It has been reiterated several times that
Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has not explained many tenets explicitly in his treatise Saṅgīta
Sampradāya Pradarṣini. It is up to the
reader to comprehend the information given by reading and analyzing various
evidences published before and after this treatise. One such tenet is bhāṣāṅga
rāgas which was covered here. Another such example will be the point of
discussion in this article – rāga-s with more than one mūrcana.
One cannot stop exclaiming seeing the lakṣaṇa
of few rāga-s when we go through Pradarṣini. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has explained
these rāga-s by giving more than one mūrcana (ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa) . Rāga-s
like Takka, Sālagabhairavi, Kannaḍagaula and Kamās can be placed under this
category. By this we get to know, multiple variant lakṣaṇa-s existed for some rāga-s even during the period of Dīkṣitar and he
was in approval of all these variants.
described by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
Kamās is considered as a dēśīya, bhāṣāṅga janya
of Harikēdaragaula. Madhyama and dhaivata are jīva svara-s. This rāga has a
restricted range between mandra sthāyi nishāda to tāra sthāyi gāndara. At some
places like RGRS in tāra sthāyi, gandhāra is sādharaṇa in nature. What is more
interesting here is the mūrcana given for this rāga. Though SRGMPDNS and
SNDPMGRS is the mūrcana given for this rāga, it can also have other ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa
like SGMPDNS/SMGMPDNS/SMGMNDNS – SNDPMGS says Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. In all the
compositions notated by him, Kamās is dealt only as a sampūrṇa janya of Harikēdaragaula.
In such a case, it is unavoidable for any reader to get a query – the relevance
of the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa SGMPDNS – SNDPMGS, as it is totally devoid of the
svara ṛṣbham. This scale was very well accepted by Dīkṣitar can be understood
from the fact that it was not affixed with any other (derogatory) remarks as
seen with the rāga-s Husēni or Kāpi. Hence this article will cover only this
variant form and look for the presence of available compositions by analyzing older
versions. Neeedless to say, analysis of the rāga Kamās that we hear today will not be attempted.
This rāga has not been catalogued by Śahaji, Tulajā or other musicologists before their period . The Rāga lakṣaṇa, attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhi by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar too do not mention this rāga. It is interesting that Subbarāma Dīkṣitar had made a note of this rāga, without furnishing a single composition of Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar or any other member of his family. The only old composition notated there is that of Svāti Tirunal and the lakṣaṇa there well abides with the structure described by Dīkṣitar.
But Kamās is seen in Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi and its allied texts. The scale given in Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi is SGMPDNS – SNDPMGS. An absolute discordance is seen between the scale given and the lakṣaṇa gīta notated therein. In the gīta notated in Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi, many phrases alien to the scale like SGP, GPMG and GPDN can be seen . The ascend form pūrvāṅgam to uttarāṅgam is always by SGP despite the scale being SGMPDN. The phrase SGMP is conspicuously absent in the gītam. Similarly, RSNDP is to be noted, as the svara ṛṣbham is not mentioned in the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa. Also the phrases characteristic of Kamās like SMGM, MNDN can also be not seen. Though we are able to locate a scale given by Dīkṣitar in the treatise Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi, the scale in no way is related to the lakṣaṇa portrayed in the gītaṃ. When the gītaṃ is reconstructed, the melody appears totally different from the Kamās described by Dīkṣitar or heard now.
Many texts have been published by the musicians
to understand rāga lakśaṇa. They serve to understand the crystallized structure
of any particular rāga and when many such publications published over the
period of time were analyzed, evolution of a rāga can be understood.
One such book, perhaps the first of its kind was published by Pazamanēri Svāminātha Ayyar in the year 1901 . Rāgavibhōdini, as it is called was also mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his Pradarṣini. Svāminātha Ayyar was a disciple of Mahā Vaidyanātha Ayyar and represents the śiṣya parampara of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal. This book help us to understand the rāga lakśaṇa prevailed in a single branch of Mānambucāvaḍi lineage (See foot note 1). Kamās is mentioned as a janya of Harikāmbhoji with the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa SMGMPDNS SNDPMGRS. He also mentions about the usage of kākali niṣādham in the phrase SNS. Perhaps this could be the first textual evidence regarding the use of kākali niṣādham. He then proceeds to describe this rāga by mentioning various phrases, including the one with ṛṣbham.
Kamās was explained with other dēśī rāgas by S Ramanathan in The Music Academy conference held in 1966. He has mentioned about the presence of kākali niṣādham and made a note that it is not seen in the earlier compositions . A much detail description of this rāga comes from S R Janakiraman. He avers the structure of this rāga has changed over the period of time. He proceeds to give the ārohaṇa-avarōhaṇa as SMGMPDNS SNDPMGRS and its variant SNDPMGRGS. He emphasizes on the alpatva of the svara ṛṣbham . Though we are able to get a clear definition of this rāga, our question on the scale without ṛṣbham, mentioned by Dīkṣitar remains unanswered.
Before proceeding further, we wish to add a
note on the mūrcana given in Pradarṣini and its relevance in understanding the
rāga lakṣaṇa. Though Dīkṣitar provides mūrcana for every rāga he describes, in
many cases reading mūrcana alone can mislead us in understanding a rāga. A
comprehensive examination of all the compositions notated by him inclusive of
the notes provided at the beginning is a must to get a picture of any rāga. In
other words, mūrcana is just a delineation; even worser than a
scale in describing a rāga in many instances.
In this case, the mūrcana resembles the scale of Harikāmbhōji. But the notes given by him regarding the nyāsa svarā-s, various illustrative phrases gives us a picture about Kamās. When this is combined with a study of the notated compositions, a clear picture of Kamās and possible ways to differentiate it from Harikāmbhōji can be learnt. This rāga could have not posed any problem if he had stopped with this discussion. The presence of an additional information, that SGMPDNS SNDPMGS can be a mūrcana confuses as this lakṣaṇa can nowhere be seen in the notated works. No single composition notated there is devoid of the svara ṛṣbham. As we have mentioned earlier, this scale too is to be taken with a pinch of salt. This scale doesn’t mean an entire composition could have been constructed only with this scale going up and down; rather the phrases given here must form a bulk of the composition and that version should be bereft of ṛṣbham or should have used ṛṣbham sparsely. We wish the readers to remember the phrase SRGMPMR in the rāga Balahamsa and its importance which we have discussed earlier. This phrase is nowhere seen in the compositions notated by Dīkṣitar in the rāga Balahamsa, but it was an arterial phrase mentioned in various treatises and seen in few old version of the kṛtis-s of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal in this rāga. The link between these treatises and the practice became evident only after examining the older versions.
Rāga-s live through compositions and a study of these compositions not only help us to understand a rāga, but also aid us in understanding the various ways in which a particular rāga was exploited. In the absence of gita-s in this rāga, we are left with the available old versions of kṛti-s, svarajati-s and jāvali-s in this rāga. A detailed analysis of jāvali-s in this rāga can be heard here (See footnote 2). Though the first evidence of jāvali in this rāga can be traced back to 17 CE, the musical structure is much similar to what we hear today.
We do have two kṛti-s of
Tyāgarāja Svāmigal in this rāga –
‘sujana jīvana’ and ‘sītāpate nā manasuna’. Excluding these two kṛti-s none of the compositions deserve a special
mention in this regard.
This is a well-known kṛti in this rāga set to the tāla rūpakam and needs no introduction. Renditions of this kṛti are plenteous and we do not see much variation in the versions. Uniformly, all these renditions use the svara ṛṣbham as an alpa svara. But we get a different picture when textual versions were examined. Despite being a rare find, both in manuscripts and in the texts published in the early part of the last century, the versions sketched there is common, all devoid of ṛṣbham! All the texts – ‘gāyaka siddhānjanamu’ , ‘saṅgītānanda ratnākaramu’ , ‘saṅgīta raja raṅgōm’  and ‘gandarva gāna kalpavalli’  give us the variant form of Kamās mentioned by Dīkṣitar. Though the scale followed is SGMPDNS SNDPMGS, we do find phrases like SMGM, PDM, PDS, NDN and SP. The combination of these oft heard phrases in the basic melody condition us to an extent that we don’t feel the real absence of ṛṣbham. These versions does not record a mere scale; rather they paint us the rāga Kamās in its variant form. Now we are left with a question, a vital one to understand the svarūpa of this rāga – can Kamās be outlined without the svarā ṛṣbham? Though the ‘alpa’ nature of this svara is mentioned everywhere and even the oral renditions attest the same, none of the oral versions are available for this kṛti which totally eschew this svara. There are few rāga-s wherein inclusion or exclusion of a particular svara is up to the wish of a composer. The svara dhaivatam in Nāta and ṛṣbham in Hindōlavasanta can be cited as examples. Dīkṣitar provides gīta-s with and without these svara-s in both these rāga-s. But such an indication is not given for Kamās!
Let us look into the Vālājāpeṭṭai version of this kṛti. The rāga and tāla of this kṛti is mentioned as Kamās and rūpaka respectively. The basic version is relatively similar to the textual versions, though the structure of the saṅgati-s differ. An important observation noted include the restricted usage of ṛṣbham. The svara ṛṣbham is seen only once in anupallavi in a saṅgati as GRRS. Vālājāpeṭṭai version of this kṛti can be heard here.
Whereas in the textual
versions described earlier, we were able to see many Kamās defining versions.
This version lacks those phrases; instead has some other like SMGS and GPMG.
The phrase GPMG is totally new, but seen in a sañcāri by Dīkṣitar. As said
earlier, we lack gītas, prabandās or other earlier works in this rāga and description
by Dīkṣitar alone stand as a pramāṇa. Based on the above discussion, it can be
concluded this version best fits into the variant Kamās mentioned by Dīkṣitar, without
deviating from its sampūrṇa nature. Many of the āvarta ends with the svara
madhyamaṃ highlighting its use as a nyasa svara. But dhaivata is not used
extensively as a gṛha svara, though can be considered to be used as an amsa
Also the pada-s in each āvarta are segregated differently than the commonly heard version. The second tāla āvarta in anupallavi starts from ‘cita’ instead of ‘budha’ as we hear now. Same with ‘nana’ instead of ‘dharma’ in the caraṇam (see below). This kind of pada segregation is not only followed in the Vālājāpeṭṭai version, but also in the books ‘gāyaka siddhānjanamu’ and ‘gandarva gāna kalpavalli’. In these texts, sāhitya reads differently; ‘cita’ (in anupallavi) and ‘nana’ (in caraṇam) were replaced by ‘śrita’ and ‘vana’ respectively (‘ghana’ in ‘gāyaka siddhānjanamu’). Gāyaka siddhānjanamu reads ‘dharma pālaka’ as ‘dharma pālana’.
bhujaka bhūṣanār II cita budha janāvanāt II
maja vandita śruta candana II daśa turaṅga māmava II
cāru nētra śrī kalatra II śrī ramya gātra II
tāraka nāma sucaritra II daśaratha putra II
tārakādhipā II nana dharma pālaka II
tāraya raghuvara nirmala II tyāgarāja sannutha II
From the analysis of these
old versions, it appears the Kamās handled by Svāmigal could have used ṛṣbham
to the minimal extent or not used at all. But going with the latter hypothesis
creates an impression Kamās was visualized as a shādava rāga by Svāmigal. As we
don’t have any evidence to prove that and from the knowledge gained by
analyzing the mūrcana seen in Pradarṣini, the first option suits well. In that
instance, Vālājāpeṭṭai version stands distinctly as the frequently heard
phrases like SRS, NRS, SMGM and MNDN were not seen. But we do see other rare
phrases like SMGS and GPM.
Though the aim of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is to archive the
compositions known to him, he also took efforts to make a note on other
contemporary accepted practices. In this regard, Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini
is indeed a valuable treatise to not only learn the compositions of Dīkṣitar,
but also serve as a medium to understand the music of the past.
The liberty extended to vāggēyakāra-s by our music is incomparable and they have utilized it to the
Analysis of all the older
versions and Vālājāpeṭṭai versions is of paramount importance to understand the
music of the past.
Readers must have wondered
in not seeing any note on the kṛti ‘sītāpati nā manasuna’. It will be dealt as
a separate essay to do justice to the information that it carries.
Footnote 1 – Though we place many musicians
into a single family, like Umayālpuram, Tillaisthānam or Mānambucāvadi, differences in the versions do exist between
them. This can is more pronounced in Umayālpuram disciples. Such a difference also exist
among the disciples of Mānambucāvadi lineage. This is a generalized statement
and not related to this kṛti as this kṛti is a
hard find in manuscripts and this author was unable find this manuscript in
more than one musician in the Mānambucāvadi lineage.
Footnote 2 – The tune of the jāvali sung by Subhashini Parthasarathy is more modern. She has reconstructed the tune or sung a version tuned version by a contemporary musician is to be determined.
Time and again in these blog posts we refer to a musicological work called the Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika (CDP). In fact this Anubandha or appendix is a raga compendium or lexicon of ragas and is the core or fulcrum of the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP) of Subbarama Dikshita.In fact one will not be far from truth if they were to conclude that the SSP is a commentary on the Anubandha and a treatise wherein the ragas of this lexicon are illustrated with compositions. While all musicological writers and researchers allude to this Anubandha as an appendix to the Caturdandi Prakashika, fact is that they are two different and distinct texts, created by different authors at different points in time and structured differently as well. In fact the name of this appendix/musicological work is ‘rAgalakshanam’ as found in the preface to the text. However given very many musicological works are similarly named (for example Sahaji’s work dateable to circa 1700 AD, is called ‘rAgalakshanamU’, in this blog post we will refer to this text as Anubandha.
In this blog post we shall look at the content of this Anubandha, how it came to be unearthed, its author and it probable date.
The discovery of the Anubandha:
We do know that the musicological texts which were in the custody of Subbarama Dikshita when he published the SSP in 1904, included amongst others both the CDP and the Anubandha. From the narrative in the SSP we do know that Subbarama Dikshita treated the Caturdandi Prakashika as well as the Ragalakshanam listing as coeval, meaning he thought that the author of both of these texts was one person and that was Venkatamakhin himself, who lived somewhere between 1580-1650 AD.
We did see in an earlier blog post, the efforts of Subbarama Dikshita to acquire the texts and also the contribution of the 64th Pontiff of the Kanci Kamakoti Peeta in enabling the same. Subbarama Dikshita while utilizing the text (Anubandha) in his SSP, did not print the complete text as a separate publication. He utilized the lakshana slokas and the arohana/avarohana murcchanas found therein and reproduced it verbatim in his SSP.
Subbarama Dikshita did share a copy of the CDP or portion of it to Pandit Bhatkhande when the later came visiting him in Ettayapuram. It is not known with certainty if the Anubandha was also shared. Prof Bhatkhande refers to only the original CDP and the other text (also called Ragalakshanam) which embodies the 72 Sampurna Melakarta starting from Kanakangi and ending in Rasikapriya, in his work as evident from his publication “Music Systems in India – A comparative study of some of the leading music systems of the 15th,16th,17th & 18th centuries”). Since the so called Asampurna Mela scheme found documented in the Anubandha is not referred to by Prof Bhatkhande, we can infer that the same was perhaps not shared by Subbarama Dikshita, when he met him at Ettayapuram on 17th December 1904.
Subbarama Dikshita died in 1906 and all these musicological texts & other collateral material such as gitams, tAnams ( portions of which are found in the SSP) were presumably inherited by Ambi Dikshita, the son of Subbarama Dikshita thereafter. Ambi Dikshita came in contact with Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer, who met him at Kovilpatti in southern Tamilnadu in May 1931. Justice TLV became enamored of the music as practiced by Ambi Dikshita and brought him to Chennai, then Madras, the provincial capital of the Presidency. It was during this interaction that Justice TLV was perhaps able to access the manuscripts of CDP and the Ragalakshanam, with the result, in 1934 under the auspices of the Madras Music Academy the CDP as well as the Ragalakshanam was published as edited by Pandit Subramanya Sastri, T V Subba Rao and Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer. It was these authors/editors of this edition who first called the Ragalakshanam as Anubandha or Appendix to the CDP. See foot note 1.
The Ragalakshanam manuscript lacked a formal preamble/introductory portion, colophon, date & such other details and was more like a manual or a lexicon rather than a formal treatise in itself. It was divided into two chapters with 45 and 145 anustubh verses in Sanskrit and was prosaic or free flowing like, in its narrative. It also differed in certain portions from the corresponding verses reproduced by Subbarama Dikshita in his SSP, thus giving rise to the suspicion that there were more than one version of the text.
Author of the Ragalakshanam/Anubandha & Its probable date:
During the first half of the 20th Century, based on Subbarama Dikshita’s averments and on his authority all subsequent writers and musicologists attributed the Anubandha to the authorship to Venkatamakhin himself. We do even have the much respected Dr V Raghavan himself acknowledging to the effect that Venkatamakhin also composed a work on the 72 melas (alluding to the Anubandha), based on the input of Pandit Subramanya Sastri.
It was only after the year 1950 perhaps that researchers started noticing the inconsistencies between the CDP on one hand the Anubandha on the other and they started voicing the same. While that was the state of music research at that point in time sometime after 1975 we have atleast two musicologists who advanced the view that the CDP and the Anubandha were two different texts, created by two different authors at two different points in time. They were Prof S R Janakiraman and Dr Satyanarayana. There may have been other writers/scholars/experts who might have advanced a similar view or opinion perhaps and I should confess that I am not aware and would like to be corrected if so.
The works of these two scholars alone are being considered in this blog post for the simple reason that they are leading and acknowledged authorities on the subject and they have time and again written and spoken about this in all their works and interactions. References 3 and 4 in the section below are the works of these two stalwarts and they advance the view that the Ragalakshanam was a creation of a descendant of Venkatamakhin sometime after 1700 A D.
Between Venkatamakhin who created the CDP in the year AD 1636 and the year AD 1760 which we know to be the possible end period before which the Anubandha should have been created , we have two historical personages from the account of Subbarama Dikshita in the SSP, who are mentioned as descendants of Venkatamakhin. One is Muddu Venkatamakhin, who Subbarama Dikshita attributes the authorship of the gitams published in the SSP & Pratamabhyasa Pustakamu for the ragas Natakurinji, Saveri and Gaulipantu. The other is Ramasvami Dikshita’s preceptor Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita.
The Argument advanced by Prof SRJ
Prof S R Janakiraman in his commentary to the Saramrutha of King Tulaja as published by the Madras Music Academy attributes the Anubandha or the Ragalakshanam – the listing of the arohana/avarohana murccana together with the lakshana sloka for the ragangas and the janya ragas thereunder to Muddu Venkatamakhin or to Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita, who was the preceptor of Ramasvami Dikshita. He argues cogently that Subbarama Dikshita is prima facie wrong as the text of the original CDP is never at all a listing of the 72 melas. It was Venkatamakhin who envisaged the mathematical possibility of 72 melas but he saw that it was an exercise in futility to lay out all these 72 combinations as it would be a mere theoretical exercise. In the body of the CDP he drew out/documented only those 19 purva prasiddha melas and added Desi Simharava ( Simhendra Madhyamam of modern times) to it. The Anubandha on the contrary lists out all the 72 ragangas and their offspring which are in direct contradiction to the listing found in the CDP. Thus the Anubandha is a later day compendium obviously and its author could not have been Venkatamakhin. It could be either Muddu Venkatamakhin or Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita, who could have authored the Ragalakshanam. This is the crux of the hypothesis advanced by Prof SRJ, implying that the Anubandha must have been created during the first half of the 18th century.
Prof Satyanarayana’s take on the authorship and timeline of the Anubandha:
For his part Prof Satyanarayana in his commentary on ‘Ragalakshanam’, reiterates the points stated by Prof SRJ but attributes it to Muddu Venkatamakhin only/himself. The raja mudra/patron’s colophon of the aforementioned Nattakuriji gitam given in the SSP, has King Sahaji of Tanjore as the royal patron with Muddu Venkatamkhin’s ankita. He concludes firmly that Muddu Venkatamakhin lived during King Sahaji’s times. Given that this Muddu Venkatamakhin was the paternal great grandson of Venkatamakin the Ragalakshanam can be ascribed to him with a date of circa 1700 AD. Readers may please refer to Prof Satyanarayana’s vimarsa/commentary on the Ragalakshanam. His introductory chapter highlights the case for attributing the authorship to Muddu Venkatamakhin and placing the time of the Ragalakshana to the reign of Sahaji. He also lists a number of other features/grounds with which we can say that Anubandha/Ragalakshanam and the original CDP were composed by two different authors.
Logical deduction as to the author of the Anubandha
It is indeed unfortunate that Ragalakshanam text in itself does not have a colophon and we are forced to resort to therefore seek the truth through collateral evidence. Also Subbarama Dikshita himself makes no connection whatsoever between Venkatamakhin, Muddu Venkamakhin and Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita together, except stating that Muddu Venkatamakhin was the paternal great grandson of Venkatamakhin.
Be that as it may, armed with data given by Subbarama Dikshita we can still assume personages as place holders of their respective generations, just to ascertain their probability of being the author to the Ragalakshanam / Anubandha. So assuming for overlap of timelines between these personages, a more plausible life span calculation can be approximated as under for our understanding.
Venkatamakhin – AD 1590-1640
Venkatamakhin’s Son or next generation (Unknown) AD 1620- 1670
Venkatamakhin’s grandson or third generation (Unknown) – AD 1650-1700
Muddu Venkatamakhin (son of above, perhaps or 4th generation) – AD 1680-1730 (contemporary of King Sahaji)
Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita (maternal great great grandson, possibly) – AD 1700-1760 (guru of Ramasvami Dikshita)
One can logically expect that at the least, a gap of 4 to 5 generations has to be there for the said period considering the average life spans of those days. The listing as above certainly makes it plausible for Muddu Venkatamakhin to have lived during the period 1680-1730 and that coincides with King Sahaji’s regnal years of AD 1684-1712. Assuming the authorship of the Ragalakshanam, as between Muddu Venkatamakhin & Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita we have the period of AD 1700- 1750 as the probable timeline during which the Ragalakshanam could have been authored. See foot note 2.
Subbarama Dikshita’s asserion that Muddu Venkatamakhin was a prapautra of Venkatamakhin and that Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita was a maternal grandson appears a little confusing/contradicting given the timelines. Or it could be that Venkata Vaidyanatha DIkshita coming from a maternal line too was born circa 1690 to be part of the same generation as Muddu Venkatamakhin, but survived till 1750-1760, which meant he must have lived very long given the mortality of those times.
With this possible set of conclusions/observations let us move on the evidence if any within the Ragalakshanam itself as to its timeline.
Ans so what was the date it was probably created?
Dr V Raghavan postulates in his works that the CDP was written perhaps in 1620 AD by Venkatamakhin. However Prof Vriddhagireesan a historian, in his treatise on the Nayaks of Tanjore authoritatively records with collateral evidence that the Caturdandi Prakashika must have been composed in or around A. D 1637 during the initial years of the rule of King Vijayaraghava Naik (regnal years- AD 1633-1673) who succeeded King Raghunatha, of the erstwhile Royal House of the Naiks/Nayaks of Tanjore. It was in King Vijayaraghava Naik’s Court that Venkatamakhin was a minister, like how his father Govinda Dikshita was in King Raghunatha’s Court, Vijayaraghava’s predecessor. By the years AD 1675-77 the Naiks of Tanjore were decimated and Ekoji of the Maharatta Bhonsale clan had occupied the Tanjore throne and set up his Kingdom by AD 1680. Records show that this period of AD 1670-1680 had been a period of great political upheaval and peace returned to Tanjore only with the stable rule of the powerful King Sahaji (son of Ekoji) between the years AD 1684-1712. We do know that Muddu Venkatamakhin the great grandson and descendant of Venkatamakhin was patronized by King Sahaji as the Nattakurinji gitam ( in the SSP) composed by him on King Sahaji as attributed by Subbarama Dikshita bears the the ankita very clearly making out beyond doubt that Muddu Venkatamakhin’s Royal patron was King Sahaji.
Therefore can we presume that the “Ragalakshanam” a.ka. Anubandha too was composed during the regnal years of Sahaji, just as how Prof Satyanarayana concludes? No so fast, for we have a problem and lets turn to it.
The Litmus test – Evidence of the lakshana of the raga Velavali:
Sahaji created the Ragalakshanamu – a lexicon of ragas which were current during his life time/at that point in time during his regnal years at the latest say circa AD 1710. Now to determine if Ragalakshanam/Anubandha was composed during the same time as that of Ragalakshanamu, a comparison of ragas between the two texts can be done. The ragas recorded by Sahaji (as he observed in practice) must logically be a sub set of the set of theoretical ragas propounded in the Ragalakshanam / Anubandha assuming them to be coeval. So if we identify one raga at least which is defined in say Sahaji’s work as having a particular svarupa but is differently described of has a different svarupa in the Ragalakshanam / Anubandha then we have an issue. Because if the raga was in practice/vogue at a given point in time but is assessed differently by the two works created at the same place and time, then we can logically deduce that they cannot be coeval.
Now if we indeed do that analysis with the Anubandha on one hand and Sahaji’s Ragalakshanamu on the other, we hit at least with one roadblock pertaining to one raga’s lakshana. And the raga whose raga lakshana differs in the 2 texts is the raga Velavali !
The Velavali documented by King Sahaji:
Velavali, according to Sahaji, is categorized as a janya raga under the Sriraga mela (modern mela 22) with Nishadha dropped/varja in the arohana and sampurna in the descent. The Nishadha in Sriraga mela is N2 or kaishiki and the raga is to be sung at sunrise/day break. Thus Velavali which was in currency during 1710 or thereabouts, according to Sahaji was a raga having N2. In fact if we go back in time it was so even in Govinda Dikshita’s as well as during Venkatamakhin’s times. Both in Sangita Sudha and CDP, the raga Velavali had always been classed under the Sriraga mela with its nishadha being N2 only. See foot note 3.
In fact Venkatamakhin in his CDP ( circa 1636 AD) gives this as the lakshana sloka for Velavali :
vElAvaLI tu bhAshAngaM jAthAh srIrAga mElathah |
sampUrna BhAvaM BhajatE praBhAtE chEsha gIyatE ||
In fact comparing the definitions between Venkatamakhin and Sahaji, they match perfectly even about the time of rendering the raga, which is day break! And in fact Sahaji betrays no knowledge of CDP and thus becomes a perfect independent source for us. Thus all the way from circa AD 1637 to 1710, the raga’s lakshana has been stable under Sriraga mela with N2 as the nishadha svara occuring only in the avarohana.
In contradistinction, for the author of the Ragalakshana/Anubandha, (Gauri) Velavali is the raganga of mela 23. “Gauri” is a prefix added in the Ragalakshanam to get the sankhya so that the mela number of 23 can be derived as per Katapayadhi formula. Since it is mela 23, the nishadha can only be N3 or kakali ! Thus if the Ragalakshanam/Anubandha were to say that the nishadha of Velavali was only N3 and is not under Sriraga, it goes without saying that the Anubandha/Ragalakshanam must be dated only much later to 1710. It cannot be earlier to 1710 with certainty because for Sahaji and for Venkatamakhin, Velavali has only N2. One may ignore the reference to the term bhashanga used by Venkamakhin, Sahaji and Tulaja in the context of Velavali. The term signified a different raga attribute which has since been deprecated and did not refer to the presence of notes foreign to the raga’s mela, which is what it refers to today. We may be rest assured that Velavali always had only notes of the mela to which it pertained, in other words it was upanga from a modern standpoint.
If the Anubandha/Ragalakshanam were to be much later than AD 1710 then we need to do a similar compare with Tulaja’s Saramruta which is chronologically the next musicological text, available to us, being composed circa AD 1736, to determine Ragalakshanam’s timeline.
The Velavali of Tulaja
After Sahaji’s abdication of the Tanjore throne in AD 1711 and given that he was childless, his younger brother and successor Sarabhoji I ruled Tanjore from AD 1711-1729 for a period of 18 years. See foot note 4. He too died childless and was succeeded by his next brother Tulaja I, who ruled for a short period of 7 years between AD 1729 and 1736. This Tulaja I was the author of ‘Sangita Saramrutha’ a work very similar to his elder brother Sahaji’s ‘ Ragalakshanamu’. Again this Saramrutha indexed all ragas that were in currency during Tulaja I ‘s times or circa 1732-36 approximately. For the puposes of our onging analysis we can look at Saramrutha and see if Velavali is there and if so find its lakshana.
Luckily for us Velavali had survived till AD 1732 or latest till AD 1736 (when Tulaja I died). And to our surprise, he catalogues Velavali not under Sriraga mela but as a separate raganga with N3 to boot, exactly like how Anubandha/Ragalakshanam classifies it as melA 23. The raga continued to be sampurna and is bereft of nishadha in the arohana. It has all the notes of Sriraga except the nishadha has changed from N2 to N3.
So can we now conclude now that the Anubandha/Ragalakshanam is atleast coeval to the Saramrutha? There is still one more hitch. For, both Sahaji and Tulaja (leaving out the N2 being dropped and N3 being taken) Velavali lacked nishadha alone in the arohana, and it was sampurna in the avarohana. But for the author of the Anubandha/Ragalakshana, Velavali lacked gandhara as well as nishadha in the arohana, while the avarohana was sampurna!
Now this gets interesting. Between AD 1710 and 1736, the raga Velavali changes its nishadha from N2/kaisiki to N3/kakali, as evidenced by the Saramrutha. Now additionally gandhara too is lost in the ascent. What it means is that this could have happened only after 1736 because the dropping of the gandhara in the arohana is not recorded by Tulaja in Saramrutha circa 1736. For both of them i.e Sahaji and Tulaja, the raga had gandhara both in the arohana and avarohana.
Thus by deduction the Anubandha is dateable only to a date later than AD 1736. It was certainly not coeval to both Sahaji’s “Ragalakshanamu” or Tulaja’s “Saramrutha”. It was certainly much later to these two texts.
The other collateral evidence – Gopikavasanta & Gamakakriya
So we now see some light at the end of the tunnel. Velavali which was a janya under Sriraga till around AD 1710, is now elevated to be a raganga/mela in its own right during Tulaja’s times, circa 1732. In a span of 25 to 30 years outermost, Sahaji’s Velavali dropped its N2 acquired N3 and in one stroke moved out from being under the Sriraga mela to become a mela or a raganga in its own right. And after AD 1736 sometime circa 1750 perhaps, the raga additionally dropped the gandhara as well which is evidenced by the Ragalakshanam/Anubandha.
There is yet another set of evidence that we should consider. In an earlier blog post on the raga Gopikavasanta, we saw that the raga which was called Indu Ghantarava by both Sahaji and Tulaja in their works, had the name of Gopikavasanta in the Anubandha/Ragalakshanam. Both these ragas had the same melodic contour. If the Ragalakshanam/Anubandha was composed prior to 1736, the author would have called it Indu Ghantarava (the name assigned to that melody by Tulaja) as that was the name by which the melody went in practice in 1736. He would not have called it Gopikavasanta. Now that Tulaja’s Indu Ghantarava, post 1736 AD must have gone out of vogue by say AD 1740-1750. So circa 1750 AD , the melodic skeleton of Indu Ghantarava was then exhumed and given the name Gopikavasanta, by the author of Ragalakshanam/Anubandha. Meaning it could only be that the work was closer to 1750.
We also saw the case of the raga Gamakakriya and the earliest available composition in that raga by Sonti Venkatasubbayya dating back to circa 1770 AD. Gamakakriya again is a raga never seen in the CDP or in Sahaji’s Ragalakshanamu or Tulaja’s Saramrutha. It makes its first appearance only in the Anubandha as the raganga raga for Mela 56. This is another evidence to the fact that the Anubandha is dateable only to AD 1750 or later.
The evidence provided by the two forms of Velavali , the musical identities of Indu Ghantarava & Gopikavasanta and the inception of Gamakakriya all make it clear and point to the conclusion that the Ragalakshanam / Anubandha was composed sometime after 1740 and closer to 1750 and certainly before 1760, the date by which Ramasvami Dikshita had probably finished his tutelage under Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita and had learnt the ragas of the Anubandha.
The unsaid evidence provided by the political turmoil in Tanjore
We can also strengthen our deduction based on the political situation during these relevant times in Tanjore. It goes without saying that a stable political atmosphere, absence of political turmoil or long drawn wars or marauding invaders is an essential prerequisite for arts to blossom forth. And without doubt a strong, militarily powerful and able ruler who is a good administrator, a lover and patron of arts and the learned is a sine qua non for arts and music to flourish . All these are all required to enable fine arts and music along with musicians to prosper in a given geography or Kingdom.
As historical records show, close on the heels of Tulaja I’s death in 1736, the Kingdom of Tanjore was plunged in chaos, without a legitimate heir to the throne and a bunch of illegal contenders fighting for the throne. The neighboring Kingdom of the Nayaks of Madura too was in political foment. That said in all probability between 1736 and 1740 nothing ever worthwhile could have happened from the point of music and arts as the Tanjore kingdom was in turmoil till then. The most powerful of the contenders to emerge successful was Pratapasimha the son of a concubine of Tulaja I and he seized the Tanjore throne for himself towards the end of AD 1739. Thus it was in AD 1740 that that some semblance of order came to being in TanJore. And over the next decade stability and patronage of arts restarted with the ascension of King Pratapasimha to the Tanjore throne and has he firmly ensconsed himself. Much like his paternal uncle, King Sahaji, he too was a militarily powerful King, a great administrator and a great patron of arts and he too went on to earn the tile of “Abhinava Bhoja”. As we see later, this period of Pratapasimha’s rule (1740-1765) witnessed the greatest of the pre-trinity composers blossoming forth from the fertile land of Tanjore.
Therefore the Ragalakshanam/anubandha’s date being decidedly after AD 1736, could have been created only during Pratapasimha’s golden rule, circa 1750 or thereafter, in all probability.
And who could have been the Author?
Now that we have nailed down the year of the text closer to AD 1750 we turn over to the question of who could have been the author of the Ragalakshanam / Anubandha, as between the two personages, Muddu Venkatamkhin and Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita. Now if the most probable time period was around 1750, given our estimated life time of Muddu Venkatamakhin (1680-1730) and that of Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita (1710-1760), it is more probable that it was Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita the preceptor of Ramasvami Dikshita perhaps who could have been the author of the Anubandha. Statistically speaking Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita has a significantly higher probability of being the author of the Ragalakshanam / Anubandha compendium, than Muddu Venkatamakhin. See foot note 5.
It is not to say that Muddu Venkatamakhin being the author is impossible. If he were born sometime later say in A D 1690 and had composed the Natakurinji gitam at worse say in the year of Sahaji’s abdication AD 1711, meaning he had gained royal favors even at a young age of 21 years, he would be around 60 years old in 1750 and could have still created the Anubandha/Ragalakshanam. Probable? Yes. Possible? Only ‘perhaps’ can be the answer. Too many positive assumptions have been made in this case. Too young to get royal favors at age 21 and too old for those times to have survived till 1750 or later.
There are even more possibilities/scenarios which are probable. It could have been neither Muddu Venkatamakhin nor Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita, as well being the authors of the Anubandha.
Perhaps another anonymous/unnamed yet descendant in between Muddu Venkatamakhin and Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita could have been the author. We don’t know.
One other very plausible scenario is that the Venkatamakhin clan kept the Ragalakshanam / Anubandham compendium periodically updated with the raga lakshanas in vogue at various points in time and kept it as a living document. Thus the document or work had no single author but was instead a versioned document constantly updated at different points in time. This surmise can be validated with the finding that the Ragalakshanam listing contains raga names not found in the Raganga Lakshana gitas of the corresponding mela ragas. For example the Sankarabharana raganga gita does not refer to Nilambari whereas under the Anubandha we have the lakshana sloka and arohana/arohana murrcana krama being provided. Such misses can only arise if it were a running document. Therefore in such a dynamic situation our analysis needs to be slightly modified. We can simply conclude that the last such update to this Ragalakshanam / Anubandha as a living document was done perhaps by 1750 or latest 1760 AD as by then Ramasvami Dikshita had been taught the ragas of the Venkatamakhin Sampradaya presumably by Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita. The Ragalakshanam stands frozen since then! See footnote 5.
I should confess that based on the preponderance of probabilities, my personal view is that the scenario per Point 2 above is he most plausible, if one were to view all the available facts logically.
All that we surmise now, is based on:
The character references we get from Subbarama Dikshita,
The dating of the texts CDP, Sahaji’s Ragalakshanamu and Tulaja’s Saramrutha and with life times and mortality factored in.
To conclude, from the perspective of musiologists and scholars today, as we see with the available evidence, the balance of probabilities favor Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita more than Muddu Venkatamakhin. If Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita was older than the 50 years which we assume he might have been during AD 1750-60 when he taught Ramasvami Dikshita, it would only strengthen our conclusion.
The objective of this monograph, if I might deign to call it one, was to provide an insight into the antecedents of the Ragalakshanam, the work which was called as the Anubandha or Appendix to the Caturdandi Prakashika. In contrast to the much popular perception, we saw that on the authority of Prof S R Janakiraman and that of Dr Satyanarayana, the work was by a different author done much later in time. And with a little more analysis using the raga Velavali as a litmus agent, we saw that the most probable author could be Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita, dateable closer to 1750 or thereafter and definitely not earlier. We also saw the two alternate hypothesis particularly the the one where the Ragalakshanam was likely treated by the descendants of the Venkatamakhin family as a living document and they kept it updated frequently, which appears the most plausible explanation. And if that is so then there cannot be a single author for the work. See foot note 6.
As a corollary to this monograph we will cover the curious history of the raga Velavali which we dealt with in passing for the litmus test, in the next blog post, which could logically conclude our study of that raga as well.
Subbarama Dikshitar (1904)- Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini– Tamil Edition published by the Madras Music Academy in 1968/2006
Prof R. Satyanarayana(2010) – ‘Ragalakshanam’ – Kalamoola Shastra Series- Published by Indira Gandhi National Center for the Arts, New Delhi
Prof S. R. Janakiraman & T V Subba Rao (1993)- ‘Ragas of the Sangita Saramrutha’ – Published by the Music Academy, Chennai, pages 241-245
V Vridhagireesan ( 1942) – The Nayaks of Tanjore- Published by the Annamalai University
S N Ratanjankar (1940) -V N Bhatkhande’s – Music Systems in India- A Comparative Study of some of the leading music systems of the 15th,16th,17th and 18th centuries- Republished by S Lal & Co(1984)
Dr S. Sita (1983) – “The Ragalakshana Manuscript of Sahaji Maharaja’ – Pages 140-182- JMA Vol LIV
Dr V Raghavan – ‘Later Sangita Literature’ – Republished in JMA Platinum Jubilee Commemoration Volume – Compilation from the years 1930-1940, published by the Madras Music Academy in 2001 – pages 121-124
Pandit Subramanya Sastri a great Sanskrit scholar had done yeoman service to the cause of editing older musicological text and making them ‘ready’ for publication during the greater part of the 20th century. He has been instrumental in editing not just the Ragalakshanam, but also Govinda’s Sangraha Cudamani, which is today the Bible for modern Carnatic musicology. It is very likely that he must have substantially corrected the grammatical and scribal issues with the Ragalakshanam manuscript as well.
The personage named “Govinda Dikshita” who apparently met the Dikshita family at Manali circa 1790-1800, according to Subbarama Dikshita though described as a descendant of Venkatamakhin, is not known to Ramasvami Dikshita before obviously as he had to prove his credentials that he learnt the Venkatamakhin sampradaya from Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita ( who was descendant on the maternal side). This Govinda Dikshita based on his own introduction was probably a son or grandson of Muddu Venkatamakhin who himself was Venkatamakhin’s patrilineal great grandson ( prapaautra according to Subbarama Dikshita)
Earlier to both Govinda Dikshita and his son Venkatamakhin, Ramamatya in his Svaramelakalanidhi mentions Velavali. His Velavali too is bunched under Sriraga mela. But he says that in some places rishabha and pancama svaras are not seen. That doesn’t completely conform to the svarupa of Velavali under Sriraga as articulated by Govinda Dikshita, Venkatamakhin and Sahaji in their works namely Sangita Sudha, Caturdandi Prakashika and Ragalakshanamu, respectively. Hence leaving aside Ramamatya, we can consider Govinda Dikshita to have first mentioned the raga Velavali of the form with N2 that we have considered for this blog post.
During his regnal years Sahaji, a musicologist & composer, created the “Ragalakshanamu” a compendium of ragas which were prevalent during his life time. We know that upon the death of his father Ekoji he ascended the throne at a very tender age of 12 in the year A.D. 1684 (born 1672). So much for his generosity and patronage, he was referred as Abhinava Bhoja. It is also known that Sahaji was childless and he actually abdicated the throne in favor of his brother Serfoji I in the year 1712, having ruled over the Tanjore domain for 28 years. He was an avowed devotee of Lord Tyagaraja at Tiruvarur. Legend has it that he retired to live a life of an ascetic in Tiruvarur where he had his abode very near the temple and overlooking its precincts so that he could have a darshan of his Lord Tyagaraja everyday as he woke up. While we do know he renounced the throne in 1712, we do not when he finally died perhaps in Tiruvarur. Assuming once again a time span of around 50 years, Sahaji must have lived atleast until 1722 or thereabouts.
While Govinda Dikshita and his son Venkatamakhin enjoyed great authority and wielded considerable patronage and the respect of the Nayak Kings in the 17th century, their descendants in the 18th century do not seem to have garnered a similar patronage from the succeeding Bhonsale Kings. For example King Sahaji circa 1710 renamed the village of Tiruvisainallur as Sahajirajapuram and converted into a tax free grant for a set of prominent learned individuals. The Venkatamakhin descendants, including Muddu Venkatamkhin or Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshita are not found in that listing nor is anyone having nexus to the family, are recorded as recipients of Sahaji’s grants or patronage elsewhere. Either they were not interested in patronage or perhaps they were not prominent enough to be a recipient, we do not know. From a historical record perspective the next great practitioner of Venkatamakhin’s musical legacy/sampradaya who rose to prominence and was much feted was only Sonti Venkatasubbayya, the creator of the immortal Gamakakriya varna (found in the SSP). He must have perhaps been part of Pratapasimha’s Court, but he certainly attained his pinnacle of glory during the reign of Pratapasimha’s son Tulaja II (1765-1788) in who’s Court he became the Dean of the Palace musicians. As pointed out elsewhere, Subbarama Dikshita in his Pratamabhayasa Pustakamu records Sonti Venkatasubbaya as a prime disciple of Muddu Venkatamakhin.
It needs to be stated that this is pretty much an outcome of my personal armchair research with the available secondary references. It needs to be recorded here that notwithstanding the above finding/premise/hypothesis, in these blog posts we shall continue to refer to the Anubandha as being authored by Muddu Venkatamakhin sometime during the first half of the 18th century or circa 1750 AD. With the analysis we did in this blog post, one fervently hopes that music researchers will focus on exactly dating this precious document based on a serious study of not only the ragas therein, but also the style and such other collateral evidence. That would provide some form of finality or closure to the date/authorship issue.
The featured image in this blogpost’s header is that of a gold coin or “Phanam” ( spelt as fanam perhaps the precursor to the Tamil word பணம் ) as it was called, being the coinage /currency issued during the times of King Serfoji I ( Regnal years 1712-1728 AD). This Tanjore sovereign, ruled after King Sahaji who had earlier abdicated the throne (and being childless) and before King Tulaja I, his brother who succeeded him. This coin is embossed on one side with the “Sharabha“, a mythical creature being part lion and part bird and the text “Sri Sarabhaja” in Nagari script on the other side.
At the very outset before we deal
with the raga Sarasvati Manohari as documented in the Sangita Sampradaya
Pradarshini (SSP) of Subbarama Dikshita in this blog post, the following
disclaimers are in order:
This raga as documented in the SSP, belongs to the 29th Mela and it has nothing to do with the melody as found in “Entha Veduko” of Tyagaraja, which is provided with the name of Sarasvati Manohari as well but is under the 28th Mela.
The raga name “Sarasvati Manohari” has been assigned to the melody of “Entha Veduko” of Tyagaraja by all musical authorities post 1900 AD on the authority of the Sangraha Cudamani which is purportedly the lexicon of the ragas of the compositions of Tyagaraja. It has been reiterated in these blog posts that the “Sangraha Cudamani” is a musical text of a much later vintage (19th century, most probably second half) in comparison to the Anubandha of Muddu Venkatamakhin which is dateable at the latest to 1750AD. The views of the noted music critic K V Ramachandran, the man who discovered the Sangraha Cudamani in the Adayar Library, in this regard are recorded for posterity and in these blogs as well. ( See Reference section below)
Therefore, in our discussion of this raga in this blog post we will not be referring at all to the raga as found in “Entha Veduko” or the treatment thereof under Sangraha Cudamani. All references are to the treatment of the raga as found in the SSP.
The authority for the raga Sarasvati Manohari under Mela 29 as documented in the SSP, comes from the three unassailable 18th century authorities (the Triad as we refer to these three texts in unison in these blog posts) of the likes of Sahaji (circa 1700 AD) , Tulaja (circa 1832 AD) and Muddu Venkatamakhin (1750AD) and crystallized with the exemplar composition of Muthusvami Dikshita.
It’s a folly to talk of the Sarasvati Manohari of Tyagaraja and the Sarasvati Manohari of Dikshita given the weight of historical evidence we have in this regard. In these blog posts it is simpliciter stated the raga names as found in the Anubandha and documented in the SSP, are much older and are of far greater antiquity and authority. The assignment of such older names of ragas to the melodies of the compositions of Tyagaraja (such as Sarasvati Manohari) without relevance as to the identicality, was a post 1850 AD development. In fact, it is on record that Tyagaraja never revealed the raga names when he taught the compositions to his disciples and only much later after his death with the advent of printing did the assignment of raga names to the melodies happen. The effect was that in quite many cases wrong names came to be assigned to the ragas arbitrarily without taking into account the textual history of the raga concerned. Sarasvati Manohari is one such victim of misnaming whereby the older raga name came to be assigned to the melody of “Enta Veduko” without effecting a check whether the melody found in the composition corresponded to the scale of the raga as per grammar.
Ironically today so synonymous is the raga name “Sarasvati Manohari” with “Enta Veduko” so much so that the actual or true melodic identity which is found in Dikshita’s composition “Sarasvati Manohari” is looked upon with suspicion!
And it has to be placed on record that this aberration which came to be inflicted on this raga cannot and should not be used to advance the proposition that the raga itself evolved by dropping N3 and acquiring N2, as we have musical history of spanning 1700 to 1906 AD recording the raga as a janya of Mela 29. The raga of “Enta veduko” should have been assigned another new name without any confusion whatsoever, leaving the older name of “Sarasvati Manohari” out of this entire controversy. This mis-assignment of name is a self-inflicted wound by us on our very known musical theory and musicological history without any justification whatsoever. The only way is to acknowledge this aberration ex facie, and safely navigate the study of ragas and raga lakshanas, rather than trying to justify the same needlessly.
With these disclaimers in place,
in this blog post we will embark on dissecting this old raga which is hardly
ever rendered in the modern concert stage, save for the occasional rendering of
just the kriti of Dikshita, sans alapana, neraval or svaraprastara.
It is reiterated that the raga
Sarasvati Manohari of Dikshita is under Mela 29 (Sankarabharanam with N3) as
documented in his composition “Sarasvati Manohari”, beginning on the raga mudra
itself and no attempt should be made to corrupt the same and attempt to render it
under Mela 28 by replacing the N3 with N2. There is no authority for it whatsoever
in either the textual or the oral traditions.
Contours of the raga as found in
On an entirely different note it
can be demonstrated that the kritis of Muthusvami Dikshita are best understood
by triaging the lakshana as found in the composition with the stated grammar of
the raga in the “Triad” of musical works which are Sahaji’s “Raga
Lakshanamu” (circa 1700 AD), Tulaja’s “Saramruta” (circa 1832 AD)
and the “Ragalakshanam” of Muddu Venkatamakhin ( circa 1750 AD) being
the Anubandha to the original Caturdandi Prakashika of Venkatamakhin ( the
main text which is dateable to circa 1620 AD).
The SSP records for us by way of
a snapshot, the composition (being the notation) and the raga lakshana which is
the sole basis for this blog post and the analysis thereof. In the instant
case, the treatment of the raga Sarasvati Manohari by Dikshita will be
investigated to derive a proper understanding by solely looking at:
documentation as found in the SSP and other ancillary sources which have a
high-fidelity nexus to the musical heritage of Muthusvami Dikshita
details for the raga as found in the “Triad” of musical works
renderings of the compositions as passed on to us being authentic versions or pAtAntharams.
This blog post has to be read
focussing only on the above and any other extraneous material outside of the
above is patently irrelevant for the subject on hand and hence a discussion on
those is safely avoided. And which is why the aforesaid disclaimers become
important in the context of this discourse.
The raga according to Subbarama
The SSP records the lakshana of
the raga strictly in line with the “Ragalakshanam” of Muddu
Venkatamakhin (circa 1750 AD) along with Subbarama Dikshita’s commentary and
does not record the lakshana as found in the works of Sahaji and Tulaja.
According to the SSP the following are the features of the raga:
The raga is a bashanga janya of Sankarabharanam according to the SSP. For us in modern parlance it can be safely concluded that the raga is an upangajanya and takes only the notes of the parent Mela 29 only. It has been pointed out earlier that the term upanga/bashanga as used in the SSP, connotes a very different attribute of the raga and not the modern meanings that are ascribed to the said terms. The unassailable point here is that from a modern musicological perspective, the raga is without doubt upanga and the native nishadha note of the raga is N3 or kAkali variety only.
The raga is sampurna and carries all the 7 notes, taking the arohana and avarohana together.
Pancama is varjya or dropped in the arohana. Therefore MPD prayoga should be eschewed.
Rishabha is vakra or deviant in the descent.
Dhaivatha is the jiva svara of the raga.
Despite the nominal arohana and avarohana progression of the raga being SRGMDDNS/SNDPMGMRS (as seen in the Ragalakshanam anubandha), DNS prayoga is not seen in the compositions.
Therefore, the operative arohana progression of the raga is more like SRGM-DP-MDS or SRGM-DNDS or SRGMDDS
Similarly, the operative avarohana progression is SNDPMGMRS or SNDNP-MGMRS
The perusal of the SSP would
reveal the following beyond Subbarama Dikshita’s narrative.
The Sankarabharana lakshya gita, lists Sarasvati Manohari as a bhashanga janya of the raga.
The lakshya gita of the raga eschews DNS in toto despite the fact that the nominal arohana states DNS occurring.
Though the sloka as found in the Anubandha cited in the SSP refers to the raga name as “sarasvata manohari”, Subbarama Dikshita labels the raga as “sarasvatI manOhari” only.
Armed with the above details let
us look at the evidence provided by Sahaji and Tulaja in their respective works
as to this raga.
“Sarasvati Manohari” according to
Sahaji and Tulaja:
is named only as Sarasvati Manohari.
royal authors are unanimous in their view that pancama and nishadha are skipped
in the arohana and gandhara in the avarohana.
SRGMDDS and GMDDNDPM are oft repeated murrcanas in the raga.
essence MPD, DNS and MGRS are forbidden murrcanas of the raga.
In fact amongst the Triad, Sahaji
and Tulaja are completely ad idem on the lakshana while Muddu
Venkatamakhin alone strikes the sole discordant note by allowing DNS prayoga.
However, Subbarama Dikshita explains away this sole discordance stating that
DNS is not seen in practice.
Summary of the raga lakshana
according to the Triad:
From the foregoing the raga lakshana
can be restated in the classical 18th century vernacular as under:
Sankarabharana is the mela or the raganga under which Sarasvati Manohari is classed.
The raga is sampurna and all the 7 notes occur in its body and the notes are S, R2, G3, M1, D2 and N3. No other variety of the notes occurs.
Pancama and nishadha are dropped in the arohana.
Gandhara is vakra in the avarohana.
Dhaivatha is a prime note emphasized via the repeated/janta notes.
PDNS, MPD and DNS are forbidden in the arohana krama; MGRS is forbidden in the avarohana krama.
SRGM, GMDD, PMDD, SNDP, NDPM, SNDNP, GMRS are the permitted murrcanas which join together to form the skeletal structure of the raga.
Dikshita’s Implementation of
The notation of the Dikshita
composition which begins with the raga name itself as its refrain reveals the
d/R and D/r being the jump from mandhara dhaivatha to madhya rishabha and madhya dhaivatha to tara rishabha is seen repeatedly used apart from d/G and D/g as well.
GMDP, MGMDD, RG-GMR, SNDSN, SNPM, RGMND are seen used in the composition aligning to the 18th century definition of the raga as laid.
In the arohana krama RGMP cannot be used while RGMDP is permissible.
The two madhyama kala sahitya portions provide a pithy/concise delineation of the raga’s lakshana.
And the kriti is littered with svaraksharas particularly of the rishabha and pancama notes.
Key take-ways from the analysis:
It is thus seen that Dikshita has meticulously stuck to the early 18th century version of the raga as documented by Sahaji and Tulaja, keeping out the DNS prayoga as well. His novelty has been the employment of the d/R and D/r, which is seen in Purnachandrika as a leitmotif. Dikshita has also eschewed DDS and is consistently seen approaching the tara sadja via the tara rishabha and not directly from the madhya dhaivatha.
The raga shines forth with its native progressions being SRGM, GMDD, PMDD, SNDP, NDPM, SNDNP, GMRS, GMDP, MGMDD, RGMR, SNDSN, SNPM and RGMND.
The raga may be considered as melodically close to modern Kannada which is different from the Kannada as documented in the SSP. In contradistinction, the Kannada of the SSP sports N2 prominently and is classed under Mela 28. In this context care should be taken in rendering Sarasvati Manohari as the phrase SNS is likely to creep in. the phrases SNDP or SNDS alone are allowed in contradistinction to modern Kannada.
Under the SSP the raga Suddha Vasantha (under Mela 29) is a close raga which shares a common melodic bonding with Sarasvati Manohari and unfortunately the SSP does not record any composition of Dikshita is this raga.
The two ragas namely Kannada and Suddha Vasantha are also documented by Sahaji and Tulaji under Mela 28 and 29 respectively and thus it may not be of much help.
In summary a simple compare of Sarasvati Manohari with modern Kannada can help us differentiate and understand the ragas better.
Sarasvati Manohari of SSP
SGM and SMGM
DDS and DrS
SNDP and SNDNP
SNDP or SNDNP-PMGMRS
Differences inter se -arohana
Pancama and nishadha are dropped; SRGM and GMDP
Rishabha & Pancama are both dropped in the ascent
Differences inter se-avarohana
SNDP and SNDNP are the permitted prayogas
Nishada is dropped in the descent.
In summary the difference between
the ragas is slender and the Dikshita composition does well to capture the
difference and also emphasizing the d/R prayoga given that rishabha is a much
muted svara in modern Kannada.
It has to be recorded that “Sri Matrubhutam” of Muthusvami Dikshita is today rendered only in modern Kannada, thoroughly eschewing the N2 note which is supposed to dominate the raga Kannada according to SSP, which classes the raga under Mela 28, with N3 being an anya svara ( a bashanga janya under Mela 28).
From a practical perspective Sarasvati
Manohari can be distinguished by emphasizing SRGM and SNDP prayogas along with
d/RR, D/rr so as to safely keep Kannada out of the ken of the raga delineation.
Some collateral data points:
The “Dikshitar Keertanai
Prakashikai” (DKP) published by Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai (a
disciple of Satanur Panju Iyer of the Dikshita sisya parampara) records this
composition only under Mela 29without any ambiguity whatsoever. In fact, this
composition was taught both to Natarajasundaram Pillai and to Veena Dhanammal
by Satanur Panju Iyer who was their guru and it can be seen that the version
tallies if the notation in DKP is compared with the oral version of the
composition as sung by Sangita Kalanidhi Smt T Brinda, the scion of the
Apart from this the version of
the composition as rendered by Sangita Kalanidhi Smt D K Pattammal, who in turn
traces her pAtham to Justice T L Venkatrama Iyer and on to Ambi Dikshita son of
Subbarama Dikshita, is aligned to the version as seen in the SSP.
We will review these two oral
versions in the discography section.
sarasvatI manOhari – O one who captivates the heart
of Goddess Sarasvati!
Sankari – O wife of Shiva (Shankara)!
sadA-Ananda lahari – O eternal wave of bliss!
gauri – O fair one!
Sankari – O the beneficent One!
sarasI-ruha-akshi – O lotus-eyed one!
sadASiva sAkshi – O one always with Sadashiva
karuNA kaTAkshi – O one with compassionate
pAhi – Protect (me)!
kAmAkshi – O Kamakshi!
mura hara sOdari – O sister of Vishnu (slayer of
the demon Mura)!
mukhya kaumAri – O eminent Kaumari!
mUka vAkpradAna-kari – O giver of speech to the mute poet
mOda-kari – O source of bliss!
akAra-Adi-akshara svarUpiNi – O embodiment of all the letters beginning
antaH-karaNa rUpa-ikshu cApini –
O one who has a sugarcane-bow that represents the mind!
prakASa parama-advaita rUpiNi – O
shining embodiment of supreme non-dualism!
parE – O supreme one!
tripura sundari – O Tripurasundari!
tApini – O glowing, effulgent one!
prakASini – O one who shines forth as
this created universe!
prasiddha guru guha janani – O mother of the renowned Guruguha!
pASini – O one holding a noose!
vikalpa jaTila viSva viSvAsini –
O one who is reliable in this diverse, complicated universe!
vijaya kAncI nagara
nivAsini – O one dwelling in
the victorious city of Kanchi!
It can be seen from the
composition is on Goddess Kamakshi of Kancipuram as it is so stated
mudra occurs right at the beginning of the composition and has been used to
mean that Goddess Kamakshi is one who captivates Goddess Sarasvati. The epithet
is reminiscent of the opening lines of the Manji composition “Sri Sarasvati
Hite” meaning “O the benefactress of Goddess Sarasvati”.
phrase “akArAdyA-kshara svarupini” reminds one of the similar phrase – “ahantA
svarUpini” occurring in “Brihannayaki Varadayaki” in Andhali.
composer’s colophon “guruguha” occurs as well in the composition which is set
in Adi tala.
Sarasvati Manohari featured in the ragamalika “pUrna candra bimba”
Apart from this solitaire, the raga is also found featured in the ragamalika which is found documented in the Anubandha to the SSP. There are those who argue that this ragamalika being bereft of Dikshita’s colophon “guruguha” is not his but that of Ramasvami Dikshita. Be that as it may, Subbarama Dikshita has assigned the same to Muthusvami Dikshita in the Anubandha. The said ragamalika features ragas which are only janyas of Mela 29 Sankarabharana and they being Purnchandrika, Narayani, Saravati Manohari, Suddha Vasantha, Hamsadhvani and Nagadhvani.
The lyrics “pUrna phala prada caranE sarasvati manoharI” being the second anupallavi section to the main pallavi section being “pUrnacandra bimba vijaya vadanE kamalAbikE”, is set in Sarasvati Manohari. The notation and lyrics in rupaka tala runs thus:
As can be seen the motif d/R being Dikshita’s novelty or improvisation as to this raga is seen employed with the overall grammar of the raga being in accordance with what is seen in the kriti “Sarasvati Manohari”. This can perhaps be taken as a point of evidence that this composition is likely to be Dikshita’s given the employment of his novel leitmotif, which is not seen in the generic raga lakshana.
Sangita Kalanidhi T Brinda renders the composition “Sarasvati Manohari” here:
(Google/Yahoo ID would be required. Hit the URL and scroll down the items listed in the page)
Sangita Kalanidhi M Balamuralikrishna renders “Purna candra bimba” in this recording. Saravati Manohari portion is featured between 3:36 -4:10. The said portion of the rendering accords with the notation found in the Anubandha for the composition.
Musical history must be properly evaluated and understood and due regard must be had to the authentic versions of the compositions as passed on to us. The fact that raga name Sarasvati Manohari came to be wrongly assigned to the raga of “Entha Veduko” should be acknowledged which would help us in appreciating the creations of both Tyagaraja and Dikshita for their individual beauty, without any confusion whatsoever. Tyagaraja spun many nouveau ragas which weren’t in existence prior to his times and his kritis are the sole exemplars for those ragas. The raga of “Entha veduko” too is one such creation of his, which must have been assigned a new name, instead of repurposing an existing older raga name causing confusion for all concerned. Further no normalization should be inflicted by attempting to render Dikshita’s kriti with N2 or Tyagaraja’s with N3. Each kriti should be preserved and sung as documented. And if we do this Sarasvati Manohari is no conundrum for anyone.
It is indeed sad that discussions and lecture demonstrations are held, the subject being how the same raga has apparently been dealt with differently by Dikshita and Tyagaraja, without realizing the folly committed in the late 19th century and perpetuated into the 20th century and till date. It is humbly submitted and hoped that the Music Academy will take the lead in documenting this anomaly formally and assign newer names to these ragas of Tyagaraja so that the same is not just recorded for posterity but also serves to illuminate students and listeners alike, with the confusion being avoided once and for all.
Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) – Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – Republished in Tamil by Madras Music Academy (1977) -Part IV- Mela 29 Pages 915-919
Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – ‘Ragalakshana Sangraha’- Collection of Raga Descriptions pp 1261-1264
Sangita Kalanidhi T V Subba Rao & Dr S R Janakiraman (1993)- “Ragas of the Sangita Saramruta” – Published by the Madras Music Academy – pp 113-118
Dr R Sathyanarayana (2010)- “Ragalakshanam” of Sri Muddu Venkatamakhin- Published by IGNCA
Ramachandran K.V. (1950) – “Carnatic Ragas and the Textual Tradition” – The Journal of the Music Academy XXI, pp. 99-106, Madras, India.
Ramachandran K.V. (1950) – “Apurva ragas of Tyagaraja’s Songs” – The Journal of the Music Academy XXI, pp. 107-109, Madras, India.
The Kamakshi icon painting, being the featured image in this blog post heading is by artist Shri Rajeshwar Nyalapalli and was sourced from his online webstore.
The raga Kurinji under Mela 29-
Sankarabharana is a well-known dhaivatantya raga and popularly rendered in a
lineal fashion in madhyama sruti. Along with its siblings Neelambari and Navaroz
with which Kurinji shares the melodic fabric, it can be seen that these three
melodies are used in compositions such as lullabies, lAlis, Oonjal and songs of
similar genre. Being an old and hoary raga, without engendering a much broader
discussion, this blog post just focusses on the raga dealt with in the Sangita
Sampradaya Pradashini (SSP) of Subbarama Dikshita.
Kurinji’s Raga Lakshana:
Kurinji is a melodic scale under
Mela 29 Sankarabharanam, taking only the notes from this scale, with the nominal
arohana/avarohana krama as under:
S R2 G3 M1 P D2 and D2 P M1 G3 R2 S n3
Given the lack of movement below
N3 in the mandhara stayi and D2 in the madhya stayi, the raga for felicity of
rendition is rendered in madhyama sruti, whereby the madhyama note of the octave
becomes the tonic. There are no sancaras below mandhara nishadha or above the
From an antiquity perspective it
may be noted that the composition “Jaya Jaya Gokula Bala” a tarangam of
Narayana Teertha which was famous once upon a time, was originally set fully to
Kurinji. It was later fully reset to Bhairavi (published by K V Srinivasa
Iyengar) and much later the modern extant version came into being, with the
lyrics being set as a ragamalika to
Bhairavi, Atana, Kalyani, Kambhoji and Surati, with the retuning being ascribed
to Tiruvotriyur Tyagier.
The raga lakshana of Kurinji heavily
overlaps with that of Navaroz and is compounded by the fact that both the ragas
have octaval constraint imposed by grammar and both of them are rendered in
madhyama sruti. Navaroz runs as pdnSRGMP-PMGRSndp, traversing the madhya stayi
pancama to the mandhara pancama alone. DIkshita has also composed both in Kurinji
– “Sri Venugopala” and Navaroz- “hastivadanaya namstubhyam” which again is
a magnum opus in itself.
According to the SSP, Kurinji
once upon a time possessed a different contour (while being under the same Mela
29 – Sankarabharanam). This archaic Kurinji is recorded by Subbarama Dikshita
on the authority of the eka tala lakshya gita of Muddu Venkatamakhin “Srimad
Gopi nathure” as the refrain or udgraha. According to Subbarama
Dikshita archaic Kurinji had the following features:
tristayi sancaras, progressions spanning all three octaves
dhaivatha (varjya) in its ascent and dhaivatha being vakra in the descent.
nominal arohana/avarohana went as SRGMGMPMPNNS – SNPNDDPMGGRS, which is
provided by Subbarama Dikshita on the authority of the raga lakshana sloka of
Muddu Venkatamakhin (circa 1750 AD)
was its jiva svara
It has to be pointed out here
that this archaic Kurinji does not exists today.
Subbarama Dikshitar proceeds to record
that post Muddu Venkatamakhin’s times the raga got truncated and had the
following features, which we can call as the modern or the extant Kurinji
in contrast to the archaic version as delineated above.
a madhyama sruti raga.
raga’s melodic progression was nSRGMPD, traversing mandhara nishadha to madhya
It had an
exceptional n\pSS prayoga commencing on mandhara
nishadha to the mandhara pancama and back to the madhya sadja.
cannot be lightly dismissed as a minor madhyama sruti raga, for the ancients
had accorded it the highest importance by placing it as the first upanga raga
janya under Mela 29 Sankarabharanam as seen in the Sankarabharana lakshana
gitam “ripupala khandanure”.
Additionally, Prof S R
Janakiraman points out that the dhaivatha note (of the madhya stayi) is seen to
occur very sparingly in this raga, more as a foray from the pancama note and
Thus, what survives today is the
modern Kurinji that we hear today and as authority for the same Subbarama
Dikshita provides two compositions, apart from his sancari.
Venugopala” – Muthusvami Dikshita – Jhampa tala
paru” – Ghanam Seenayya – Adi
We shall look into both these
compositions in this blog post. But before that we will evaluate the Kurinji as
was recorded atleast a little prior to 1750 AD.
Kurinji according to Sahaji &
The raga Kurinji is found
recorded in both Sahaji’s “Ragalakshanam” (circa 1700 AD) and Tulaja’s “Saramruta”
(circa 1732 AD) and the commentary of these two author Kings of Tanjore on this
raga Kurinji in their respective works resonate with the definition of the
archaic Kurinji of the SSP and of Muddu Venkatamakhin. However, one assertion made
by Sahaji and Tulaja in their respective treatises which is relevant to us, as
we will see shortly, is that “SRGM and PDNS should not occur in the
As we saw in previous blog posts
this is a key architectural construct of the 18th century. The raga
definitions were provided (apart from being categorized under a particular mela
or raganga) in the following ways:
particular note is to be repeatedly emphasized being the raga’s jiva
notes being the choice notes to begin or end a musical phrase – graha, nyasa
notes which cannot be used as the take-off or ending note, but which should
only be used as a transit note – amsa svara
particular note being varjya (dropped)
particular note being vakra (devious)
murrcana (motif) was to occur or was to be emphasized repeatedly (leitmotif)
in the raga in its progression.
specified murrcana (motif) was not supposed to occur.
This “composite” way of
specifying the lakshana of a raga is completely lost to us today where we
simply proceed lineally based on a single arohana or avarohana krama under a
given mela. This ancient, archaic and now extinct practice of the 18th
century is expressly found recorded in the works of Sahaji and Tulaja.
In so far as Kurinji is
considered in terms of the aforesaid rules, Rule 7 above, specified that SRGM
shall not occur in the melodic body of the raga according to Sahaji and
Tulaja. With this in mind let us take up the first exemplar composition from
the SSP, which is “Sri Venugopala” of Muthusvami Dikshita.
“Sri Venugopala” of Muthusvami Dikshita:
The lyrics and the meaning of the
composition is as under:
SrI vENu gOpAla – O
Lord the Cowherd bearing the flute!
SrI rukmiNI lOla – O one who frolics in the company of Goddess
dEva nAyaka – O lord of all the gods!
SriyaM dEhi dEhi – Give, give (me) wealth and
madhu mura hara – O vanquisher of the demons Madhu and
dEvakI su-kumAra – O illustrious son of Devaki!
dIna jana mandAra – O wish-fulfilling celestial tree of the
gOvardhana-uddhAra – O the one who lifted the Govardhana mountain!
gOpa yuvatI jAra – O beloved of the young Gopi maidens!
gOkula-ambudhi sOma – O moon to
the ocean of Gokula!
gOvinda – O friend of the cows!
nata bhauma – O one saluted by Angaraka – son of
Bhumi (Earth Goddess)!
SrI-ku-ranjita kAma – O
one who delights Lakshmi (Sri) and Bhumi (Ku) with your love!
Srita satya bhAma – O one who has embraced Satyabhama!
kOka nada pada – O one with feet hued like red lotus!
sOma guru guha hita – O
one congenial to Shiva (in the company of Uma) and Guruguha
SyAma – O dark one!
SrI kara tapa hOma SrI jayantI
nAma – O one well-known for the Sri Jayanti (birthday festivities) in which
penance and sacrifices cause welfare and prosperity!
prAkaTya raNa bhIma – O one who
is formidable in battle!
pAlita-arjuna bhIma – O protector
of Arjuna and Bhima!
pAka ripu nuta nAma – O one whose
name is glorified by Indra (the slayer of the demon Paka)!
bhakta yOga kshEma – O one who bestows welfare to the devotees!
It appears to be a generic
composition without any reference to any ksetra or its presiding deity. Based
on the lyrics which occur which is “sri jayanthi nama” there are those
who opine that much like “Sri Varalakshmi namastubhyam” and “Siddhi
Vinayakam” which were purportedly created to propitiate Goddess Lakshmi on
Varalakshmi Pooja day and Lord Ganesa on Vinayaka Caturthi day respectively , Dikshita
composed this kriti for “Sri Jayanthi”/”Krishna Jayanthi” – Lord Krishna’s
birth day. The raga mudra is seamlessly interwoven as:
meaning “O the one who delights Lakshmi (Sri) and Bhumi (Ku) with your love!
The colophon of Dikshita “guru-guha”
as always occurs in the composition.
The Melodic structuring of the
From a melodic standpoint it is
noticed that the composition is in line with the “extant” or modern version of
the Kurinji. From the notation provided therein, Dikshita’s raga conception in
the composition conforms to the modern Kurinji:
melody traverses between mandhara nishadha and madhya dhaivatha only
occasional nn\pSS prayoga- seen at the first occurrence of the lyric ‘dEhi’ in
the pallavi itself
It was pointed out earlier that
according to Sahaji and Tulaja, in the case of Kurinji “SRGM and PDNS
should not occur in the raga”. This is however not seen expressly
commented upon or recorded in the SSP.
In this context the occurrence of
SRGM or PDNS phrase in “Sri Venugopala” can be evaluated thus:
It is seen that the SRGM prayoga is avoided in the melodic setting after duly taking into account the caesura (s)which occur in the composition.
Though superfluous, it has to be formally noted that PDNS has no occasion to arise as the raga’s truncated progression provides no room for the same.
The following portions/lyrics of the composition would reveal that:
The composition begins as RGMR (“sri vEnugOpAla”) and thus SRGM is avoided. Though SRGM is forbidden, RGM or RGMP is a permitted prayoga
Caesura occurs at “lOla” which ends on rishabha note and when “dEvanAyaka” begins with the phrase being GMP. Thus, the SRGM phrase has been avoided.
Pointedly the anupallavi lyric “Devaki sukumara” begins as SRSMGM RGMP, avoiding a direct SRGM phrase.
Both “govardhanO” and “gOpayuvati” use SM and SP phrases to the exclusion of SRGM phrase.
The lyrics “sri kurinjita” and “kokhanatha pada” are again SMGMP and not SRGMP
The madhyama kala sahitya lyrics “pAlita-arjuna bhIma” is notated as SMGRGM to the exclusion of SRGMP
Though the ending of the pallavi, anupallavi and the madhyama kala sahitya portions is on the sadja and the pallavi take off being rishabha, on account of the intervening caesura/conclusion of tala marking the logical ending of the musical phrase, the rule of avoidance of SRGM can be deemed as kept.
can be seen, that subject to the one exception below, Dikshita has eschewed the
use of SRGM and has instead used SMGMP in the composition, as the default
SSP notation of this composition one outlier that is noticed, without in anyway
being disrespectful, is that the lyric “srikara tapO hOma” is notated
as SnSRGMP.. It is likely that this phrase too ought to have been “SnSMGMP”
in line with the rest of the composition, as nowhere else where an ascent
phrase is warranted, is the phrase SRGMP used. It can be
very well deuced that Dikshita being completely aware of this ancient practice
having avoided the use of SRGM everywhere would not have deigned to use that
just in one place and most likely the notation seen in the SSP is an
It is very likely that the notation SnSRGMP is a typographical error/printer’s devil at play in the SSP or an error in the pAtham itself as was transmitted, which begs for a correction. Therefore, it is most respectfully submitted that this phrase ought to be rendered as SnSMGMP and NOT as SnSRGMP as given, keeping in view of the fact that SRGM has been consciously avoided everywhere else and it was perhaps how it was composed.
Thus, subject to the above exception we can safely conclude that the Kurinji of Dikshita and which evolved post 1700 was actually an improvisation of the old archaic Kurinji with SRGM being eschewed as well. In the modern version of the Kurinji we have completely forgotten this aspect of SRGM to be avoided.
The prayogas dealt with in the Kurinji as found in “Sri venugopala” are:
nSRGR -RGMP- GMPD
n\pSS being the outlier prayoga at “dEhi”
The use of a dainty phrase MRG\S at “madhu murahara”, skipping the rishabha- in the pallavi.
If SRGM is to be eschewed, SRGR and SMGMRGM can take its place and cannot be generically stated that rishabha and/or gandhara should be vakra. This rule can only be stated negatively as “SRGM cannot occur” and cannot be stated otherwise.
The madhyama kala sahitya perfectly, pithily and unambiguously captures Dikshita’s conception of Kurinji and is the perfect & complete authority for the Kurinji that had evolved post 1700’s, the version truly documented in the SSP, albeit implicitly.
S,S,n – SRS,n – S,MGMG, – RGM,M ||
prAktaya – raNabhIma – pAlitA – rjunabhIma ||
GMP,P – M,GR – GMGGRS ||
pAkaripu – nutarAma – bhakta-yO – ga..ksEma ||
It can be
seen that Dikshita has skilfully avoided the SRGM phrase by resorting to
SMGMRGMM-PDPM at the juncture of the two jhampa tala avartas.
Discography – “srI vEnugOpAlA”:
There are very many versions of
this oft-rendered composition. The version that best tallies with the notation
found in the SSP is the one by Vidushi Sumitra Vasudev and I present the same (courtesy
And off-course if one were to
learn from this rendering, care should be taken to correctly render “srikara
tapO hOma”rendering as SnSMGMP to ensure
the consistency ( avoid the inconsistency) that I pointed out earlier.
With this I move on to the next
exemplar found in the SSP.
“Siva deeksha paru” – The forgotten oeuvre
The Sangita Sampradaya
Pradarshini (SSP) records a few pre-trinity compositions in its main work
(excluding the Anubandha) and one such is “Sivadeekshaparu” in Kurinji composed
by Ghanam Seenayya. This classic composition, a padam, was very popular a
hundred years ago and today barring a few instances of it being performed in
dance recitals, the composition is nowhere found rendered on concert platforms.
The composition is recorded in the SSP by Subbarama Dikshita as the second exemplar of Raga Kurinji. From a historical perspective this composition comes from era (early 18th Century AD) when the Saivite and Vaishnavite doctrines of Hindu worship vied with each other to be in royal favour and patronage and the song is reflective of this politico-religious undercurrent. We will evaluate the song in that context as well.
Before we address the composition
proper, lets first look at the composer and his times.
Composer of “Sivadeeksha paru” –
Subbarama Diksita in his
“Vaggeyakara Caritamu” records that Ghanam Seenayya, the composer of this
Kurinji composition, was a Vaishnavite and the Chief Minister in the Court of the
Nayak King Vijayaranga Cokkanatha (1706-1732 AD). We did refer to this Nayak
King of Madurai in the context of the Yamuna Kalyani blog post
Ghanam Seenayya was learned man,
very proficient in Sanskrit, Telugu and in music and this is found recorded in
Sasanka Vijayam (of Seshamu Venkatapati Kavi). In fact, Subbarama Dikshita quotes
a couplet from the said work as authority to state that Ghanam Seenayya
composed with the ankita/colophon “mannaruranga”. According to C
R Srinivasa Iyengar (in his book “Indian Dance”- Natya and Nritya) Ghanam
Seenayya composed the following padas with the ankita being “mannaru ranga”.
The same is also echoed in toto by Vidvan Vinjamuri Varaha Narasimha-chari in his article titled “Contribution to the Telugu region to the Dance Art” – JMA (Vol XLV – 1974) pp 200.
The prefix “Ghanam” especially appended to the name of a vocalist/ musician may perhaps be linked to the expertise the person had in the “ghanam” mode of vocalization/singing. In the recent past Ghanam Krishna Iyer is recorded by Dr U Ve Svaminatha Iyer as an exponent and past master in the art of “ghanam” singing though not much detail is know as to what it really meant. Be that as it may given that Subbarama Dikshita has recorded the musical capability of Seenayya, it may well be perhaps that he was adept in this quaint musical art form.
The ankita “mannaruranga” refers to Lord Rajagopala of Mannargudi who was the titular deity of some of the Royal Houses of the medieval Tamil history. During circa 1600-1700 time period, it is seen that the Saivite and Vaishnavite cults had been vying for exclusive royal patronage at the expense of the other. For instance, Venkatamakhin (1620 AD) is said to have composed the Reetigaula gitam “sanka chakkrAnka nAtya ca rE rE” appealing to Lord Mahalingasvami at Madhyarjunam as the King a Vaishnavite acolyte was persecuting followers of Saivism. Apparently, the King Vijayaraghava Nayak of Tanjore, Venkatamakhin’s Royal patron was a staunch Vaishnavite so much so that he exhorted all his subjects to wear the sanka-chakra and other Vaishnavite emblems. Later the King took to bed and suffered stomach pains. Legend has it that he soon thereafter realized his folly and made amends and which is attributed to Venkatamakin’s prayers to Lord Mahalingasvami.
Returning to the subject matter on hand, the times of Nayak King Vijayaranga Chokkanatha of Madurai is captured by Sathianatha Iyer in his classic work “Nayaks of Madura” and according to him during this Nayak’s reign the kingdom seem to have gone into terminal decline. Sathianatha Iyer records that the King was very religious and barring a grant to the temple of Lord Shiva at Tiruvanaikka (Lord Jambukesvara) he seems to have made grants munificently to Vaishnavite temples underlining the fact that he was very favourably disposed towards the Vaishnavite cult.
The setting of the padam “Siva Deeksha” runs thus. The nAyika/heroine is ordained to the worship of Lord Shiva and she happenstance encounters the nayaka/hero who is irresistible and leaves her smitten. The padam attempts to capture her predicament as she is caught between the obligations cast on her because of the ochre she has donned and the craving from her very heart and soul tugging her to the nayaka/hero being none other than “mannaru ranga” or Lord Rajagopala, a vaishnavite God. Should she continue with the rites & duties to be done by her as per the holy order of Shiva worship to which she has been initiated by her Gurus or should she succumb to the call of her heart and allow the nayaka to take her body and soul?
The piece has been a traditional composition
much amenable to abhinaya and depiction of a variant of the khandita type of
From a raga lakshana perspective,
the following aspects can be noted:
The padam composed in the first quarter of the 16th century/early 1700’s is in the modern version of the raga, spanning from mandhara nishada to madhya dhaivatha only. We do not know if it was composed so in circa 1700 AD, for Sahaji (circa 1700 AD) and Tulaja (1732 AD) record Kurinji as being archaic as documented in the SSP.
Leaving this point as to the originality of the melodic setting of the composition, the notation as provided by Subbarama Dikshita of this composition in the SSP reiterates the point made in “Sri Venugopala” above. The same is bereft of SRGM and only SMGMP or RGMP or SMGMRGMP occurs as the uttaranga ascent phrases.
Thus, given that “Siva Deeksha” too uses only SMGM and not SRGM, can be cited as proof and in support of the assertion that Dikshita too would have followed the same rule and could not have used SRGM at all. Therefore, the SRGM notated in the SSP in one place in the composition “Sri Venugopala” is perhaps an aberration that we need to correct and render as SMGM.
Discography – “siva deeksha”:
I present two renderings of this
composition, which are not strictly in line with the SSP but are nevertheless within
the confines of the notation provided in SSP and making only reasonable
departures from the same.
I present the vocal rendering of the song by
Mahesh being the audio track of the accompaniment to the dance performance
of this song by Smt Priyadarshini Govind, an excerpt of which is available in
the public domain. Clip 1 and Clip 2
The second rendering above, made for a dance performance is much richer, slower and improvised reflecting the true content and spirit of the song.
Kurinji in Ramasvami Dikshita’s 108 Raga Tala Malika:
The Anubandha to the SSP also provides the said composition in notation and the 40th khandika or portion of the said composition commencing with the lyric “Sri Parthasarati” set in Kurinji, too does not bear SRGM in its melodic construct. This provides additional evidence that SRGM phrase was to be eschewed in toto in Kurinji.
Vidushi R S Jayalakshmi presented a lecture demonstration of this mammoth composition of Ramsvami Dikshita in the Dec 2014. Here is the Youtube link to the same. The Kurunji portion is demonstrated starting from 1:48:05 onwards.
Kurinji in Subbarama Dikshita’s compositions:
Subbarama Dikshita’s own sancari and his raga malika too feature Kurinji. However his sancari is modelled on the archaic Kurinji and it seems that he has stuck to the old version on the supposed authority of Muddu Venkatamakhin, whom he always mistook for Venkatamakhin himself. It has to be pointed out that Venkatamakhin’s Caturdandi Prakashika (CDP) does not talk about Kurinji and it is only the Anubandha or the compendium / appendix to the CDP authored by Muddu Venkatamakhin circa 1750 AD which talks about Kurinji.
While compositions can be rendered ad nauseum as taught, it is important that we correctly assimilate and imbibe the true spirit, grammar and confines of the raga and the composition. The raga Kurinji is an example in this regard. If one were to go with the public material and not-properly appraised pAthams, the raga’s definition would be wrongly learnt/taught with the raga progression of Kurinji as nSRGMPD/DPMGRSn, whereas as the two exemplar compositions demonstrate that the raga’s progression is nSMGMRGMPD/DPMGRSn, duly disallowing the SRGM as the ancients did in this melody. And hopefully students/learners would take notice of this and properly render these compositions in this raga. And given this rich history of more than 300 plus years Kurinji like its illustrious parent Sankarabharana has stood athwart for centuries!
And in parting I leave readers with a thought. Was and is this raga Kurinji synonymous with Lord Venugopala/Rajagopala/Krishna, for the “nayaka” or the subject/object of all the three compositions found in the SSP (“srimad gOpi nAturE” of Muddu Venkatamakhin, “Sri Venugopala” of Dikshita and “Siva Deeksha” of Ghanam Seenayya) are all coincidentally Lord Krishna?
Dikshitar (1904) – Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – Republished in Tamil by
Madras Music Academy (1977) -Vol IV- Mela 29 Pages 837-842
Ramanathan (2004) – ‘Ragalakshana Sangraha’- Collection of Raga Descriptions pp
Kalanidhi T V Subba Rao & Dr S R Janakiraman (1993)- “ Ragas of the Sangita
Saramruta” – Published by the Madras Music Academy – pp 134-139
Sathyanarayana (2010)- “Ragalakshanam” of Sri Muddu Venkatamakhin- Published by
Sathianatha Iyer (1924) – “History of the Nayaks of Madura” -pages 223-231
Safe Harbour Statement:
The renderings used or linked as above in the body of this blog has been made strictly for purposes of education and knowledge under fair use category. The intellectual property belongs to the respective artistes and the same cannot be shared or exploited without their consent.
I place on record my gratitude to Smt Preethy Mahesh for permitting me to share the vocal rendering of the padam “siva deeksha” as was available in the public domain from where it was sourced.
The world of Carnatic music has sired many a great musician in the past. We do have oral as well as recorded accounts of many of such great personalities. One amongst them, featured in this blog post is Tiruvisanallur “Pallavi” Narayanasvami Iyer a giant from another era. My introduction to his name was through an oral account to the effect that the legendary Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer learnt Muthusvami Dikshita’s kriti “Sri Ramam Ravikulabdhi somam” in Narayanagaula from Pallavi Narayanasvami Iyer. My attempt to know more about this personality, fructified finally when I got hold of a brief biography of this great musician, published by the Madras Music Academy in one of its early Journals, written by his son Vidvan T N Radhakrishna Iyer (see reference section below).
From this account, it is seen that Narayanasvami Iyer lived for about 60 years of age somewhere during the time period between 1860-1930. He has been known as “Narayanasvami Anna” or “Tiruvisanallur Narayanasvami Iyer” or “Pallavi Narayanasvami Iyer”.
Biography in brief:
One Narayana Avadhani, a polyglot who had mastered the Yajur and Samaveda had two sons Krishna Bhagavathar (elder) and Sundara Bhagavathar (younger) who were both one of the prime disciples of Saint Tyagaraja and were the votaries of the Umayalpuram school of the Tyagaraja sishya parampara.
Narayanasvami Iyer was the son of
this Sundara Bhagavathar and trained under him. Apart from father, he also
trained under Tiruvisainallur Subramanya Iyer, a disciple of Krishna
Bagavathar, his uncle. Even at a very early age, Narayanasvami Iyer achieved
very good proficiency in music. An early break for him came when his father
took him to Kumbakonam to introduce him to Munsiff Venkacchi Iyer a wealthy patron
of those days. Fortuitously for him, the great vidvans of those times
Bikshandar Koil Subbarama Iyer and Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer (1844-1893) too were at
Kumbakonam to meet Munsiff Venkacchi Iyer as well. Young Narayanasvami Iyer at
Venckacchi Iyer’s bidding performed in front of them and was greatly
appreciated. In fact, so impressed were the assembled cognoscenti that he was
asked to sing along with Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer in a concert scheduled for the
following day. And needless to add Narayanasvami Iyer acquitted himself
creditably by singing with elan earning recognition as well as gifts from his
patron. Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer was apparently very much impressed with
Narayanasvami Iyer’s svara singing acumen.
There was no looking back thereafter for the young Narayanasvami Iyer. He was adept in every department of performing music and specifically in pallavi exposition and extempore svara singing. So much so that in recognition of his prowess, as we will see, the epithets “Pallavi” and “Svarakalanidhi” came to be prefixed to his name and he came to be addressed with them by one and all, with awe during his life time.
His vidvat blossomed forth as a vaggeyakara
as well and he composed exquisite cittasvara sections to very many Tyagaraja
compositions. Apart from vocal music, Narayanasvami Iyer also played the
Gottuvadyam as well.
With his fame reaching far and wide, Panditurai Tevar, the Zamindar of Pazhavanattam and the maternal uncle of Bhaskara Setupati of the Royal House of the Sethupatis of Ramanathapuram ,and one of the great patrons of those days, sought Narayansvami Iyer’s services to provide advanced training to the then young and upcoming musician Poochi Srinivasa Iyengar ( 1860-1919) in pallavi and svara singing. Consequently Narayanasvami Iyer moved to be at Ramanathapuram to teach the young Poochi for some time.
When the great Maharaja of Mysore Nalvadi Krishnarajendra Wadiyar IV ascended the throne in 1902 , Pallavi Narayanasvami Iyer was one of the musicians invited to perform in the coronation celebrations and he did so magnificently earning the respect of the assemblage of the great vidvans of those days, which included Veena Subbanna, Veena Seshanna, Namakkal Narasimha Iyengar, Umayalpuram Svaminatha Iyer and others. Veena Subbanna being the dean of the musicians of the Mysore Royal Durbar, at the end of Narayanasvami Iyer’s recital, on behalf of the Durbar and the assemblage, conferred on him the title of “Svarakalanidhi” and reminisced that Narayanasvami Iyer’s svara singing reminded him of Mysore Sadashiva Rao’s (of Tyagaraja sishya parampara) singing.
Soolamangalam Vaidyanatha Bagavathar (1866-1943), the legendary harikatha exponent in his memoirs recalls with rapturous delight a concert of Pallavi Narayanasvami Iyer, which was arranged on the occasion of the legendary Flute Sarabha Sastri’s ‘seemantham” held to herald the arrival of Sastri’s first child. In that concert Narayanasvami Iyer was accompanied by the veteran Thirukkodikaval Krishna Iyer (Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer’s maternal uncle) on the violin and Pazhani Krishna Iyer on the ghatam. Narayanasvami Iyer rendered the pallavi “hrudaya kamala vasa hare krishna” in the raga Sankarabharanam set to adi tala. According to Soolamangalam Vaidyanatha Iyer, Narayanasvami Iyer sang kalpana svaras for the pallavi, crafted so beautifully as if they were ettugada svaras of a varna! And Bagaavathar adds that in that concert the two accompanists were “Nara-Narayana” in their performance.
Soolamangalam Vaidyanatha Iyer also records that Tirukkodikaval Krishna Iyer was the stock accompanist of Narayanasvami Iyer for the later’s concerts Narayanasvami Iyer taught many sishyas as well, which included Thiruppazhanam Panchapakesa Sastri (1868-1924) – see Epilogue below- Nallur Visvanatha Iyer, Thirukkarugavur Fiddle Narayanasvami Iyer, Paravakkarai Narayanasvami Iyer, Fiddle Seetharama Iyer, Coimbatore Thayi and others. There are references to the effect that the famed Violin vidvan Kumbakonam Rajamanikkam Pillai too trained under him.
Narayanasvami Iyer was on a very intimate acquaintance with the legendary flute vidvan Kumbakonam “Venugana” Sarabha Sastri (1872-1904), a junior contemporary. The two apparently performed together in concert very many times. The same is recorded both by Narayansvami Iyer’s son and by Sulamangalam Vaidyanatha Bagavathar. The Bagavathar in his memoir records one such recital, which he himself had organized at his house for a “Radha Kalyana Utsava” wherein Narayanasvami Iyer had rendered a brilliant svara kalpana for a Begada main composition on that day.
In the context of Pallavi
Narayanasvami Iyer having composed cittasvaras for compositions, Sri T S
Parthasarathi in his article in the JMA advances the proposition that according
to the senior vidvans of the late 19th and early 20th
century, Tyagaraja did not compose cittasvaras for his compositions and they
were composed much later by his sishyas in his parampara. Sri Parthasarathy
cites with authority that:
The cittasvara section ( GRSN SRPN SRNRS ….) for “mamava satatam” in Jaganmohini was composed by Walajapet Krishnasvami Bagavathar
Cittasvaras are found added by Veena Kuppier for “Endu daginado”, “Jesinadella”, “Tappi Bratiki” (all in Todi), “Kanna talli” (Saveri) and “Sundari nee” (Kalyani)
Added to the above as also seen
in earlier blogs, that we can authoritatively state that:
cittasvara to the Malavi kriti “Nenaruchi naanu” was composed by
Tirukkodikaval Krishna Iyer.
were composed by Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bagavathar as found recorded in
Sri T S Parathasarathy records
that Pallavi Narayanasvami Iyer composed cittasvaras for kritis such as “tsalagalla”
in Arabhi, though it is not stated whether the popular one rendered today
beginning “S,SDP-PPMM GRRS” is that of Narayanasvami Iyer’s.
Musical Creation of Narayanasvami Iyer: Narayanasvami Iyer who was held in awe both by the lay and the cognoscenti of those days, is said to have lived for about 60 years. His ishta devata was Lord Rajagopala of Mannargudi, who has been musically venerated by Patchimiriyam Adiyappa (“Viribhoni” -ata tala varna in raga Bhairavi) and Muthusvami Dikshita (“Sri Rajagopala” in Saveri and “Sri Vidya Rajagopala” in Jaganmohanam). Every year Narayanasvami Iyer apparently undertook a pilgrimage to Mannargudi to have the darshan of Lord Rajagopala and one year he composed a varna in raga Durbar, set in adi tala, which has been published in the JMA along with his biography as written by his son. The varna is not seen published in any other publication nor is it rendered on the concert platform. The notation of the varna in Tamil as recorded in the JMA is provided herein below along with the translation in English.
Observations on the varna:
The varna having being published
by his son thus attests to the high fidelity of the notation available to us through
the aforesaid JMA article. The following observations merit our attention:
that strikes one is the way in which the arohana and avarohana krama of the
raga Durbar is provided as recorded by Narayanasvami Iyer in his notebook. The vakra sancaras accommodated in the progression/krama
along with the reference to PG is to be reckoned.
composition features these vakara sancaras to the tee.
sahitya, akin to “Viribhoni” and “Sri Rajagopala” hails the
ksetra as “Dakshina dvaraka”.
carana portion is exquisitely structured with the jiva svara patterns of
the notation itself provides 2 variations/sangathis for the carana sahitya
section beginning “nIrajAkshi”
The third cittasvara passage as per the old
convention is modelled as sarva laghu.
It has to be pointed out here that apart from the ubiquitous
“Chalamela” of Tiruvottriyur Tyagayyar which is the only varna in this raga
which is heard often, the others known to us are of Subbarama Dikshitar (“intamodi”
ata tala tana varna) and Patnam Subramanya Iyer ( “Dari teliyaka” –
khanda ata tala).
Did Pallavi Narayanasvami Iyer give Gramophone Recordings?
Kinnear in his book “The Gramaphone Company’s First Indian Recordings -1899-1908”
catalogues 10 Inches H Suffix Series of Gramaphone Records wherein an artiste
tagged as “Tiruvisanallur Narayanasami Iyer” dating to 1907 has recorded a bunch
of compositions, in what seems to be a full-blown concert. There is another
Narayanaswami Iyer ( of Pudukkotai) whose music has been recorded and he is a
violinist which helps in avoiding the confusion.
The web page below hosts a clipping for one such piece tagged to “Tiruvisanallur Narayanasami Iyer”
the URL and browse down to entry 21 which is Tiruvasanallur Narayanasami Iyer –
Sanskrit Song Part -1)
is not sure as to the identity of the person, but yet here is something for us
to chew upon.
While at least something is known
about these great vidvans of the past, it is unfortunate that their musical
works such as varnas, kritis and cittasvaras have been lost and forgotten. In
an earlier blog post on Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bhagavathar it was pointed
out that though the Music Academy was entrusted with his notebooks recording in
writing, Bagavathar’s musical creations, yet the same remains lost and
untraced. In the instant case of Pallavi Narayanasvami Iyer, his son Vidvan
Radhakrishna Iyer while writing the piece in the JMA, does indicate his wish to
publish his father’s works as available with him, but yet nothing seems to have
seen the light of the day. The musical note books of Tiruppamburam
Natarajasundaram Pillai, recording the kritis of Muthusvami Dikshita as taught
to him Satanur Pancanada Iyer and also Pancanada Iyer’s own note books
documenting his own compositions have suffered a similar fate. It is sad that
with the passage of time, the probability of recovering any of these just
recedes exponentially. In the case of Pallavi Narayanasvami Iyer the only
creation of his available with us is this Durbar varna.
From a familial perspective, it
is not known how Pallavi Narayanasvami Iyer acquired the link to
Tiruvisainallur while his father hailed from Umayalpuram. All that is known is
that Narayanasvami Iyer had two sons one of whom was Vidvan T N Radhakrishna
Iyer. It would be worthwhile to know if there are any surviving descendants in
the lineage of Narayanasvami Iyer and if they still have those notebooks
recording not just the creations of Narayanasvami Iyer but also of Saint
Tyagaraja as Narayanasvami Iyer was the 2nd generation disciple in
his sishya parampara/lineage.
As always one hopes that our
vidvans would take up forgotten compositions like this Durbar varna, burnish
them up and render them, in the days to come so that the memory of these great
souls would live on along with our music.
“Svarakalanidhi Narayanasvami Iyer” – Article in Tamil – Author Sangita Vidvan T N Radhakrishna Iyer – Journal of the Music Academy Madras (JMA) Vol II No 4 (Year 1931) pp 223-226 – Edited by Sri T V Subba Rao
“Tiruvisainallur Narayanasvami Iyer” – Part XVI on page 100 – “Cameos” – A collection of writings by Soolamangalam Vaidyanatha Bhagavathar – Portion translated by Ms Padma Narayanan – Published by Sunadham (2005)
“Svara decorations in Carnatic Music” – Article in English – Author T S Parthasarathy – Journal of the Music Academy Madras (JMA) Vol LVIII 1987 pp 154-159– Edited by Sri T S Parthasarathy
“The Gramaphone Company’s First Indian Recordings -1899-1908” -By Michael Kinnear (1994) Sangam Book – pp 157-158
While I work to have the recording of the aforesaid Durbar varna done and uploaded here, I seek to conclude this blog post with a musical tribute to this great musician. It is recorded that Narayanasvami Iyer in the tradition of Tyagaraja was also a rama baktha. So a composition eulogizing Lord Rama and that too composed by his own disciple would be a worthy tribute to him.
Tiruppazhanam Panchapakesa Sastri, a disciple of Svarakalanidhi Naryanasvami Iyer, as mentioned earlier, was a legendary Harikatha performer of the 20th century. His most famous composition which lives on even today is “sApashyat kausalya”, set in the raga Jonpuri and which runs as under:
This composition preceded by a sloka such as “Shringaram kshitinandinim” or “Neelabja deha” in a raga malika format tailing into Jonpuri, was de-rigueur in Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer’s concerts. I conclude this blog post with a rendering of this composition from one of his innumerable concerts.
While the year 2000 was a sort of milestone for us, the year circa 1800 too was a momentous milestone in the modern history of Tanjore, the Eden of South India. It marked the end of political issues plaguing the region and the ascension of Prince Serfoji (AD 1798) as the King of Tanjore. The Kingdom of Tanjore was riven by internal strife and famine during the 1770-1800 period, so much so that many fled the region for the safety and security of Chennapatna or Madras which was under the rule of the British East India Company. It was after these tumultuous events that peace returned to Tanjore circa 1800 and the decade thereafter was marked by peace and prosperity, more particularly the first quarter of the 19th century.
Dikshita’s Sojourn to Tanjore:
Accounts of Muthusvami Dikshita’s
life talk of his sojourn to Tanjavur during this time period- during the first
decade of the new century on the invite of his pupils, the Tanjore Quartet Ponnayya,
Chinnayya, Sivanandam and Vadivelu. The Quartette by then had firmly ensconced themselves
in the Tanjore Royal Court of King Serfoji and it was then they must have
invited their master/guru Muthusvami Dikshita to Tanjore, who it seems stayed
for a while in Tanjore.
Legend has it that at this point
in time when the Quartet played host, they requested Dikshita to compose kritis
in all the raganga ragas of the Venkatamakhin tradition so that these kritis
would become shining exemplars of those melodies. Accordingly, Dikshita set
about the task and this stay in Tanjore produced a number of kritis in these
Subbarama Dikshita’s Sangita
Sampradaya Pradarshini (“SSP”) catalogues all these compositions. It must be
mentioned that the SSP does not feature Dikshita’s compositions for certain
ragangas/melas such as Binna Sadjam (mela 9), Ramamanohari (Mela 52) and Chamaram
Amongst those said to have been composed during Dikshita’s sojourn to Tanjore and catalogued in the SSP is the composition in the 5th Mela raga/raganga Manoranjani. Barring some of the main ragas, Dikshita seems to have composed kritis in his shorter format in these mela ragas. This shorter format lacks a full blown carana. Few exceptions to this observation are the following kritis in the raganga ragas ( not major ones) , from an SSP perspective, which are in the full blown format including a carana portion as well.
“Kanakambari Karunyamrutalahari” in Kanakambari – 1st mela
“Bakthavatsalam” in Vamsavati – Mela 54; But the other kriti “Vamsavati Sivayuvati” is in the shorter format.
These shorter format kritis with
just the pallavi and anupallavi is always appended with a cittasvara section.
In the case of the 5th
Mela the composition of Dikshita recorded in the SSP is “Balambike Pahi” let us
first evaluate the raga first and then
the composition, in this blog post.
Manoranjani – A Study:
The raga and the scale is obviously a post 1750 AD development arising as a part of the 72 mela scheme formulated by Muddu Venkatamakhin as the raganga of the 5th Mela taking the notes of R1, G2, M1, P, D2, N3 with the gandhara being dropped in the ascent because of the R1G2 combination being a vivadhi pair. The raga also came to be documented as a janya under the Kanakangi-Ratnangi Scheme catalogued by the Sangraha Cudamani, with Manoranjani being categorized as a janya under the 5th Mela, the heptatonic krama sampurna raga Manavati. Tyagaraja’s “Atukaradani” is an exemplar of the same.
According to the SSP, the following
are the features of the raga:
The operative arohana-avrohana krama is as under:
S R1 M1 P D2 N3 S
S N3 D2 P M1 R1 G1 R1 S
In the footnote Subbarama Dikshita remarks that MGRS is seen used in the compositions.
The vivadhi combination of R1G1 is worked-around by dropping the gandhara in the ascent.
Apart from the lakshya gitam, gitams & tanams and the sancari of Subbarama Dikshita, the kriti “Balambike Pahi” of Muthusvami Dikshita in catusra matya tala is provided as the exemplar.
It has to be noted that though
the lakshana sloka provides for gandhara being vakra in the avarohana, the
kriti, as pointed by Subbarama Dikshita, sports MG1R1S as well.
Dikshita’s Kriti in Manoranjani:
Here is the kriti and the meaning
of the lyrics:
bAlA-ambikE – O Goddess Balambika!
dEhi dEhi –
sAlOka-Adi mukti sAmrAjya dAyini
– O the bestower of liberation, beginning with Saloka!
Sankara nArAyaNa manOranjani
– O one delighting the heart of Lord Sankaranarayana!
dhanini – O repository of all
nIla kaNTha guru guha
nitya Suddha vidyE – O eternal pure knowledge of the blue-throated Shiva and
It is seen that Dikshita’s
colophon “guruguha” and the raga mudra “manoranjani” are embedded
in this composition segueing seamlessly with the lyrics, which is set in catusra
matya tala (1 kalai). While the name of the Goddess as also her Consort’s name appears
in the composition, there is no explicit reference to the ksetra name in the
The Ksetra or Temple of this Kriti:
The kriti is on Goddess Balambika consort of Lord Sankaranarayana as is obvious from the lyrics. It has to be pointed out that Goddess Balambika is the name of the deity enshrined in Vaideesvarankovil ( vide the kriti “Bhajare Re Citta” – Kalyani – Misra Eka) with the presiding deity being Lord Vaidyanatha. And Lord Sankaranarayana is the presiding deity of the temple at Sankarankovil where his consort is Goddess Gomathi. As seen in one of the previous blogs, Veenai Sundaram Iyer has much later to the SSP published a kriti “Sankaranarayanam” in the raga Narayana Desakshi, attributing it to Dikshita,
On the contrary this kriti “Balambike Pahi” on Goddess Balambika and wherein Dikshita proclaims her as the consort of Lord Sankaranarayana and does not specify the ksetra or the temple or any reference to it in the body the kriti. There is no likelihood thus of the composition being sung on the deity at Sankaran Kovil or Vaideesvaran Kovil.
As pointed out in the prologue, we have reliable textual authorities who have recorded Muthusvami Dikshita visited Tanjore and composed on the various deities in around Tanjore, including Lord Brihadeesvara and Goddess Brihannayaki, in the ragangas of the Venkatamakhin tradition. Both Dr. V Raghavan and Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer in their works (see reference section below) have provided a narrative to this effect.
Dr V Raghavan in his famous NCPA Red Book asserts that Dikshita undertook the project to compose at least one composition in every one of the 72 raganga ragas of the Venkatamakin scheme. And he marks a number of kritis in the raganga ragas, of Dikshita and also provides the ksetra where the same was purportedly composed, based on the internal evidence. He asserts thus:
series ( i.e corpus of songs to illustrate the 72 ragas mela-janya scheme) is
not completely available and I shall give here a list in so far as I have been
able to compile it…..”
However, no reference is provided to this composition “Balambike Pahi” in his aforesaid listing in the NCPA Red Book.
Some individuals in the public domain assert that this composition is on Goddess Balambika at Vaideesvaran Kovil, without any authority whatsoever, merely on the strength of the name of the presiding Goddess which is plain misattribution. It is also seen that those who provide the meaning for the lyrics of this composition provide the meaning for the line ” Sankara nArAyaNa manOranjani” as ” O one delighting the hearts of Shiva and Vishnu! ” without realizing that the reference here is not the Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu individually but to Lord Sankaranarayana. It is respectfully submitted that these reasonings do not hold water.
In the context of the raga of this composition being Manoranjani, the 5th mela we can surmise that:
this kriti was likely composed when Dikshita visited Tanjore ;
And as a part of his endeavor to compose a kriti on the mela ragas, he composed this one as well ( for Mela 5) while at Tanjore :
And therefore Goddess Balambika, the subject matter of this kriti must be deity of a temple somewhere in or around Tanjore.
Fortuitously the perusal of an old publication titled “Siva-Vishnu Ksetra Vilakkam” (Tamil)-see below, provides a reference to a temple in the town of Tanjore where the presiding deity’s name is Lord Sankaranarayana and the name of the Goddess being Balambika.
The book refers to the temple as being located in Tanjore mEla rAja veedhi at its southern end. Based on the said reference I have marked the same in the Google Maps below.
The said temple has also been covered in an article in a daily as well- refer the Reference section below. The temple also finds reference in the “Tanjapuri Mahatmiyam”. It is also recorded that during the reign of King Serfoji circa 1805, a consecration ( Kumbabishekam) for the temple was performed. Given that this coincides with the probable period of Dikshita’s visit, one wonders if he composed this kriti and paid his obeisance to Goddess Balambika during the festivities.
Thus, given the preponderance of probabilities and the data points agreeing, it can be deduced, that Dikshitar could have visited this particular temple during his Tanjore sojourn and composed this kriti in raga Manoranjani on Goddess Balambika enshrined there.
In so far as the history of this Temple of Lord Sankaranarayana is concerned, in his critical commentary to the work “Tanjapuri Mahatmiyam” part of the “Cola Campu” of Virupaksa, Dr V Raghavan records that the Tanjore King Bhima Chola’s wife hailed from lands of Tirunelveli and her family deity was Lord Sankaranarayana of Sankarankovil. And to fulfill his wife’s desire to worship the Lord in Tanjore itself Bhima Chola built the temple for Lord Sankaranarayana at what is today known as west Main Street, the subject matter of this blog post.
Presented first is the rendering
aligned to the notation found in the SSP by Vidvan G Ravi Kiran (The video
upload wrongly mentions the name of the performing artiste).
Presented next is the rendering of the same composition, again close to the SSP notation, along with the rendering of the cittasvara section and preceded by a brief raga alapana by Vidushi T S Sathyavathi. This rendering is based on the SSP notation and has been embellished suitably as a concert platform piece, within the confines of the spirit of the notation.
Sangita Kala Acharya Smt Suguna Purushothaman renders the composition here:
The kritis of Muthusvami Dikshita especially in the mela ragas, are pithy and are ideal to both learn and perform professionally. These compositions with brevity being their hallmark need not be be-labored upon and can be sung with a brief raga vinyasa and concluded with a couple of cycles of svaras. One fervently hopes that artistes include these compositions more in their performances in the days to come.
Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) – Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – Republished in Tamil by Madras Music Academy (2006) -Vol 1- Mela 5 Pages 26-30
Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – ‘Ragalakshana Sangraha’- Collection of Raga Descriptions pp 855-856
Dr R Sathyanarayana (2010)- “Ragalakshanam” of Sri Muddu Venkatamakhin- Published by IGNCA
Dr V Raghavan (1975) – NCPA Quarterly Journal Vol IV – Number 3- September 1975 -pp 10-11 – referred to as the NCPA Redbook
T L Venkatrama Iyer (1968) – “Muthuswami Dikshitar” – National Biography Series published by National Book Trust of India -Chapter V – pp 46-53
Dr V Raghavan (1951) – Commentary on “Cola Campu” of Virupaksa – TSMS No 55 – Edited by T Chandrasekaran
Safe Harbour Statement:
The renderings used or linked as
above in the body of this blog has been made strictly for purposes of education
and knowledge under fair use category. The intellectual property belongs to the
respective artistes and the same cannot be shared or exploited without their
This article was published in the journal “Shanmukha” 2019 issue.
identifying raga-s sung by a musician, another exercise that enthuse a listener
and musician alike is identifying the composer (vaggeyakara) of a song. This is important as sahityam forms the basis
of our music and a vaggeyakara expresses his feelings only through the
sahityam. Identification of a vaggeyakara becomes simpler if we have a basic
knowledge about the ‘mudra’ employed by each one of them.
Mudra used by a
vageeyakara is not uniform; it can be his name (svanama mudra), his patron’s
name (poshaka mudra) or the place with which he is associated with (sthala
mudra) and so on. Also a vaggeyakara can
use one or more mudra-s and conversely two or more vageeyakara-s can use a same
mudra. For instance, the mudra ‘venkatesa’ was used by Manambuchavadi
Venkatasubbaier, Patnam Subramanya Iyer and Kothavasal Venkatarama Iyer. This
has created confusion in attributing a composition to a particular composer. For
instance, ‘dhanyudevvado’, a krithi in the ragam Malayamarutham is attributed
to both Patnam Subramanya Iyer and his Guru Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaier.
Another interesting krithi which suffers this identity crisis is
‘parabrahmamu’. When a musician considers this as a composition of Patnam
Subrahmanya Iyer, he is supposed to sing this in the ragam Kapinarayani.
Whereas, if a musician feels it was composed by Manambuchavadi Venktasubbaier,
he should sing this in the ragam Pravalajyothi.
musician can use one or more mudra-s too. Kshetrayya and Melattur Virabhadrayya
can be cited as examples. Kshetrayya has used the mudra ‘muvva gopala’ in
majority of his works where muvva is the sthala mudra. In few of his padam-s we
can also see the mudra-s like ‘kanchi
varadudu’ and ‘cevvandhi lingudu’. 1 Virabhadrayya, a famous
composer of the medieval period has used the mudra ‘pratapasimha’ in few of his
compositions. Mudra-s like ‘achudabdhi nilaya’, ‘unnathapurisha’ and
‘achuthapuri’ are seen in his other compositions. Whereas pratapasimha is to be
taken as poshaka mudra, achudabdhi nilaya and achuthapuri indicates the sthalam
Melattur to which he belonged to and unnathapuri denotes the svami mudra
(Unnatapurishvarar is the deity in Melattur).
Deekshithar, father of Muthuswamy Deekshithar was born in the year 1735 and
attained the heavenly abode on Mahasivaratri in the yaer 1819. He was a prolific
composer of 18 th century who has composed innumerable compositions, many of
them does not even exist in paper, leave alone recordings. His initial training
in music was from Melattur Virabhadrayya and later learnt the intricacies of
music from Venkata Vaidyanatha Deekshithar, grandson of Venkatamakhi, propagating
Venkatamakhi’s illustrious legacy to his disciples. His early years were spent
at Tiruvarur, where he codified the raga-s and compositions to be sung by Nagasvaram vidvans in Tyagarajasvamy temple
upon the divine instruction by Tyagaraja himself. He was then patronized by the
father-son dubashi-s of Manali, Chennai (erstwhile Madras) – Manali
Muddukrishna Mudaliyar and Chinnaswamy (Venkatakrishna) Mudaliyar in later part
of his life. Unfortunately, not many of his compositions are available and it
is Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, which gives us a significant number of
compositions. Though, mudra of Ramaswamy Deekshithar is considered to be
‘venkatakrishna’ (poshaka mudra), it will be illustrated from the following discussion
that he can be considered as a dvi-mudra vaggeyakara.
Compositions of Ramaswamy Deekshithar
Sampradaya Pradarshini of Subbarama Deekshithar 2 lists the
following compositions of Ramaswamy Deekshithar:
Paga jupa – Mohanam – Ata – Varnam (not mentioned in Sangita Sampradaya
Analysis of these compositions
Of these available
compositions, the mudra ‘venkatakrishna’ is seen in svarasthana varnam, krithi
in the ragam-s Vegavahini, Anandabhairavi, Sahana and in the lakshana
prabandham. This mudra is also seen in
the ragamalika-s natakadi vidyala and sivamohana. Hence, 7 compositions out of
18 bear the mudra ‘venkatakrishna’.
Let us see the 11 compositions without
the mudra “venkatakrishna” in detail.
1. Varnam in Hindola
This ata tala
varnam ‘rammanave tyagaraja sami neevu’ is on Tyagarajaswamy of
Tiruvarur. This is a cauka varnam with 4 ettugada svaram-s.
2. Varnam in Hindolavasantha
This is a cauka
varnam is set to rupaka talam. Interestingly this varnam has only 3 ettugada
svaram. This is on Tyagesha of Tiruvarur. Anupallavi of this varnam reads
‘velayu sripuravasa veeravasantha tyagesha’. The epithet ‘veeravasantha’
is used only for Tyagaraja of Tiruvarur and this was used only by vaggeyakaras
linked personally and intimately with that deity like Ramaswamy Deekshithar and
3. Varnam in Sriranjani
This adi tala
varna was also composed on Tyagesha of Tiruvarur. Anupallavi reads as
‘tamasamika seyaku mrokkera tyagaraja dayasagara sri’. This varnam has 4
ettugada svaram-s. Of these, only the first svara passage was composed by
Ramaswamy Deekshithar. Second, third and fourth svara passages were contributed
by Syama Sastri, Chinnaswamy Deekshithar and Muthuswamy Dekshithar
4. Varnam in Shankarabharanam
This grand ata
tala varnam follows an old varna template seen with the varnam-s like ‘viriboni’
(Bhairavi) and ‘sami nine’ (Shankarabharanam). Contrast to his other varnam-s,
this one has an anubandham which is linked to anupallavi and mukthayi svaram-s.
Hence, this varnam is finished by singing pallavi. This is again on the Lord
Tyagesha and he describes Tyagaraja as ‘koti lavanya tyagaraja maharaja’.
5. Varnam in Purnachandrika
This rupaka tala
varnam is again on the Lord Tyagaraja and he asks him ‘jalamelara natho sami
sri tyagesha’? This is a pada varnam with sahityam for mukthayi and
7. Varnam in Mohanam
This is a rare
work of Deekshithar not found in Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini. This can be
seen in few private manuscripts too. We find the epithet ‘veerasantha tyagaraja
sami’ again here in anupallavi.
is a string of 20 ragas composed on the Raja Amarasimha of Tanjore. It is said
Deekshithar praised Amarasimha with this garland when the latter visited
Tiruvarur. This is one of his best creations wherein he has skillfully woven
the raga mudra into the sahityam. Though this is a pean to Amarasimha,
Deekshithar has invoked Tyagesha too – ‘aharindruni pujinchu tyageshu
From the above
discussion, it becomes clear that, of the 11 compositions lacking the mudra
‘venkatakrishna’, 6 were composed on the Lord Tyagesha of Tiruvarur. All these
bear the mudra ‘tyagesha’ or its variant. Of the remaining compositions, the
ragamalika ‘samaja gamana’ has the mudra ‘tyagesha’ though the ‘nayaka’
glorified there was Amarasimha.
The remaining 4 compositions
namely the kriti in Sankarabharanam, ragamalika ‘manasaveri’, daru and the
varnam in the ragam Manohari does not possess any of the mentioned mudra,
though “venkataramana” can be seen in the ragamalika mentioned. It can be
understood that this krithi was composed on the Lord Venkateswara of Tirupathi.
The above discussion shows Ramaswamy Deekshithar was a ‘dvi-mudra vaggeyakara’ with ‘tyagesha’ and ‘venkatakrishna’ as his mudra-s. It can also be assumed that he has used the mudra ‘tyagesha’ when he spent his life in Tiruvarur and used the mudra ‘venkatakrishna’ when he was in Manali, in memory of his benefactor Venkatakrishna Mudaliyar. It is a must to visit and analyse other compositions with the mudra ‘tyagesa’ as they could also be the compositions of Ramaswamy Deekshithar !!
The rāga Rudrapriyā is mentioned twice by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśini; once under the rāgāṅga rāga Śri rāgaṃ and second time in the Anubandham. The first mention has 5 kṛti-s and a sañcari and in the Anubandham, two kṛti-s of Śri Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar –”gaṇanāyakam bhajēham” and “tyāgēśam bhajarē” were given. Analysis of the notations reveal a considerable difference in the lakṣaṇa of these two kṛti-s from other kṛti-s notated in the main section and also the svarūpa of Rudrapriyā differ considerably between these two kriti-s to an extent that they need a separate discussion. Hence these two kṛti-s will be covered separately and this article will cover the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’. It is advisable to read Part I for better understanding of this rāga. Before we embark into the kṛti, it is pertinent to know about the structure of rāga-s prevailed during 19th century and prior.
a rāga – concept prevailed during 17th and18th century
century or even prior to that, there could have been two school of thoughts in
approaching or handling a rāga. First one is to treat a rāga in such a way that
a definite scale (ārōhaṇam or avarōhaṇam) cannot explain the svarūpa of a rāgaṃ
as they transcend these scales (Scale-transcending rāga-s). Second thought is
to approach a rāgam in a scalar manner. Both could have enjoyed popularity and
there could have been proponents for both these systems; the exact time period
which saw the inflow of these systems cannot be framed with the available
Whereas the latter is
really a simple method to approach a rāga, only the former method gives an
adequate structure to the svara-s to be called as a rāga. Whereas the treatment
of a rāga in the latter approach can be compared with a small water canal,
which has only a single course with the water flowing through it monotonously,
the former approach can be compared with a river. A rāga has its own delineated
course and it is our duty to cruise through it and identify its tributaries and
distributaries, the area where it bifurcates, various ways through which it
reaches its destination etc.
Scale-transcending approach is seen with the treatises like Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śahāji
and Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulaja, to cite a few, the scalar approach is seen with
the treatises like Saṅgīta Sāra Saṅgrahamu of Tiruvēṅkaṭa Kavi and Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi.
So, if a composer is a follower of the first school, he handles a rāga as an
organic structure (Scale-transcending approach); whereas a composer who
believes in the latter thought handles a rāga exactly in concordance with the
scale prescribed for that rāga (Scalar approach). In due course, a scalar rāga
could have been developed as an equivalent to ‘scale transcending’ rāga and
used by the Scalar school. Pūrṇacandrika and Janarañjani can be cited as an
example to explain this. Whereas the former is limited to a scale now, it was actually
a rāga with a wider scope. The latter could have been developed to get a feel
of Pūrṇacandrika and at the same time making it simple to approach by making it
to abide a scale. Alternatively, many Scale-transcending rāga-s were converted
into scales. This concept can be easily understood by studying the rāga Gauḍamalhār.
Though we generally believe
Harikēśanaḷḷur Muttiah Bhāgavatar handled this for the first time, we do have
evidence to say this could have been handled by another composer preceding him.
‘Cinta dīrca’ is a kṛti of Tiruvoṭṭriyūr Tyāgayyar in this rāga and belongs to
the set “Śrī Vēṇugōpāla Svāmy Aṣṭottara Śata Kṛti-s” composed by Tyāgayyar.
Many rare scales feature in this set and this is one amongst them. Both Tyāgayyar
and Muttiah Bhāgavatar had strictly adhered to the scale SRMPDS SNDMGRS,
considering it as as janya of mēḷa 29, Dhīraśaṅkarābharaṇam. Interestingly, Saṅgraha
Cūḍāmaṇi gives the scale as SRMPDS SDNPMGRS
and the scale followed by them is seen only in the treatise Saṅgīta Sāra Saṅgrahamu
! This is again an instance showing, even 20th century composers
were not strict followers of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi.
The above discussion might
give an impression that this was a recently developed rāga. In reality, this is
an old rāga finding its presence for the first time in the Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śahāji
and Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulaja in its present form (as a janya of mēla 29). In
these treatise, this was more a rāga and we do find phrases outside the scale
Whereas Śrī Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
has followed the former method (though with few exceptions like the kṛti in the
rāga Navaratnavilāsa), Śrī Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ was a follower of both these
schools. The rāga-s handled by Svāmigaḷ can be divided into two types – rāga-s
which are seen in both the schools and the rāga-s which are unique to the
scalar school. In the former category, Svāmigaḷ has handled only a Scale-transcending
approach. An analysis of Vālājāpeṭṭai notations and other reliable sources
clearly indicate this.
Until the dawn of 20th
century, both schools were active and we can see the rāga repertoire being
built in by both the schools; but the second school dominated the scene from
the last century onwards. Though we find plenty of new rāga-s being developed
in the last century, they were mere scales and lack the skeleton inherently
present in the Scale-transcending approach.
This is a kṛti by Muddusvāmy
Dīkṣitar on Lord Vināyaka. This does not have any reference to a kṣētra or a
purāṇa and it is structured more like a hymn to the Lord. Structurally too, this
is much smaller with a paḷḷavi and anupaḷḷavi.1 This is not even
affixed with a ciṭṭa svara passage as seen with many other kṛtis composed in the
paḷḷavi-anupaḷḷavi format. Many doubt the authenticity of this kṛti as:
is not grouped with the other kṛti-s in the rāga Rudrapriyā (by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar).
is different from other kṛti-s notated in the rāga Rudrapriyā.
of this kṛti (more modelled like dēśādhi which is unusual for a kṛti of Muddusvāmy
of this kṛti is extraordinarily identical with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’
The points mentioned above
are overtly visible and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar himself could have been aware of
these facts. Considerable thought must have gone into his mind before including
this in Anubandham and labelling it as a kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Hence it
can be believed that this kṛti was a genuine construction of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
and having this in mind let us try to understand and solve the discrepancies.
In general, the kṛti-s of
Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar propagated through the printed texts in the early part of
the last century are very minimal. If we analyse the Dīkṣitar kṛti-s in the available
texts, the number might rarely cross 25-35, implying singing or hearing a kṛti
of Dīkṣitar was a rarity in those days. The same inference can be again drawn from
the available gramophone records. Whereas kṛti-s like bālagōpāla, śrī vēṇugōpāla
and ananta bālakṛṣṇam can be seen frequently either notated or otherwise, it is
surprising to see the absence of (presently) popular kṛti-s like raṅganāyakam,
saundararājam or jambupatē. It was at that juncture Pradarśini was releasedhaving around 230 kṛti-s of Dīkṣitar
notated. Needless to say the kṛti in hand is seen here for the first time.
A rāga can be visualised
and envisaged only from its phrases and each rāga has its own special phrases
and common phrases that it share with its allies. It can be redacted from a
simple examination of Pradarśini that this kṛti follows the scale SRGMNNS
SNPMGRS. This scale is now called by the name Pūrṇaṣadjam and we have two kṛti-s
of Svāmigal in this rāga, ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ and ‘lāvaṇya rāma’. But a
stringent examination will reveal the presence of a phrase PNS which cannot be fitted
into the mentioned scale. The readers are now requested to recollect our
discussion on the two schools of approaching a rāga. The Scalar rāga-s
generally are faithful to their scale and we cannot find even a single phrase
outside the prescribed scale. In that case, where do we place this rāga? This phrase
PNS is to be neglected (considering it as an error on the side of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar)
and calling it as Pūrṇaṣadjam or it is to be considered as an inkling that this
could have been a Scale-transcending rāga? In the latter case, is it advisable
to call it as Rudrapriya? Before trying to find out a solution for this
question, let us get introduced to the rāga Pūrṇaṣadjam.
It has been mentioned at various occasions that the lakṣaṇa and the nomenclature of the kṛti-s of Svāmigaḷ in the apūrva rāga-s always pose a problem and the readers are requested to understand the facts given here before proceeding further.
It was a general consensus
made in the last century that Svāmigaḷ followed Saṅgraha Chūḍāmaṇi, a text of
late origin and unknown authorship. Scholars date the period of this text to be
somewhere around late 18th century and in that case we are forced to
believe Svāmigaḷ followed this treatise leaving behind the tradition that was
extant for very many centuries. Strangely, no one focused or questioned this
aspect, excluding few lone voices like that of renowned musicologist Śrī K V Rāmacandran. A study of this rāga shows, we have much
deviated from the truth and it is pertinent, at least at this point of time to
search for the same.
Pūrṇaṣadjam appears to be a
rāga of recent origin with the present available evidences, as we do not get to
see this rāga in the treatises belonging to the medieval period, from Svaramēlakalānidhi
of Rāmamāṭya to Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulajā. This rāga is first seen in the text
Saṅgīta Sarvārtha Sārām attributed to Tiruvēṅkaṭakavi (See Footnote 1) and later,
we do find it in Saṅgraha Chūḍāmaṇi. This rāga is considered as a janya of mēla
20 in both the texts though with a different lakṣaṇa. Whereas the former treats
this as a rāga with the scale SRGMDS SDPMGRS, the latter consider SPMPDPS
SNDMGRS as the scale.2 In both cases this is a rāga with dhaivatam unlike
the rāga, that we now call it as Pūrṇaṣadjam.
Books on Tyāgarāja kīrtanā-s
published in the last century follow a dichotomous approach for labelling the kṛti-s
‘śrī mānini manōhara’ and ‘lāvaṇya rāma’ of Svāmigal. Few mention as Rudrapriyā
and few others as Pūrṇaṣadjam, but the lakṣaṇa remains the same. Any ways it
becomes clear that scale or the structure of the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ in
its present form (and also the commonly available version of the kṛti ‘lāvaṇya
rāma’ of Svāmigaḷ) cannot be fitted into the scale of Pūrṇaṣadjam mentioned in
these treatises. This again is an indication that the belief, Svāmigaḷ was a
follower of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is a hoax.
Henceforth the discussion
will pertain only to the kṛti ‘śrī mānini
manōhara’ as this is related to the main topic and the other the kṛti ‘lāvaṇya
rāma’ will be covered at a later period of time. Though, the commonly available
version and the versions given in the majority of the texts follow the scale
SRGMNS SNPMGRS, few texts published in the last century and some unpublished
manuscripts harbour the phrase PNS! So, it is not the rāga name alone that has
been appropriated, an immaculate service had also been done by removing a
phrase which do not fit into the scale and this is definitely not a fate of
this kṛti alone. Be it as it may, it can be concluded that the rāga of this
scale cannot be called as Pūrṇaṣadjam and few versions in the past do had the
phrase PNS is emphasized.
Having reiterated the
problem seen with these apūrva kṛti-s and inclusion of the phrase PNS at least
in the few versions of the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’, it is essential for us
to turn into another related question – was the melody of these two kṛti-s (gaṇanāyakam
bhajēham andśrī mānini manōhara) were
same in the past? This will also give us a solution to the question on the rāga
of the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’.
The two kṛti-s
Unlike Dīkṣitar kṛti,
we lack an authentic source to study
this kṛti of Svāmigaḷ, as Vālājāpēṭṭai manuscripts, said to be written by his
direct disciple Vālājāpēṭṭai Śrī Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar do not give us this kṛti
in notation (in the corpus available to us).
From the recordings available to us and from the books and manuscripts
which give this kṛti in notation, it can be said that the currently heard
version could have been a common version in the past. Hand written manuscripts
written by Dr Śrīnivāsarāghavan, Śrī B Kṛṣṇamūrti (as learnt from Umayālpuram Śrī
Rājagōpāla Ayyar) and a musician by name Śrī Bālasubraḥmaṇya Ayyar (possibly a
student belonging to Umayālpuram lineage) too record the same, though with
minor differences. Śrī C R Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār, too gives almost the same
version. In all these versions, the paḷḷavi starts with the svara ṛṣabham (see
Footnote 2). There is an exception to this common version which will be dealt
bhajēham in Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśini
The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ as given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be heard here. It can be seen that the kṛti starts with the svara gāndhāram (unlike ṛṣabham in most of the presently available versions). Paḷḷavi has only two lines in contrast with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’. Also, the line ‘vara bāla guruguham’ is rendered in a madhyama kālam (see Footnote 3). The sāhitya akṣara-s in the mentioned line is doubled when compared to other parts of the caraṇam, indicating this was the intent of the composer and not changed later. Though in some renditions we do hear the word ‘guruguham’ slightly rendered fast, and in some others, this was treated as a śabdam in the sama kālam. All these points not only convey us, the melodies of these two kṛti-s were not identical, but also add value to the authenticity of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in considering this composition as a genuine construct of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.
The structure of these two kṛti-s: are they identical?
We have seen that hearing a
kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar itself was a rarity in those days. When this kṛti
came into circulation, the similarity in the rāga lakṣaṇa between these two kṛti-s
could have made some musician to transpose the melody of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’
(to start with ṛṣabham) and made it to be identical with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini
manōhara’, either voluntarily or inadvertently!
We have seen, the way in which the original version of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ has been changed to resemble the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’. Now we will look into a lost version of ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ which resembles ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ as notated in Pradarśini. The rāga handled in this version is more like ‘Scale-transcending’. Incidentally, this version published by Tenmaṭam Brothers was the earliest published version and it starts with the svara gāndhāram, similar to ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ given in Pradarśini.3 Also, it has the phrases MGRG, RGS which out lie the prescribed scale! Though the tāḷam of this kṛti is given as dēśādhi in various texts, it is notated only in ādhi tāḷam starting from 1.5 idam in this text and can be heard here. This version can better be called as Rudrapriya (as it has all the phrases seen in the Rudrapriya mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in the main text).
It can be very well
observed that these kṛti-s are not exact copies of each other and the present
version of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ was modelled like the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’
in the last century. The original version of the former kṛti is quite different
from the latter (be it a common version or the version given by Tenmaṭam
Brothers) despite having few similarities. The similarities can be attributed
mainly to the key phrases highlighted in these compositions and handling of the
rāga, in general.
Irrespective of the rāga
nomenclature, it is clear that the rāga lakṣaṇa and handling of the phrases is
same with both the kṛti-s. This might be an indication that both the composers
might have had a common source of inspiration.
The cultural and social
canvas of Tanjāvūr was always inclusive. Though it had its own indigenous
culture, it always invited and incorporated the customs and practise from other
regions. This is much so with music. What we now call as Karnāṭaka Music is
actually a digestion and integration of all these cultures. Whereas we had
indigenous rāga-s and musical systems flourishing there, we also see Kings
patronising other forms of music. The pillars of Tanjāvūr Mahal had witnessed
the musicians playing God save the King and Marlbrook. The streets in Tanjāvūr
were reverberated with Mahārāṣtra Bhajans and Abhangs. Varāhapayyar, an eminent
musician in the court of Śerfoji was fined for not learning Hindustani music in
the stipulated time. Hence, melodies of various genres were prevalent during
the period of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Svāmigaḷ. These composers too never
restricted themselves from including these melodies into their repertoire. It
is like having multiple ‘maṅgaḷam’ and ‘tālāṭṭu’ set to a single tune differing
only in sāhityam, sung by household women of yester generation.
The basic melody or the
original tune seen in these two kṛti-s could have been a popular melody
belonging to any of these genres; these composers having inspired by that tune
could have shaped them in their own
imitable way. Hence, calling them as copies and believing one copying another
is going to be a futile and stale discussion.
Such tunes were a strong
source of inspiration even in the last century as can be seen from the work of Popley
and Stephen4, two Christian musicians, in the last century, has used
them to fit into their own sāhityam as a method to evangelise the natives,
though just mentioning as Mahārāṣtra meṭṭu and without mentioning the original
of these kṛti-s
Having established that it
is a vagary to consider ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ as to have been composed in Purṇaṣadjam
and this was not a copy of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’, it is essential to discuss
the lakṣaṇa portrayed in these kṛti-s.
kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’
In the Part I of this
series, we have seen Rudrapriyā blossoms when G or N is used as a janṭa svara,
use of phrases like SNP, SNDN, SDNP and the use of dhāṭṭu prayōga-s. R,G,M and
N can be the jīva svara-s (starting notes) and nyāsa svara-s (ending notes). In
the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ G,N and N,M were the jīva and nyāsa svara-s
respectively. The kṛti starts with the janṭa G and we do see a profuse use of
janṭa R and N throughout the kṛti. None of the phrases used here were outside
the realm of Rudrapriyā including MNN, though it is to be accepted that
Rudrapriyā is not shown in its full potential. For the matter of fact,
Rudrapriya was exploited to its full potential more by Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma
Dīkṣitar than Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar as discussed in Part I. The phrase GRR is
used frequently similar to the kṛti-s in the rāga Rudrapriyā (notated in the
main section of Pradarśini). These findings could have made Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
to name the rāga of this kṛti as Rudrapriyā and he is certainly not wrong in
We have mentioned in Part I
of this article that Rudrapriyā could have been called by several names in the
past and Karnātaka Kāpi was one amongst them. We hypothesized Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
could have been a single proponent in using the name Rudrapriyā. We also made a
point that the name Rudrapriyā could have also been shared by many rāga-s. We
can conjecture from these facts that the rāga that we see here in these two kṛti-s
could have been called as Rudrapriyā and the other 5 kṛti-s seen in the main
section of Pradarśini could have been called by the name Karnātaka Kāpi! This
statement gets more valid when we remember the rāga mudra is not seen in the kṛti
kṛti ‘rudra kōpa’ of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and the pada varṇam ‘suma sāyaka’ is
still called as Kāpi (provided the version that we hear is original) despite
resembling Rudrapriyā. We also have another evidence to support this.
We also like to place
another view. We were discussing the proponents of the Scalar approach tried to
have an equivalent for a Scale-transcending rāga. So, Rudrapriyā (seen in ‘gaṇanāyakam
bhajēham’) could have been invented by the proponents of the Scalar approach as
an alternate to Karnāṭaka Kāpi. Hence, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar who was well aware of
these facts placed the kṛti-s in Karnāṭaka Kāpi separately, naming it as
Rudrapriyā, thereby differentiating from the Scalar Rudrapriyā. A manuscript written by Mazhavarāyanēndal
Subbarāma Bhāgavathar names the scale SRGMNS SNPMGRS as Rudrapriyā and not Purṇaṣadjam.
But the problem in relying this manuscript is that it does not attest involving
the phrase PNS.5
Alternatively, we can also consider the rāga of this kṛti as Karnāṭaka Kāpi akin to the kṛtis given as Rudrapriyā in Pradarśini (main text). Going by this statement, a doubt arise on the authenticity of not using all/ majority of key phrases in a rāga. Though this question cannot be satisfactorily replied with the available evidences, it can be said that we do have examples to show ‘out of the box’ handling of a rāga. A beautiful exemplar to explain this is the kṛti ‘pāliñcu gōpāla’ of Vīṇa Kuppaier in the rāga Husēni. The rāga, in this kṛti is explored only from mandra niṣādham to madhya pañ chamam! Though it is unimaginable now to see such a handling of Husēni, this shows the inclusive nature of our music and the liberty enjoyed by our composers in the past.
kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’
Regarding the rāga of the kṛti
‘śrī mānini manōhara’, if we go by the common version, it can be called as (or
ought to be called as?) Rudrapriyā (the Scalar one) and if we go by the version
by Tenmaṭam Brothers, it can be considered to be close to Karnāṭaka Kāpi
(Rudrapriyā of the main section in Pradarśini). Any more observations will be
updated if we happen to get a Vālājāpeṭṭai version or a version from other
The following can be
concluded from the above discussion:
The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ and ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ were not cast in the same mould. Both the composers could have been inspired from a single source, a popular melody of their times.
It is advisable to not label the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ as Pūrṇaṣadjam; preferable to call it by the name Rudrapriyā.
Many details are unsaid explicitly in the treatise by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. It is up to us to reconcile with the available evidences rather dismissing his thoughts out rightly.
Though Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is much popular now, it might not have been the case in the past. Svāmigaḷ had his own lexicons of rāga-s and it is not wrong if it is said he was a creator many rare rāga-s.
Manuscripts serve as a living evidence to understand the past. It is pertinent for us to search all the available manuscripts and preserve them for posterity.
Stephen LI, Popley HA. Handbook of Musical Evangelism.
The Methodist Publishing House, 1914.
P.C Sitaraman : Mazhavai Subbarama Iyyarin nottupusthakalilulla
sangita vishayangal. Journal of Music Academy:106;1972.
– Though Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is much popular in understanding the scalar rāga-s,
this is not a singular treatise dealing rāga-s like this. Saṅgīta Sarvārtha Sārām
was written earlier than Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi and we do have manuscripts just
having rāga name with their scales lying in various libraries. Many musicians
lived during the last century had a lexicon of these scalar rāga-s.
– The kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ too has many versions as with any other kṛti
of Svāmigaḷ. An in-depth analysis of these versions was not attempted. Though
we frequently hear MNNS in the renditions available, we do rarely hear
PNS/PNNS, especially in the mandra sthāyi.
– The name ‘madhyama kāla sāhityam’ itself is self-explanatory. It refers to
only the sāhityam and not the melody. For example, in any segment of a
composition in ādhi tāla, if the first two lines has 16 sāhitākṣara-s
(calculated by giving a value of 1 for short vowel/consonant and a value of 2
for long vowel/consonant) and the succeeding line has 32 sāhitākṣara-s, the
latter line is called as ‘madhyama kāla sāhityam’.
Kapi or Karnataka Kapi is an old raga. Sahaji’s Raga Lakshanamu, Tulaja’s Saramrutha,the Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika and the Sangraha Cudamani have documented this raga. We have compositions in it from the pre-trinity times which are available to us through the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP). We have grounds to believe that Trinitarians have composed in this raga perhaps with different musical flavors. The northern raga Kafi is spoken of, more as an equivalent of Karaharapriya while Kapi is truly different and in terms of the Hindustani music scheme, it belongs to the Kanhra/Kanada family of ragas.
Kapi is a raga which has become extinct in its original form but survives today in a much metamorphosed version or versions. Apart from its evolutionary history, one additional aspect of this raga merits attention. It probably spawned or was at the epicenter of a family of ragas which shared a common melodic motif G2M1R2S. Each of the ragas in this family went on to transform itself in an evolutionary process and are today in our midst, each with their own distinct melodic identity and remarkably distinguishable from one another.
In this blog post , we would take a deep dive into this raga and also cover the aspects highlighted above. In a later blog post we will cover the comparison of this raga with a few other ragas with which it shares common melodic material.
KAPI – ITS CURRENT FORM:
Before we look at the history of Kapi, it would be appropriate to take stock of the current form of this raga.
Kapi (rather modern Kapi) is grouped as a bhashanga janya under the Kharaharapriya mela/Sriraga raganga with anatara gandhara, suddha dhaivatha and kakali nishada as anya svaras, depending on the version of the composition. There is no strict arohana or avarohana for the raga today².This modern day Kapi is encountered in renderings of Tyagaraja’s kritis such as “Meevalla Gunadosha”, Papanasam Sivan’s “Enna Tavam seidhanai”, the javali ‘Parulannamata’ and the tune melody of “Jagadodharana” of Purandaradasa.
With this brief introduction let us look at the antiquity of this raga and the transformation it had undergone to reach its present stage.
Sahaji’s Ragalakshanamu (Circa 1700):
Kapi is not encountered in older texts including that of Govinda Dikshitar and Venkatamakhi. The first person to record this raga in the post 1700 period was King Sahaji who had captured the ragas in currency during his lifetime in this work “Ragalakshanamu’. According to him, the raga is sampurna, desya and is under the Sriraga mela and in the avarohana sancaras sometimes madhyama and dhaivatha are eliminated.⁴
As regards the usage of the terminology ‘sampurna’, it is to be noted that in all old musicological texts a raga is treated as sampurna if the seven svaras occurred in the arohana and avarohana taken together.
Tulaja’s Saramrutha (circa 1736 AD) ⁶:
Next is the text “Saramrutha” which records the raga. According to Tulaja, this raga is under the Sriraga mela , sampurna with sadja as graham, amsa and nyasa with the svaragati of the raga being niraghata or unlimited. The murccanas that Tulaja gives for alapa and gita indicate a sequential progression of svaras, much like modern day Kharaharapriya! Also according to Tulaja this raga is auspicious and is to be rendered in the evenings.⁶
Raga Lakshana anubandha of Muddu Venkatamakhin³:
Venkatamakhin in his CDP does not deal with Kapi or any other raga which shares a similar melodic structure or with a different name. The Anubandha to the CDP which is most probably a work of his great grandson Muddu Venkatamakhin or his son Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshitar who was the preceptor of Ramasvami Dikshitar, provides reference with a lakshana shloka for Kapi under mela 22 (Sriraga) as under:
Kapi ragascha sampurnah sagrahah sarvakalika
The shloka does not denote any anya svaras occurring or whether any svaras are vakra or varja in the arohana or avarohana.
Summary of the above:
The raga Kapi as documented by the three authors as above has one common theme. It was more or less modern Kharaharapriya in terms of its scalar structure. Additionally according to Sahaji, the dhaivatha and madhayama were sometimes skipped in the avarohana. Based on this observation one can postulate that Kapi probably featured prayogas like sNPMGRS or sNDNPMGRS (which are found in Karnataka Kapi of today) and madhyama varja prayogas such as NPG…R (which also do occur in Karnataka Kapi). With that we move on the Subbarama Dikshitar and his work the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini to take stock of what Kapi was.
KAPI OF THE SSP ¹:
Subbarama Dikshitar provides us with three sets of inputs in the Sampradaya Pradarsini:
Muddu Venkatamakhin’s raga lakshana shloka and his lakshana gitam
His own commentary on the raga lakshana and his sancari
Compositions of Muthusvami Dikshitar and that of three pre-trinity composers namely Margadarshi Sesha Iyengar, Srinivasayya and Bhadracala Ramadas
The Muddu Venkatamakhi gitam too offers us no further light in terms of raga lakshana. It is Subbarama Dikshitar’s commentary that provides us with some practical insight as to the Kapi of yore.
SUBBARAMA DIKSHITAR’S COMMENTARY:
According to Subbarama Dikshitar, the arohana and avarohana murccanas of Kapi under mela 22 ( Sriraga) are SRGMPDNs/NDPMGGRS. Attention is invited to the usage of the nishada without touching the tara sadja and the janta gandhara and the dirgha rishabha. Further according to him the gandhara and rishabha are the jiva & nyasa svaras. Subbarama Dikshitar also gives us a few choice phrases which he says are native to the raga:
Subbarama Dikshitar also observes that kakali nishada (N3) and antara gandhara (G3) occur in the phrases sNPMP DsNPMP, PMGMR and MPGMRS, though the same is not found notated in the compositions that he gives subsequently including his own sancari. So his observation is really a conundrum as we do not have a record of the said compositions or renderings incorporating the said prayogas.
For us the Kapi that Subbarama Dikshitar paints has one major feature which is the occurance of the anga/leitmotif “GMR” which is the hallmark of modern day Kanada. The melodic tinge of GMRS is so pronounced for example in the notation of the kriti “Rangapate Pahi” of Sesha Iyyengar that it sounds more as modern day Kanada for us and it should be remembered that the composition dates back to the pre-trinity era which did not have a raga called Kanada. In that sense, Karnataka Kapi can surely be called the precursor of modern Kanada.
ANGAS – A NOTE ON MUSICAL LEITMOTIFS
The murcchana or leitmotif ‘GMRS’ which occurs in profusion as a melodic signature is not just a property of Karnataka Kapi but also a host of other ragas and the notation in SSP is evidence of it. Beyond the raaganga-janya or Melakarta-janya relationship, in olden times in our music, ragas had a common melodic bond through a shared murrcana or anga. Even ancient texts like Anupa Sangeeta Ratnakara of Bhavabhatta give ragas which have been grouped / classified on such a premise. For example the Kanhra group consists of 14 ragas such as Suddha Karnat, Nayaki,Bageshri, Adana, Shahana, Mudrik, Gara, Huseini, Kafi Kanhra etc. The architect of modern Hindustani paddhati, Pandit Bhatkande, formalized the anga based classification of ragas and he codified a few types of angas in the process¹°:
Kafi ang – RRGGMMP is the motif and the ragas sharing it include Sindhura & Pilu
Kanhara ang – GMRS, NDNP and NPGM are the key motifs and ragas sharing it include Shahana, Adana, Durbari etc
Malhar ang – MRPm MPDs and DPM are the motifs with the ragas being Shuddha Malhar, Mian ki Malhar, Gaud Malhar etc
Sarang ang – NSR, MR, PR are the motifs and the ragas being Gaud Sarang, Madhmadh Sarang and Vrindavani sarang
Some of the other types include Dhanashree ang, Shree ang, Lalit ang and Gaud ang. Attention is invited to the motifs of the Kanhara/Kanada ang namely GMRS, MNDNP and NPGM which are seen in Kapi. Additionally the janta gandharas of the Kafi anga too merit attention in the context of our Kapi as it is seen as well.
Based on the raga lakshanas and notations that Subbarama Dikshitar gives in the SSP, one can see that this GMRS motif is shared by a host of ragas under the Sriraga mela namely Kapi, Durbar, Nayaki and Sahana. The raga Andhali though grouped under the Kedaragaula mela, shares a similar feature with the gandhara having morphed. The modern day Kanada and Phalamanjari ragas (though not featured in the SSP) sport the GMRS motif as well.
The anga as a musical aspect or a raga attribute has lost its relevance in modern Carnatic musicology. Emphasis on individual notes rather than murcchanas, sequential progression and alignment of the raga’s contour to its melakartha etc have taken roots at the expense of aesthetics and harmonics which were the only yardstick, one upon a time. The anga aspect though a deprecated concept at this point in time, is a useful tool for us to assess the musical contours of Kapi and also to understand the evolutionary path it went through with its sibling ragas such Kanada, Sahana, Durbar etc.
One other music text (older than the SSP) that features the raga Kapi is the Sangeetha Sarvatha Sara Sangrahamu of Vina Ramanujayya published in the years 1859 and 1885 . There is a ragamala gitam given in the work( 1885) starting with the words ‘Karnata konkana’ which is set to 36 ragas each having a line of sahitya in one tala avartha of 10 beats (misra jhampa or catushra matya). Here the Kapi raga portion ( svara and sahitya ) is as under:
P D N P M G , G , R
Two unique motifs are featured here namely the usage of PDNPM and janta gandhara which would give a Durbar effect to the Kapi.
SUMMARY of SSP’S RAGA LAKSHANA :
The melodic features of raga Kapi as featured in the SSP notation can be summarized as:
The sequential descent such as sNDP is rare and instead sNPM can be used. So avarohana phrases can be sNPMGMRS, NPGMRS, NDNPMGRS or NDPGMRS
Again PDNs is also rare and is dispensed with in favor of aroha phrases such as PDNPNs or PNDNs.
Thus a straight SRGM and PDNs can be avoided and GMRS used in profusion along with DNP (as in PDNP or MPDNP or MNDNP) to establish a unique melodic identity much in line with the northern Kanhra/Kanada ang
The dhirga gandhara, the janta gandhara or gandhara shaken with kampita gamaka and the nishada which is intoned uniquely as in NPG are hallmarks of this Kapi which again are the key components of the Kanhra/Kanada anga.
For Subbarama Dikshitar, the raga name is only Kapi. Given the evolution that it underwent and to identify its old form, the term Karnataka Kapi was probably coined during the early/mid 20th century to commonly denote all upanga versions.
The above summary provides us with some practical insights about this raga and also gives us clues as to why this form of Kapi has virtually become extinct. Before we look at that, let us look at what some experts/authorities had to say on the raga lakshana of Kapi.
THE COMMENTARY ON KAPI BY MUSICOLOGISTS/AUTHORITIES:
Four documented authorities pertaining to raga Kapi’s lakshana, one of Prof Sambamoorthi, on of Dr T S Ramakrishnan and two instances from the proceedings of the Music Academy discussions are available to us.
THE ACCOUNT OF PROF SAMBAMOORTHI⁷:
According to him, in the lakshya of Karnatic music, we have three varieties of Kapi.
First is the pure/old Kapi or Karnataka Kapi, immortalized by Kshetrayya in his padas, by Tyagaraja in his piece ‘Cuta murare (Nowka Caritram) and other songs and by Syama Sastri in ‘Akhilandesvari’. This Kapi, in modern day parlance is upanga, meaning it inherits only the svaras of its parent mela Kharaharapriya/Sriraga.
Apart from this upanga Kapi, there is another upanga Kapi which is evidenced by the tillana ‘udharana dhim’, which is a composition of Pallavi Sesha Iyer (1842-1909). This type of Kapi has srmpns-sndnpmgrs as its arohana/avarohana with Mmp as a visesha prayoga. The kriti ‘Manamohana syamala rama’ is another example of this upanga Kapi. These two type of Kapi’s do not take anya svaras namely antara gandhara, kakali nishada or suddha dhaivatha.
The third/last type is the bhashanga type made familiar to us by javalis like ‘Vaddani ne’. This bhashanga Kapi is also known today as Hindustani Kapi, Desya Kapi or Misra Kapi. Prof Sambamoorthi further adds that the current tunes (incorporating these anya svaras) of the compositions “Meevalla gunadosha” and ‘Intasoukya” are 20th century innovations.
Prof Sambamoorthi’s observations are exceedingly in line with the forms of Kapi that one encounters in practice. But he seems to have overlooked the version as documented in the SSP including the kriti of Muthusvami Dikshitar.
THE ACCOUNT OF DR T S RAMAKRISHNAN
Dr T S Ramakrishnan, a past member of the Experts Commitee of the Music Academy and acknowledged authority of the Venkatamakhi sampradaya and the SSP, in a lecture demonstration in the Music Academy had this to say when he discussed the position of Sriraga as the 22nd Mela in the Asampurna mela scheme.
The raga Kapi, a rakti raga, would have been perhaps more apt as the ragaanga raga for this 22nd mela, but it had the bashanga tinge and hence could not represent the mela. Even before Venkatamakhin’s days, this raga Kapi , being really the same as our present day popular and major raga Kharaharapriya, had migrated to the North, where it was considered as a ‘thaat’, in their system of music. Later it came back to us with its Northern hue as our modern day Kapi ( with an intermediate stage as our Rudrapriya- It may be noted that Rudrapriya is Harapriya) with pronounced bhashanga features. Venkatamakhin has a lakshya gita for this raga Kapi , which when rendered , sounds entirely like our present day mela raga Kharaharapriya, with no difference whatsoever in its raga picture. Venkatamakhin considered this Kapi as a bhashanga janya under the 22nd mela and has given its name accordingly in the bhashanga khanda of the lakshana gita for the ragaanga raga Sriraga.
THE ACCOUNT OF THE EXPERTS COMMITTEE OF THE MUSIC ACADEMY:
The Experts Committee of the Music Academy does not seem to have discussed individually the lakshana of this raga and its evolution in detail. We have two instances however where in relation to proceedings of related ragas or presentation of rare kritis, the ragas has been discussed.
First is the one when during the 1967 Music Academy session on 24th December of that year, Vidvan Salem D Chellam Iyengar presented 3 rare kritis of Tyagaraja as learnt by his father, the late Salem Doraisvami Iyengar from the legendary Pooci Srinivasa Iyengar. Vidvan Chellam Iyengar presented ‘Anyayamu Seyakura’ in Karnataka Kapi devoid of anya svara kakali nishada. Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer referred to the controversial nature of the raga of this composition and his own patham according to the Umayalpuram school which featured kakali nishada.
One can take note of the fact that the compositions of Tyagaraja in the raga Karnataka Kapi are today either rendered in Durbar or in the modern form of Kapi with anya svaras. The commentary of Subbarama Dikshitar and the assertion of Prof Sambamoorthi also substantiate this point.
EXPERTS COMMITTEE DISCUSSION ON THE RAGA KAPI⁵:
During the Expert Committee Meeting held during the Music Academy Session in the year 2008, the raga lakshanas of a set of allied ragas including that of Kapi had been discussed and the same has been collated & presented by Expert Committee member Dr N Ramanathan. The raga lakshana of four allied ragas Rudrapriya, Karnataka Kapi, Darbar and Kanada were discussed by the Experts panel consisting of Vidvan Chinglepet Ranganathan, Vidushi Suguna Purushothaman, Dr Ritha Rajan, Dr R S Jayalakshmi apart from Dr N Ramanathan. The Academy’s Expert Committee had in the past discussed the raga lakshana of all the other ragas in this set namely Rudrapriya, Durbar and Kanada and had also prescribed the arohana/avarohana of these ragas, but not of Kapi.
The following facts are available to us from the discussions as documented in the Academy’s Journal of the year 2009.
According to Dr Ramanathan, K V Srinivasa Iyengar has documented Kapi with the use of kakali nishada but use of antara gandhara has not been mentioned by him. According to him the song ‘Anyayamu seyakura’ is in this form of Kapi and he also observes that some render this composition in Durbar.
According to the Umayalpuram sishya parampara of Tyagaraja, the compositions ‘Anyayamu seyakura’, “edi ni bahubala’ and ‘cutamu rare’ have shades of both Kanada and Durbar without any resemblance of Hindustani Kapi.
According to Dr Ritha Rajan, the Tyagaraja composition ‘Nitya rupa’ was rendered by Vidvan Ramnad Krishnan in Durbar. Additionally Rangaramanuja Iyengar has documented two versions of the composition, one in raga Kapi and the other in Durbar. Further the compositions ‘Naradagurusvami’ and ‘Edi ni bahubala’ exists both in Kapi and Durbar.
The Nauka caritra composition “cutamu rare” when sung as notated, has shades of Durbar.
In general, the Dikshitar school version of Kapi had shades of Kanada with the usage of the phrase ‘sNPMGMRS’, while the compositions of Tyagaraja has shades of Durbar with usage of phrases such as ‘sNsD,PMP,G,MRS’
From a raga chaya perspective, the raga Rudrapriya is closer to Hindustani Kapi than Karnataka Kapi.
While Prof Sambamoorthi’s account ignored the Dikshitar treatment of the raga, the Academy Experts Committee in its deliberations do not seem to have considered the version of Kapi as envisaged in the Svati Tirunal composition ‘Sumasayaka’ and in the compositions of the Tanjore Quartet.
SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE THIS FAR:
Using these data sets to crystallize our understanding, one can divine at least four forms of Kapi, rather than the three forms that Prof Sambamoorthi documents in his account. The four such flavors of Kapi are:
1: This old version or Karnataka Kapi as it is now called profusely uses GMRS along with kampita gamaka ornamented gandhara.The Dikshitar manipravala classic “Venkatachalapate” found documented in the SSP is an example of this flavor. This form is more aligned to modern day Kanada which as a scale goes as SRGMDNs or SRPGMDNs/sNPMGMRS. This flavor of Kapi is completely extinct and the sole surviving example to us is the Dikshitar composition. Any other older kritis in this form of Kapi has been normalized to Kanada. In the context of this statement we need to evaluate the raga lakshana as found in the kritis attributed to Muthusvami Dikshitar, not found in the SSP but published subsequently by Vidvan Sundaram Iyer. See foot note 2.
One other kriti with this flavor which survives today may probably be Svati Tirunal’s composition ‘Sambho Satatam’. As we will see later the melodic fabric of this kriti is different from that of his other composition, the cauka varna ‘Sumasayaka’. The notation of ‘Sambo Satatam’ reveals a profusion of GMRS and a near sequential svara progression. It may be noted that we have Svati Tirunal’s compositions in 3 flavors of Kapi.
2: This flavor of Kapi has lot of janta gandhara with GGRS as leitmotif and features a near sequential svara progression. Flavor 2 Kapi shares nearly the same melodic structure as that of modern day Durbar. In fact, many modern musicologists believe that many of Tyagaraja’s Kapi compositions were normalized to be rendered in Durbar. An example is the composition ‘Nityarupa’. One can also surmise that the GMRS prayoga of flavor 1 Kapi morphed as GGRS to produce this flavor. The GMRS connection between Durbar and Kapi is also seen in the notation of the Dikshitar’s Durbar composition “Tyagarajad anyam najaneham” as found in the SSP. A version of the Syama Sastri composition ‘Akhilandesvari durusuga’ is rendered in this flavor . Tyagaraja’s Nauka Caritra composition is an other example of this flavor.
There is also a hybrid of flavor 1 and 2 as well, having both the GMRS and the GGRS giving both the Kanada and the Durbar effect. Versions of the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Anyayamu Seyakura’ is an example.
3: This flavor of Kapi is bereft of the prayogas GGRS or GMRS. Instead, it has a profusion of gandhara with an elongated kampita gamaka and characterized by the arohana/avarohana of SRMPNs/sNDNPMGRS. This Kapi is not much in currency and is rarely encountered in concert circuits. The pada varna “Sumasayaka”, the Quartet kriti ‘Sri Mahadevuni” and the Chinnayya tillana in this raga are excellent examples of this type of Kapi. The Music Academy Experts Committee Discussion of the year 2008, presented above had discussed flavor 1 and 2 in detail but not this flavor. This is the type of upanga Kapi that Prof Sambamoorthi has referred to in his commentary given above, with the Pallavi Sesha Iyer tillana as an example. It is indeed our loss that we hardly look upon the compositions of the Quartet as authority for raga lakshana. The Kapi in this flavor is found in the following Quartet compositions:
Kriti ‘Sri Mahadevuni’ – On Goddesses Brihannayaki of Tanjore
Javali ‘Elara Naapai’
Tillana ‘Dheem nadru dheem’ on King Camaraja Wodeyar of Mysore
Cauka varna ‘Sarasala ninnu’ on Lord Brihadeesvara ( the varna is almost similar to the Svati Tirunal pada varna ‘Sumasayaka’)
4: The Kapi which sports additionally the anya svaras namely antara gandhara and/or kakali nishada with or without suddha dhaivatha, which is the modern day Kapi. Examples are the javali Parulannamata and the the Purandara dasa composition Jagadhodharana.
Curiously we have compositions of Svati Tirunal notated⁸ in 3 of the above flavors and rendered so as well. They are:
Flavor 1 : The kriti ‘Sambo Satatam’
Flavor 3 : The pada varna ‘Sumasayaka’
Flavor 4 : The kriti ‘Vihara Manasa rame’
Though one cannot say with certainty if they were indeed composed so, but the fact we have compositions so rendered is relevant to further our understanding of this raga and the flavors in which it existed. Vihara Manasa sports N3, G3 and D1 as well with N3 occurring in the prayogas such as sN3s while G3 occurs in prayogas like MG3M, MG3S and suddha dhaivatha is found in prayogas like PMD1P⁸.
Subbarama Dikshitar’s commentary in the SSP as to usage of kakali nishada and antara gandhara merits a mention here. According to him sN3PMP and DsN3PMP features kakali nishada while PMG3MR and MPG3MRS feature antara gandhara. Its at variance with what one sees in modern usage. Usage of sN3P or MPG3MRS would cast a different melodic color to Kapi¹.
Amongst the four flavors above, only flavor 4 is the bashanga form and the one which is the most popular today. Flavor 2 does not exist today in practice as it has lost itself to the melodic structure of Durbar in essence. Again save for the Dikshitar composition ‘Venkatachalapate’, flavor 1 type compositions do not exist for they are grouped off under Kanada. From a naming convention perspective, flavors 1, 2 & 3 are called as Karnataka Kapi and flavor 4 alone is either referred to as Kapi or more specifically as Hindustani Kapi.
The cause of Karnataka Kapi’s demise in its old form, the melodic overlap it has with allied ragas or rather its siblings and the evolution of this group of ragas can all be seen in the above categorization ( see Foot Note 1). We next move over to review renderings of the different flavors of Kapi.
Kapi – Flavor 1 or Karnataka Kapi:
On the authority of Subbarama Dikshitar, one can state that this flavor should have been/was the Kapi of yore, the Kapi handled by Sesha Iyyengar, Virabadrayya and others. We do not have authentic oral patantharam of these pre-trinity compositions save for those who might have learnt it from the SSP notation. We can with the evidence of Dikshitar’s composition take it for granted that this version of Kapi was the oldest of the lot and was conforming to the then sampradaya. Presented first is the the kriti as rendered by Vidushi Kalpakam Svaminathan who learnt it first hand from Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer.
The version presented by the veteran faithfully follows the notation in the SSP. The profusion of GMRS and the kampita gamaka on the gandhara in this old version of Kapi needs to be highlighted here. Also this composition stands out in several counts.
This is probably Dikshitar’s only kriti with its sahitya being an admixture of Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil as documented in the SSP. We have two other kritis (one in Sriraga and the other again in Karnataka Kapi ) ‘Sri abhayambha’ brought out by Vidvan Sundaram Iyer and ‘Sri Maharajni’ brought out from the Tanjore Quartet manuscripts, being attributed to Muthusvami Dikshitar.
The raga name has been adroitly woven into the sahitya of the madhayama kala portion of the kriti as “dIna rakshakA pItAmbaraDhara deva deva guruguhan mAmanAna”, along with his own mudra.
This composition is on the Lord Venkatachalapathi at the kshetra of Pulivalam, a few miles from Tiruvarur.
The kriti ‘Rangapate Pahi’ as notated in the SSP has been rendered after being normalized to Kanada and as well as to Durbar. The clipping below is an excerpt, being a Kanada version:
As pointed out earlier Svati Tirunal’s composition ‘Sambho Satatam’ is documented with a profusion of GMRS prayoga⁸. Let’s look at a rendering of this composition. Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer in this Navaratri Mantapam Concert from the 1970’s renders this composition
One can notice that the GMRS is intoned with a muted madhyama in the prayoga and does not give the complete kAnadA effect that one will get with a strong intonation of the madhyama. Listeners may well compare this with the strong madhyama intonation in the GMRS prayoga of the Dikshitar composition particularly the sahitya line in the carana ‘seegramai vandhu’ which combines a kampita gamaka on the gandhara as well. Apart from the GMRS, another motif which is found in both the compositions is the phrase RP as in RPMP.
In this Music Academy concert of 1970, Sri Srinivasa Iyer renders this composition between 1:36: 40 and 1:41:06 I invite attention he makes at the fag end of his rendition at 1:41:07 – “This raga is called Karnataka Kapi and it is neither Durbar nor Kanada” in Tamil.
Here is another edition of the veteran, presenting the same composition, this time at the hallowed precincts of the Temple of Lord Padmanabha at Trivandrum from one of his innumerable Navaratri Mantapam Concerts
The Syama Sastri kriti ‘Akhilandesvari durusuga’ is rendered in both flavor 2 and flavor 4. The hybrid flavor having both Kanada and Durbar in Kapi is best exemplified by Vidvan Ramnad Krishnan’s presentation of the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Anyayamu Seyakura’. In this clipping below, the raga outline that he provides us ahead of the kriti conveys the melodic contours of the kriti to follow with the shades of both Kanada and Durbar.
The presentation is very neatly done in modern Durbar, bereft of any trace whatsoever of Kapi.
Kapi Flavor 3:
The pada varna of Svati Tirunal’s ‘Sumasayaka’ is one of the best versions of this type of Kapi, characterized by SRMPNs/sNDNPMGRS and a dirgha gandhara. We do have some oral versions of this composition where tints of modern Kapi (flavor 4) are thrown in. There is also an equivalent composition that is with the same melodic setting but with telugu lyrics which is a creation of the Quartet being ‘sArasAlanu’. This pada varna starting with the sahitya ‘Sarasalanu’ has a few differences with ‘Sumasayaka’:
The varna has sahitya for the muktayi svaras and for the ettugada svaras barring the last one , which like Sumasayaka is in a raga malika format. Sumasayaka does not have sahitya for the muktayi svaras and ettugada svaras.
In terms of ordering of the carana ettugada svaras there seems to be a small change. The 2nd & 3rd ettugada sequences of ‘sumasayaka’ are reversed in ‘Sarasalanu’.
While ‘Sumasayaka’ has Kalyani, Khamas, Vasanta and Mohanam as the ragamalika svaras for the last ettugada, the Quartet creation has Hamirkalyani, Chakravakam, Vasantha and Mohanam instead.
The varna mettu of the varna is exactly the same as that ‘Sumasayaka’.
While the ankita for Sumasayaka is ‘sarasijanabha’ in ‘Sarasala ninnu’ it is ‘brihadeesvara’
The essence of this type of Kapi is best encapsulated by the muktayi svara of Sumasayaka/Sarasalanu, which begins with the well oscillated gandhara.
Attention is invited to the oscillated gandhara which is the hallmark of this version and punctuated with prayogas such as PNDN, GRnS, PNsr and sNDNP. Attention is also invited to the intonation of the nishada as in the carana refrain where it appears as a svarakshara, “mAnInI hAtE hrt tApam”. As one can observe that the nishada is different from the one we find in Sriraga for example, to which clan, Kapi belongs to.
We next move over to the two other compositions of the Quartet namely the kriti ‘Sri Mahadevuni” composed on Goddess Brihannayaki of Tanjore and the tillana ‘Dheem Nadru dhim dhim” composed on King Chamarajendra of Mysore by Cinnayya of the Tanjore Quartet. Though we do not have renderings of these two compositions, the notations from the manuscripts have been published in the “Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai”⁹. The notations clearly bear out the fact that the Kapi is of flavor 3 with an operative arohana/avarohana SRMPNs/sNPMGRS with dhaivatha being vakra as in PNDNP, MNDNP and sNDNP. Gandhara is obviously kampita and is encountered in its dirgha variety. GMRS is not to be seen in this version. Sangita Kalanidhi Ponnayya Pillai while publishing the compositions has added the footnote that the composition has been structured skillfully avoiding the use of anya svara⁹.
In so far as flavor 4 of Kapi is concerned, the kritis pointed out elsewhere in this post features this form such as “Meevalla Guna dosha” or “Enna Tavam saidhanai” of Papanasam Sivan.
ALLIED RAGAS OF KAPI:
The ragas Sahana, Durbar, Nayaki and Kanada along with Phalamanjari share a close melodic relationship to Karnataka Kapi. But from the standpoint of modern Kapi, the ragas Saindhavi and perhaps Salaga Bhairavi share a close affinity. In a followup post we will look at the comparison of these ragas.
The raga Kapi and its evolution is an interesting study. The modern Kapi is most probably the final product of this long cycle of evolution. There does not seem to be any other raga with such different shades and implementations spanning centuries in our musical firmament. Interestingly in Hindustani Music, this raga/scale was considered the scale of suddha svaras and hence was given a pride of place and Rajan Parikkar’s take on the raga is a must read. One will find that his observation as to Kafi of Hindustani music would apply like a glove to Karnataka Kapi or pehaps to the fourth/modern Kapi and I quote him verbatim, to conclude this blog post:
“Kafi is accorded a great deal of latitude in the interest of ranjakatva. In all kshudra ragas, ‘contamination’ on account of swaras not part of their intrinsic makeup is par for the course. A ‘pure’ version of Kafi is seldom heard in performance; almost all instances fall to the Mishra Kafi lot. With this understanding, here and in the ragas to follow, the explicit Mishra qualifier shall be dispensed with altogether. Bear in mind that strict conformity to etiquette is not expected of kshudra ragas.”
Subbarama Dikshitar (1904)- Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – Published by the Madras Music Academy
Prof S R Janakiraman(2002)-‘Ragas at a Glance’- Published by Srishiti’s Carnatica P Ltd, Chennai
Hema Ramanathan(2004)- ‘Raga Lakshana Sangraha’- Published by Dr N Ramanathan, Chennai, pages 662-665
Dr S Sita (1993) – “The Raga Lakshana Manuscript of Sahaji Maharaja” -Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol LIV, pp 140-181, Madras India
Dr N Ramanathan (2009)- “Ragas Rudrapriya, Karnataka Kapi, Kanada and Durbar- A Comparative Analysis”- Pages 103-114 Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol 80, 2009
Subba Rao & S R Janakiraman(1993) – “Ragas of the Sangita Saramruta” published by the Music Academy, Chennai
Prof S Sambamoorthi(1970)- ‘Pallavi Sesha Iyer” – Article in ‘The Hindu’ dated 27th Jul 1970
Govinda Rao T K (2002)- ‘Compositions of Maharaja Svati Tirunal’ published by Ganamandir Publications, Chennai
K P Sivanandam(1964) – ‘Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai’ – Compositions of the Tanjore Quartet, compiled by Sangita Kalanidhi T Ponnayya Pillai
Sobhana Nayar (1989)- ‘Bhatkande’s Contribution to Music’ – Published by Popular Prakashan P Ltd, India ISBN 0 86132 238X
Dr T S Ramakrishnan(1972) – ‘Venkatamakhin’s 72 Mela Scheme’ – Journal of the Music Academy Vol XLIV Pages 24-26, 61-83
FOOT NOTE 1: How did Kapi go extinct – A Hypothesis
During the period of 1600’s to late 1700’s, flavor 1 of Kapi held sway as evidenced by the kritis of Sesha Iyyengar, Virabadrayya and Srinivasayya. Flavor 2 perhaps coexisted into the late 1700’s. Despite being a famous sampurna raga then, it could not qualify as a raganga given the presence of Sriraga and it had to stay put under that clan.
Circa 1800- However with the onset of the 19th century, this Karnataka Kapi stood imperiled. Two new ragas were appearing on the horizon which proved life threatening. Probably by early 1800 – Kanada had started gaining ground. One can consider the evidence of the 2 Tyagaraja compositions namely Sukhi Evvaro and Sri Narada in Kanada. The period of 1800-1830 was perhaps marked by both the old Kapi and Kanada co-existing as evidenced by the kritis of Tyagaraja and of Dikshitar. Given Kanada’s dominance, flavor 1 Kapi probably cast off GMRS and morphed off into flavor 3 Kapi. The flavor 2 Kapi too went into oblivion as it could not sustain its melodic identity against the might of the Durbar. Durbar too sported GMRS and over the 1800’s, its GMRS morphed into GGRS, spelling the death knell for the flavor 2 Kapi.
In so far as the more traditional flavor 1 Kapi, Muthusvami Dikshitar or Svati Tirunal were perhaps the last to compose in this form of Kapi. One can even surmise that by that time (early 1800’s) it was on the verge of extinction and Dikshitar had attempted to resurrect it.
Flavor 3 Kapi derived out of the remnants of flavor 1 managed to survive between the 1800-1850 as evidenced by compositions of Svati Tirunal and the Quartet. The 1800’s also marked the rise of Kharaharapriya the full blown heptatonic melakartha, driven by the emergence of the Sangraha Cudamani and Tyagaraja’s prolific treatment of this raga through his kritis. And to Kharaharapriya, Kapi had to cede its scalar structure which resulted in Kapi losing almost all its melodic identity. Tyagaraja having composed in Kanada and Kharaharapriya might have composed in the old Kapi as well. We do have versions of kritis like Anyayamu Seyakura which is rendered both in Karnataka Kapi (flavor 1 or 3) and in modern Kapi or flavor 4.
The emergence of Kanada and Kharaharapriya meant that even the surviving flavor 3 Kapi had to go as it had little by way of melodic individuality to survive on its own. And so it went on to acquire 3 anya svaras namely kakali nishada followed by antara gandhara and suddha dhaivatha. The modern Kapi had now emerged ( by the latter half of the 19th century) from the skeletal remains of flavor 3 Kapi and today it exists ain a form much different to what it was once upon a time.
The life cycle that Karnataka Kapi underwent was probably also tied with the parallel evolution of the modern forms of the ragas Sahana, Durbar, Nayaki and Andhali. All of these ragas were at one point in time siblings along with Kapi under the Sriraga mela, sharing the motif GMRS and unique gandhara with kampita gamaka. They underwent a skeleton wracking transformation:
Sahana gave up its sadharana gandhara, acquired a full blown antara gandhara with the result that it moved from the Sriraga clan into the Harikambodi/Kedaragaula melakartha/clan. As evidenced by the SSP, one can see that Sahana as captured by Subbarama Dikshitar sported both the gandharas and given the dominance of sadharana gandhara it was placed under the Sriraga mela. The notation of the kritis “vasi vasi” of Ramasvami Dikshitar, ‘Sri Kamalabikayam” of Muthusvami Dikshitar and the tana varna “Varijakshi” of Subbarama Dikshitar can be cited as concrete examples of the older Sahana.
Durbar gave up its GMRS, acquired full ownership of the GGRS. The notation of the Dikshitar composition ‘Tyagarajad anyam najaneham” and that of Kuppusvami Ayya’s kriti ‘Sri venkatesvaruni’ found in the SSP and anubandha respectively can be cited as evidence for the older form of Durbar sporting GMRS.
Nayaki too gave up GMRS and in lieu acquired an exclusive RGRS. The notation of the Dikshitar composition “Ranganayakam” and that of Tyagaraja’s ‘Dayaleni’ as found in SSP are evidences to this effect.
Andhali which was during the times of Venkatamakhi under Sriraga mela, gave up its sadharana gandhara and moved to Kedaragaula mela. The notation of the Dikshitar kriti “Brihannayaki varadayaki” and the rendering of the kriti with sadharana gandhara by Smt T Brinda can be cited as authority for this. This has been discussed in an earlier blog post.
FOOT NOTE 2: Dikshitar’s 3 other kritis published by Sundaram Iyer
We have three more kritis in Kanada attributed to Dikshitar and published by Sundaram Iyer subsequently. They are ‘Veera Hanumate’, ‘Vishveshvaro’ and ‘Balambikaya param nahire’. This apart we have a kriti again in an admixture of Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil starting as ‘Sri Maharajni’ which was discovered in the manuscripts of the Tanjore Quartet and published subsequently. The notations of the three compositions as published by Sundaram Iyer and their popular renderings seem to be aligned to modern Kanada rather than the Kapi documented in the SSP. It is indeed debatable whether Dikshitar composed in Kanada given that the raga is not found indexed in the Anubandha to the CDP and Subbarama Dikshitar too hasn’t given the raga in his SSP (though he mentions of a raga called Kanhra, which had gone out of vogue). Also in one of Sundaram Iyer’s publication it’s given that the raga name Kapi is synonymous with Kanada itself without any authority. A similar such reference is found in the Kritimanimalai of Rangaramanuja Iyengar.
In this section we take up just two of the kritis namely ‘Vishveshvaro Rakshatumam’ and ‘Balambikaya’.
The kriti “Vishveshvaro Rakshatumam” has most of its sahitya/lyric mirroring the Samavarali kriti of Dikshitar, “Brihadeesvaro’ documented in the SSP, making us look at this attribution with suspicion. Parking this issue aside ,we take a look at the presentation of this composition by Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. In this undated concert he prefaces this so called samashti carana composition with an alapana and follows up with a few rounds of svaras. The interpretation in full has Kanada all over it.
Vidushi Raji Gopalakrishnan renders the composition, “bAlAmbikAyA param nahIrE” in an AIR Navaratri Concert broadcast from the year 2007, accompanied by Vid Usha Rajagopalan on the violin, Vid Tanjavur Kumar on the mridangam and Vid Raman on the morsing
I, SahajA offer my morning salutations to the Lord who took the (daughter of Mountain)
Parvati as the left part of His body; who lives in the heart of his devotees,
who destroyed Daksha’s sacrifice, who is worshipped by the sages and the one who
protects those devoted to Him)
the great musicologist King Sahaji of Tanjore belonging to the Royal House of
the Marathas pay obeisance to Lord Tyagaraja of Tiruvarur or Arur, in the first
of his set of 5 slokas titled ‘Tyagaraja Stotram”. King Sahaji ruled Tanjore
between circa 1690-1720 AD and without a child to succeed him, he abdicated the
throne in favour of his younger brother Tulaja I and retired to live in
Tiruvarur near his ishta-devata, Lord Tyagaraja. Sahaji left us the
‘Ragalakshanamu’ (circa 1710 AD) while Tulaja I gave us the ‘Saramrutha’ (circa
1736AD) both being compendia of ragas along with their lakshanas, as were in
vogue at that point in time when they were respectively written. These two
treatises together with the Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika (CDP)
dateable to circa 1750 AD, form the triad of musicological sources with
which we can evaluate the music of the 18th century and particularly
that of Muthusvami Dikshitar.
quarters of a century after King Sahaji, towards the end of the 18th
century the Trinitarian Muthusvami Dikshitar a votary of his music paddhathi of
Venkatamakhin propitiated the Lord of Aroor with a series of 8 compositions
each of one being in a vibakthi/declension as his offering. Out of them, 7 are
found documented in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP) of Subbarama
Dikshitar. This blog post is about one of those compositions which is, ‘Tyagarajena
samrakshitoham’ in the raga Salaga Bhairavi set in adi
at the outset I begin by exploring the raga’s history and how it was dealt with
by Muthusvami Dikshitar.
of the lakshana of Salagabhairavi:
outset readers are forewarned that the raga of “Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham” of Muthusvami
Dikshitar and the raga of ‘Padavini sadbaktiyu’ of Tyagaraja, as heard today
though called commonly as Salagabhairavi,, are melodically not the same. We
will deal with the difference at the end of the blog in the context of the raga
as defined in Sangraha Cudamani which is the lexicon of the ragas found utilized
evaluate the lakshana of the raga as found documented in the Triad and evaluate
where the lakshana of the Salagabhairavi as found
in ‘Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham’ sits in the context of the Triad and the
difference between the melodies of Tyagarajena
Samrakshitoham’ and ‘Padavini sadbaktiyu’ though both of them are called
Salagabhairavi in the context of Sangraha Cudamani.
Overview of the definitions of the raga Salagabhairavi as dealt with the Triad:
below summarizes the lakshana of the raga as dealt with in the treatises which
are dateable to different points in time during the 18th Century in
the run up to the times of the Trinity.
Sahaji’s Ragalakshanamu (Circa 1710 AD)
Tulaja’s Saramruta (Circa 1736 AD)
Anubandha to the CDP (Circa 1750) – as
provided in the SSP
varjya or vakra in arohana
vakra and ni is varjya; PDPS occurs along with SNS and SRGR; complete sex or
five note sequences do not occur
vakra and ni is varjya; PDPS occurs along with SNS and SRGR;complete sex or
five note sequences do not occur
and dhaivatha are varjya in arohana
varjya or vakra in avarohana
in the avarohana
in the avarohana
in the avarohana
the day it has to sung
watch of the day (tUri yAmE)
watch of the day (tUri yAmE)
watch of the day (caramE yAmE)
this is so, if one were to compare the above definitions with the lakshana as
found in the Dikshitar kriti “Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham” the chart below would
SSP/Muddu Venkatamakhin (circa 1750)
Muthusvami Dikshitar as evidenced by his
kriti ‘tyAgarAjEna samrakshitOham’
Remarks provided by way of commentary by
and dhaivatha are varjya in arohana
is vakra and nishadha is varjya in the arohana and thus the uttaranga becomes
alternated arohana krama is SRGRPMPDPS. Murccanas such as SRMGRPPDPS;
NSDPGGRS and SGRMPDPMGRS also occur
in the avarohana
in the avarohana
in the avarohana
following conclusions would flow forth from the SSP Commentary:
The raga lakshana as found in the kriti and so notated in the SSP completely deviates from the Anubandha definition as well as from the Subbarama Dikshitar commentary.
The Lakshana sloka and the arohana-avarohana murchanas are contradicting
The prayogas found notated in the three compositions thereunder are also in contradiction to the stated lakshana sloka
This contradiction within the SSP is reminiscent of the case of Gopikavasanta which we saw in an earlier blog post.
Further the lakshya gita provided in the SSP (“Sri Nanda tanu’) attributed by Subbarama Dikshitar to Venkatamakhin himself has the following prayogas:
SNSDP, SNDPS, PMGR, GGRS, SRMMGRPPDPS
SGR, SMGR, SRGS, PPNPM
Subbarama Dikshitar’s sancara sports the same prayogas found in the above said lakshya gita.
The lakshana shloka found in the SSP beginning ‘sampUrnO sagrahOpeta’ is obviously of AD 1750 vintage probably of Muddu Venkatamakhin and cannot be of Venkatamakhin. For, the original lakshana sloka found in the CDP for Salagabhairavi runs as under (and not as what the SSP says)
‘shrIrAga mEla sambhUthO ragaH
It is well possible that the raga definition had
perhaps changed again between AD 1736 (post Saramrutha) and AD 1750 (the time
Anubandha was probably compiled) resulting in the change in the lakshana
It is important to note that even the modern-day
contour of for Salagabhairavi – SR2M1PD1S/SN2D2PM1G2R2S is even different, to
which we will turn to once we analyse the kriti of Tyagaraja in this scale.
To state simply, Muthusvami Dikshitar’s
aligned more to Sahaji and Tulaja’s version.
Aligned also to a fair extent to the lakshya gita
‘Sri Nanda tanu’
sports only a sub-set of prayogas from those and eschews the rest. But the
conception does not conform to the lakshana shoka provided by Subbarama
Dikshitar in the SSP.
It is Subbarama Dikshitar in the SSP who attempts
to bridge the Dikshitar version of Salagabhairavi with the one of Muddu
Venkatamakhin by providing an alternate arohana/avarohana, as a part of his
of ‘Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham”:
With this high-level overview of the
theoretical definition of the raga let us move to the kriti. While that may be
so what may be of importance for us is to understand Sahaji’s definition and
look at the Dikshitar kriti for comparison. The following points would emerge:
Sahaji in his commentary says about complete or 7 note, six note or five note sequences or phrases do not occur. The implication here is that the phrase should not have sequentially svaras beyond 4 notes. Thus, SRGMGR would be how the phrase would flow to stay in conformance to this constraint. One can logically conclude that taking sadja as the starting note, SRGMPDN or SRGMPD or SRGMP phrases would not occur. Similarly taking rishabha next, RGMPDNS or RGMPDN or RGMPD would not occur. Quite oddly Dikshitar kriti lacks SRGM or RGMPD usage whereas we do find RGM usage via RGMGRS for example. As pointed out , the upshot of this would be that Dikshitar’s conception of Salagabhairavi would be closer to the Salagabhairavi of Sahaji rather than the one laid out in the Anubandha to the CDP, which version of the raga drops pancama and dhaivatha in its ascent. And this is a very curious way of raga construction and delineation, probably native to the 18th century or prior.
And both the pallavi as well as the carana of ‘Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham’ begins on the rishabha note. It has to be pointed out that for the ragas under Mela 22 under Sriraga, rishabha is a pivotal note and this raga is perhaps no exception. Thus Dikshitar, perhaps for this raga deemed that rishabha was the jiva svara and so he began the pallavi and the carana on the said note. And for good measure the kriti has the note pancama as svara akshara in a number of places.
In sum Dikshitar in this composition uses the following phrases:
Phrases such as SNSDP or SMGR found profusely in the lakshya gitam is not found in the kriti.
In the carana for the first two avartas /lines of sahitya he spans mandhara pancama to madhya pancama. And for the next two avartas/lines he spans madhya dhaivatha to tara gandhara and back to madhya sadja. The final madhyamakala sahitya of the carana, as always, he encompasses the entire melodic body of the raga.
Leaving out the 18th century construct of the raga – vide point 1 above- purely from a modern perspective, the perusal of the notation of the composition would show that the murccana arohana/avarohana krama of this raga as per Dikshitar’s conception under Mela 22 would be as under:
S R2 G2
M1 P D2 P S
S N2 D2 P
M1 G2 R2 S
The above would go with the
caveat that nishadha or madhyama or gandhara varjya prayogas such as SDPMGRS, RPMP, PGR and RGS can also occur
lyrics of the kriti together with the meaning can be had from here. And
with that we move on to hear the renderings of the composition.
version of a violinist:
this blog post, I seek to first present a version of this beautiful Dikshitar composition
as rendered on the violin by an unknown perhaps amateur artiste, and uploaded
on the Youtube, for I found it to be concise, complete, beautiful and a high-fidelity
rendering/ interpretation of the notation of this composition found in the SSP.
It has been rendered to the accompaniment of the tanpura sruti only. Here are
the Youtube and audio links to rendering.
now turn our attention to the notation of the composition as found in the SSP
and do a compare with the above rendering.
I invite attention first to the way in which the kAlapramAnam
of the composition has been pegged from start to end. Typically, in recitals,
the rendering of a given composition for varied reasons gets accelerated and it
will be noticeable towards the end of the composition’s rendering. In this case
one can notice that the pace in which the pallavi for example is rendered at
the beginning is the same when the song concludes at the end of the 6th
minute. The violinist was perhaps helped by the fact that there was no
percussion accompaniment. It is generally true that for many vocalists, more so
in the case of Dikshitar compositions, after singing the madhyamakala sahitya
rarely do they exactly land back to the original tempo/kalapramanam of the sama
kala pallavi segment of the composition. More so, this composition is likely to
get more than accelerated as it has sparser sahitya conforming to the ati citra
tama marga, that we saw in a previous blog post in the context of the Kannada
Bangala kriti ‘Renuka Devi Samrakshitoham’.
There are no blemishes, sruti/svara lapses or
staccato notes, anywhere in this rendering.
In the pallavi rendering while keeping to the
notation a few melodic extensions are done, for example for the sahitya
‘sAgarEna srI’ the violinist employs janta prayogas NNDDP MMGGRRS.
In the anupallavi, attention is invited to the
rendering of ‘yativarAdyupA-sitEna-bhavEna’ which goes as ndpSdp-GR.G-MP.P
which vocalists do not properly render (see editions below). The phrase “upA”
should land on the mandhara pancama and not on the madhya pancama. Moreover, vocalists
tend to take a breather/pause just after yativarAdyupA-. The jump from the
mandhara pancama(‘upA’) to the madhya gandhara(‘sitEna’) is the beauty here
which needs to be listened to. This motif pG repeats elsewhere as Pg, from the
madhya pancama to the tara gandhara, in the composition and needs to be
highlighted. The violinist does complete justice to the two samakAla lines of
the anupallavi, rendering it seamlessly providing us complete satisfaction.
I again invite attention to the continuous
playing/phrasing by the artiste of the carana lines each seamlessly segueing
into one other resulting in a continuous fluid flow of melody right through the
One would also find that the melodic extensions
with which the artiste ends the pallavi, anupallavi or the carana are very
aesthetic and in conformance with the lakshana delineated in the kriti proper.
Students of music aspiring to learn this composition ought to do so by hearing this version with the SSP notation in hand. It is complete, for I find it to be a very purposive and aesthetic interpretation of the notation. And thus one is indebted to him/her, for such a splendid rendering, sans any blemish whatsoever.
We next present other renderings of Dikshitar’s ‘tyAgarAjEna rakshitOham’. Below are the presentations by a couple of Sangita Kala Acharyas.
Suguna Varadacari renders the composition next and is from an AIR Concert of
And, the venerable Prof S R
Janakiraman renders the composition.
Kalpakam Svaminathan a scion of the Dikshitar sishya parampara, recorded the
Tyagaraja Vibakti kritis which includes this composition as well, as a
commercial album, details of which are here.
Salagabhairavi and the popular modern version of the raga as found in
Tyagaraja’s ‘padavini sadbaktiyu’:
modern version of the raga Salaga Bhairavi as available us through ‘padavini
sadbakti’ is documented in the Sangraha Cudamani as SRMPDS/SNDPMGRS under Mela
legendary vidvans, the Alathur Brothers render the composition in this link,
prefaced by a raga vinyasa.
is invited to the opening phrase of the pallavi which begins as SRMP itself. A quick
comparison between the raga as found in the composition of Dikshitar and
Tyagaraja would thus yield the following table for us:
Muthusvami Dikshitar as evidenced by his
kriti ‘tyAgarAjEna samrakshitOham’
Tyagaraja as evidenced by the modern day
mettu of ‘padavini sadbakthi’
is vakra and nishadha is varjya in the arohana
and nishadha are varjya in the arohana
in the avarohana
in the avarohana
conception is characterized by jumps and turns as well and more avarohana
pradhana/centricity of the raga.
straightforward progression of the raga.
question whether the scale found in ‘padavini’ being SRMPNS/SNDPMGRS was the
original one adopted by Saint Tyagaraja when he composed the same is
questionable & not beyond reasonable doubt for the following reasons:
When the raga of the composition ‘padavini’ was discussed in the Music Academy on 26-Dec-1942 (documented in pages 17-18 of JMA XIV, see reference section below) a personage no less than the great Vidvan Tiger Varadacariar, placed on record that he had heard the kriti being rendered with RGMP.
Another musical authority, Sri M S Ramasvami Iyer went on to sing a cittasvaram composed by Patnam Subramanya Iyer for ‘padavini sadbakti’ which incorporated RGM phrase as support /proof for the prayoga having been in vogue.
Prof Sambamoorthi & Dr T V Subba Rao too agreed with the proposition that SRGMP was in vogue and textual authorities too had recorded it.
Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer a votary of the so called Dikshitar school, put forth the case for SRGMPDPS on the authority of the Dikshitar kriti and the documentation in the SSP.
In fact, Sri
Tiger Varadacariar even suggested perhaps as a compromise that SRMRGMPDPS can
be the recommended arohana krama accommodating the RGMP prayoga. The records of
the JMA show that in that discussion that day, Tiger Varadacariar, M S
Ramasvami Iyer, Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer & T V Subba Rao were arrayed
on one side. However, the acolytes of the Sangraha Cudamani led by the
President of the Conference that year, Sangita Kalanidhi Mazhavarayanendal
Subbarama Bhagavathar had their way making SRMPDS/SNDPMGRS as the nominal arohana/avarohana
krama of the raga, based on the then contemporaneous version of ‘padavini’.
question thus we are left with is whether RGM and PDPS exists for
Salagabhairavi. For, Dikshitar uses RGM and PDPS while the same is not so in the
case of Tyagaraja based on the evidence of modern-day version of ‘padavini’ available
to us & the lakshana as documented in the Sangraha Cudamani. Also,
Dikshitar has utilized prayogas documented by all musicologists of yore right up
as it may, the discussion in the Academy clearly shows that ‘padavini’ was
rendered in the past with SRGMP and not SRMP, indicating the possibility that
the modern version/musical fabric of ‘padavini sadbakti’ is probably a “normalized”
or “truncated” version. It’s likely that perhaps the original version of the
composition was in line with the Salagabhairavi of Sahaji or Tulaja or of Muthusvami
Dikshitar which was perhaps the defacto standard during the1800’s. Meaning, Salagabhairavi
had vakra dhaivatha & nishadha varjya in the arohana and complete/sampurna
in the avarohana and perhaps admitting gandhara varjya phrases as well.
perhaps has the been the fate of ‘manavini vinuma’ a Tyagaraja composition, which
is assigned a raga name of ‘Jayanarayani’ not found in any musical record save
for Sangraha Cudamani which goes with the arohana/avarohana krama as
SRGMPDS/SNDPMGRS under mela 22. It may sound like a ‘conspiracy’ theory but
nevertheless it is a matter of great concern that the musical material of very
many Tyagaraja kritis especially in eka kriti ragas has been subject to
controversy and the available melody as on date/assigned, has not been beyond
the pale of controversy. If one were to consider the logic and arguments
advanced by the noted critic of the previous century Sri K V Ramachandran, one
can conclude or at the least suspect that the ragas of ‘padavini sadbaktiyu’
and ‘manavini vinuma’ were perhaps only Salagabhairavi as documented in Muthusvami
Dikshitar’s ‘tyAgarAjEna samrakshitOham’.
One is disconcerted by the fact that disciples or certain lineages have not properly transmitted the composition over the centuries, with the result today, we a corrupted version of what was originally composed. And we need not look far for one more proof, paart from what was placed on record by Tiger Varadachariar as in the case of ‘padavini’. It can be immediately demonstrated with this very Dikshitar composition, ’tyagarajena Samrakshitoham, how tradition can be turned on its head by musicians ignorant of both lakshya and lakshana.
Here is a modern-day performing musician, Vidushi
Shyamala Venkateshwaran who casts the Dikshitar composition ‘Tyagarajena
Samrakshitoham’ completely in the garb of the Salaga Bhairavi, not the one
expounded by Dikshitar but with SRMPDS/SNDPMGRS as found in the Tyagaraja kriti
‘padavini’) with total impunity and contempt of the authentic notation of the
composition found in the SSP.
( The photo used in the video upload is not of the artiste concerned but of Vidushi Rama Kausalya and readers ought to take note of the same)
Not just the kriti rendering, but we have a full suite of alapana and a svaraprastara to boot for this close to 20 min long presentation, providing ripe evidence for us as to how performers/sishyas/sishya paramparas could have and can misinterpret compositions/raga lakshana down the line, doing the greatest of disservice to a composer and his intent. Nothing can be farther from injustice when such musicians are called upon to adjudicate competitions on Dikshitar compositions !
indeed sad that this spurious version will most likely be taught to unknowing
students of music and will be perpetuated as an authentic edition of the kriti.
they say is the price of liberty and the foregoing is a warning to the discerning
listener of our music. Beware of peddlers of spurious music- would be an understatement.
However, it is comforting to note that as against these transgressions a non-descript
amateur musician is able to hold fort with an authentic interpretation of this
rare kriti of Dikshitar, Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham, which was presented first
in the discography. And one does wish & pray that known and popular
musicians & teachers emulate this worthy example in the days to come and
they in turn bequeath an authentic tradition true to the intent of the great
composers of the past.
Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (Telugu Original
1906) – Tamil edition published by the Madras Music Academy (1961) along with
the Anubandha – Pages 462-466 of the 2006 Edition of Vol II: Link
Ragalakshana Sangraha –Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) –
Published by Dr Ramanathan – pp 1173-1180
Ragas of the Sangita Saramruta (1993) – Edited by
Sangita Kalanidhi T V Subba Rao & Dr S R Janakiraman-Published by the
Madras Music Academy – pp 26-27
The Raga Lakshana Manuscript of Sahaji Maharaja of
Tanjavur (1983) -JMA Volume LVI Published by the Madras Music Academy-pp
Salagabhairavi Raga lakshana Discussion –
Proceedings of the Experts Committee of the Madras Music Academy on 26-Dec-1942
– 16th Music Conference – Published in JMA Volume XIV (1943)
Safe Harbour Statement
The recording of the renderings provided through YouTube or audio links as exemplars are the exclusive intellectual property of the artistes concerned. The same has been utilized here strictly on a non-commercial basis, under fair use for study & research, fully acknowledging their rights and no part of it may be copied, reproduced or otherwise dealt without the consent of the artistes or the concerned IP right holders.