The Mystical Rudrapriya of the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini


Preamble:

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

Overview of Rudrapriya:

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

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

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

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

The SSP’s take on Rudrapriya:

According to Subbarama Dikshitar:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Exemplar Kritis in the SSP:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Rudra Kopa Jaatha” of Muthusvami Dikshitar:

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

pallavi

sadA                          – Always,

hRdaye                        – in (my) heart,

AshrayE                        – I surrender to

vIrabadhram                  – Lord Virabhadra,

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

anupallavi

bhadrakALI-ramaNam           – the Consort of Bhadrakali,

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

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

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

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

bhakta-bharaNam               – the supporter of devotees,

caraNam

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

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

abhayam                             – the fearless one,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

gajamukha -ganesa-raksham | ajavada-nadaksha-sIksham

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

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

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

Discography:

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

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

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

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

“Gananayakam Bhajeham”

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

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

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

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

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

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

The notation of the composition:

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

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

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

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

Discography:

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

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

Version 1:

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

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

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

Version 2:

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

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

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

Dichotomy in the Raga Lakshana:

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

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

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

Poornasadjam and Rudrapriya:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Amba Paradevate of Krishnasvami Ayya:

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Sri Tyagarajasya Bakthobhavami” of Muthusvami Dikshitar:

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

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

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

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

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

Summary:

The foregoing thus shows that:

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

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

Compositions in Rudrapriya by other Composers:

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

The lyrics of this kriti can be found here: Link

And the Final Question:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

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

Bibliography:

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

Epilogue

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

Rendering of the “Rudra Kopa Jaatha”

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

Colorful Bhāṣāṅgā-s

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.

The 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.

Subbarāma 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.

Not 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

Śrī 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 !!

In 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 ?

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:

  1. Bhāṣāṅga rāga-s with anya svara marked – Rāga-s like Aṭāṇa, Pūrṇacandrika, Śahāna, etc., fall under this category.
  2. Bhāṣāṅga rāga-s with anya svara not marked – Madhyamāvati, Devamanōhari, Nāyaki, etc., come under this category.
  3. 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.

From 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.

Let 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.

Let 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 three types. 

  1. Phrases that take only svakīya svara-s
  2. Phrases that take only anya svara-s
  3. 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.

When the notations given by Subbārama Dīkṣitar were analyzed, the phrases involving the gāndharam can be placed into the above-mentioned categories:

  1. Phrases that take only svakīya svara (sādhāraṇa) like GG, RGRS
  2. Phrases that take only anya svara (antara) like SRGMPDN, PRGDP
  3. Fluid phrases that take either of these svara-s depending on the choice of the vaggēyakāra – RGMPM, MGMR

(The 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.

On 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.

Similar 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) !!

Prior 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’.

We 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 these rāga-s.

Conclusion

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.

Footnotes                              

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.

Foot note 2: 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 period.

Foot note 3: 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

Foot 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

References

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.

3. Stephen LI, Popley HA. Handbook of Musical Evangelism. The Methodist Publishing House, 1914.

   

   

The rāgam Rāmakali and the kṛti “Rāma rāma kali kaluṣa”- Part II

Let us go to the next segment in this series, on the authority of using prati madhyamam in this rāgam, being a janyam of Māyāmālavagaula. It will not be incongruous if the history of this rāgam is explained, before taking up the main question.

Rāmakali

Rāmakali was relatively a popular rāga during 16-17 CE and we can see the treatises like Rāgamañjari of Paṇdarika Viṭṭala, Hṛudayakautuka and Hṛdayaprakāśa of Hṛdayanārāyaṇadeva and Anūpasaṅgītaratnākara of Bhāvabhaṭṭa mentioning about this rāgam. It is a general opinion that these treatises represent the Hindustāni tradition of our Classical music, indicating a rāga with this name was common in the Northern territory.

Circumstantial phrases delineating the rāgam was not given and we are left with a simple description – GPDS NDPGMGRS, credits to Hṛdayanārāyaṇadēva. It is to be remembered here that many of the earlier treatises belonging to16-17 CE do not describe a rāga with illustrative phrases. Hence, we are clueless about the melodic structure of Rāmakali of 16-17 CE excluding the remark that this rāgam drops madhyamam and niṣādam in the ascent and has the above mentioned phrase.  In the treatises mentioned, this is considered as a sampūrṇa janyam of a melam, equivalent to our present day Māyāmālavagaula, mēla 15 (See Footnote 1). This rāga was not catalogued by the musicologists of the Southern territory like Gōvinda Dīkṣita, Śāhāji or Tulajā.

Appendix to Caturdaṇdi Prakāśikā, published by Music Academy mention this rāgam. This is mentioned as a dēsīya rāgam and a bhāṣāṅga janyam of Māyāmālavagaula, the mela 15. Subbarāma Dīkśitar further elaborates and illustrate the various phrases used in this rāgam. Hence, a complete picture of this rāgam as we see today in the uruppaḍi-s mentioned is obtained only from Subbarāma Dīkṣitar’s treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī. Here, he gives a hitherto unknown points, that it is customary to use prati madhyamam, also called by the name Pibhās and a rāgam imported from North of this country.

From the above discussion it is clear that Rāmakali was a sampūrṇa rāgam popular in the Northern territory of this country. Description of this rāgam is very scanty in the earlier treatises. As we move down the timeline, we can see this was described by a single phrase GPDS NDPGMGRS. This rāgam was totally unnoticed by the major musicologists of the Southern territory and a complete description of this rāgam is seen for the first time only in the year 1904, credits to Subbarāma Dīkśitar.

Bibhās

Bibhās could have been much more popular rāga than Rāmakali, both in both the territories, North and South. Almost every other book seems to mention this rāgam. When the raga structure with the available phrases were analyzed, there seem to be two Bibhās, one as a janyam of the mēla corresponding to the present day Kāmavardhani, mela 51 and the other one corresponding to the present day mela 15.

Bibhās as a janyam of mela 51

Bibhās aka Bibhāsu aka Vibhās aka Vibhāsa is mentioned in Rāga mañjari and Rāga mālā (both by Paṇḍarīka Viṭṭhala), Saṅgīta Pārijāta, Rāga Tattva Vibhōdha, and Anūpa Saṅgīta Vilāsa. Of these, descriptive elements are seen given in Rāga Tattva Vibhōdha and Saṅgīta Pārijāta. The phrase MGRGRS is stressed in Rāga Tattva Vibhōdha, whereas this is not seen in the description available in Pārijāta. Excluding these small differences, over all visualization of Bibhās is similar in both the treatises. In both the treatises, SRGPDS and the phrases involving GPD were given more prominence. Though DND is seen, the phrase DNS is avoided completely. Needless to say, madhyamam employed here is of tīvra variety and can be called as ‘prati madhyama Bibhās’.

Bibhās as a janyam of mela 15

Texts like Hṛudayakautuka and Hṛdayaprakāśa of Hṛdayanārāyaṇadeva, Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śāhāji and Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulajā consider Bibhās as a janya of mēla 15 (śuddha madhyama Bibhās). Considerable difference exist in the descriptions across these treatises to the extent that they deserve an individual treatment. Also, all these treatises give just one or two phrases to illustrate this rāgam.

Bibhās in Hṛudayakautuka, Rāga lakṣaṇamu and Saṣgīta Sārāmṛta has the phrase DNS and is considerably different from the Bibhās seen in the earlier section. Hence, Bibhās mentioned by later lakṣaṇakāra-s like Śāhāji and Tulajā is totally different from the Bibhās prevalent during late 16 CE and early 17 CE (prati madhyama Bibhās).

Bibhās in Hṛdayaprakāśa omits gāndhāram and madhyamam and is different from both the varieties mentioned.

Appendix to Caturdaṇdi Prakāśikā mentions both Rāmakali and Bibhās and places both under the mela 15. Whereas the former was credited with a ślokam and the latter was not even described.

Rāmakali as described in Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī

More descriptive image of this rāgam comes only from Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. As mentioned earlier, despite being a janyam of mela 15, traditionally this uses prati madhyamam says Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. We don’t have adequate evidences from textual or oral tradition either to understand the melodic structure of Rāmakali extant during the days of Subbarāma Dīkśitar nor to compare this Rāmakali with the one described in the treatises. If we consider the single available phrase GPDS  NDPGMGRS (refer to the description of Rāmakali mentioned in earlier treatises mentioned elsewhere in this article), GPDS is the recurrent motif seen in all the compositions. We do not find NDPGM; we do find NDPmG at one place where madhyamam occurs more like an anusvaram. Though we are unable to conclusively say that Rāmakali mentioned here is same as the one mentioned by Hṛdayanārāyaṇadēva, we can say at least the phrase given there very well fits into the description given by Hṛdayanārāyaṇadēva.

More importantly, Rāmakali of Dīkṣitar goes very well with the Bibhāsu of the first type (the type employing prati madhyamam), provided we accept the madhyamam as tīvra.

Presumptions from the above discussion

The following presumptions can be made regarding Rāmakali – Bibhās:

Rāmakali is a rāgam of great antiquity and must have been popular in the Northern part of our country as few treatises make a note of this rāgam . It should have been a suddha madhyama rāgam. It is very difficult to understand the melodic structure of this rāgam with the single phrase available.
At the same time, there existed Bibhās, almost with a similar structure but featuring prati madhyamam. This should have been much more popular than Rāmakali, as every other treatise make a note of this rāgam. The melodic structure of the prati madhyama Bibhās is almost similar to Rāmakali mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. This prati madhyama Bibhās could have been alluded to in the Rāmakali section by Subbarāma Dīkśitar. It is emphasized here that the Rāmakali and the prati madhyama Bibhās were only mentioned in the treatises treating Hindustāni rāgā-s and the first Karnāṭaka Music text referring these rāga-s is the Anubandham or Appendix to Caturdaṇdi Prakāśikā published by Music Academy.
This could have a been period when all the three rāga-s co-existed; Rāmakali, a janyam of mēla 15 and the two Bibhās. It can be hypothesized here, Rāmakali was only practiced in North India and the prati madhyama Bibhās could have been referred as Rāmakali by Vēṅkaṭamakhin in the South (he is specifically mentioned considering the link given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar) in the South. Considering the old nomenclature, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives an additional information that Rāmakali is also called as Bibhās (See Footnote 2).
Subbarāma Dīkśitar mentions more than a time that Vēṅkaṭamakhin has authored another text dealing with the rāga lakṣaṇa. If we go by his words, that missing text could have been composed in the second half of 17 CE, the time when majority of the texts mentioning prati madhyama Bibhās were composed. Either Rāmakali or prati madhyama Bibhās or both of them could have been mentioned there.
Śuddha madhyama Bibhās could have flourished earlier or more popular than its prati madhyama counterpart in the South. This tradition later continues to Śāhāji and Tulajā wherein they have made a mention only about śuddha madhyama Bibhās. Not all the lakṣaṇa granthā-s are comprehensive in cataloguing the rāga-s prevalent during their time; hence Rāmakali could have been missed by Śāhāji and Tulajā (See Footnote 3).
Having seen the history and lakṣaṇa of Rāmakali and its ally Bibhās with its variations, an attempt will be made now to address the question on the use of prati madhyamam in this rāgam. As mentioned, the only evidence of using prati madhyamam comes from Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. The problem in use of this svaram arise not because of this rāgam being considered as a janyam of mēla 15, but only due to lack of a symbol denoting this svaram in the notation provided.

Rāmakali, being a janyam of mela 15 has śuddha madhyamam as a default svaram, and the anya svaram prati madhyamam is to be denoted with a symbol. This is the system followed by Dīkṣitar in his treatise for every other rāgam having an anya svaram. Strangely, despite using a symbol to denote this anya svaram (prati madhyamam) in the section wherein this rāgam is described, the notation system totally lacks this symbol. A question arises on the use of prati madhyamam and we are left with three interpretations – either to use śuddha madhyamam completely as this is a janya of Māyāmālavagaula (which takes only śuddha madhyamam) or to use prati madhyamam alone as he says it is customary to use only prati madhyamam or to use prati madhyamam only in the phrases DMPG, DPMG, MGDPMG and DPMG, as he has inserted the symbol to denote prati madhyamam for these phrases under the section explaining rāga lakṣaṇam.

To get an answer to this question we need to look into two aspects – history of this rāgam and the observations and interpretations we get it by analyzing this same text. History of this rāgam was explained and it will be recalled at a later period. Now, we will look in for the evidences/observations from this text.

This kind of discrepancy between the lakṣaṇa section (section explaining rāga lakṣaṇam) and the lakṣya segment (section giving the kṛti-s in notation) exist at various other places too in this same text at various other places. When a discrepancy is seen between any two segments, for example, difference in the assignment of foreign notes between the lakṣaṇa segment and the lakṣya section, do we have to take it as a printing error (or) considering the painful scrutinizing procedures followed and the various methods adopted to overcome these errors, these are to be taken as the actual ideas of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar himself? (Readers are requested to refer tappōppalu and porabāṭalu section explained elsewhere in this article).

Considering the above discussion, a student who tries to interpret this treatise is thus left with two options – first one is to believe these discrepancies as an inadvertent errors and tries to reconcile the errors with his level of knowledge and understanding. Second one is to accept as it is, confidently believing in Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and his sagacious grasp over the subject.   Both the options are acceptable as any research is open to interpretations. For this author, second approach appears to suit well as we are totally blind about the traditions that prevailed in the past, say around 200 years ago, and by following this approach, the individual fancies and inclinations of the researcher are kept to a bare minimum; it is more like an untainted aural reproduction of the visual representation. The second approach is also followed as this author believes the complete text is protected by the two sections mentioned.  errors could have crept in, but they are unfathomable to us.

When interpreting the notations given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, it is not only required to understand the context, but also develop an ability to relate other segments or rāgam-s given in this text. Now, let us go away from Rāmakali for a while and try to understand the lakṣaṇa of the rāga-s Ghanṭa and Sāvēri. Let us see an unseen similarity between these three rāga-s and how this can be used to solve the problem related to the madhyamam. Ghanṭa, now is a bhāṣāṅga janyam of mēla 8 and uses two varieties of ṛṣabham – śuddha and catuśruti (pañcaśruti). Subbarāma Dīkṣitar consider this as an upāṅga janyam of mela 20 and recommends the use of catuśruti ṛṣabham only. He clearly says the use of śuddha ṛṣabham came into practice only after the demise of Vēṅkaṭamakhin. Though he give phrases in the lakṣaṇa section wherein śuddha ṛṣabham is used, he never gives the symbol to denote the use of śuddha ṛṣabham in the notation (lakṣya section). This is exactly similar to Rāmakali, wherein he says only prati madhyamam is used as per the tradition in the lakṣaṇa section but fail to use the symbol for prati madhyamam in notation. This is clearly an indication that this text is filled with many abstruse details and these disparateness cannot be dismissed or neglected as a printing error for the lack of understanding on our side. To understand more, let us see the rāgam Sāvēri. Sāvēri is placed under the mēla 15, as a bhāṣāṅga janyam, implying it takes some anya svaram. Going by the normal rules, this should take antara gāndhāram and kākali niṣādham. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar says the common gāndhāram and niṣādham seen in this rāgam are sādharaṇa and kaiśiki respectively and he will give the symbols only for antara gāndhāram and kākali niṣādham whenever they occur (svagīya svaram or default svaram in this rāgam). This is the only rāgam in the entire treatise, wherein symbols are given for the default svaram (See Footnote 4). This pattern is followed since, if we need to mark the anya svaram in this ragam, namely sādharaṇa gāndhāram and kaiśiki niṣādham, the entire notation will be filled with these symbols as the default antara gāndhāram and kākali niṣādham occur very very rarely. This looks not only cumbersome but also could have been posed difficulties while printing.

Let us go back to Ghanṭā and Rāmakali. Though the discrepancies seen between the lakṣaṇa and lakṣya section is similar in both the rāga-s as pointed out earlier, they are introduced differently by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and this is very vital for understanding any rāgam and employing a particular svaram – dhaivatam and madhyamam respectively in these rāgam. Whereas Ghanṭā is introduced as an upāṅga rāgam, Rāmakali is introduced as a bhāṣāṅga rāgam. If Rāmakali is to be used only with śuddha madhyamam and the use of prati madhyamam was introduced later, he could have tagged it as an upāṅga rāgam like Ghanṭā.

Hence we can surmise, either prati madhyamam alone can be used or a combination of śuddha and prati madhyamam can be used. Rāmakali share similarities with Sāveri and the method adopted for the latter is followed with the former for marking the anya svaram. Though the default svaram is śuddha madhyamam, it was a tradition to use only prati madhyamam is reminded again. If this rāga had both the madhyamam and the anya svaram prati madhyamam is the preponderant svaram, he would have marked the default svaram śuddha madhyamam with a symbol and given us a note (compare this with Sāvēri). But this rāgam, unlike Sāvēri, does not use its svagīya svaram – śuddha madhyamam and hence he didn’t mark madhyamam with any symbol in the lakṣya section allowing us to interpret this rāgam can be/to be sung with prati madhyamam only.

This finding can now be related with the history of this rāgam. We have seen Rāmakali was popular in the North and being recorded only in few treatises, indicate its limited popularity. We have also seen that the Rāmakali given in Sangīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī resembles more like prati madhyama Bibhās. This Bibhās could have been called as Rāmakali in the South. So, the Rāmakali of the North, a śuddha madhyamam rāgam, though similar to prati madhyama Bibhās, is different from the Rāmakali mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. The Rāmakali described by Subbarāma Dikṣitar is similar or could have been the same as the prati madhyama Bibhās. Hence, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives a disclaimer it is customary to sing this with prati madhyamam.

Now an explanation is invited for placing this rāgam under mēla 15. No conclusive explanations can be given until we get the treatise referred by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. However, this can be a rāgam similar to Dhanyāsi, getting allocated to a different mēla than where it ought to be.

Rāgamālika passages in the anubandham of Sangīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī

Apart from the kṛti discussed, we see this rāgam in two rāgamālika-s, “sāmaja gamana” and “nātakādi vidyāla” composed by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar. We face a different problem with the Rāmakali lakṣya in these rāgamālika passages. In both the rāgamālika segments, prati madhyamam symbol is inserted, but at only one place.

Rāmakali passage in the rāgamālika “nātakādi vidyāla”

This rāgam comes at the end of this composition. Madhyamam is utilized in the following phrases – DPMG,DPPMG, MGPD and GMGRS. First phrase is the most common of all. The madhyamam in all these phrases are of śuddha variety only. Prati madhyamam is seen once in the phrase DPMG.  Interestingly, we see a new phrase SNSRS. This phrase SNS is not at all seen in the uruppaḍi-s featured under Rāmakali section. Also, the glide from avarōhaṇam to ārōhaṇam is always through the phrase DPMG in this rāgamālika. Phrases like PDM DMPG were not used (which are there in the Rāmakali section given in the main text). Now, can we hypothesize the Rāmakali seen in this rāgamālika is different from the Rāmakali described in the main text? If that is so, can this be the Rāmakali of the North, a janya of mēla 15 ?

We have seen before the Rāmakali of the North much resembles the prati madhyama Bibhās except in having a śuddha madhyamam (as a dominant svaram). So, the difference between these two rāga-s could have been the presence of the phrase SNS and the absence of the phrases PDM and DMPG in the Rāmakali of the North. This Rāmakali might also have had prati madhyamam as an anya svaram. To distinguish this Rāmakali (of North) from another Rāmakali (prati madhyama Bibhās), Subbarāma Dīkṣitar might have given an additional information that the Rāmakali given by him is also called as Bibhās. This hypothesis can be confirmed only if we get the text referred by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar or any other treatise or references taking us to the period between 16-17 CE.

Rāmakali passage in the rāgamālika “sāmaja gamana”

Rāmakali passage in this rāgamālika is very short to make any conclusions. The passage starts with the phrase MGGP, where the madhyamam is of tīvra variety. Madhyamam occur in two other phrases – DPMG and DPPMG, wherein it is of śuddha variety.

Though the phrase SNS is not seen, DPMG is the only linking phrase between avarōhaṇam and ārōhaṇam is to be noted.

With the present level of understanding, these are recondite findings and we need to search for more evidence.

But, Rāmakali employing only prati madhyamam can be very well applied for the kṛti “rāma rāma kali kaluṣa” as both the laskṣaṇa segment and this kṛti was authored by Subbarāma Dīkśitar. Regarding the use of prati madhyamam in the rāgam Rāmakali before the time of Subbarāma Dikṣitar and our hypothesis, we allow the readers to make their own interpretations and this post will be updated, if any valuable evidence surface out.

Conclusion

Regarding the use of prati madhyamam, though we cannot say about the system that was in existence before the period of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, it can be clearly inferred that Subbarāma Dīkṣitar must have had some authentic references to use only prati madhyamam and he must have used the same in his kṛti “rāma rāma kali kaluṣa”. We also hypothesized the Rāmakali handled by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar could have been Rāmakali of the North and differs from the Rāmakali mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in the main text.

This kṛti rendered with only prati madhyamam can be heard here.

Link to the first part of this series –http://guruguha.org/blog/2019/02/19/2704/

References

Hema Ramanathan (2004) – Rāgalakṣaṇa Saṅgraha (collection of Rāga descriptions) from Treatises on Music of the Mēla Period with translations and notes, 2004.

Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Saṅgītasampradāyapradarśinī, Vidyavilasini Press, 1904.

Footnotes

  1. From the days of Rāmamāṭya (or Vidhyāraṇyā), mēla system is in use and the number of mēlā-s vary across the treatise. Also varies the name of the head representing each clan. Hence, in this post, whenever the older mēla-s are mentioned, they are not mentioned by their names or number, but are just equated with the present mēlakarta number for easier understanding.
  2. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar mentions Vēṅkaṭamakhin authored a separate text on rāga lakṣaṇam. We have no clue about that work and musicologists are of the opinion that the Anubandham to Caturdanḍi Prakāśikā might be the work, as it contains the same rāga lakṣaṇa śloka-s mentioned by Dīkśitar in his treatise. Also, they believe Dīkśitar could have referred to Muddu Vēṅkaṭamakhin, a descendant of Vēṅkaṭamakhin whenever he mentions about a text on rāga lakśaṇam. This author has a different opinion and follows the idea of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar; will be uploaded as a separate post.
  3. Not all the treatises are comprehensive in cataloguing the rāga-s of their period. We do have evidence that the rāga-s like Bēgaḍa, Aṭāṇa and Suraṭi were used by Śāhāji; but they are not mentioned in his treatise !!
  4. When a rāgam takes a svaram which is foreign to its parent scale, that foreign svaram is considered as ‘anya’. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, always mentions this anya svaram with a symbol. Only for the rāgam Sāvēri, the svara-s inherent to that rāgam are denoted with a symbol.