Yamuna Kalyani–A Journey Back in Time-Part I

INTRODUCTION:

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

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

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

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

MODERN RAGA LAKSHANA OF YAMUNA KALYANI:

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

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

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

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

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

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

TEXTUAL REFERENCES TO YAMUNA:

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

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

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

YAMUNA KALYANI AS OUTLINED IN THE SSP:

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

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

YAMUNA IN THE SSP – Analysis of the Compositions:

The ‘Khabay’ or Gavai Prabandha:

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

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

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

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

ARCHAIC YAMUNA:

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

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

ARCHAIC YAMUNA & THE KALYANA OF VENKATAMAKHIN:

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

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

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

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

DIKSHITAR’s Composition “Jambupate”:

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

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

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

Comparison between the Archaic Yamuna and Dikshitar’s Yamuna:

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

  • Arohana/Avarohana :

Archaic Yamuna : SRGPDS/SNDPGMRS

Dikshitar’s Yamuna : SRGPDNDS/SNDPMPGmRS

  • Key murccanaas:

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

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

  • Melodic movement:

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

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

  • Gamakas:

Archaic Yamuna: Kampita on gandhara.

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

ARCHAIC YAMUNA & SUDDHA KALYAN OF HINDUSTANI MUSIC:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

( To be Continued)

FOOTNOTE 1:

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

FOOTNOTE 2:

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