Apurva raga-s handled by Tyagaraja Svamigal – Karnataka Kamas

Dr Aravindh T Ranganathan

This article is a continuation of the previous one on the rāga Kamās. It is advisable to get acquainted with that article before proceeding further as the mentioned article will be quoted often.

Like K V Rāmachandran has mentioned in one of his article, Tyāgarāja Svāmigal is like Prajāpati in creating his own rāga-s.1 Many of these rāga-s were hitherto unknown and many have only his compositions. This uniqueness had posed a problem for the musicians, compilers and researchers in the last century. Many rāga-s were given more than one name, some had scale-lakṣaṇa discrepancies, that is the rāga name does not match with the rāga svarūpa portrayed in the rāga and some were corrected to the nearest scale. The basic reason for such a discrepancy is the name of these rāgas-s remained anonymousand the compilers adopted their own indigenous ways to name these rāga-s (See Footnote 1).Frequently Taccur brothers were impeached for adopting the names from the text by name Saṅgraha Cūdāmani.2 Rāga-s handled by Tyāgarāja and Dīkṣitar with varied lakṣaṇa were given a single name and in this process a theory was devised to behold this glaring anomaly, Tyāgarāja and Dīkṣitar followed two different schools and a same rāga was handled differently depending on the school to which they belong to. Whereas Dīkṣitar’s musical ancestry was traced back to Vēṅkaṭamakhi, sincere thanks to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, Svāmigal’s ancestry was traced back to the text Saṅgraha Cūdāmani whose authorship is unknown. But this theory was questioned by Chērmadevi Subraḥmaṇya Sāstrigal as early as in 1936, a Veena vidvan belonging to Dīkṣitar school (See Footnote 2).3 This thought was later echoed in many of the articles by K V Ramachandran.1,2 Their reasoning and querying the authenticity of this theory is genuine, when we see a similar handling of ghana, rakti and dēśīya rāga-s, how or why should these contemporary composers follow different schools while handling apūrva rāga-s? This question remains open even now; but we still believe they propagated two different schools. This author tries to supplement the thoughts put forward by these musicians/musicologists, by analyzing Vālājāpeṭṭai manuscripts and other older versions and articles in this series can be accessed in this site.

K V Rāmachandran also made two valid observations which help us to understand these apūrva rāga-s better and help us to continue his quest in identifying the original tunes and the original rāga names. First, he mentions, in the event of identifying or tagging a rāga name to a composition, the original tune has been vitiated. Secondly, Vālajāpet Rāmasvāmy Bhāgavatar (grandson of Vālajāpet Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar) has admitted to him that many rāga names has been assigned to the kṛti-s without proper scrutiny.2 The latter point becomes more important as the names that we see today for many of these apūrva rāga-s appear for the first time in the book “Oriental Music in European Notation” by A M Chinnasāmy Mudaliyar published in the year 1893. The main source for this publication is Kṛṣṇasvāmy Bhāgavatar, along with some other prominent musician whose identity is anonymous. However Rāmachandran and Sāmbamūrti expounded the genuineness of Vālajāpeṭṭai notations and Rāmachandran even advises that these notations are to be analyzed to know the true svarūpa of the compositions of Svāmigal.2,4

With this introduction, let us move to the kṛti ‘sītāpate nā manasuna’. Nowhere else the rāga of this kṛti is disputed and this is such an innocuous kṛti always sung in the rāga Kamās. But our understanding on the Kamās made us to revisit all the available versions for this kṛti – both oral and textual and we are here to report an unusual misattribution; a kṛti composed in an apūrva rāga could have been attributed to the rāga Kamās!

Sītāpatē nā manasuna

We had mentioned several times that the popularity enjoyed by a kṛti too vary and is much time dependent. We have seen such instances in the rāga-s Balahamsa and Kamās. This is one another instance, a kṛti which was not common in the early part of the last century, gained prominence in the later half. Very few texts give this kṛti in notation and this is the same trend seen in the manuscripts examined.

Oral renditions

We hear almost a similar version with the sparse use of ṛṣbham. It is one of the fortunate kṛti-s wherein the basic structure of the kṛti is fairly similar across the renditions. As seen in the article on Kamās, none of the renditions are devoid of the svara ṛṣbham (See footnote 3).

Textual versions – An analysis

As mentioned earlier, very few texts give this kṛti in notation; three texts and three manuscripts in our collection gives us this kṛti. The first text to give this kṛti is ‘saṅgīta kalānidhi’ of Taccur brothers.5 This version is totally devoid of ṛṣbham, has Kamās phrases like SGMS, MNDN and PNDP and set to ādi tāla. To make it more precise, it represents the variant Kamās mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar with unfeigned adherence to the scale SGMPDNS  SNDPMGS, yet maintaining other important phrases of Kamās. If we include the svara ṛṣbham, this version will be much closer to the version that we hear commonly.

Saṅgītānandaratnākaram is the next text to make a note of this kṛti.6 The version given here is also devoid of ṛṣbham, but more closer to the one given in Vālājāpeṭṭai version which will be described soon. The pallavi has five saṅgati-s, of which four show its presence in Vālājāpeṭṭai version. One saṅgati here sports the phrase MNDN, which occur only once in this kṛti. This phrase is absent in Vālājāpeṭṭai version. Similarly the first line of anupallavi has a saṅgati which has the phrase SGMSN. This phrase is again not seen in Vālājāpeṭṭai version. It can be concluded that the basic Vālājāpeṭṭai version could have been followed in this text with few additional saṅgati-s. Whether this version has a Vālājāpeṭṭai source or this was the musical tune of this kṛti prevalent among all the disciples, directly learnt from Svāmigal cannot be ascertained.

Dākṣinātyagānam is the third text to take a note of this kṛti (See footnote 4).7 In contrast with the other two versions mentioned above, this has ṛṣbham. Also, tāla of this kṛti is given as dēśādhi. The svara ṛṣbham occurs in the phrases like SRS, RSNDN and RGM; but phrases like SMGM or MNDN are not seen. Can we then call it as Kamās, when its integral phrases are not present? It is acceptable that a composer need not use all phrases in a rāga. But is he entitled to envisage a rāga with none of its integral phrases?

Coming to manuscripts, this is seen in Vālājāpeṭṭai transcripts and a manuscript written by Śrīnivāsarāghavan and Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar. Śrīnivāsarāghavan has collected manuscripts from various sources and we cannot point it to any particular source. This has ṛṣbham in the phrases SRGM and NRS, but only in two or three places. This version corresponds to SGMPDNS  SNDPMGS with occasional SRGM. Again, no other vital phrases of Kamās can be seen.  

The version by Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar8 does not have ṛṣbham (See footnote 5). The version given here strictly adheres to the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS. He was a disciple of Umayālpuram Svāminātha Iyer and consider to represent late Umayālpuram lineage.

Vālājāpeṭṭai transcripts give a version which is different from the commonly heard version, yet identical with the rāga Kamās. The version strictly adheres to the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS, a variant of Kamās mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, totally devoid of ṛṣbham. This is set to the tāla dēśādhi and the melody when sung in this tāla gives a different feel. In the article on Kamās we have seen the scale mentioned can be a variant and with the occasional presence of ṛṣbham can be considered as Kamās as seen in the kṛti ‘sujana jīvana’. Now a doubt can arise for an astute observer, the reason for us to discuss this kṛti separately when we have seen a Kamās variant.

The Vālājāpeṭṭai version of this kṛti, though appears much similar to the kṛti ‘sujana jīvana’, has much pertinent differences. First, this lacks ṛṣbham completely. Nowhere in the literature, have we come across an evidence to consider Kamās as a ṣādava rāga. Hence calling this kṛti as Kamās is debatable. We had raised this query in the article on Kamās too. Second, the kṛti strictly follows the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS, excluding the presence of DNP. Whereas the kṛti ‘sujana jīvana’ had many outliers like SMGS, GPM which can be seen in any old composition composed in the rāga Kamās. Third, the gṛha and nyāsa svara-s used in this kṛti are ṣadjam and pancamam. If we contrast this kṛti with ‘sujana jīvana’, this point can be understood well. The latter kṛti starts with madyamam and almost every āvarta ends with madyamam. Lastly, dhaivatam, though we didn’t see it as a gṛha svara in the latter kṛti, can be considered as an amsa svara. Madhyama and dhaivata are the important svara-s that form a base for Kamās. This cannot be applied for this kṛti in hand. Niṣādha is actually a prominent nyasa svara in this kṛti. Madhyama and dhaivata were not given a prominent place. Considering all these differences, it can be very well precluded that this kṛti could have been composed in some apūrva rāga, having a lakṣaṇa much similar to Kamās. Vālājāpēṭṭai version can be heard here.

When other old versions were compared, it can be seen that all except one follow this variant scale.  Of these versions, the version in Saṅgītānandaratnākaram is almost a reproduction of Vālājāpeṭṭai version. The version by Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar also supports the scale and though the version is not a verbatim reproduction of Vālājāpeṭṭai version, it is melodically much similar with the latter version. It can very well be considered as a modification of Vālājāpeṭṭai version. Śrīnivāsarāghavan too follows this scale but has ṛṣbham. Going by these versions, can we speculate the basic melody could have been in some rāga with the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS. Texts could have mentioned it as Kamās due to its inherent similarity with the latter rāga. In that case, phrases suggestive of Kamās were added later? This name confusion and mixing up of rāga-s is not uncommon. We had discussed earlier about this in the rāga Rudrapriya and how Rudrapriya mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can very well be called as Karnāṭaka Kāpi by many others.

This hypothesis becomes stronger when we consider the version given in Dākṣinātyagānam. That version too has some melodic similarities with Vālājāpeṭṭai verion, especially in the pallavi segment. But the presence of ṛṣbham makes the melody sound different. C R Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār, author of this text has mentioned that the kṛti-s were procured from his personal collection and from Flute Śarabha Śāstrigal. But the source of individual kṛti was not given. In this version, excluding the presence of SRGM and SRS, no other phrase typical to Kamās can be seen. In such a case, is it acceptable to call it as Kamās? We leave this question to musicologists.  

Name of the rāga

Having seen these versions, it is necessary to name the scale seen in this kṛti. Our idea is not to obfuscate the readers by giving some obscure names; rather this an attempt to create an image in the mind of readers that this could have been composed in a rare rāga. Ideally kṛti-s like this are to be discussed in music conferences and consensus has to be made. But to begin with, an attempt is being made here to name this scale. The text Rāga Pravāham gives three different names for this single rāga culled from three different sources – Bilaval, Dhivyamavathi and Karnāṭaka Kamās.9 Of these the last one suits better than the other two, as the this scale represents Kamās in many aspects.

Conclusion

This kṛti, like many kṛti-s of Svāmigal display heterogeneity, across the versions with respect to rāga lakṣaṇam. Though every other version label it as Kamās, the lakṣaṇa given therein differ considerably. From our analysis, it can be seen the lakṣaṇa seen in the majority of the examined versions do not correspond with the lakṣaṇa of Kamās or its variant.

Though this kṛti and ‘sujana jīvana’ were considered to be set in the same rāga, there exist differences between these two as it is evident from our analysis. But all these differences testimony the past and we nowhere can hear those differences, either now or in future.

The rāga handled here could be a scale much resembling Kamās and somewhere down in the line Kamās phrases could have been added. This ṣādava scale has many other names and the one that is much closer to Kamās, less confusing and also which can be taken by us easily is Karnāṭaka Kamās.

Footnotes

Footnote 1 – From Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, several musicians had made a note that Svāmigal didn’t reveal the name of the apūrva rāga-s to his disciples. Someone, perhaps after the beatitude of Svāmigal has named by referring to some lexicon available to them.

Footnote 2 – Cermādēvi Subraḥmaṇya Śāstrigal represents the disciple lineage Śrī Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, being a disciple of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and Ambi Dīkṣitar. He also had his training from Vīna Śēṣaṇṇaof Mysore. In a series of articles in the magazine The Saṅgīta Abhimāni, he expressed his views on the rāga variations seen in the compositions of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Svāmigaḷ. He raises the same query, how or why the changes are seen only in these apūrva rāga-s of these composers when we have the same lakṣaṇa for rāga-s like Kāmbhōji or Tōḍi? He also mentions both of them belonged to the śiṣya parampara of Vēṅkaṭamakhin.

Footnote 3 – This author was told by Dr Rājaśrī Srīpati, Vaiṇika, that she has learnt this kṛti completely devoid of ṛṣbham from Viduṣi Smt Suguṇa Varadācāri.

Footnote 4 – The exact year of publication of this text cannot be identified. Based on the introductory notes given by Ayyaṅgār, it can be speculated that this text must have been published before 1917.

Footnote 5 – At one place in the anupallavi, we were unable to ascertain the exact svara he has written. Though it appears like ṛṣbham, its complementary part that occurs in caraṇam does not read as ṛṣbham. 

Acknowledgements

I sincerely thank Smt Nandhini Venkataraman, descendant of Kumbakonam Sri Visvanatha Iyer and Dr Chandran, descendant of Dr Srinivasa Raghavan for parting me with the manuscripts in their possession.

My sincere thanks to Dr Rājaśrī Srīpati for educating me about the rare version of this composition.

References

  1. K.V. Rāmacandran. The mēlakartā – A critique. The Journal of Music Academy, pg 31-33, 1938.
  2. K.V. Rāmacandran. Karnatic rāga-s from a new angle. The Journal of Music Academy, pg 105-127,1996.
  3. Cermādēvi Subraḥmaṇya Śāstrigal. Vaiṇīka, gāyaka samvādam. Sila janya rāgaṅgalin kuzappam. The Saṅgīta Abhimāni, pg 101-103,1936.
  4. P. Sāmbamūrti. The Wālājāhpet manuscripts. The Journal of Music Academy, pg 114-129, 1938.
  5. Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu . Saṅgīta Kalānidhi, pg . Kalā Ratnākara, Mudrākśara Śālā, Cennapuri, 1912 
  6. Tenmaṭam Vēṅkaṭācāryulu, Tenmaṭam Varadācāryulu. Saṅgītānanda ratnākaramu, pg 51-52. Śrīnikētana mudrāyantramu, Madras, 1917.
  7. C.R. Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār. Dākṣinātyagānam, pg 156-157.
  8. Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar. http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/browse?collection=1&sort_field=Dublin+Core%2CTitle&page=2

9. M.N. Danḍapāṇi, D. Paṭṭammal. Rāga Pravāham. The Trinity Book Publishers, 2007.

The Extinct Malavasri

Prologue & A Prelude:

Ragas like Saranganatta, Desakshi, Samantha and Malavasri once upon time ruled the roost but today lie forgotten and unsung. Malavasri is a raga in which both Tyagaraja and Muthusvami Dikshita have composed. This blog post is to document the history of the raga in brief and introduce Dikshita’s composition to the reader of this blog.

But before that, is a prelude. The year was 1945, when the Second World War was winding down, with the day being March 25th, a Sunday. If one had tuned into the All India Radio Madras 1 Station at 10PM that day, after the rendering of  the popular “ Nee Inrangayenil” by the young and sprightly M S Subbulakshmi, the listener would have next heard the kriti of Tyagaraja in the raga Malavasri (“Evarunnaru brova”) played from the vinyl record rendered by the then 26 year old D K Pattammal in her inimitable style, followed by Dikshita’s “Manasa Guruguha rupam” in Anandabhairavi – vide the extract of the day’s broadcast schedule from the “Indian Listener” pinned as the header to this post.

The same recording made by her close to 90 years ago can be heard here:

Yet another is a dance piece for listening- Kubera Stuti- in tisra eka tala set in the raga Malavasri.

The raga Malavasri belongs to the 22nd Mela (Kharaharapriya/Sriraga) taking the following svaras/murrcanas in its ascent and descent, according to the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP).

Arohana: S G2 G2 M1 P N2 D2 N2 S

Arohana: S N2 N2 D2 P M1 P N2 D2 M1 M1 G2 S

Mark the emphasis on the gandhara, madhyama and nishadha notes in the progression. This raga is an oddity for more than one reason for it also incorporates a few now-lost 18th century raga architectural attributes. While Natta, Gaula, Arabhi, Varali and Sri were the traditional ghana ragas (pancakam) of the first category, the ragas Reetigaula, Narayanagaula, , Bhauli, Malavasri and Saranganatta are the constituents of the dviteeya ghana pancakam.

Historical Background to the Raga:

The raga right through history has been recorded by musicologists and with the advent of the mela scheme, Venkatamakhin (1620 CE) as well as Shaji (circa 1700 CE) and Tulaja (circa 1732 CE), placed the raga as a shadava raga skipping rishabha altogether under Sriraga mela. And the raga is documented as-is in the Ragalakshanam of Muddu Venkatamakhin (circa 1750). Older texts while helping in validating the broad lakshanas of ragas, do not provide us with the intricate details or compositions and we are left to rely on the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP) of Subbarama Dikshita which details this raga for our benefit.

The SSP’s narrative provides us with this nominal raga structure for us.

Arohana: S G2 G2 M1 P N2 N2 D2 N2 S

Arohana: S N2 N2 D2 P M1 P N2 D2 M1 M1 G2 S

Attention is invited to the vakra dhaivatha in the arohana and the SNDPM, SNDNPM, SNDNPM combinations that occur in the descent. Further Subbarama Dikshita asserts on the authority of the older texts that there are no sancaras beyond the madhya stayi. In fact, Muthusvami Dikshita’s kriti provided as an exemplar goes one step further as the raga is dealt with only between madhya gandhara and tara pancama, with no sancaras below.

The SSP documents the following compositions as exemplars of the raga, none of which are in currency on the modern concert stage.

  1. Mangalambayai Namaste” of Muthusvami Dikshita in misra jhampa tala
  2. Devi Sathatham” of Krishnasvami Ayya in Matya capu tala – the musical setting perhaps being done by Subbarama Dikshita himself
  3. Indha perumai” – a padam in Tamil by Mukkupulavar in misra eka tala – the sahitya being that of the Ettayapuram Court poet and the musical setting likely of Balasvami Dikshita

The SSP apart from documenting the lakshya gitam ascribing it to Venkatamakhin as authority for the raga’s grammar also documents a unique gitam commencing as “manmadha naLa” called as “mukta-pada-grastham” whereby the ending syllabic constituent unit of the previous sahitya section becomes the first syllabic constituent of the succeeding sahitya portion. (andhadhi). Much like the Narayanagaula gitam documented in the SSP, this gitam must have been in currency and must have been a popular composition. It must be emphasized that gitas or gita prabhandas were the concise repositories of a raga’s lakshanas, encapsulating pithily the set of all possible svara combinations or murrcanas of the raga, akin to how we treat the varna in modern days.

A perusal of the said gita offers us vital clues as to this raga’s lakshana:

  1. The raga delineated spans the madhya sadja to the tara madhyama. There are no mandhara stayi phrases in the gita.
  2. The gita is divided into two parts – the first one being the dhruvam – the so-called opening refrain or what we today call as the pallavi. The second is the javada or the so called anupallavi part which loops back to the dhruvam or the refrain.
  3. Nishadha followed by the madhyama is found greatly emphasized by their repeated usage both in the dheergha and janta varieties.
  4. The salient arohana and avarohana murrcanas found are as under:
    • Madhya stayi- ascent- SGGM-MMP-MPNNDN-NDNS
    • Madhya stayi – descent: -SNS-SNNDPMP- SNDP-SNDNPN-MNDMGS-SNDNPNDMGS-PMGS
    • Tara stayi – S,GS- MMGS-SMGS-MGSMGS-

Apart from the SSP two other documented sources of this raga from olden times even antecedent to the SSP are as under:

  1. manmadha nala” the gitam in Malavasri found in the SSP is also published in Pallavi Svara Kalpavalli (published in 1900 CE) by Tiruvottriyur Tyagier. There are a few variations here and there save for one crucial aspect which is that in one place the mandhara nishadha is touched.
  2. Sri Ramani kucakumkuma” – a ragamalika gitam of 32 ragas in Dhruva tala of which Malavsri is one is found published in “Sangeetha Sarvaartha Sara Sangrahamu” of Veena Ramanujacharya (1873 CE). The sahitya and the corresponding musical notation which runs for one avarta of tala is as under:
1 2 3 4 5 6
S , M M G S
gA . . . ya ka
N S N D    
pa . rA .    
N N D M    
ya nu rE .    

The notation in italics is the tara sancara notes of the raga. This brief snippet of  the raga encompasses madhya stayi madhyama to tara stayi madhyama, emphasizing   nishadha madhyama notes, corresponding to the treatment of the raga in  “Mangalambayai Namaste” as we will see shortly. And while dhaivatha is vakra in the arohana, it is more seen vakra in the avarohana as well though a lineal SNDP is not forbidden. Vakra sancaras are de rigueur in this raga, which by incorporating multiple flows of murccanas follows the classical 18th century raga architecture.

It has to be pointed out that the raga’s lakshana as embodied in the SSP fully accords with the musical history right from the times of Venkatamakhin staying under the Sri raga mela and omitting rishabha. Both Sahaji and Tulaja in their works reinforce the same lakshana for the raga. Even the Sangraha Cudamani, the lexicon of the ragas of compositions of Tyagaraja omits rishaba in its structure and provides roughly the same arohana-avarohana krama for the raga.

And off course all musical texts are unanimous as to the rishabha being omitted and the raga being a upanga raga under 22nd mela.

Mangalambayai Namaste” of Muthusvami Dikshita

Before we delve into the musical aspects of composition, let’s look at the sahitya and its meaning first:

Pallavi

namastE                        – Salutations to you,

SrI  mangaLAmbAyai              – to (you who are) Goddess Mangalamba!

SrI vAncha linga nija SaktE    – O personal, active power of Shiva (Vanchalinga)!

vilIna cit-SaktE               – O embodiment of the hidden mental power!

anupallavi

sangIta sAhitya sArajna sannutE – O one celebrated by those who know the essence of music and literature,

mangaLa-Alaya gupta gangA taTa sthitE – O one dwelling in the auspicious temple on the bank of (the tank) Gupta Ganga,

ananga-Adi-upAsitE              – O one worshipped by Manmatha and others!

SRngAra-Adi yutE                – O one possessed of the various sentiments (Rasas) beginning with love(Shrngara)!

caraNam

manda smita-AnanE               – O one with a gentle countenance

mALava SrI janE              – O one who has good people (as devotees) in the country of                                                        Malava!

indirA-AlOkanE                  – O one who blessed Lakshmi with your gaze!

ISvara-ArAdhanE                 – O one who worships Shiva!

indIvara-Asana-Adi-IDita      – O one acclaimed by the gods led by the lotus-seated Brahma!

Siva-anganE                     – O young wife of Shiva!

sindUra kastUri candana-AlEpanE – O one anointed with vermillion, musk and sandal paste!

kunda mukuLa radanE             – O one with teeth like small-jasmine buds,

guru guha hRtsadanE             – O one whose abode is the heart of Guruguha,

sundari                                           – O beautiful one!

mRdu gadanE                               – O soft-spoken one!

sukha-tara kara madanE         – O one who grants great joy to Manmatha!

  1. The raga name and the colophon of Dikshita are seamlessly woven into the lyrics referring to the Malava/Malwa region (modern Central India)
  2. The ksetra of the composition is Sri Vanchiyam and Goddess Mangalambika is the consort of Lord Vanchinatha who is the presiding deity.
  3. Sri Vanchiyam is a hoary ksetra and is rich in stala purana from a mythological standpoint. Refer: http://templesoftamilnadu.co.in/srivanchiyam/
  4. Dikshita has composed three kritis, on Lord Vanchinatha and Goddess Mangalambika, of this ksetra as documented in the SSP as under:
    • Mangalambayai Namaste – Malavsri – misra jhampa tala
    • Sri Mangalambike – Kalyani – Khanda Ata
    • Sri Vanchanatham – Surati – Adi

From a musical aspect, the setting of the composition is itself very interesting.

  1. Subbarama Dikshita in his commentary makes a number of pertinent points about the raga:
    • He says the raga is shadava with rishabha being dropped totally and dhaivatha varja. It has to be pointed out that in the lakshana sloka dhaivatha is said to dropped (varjitha) in the arohana.
    • Malavasri is a ghana raga of the dviteeya category.
    • Gandhara, nishadha and madhyama svara are the key life-giving notes
    • From a lakshya standpoint the raga spans madhya stayi sadja to tara stayi madhyama.
    • SGGMPNNS -NNDPMPNDMMGS is the arohana and avarohana krama
  2. In the kriti however, Dikshita implements the raga as under:
    • While rishabha is dropped, dhaivatha is vakra in the arohana and not varjya. Dhaivatha note occurs as MPNDNS in the arohana and SNDP or SNDMP or SNDNP in the avarohana krama.
    • The raga effectively spans madhya stayi madhyama to tara stayi madhyama, with two outliers/exceptions – in the tara stayi the pancama (“srng-ArAdhiyutE”)is touched in one place and in the madhya stayi gandhara (“vilInacit saktE)” is touched in another place.
    • In other words, there is no sancara below madhya stayi gandhara, while the tara pancama is the outermost svara in the upper register.
    • The madhyama kala sahitya portion appended to the carana commencing “kunda mukula radanE” captures the effective gamut of the raga as visualized by Dikshita in this composition.
    • The primacy of the tara madhyama with which the composition starts and the repeated emphasis on the nishadha note (at “mangalAlaya” for instance) are key aspects to be noted.
    • Kampita gamaka adorns nishadha and gandhara throughout the composition.
    • Given the madhya stayi gandhara to tara madhyama only scope as dealt with in the composition, the murcchanas occurring thereof can be noted as below:
      1. MPNNS; MPNNDNS; GMNNDNS and SNDP, SNDPMPG, MPNNDM, SNDMPM in the madhya stayi
      2. SGS, SGMGS, SMGS and PMGS in the tara stayi
  3. From a rendering perspective the following aspects has to be observed for this composition:
    • The song commences on the tara madhyama and therefore a vocalist should “park firmly” at the madhyama note in the upper register, without deviating in any manner, such as intoning the gandhara instead as the commencing note.
    • Keeping in line with the delineation in the composition, any sancara below madhya gandhara should advisedly be eschewed in any sangati or alapana or neraval or svara prastara, so as to ensure fidelity to the intent of the composer as he has kept to that as the gamut of the raga in this composition.

Discography:

In this section I present the my rendering of “Mangalambayai Namaste” to the best of abilities , keeping to my interpretation of the notation found in the SSP. I should hasten to add that errors and omissions are entirely mine.

In this context the following points are to be noted:

  1. A version of this composition is found in the public domain ascribed to Sangeeta Kalanidhi Smt. Aruna Sairam. It is most respectfully submitted that the said version does not conform to the notation as found in the SSP and much liberties has been taken with the same. Here is the recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHSmlUKZ1PI
  2. It is even more unfortunate that the composition is seen rendered in khanda capu tala as well inflicting even greater damage to the composition. As recorded in earlier blog posts, the Jhampa Tala compositions of Dikshita such as “Sri Venugopala” ( Kurinji), “Sri Kalahasteesa” ( Huseini) are seen rendered in khanda capu tala, doing incalculable harm both the intent of the composer and the rhythmic setting of the kriti.
  3. Notations as well narratives of the raga found in the public domain provides the arohana and avarohana krama of the raga wrongly. Rishabha is seen included in the descent. It has to be noted that the raga is entirely devoid of rishabha note. Students as well as performers need to stay wary of these obvious errors. Example: https://karnatik.com/c5787.shtml
  4. There is another composition “ Kanakasabapatim” passed off as a composition of Muthusvami Dikshita in the raga Malavasri. Again it is most respectfully submitted that this is a plain misattribution as the composition can neither be of Dikshita’s nor is it the Malavasri of the SSP as it does not in any way conform to the lakshana of the raga found in “Mangalambayai” and documented in the SSP. And therefore, the said composition is not considered in this blog post.

Malavasri as featured in Ramasvami Dikshita’s 108-Raga-Tala Malika

This magnum opus as published in the SSP, features the raga Malavasri as the 13th portion/khandika set in rAjacUdAmani tala. The notation shows traversal of Malavasri in the mandhara stayi upto the mandhara madhyama. And above all a considerable portion of the lyrics are notated in mandhara stayi in obvious discordance to Subbarama Dikshita’s own commentary that the raga does not permit sancaras below madhya sadja ! However the raga as delineated is otherwise in line with the stated lakshana of the raga being SGMPNNS/SNDPMGS.

Vidushi R S Jayalakshmi in Dec 2014 gave a lecture demonstration of this mammoth composition of Ramasvami Dikshita. In this Youtube Link she demonstrates the Malavasri portion starting 1:07:18 onwards.

Malavasri & the SSP and Tyagaraja’s Compositions:

Thus, Malavasri has always been a shadava raga of the Sriraga mela, omitting rishabha. And in the SSP as we see there are two other unique aspects:

  1. Dhaivatha is vakra in the arohana and
  2. Sancaras span only from madhya gandhara to tara pancama. And according the Subbarama Dikshita sancaras below madhya stayi sadja are not seen in the raga. This feature of the raga is akin to that of Surati where no sancaras are seen below the sadja of the middle register.

In this context we have to assess the melodic contours of the Malavasri found in Tyagaraja’s compositions “Evarunnaru” and “Ennalu tirigedi”. It is to be noted that this composition of Tyagaraja – “Evarunnaru” is only found listed in Rangaramanuja Iyengar’s publication and is not found documented in other publications or compendia of Tyagaraja’s compositions.

The lyrics of the composition can be found here: http://thyagaraja-vaibhavam.blogspot.com/2007/09/thyagaraja-kriti-evarunnaaru-brova-raga.html

While the rendering of Smt D K Pattammal was presented earlier, the other rendering being that of Sangita Kalanidhi T V Sankaranarayanan is given below:

https://wynk.in/music/song/evarunnaru/am_INM159200051?page=0

The following conclusions can be drawn from these renderings:

  1. The melody indeed involves the notes of Mela 22, duly eschewing the rishabha note.
  2. The composition as well as the renderings span the full middle register and up to tara madhyama.
  3. Dhaivatha is seen rendered vakra in the arohana krama.
  4. The carana section “manasAraga dhyanimpanu– manasu nilupu marmambu telipi” seems tinted with rishabha (perhaps due to an oscillated flatter gandhara) which is avoidable. It has to be mentioned that the tara sancaras are rendered with SMGS or its variants without any trace of rishabha.

A cleaner version devoid of even a faint suggestion of rishabha in the said places in the kriti along with a sharper sadharana gandhara intonation, is this rendering of Vidvan Dileepkumar which is presented below:

The other kriti of Tyagaraja “ennalu tirigedi” of Tyagaraja is rendered by Dr Ritha Rajan which can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdvhTBoydpY

Conclusion:

The evaluation of the musical material available to us shows that for Malavsri, the gitam as well as the kritis of Muthusvami Dikshita and Tyagaraja present an unalloyed and complete picture of the raga, which is sufficient for one to comprehend, understand and assimilate the raga, from the point of view of both a student and a performer. Further the raga as well as the Dikshita’s composition “Mangalambayai Namaste” can not only be rendered with practice but can be dealt with along with alapana, neraval and svaraprastara. By properly imbuing the composition and the raga lakshana therein, with fidelity to the notation and the intent of the composer, the composition can be performed competently. It is earnestly hoped that this beautiful composition with its uttaranga and upper register centric pivot, will be encountered more frequently on the concert circuit in the days to come.

References:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) – “Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini” – Republished in Tamil by Madras Music Academy (2006) -Vol II- Sriraga Mela- Pages 489-496
  2. Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – “Ragalakshana Sangraha”- Collection of Raga Descriptions pp 816-828
  3. Prof S R Janakiraman & Subba Rao (1993)- “Ragas of the Saramrutha”- published by the Madras Music Academy -pp 34-35
  4. Savitri Rajan & Michael Nixon (1982)–“Sobhillu Saptasvara” – published by CBH Publications -pp 115 & 135

Intriguing raga-s – Kamas

Dr Aravindh T R

It has been reiterated several times that Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has not explained many tenets explicitly in his treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini.  It is up to the reader to comprehend the information given by reading and analyzing various evidences published before and after this treatise. One such tenet is bhāṣāṅga rāgas which was covered here. Another such example will be the point of discussion in this article – rāga-s with more than one mūrcana.

One cannot stop exclaiming seeing the lakṣaṇa of few rāga-s when we go through Pradarṣini. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has explained these rāga-s by giving more than one mūrcana (ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa) [1]. Rāga-s like Takka, Sālagabhairavi, Kannaḍagaula and Kamās can be placed under this category. By this we get to know, multiple variant lakṣaṇa-s existed for some rāga-s even during the period of Dīkṣitar and he was in approval of all these variants.

Kamās as described by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar

Kamās is considered as a dēśīya, bhāṣāṅga janya of Harikēdaragaula. Madhyama and dhaivata are jīva svara-s. This rāga has a restricted range between mandra sthāyi nishāda to tāra sthāyi gāndara. At some places like RGRS in tāra sthāyi, gandhāra is sādharaṇa in nature. What is more interesting here is the mūrcana given for this rāga. Though SRGMPDNS and SNDPMGRS is the mūrcana given for this rāga, it can also have other ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa like SGMPDNS/SMGMPDNS/SMGMNDNS – SNDPMGS says Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. In all the compositions notated by him, Kamās is dealt only as a sampūrṇa janya of Harikēdaragaula. In such a case, it is unavoidable for any reader to get a query – the relevance of the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa SGMPDNS – SNDPMGS, as it is totally devoid of the svara ṛṣbham. This scale was very well accepted by Dīkṣitar can be understood from the fact that it was not affixed with any other (derogatory) remarks as seen with the rāga-s Husēni or Kāpi. Hence this article will cover only this variant form and look for the presence of available compositions by analyzing older versions. Neeedless to say, analysis of the rāga Kamās that we hear today will not be attempted.

Kamās in treatises

This rāga has not been catalogued by Śahaji, Tulajā or other musicologists before their period [2]. The Rāga lakṣaṇa, attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhi by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar too do not mention this rāga. It is interesting that Subbarāma Dīkṣitar had made a note of this rāga, without furnishing a single composition of Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar or any other member of his family. The only old composition notated there is that of Svāti Tirunal and the lakṣaṇa there well abides with the structure described by Dīkṣitar.

But Kamās is seen in Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi and its allied texts. The scale given in Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi is SGMPDNS – SNDPMGS. An absolute discordance is seen between the scale given and the lakṣaṇa gīta notated therein. In the gīta notated in Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi, many phrases alien to the scale like SGP, GPMG and GPDN can be seen [3]. The ascend form pūrvāṅgam to uttarāṅgam is always by SGP despite the scale being SGMPDN. The phrase SGMP is conspicuously absent in the gītam. Similarly, RSNDP is to be noted, as the svara ṛṣbham is not mentioned in the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa.  Also the phrases characteristic of Kamās like SMGM, MNDN can also be not seen. Though we are able to locate a scale given by Dīkṣitar in the treatise Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi, the scale in no way is related to the lakṣaṇa portrayed in the gītaṃ.  When the gītaṃ is reconstructed, the melody appears totally different from the Kamās described by Dīkṣitar or heard now.

Kamās in other texts

Many texts have been published by the musicians to understand rāga lakśaṇa. They serve to understand the crystallized structure of any particular rāga and when many such publications published over the period of time were analyzed, evolution of a rāga can be understood.

One such book, perhaps the first of its kind was published by Pazamanēri Svāminātha Ayyar in the year 1901 [4]. Rāgavibhōdini, as it is called was also mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his Pradarṣini. Svāminātha Ayyar was a disciple of Mahā Vaidyanātha Ayyar and represents the śiṣya parampara of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal. This book help us to understand the rāga lakśaṇa prevailed in a single branch of Mānambucāvaḍi lineage (See foot note 1). Kamās is mentioned as a janya of Harikāmbhoji with the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa SMGMPDNS SNDPMGRS. He also mentions about the usage of kākali niṣādham in the phrase SNS. Perhaps this could be the first textual evidence regarding the use of kākali niṣādham. He then proceeds to describe this rāga by mentioning various phrases, including the one with ṛṣbham.

Kamās was explained with other dēśī rāgas by S Ramanathan in The Music Academy conference held in 1966. He has mentioned about the presence of kākali niṣādham and made a note that it is not seen in the earlier compositions [5]. A much detail description of this rāga comes from S R Janakiraman. He avers the structure of this rāga has changed over the period of time. He proceeds to give the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa as SMGMPDNS  SNDPMGRS  and its variant SNDPMGRGS. He emphasizes on the alpatva of the svara ṛṣbham [6]. Though we are able to get a clear definition of this rāga, our question on the scale without ṛṣbham, mentioned by Dīkṣitar remains unanswered.

Mūrcana in Pradarṣini

Before proceeding further, we wish to add a note on the mūrcana given in Pradarṣini and its relevance in understanding the rāga lakṣaṇa. Though Dīkṣitar provides mūrcana for every rāga he describes, in many cases reading mūrcana alone can mislead us in understanding a rāga. A comprehensive examination of all the compositions notated by him inclusive of the notes provided at the beginning is a must to get a picture of any rāga. In other words, mūrcana is just a delineation; even worser than a scale in describing a rāga in many instances.

In this case, the mūrcana resembles the scale of Harikāmbhōji. But the notes given by him regarding the nyāsa svarā-s, various illustrative phrases gives us a picture about Kamās. When this is combined with a study of the notated compositions, a clear picture of Kamās and possible ways to differentiate it from Harikāmbhōji can be learnt. This rāga could have not posed any problem if he had stopped with this discussion. The presence of an additional information, that SGMPDNS SNDPMGS can be a mūrcana confuses as this lakṣaṇa can nowhere be seen in the notated works. No single composition notated there is devoid of the svara ṛṣbham. As we have mentioned earlier, this scale too is to be taken with a pinch of salt. This scale doesn’t mean an entire composition could have been constructed only with this scale going up and down; rather the phrases given here must form a bulk of the composition and that version should be bereft of ṛṣbham or should have used ṛṣbham sparsely. We wish the readers to remember the phrase SRGMPMR in the rāga Balahamsa and its importance which we have discussed earlier. This phrase is nowhere seen in the compositions notated by Dīkṣitar in the rāga Balahamsa, but it was an arterial phrase mentioned in various treatises and seen in few old version of the kṛtis-s of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal in this rāga. The link between these treatises and the practice became evident only after examining the older versions.

Compositions

Rāga-s live through compositions and a study of these compositions not only help us to understand a rāga, but also aid us in understanding the various ways in which a particular rāga was exploited. In the absence of gita-s in this rāga, we are left with the available old versions of kṛti-s, svarajati-s and jāvali-s in this rāga. A detailed analysis of  jāvali-s in this rāga can be heard here (See footnote 2). Though the first evidence of jāvali in this rāga can be traced back to 17 CE, the musical structure is much similar to what we hear today.

We do have two kṛti-s of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal in this rāga – ‘sujana jīvana’ and ‘sītāpate nā manasuna’. Excluding these two kṛti-s none of the compositions deserve a special mention in this regard.

Sujana jīvana

This is a well-known kṛti in this rāga set to the tāla rūpakam and needs no introduction. Renditions of this kṛti are plenteous and we do not see much variation in the versions. Uniformly, all these renditions use the svara ṛṣbham as an alpa svara. But we get a different picture when textual versions were examined.  Despite being a rare find, both in manuscripts and in the texts published in the early part of the last century, the versions sketched there is common, all devoid of ṛṣbham! All the texts – ‘gāyaka siddhānjanamu’ [7], ‘saṅgītānanda ratnākaramu’ [8], ‘saṅgīta raja raṅgōm’ [9] and ‘gandarva gāna kalpavalli’ [10] give us the variant form of Kamās mentioned by Dīkṣitar. Though the scale followed is SGMPDNS SNDPMGS, we do find phrases like SMGM, PDM, PDS, NDN and SP. The combination of these oft heard phrases in the basic melody condition us to an extent that we don’t feel the real absence of ṛṣbham. These versions does not record a mere scale; rather they paint us the rāga Kamās in its variant form. Now we are left with a question, a vital one to understand the svarūpa of this rāga – can Kamās be outlined without the svarā ṛṣbham? Though the ‘alpa’ nature of this svara is mentioned everywhere and even the oral renditions attest the same, none of the oral versions are available for this kṛti which totally eschew this svara. There are few rāga-s wherein inclusion or exclusion of a particular svara is up to the wish of a composer. The svara dhaivatam in Nāta and ṛṣbham in Hindōlavasanta can be cited as examples. Dīkṣitar provides gīta-s with and without these svara-s in both these rāga-s. But such an indication is not given for Kamās!

Let us look into the Vālājāpeṭṭai version of this kṛti. The rāga and tāla of this kṛti is mentioned as Kamās and rūpaka respectively. The basic version is relatively similar to the textual versions, though the structure of the saṅgati-s differ. An important observation noted include the restricted usage of ṛṣbham. The svara ṛṣbham is seen only once in anupallavi in a saṅgati as GRRS. Vālājāpeṭṭai version of this kṛti can be heard here.

Whereas in the textual versions described earlier, we were able to see many Kamās defining versions. This version lacks those phrases; instead has some other like SMGS and GPMG. The phrase GPMG is totally new, but seen in a sañcāri by Dīkṣitar. As said earlier, we lack gītas, prabandās or other earlier works in this rāga and description by Dīkṣitar alone stand as a pramāṇa. Based on the above discussion, it can be concluded this version best fits into the variant Kamās mentioned by Dīkṣitar, without deviating from its sampūrṇa nature. Many of the āvarta ends with the svara madhyamaṃ highlighting its use as a nyasa svara. But dhaivata is not used extensively as a gṛha svara, though can be considered to be used as an amsa svara.

Also the pada-s in each āvarta are segregated differently than the commonly heard version. The second tāla āvarta in anupallavi starts from ‘cita’ instead of ‘budha’ as we hear now. Same with ‘nana’ instead of ‘dharma’ in the caraṇam (see below).   This kind of pada segregation is not only followed in the Vālājāpeṭṭai version, but also in the books ‘gāyaka siddhānjanamu’ and ‘gandarva gāna kalpavalli’. In these texts, sāhitya reads differently; ‘cita’ (in anupallavi) and ‘nana’ (in caraṇam) were replaced by ‘śrita’ and ‘vana’ respectively (‘ghana’ in ‘gāyaka siddhānjanamu’). Gāyaka siddhānjanamu reads ‘dharma pālaka’ as ‘dharma pālana’.

Anupallavi

                        bhujaka bhūṣanār  II cita budha janāvanāt II

               maja vandita śruta candana II daśa turaṅga māmava  II

                                                        Caraṇam

                          cāru nētra śrī kalatra  II śrī ramya gātra II

                          tāraka nāma sucaritra  II daśaratha putra  II

                          tārakādhipā  II nana dharma pālaka  II

                                          tāraya raghuvara nirmala  II tyāgarāja sannutha II

From the analysis of these old versions, it appears the Kamās handled by Svāmigal could have used ṛṣbham to the minimal extent or not used at all. But going with the latter hypothesis creates an impression Kamās was visualized as a shādava rāga by Svāmigal. As we don’t have any evidence to prove that and from the knowledge gained by analyzing the mūrcana seen in Pradarṣini, the first option suits well. In that instance, Vālājāpeṭṭai version stands distinctly as the frequently heard phrases like SRS, NRS, SMGM and MNDN were not seen. But we do see other rare phrases like SMGS and GPM.

Conclusion

Though the aim of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is to archive the compositions known to him, he also took efforts to make a note on other contemporary accepted practices. In this regard, Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini is indeed a valuable treatise to not only learn the compositions of Dīkṣitar, but also serve as a medium to understand the music of the past.

The liberty extended to vāggēyakāra-s by our music is incomparable and they have utilized it to the maximum extent.

Analysis of all the older versions and Vālājāpeṭṭai versions is of paramount importance to understand the music of the past.

Readers must have wondered in not seeing any note on the kṛti ‘sītāpati nā manasuna’. It will be dealt as a separate essay to do justice to the information that it carries.

Footnotes

Footnote 1 – Though we place many musicians into a single family, like Umayālpuram, Tillaisthānam or Mānambucāvadi, differences in the versions do exist between them. This can is more pronounced in Umayālpuram disciples. Such a difference also exist among the disciples of Mānambucāvadi lineage. This is a generalized statement and not related to this kṛti as this kṛti is a hard find in manuscripts and this author was unable find this manuscript in more than one musician in the Mānambucāvadi lineage.

Footnote 2 – The tune of the jāvali sung by Subhashini Parthasarathy is more modern. She has reconstructed the tune or sung a version tuned version by a contemporary musician is to be determined.

References

1. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini. Vidyā Vilāsini Press, Eṭṭayapuraṃ  Samasthānaṃ, 1904.

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

3. Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi – Kamās lakṣaṇa gītaṃ – Pg 164. The Adyar Library, 1938.

4. Pazamanēri Svāminātha Ayyar: Rāga Vibhōdini, 1901.

5. Rāmanāthan S : Desi rāga-s in Karnātik music. Journal of Music Academy, pg 24-25, 1966.

6. S R Janakiraman. Rāga lakṣaṇaṅgal – Part 1, pg 128. The Music Academy, Madras, 1995.

7. Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu. Gāyaka siddhāṅjanamu, Part 1, pg 137. Kalā Ratnākara, Mudrākśara Śālā, Cennapuri, 1905.  

8. Tenmaṭam Vēṅkaṭācāryulu, Tenmaṭam Varadācāryulu. Saṅgītānanda ratnākaramu, pg 53. Śrīnikētana mudrāyantramu, Madras, 1917.

9. Reṅganātha Ayyar. Saṅgīta raja raṅgōm, pg 289, 1928.  

10. Rāmulu Ceṭṭi. Gandarva gāna kalpavalli, pg 56. Śrī ‘Rāma’ Mudrākṣaraśāla,1929.