Tarangini – The story of a Quaint Beauty

INTRODUCTION:

Tarangini is a fairly old raga of the Carnatic Music system. It was the 26th mela both in the earlier as well as the later Kanakambari list (circa 1750), sporting chatushruti rishabham, antara gandharam, suddha madhyama, pancamam, suddha dhaivatam and kaisiki nishadam, with the mela being asampurna or vakra sampurna ( in modern day terminology). In the Kanakangi-Ratnangi scheme, the 26th slot was taken over by the heptatonic, krama sampurna Charukesi. Tarangini is one of the ragas which was mutilated during the 20th century. The suddha dhaivatha it sported was replaced by chatushruthi dhaivatha & the sole krithi composed in it by Dikshitar, “Maye tvam yahi” came to be rendered in a melody which resembles Jhanjuti.

In the popular press/reviews, in some standard music books/works and even amongst musicians, the raga of ‘Maye” is referred to as Sud(d)ha Tarangini ( which sports the chatushruti dhaivatha). Fact is that there is no raga called Sud(d)ha Tarangini. Suffice it to say that the raga with a textual tradition and which sports D1, is Tarangini only. Apart from the dhaivata being flipped to D2, the mathu of the kriti “Maye” has also been changed in few places. The result is the modern, popular and prevalent version of Tarangini which is nothing but a pale anemic copy of the original.

Be that as it may, fortunately for us we have authentic renditions by a few masters who have endeavored to protect  and preserve the pristine heritage left behind by Dikshitar. In this post, let us get a peek into this melody through this kriti of Dikshitar and also look at the musicological treatment of this raga.

TEXTUAL HISTORY OF TARANGINI:

The combination of R2G3M1PD1N2 is not to be seen in earlier works such as that of Somanatha or others. The earliest reference available to us is in the Kanakambari list as codified in the raga lakshana anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika dateable to 1700-1750 CE. The Sangraha Cudamani too makes a mention of this raga. The Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini of Subbarama Dikshitar is the next authority and in it we have the following compositions made available to us:

  1. The lakshana gitam of Muddu Venkatamakhi
  2. The 2 tanams given by Subbarama Dikshitar again most probably composed by Muddu Venkatamakhi
  3. Maye Tvam yahi – Kriti of Muthusvami Dikshitar
  4. The sancari of Subbarama Dikshitar
  5. The portion of the ragamalika ” E Kanakambari”, starting with “Peru Jenthina”, composed by Subbarama Dikshitar and given in the Anubandha to the SSP.

Apart from the above compositions we have the following two other compositions outside the SSP:

  1. “Palayamam” attributed to Muthusvami Dikshitar, not found in the SSP, brought out by Veenai Sundaram Iyer in his publications.
  2. The portion of the catur-raga shlokamalika “Saanandam Kamalamanohari”, starting with ‘Devam ksheeratarangini”, which is rendered in Tarangini, composed by Maharaja Svati Tirunal, notated and published in the Tanjai Pervudiayan Perisai and Ponnayya Manimalai with the footnote that Vadivelu of the Tanjore Quartet set the lyric to music.

Tyagaraja, a supposedly avowed votary of the Sangraha Cudamani, has apparently composed only in Charukesi as exemplified by his kriti ‘Adamodi Galade’. As we will see later we have an account of a Tyagaraja composition being originally in Tarangini.

RAGA LAKSHANA OF TARANGINI:

As mentioned earlier none of the older musicological texts (pre 1700 AD) including the Caturdandi Prakashika talk of Tarangini or its melodic equivalents. The first mention of this raga is in the Raga Lakshana anubandha of the Caturdandi Prakashika with a date of around 1700-1750 (See Foot Note 1). The lakshana shloka found therein provides a very illuminating lakshana for Tarangini.

pUrNastarangini ragArohe riga varjitah

avarohe padhanidha rigamagari samyutah

gIyate sarvakaleshu sagrahacaucyate budhaih

According to the above anubandha shloka:

  • The raga is sampurna- meaning it takes all the 7 notes in the arohana and avarohana murccana, taken together
  • The raga drops the svaras ri and ga in ascent and
  • Includes the phrases PDND and RGMGR in descent – that is in the descent, the nishada and madhyama are vakra
  • It has sadja as graham and can be sung at all times
  • It is the raganga raga of the 26th mela.

This raga lakshana shloka is a rare instance from the Raga Lakshana anubandha, wherein entire phrases are given as a part the raga description. As we will see next, this lakshana is contrary to what one sees in the SSP.

SANGITA SAMPRADAYA PRADARSHINI:

Moving on to the SSP, a lakshana shloka attributed to Venkatamakhi is quoted as under:²

ragastarangini purnah aarohe mani varjitah

avarohe padhanidha rigamagari samyutah

gIyate sarvakaleshu sagrahacaucyate budhaih

Generally the lakshana shloka found in the anubandha is almost always verbatim reproduced by Subbarama Dikshitar in the SSP. However in the case of Tarangini the shloka as quoted is at variance (similar to the case of Kambhoji which was discussed in a previous article), especially the first line ( emphasis is mine) which states, which svaras are varja or excluded in the ascent.

The implication is not difficult to understand. The Anubandha lakshana shloka talks of the svaras R and G as being absent in the ascent, whereas the shloka quoted by Subbarama Dikshitar says that the svaras M and N are dropped in the ascent. Indeed this is source of confusion for we do not know from where Subbarama Dikshitar sourced this shloka. However based on the murccanas found in the Dikshitar composition ‘Maye’, we can convincingly conclude that M and N are the svaras which are dropped in the ascent and probably the shloka quoted by Subbarama Dikshitar is the authentic one or the one relying on which Dikshitar composed ‘Maye’. (See Footnote 2)

The SSP is today our only source to ascertain the raga lakshana of this raga which perhaps came into vogue with the dawn of the 18th century. Subbarama Dikshitar paints the melodic canvas of Tarangini with the following attributes in his commentary:

  1. A sampurna raga, shadja as graham
  2. Both M1 and N2 are vakra, appearing only as SR2G3M1G3R2 or PD1N2D1S. In other words the M1 note is always flanked by the gandhara and the dhaivatha is sandwiched between 2 nishadas.
  3. The murccana arohana is SR2G3PD1N2D1PD1S
  4. Avarohana is SD1PG3R2SR2G3M1G3R2S
  5. R2 is a favoured amsa svara apparently & being used as graha as well as nyasa.
  6. G3 is another favoured note, used in janta prayogas such G3M1G3G3R2S

Subbarama Dikshitar gives a tanam and a lakshana gitam as well for Tarangini ascribing authorship to Venkatamakhi. Needless to add, these compositions must be creations of Muddu Venkatamakhin. In the gitam and tanam, the Tarangini that is conceived is fairly the same as found in the lakshana shloka (SSP version) save for one point. The tanam seem to have the prayoga DPNDP which is not found even in his lakshana gitam. As we can see this murccana/prayoga is latter on completely deprecated. In Subbarama Dikshitar’s creations too, namely the sancari and the Tarangini raga portion of the ragamalika “E Kanakambari” found noted in the SSP and its anubandha respectively, the raga lakshana is aligned to the Dikshitar composition.

The Sangraha Cudamani provides the ragalakshana of Tarangini as SRMGRMPDs / sNDPMGRS under mela Carukesi. As one can see the svaras R and G are vakra in this version. In passing one may hypothesize that if the Muddu Venkatamakhin shloka in the anubandha is recast as “pUrnastarangini ragaarohe riga vakritah” (replacing varjitah with vakritah) then the Tarangini definition as between the anubandha and that of Sangraha Cudamani would be completely aligned!

SUMMARY OF THE ABOVE:

As of today, the Tarangini that prevails is the one as codified by Subbarama Dikshitar in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini with the operative murccana arohana/avarohana of SRGPDNDPDs/sDPGRSRGMGRS on the authority of the kriti of Muthusvami Dikshitar and the not the one as postulated in the Anubandha or the Sangraha Cudamani. This Tarangini one can say belongs to SSP and SSP alone.

THE EVIDENCE OF MUSICOLOGISTS/AUTHORITIES:

The raga lakshana of this raga does not seem to have been discussed by the Experts Committee of the Music Academy. However a perusal of the Journals of the Music Academy indicates that the raga has been discussed/referenced in two instances:

  1. By the renowned critic Sri K V Ramachandran as a part of his lecture in the year 1938.
  2. By Dr T S Ramakrishnan, Experts Committee member and an acknowledged authority on the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, in the year 1977.
SRI K V RAMACHANDRAN’S REFERENCE TO THE RAGA TARANGINI3:

Noted critic Sri K V Ramachandran (KVR) in his seminal paper presented before the Experts Committee of the Music Academy3, with authority says that many of the ragas of Tyagaraja’s compositions were wrongly identified using the Sangraha Cudamani as a reference. He says that the raga of the composition “Nenendhu Vedakudura”  was  not Karnataka Behag but  Tarangini or rather the Tarangini of Dikshitar as exemplified by “Maye”. During this lecture demonstration Sri KVR also argues that the ragas of quite a few kritis of Tyagaraja had been changed.

The point to be highlighted here is that Tarangini was also utilized by Tyagaraja for the composition “Nenendhu Vedakudhura”, but this melodic setting is now all but extinct/dead.

DR T S RAMAKRISHNAN ON TARANGINI 4:

For Dr T S Ramakrishnan (TSR), Subbarama Dikshitar was a parama guru of sorts as his father had worked with Subbarama Dikshitar and Chinnasvami Mudaliar during the publication of the SSP. He was a member of the Experts Committee of the Music Academy and a recipient of the Academy’s Certificate of Merit. Above all he was an acknowledged authority on the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini and had been called upon to present many lecture demonstrations in connection with SSP and the music of the so called Dikshitar/Venkatamakhi sampradaya.

Dr TSR in the 1977 Academy session4 (on 22 Dec 1977) demonstrated the raga lakshana of Tarangini by singing (Muddu) Venkatamakhi’s gitam and the kriti “Maye”. He underlined the change that has been made to the raga and the kriti by changing it over to the 28th mela and calling it as ‘Sudha Tarangini’. Dr TSR emphasized that there was no raga by name ‘Sudha Tarangini’ and that the raga’s lakshana and the kriti has been tampered with through ignorance or sheer disregard for authentic tradition. In his concluding remarks for that lecture demonstration, Dr V Raghavan also pointed out that Tarangini was the correct name of the raga and the word ‘sudha’ had been appended by Dikshitar to the raga mudra to provide the meaning “as a flowing stream of ambrosial bliss”.

In this context it needs to be re-asserted that there is no raga called Sudha Tarangini at all and versions of the raga and of ‘Maye’ sung in this so called melody are spurious. Sadly even a few works on music authored by musicologists & authorities such as Prof Sambamoorthi have codified this raga5 which has no textual tradition.

MUTHUSVAMI DIKSHITAR’S COMPOSITION:

Dikshitar’s conception of Tarangini as found in the SSP is a masterpiece in itself. He builds on the edifice that Muddu Venkatamakhin left behind. The composition in its lyrical and musical structure is unique in more than one aspect. There are a few kritis that authorities say reflects incidents in Dikshitar’s life such as “Mangaladevataya” (Dhanyasi) or “Tyagarajam Bhajare” (Yadukulakambhoji). I strongly feel that the pathos that the kriti evokes reflects some personal pain or incident in his life. The salient features of this composition are as follows:

  1. The kriti is structured oddly with an anupallavi and 3 caranas (though the SSP rather “counts” it only as 2 each with a different dhatu. No other krithi of Dikshitar is so structured with the refrain/pallavi  seamlessly segueing with the anupallavi and caranas.
  2. Dikshitar’s development of the raga can be gauged by the way in which he progressively expands the raga in each of the composition’s anga. The svaras S, G and P are used as the starting notes for these segments.
  3. Every time (barring the final carana) Dikshitar forays into the mandhara stayi to reach the pancama before traversing back to the madhya stayi.
  4. Sancara is seen from mandhara pancama to tara gandhara in the kriti. Tara madhyama is touched in the cittasvara.
  5. GMGGR or GMGR is a recurring motif throughout this kriti along with the PDND prayoga.
  6. The M1 is very deergha in its intonation
  7. The essence of Tarangini is captured by the cittasvara which encompasses the entire gamut of the raga.

SVATI TIRUNAL’S SHLOKAMALIKA:

Before we look at the renderings of Dikshitar’s composition “Maye”, an analysis of the treatment of this raga in another composition “Saanandam Kamala manohari’ is required here. This composition is a shloka which is set to music in a raga malika format and is referred to as a catur raga shloka malika with the four ragas Kamalamanohari, Revagupti, Hamsadhvani and finally Tarangini. Kamalamanohari is the raga for the pallavi refrain (‘Saanandam Kamalamanohari’). A few interesting aspects in relation to this composition needs to be mentioned.

  1. This shloka malika has the raga names as well the composer’s colophon appearing in the sahitya. The Tarangini raga portion features last, with the sahitya line “Devam ksheerataranginisa shayanam sri padmanabham bhajeham”.
  2. The composition is found notated in the Tanjai Pervudiayan Perisai6 & Ponnayya Manimalai7 as edited & published by Sangita Kalanidhi Ponnaya Pillai and latter by Sangita Kalanidhi K P Sivanandam. The footnote very clearly states that the sahitya was done by Maharaja Svati Tirunal and the music was set by Vadivelu of the Tanjore Quartet.
  3. Au contraire, according to Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer’s disciple Sri K Subramaniam, the sahitya was set to music by Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer 10. Interestingly Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer has himself written the foreword to the edition7 which carried the notation of this shloka malika, which had the footnote to the effect that the music for this composition was set by Vadivelu of the Quartet. So given that, one can rule out the possibility of Sri Srinivasa Iyer having set the music to this composition.

From a raga lakshana perspective the Tarangini raga presented in ‘Saanandam’ is slightly different. To recapitulate, according to Subbarama Dikshitar and as evidenced by “Maye”, the operative arohana/avarohana murccana is SRGPDS/SDPGRS with GMGGRS and PDNDs occurring in profusion, In other words both N and M are vakra.

The notation given for the sahitya of the Tarangini portion of ‘Sanandam Kamalamanohari” namely “Devam ksheeratarangineesa shayanam sri padmanabham bhajeham” as well as the cittasvara section sports a lineal descent- sNDPMGRS which is not in accordance with the raga lakshana of this raga as found in the SSP. The raga thus seems to have been modified with the arohana/avarohana as SRGPDNDs/sNDPMGRS with both nishada and madhyama not being vakra at all. Given that the Quartet were the disciples of Muthusvami Dikshitar, it is indeed quite surprising and perplexing to observe such a deviation ( a krama sampurna avarohana) in the conception itself or the notation as published.

Was it the printer’s devil at work? One does not know. But for a student/connoisseur of music there it is: Three versions(melodic/structural) of Tarangini found documented, first in the Raga Lakshana anubandha of Venkatamakhin, second in the SSP and lastly in the composition ‘Saanandam Kamalamanohari’.

DISCOGRAPHY:

Fortunately we have some authentic renditions of this beautiful Dikshitar composition “Maye Tvam Yahi”, in the original melody with the suddha dhaivatha.

Sangita Kalanidhi B Rajam Iyer who passed away in 2009, was a repository of many rare Dikshitar compositions having learnt it first hand from Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer. Here is a clip of his rendering of Maye.

Clip 1: Dr B Rajam Iyer sings “Maye”

Prof S R Janakiraman another scion of the Dikshitar sishya parampara, first elaborates raga Tarangini in this clip. And then he sings the composition along with the elegant & pithy cittasvara.

Clip 2: Prof SRJ sings “Maye”

Next Vidushi Sowmya, a disciple of Dr S Ramanathan sings Maye in this commercially available rendition of the kriti. Her patham is slightly different in texture especially the pallavi sangatis with emphasis on rishaba.

Clip 3: Vidushi Sowmya sings “Maye” – Excerpt

Sangita Kalanidhi Vedavalli a disciple of Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer is always known for rendering kritis in their authentic/original form. Here she teaches (her students at Cleveland under the auspices of the Cleveland Tyagaraja Aradhana Committee) the version as found in the SSP.

Clip 4: Sangita Kalanidhi Vedavalli teaches ‘Maye’ – Excerpt

The raga Tarangini and the kriti Maye with chatushruti dhaivatha(D2) enjoyed considerable airtime in the last century, sung by Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer, Sangita Kalanidhi Madurai Mani Iyer, Sangita Kalanidhi M S Subbulakshmi amongst others, with the result that the D2 version is now recorded for posterity as apparently authentic & original. In these versions apart from the replacement of D1 with D2 changes too have been made to dhatu/musical setting of the kriti. For example the 1st and 2nd caranas are sung in the same fashion with the gandhara svara as the eduppu/take off. Curiously the version of this composition by Vidushi Kalpakam Svaminathan is also with D2 as evidenced by the rendering of this kriti with the catushruthi dhaivatha in a Music Academy Lecture demonstration on Gamakas in the year 2005.  Given that she had learnt it so from Ananthakrishna Iyer, it is indeed a matter of speculation & controversy as to who could have changed the patham of this composition with D2 instead of D1. We also have discs cut by N C Vasanthakokilam(1919-1951) of this composition in the D2 version!

Presented next is a slightly different take or interpretation of the composition, by the revered vaineeka Prof R Visveswaran. Here is the rendering of the alapana of Tarangini , followed by the kriti from an AIR Concert( courtesy Sangeethapriya).

Prof. Visveswaran’s interpretation of the kriti is remarkably different for more than one reason. Additionally the rendering being on the veena enables one to compare the version with the notation of the composition found in the SSP and helps us in understanding the nuances of the original conception of the raga by Dikshitar.

First in his alapana, Prof. Visveswaran highlights the core skeletal structure of Tarangini i.e SRGPDs/sDPGRS with the additional PDNDP murrcana with emphasis on the gandhara & pancama (not madhyama as one could observe in all other versions). The RGPD murccana dominates and PDNDP is also given prominence. But the GMGGR murccana and consequently madhyama is relegated to the background. The madhyama note too, whenever it is rendered in his sangathis, seems to be intoned more as an anusvara of the gandhara and not prominently. 

Moving over to the kriti, in almost all other interpretations cited supra, one can notice that the Pallavi “Maye” is started off as a svarakshara on madhyama itself. The notation is GMG in the SSP, for the first sangathi with the take off note being gandhara. The Professor’s interpretation rightfully so, including the four additional variations/sangathis to the Pallavi line that he plays, avoids the madhyama note being the takeoff/nyasa. The Professor in fact tellingly uses GPDNDPGRSR with variations for the pallavi refrain/sangathis without utilizing madhyama note. Attention is invited to the variations in the pallavi after rendering the anupallavi and the carana segments. As one can note, the first sangathi (of all the sections of the composition) is always completely cued to the notation in the SSP but the subsequent sangathis are improvisations based on his interpretation he outlines in his alapana. Perhaps the only place where the madhyama note is conspicuously heard is at the fag end of the carana line UpAye before it loops back to the pallavi line.

In sum here is what makes the Professor’s creative interpretation of the raga/composition, stand apart from the rest: 

  1. Gandhara and pancama notes are the chosen pivots in the Professor’s interpretation while madhyama is very rare & is used an auxiliary note at best and never a takeoff note/nyasa.
  2. The dhaivatha & nishada are sharply intoned and in sum the Professor emphasizes the uttaranga portion of the raga much more than in other editions of this composition/raga.
  3. The skeletal structure emphasized throughout is SRGPDS/SDPGRS with a good usage of PDND. The madhyama note and the murccana GMGGR is kept to the very minimum.

Gravely beautiful and beseeching is the emotion of this raga and no wonder the bard of Tiruvaiyaru chose this raga for his heart wrenching ‘Nenendu vedhakudura’! And so this is the pen picture of Tarangini as painted by the Professor with its own shade and texture reminding us of the noveau raga Vasanthi (in which there is a tillana composed by Sri Lalgudi G Jayaraman). And it is rightfully so within the framed lakshana of the raga as documented in the SSP. Can one fault this interpretation, given the primacy shown for the madhyama (and for GMGGR murccana) in the notation (the cittasvara section actually begins on the madhyama note and the composition’s dhatu is littered with quite a few GMGGRS) for the composition? But that’s what artistic creativity is all about. One can comprehend that within the four corners of the raga’s stated lakshana, by emphasising certain notes/murrcanas while de-emphasizing a few others different flavors/facets of a raga could be derived. And that’s the evidence of the consummate skill and artistic genius/virtuosity of a musician even while he maintains fidelity to the musical intent of the composer and the laid down lakshana. 

As an aside , Prof Visveswaran’s equally illustrious brother Prof. Satyanarayana ran his own crusade to resurrect the correct version of Tarangini with suddha dhaivata more than half a century ago. Read it here.

Other editions:

Two other known instances of Maye having been sung as per the SSP raga lakshana in the last century and recorded are:

  1. Dr S Ramanathan’s rendition at the residence of former UN Chef-de-Cabinet, music aficionado, vocalist and disciple of Musiri Subramanya Iyer, Sri C V Narasimhan in the United States in the year 1967, both on veena and vocal!8
  2. Sri C V Narasimhan himself has rendered “Maye” as per the SSP raga lakshana at a home concert.9

Both the above versions have been recorded by the late James Rubin and is a part of this Oriental Music Collection which has been archived in the Harvard University Library.

I conclude this section with the rendering of Svati Tirunal composition, ‘sAnandam kamalA manOharI”. Presented below is the rendering of the shloka malika, a joint production of Maharaja Svati Tirunal and Vadivelu of the Tanjore Quartet, from a 1966 Concert of Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer who presents it with absolute fidelity to the notation as found in the “Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai”. Accompanying him is V V Subramanyam on the violin and Ramnad Raghavan on the mridangam.

Clip 5: Dr Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer renders “Saanandam kamala manohari”

One can surmise that Vadivelu having learnt the raga and the composition during his tutelage under Muthusvami Dikshitar must have sung it before Svati Tirunal who got enamored about it and went on to compose the lyric incorporating the raga and the mudra (in the composition the word “tarangini’ has been used to imply the Ocean of Milk which is the abode of Lord Vishnu/Padmanabha) for which Vadivelu set the music.

CONCLUSION:

Given the beautiful conception of Tarangini by Dikshitar in this kriti one is forced to consider the possibility of he himself  having changed the raga’s contour ( assuming that the raga lakshana anubandha shloka of (Muddu) Venkatamakhin being the right/original one) . As a trail blazer and innovator Dikshitar could indeed have done so but we have no direct evidence in this case. Which ever way it is, one cannot deny the fact that this 26th raaganga was a mere theoretical derivation of Muddu Venkatamakhin. And it was left to to the ‘composer non pareil’ Muthusvami Dikshitar to provide flesh & blood and bring life to this beauty of a raga with its jumps, twists and bends. Tarangini’s structuring  & the composition ‘Maye’ again stand as shining examples to the long forgotten fundamentals of our ancient music namely non lineal progression, aesthetics and harmonics.

REFERENCES:

  1. Hema Ramanathan(2004) – Raga Lakshana Sangraha – Published by Dr N Ramanathan, ISBN 81 7525 536 6; pages 1455-57
  2. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) – Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini
  3. Ramachandran K.V. (1938) – “The Melakarta – A Critique” – The Journal of the Music Academy IX, pp. 31-33, Madras, India.
  4. Dr T S Ramakrishnan (1977) – ‘Tarangini & Navaroz’ – Lecture Demonstration conducted on 22 Dec 1977, Journal of the Music Academy Vol XLIX- Pages 33-34
  5. Prof P Sambamoorthi(1966) – South Indian Music Volume 6 – Pages 221-222
  6. Sivanandam K P (2001) – Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai, III Edition
  7. Sivanandam K P (2001)- Tanjai Nalvar Manimalai III Edition
  8. James Rubin(1967) – Recording of the home concert of Dr S Ramanathan dated Aug 13,1967 – reference AWMRL 15731- Harvard University Library Collection
  9. James Rubin(1975) – Recording of the home concert of Sri C V Narasimhan dated Oct 26, 1975 – reference AWMRL 15758- Harvard University Library Collection
  10. V Subrahmaniam & V Sriram (2008)- ‘Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer : Life & Times”, Published by East West
FOOT NOTE 1: Note on Muddu Venkatamakhin

The Caturdandi Prakashika is dated to the reign of King Vijayaraghava Nayak (1614-1672) & is said to have been written sometime around 1620. It’s the consensus opinion of all modern musicologists that though the Raga Lakshana listing (asampurna mela scheme) is treated as an appendix or anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika, it was in all probability created close to a 100 years later. For all practical purposes the anubandha is attributed to Muddu Venkatamakhin a grandson or great grandson of Venkatamakhin, who lived during the reign of King Shahaji of Tanjore. While Govinda Dikshitar & his son Venkatamakhi ornamented the Nayak Court, this descendant Muddu Venkatamakhin was probably part of the Mahratta Court of King Shahaji.

We do not have any direct evidence to this effect. However in the SSP, Subbarama Dikshitar has given gitams & tanams for certain ragas attributing it to Muddu Venkatamakhi himself. One such is the gitam given for the raga Nattakurinji which bears the ankita/raja mudra of Sahaji with the composer name given by Subbarama Dikshitar as ‘Muddu Venkatamakhin” . King Shahaji ruled Tanjore during 1684-1710. He crowned his successor Serfoji I and retired to live in the Royal Estate at Tiruvarur very near the Tyagaraja temple, till the end of his life. For all practical purposes we may approximate the date of Muddu Venkatamakhin and the Anubandha to the CDP to the time period of 1700-1750. Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshitar, who finds mention in the SSP and the Vaggeyakaracaritamu of Subbarama Dikshitar, was probably a son/grandson/ descendant of this Muddu Venkatamakhin. The 65th Acharya of the Kanci Kamakoti Peetam Sri Mahadevendra Sarasvathi (1857-1890) in his purvashrama was a descendant of Venkatamakhin/Muddu Venkatamakhin. And not surprisingly, Subbarama Dikshitar sought this Acharya’s good offices to procure a copy of the Caturdandi Prakashika.

FOOT NOTE 2: Subbarama Dikshitar’s version of the Caturdandi Prakashika

Dr.R.Sathyanarayana in his critical commentary to the Caturdandi Prakasika says that Subbarama Dikshitar’s  source was a Telugu version of the Caturdandi . He also lists the differences and patha bedhas between what Subbarama Dikshitar had and what was made available to Pt. Bhatkande. Perhaps these differences are due to scribal errors or version differences between copies of manuscripts as we know for sure that Pt Bhatkande copied it from Subbarama Dikshitar only.

FOOT NOTE 2: Raga of Nenendhu Vedakudhura

The raga for Nenendhu Vedakudhura, according to Sri K V Ramachandran was arbitrarily assigned by Taccur Singarachar to Karnataka Behag when he passed on the details of Tyagaraja’s compositions to Chinnasvami Mudaliar who was collating them for his work the Oriental Music in Western Notation. The raga of this composition is given as Harikambhoji in Chinnasvami Mudaliar’s work, Kannada Behag by K V Srinivasa Iyengar and Karnataka Behag by Rangaramanuja Iyengar.

On the assumption that the svaras were flipped one can analyze the mathu or the musical construct of the composition to see if indeed if the composition’s available mathu matches the melodic hue of Tarangini with an operative arohana/avarohana of SRGPDNDs/sDPGRMGRS. One other aspect that one can consider is the lyric itself. One can do an analysis if the lyric is melodically aligned to the raga in which it is set. In this composition Tyagaraja appears to be in a very sad and remorseful state of mind. Tradition has it that this song was composed after he lost the idol of Lord Rama that he was worshipping and his continuous but unavailing search till then. Given the melancholic mood that Tyagaraja would have been in, the tune for this composition as it exists seems inappropriate. Given the melodic mood that Tarangini with the suddha dhaivatha and prayogas such as SD1P, PD1ND1s etc would impart, one can surmise that it would be most appropriate and fitting for this composition.

Update History:
  1. The rendering of ‘mAyE’ by Prof Visvesvaran along with the commentary added in Nov 2016

4 thoughts on “Tarangini – The story of a Quaint Beauty

  1. Dear raviraj (and also vidya),

    Informative pieces for sure. I’m a passive but interested reader, requesting you to keep up the good work.

    Can I request a note on Sahana please?! I gather (from a couple of allusions by vidya at rasikas.org) that Dikshitar’s Sahana is with a different gandharam from what is ‘universally’ sung now. If so, it must be the biggest such instance of either a change or a misinterpretation that has propogated. I have never heard Sahana with the sadharana gandhara, and would appreciate pointers.

  2. The raga malika is in the sequence Kamalamanohari (manohari?), Hamsadhwani, Revagupti and Tarangini. Why is it called a shloka malika?

  3. Ramakriya – Txs for your input.

    Narayan- Txs for your post.
    (a) Taking the cue we will do a post on Sahana. Stay tuned for series of posts on a family of ragas of which Sahana is a member :-).
    (b) Svati Tirunal’s composition is called a shloka malika as it is of a shloka format rather than a kriti per se. It is nothing but a set of 4 couplets, if you will, which has been converted into a musical composition with the first couplet acting as a refrain. The couplets are tuned to 4 different ragas in the raga malika format and hence the entire piece is called as shloka malika. Apart from ‘Saanandam Kamalamanohari’ there is yet another (catur raga shloka malika) one starting with ‘Kalyanikalu’ & tuned in Kalyani, Mohanam, Saranga and Sankarabharanam with the Maharaja conceiving the lyrics while the illustrious Vadivelu set it to music. (vide Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai)

    Ravi

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