A Critical Appreciation of the raga Jujavanti and ‘ceta srI bAlakrishnam’
The raga Jujavanti is typically spoken about in our world of music as a Northern import. The first historical reference to the raga is the Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika (dateable to circa 1750 AD) of Muddu Venkatamakhin. None of the prior Southern musicological texts talk about this raga. Therefore for us today, the definition of this raga according to the Anubandha, the commentary of Subbarama Dikshita for the same in the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP) and the exemplar compositions thereunder which he has provided are the ones which can help us understand the raga.
We can see that the raga as presented in the SSP ( its original construct) has during the 20th century and till date has acquired a slightly evolved hue. And in this blog post we seek to uncover the correct original structure of the composition and the authentic versions from our oral traditions.
SOME INITIAL DISCLAIMERS:
But before we jump headlong, a few disclaimers need to go on record.
- As the Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika is the first and earliest authoritative musicological text which talks about the raga, I have provided pre-eminence to the same in this blog post.
- Secondly the Anubandha gives the raga name as ‘jujAvanti’. And so that will be the name which we will stick to.
- We have modern music books and composition banks giving the raga name as Dvijavanti. For this assertion, the authority is the Sangraha Cudamani, a lexicon which we have encountered much in our earlier blog post, wherein the raga is listed with the name as Dvijavanti and not Jujavanti. It has been held beyond reasonable doubt that the Sangraha Cudamani is much anterior to the Anubandha in terms of its creation/authorship. And hence we are not seeking to consider the raga name/definition of Dvijavanti therein. Besides the Sangraha Cudamani can be considered a lexicon of the ragas of Tyagaraja’s compositions. Even from that perspective we see little relevance to this blog post, as we do not have any Tyagaraja composition handed down to us in this raga. We do have some records of compositions being in this raga from later times- see foot note below.
- We do have modern texts of music talking about this raga’s kinship to the Hindustani raga Jaijaivanti and Dikshita having a hand in getting to know the Northern melody during his Kashi sojourn. In so far as this blog post goes, given that there is no solid evidence to prove nexus between the northern melody and Jujavanti found in the SSP and on the authority of Muddu Venkatamakhin who has listed it in the Anubandha circa 1750 AD, the proximity if any between the ragas is purely coincidental perhaps unless proof is unearthed to prove nexus.
- Given that Muthusvami Dikshita alone has composed in this raga and we do not have any record of pre-trinity composers composing in this, the SSP is taken the final and authentic authority for the composition- see foot note 1.
- Post SSP we did have the Dikshitar Keertanai Malai (DKM Series) bring forth a new composition ‘akhilAndEsvarI rakshamAm’ attributed the same to Muthusvami Dikshita himself. The same has not been considered again for this blog post and for reasons vide foot note below.
- Again, many 20th century composers have taken up this raga which again is not in scope for this blog post.
JUJAVANTI – RAGA LAKSHANA:
The Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika ( the text Ragalakshanam attributed to Muddu Venkatamakhin) places the raga Jujavanti under Kedaragaula Mela (28). There are five important dimensions we have to consider to discern a raga’s lakshana, when we say that it is under a particular mela in the Anubandha.
- The Anubandha is just a seriatim listing of ragas and their murccana arohana/avarohana, mela wise as one can see from the text of the Anubandha published by the Madras Music Academy.
- Beyond this listing one has to look at whether the raga name is found as an upanga or bashanga under the lakshya gita of the parent mela- for example the raga name Jujavanti has to be found under the relevant kandikha of the Harikedaragaula lakshya gitam.
- The lakshana sloka for the raga if available has to be looked into.
- Gitas and tAnas if any in the raga as to be finally vetted in order to develop the complete picture of the raga.
For points 2, 3 and 4 as above, we have Subbarama Dikshita’s inestimable SSP to assist us. The SSP provides these data point along with Subbarama Dikshita’s commentary on the raga along with his exemplar – kritis and his very own sancaris which we can evaluate as the 5th dimension.
When we evaluate the above dimensions in the context of Jujavanti, the following are the findings:
- The Anubandha lists it as the 15th & final raga under the Harikedaragaula mela/clan.
- However the Harikedaragaula rAgAnga lakshya gitam in triputa tAla having ‘Nanda gopa nanda’ as its refrain ( antari section) does not list the raga in its upanga or bashanga raga section.
- The raga’s lakshana shloka goes as :
In other words,
- the raga jujAvanti is sampurna – meaning it has all the seven notes in both the arohana and avarohana together
- the note ‘sA’ – the sadja is the graha or starting note of the raga
- the raga has to be sung and understood from practice
While the above shloka is as given by Subbarama Dikshita, the text of the Anubandha as published by the Madras Music Academy is slightly different yet conveying the same meaning as to the lakshana of the raga.
- There are no available gitas or tanas in the SSP.
- Subbarama Dikshita provides a kriti of Muthusvami Dikshita ‘ceta srI bAlakrishnam’ in rupaka tAla and his own sancAri in matya tAla as exemplars. He has also provided an elaborate commentary to the raga, which is as we would be seeing in a while, the lodestar for us to get a grasp of the salient features of the raga. At the end of the sancari he provides a foot note to the effect that this raga also displays the shades of Yadukulakambhoji( Yerukalakambhoji as he calls), Darbar, Sahana and Bhairavi, even as it shines forth with its own native shade.
SUMMARY OF THE LAKSHANA:
With the material at our disposal as above we can proceed to deconstruct their import and deduce the theoretical framework of the raga. Once we have done that can move to the discography to discern the aural contours of Jujavanti through the exemplars cited by Subbarama Dikshita.
The analysis of the above would reveal to us the following findings:
- As we can see while the listing of ragas in the Anubandha talks of Jujavanti there is no mention of the raga name in the rAgAnga rAga’s lakshya gita. The deduction can be that the lakshya gita is even prior to the seriatim listing and hence the raga was not formally inducted as a janya to Harikedaragaula at that point in time.
- The above also perhaps explains why we do not have gitams and tanams in the raga.
- The raga is thus only a post AD 1750 development finding place only in the Anubandha listing with the two Subbarama Dikshita provided exemplars alone as repositories of the raga’s lakshana in the SSP. Obviously the works of Sahaji ( AD 1700) and Tulaja ( Ad 1732) do not mention Jujavanti or any other raga with scalar equivalence.
The narrative of Subbarama Dikshita for this raga in the SSP can be summarized as under:
- He says it is a desi raga or raga which had its origins from the public space.
- The raga can be discerned only from practice/lakshya
- The notes rishabha and madhyama are the life-giving notes. In fact, the prolonged RRR and MMM are given as illustrative murccanas.
- Both sadharana gandhara and antara gandhara occur copiously in this raga. Implicitly the other notes are R2, M1, P, D2 and N2 which are the default svaras for Mela 28.
- R/M\G2.R.G2R is a recurring leitmotif. The phrase begins with the catusruti rishabha gliding to the madhyama through jaru gamaka, gliding back to a prolonged sadharana gandhara followed by back-and-forth movement between catusruti rishabha and sadhara gandhara.
- Apart from RRR and MMM – prolonged exposition on rishabha and madhyama notes, MGMPD, MPDSPMG, RMG1.R, SRN.D.NS also add color to the raga.
- The phrase RGMGR occurs aplenty using both G1 and G3. However given that the raga is under Mela 28, the default gandhara is G2 ant it also occurs aplenty.
While the above is the commentary, from a musical standpoint Subbarama Dikshita while providing the notation for ‘ceta srI bAlakrishnam’ has ensured that the gandhara type- G2 of G3 is marked appropriately as necessary leaving us in no doubt as to when a particular gandhara type occurs in the composition. One can also notice that the rare ‘vaLI’ gamaka occurs extensively in this composition ornamenting almost all the note types and especially the madhyama as seen in the opening lines of the carana.
ANALYSIS OF THE NOTATION OF ‘ceta srI bAlakrishnam’:
The notation of the kriti by Subbarama Dikshita provides us with a number of useful insights.
- Muthusvami Dikshita almost as a rule always commences his composition right on the jiva svara- especially the graha or take off of the kriti sections namely Pallavi, anupallavi & caranam. In this case given that rishabha is the primary note, Dikshita rightfully begins the composition on a prolonged Rishabha. The lakshana shloka of the raga attributed to Muddu Venkatamakhin makes no such assertion. It is likely that Subbarama Dikshita’s comment that the rishabha is one of the raga’s jiva svara was driven by the pride of place given by DIkshita right at the start of the composition.
- Again it is this Dikshita kriti which is the authority for the usage of both the gandharas and the way it is to be used.
- The kriti notation makes it clear that G2 is always a transitory note. It is not a graha or a nyasa note. G2 occurs almost always as RG2R & MG2R in avarohana phrases ending with rishabha. And is typically accessed through the jaru or the glide. This is the aesthetic usage of the sadharana gandhara in Jujavanti. G3 can be a graha or starting note.
- Subbarama Dikshita says the raga is sampurna- considering both the arohana and avarohana together, which leaves us to determine what the salient arohana/avarohana & purvanga and uttaranga phrases of the raga are, using the composition as our compass.
- In the purvanga section SRG3MP, SRG2R, SRMG2R , SRPMG2R, SRG3MG1R, MG3MP,RG3MPDN
- In the inter-octaval movements pR- jump from the pancama ( mandhara/Madhya) to the rishabha ( Madhya/tara) respectively is an oft repeated motif adding beauty to the raga.
- In the uttaranga one can notice that PDNS is eschewed as an ascending phrase. We see PS, DPS, DNS and NDNS being used. Also we can see that RGMPDN can also be used.
- In the descent SNDP is to be used as a rule without skipping any of the notes.
- PMGRS is again not used and instead the double gandhara prayoga PMG3MRG2RS, PMG3RG2RS and MG3S (skipping rishabha in the descent, but using G3 and not G2) are seen.
- Subbarama Dikshita adds that RGMGR phrase which recurs again and again uses G2 and sometimes G3. Practically speaking however, the first gandhara occurring in the said phrase is a trishanku gandhara neither as sharp as G3 nor as flat as G2. So much for the gandhara and the way the raga has to be sung with bhava to bring out the unique flavor, that the ancients/Muddu Venkatamakhin decided to give up defining the raga and instead took shelter under the edict “ लक्ष्यमार्गानुसारेणगीयते “
- In the krit notation if one were to observe, Subbarama Dikshita notates the gandhara as G2 in some places, G3 in some places and in quite a few places the gandhara is left without indication as to the variety – G2 or G3. It may be implied that in those places, since the default gandhara is G3 for the raga (as it belongs to Mela 28, for which the gandhara is G3), those places need to be sung only with G3.
THE NOTATION OF THE COMPOSITION AS FOUND IN THE DKP:
As mentioned in previous blog posts, the Dikshita Keertanai Prakashikai (DKP) of Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai is yet another documentation of authentic notation of Dikshita’s kritis. The study of the composition’s notation in the DKP, reveals the following :
- The raga name is given as Jujavanti only and not Dvijavanti for instance, exactly in line with SSP.
- The raga is under mela 28 – Harikedaragaula having the same murccana progression as found in the SSP.
- The notation closely matches SSP, save for one factor which is that the sadharana gandhara occurrences are not clearly discernible.
Presented first is the doyenne Sangita Kalanidhi Smt T Brinda presenting the composition.
Attention is invited to the specific areas of the composition to show how her version has utmost fidelity to the notation found in the SSP & DKP. The “PDSP” usage in the raga and the rendering of the portion ‘purushOttamAvatAram’ in the composition provide the Yadukulakhambhoji like feel to the raga. Some modern day performers therefore elide/modify the portion as if to keep Yadukulakambhoji out. One can see in the versions presented in this section that this is not the case and she does not shy away from the prayoga.
It has to be reiterated that Smt T Brinda traces her patham to her mother / grand mother Dhanammal on to Sathanur Pancanada Iyer on to Tambiyappan and finally to Dikshita himself. Smt Dhanammal and Sri Natarajasundaram Pillai ( the compiler of the “Dikshitar Kirtanai Prakashikai”) learnt Dikshita’s kritis together from Sathanur Pancanada Iyer during the 1880-1900 timeframe. This aspect can be considered while reviewing her rendering with the notation found in the DKP.
Arguably Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer must be credited for rendering this magnum opus of Dikshita frequently in his recitals and invariably he has rendered svara kalpana for the pallavi line almost as de rigueur. Presented first is the kriti proper.
Next is his svarakalpana. Attention is invited to the unique SRG2R, SRMG2R, G3MG3MRG2R and such other purvanga usages highlighting the core of the raga. Attention is invited to the chaste and polished mrudangam accompaniment, filling the gaps and pauses with beautiful rhythmic patterns in the process showing that the composition is a percussionist delight as well.
In passing it needs to be noted that this composition is yet another exemplar for the stylistic construct of Dikshita as is usual for him- a languorous and lilting gait, slow and sedate yet majestic marked by the cadences of the rupaka tala which gives enough visranthi or stretch to the fabric of the kriti. Across the board all performers of this composition render it in the sedate cauka kala as the compositional structure as well as the mood of the raga affords no opportunity to accelerate. As the veteran performer Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer’s rendering shows, the composition can be artistically rendered in cauka kala and finally topped up with a few round of sedate 1st kala svaras to give a wholesome effect.
PROXIMITY OF SAHANA TO JUJAVANTI:
Subbarama Dikshita’s cryptic foot note on this is rooted to a very subtle point. Many musicians and rasikas alike confuse the point and make a comparison of Jujavanti with modern Sahana. Modern Sahana has practically only G3/antara gandhara. However for Subbarama Dikshita, as we saw in a previous blog post, Sahana is a raga under Mela 22 – with sadharana gandhara dominating and antara gandhara occurring sparsely. Thus this older Sahana and the Jujavanti of Ceta Sri Balakrishnam documented in the SSP has much melodic overlap as
- Both them utilize the same notes, including the two types of gandhara.
- GMRS and RGMP the motifs of Sahana, are shared by Jujavanti as well.
- Both are sampurna utilizing all the seven notes in both arohana and avarohana.
- The Muddu Venkatamakhin sloka for both the ragas talks about knowing or understanding the raga from practice / lakshya / empirically.
In fact, one can say that with the ascent of modern Sahana ( with G3 and almost totally eschewing G2), Sahana has itself eveolved and created its own niche and a well-marked domain differentiating itself from Jujavanti markedly. And so the raga Dvijavanthi can at best be treated as a sibling of modern Sahana sharing common musical material.
‘ceta srI bAlakrishnam’ created by the composer nonpareil Muthusvami Dikshita is a magnum opus. Thankfully apart from the notation in the SSP and DKP we do have authentic and high fidelity vocal renderings which assists us in uncovering the original construct of the composition.
- Subbarama Dikshitar (1904)- Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini Vol III– Tamil Edition published by the Madras Music Academy in 1968/2006
- Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – ‘Ragalakshana Sangraha’- Collection of Raga Descriptions- pages 1005-1013
- Prof R. Satyanarayana (2010) – ‘Ragalakshanam’ – Kalamoola Shastra Series- Published by Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts, New Delhi
- Vidvan Thiruppamburam Svaminatha Pillai (1936) – Dikshita Keertanai Prakashikai (Tamil) – pages 105-108
- T L Venkatarama Iyer (1968) – “Muthusvami Dikshitar” ( English) – Biography Series Published by the National Book Trust, New Delhi
NOTE 1: A NOTE ON THE KRITI “AKHILANDESWARI RAKSHAMAM” :
This kriti surfaced in the 20th century along with numerous others, ascribed to the authorship of Muthusvami Dikshita. Set in raga Jujavanti and adi tala it was ostensibly composed by Dikshita on Goddess Akhilandesvari at Tiruvanaikaval/Trichirappalli, the Consort of Lord Jambukesvara. In fact, it was also given pride and prominence by being catalogued as a premier composition in the famous NCPA Red Book by no less a personage than Dr V Raghavan. However, both on the internet discussion boards and also in private and public domains, numerous individuals have questioned the attribution of this kriti to Muthusvami Dikshita. One example is this old USENET group discussion archived here. A range of reasons has been quoted in this context including the following.
- Deficiency of the sahitya including usage of terms such as “jalli jarjhara” which occurs in the body of the composition.
- The musical construct of the composition not being in consonance with Dikshita’s usual style
Be that as it may for me one particular evidence that this composition is most likely not Dikshita’s comes from Sangita Kalanidhi T L Venkatarama Iyer (TLV) a legal personage who retired as a Chief Justice of India. He had in my opinion the greatest opportunity to provide first-hand information on this. Enamored by Muthusvami Dikshita’s kritis, he was the one who brought Subbarama Dikshita’s son Ambi Dikshita to Madras and learnt many compositions of Dikshita from him. At that point in time he was a sitting Judge of the Madras High Court and later Chief Justice and therefore the respect and awe that he commanded from the society then was considerable. Much later after his retirement from the Supreme Court, he along with Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer, assisted by Dr S Ramanathan and Dr B Rajam Iyer brought out the Tamil translation of the SSP. In other words, Justice TLV had an insider view of this and he had in all probability complete access to the repertoire and manuscripts of Ambi Dikshita himself from where much of the Dikshita compositions, post Ambi Dikshita’s demise surfaced. Now, Justice TLV in his biography of ‘Muthuswami Dikshitar’ National Book Trust published in November 1968, makes the following two statements & I quote him verbatim:
- On page 18 he says “The song Ceta Sri Balakrishnam of Dikshitar in this raga ( Dvijavanti) is a magnificent edifice giving the full view of the raga in all its aspects and is rightly regarded as the most impressive song in this raga….”
- On page 72 he makes a telling remark thus: – “In Dwijavanthi the piece Ceta Sri of Dikshitar stands out in solitary splendour…..” (emphasis mine).
- Again, on page 39 when he narrates the ksetra kritis of Tiruchirapalli he narrates that Dikshita created ‘Jambupate’ in Yamuna Kalyani. And he says “……On the Devi in that temple he composed the kriti “ Sri Matah siva vamanke” in Begada….”. But does not mention the Dvijavanthi composition.
- Nowhere in this book does he catalogue the kriti “Akhilandesvari” in Dvijavanthi.
Attention is invited to the use of the word ‘solitary’ which means a “singular” creation in this raga by Dikshita, in this context. Given his background as a jurist as well one must accord the right weightage to his written view or statement. Moreover, nowhere in his book does he make a mention of the kriti “Akhilandeswari” in this raga, even as he refers to a number of other kritis which came to be published later & not found in the SSP. He makes no mention of this kriti even in the context of his narrative on the kritis composed by Dikshita on the temples in Trichirappalli. And this book is dated 1968 more than a decade or so after the composition surfaced as a part of Dikshita Kriti Mala Series published by Kallidaikurici Sundaram Iyer in the 1940’s-1950’s.
If Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer’s take on this subject is that “Ceta Sri Balakrishnam” is the “solitary” i.e. the “only creation” of Dikshita in Jujavanti, it surely is an added & forceful weight to the argument that ‘Akhilandeswari rakshamam’ is not a composition of Dikshita. For this reasoning and others outlined above which casts doubts over the authenticity of the kriti , the same has been kept out of the analysis of the raga in this blog post.
NOTE 2: COMPOSITIONS IN JUJAVANTI/DVIJAVANTI- SOME COLLATERAL EVIDENCE:
- Dr Sita in her ‘Tanjore as a Seat of Music’ avers on the authority of old manuscripts found in the Tanjore Sarasvati Mahal Library that there is a composition in raga Jujavanti by a composer by name Giriraja Kavi who was patronized by King Sarabhoji, making it dateable to round 1800’s or thereabouts coinciding with the period of Trinity. However the musical setting is not available for the composition. Technically this composition is probably of the 1800 vintage coinciding with Muthusvami Dikshita’s times.
- Tiruvottiyur Tyagayya’s Pallavi Svarakalpavalli lists a lakshya gitam in raga Jujavanti, again which is post 1850 AD.
- Dr S Ramanathan has notated in the JMA 1965 Vol XXXVI a kriti of Gopalakrishna Bharathi in raga Dvijavanthi. Again this is a composition of post 1850 AD vintage.
- A composition of Margadarsi Sesha Iyengar, a pre-trinity composer is also seen assigned this raga.