Shri Upanishad Brahmendra Yogi whose sanyasa nama was Ramachandrendra was an advaiti who wrote the commentaries on 108 upanishads and several works on vedanta and namasiddhanta. An article on his Ramatarangas and Ashtapadis by Dr. Aravindh Ranganathan can be found here.
We present the sahityam of his Ramashtapadi written as a set of Vibhaktyanta gitas here. The source of this is the handwritten manuscript copies from Adyar library (from Dr.V.Raghavan’s collection) procured for the personal research work of Dr. Aravindh Ranaganthan. A typed version of this with the Tamil translation by Smt. Vidya Jayaraman is provided here to enable people to further sing and popularise these compositions. In addition, each ashtapadi will be rendered as audio in the youtube channel of The Lost Melodies as a series of individual posts.
We thank Vidvan Brahmashri Dr. V. Shriramana Sharma for perusing through the contents, and suggesting corrections and clarifications.
The name Upanishad Brahmam is not new to anyone who has read the divya carita-s of Tyagaraja Svamigal and Sri Muthuswamy Diksitar. Though he was much familiar to the students of Sanskrit literature, the works of Dr.V.Raghavan made him popular to music lovers. Raghavan has written extensively on the works of Upanishad Brahmam in the late 1950s, which serves as an authentic source even now, to know the works of Upanishad Brahmam in the field of music.
Upanishad Brahmam was born to a Sanskrit scholar of Vadhula gotra named Sadashiva and his wife Lakshmi in Brahmapuram, a village on the banks of the river Palar. He was named Sivarama. He was married, had a son, spent his life as a householder, and then renounced his life and became a sanyasin. His ashrama was set in Agastyashrama in Kanchipuram, on the way to Kailasanatha temple. He took an arduous task of writing a commentary to 108 upanishad-s and hence got the name Upanishad Brahmendra. He was a Sri Rama upasaka and installed a Sri Rama yantra made of Saligrama in his ashrama. His works project him as a Advaita sanyasin, who also extolled and propagated the cult of ‘nama sidhdhanta’ singing ‘bhagavan-nama bhajana’. His compositions bear the mudra ‘ramachandrendra’. Though the exact period of this yati cannot be ascertained, we can clearly say he lived during the middle of 18th century from his own statement,
“प्रजोत्याब्धचापैकादशघस्रे शुभे दिने भौमाश्विन्यामिदं शास्त्रं सम्पूर्णपदवीं गतम्”
(‘prajOtyabdhacapaikAdashaghasrE ShubhE dinE bhaumAshvinyAm idam ShAstram sampUrNapadavIm gatam’). This means he has finished writing commentary for Muktikopanishad in the cyclic year Prajotpatti, Markazhi mAsa, EkAdasi, ASvini nakshatra falling on a Tuesday, which corresponds to the 30.11.1751. A detailed biography of Upanishad Brahmam can be learned from the essays of Raghavan.1,2
Upanishad Brahmam gains more importance due to his connections with Tyagaraja Svamigal and Muthuswamy Diksitar. Upanishad Brahmam was acquainted with Sri Ramabrahmam, father of Svamigal. Perhaps, Sri Rama upasana, a common thread between these three mahaniyA-s united them. It is said a ‘srImukham’ written by Upanishad Brahmam, inviting Svamigal to visit Agastyashrama is available in the manuscript collection preserved at Saurashtra Sabha, Madurai. Later, Tyagaraja Svamigal, during his sojourn to holy sthala-s like Tirupati, Lalgudi, etc., visited Kanchipuram. Needless to say, this rendezvous could have resulted in the discussion of the tenets of nama-sidhdhanta and Sri Rama nama mahima.
Even before this historical event, Upanishad Brahmam had an opportunity to meet Muthuswamy Diksitar. Diksitar, having completed his studies with Cidambaranatha Yogi in Kashi, returned to Manali, Madras. His stay in Manali was much brief and his life as an itinerant started from Kanchipuram. The period can be guessed to be anywhere between the late 1790s and early 1800s. Subbarama Diksitar, a nephew of Muthuswamy Diksitar, in his work Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, mentions Muthuswamy Diksitar spent his life in Kanchipuram for a period of 4 years. He also adds, Muthuswamy Diksitar conducted philosophical dialogues with Upanishad Brahmam during this period and set to tune ‘rama ashtapadi’ authored by Upanishad Brahmam. It is surprising to know Upanishad Brahmendra, despite being a composer has asked Muthuswamy Diksitar to tune them. Unfortunately, the tunes are lost.
Sri Rama Taranga
Though Upanishad Brahmendra has composed many divya nama kirtana-s, this article focuses on two of his works, namely ‘sri rama taranga’ and ‘sri rama ashtapadi’. The word ‘taranga’ immediately reminds us of the work of Narayana Tirtar ‘Sri Krishna Leela Tarangini’. This work describes the divine sports of Krishna Bhagavan in a simple, flowing Sanskrit. The ‘taranga’ of Upanishad Brahmendra describes the lilAnubhUti-s of Sri Ramachandra, again in the divine language Sanskrit. Raghavan, as mentioned earlier, had made a note about Rama tarangamala in one of his essays. The manuscripts in the possession of Raghavan are now preserved at The Theosophical Society, Adyar, and forms a major source for this article.
The tarangamala appears to be much complex in structure. From the descriptions provided by Upanishad Brahmam as introductory verses, it can be speculated the Rama tarangamala had 16 khanda-s or chapters. The author says,
“षोडशकलाभिधानास्तरङ्गमाला गले समर्प्यन्ते” (‘sOdaSakalAbhidhAnAstarangamAla galE samarpyantE’), meaning the taranga-s, sixteen in number similar to the (sixteen) kala-s of moon are being offered.
A composition named as ‘AhvAna taranga’ in the raga Nata begins the work tarangamala. The musical structure and tala of this composition are not available. This composition starting as ‘AgachchAgachcha mE’ is basically an invocation inviting or calling Sri Ramachandra. This can be roughly equated with the kriti ‘hechchariga gA rA rA’ of Svamigal in the ragam Yadukulakambhoji. This composition ‘AgachchAgachcha mE’ is a dvi-dhatu composition – having pallavi and 12 carana-s. A striking feature seen in the compositions of Upanishad Brahmendra is the lack of ‘dvitiyAkshara prAsa’, the second letter concordance. His creations are more in line with the sloka-s written by Sanskrit theologists like Adi Sankara, Vedanta Desika, etc, distinguishing them from the compositions created by the composers belonging to his period. Interestingly, anuprasa is used profusely in many of the carana-s. The usage of ‘putra’, ‘gAtra’, ‘caritra’ and ‘kalatra’ in the first carana, ‘vinda’, ‘kanda’ and ‘govinda’ in the third carana and ‘ShitAsu’, ‘ganEShu’ and ‘mAnEShu’ in the seventh carana can be cited as examples.
Now begins the first khanda of tarangamala. After three invocatory verses, starts the first Taranga ‘srI rAmacandra’ in the raga Mohanam. This Taranga appears to be much intricate, not because of 12 charana-s, but because of the structure of each carana. Each carana begins with a sahitya, followed by a jati, a svara passage, and a segment of sahityam. In few carana-s, this order is slightly altered. It can be interpreted the svara segment actually corresponds to the sahitya that immediately succeeds it due to the svara-sahitya relationship they share. The svara-s, short, and long match exactly with the hrsva and dIrghAkSharA-a available in the sahityam succeeding the svara segment.
The structure gets more complicated as we move to the eighth caranam. Here, the author has mentioned the jati is to be rendered in dhruva tala. Similarly, it is prescribed in the ninth carana that the jati therein is to be rendered in rupaka tala! The tala specifications is applicable to jati alone or the entire carana cannot be ascertained. If the entire carana is to be rendered in the specified tala with each carana having a different tala, the taranga appears more like a suladi. This assumption can be made only if we get to see tala specifications for all the components and carana-s of this composition, which is not so in this case. The carana having a jati, sahityam and svara passage resembles another musical form prabandha. Again, not all the components, which a prabandha must have is seen here. However, we can definitely say we are looking into a special musical form, which was either invented by Upanishad Brahmam or a form available to the composers of that period!
This Taranga also opens another interesting discussion. From the svara passages, we can get a glimpse of the raga Mohanam used by Upanishad Brahmam. The svarupa of the raga seen here is much similar to the raga extant now. A glance into the history reveals the existence of another raga with the same name, but with a different structure. This defunct raga had six svaras and can be seen in the texts ‘raga lakshanamu’ and ‘sangita saramrta’ of Saha Maharaja and Tulaja respectively. This shadava Mohanam gains importance as the period of Upanishad Brahmam is much closer to the period of Saha (1684-1712) and Tulaja (1677-1736). The mentioned kings also have recorded the present-day Mohanam having five svaras, but preferred to call it Mohanakalyani.3 Upanishad Brahmam, using five svaras, yet calling it Mohanam is really intriguing. The ‘rama taranga-s’ stop abruptly at this point and leads to another work of Upanishad Brahmam, namely Sri Rama Ashtapadi.
Sri Rama Ashtapadi
Our manuscript gives us the most venerated ‘sri rama ashtapadi’ after the Mohana raga taranga. We get to see an introductory verse detailing the structure of the ashtapadi. The phrases “अष्टाविंशाधिकशत-गीतरत्नाकरोत्तमे” (‘aShtAvimSAdhika-Sata gIta-ratnAkarOttamE’), “श्रीराम-शब्द-सम्बुद्ध्या सकामाष्टविभक्तिकः” (‘srIrAma-Shabda -sambudhyA sAkamashta-vibhaktikaha’) , “एकैकस्या विभक्तेस्तद्गीतं षोडशाद्योच्यते” (‘EkaikasyA vibhaktEstadgItam shOdashadyOchyatE’), “पञ्चाषड्-वर्ण-सन्मालालङ्कारा वरकन्धर” (‘paNcAshad-varNa-sanmAlAlaNkAra vara-kandhara’) clearly elucidates the structure. These can be roughly translated as follows: The ashtapadi-s consists of gita-s 128 in number. All were composed on Sri Ramachandra with the Rama shabda used in eight vibhakti-s (declensions) with each vibhakti having 16 gita-s. All these songs open with each of the 50 letters of Sanskrit alphabet. From the description, it can be said Upanishad Brahmendra served as a source of inspiration for Muthuswamy Diskitar to compose vibhakti kritis!
The individual compositions are referred to as gita-s and each gita has a pallavi and eight carana-s, fashioned in line with the celebrated ashtapadi-s of Jayadeva Maha Kavi. From the material available, it can be presumed that the gitas were arranged into 16 khanda-s, each khanda-s having eight gita-s in all the vibhakti-s. The khanda-s also have introductory verses and a gita preceding the proper ashtapadi gita-s. This introductory gita alone has 13 carana-s.
We are indeed seeing the ashtapadi-s tuned by Muthuswamy Diksitar! As with the Taranga-s, the ashtapadi-s too are incomplete (in this manuscript) with only eight of them available – one preceding gita and seven from the vibhakti set. The preceding gita ‘srI rAma tubhyam’ was set to the raga Bilahari. (Raghavan considers this as the gita representing the eighth vibhakti in the vibhakti set). Tala was not marked for any of these gita-s. The contents of the first khanda are as follows:
|srI rAmacandrAya tubhyam||Arabhi|
|rAmacandrasya tava dAsOham||Anandabhairavi|
It is interesting to note the members of the clan Mayamalavagaula, a favorite of Muthuswamy Diksitar not dominating. However, this statement can be validated only if we happen to get the raga of the rest of the gita-s. Of these eight ragas, two ragas have a composition composed on the deities residing in Kanchipuram, namely ‘kAmAkshi varalakshmi’ in the raga Bilahari and ‘cintaya mAkanda’ in the raga BhairavI. The raga of the gita representing the fifth vibhakti is missing. What could be the missing raga? A raga used by him in one of his Kanchipura kshetra kritis or otherwise?
The composition ‘rAmacandrasya tava dAsOham’ provides material for a case study. The opening lines was used by Muthuswamy Diksitar in his Purvi raga kriti ‘srI guruguhasya dAsOham’, a member of the ‘guruguha vibhakti’ set. Apart from the similarity in the sahitya, the concept propounded also looks similar. Upanishad Brahmam declares he has united with his Lord Sri Ramachandra in this kriti. Muthuswamy Diksitar proclaims the same in his kriti ‘anandEsvarENa’, wherein he says ‘brahmAnandOsmi’!
Though the structure was much designed to be in line with the ‘gita govinda’ of Jayadeva, few differences too exist. First, the theme seems to be non-erotic. Second, the ashtapadi-s does not seem to explain a story. However, these can be conclusively said only if the sahitya is read and analyzed by a scholar.
We are looking into the kritis of a Sri Rama Upasaka who has influenced and shaped the thoughts of our beloved composers Tyagaraja Svamigal and Muthuswamy Diksitar. The sahitya of these compositions are to be studied in detail to understand the tenets of Upanishad Brahmam. Let us hope to get the Taranga-s and Ashtapadi-s in full with the blessings of Ramachandrendra.
I thank the authorities of The Theosophical Society, Adyar for allowing me to peruse the required manuscripts.
I thank Smt. Vidya Jayaraman for translating the verses seen in taranga-s and ashtapadi-s.
- Raghavan V. 1956. Upanishad Brahma Yogin, His life, Works and Contribution to Carnatic Music. Journal of The Madras University. 113-150.
- Raghavan V. 1957. Upanishad Brahma Yogin. Journal of The Madras University. 151-152.
- Hema Ramanathan. 2004. Ragalakshana Sangraha – Collection of Raga Descriptions, p 890-893.
Sri Ramachandra always served as a source of inspiration for poets for his ideal and desirable characters. We have innumerable compositions composed over the ages on the ‘martyavatara’ (Bhagavan who has taken the form of a human). Among all these compositions, the compositions or poems on his crowning ceremony ‘pattabhisheka’ deserve a special mention. It is said that reading or even listening to the ‘pattabhisheka’ sarga, available in the Yuddha Kanda, the sixth book of Srimad Valmiki Ramayana confers auspiciousness.
Almost every other composer or poet takes an attempt to describe the ‘pattabhisheka’ in his own inimitable way. The kriti ‘mamava pattabhirama’ in the raga Manirangu is much popular. The composer Muthuswamy Dikshitar describes this celestial event almost along the lines of Valmiki. There exists a lesser-known composition of Vaikunta Sastri in the raga Pharaju. This kriti ‘sreyase dhyayami’ starts as a paean to Ramachandra, but proceeds to mention ‘pattabhishekam’.
A very elaborative Sri Rama Pattabhishekam was picturized by Arunachala Kavirayar. Though his Rama nataka kritis are famous, this kriti intricately describing the pattabhishekam is obsolete. This kriti was set to the raga Saurashtra and has a pallavi, anupallavi and three charanas, each comprising fifteen lines. On all probabilities, this kriti ‘makutabhishekam kondane’ could be the longest composition available explaining all the events mentioned in Pattabhisheka sarga of Valmiki Ramayana.
Tyagaraja Svamigal (1767-1847) is a popular South Indian composer, well known for his devotion towards Sri Ramachandra. He is said to have composed thousands of compositions, but only around seven hundred are available. Despite being a Rama bhakta, the theme seen in his compositions is much varied. Even his ‘Rama’ based kritis can be divided into several groups. The first type of composition is those wherein he records the personal communications he had with his deity Ramachandra. Kritis like ‘adaya sriraghuvara’ in Ahiri, ‘eti yochanulu’ in Kiranavali can be cited as examples. In the second type, he delves into the Rama nama and its mahima. The kritis ‘melu melu’ in the raga Saurashtra, ‘smarane sukhamu’ in the raga Janaranjani helps us to understand this theme. The third type of composition describes his ishta devata Sri Ramachandra. The Mayamalavagaula raga kriti ‘merusamana’, ‘nee muddu momu’ in the raga Kamalamanohari can be remembered. He has also extolled the story of Rama and the kingdom ruled by Rama in the kritis ‘rama katha sudha’ and ‘karu baru’ in the ragas Madhyamavathi and Mukhari respectively. This forms the next set of kritis. The last set of kritis would be the ones wherein the incidents from Ramayana were listed. The divya nama kriti ‘vinayamu’ in the raga Saurashtra, ‘e ramuni’ in the raga Vakulabharana are good examples. This list becomes endless and we can visualize the various ways by which this composer has envisioned his devata Sri Ramachandra, his nama, and the epic Ramayana through his kritis. He literally was transported to the days of Rama Rajya!
Strangely, it is rare to see kritis explaining Sri Rama Pattabhisheka. The possibility of not getting such compositions is also to be kept in mind. From the available corpus, we will be seeing a composition that gives a vivid description of Sri Rama Pattabhisheka.
Sri Rama Pattabhisheka and Tyagaraja Svamigal
Though, the majority of the kritis of Svamigal are composed in pallavi-anupallavi-charana format, there are a sizeable number of kritis composed in pallavi-charana format and these are usually labeled as divya nama keertanas. There exist a Kapi raga kriti among the latter set wherein Svamigal has pictured pattabhisheka.
The kriti ‘sundara dasaratha’ has a pallavi and six charanas. It is a dvi-matu keertana, wherein the tune of the pallavi is different from the charanas, whereas all the charanas are set to the same tune. Here is the sahitya of this kriti
sundara dasharatha nandana vandana monarincedarA
pankaja lOcana dharajAyankamuna velungaga gani
parama dayAkara shubhakara girIsha manOhara shankara
karamuna goDugiDukoni sOdaru bharatuDu karagaga gani
suguNadanila tanayuDu gavaya gavAkSulu goluvaga gani
ghaTaja vasiSTha mrkaNDuja gautamadulu bogaDa gani
akaLanka mukha tyAgarAjunu brOcina avyajA karuNAsAgara
The kriti starts like any composition on Rama, not giving any clue on the theme of ‘pattabisheka’. He is described as a handsome son of the King Dasharatha. Sri Rama Pattabhisheka is visualized beginning from the first charana. Svamigal says, “O Rama! Beholding Dharaja (Sita) in your lap, I pay obeisance to you”. Though Rama is always described to be with Sita, an equal asana to Sita is given only during the pattabhisheka. The words of Valmiki ‘rAmAn ratnamayopiTE sahasItam nyavESayat’ can be remembered here. The third, fourth and fifth charana again paint us the image of pattabhisheka. Whereas the third charana mentions Bharata holding an umbrella, the fifth charana makes a rare reference to monkey chieftains, Gavaya and Gavaksha, who helped Rama to reach Lanka.
During the coronation ceremony of Sri Ramachandra, Gavaya, ordained by Sugriva brought cool water from the western ocean, in a jar set with jewels, says Valmiki (gavayaha paschimAttOyamAjahAra mahArNavat I ratnakumbhEna mahatA SItam mArutavikramaha II). Though it is common to see Anchaneya, Sugriva, Angata, and Vali being referred to in the compositions of Svamigal (or other composers), a reference about Gavaya and Gavaksha is extremely rare. The fifth charana speaks about Ghataja (Agasthya), Vasishta, Mrukandu and Gautama. These sages were invariably referred to in any keertanas describing Sri Rama Pattabhisheka.
The raga Kapi
At this juncture, it is pertinent to make a note about the raga Kapi. This is an old raga and placed as a janya of mela 22, Karaharapriya. But, the raga Kapi used by Svamigal is much different from the present form heard commonly in concerts. The svaras kakali nishadha and antara gandhara, which form an integral part of this raga are not seen in old Kapi, used by Svamigal. The accounts by Sambamurthy and Ranga Ramanuja Iyengar attest this fact. Interestingly, Turaiyur Rajagopala Sarma makes a note in Sudesamitran that the original tune of the kriti ‘mivalla gunadosha’ was lost (another kriti of Svamigal in the raga Kapi), even as early as in 1938. This evidence shows the present tune available for this kriti (also for the other kritis of Svamigal in the raga Kapi) could be a later tuned one. The Valajapettai transcripts (written by Valajapettai Venkataramana Bhagavatar and his son Krishnasvamy Bhagavatar), which gives few Kapi raga kritis in its old form, did not give this kriti in notation. It is much unfortunate that the original tune of a kriti which mentions Sri Rama Pattabhisheka is unavailable to us. Let us hope Svamigal will bless us to get the original tune in the near future. Valajapettai version of the kriti ‘intha saukhya’, in the old Kapi raga can be heard here :
This was published in the magazine Laksquare, May issue.
The rāga-s in Karnataka Music are innumerous and can be grouped into various ways. The most common, and perhaps the well-known system is to identify them as mēlakarta and janya rāga-s. Mēlakarta-s are 72 in number and the commonly used scheme starts with Kanakāṅgi and ends with Rasikapriya. We do have an alternative scheme, wherein these mēlakarta-s are denoted as ragāṅga rāga-s. The latter system considers Kanakāmbari as the first ragāṅga rāga (mēlakarta) and Rasamañjari as the last one. Though, it is commonly believed that mēlakarta or ragāṅga rāga is the parent raga or the clan head that give rises to janya rāga-s, glancing the pages of history reveal this to be a later developed concept and interested readers can refer to an article by Rāmanāthan (1982) to understand the same.
Though we frequently equate ragāṅga raga -s with the mēlakarta raga-s, they are structurally much different, albeit with a few exceptions (See footnote 1). It is pertinent to note that many of the ragāṅga rāga -s are listed as janya rāga-s of their complementary pair in the mēlakarta scheme elaborated in Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi, denoting the importance given by the grantakarta of the latter text in distinguishing ragāṅga-s from mēlakarta-s. However, it is true that the Kanakāṅgi system was much popular than the Kanakāmbari system and many composers, posterior to Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ and Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar have preferred to use this.
The term ‘rāgāṅga’ can be seen in the text Bṛhaddēsi of Mataṅga, said to have been written between 6th and 8th century CE, to denote a group of dēśi raga-s (Hēmalatā 2001:1). However, the term in the present parlance of denoting a clan head (of rāga-s) can be seen only from the text Sangīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. He considers ‘rāgāṅga rāga’ as a sampūrṇa raga which mostly follows grāma raga. This is known as janaka and mēla rāga (Rao 2011:75). His usage of this term was based on work, ‘raga lakṣaṇa’ attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhī, the author of Caturdandīprakāṣikā.
Only the members of Dīkṣitar family gave a practical and more discernable form to these theoretical entities. Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar, a pioneer who served as a perennial source of inspiration for his descendants was the first to apply rāgāṅga rāga-s in his works. The rāgāṅga rāga-s Jhankārabhramari, Tanukīrti, Tōyavēgavāhini, etc., can all be seen in his kṛti-s for the first time (See footnote 2). His descendants Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar, and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar later elaborated on this. Surprisingly, this tradition did not survive posterior to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Among the disciple lineage of this family, these raga-s were used by Tanjāvūr Quartette (See footnote 3).
A careful inspection into Pradarṣini, the only text available to understand theoretical and practical aspects of these raga-s reveals they are not mere scales traversing the octaves; many of them are non-linear in their approach. This non-linearity, which gives them a unique and individual svarūpa was crafted purposefully or it was a documentation of a pre-existent practice cannot be ascertained. This feature is to be concentrated between the complementary members (identified by the same number in the 72 mēlakarta-rāgāṅga rāga schemes) of the different rāga classification systems.
An attempt to study these rāgāṅga rāga-s was made by Hēmalatā (2001). She has not only analyzed the compositions notated in Pradarṣini in these rāga-s, but also classified them based on the number of svara-s taken by them in āroha and avarōha. This kind of characterization can only be done for rāgāṅga rāga-s as melakarta-s are sampurna in both āroha and avarōha, differing only in their svarasthāna-s. This confers them a homogenous nature and any possible svara combination can be applied uniformly to all, at least theoretically. Contrarily, the nonlinearity seen with the rāgāṅga rāga-s makes them special and make us delve more into them.
These rāga-s deserve more individual attention as we do have many compositions outside the text Pradarṣini and also attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Moreover, taking a single rāgāṅga and analyzing all the compositions available gives us a better view of the raga svarūpa seen in these compositions. This also facilitates us to compare the lakṣaṇa of the rāgāṅga-s seen in the compositions available in Pradarṣini with those not notated in Pradarṣini. This section is intended to cover these rāga-s.
As a first step, this paper will highlight the phrases unique to the rāga Stavarāja, as seen in Pradarṣini, identify the differences between Stavarāja and Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi and proceeds to understand the svarūpa of Stavarāja seen in the compositions not notated in Pradarṣini.
The complementary pair
Stavarāja, an unpopular rāga is placed as 46th rāgāṅga raga in the Kanakāmbari – Rasamañjari scheme followed by the Dikṣitar family. Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi is its complementary rāga in the Kanakāṅgi – Rasikapriya mēlakarta scheme. Both the rāga-s take the same svara varieties – śuddha ṛṣabha, sādhāraṇa gāndhāra, prati madhyama, catuśruti dhaivata, and kaiṣiki niṣadha apart from saḍja-pañcama. This similarity had made many of us believe that they are indeed the same rāga-s but with different names. However, the compositions in this rāga reveal discernable differences existing between them. Let us first examine Ṣadvidamārgiṇi and then proceed to understand Stavarāja.
Like any other mēlakarta, this is a sampūrṇa rāga, a raga with all the seven svara-s in both āroha and avarōha, arranged in order. Almost all the compositions available in this raga are treated similarly (only the works of composers who lived and/or composed prior to 20th century are considered). The mēla rāgamālika of Mahā Vaidyanātha Śivan (Subraḥmaṇya Śāstri 1937:55-56) handles this more like a sampūrṇa scale with no special phrases. However, we do find phrases that cannot be restricted within the scale in few other compositions, as can be seen from the table (See footnotes 4 and 5). Hence, Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi can be visualized as a krama sampūrṇa rāga with few exceptional phrases. However, PDS seems to be important and is perhaps the only phrase transferred from gīta to kṛti (outside its linear scale).
Table – Special phrases seen in the raga Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi
|Ā rē rē sīta manōhara – Gīta||SGRG, SMG, MDP, PDS and PNS|
|Gñanamosaga rāda of Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ||PDS|
|Antaraṅga bhakti of Kōtīṣvara Ayyar||PDM and NDM|
Contrary to Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi, its complimentary pair Stavarāja is introduced by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar as an audava-audava rāga, lacking (varjya) gāndhāra – niṣādha in the ascent and pañcama – ṛṣabha in the descent. Though this can be simply represented as SRMPDS SNDMGS, the real svarūpa of this rāga can be perceived only by studying the gīta, attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhin, a kīrtana and a sañcāri of Muddusvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar respectively. This raga also features in the ragāṅga rāgamalika, ī kanakāmbari of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, a lexicon to understand the rāgāṅga rāga system (See footnote 6).
Analysis of the above-mentioned compositions reveals the presence of a lot of phrases outside the prescribed mūrccana, which can be learned from the table. The svara ṛṣabha occurs only as SRMP or GRS. Whenever we try to train our minds to accommodate the lakṣana prescribed in the mūrccana, we are surprised by any one of the outliers observed in the table. This surprise element continues with the kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar ‘stavarājādinuta’ on Lord Bṛhadīṣvara of Tanjāvūr.
Bṛhadīṣvara was a source of inspiration for Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, perhaps during his stay in Tanjāvūr, as a court musician in the Court of Śerfōji II (r1798-1832). Many of the kṛti-s composed on Bṛhadīṣvara and his consort Bṛhadamba are in rare rāga-s and Stavarāja is one such. With very few exceptions, the kṛti-s (on Bṛhadīṣvara and/or on his consort Bṛhadamba) do not have much information on sthala, tīrta or mūrti. Neither these kṛti-s are filled with heavy philosophical content. Certainly, this kṛti cannot be placed under the exceptional category.
‘Stavarājādinuta’ is a small kṛti set in pallavi – anupallavi – svara pattern. Interestingly, the prayōga SRMPD featuring in the gīta ‘ravi samnibha’ and in the sañcāri cannot be located in this kṛti! Contrarily many new phrases not seen in the gīta can be seen here. Despite these differences, we can clearly see the influence of this gīta on Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Lot of similarities can be seen between the two compositions. Both the compositions start with the phrase DMGS. The immediate phrase succeeding DMGS is SNNSNNP in the gīta and S,NSNNP in the kṛti. Both the compositions use dhaivata and niṣādha as janṭa in plenty as PNN, DDNDP, etc. Also, the svara ṛṣabha is used sparsely as in gīta. All these features direct us to conclude that the mentioned kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar was composed based on this gīta. In that case, we need to account for the prayōga-s featuring in this kṛti alone.
We need to analyze two compositions of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar before arriving at a conclusion, namely ī kanakāmbari, a rāgamālika mentioned in the earlier part of this article and a sañcāri. The Stavarāja segment in the rāgamālika too starts with the phrase DMGS and is followed by SNDS. It is a faithful reproduction of phrases seen in the gīta, though in his own style. The rāgamālika and sañcari also have unique phrases seen only in the kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar like SRGS. Interestingly, his sañcāri, set to maṭya tāla also has many phrases not seen in other compositions – gīta and kṛti. We find MDDMP, PDP, PGGS, DNND, and NPDM only here. This raises the question again – the authority on which Dīkṣita-s introduced these new phrases.
Table – Phrases available in the raga Stavaraja
|Ravi samnibha – Gīta||GGRS, PMP, PNND, PSNS, NDPM, NPMPSS and SNP|
|Stavarājādinuta – Kīrtana||MDPM, DRS, DDNDP, SRS, SNDP and PMG|
|Sañcāri||MDDMP, PDP, PGGS, DNND and NPDM|
An interpretation of this kṛti, as notated in Pradarṣini can be heard here.
This issue can be addressed in two ways – these phrases can be considered as an innovation by Dīkṣita-s or Dīkṣitar family must have had additional materials like tāna-s or gīta-s in their possession, displaying these phrases. The second possibility appears more plausible as Subbarāma Dīkṣitar reiterated several times in his text that he had many more materials in his possession and has not published them due to space restraint. A similar issue was explained by the author in an article on Gōpikāvasanta.
When the compositions of Muddusvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in this rāga are compared, we can see the latter gave an elaborate treatment, more so than the former. We find all the phrases of gīta in his rāgamālika and many new phrases in his sañcāri. Whereas, despite taking inspiration from the gīta and modeled like that, the kṛti ‘stavarājādinuta’ does not have all the phrases that can be located in the gīta. We have already observed such a finding when we discussed the kṛti ‘rudrakopa’ and the rāga Rudrapriyā.
It can be reminded that the text Saṅgraha Cūḍamaṇi, which places many of the rāgāṅga-s as a janya-s of mēlakarta-s, fail to recognize Stavarāja. This makes us believe, not all could have been aware of the rāgāṅga rāga-s like Stavarāja, in the past. Perhaps, these rāga-s could have been known only to the privileged disciples of Vēṅkaṭamakhī. Hence, to understand a rāga like this, it is essential for us to go through all the available compositions notated by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Based on these facts, it can be speculated that Dīkṣita-s could have had an access to unpublished materials, available only with them, carrying all these phrases, transmitting the legacy to the next generation.
The phrases not confirming with the mūrccana given in Pradarṣini carries high significance. Many of the phrases like GRS, SNP, etc., gives more flexibility for an otherwise strict scale. This peculiar feature is seen only with the rāgāṅga rāga-s. This feature is to be compared with their counterpart, Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi, wherein the latter strictly follows the scale with very few exceptional phrases. These exceptions too do not create an aural impact, as these rāga-s are all karma sampūrṇa-s with these phrases occurring occasionally. Whereas the vakra phrases, forming an integral part of the rāga architecture are seen only in the rāgāṅga-s creating a different melodic texture. This is accentuated when a svara given as varjya (ga – ni in the āroha and ri – pa in the avarōha) in mūrccana occurs in the composition, that too repeatedly. Hēmalata also highlighted this point in her thesis. She proceeds further and says such a course is not possible with the janya rāga-s having varjya svara-s, in the mēla scheme. For example, the rāga Āndōḷika with the scale SRMPNS SNDMRS cannot have the phrase PMRS or SNP (Hēmalatā 2001:89).
Perhaps the only other kṛti available in this rāga is ‘madhurāmbām bhajarē’. This kṛti is attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and forms a component of ‘Non – Pradarṣini kṛti-s’. Non-Pradarṣini kṛti-s are those compositions not notated by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his texts but found in the books published later and are attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.
Kallidaikuricci Sundaram Ayyar (Sundaram Ayyar 1992:39-40), a disciple of Ambi Dīkṣitar has published a series of books, predominantly containing the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar in notation. These books serve as an additional source to know about the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, especially the ones not published by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. For the same reason, these kṛti-s usually find a place under the ‘spurious’ category. He has notated two kṛti-s in this rāga – ‘stavarājādhinuta’ and ‘madhurāmbām bhajarē’. The kṛti ‘stavarājādhinuta’ much resembles the version given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and hence the second kṛti will be taken up for discussion.
This is a paean to the Goddess Mīnākṣi of Madurai. This kṛti, along with nine other kṛti-s is usually grouped as Madhurāmba vibhakti kṛti-s. Interestingly, only two of the nine kṛti-s are notated in Pradarṣini, namely ‘śri mīnākṣi gauri’ in the rāga Gauri and ‘śyāmalāṅgi mātaṅgi’ in the rāga Śyāmaḷa. It is to be noted that both the kṛti-s does not carry the śabda ‘madhurāmba’.
The kṛti ‘madhurāmbām bhajarē’ describes Mīnākṣi as a daughter of the Sage Mataṅga (mataṅga tanayām) enshrined in Madurai (madhurāmbām), the one who delights the heart of Manu, Kubera, etc., the giver of prosperity (dhaninīm) and the one who is pleased with praises offered in the rāga Stavarāja (See footnote 7). This kṛti is free of prosodic errors, as seen with many other ‘spurious’ kṛti-s, attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.
The kṛti starts with the phrase PDSSND and has all the standard phrases that fall within the mūrccana of this rāga. The non-mūrccana phrases, typical to these rāgāṅga-s are also seen aplenty. These include SRS, PGS, DND, DMG, and DRS. It is to be noted that the phrase PGS is seen only in the sañcāri of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and DRS occurs only in the kṛti ‘stavarājādhinuta’. SRS occurs in both the kṛti and sañcāri. There occurs a prayōga MDPD, unique only to this kṛti. This phrase occurs thrice, in madana janakādi, mataṅga tanayām, and mādhavādya. The authority on the use of this phrase is not clear.
Excluding the phrase MDPD, the rāga lakṣaṇa portrayed here is much in line with the Stavarāja of the gītaṃ, kṛti and sañcāri. However, the approach seen here is distinguishingly different from the above-mentioned compositions. First, the vital phrases like DMGS, PNNDPM, NNDPM, SNNP, etc., seen in the gīta, kṛti (stavarājādhinuta) and rāgamālika are missing in this kṛti. These phrases are abundant and used repeatedly in the compositions notated in Pradarṣini and when heard together, the melodic structure of Stavarāja can be better perceived. The absence of these phrases in ‘madhurāmbām bhajarē’ fails to create an image of Stavarāja, as experienced with the other kṛti-s mentioned. In addition, we see phrases like MDP- PM-PG-ND, a style usually not seen in the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar notated in Pradarṣini. Second, the svara-s gāndhāra, niṣādha, dhaivata are often used as janṭa in the compositions notated in Pradarṣini. In this kṛti, niṣādha alone occurs as a janṭa svara as SNND in two places. Third, there are no mandra sthāyi phrases in this kṛti. The phrases in the mandra sthāyi are an integral part of a kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. In the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar notated in Pradarṣini, we see mandra sthāyi phrases either in the basic structure of a kṛti or in its svara segment. Very rarely, we find an exception, like ‘arunācalanātham’ in Sāraṅga. In fact, the majority of the older versions of the kṛti-s of Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ too have mandra sthāyi phrases. The absence of such a phrase in this kṛti is intriguing. The kriti ‘madhurāmbām bhajarē’ as notated by Kallidaikuricci Sundaram Ayyar can be heard here.
Though the difference of opinions exists on the authenticity of this kṛti, the Stavarāja presented here abides the rāga lakṣaṇa given in the text Pradarṣini. If we exclude the phrase MDPD, the phrases seen in this kṛti are authorized by the compositions mentioned earlier. At the same time, it is to be accepted that the presentation of Stavarāja in this kṛti is very different from the compositions seen in Pradarṣini and sounds more like a variant of Ṣadvidamārgaṇi.
Many of the rāgāṅga rāga-s are much different from their complimentary pair in the mēlakarta system. Stavarāja is one such rāga which is to be distinguished from Ṣadvidamārgaṇi. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives three compositions in this rāga and all display a similar rāga lakṣaṇa. It is through these compositions, we can perceive the rāga Stavarāja.
Madhurāmbām bhajarē, a kṛti attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar is not seen in the text Pradarṣini. The phrases seen in this kṛti are very much in line with Stavarāja of Pradarṣini, with the exclusion of a single phrase. However, the melodic structure of this kṛti does not fit with the approach seen in the compositions notated in Pradarṣini. The melodic structure perceived by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has been modified or it was composed by a musician who was inspired by the Stavarāja handled by Dikṣita-s remains a mystery.
1.It is technically not correct to say Kanakāṅgi is equivalent to Kanakāmbari, Rasikapriya is equivalent to Rasamañjari and so on, and treating the kṛti-s composed in these two rāga-s in a similar way.
2.The usage of these raga-s in kṛti -s are considered here, as gīta-s in these raga-s, notated in Pradarsini predate the works of Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar.
3.Analysis of their compositions and a manuscript with a descendant of Tanjavur Sivanandam indeed reveals they have composed in many of the rāgāṅga rāga-s. The readers can refer to an article by the author for more details. The article can be accessed here. https://tlmthelostmelodies.wordpress.com/2020/11/19/sri-guruguha-navaratnamalika/
4.Though this kṛti is now sung in Purvikalyani, it is said to have been composed in Sadvidamargani. This kṛti also had a version in Gamanasrama. The phrase PDS is seen in the version given by Srinivasa Ayyangar (pg 101), but conspicuously not present in the version notated by S. Parthasaradhi (1986:58-60).
5.The phrase PDS is seen in the kṛti ‘antaraṅga bhakti’, notated by S.Rajam (1998:87-88).
6.A poet by name Kṛṣṇa Kavi composed this rāgamālika, which was tuned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.
7.Translation by V Gōvindan, can be accessed on the site http://guruguha.blogspot.com/2008/03/dikshitar-kriti-madhurambam-bhajare.html.
Hēmalatā R. A study of the rāgāṅga rāga-s in the Sangīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini of Subbarāma dīkṣitar. 2001. PhD Thesis submitted to Department of Indian Music, University of Madras.
Pappu Vēṇugōpāla Rao (Ed). 2011. Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. English Translation – Volume I. The Music Academy.
Pārthasārati S. 1986. Śrī Tyāgarājasvāmi Kīrtanaigaḷ – Tillaisthānam Pātam. Published by Sadguru Śrī Tyāgabraḥma Ārādana Kaiṅkaryam, Madras.
Rājam S. 1998. Śrī Kōtīsvara Ayyarin Kīrtanaigaḷ. Published by Rasikās, Mailapūr.
Rāmanāthan N. 1982. The concept of mēla. Journal of The Madras University, Volume LIV (1), accessible in the site http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/show/2318
Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār K.V. Saṅgīta Cintāmaṇi. Published by M.S. Rāmulu and Company, Madras.
Subraḥmaṇya Śāstri (Ed).1937. The Mēlarāgamālika of Mahā Vaidyanātha Śivan. Published by The Adyar Library, Madras.
Sundaram Ayyar A. Kallidaikuricci. 1992. Śrī Dīkṣita Kīrtana Mālā, Part XI. Published by Music Book Publishers, Madras.
Our dharma extols and worship a Guru to an extent that he is always treated synonymously with the ever pervading Almighty. Svetashvatara Upanishad, one among the celebrated 108 Upanishads says an aspirant must have unbiased worship towards his Guru and he is to be considered as a God incarnate itself. This is the only way through which he can attain the eternal bliss, prescribes this Upanishad. Advayataraka Upanishad, comparatively a lesser-known among the 108 Upanishads gives a meaning for the sabda “Guru”. The syllables ‘gu’ and ‘ru’ denotes darkness and dispeller respectively. Hence ‘Guru’ denotes a person who dispels darkness.
This truth as certified by Upanishads was sincerely followed by the disciples belonging to all the branches of Vedic dharma and we do find this idea percolating into the practitioners of Gandarva Veda also. Guru keertana-s and ashtaka-s composed by Valajapettai Venkataramana Bhagavathar on his guru Tyagaraja Svamigal is quite famous. We also see a mangalam on Svamigal composed by two of his disciples – Venkataramana Bhagavathar and Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaier.
There exist a lesser-known set of Guru kritis composed by Tanjavur Quartette on their teacher Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar and they can be collectively called as Sri Guruguha Navaratnamalika.
Tanjavur Quartette and Sri Muthuswamy Diksitar
Unlike Svamigal, Diksitar was peripatetic and this ambulant nature made him to spread his music at various places. Whereas disciples from distant places swarmed at Tiruvayyaru and learnt from Svamigal, Diksitar planted his seed at various places which later blossomed to give flowers of various colour and shapes. One such set of disciples, who has learnt from Diksitar during his stay as a court musician in Tanjavur is Chinniah, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu, commonly called as Tanjavur Quartette. They hail from a musical family and further honed their skills by learning from Diksitar for a period of approximately 8 years. As a tribute, they have composed and submitted this kritis into the lotus feet of their Guru.
The uniqueness of Sri Guruguha Navaratnamalika
A close introspection into the Guru kritis reveals they are strategically different from the works composed by the disciples of Svamigal.
- All these kritis are composed in Telugu and are on either Lord Brhadiswara or Devi Brhadiswari.
- Excluding a few phrases, these kritis do not deify their teacher. But it can be well perceived that their mental image about their Guru is exactly the same as mentioned in the Upanishad.
- Extra-ordinary parallelism is seen between these nine kritis and the kritis of Diksitar. In other words, these nine kritis stand out significantly from the rest of their creations! Perhaps, they could have felt, composing in the style followed by Guru would be a better tribute to show that He has bequeathed his wisdom to them.
As the name indicates, this set comprises of nine compositions set to nine different ragas:
Sri guruguha murthiki – Dhunibinnasadjam – Rupakam – Raganga raga 9
Mayatheetha svarupini – Mayamalavagowla – Rupakam – Raganga raga 15
Sri karambu – Kambhoji – Kantachapu
Sarasakshi – Sailadesakshi – Adhi – Raganga raga 35
Paramapavani – Varali – Rupakam – Raganga raga 39
Needu padame – Pantuvarali – Rupakam – Raganga ragam 45
Sri rajarajeswari – Ramamanohari – Adhi – Raganga ragam 52
Saatileni guruguhamurthini – Purvikalyani – Misrachapu – Raganga ragam 53
Sarekuni padamule – Chamaram – Rupakam – Raganga ragam 56
The kriti Mayateetha svarupini, as interpreted from Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini can be viewed here.
It is surprising to see that all of them are raganga ragas (another term used to refer melakarta) except the kriti in Kambhoji. To approach it more academically, even Kambhoji can be considered as a raganga raga as it was considered as a mela by few composers in the past. A gitam by Paidala Gurumurthy Sastri, who was an elder contemporary of Quartette can be cited as an example.
A close observation reveals another interesting finding; four of the nine ragas take the svaras suddha dhaivatam and kakali nishadham (raganga ragas 9,15,39 and 45). Is this merely a coincidence?
The parallelism between Navaratnamalika and the kritis of Dikshitar
As mentioned above, the compositional style unexceptionally resembles that of Dikshitar. This gets more visible by the following discussion.
Raga mudra is seen in all except the kritis in Kambhoji and Purvikalyani.
Five out of these nine compositions are set in pallavi-anupallavi format, a common feature seen in the kritis of Diksitar (these are now called as samasti charana kritis).
Madhyamakala sahityam is seen in all the kritis excluding the kritis in Sailadesakshi and Purvikalyani.
A chittasvaram is affixed to many kritis in this set.
Has a graha svaram segment (only in the Dhunibinnasadjam kriti).
The raga structure portrayed in these kritis correspond exactly with the lakshana seen in the kritis of Diksitar as notated by Subbarama Diksitar.
All these kritis bear the mudra ‘guruguha’.
Though this mudra has become synonymous with Diksitar, we do see this mudra being used by other composers. This mudra can be seen in some compositions of Subbarama Diksitar and Ambi Diksitar, other than the Quartette. In these nine kritis, this mudra is suffixed with phrases like ‘daasudaithi’, bhaktudani and sadhbhaktudani.
Only two kritis use a different form of this mudra and they give an internal reference regarding their relationship with Diksitar. The kriti in Binnasadjam begins as ‘sri guruguhamurtiki ne sishyudai yunnanura’, wherein the composer declares he was a disciple of Diksitar. Another personal reference is seen in the kriti ‘saatileni guruguhamurti’ wherein he says he is acquainted with his Guru for a considerable period of time (aa naatanundi).
We have three sources to study and analyse these kritis. The primary one is the text “Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai” published by the descendants of Quartette. To the limited knowledge of this author, this is the first text to give these kritis in notation and name them as Navaratnamalika. Second is “Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini” of Subbarama Diksitar and the third is the manuscripts believed to have been written by Quartette and now in the possession of Sri Sivakumar, a descendant of Quartette who graciously shared to do this analysis.
The notated version of all these nine kritis can be seen in the first source and only four kritis are notated in the text by Subbarama Diksitar. Subbarama Diksitar, in his treatise, has explained 72 raganga ragas and their janyas, practically by illustrating with the kritis of Muthuswamy Diksitar. Strangely for 4 raganga ragas (Dhunibinnasadjam, Siva Pantuvarali, Ramamanohari and Chamaram), no kriti of Diksitar was affixed. Instead, he has given the kritis of Ponniah as an authority to understand the ragas Dhunibinnasadjam, Ramamanohari and Chamaram (though Quartette in general were given the credit as the composer of these nine kritis, Subbarama Diksitar specifically mention the three kritis given by him as the creations of Ponniah). Siva pantuvarali is devoid of any kriti.
At the outset, no significant differences can be seen between these two texts with respect to the raga lakshana excluding the kriti in Ramamanohari. The raga lakshana seen in the kriti ‘sri raja rajeswari’, in the version given by Subbarama Diksitar is more in line with the Ramamanohari gitam seen in Samparadaya Pradarshini. Also, only Subbarama Diksitar has given a chittasvaram for Ramamanohari and Chamaram kritis. The graha svaram segment seen in the Dhunibinnasadajam kriti too is given only by Subbarama Diksitar.
Two inferences can be drawn from these findings – the descendants of Quartette have taken diligent efforts to preserve the compositions of their ancestors and Subbarama Diksitar, though belong to a different lineage has given the versions learnt and / or known to him earnestly.
Versions seen in the manuscripts too correspond extraordinarily well with the other sources. Few striking differences are seen:
- Pantuvarali is mentioned as the raga taking sadharana gandhara corresponding to the raganga raga 45 (this is given as the raga taking antara gandhara corresponding to melam 51 in the text ‘Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai’).
- The kriti ‘sri raja rajeswari’ has few special phrases that are seen in the gitam given in Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini.
- The manuscript gives different versions for two kritis – sri karambu and saatileni guruguha murti. ‘Sri karambu’ is mentioned as the raga taking the svaras of Kanakambari, raganga raga 1 and the raga for ‘saatileni guruguhamurti’ is given as Nata, which also serves as a raga mudra. Sivakumar opines that this is a common pattern observed with the Quartette; to tune a single sahityam to two different ragas and to fix two different sahityam into a single tune.
Rather than praising their Guru, Quartette has followed a different technique of paying tribute to their Guru. They have incorporated the special elements (like raga mudra, graha svaram segment and madhyamakala sahityam) of Diksitar kritis in these nine compositions to show His influence on them.
These nine kritis are an important source to understand the raga laskshana prevailed in the Diksitar family and their disciples. Having kritis in nine raganga ragas might be an indication that Quartette might have composed in other raganga ragas too and are to be identified.
I profusely thank Sri Sivakumar for allowing me to peruse the manuscripts said to be written by Tanjavur Quartette.
This article appeared in Sruti, April 2020 issue.
The term mangalam indicates auspiciousness amongst its many other denotation that it conveys. Mangalam is usually heard at the end of a Nama samkeertanam, Sita kalyanam or at the end of a concert to be propitious to both the listener and reciter. Mangalam can be compared with the ‘phalastuthi’ recited at the end of any sloka and usually eulogizes a deity. Though presently very few mangalam-s are in vogue, each family inherited their own repertoire of mangalam-s in the past. The deity extolled here will a family deity or a deity enshrined in a town to which the family belongs to. This author has listened to his grandmother singing a mangalam addressing the Lord Devanatha of Tiruvahindrapuram in the ragam Kamavardhani. Also, age old mangalam-s runs in the family through the generations. ‘Sri ramachandranukku’, a common mangalam appended to Rama nataka kirtanam of Arunachala Kavi and often sung in Madhyamavathi is sung in Asaveri in this author’s family. Interestingly, the oldest book which mentions this kriti too gives Asaveri as the raga for this kriti.
Occasionally, mangalam-s were also composed on Saints and mortals. Though the sahityam of these compositions might superficially appear inconsequential, they provide a lot of biographical details, especially when they are composed by individuals who are closely associated with the nayaka of the mangalam.
Disciples of Tyagaraja Svamigal
Svamigal could have been one of the very few composers to have a lot of disciples. Many of them were also composers and two of them who are of interest to us are Valajapettai Venkataraman Bhagavathar and Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaier. Both of them have composed mangalam-s furnishing a lot of details about their Guru.
Venkatasubbaier was related to Svamigal and he had trained a lot of disciples like his preceptor. He was a composer and sadly, only a few of his compositions survive through few isolated recordings like ‘avarakuta’ in the ragam Kuthuhalam and a kriti ‘samiki sari’ in the ragam Devagandhari resounding the glory of his Guru. His unknown compositions include a ragamalika ‘sivabhupathe’ and a mangalam ‘giriraja pautraya’ on his teacher among others.
Many of us are benighted about this mangalam in the ragam Surati set to khanda chapu. Only the sahityam will be analyzed to know more about Svamigal, as provided by his direct disciple.Sahityam of this mangalam is provided first followed by a discussion on some of the salient details seen in this kriti (The sahityam provided here is taken from a thesis by Nityasri on the disciples of Manabuchavadi venkatasubbaier).
giri raaja pautraaya kaarunya sindhave
gaana rasa purnaaya sri tyaagaraajaya mangaḷam subha mangalam
raama brahmaankita bhuvara suputraaya
naadabrahmaananda sri tyaagaraajaya mangaḷam subha mangalam
Caranam – 1
sitamma kruta punya baagyaaya
vimalaaya gitaya nitaya sri tyaagaraajaya mangaḷam subha mangalam
Caranam – 2
panca nada tiraavataaraaya naadaaya bandha sihaaraaya
sri tyaagaraajaaya buloga ava tirṇa vaalmikaamsine
venkataanugraha sri tyaagaraajaya mangaḷam subha mangalam
This is a mangalam composed in simple Sanskrit. This gives the geneology of svamigal starting from his grandfather. Mangalam start as ‘giritaja pautraya’ meaning the grandson of Giriraja. This indicates Giriraja was his paternal grandfather (dauhitra is the term to be used to denote maternal lineage), resolving the confusions surrounding the relationship between Svamigal and Giriraja. In the anupallavi, Venkatasubbaier says Svamigal was the blessed son of a brahmana by name Ramabrahma. Interestingly, the next line gives the sanyaasa diksha name of Svamigal, ‘naadabrahmaananda’ (this is a prevalent information given by various accounts covering the biography of Svamigal). Though, the occasion which saw the birth of this mangalam is not known, it could be speculated that this could have been composed after his beatitude. It is in this context, the line ‘panca nada tiraavataaraaya’ occurring in the caranam is to be studied.
There are controversies regarding the birth place of Svamigal. Whereas the predominant view is in support of Tiruvarur, few hold a view that Tiruvayyaru should get this privilege. Though outwardly seeing, this line might refer Tiruvayyaru as the avatara sthalam of Svamigal, when combined with the previously disclosed significance of the word ‘naadabrahmaananda’, it can be well presumed that ‘panca nada tiraavataaraaya’ might refer to the second birth place of Tyagaraja ; him taking the order of Sanyaasa and taking a new birth altogether as Naadabrahmaananda. This kriti also mentions Sitamma, his mother, and considers him as an amsa of Valmiki.
Valajapettai Venkataramana Bhagavathar
Guru kritis and Guru ashtakam of Venkataramana Bhagavathar are quite famous and require no introduction. What is less known is his mangalam on Svamigal. This mangalam with notation, tuned to Madhyamavathi and set to adi talam can be seen in the book by S Parthasaradhi, a disciple of Srinivasaraghavan. This kriti, with some additional carana-s feature in Valajapettai transcripts, preserved at Government Oriental Manuscript Library, Chennai. This mangalam is seen interspersed with the transcript dealing with ‘Nauka Caritramu’ of Svamigal. Whether this mangalam was composed along with the said natakam (of Svamigal) by Bhagavathar or it was written just alongside the natakam by the scribe cannot be ascertained. Only the text of the mangalam is provided; no notations or raga – tala marking is seen. This make us to doubt whether this was rendered as a kriti or recited only as a padyam. The text seen in the transcripts verbatim are provided first followed by analysis.
- Sri mad kaakarla vamsaadhi Candra yaamala tejase – raama rasagyaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
- Raamabrahma suputraaya sitamma garbhajaaya cha – raamachandra svarupaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
- Paarvati kamalaamba sad bhaarya samyathaaya cha – sarva sadguna purnaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
- Naaradaacharya karunaa paatraayadbutha kirtaye – dhiraaya nirvikaaraya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
- Sri karunaa samudraaya lokaanugraha kaarine – saakedhaadhipa bhaktaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
- Yogi pungava mitraaya yogaananda svarupine – raaga lobha vimukthaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
- Gaana saastra pravinaaya kali kalmasha naashine – naanaa sishya samuhaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
- Kaaveri tira vaasaaya karunaamruta varshine – paavana sucharitraaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
Sanskrit was the language used similar to the first mangalam. No distinction of the text into pallavi and carana-s can be noted.
This mangalam gives more insight into the biographical details of Svamigal. He starts with a mention about the ‘vamsa’ of Svamigal – Kakarla. He then proceeds to say he was the divine son of Ramabrahmam and Sitamma. He is the amsa of the Lord Sri Ramachandra itself and he had two wives – Parvati and Kamalaamba. This mangalam depose the incident wherein Svamigal had a vision of Sage Narada and blessed by him – ‘naaradaacharya karuna paatraaya’. He extols his Guru by using the phrases like the ‘one who is devoid of desire and greed’ (raaga lobha vimukthaaya), ‘well versed in sangita’(gaana saastra pravinaaya), ‘always surrounded by various disciples’ (naanaa sishya samuhaaya) etc., This mangalam does not mention about his diksha name or his place of birth. But, a biography written by Valajapettai father-duo affirms he was indeed born in Tiruvarur.
Apart from slight differences in the sahityam, the third kandika cannot be seen in the version given by S Parthasaradhi. Instead, we have a new sahityam starting with ‘dhina maanava poshaaya’.
Svamigal was revered and extolled by more than one disciple, even during his lifetime. These two mangalam could have been composed at different occasions, though the exact event or incident that kindled them to compose is not known. Nevertheless, these mangalam-s stand as a testimony to know the personal details about Svamigal with an authority.
The article appeared in Sruti, January 2020 issue.
We get to know the structure of many rāga-s only through Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. This text has both musical and musicological importance, as the rāga-s are not only explained by their phrases, but also through compositions. One such rāga whose svarūpa can be grasped well by analyzing this text is Gōpikāvasanta. A detailed analysis of this rāga has been done, wherein the author has concluded that Gōpikāvasanta is actually a name given to an old rāga by name Induganṭāravam. The conclusion was made based on the similarities between the two rāga-s and by considering the musicological treatises. Let us revisit this hypothesis in the light of some fresh evidences.
Gōpikāvasanta – Lakṣaṇa
Perhaps Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and Anubanda to Caturdanḍīprakāśikā attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhi were the only teatises that describe this raga (See Footnote 1). Gōpikāvasanta is a bhāṣāṅga, vakra sampūrṇa janya of mēla 20 (Nārīrītigaula or Naṭabhairavi). He gives a śloka and mūrcana and few phrases to explain the rāga and then proceeds to give a kṛti of Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar and his own sañcāri. We have mentioned in our post on Kamās that interpreting the mūrcana verbatim will not only lead to confusion, but also an incomplete understanding of a rāga and it is always to be combined with the notated compositions. Likewise, in this case we do find some discrepancies between the lakṣaṇa given in the śloka and the prayōga-s seen in the kṛti. Let us first look into the lakṣaṇa ślōka given in Pradarṣini:
syāt gōpikāvasantākhyaḥ pūrṇaṣṣaḍjagrahānvitaḥ I
ārōhē ca dhavakraśca avarōhē rivakritaḥ II
The gṛha of this sampūrṇa rāga is ṣaḍjam and the svara-s dhaivata and ṛṣbha are vakra in ārōhaṇa and avarōhaṇa respectively are the maximum possible details that can be gathered from this lakṣaṇa śloka.1 Mūrcana given by Dīkṣitar is RSRGMPDPNNS SNDPMGRMGS which gives a slightly clear picture. It can be observed that the possible phrase that lead us to tāra ṣaḍja is PNNS and to that of madya ṣaḍja is RMGS. More detail can be gathered by studying the salient phrases delineated by Dīkṣitar (See Footnote 2). By this exercise, few details not mentioned in the śloka and mūrcana can be learnt. Also we come to know the additional phrase to reach tāra ṣaḍja is PS. Similarly madya ṣaḍja can also be touched by the phrase RGS. There are special phrases like NDM and RM which is usually suffixed with RG or GS.
The above elucidation clearly shows the importance of reading the rāga as a whole rather than analyzing the mūrcana alone. Our learning further enhances and is completed when the kṛti-s in this rāga notated by Dīkṣitar are analyzed.
Gōpikāvasanta – Consensus
Gōpikāvasanta was taken up by a conclave of musicians in The Music Academy conference as a part of rāga lakṣaṇa discussion. A reference to the mūrcana given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has been made and an utsava sampradāya kīrtanam of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal was sung by Māṅgudi Cidambara Bgāgavatar. A consensus was made and this rāga was considered as a janya of mēla 20 with the presence of antara gāndhāra, catuśruti dhaivata and kākali niṣādha. This rāga followed the scale SRGMPNS SNDPMGS. This lead us nowhere and we don’t know whether that was a different rāga or a variant (aberrant form?) existed at that time.2
Kṛti-s in Gōpikāvasanta
There are two kṛti-s notated by Dīkṣitar in this rāga. The first one is the well-known ‘bālakṛṣṇam bhāvayāmi’ of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and the second one is ‘gōvindarājam’, a very rare one by Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar tuned the compositions of the latter composer and this is no exception. Though many of the compositions of Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya can be seen in Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini, this composition is seen only in the lesser known and perhaps the last publication of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar ‘Samskṛta ānḍra drāviḍa kīrtanālu’ published in the year 1906 (See Footnote 3).3 There is supposed to be a kṛti of Tyāgarāja Svamigal in this rāga which will be taken up soon.
Bālakṛṣṇam bhāvayāmi of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
This is a kṛti on Śrī Kṛṣṇa. No reference to any specific kṣetra is seen in this kṛti. As mentioned earlier, this has many prayōga-s, not mentioned in the mūrcana or in the specific phrases listed like PMPG, P(mandra sthāyi)R, SGR,SMMS and RGMGS. Analysis of this kṛti can be read in the article cited above.
Gōvindarājam of Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya – Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya is an underrated composer who has composed many kṛti-s in Sanskrit, Tamiz and Telugu. It is much unfortunate that many of his kṛti-s are not presented on stage. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar’s musical inception can be studied by analyzing these tunes and are definitely useful in understanding the musical style of Dīkṣitar family. This kṛti is on Kṛṣṇa incarnated as Gōvindarājā.
This is set in pallavi-anupallavi-caraṇam format with a muktāyi svara at the end. Many of the key phrases seen in the kṛti ‘bālakṛṣṇam bhāvayāmi’ and the phrases elucidated while describing the rāga can be seen here. Even before we cross the first line of the sāhitya, the phrase P(mandra sthāyi)S is highlighted and this phrases repeats. Similarly, PS too recur often. We do see some new phrases like SRS, PNDNDM, and DNDDM. Phrases used by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar like RGMGS, SMMS are not seen here. Whereas the svara-s ṣaḍja and gāndhāra were used as gṛha svara by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, it is pañcama and gāndhāra by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. This kṛti by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has many repetitive phrases like GRGS, DNDNDM and SPS which is not the case with the other kṛti. It is very clear that Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has tried to give us a very different picture of this rāga. It is to be remembered here that Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has extracted this rāga to its maximum possible limit without compromising the melody. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, understanding this limitation and being aware of the restricted scope of this rāga has shown us the lesser exposed side of this rāga, thereby giving a different, yet complete picture. This kṛti also serves as an exemplar to understand Dīkṣitar’s musical acumen in the realm of tāla. This kṛti can be heard here.
Sañcāri of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
In the treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini, whether a particular rāga is furnished with a kṛti or not, it invariably has a sañcāri composed by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Sañcāri in this rāga forms an important role as it is not just an encapsulation of the kṛti ‘bālakṛṣṇam bhāvayāmi’ or the phrases he elucidated while introducing this rāga. Neither is it a replica of the phrases seen in the kṛti ‘gōvindarājam’. It is unique in its own way as it gives us a more complete picture of this rāga. New phrases found here help us to understand this rāga further, which includes PDM,NS, SNS and GGPP. The phrase SPS is again stressed and also we get to see other phrases in mandra sthāyi like PR and NS (P and N are in mandra sthāyi).
From the above discussion it could be well perceived that Dīkṣitar has not explained all the phrases in his introductory remarks (to this rāga); mūrcana given by him is not comprehensive in explaining a rāga. When we see the phrases which cannot be redacted from the mūrcana and also when older forms like gīta or prabandha were not furnished (in his Pradarṣini), how and from where Dīkṣitar extracted these places?
Following hypotheses can be proposed:
- Dīkṣitar (Muddusvāmy and/or Subbarāma) could have had unpublished gīta-prabandha-s with them (See Footnote 4).
- Rāga lakṣana said to be written by Vēṅkaṭamakhi, which was in the possession of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar could have an explanatory phrases to understand rāga-s like this. The book what we call it as ‘anubandha’ appears to be an incomplete work. A lakṣaṇa granta tries to explain a rāga with its phrases or more detailed ślōka-s. The ślōka-s in the ‘anubandha’ are totally redundant in understanding a rāga and they more appear to be a part of a main treatise which is yet to be discovered.
Gōpikāvasanta and Indughanṭārava – Two names for a single rāga?
We have reiterated several times that the compositions handed over to us by oral tradition or through the printed texts and the rāga lakṣaṇa therein is not comprehensive in any manner. We need to look into unpublished manuscripts lying untouched at various repositories. Analysis without considering the data given in the manuscripts will be superfluous and will not give us an exact solution.
A manuscript in Tanjāvūr Mahārāja Śerfoji Sarasvati Mahāl Library (TMSSML)
TMSSML is a veritable source to understand the cultural history of Tanjāvūr as it preserves manuscripts related to our culture and many of them are yet to be explored. Many of these manuscripts are believed to be of Nāyak period.3 One among this is a manuscript having a collection of gīta-s and sūlādi-s in notation. This manuscript also has a notation for āyittam in the rāga Gōpikāvasanta (See Footnote 5). Gōpikāvasanta is also mentioned as (a janya of) Bhairavi mēla. This shows the existence of this rāga during or even before the period of Śāhāji and Tulaja. The phrases there in, though much less elaborative that what is seen in the compositions mentioned above, is much suggestive of Gōpikāvasanta. Excluding two phrases, other prayōga-s can be seen in the compositions mentioned above. The unique prayōga-s seen only in this āyittam are GRS and PDNS! How can we reconcile this? This rāga also has the phrases PDND (also seen in the āyittam) and SNS.
Technically, this rāga could have had these phrases (GRS and PDNS) and these composers could have avoided using this phrase. Not necessarily, a composer is expected to exhaust all the phrases in his composition. Secondly, Dīkṣitar has mentioned several phrases in many rāga-s that they are used only in gīta-s or prabandha-s and not in kīrtana-s. Even in this case, Dīkṣitar remarks, the phrase PNS or SNS is seen only in the tānam. GRS and PDNS could have been such unique phrases used only in those genres and not used in kṛti-s.
An old rāga
Based on these evidences, we can clearly say this is definitely an old rāga, existent even before the time of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and due to some unknown reasons, was not catalogued in the treatises like Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śahāji or Saṅgīta Sāramṛta of Tulaja. Having said this, we will now analyze Indughaṇṭārava and see how it differs from Gōpikāvasanta.
Indughaṇṭārava – Lakṣaṇa
This is a janya of Bhairavi mēla says Śahāji and Tulaja. This could correspond to Nārīrītigaula mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. They have given some illustrative phrases and stressed PDNS and MGRS will not occur in this rāga.5
Though it appears much similar to Gōpikāvasanta, certain vital differences can be seen on careful introspection of the phrases given by them. First is the appearance of the phrases PDNS and GRS. This cannot occur in Indughaṇṭārava, but seen in Gōpikāvasanta. Second is the phrase SRGMGS. This is seen only in Indughaṇṭārava and not in the āyittam or any of the available compositions in Gōpikāvasanta. The common avarōhaṇa phrase in Indughaṇṭārava is SNDPM, which is certainly not permissible in Gōpikāvasanta (See Footnote 6).
Based on the available evidences, we can clearly conclude both are old rāga-s and are much allied to each other. We had many gīta-s and tāna-s in both these rāga-s, implying both could have been popular. As mentioned earlier, due to some unknown reasons, some musicologists failed to catalogue Gōpikāvasanta (See Footnote 7). We get to know Indughaṇṭārava is a ghana and naya rāga. Can Gōpikāvasanta be a dēśīya rāga and hence got missed to be catalogued like many other dēśīya rāga-s?
A kṛti of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal
We have mentioned about Māṅgudi Cidambara Bāgavatar singing an utsava sampradāya in the rāga Gōpikāvasanta. Though we have no clue on the kṛti, we can narrow down our search based on an information given by Taccur brothers.
Taccur brothers had published a series of books in the earlier part of the last century. One among them is Śrī Bhagavad Sārāmṛtam, published in the year 1916.6 This has a kṛti of Svāmigal in the rāgaṃ Gōpikāvasanta.
Śri rāma rāma rāma is an utsava sampradāya kṛti, now sung in Nīlāmbari. Almost all the texts mention the rāga of this kṛti as Nīlāmbari, but mentioned as Gōpikāvasanta by Taccur brothers. Another significant observation here is the tāla of this kṛti is not specified. It should be sung like an ālāpana, without reckoning tāla says the author. We were unable to find any living tradition singing this kṛti like this.
The melody of this sounds much different from the Gōpikāvasanta that we were discussing. Many phrases like PMR and RGMDP, which are not seen in the compositions mentioned earlier can be seen. The svarūpa seen here does not even seem to match the scale given by them (in the ‘rāga lakṣaṇa proceedings’ happened in The Music Academy); Gōpikāvasanta mentioned by them is devoid of ṛṣbham, but this version has. Combining these evidences with the points mentioned in The Music Academy conference, this could have been some other rāga disguised in the name of Gōpikāvasanta.
Based on the presently available evidences, we can conclude Gōpikāvasanta was a separate entity from Indughaṇṭārava though they share very many similarities. Many rāga-s have not been catalogued by the lakṣaṇa granthakāra-s and it is only by examination of gīta-prabandha manuscripts preserved at various repositories and texts like Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini we get to know the mere existence of these rāga-s. The Dīkṣitar family had done a great service by providing these abstract rāga-s in the form of kṛti-s which are more palatable than any other form and we are indebted to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar for cataloguing rāga-s like Gōpikāvasanta which do not have any textual reference. This also shows Dīkṣitar was much aware of his tradition and assiduously bequeathed to us.
I thank Dr Ārati Rao, Research Scholar for providing me a copy of TMSSML manuscript.
1. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. 1904. Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini, Vidyā Vilāsini Press, Eṭṭayapuraṃ Samasthānaṃ.
2. Proceedings of the Experts Committee of the Madras Music Academy. 1938. The Journal of Music Academy, Volume IX, p 17-18.
3. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. 1906. Samskṛta ānḍra drāviḍa kīrtanālu. Eṭṭayyapuram Vidyā Vilāsini Mudrākṣaraśala, p 42-43.
4. Sīta, S. 1976. Dīkṣitar and Vēṅkaṭamakhin’s tradition. The Journal of Music Academy, p 129.
5. Hema Ramanathan. 2004. Ragalakshana Sangraha – Collection of Raga Descriptions, p 565-567.
6. Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu. 1916. Gāyaka siddhāṅjanamu. Cennapuri Śaśilēkhā Mudrākśaraśālā, p 45-46.
Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi and its allied texts do make a note of this rāga. But the scale given there lacks ṛṣbham completely and is much different from the Gōpikāvasanta described here.
RgmrG, RmrG, Rggs, RgM, PdpM, GmP, rgmP, ndM, grmgS, rmrgS, PsPPs, GRmgS, Pnns, psns were few of the phrases mentioned by Dīkṣitar (P is in mandra sthāyi).
Raṅga Rāmānuja Ayyaṅgār has notated this composition in his book ‘kṛti maṇi mālai’. We find a completely different version there. This version is not taken for comparison, as we have an authentic version given by the composer himself and the version by Ayyaṅgār is definitely a retuned one irrespective of his source. The tāla intricacies seen in the composer’s version is not maintained here and this version also lacks the citta svaram.
Dīkṣitar, at many places in Pradarṣini proclaims he has supplementary material in the form of tāna-s and gīta-s and not publishing them because of space restraint. One such example that might be of relevance here is the note that he gives in the Ābhērī rāga lakṣana. He clearly mentions he has tāna-s to support the statement given by him regarding the lakṣaṇa and not publishing them. For the same reason, he could have refrained himself from publishing tāna-s in the rāga Gōpikāvasanta.
Rāga ālāpana was also referred as ‘āyitam’.
It is to be accepted that the phrases available to us are very limited and we need to see the compositions in full to understand the rāga Indughaṇṭārava.
In this regard, Gōpikāvasanta alone is not a solitary exclusion. Many dēśi rāga-s like Bhairavam, Aṭhāṇa, Bēgaḍa etc., were not catalogued by Śāhāji and Tulaja.
We have seen about the rāga Rudrapriyā, its gṛha, amsa, nyāsa svarā-s and salient phrases in the two earlier posts. It was established that Rudrapriyā was mentioned by various names, the most common one being Karnāṭaka Kāpi. It was also illustrated the name Rudrapriyā was used to denote different scales in the past.
We have been mentioning in our earlier posts that Rudrapriyā elucidated in the main body of Saṅgīta Samprādaya Pradarśini is much different from the two kṛtis, ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ and ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’, notated in the ‘anubandham’ of the same text. The lakṣaṇa of these two kṛti-s too does not confirm with each other. The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ was covered in an earlier post and the second kṛti will be the subject of discussion in this post.
Tyāgēśam bhajarē in Saṅgīta Samprādaya Pradarśini
This is a very small kṛti constructed in a pallavi-anupallavi format. This is not even suffixed with a ciṭṭa svara passage. This is an ode to Tyāgēśa of Tiruvārur. Despite being a small kṛti, it has a reference to an important attribute associated with the deity Tyāgēśa. The relics of Tyāgeśa like his swords and throne are equally famous and much venerated as the Lord himself in this shrine. He is the sovereign, rules the world and his throne is said to be made of precious gems (Ratna simhāsanam). Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar has referred to His throne in many of his compositions, ‘kanaka ratna simhāsanābharaṇa’ in the Vīravasanta kṛti ‘vīravasanta tyāgarāja’, ‘simhāsanapatē’ in this kṛti and in ‘tyāgarājaya namaste’, a kṛti in Bēgaḍa. There is a ślokam ‘Tyāgarāja aṣṭakam’ attributed to Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar.1 As the name indicates, this has eight verses and each verse ends with the line ‘śri tyāgarāya namo namaḥ’. The second verse here again refers to this throne as ‘samśobhi simhāsana samsthithāya’ (one who sits on a greatly shining throne).
Musically, the rāga lakṣaṇa portrayed here is much different from others kṛti-s notated in Rudrapriyā. Excluding a single phrase MGMGGR, the lakṣaṇa followed here more confirms with the scale SRMPDS SNDPMGRS, which can be heard here. This is one of the few kṛti-s, wherein Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar strictly follows a scale. The gṛha svara used here includes gāndhāra, pañcama and niṣādha and the nyāsa svara is always madhyama. We do find a plenty of janṭa gāndhāra, dhaivata and niṣādha prayōga-s. Excluding the use of janṭa phrases, we do not find any similarity with the rāga Rudrapriyā. More about the rāga Rudrapriyā can be read here. We now get a question, can a kṛti with this lakṣaṇa can be called as Rudrapriyā ?
Consensus on Rudrapriyā
We have not seen the opinion of other musicians/musicologists on this rāga in our earlier posts and that will be taken now. The documentations of the rāga lakṣaṇa discussions happened during the annual conference organized by The Madras Music Academy always provides a valuable reference to understand a rāga. These discussions were attended by legion of musicians and they were not restrained in expressing their thoughts on a rāga, its versions or the kṛti-s known to them. These discussions not only enable us to know about a particular rāga, but also make us aware of its variants. Fortunately, they were also recorded for the posterity.
Rudrapriyā finds a place in two of such discussions. The first one happened in the year 1956.2 Two distinctive types of Rudrapriyā were mentioned by the musicians participated in this discussion; first is with the scale SRGMPDNNS SNPMGRS and the second with the scale SRGMNS SNPMGRS. They were also of the opinion that the second one is to be called as Pūrṇaṣaḍjam. A note has been made that Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has given six kṛti-s in notation including ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ and ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’. Whereas Musiri Subraḥmaṇya Ayyar had recorded the lakṣaṇa of the former kṛti, no discussion happened on the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’.
The second discussion happened in the year 2009.3 Here this rāga was discussed with its allied rāga-s like Kānaḍā and Durbār. This was a much-detailed discussion wherein many eminent musicologists participated and shared their views. Here Rudrapriyā compositions in the main section differed from the two kṛti-s in anubandham and difference between these two kṛti-s were taken note of. The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ was analyzed in detail and its resemblance with ‘śrī mānini’ of Svāmigal was also discussed. Again no reference to the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’ can be seen.
It can be seen from the above discussion, though a note has been made about this kṛti and the different lakṣaṇa seen here, no detailed analysis has been attempted; possibly due to unpopularity of this kṛti.
A kṛti of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal
When we discuss the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ or render the kṛti, it is inevitable for us to think about the kṛti ‘śrī mānini’. We have analyzed these two kṛti-s in detail in the second part of this article which can be read here. Lesser-known fact is the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’ also have a complementary kṛti, composed by Svāmigal. Contrary to the first pair, this pair is similar only with respect to their rāga lakṣaṇa-s and not with the melody.
We have mentioned earlier that the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’ follows the scale SRMPDS SNDPMGRS. This rāga is now called as Sālagabhairavi. But the complementary kṛti that we will be seeing is not the commonly heard ‘padavini sadbhakthi’. Though this is the kṛti which epitomizes the rāga Sālagabhairavi today, the older version of this kṛti is much different, perhaps composed in a different rāga and we also find references to support this view.4 An analysis of this older version and the differences between this and the old Sālagabhairavi is to be covered separately.
We have a kṛti which could have been composed in the present Sālagabhairavi (the scale that corresponds to the lakṣaṇa in ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’), but now commonly sung in Mukhāri (See footnote 1). This kṛti ‘ēlāvatāra’ is mentioned as Sālagabhairavi in the text ‘Oriental Music in European Notation’ by A M Chinnasāmy Bhāgavatar (See footnote 2).
Though this kṛti is a personal dialogue between the composer and his iṣta dēvata Śrī Rāmacandra, this kṛti has an important reference about the musical contribution of the composer. This is one of the kṛti-s which reveals he has composed in 100 rāga-s and grouped it as rāgamālika, referred to as ‘śata rāgaratna mālikalu rasiñcina’ in this kṛti. Though we have no idea about this rāgamālika, C R Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār gives a fleeting reference in one of his article published in Sudēsamitran (See footnote 3).5
Vālājāpeṭṭai manuscripts mention the rāga of this kṛti as Sālagabhairavi. The version here exactly follows the scale SRMPDS SNDPMGRS. Gāndhāra and pañcama were the gṛha svara-s used and madhyama acts as a nyāsa svara apart from ṣaḍja (can be compared with the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’). The svara-s ṛṣbha and gāndhāra do occur as janṭa, but as pratyāgata gamaka (janṭa occurring in avarōhaṇa krama) and in catusra phrases. So it is common to find phrases like MGG and GRR, in this kṛti. This confirms with the typical style of Svāmigal, as seen in Vālājāpeṭṭai versions. This can be compared with the janṭa phrases seen in the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’ wherein the janṭa svara-s occur as pratyāgata gamaka (but not as catusra phrases). This stylistic difference in the handling of svara-s give a different gait to the kṛti, despite being composed in the same rāga. The only difference that can be seen between these two kṛti-s is the presence of prayōga-s MGMGGR and PDND, but only in the latter kṛti. Though the first phrase is a deviation from the scale, the latter one is very much within the scale. There is a kṛti of Vīṇa Kuppaier in this rāga, ‘sāmagāna lolanē on Śrī Kālahastīśa. This kṛti too follows the mentioned scale, excluding the presence of the phrase SRGR. This special phrase is seen in the lakṣaṇa gītaṃ notated in Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi.
Gītaṃ in Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi
Many believe Tyāgarāja Svāmigal followed the treatise Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi, selected apūrva rāga-s and composed in them. But analysis of many old, defunct versions like that from Vālājāpeṭṭai transcripts disprove this hypothesis (Readers can refer to Apūrva rāga-s series of this author placed in this site to know more). This rāga, Sālagabhairavi, as we call it today, is seen in this treatise and it also gives a lakṣaṇa gītaṃ for better understanding of this rāga.6 Many phrases outside this scale can be seen here like SRGR, SPM, RGRS, RPM, GSR, GRPM, GDP, MMGMGR and PDMGR.
As mentioned earlier, none of these outliers can be seen in the kṛti ‘ēlāvatāra, whereas these outliers can be seen in the kṛti-s ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’ and ‘sāmagāna lolanē’ – MGMGR and SRGR respectively. Can we say Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar and Vīṇa Kuppaier were conversant with Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi?
Though we cannot give a definite answer, these phrases cannot be taken lightly and ignored as a mere coincidence. It is a well-known fact that Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar was equally conversant with Kanakāṅgi – Rasikapriyā nomenclature (See footnote 4). This possibility can be conceived if we feel the present mēla system was a later development. Rather if we consider Kanakāṅgi – Rasikapriyā and Kanakāmbari – Rasamañjari system were coeval, it can be taken that he had good acquaintance with both these systems.
It seems Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi was much popular among the disciples of Svāmigal and Vīṇa Kuppaier too could have accessed the same.Hence it is actually not impossible to find the use of the phrases seen in Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi in the works of these composers who were shrewd and able to incorporate the changes happening around them.
Sindhūra or (Hindustāni) Saindhavi
Though we were able to locate the phrases used in these kṛti-s, in the lakṣaṇa gītaṃ notated in Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi, this hypothesis is not infallible when we consider the cultural milieu of Tanjāvūr between 17-19 CE. In the second part of this article, we have speculated the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ and ‘śrī mānini’ were not identical twins, but actually an inspiration from a common melody heard in that area. We can apply this hypothesis to this kṛti too. Tanjāvūr during the mentioned period was very active musically and there was not only an amalgamation of various genres of music, but also effective incorporation and thereby adaptation of these genres into our music. The composers mentioned in this article were much inclusive to various musical thoughts and they did not restrain themselves from incorporating these ideas into their creations. Dīkṣitar’s nōṭṭusvara sāhitya-s, Svāmigal’s ‘ramiñcuva’ all come under this category wherein they have adopted Western music into their creations. This rāga under discussion could be an adaptation from Hindustāni music. There is a Hindustāni rāga by the name Sindhūra or (Hindustāni) Saindhavi (emphasis is mine) and with the same scale.7 This rāga could have influenced these two composers to create a composition in their own commendable style. Both these composers were adept in ancient treatises and it is very unlikely that they would have labelled this kṛti as Sālagabhairavi. For our reference, Sindhūra could be a better option as it will not lead to any more confusion.
Rudrapriyā and this kṛti
The above discussion clearly shows the rāga of this kṛti cannot be fitted into the realm of Rudrapriyā. Atleast the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ has some elements that made us to speculate, this kṛti could be a different interpretation of the rāga Rudrapriyā. But that cannot be applied for this kṛti. In such a case, the reason for Dīkṣitar labelling it as Rudrapriyā is mysterious. We did not want to make a hasty conclusion saying Dīkṣitar was wrong in naming it as Rudrapriyā. We just want to make a point that we are unable to find a reason for this labelling. Even Dīkṣitar could have been puzzled by seeing the lakṣaṇa of this kṛti, strikingly different from the Rudrapriyā of the main text. But the reason for him to tag Rudrapriyā with this melody is even really intriguing. Perhaps he must have had a lexicon in his possession, which label this scale as Rudrapriyā. Our statement ‘Rudrapriyā had many names and many different scales were called as Rudrapriyā’ can be remembered here.
We will stop at this point and leave this discussion open. We believe Dīkṣitar will show us the way to crack this secret by opening some unknown avenues in the near future.
Rudrapriyā visualized by Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar in this kṛti is distinctly different from the Rudrapriyā mentioned elsewhere. Analysis of the lakṣaṇa clearly shows the name Rudrapriyā is actually a misattribution, based on the present level of understanding. Considering the acumen of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, it can be very well presumed that he must have had his own reasons to label this as Rudrapriyā.
It is better to call the scale SRMPDS SNDPMGRS as Sindhūra or Hindustāni Saindhavi. The rāga Sālagabhairavi is an old rāga mentioned in various treatises and was much popular. Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar and Svāmigaḷ were much conversant with these rāga-s and they would have not called this rāga as Sālagabhairavi. This also proves our oft-quoted hypothesis that evanescence of old versions made us to believe Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar and Svāmigaḷ were followers of two different schools.
It is much surprising to see a phrase seen in Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi finding a place in a kṛti of Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar. This makes us to presume Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar too was aware of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi.
Footnote 1 – The present scalar Sālagabhairavi is actually an abridged version of Mukhāri, but with only one variety of dhaivatam.
Footnote 2 – Interestingly, this kṛti was not mentioned by Narasiṃha Bhāgavatar and S A Rāmasvāmy Bhāgavatar in their texts.
Footnote 3 – Rāmasvāmy Bhāgavatar, grandson of Vālājāpeṭṭai Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar has averred to Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār that he had collected the individual kṛti-s in this rāgamālika and had plans to publish it soon. Unfortunately, we are now clueless on the condition of the manuscript in the possession of Rāmasvāmy Bhāgavatar.
Footnote 4 – Using mēla names current in Kanakāṅgi – Rasikapriyā nomenclature like ‘haimavatīm’ and ‘śūlinīm’ in his kṛti-s attest this fact.
1. Śrī Tyāgarāja Aṣtakam – http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Sri_Thyagaraja_ashtakam
2. Proceedings of the Experts Committee of the Madras Music Academy. 1956. The Journal of Music Academy, Volume XXVII, p 27-28.
3. Rāmanāthan N. 2009. Rāga-s: Rudrapriyā, Karnāṭaka Kāpi, Darbār and Kānaḍā – A Comparative Analysis. The Journal of Music Academy, , Volume LXXX, p 103-114. http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/show/2359
4. Proceedings of the Experts Committee of the Madras Music Academy. 1943. The Journal of Music Academy, Volume XIV, p 17-18.
5. Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgar C.V. 1935. Sudēsamitran. http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/show/1638, p 10.
6. Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi. 1938. Sālagabhairavi lakṣaṇa gītaṃ – p 111-112. The Adyar Library.
7. Subbā Rao T.V. 1996. Rāganidhi. A Comparative Study Of Hindustāni and Karnātik Rāgas. The Music Academy, p 46-47.
Dr Aravindh T Ranganathan
This article is a continuation of the previous one on the rāga Kamās. It is advisable to get acquainted with that article before proceeding further as the mentioned article will be quoted often.
Like K V Rāmachandran has mentioned in one of his article, Tyāgarāja Svāmigal is like Prajāpati in creating his own rāga-s.1 Many of these rāga-s were hitherto unknown and many have only his compositions. This uniqueness had posed a problem for the musicians, compilers and researchers in the last century. Many rāga-s were given more than one name, some had scale-lakṣaṇa discrepancies, that is the rāga name does not match with the rāga svarūpa portrayed in the rāga and some were corrected to the nearest scale. The basic reason for such a discrepancy is the name of these rāgas-s remained anonymousand the compilers adopted their own indigenous ways to name these rāga-s (See Footnote 1).Frequently Taccur brothers were impeached for adopting the names from the text by name Saṅgraha Cūdāmani.2 Rāga-s handled by Tyāgarāja and Dīkṣitar with varied lakṣaṇa were given a single name and in this process a theory was devised to behold this glaring anomaly, Tyāgarāja and Dīkṣitar followed two different schools and a same rāga was handled differently depending on the school to which they belong to. Whereas Dīkṣitar’s musical ancestry was traced back to Vēṅkaṭamakhi, sincere thanks to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, Svāmigal’s ancestry was traced back to the text Saṅgraha Cūdāmani whose authorship is unknown. But this theory was questioned by Chērmadevi Subraḥmaṇya Sāstrigal as early as in 1936, a Veena vidvan belonging to Dīkṣitar school (See Footnote 2).3 This thought was later echoed in many of the articles by K V Ramachandran.1,2 Their reasoning and querying the authenticity of this theory is genuine, when we see a similar handling of ghana, rakti and dēśīya rāga-s, how or why should these contemporary composers follow different schools while handling apūrva rāga-s? This question remains open even now; but we still believe they propagated two different schools. This author tries to supplement the thoughts put forward by these musicians/musicologists, by analyzing Vālājāpeṭṭai manuscripts and other older versions and articles in this series can be accessed in this site.
K V Rāmachandran also made two valid observations which help us to understand these apūrva rāga-s better and help us to continue his quest in identifying the original tunes and the original rāga names. First, he mentions, in the event of identifying or tagging a rāga name to a composition, the original tune has been vitiated. Secondly, Vālajāpet Rāmasvāmy Bhāgavatar (grandson of Vālajāpet Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar) has admitted to him that many rāga names has been assigned to the kṛti-s without proper scrutiny.2 The latter point becomes more important as the names that we see today for many of these apūrva rāga-s appear for the first time in the book “Oriental Music in European Notation” by A M Chinnasāmy Mudaliyar published in the year 1893. The main source for this publication is Kṛṣṇasvāmy Bhāgavatar, along with some other prominent musician whose identity is anonymous. However Rāmachandran and Sāmbamūrti expounded the genuineness of Vālajāpeṭṭai notations and Rāmachandran even advises that these notations are to be analyzed to know the true svarūpa of the compositions of Svāmigal.2,4
With this introduction, let us move to the kṛti ‘sītāpate nā manasuna’. Nowhere else the rāga of this kṛti is disputed and this is such an innocuous kṛti always sung in the rāga Kamās. But our understanding on the Kamās made us to revisit all the available versions for this kṛti – both oral and textual and we are here to report an unusual misattribution; a kṛti composed in an apūrva rāga could have been attributed to the rāga Kamās!
Sītāpatē nā manasuna
We had mentioned several times that the popularity enjoyed by a kṛti too vary and is much time dependent. We have seen such instances in the rāga-s Balahamsa and Kamās. This is one another instance, a kṛti which was not common in the early part of the last century, gained prominence in the later half. Very few texts give this kṛti in notation and this is the same trend seen in the manuscripts examined.
We hear almost a similar version with the sparse use of ṛṣbham. It is one of the fortunate kṛti-s wherein the basic structure of the kṛti is fairly similar across the renditions. As seen in the article on Kamās, none of the renditions are devoid of the svara ṛṣbham (See footnote 3).
Textual versions – An analysis
As mentioned earlier, very few texts give this kṛti in notation; three texts and three manuscripts in our collection gives us this kṛti. The first text to give this kṛti is ‘saṅgīta kalānidhi’ of Taccur brothers.5 This version is totally devoid of ṛṣbham, has Kamās phrases like SGMS, MNDN and PNDP and set to ādi tāla. To make it more precise, it represents the variant Kamās mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar with unfeigned adherence to the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS, yet maintaining other important phrases of Kamās. If we include the svara ṛṣbham, this version will be much closer to the version that we hear commonly.
Saṅgītānandaratnākaram is the next text to make a note of this kṛti.6 The version given here is also devoid of ṛṣbham, but more closer to the one given in Vālājāpeṭṭai version which will be described soon. The pallavi has five saṅgati-s, of which four show its presence in Vālājāpeṭṭai version. One saṅgati here sports the phrase MNDN, which occur only once in this kṛti. This phrase is absent in Vālājāpeṭṭai version. Similarly the first line of anupallavi has a saṅgati which has the phrase SGMSN. This phrase is again not seen in Vālājāpeṭṭai version. It can be concluded that the basic Vālājāpeṭṭai version could have been followed in this text with few additional saṅgati-s. Whether this version has a Vālājāpeṭṭai source or this was the musical tune of this kṛti prevalent among all the disciples, directly learnt from Svāmigal cannot be ascertained.
Dākṣinātyagānam is the third text to take a note of this kṛti (See footnote 4).7 In contrast with the other two versions mentioned above, this has ṛṣbham. Also, tāla of this kṛti is given as dēśādhi. The svara ṛṣbham occurs in the phrases like SRS, RSNDN and RGM; but phrases like SMGM or MNDN are not seen. Can we then call it as Kamās, when its integral phrases are not present? It is acceptable that a composer need not use all phrases in a rāga. But is he entitled to envisage a rāga with none of its integral phrases?
Coming to manuscripts, this is seen in Vālājāpeṭṭai transcripts and a manuscript written by Śrīnivāsarāghavan and Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar. Śrīnivāsarāghavan has collected manuscripts from various sources and we cannot point it to any particular source. This has ṛṣbham in the phrases SRGM and NRS, but only in two or three places. This version corresponds to SGMPDNS SNDPMGS with occasional SRGM. Again, no other vital phrases of Kamās can be seen.
The version by Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar8 does not have ṛṣbham (See footnote 5). The version given here strictly adheres to the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS. He was a disciple of Umayālpuram Svāminātha Iyer and consider to represent late Umayālpuram lineage.
Vālājāpeṭṭai transcripts give a version which is different from the commonly heard version, yet identical with the rāga Kamās. The version strictly adheres to the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS, a variant of Kamās mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, totally devoid of ṛṣbham. This is set to the tāla dēśādhi and the melody when sung in this tāla gives a different feel. In the article on Kamās we have seen the scale mentioned can be a variant and with the occasional presence of ṛṣbham can be considered as Kamās as seen in the kṛti ‘sujana jīvana’. Now a doubt can arise for an astute observer, the reason for us to discuss this kṛti separately when we have seen a Kamās variant.
The Vālājāpeṭṭai version of this kṛti, though appears much similar to the kṛti ‘sujana jīvana’, has much pertinent differences. First, this lacks ṛṣbham completely. Nowhere in the literature, have we come across an evidence to consider Kamās as a ṣādava rāga. Hence calling this kṛti as Kamās is debatable. We had raised this query in the article on Kamās too. Second, the kṛti strictly follows the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS, excluding the presence of DNP. Whereas the kṛti ‘sujana jīvana’ had many outliers like SMGS, GPM which can be seen in any old composition composed in the rāga Kamās. Third, the gṛha and nyāsa svara-s used in this kṛti are ṣadjam and pancamam. If we contrast this kṛti with ‘sujana jīvana’, this point can be understood well. The latter kṛti starts with madyamam and almost every āvarta ends with madyamam. Lastly, dhaivatam, though we didn’t see it as a gṛha svara in the latter kṛti, can be considered as an amsa svara. Madhyama and dhaivata are the important svara-s that form a base for Kamās. This cannot be applied for this kṛti in hand. Niṣādha is actually a prominent nyasa svara in this kṛti. Madhyama and dhaivata were not given a prominent place. Considering all these differences, it can be very well precluded that this kṛti could have been composed in some apūrva rāga, having a lakṣaṇa much similar to Kamās. Vālājāpēṭṭai version can be heard here.
When other old versions were compared, it can be seen that all except one follow this variant scale. Of these versions, the version in Saṅgītānandaratnākaram is almost a reproduction of Vālājāpeṭṭai version. The version by Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar also supports the scale and though the version is not a verbatim reproduction of Vālājāpeṭṭai version, it is melodically much similar with the latter version. It can very well be considered as a modification of Vālājāpeṭṭai version. Śrīnivāsarāghavan too follows this scale but has ṛṣbham. Going by these versions, can we speculate the basic melody could have been in some rāga with the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS. Texts could have mentioned it as Kamās due to its inherent similarity with the latter rāga. In that case, phrases suggestive of Kamās were added later? This name confusion and mixing up of rāga-s is not uncommon. We had discussed earlier about this in the rāga Rudrapriya and how Rudrapriya mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can very well be called as Karnāṭaka Kāpi by many others.
This hypothesis becomes stronger when we consider the version given in Dākṣinātyagānam. That version too has some melodic similarities with Vālājāpeṭṭai verion, especially in the pallavi segment. But the presence of ṛṣbham makes the melody sound different. C R Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār, author of this text has mentioned that the kṛti-s were procured from his personal collection and from Flute Śarabha Śāstrigal. But the source of individual kṛti was not given. In this version, excluding the presence of SRGM and SRS, no other phrase typical to Kamās can be seen. In such a case, is it acceptable to call it as Kamās? We leave this question to musicologists.
Name of the rāga
Having seen these versions, it is necessary to name the scale seen in this kṛti. Our idea is not to obfuscate the readers by giving some obscure names; rather this an attempt to create an image in the mind of readers that this could have been composed in a rare rāga. Ideally kṛti-s like this are to be discussed in music conferences and consensus has to be made. But to begin with, an attempt is being made here to name this scale. The text Rāga Pravāham gives three different names for this single rāga culled from three different sources – Bilaval, Dhivyamavathi and Karnāṭaka Kamās.9 Of these the last one suits better than the other two, as the this scale represents Kamās in many aspects.
This kṛti, like many kṛti-s of Svāmigal display heterogeneity, across the versions with respect to rāga lakṣaṇam. Though every other version label it as Kamās, the lakṣaṇa given therein differ considerably. From our analysis, it can be seen the lakṣaṇa seen in the majority of the examined versions do not correspond with the lakṣaṇa of Kamās or its variant.
Though this kṛti and ‘sujana jīvana’ were considered to be set in the same rāga, there exist differences between these two as it is evident from our analysis. But all these differences testimony the past and we nowhere can hear those differences, either now or in future.
The rāga handled here could be a scale much resembling Kamās and somewhere down in the line Kamās phrases could have been added. This ṣādava scale has many other names and the one that is much closer to Kamās, less confusing and also which can be taken by us easily is Karnāṭaka Kamās.
Footnote 1 – From Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, several musicians had made a note that Svāmigal didn’t reveal the name of the apūrva rāga-s to his disciples. Someone, perhaps after the beatitude of Svāmigal has named by referring to some lexicon available to them.
Footnote 2 – Cermādēvi Subraḥmaṇya Śāstrigal represents the disciple lineage Śrī Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, being a disciple of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and Ambi Dīkṣitar. He also had his training from Vīna Śēṣaṇṇaof Mysore. In a series of articles in the magazine The Saṅgīta Abhimāni, he expressed his views on the rāga variations seen in the compositions of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Svāmigaḷ. He raises the same query, how or why the changes are seen only in these apūrva rāga-s of these composers when we have the same lakṣaṇa for rāga-s like Kāmbhōji or Tōḍi? He also mentions both of them belonged to the śiṣya parampara of Vēṅkaṭamakhin.
Footnote 3 – This author was told by Dr Rājaśrī Srīpati, Vaiṇika, that she has learnt this kṛti completely devoid of ṛṣbham from Viduṣi Smt Suguṇa Varadācāri.
Footnote 4 – The exact year of publication of this text cannot be identified. Based on the introductory notes given by Ayyaṅgār, it can be speculated that this text must have been published before 1917.
Footnote 5 – At one place in the anupallavi, we were unable to ascertain the exact svara he has written. Though it appears like ṛṣbham, its complementary part that occurs in caraṇam does not read as ṛṣbham.
I sincerely thank Smt Nandhini Venkataraman, descendant of Kumbakonam Sri Visvanatha Iyer and Dr Chandran, descendant of Dr Srinivasa Raghavan for parting me with the manuscripts in their possession.
My sincere thanks to Dr Rājaśrī Srīpati for educating me about the rare version of this composition.
- K.V. Rāmacandran. The mēlakartā – A critique. The Journal of Music Academy, pg 31-33, 1938.
- K.V. Rāmacandran. Karnatic rāga-s from a new angle. The Journal of Music Academy, pg 105-127,1996.
- Cermādēvi Subraḥmaṇya Śāstrigal. Vaiṇīka, gāyaka samvādam. Sila janya rāgaṅgalin kuzappam. The Saṅgīta Abhimāni, pg 101-103,1936.
- P. Sāmbamūrti. The Wālājāhpet manuscripts. The Journal of Music Academy, pg 114-129, 1938.
- Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu . Saṅgīta Kalānidhi, pg . Kalā Ratnākara, Mudrākśara Śālā, Cennapuri, 1912
- Tenmaṭam Vēṅkaṭācāryulu, Tenmaṭam Varadācāryulu. Saṅgītānanda ratnākaramu, pg 51-52. Śrīnikētana mudrāyantramu, Madras, 1917.
- C.R. Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār. Dākṣinātyagānam, pg 156-157.
- Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar. http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/browse?collection=1&sort_field=Dublin+Core%2CTitle&page=2
9. M.N. Danḍapāṇi, D. Paṭṭammal. Rāga Pravāham. The Trinity Book Publishers, 2007.