of time or a printing error cannot be ascertained.
This is a
hitherto unknown svarajati composed in the rāgam Karnāṭaka Kāpi. It is seen in a manuscript whose
authorship too is not traceable. This is composed in the style of Svarajati-s
composed by Śrī Śyāma Śāstri. This has a pallavi and four caraṇā-s. Predominant
phrases seen include ṠNDNP, ṠNPM, NGR and ṠNPṠNPM. It very well corresponds
with the rāga lakṣaṇa described above excluding a single phrase MNDPM.
From the above discussion it is unquestionable that Rudrapriyā was indeed a very old rāga. More importantly, it must have been called by various names at different part of this country.
structure of Rudrapriyā and its possible relationship with Karnāṭaka Kāpi
lineage is same for all the Dīkṣitar members, each one has carved their own
style in approaching a rāga. This is explicitly seen in the rāga-s which are
bestowed with a composition from more than one Dīkṣitar. Rudrapriyā is one such
and this heterogeneity is seen its full glory here. The main feature of
Rudrapriyā will be described in brief, which will be followed by a discussion
on their individual style.
features of Rudrapriyā
earlier, a broad picture about this rāga is given only by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
and the compositions therein are lexicons to understand this rāga in its full
grandeur. This rāga has many unique features to distinguish it from its saṃpūrṇa
allies like Kharaharapriya and Kāpi (the old one) which can be grasped by
learning and analysing these compositions.
Subbarāma Dīkṣitar says niṣādha, gāndhāra, madhyamaṃ and riṣabha are the pivotal svara-s. Compositions start or end only with one of these svara-s. There is a profuse use of janṭa niṣādha and gāndhāra. With this idea let us analyse the individual compositions. When the compositions are analysed, there are some important prayōga-s which traduce the mūrcana given, like SDNP, SNDNP, DNDNP, SRM and SMGM. Apart from this, plenty of dhāṭṭu prayōga-s like MGNPGR, GDGN can be seen. All these prayōga-s, are unanimously used in all the sthāyi-s, unlike Rītigaula wherein the phrase NPNNS is used only in the mandra sthāyi.
kōpa of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
follows the lakṣana mentioned above. The āvarta-s start only with the above
mentioned four pivotal svara-s apart from sadja and pañcama. Janṭa ṛṣabha as GRR
is more commonly used other janta niṣādha and gāndhāra. We see dhāṭṭu prayōga-s
like MGNPGR. In all these aspects, we see similar handling of this rāga among the
seen are as below:
use of janṭa svara is much less than that used by Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar. Also, the
gamakam used for these janṭa svara-s are different. Apart from spuritam, we
also find kampitam and nokku for these janṭa svara-s.
predominant avarōhaṇa phrase in this kṛti is SDNP and SNP. We never get to see
the phrase SNDNP. Though a composer is not expected to use all the phrases to
visualise his rāga, certain phrases become important as either they define a rāga
or has been by all the composers whomsoever has handled that rāga. SNDNP, being
such an important phrase can be in the kṛti-s of Rāmadāsu, Cidambara Bharati, Bālasvāmy
and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. It is surprising that this was not used in this kṛti.
compensate for the phrase SNDNP, we find a new phrase seen in this kṛti – MN(N)G.
This occur twice, first in bhadrakāli and second in mālikā, both in anupallavi.
This phrase is not seen in any of the compositions mentioned above, inclusive
of the kṛti-s of Rāmadāsu and Cidambara Bharati. This phrase reminisce the composition
‘suma sāyaka’ of Svāti Tirunāḷ. The first text to publish this Kṛti with
notation is Bālāmṛtam by S Raṅganātha Ayyar. He mention the rāga of this varṇam
as Kāpi. The present version has plenty of ṠNP, ṠNDNP, NRG which all feature in
Rudrapriyā. On the other hand, these are not found in the old Kāpi. The old Kāpi
is now living through the compositions of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and other
Pre-Trinity composers notated in Pradarśini. We too have Vālājapeṭṭai
manuscripts giving the compositions of Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ in this rāgaṃ (the kṛti-s
of Svāmigaḷ that we commonly hear in the rāga Kāpi were all mutated and
mutilated in the last century). Interestingly this phrase MNG is not seen in
any of the old Kāpi compositions. All these might make us to surmise Rudrapriyā
could have been alternatively called as Karṇāṭaka Kāpi in the past (along with
its other known and unknown names). We are now left with another question – the
reason for not seeing this phrase in the composition of other composers. We can
exclude the compositions of Rāmadāsu and Cidambara Bharati, as they are small kṛti-s.
But, not seeing even in magnificent edifices of Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
dēvasēnāpati and Nīvē raśikhāmaṇi of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar
The kṛti ‘nīvē raśikhāmaṇi’ could have been one of the initial compositions of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar on Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Maharāja. The kṛti ‘vaḷḷī dēvasēnāpati’ is unique in that it is one of the three compositions composed by Bālasvāmy on Kazugumalai Subraḥmaṇya Svāmi. Rest of his compositions were all on various Maharāja-s of Eṭṭayapuram.
These two kṛti-s
are better exemplars, even more than the ‘rudra kōpa’ of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.
Plenty of janṭa gāndhāra and niṣadha can be seen in these kṛti-s. Here the janṭa
svara-s are handled predominantly with the spurita gamakam. The predominant
avarōhaṇa phrases are PDNDP, PDNDNDP, ṠDNP, ṠNDNP and ṠNDNṠ (the last two
phrases are absent in ‘rudra kōpa’). We also find phrases SMGM, GRR, NG and NR,
PDNS (in mandra sthāyi). All these phrases give a wholesome structure covering
an entire gamut of this rāga. Rudrapriyā flows through the dhāṭṭu prayōga-s and
the ciṭṭa svaram affixed to the kṛti ‘nīvē raśikhāmaṇi’ is captivating. The
third āvarta goes as NṠṘN GNDN MGNP GR with plenty of three-s. Also, ṠṘĠṀ can
The kṛti nīvē raśikhāmaṇi interpreted from the treatise of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be heard here.
nambinēn of Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Mahārāja
This is much in
line with the other kṛti-s and uses some special phrases used like ṘDD. Also,
extreme importance is given to riṣabham as a jīva svaram. This was composed by
Jagadvīra Rāma Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭappa Mahārāja who ruled between 1853 and 1858.
paradēvatē and Enduku rā rā of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
The rāga approach
by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be considered as a combination of both Muddusvāmy and
Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar. Whereas we find almost all the prayōga-s used by Bālasvāmy
in these two compositions, we also find some phrases like PDP, PNṠ, ṘDD and
PDNM which are not seen in the compositions of Bālasvāmy. Though the janṭa
svara prayōga-s are more seen in this kṛti when compared to that of Muddusvāmy
Dīkṣitar, it is certainly lesser than what is seen in the works of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar.
The ciṭṭa svara
segment attached to this kṛti is very unique and displays the craftsmanship of Subbarāma
Dīkṣitar. It runs for 32 āvarta-s and every āvarta starts with ṛṣabham. This 32
āvarta svara segment composed by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is much different from the
abridged version that we hear today and it is a question to ponder on the
composer of this abridged version. Also, the manōdharma that we hear frequently
only display the scalar Rudrapriyā. Though we enjoy the modern versions and are
equally pleasant to hear, these old tunes conceived by the composer are to be
at least archived as they not only serve as an example to understand the rāga
conceived by the composer, they also teach us the svarūpa of the rāga extant
during their times. Here, the various ways in which the jīva svara ṛṣabham can
be employed in various ways is demonstrated. These can be adopted by us to
resurrect the rāga Rudrapriya,
rather than following the scale.
The presence of
the phrase ṘDD along with an importance given to ṛṣabham makes us to understand
the influence of Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Mahārāja on Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.
grand rāga of the past is mainly characterised by janṭa and dhāṭṭu prayōga-s. This
rāga has very many phrases outside the prescribed mūrcana and only an untainted
version of the kṛti-s preserved by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and from other older/original
versions help us to understand this rāga. The kṛti-s of Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma
Dīkṣitar epitomize this rāga more than even the mentioned kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.
Sadly, the rāga portrayed in majority of the versions that we hear today is
mainly scalar and fail to project the beauty of this rāga in its full capacity.
Unlike Rītigaula, the phrases in this rāga are not sthāyi specific – all the phrases occur in all the octaves.The name Rudrapriyā could have been in circulation only with the family of Dīkṣitar and this rāga could have been called by multiple names in the past. Perhaps, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar could have been the single person endorsing this name. The rāga Kārnāṭaka Kāpi mentioned in various texts could be this Rudrapriyā and we need to search for original versions to get a clear picture.
This also highlight the importance of collecting the manuscripts preserved at various places to understand rāga-s of the past.
Footnote 1 – Whereas the Tamiz edition of Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī read as ‘anuvadana’ in anupallavi, the original Telugu version read as ‘ajavadana’. This difference was overlooked by this author in his rendition. This is a mistake and is deeply regretted.
This raga Rudrapriya as listed in
the Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini (“SSP”) which we take up in this
blog post along with the compositions available to us, would confound any
student or practitioner of music when viewed against the available
musicological texts and musicological history. The objective of this blog post
is to evaluate the material available to us and seek a plausible explanation
for the confusing or contradictory aspects. This raga belonging to the mela
varga or the clan of ragas under Mela 22 Sriraga, is a raga of late 18th
century vintage (post 1750 AD), as it is not seen in the prior musicological
texts, such as those of Shahaji or Tulaja.
Overview of Rudrapriya:
In the modern musical parlance, the raga
Rudrapriya is an upanga janya under Mela 22 Sriraga, taking all the 7 notes in
the arohana lineally while dropping the dhaivata note in the avarohana.
Arohana krama/murcchana: S R2
G2 M1 P D2 N2 S
Avarohana krama/murcchana: S N2 P M1 G2 R2 S
Simple as the definition may sound, yet the
raga plays hosts to a number of unique features beyond what is conveyed by the
above skeletal definition, which is also the source of confusion for us. We
will start the exercise of dissecting the raga, from the commentary provided by
Subbarama Dikshitar in the SSP and the exemplar compositions provided
The SSP’s take on Rudrapriya:
According to Subbarama Dikshitar:
raga is bhashanga
sampurna with dhaivatha being varjya in the avarohana
is the graha svara of the raga
a desya raga
raga can be sung at all times
is a key note of the raga, identified by the dheergha note in the arohana krama
and the Janta combination with which it occurs in the avarohana
and gandhara are the other jiva and nyasa svaras
A brief evaluation of the above commentary
in the modern context is required for us to understand the raga and let us
taken them up seriatim.
Subbarama Dikshitar says that the raga is bhashanga, it is not so in the modern
sense. As pointed out earlier in our other blog posts, such as the one on
Gopikavasanta raga, a proper reading of the SSP as a whole would show that
Subbarama Dikshitar has presented the term “bhashanga” in its older sense, when
ragas were classified as upanga, bhashanga and kriyanga ragas on an entirely
different aspect. The perusal of the Lakshya Gitam of Sriraga, the parent raga
of the 22nd Mela varga in the SSP would show that Sriranjani,
Madhyamavati and Devamanohari are also shown as bhashanga janya ragas of the
mela (22), which we know, they are not, in the modern sense. Today we call a
raga bhashanga if it takes a note which is foreign to the parent scale. Rudrapriya
does not take any note from outside the notes of Mela 22 so is upanga in the
context of the SSP, it has to be pointed out that Rudrapriya is not mentioned
in the Sriraga lakshya gitam either as a upanga or a bhashanga janya
thereunder. Suffice to state that the
raga must have been inducted into the Anubandha listing (to the Catur Dandi
Prakashika probably authored by Muddu Venkatamakhin) much later in time.
as a foot note at the very end of the last composition provided as the
exemplar, Subbarama Dikshitar makes a mention that the prayoga M1G2M1
in certain places is rendered as M1G3M1 which is called as
Hindustani Kapi. Without wading into this controversial point at this juncture
as to the usage of G3/antara gandhara alluded to by Subbarama Dikshitar and
confining ourselves to Rudrapriya alone, we can safely conclude the following
none of the exemplar compositions that Subbarama Dikshitar cites in the SSP,
does MG3M occur or is so notated.
usage of G3 may have been seen by Subbarama Dikshitar during his times but was
not an intrinsic part of the sastraic definition of Rudrapriya.
for us today therefore is a upanga janya under Mela 22 taking no foreign notes.
Subbarama Dikshitar says that the raga is sampurna. What it meant in the older
context was that taking together both arohana and avarohana krama all the seven
notes occurred in the raga. And given that dhaivatha was varjya in the
avarohana, Subbarama Dikshitar rightly provides his summary so. From a
practical perspective thus the musical motif SN2P becomes
defining to mark out this raga. Further since D2 is said to be varjya, or
avoided in the avarohana, the phrase SN2D2N3P should not occur in the raga.
Dikshitar’s reference to sadja being the graha svara of the raga is superfluous
for us today, for even by the late 18th Century ragas had adopted
the sadja note only as the graha svara. The erstwhile architectural construct
of svaras other than sadja, being graha or the commencement/basal note had long
to Subbarama Dikshitar, Rudrapriya is a desya raga. The concept of desi/desya
ragas as referred to by him relates to the aspect of the origin of the raga.
Ragas were classed as Ghana, Naya and Desi right from the days of Shahaji
(circa 1700). A century before Shahaji, Venkatamakhin (circa 1620 AD) in his
trail blazing ‘Caturdandi Prakashika’ is seen using the term ‘desi raga’ and identifies
Kalyani and Pantuvarali/Ramakriya as desi. Venkatamakhin uses the term
“turuska”, meaning Turkish or a Moslem import into Indian music. Though the
practice of classifying ragas as ghana, naya and desya had gone out of vogue,
still in the SSP, Subbarama Dikshitar has in his commentary of the ragas called
out certain ragas as desya ragas- for example Pharaz, Nayaki etc. These so
called ‘auttara’ or foreign origin ragas probably imported into our Music from
the North were nevertheless seen as ranjaka or pleasing to the ear and hence
came to be accepted along with the other established and ordained ragas, by the
Subbarama Dikshitar’s description that Rudrapriya is a raga which can be sung
at all times of the day, relates to a concept which has long since died out in
our system of music. As we saw in prior blog posts, SSP still latches on to this
concept of ragas and the time of the day in which they are to be rendered, for
instance the raga Ahiri is supposed to be sung in the first quarter of the
night ( bhANa yAmE pragIyatE). Again, suffice to say that this concept of
singing a raga at the anointed time has long since gone out of vogue.
according to Subbarama Dikshitar, the janta nishadha is a unique feature of the
raga which is reinforced in the arohana/avarohana murchana krama that he
provides. It is janta in the arohana krama and dheergha in the avarohana krama.
apart Subbarama Dikshitar also identifies gandhara (dhirgha) and rishabha as
preferred jeeva and nyasa svaras. We can see the import of these when we
discuss the exemplar kritis in the sections to follow.
In sum, the Rudpriya of the SSP goes as
an upanga janya raga under mela 22.
It is sampurna
in the arohana and devoid of dhaivatha in the avarohana krama.
Nishadha, dirgha nishadha and gandhara are the hallmarks of this raga with
rishabha figuring as a preferred jiva and nyasa note.
Though Subbarama Dikshitar does not specify
unique motifs for the raga, nevertheless we will endeavour to identify them
when we study some of the exemplar kritis later on in this blog post.
Kritis in the SSP:
Apart from providing the lakshana of the
raga, Subbarama Dikshitar lists out the following compositions for us in the
SSP as illustrating Rudrapriya:
Kopa Jaatha Veerabadhram Ashyraye” of Muthusvami Dikshitar in rupaka tala,
composed on Lord Veerabadhra, the Lord of the Shiva Ganas and considered an
aspect of Lord Shiva Himself in the Hindu mythology.
Senapathi” of Balasvami Dikshitar in Rupaka tala, a composition in Telugu
propitiating Lord Subramanya at Kazhugumalai (or Kazhugachalam or Grudhra Giri)
wherein he seeks the Lord’s benign blessings for his Royal patron Kumara
Ettendra. It may be pointed out here that the Lord at Kazhughachalam/Kazhughumalai
was the presiding deity of the Ettayapuram Royals who were the patrons of the Dikshitars.
rasikashikamani” a daru (ode) again of Balasvami Dikshitar in Adi tala on his
Royal patron Venkatesvara Ettappa, the then Ruler of Ettayapuram.
paradevate” of Krishnasvami Ayya in matya capu tala
Unnai nambinen ayya” a composition by Venkatesvara Ettappa, again on the Lord
own sancari in matya tala.
While this is the listing from the main
SSP, in the Anubandha, Subbarama Dikshitar lists out two more compositions in
this raga attributing the same to Muthusvami Dikshitar:
first being a kriti on Lord Ganesha, “Gananayakam Bhajeham” in Adi tala. It is
the notation of this kriti and the extant versions of the same which causes
considerable confusion to a discerning listener of music, which we will deal
with in the relevant discography section.
second is “Tyagesam Bhajare” again in
Outside the ken of the SSP, from amongst
the lot of kritis which came to be published by Veenai Sundaram Iyer
purportedly from out of the palm leaf manuscripts of Ambi Dikshitar, the son of
Subbarama Dikshitar, we have three kritis attributed to Muthusvami Dikshitar,
available to us:
Bhaktobhavami” (misra capu tala) as part of the set of vibakti kritis on Lord
Tyagaraja of Tiruvarur
in Rupaka tala
in Adi tala
While we take up a few key individual
compositions for analysis, we will also briefly look at the other collateral
aspects of the composition and its subject matter to bolster our understanding
and also enhance our appreciation of the raga and the composition, in unison.
Kopa Jaatha” of Muthusvami Dikshitar:
This kriti is on Lord Veerabadhra,
considered by some as a form of Lord Shiva himself, but yet the popular
mythology places the deity as having been born out of Lord Shiva’s wrath as Muthusvami
Dikshitar very neatly encapsulates it in the opening pallavi of the
composition. Let’s first look at the lyrics and the meaning of the composition.
sadA – Always,
hRdaye – in (my) heart,
AshrayE – I surrender to
vIrabadhram – Lord Virabhadra,
rudra-kOpa-jAta – He whose arose from Shiva’s
– the Consort of Bhadrakali,
bhava-haraNam – the remover of (the sorrows
of) worldly existence,
the one whose feet are adroit in granting prosperity,
one ornamented with garland strung of Rudraksha beads,
preventer of petty or cruel effects,
bhakta-bharaNam – the supporter of devotees,
vijita-vidhi-hari-hari-hayam – the one who subdued Brahma, Vishnu and
Indra (who has golden horses),
vira-adhi-vIram – the bravest of the brave,
abhayam – the fearless one,
rajata-parvata-Ashayam – the one residing in the silver hued mountain,
ravi-vidhu-tEjOmayam – the one who embodies the sun, moon
gaja-mukha-gaNEsha raksham – the protector of the elephant-faced
aja-vadana-daksha-shiksham– the one who taught a lesson to the goat-faced Daksha,
nija-rUpa-dAna-daksham – the adept at granting knowledge of
one’s real self,
nija-guruguha-svapakShststayiam – the one who has his preceptor Guruguha on
The composition encapsulates the portion of the story of Sati or Dakshayani, Daksha’s (son of Lord Brahma) daughter who married Lord Shiva, much against Daksha’s objections. When She attempted to seek the rightful share of the sacrificial offering (haavis) in the yajna that her father conducted, without duly inviting Lord Shiva, Daksha insulted her & Lord Shiva and thereupon Sati immolated herself. It was at this juncture Lord Shiva upon hearing the fate of Sati, was subsumed by anger at Daksha. And in wrath he plucked the locks of his matted hair and split them into two. From one rose Lord Veerabadhra or Aghora Veerabadhra and from the other, his consort Goddess Mahakali appeared. Lord Shiva bade them to go and destroy Daksha’s sacrifice in divine retribution for the sacrilege that he had committed. When Lord Veerabadhra leading Shiva’s bhutaganas, descended on the place where Daksha was conducting his yajna, a great war ensued between them and the Gods including Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Indra on Daksha’s side. Lord Veerabadhra defeated the Gods and exacted revenge by slaying Daksha. When Lord Shiva was thereafter duly propitiated by the Gods, he condescended and revived Daksha by fixing a goat’s head on his decapitated torso. Sati was thereafter reborn as Parvati (daughter of Himavan) and she duly reunited with Lord Shiva. The esoteric worship of Lord Veerabadhra and the related mantras propitiating him can be accessed here.
Muthusvami Dikshitar adroitly weaves this
puranic lore dealing with Lord Veerabadhra in this composition by the following
rudra kOpa jAta, – Veerabadhra
being born out of Lord Shiva’s wrath
Veerabadhra being the consort of Bhadra Kali.
Vijita-vidhi-hari-hari hayam – In the war that
took place between Veerabadhra and Daksha’s forces, Veerbadhra vanquishing Lord
Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Indra
Rajata-parvata-Ashryam – As a
Commander of Lord Shiva’s Ganas, Veerabadhra being a resident of Mount Kailasa,
referred to as a silver hued mountain
Veerabadhra by slaying Daksha for his act of sacrilege thus teaching him a
As is his wont, in the body of the composition,
Dikshitar weaves in part, the raga mudra and his colophon ‘guruguha’ in the
lyrics, even while keeping his date with prasa concordance. It has to be
mentioned that the lyrics provides no specific stala/ksetra reference as the
abode of the deity.
The notation of the composition in the SSP
would show the following for us:
SGRS (especially in tara stayi) forms the alternative progression of the raga
on the purvanga. Actually, SRG is not seen in tara stayi and almost as a rule
only SGR is seen.
uttaranga, PDNS in the madhya stayi and MPNS in the mandhara stayi, (for
example the notation of the lyric “abhayam” in the caranam) are the prayogas
seen. It has to be noted that both PDNS and PNS are thus used in the
composition with the caveat that PDNS figures in the madhya stayi and PNS in
the mandhara stayi.
foregoing would clearly show that the raga conforms to the 18th
Century raga architecture whereby different/multiple progressions in
purvanga-uttaranga are taken in the madhya and mandhara stayi.
NgrsNP and sgrsNP along with MGM are recurring motifs with rishabha being a
preferred phrase ending note.
nishadha and kampita gandhara are seen used. In fact,the NNsNPM can be anointed
as the leitmotif of the raga (the lower case sadja being the tara sadja note).
However, this specific murccana is not found explicitly in this composition,
terms of octaval traversal, the kriti stretches from mandhara madhyama to tara
always Dikshitar unveils his conception of the raga with its delectable turns
and twists, in the madhyama kala sahitya section starting “gajamukha”. The
musical notation of this segment of the composition being the finale goes thus:
Note: Notes in lower case is mandhara
stayi, upper case is madhya stayi and italics is tara stayi.
For this composition, presented is a
compact and almost close to the SSP notation, rendering of the composition by
the Rudrapatnam Brothers in this Youtube audio recording with a raga vinyasa,
kriti rendering followed by a few avarta of svaras.
However, the following points merit
attention in the context of the rendering above:
raga vinyasa could have been structured with more janta nishadhas and by ending
the musical phrases with rishabha note so as to remove any traces suggestive of
lyrical portions of the caranam being “harihayam” and “abhayam” ought to have
been rendered as per SSP with the notation as RnRGM and npmpns respectively.
Instead it is heard as SRGM and npdns. To that extent the fidelity to the
notation of the SSP is not seen in the rendering barring which the rendering otherwise
closely aligns to the SSP.
madhyama kala carana portion is brought out satisfactorily in accordance with
the SSP notation.
There are other renderings of this
composition but they do not meet the benchmark set by SSP and are at best left alone.
With this we move on the next kriti.
Before we embark on dissecting this
composition, a brief note on some aspects of this composition merit our
This composition was published as a part of the Anubandha to the SSP by Subbarama Dikshitar attributing the same to Muthusvami Dikshitar. Some scholars cite this as an infirmity, in a sense, whether the composition was indeed Dikshitar’s and why was it that Subbarama Dikshitar made it part of the Anubandha rather than making it part of the SSP itself.
Further in support of this point of view it is argued that:
The eduppu or the take-off of “Gananayakam” (½ edam of the second beat of the adi tala) and it overall rhythmic format is reminiscent of the style of Tyagaraja. This feature is not seen in any kriti of Muthusvami Dikshitar and thus is stylistically alien to him.
The melody or musical setting/mettu of this composition is uncannily similar or exactly the same as that of “Sri Manini Manohara” a composition of Tyagaraja which goes with the raga name of Poornasadjam. It has to be pointed out that the Anubandha to the SSP states that raga of ‘Gananayakam” as Rudrapriya and not Poornasadjam.
Thus, we are left holding with an issue as
to the antecedents of this composition which can boiled down into the following
a composition of Muthusvami Dikshitar?
is the raga lakshana of Rudrapriya found documented for this composition in the
Anubandha to the SSP?
Rudrapriya and Poornasadjam same or similar, or are they different?
We will proceed to find a satisfactory
explanation for these vexing questions by adopting the following methodology:
the composition from a lyrical and musical perspective (both with the notation
found in the Anubandha and the extant renderings of the composition)
the composition from a musical perspective with “Rudrakopa Jaata” and ‘Sri
the take of musicologists on these questions, if any and summarize our
The notation of the composition:
The Anubandha to the SSP documents the
notation of “Gananayakam” ( catusra eka tala). The perusal would show a number
of distinctive aspects:
is completely avoided both in the arohana and avarohana
kriti itself is architected with the nominal arohana/avarohana murchanas as
S G R G M N
N S / S N P M G R S
to emphasize the core raga lakshana of Rudrapriya, Nishadha note is made the
pivot of the composition both the dheergha and the janta variety littering this
short and exquisite piece.
is invited to stark contrast between the musical texture of “Rudra Kopa Jaatha”
and “Gananayakam” especially the dropping of the dhaivatha note in both arohana
& avarohana and pancama in the ascent.
When we examine the available recordings of
this composition, we have two main varieties of rendering:
1 -Rendering strictly based on the Anubandha notation eschewing dhaivatha
completely in both the arohana and avrohana while pancama in avoided in the
2- Rendering of the composition by normalizing the phrases to incorporate PDNS
wherever MNNS occurs, throughout the composition. This would make the raga
lakshana of the composition to accord with the version laid out in the main SSP
of which ‘Rudrakopa Jaatha” is the exemplar.
In this I present the mellifluous vocalist Sangita
Kalanidhi Dr M L Vasanthakumari rendering the composition fully in accordance
with the Anubandha to the SSP notation. Attention is invited to the musical
notes of the lyrics “dayakam” in the anupallavi, “viradham” in the carana and
the svara kalpana sally on the pallavi wherein the MNNS (not PDNS) figures as
the building block for her. Both “dayakam” and “viradham” are notated as MNNS
in the anubandha to the SSP and she sings the same in strict accordance with
Sangita Kalanidhi D K Jayaraman of the Ambi
Dikshitar sishya parampara sings in accordance with the notation found in the
If we surmise that this was the Ambi
Dikshitar version was this how it was taught?
I present the rendering of the legendary
Sangita Kalanidhi Dr M S Subbulakshmi who begins one of her innumerable
concerts with ‘Gananayakam Bhajeham”. Attention is invited to the musical notes
of the lyrics “dayakam” in the anupallavi, “viradham” in the carana and the
svara kalpana sally on the pallavi wherein the PDNS figures as the building
block for her. Both “dayakam” and “viradham” are notated as MNNS in the Anubandha
to the SSP and NOT as PDNS as she sings.
I next present a detailed exposition by
Sangita Kalacharya Dr S Rajam who too traced his patham to Ambi Dikshitar.
Attention is invited to the introduction he
provides to the raga before commencing his recital. Again, if he too had learnt
it from Ambi Dikshitar, why is the version of the composition is different as
between him and Sri D K Jayaraman? Food for thought, one should say.
Dichotomy in the Raga Lakshana:
The discography above as evidenced by the
two versions poses us with the further question whether the raga of Gananayakam
is Rudrapriya, as exemplified by “Rudra Kopa Jaatha”. The raga seen in ‘Gananayakam’,
being totally devoid of dhaivatha and eschewing panchama in the ascent, cannot
be melodically equated to the Rudrapriya of “Rudra Kopa jaatha”. Yet Subbarama
Dikshitar in his wisdom calls the raga of both the compositions as Rudrapriya.
It is in this context that the raga
lakshana found in ‘Gananayakam” came to be found as being exactly like the one
in Tyagaraja’s “Sri Manini” and similar to the famous ‘Lavanya Rama” which are
labelled in all musical texts as being in the raga by name Poornasadjam.
Without wading into the two Tyagaraja kritis, lest we deviate away from the
subject matter Dikshitar kritis on hand, I refer the reader to the rendering of
the two compositions by the late Vidvan Ramnad Krishnan, available in the public
Which now leaves us with the question as to
the difference between Rudrapriya and Poornasadjam.
two ragas can be compared with the available musicological records as
is found mentioned only in Muddu Venkatamakhin’s Ragalakshanam and in
Subbarama Dikshitar’s SSP. No other prior musicological text talks about this
is found documented only in Sangraha Cudamani and the later Ragalakshanamu.
As reiterated in these blog posts the Sangraha Cudamani (SC) is found to be documenting
the ragas of the compositions of Tyagaraja.
of the raga
22 – Sri Raga or the
equivalent heptatonic mela Karaharapriya
20 – Natabhairavi or
Narabhairavi, as SC calls the Mela, the raga is seen documented in SC.
S R G M P
D N S
S N P M G
S P M P D
P S and
S N D M G
varjya or vakra
omitted in the descent
and Ni omitted in ascent and Pa being omitted in the descent. The sloka in
the SC as well as the Ragalakshanamu are individually as well as mutually,
noticed to be inconsistent
Compositions we hear today
Kopa Jaatha” of Muthuswami Dikshitar and “Amba Paradevate” by Krishnaswami
composition exists in this scale
The very perusal of the authoritative
musicological texts would show that the ragas going by the names of Rudrapriya (found
only in Muddu Venkatamakhin’s raga compendium and the SSP) and Poornasadjam (found
only in the Sangraha Cudamani and its related text called Ragalakshanamu) are
so dissimilar originating in different melas and having different scales. And
further there is no raga similar to Rudrapriya (of SSP) documented in the
Sangraha Cudamani. The facts as above would lead us to only one conclusion:
raga of “Sri Manini Manohara” is not Poornasadjam as the notes found in the
composition belong to the 22 Mela, given that Purnasadjam is a janya of the 20th
mela, on the authority of the Sangraha Cudamani.
assignment of the name Poornasadjam as the raga of “Sri Manini” is most
possibly a misattribution, borne out of ignorance of musicological history, a
phenomenon we have seen repeatedly in the case of a number of instances as
documented in these blog posts, by which some name has been randomly been
assigned to the raga.
the raga of “Sri Manini Manohara” is therefore not Poornasadjam as defined by
The above table for the raga that we today call
as Poornasadjam will be thus:
raga that we today call as Poornasadjam
textual or musicological authority exists for the raga. Only Post 1906 AD
publications talk about this raga.
of the raga
S R G M N
(N) S /S N P M G R S
varjya or vakra
completely omitted in the raga and pancama is omitted in the ascent
Compositions we hear today
Manini Manohara” and “Lavanya Rama”
the raga of certain oral versions of “Gananayakam” (as we saw by Dr M S
Subbulakshmi) and the notation that is given in the Anubandha to the SSP
conform to this scale, we still call the raga of “Gananayakam” as Rudrapriya
only and NOT as Poornasadjam.
Therefore, the question that survives for
our consideration is given the similarity of the tonal material of “Sri Manini”
with “Gananayakam” and on the authority of the Anubandha to the SSP, can the
raga of “Sri Manini” also be Rudrapriya?
Amba Paradevate of Krishnasvami Ayya:
But before we embark to find the answer to
this question, we should look at the other compositions, renderings of which
are available for us. In the same breath we have to note that the other
compositions in the SSP, being the two compositions of Balasvami Dikshitar, the
kriti of Venkatsvara Ettappa and the sancari are aligned to the Rudrapriya
described by Subbarama Dikshitar and delineated in “Rudra Kopa Jaata”. All
these compositions go with the SRGMPDNS/SNPMGRS as the common murccana arohana/avarohana,
whereas “Gananayakam” goes with the melodic structure of SRGMNNS/SNPMGRS in
Leaving this at this point, we take up the
exposition of Rudrapriya by the renowned Sangita Kalanidhi Flute T Visvanathan
who prefaces his demonstration of Krishnasvami Ayya’s “Amba Paradevate” with
his commentary of the raga and its lakshana.
Here is the audio of the rendering: Link (requires Yahoo or Gmail sign in credentials)
is a live video of his rendering (excerpt) of the same: Link
It has to be said that though the doyen’s
presentation of the composition is par excellent, it is tinted much with Karaharapriya,
with no distinguishing features in place. The rendering may be immaculate from
a scalar grammar perspective duly avoiding the dhaivatha in the descent but
does it convey the melodic idea of Rudrapriya as a scale distinctive in itself?
I leave the answer to a discerning listener to decide for himself. One can
however say with certainty that the musical texture and conception of
Rudrapriya as seen in “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” is nowhere seen in ‘Amba Paradevate”
atleast from this popular rendering of the composition.
And to conclude our exploration of
Rudrapriya we move over to the final piece of this discography section.
“Sri Tyagarajasya Bakthobhavami” of
We move on next to this composition which
is not found in the SSP. This composition is identified by certain
musicologists as being part of a set of compositions being the Vibakti
set/series of kritis on Lord Tyagaraja at Tiruvarur. While in the SSP,
Subbarama Dikshitar clearly identifies such sets of compositions (example the
Vaara kritis and the Navavarana Kritis on Goddess Kamalamba) by way of his foot
notes, no such reference is made by him in so far as this set of compositions
go. Be that as it may I first take up the rendering of the composition by Vidushi
The evaluation of this rendering assuming
it is as per the published notation of this composition would yield us the
Vidushi embarks first on an alapana embellishing it liberally with PDNP and
phrases ending with rishabha. Every time she fleshes out a musical phrase, she
keeps the DNP or SNP as a refrain so as to keep any trace of Karaharapriya at
same time quite controversially, she repeatedly uses PDNPGR in the madhya stayi
descent phrases, while it ought to be PDNPMGR. These madhyama varjya
sancaras bring a different texture to the raga (tinting it with the feel of
Rathipatipriya – Mela 22- SRGPNS/SNPGRS). The madhyama has a solid pride of place
in the raga Rudrapriay both in the ascent and descent and hence while a casual
or one-off rendering of madhyama varjya phrases could be artistically
supported, repeatedly or only using the phrase PDNPGR almost as a rule is
certainly unwarranted. Similar is her usage of the MGS in the tara sancaras which
conveys a very different feel to the raga.
her rendering of the composition too seems to carrying these phrases as well
lending a different feel to the raga, in contradistinction to the one
delineated in the SSP and ‘Rudra Kopa Jaatha”.
perusal of the notation of the composition as published by Veeni Sundaram Iyer
reveals a few puzzling aspects. In more than one place the phrase PMNDN and DND
figure prominently. Further phrases such SNDS, PNDNS too occur. Grammatically
speaking these phrases do not conform to the laid down lakshana and if the
composition is so notated with these non-kosher phrases not seen in the SSP, it
certainly needs further explanation and authority. And it would be yet another
flavour or variant of the Rudrapriya apart from the versions found in “Rudra
Kopa Jaatha” and “Gananayakam”
Thus, neither does the musical setting of
the composition strictly conform to the lakshana of the raga as found in “Rudra
kopa jaatha” or SSP nor does it sound stylistically aligned to how Dikshitar
would set the melody of the composition. It must have been perhaps for this
reason that Subbarama Dikshitar in his wisdom decided to keep the composition
out of the SSP (assuming that he had the lyrics with him). Given this problem I
keep this composition out from further discussion in this blog post.
It must be pointed out that from a lyrical content
perspective the kriti is replete with references to the hoary traditions and mythologies
surrounding the Tyagaraja Temple. To conclude this section, it is observed that
this kriti too does not take us any further in resolving the dichotomy that we
see in the raga’s lakshana.
The foregoing thus shows that:
kriti “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” is the benchmark or standard or exemplar which
conforms to the laid down lakshana of Rudrapriya and evidenced by Subbarama
Dikshitar’s commentary of the same in the SSP.
raga as conceptualized by Muthusvami Dikshitar in the said composition is
unique like Reetigaula ( different prayogas in the different registers) by
sporting PNS and not PDNS in the mandhara stayi (and) PDNS and not PNS in
madhya stayi and again sporting SRGM in madhya stayi while its equivalent tara
stayi prayoga being SGRS, reinforcing the 19th Century raga
architecture tenet that multiple progressions for a raga are permissible in its
purvanga and or uttaranga and/or in the mandhara/madhya/tara registers/octaves.
mettu of ‘Gananayakam” and ‘Sri Manini” being the same/similar, the raga of the
composition is certainly not Poornasadjam (as defined under Sangraha Cudamani)
the scale SGRGMNNS/SNPMGRS found in these two kritis should probably be treated
as a form/variant or a truncated version of Rudrapriya.
One could possibly reconcile
the foregoing and conclude that this variant of Rudrapriya (SGMNNS/SNPMGRS as seen
in “Sri Manini Manohara”/”Gananayakam”) was perhaps an offshoot of the original
Rudrapriya whereby primacy was given to janta nishadha by dropping dhaivatha
altogether. Hence the Rudrapriya found in “Gananayakam”/”Sri Manini” represents
yet another interpretation of the raga. Harmonically speaking it can be
reasoned that only when dhaivatha is absent will dheergatva and janta prayoga
on the nishadha note make musical sense.
Compositions in Rudrapriya by other
Leaving aside the case of the kritis “Lavanya Rama” or ‘Sri Manini Manohara” of Tyagaraja which are obviously not in the same musical mould as the Rudrapriya found in “Rudra Kopa Jaatha”, there are no other available compositions in the raga. The only known composition from the post Trinity composers in this Rudrapriya, seems to be the kriti “Nee Dasudani” of Veena Varadayya (AD1877-1952). A recording of the same is available on the web –Link.
Is the composition “Gananayakam” really
Muthusvami Dikshitar’s, given the points as to the stylistic aspects which has
been raised? In this regard we should take notice of the following factors:
Anubandha to the SSP also documents a few other compositions of Muthusvami
Dikshitar including the famous Caturdasa Ragamalika. On the strength of
Subbarama Dikshitar’s assertion we have to go with this attribution. Further
along with “Gananayakam”, Subbarama Dikshitar also provides ‘Ananta
Balakrishnam” in Isamanohari, ascribing it to Muthusvami Dikshitar. And again,
he provides ‘Ananta Balakrishnam’ in the Prathamabyasa Pustakamu as well.
Considerable thought must have gone into his decision to make these kritis part
of the SSP Compendium attributing authorship to Muthusvami Dikshitar and
therefore it would be in the fitness of things to acknowledge his call at face
value and accept that the kriti is indeed of Muthusvami Dikshitar despite the
stylistic reservations as aforesaid.
respected music critic of the last century Sri K V Ramachandran in his erudite
Music Academy lecture demonstration, published in the Journal titled “Apurva
Ragas of Tyagaraja’s Songs” (The Journal of the Music Academy XXI, pp. 107-109,
Madras) has this to say:
the two composers (Tyagaraja and Dikshitar) have composed several songs with
the same dhatu as though in friendly rivalry: –
Sri Venugopala and sri Rama in Kurinji, Kamakshi Mampahi and Sri Rama
padama (Suddha Desi), Syamale Meenakshi and Pahi Ramachandra (
Sankarabharanam), Gananayakam and Sri Manini (Rudrapriya), Gatamoha and
Gurumurte ( Sankarabharanam),Ananta Balakrishnam and Dinamani vamsa (
Isamanohari); and Eramuni of Tyagaraja resembles a Dikshitar song in
Vasantabhairavi. If a diligent search is made, we could find many other songs
with the same musical idea…………..”
And rightly so in olden days,
composers used to conjure lyrics for a popular captivating tune and that was
never frowned upon as plagiarism. It may be pointed out that the famous
Svarajati of Melattur Virabhadrayya in Huseini spawned many a copy. As it is
said imitation is the best form of flattery. In this instant case of
“Gananayakam” and “Sri Manini”, who imitated whom, will never be known. Yet
here are these compositions for us to hear, learn and relish with the full
knowledge of all these contradictions and confusions. With passage of time,
none of this will ever be resolved.
In so far as the question of what is
Rudrapriya and what is Poornsadjam, the following points merit our attention.
The Music Academy Experts Committee in the year 1955 (JMA Volume 27 1956 pp 27-28) took up the detailed discussion on the raga Rudrapriya. After discussing the lakshana laid down in the SSP and the musical setting of “Lavanya Rama” and the identical progression of the raga in “Gananayakam” the Committee reiterated the position that we see today: Rudrapriya is SRGMPDNS/SNPMGRS under Mela 22 and the other being Purnsadjam with SRGMNS/SNPMGRS under mela 22 as well.
Unfortunately, the Committee never went into issue of the textual authority supporting the parent mela of raga Purnasadjam as Mela 20 nor did they get into the other aspects of Rudrapriya such as the janta/dheergha nishadha and the usage of MPNS, PDNS and SGR as some motifs as found in ‘Rudra Kopa”. Nobody seems to have even come forward to sing “Rudra Kopa”. Further the kriti “Sri Manini” and its melodic closeness with “Gananayakam” is not even mentioned in the said discussion. It can be noted from the discussion, that the divergence between the stated SSP lakshana and the melodic progression in “Gananayakam” seem to have troubled the veteran Sangita Kalanidhi Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer, who has ventured to explain it away by suggesting that with passage of time the raga’s structure might have changed.
The Music Academy Experts Committee again in the year 2009 (JMA Volume 80 2009 pp 103-114) discussed the raga Rudrapriya along with its allied ragas without any definitive conclusion as to its individual lakshana. According Dr N Ramanathan, who has summarized the said discussion as an article in the JMA:
The original musical setting of the kriti “Gananayakam” must have been lost and therefore the composition possibly must have come to be rendered in the tune of “Sri Manini”. Subbarama Dikshitar wary of this therefore relegated it to Part B of the Anubandha and not presenting it in the main SSP.
The phrase ‘MPNS’ seen in “Rudrakopa Jaatha” is reminiscent of Hindustani Kapi but there the nishadha is kakali. The phrases RMP too occurs in profusion along with NPMGR and NPGR in “Rudrakopa” and “Sri Tyagarajasaya”
K V Srinivasa Iyengar mentions the raga of “Sri Manini” as Purnasadja and “Lavanya Rama” as Rudrapriya. In the absence of a reliable notation of these two Tyagaraja compositions it is difficult to determine what the melodic forms of these compositions.
It is respectfully noted that this discussion of the Committee of Experts of the Music Academy in 2009 seems to have taken no notice of the earlier discussion made in the year 1955, cited above. The 2009 discussion too seems to have completely ignored the fact that the raga Purnasadja as documented by Sangraha Cudamani belonged to Mela 20. Further the analysis of the raga has been done mainly with reference to Hindustani Kapi and the sibling ragas Kanada, Durbar and Karnataka Kapi, without getting in depth into the raga Rudrapriya’s contours on a standalone basis.
For us, the raga name ascribed to “Lavanya Rama” as Rudrapriya by Sri K V Srinivasa Iyengar adds yet another twist to the tale, making us doubt whether the raga of that composition too has been normalized by dropping dhaivatha completely and aligning it to the nominal structure of SRGMNNS/SNPMGRS. Could it have been that “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” and “Lavanya Rama” were in one bucket while “Gananayakam” and “Sri Manini” were in another? One would never know.
Be that as it may, right or wrong, one silver lining in this entire controversy is the final conclusion drawn by the 1955 Music Academy Experts Committee Meeting supra, which for us today resolves the naming convention of the raga found in the compositions so that students of music of today aren’t confused as to the raga and it name in the context of these compositions. Thus, if the scale used is SRGMPDNS/SNPMGRS then it is Rudrapriya and if it is SRGMNNS/SNPMGRS it is Poornasadja, both under Mela 22, notwithstanding the assignment of the raga name as Rudrapriya to “Gananayakam” in the Anubandha to the SSP. Despite this, today we still see Dikshitar’s compositions being called only as Rudrapriya and the Tyagaraja compositions being called as Poornsadjam.
In this blog post I have consciously
avoided discussing the raga Rudrapriya in the context of its allied ragas as
well as its melodic affinity if any to the Northern Kafi. Instead I have
focussed only on the determination or examination of Rudrapriya’s core musical
form as available to us through the SSP.
At this juncture it must be reiterated that
any work of art must always be represented with utmost fidelity to the intent
of the composer, of which we have cognizance based on appropriate facts and
circumstances. In the instant case on hand one therefore ought to conclude
kriti “Gananayakam” ought to be sung as notated in the Anubandha to the
SSP (vide the rendering of Sangita Kalanidhi Dr M L Vasanthakumari) and should
not be normalized to the nominal arohana/avarohana krama given in the main SSP.
There is no need to apply our judgement in this matter in the light of the
proper notation as provided by Subbarama Dikshitar for “Gananayakam” in the
the kriti “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” ought to be sung duly emphasizing the MPNS &
avoiding PDNS in the mandhara stayi and by using only PDNS in the madhya stayi
and SGRS in the tara stayi. Again, there is no need to normalize the prayogas by
replacing the MPNS with the PDNS and rendering the same, based on our defective
belief that ragas must have octaval symmetry or that it can be only of one
Thus, in sum, compositions ought to be
rendered with complete adherence to the composer’s intent as found in the
composition and any transgression from the same ought to be eschewed
completely. Similarly attempting to morph raga lakshanas by standardizing the
svaras/combinations is a pernicious tendency which we must get rid of. Under
the garb of normalization, we have mauled or mutilated the compositions of the
Trinity, which we have repeatedly been seeing this these blog posts. We must
accept and acknowledge that two or more variants of a raga can be there
(musical isomerism) and no harm will be caused by rendering the kriti properly
in accordance with the raga lakshana found therein.
It is sincerely hoped that students as well
as professional performers of our music would respect these aspects as to
lakshya, lakshana and the adherence or fidelity to the laid down lakshana in
the composition are kept in mind, to the best of ability, while learning and rendering
compositions of the great vaggeyakaras.
Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (Telugu Original 1906) – Tamil edition published by the Madras Music Academy (1961) along with the Anubandha – Pages 556-567 of the 2006 Edition of Vol III and Pages 1359-1361 of the 2006 Edition of Vol V and the English version available online here: Link
Ragalakshana Sangraha – PhD Dissertation of Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – Published by Dr Ramanathan – pp 1084 and 1158
Dr V Premalatha – Note on Ghana Naya Desya Ragas – Link
Journal of the Music Academy Madras (2009) – JMA Volume 80 – Editor Pappu Venugopala Rao – pp 103-114
Journal of the Music Academy Madras (1956) -JMA Volume 27 – Editor T V Subba Rao & Dr V Raghavan- pp 27-28
Journal of the Music Academy Madras (1950) -JMA Volume 21– Editor T V Subba Rao & Dr V Raghavan- pp 107-109
The proof of the pudding always lies in eating it. And with that note & on this Vijayadasami Day I present my amateur interpretation of Dikshitar’s “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” duly prefaced with a brief raga vinyasa just to highlight that indeed a very professional and thoroughly delectable presentation of the raga is in the realm of possibility.
I learnt this SSP interpretation from the revered Prof C S Seshadri, a guru of sorts for me. However, all errors and omissions in this rendering are entirely mine and I have also further improvised the version I learnt from him. As can be noticed, in the rendering, my first sangati for a line of lyric will always be completely aligned to the SSP while the second/additional sangatis if any thereafter shall be fully in consonance with the laid down lakshana seen in the composition.
The term ‘bhāṣāṅga’ connoted different meaning at different point of time in the history of Karnāṭaka Music. During the period when the “grāma-mūrcana” system was in use, the term bhāṣāṅga denote the rāga-s that reflect other bhāṣā-s. In other words, this term denote the rāga-s that came from other regions. After the development of “mēla-janya” system, many terms which were used in the “grāma-mūrcana” era were used with a different connotation. Bhāṣāṅgā is one such.
term Bhāṣāṅgā in the post “grāma-mūrcana” era appears first in the treatise “Rāga
lakṣaṇam” appended to Caturdaṇḍīprakāṣikā of Vēṅkaṭamakhī. Author of this small
treatise is uncertain and is attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhī or Muḍḍu Vēṅkaṭamakhī
by different musicologists. Though the mentioned text mentions this term,
proper definition of this term can be learnt only from Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya
Pradarśini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.
Dīkṣitar in his treatise defines bhāṣāṅgā rāga-s are those that take svarā-s
from other rāgāṅga rāga-s (mēla-s) according to its character.1 This
is referred as anya svara in today’s parlance. Though, this is a commonly
accepted terminology now and used unanimously, this term was used differently
by different musicians in the past. One such example is seen in the book by
Bhatkhande. He interviewed various musicians of the South and one such
prominent musician who registered his views to Bhatkhande was Rāmanāthapuram Śrinivasa
Ayyaṅgār (see Footnote 1). He gives a different percept on these rāga-s. He
says these rāga-s do not confirm with the classification given by the śāstrā-s
completely; have folk influences and are usually named after the region from
where they originate. It will be clear from the above discussion that this
term, though now denote the rāga-s which carry one or two anya svarā-s, was
used conveying varied ideas in the past. Hence, 19th century saw not
only a new platform to exhibit the musical talents of artists, it was also a
watershed period in the pages of modern musicology. This heterogeneity of these
bhāṣāṅgā-s and its implications are addressed to in this post.
many texts published during the last century give us a valid information about
the presence of anya svarā-s in these bhāṣāṅgā-s. Though the series of texts by
K V Śrinivāsa Ayyaṅgār and later by Raṅgarāmānuja Ayyaṅgār clearly mention the
presence of these anya svara-s, they fail to mark these svarā-s in notation. Though,
the rāga lakṣaṇa section describes succinctly about the presence of these anya
svāra-s and the phrases in which they appear, this cannot be considered as a
comprehensive guide to know the real svarūpa of these rāga-s as the notation
lack signs to know their presence or absence. To understand this problem and
its ramifications, let us first look into the treatise by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
and the procedure he followed to introduce these bhāṣāṅgā-s, as this is the
first text to include the symbols for anya svarā-s along with an explanation
for all the rāga-s employed in the treatise.
Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
In this treatise, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has classified the rāga-s into three categories: rāgāṅga rāga-s (which may be considered as an equivalent to mēla-s), upāṅga and bhāṣāṅga rāga-s. Under each rāgāṅga rāga-s, he gives a list of janya-s: upāṅga and bhāṣāṅga rāga-s. He then proceeds to explain each rāga in detail. Under each bhāṣāṅga rāga, its mūrcana, a description about its arterial phrases, anya svarā-s, if present were given. Anya svara-s when present were marked with a symbol, both in the text and notated sections. The readers are requested to pay attention here to observe a valuable finding that anya svarā-s were not given for all bhāṣāṅga-s. To make it simpler, rāga-s like Śrī rañjani, Dēvamanōhari etc., though mentioned as a bhāṣāṅga rāga, no anya svaram can be seen either in the rāga lakṣaṇa section or in the notated section. This discrepancy does not end with this! The lakṣaṇa segment given before each rāga does not necessarily supplement the lakṣaṇa portrayed in the kṛti-s. There is a discrepancy in the occurrence of anya svara-s between the lakṣaṇa section and the lakṣya section. For instance, he considers Saurāṣtram as a bhāṣāṅga janya of Māyāmāḷavagaula and says śuddha dhaivatam occurs in the prayōga-s PDP and PDDP in the lakṣaṇa section. Whereas this is strictly observed in the kṛti Sūryamūrte, in the kṛti Varalakṣmīm the phrase PDP uses both the dhaivatam; PDP with pañcaśruti (catuśruti) is seen at the beginning of the kṛti and the same phrase with śuddha dhaivatam occurs in the beginning of caraṇam of the same kṛti!! Another interesting rāga is Pūrṇacandrika wherein he says the anya svaram kaiṣiki niṣādham can be seen in the phrases PNS and SDNP. Strangely, none of the notated compositions show the presence of this svaram in the mentioned phrases !!
some other bhāṣāṅga-s like Śahāna, same phrase sports svakīya (its default
svara) and anya svara at different occasions. Śahāna is placed under the rāgāṅga
rāga Śri and the preponderant gāndharam, by default is of sādhāraṇa variety.
Antara gāndharam features only in selected phrases. The point here is, a
prescription on the use of antara gāndharam is not clear both in lakṣya and lakṣaṇa
section. For example, the phrase RGMP uses both the gāndhara-s, though at
different locations. How these discrepancies are to be reconciled? Do they have
to be considered as printing errors and be self-corrected or it is an inkling
given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar on the colorful nature of bhāṣāṅga-s ?
Let us revisit the bhāṣāṅga-s mentioned in Pradarśini and try to classify them to make this discussion more comprehensible. There are totally 55 bhāṣāṅga rāga-s mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. The distribution of these rāga-s is not uniform across the rāgāṅga rāga-s. Whereas the rāgāṅga rāga-s like Māyāmāḷavagaula and Śaṅkarābharaṇam are flooded with a multitude of bhāṣāṅga rāga-s, no janya rāga-s can be seen for the rāgāṅga rāga-s like Saurasēna or Kiraṇāvaḷi. In between are the rāgāṅga rāga-s Kanakāmbari and Kāśirāmakriya which have only upāṅga janya-s.
These 55 bhāṣāṅga rāga-s can be classified into three types for easy understanding:
Bhāṣāṅga rāga-s with anya svara marked – Rāga-s like Aṭāṇa, Pūrṇacandrika, Śahāna, etc.,
fall under this category.
Bhāṣāṅga rāga-s with anya svara not marked – Madhyamāvati,
Devamanōhari, Nāyaki, etc., come under this category.
Third category rāga-s are those in which the lakṣaṇa śloka
given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar also mention the presence of anya svara, in
addition to being marked by Dīkṣitar. There are three rāga-s in this category –
Saurāṣtram, Bhairavi, Kāmbhōji.
this preliminary discussion, it can be inferred that, the presence of anya
svara might not have been the single criteria to label a rāga as bhāṣāṅga, with
a special reference to the rāga-s classified as type two. There might have been
some other reasons which is not visible from presently available evidences. This
thought is further supported by the finding that, none of the other treatises,
including Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi, considered to be written around or prior to 18 CE
mention the term bhāṣāṅga rāga-s (excluding the treatise Rāga Lakṣaṇa cited
initially). More importantly, these treatises don’t even mention about the
presence or absence of anya svaram (see Footnote 2). This raises a doubt
whether these anya svara-s are an integral part of the rāga architecture that
is essential to carve a rāga svarūpa or they are like optional entities that
came into practice later.
us proceed further to dissect the other two types to understand the multiple
hues reflected by these bhāṣāṅga-s. We have mentioned earlier that there are
some exceptions, wherein the presence of anya svara in the bhāṣāṅga rāga-s have
been mentioned across the treatises. Only three rāga-s can be located to have
this unique distinction – Saurāṣtram, Bhairavi and Kāmbhōji. The anya svara
featuring in these rāga-s, pañcaśruti (catuśruti) dhaivatam in Saurāṣtram and Bhairavi
and kākali niṣādham in Kāmbhōji were mentioned in the lakṣaṇa śloka-s in the Pradarśini
of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and the Rāga Lakṣaṇa treatise of disputable authorship. Few
references can also be seen in earlier treatises (see Footnote 3).
It can be now inferred that, at least from the period in which Rāga Lakṣaṇa was written (first quarter of 18th century or a 17 century work, if proved to be a work of Vēṅkaṭamakhī), use of anya svaram in these three rāga-s were prevalent. But, in the case of Saurāṣtram, only the presence of pañcaśruti dhaivatam was hinted and not about the other anya svaram kaiśiki niṣādham. So we are left with no clue as on the period from which this came into practice.
us move into the other discrepancy, on the use of these anya svara-s in these bhāṣāṅga-s
especially those belonging to the first type. As mentioned earlier, a lot of
discrepancy is noted in handling these anya svara-s between lakṣya and lakṣaṇa
section in the Pradarśini. As they are noticeable in almost all the bhāṣāṅga-s
placed under type one in our classification, it is better to look in for a tangible rationale prevailed during those old
days rather to repudiate it calling it as printing errors. Analyzing the
notations of all the compositions provided for these rāga-s, it can be
hypothesized that the phrases involving these anya svara-s can be grouped into
Phrases that take only svakīya svara-s
Phrases that take only anya svara-s
Fluid phrases that might take either of these svara-s
depending on the choice of the vaggēyakāra.
This will be explained by taking Śahāna as an example.
Śahāna, as mentioned earlier is considered as a janya of Śri. Hence, sādhāraṇa gāndharam is the svakīya svara (its default svaram) and antara gāndharam becomes anya svaram. It is to be remembered here that Śahāna is now considered as a janya of Harikāmbōji, implying antara gāndharam is the svakīya svaram to be employed and the use of sādhāraṇa gāndharam is not in practice.
the notations given by Subbārama Dīkṣitar were analyzed, the phrases involving
the gāndharam can be placed into the above-mentioned categories:
Phrases that take only svakīya svara (sādhāraṇa) like GG,
Phrases that take only anya svara (antara) like SRGMPDN,
Fluid phrases that take either of these svara-s
depending on the choice of the vaggēyakāra – RGMPM, MGMR
phrases mentioned above are only explanatory and not comprehensive by any means).
So, a vaggēyakāra has an option of using any gāndhara, when he employs the fluid phrases. This hypothesis also help us to dispel the problem in placing a rāga like this under a particular mēla. For example, if a vaggēyakāra uses profuse (or only) sādhāraṇa gāndharam in these fluid phrases and uses antara variety sparsely, this rāga sounds like a janya of Śri. Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar has followed this in his kṛti “vāśi vāśi” which can be heard here.
the other hand, if a vaggēyakāra uses profuse (or only) antara gāndharam in
these fluid phrases and uses sādhāraṇa variety sparsely, this sounds like a
janya of Harikāmbhōji. Perhaps, this could have been followed by Paiḍāla Gurumūrti
Śāstri, as he considers this as a janya of Kāmbhōji in his gītam. Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
was relatively more generous in using these anya svara-s when compared to Rāmasvāmy
Dīkṣitar. We have no idea about the stand of Tyagarāja Svāmigal, as the oldest
notations that give his kṛti-s in notation, written by Vālājāpeṭṭai Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa
Bhāgavatar does not specify the svara sthāna-s.
This versatility of using these anya svara-s give multiple colors to these bhāṣāṅga-s. Also, it can be very well guessed, a rāga could have been handled without using these anya svara-s. Pūrṇacandrika is an example of this type. None of the compositions notated in this rāgam sport the anya svaram kaiṣiki niṣādham though we have a mention about this svaram by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in the lakṣaṇa section of Pūrṇacandrika. This flexibility in handling of these anya svaram is applicable only to selected rāga-s like Pūrṇacandrika or all the bhāṣāṅga is not clear. But, this is a common finding in almost all the rāgamālika-s involving these bhāṣāṅga-s. This heterogeneity and versatility gets multifold when a bhāṣāṅga has more than one anya svara. This is so with the case of Āhiri, which uses all the svara-s sans prati madhyamaṃ. So, a vaggēyakāra can manipulate these rāga-s in his own imitable form to paint multiple colors, in order to serve his need of bringing the bhāva that he wishes. Unfortunately, Āhiri, who was once decorated with a colorful raiment is now seen, always wearing a white sāri. It is also unfortunate to know that the original tunes in these rāga-s were lost forever, as we cannot judge the side taken by the vaggēyakāra when composing in these rāga-s, unless we get a notation as in Pradarśini, which denotes the svara variety too. A detailed discussion about individual bhāṣāṅga-s, anya svara featuring in these rāga-s, the fluid phrases seen, details about them in various musicological texts with an analysis will be covered separately.
findings can also be seen in a book by Popley (see Footnote 4). Several
Christian poems tuned to classical rāga-s can be seen in this book. Several bhāṣāṅga-s
feature there and the anya svara was also marked in notation. This book too
serve to support our hypothesis about these bhāṣāṅga-s, especially those
belonging to type 1. For instance, Bhairavi was handled by him without a trace
of anya svara – catuśruti dhaivatam (the author was well aware of Naṭabhairavi
and has tuned one poem to the latter) !!
to Stephen and Popley, Bhairavi was handled like an upāṅga in the kṛti ‘rāma
lokābhirāma’ of Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya (tuned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar). Whereas this kṛti
totally eschews the phrase NDNS, wherein the anya svara catuśruti dhaivatham
occurs, Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar has used this phrase, eschewing the anya svaram in
the rāgamālika ‘śivamōhana’.
are indebted to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar for giving us, at least the kṛti-s known to
him in notation with a svara and gamaka symbol, as we not only can imagine the structure
of these bhāṣāṅga-s, but also get an idea about the colorful architecture of
Though we were made to believe from the available evidences that the presence of anya svara is a requisite to label a rāga as bhāṣāṅgā, it is clear that this was not the only criteria used in the past. Rāga-s like Śrī rañjani, Madhyamāvati which do not use any anya svara serves as an example to prove this statement. We also have evidences to consider the bhāṣānga-s could have been in use without anya svara. When present, the vaggēyakāra could have had the liberty to use or not to use these anya svara-s. Similarly, there could have flexibility in using svakīya svara or anya svara in a phrase. This versatility makes them colorful which was used to its maximum by a vaggēyakāra. Much more research into this field might prove or disprove this hypothesis.
Foote note 1: Vishnu
Narayan Bhatkhande’s memoirs of south India: “Meri Dakshin Bharat ki
Sangeet Yatra” is a Hindi work recording his experiences with various musicians
of South India flourished during his period. Vidvān Śri Navaneethakrishnan is
into the task of translating this monumental work. This information on bhāgāṅga
rāga-s as given by Rāmanāthapuram Śrinivasa Ayyaṅgār to by Bhatkhande
was gracefully shared to me by the mentioned vidvān.
Treatises like Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi do not even mention about the presence or
absence of anya svara-s. We really do not know this lack of mentioning is due
to ignorance of the author or the lack of usage of these svara-s during their
Śahaji in his treatise Rāga lakṣaṇamu describes saurāṣtram as a rāga that uses śuddha
niṣādham (kvaccitu śuddha niṣādham vaccunu). Dr Hema Ramanathan opines this
could be a reference to the use of pañcaśruti dhaivatham in her
gargantuan work “Rāga Lakṣaṇa Saṅgrahamu”.2
note 4: Stephen
and Popley in the year 1914 published a book containing Christian poems set to
classical rāga-s in notation. The book was published to create an awareness
about Christian truth and spread evangelism to Hindu audiences, says the
author. It is a comprehensive book
containing all the basic information about our system – rāga, tāḷa, gamaka and
notation system. Various poems explaining various fables were set to music. A
wide array of rāga-s were employed involving mēla-s, upāṅga and bhāṣāṅga rāga-s.3
1. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Saṅgītasampradāyapradarśinī (English edition). The Music Academy, Madras, pg 79.
2. Hema Ramanathan (2004) – Rāgalakṣaṇa Saṅgraha (collection of Rāga descriptions) from Treatises on Music of the Mēla Period with translations and notes, 2004.
LI, Popley HA. Handbook of Musical Evangelism. The Methodist Publishing House, 1914.