Author: Aravindh Ranganathan

Composers, CompositionAppreciation, Manuscripts, Notation, Pathantara, Raga

Apurva raga-s handled by Tyagaraja Svamigal – Phalaranjani

Dr Aravindh T Ranganathan

This article was published in “Sruti” May, 2019 issue.

Śrī nārasiṃha māṃ pāhi is one of the very few kṛti-s of Tyāgarāja Svāmi on Lord Narasiṃha. It can be considered as a generic kṛti as we don’t see any reference to a particular kṣetraṃ. Earlier texts assign this particular kṛti to a rāgaṃ ‘Phalaranjani’, though we frequently hear this in the rāgaṃ ‘Phalamanjari’. This kind of confusion with respect to rāga nomenclature is very common as Svāmigal himself didn’t reveal the name of these apūrva rāga-s to his disciples (1). Years later, either his disciples or some other musician (s) were instrumental in assigning these rāga names. This topic has been discussed several times in The Music Academy conferences and it is the view of some musicologists that Taccur Siṅgarācāryulu was the musician involved and he named these rāga-s by referring to a treatise, namely Saṅgraha Chūḍamaṇi, whose authorship is unknown (2). Analysis of the available evidences reveals several inconsistencies with respect to the rāgaṃ of this kṛti and its lakṣaṇa. This article will be analyzing the musical aspects of this kṛti addressing the above said issue in the light of  Vālājāpet notations.

Vālājāpet notations

Vālājāpet manuscripts form an important source to understand the kṛti-s of Saint Tyāgarājā. These manuscripts were written by Vālājāpet Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar (VVB) and his son Vālājāpet Kṛṣṇasvāmy Bhāgavatar (VKB). It is even said Tyāgarājā could have seen this as they were recorded during his life time.(3) These notations were preserved at Madurai Sourāṣtra Sabha and the transcripts are available in GOML, Chennai. Few of these transcripts can be accessed online here (4). These transcripts are the main source for this article. In the absence of first hand records made by Tyāgarājā, these notations form a very valuable and authentic source to understand the version learnt by his prime disciple Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar and his son. These notations when used appropriately help us to solve many problems seen with the apūrva kṛti-s of the Saint. 

‘Srī nārasiṃha māṃ pāhi’ in earlier texts

It is not a common kṛti to be seen in the earlier texts published between late 1800 and early 1900; it is even rarer to see this kṛti in notation. For the first time we see this kṛti in the text Saṅgīta Sarvārtha Sāra Saṅgrahamu by Vīṇā Rāmanuja (5). Here, it is mentioned as Phalamanjari, but notations or the lakṣaṇaṃ of the rāgaṃ is not provided. It serves no purpose to our study other than to know that this kṛti was in circulation even during 1857. The contents published in this book, especially those of Tyāgarāja kṛti-s in partial or complete can be seen in several texts published later like the texts published by Rāmanujadāsā (1895), Thangavēlu Mudaliyār (1905) et al. Whether they are exact reproductions of the earlier text or they are reproduced from different sources is not known. All these texts too are blinded towards rāga lakṣaṇaṃ of Phalamanjari. So,  Phalamanjari mentioned by them is the same as Phalamanjari mentioned in various lakṣaṇa granthā-s or it is a different one is unfathomable.

AM Chinnaswāmy Mudaliyār in his text ‘Oriental Music in European Notation’ (1893) mention the rāga of this kṛti as Phalaranjani for the first time placing it under the mēla 28, Harikāmbhoji (6). It is to be remembered that the main resource person for this text was Vālājāpet Kṛṣṇasvāmy Bhāgavathar, though it was further approved by some other disciples of Tyāgarāja Svāmi. Same information can also be seen in the book published by Tillaisthānaṃ Narasiṃha Bhāgavatar in 1908 (7) and by SA Rāmasvāmy Ayyar (8) under the pseudonym Rāmānanda Yogi  in 1910. None of them give us the notations.

Taccur brothers, for the first time gives this kṛti in notation in their book published in the year 1912. They consider it as Phalamanjari and place it under the mēla 22. (9)

From the above discussion it is clear that this kṛti was not a popular one and not every musician was aware of this. Sources from Vālājāpet and Tillaisthānaṃ disciple lineage consider this as Phalaranjani, placing it under the mēla 28. Taccur brothers and other texts, whose source of this kṛti is unknown, placed it under the mēla 22. Also, only the book by Taccur brothers gives us this kṛti in notation.

Rāga lakṣaṇaṃ

Phalaranjani

Before proceeding further, lakṣaṇaṃ of Phalaranjani and Phalamanjari are discussed for getting a better understanding of this kṛti.

Phalamanjari cannot be seen in any of the lakṣaṇa grantha-s available. For the first time, it can be seen in ‘Oriental Music in European Notation’. Vālājāpet manuscripts too mention this name. Knowing the association between VKB and Chinnaswāmy Mudaliyār and the truth that Svāmi didn’t reveal the name of these apūrva rāga-s , it can be speculated that a musician known to Vālājāpet disciple or Vālājāpet disciple like VVB or VKB themselves might have named this rāgaṃ. This was then followed by Tillaisthānaṃ disciples too. Alternatively, a revered disciple of Tyāgarājā could have named this. The scale as deduced from Vālājāpet version (from Vālājāpet notations) is SGMPMDS   SNDPMGMRS.

Rāga pravāhaṃ (10) mentions about this rāgaṃ. Scale given here is same as mentioned above; but it is placed under the mela 22.  Usually, this text mentions the source from which a particular rāgaṃ was taken. For example, when mentioning the rāgaṃ Phalamanjari, it gives three entries and gives the source for these three entries namely Palaiyāzhi (two entries) and Sangīta Svara Prastāra Sāgaramu of Nāthamuni Panditar. Strangely, in the case of Phalaranjani, no such reference is given. Perhaps, the scale in which this kṛti is sung now is given for the sake of completion. Another Phalaranjani is given under mēla 28 with a different scale – SGPDS  SNDPMGMRS ; again source for this scale is not given.

Phalamanjari

Phalamanjari is mentioned as a janya of mēla 15 by Śahāji and Tulajā. Saṅgraha Chūḍamaṇi and its allied texts consider this as a janya of mēla 22, Kharaharapriya. Scale of this rāgaṃ, and  considering this as a janya of mēla 22 is uniform across the texts – SGMDS  SNDPMGMRS. It is not SGMPMDS in the ārōhaṇaṃ. This rāgaṃ can be seen invariably in any text that acts as a lexicon for these synthetic scales. Many varieties of Phalamanjari seem to exist and they are not discussed here as they do not come under the scope of this paper.

Notated versions of ‘Srī nārasiṃha māṃ pāhi’

Version by Taccur brothers

As said earlier, text by Taccur brothers is the single early text to give this kṛti in notation. Scale given by them is   SGMDS  SNDPMGMRS. Interestingly, a phrase SRGGRS is seen which cannot be fit into the given ārohaṇaṃ-avarōhaṇaṃ. Usually, kṛti-s in rāga-s like this follows the scale exactly. This raises a doubt regarding the rāgaṃ of this kṛti. Taccur brothers not acknowledging the musician who gave this version is to be remembered here.

It is a must to validate the rāgaṃ given in early texts like the books by Taccur brothers, Sangīta Sarvārtha Sāra Saṅgrahamu and its like as extreme discordance with the rāga name and the commonly accepted lakṣaṇa can be seen. For instance, Taccur brothers mention the ragaṃ of the kṛti ‘sattaleni dinamu’ of Tyāgarāja Svāmi as Jayantasenā. But an analysis of the notation provided rule out the mentioned rāgaṃ, as ṛṣabhaṃ is seen throughout the krithi and  Jayantasenā, being a ṛṣabha vaṛjya rāgaṃ cannot fit in (11).Though their immense service is to be acknowledged, only notated compositions are to be considered for research and those too only after a scrutiny is emphasized. All these facts raise suspicion regarding the rāgaṃ of this kṛti.

Tillaisthānaṃ version

Pārthasāradhi has given this kṛti in notation in a book published by him. He has learnt from Dr Srīnivāsa Rāghavan, a descendant of Tillaisthānaṃ Rāma Ayyaṅgār, a disciple of Tyāgarāja Svāmi (12). He mentions as Phalaranjani, a janya of mēla 28 and gives the scale as SGMDS  SNDPMGMRS. Here too, phrases like MPM,DNP and GRGM are found which don’t fit into the given scale.

‘Srī nārasiṃha māṃ pāhi’ in unpublished manuscripts

Much valuable information can be obtained by analyzing these unpublished manuscripts existing as a private collection. Inference obtained from few of these is provided here.

Vālājāpet notations                                                           

Importance of these notations is already mentioned. These notations, though mention the rāgaṃ of this kṛti as Phalaranjani, did not give information about the mēla (of this rāgaṃ) or its scale. Scale can be easily deduced from the notation provided. For mēla assignation, book by Chinnaswāmy Mudaliyār is followed as the resource person is same (belongs to Vālājāpet lineage).

Version given here adhere exactly to the scale SGMPMDS  SNDPMGMRS. Phrases outside this scale can never be seen. The saṅgati-s are organized in such a way that the rāga structure is easily grasped. This is set to the tālaṃ  dēśādhi.

First two saṅgati-s clearly gives us an idea about the lakṣaṇa of this rāgaṃ and the same continues throughout the kṛti without creating any ambiguity. Gandaram, pañcamaṃ and dhaivathaṃ were used as gṛha svaraṃ-s and lot of pratyāgata phrases like NDD,DPP, PMM and RSS can be seen thoughout the kṛti.   Vālājāpet version can be heard here.                             

Manuscript of SA Rāmasvāmy Ayyar

SA Rāmasvāmy Ayyar is a disciple of both Vālājāpet Kṛṣṇasvāmy Bhāgavathar and Umayāḷpuraṃ Kṛṣṇa and Sundara Bhāgavathar. Both were the direct disciples of Tyāgarāja Svāmi and he was a fortunate disciple to represent both these schools. He has notated (11) this kṛti and it is exactly in line with the Vālājāpet notations with respect to rāga lakṣaṇaṃ and basic structure of the kṛti. He has published a book (text only) wherein he clearly mentions the rāgaṃ and tālaṃ of this kṛti (see above discussion). To identify the source from which he learnt this kṛti (Vālājāpet or Umayāḷpuraṃ), sāhityam may be taken as a guide. Whereas Vālājāpet version (and the version by Tillaisthānaṃ Narasiṃha Bhāgavatar) reads the first line in anupallavi as ‘dīnārthi nivāraṇa bhavya guṇā’ , Umayāḷpuraṃ version (and the version by Taccur brothers) read as ‘dīnārthi bhaya hara bhavya guṇā’. It can be surmised that his source for this kṛti was from a Valajapet disciple. Additionally this also authenticates Vālājāpet notations.  

Umayāḷpuraṃ version

Umayāḷpuraṃ version too consider this as a janya of mēla 28. Scale is not given though we can redact it as SGMPDPMDS  SNDPMGMRS. Here too, Gandaram, pañcamaṃ and dhaivathaṃ were used as gṛha svaraṃ-s and lot of pratyāgata phrases like NDD,DPP, PMM and RSS can be seen thoughout the kṛti (13). Basic outline is much in line with Vālājāpet version. Main point of difference between this and Vālājāpet version is the phrase PDP which occurs only once. Whether it is to be considered as a time related change or not is a point to ponder.

Manuscript in the possession Srīvañchiyaṃ Rāmachandra Ayyar

A manuscript of unknown authorship in the possession of  Srīvañchiyaṃ Rāmachandra Ayyar mentions the rāgaṃ of this kṛti as Pratāpacintāmaṇi, a janya of mēla 28. No inference can be made as the manuscript lack notation.

Comparison between Vālājāpet notations and the version by Taccur brothers

If we replace the sādhāraṇa gāndhāraṃ with antara gāndhāraṃ (making it as a janya of mēla 28), version by Taccur brothers resemble Vālājāpet version in the basic structure excluding the phrase SRGGRS. This makes one to hypothesize – was the kṛti sung only as a janyaṃ of mela 28 and Taccur brothers changed that to mēla 22 as Phalaranjani was totally unknown to them and earlier texts like Saṅgīta Sarvārtha Sāra Saṅgrahamu, which they followed say it as Phalamanjari ?

‘Srī nārasiṃha māṃ pāhi’ in oral tradition

Very few recordings of this kṛti are available in the public domain. All except one were labeled as Phalamanjari and consider it as a janyaṃ of mēla 22. The recordings adhere to the scale SGMPMDS  SNDPMGMRS. Frequency of hearing the phrase of MPM varies with the rendition. In one rendition the phrase GMDNSNDMGMRS is also found. A version considering Phalaranjani as a janya of mēla 22 can be heard here.

Version by Sangīta Kalānidhi Smt R Vēdavalli is labeled as Phalaranjani and considered as a janyaṃ of mēla 28. That too, adheres to the mentioned scale of Phalaranjani, but different from the Vālājāpet version with some additional phrases like DNP.

Conclusion

The following conclusions can be drawn from the above discussion:

1. Vālājāpet notations were the first one to use the name Phalaranjani and there is extreme adherence to the scale.

2. Almost all the earlier texts give the name Phalaranjani and consider this as a janyaṃ of mēla 28. Only Taccur brothers consider this as Phalamanjari, considering it as a janyaṃ of mēla 22. Were they influenced by the texts like Sangīta Sarvārtha Sāra Saṅgrahamu, as they were the editors of the later editions of the mentioned text is to be considered.

3. Vālājāpet version, an existing old version was passed on to next generation as evidenced by analyzing unpublished manuscripts. Identical basic structure of this kṛti seen in Vālājāpet notations, version by SA Rāmasvāmy Ayyar and Umayāṃpuraṃ version can be remembered here denoting the validity of the basic musical structure seen in the Vālājāpet notations.

4. Whereas Phalaranjani version (janya of mēla 28) is commonly associated with this kṛti in textual tradition, Phalamanjari (janya of mēla 22) version is commonly associated with this kṛti in oral tradition.

5. This article highlights the importance of analyzing Vālājāpet versions and other unpublished manuscripts.

Acknowledgements

I thank Srivanchiyam Sri Chandrasekar, son of Srivanchiyam Sri Ramachandra Ayyar for sharing the rare manuscripts collected and preserved by his father.

I thank Ms Janaki, Editor, Sruti Magazine for publishing this musicological work.

The library in The Music Academy is a repository of many valuable manuscripts written in the early part of the last century, like that of S A Ramaswamy Ayyar. I thank Sri V Sriram, Secretary, The Music Academy for permitting me to access those valuable manuscripts.

References

  1. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. Prathamābhyāsa Pustakamu, Pg 129.  Vidyā Vilāsini Press, Eṭṭayapuraṃ Subbarāma Samasthānaṃ, 1905.
  2. Ramachandran K.V. (1938) – “The Melakarta – A Critique” – The Journal of the Music Academy 1938 volume IX: pg 31-33.
  3. Sāmbamurti P. The Walajapet manuscripts. Journal of Music Academy 1947: Pg 114-129.
  4. Vālājāpet manuscripts.   http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/browse?collection=1&sort_field=Dublin+Core%2CTitle&page=12
  5. Vīṇā Rāmānujayya. Saṅgīta Sarvārta Sāra Saṅgrahamu, Pg. 231. http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/show/666
  6. Chinnasvāmy Mudaliyār. Oriental Music in European Notation, pg 75. Ave Maria Press, Madras,1893. http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/show/507
  7. Ghṛtasthānaṃ Narasimha Bhāgavatar., ed.,Tyāgarājasvāmi Kīrtanalu , Pg 13; Sarasvathi Power Press, Rajahmundry, 1908.
  8. Rāmānanda Yōgi., ed., Tyāgarājasvāmi Kīrtanaṅgaḷ, Pg 120 . Kṛṣṇasvāmy and Sons, 1910.
  9. Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu . Gānenduśekharaṃ, Pg 57-61. Kalā Ratnākara, Mudrākśara Śālā, Cennapuri, 1912 
  10. Dr MN Dhandapāṇi, D Pattaṃṃāḷ. Rāga Pravāhaṃ. The Trinity Music Book Publishers, Chennai, 1984.
  11. Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu . Gāyaka Siddhāñjanaṃ, Pg 69-70. http://www.ibiblio.org/guruguha/MusicResearchLibrary/Books-Tel/BkTe-TaccuruBros-gAyaka-siddhAnjanam-Pt2-1905-Xrx-0084.pdf
  12. Pārthasāradhi, S., ed., Śri Tyāgarājasvāmi Kīrtanaigaḷ – Tillaisthānaṃ pāṭaṃ – part 1, Pg 6-9. Guru Sri Tyāgabrahma Ārādana Kainkaryaṃ, 1987.
  13. Manuscripts given by Vidvān Sri B Kṛṣṇamūrti, the versions he learnt from Umayāḷpuraṃ Sri Rājagōpāla Ayyar – http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/files/original/83b9276a2529b0a8e26bf08c4cb7ba7e.pdf

Composers, CompositionAppreciation, Manuscripts, Notation, Pathantara, Raga

The mysterious ‘nagumomu ganaleni’ of Tyagaraja Svamigaḷ

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Only few kṛti-s enjoy the unique status of being both popular and liked by everyone. One such kṛti is ‘nagumōmu ganalēni’ of Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ. As much as the kṛti, the controversies surrounding the rāga of this kṛti too is equally popular. What is the rāga of this kṛti, Ābhēri or Karnāṭaka dēvagāndhāri? If it is ābhēri, which variety of dhaivatam is to be employed? If śuddha dhaivatam is to be employed, is it a different rāga from the Ābhēri of Muddusvāmy Dīkśitar? If so, is it allowed to have two lakṣaṇa for a single rāga? Almost all the students, performers, researchers and rasikā-s are equally aware of these questions. It is always a never ending debate whenever this kṛti is being played or heard. This article tries to find answers for some or all of these questions by considering the old versions, the keys to understand the truth.

Ābhēri

Before we embark into analysis, let us first understand these rāga-s and the present version of this composition.

Ābhēri find its first mention in Saṅgīta Sudhā of Govinda Dīkśitar [1]. This text and its successor, Caturdaṇḍiprakāśika of Vēṅkaṭamakhi consider this as a rāga with the svara-s taken by (present day rāga) Kīravāṇi. From the Rāga lakśaṇa of Śahaji onwards, this is considered as a rāga with the svara-s seen in the rāga Bhairavi. Rāga lakṣaṇa attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhi also advocate the same lakṣaṇa. Thus the rāga Ābhēri had śuddha dhaivata from the period of Śahaji.

Types

Though the svara variety has not changed, we see two different lakṣaṇa-s for this rāga across the texts. In several of our posts, we have classified the lakśaṇa grantha-s available into two types; those that explain a rāga by phrases and the other one, predominantly through a scale. The lakśaṇa grantha-s falling under the first category like the Rāga lakśaṇa of Śahaji, Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulaja etc., consider this as a sampūrṇa rāga with the svara-s rṣbham, dhaivatam and niṣādha varjya (omitted) in the ārohaṇa karma. Avarōhaṇa is sampurṇa. Hence we find phrases like GMPS or SMGMPSS. More about these phrases can be studied here. As expected, Rāga lakṣaṇa attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhi follows the same structure and this is much elaborated by Subbarāma Dīkśitar in his text Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini. This old Ābhēri was visualized and immortalized by Muddusvāmy Dīkśitar in his kṛti ‘vīṇābhēri’ which can be heard here.

The other type is seen in the lakśaṇa grantha-s falling under the second category, namely Saṅgraha Cuḍāmaṇi and its allied texts like Rāga lakśana manuscript of unknown authorship, Saṅgita Sāra Saṅgrahamu and Mahābharata Cūḍāmaṇi. The rāga here follows the scale SGMPNS  SNDPMGRS. Here, the svara niṣādha is present in ārōhaṇa karma and hence we see phrases like MPNS. Here, we do have an interesting point to ponder. Though the scales given in all the four texts are same, the Rāga lakśana manuscript of unknown authorship mention this rāga as Ābhīri and not Ābhēri! We will come to this a little later.

We can infer from the above discussion that there were two Ābhēri-s in practice between 17-19th centuries, though they take the same svara varieties. It can also be seen the dhaivata used is always of śuddha variety in both the varieties.

Popular version of the kṛti ‘nagumōmu ganalēni’

The presently rendered, popular version of this kṛti is in complete accordance with the lakśana of Ābhēri mentioned in Saṅgraha Cuḍāmaṇi and its allied texts. But the difference here is the dhaivatam employed in the present renditions; it is of catuśruti variety. We have seen Ābhēri always had śuddha dhaivata in the past. In such a case, can it be taken as a recent change happened in the last century?

Nagumōmu ganalēni – old versions

To get an answer for the question posed above, we need to look into the old versions available either as recordings or exist only in various texts and manuscripts. Let us now analyze the available versions.

Renditions

Excluding a single version by Vidushi Saṅgita Kalānidhi R Vēdavalli, every other common rendition is sung only with catuśruti dhaivatam. She uses śuddha dhaivata throughout her rendition. Other than this, the basic structure of the kṛti is not much different between the versions.

Texts

In this section, we will be analyzing this kṛti in various published texts and unpublished texts. The first text taking account of this kṛti is Saṅgita Sarvārtha Sāra Saṅgrahamu of Vīṇa Rāmānujayya. The rāga-s assigned for Tyāgarāja kṛti-s in this book is a mystery and it requires a separate paper to address. For time being, we restrict ourselves to the kṛti in hand. The rāga of this kṛti is mentioned as Punnāgavarāḷi. Unfortunately, notation is not suffixed with the sāhityam.

The second text that makes a note of this kṛti is “Oriental Music in European Notation’ by AM Chinnasvāmy Mudaliyār. He mention the rāga of this kṛti as Ābhēri, a janya of mēla 20, indicating the presence of śuddha dhaivatam. This text forms a new era as we find the rāga names (for Tyāgarāja kṛti-s) used here is to be followed by every other text published later (excluding few books which follow Saṅgita Sarvārtha Sāra Saṅgrahamu). Again, all the texts mention Ābhēri as a janya of 20, excluding a text published by Kākināḍa Kṛṣṇa Ayyar, published in the year 1911.2 This text forms an important source of reference as this author was a student of Paṭnam Subramaṇya Ayyar, one among the prime disciples of Mānambucāvaḍi Vēṅkaṭasubbaier.  Vēṅkaṭasubbaier was a direct disciple of Svāmigal. At this moment of time, it is not possible to compare the version across this school. It is imperative to perform this, as it is very common to see the differences in the version, even among the members belonging to the same school. We shall provide a related example. Harikeśanallur Muttiah Bhāgavatar has a kṛti ‘īśvari rājēśvari’ in this rāga. He has treated this as a janya of mēla 20, that is with śuddha dhaivatam. It becomes clear now that the two musicians (Muttiah Bhāgavatar and Kākināḍa Kṛṣṇa Ayyar) belonging to the same Mānambucāvaḍi school giving two different lakṣaṇa for a single rāga! Unless we get some more versions from this family, we cannot conclude on the versions or the dhaivatha employed in this school.

Kṛṣṇa Ayyar clearly mentions Ābhēri as a janya of mēla 22, giving another important detail; this kṛti was sung with catuśruti dhaivatham even before Musiri Subramaṇya Ayyar cuts a record!

Version by Kākināḍa Kṛṣṇa Ayyar

This version is interesting in many aspects. First, it is the only early version which says catuśruti dhaivatam is to be employed. Second, it comes from one of the important disciple lineage of Svāmigal. Third, this version has one important phrase which gives an indication to identify the rāga of this version (not to be read as the kṛti).

The version here predominantly resembles the presently sung version with catuśruti dhaivatam. But, it has a very important phrase which can neither be detected nor allowed in the rāga Ābhēri. That key phrase, PNDNDP is found in the caraṇam of this kṛti. To understand the relevance of this phrase, we need to know about a rāga called as Dēvagāndhārī.

Dēvagāndhāri or Dēvagāndhāra

Dēvagāndhārī is an old rāga like Ābhēri seen from the text Saṅgīta Sudhā .1 In this text and in the treatises classified under the first type (see the section on Ābhēri), this rāga is said to be placed under Srīrāga mēla and should have catuśruti dhaivatam. This rāga is now referred as Karnāṭaka Dēvagāndhārī by some (See Footnote 1). This important phrase PNDNDP (or NDNDP) is seen in both sūlādi and gītaṃ notated in Pradarśini.3

Based on these evidences, it is clear that the version notated by Kākināḍa Kṛṣṇa Ayyar is better to be called as Dēvagāndhārī or Dēvagāndhāra or Karnāṭaka Dēvagāndhārī. It does not possess the features of the rāga Ābhēri, mentioned in any of the mentioned treatises.

We have another important version given by Taccur Brothers in the year 1905. They say Ābhēri is a janya of mēla 20 and the version is much similar to the present versions and the version given by Kākināḍa Kṛṣṇa Ayyar. Intriguingly, they give a phrase PNDNDP! The place where it occurs in the caraṇam too is same! Incidentally they have mentioned Karnāṭaka Dēvagāndhāri as a janya of mēla 21 and their Dēvagāndhāri is a janya of mēla 29 (the present popular Dēvagāndhāri).4

Have they got a version with catuśruti dhaivata and to be in line with the prevailing system, they have named it as Ābhēri? We raise this doubt considering the inconsistency seen in the versions and rāga lakṣaṇa given by them in their texts.

Manuscripts

This kṛti is always a rare find in manuscripts. The popularity of a kṛti too differs across a century. In an article on the rāga Balahamsa, we have mentioned the popularity of the kṛti-s in the rāga Balahamsa in the earlier part of last century. Contrary to those kṛti-s, this kṛti seems to be relatively unpopular, at least until Musiri Subramaṇya Ayyar popularizing this. In our study, we were able to find only two manuscripts mentioning this kṛti – manuscripts by Bharatam Natēśa Ayyar and Śrīnivāsarāghavan.

Manuscript by Bharatam Natēśa Ayyar

Though the age of the manuscript is unknown, considering the time period of Natēśa Iyer (1855-1931), it can be very well believed to have been written either in the latter half of 19th  century or in the first decade of  20th century. The notations does not have a mention about the use of dhaivatam. Though the basic structure of the kṛti is comparable to the common version, we see some unusual phrases to Ābhēri like SRGR, MRS, SGRGM and SNDMGS. This indicates the rāga of this kṛti could not be fitted in to any of the two varieties of Ābhēri mentioned!

Manuscript by Śrīnivāsarāghavan

Dr Śrīnivāsarāghavan was a nephew of Tillaisthānam Rāma Ayyaṅgar, a direct disciple of Svāmigal. But he has learnt from many sources; the sources that are known to us include Tillaisthānam Pañju Bhāgavatar and S A Rāmasvāmy Ayyar. His notebooks provide a valuable reference material to understand the tunes of the past as it is generally believed that he was faithful to the versions that he had learnt. In his notebooks, he has notated this kṛti, named it as Ābhēri and clearly says, it is a janya of mēla 20. To our surprise, the kṛti starts with the phrase PDNDPM, which is certainly not allowed in any of the two varieties of Ābhēri.  He continues to surprise us by giving phrases like SRG, RGMG, GRG, SRGM and DNS. None of these phrases can be fitted into any of the two varieties of Ābhēri. An astute musician he was, he has mentioned the scale of this rāga as S(R)GMP(D)NS SNDPMGRS. Though the scale is much like Naṭabhairavi or its sampūrṇa janya-s like Nāgagāndhāri, Cāpaghaṇṭāravam et al, structure of the rāga, as evidenced from these phrases is strikingly different.

Vālājāpeṭṭai version

Vālājāpeṭṭai transcripts that we have make a note of this version. It mentions the rāga name as Ghaṇṭāravam! Since notations are not available, we are unable to proceed any further.

The versions see in these manuscripts might be insular. But this insularity is striking and is common to these versions seen in manuscripts. 

Ninnuvinā marigalada

There is a kṛti of Śyāma Sāstri ‘ninnuvina marigalada’ with two versions – one in Rītigaula and the other one in the mentioned in the texts. We are yet to get an older version and will be subjected to analysis once we procure.

What is the rāga of this kṛti?

The answer to this question depends on the version that we believe to be original and the lakṣaṇa embedded therein.

  1. If we rely on the version by Kākināḍa Kṛṣṇa Ayyar, it is better to call it as Dēvagāndhārī or Dēvagāndhāra. It is to be remembered that a lot of intra school differences exist within this school and we do not know whether this version was handed over to Kṛṣṇa Ayyar or it was the general version prevailed in Mānambucāvaḍi school. This becomes highly relevant as that determines the authenticity of the version.
  2. The version given by Bharatam Natēśa Ayyar and Śrīnivāsarāghavan cannot be placed into Ābhēri or Dēvagāndhāri / Dēvagāndhāra (irrespective of the dhaivatam). It is some unknown rāga, yet to be identified.
  3. The presently rendered version (śuddha dhaivatam version) is structured more like Ābhēri of the second class of treatises. In that case it could have been called by the name Ābhīrī, as seen in one of the treatise mentioned earlier. Over the years and also due to the ascension of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi, Ābhīrī could have been called as Ābhērī. Interestingly, there exists a rāga by name Ābhīr in Hindustani Music. The structure of this rāga is identical with Ābhēri seen in the present version using śuddha dhaivatam. The presently rendered catuśruti dhaivatam version, if it is added with the phrase PNDNDP can be comfortably called as Dēvagāndhārī / Dēvagāndhāra. In the absence of this arterial phrase, it is advisable to give a separate name as it does not satisfy the criteria to be called as Dēvagāndhāri / Dēvagāndhāra or Ābhērī.
  4. The presently heard versions could be actually an abridged version of the original with many of its non-scale abiding phrases removed. 
  5. Getting a Vālājāpeṭṭai version definitely gives an added value.

Conclusion

This could be one of the apūrva rāga kṛti of Svāmigaḷ. Alternatively it could have been composed in an old rāga, yet to be identified. Perhaps, the lakṣaṇa seen in the version of Śrīnivāsarāghavan can be compared with all 20 mēla janya rāga-s.

Based on this analysis, it appears that the presently heard versions might not be portraying the complete lakṣaṇa of this rāga, as visualized by Svāmigaḷ. As with many other kṛti-s of Svāmigaḷ , we might be hearing a changed version(s).

Acknowledgements

The library in The Music Academy is a repository of many valuable manuscripts written in the early part of last century, like that of Bharatam Natēśa Ayyar. I thank Sri V Sriram, Secretary, The Music Academy for permitting me to access those valuable manuscripts.

I sincerely thank Dr Chandran, descendant of Dr Srinivasa Raghavan for parting me with the manuscripts in his possession.

References

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

2. Kākināḍa C S Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayyar, Śrī Tyāgarāja Śata Kīrtana Svarāvali, 1911.

3. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. Prathamābhyāsa Pustakamu, Vidyā Vilāsini Press, Eṭṭayapuraṃ Subbarāma Samasthānaṃ, 1905. 

4. Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu. Gāyaka Siddhānjanamu. Kalā Ratnākara, Mudrākśara Śālā, Cennapuri, 1905.

Footnote 1

In the second type of treatises, namely Saṅgita Sāra Saṅgrahamu  Mahābharata Cūḍāmaṇi and Rāga lakśana manuscript of unknown authorship this rāga is called as Dēvagāndhāra considered as a janya of mēla 20 with the same scale as Ābhēri. In that instance the difference between Dēvagāndhāra and Ābhēri is not clear (as these texts do not furnish phrases or gītam).  These three treatises along with Saṅgraha Cudāmaṇi also mention another rāga, Karnāṭaka Dēvagāndhāri  with the same scale as Ābhēri and Dēvagāndhāra, but as a janya of mēla 21. Simply saying, Ābhēri mentioned in Saṅgīta Sudhā and Caturdaṇḍiprakāśika exist as Karnāṭaka Dēvagāndhārī in these texts.

Composers, Manuscripts, Notation, Pathantara, Raga, Shishya Parampara

Intriguing raga-s – Balahamsa

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Changes occurred to a rāga can be of various types ranging from trivial to drastic. There are some rāga-s wherein some phrases have disappeared over the period of years, there are a few wherein a rāga was made to sport a svara which is not present in its derivative scale and lastly there are some which were given a new form altogether. The last change is most dangerous as we are deprived to understand its old and original form. One such ‘extinct’ rāga is Balahamsa, a rāga that was much popular during the period of Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ and his contemporaries. The Balahamsa visualized by these composers was indeed a grand ‘rāga’ with lot of fluid phrases traversing the scale.

Though we do hear Balahamsa now and then with the same svara sthāna as that of Balahamsa of yore, the kṛti-s heard are mostly modern considering the lakṣaṇa of this rāga. The contemporary Balahamsa is much scalar which is essentially to be contrasted against the Balahamsa used by the composers mentioned above.  

Balahamsa

The present form of Balahamsa, in texts is seen only from the period of Śahaji. But the lakṣaṇa seen here has not changed; Tulaja too records the same, though he was late by around a century (See Footnote 1). This rāga, essentially in the same form was utilized by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar in his kṛti ‘guruguhādanyam’, belonging to the set of guruguha vibhakti kṛti-s. This kṛti as notated by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśini follows the same lakṣaṇa as given by Śahaji and Tulaja. Unfortunately, the later versions of this kṛti resemble this Balahamsa remotely and were structured to be in confirmation with the commonly heard Scalar Balahamsa. This scalar version subdued the Scale-transcending Balahamsa in the Post – Trinity era and live through many compositions.

We have mentioned in our earlier articles that many of the Scale-transcending rāga-s have a Scalar counterpart and Balahamsa can be best fitted into this. It is a rarity to hear Balahamsa in the present day concert milieu and when it is heard, it is invariably the Scalar Balahamsa that bemuse us.

Scalar Balahamsa

Balahamsa takes the svara that are assigned to the mēla 28 (present system), namely catuśruti ṛṣabham, antara gāndhāram, suddha madhyamaṃ, catuśruti dhaivatam and kaiśiki niṣādham. It is an upāṅga rāgaṃ and svara-s alien to mēla 28 are never seen here. All the advocatory texts of the Scalar school like Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi, Saṅgīta Sarvārtha Sāram etc., identify this rāga and assign the scale SRMPDS SNDPMRMGS to it (See Footnote 2). The phrase RMGS has been given an undue importance (in the Post-Trinity era) and this phrase has almost become synonymous with this rāga which we feel, is mainly due to the influence of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi and the lakṣaṇa gīta given there in. The lakṣaṇa gīta notated there does not have gāndhāra in ārōhaṇa phrases, strictly confirming with the scale and RMGS is found aplenty. Glide towards the ṣaḍja in avarōhaṇa phrases is always RMGS, excluding a single place wherein MGRS is seen.

Scale-transcending Balahamsa

This grand rāga, as noted by Śahaji and Tulaja cannot be reined in by a mere scale. Though the svara stanāna-s it takes are exactly the same as that of scalar one, it has many unique phrases which was well projected by the composers like Muddusvāmy Dīkśitar and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar explains its entire firmament in a single śloka, attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhi:

      balahamsākhyarāgōyam ārōhē ca nivarjitaḥ I
sagrahassarvakālēṣu gīyatē gāyakōttamaihi II

The first part of this śloka says ‘the svara niṣādha is varjya (absent) in the ārōhaṇa of the rāga balahamsa’.  Though the śloka appears to be concise and at times non-explanatory, the very essence of Balahamsa is communicated here assiduously. This Balahamsa has ārohaṇa phrases, with the six svara-s used in various permutations, excluding the niṣādha. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives various illustrious phrases like SRGR, SRGM, SRMP, MPDP etc., and when they are studied with the śloka mentioned above, gives an idea that these grantakāra-s are willing to convey. Niṣādha is seen in the phrases like SNDP and DNDP. Beside these standard phrases, this rāga has many unusual phrases like SRGMPMR, SRPMR, PR and PDPS. There are two striking features in the above mentioned discussion – the phrase RMGS is not mentioned anywhere (See Footnote 3) and the phrase SRGMPMR, though mentioned by Dīkṣitar as very important, is seen nowhere in any of the compositions notated by him. The point we wish to reiterate by this discussion is that RMGS was an ignored phrase in this rāga (in the past), this rāga can be placed in par with the rāga-s like Kāmbhōji or Rītigaula which has very many special phrases outside the fixed scale and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar wishes to educate us about a rāga by giving important phrases of a rāga, irrespective of them being used in the compositions notated by him. It is thus imperative for us to read each and every discussion or note that he gives to contemplate a rāga.  

Compositions of Tyāgaraja Svāmigaḷ in the rāga Balahamsa

An astute reader will be with a query on the svarūpa of Balahamsa seen in the compositions of Svāmigaḷ. In the commonly heard versions, we hear only Scalar Balahamsa and the phrase RMGS ornate each and every single composition. Also they also do not confirm with the lakṣaṇa of the Scale-transcending Balahamsa as portrayed in the composition of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar or elsewhere. Does it mean both of them followed two different schools? This puzzle can be resolved only by looking into the older versions of the kṛti-s of Tyāgaraja Svāmigaḷ.

Older versions – a repository of lost tradition

We have insisted several times in our previous posts regarding the importance of collecting and analyzing the manuscripts preserved at various repositories. Analysis of various versions prevalent during the early part of the last century and prior reveal, the older form of Tyāgarāja kṛti-s too were in Scale-transcending Balahamsa and the possibilities of them being the ‘original’ intent of the composer is extremely high.

We have around eight compositions of Svāmigaḷ in this rāga and we were able to identify the older version for few of these compositions. A comparison across the versions will be done for the kṛti-s which were able to get an old version, to draw a conclusion.

Ninnu bāsietla

This is the rarest of the entire lot of the kṛti-s of Svāmigaḷ in Balahamsa. Surprisingly this could have been a popular kṛti in the past, getting mentioned by many musicians who had the habit of notating the kṛti-s that they have learnt. It can also be seen in published texts. Vālājāpēṭṭai version of this kṛti can be heard here. Though a small kṛti, it epitomize the Scale-transcending Balahamsa. The phrase SRGMPMR is heard in the caraṇam of this kṛti.

T M Vēṅkaṭa Śāstri was the first one to publish this kṛti in notation as early as in 1892. Though the version much resembles the Vālājāpeṭṭai version, there exist few minor differences. A prominent difference being observed is the absence of the phrase SRGMPMR and SNDNP. Instead this reads as SRMPPMR and SNDNDP respectively! (See Footnote 4)This trend gets continued in the Gāyaka Siddhānjanamu of Taccur brothers. P V Ponnammāl, a musician who lived around 1917 also recorded a similar version, but without the phrase SRGMPMR. Same is the case with Kumbakōṇam Visvanātha Ayyar, an Umayālpuram musician. There are two versions other than the Vālājāpeṭṭai version to have this phrase; one by Srinivāsa Rāghavan, a nephew of Tillaisthānam Rāma Ayyaṅgār and another one in a book published by Kākināda C S Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayyar. Srinivāsa Rāghavan has learnt from various sources including S A Rāmasvāmy Ayyar, a disciple of Vālājāpeṭṭai Kṛṣṇasvāmy Bhāgavatar and Umayālpuram Kṛṣṇa and Sundara Bhāgavatar and he could have learnt this from S A Rāmasvāmy Ayyar. The version published by Kākināda C S Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayyar  is extraordinarily similar to Vālājāpeṭṭai version, but for the absence of the phrase SNDNP. Though few minor differences exist across the versions, the basic structure of this kṛti is almost similar. Strikingly, none of these versions use the phrase RMGS. The presently rendered concert version can be heard here.

Taḷḷi tandrulu

Another common kṛti seen in almost all the manuscripts written during the early part of the last century. The lakṣaṇa of Balahamsa is similar to the other kṛti-s mentioned in the Vālājāpeṭṭai manuscripts (‘ninnu basi’, ‘daṇdamu bettēnura’ and ‘ika gāvalasina’). We do not find the phrase SRGMPMR here, though we find PMR and PR in plenty. Similar lakṣaṇa is seen in the text Gānēnduśekaram of Taccur brothers. A similar version with the complete absence of RMGS and plenty of DSR, SRGR,PMR,PDND etc., were seen in the versions of Bālasubraḥmaṇya Ayyar, supposedly an Umayālpuram musician, PV Ponnammāl and Srinivāsa Rāghavan. This again shows the older versions of the kṛti-s of svāmigaḷ is much different from the presently heard versions.

Ika gāvalasinadēmi

This is perhaps one of the common kṛti heard in this rāga. The version that is commonly heard must have been probably sourced from Umayālpuram tradition as this version much resembles the version notated by B Kṛṣṇamūrti, as learnt from Umayālpuram Rājagōpāla Iyer, a descendant of Umayālpuram Svāminātha Iyer. This version has plenty of the phrase RMGS. This kṛti could have not been known to all (musicians of the past) is gleaned from the fact that this kṛti is very rarely encountered in the manuscripts examined by us. Fortunately, a Vālājāpēṭṭai version is available, but only in part; pallavi and the first line of anupallavi alone is notated in the transcripts available. This version is devoid of the phrase RMGS.

It can be seen the arterial phrase SRGMPMR occurs and this version is not even remotely identical with the common Umayālpuram version of this kṛti!

Daṇdamu beṭṭēnura

This is perhaps the most popular kṛti in this rāga. Including the Vālājāpēṭṭai versions, none of the older versions deviate from the structure of Scale-transcending Balahamsa explained earlier. This is also applicable to the Umayālpuram version notated by B Kṛṣṇamūrti.

Rāma ēva daivatam

This is another rare kṛti in this rāga. Whereas the commonly heard version is replete with the phrase RMGS and predominantly scalar, the version by Srinivāsa Rāghavan is in line with the Scale-transcending Balahamsa. Like ‘ninnu bāsietla’, it can be conjectured that this could have also been learnt from S A Rāmasvāmy Ayyar.

It can be seen the kṛti-s ‘daṇdamu beṭṭēnura’, ‘taḷḷi tandrulu’ and ‘ninnu bāsietla’ were much known to the musicians in the past and all the kṛti-s were structured only in the Scale-transcending form. Of these versions, Vālājāpēṭṭai versions tend to harbor more archaic, yet arterial phrase like SRGMPMR and SNDNP which has been dropped off in the later versions. The emergence of Janarañjani with this phrase (SRGMPMR) might be a reason that can be speculated.

Post-Trinity composers

This rāga was handled by almost all the prominent Post-Trinity composers from Mysore Sadāśiva Rao to Harikēśanallur Muttiah Bhāgavatar. Whereas the lakśaṇa of the rāga resembles the Scale Balahamsa to a greater extent with a profuse use of the phrase RMGS, few have also used some phrases outside the scale. SRGMPMR in the kṛti ‘dēvi dākśāyani’ of Muttiah Bhāgavatar, DM and MD in the kṛti ‘evarunnaru brōva’ of Sadāśiva Rao can be cited as examples. This shows their acquaintance with Scale-transcending Balahamsa and perhaps due to changes in the trend during their period, they have composed in Scalar Balahamsa with few special phrases outside the scale to give us an inkling about the past tradition.

Unique Post-Trinity composers

As mentioned earlier, Scalar Balahamsa rose to prominence in the Post-Trinity era mainly due to the works of prominent composers who lived in the last century. Amongst this, we have two composers who have made a mark by composing in the Scale-transcending Balahamsa. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has composed a grand aṭa tāḷa varṇa ‘śri raja rāja’ demonstrating all the vital phrases of this rāga following the lines of Tyāgarāja Svāmy and Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar. Tiruvottriyūr Tyāgayyar has composed a kriti ‘paluka vādēla’ in this rāga belonging to the set ‘ Śri Vēṇugōpāla Aṣṭōttara Śata Kṛtis’. Though he has not used the phrase RMGS, he has neither used the phrases like SRGMPMR, SNP or PDPS, the definitive features of Scale-transcending Balahamsa. So it is neither scalar nor having all the phrases of Scale-transcending Balahamsa.

Scalar Vs Scale-transcending Balahamsa

Having discussed the two types of Balahamsa and the compositions therein, we wish to give a reckoner to identify and understand these two types. The Scalar Balahamsa follows the scale exactly with no outliers. The avarōhaṇa phrases leads to ṣaḍja only through RMGS or a phrase having the motif ‘GS’ like SRGS. But, none of the compositions exist to serve as an example for this Scalar Balahamsa that is following only the scale. The compositions by the Post-Trinity composers predominantly are scalar with few phrases not confirming with the scale.

Scale-transcending Balahamsa has the phrase MGRS in addition with the avarōhaṇa phrases mentioned above. Phrases like SRGMPMR, PDPS and SDNP are inherently present. The compositions of Tyāgaraja Svāmigaḷ, Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar come under this category. Though we do not find the phrase SRGMPMR in the compositions of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, we do find a phrase MRGMPMR in the mentioned varṇam by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.

Hindustāni equivalent of Balahamsa

There is no equivalent rāga for Balahamsa in Hindustāni music. Subbā Rao gives four types of Baḍahamsa in his book and none of them resemble our Balahamsa.

Conclusion

Analysis of older versions reveal, Balahamsa was handled only in a Scale-transcending form earlier, at least till the period of Tyāgarāja and Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar. Though we do not have any recordings, this is clear form all the manuscripts and the early texts examined. Since every other evidence points towards the same direction, it can be very well concluded that the kṛti-s of Tyāgarāja Svāmy in the rāga Balahamsa has been changed from Scale-transcending to Scalar form. The Balahamsa that is heard today is definitely a Post-Trinity development.

The Vālājāpēṭṭai version of the kṛti ‘ninnu bāsi etla’ represents an original authentic version, as every other old version, representing various other schools confirm this.

Though it is not technically wrong in having the phrase RMGS, for some unknown reasons, composers like Tyāgarāja Svāmy and Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar has avoided that phrase. 

There are many pockets within the broader Umayālpuram school, with total disagreement in their versions and they are to be studied separately.

Vālājāpēṭṭai notations, being the oldest of all maintain many archaic, yet arterial phrases which are must to understand this rāga. Any efforts to analyze the rāga-s handled by Tyāgarāja Svāmy will be futile without examining them.

This analysis shows there are no two different thoughts in approaching a rāga between Tyāgarāja and Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar and it is the change that has happened over the time has created this illusion.

This analysis also highlights the importance of analyzing manuscripts to understand the truth. We request the readers to share information about any unpublished manuscripts that they are aware of.

Acknowledgements

The library in The Music Academy is a repository of many valuable manuscripts written in the early part of the last century, like that of P V Ponnammal. I thank Sri V Sriram, Secretary, The Music Academy for permitting me to access those valuable manuscripts.

I sincerely thank Sri B Krishnamurti, Smt Nandhini Venkataraman, descendant of Kumbakonam Sri Visvanatha Iyer and Dr Chandran, descendant of Dr Srinivasa Raghavan for parting me with the manuscripts that they possess.

References

Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. Prathamābhyāsa Pustakamu, Vidyā Vilāsini Press, Eṭṭayapuraṃ Subbarāma Samasthānaṃ, 1905. 

Subraḥmaṇya Śāstri. Sangraha Chudamani of Govinda, 1934.

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

T M Vēṅkateśa Śāstri. Saṅgīta Svayam Bodhini, 1892.

Kākināḍa C S Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayyar, Śrī Tyāgarāja Śata Kīrtana Svarāvali, 1911.

Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu. Gāyaka Siddhānjanamu. Kalā Ratnākara, Mudrākśara Śālā, Cennapuri, 1905.

Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu. Gānēnduśekaram. Kalā Ratnākara, Mudrākśara Śālā, Cennapuri, 1912. 

B Subbā Rao. Rāganidhi – A comparative study of Hindustāni and Karnatik rāga-s, Volume 1, The Music Academy, 1980. 

Footnotes

Footnote 1 – Balahamsa can also be seen in the treatises like Saṅgīta Pārijāta and Hṛdaya Kautuka. But the rāga lakṣaṇa is different and Balahamsa with the present svara sthāna-s can be seen only from the text by Śahaji.

Footnote 2 – Saṅgraha Cuḍāmaṇi gives the scale asSRMPD SNDPMRMGSRS. Rāga lakṣaṇa, a similar text of unknown authorship gives us the scale SRMPDS  SNDPDMGRS.

Footnote 3 – The phrase RMGS occur as RMGGS only once in the rāgamālika ‘śivamōhana’ of Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar.

Footnote 4 – Since this article predominantly deals with the rāga Balahamsa, the various versions were not discussed in detail.

Composers, Personalities, Uncategorized

Kshetrayya: A figment of imagination?

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Note:
This article is a rejoinder to the views questioning Kshetrayya’s existence in an article by Dr.Swarnamalya Ganesh that appeared in the NewsMinute.

For those who listen Karnataka music, Kshetrayya needs no introduction as he is one amongst the few who has composed compositions brimming with srungara rasa. He can be very well placed in the line of few Azvar-s like Tirumangai Azvar or  Andal and Jayadeva. It is commonly believed that he hails from the place called Muvva and he was a devotee of Lord Krishna enshrined there. He takes the role of a nayika and his compositions are intimate love dialogues between him and his Lord. Kshetrayya’s compositions are well known for his free and lucid style with an absorbing music.

I happened to read an article by Swarnamalya Ganesh on Kshetrayya and his creations, pada-s with the mudra ‘muvvagopala’. She claims the compositions were actually composed by courtesans and they were appropriated to give a ‘male voice’ to those erotic lyrics. This article by Swarnamalya also quotes another article by Harshita Mruthinti Kamath who even claims Kshetrayya was a figment and was created by the literary community. These two articles shake the belief that Kshetrayya can be no more called as a vaggeyakara as the compositions bearing the mudra ‘muvvagopala’ are in reality, the voice of courtesans.  Though it is imperative to attribute the compositions to the composer who conceived it, we need to first analyze the quality of the research that has taken place to call Kshetrayya as a figment. The readers are requested to read the article by Harshita and Swarnamalya before proceeding further.  This article will be analyzing the arguments placed by them and an analysis will be provided from the angle of a music researcher.

This article can be divided into two parts – first part deals with the theory that Kshetrayya is not a historical figure but a later construct and the second one with the authorship of the pada-s of Kshetrayya.

Let us see the various literary evidences that mention about Kshetrayya. Before going to this, it is to be admitted that the details of this poet available from the literary sources are very scant. The first evidence that we get comes from Manda Lakshminarayana, a 17th or 18th century poet who wrote the text ‘Sarasvati Trilinga Sabdaanusaasanam’ also called as ‘Andhra Kaumudi’, a text on Telugu grammar. He remarks Kshetrayya as ‘iti muvvagopala bhaktena ksetra kavinaa uktatvaacca’, meaning ‘as said by the poet Ksetra, a devotee of Muvvagopala’. What can be understood from this is that the kavi ‘Ksetra’ was popular for using the mudra ‘muvvagopala’, being a bhaktha of the Lord Muvvagopala. This (text) occurs as a continuation of a verse praising Ragunatha Nayaka in the reference mentioned. 1

Supplicants come on their own

to a patron who knows how to give.

Who invited them?

Don’t bees visit the lotus pond

on their own,

king Raghunatha?

Harshita raises following queries:

               ‘insertion of this line and attributed author is interesting for three reasons: first, the line is written in prose, which does not match the lyrical poetic style of the padam genre. [sic] Second, the line is dedicated to Raghunātha Nāyaka (r. 1612–34), who is the predecessor of Vijayarāghāva Nāyaka (r. 1634–73), the latter of whom is the king commonly thought to have patronised Kṣētrayya as per the mēruva padam. [sic] Finally, the poet is identified as Kṣētra, not Kṣētrayya or Kṣētrajña, a Sanskritised version of the poet’s name’. [sic]

Let us see one by one in detail.

Style of the text

Harshita starts by saying the text does not confirm with the style padam-s, the genre for which Kshetrayya is known for. When we don’t even know the proper life history of Kshetrayya, his exact number of compositions and the location where he exactly hailed from, is this not a hasty conclusion that he could have composed only padam-s and this text is out of place? Why should we not think he has composed a text on Raghunatha Nayaka or some other theme where this line features in?

The verse on Raghunatha Nayaka

As mentioned earlier, we do not know the exact time period of Kshetrayya. From his various compositions and the internal evidences therein, it can be understood he lived during the period of Vijayaragahava Nayaka and patronized by him. We also understand he was patronized by two other kings, Tirumala Nayaka of Madurai and Padsha of Golconda from his meruva padam. In the meruva padam, which we will be seeing it soon, he refers to Tirumala Nayaka of Madura, followed by Vijayaraghava Nayaka and the Padsha of Golconda. If we place them in the timeline, Tirumala Nayaka is anterior to Vijayaraghava Nayaka, the former reigned Madurai from 1623-1629 and the latter ruled Tanjavur from 1633-1673. This implies Kshetrayya should have lived in the early part of 17th century. What is interesting here is the reign of Tirumala Nayaka coincides with that of Raghunatha Nayaka (1613-1631). Hence the possibility that Kshetrayya could have visited the court of Raghunatha Nayaka and patronized by him cannot be denied. We wish to remind the readers that not all the padam-s of Kshetrayya are extant. Subbarama Dikshitar has mentioned, he had 700 padam-s of Kshetrayya; only around 200 or 300 are in circulation now. So, the number of padam-s handed over to the next generation is always in decline and one of these lost padam-s might have a reference to Raghunatha Nayaka! This link was strangely missed by Harshita!

Name of the kavi

The text that we quoted read as ‘kshetra’ and not as Kshetrayya or Kshetragna. Harshita raises a query ‘were the poet Kshetra and Kshetrayya are same’?  It is distressing to see such an argument from a scholar who has worked on Telugu literature. The word ‘ayya’ is used as a form of respect and is usually added as a suffix to a person’s name. In this case, Kshetra has become Kshetrayya as a token of respect. Do we have to believe her inability to make this out is a happenstance?

The next reference is from Raghava Chary in his book written in the year 1806.1

Cashatreya, a modern Poet of first note, who composed innumerable Padasmarked with the name of Moova Gopala (Kristna) [sic] – his style is elegant and musical; his language is easy and clear, and his meaning is comprehensive

Though Cashatreya is a variant, we can again see his name is being associated with the deity Muvvagopala. What we wish to reiterate is Kshetrayya was always treated synonymously with his deity Muvvagopala throughout the literary history. But his life history was not mentioned in any of the mentioned references. The first information about his personal life comes from Subbarama Dikshitar in his Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini.2 He was the first one to mention about his initiation into Gopala mantram and he was from Muvvapuri. Dikshitar also mention various incidents happened in the life of Kshetrayya and perhaps he was the first to call him as Kshetragna.  We have two other evidences that say about Kshetrayya before the publication of the book by Vissa Appa Rao in 1950s and these two were missed by Harshita. The first one is the book Gayaka Siddhanjanam by Taccur Brothers published in the year 1905.3 Their mention is very brief and they say he was a composer of 1000 love songs and lived in a place by name Muvva. The second one is more important as it is from a believer of different faith, Abraham Panditar.4 He has mentioned Kshetiriya has composed 1000 padam-s, mainly reflecting the srungara rasa with the mudra muvvagopala. Further down the line, we find an elaborate story on Kshetrayya’s personal life by Vissa Appa Rao and Rajanikanta Rao. We do not want to dwell into that as they are the author’s interpretation of the available evidences and might lack historical authenticity. From the discussion above, we can understand there existed a poet by name Kshetra/Kshetrayya/Cashatreya/Kshetriya during the reign of Tirumala Nayaka and Raghunatha Nayaka, who could have reached the zenith of his career during the reign of Vijayaraghava Nayaka. He was known for his srungara padam-s, though the exact number is not known. He was always associated with the mudra ‘muvvagopala’ due to his intimate attachment with the Lord Gopala of Muvva. Various places contest to get identified with the Muvva of Kshetrayya and we do want to venture into it, as it will make us to deviate from the topic.

Meruva padam

Almost every other who has given a detailed description about the padam-s of Kshetrayya mention this padam ‘vedukato’ in the raga Devagandhari, also called as meruva padam.

When Tirumala, the king of Madhura, lavished me with gifts

and ordered me to sit before him in his assembly,

he asked: ‘Give me the best of your poems’.

I responded, ‘Here’s 2,000 poems. Pick your favorite’.

Seated on a stage, the king was immensely overjoyed.

He’s the best of customers who plays with joy.

I saw Vijayarāghava in Tañjāvuri in a resplendent garden,

seated under a cool canopy.

When I talked to him, composing 1,000 songs,

he showered me with gifts.

He’s the best of customers who plays with joy.

When the strong Pāduśā of Gōlakoṇḍa gave gifts to me

he conversed with Tulasimūrti that day.

Muvva Gōpāla sang 1,500 songs in 40 days, all through me.

He’s the best of customers who plays with joy1

This is the common padam used to date the period of Kshetrayya and Harshita again places a few queries. She argues there is no reference to Kshetrayya and this is not in the style of other padam-s with the mudra ‘muvvagopala’. Let us look in to these issues now.

Period of Kshetrayya

Every composer, at least in one of his composition gives an internal evidence about himself. It might be some important event that happened in their life or about his parents or about his place of origin. In this padam, we find the names of three rulers – Tirumala Nayaka, Raghunatha Nayaka and Padsha of Golconda and how the author of this composition was honored by every one of them. At the end of the padam, all the glory to the composer were attributed to the deity Muvvagopala. We have seen in all the earlier evidences, including the one by Abraham Panditar, that Kshterayya has made an indelible mark in the mind of people with two pointers – one by composing predominantly srungara padam-s and the second one by associating himself with the deity Muvvagopala. None of the grantakara-s seen above has mentioned him to use ‘svanama’ mudra (his name as a mudra). Hence it is much clear that Kshetrayya was the composer of this padam. Understanding vageeyakara-s (not poets) is important when we try to date the period of a composer and this lack of understanding, perhaps made Harshita to raise this query.

Style of the padam

Harshita mentions this padam differs from the rest of the padam-s with the mudra ‘muvvagopala’ which typically involve a female lover speaking to a friend or lover. A careful examination of few other padam-s could have avoided this confusion. Let us cite two examples:

I offer you worship in ever so many ways,

O ! Lord unite her with me !!

For having supplicated you to such an extent

O ! Lord fulfill my desire !!5

                                   – Inni vidhamula (Mukhari)

When I am unable to bear the onslaught of Cupid,

are you angry, Muvvagopala that I aspire for your love ?5

                                   – Sripati sutu (Anandabhairavi)

Both the examples cited are his personal communications with his Muvvagopala and nowhere an emissary or a pining lover is involved. As we have mentioned, every composer furnishes his creations with internal evidence and the meruvu padam is one such example similar to the two padam-s cited here.

Article with no convincing evidence

We have cited various lacunae on the way by which the research by Harshita was carried out. Let us look into one more issue of that sort. A research article is supposed to have a hypothesis affixed with plausible evidences. Strangely here in this article, we find a conclusion but with no acceptable explanations! Nowhere in this article, was she able to prove Kshretrayya never existed! She is also of the opinion that the padam-s with the mudra ‘muvvagopala’ were composed by courtesans or nattuvanar-s. Again no evidence for this too can be seen in her article and we will elaborate this in the next section.

Kshetrayya is not a figment

We have placed coherent counter arguments for the erroneous statement made by Harshita on Kshetrayya, without giving any solid evidence.  Anyone who goes through the available evidences (provided here or elsewhere) can easily make out that Kshetrayya is indeed a historical figure, who has composed with the mudra ‘muvvagopala’. It is accepted that the details about his life history are very scanty in the written literature. Many of our oral histories exist as oral traditions, fragments due to repeated invasions and ravages of time. So unless we have a clear evidence of absence we cannot conclude that the absence of written evidence or history should say that Kshetrayya doesn’t exist.

Who is to be credited?

We will now concentrate on the next segment, on the authorship of the padam-s with the mudra ‘muvvagopala’. The seeds of this query was planted by Harshita and was nourished by Swarnamalya in her recent article. Harshita states:

‘I raise the possibility that vēśyas composed these Nāyaka-period padams’ [sic]

and Swarnamalya continues as:

‘she does not however delve into the possible names of poetesses and courtesans, which I endeavor to do’ [sic]’

Before seeing these arguments in detail, let us understand that Devadasi-s were custodians of the padam-s of Kshetrayya (along with other musical forms that deal with srungara like javali-s) and they consider as a perquisite with great pride. Many of these compositions were known only to them and even now, we might get some unpublished compositions from their descendants. In other words, it can be said Devadasis were mainly responsible for the propagation of Kshetrayya padam-s. The authors Harshita and Swarnamalya believe the works of these courtesans were appropriated and given a male voice to make these erotic songs more palatable. On analyzing the articles mentioned, we get the following questions:

  1. When did this appropriation take place?
  2. What are the evidences to say courtesans were the composers of these padam-s and why did every other courtesan use the mudra muvvagopala?
  3. Why were the works of courtesans alone appropriated?
  4. Do we have a history of males writing about women-specific expression?

When did this appropriation take place?

Though the scholars keep reiterating the works of courtesans have been appropriated, they never came with a hypothetical period during which this could have occurred. Absence of this information even in a full length research article, like that of Harshita is glaring. Now, let us dissect the possibilities of this appropriation.

From the above discussion, it becomes clear Kshetrayya lived during the period of Nayaka dynasty. Let’s imagine that was the period these padam-s could have been written by the courtesans. Also, we can understand from the discussion of the scholars that, the sanitization of the art of South Indian dance and the implementation of Anti-nautch Act, in association with the colonial mentality is mainly responsible for repugnance towards the erotic works. So, the appropriation could have taken place by the second half of 19th century and/or the first half of 20th century. This raises two pertinent questions – we have a reference to the kavi Kshetrayya and his association with the deity Muvvagopala by Manda Lakshminarayana Kavi, written during 17/18th century. How can this be accounted? Going by this evidence, if at all, the padam-s were appropriated, it could have happened before the period of Lakshminarayana Kavi, which could be before 17th or 18th century. If that is the case, what was the need to appropriate when there was not a generalized aversion to srungara rasa? We could not even find a discussion in these lines in the article mentioned, leave alone an explanation.

What are the evidences to say courtesans were the composers of these padam-s and why did every other courtesan use the mudra ‘muvvagopala’?

As mentioned elsewhere, when a researcher places a hypothesis, he/she is expected to affix it with evidences. What evidences do we have to say these ‘muvvagopala’ padam-s were composed by courtesans? Harshita’s article does not have any explanation and Swarnamalya mentions:

‘Nayaka period repertoires, there was one Nava padamulu [sic]. Nava to mean new, contemporary padams by a variety of composers, were performed in the court every day [sic]. Several of the “now attributed to Kshetryya” padams debuted there, through the courtesan voice and never in that of a Kshetrayya’s [sic]’.     

The details of the manuscript, paper or palm leaf preferably with the catalogue number, padam-s featured therein, the name of the composers therein, whether the names are found in association with padam-s or in a separate folio, any evidences of that manuscript being copied earlier etc., are to be furnished to be more subjective.  Though it is an article in an online magazine, it is intriguing that, not even a name of a single composer purported to have composed these padam-s has been mentioned. Even if the argument is made that some of these expressions are typically female, there is plenty of reference in literature including Kamasutra of Vatsyayana where males articulate from the female standpoint. Many Sangam era poets were male who wrote from the viewpoints of female. So this is nothing new within the larger cultural framework.

Now comes a yet another a germane question – what is the reason for so many courtesans to compose the padam-s with the mudra ‘muvvagopala’? Mudras are insignia of a composer making us to identify the author of a given composition. Mudras can be of various types – svanama (his own name), poshaka (patron’s name), sthala (place with which he is associated) and so on. A single vaggeyakara can use multiple mudra and conversely multiple vaggeyakara-s can use the same mudra. Subbarama Dikshitar says ‘cevvandilinga’, ‘vijayaraghava’ were some of the mudras used by Kshetrayya other than his favourite ‘muvvagopala’. Virabhadrayya, Ramaswamy Dikshitar all come under this category. The mudras like ‘gopala’, ‘venkatesa’ were all favored by many composers. The mudra ‘gopaladasa’ was used by Veena Kuppaier and his son Tiruvottriyur Tyagayyar. The mudra ‘gopalasodari’ was used by one anonymous composers, who works exist only in the manuscripts, seen by this author. Similarly ‘venkatesa’ was used by the composers like Annamacharya, Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaier etc. What can be seen here is, the mudra-s like gopala’ or ‘venkatesa’ were all more generic, refer to the composer himself (or could be their favourite deity), but the mudra ‘muvvgopala’ is not a generic one. It specifically refers to the Gopala in Muvva. So, it could have been used only the composers associated with the sthala Muvva. In that case, what was the connection between the courtesans who has written these padam-s and the Gopala of Muvva. Muvva (irrespective of the contestants) is certainly not in close proximity to Tanjavur is to be noted and it is to be related with the claim that courtesans of Nayaka era composed these padam-s.  Also we have seen, no granthakara has remarked about this mudra being used by someone else.

Alternatively, why the courtesans in the court of Vijayaraghava Nayaka should write padam-s, wherein the hero is Muvvagopala and included in the daily court routine? The period of Vijayaraghava Nayaka saw the outburst of competent courtesans, not necessarily only in the field of music. They could have very well composed padam-s in praise of him to include it into their repertoire and performed daily in his court.  This is an intriguing question and the scholars are compelled to give a suitable explanation, if their hypothesis is to be accepted.

Why were the works of courtesans alone appropriated?

Throughout the article(s), we can see a statement being reiterated multiple times in a different form – ‘works of the courtesans have been appropriated’, though with no evidence. But, both of them didn’t even try to look into the question ‘why their works have been appropriated’? We have a strong rationale behind this question which will be explained now. Swarnamalya observes:

             ‘For example, in the court of Raghunatha Nayaka were Ramabhadramba, Madhuravani, Krishnatvari and others.[sic] During the reign of Vijayaraghava Nayaka thrived Pasupuleti Rangajamma who wrote prolifically in eight languages alongside Krishnajamma, Candrarekha, Rupavati, Lokanayaki, Bhagyarati and others. [sic] Many of them composed padams which portrayed relationships; emotional, physical and social between the female lover and her deity / King / customer’. [sic]

This clearly shows there were many ‘female’ poets who wrote padam-s. Pasupaleti Rangajamma has even written an opera by name “Usha parinayamu”. This undoubtedly a love story and she was given freedom and voice of expression to compose a dance-drama like this is to be noted.  Women penning srungara pada-s were not uncommon in our culture. Andal, one among the twelve Azvar and her works ‘Nachiyar Tirumozhi’ and ‘Tiruppavai’, serve as a good example. In the medieval era we had the poets mentioned above and even in the colonial era, we do see women composing works based on srungara rasa. Muddupalani and her work Radhika Santwanamu can be cited an example for this. What we understand is, not necessarily, a male voice is required to express srungara. More importantly, none of the works mentioned above articulate in a male voice and none of these works were appropriated to another poet. Contrarily, we have lot of evidences wherein a male has written with a female voice. Those who are familiar with Vaishnavite literature cannot forget Parankusanayaki and Parakalanayaki and their pining for divine unison. The names might be deceiving for others; Nammazvar and Tirumangaiazvar has composed srungara poems in the voice of a female. In the medieval history, we have Jayadeva and in the latter period the works of Ganam Sinayya cannot be left untouched. His padam ‘siva diksha’ clearly explains our point. So, we only have a history of a male being voicing through a female and not the reverse and all these works are extant till now and every orthodox family, men or women are much aware of these poems (by Azvar and Jayadeva).

Having understood the history properly, we have two logical questions:

  1. When the works of Andal and Muddupalani has come to us without being appropriated to a male, why the works of courtesans alone were appropriated? They are much in line with the above mentioned woks, wherein a lady longs to get united with her divine lover.
  2. Their hypothesis looks much more ironic after reading the following statement by Swarnamalya:

      ‘let us not forget that Ramabhadramba, Rangajamma, Madhuravani and later Muddupalani and Nagaratnammal fall in the long line of audacious female figures from literary history, who wrote of the sensual pleasures and female sexual desires in an unabashed manner’.[sic] 

She has mentioned the female poets from the medieval and later era till Nagarathnammal, who lived till the middle half of the last century. So, even in the last century, we have evidences that females were bold enough to express their views, be it sensual or non-sensual. Then why should appropriation take place? The arrival of modern Classical dance is the reason for appropriation cannot hold water for the reason that it was developed to its present form, only from the second or third decade of the last century and we have a reference to Kshetrayya from 17th/18th onwards. The first book on Kshetrayya padam-s was published in the year 1862! Also if someone detest these lyrics in the dance community, they would have concealed, as happened to the work Radhika Santwanamu of Muddupalani.

Do we have a history of males writing about women-specific expression?

We do have a long cultural history in literature. That would be beyond the scope of this article, though a few examples has been cited elsewhere in this article.

Not all are the creations of Kshetrayya

Having rebutted the arguments of these two scholars on the authorship of the padam-s with the mudra ‘muvvagopala’, let us also make a record that not all the extant compositions with the said mudras were his creations. This is particularly in response to a query by Harshita on the padam ‘cerugu maasiyunnanu’ in the raga Begada.

It’s true, I have my period,

but don’t let that stop you.

No rules apply to another man’s wife.

I beg you to come close,

but you seem to be hesitating.

All those codes were written

by men who don’t know how to love.

When I come at you, wanting you,

why do you back off?6

It is very clear that it is much different from the other padam-s of Ksheatrayya. There are hints to social practices that were prevalent among Devadasis in this padam and is quite unnatural. The readers are referred to another article, where in this author has tried to classify the composers based on their composition. A set of composers act like social commentators – they record the events happening around them. Purandaradasa, Samartha Ramadasa and Tyagaraja Svamigal belongs to this category. But, excluding this (perhaps we might have some other padam-s too), we do not find such a social commentary in his other extant padam-s. As ably put by Pillai, Kshetrayya, being a man is always sublime even in expressing srungara.7 A careful analysis of his padam-s will not equip us to ignore this fact. So, this may have been a later construct and the author of these padam-s has used Kshetrayya and his lord Muvvagopala as an armour to make the author’s view more authentic and sounder. Let us place few instances to support this.

Soneji refers to a javali by Neti Subbaraya Sastri ‘ceragu maseyemi’ in the raga Kalyani.

It’s that time of the month, what can I do?

          I can’t even come close to you!6

Even a glance reveals an extraordinary similarity between the two lyrics. If we do not know that the composer of this Kalyani javali is Subbaraya Sastri, it can be very well mistook as a composition of Kshetrayya. Subbarama Deekshithar warns about the tempering that have taken place to the sahitya of Kshetrayya padam-s. Fortunately, the Kalyani javali has naupuri, purportedly to be a mudra.

Lord of Naupuri with a gentle-heart,

Don’t have these worries in your heart,6

This mudra further raises our suspicion on the mentioned Kshetrayya padam in the ragam Begada. This ‘naupuri’ could have been replaced as ‘muvvapuri’! We do not argue this has taken place in this padam. What we try to reprise is the mudra of a composer can be mutilated or rather modified to make it to appear like a construction of another famous composer for better acceptance by the public. It is in the light of Soneji’s research, we need to further analyze this issue. He claims this javali is not published and the ‘kalavantulu’ whom he had interviewed sang it from her memory. Hence the full piece was fragmented and has been pieced together by her.6 These kind of unpublished kriti-s, especially in an oral tradition many times have a problem with the sahitya and are much prone to interpolations.

We wish to cite an example for this too. ‘Parakela nannu’ is a famous kriti of Syama Sastri in the raga Kedaragaula. Whether or not sung in the concerts, it always takes a prominent place in His Jayanthi celebrations or any tribute concerts to him. But the sad truth is that it was not a creation of Sastri at all ! It was actually composed by a musician by name Kakinada Krishna Iyer, who himself has mentioned this kriti in a book published by him.8 His mudra ‘krishna’ occurs in the line ‘smaraadhinudanu sri krishnanutha’ has been tampered as ‘smaraadhinudanu sri syama krishnanutha’ to escalate the image of this kriti and misattributed it to Syama sastri! When the fate of a kriti of relatively a recent construct has been changed, we can imagine the changes that could have happened to the work of Kshetrayya which was composed some 400 years back. The savant Subbarama Dikshitar and his wise words does not fail to hit our mind! Alternatively his mudra in its full form could have been used by others as happened with the case of Tyagaraja svamigal or Muthuswamy Dikshitar.

What we wish to say is that these ‘out of the way’ kritis could have been composed by some unknown authors and attributed to Kshetrayya to sell their product. It is up to us to distinguish the works of Kshetrayya from these spurious padam-s.

Conclusion

Anyone can undertake a research and give a hypothesis. A methodical research demands truthful evidences suffixed with a plausible explanation. Free thoughts of any author based on loose evidences is to be condemned and cannot be accepted as a research.

We have provided evidences to prove the existence of Kshetrayya and his association with his Lord of Muvva by composing padam-s with the mudra ‘muvvagopala’. They are his personal interactions and it is better to be viewed as an expression of craving to get united with the Ever- pervading Parabrahmam.

As Swarnamlaya has stated:

   ‘Are we prepared to hear these padams in its original, female, liberated tone, sans the undercover of discipline, rationality, utilitarian value and knowledge of divinity?’ [sic]

It is up to an individual to view these srungara padam-s in a female, liberated tone or in a disciplined tone to get united with the Parabrahmam, not considering the gender at all. But it is definitely not an academically rigorous act to make broad claims or strawman arguments, appropriating Kshetrayya’s works and attributing them to courtesans with no clear evidence and trying to create an impression, liberality lies only with viewing these padam-s at a mundane level.

Also, it is essential to distinguish the padam-s of Kshetrayya from other composers (even name of some of the composers might be an arcane).But a deep knowledge in Telugu language along with an unbiased mindset and disinterest in thrusting one’s idea is a pre-requisite to do this analysis.

The very main essence that Kshetrayya is a figment and his compositions are actually that of courtesans will definitely trouble the Devadasis, leave alone us. It is their Kshetrayya through whom they have visualized Muvvagopala. It is their Kshetrayya who had taught them the nuances of abhinaya through his immortal padam-s. They would be eternally witnessing this discussion and be much happy that we have understood who He is.

Acknowledgement

I thank my friend Smt Vidya Jayaraman for helping me in preparing this article.

References

  1. Harshita Mruthinti Kamath. Kshetrayya: The making of a Telugu post. The Indian Economic and Social History Review, 56(3):253-282, 2019. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0019464619852264
  2. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini. Vidyā Vilāsini Press, Eṭṭayapuraṃ Samasthānaṃ, 1904.      
  3. Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu. Gayaka Siddhanjanam. Kalā Ratnākara, Mudrākśara Śālā, Cennapuri, 1905
  4. Abraham Panditar. Karunamruta Sagaram. Part 1. Tanjai Karunanidhi Vaidyasalai, 1917.
  5. Rajanikanta Rao, B. Makers of Indian Literature: Kshetrayya, New Delhi, 1981.
  6. Soneji, D. Unfinished Gestures: Devadāsīs, Memory, and Modernity in South India, Chicago, 2012.
  7. Manu S Pillai. https://www.thehindu.com/society/history-and-culture/the-woman-who-had-no-reason-for-shame/article24057695.ece.
  8. C S Krishna Iyer. Prathama Siksha Prakaranam.   https://www.dropbox.com/s/ss6wf9myaqylx1u/BkTm-prathamaSikshAprakaraNam-incomplete-0222.pdf?dl=0  

Composers, History, Personalities

Ramaswamy Deekshithar – A ‘dvimudra’ vaggeyakara ?

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This article was published in the journal “Shanmukha” 2019 issue.

Apart from identifying raga-s sung by a musician, another exercise that enthuse a listener and musician alike is identifying the composer (vaggeyakara) of a song.  This is important as sahityam forms the basis of our music and a vaggeyakara expresses his feelings only through the sahityam. Identification of a vaggeyakara becomes simpler if we have a basic knowledge about the ‘mudra’ employed by each one of them.

Mudra used by a vageeyakara is not uniform; it can be his name (svanama mudra), his patron’s name (poshaka mudra) or the place with which he is associated with (sthala mudra) and so on. Also a  vaggeyakara can use one or more mudra-s and conversely two or more vageeyakara-s can use a same mudra. For instance, the mudra ‘venkatesa’ was used by Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaier, Patnam Subramanya Iyer and Kothavasal Venkatarama Iyer. This has created confusion in attributing a composition to a particular composer. For instance, ‘dhanyudevvado’, a krithi in the ragam Malayamarutham is attributed to both Patnam Subramanya Iyer and his Guru Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaier. Another interesting krithi which suffers this identity crisis is ‘parabrahmamu’. When a musician considers this as a composition of Patnam Subrahmanya Iyer, he is supposed to sing this in the ragam Kapinarayani. Whereas, if a musician feels it was composed by Manambuchavadi Venktasubbaier, he should sing this in the ragam Pravalajyothi.

A single musician can use one or more mudra-s too. Kshetrayya and Melattur Virabhadrayya can be cited as examples. Kshetrayya has used the mudra ‘muvva gopala’ in majority of his works where muvva is the sthala mudra. In few of his padam-s we can also see the mudra-s like  ‘kanchi varadudu’ and ‘cevvandhi lingudu’. 1 Virabhadrayya, a famous composer of the medieval period has used the mudra ‘pratapasimha’ in few of his compositions. Mudra-s like ‘achudabdhi nilaya’, ‘unnathapurisha’ and ‘achuthapuri’ are seen in his other compositions. Whereas pratapasimha is to be taken as poshaka mudra, achudabdhi nilaya and achuthapuri indicates the sthalam Melattur to which he belonged to and unnathapuri denotes the svami mudra (Unnatapurishvarar is the deity in Melattur).  

Ramaswamy Deekshithar, father of Muthuswamy Deekshithar was born in the year 1735 and attained the heavenly abode on Mahasivaratri in the yaer 1819. He was a prolific composer of 18 th century who has composed innumerable compositions, many of them does not even exist in paper, leave alone recordings. His initial training in music was from Melattur Virabhadrayya and later learnt the intricacies of music from Venkata Vaidyanatha Deekshithar, grandson of Venkatamakhi, propagating Venkatamakhi’s illustrious legacy to his disciples. His early years were spent at Tiruvarur, where he codified the raga-s and compositions to be sung by  Nagasvaram vidvans in Tyagarajasvamy temple upon the divine instruction by Tyagaraja himself. He was then patronized by the father-son dubashi-s of Manali, Chennai (erstwhile Madras) – Manali Muddukrishna Mudaliyar and Chinnaswamy (Venkatakrishna) Mudaliyar in later part of his life. Unfortunately, not many of his compositions are available and it is Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, which gives us a significant number of compositions. Though, mudra of Ramaswamy Deekshithar is considered to be ‘venkatakrishna’ (poshaka mudra), it will be illustrated from the following discussion that he can be considered as a dvi-mudra vaggeyakara.

Compositions of Ramaswamy Deekshithar

Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini of Subbarama Deekshithar 2 lists the following compositions of Ramaswamy Deekshithar:

  1. Sarigani – Todi – Adhi – Svarasthana varnam
  2. Inkadaya – Vegavahini – Adhi – Keertanam
  3. Amba ni – Anandabhairavi – Adhi – Keertanam
  4. Rammanave – Hindola – Ata – Varnam
  5. Valachi vachi – Hindolavasantha – Rupakam –  Varnam
  6. Sami ninne – Sriranjani – Adhi – Varnam
  7. Vashivashi – Sahana – Adhi – Keertanam
  8. Sambho jagadeesa – Shankarabharanam – Adhi – Keertanam
  9. Ra ra puseyaka Shankarabharanam – Ata – Varnam
  10. Candaseyala – Hamsadvani – Matya –  Lakshya Prabandham
  11. Ela namne – Purnachandrika – Rupaka – Varnam
  12. Sivamohana – Ragamalika – Adhi
  13. Manasaveri – Ragamalika – Rupakam
  14. Nattakadi vidyala – 108 Ragatalamalika
  15. Samaja gamana – Ragamalika – Adhi
  16. Sarasa nayana – Gangatarangini – Tisra ekam – Daru
  17. Sri kamalamba – Manohari – Adhi – Varnam
  18. Paga jupa – Mohanam – Ata – Varnam  (not mentioned in Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini). 3

Analysis of these compositions

Of these available compositions, the mudra ‘venkatakrishna’ is seen in svarasthana varnam, krithi in the ragam-s Vegavahini, Anandabhairavi, Sahana and in the lakshana prabandham.  This mudra is also seen in the ragamalika-s natakadi vidyala and sivamohana. Hence, 7 compositions out of 18 bear the mudra ‘venkatakrishna’.

Let us see the 11 compositions without the mudra “venkatakrishna” in detail.

1. Varnam in Hindola

This ata tala varnam ‘rammanave tyagaraja sami neevu’ is on Tyagarajaswamy of Tiruvarur. This is a cauka varnam with 4 ettugada svaram-s.

2. Varnam in Hindolavasantha

This is a cauka varnam is set to rupaka talam. Interestingly this varnam has only 3 ettugada svaram. This is on Tyagesha of Tiruvarur. Anupallavi of this varnam reads ‘velayu sripuravasa veeravasantha tyagesha’. The epithet ‘veeravasantha’ is used only for Tyagaraja of Tiruvarur and this was used only by vaggeyakaras linked personally and intimately with that deity like Ramaswamy Deekshithar and Muthuswamy Deekshithar.

3. Varnam in Sriranjani

This adi tala varna was also composed on Tyagesha of Tiruvarur. Anupallavi reads as ‘tamasamika seyaku mrokkera tyagaraja dayasagara sri’. This varnam has 4 ettugada svaram-s. Of these, only the first svara passage was composed by Ramaswamy Deekshithar. Second, third and fourth svara passages were contributed by Syama Sastri, Chinnaswamy Deekshithar and Muthuswamy Dekshithar respectively. 4

4. Varnam in Shankarabharanam

This grand ata tala varnam follows an old varna template seen with the varnam-s like ‘viriboni’ (Bhairavi) and ‘sami nine’ (Shankarabharanam). Contrast to his other varnam-s, this one has an anubandham which is linked to anupallavi and mukthayi svaram-s. Hence, this varnam is finished by singing pallavi. This is again on the Lord Tyagesha and he describes Tyagaraja as ‘koti lavanya tyagaraja maharaja’.

5. Varnam in Purnachandrika

This rupaka tala varnam is again on the Lord Tyagaraja and he asks him ‘jalamelara natho sami sri tyagesha’? This is a pada varnam with sahityam for mukthayi and ettugada svaram-s.

7. Varnam in Mohanam

This is a rare work of Deekshithar not found in Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini. This can be seen in few private manuscripts too. We find the epithet ‘veerasantha tyagaraja sami’ again here in anupallavi.

8. Samajagamana

This ragamalika is a string of 20 ragas composed on the Raja Amarasimha of Tanjore. It is said Deekshithar praised Amarasimha with this garland when the latter visited Tiruvarur. This is one of his best creations wherein he has skillfully woven the raga mudra into the sahityam. Though this is a pean to Amarasimha, Deekshithar has invoked Tyagesha too –  ‘aharindruni pujinchu tyageshu krupanijamu’.

From the above discussion, it becomes clear that, of the 11 compositions lacking the mudra ‘venkatakrishna’, 6 were composed on the Lord Tyagesha of Tiruvarur. All these bear the mudra ‘tyagesha’ or its variant. Of the remaining compositions, the ragamalika ‘samaja gamana’ has the mudra ‘tyagesha’ though the ‘nayaka’ glorified there was Amarasimha. 

The remaining 4 compositions namely the kriti in Sankarabharanam, ragamalika ‘manasaveri’, daru and the varnam in the ragam Manohari does not possess any of the mentioned mudra, though “venkataramana” can be seen in the ragamalika mentioned. It can be understood that this krithi was composed on the Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi.

Conclusion

The above discussion shows Ramaswamy Deekshithar was a  ‘dvi-mudra vaggeyakara’ with ‘tyagesha’ and ‘venkatakrishna’ as his mudra-s. It can also be assumed that he has used the mudra ‘tyagesha’ when he spent his life in Tiruvarur and used the mudra ‘venkatakrishna’ when he was in Manali, in memory of his benefactor Venkatakrishna Mudaliyar. It is a must to visit and analyse other compositions with the mudra ‘tyagesa’ as they could also be the compositions of Ramaswamy Deekshithar !!

A rare composition of ramaswamy Deekshithar can be heard here.

Acknowledgement

I personally thank Smt Jayasri, Editor, Shanmukha Journal for publishing this research work in their esteemed journal.

References

  1. Subbarama Diksitulu. Sangita Sampradāya Pradarsini, Pg 16-18. Vidya Vilasini Press, Ettayapuram Samasthanaṃ, 1904.           
  2. Subbarama Diksitulu. Sangita Sampradāya Pradarsini. Vidya Vilasini Press, Ettayapuram Samasthanaṃ, 1904.
  3. BM Sundaram, ed. Tana Varna Tarangini, Part 3 – Pg – 228-229. Rajalakshmi Arakkattalai.
  4. Subbarama Diksitulu. Sangita Sampradāya Pradarsini, Pg – 602-604. Vidya Vilasini Press, Ettayapuram Samasthanaṃ, 1904.

Composers, Notation, Personalities

The birth of Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini

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The Tamiz month Thai (January – February) in the year 1904 marked a new beginning in the history of Karnataka Music. 15th February, 1904 (Rakshasa, Krishnapaksha chaturdashi) saw the first printed copy of Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini written by Brahma Sri Subbarama Dikshitar. SSP, as it is frequently called was a brainchild of AM Chinnasamy Mudaliyar, but got the present shape only by the benevolence and munificence of the ruler of Ettayapuram, Raja Jagadveera Rama Venkateswara Ettappa Maharaja.

Though we consider SSP as a single book, it is indeed a collection of various aspects of our music and musicology. The book is mainly divided into two segments – theory and practical sections and this was  much intended by Subbarama Dikshitar himself. An adequate knowledge on these segments is a must to understand and interpret this treatise.

Segments

The theory segment consists of the following sub-divisions:

                         An index to the compositions notated in SSP.

                                      Vaggeyakara caritramu.

   Sangita lakshana pracheena padhathi dealing with grama,jati etc.

     Sangita lakshana sangrahamu dealing with svaras, gamakas etc.

Ragaangopaanga bhaashanga murchanaalu dealing with the arohana-

avarohana of various ragas.

Errata (tappoppulu) and section on identifying and rectifying the mistakes

(porabatalu).

The practical segment starts by giving notations with gamaka symbols for various kritis which extends as anubandham.

Whereas Sri Subbarama Dikshitar is much appreciated for his treatise which deals with both the lakshana and lakshya of music, his accomplishment as a composer is often abated. This article will deal only with Subbarama Dikshitar as a tribute to his priceless contribution.

Before embarking into the versions notations in SSP, it is imperative to understand that the svarupa of ragas shown there in not only reflect the lakshna seen during his time, but also that of an era which saw the birth of Trinity. Understanding this concept alone helps us to relate with the music provided by him.

Works of Subbarama Dikshitar

The creations of Subbarama Dikshitar can be equalled with that of well celebrated Trinity of Karnataka Music. His handling of ragas, use of alliterations, scrupulously obliging the rules of prosody are all unsurpassed and are to be enjoyed personally. He has composed around 35 compositions across various genres like varnam, daru, jatisvaram, keertanam and ragamalika and also tuned the compositions of other poets like Sri Krishnaswamy Ayya. The kriti ‘amba paradevate’ which is almost synonymous with the raga Rudrapriya was a creation of both Krishnaswamy Ayya (lyrics) and Subbarama Dikshitar (music). Though, the quantity appears to be less, they are all replete with arterial phrases of a raga which not only appeal the mortals like us, but also evoke the raga devata which are a personification of ever pervading ‘nadabrahmam’. Quite in the line of his predecessors, archaic phrases which can be seen only in ancient gitas can be seen aplenty in his works. Perhaps, he could be one of the modern composer to visualise the varnas in its old form – with an anubanda. All his varnas end with the pallavi (due to the presence of anubanda at the end of citta svara) and not with the caranam as is seen with majority of the varnas.

His compositional style, though resemble that of Muthuswamy Dikshitar in many aspects, has its own inimitable style. Incorporating raga mudras (punnagagandhari in the kriti mannaru ranga deva and rama ramakali kalusha in the kriti rama rama) and use of the mudra ‘guruguha’ in some of the kritis might resemble the style of Muthuswamy Dikshitar. As with any other member of Dikshitar family, he has also employed many antique ragas like Gauri, Kapi and Mechabauli in his kritis.  

A bulk of his compositions are ragamalikas. In general, ragas employed in his ragamalikas were the usual members patronized by Diksitar family like Gauri, Padi, Paraju, Darubaru and Sri. In this regard, extraordinary resemblance is seen between Subbarama Dikshitar and Sri Ramaswamy Dikshitar. Another pathognomonic feature, unique to the family of Dikshitar is the serial use of allied ragas. In his 32 ragamalika ‘kaminchina kalavathira’ on Vizianagaram Raja Pusapati Ananda Gajapati Raju, he has used Lalitha, Paraju and Gauri adjacently (all are janyas of Mayamalavagaula).

He has a long ragamalika to his credit ‘I kanakambari’, a grammar to understand the 72 raganga ragas.  The sahitya of this ragamalika was composed by one Krishna Kavi and was tuned by Subbarama Diksitar. Ragamalika demands the use of raga mudra in the sahityam and we can see a seamless integration of raga name into the sahityam in the compositions of Subbarama Dikshitar. Be it the phrase “kaamita subha phaladayakaa pinaakapani” wherein the raga mudra Kapi is woven or “priyamunaayame kori” wherein the raga mudra Yamuna features in, one cannot stop wondering the genius of this composer.  

Plenty of anu-prasa and ‘yamaka’ can be seen in the compositions of Subbarama Dikshitar. One such example is the usage of the word “maana” in his daru in the ragam Natanarayani. Maanani, maanavati and maanamagu are the few forms in which this word features.

Unfortunately only few of his compositions like ‘kanthimathim’, ‘sankaracharyam’ and ‘parthasaradhi’ are in circulation. This author has attempted to give life to few of his compositions as a part of his 180th Birthday Celebrations (1839 – 2019), which can be viewed here.

History, Manuscripts, Raga

Colorful Bhashanga-s – Rudrapriya – Part II

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The rāga Rudrapriyā is mentioned twice by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśini; once under the rāgāṅga rāga Śri rāgaṃ and second time in the Anubandham. The first mention has 5 kṛti-s and a sañcari and in the Anubandham, two kṛti-s of Śri Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar –”gaṇanāyakam bhajēham” and “tyāgēśam bhajarē” were given. Analysis of the notations reveal a considerable difference in the lakṣaṇa of these two kṛti-s from other kṛti-s notated in the main section and also the svarūpa of Rudrapriyā differ considerably between these two kriti-s to an extent that they need a separate discussion. Hence these two kṛti-s will be covered separately and this article will cover the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’. It is advisable to read Part I for better understanding of this rāga. Before we embark into the kṛti, it is pertinent to know about the structure of rāga-s prevailed during 19th century and prior.

Approaching a rāga – concept prevailed during 17th and18th century

From 17th/18th century or even prior to that, there could have been two school of thoughts in approaching or handling a rāga. First one is to treat a rāga in such a way that a definite scale (ārōhaṇam or avarōhaṇam) cannot explain the svarūpa of a rāgaṃ as they transcend these scales (Scale-transcending rāga-s). Second thought is to approach a rāgam in a scalar manner. Both could have enjoyed popularity and there could have been proponents for both these systems; the exact time period which saw the inflow of these systems cannot be framed with the available evidences.  

Whereas the latter is really a simple method to approach a rāga, only the former method gives an adequate structure to the svara-s to be called as a rāga. Whereas the treatment of a rāga in the latter approach can be compared with a small water canal, which has only a single course with the water flowing through it monotonously, the former approach can be compared with a river. A rāga has its own delineated course and it is our duty to cruise through it and identify its tributaries and distributaries, the area where it bifurcates, various ways through which it reaches its destination etc. 

Whereas the Scale-transcending approach is seen with the treatises like Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śahāji and Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulaja, to cite a few, the scalar approach is seen with the treatises like Saṅgīta Sāra Saṅgrahamu of Tiruvēṅkaṭa Kavi and Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi. So, if a composer is a follower of the first school, he handles a rāga as an organic structure (Scale-transcending approach); whereas a composer who believes in the latter thought handles a rāga exactly in concordance with the scale prescribed for that rāga (Scalar approach). In due course, a scalar rāga could have been developed as an equivalent to ‘scale transcending’ rāga and used by the Scalar school. Pūrṇacandrika and Janarañjani can be cited as an example to explain this. Whereas the former is limited to a scale now, it was actually a rāga with a wider scope. The latter could have been developed to get a feel of Pūrṇacandrika and at the same time making it simple to approach by making it to abide a scale. Alternatively, many Scale-transcending rāga-s were converted into scales. This concept can be easily understood by studying the rāga Gauḍamalhār.

Though we generally believe Harikēśanaḷḷur Muttiah Bhāgavatar handled this for the first time, we do have evidence to say this could have been handled by another composer preceding him. ‘Cinta dīrca’ is a kṛti of Tiruvoṭṭriyūr Tyāgayyar in this rāga and belongs to the set “Śrī Vēṇugōpāla Svāmy Aṣṭottara Śata Kṛti-s” composed by Tyāgayyar. Many rare scales feature in this set and this is one amongst them. Both Tyāgayyar and Muttiah Bhāgavatar had strictly adhered to the scale SRMPDS SNDMGRS, considering it as as janya of mēḷa 29, Dhīraśaṅkarābharaṇam. Interestingly, Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi gives the scale as SRMPDS  SDNPMGRS and the scale followed by them is seen only in the treatise Saṅgīta Sāra Saṅgrahamu ! This is again an instance showing, even 20th century composers were not strict followers of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi.

The above discussion might give an impression that this was a recently developed rāga. In reality, this is an old rāga finding its presence for the first time in the Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śahāji and Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulaja in its present form (as a janya of mēla 29). In these treatise, this was more a rāga and we do find phrases outside the scale like SRGR.

Whereas Śrī Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has followed the former method (though with few exceptions like the kṛti in the rāga Navaratnavilāsa), Śrī Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ was a follower of both these schools. The rāga-s handled by Svāmigaḷ can be divided into two types – rāga-s which are seen in both the schools and the rāga-s which are unique to the scalar school. In the former category, Svāmigaḷ has handled only a Scale-transcending approach. An analysis of Vālājāpeṭṭai notations and other reliable sources clearly indicate this.

Until the dawn of 20th century, both schools were active and we can see the rāga repertoire being built in by both the schools; but the second school dominated the scene from the last century onwards. Though we find plenty of new rāga-s being developed in the last century, they were mere scales and lack the skeleton inherently present in the Scale-transcending approach.

Gaṇanāyakam bhajēham

This is a kṛti by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar on Lord Vināyaka. This does not have any reference to a kṣētra or a purāṇa and it is structured more like a hymn to the Lord. Structurally too, this is much smaller with a paḷḷavi and anupaḷḷavi.1 This is not even affixed with a ciṭṭa svara passage as seen with many other kṛtis composed in the paḷḷavi-anupaḷḷavi format. Many doubt the authenticity of this kṛti as:

  1. This is not grouped with the other kṛti-s in the rāga Rudrapriyā (by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar).
  2. Lakṣaṇa is different from other kṛti-s notated in the rāga Rudrapriyā.
  3. Tālam of this kṛti (more modelled like dēśādhi which is unusual for a kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar).
  4. Melody of this kṛti is extraordinarily identical with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ of Svāmigaḷ.

The points mentioned above are overtly visible and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar himself could have been aware of these facts. Considerable thought must have gone into his mind before including this in Anubandham and labelling it as a kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Hence it can be believed that this kṛti was a genuine construction of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and having this in mind let us try to understand and solve the discrepancies.  

In general, the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar propagated through the printed texts in the early part of the last century are very minimal. If we analyse the Dīkṣitar kṛti-s in the available texts, the number might rarely cross 25-35, implying singing or hearing a kṛti of Dīkṣitar was a rarity in those days. The same inference can be again drawn from the available gramophone records. Whereas kṛti-s like bālagōpāla, śrī vēṇugōpāla and ananta bālakṛṣṇam can be seen frequently either notated or otherwise, it is surprising to see the absence of (presently) popular kṛti-s like raṅganāyakam, saundararājam or jambupatē. It was at that juncture Pradarśini was releasedhaving around 230 kṛti-s of Dīkṣitar notated. Needless to say the kṛti in hand is seen here for the first time.

A rāga can be visualised and envisaged only from its phrases and each rāga has its own special phrases and common phrases that it share with its allies. It can be redacted from a simple examination of Pradarśini that this kṛti follows the scale SRGMNNS SNPMGRS. This scale is now called by the name Pūrṇaṣadjam and we have two kṛti-s of Svāmigal in this rāga, ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ and ‘lāvaṇya rāma’. But a stringent examination will reveal the presence of a phrase PNS which cannot be fitted into the mentioned scale. The readers are now requested to recollect our discussion on the two schools of approaching a rāga. The Scalar rāga-s generally are faithful to their scale and we cannot find even a single phrase outside the prescribed scale. In that case, where do we place this rāga? This phrase PNS is to be neglected (considering it as an error on the side of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar) and calling it as Pūrṇaṣadjam or it is to be considered as an inkling that this could have been a Scale-transcending rāga? In the latter case, is it advisable to call it as Rudrapriya? Before trying to find out a solution for this question, let us get introduced to the rāga Pūrṇaṣadjam.

The rāga Pūrṇaṣadjam

It has been mentioned at various occasions that the lakṣaṇa and the nomenclature of the kṛti-s of  Svāmigaḷ in the apūrva rāga-s always pose a problem and the readers are requested to understand the facts given here before proceeding further.

It was a general consensus made in the last century that Svāmigaḷ followed Saṅgraha Chūḍāmaṇi, a text of late origin and unknown authorship. Scholars date the period of this text to be somewhere around late 18th century and in that case we are forced to believe Svāmigaḷ followed this treatise leaving behind the tradition that was extant for very many centuries. Strangely, no one focused or questioned this aspect, excluding few lone voices like that of renowned musicologist Śrī K V Rāmacandran.  A study of this rāga shows, we have much deviated from the truth and it is pertinent, at least at this point of time to search for the same.  

Pūrṇaṣadjam appears to be a rāga of recent origin with the present available evidences, as we do not get to see this rāga in the treatises belonging to the medieval period, from Svaramēlakalānidhi of Rāmamāṭya to Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulajā. This rāga is first seen in the text Saṅgīta Sarvārtha Sārām attributed to Tiruvēṅkaṭakavi (See Footnote 1) and later, we do find it in Saṅgraha Chūḍāmaṇi. This rāga is considered as a janya of mēla 20 in both the texts though with a different lakṣaṇa. Whereas the former treats this as a rāga with the scale SRGMDS SDPMGRS, the latter consider SPMPDPS SNDMGRS as the scale.2 In both cases this is a rāga with dhaivatam unlike the rāga, that we now call it as Pūrṇaṣadjam.

Books on Tyāgarāja kīrtanā-s published in the last century follow a dichotomous approach for labelling the kṛti-s ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ and ‘lāvaṇya rāma’ of Svāmigal. Few mention as Rudrapriyā and few others as Pūrṇaṣadjam, but the lakṣaṇa remains the same. Any ways it becomes clear that scale or the structure of the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ in its present form (and also the commonly available version of the kṛti ‘lāvaṇya rāma’ of Svāmigaḷ) cannot be fitted into the scale of Pūrṇaṣadjam mentioned in these treatises. This again is an indication that the belief, Svāmigaḷ was a follower of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is a hoax.

Henceforth the discussion will pertain only to the kṛti  ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ as this is related to the main topic and the other the kṛti ‘lāvaṇya rāma’ will be covered at a later period of time. Though, the commonly available version and the versions given in the majority of the texts follow the scale SRGMNS SNPMGRS, few texts published in the last century and some unpublished manuscripts harbour the phrase PNS! So, it is not the rāga name alone that has been appropriated, an immaculate service had also been done by removing a phrase which do not fit into the scale and this is definitely not a fate of this kṛti alone. Be it as it may, it can be concluded that the rāga of this scale cannot be called as Pūrṇaṣadjam and few versions in the past do had the phrase PNS is emphasized.

Having reiterated the problem seen with these apūrva kṛti-s and inclusion of the phrase PNS at least in the few versions of the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’, it is essential for us to turn into another related question – was the melody of these two kṛti-s (gaṇanāyakam bhajēham andśrī mānini manōhara) were same in the past? This will also give us a solution to the question on the rāga of the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’.

The two kṛti-s

Unlike Dīkṣitar kṛti, we  lack an authentic source to study this kṛti of Svāmigaḷ, as Vālājāpēṭṭai manuscripts, said to be written by his direct disciple Vālājāpēṭṭai Śrī Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar do not give us this kṛti in notation (in the corpus available to us).  From the recordings available to us and from the books and manuscripts which give this kṛti in notation, it can be said that the currently heard version could have been a common version in the past. Hand written manuscripts written by Dr Śrīnivāsarāghavan, Śrī B Kṛṣṇamūrti (as learnt from Umayālpuram Śrī Rājagōpāla Ayyar) and a musician by name Śrī Bālasubraḥmaṇya Ayyar (possibly a student belonging to Umayālpuram lineage) too record the same, though with minor differences. Śrī C R Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār, too gives almost the same version. In all these versions, the paḷḷavi starts with the svara ṛṣabham (see Footnote 2). There is an exception to this common version which will be dealt soon.

Gaṇanāyakam bhajēham in Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśini

The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ as given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be heard here. It can be seen that the kṛti starts with the svara gāndhāram (unlike ṛṣabham in most of the presently available versions). Paḷḷavi has only two lines in contrast with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’. Also, the line ‘vara bāla guruguham’ is rendered in a madhyama kālam (see Footnote 3). The sāhitya akṣara-s in the mentioned line is doubled when compared to other parts of the caraṇam, indicating this was the intent of the composer and not changed later. Though in some renditions we do hear the word ‘guruguham’ slightly rendered fast, and in some others, this was treated as a śabdam in the sama kālam. All these points not only convey us, the melodies of these two kṛti-s were not identical, but also add value to the authenticity of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in considering this composition as a genuine construct of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.

The structure of these two kṛti-s: are they identical?

We have seen that hearing a kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar itself was a rarity in those days. When this kṛti came into circulation, the similarity in the rāga lakṣaṇa between these two kṛti-s could have made some musician to transpose the melody of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ (to start with ṛṣabham) and made it to be identical with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’, either voluntarily or inadvertently!

We have seen, the way in which the original version of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ has been changed to resemble the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’. Now we will look into a lost version of ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ which resembles ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ as notated in Pradarśini. The rāga handled in this version is more like ‘Scale-transcending’. Incidentally, this version published by Tenmaṭam Brothers was the earliest published version and it starts with the svara gāndhāram, similar to ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ given in Pradarśini.3 Also, it has the phrases MGRG, RGS which out lie the prescribed scale! Though the tāḷam of this kṛti is given as dēśādhi in various texts, it is notated only in ādhi tāḷam starting from 1.5 idam in this text and can be heard here. This version can better be called as Rudrapriya (as it has all the phrases seen in the Rudrapriya mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in the main text).

It can be very well observed that these kṛti-s are not exact copies of each other and the present version of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ was modelled like the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ in the last century. The original version of the former kṛti is quite different from the latter (be it a common version or the version given by Tenmaṭam Brothers) despite having few similarities. The similarities can be attributed mainly to the key phrases highlighted in these compositions and handling of the rāga, in general.

A common inspiration

Irrespective of the rāga nomenclature, it is clear that the rāga lakṣaṇa and handling of the phrases is same with both the kṛti-s. This might be an indication that both the composers might have had a common source of inspiration.

The cultural and social canvas of Tanjāvūr was always inclusive. Though it had its own indigenous culture, it always invited and incorporated the customs and practise from other regions. This is much so with music. What we now call as Karnāṭaka Music is actually a digestion and integration of all these cultures. Whereas we had indigenous rāga-s and musical systems flourishing there, we also see Kings patronising other forms of music. The pillars of Tanjāvūr Mahal had witnessed the musicians playing God save the King and Marlbrook. The streets in Tanjāvūr were reverberated with Mahārāṣtra Bhajans and Abhangs. Varāhapayyar, an eminent musician in the court of Śerfoji was fined for not learning Hindustani music in the stipulated time. Hence, melodies of various genres were prevalent during the period of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Svāmigaḷ. These composers too never restricted themselves from including these melodies into their repertoire. It is like having multiple ‘maṅgaḷam’ and ‘tālāṭṭu’ set to a single tune differing only in sāhityam, sung by household women of yester generation.

The basic melody or the original tune seen in these two kṛti-s could have been a popular melody belonging to any of these genres; these composers having inspired by that tune could have  shaped them in their own imitable way. Hence, calling them as copies and believing one copying another is going to be a futile and stale discussion. 

Such tunes were a strong source of inspiration even in the last century as can be seen from the work of Popley and Stephen4, two Christian musicians, in the last century, has used them to fit into their own sāhityam as a method to evangelise the natives, though just mentioning as Mahārāṣtra meṭṭu and without mentioning the original tunes.

Rāga of these kṛti-s

Having established that it is a vagary to consider ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ as to have been composed in Purṇaṣadjam and this was not a copy of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’, it is essential to discuss the lakṣaṇa portrayed in these kṛti-s.

The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’

In the Part I of this series, we have seen Rudrapriyā blossoms when G or N is used as a janṭa svara, use of phrases like SNP, SNDN, SDNP and the use of dhāṭṭu prayōga-s. R,G,M and N can be the jīva svara-s (starting notes) and nyāsa svara-s (ending notes). In the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ G,N and N,M were the jīva and nyāsa svara-s respectively. The kṛti starts with the janṭa G and we do see a profuse use of janṭa R and N throughout the kṛti. None of the phrases used here were outside the realm of Rudrapriyā including MNN, though it is to be accepted that Rudrapriyā is not shown in its full potential. For the matter of fact, Rudrapriya was exploited to its full potential more by Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar than Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar as discussed in Part I. The phrase GRR is used frequently similar to the kṛti-s in the rāga Rudrapriyā (notated in the main section of Pradarśini). These findings could have made Subbarāma Dīkṣitar to name the rāga of this kṛti as Rudrapriyā and he is certainly not wrong in doing that.

We have mentioned in Part I of this article that Rudrapriyā could have been called by several names in the past and Karnātaka Kāpi was one amongst them. We hypothesized Subbarāma Dīkṣitar could have been a single proponent in using the name Rudrapriyā. We also made a point that the name Rudrapriyā could have also been shared by many rāga-s. We can conjecture from these facts that the rāga that we see here in these two kṛti-s could have been called as Rudrapriyā and the other 5 kṛti-s seen in the main section of Pradarśini could have been called by the name Karnātaka Kāpi! This statement gets more valid when we remember the rāga mudra is not seen in the kṛti kṛti ‘rudra kōpa’ of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and the pada varṇam ‘suma sāyaka’ is still called as Kāpi (provided the version that we hear is original) despite resembling Rudrapriyā. We also have another evidence to support this.

We also like to place another view. We were discussing the proponents of the Scalar approach tried to have an equivalent for a Scale-transcending rāga. So, Rudrapriyā (seen in ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’) could have been invented by the proponents of the Scalar approach as an alternate to Karnāṭaka Kāpi. Hence, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar who was well aware of these facts placed the kṛti-s in Karnāṭaka Kāpi separately, naming it as Rudrapriyā, thereby differentiating from the Scalar Rudrapriyā.  A manuscript written by Mazhavarāyanēndal Subbarāma Bhāgavathar names the scale SRGMNS SNPMGRS as Rudrapriyā and not Purṇaṣadjam. But the problem in relying this manuscript is that it does not attest involving the phrase PNS.5

Alternatively, we can also consider the rāga of this kṛti as Karnāṭaka Kāpi akin to the kṛtis given as Rudrapriyā in Pradarśini (main text).  Going by this statement, a doubt arise on the authenticity of not using all/ majority of key phrases in a rāga. Though this question cannot be satisfactorily replied with the available evidences, it can be said that we do have examples to show ‘out of the box’ handling of a rāga. A beautiful exemplar to explain this is the kṛti ‘pāliñcu gōpāla’ of Vīṇa Kuppaier in the rāga Husēni. The rāga, in this kṛti is explored only from mandra niṣādham to madhya pañ chamam! Though it is unimaginable now to see such a handling of Husēni, this shows the inclusive nature of our music and the liberty enjoyed by our composers in the past.

The kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’

Regarding the rāga of the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’, if we go by the common version, it can be called as (or ought to be called as?) Rudrapriyā (the Scalar one) and if we go by the version by Tenmaṭam Brothers, it can be considered to be close to Karnāṭaka Kāpi (Rudrapriyā of the main section in Pradarśini). Any more observations will be updated if we happen to get a Vālājāpeṭṭai version or a version from other veritable sources.

Conclusion

The following can be concluded from the above discussion:

  1. The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ and ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ were not cast in the same mould. Both the composers could have been inspired from a single source, a popular melody of their times.
  2. It is advisable to not label the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ as Pūrṇaṣadjam; preferable to call it by the name Rudrapriyā.
  3. Many details are unsaid explicitly in the treatise by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. It is up to us to reconcile with the available evidences rather dismissing his thoughts out rightly. 
  4. Though Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is much popular now, it might not have been the case in the past. Svāmigaḷ had his own lexicons of rāga-s and it is not wrong if it is said he was a creator many rare rāga-s.
  5. Manuscripts serve as a living evidence to understand the past. It is pertinent for us to search all the available manuscripts and preserve them for posterity.

The third part in this series can be read here.

References

  1. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. Prathamābhyāsa Pustakamu, Vidyā Vilāsini Press, Eṭṭayapuraṃ Subbarāma Samasthānaṃ, 1905.  
  2. Hema Ramanathan. Rāgalakṣaṇa Saṅgraha (collection of Rāga descriptions) from Treatises on Music of the Mēla Period with translations and notes, 2004.
  3. Tenmaṭam Brothers. Saṅgītānanda Ratnākaramu, 1917.
  4. Stephen LI, Popley HA. Handbook of Musical Evangelism. The Methodist Publishing House, 1914.
  5. P.C Sitaraman : Mazhavai Subbarama Iyyarin nottupusthakalilulla sangita vishayangal. Journal of Music Academy:106;1972.

Footnotes

Footnote 1 – Though Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is much popular in understanding the scalar rāga-s, this is not a singular treatise dealing rāga-s like this. Saṅgīta Sarvārtha Sārām was written earlier than Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi and we do have manuscripts just having rāga name with their scales lying in various libraries. Many musicians lived during the last century had a lexicon of these scalar rāga-s.

Footnote 2 – The kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ too has many versions as with any other kṛti of Svāmigaḷ. An in-depth analysis of these versions was not attempted. Though we frequently hear MNNS in the renditions available, we do rarely hear PNS/PNNS, especially in the mandra sthāyi.

Footnote 3 – The name ‘madhyama kāla sāhityam’ itself is self-explanatory. It refers to only the sāhityam and not the melody. For example, in any segment of a composition in ādhi tāla, if the first two lines has 16 sāhitākṣara-s (calculated by giving a value of 1 for short vowel/consonant and a value of 2 for long vowel/consonant) and the succeeding line has 32 sāhitākṣara-s, the latter line is called as ‘madhyama kāla sāhityam’.

History, Manuscripts, Raga

Colorful Bhasanga-s – Rudrapriya – Part I

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The colourful nature of the bhāṣāṅga rāga-s, their ability to be used flexibly according to the intent of a composer were explained in an introductory article on these rāga-s. In this article, we will be venturing into Rudrapriyā, a representative of the bhāṣāṅga clan.

Rudrapriyā is not a very popular rāga though few can reconcile this rāga and relate it with the kṛti ‘amba paradēvatē’. But Rudrapriyā was very popular once and we do have a significant number of compositions to analyse this rāga.

Rudrapriyā – A bhāṣāṅga

The first treatise to elaborate this rāga is Saṅgita Saṃpradāya Pradarśini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and Rudrapiyā is introduced as a dēśīya, bhāṣāṅga  janya of the rāgāṅga rāga Śrī and takes the svara-s therein. Though the given mūrcana is SRGMPDNS – SNPMGRS, this is really a grand rāga and use various phrases outside the given mūrcana. In fact, Rudrapiyā cannot be conceived with this scale alone and can be considered akin to Kharaharapriyā. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar also says antara gāndhāra is employed in some places where the phrase MGM occurs and this Rudrapriyā is called as Hindustani Kāpi. We can infer two points from this valuable statement:

  1. Antara gāndhāra do not or need not necessarily feature in all the places wherein the phrase MGM occurs. MGM with antara gāndhāra is used only by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, that too only once in his sañcāri. This was the hypothesis proposed in our previous article; use of a svara not seen in the parent scale in a bhāṣāṅga is an option!!
  2. A rāga is given two different names based on the presence or absence of a svara.  The necessity to employ two names for a single rāga is not known. Does Subbarāma Dīkṣitar mean to say Rudrapriyā (Rudrapriyā is a dēśīya rāga is to be remembered) was used in some other regions with antara gāndhāra, wherein it was called as Hindustani Kāpi ? Anyways this is a very clear indication that this rāga was called by more than one name. This point will be elaborated later.

Compositions in Rudrapriyā

The mystical nature of this rāga does not end only with its bhāsāṅga nature. The way it was handed by various composers is equally intriguing. Before proceeding to analyse the lakṣaṇa of this rāga, let us acquaint with the available compositions.

Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives the following compositions notated in his treatise in addition to his own sañcāri.

Rudra kōpa – Rūpakam – Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar

Vaḷḷī dēvasēnāpati – Rūpakam – Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar

Nīvē raśika śhikāmaṇi – Ādhi – Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar

Amba paradēvatē – Maṭya cāpu – Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya – Subbarāma Dīkṣitar

Murugāvunai nambinēn – Rūpakam – Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Mahārāja

Enduku rā rā – Rūpakam – Subbarāma Dīkṣitar (occurs as a small segment in this rāgamālika)

For the kṛti ambā paradēvatē, both Śrī Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya and Śrī Subbarāma Dīkṣitar are to be given the credit. Whereas the former has written the lyrics, the latter tuned it. Since we are concerned with music, only Subbarāma Dīkṣitar will be associated with this kṛti henceforth.

In the anubandham of the same treatise, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives two more kṛti-s, named as Rudrapriyā but with a different rāga lakṣaṇa:

Gaṇanāyakam – Catusra Ēkam – Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar

Tyāgeśam bhajarē – Ādhi – Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar

Since the last two compositions differ considerably from the rest, they will be covered separately in two subsequent articles. We will be analysing only the main Rudrapriyā here.

Apart from those mentioned, three other compositions are attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar:

Śivakāyārohanēśaya – Rūpakam

Śri tyāgarājasya bhakto bhavāmi – Misra capu / Triputa

Parāśakthim bhajarē – Ādhi

These Non – Pradarśini kṛti-s require special attention and they too will not be covered here.

Antiquity of Rudrapriyā

Only the Dīkṣitar tribe has handled this rāga is clearly fathomable from the above discussion (Eṭṭappa Mahārāja, the composer of Tamiz kṛti was also a disciple of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar).  Apart from the kṛti-s, we do not find any gīta in this rāga (gīta–s are usually given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar to demonstrate old phrases in a rāga). Also, there is a conspicuous absence of a kṛti by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar. This rāga was not even included by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar in any of his rāgamālika-s. These, along with the fact of not seeing this rāga in any of the earlier lakṣana grantha-s might make us to surmise this is a relatively a new rāga which must have come into circulation around 18th century. But, what is the reality?

It is to be remembered, absence of a rāga in the lakṣana grantha-s do not demote antiquity of a rāga. These treatises are not comprehensive in cataloging the rāga-s prevalent when they were written (also see the related discussion here). The information given in these treatises are to be conjunctively analysed with the available compositions to date a rāga.  The following evidence show the perspicuous presence of this rāga even before the arrival of the mentioned kṛti-s.

Dakśiṇāśāsyam gurum vandē

This is a composition of Śrī Bhadrācalam Rāmadāsu (1620-1680) in the rāga Rudrapriyā. It is very surprising to see a composition on Dakśiṇāmūrti by Rāmadāsu. But worshiping Dakśiṇāmūrti is an integral part of Bhajana saṃpradāya and this kṛti could have been used to invoke Him in his daily bhajana. This kṛti, to the best knowledge of this author is not in circulation and this is the only version available.

This is more like a divyanama kīrtanam with a pallavi and multiple caraṇā-s. All the caraṇā-s have the same melodic structure. The melodic structure is much simple and devoid of any decorative saṅgati-s, characteristic of any old version. Rudrapriyā portrayed here highly confirms with the mūrcana mentioned earlier excluding two significant signature phrases, SDNP and SNDNP which transgress the mūrcana mentioned proving it a non-scalar rāga. 

Interestingly, Māṅcāla Jagannatha Rao, who gave us this version make a note that this is also called as Śuddha Kāpi. We request to reiterate the point mentioned earlier; this rāga had multiple names !!

The following two evidences additionally prove the existence of this rāga during 18th century.

Ambā kṛupai tandu

This is a composition of Śrī Mazavai Cidambara Bhārathi who lived in early part of the19th century. He is said to be a contemporary of Kavikuñjara Bhārathi, whose period is said to be between 1810 and 1896.

This kṛti can be seen in the book published by The Music Academy, but labelled as a different raga – Karnāṭaka Kāpi !! Perhaps, this name could have been in common use and a variant of this rāga with antara gāndharam was called as Hindustani Kāpi. Subbarāma Dikṣitar having been aware of this polyonymy (especially Karnāṭaka Kāpi) gives us the variant name alone. This is extremely possible, as Subbarāma Dīkṣitar was proud of his heritage and he must have felt this rāga is to be named as Rudrapriyā as Vēṅkaṭamakhī followed this nomenclature (in the treatise that was available to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar). Our doubt gets more validated if we observe the fact that the kṛti ‘rudra kōpa’ by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar lacks the rāga mudra Rudrapriyā!!

The rāga portrayed here is exactly like Rudrapriyā sans two phrases – SNDNM and SDP. The phrase SNDNM occur in the beginning of this kṛti as seen below:

sa    n    da  n   m    m   ga    r      ri    s    r     g  I m ; ; r g I s   ri    m  pa ni ri II

am…….baa….. krupai.. tan..dhu..rak.shi yiyam    yo…ga   ga na..yi..ke..jaga

                                        Svara-s in bold denote tāra sthāyi

SNDNM is replaced by SNDPM in the second saṅgati. This phrase was an original construction or a printing error is not to be identified. Though SNDNM appears odd, a similar phrase PDNM is there in the Rudrapriyā segment, seen in the rāgamālika of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. The phrase SDP is found nowhere in the compositions notated by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar; rather, it is seen in the kṛti by Rāmadāsu. This is an allowed phrase and not used by Dīkṣitar Quartette or is a corrupt phrase that occurred due to the passage of time or a printing error cannot be ascertained.

Sāmaja gamana

This is a hitherto unknown svarajati composed in the rāgam Karnāṭaka Kāpi. It is seen in a manuscript whose authorship too is not traceable. This is composed in the style of Svarajati-s composed by Śrī Śyāma Śāstri. This has a pallavi and four caraṇā-s. Predominant phrases seen include ṠNDNP, ṠNPM, NGR and ṠNPṠNPM. It very well corresponds with the rāga lakṣaṇa described above excluding a single phrase MNDPM.

From the above discussion it is unquestionable that Rudrapriyā was indeed a very old rāga. More importantly, it must have been called by various names at different part of this country.

The structure of Rudrapriyā and its possible relationship with Karnāṭaka Kāpi

Though the lineage is same for all the Dīkṣitar members, each one has carved their own style in approaching a rāga. This is explicitly seen in the rāga-s which are bestowed with a composition from more than one Dīkṣitar. Rudrapriyā is one such and this heterogeneity is seen its full glory here. The main feature of Rudrapriyā will be described in brief, which will be followed by a discussion on their individual style.

Striking features of Rudrapriyā

As mentioned earlier, a broad picture about this rāga is given only by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and the compositions therein are lexicons to understand this rāga in its full grandeur. This rāga has many unique features to distinguish it from its saṃpūrṇa allies like Kharaharapriya and Kāpi (the old one) which can be grasped by learning and analysing these compositions.  

Subbarāma Dīkṣitar says niṣādha, gāndhāra, madhyamaṃ and riṣabha are the pivotal svara-s. Compositions start or end only with one of these svara-s. There is a profuse use of janṭa niṣādha and gāndhāra. With this idea let us analyse the individual compositions. When the compositions are analysed, there are some important prayōga-s which traduce the mūrcana given, like SDNP, SNDNP, DNDNP, SRM and SMGM. Apart from this, plenty of dhāṭṭu prayōga-s like MGNPGR, GDGN can be seen. All these prayōga-s, are unanimously used in all the sthāyi-s, unlike Rītigaula wherein the phrase NPNNS is used only in the mandra sthāyi.

Rudra kōpa of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar

This kṛti-s follows the lakṣana mentioned above. The āvarta-s start only with the above mentioned four pivotal svara-s apart from sadja and pañcama. Janṭa ṛṣabha as GRR is more commonly used other janta niṣādha and gāndhāra. We see dhāṭṭu prayōga-s like MGNPGR. In all these aspects, we see similar handling of this rāga among the Dīkṣitar Trio.

The differences seen are as below:

  1. The use of janṭa svara is much less than that used by Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar. Also, the gamakam used for these janṭa svara-s are different. Apart from spuritam, we also find kampitam and nokku for these janṭa svara-s.
  2. The predominant avarōhaṇa phrase in this kṛti is SDNP and SNP. We never get to see the phrase SNDNP. Though a composer is not expected to use all the phrases to visualise his rāga, certain phrases become important as either they define a rāga or has been by all the composers whomsoever has handled that rāga. SNDNP, being such an important phrase can be in the kṛti-s of Rāmadāsu, Cidambara Bharati, Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. It is surprising that this was not used in this kṛti.
  3. To compensate for the phrase SNDNP, we find a new phrase seen in this kṛti – MN(N)G. This occur twice, first in bhadrakāli and second in mālikā, both in anupallavi. This phrase is not seen in any of the compositions mentioned above, inclusive of the kṛti-s of Rāmadāsu and Cidambara Bharati. This phrase reminisce the composition ‘suma sāyaka’ of Svāti Tirunāḷ. The first text to publish this Kṛti with notation is Bālāmṛtam by S Raṅganātha Ayyar. He mention the rāga of this varṇam as Kāpi. The present version has plenty of ṠNP, ṠNDNP, NRG which all feature in Rudrapriyā. On the other hand, these are not found in the old Kāpi. The old Kāpi is now living through the compositions of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and other Pre-Trinity composers notated in Pradarśini. We too have Vālājapeṭṭai manuscripts giving the compositions of Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ in this rāgaṃ (the kṛti-s of Svāmigaḷ that we commonly hear in the rāga Kāpi were all mutated and mutilated in the last century). Interestingly this phrase MNG is not seen in any of the old Kāpi compositions. All these might make us to surmise Rudrapriyā could have been alternatively called as Karṇāṭaka Kāpi in the past (along with its other known and unknown names). We are now left with another question – the reason for not seeing this phrase in the composition of other composers. We can exclude the compositions of Rāmadāsu and Cidambara Bharati, as they are small kṛti-s. But, not seeing even in magnificent edifices of Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is absorbing.

A vocal interpretation of the textual representation of this kṛti given in the treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī is attempted to the best abilities of this author. The readers are invited to observe unique phrases like MNGG, GRR, ṠNP and ṠDNP (see Footnote 1).

Vaḷḷī dēvasēnāpati and Nīvē raśikhāmaṇi of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar

The kṛti ‘nīvē raśikhāmaṇi’ could have been one of the initial compositions of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar on Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Maharāja. The kṛti ‘vaḷḷī dēvasēnāpati’ is unique in that it is one of the three compositions composed by Bālasvāmy on Kazugumalai Subraḥmaṇya Svāmi. Rest of his compositions were all on various Maharāja-s of Eṭṭayapuram.  

These two kṛti-s are better exemplars, even more than the ‘rudra kōpa’ of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Plenty of janṭa gāndhāra and niṣadha can be seen in these kṛti-s. Here the janṭa svara-s are handled predominantly with the spurita gamakam. The predominant avarōhaṇa phrases are PDNDP, PDNDNDP, ṠDNP, ṠNDNP and ṠNDNṠ (the last two phrases are absent in ‘rudra kōpa’). We also find phrases SMGM, GRR, NG and NR, PDNS (in mandra sthāyi). All these phrases give a wholesome structure covering an entire gamut of this rāga. Rudrapriyā flows through the dhāṭṭu prayōga-s and the ciṭṭa svaram affixed to the kṛti ‘nīvē raśikhāmaṇi’ is captivating. The third āvarta goes as NṠṘN GNDN MGNP GR with plenty of three-s. Also, ṠṘĠṀ can be noted.

The kṛti nīvē raśikhāmaṇi interpreted from the treatise of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be heard here.

Murugāvunai nambinēn of Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Mahārāja          

This is much in line with the other kṛti-s and uses some special phrases used like ṘDD. Also, extreme importance is given to riṣabham as a jīva svaram. This was composed by Jagadvīra Rāma Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭappa Mahārāja who ruled between 1853 and 1858.

Ambā paradēvatē and Enduku rā rā of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar

The rāga approach by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be considered as a combination of both Muddusvāmy and Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar. Whereas we find almost all the prayōga-s used by Bālasvāmy in these two compositions, we also find some phrases like PDP, PNṠ, ṘDD and PDNM which are not seen in the compositions of Bālasvāmy. Though the janṭa svara prayōga-s are more seen in this kṛti when compared to that of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, it is certainly lesser than what is seen in the works of  Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar.

The ciṭṭa svara segment attached to this kṛti is very unique and displays the craftsmanship of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. It runs for 32 āvarta-s and every āvarta starts with ṛṣabham. This 32 āvarta svara segment composed by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is much different from the abridged version that we hear today and it is a question to ponder on the composer of this abridged version. Also, the manōdharma that we hear frequently only display the scalar Rudrapriyā. Though we enjoy the modern versions and are equally pleasant to hear, these old tunes conceived by the composer are to be at least archived as they not only serve as an example to understand the rāga conceived by the composer, they also teach us the svarūpa of the rāga extant during their times. Here, the various ways in which the jīva svara ṛṣabham can be employed in various ways is demonstrated. These can be adopted by us to resurrect the rāga Rudrapriya, rather than following the scale.

The presence of the phrase ṘDD along with an importance given to ṛṣabham makes us to understand the influence of Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Mahārāja on Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.

Conclusion

Rudrapriyā, a grand rāga of the past is mainly characterised by janṭa and dhāṭṭu prayōga-s. This rāga has very many phrases outside the prescribed mūrcana and only an untainted version of the kṛti-s preserved by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and from other older/original versions help us to understand this rāga. The kṛti-s of Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar epitomize this rāga more than even the mentioned kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Sadly, the rāga portrayed in majority of the versions that we hear today is mainly scalar and fail to project the beauty of this rāga in its full capacity.

Unlike Rītigaula, the phrases in this rāga are not sthāyi specific – all the phrases occur in all the octaves.The name Rudrapriyā could have been in circulation only with the family of Dīkṣitar and this rāga could have been called by multiple names in the past. Perhaps, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar could have been the single person endorsing this name. The rāga Kārnāṭaka Kāpi mentioned in various texts could be this Rudrapriyā and we need to search for original versions to get a clear picture.

This also highlight the importance of collecting the manuscripts preserved at various places to understand rāga-s of the past.

References

Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī, Vidyavilasini Press, 1904.

Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī – Tamiz edition published by The Music Academy.

Mazavai Cidambara Bhārati Pādalgal. Edited by PC Sitarama Ayyar. Published by The Music Acedemy. This can be accessed in http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/show/2713

Footnotes

Footnote 1 – Whereas the Tamiz edition of Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī read as ‘anuvadana’ in anupallavi, the original Telugu version read as ‘ajavadana’. This difference was overlooked by this author in his rendition. This is a mistake and is deeply regretted.

Raga, Uncategorized

Colorful Bhashanga-s

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The term ‘bhāṣāṅga’ connoted different meaning at different point of time in the history of Karnāṭaka Music. During the period when the “grāma-mūrcana” system was in use, the term bhāṣāṅga denote the rāga-s that reflect other bhāṣā-s. In other words, this term denote the rāga-s that came from other regions. After the development of “mēla-janya” system, many terms which were used in the “grāma-mūrcana” era were used with a different connotation. Bhāṣāṅgā is one such.

The term Bhāṣāṅgā in the post “grāma-mūrcana” era appears first in the treatise “Rāga lakṣaṇam” appended to Caturdaṇḍīprakāṣikā of Vēṅkaṭamakhī. Author of this small treatise is uncertain and is attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhī or Muḍḍu Vēṅkaṭamakhī by different musicologists. Though the mentioned text mentions this term, proper definition of this term can be learnt only from Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.

Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his treatise defines bhāṣāṅgā rāga-s are those that take svarā-s from other rāgāṅga rāga-s (mēla-s) according to its character.1 This is referred as anya svara in today’s parlance. Though, this is a commonly accepted terminology now and used unanimously, this term was used differently by different musicians in the past. One such example is seen in the book by Bhatkhande. He interviewed various musicians of the South and one such prominent musician who registered his views to Bhatkhande was Rāmanāthapuram Śrinivasa Ayyaṅgār (see Footnote 1). He gives a different percept on these rāga-s. He says these rāga-s do not confirm with the classification given by the śāstrā-s completely; have folk influences and are usually named after the region from where they originate. It will be clear from the above discussion that this term, though now denote the rāga-s which carry one or two anya svarā-s, was used conveying varied ideas in the past. Hence, 19th century saw not only a new platform to exhibit the musical talents of artists, it was also a watershed period in the pages of modern musicology. This heterogeneity of these bhāṣāṅgā-s and its implications are addressed to in this post.

Not many texts published during the last century give us a valid information about the presence of anya svarā-s in these bhāṣāṅgā-s. Though the series of texts by K V Śrinivāsa Ayyaṅgār and later by Raṅgarāmānuja Ayyaṅgār clearly mention the presence of these anya svara-s, they fail to mark these svarā-s in notation. Though, the rāga lakṣaṇa section describes succinctly about the presence of these anya svāra-s and the phrases in which they appear, this cannot be considered as a comprehensive guide to know the real svarūpa of these rāga-s as the notation lack signs to know their presence or absence. To understand this problem and its ramifications, let us first look into the treatise by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and the procedure he followed to introduce these bhāṣāṅgā-s, as this is the first text to include the symbols for anya svarā-s along with an explanation for all the rāga-s employed in the treatise.

Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar

Śrī Subbarāma Dīkṣitar

In this treatise, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has classified the rāga-s into three categories: rāgāṅga rāga-s (which may be considered as an equivalent to mēla-s), upāṅga and  bhāṣāṅga rāga-s. Under each rāgāṅga  rāga-s, he gives a list of janya-s: upāṅga and bhāṣāṅga rāga-s. He then proceeds to explain each rāga in detail. Under each bhāṣāṅga rāga, its mūrcana, a description about its arterial phrases, anya svarā-s, if present were given. Anya svara-s when present were marked with a symbol, both in the text and notated sections. The readers are requested to pay attention here to observe a valuable finding that anya svarā-s were not given for all bhāṣāṅga-s. To make it simpler, rāga-s like Śrī rañjani, Dēvamanōhari etc., though mentioned as a bhāṣāṅga rāga, no anya svaram can be seen either in the rāga lakṣaṇa section or in the notated section. This discrepancy does not end with this! The lakṣaṇa segment given before each rāga does not necessarily supplement the lakṣaṇa portrayed in the kṛti-s. There is a discrepancy in the occurrence of anya svara-s between the lakṣaṇa section and the lakṣya section. For instance, he considers Saurāṣtram as a bhāṣāṅga janya of Māyāmāḷavagaula and says śuddha dhaivatam occurs in the prayōga-s PDP and PDDP in the lakṣaṇa section. Whereas this is strictly observed in the kṛti Sūryamūrte, in the kṛti Varalakṣmīm the phrase PDP uses both the dhaivatam; PDP with pañcaśruti (catuśruti) is seen at the beginning of the kṛti and the same phrase with śuddha dhaivatam occurs in the beginning of caraṇam of the same kṛti!! Another interesting rāga is Pūrṇacandrika wherein he says the anya svaram kaiṣiki niṣādham can be seen in the phrases PNS and SDNP. Strangely, none of the notated compositions show the presence of this svaram in the mentioned phrases !!

In some other bhāṣāṅga-s like Śahāna, same phrase sports svakīya (its default svara) and anya svara at different occasions. Śahāna is placed under the rāgāṅga rāga Śri and the preponderant gāndharam, by default is of sādhāraṇa variety. Antara gāndharam features only in selected phrases. The point here is, a prescription on the use of antara gāndharam is not clear both in lakṣya and lakṣaṇa section. For example, the phrase RGMP uses both the gāndhara-s, though at different locations. How these discrepancies are to be reconciled? Do they have to be considered as printing errors and be self-corrected or it is an inkling given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar on the colorful nature of bhāṣāṅga-s ?

Bhāṣāṅga-s

Let us revisit the bhāṣāṅga-s mentioned in Pradarśini and try to classify them to make this discussion more comprehensible. There are totally 55 bhāṣāṅga rāga-s mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. The distribution of these rāga-s is not uniform across the rāgāṅga rāga-s. Whereas the rāgāṅga rāga-s like Māyāmāḷavagaula and Śaṅkarābharaṇam are flooded with a multitude of bhāṣāṅga rāga-s, no janya rāga-s can be seen for the rāgāṅga rāga-s like Saurasēna or Kiraṇāvaḷi. In between are the rāgāṅga rāga-s Kanakāmbari and Kāśirāmakriya which have only upāṅga janya-s.

These 55 bhāṣāṅga rāga-s can be classified into three types for easy understanding:

  1. Bhāṣāṅga rāga-s with anya svara marked – Rāga-s like Aṭāṇa, Pūrṇacandrika, Śahāna, etc., fall under this category.
  2. Bhāṣāṅga rāga-s with anya svara not marked – Madhyamāvati, Devamanōhari, Nāyaki, etc., come under this category.
  3. Third category rāga-s are those in which the lakṣaṇa śloka given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar also mention the presence of anya svara, in addition to being marked by Dīkṣitar. There are three rāga-s in this category – Saurāṣtram, Bhairavi, Kāmbhōji.

From this preliminary discussion, it can be inferred that, the presence of anya svara might not have been the single criteria to label a rāga as bhāṣāṅga, with a special reference to the rāga-s classified as type two. There might have been some other reasons which is not visible from presently available evidences. This thought is further supported by the finding that, none of the other treatises, including Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi, considered to be written around or prior to 18 CE mention the term bhāṣāṅga rāga-s (excluding the treatise Rāga Lakṣaṇa cited initially). More importantly, these treatises don’t even mention about the presence or absence of anya svaram (see Footnote 2). This raises a doubt whether these anya svara-s are an integral part of the rāga architecture that is essential to carve a rāga svarūpa or they are like optional entities that came into practice later.

Let us proceed further to dissect the other two types to understand the multiple hues reflected by these bhāṣāṅga-s. We have mentioned earlier that there are some exceptions, wherein the presence of anya svara in the bhāṣāṅga rāga-s have been mentioned across the treatises. Only three rāga-s can be located to have this unique distinction – Saurāṣtram, Bhairavi and Kāmbhōji. The anya svara featuring in these rāga-s, pañcaśruti (catuśruti) dhaivatam in Saurāṣtram and Bhairavi and kākali niṣādham in Kāmbhōji were mentioned in the lakṣaṇa śloka-s in the Pradarśini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and the Rāga Lakṣaṇa treatise of disputable authorship. Few references can also be seen in earlier treatises (see Footnote 3).

It can be now inferred that, at least from the period in which Rāga Lakṣaṇa was written (first quarter of 18th century or a 17 century work, if proved to be a work of Vēṅkaṭamakhī), use of anya svaram in these three rāga-s were prevalent. But, in the case of Saurāṣtram, only the presence of pañcaśruti dhaivatam was hinted and not about the other anya svaram kaiśiki niṣādham. So we are left with no clue as on the period from which this came into practice.

Let us move into the other discrepancy, on the use of these anya svara-s in these bhāṣāṅga-s especially those belonging to the first type. As mentioned earlier, a lot of discrepancy is noted in handling these anya svara-s between lakṣya and lakṣaṇa section in the Pradarśini. As they are noticeable in almost all the bhāṣāṅga-s placed under type one in our classification, it is better to look in for a  tangible rationale prevailed during those old days rather to repudiate it calling it as printing errors. Analyzing the notations of all the compositions provided for these rāga-s, it can be hypothesized that the phrases involving these anya svara-s can be grouped into three types. 

  1. Phrases that take only svakīya svara-s
  2. Phrases that take only anya svara-s
  3. Fluid phrases that might take either of these svara-s depending on the choice of the vaggēyakāra.

This will be explained by taking Śahāna as an example.

Śahāna, as mentioned earlier is considered as a janya of Śri. Hence, sādhāraṇa gāndharam is the svakīya svara (its default svaram) and antara gāndharam becomes anya svaram. It is to be remembered here that Śahāna is now considered as a janya of Harikāmbōji, implying antara gāndharam is the svakīya svaram to be employed and the use of sādhāraṇa gāndharam is not in practice.

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

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

(The phrases mentioned above are only explanatory and not comprehensive by any means).

So, a vaggēyakāra has an option of using any gāndhara, when he employs the fluid phrases. This hypothesis also help us to dispel the problem in placing a rāga like this under a particular mēla. For example, if a vaggēyakāra uses profuse (or only) sādhāraṇa gāndharam in these fluid phrases and uses antara variety sparsely, this rāga sounds like a janya of Śri. Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar has followed this in his kṛti “vāśi vāśi” which can be heard here.

On the other hand, if a vaggēyakāra uses profuse (or only) antara gāndharam in these fluid phrases and uses sādhāraṇa variety sparsely, this sounds like a janya of Harikāmbhōji. Perhaps, this could have been followed by Paiḍāla Gurumūrti Śāstri, as he considers this as a janya of Kāmbhōji in his gītam. Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar was relatively more generous in using these anya svara-s when compared to Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar. We have no idea about the stand of Tyagarāja Svāmigal, as the oldest notations that give his kṛti-s in notation, written by Vālājāpeṭṭai Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar does not specify the svara sthāna-s.

This versatility of using these anya svara-s give multiple colors to these bhāṣāṅga-s. Also, it can be very well guessed, a rāga could have been handled without using these anya svara-s. Pūrṇacandrika is an example of this type. None of the compositions notated in this rāgam sport the anya svaram kaiṣiki niṣādham though we have a mention about this svaram by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in the lakṣaṇa section of Pūrṇacandrika. This flexibility in handling of these anya svaram is applicable only to selected rāga-s like Pūrṇacandrika or all the bhāṣāṅga  is not clear. But, this is a common finding in almost all the rāgamālika-s involving these bhāṣāṅga-s. This heterogeneity and versatility gets multifold when a bhāṣāṅga has more than one anya svara. This is so with the case of Āhiri, which uses all the svara-s sans prati madhyamaṃ. So, a vaggēyakāra can manipulate these rāga-s in his own imitable form to paint multiple colors, in order to serve his need of bringing the bhāva that he wishes. Unfortunately, Āhiri, who was once decorated with a colorful raiment is now seen, always wearing a white sāri. It is also unfortunate to know that the original tunes in these rāga-s were lost forever, as we cannot judge the side taken by the vaggēyakāra when composing in these rāga-s, unless we get a notation as in Pradarśini, which denotes the svara variety too. A detailed discussion about individual bhāṣāṅga-s, anya svara featuring in these rāga-s, the fluid phrases seen, details about them in various musicological texts with an analysis will be covered separately.

Similar findings can also be seen in a book by Popley (see Footnote 4). Several Christian poems tuned to classical rāga-s can be seen in this book. Several bhāṣāṅga-s feature there and the anya svara was also marked in notation. This book too serve to support our hypothesis about these bhāṣāṅga-s, especially those belonging to type 1. For instance, Bhairavi was handled by him without a trace of anya svara – catuśruti dhaivatam (the author was well aware of Naṭabhairavi and has tuned one poem to the latter) !!

Prior to Stephen and Popley, Bhairavi was handled like an upāṅga in the kṛti ‘rāma lokābhirāma’ of Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya (tuned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar). Whereas this kṛti totally eschews the phrase NDNS, wherein the anya svara catuśruti dhaivatham occurs, Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar has used this phrase, eschewing the anya svaram in the rāgamālika ‘śivamōhana’.

We are indebted to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar for giving us, at least the kṛti-s known to him in notation with a svara and gamaka symbol, as we not only can imagine the structure of these bhāṣāṅga-s, but also get an idea about the colorful architecture of these rāga-s.

Conclusion

Though we were made to believe from the available evidences that the presence of anya svara is a requisite to label a rāga as bhāṣāṅgā, it is clear that this was not the only criteria used in the past. Rāga-s like Śrī rañjani, Madhyamāvati which do not use any anya svara serves as an example to prove this statement. We also have evidences to consider the bhāṣānga-s could have been in use without anya svara. When present, the vaggēyakāra could have had the liberty to use or not to use these anya svara-s. Similarly, there could have flexibility in using svakīya svara or anya svara in a phrase. This versatility makes them colorful which was used to its maximum by a vaggēyakāra. Much more research into this field might prove or disprove this hypothesis.

Footnotes                              

Foote note 1: Vishnu Narayan Bhatkhande’s memoirs of south India: “Meri Dakshin Bharat ki Sangeet Yatra” is a Hindi work recording his experiences with various musicians of South India flourished during his period. Vidvān Śri Navaneethakrishnan is into the task of translating this monumental work. This information on bhāgāṅga rāga-s as given by Rāmanāthapuram Śrinivasa Ayyaṅgār to by Bhatkhande was gracefully shared to me by the mentioned vidvān.

Foot note 2: Treatises like Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi do not even mention about the presence or absence of anya svara-s. We really do not know this lack of mentioning is due to ignorance of the author or the lack of usage of these svara-s during their period.

Foot note 3: Śahaji in his treatise Rāga lakṣaṇamu describes saurāṣtram as a rāga that uses śuddha niṣādham (kvaccitu śuddha niṣādham vaccunu). Dr Hema Ramanathan opines this could be a reference to the use of pañcaśruti dhaivatham in her gargantuan work “Rāga Lakṣaṇa Saṅgrahamu”.2

Foot note 4: Stephen and Popley in the year 1914 published a book containing Christian poems set to classical rāga-s in notation. The book was published to create an awareness about Christian truth and spread evangelism to Hindu audiences, says the author.  It is a comprehensive book containing all the basic information about our system – rāga, tāḷa, gamaka and notation system. Various poems explaining various fables were set to music. A wide array of rāga-s were employed involving mēla-s, upāṅga and bhāṣāṅga rāga-s.3

References

1. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Saṅgītasampradāyapradarśinī (English edition). The Music Academy,  Madras, pg 79.  

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

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

   

   

Composers, Manuscripts, Sahitya

Nirupana-s of Sri Muddusvamy Diksitar

 

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Śri Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, a well-known composer of 18 th century is credited with around 230 compositions in the treatise Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini, written by his grandson Śri Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Of these compositions, excluding two, all are kṛti-s. The standalone compositions are a daru in the rāgaṃ Śriraṅjani and a varṇam in the rāgaṃ Tōdi. Both these compositions lack the mudra ‘guruguha’. Since Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is considered to be veracious in giving us the details, the authenticity of these compositions need not be questioned.

The general opinion that Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has composed only kṛti-s, excluding the two mentioned dispersed when this author descried a manuscript in the possession of Śri Śivakumār, a descendant of Nālvar. This paper manuscript is said to be written by Nālvar themselves and contains around 90 compositions of Dīkṣitar and a few compositions of Nālvar in notation. Of these 90, only 5 are unknown and yet to be published. The rest 85 compositions can be seen in the treatise Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini. More about this manuscript can be read here.

The interesting aspect of these 5 unpublished compositions is that they cannot be called as kṛti-s. Based on the structure of the sāhityam, they can be categorized into tōdayam, śaraṇu or maṅgalam. To be more specific, these compositions might be the fragmented components of a much bigger dance based drama form called as “Nirūpaṇam”.

The word “nirūpaṇam” is usually related with Harikatha performances, wherein the singer narrates the main story accompanied with songs and jathi-s. But the nirūpaṇam that we are going to see is a different form used mainly in Bharatanāṭyam performances.

Though our music and the various forms therein can be traced back to Bharatā, the growth of dance-drama reached its peak from the period of Nāyak rulers of Tanjāvūr. This developed into a new dimension called as nirūpaṇa, mainly during the period of Marāṭha King Śerfoji II. Nirūpaṇa-s are dance-drama encompassing various musical/dance forms and are mainly composed in Marāṭi language. The theme of these nirūpaṇa revolve around bhakti and an entire mythological story is enacted in a nirūpaṇa. The musical forms seen here and the order in which they are performed also conform to a sequence that is followed in the ‘mārgam’ format of the present day Bharatanāṭyam.1 The King Śerfoji II, who patronized this form of art also has composed few nirūpaṇa-s like ‘Kumārasaṃbhavam’ and ‘Umā Mahēśvara pariṇayam’.2

 

Parts of a Nirūpaṇa

In general a nirūpaṇa is considered to have 18 sections and similar to Bhāgavata mēḷa, it starts with an invocation to the Lord called as “Jaya-jaya” or “Tōdayam”.
The various parts of a nirūpaṇa includes:

1. Jaya-jaya                               10. Tillānā
2. Śaraṇu                                  11. Abhinayapada
3. Śērvā                                    12.  Jakkiṇi
4. Collu                                     13. Gītam
5. Śabdam                                14.  Prabandham
6. Varṇam                                 15. Tripuṭam
7. Padam                                   16. Ślōka-varṇam
8. Svarajati                               17.  Kavuttam
9. Abhinayapadam                   18.  Maṅgaḷam

One more important to be remembered here is that all the components of a nirūpaṇa are set to a single rāgam !!

 

Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has composed nirūpaṇa-s?

The readers were already introduced that the manuscript under consideration contains some unpublished compositions of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Here, we give the list:

Jaya jaya gauri manōhari – 22 janyam (to be identified)
Kāmakṣi namōstute – Pāḍi
Śaranu kāmākṣi – Mēgarañjani
Manōnmaṇi bhavatutē maṅgaḷam – Mēcabauli
Śaranu śaranu mahēśa śaṅkari – Ārabhī

It is to be mentioned here that, except for the last uruppaḍi in the rāgaṃ Ārabhī, the rāga-s for the other compositions were not mentioned. Based on the rāga svarūpam seen in the notations and inputs from Dr Ritha Rajan, the rāga-s were assigned. The rāga for the composition “Jaya-jaya” is yet to be ascertained (See Footnote 1).
When the sāhityam of these compositions are analysed, the first can be classified as a ‘todayam’ or ‘jaya jaya’, the first component of any nirūpaṇam. The uruppaḍi-s in the rāga-s Mēgarañjani and Ārabhī can be placed under “Śaranu”, second section in a nirūpaṇa. The composition in the rāgaṃ Mēcabauli, needless to say is a maṅgaḷam. Kāmakṣi namōstute is more like a gītaṃ. It is clear now that all these compositions might represent different sections of a nirūpaṇam. These compositions seen in the manuscripts written by Nālvar adds credibility to our hypothesis.
Of these 5, the first three are addressed to Goddess Kāmākṣi and the last two are generic kṛti-s addressing the Divine Mother.

 

Nirūpaṇā-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Śerfoji II – A comparison

A preliminary analysis of these unpublished compositions gives us a clue that these can be a part of nirūpaṇa-s. But, there are few differences between these compositions of Dīkṣitar and the established nirūpaṇa-s of Śerfoji II.
Whereas the nirūpaṇa-s of Śerfoji are always in Marāṭi, all the compositions under study were composed in Sanskrit. Second difference is seen with the rāga-s employed. It is a general rule that all the components of a nirūpaṇa are to be composed in a single rāgaṃ. Here, we find five separate rāga-s employed for these five compositions. This is a major concern to be addressed.

When the five rāga-s used were studied, three of them are the janya-s of the mēla Māyāmālavagaula; other two were the janya-s of Śri and Dhīraśaṅkarābharaṇam. Of the three belonging to the mēla Māyāmālavagaula, two were addressing the deity Kāmākṣi. So, we are not wrong, if we say these two might have been a part of one nirūpaṇām. The maṅgaḷam, being a generic composition addressing Dēvi, might have been a part of this same nirūpaṇām itself. This hypothesis gets more weightage if we consider the rāgaṃ of this maṅgaḷam; Mēcabauli is also a janya of Māyāmālavagaula. So, we have three components in a nirūpaṇām composed in a janya of a single mēlam, Māyāmālavagaula. If this hypothesis is correct, Dīkṣitar, instead of composing a nirūpaṇām in a single rāgaṃ, has used a single mēlam. We don’t have a nirūpaṇa of any composer other than that of Śerfoji II to know the practice that was existent before his period. With the present available evidences, it is difficult to say whether or not Dīkṣitar has deviated from the practice that has prevailed during his time regarding the selection of rāga-s.
If we go by this theory, Dīkṣitar might have composed, at least three nirūpaṇa-s. One with the janya-s of Māyāmālavagaula and the other two using the janya-s of the other two mēla-s mentioned. Even a mere thought of this possibility make us to imagine the various janya-s that he could have used, criteria that he has followed for selecting those rāga-s as the three rāga-s used in this set are all upāṅga janya-s of Māyāmālavagaula and so on.
Of the other two, an entire nirūpaṇam could have been composed in the rāgaṃ Ārabhī, as we have a nirūpaṇam of Śerfoji II in this rāgaṃ. Alternatively, he could have used various other janya-s of Dhīraśaṅkarābharaṇam in this nirūpaṇam too. A reconstructed version of the Śaraṇu in the rāgaṃ Ārabhī can be heard here.

 

Conclusion

The available evidences make us to believe Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has composed nirūpaṇa-s. If we go by the above mentioned hypothesis, he could have composed at least three nirūpaṇa-s. Also, there is a high possibility that only Nālvar might have been aware of these nirūpaṇa-s, as they are seen only in the manuscripts written by them and we are not aware of any other śiṣya learning from him during his stay in Tanjāvur. These compositions or a mention about these cannot be seen even in Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini, a lexicon of authentic Dīkṣitar kṛti-s.

It is to be remembered here, we have a daru and a varṇam in Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini. This opens up another question, whether or not Dīkṣitar has composed any operas during his stay in Tiruvārur? We allow the readers to ponder over this question till we get some more evidence in this line.

 

Footnote 1
The first three compositions (of the unpublished compositions) were brought to light for the first time by Dr Ritha Rajan, in her monumental thesis. Though she has not mentioned the rāga names in her thesis, she suggested the rāga names to this author in a personal communication. Rāga mudra is incorporated in the sāhityam of the maṅgaḷam in Mēcabauli.

 

Acknowledgement
I personally thank Dr N Ramanathan for educating me about these nirūpaṇa-s.

 

References
1. Ramanathan N . Evolution of Musical forms used in Bharatanatyam
2. Krishnaswami Mahdick Rao Sahib A, Nagaraja Rao G (ed). Dance pieces in Marati by Śerfoji Raja (1958).