Composers, CompositionAppreciation, History, Notation, Personalities, Raga, Sahitya

The Ragamalikas of Subbarama Dikshitar

Among the various compositions notated in the text Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, ragamalikas are more interesting and intriguing. Among the composers belonging to the family of Ramasvamy Diksitar, Subbarama Diksitar has employed this musical form extensively. He has composed nine ragamalikas, including the raganga ragamalika. These ragamalikas form vital study material, from the aspects of both sahitya and sangita. An attempt is made here to understand the ragamalikas of Subbarama Dikshitar as a whole, despite understanding the importance of analyzing them individually.

Though the majority of these ragamalikas were composed on the royal patrons like Pusapati Anada Gajapati Raju (kaminchina kalavatira), Raja Jadvira Muddusvamy Ettendra (endhuku ra ra ), Bhaskara Setupathy (garavamu) and Sri Rama Tiruvadi of Travancore (ni sari), he has also dedicated his ragamalikas to deities like Rajagopalasvamy (vedukato) and Kartikeya of Kazhugumalai (manatodi). All of them were composed in Telugu, excluding ‘manatodi’, which is a Tamiz composition.


Ragamalika Number of ragas Tala
Enduku rara 9 Rupakam
Ni sarileni 9 Tisra Ekam
Garavamu 9 Rupakam
Kaminchina kalavatira 32 Tisra Ekam
Valapumiri 4 Rupakam
Manatodi 6 Adhi
Vanidaroye 4 Rupakam
Vedukato 5 Rupakam
Priyamuna 10 Tisra Ekam
I kanakambari (sahitya by Krishna Kavi and music by Subbarama Diksitar) 72 (raganga ragamalika) Adhi


The sahitya of these ragamalikas not only have their raga mudras interwoven, but also have the ‘poshaka’ mudra like ‘sri muddusvami jagadvira ettendra candra’ (endhuku ra ra), ‘bhaskara mahipala’ (garavamu) and ‘pusapati ananda gajapati’ (kaminchina kalavatira).

Many of these sahityas are also replete with ‘anuprasa’. Anuprasa is an alliteration, a single syllable is repeated, but as a part of a different set of closely connected words. Using anuprasa is actually an option and not a mandate to be used in a composition. The Sama raga segment featuring in the ragamalika ‘kaminchina kalavatira’ is taken as an example. The sahitya reads as ‘kurulu mogula tegalu nagavalarulunu duru nela saga manuduru’, wherein the aksara ‘la’ is used as anuprasam. Though it is esthetically appealing, it is much more challenging for a musician to sing, especially when it occurs as a madhyamakala sahitya.



The structure of these ragamalikas can be divided into two types – those with a structured pallavi, anupallavi and caranam and those without any defined structure. The ragamalikas ‘manatodi’, ‘priyamuna’ and ‘i kanakambari’ fall under the first category. It is indeed these unstructured ragamalikas that captivate, as they are much abstruse in their construction. In many cases, the composer has prescribed stringent ways to render these compositions, making them much complex and intricate. For instance, in the ragamalika ‘kaminchina kalavathira’. This is perhaps the most asymmetric composition available. This is a ragamalika comprising 32 ragas, wherein the first 16 ragas were given an elaborate treatment, with a detailed svara-sahitya segment. Contrastingly, a single tala avarta was allotted to the second 16 ragas! The composer has grouped these 32 ragas into 16 pairs. These raga pairs are to be sung alternatively after the elaborate section consisting of 16 ragas.  The composer has also prescribed unique guidelines for the ragamalikas ‘endhuku ra ra’ and ‘valapu miri’. This kind of grouping and giving directions to render these compositions are unique to Subbarama Diksitar. Though this adds value to the composition, it also makes the composition sound difficult and complex.


Analysis of the eight ragamalikas (‘i kanakambari’ is excluded from being a raganga ragamalika), shows the composer has indeed included a wide array of ragas. It ranges from the common ragas like Kalyani, Sankarabharanam to rarer ones like Rudrapriya and Balahamsa. It also reveals his personal preference for Todi. It features in all the eight ragamalikas. Kamas, having been used in five compositions, follow this. Other ragas like Bhairavi, Sriragam, Yamuna, etc., occur more than once. The raga selection seems to be completely influenced by Ramasvamy Diksitar. Every raga used in these ragamalikas, except three were used by Ramasvamy Diksitar. Pharaju, Kamas, and Rudrapriya form this trio and the above statement can be confirmed only if we get the complete corpus of the compositions of Ramasvamy Diksitar.

The composer has taken utmost care to give a new flavor to a raga when it occurs more than once. For instance, Todi was used as a panchama varjya raga in the ragamalika ‘priyamuna’, but used as a routine raga though with its different phrases in other ragamalikas.  In addition, many phrases that were known/used by his family alone are seen aplenty. Be it ‘PNM’ in Kedaram or ‘SDP’ in Manohari, they stand alone. Besides these, these ragamalikas also serves us to understand the old svarupa of these ragas. For example, the phrase NSGGM in Nilambari  (not in vogue today) was used profusely in his ragamalika ‘garavamu’.

An interesting feature was employed by Subbarama Diksitar in his raganga ragamalika. This is a ragamalika, serving as a lexicon to understand the 72 raganga ragas used by the Diksitar family, starting from Kanakambari and ending with Rasamanjari. In this ragamalika, when he transits from one raganga raga to its immediate successor (within a cakra), he preferred not to use the svaras unique to them!

Being raganga ragas, every member within a cakra has the same svara varieties in the purvanga (sa to ma), and they differ only in their uttaranga (pa to ni). If a difference is to be shown between any two ragas that occur in succession (within a cakra), it is much easier to show if the differing svaras are used at the beginning of the raga segment as its opening phrase. This was followed by Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer in his 72 ‘mela ragamalika’ (though we do see few exceptions). Subbarama Diksitar surprisingly did not resort to this practice (at the majority of the places). Instead, he shows the phrases unique to these raganga ragas. Therefore, at many places, we will not be aware of the change in the ragas, unless we are cautious, as the successive ragas share the same svara variety in their purvanga. For example, in the first cakra, the raga segments Kanakambari, Phenadyuti, Ganasamavarali, Bhanumati and Manoranjani starts with the phrase SRGRMPM, MGGRMP, MGRMP, MPMRR, PDPMR respectively. Tanukirti alone starts with the phrase SNDNP. Hence, the opening phrases are not suggestive of the ragas used. The ragas unveil themselves only as we travel with the composition.


Excluding the ragamalikas ‘manatodi’ and ‘i kanakambari’, all the others were composed in either rupaka or tisra eka tala. Analysis of the tala reveals the musical acumen of the composer in the arena of talaprastara. Almost in every ragamalika, we see the usage of three speeds seamlessly and skillfully resulting in various unique patterns. Again, this is an influence from the works of Ramasvamy Diksitar.


The ragamalikas of Subbarama Diksitar not only serve as reference material for understanding the raga svarupa; they also help us to understand the music of the gone era.  Analysis of each of these ragamalika separately will not only help us to understand the musical thoughts of Subbarama Diksitar, but also the thoughts of Ramasvamy Diksitar as the seed of the latter’s musical thoughts and/or influence can be seen in the composition of all the Diksita-s.

Few reconstructed versions of these ragamalikas can be heard in the author’s YouTube channel The Lost Melodies – TLM. 

This article appeared in Sruti April 2021 issue.




Composers, Oral Traditions, Sahitya

சில தமிழ்ப்பாடல்கள்

நாம் இன்று மிகவும் ப்ரஸித்தமான பரிசிதமான கீர்த்தனங்களை மட்டும் அறிவோம். இவற்றுக்கு முன்னோடியாக ஆங்காங்கே வீடு தோறும் அந்தந்த க்ஷேத்ரங்களில் குறிப்பாக பெண்களால் பாடப்படும் செவிவழியாக பாடப்பட்டு வரும் நாட்டுப்பாடல்களில் பல உண்டு என்று அறிய முடிகிறது. வாஞ்சேஶ்வர கீர்த்தனைகள் என்ற தலைப்பில் ஸரஸ்வதி மஹாலில் உள்ள சுவடியில் பல பாடல்கள், மன்னர் ஶஹஜி எழுதிய த்யாகேச பதங்கள் இவைகளைப் போல தமிழிலும் இத்தகைய பாடல்கள் இருந்தன என்பதை  கி.வா.ஜ அவர்கள் வெளியிட்ட நூல்கள் மூலம் அறியலாம். அதிலிருந்து திருவாரூர் ஸ்ரீ த்யாகராஜ ஸ்வாமி விஷயமாக உள்ள சில பாடல்களின் ஸாஹித்யங்கள் தொகுத்தளிக்கப்படுகின்றன. இவற்றின் ராகம் தாளம் அல்லது மெட்டுக்களோ இல்லை.  யாரேனும் இவற்றின் மூல வர்ணமெட்டுக்களைக் கற்றவர்களோ கேட்டவர்களோ இருந்தால் தொடர்பு கொள்ளவும்.

(1) அறிவார் ஆர்? 

அறிவார் ஆர் உன் மகிமை, ஆரூர்நின் றாடிய பெருமையை?


1. அறிய வேணுமென்று அநுதினம் நினைத்து
அங்கம் முழுவதும் பொங்கிச் சிலிர்த்துத்
தெரியவே எனதுநா அச்சம் தீர்த்துத்
தித்திக்கத் தித்திக்கச் சிவநாமத்தை ஜபித்து (அறி)

2. கருவி கரணங்களும் கலந்துநின் றுருகக்
கண்ணினில் ஆனந்த வெள்ளங்கள் பெருக
மறுபடி ஜனியாத மார்க்கங்கள் தருக
மாலும் அயனும் தேடித்தினம் வருக (அறி)

3. முப்புரம் எரித்திட்ட முகமந்த ஹாஸா
முத்தி அளித்திடும் பக்தப்ர காசா
அப்பர்சுந் தரர்தங்கட் கருள் புரி ஈசா,
ஆரூர் அமர்ந்தருளும் தியாகாதி ராஜா! (அறி)

(2) ஆச்சரிய மான சேவை !

ஆச்சரிய மான சேவை ஆசை என்ன என் ஐயனே!


வாச்ச மங்கை சிரத்தின் மீதில் மதுக்குடம் தரித் ததைக்கண்டு சொன்னேன் (ஆச்)


அத்திமுகனும் வேலவனும் அருமையால் கறுத்ததும்
நெற்றிக் கண்ணோ டொத்தமேனி நீசர்போல் பூரித்ததும்
முக்தி அளிக்கும் ஹஸ்தத்தினால் பற்றித் தப்பெடுத்தடித்ததும்
வக்ஷஸ்தலத்தில் செத்தகன்று விளங்கவே உள்ளம் களித்ததும் சொன்னேன். (ஆச்)

மாலும் அயனும் தேடிக்காணா மலரடியால் நடந்ததும்
சூலபாணி யான நாதன் துண்டு சங்கிலி அணிந்ததும்
கோல மறைகள் ஸ்வான மாகக் கூடப்பின்னே தொடர்ந்ததும்
ஆலால சுந்தரர் உம்மைத் துதித்ததும்மதுக் குடித்தோர்போல ஆனீர் (ஆச்)

யோகியான அந்தணர்முன் -தேகி என்று சென்றதும்
வேகமாக யாகத் தில் அவிர் பாகம்வாங்க நின்றதும்
ஆகமாதி வேதமெல்லாம் ஏகம்ஏகம் என்றதும்
ஊகித் தோர்கள் உள்ளம் மேவும்
தியாகியான தயையினால் சொன்னேன். (ஆச்)

(3) ஆடினார் ஆரூர் ஐயன்

ஆடினார் ஆரூர் ஐயன்-மனமகிழ்ந்தே ஆடினார் ஆரூர் ஐயன்.

அன்பர் இருதயத்தில் வாசன் செம்பொன் அம்பலா காசன். (ஆடினார்)


1. தேடித் தினம்பணியும் ஆடக க்ஷேத்ரந்தனில்
தேவர்களும் துதிக்கத் திவ்ய சபையதனில்
நாடி வசனித்தோர்கள் நாத முடிவதனில்
நாராயணன் ஸ்ரீஹரி நாபிக் கமலந் தனில்  (ஆடினார் )

2. சங்கமத் தளதாள வாத்யச மேதராக
எங்கும் நிறைந்தஈசர் ஏக ஸ்வரூபமாகப்
பொங்கி மகிழ்ந்தோர் உள்ளம் பூர்ணப்ர காசமாகப்
பொற்பணி அணிந்தபாதர் நிர்க்குண ஸ்வரூபமாக (ஆடினார்)

3. சுத்தப்ர காச திவ்ய ஜோதி திகழ்ஜொலிக்க
நித்திய மாகநினைந் துருகும் மனம்களிக்க
பற்றிப் படிக்கும் ஜன்ம பாசபந் தம் ஒழிக்கப்
பங்கஜப் பிரகாசசுக சங்கரி சமேதராக (ஆடினார்)

4. அண்டபா தாளமும் கிடுகிடென் றதிரத்
தொண்ட ரிடத்திலுள்ள தோஷங்கள் உதிரக்
கண்டு தரி சித்தவர் காதலித் துக்கதறக்
கர்த்தரா கியசபேசர் நிர்த்தனப் பிரியத்யா கேசர் (ஆடினார்)


(4) திருவாரூர் தேடி வருவேனோ நான்?

திருவாரூர் தேடி வருவேனோ நான்? தேவனைக் கண்டு தெளிவேனோ நான்?
மருவும் மனசு மணியா சனத்தில்என் மன்னனைக் கண்டு மகிழ்வே னோநான்?
1. வையக வாழ்க்கையை மறக்கேனோ நான்?
வழிகொள்ளும் மாயையைத் தடுக்கேனோ நான்?
நெஞ்சுக் கதவைநெம்பித் திறக்கேனோ நான்?
நேசமாய் நிமலனோ டிருக்கேனோ நான்?

2. அஞ்சி அடியார் தூளி அணிவேனோ நான்?
அம்பலத் தைநம்பி இருக்கேனோ நான்?
சஞ்சித கர்மத்தை மாய்ப்பேனோ நான்?
சாட்சியும் நீ என்று இருப்பேனோ நான்?

3.பாசக் கடலைத்தள்ளிக் கடப்பேனோ நான்?
படுகுழி கூபத்தில் கிடப்பேனோ நான்?
ஆசைகொள் ளும்மனசைத் தடுப்பேனோ நான்?
ஐயன் த்யாகராஜன்கை பிடிப்பேனோ நான்? (திரு)

(5) வாமபாக தேவியோடு மைந்தனை

வாமபாக தேவியோடு மைந்தனை மடிமேல் வைத்த மகானுபாவனே
வானோர் புகழச் சித்தம் மகிழ்ந்த தேவனே!

பூமி புகழும் ஏற்றம் பொருந்திநின்ற ஆரூர்ப்
பூபதியாய் என்றும் ஸ்ரீபதி இதயத்தில் (வாம)

1. பக்தி விரக்தியால் பலபேதங்க ளான
பரிபூர ணானந்த பாக்கியங் கள் காணச்
சித்தத்துக் குள்ளே சிவபோதம் தானான
சின்மயா னந்தத் தெளிவு முடிவுதோண (வாம)

2.கரை இல்லாத இன்பக் கரை ஒன்றைக் காண்பிக்கக்
கருணை நிறைந்த கடாட்சத்தினாலன்றோ
அருமையாய் அழைத்த அநுக்ரகங் கள் செழிக்க
அந்தரங்கத்தில் அதி சுந்தரமாய்ச் சோபிக்க (வாம)

3.அபரிமி தானந்த போகத்தில் முழுக்காட்டி
அநுக்ரக நிக்ரக மானசக் தியைக்கூட்டி
விபவமா கும் இன்ப வெள்ளத்தில் நிலைநாட்டி
விடங்கத் தியாக ராஜனாய் விளங்கும்பா தத்தைக்காட்டி (வாம)


(6) மனமே, நினையாய் அநுதினம் பணிந்து

1. மனமே, நினையாய் அநுதினம் பணிந்து
மங்கை சங்கரி மனோகரனை
நினைவில் ஒளியாய் நின்று விளங்கிய
நித்யசு கந்தபரி பூரணனை (மனமே)

2.ஆதிரை நாள் கொண் டாடும் ஐயனை
ஆலம் உண்டமழுக் கையனை
ஜோதி யாகி உள்ள தோற்ற மாகியே
தொண்டர்கள் கண்டிடும் மெய்யனை (மனமே)

3. பாவித்தோர் உள்ளம் பதித்திட வே இரு
பாதம் உள்ள என் பண்டிதனைக்
காமி தார்த்தபல விஷயங்கள் காணாக்
காட்சி தரும்கரு ணாகரனை (மனமே)

4. எங்கும் நிறைந்து புகழ்மலிந்திடும்
கங்கை எடுத்துத் தரித்தோனைத்
திங்கள் அணிந்து சிறந்து விளங்கிய
மங்கள ஸ்ரீதியாக ராஜனை

(7) ஆரூரில் தியாகராஜர் யாகசா லை க்குவந்த
அதிசயம் என்ன

ஆரூரில் தியாகராஜர் யாகசா லை க்குவந்த
அதிசயம் என்ன சொல்லுவேன்?

பார்க்கப் பதினாயிரம் கண்களும் வேணுமே
ஏற்கையாய் ஈச்வரியோடு சேர்க்கையாய் வந்த (ஆரூ)


1. கண்டோர் களும்மலைக்கச் சண்டாள வேஷம்கொண்டு
கள்ளுக் குடம் தலையில் தூக்கிஅம் பாளும் நிற்கச்
சாமிசொன்ன ரூபமிது தானோ இதுதான் என்று
சர்வக்ஞ மூர்த்தியை நேராய்க்கண் ணால் கண்டு (ஆரூ)

2. நாலுவே தத்தைநாலு நாயாய்ப் பிடித்துக்கொண்டு
நடுவிலே செத்தகன்றைத் தோளில் தூக் கியேநின்று
தம்பட்ட மும்தப்பும் தம்கையி லேகொண்டு
தாபத் துடன் பூஜிக்கும் சோமயா ஜியைக்கண்டு (ஆரூ)

3. காளியோடே வாதாடும் காலால் நடந்து ஓடி
கனப்பிரியத்துடன் சுந்தரர் சொன்ன பக்தரைத் தேடி
கையிலவிர் பாகம் வாங்க யாகசா லையை நாடிக்
கந்தன் கணபதியுடன் தந்தனப் பாட்டுப் பாடி (ஆரூ)

4.ஆரூர் தன் னில்வசிக்கும் அருமை த்யாகராஜரை
அன்பர்களுக் கின்பந்தரும் கமலா லயவாசரைத்
தூதுளங் கீரையுண்ட தோழர்க்கு நேசரைத்
துன்பங்கள் தீர்த் தின்பந்தரும் கமலா லயவாசரை (ஆரூ)


(8) மங்கள ஸிம்மாஸனாதிபதி  

மங்கள ஸிம்மாஸனாதிபதி மலைமங்கைமனைக்கு வருகிறார்

1. செங்கை ம்ருதங்கம் ஒலிக்க
சங்கரி விரததவம் பலிக்க
அங்க நாயகியும் பூசிக்க
இங்கித மாய்க்கங்கை களிக்க (மங்கள)

2. காதில் குழையும் தோடும் அசையக்
கரியுரி புலிய தளும் அசையச்
சாதுக்கள் போற்றும் சரணம் அசையத்
தாங்கு சேஷன் முடியும் அசைய (மங்கள)

3. பச்சைக்கற்பூரம் சுகந்தம் வீசப்
பரிமளத்திருச் சாந்தும் வீச
இச்சையாய்க் கிருஷ்ண கந்தம் வீச
ஈச்வரியுடன் மகிழ்ந்து பேச (மங்கள)

4. பாமரர் தம்மைக்காக்கும் நாதன்
பரவை வீட்டுக்கு நடந்த பாதன்
காம தகனம் செய்த வேதன்
காரண காரியவி நோதன் (மங்கள)

5. நிஜபோதம் பெற்ற ஹ்ருதயர் நேசன்
நித்தியகல் யாண உல் லாசன்
அஜபா நடனம் செய்யும் ஈசன்
ஆண்டவன் தியாகாதி ராஜன் (மங்கள)

(9) அரிஸ்வாஸ நடன தேவ

அரிஸ்வாஸ நடன தேவ திருமேவிய சித்கன தீப!

1. ஸனகாதி முனிதொழும் பாதா
தினகர கோடி சுந்தர நாதா
விநோத மானஸ விக்ரகா பவ நிக்ரகா!
கனரத்னஸிம் மாசனாதீச, காத்யாயனிப் பிராணேசா

2. சகலாகம் ஸார, ஸர்வ மங்களகம் பீர
அகிலஜகத்துக் காரணா பரி பூரண
அகண்டிதா னந்தஸ்வரூபா  ஆச்ரிதவத்ஸலப்ரதாபா! (அரி)

3. ஆனந்தநடன சிதாகா சப்ரம் மானந்த ஸிந்துவதனேசா
தீனரட்சக தேகி கருணா பாஹிமாம்
ஆனை உரித்த திகம்பரேச ஹம்ஸநடன த்யாகாதிராஜ! (அரி)

(10) தேவியுடன் கூடிச் சிறந்து நடம்புரியும் திவ்யரதா ரூடனே


தேவியுடன் கூடிச் சிறந்து நடம்புரியும் திவ்யரதா ரூடனே, சித்ரூபனே!


1. மேவும் அடியார்க்கு விளங்கும்சர் வேசனே
பாவிப்போர் ஹ்ருதயத்தில் பரமப்ர காசனே
மூவு லகமும் குலுங்கி அதிர்ந்திட
முழங்கும் வாத்யாதி கோஷம் சிறந்திடத்
தேவ தேவர்கள் கண்டு மகிழ்ந்திடச்
சேர்ந்து பரிமள கந்தம் பொழிந்திட  (தேவி)

2.பாலநேத் திரந் தன்னில் காந்திப்ர காசிக்கப்
பாத நூபுரப் பிரபை சோபிக்க
மாலும் மனமகிழ்ந்து ம்ருதங்கம் வாசிக்க
மங்கைமுக கமலம் விகஸிக்க
நாலு முகவரும் ஜாலர் வாசிக்க
நங்கை சரஸ்வதி வீணை கோஷிக்க
சீல முனிவர்கள் கண்டு பூஜிக்கத்
திக்குப் பதிகள் பூமாரி வருஷிக்க  (தேவி)

3. வஞ்சகத்தை விடுத்து வந்து பணிந்தோர்
மாயை தன்னைத் தடுத்துச்
செஞ்சடை யை விரித்து முயலகனைச்
சேவடி யால்மி தித்து
பஞ்ச முகத்தாலும் கிருபை கொடுத்து
மிஞ்சின ஜனன வித்தினைக் கிரகித்து
அஞ்சிக்கீழ் நின்ற அடியார் முகம்பார்த்து
ஆரூர்தனில் வந்தென்னை ஆளவே உதித்து. (தேவி)

(11) அஞ்சிப் பணிவோர்க்கு மெய்யன்


அஞ்சிப் பணிவோர்க்கு மெய்யன்- எங்கள் ஆரூர் அமர்ந் தமழுக் கையன்


வஞ்சி யுடன் மகிழ்ந்து கொஞ்சுவ தைஅறிந்து (அஞ்சி)


1. ஐயஞ்சுக்கு மேற்பட்ட தீரன்
அஜபா நடனம்செய் சூரன் – நல்ல
உய்யும் ஞான விவேக சாரன்- மறை
ஓதும் குணங்களுக்குப் பாரன்
ஐயம் விலக்கி எனை ஆளும் அதிகம் பீரன்  (அஞ்சி)

2. அல்லல் அறுக்கும் ஆதி மூலன் – ஐயன்
அருமைத் துதிக்கு அது கூலன் – நல்ல
வெள்ளம் நிறைகரக்க பாலன்
சடையில் மதிசூடுங்கங் காளன்
செல்வம் பொருந்திய செங்கோலன் தயாளன் (அஞ்சி)

3. ஆசா பாசதுக்கவி நாசன் -அஞ்சு
கோசங்களை அழிக்கும் ஈசன் -நல்ல
வாச மலரில் விச் வாசன் -மலை
மங்கை சங்கரிப்ரா ணேசன் – தாசர்
துதிக்க திப்ர காசன் தியாகராஜன் (அஞ்சி)

(12). ராஜஹம்ஸ ரூபி யாகி


ராஜஹம்ஸ ரூபியாகி நடம்புரிந்த மாசற்ற மாமணியே!


நேசத்துடன் தினம்தினம் பேசித் துதிக்கும் நிஜ தாஸர் மனவிசேஷ ஸாரக்ராகி யாகிய (ராஜ)


1. மிஞ்சும் விவேகத்தின் மேல்படி ஆகவும்
செஞ்சடை கொண்ட சிவயோகி ஆகவும்
வஞ்சகச் சித்தர்க்கு மறைபொருளாகவும்
மனனமுற் றோருள்ள மணிவிளக்காகவும் (ராஜ)

2. திங்கள் அணிந்த திகம்பர னாகவும்
பொங்கிய செல்வம் புகழ்ச்சிய தாகவும் – மலை
மங்கை மகிழ்ந்த மகாதேவ னாகவும்
மங்கள ரூப மனோன் மணி யாகவும் (ராஜ)

3. தீராது தீர்க்கும் திருவருளாகவும்
மாரனைக் காய்ந்த மகாப்ரபு வாகவும்
பாரில்லா இன்பப் பிரவாகம தாகவும்
ஆரூரில் வாழும் ஐயன் தியாகனாகவும் (ராஜ)

(13)  சிந்தித்தோர் அதிக சொந்தா!


சிந்தித்தோர் அதிக சொந்தா!

சந்தி அந்திப்பிறை சூடி நின்ற
அந்த வைபோ கானந்தா! (சிந்தித்)

1. பாசஇருள் தீர்க்கும் மன்னா
தாஸ கோடிஸம் பன்னா
சேஷ சாயி மனம்கொண்ட
சாஸ்வத சுப்ர ஸன்னா! (சிந்தித்)

2. கூடும் வினை அறச்செய் தன்யா
கோடி மன்மத லாவண்யா
பூடகசம் சார பந்த
போதம் விலக்கும் புண்யா (சிந்தித்)

3.வந்த டைந்தோம் பாபநாச
சுந்தரர் மனப்ர காச
வந்தனம் வந்தனம் ஈச
வஸந்தத்தியா காதி ராஜ! (சிந்தித்)

Composers, History, Personalities, Sahitya

Ramashtapadi – Shrirama tubhyam – Bilahari


॥ श्रीरामाष्टपदी-प्रारम्भः ॥

श्रीमद्विश्वादिष्ठान-परमहंस-सद्गुरुश्री-रामचन्द्राय नमः


स्वाविद्यापद-तत्कार्य-त्रैपद-वैभवम् ।

श्रीरामचन्द्र-साम्राज्यं नौमि सच्चित्-सुखात्मकम्  ॥

नत्वा श्रीमद्देशिकेन्द्रं कैवल्य-पदमिच्छताम् ।

तदाप्तये त्रिपाद्राम-गीतावलिरुदीर्यते ॥

अष्टाविंशाधिक-शत-गीत-रत्नाकरोत्तमे ।

आद्यं त्रयोदश-पदं शिष्टं त्वष्टपदं भवेत् ॥

श्रीराम-शब्द-सम्बुद्ध्या साकमष्ट-विभक्तिकः ।

एकैकस्या विभक्तेस्तद्गीतं षोडशद्योच्यते ॥

पञ्चाशद्वर्ण-सन्मालालङ्कारवर-कन्धर ।
श्रीमत्त्रिपाद्रामचन्द्र नमस्तुभ्यं पुनः पुनः ॥


ஆத்மஸ்வரூபத்தை (மறைக்கும்) அவித்யை மற்றும் அதன் செயல்பாடுகளால் ஏற்பட்ட மூன்று பாதங்களைக் (வித்யா, ஆனந்தம் மற்றும் துரீயம்) கொண்ட (ப்ரஹ்மத்தின்) ஸச்சிதானந்த ஸ்வரூபமாக இருக்கும் ஸ்ரீ ராமசந்த்ரனுடைய (மோக்ஷ) ஸாம்ராஜ்யத்தை வணங்குகிறேன்.


ஸ்ரீ குருவை வணங்கியபின், முக்தியை விரும்பியோர்க்கு அது கிடைப்பதற்காக த்ரிபாத்ராமனுடைய கீதங்கள் வரிசையாக சொல்லப்படுகின்றன.


128 கீதங்கள் கொண்ட கீத ஸமுத்ரத்தில் முதல் (கீதமானது) 13 பதங்கள் (கொண்டதாகவும்) எஞ்சியவை எட்டு பதங்கள் ஆக உள்ளது.


ஸ்ரீ ராம என்ற பதத்தை ஸம்போதனத்துடன் (விளி வேற்றுமை உட்பட) சேர்த்து எட்டு விபக்திகள் கொண்டது. ஒவ்வொன்றும் ஒரு விபக்தியில் என கீதம் பதினாறாக முதலில் சொல்லப்பட்டது.


51 (அக்ஷரங்கள் அமைந்த) வர்ணமாலா ரூபமாக அலங்கரிக்கப்பட்ட கழுத்தை உடைய ஸ்ரீ த்ரிபாத் ராமசந்த்ர! உனக்கு மீண்டும் மீண்டும் நமஸ்காரம். (வ்யாகரணாதிகளின் அடிப்படையில் தீர்க்க लॄ போன்றவை இல்லையெனில் மந்த்ர சாஸ்த்ர அடிப்படையில் இவைகளைச் சேர்த்தே 51 அக்ஷரங்கள்.)




श्रीराम तुभ्यम् – गीतम् – बिलहरिरागः  




श्रीराम तुभ्यम् – गीतम् – बिलहरिरागः 




श्रीराम तुभ्यं नमोऽस्तु भो राम ते नाम वाचि ममास्तु ।

तव [द्द]दक्षपादो हृद्यस्तु विदेहकैवल्यभाग्यं ममास्तु ॥ श्री ॥ १

अद्भुतत्वद्भक्तिरस्तु आवयोरन्तरं कदापि मास्तु । 

इन्दिरा मत्कैवल्येऽस्तु ईश्वर त्वद्भक्तिबृन्दक्षेमोऽस्तु ॥ श्री॥ २

उत्कृष्टतत्त्वं ममास्तु ऊर्ध्वादिदिग्व्यापि मज्ज्ञानमस्तु ।

ऋतवाख्यातिस्तवास्तु ॠकारार्थमोहवैरल्यमस्तु ।। श्री ॥३

ऌमायाविद्वेषो मे[मा]स्तु लॄमोहग्रासनिर्मोहचिन्मेऽस्तु ।

एकमेवाद्वैतं मेऽस्तु ऐश्वरदिव्यविज्ञानं ममास्तु ।। श्री ॥ ४

ओङ्कारलक्ष्ये हृन्मेऽस्तु औपाधिकातीतानन्दो ममास्तु।

अंतमविद्यायां मेऽस्तु अःकारमायामृत्युभावमस्तु ॥ श्री॥ ५

कल्याणरामो हृद्यस्तु खलषड्वर्ग निग्रहो ममास्तु ।

गीतावेद्यरतिरस्तु घोरसंसारस्त्वद्भक्तेषु मास्तु ॥ श्री ॥ ६

ङार्णविषशान्तिरस्तु चक्रराजागारतैव ममास्तु ।

छन्दश्शिरो वाचि मेऽस्तु जीवब्रह्मैक्यं निरङ्कुशमस्तु ॥ श्री॥ ७

झषकुलेशकृपा मेऽस्तु ज्ञानविज्ञानसम्यग्ज्ञानं मेऽस्तु ।

टभवरुक्छान्ति मे[र]स्तु ठचन्द्रशीतलं मच्चित्तमस्तु ॥ श्री ॥ ८

डजविषग्रासो मेऽ[मा]स्तु ढलक्ष्यैक्यनित्यसंपन्ममास्तु ।

णलक्ष्याचित्सिद्द्धिरस्तु त्रिपात्तुर्यत्तुर्यचैतन्यं मेऽस्तु ॥ श्री ॥ ९

थधर्मप्रवृत्तिरस्तु दास्यं सीतापतेर्नित्यं ममास्तु।

धीलक्ष्यसंविन्ममास्तु निर्गुणब्रह्मात्मरूपं ममास्तु ॥ श्री॥ १०

परमानन्दो ममास्तु फणीशपर्यङ्कशायिदयास्तु ।

बन्धमोक्षभ्रान्तिर्मास्तु भक्तपटलकटाक्षो ममास्तु ॥ श्री ॥ १९

मायाकार्यावेशो मास्तु योगमुख्यफलचिद्रूपं मेऽस्तु।

रामचन्द्रभक्तिरस्तु लोकदेशिकोपदेशो ममास्तु ॥ श्री॥ १२

विष्णुता सर्वत्र मेऽस्तु शान्ताविद्याद्वयतत्कार्यमस्तु।

षड्गुणैश्वर्र्यं ममास्तु सत्यप्रतिज्ञाबिरुदं तवास्तु ॥ श्री ॥ १३

हृदि त्वद्दक्षपादोऽस्तु ळशक्तिशक्तिदपरचिन्मेऽस्तु ।

क्षीराब्धिशायिभावोऽस्तु श्रीरामचन्द्रेन्द्र कैवल्यं मेऽस्तु ॥१४


॥ ॐ  ॥


ஸ்ரீராம! உனக்கு நமஸ்காரம்! ஓ ராம! உன் நாமம் என் வாக்கில் இருக்கட்டும்! உன்னுடைய நைபுண்யம் பொருந்திய திருவடிகள் என் இதயத்தில் இருக்கட்டும்! விதேஹ முக்தி என்ற பெரும் பாக்யம் எனக்கு கிட்டட்டும்.  (१)


உன்னிடத்தில் அத்புதமான பக்தி தோன்றட்டும். நம்மிடையே இடைவெளி எப்போதும் இல்லாமல் இருக்கட்டும். என்னுடைய முக்தியில் லக்ஷ்மீ (கடாக்ஷம்/அனுக்ரஹம்) இருக்கட்டும்.
ஓ இறைவா! உன்னுடைய பக்தர் கூட்டத்தில் நன்மை இருக்கட்டும். (२)


மேலான உனது தத்வம் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும். மேல் நோக்கிச் செல்வதாக என் ஞானம் இருக்கட்டும். ருதத்தில் (தார்மீகமான உலக நியதி என்று ஸ்தூலமாக பொருள் கொள்ளலாம்) உன்னுடைய பெருமை இருக்கட்டும்.  பாம்பைப் போன்ற மோஹம் குறைவாக இருக்கட்டும். (३)


மலை போன்ற மோஹம் விழுங்குகையில் மோஹமற்ற தன்மை உள்ள புத்தி என்னிடம் இருக்கட்டும் இவ்வுலக விஷயமாக மாயையும் த்வேஷமும் என்னிடம் இல்லாமல் போகட்டும். இரண்டற்ற ஒன்றே என்னுள் இருக்கட்டும்! ஈஶ்வரனைப் பற்றிய புனிதமான ஞானம் என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும். (४)


ப்ரஹ்மவித்யையில் என்னுடைய (மனம்) இருக்கட்டும். மாயையால் ஏற்படும் தோற்றங்களுக்கு அழிவு உண்டாகட்டும். என் ஹ்ருதயம் ஓம்கார லக்ஷ்யத்தில் இருக்கட்டும். உபாதிகளுக்கு அப்பாற்பட்ட ஆனந்தம் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும். (५)


கல்யாணராமன் என் ஹ்ருதயத்தில் இருக்கட்டும்! தீமை செய்யும் (காம க்ரோத லோப மோஹ மத மாத்ஸர்யங்கள் ) என்ற (பகைவர்களான) ஆறினை ஒதுக்குதல் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும்! கீதத்தை அளிக்கும் ஆசை இருக்கட்டும்! கோரமான சம்சாரம் உன்னுடைய பக்தர்களுள் இல்லாமல் இருக்கட்டும்  (६)


உன் சக்ரமெனும் (ராம யந்த்ரம்) தங்குமிடம் மட்டுமே என்னுடையதாகட்டும்.  விஷய ஆசைகள் என்ற கடலின் ஶாந்தம் உண்டாகட்டும். உபநிஷதங்களில் என் வாக்கு லயிக்கட்டும். ஜீவனும் ப்ரஹ்மமும் ஒன்றென்ற கொள்கையில் தங்கு தடையற்றதாக இருக்கட்டும் (७)


(மத்ஸ்யாவதாரம் செய்தவரானதால்) மீன் குலத்தின் அரசரின் க்ருபை என்னிடம் இருக்கட்டும். ஞானம் விஞ்ஞானம் என்ற சரியான ஞானம் என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும். ரோகமான சம்சாரத்தின் சாந்தி என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும். சந்த்ரமண்டலத்தின் குளுமை என் புத்தியாக இருக்கட்டும் (८)


கடலில் உண்டாகும் விஷமிக்க முதலைகள் இல்லாமல் போகட்டும்! பறைசாற்றும் ஒரே நோக்கமாகிய நித்யமான செல்வமான  முக்தி என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும்! வித்யையின் நோக்கம் என் சித்தத்தில் கிட்டட்டும். மூன்று பாதங்கள் கொண்ட அந்த சைதன்ய ஸ்வரூபமானது என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும் (९)


அறிவின் நோக்கமான ஞான ஸ்வரூபமான பேரொளி எனதாகட்டும். காக்கும் தர்மத்தில் ப்ரவ்ருத்தி இருக்கட்டும். சீதையின் தலைவனிடத்தில் அடியவனாக இருக்கும் தன்மை  எப்போதும் என்னுடையதாக ஆகட்டும் (९०)


பேரானந்தம் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும், பாம்பணை மேல் துயில்பவரின் தயை இருக்கட்டும். பிறப்பு இறப்பு என்ற இரு நிலைகளான குழப்பம் இல்லாதிருக்கட்டும். பக்தர் கூட்டத்தின் கடாக்ஷம் எப்போதும் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும் (९९)


மாயையின் செயல்பாடுகளால் உள்ள தாக்குதல் இல்லாதிருக்கட்டும். யோகத்தின் முக்ய பலனான சித்ரூபம் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும். ராமசந்த்ரனிடத்தில் பக்தி இருக்கட்டும்! உலகில் குருவின் உபதேசம் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும் (९२)


(ஶமம் தமம் உபரதி, திதிக்ஷா, ஶ்ரத்தா, ஸமாதானம்) ஆகிய ஆறு குணங்களெனும் செல்வம் எனதாகட்டும். விஷ்ணுத்தன்மை எங்கும் என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும். ஸத்யத்துக்கு கட்டுப்பட்டவன் என்ற விருது உனதாக இருக்கட்டும். (१३)


அனந்த ஶக்தியும் ஶக்தியை அளிக்கும் அந்த பரப்ரஹ்மம் என் சித்தத்தில் ஒளிரட்டும். ஹ்ருதயத்தில் உன்னுடைய ஶக்தி வாய்ந்த திருவடிகள் இருக்கட்டும். ஸ்ரீ ராமசந்த்ரேந்த்ர! முக்தி நிலை என்னுடையதாக இருக்கட்டும்! (१४)




Composers, History, Manuscripts

Text and PDF of Ramashtapadi of Shri Upanishad Brahmendra Yogi

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.


Composers, CompositionAppreciation, History, Manuscripts, Personalities, Raga

The Rama Taranga-s and Rama Ashtapadi-s of Upanishad Brahmam

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

The Trio

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:




Gita Raga
prAnAdhi nAmAnta Nata
traipada rAmam Yadukulakambhoji
rAmENa mE Saveri
srI rAmacandrAya tubhyam Arabhi
rAmacandrasya tava dAsOham Anandabhairavi
vidEha kaivalya Bhairavi


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.



  1. Raghavan V. 1956. Upanishad Brahma Yogin, His life, Works and Contribution to Carnatic Music. Journal of The Madras University. 113-150.
  2. Raghavan V. 1957. Upanishad Brahma Yogin. Journal of The Madras University. 151-152.
  3. Hema Ramanathan. 2004. Ragalakshana Sangraha – Collection of Raga Descriptions, p 890-893.









Composers, CompositionAppreciation, Raga, Sahitya

Sri Rama Pattabhisheka, as envisioned by Tyagaraja Svamigal

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

caraNam 1

pankaja lOcana dharajAyankamuna velungaga gani

caraNam 2

parama dayAkara shubhakara girIsha manOhara shankara

caraNam 3

karamuna goDugiDukoni sOdaru bharatuDu karagaga gani

caraNam 4

suguNadanila tanayuDu gavaya gavAkSulu goluvaga gani

caraNam 5

ghaTaja vasiSTha mrkaNDuja gautamadulu bogaDa gani

caraNam 6

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.



Composers, CompositionAppreciation, Notation, Raga

Inimitable Raganga-s – Stavaraja

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.

Rāgāṅga rāga-s

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  

Composition Phrases
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

Composition Phrases
Ravi samnibha – Gīta GGRS, PMP, PNND, PSNS, NDPM, NPMPSS and SNP
Stavarājādinuta – Kīrtana MDPM, DRS, DDNDP, SRS, SNDP and PMG


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).

Madhurāmbām bhajarē

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.

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



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

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.




Composers, Manuscripts, Notation, Personalities, Raga, Shishya Parampara

Sri Guruguha Navaratnamalika

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.

  1. All these kritis are composed in Telugu and are on either Lord Brhadiswara or Devi Brhadiswari.
  2. 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.
  3. 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’.

Guruguha mudra

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:

  1. 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’).
  2. The kriti ‘sri raja rajeswari’ has few special phrases that are seen in the gitam given in Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini.
  3. 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.

Composers, CompositionAppreciation, Manuscripts, Personalities, Sahitya, Shishya Parampara

Sri Tyagarajaya mangalam

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.

Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaier

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.

Giriraja pautraya

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.

  1. Sri mad kaakarla vamsaadhi Candra yaamala tejase – raama rasagyaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  2. Raamabrahma suputraaya sitamma garbhajaaya cha – raamachandra svarupaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  3. Paarvati kamalaamba sad bhaarya samyathaaya cha – sarva sadguna purnaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  4. Naaradaacharya karunaa paatraayadbutha kirtaye – dhiraaya nirvikaaraya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  5. Sri karunaa samudraaya lokaanugraha kaarine – saakedhaadhipa bhaktaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  6. Yogi pungava mitraaya yogaananda svarupine – raaga lobha vimukthaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  7. Gaana saastra pravinaaya kali kalmasha naashine – naanaa sishya samuhaaya tyaagaraajaaya mangalam
  8. 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.