Notation

Composers, CompositionAppreciation, Notation, Raga

Inimitable Raganga-s – Stavaraja

The rāga-s in Karnataka Music are innumerous and can be grouped into various ways. The most common, and perhaps the well-known system is to identify them as mēlakarta and janya rāga-s. Mēlakarta-s are 72 in number and the commonly used scheme starts with Kanakāṅgi and ends with Rasikapriya. We do have an alternative scheme, wherein these mēlakarta-s are denoted as ragāṅga rāga-s. The latter system considers Kanakāmbari as the first ragāṅga rāga (mēlakarta) and Rasamañjari as the last one. Though, it is commonly believed that mēlakarta or ragāṅga rāga is the parent raga or the clan head that give rises to janya rāga-s, glancing the pages of history reveal this to be a later developed concept and interested readers can refer to an article by Rāmanāthan (1982) to understand the same.

Though we frequently equate ragāṅga raga -s with the mēlakarta raga-s, they are structurally much different, albeit with a few exceptions (See footnote 1). It is pertinent to note that many of the ragāṅga rāga -s are listed as janya rāga-s of their complementary pair in the mēlakarta scheme elaborated in Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi, denoting the importance given by the grantakarta of the latter text in distinguishing ragāṅga-s from mēlakarta-s. However, it is true that the Kanakāṅgi system was much popular than the Kanakāmbari system and many composers, posterior to Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ and Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar have preferred to use this.

Rāgāṅga rāga-s

The term ‘rāgāṅga’ can be seen in the text Bṛhaddēsi of Mataṅga, said to have been written between 6th and 8th century CE, to denote a group of dēśi raga-s (Hēmalatā 2001:1). However, the term in the present parlance of denoting a clan head (of rāga-s) can be seen only from the text Sangīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. He considers ‘rāgāṅga rāga’ as a sampūrṇa raga which mostly follows grāma raga. This is known as janaka and mēla rāga (Rao 2011:75). His usage of this term was based on work, ‘raga lakṣaṇa’ attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhī, the author of Caturdandīprakāṣikā.

Only the members of Dīkṣitar family gave a practical and more discernable form to these theoretical entities. Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar, a pioneer who served as a perennial source of inspiration for his descendants was the first to apply rāgāṅga rāga-s in his works. The rāgāṅga rāga-s Jhankārabhramari, Tanukīrti, Tōyavēgavāhini, etc., can all be seen in his kṛti-s for the first time (See footnote 2). His descendants Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar, and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar later elaborated on this. Surprisingly, this tradition did not survive posterior to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Among the disciple lineage of this family, these raga-s were used by Tanjāvūr Quartette (See footnote 3).

A careful inspection into Pradarṣini, the only text available to understand theoretical and practical aspects of these raga-s reveals they are not mere scales traversing the octaves; many of them are non-linear in their approach. This non-linearity, which gives them a unique and individual svarūpa was crafted purposefully or it was a documentation of a pre-existent practice cannot be ascertained. This feature is to be concentrated between the complementary members (identified by the same number in the 72 mēlakarta-rāgāṅga rāga schemes) of the different rāga classification systems.

An attempt to study these rāgāṅga rāga-s was made by Hēmalatā (2001). She has not only analyzed the compositions notated in Pradarṣini in these rāga-s, but also classified them based on the number of svara-s taken by them in āroha and avarōha. This kind of characterization can only be done for rāgāṅga rāga-s as melakarta-s are sampurna in both āroha and avarōha, differing only in their svarasthāna-s. This confers them a homogenous nature and any possible svara combination can be applied uniformly to all, at least theoretically. Contrarily, the nonlinearity seen with the rāgāṅga rāga-s makes them special and make us delve more into them.

These rāga-s deserve more individual attention as we do have many compositions outside the text Pradarṣini and also attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Moreover, taking a single rāgāṅga and analyzing all the compositions available gives us a better view of the raga svarūpa seen in these compositions. This also facilitates us to compare the lakṣaṇa of the rāgāṅga-s seen in the compositions available in Pradarṣini with those not notated in Pradarṣini. This section is intended to cover these rāga-s.

As a first step, this paper will highlight the phrases unique to the rāga Stavarāja, as seen in Pradarṣini, identify the differences between Stavarāja and Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi and proceeds to understand the svarūpa of Stavarāja seen in the compositions not notated in Pradarṣini.

The complementary pair

Stavarāja, an unpopular rāga is placed as 46th rāgāṅga raga in the Kanakāmbari – Rasamañjari scheme followed by the Dikṣitar family. Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi is its complementary rāga in the Kanakāṅgi – Rasikapriya mēlakarta scheme. Both the rāga-s take the same svara varieties – śuddha ṛṣabha, sādhāraṇa gāndhāra, prati madhyama, catuśruti dhaivata, and kaiṣiki niṣadha apart from saḍja-pañcama. This similarity had made many of us believe that they are indeed the same rāga-s but with different names. However, the compositions in this rāga reveal discernable differences existing between them. Let us first examine Ṣadvidamārgiṇi and then proceed to understand Stavarāja.

Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi

Like any other mēlakarta, this is a sampūrṇa rāga, a raga with all the seven svara-s in both āroha and avarōha, arranged in order. Almost all the compositions available in this raga are treated similarly (only the works of composers who lived and/or composed prior to 20th century are considered). The mēla rāgamālika of Mahā Vaidyanātha Śivan (Subraḥmaṇya Śāstri 1937:55-56) handles this more like a sampūrṇa scale with no special phrases. However, we do find phrases that cannot be restricted within the scale in few other compositions, as can be seen from the table (See footnotes 4 and 5). Hence, Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi can be visualized as a krama sampūrṇa rāga with few exceptional phrases. However, PDS seems to be important and is perhaps the only phrase transferred from gīta to kṛti (outside its linear scale).

                                   Table – Special phrases seen in the raga Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi  

Composition Phrases
Ā rē rē sīta manōhara – Gīta SGRG, SMG, MDP, PDS and PNS
Gñanamosaga rāda of Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ PDS
Antaraṅga bhakti of Kōtīṣvara Ayyar PDM and NDM

 

Stavarāja

Contrary to Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi, its complimentary pair Stavarāja is introduced by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar as an audava-audava rāga, lacking (varjya) gāndhāra – niṣādha in the ascent and pañcama – ṛṣabha in the descent. Though this can be simply represented as SRMPDS SNDMGS, the real svarūpa of this rāga can be perceived only by studying the gīta, attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhin, a kīrtana and a sañcāri of Muddusvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar respectively. This raga also features in the ragāṅga rāgamalika, ī kanakāmbari of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, a lexicon to understand the rāgāṅga rāga system (See footnote 6).

Analysis of the above-mentioned compositions reveals the presence of a lot of phrases outside the prescribed mūrccana, which can be learned from the table. The svara ṛṣabha occurs only as SRMP or GRS. Whenever we try to train our minds to accommodate the lakṣana prescribed in the mūrccana, we are surprised by any one of the outliers observed in the table. This surprise element continues with the kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar ‘stavarājādinuta’ on Lord Bṛhadīṣvara of Tanjāvūr.

Bṛhadīṣvara was a source of inspiration for Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, perhaps during his stay in Tanjāvūr, as a court musician in the Court of Śerfōji II (r1798-1832). Many of the kṛti-s composed on Bṛhadīṣvara and his consort Bṛhadamba are in rare rāga-s and Stavarāja is one such. With very few exceptions, the kṛti-s (on Bṛhadīṣvara and/or on his consort Bṛhadamba) do not have much information on sthala, tīrta or mūrti. Neither these kṛti-s are filled with heavy philosophical content. Certainly, this kṛti cannot be placed under the exceptional category.

‘Stavarājādinuta’ is a small kṛti set in pallavi – anupallavi – svara pattern. Interestingly, the prayōga SRMPD featuring in the gīta ‘ravi samnibha’ and in the sañcāri cannot be located in this kṛti! Contrarily many new phrases not seen in the gīta can be seen here. Despite these differences, we can clearly see the influence of this gīta on Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Lot of similarities can be seen between the two compositions. Both the compositions start with the phrase DMGS. The immediate phrase succeeding DMGS is SNNSNNP in the gīta and S,NSNNP in the kṛti.  Both the compositions use dhaivata and niṣādha as janṭa in plenty as PNN, DDNDP, etc. Also, the svara ṛṣabha is used sparsely as in gīta.  All these features direct us to conclude that the mentioned kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar was composed based on this gīta. In that case, we need to account for the prayōga-s featuring in this kṛti alone.

We need to analyze two compositions of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar before arriving at a conclusion, namely ī kanakāmbari, a rāgamālika mentioned in the earlier part of this article and a sañcāri.  The Stavarāja segment in the rāgamālika too starts with the phrase DMGS and is followed by SNDS. It is a faithful reproduction of phrases seen in the gīta, though in his own style. The rāgamālika and sañcari also have unique phrases seen only in the kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar like SRGS. Interestingly, his sañcāri, set to maṭya tāla also has many phrases not seen in other compositions – gīta and kṛti. We find MDDMP, PDP, PGGS, DNND, and NPDM only here. This raises the question again – the authority on which Dīkṣita-s introduced these new phrases.

 

                                                          Table – Phrases available in the raga Stavaraja

Composition Phrases
Ravi samnibha – Gīta GGRS, PMP, PNND, PSNS, NDPM, NPMPSS and SNP
Stavarājādinuta – Kīrtana MDPM, DRS, DDNDP, SRS, SNDP and PMG
Sañcāri MDDMP, PDP, PGGS, DNND and NPDM

 

An interpretation of this kṛti, as notated in Pradarṣini can be heard here.

This issue can be addressed in two ways – these phrases can be considered as an innovation by Dīkṣita-s or Dīkṣitar family must have had additional materials like tāna-s or gīta-s in their possession, displaying these phrases. The second possibility appears more plausible as Subbarāma Dīkṣitar reiterated several times in his text that he had many more materials in his possession and has not published them due to space restraint. A similar issue was explained by the author in an article on Gōpikāvasanta.

When the compositions of Muddusvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in this rāga are compared, we can see the latter gave an elaborate treatment, more so than the former. We find all the phrases of gīta in his rāgamālika and many new phrases in his sañcāri. Whereas, despite taking inspiration from the gīta and modeled like that, the kṛti ‘stavarājādinuta’ does not have all the phrases that can be located in the gīta. We have already observed such a finding when we discussed the kṛti ‘rudrakopa’ and the rāga Rudrapriyā.

It can be reminded that the text Saṅgraha Cūḍamaṇi, which places many of the rāgāṅga-s as a janya-s of mēlakarta-s, fail to recognize Stavarāja. This makes us believe, not all could have been aware of the rāgāṅga rāga-s like Stavarāja, in the past. Perhaps, these rāga-s could have been known only to the privileged disciples of Vēṅkaṭamakhī. Hence, to understand a rāga like this, it is essential for us to go through all the available compositions notated by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Based on these facts, it can be speculated that Dīkṣita-s could have had an access to unpublished materials, available only with them, carrying all these phrases, transmitting the legacy to the next generation.

The phrases not confirming with the mūrccana given in Pradarṣini carries high significance. Many of the phrases like GRS, SNP, etc., gives more flexibility for an otherwise strict scale. This peculiar feature is seen only with the rāgāṅga rāga-s. This feature is to be compared with their counterpart, Ṣadvidhamārgaṇi, wherein the latter strictly follows the scale with very few exceptional phrases. These exceptions too do not create an aural impact, as these rāga-s are all karma sampūrṇa-s with these phrases occurring occasionally. Whereas the vakra phrases, forming an integral part of the rāga architecture are seen only in the rāgāṅga-s creating a different melodic texture. This is accentuated when a svara given as varjya (ga – ni in the āroha and ri – pa in the avarōha) in mūrccana occurs in the composition, that too repeatedly. Hēmalata also highlighted this point in her thesis. She proceeds further and says such a course is not possible with the janya rāga-s having varjya svara-s, in the mēla scheme.  For example, the rāga Āndōḷika with the scale SRMPNS SNDMRS cannot have the phrase PMRS or SNP (Hēmalatā 2001:89).

Madhurāmbām bhajarē

Perhaps the only other kṛti available in this rāga is ‘madhurāmbām bhajarē’. This kṛti is attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and forms a component of ‘Non – Pradarṣini kṛti-s’. Non-Pradarṣini kṛti-s are those compositions not notated by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his texts but found in the books published later and are attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.

Kallidaikuricci Sundaram Ayyar (Sundaram Ayyar 1992:39-40), a disciple of Ambi Dīkṣitar has published a series of books, predominantly containing the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar in notation. These books serve as an additional source to know about the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, especially the ones not published by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. For the same reason, these kṛti-s usually find a place under the ‘spurious’ category. He has notated two kṛti-s in this rāga – ‘stavarājādhinuta’ and ‘madhurāmbām bhajarē’. The kṛti ‘stavarājādhinuta’ much resembles the version given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and hence the second kṛti will be taken up for discussion.

This is a paean to the Goddess Mīnākṣi of Madurai. This kṛti, along with nine other kṛti-s is usually grouped as Madhurāmba vibhakti kṛti-s. Interestingly, only two of the nine kṛti-s are notated in Pradarṣini, namely ‘śri mīnākṣi gauri’ in the rāga Gauri and ‘śyāmalāṅgi mātaṅgi’ in the rāga Śyāmaḷa. It is to be noted that both the kṛti-s does not carry the śabda ‘madhurāmba’.

The kṛti ‘madhurāmbām bhajarē’ describes Mīnākṣi as a daughter of the Sage Mataṅga (mataṅga tanayām) enshrined in Madurai (madhurāmbām), the one who delights the heart of Manu, Kubera, etc., the giver of prosperity (dhaninīm) and the one who is pleased with praises offered in the rāga Stavarāja (See footnote 7). This kṛti is free of prosodic errors, as seen with many other ‘spurious’ kṛti-s, attributed to  Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.

The kṛti starts with the phrase PDSSND and has all the standard phrases that fall within the mūrccana of this rāga. The non-mūrccana phrases, typical to these rāgāṅga-s are also seen aplenty. These include SRS, PGS, DND, DMG, and DRS. It is to be noted that the phrase PGS is seen only in the sañcāri of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and DRS occurs only in the kṛti ‘stavarājādhinuta’. SRS occurs in both the kṛti and sañcāri. There occurs a prayōga MDPD, unique only to this kṛti. This phrase occurs thrice, in madana janakādi, mataṅga tanayām, and mādhavādya. The authority on the use of this phrase is not clear.

Excluding the phrase MDPD, the rāga lakṣaṇa portrayed here is much in line with the Stavarāja of the gītaṃ, kṛti and sañcāri. However, the approach seen here is distinguishingly different from the above-mentioned compositions. First, the vital phrases like DMGS, PNNDPM, NNDPM, SNNP, etc., seen in the gīta, kṛti (stavarājādhinuta) and rāgamālika are missing in this kṛti. These phrases are abundant and used repeatedly in the compositions notated in Pradarṣini and when heard together, the melodic structure of Stavarāja can be better perceived. The absence of these phrases in ‘madhurāmbām bhajarē’ fails to create an image of Stavarāja, as experienced with the other kṛti-s mentioned. In addition, we see phrases like MDP- PM-PG-ND, a style usually not seen in the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar notated in Pradarṣini. Second, the svara-s gāndhāra, niṣādha, dhaivata are often used as janṭa in the compositions notated in Pradarṣini. In this kṛti, niṣādha alone occurs as a janṭa svara as SNND in two places. Third, there are no mandra sthāyi phrases in this kṛti. The phrases in the mandra sthāyi are an integral part of a kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. In the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar notated in Pradarṣini, we see mandra sthāyi phrases either in the basic structure of a kṛti or in its svara segment. Very rarely, we find an exception, like ‘arunācalanātham’ in Sāraṅga. In fact, the majority of the older versions of the kṛti-s of Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ too have mandra sthāyi phrases. The absence of such a phrase in this kṛti is intriguing. The kriti ‘madhurāmbām bhajarē’ as notated by Kallidaikuricci Sundaram Ayyar can be heard here.

Though the difference of opinions exists on the authenticity of this kṛti, the Stavarāja presented here abides the rāga lakṣaṇa given in the text Pradarṣini. If we exclude the phrase MDPD, the phrases seen in this kṛti are authorized by the compositions mentioned earlier. At the same time, it is to be accepted that the presentation of Stavarāja in this kṛti is very different from the compositions seen in Pradarṣini and sounds more like a variant of Ṣadvidamārgaṇi.

Conclusion

Many of the rāgāṅga rāga-s are much different from their complimentary pair in the mēlakarta system. Stavarāja is one such rāga which is to be distinguished from Ṣadvidamārgaṇi. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives three compositions in this rāga and all display a similar rāga lakṣaṇa. It is through these compositions, we can perceive the rāga Stavarāja.

Madhurāmbām bhajarē, a kṛti attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar is not seen in the text Pradarṣini. The phrases seen in this kṛti are very much in line with Stavarāja of Pradarṣini, with the exclusion of a single phrase. However, the melodic structure of this kṛti does not fit with the approach seen in the compositions notated in Pradarṣini. The melodic structure perceived by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has been modified or it was composed by a musician who was inspired by the Stavarāja handled by Dikṣita-s remains a mystery.

 

Footnotes

1.It is technically not correct to say Kanakāṅgi is equivalent to Kanakāmbari, Rasikapriya is equivalent to Rasamañjari and so on, and treating the kṛti-s composed in these two rāga-s in a similar way.

2.The usage of these raga-s in kṛti -s are considered here, as gīta-s in these raga-s, notated in Pradarsini predate the works of Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar.

3.Analysis of their compositions and a manuscript with a descendant of Tanjavur Sivanandam indeed reveals they have composed in many of the rāgāṅga rāga-s. The readers can refer to an article by the author for more details. The article can be accessed here. https://tlmthelostmelodies.wordpress.com/2020/11/19/sri-guruguha-navaratnamalika/

4.Though this kṛti is now sung in Purvikalyani, it is said to have been composed in Sadvidamargani. This kṛti also had a version in Gamanasrama. The phrase PDS is seen in the version given by Srinivasa Ayyangar (pg 101), but conspicuously not present in the version notated by S. Parthasaradhi (1986:58-60).

5.The phrase PDS is seen in the kṛti ‘antaraṅga bhakti’, notated by S.Rajam (1998:87-88).

6.A poet by name Kṛṣṇa Kavi composed this rāgamālika, which was tuned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.

7.Translation by V Gōvindan, can be accessed on the site http://guruguha.blogspot.com/2008/03/dikshitar-kriti-madhurambam-bhajare.html.

 

References

Hēmalatā R. A study of the rāgāṅga rāga-s in the Sangīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini of Subbarāma dīkṣitar. 2001. PhD Thesis submitted to Department of Indian Music, University of Madras.

Pappu Vēṇugōpāla Rao (Ed). 2011. Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. English Translation – Volume I. The Music Academy.

Pārthasārati S. 1986. Śrī Tyāgarājasvāmi Kīrtanaigaḷ – Tillaisthānam Pātam. Published by Sadguru Śrī Tyāgabraḥma Ārādana Kaiṅkaryam, Madras.

Rājam S. 1998. Śrī Kōtīsvara Ayyarin Kīrtanaigaḷ. Published by Rasikās, Mailapūr.

Rāmanāthan N. 1982. The concept of mēla. Journal of The Madras University, Volume LIV (1), accessible in the site   http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/show/2318

Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār K.V. Saṅgīta Cintāmaṇi. Published by M.S. Rāmulu and Company, Madras.

Subraḥmaṇya Śāstri (Ed).1937. The Mēlarāgamālika of Mahā Vaidyanātha Śivan. Published by The Adyar Library, Madras.

Sundaram Ayyar A. Kallidaikuricci. 1992. Śrī Dīkṣita Kīrtana Mālā, Part XI. Published by Music Book Publishers, Madras.

 

 

 

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

Sri Guruguha Navaratnamalika

Our dharma extols and worship a Guru to an extent that he is always treated synonymously with the ever pervading Almighty. Svetashvatara Upanishad, one among the celebrated 108 Upanishads says an aspirant must have unbiased worship towards his Guru and he is to be considered as a God incarnate itself. This is the only way through which he can attain the eternal bliss, prescribes this Upanishad. Advayataraka Upanishad, comparatively a lesser-known among the 108 Upanishads gives a meaning for the sabda “Guru”. The syllables ‘gu’ and ‘ru’ denotes darkness and dispeller respectively. Hence ‘Guru’ denotes a person who dispels darkness.

This truth as certified by Upanishads was sincerely followed by the disciples belonging to all the branches of Vedic dharma and we do find this idea percolating into the practitioners of Gandarva Veda also. Guru keertana-s and ashtaka-s composed by Valajapettai Venkataramana Bhagavathar on his guru Tyagaraja Svamigal is quite famous. We also see a mangalam on Svamigal composed by two of his disciples – Venkataramana Bhagavathar and Manambuchavadi Venkatasubbaier.

There exist a lesser-known set of Guru kritis composed by Tanjavur Quartette on their teacher Sri Muthuswamy Dikshitar and they can be collectively called as Sri Guruguha Navaratnamalika.

Tanjavur Quartette and Sri Muthuswamy Diksitar

Unlike Svamigal, Diksitar was peripatetic and this ambulant nature made him to spread his music at various places. Whereas disciples from distant places swarmed at Tiruvayyaru and learnt from Svamigal, Diksitar planted his seed at various places which later blossomed to give flowers of various colour and shapes. One such set of disciples, who has learnt from Diksitar during his stay as a court musician in Tanjavur is Chinniah, Ponniah, Sivanandam and Vadivelu, commonly called as Tanjavur Quartette.  They hail from a musical family and further honed their skills by learning from Diksitar for a period of approximately 8 years. As a tribute, they have composed and submitted this kritis into the lotus feet of their Guru.

The uniqueness of Sri Guruguha Navaratnamalika

A close introspection into the Guru kritis reveals they are strategically different from the works composed by the disciples of Svamigal.

  1. All these kritis are composed in Telugu and are on either Lord Brhadiswara or Devi Brhadiswari.
  2. Excluding a few phrases, these kritis do not deify their teacher. But it can be well perceived that their mental image about their Guru is exactly the same as mentioned in the Upanishad.
  3. Extra-ordinary parallelism is seen between these nine kritis and the kritis of Diksitar. In other words, these nine kritis stand out significantly from the rest of their creations! Perhaps, they could have felt, composing in the style followed by Guru would be a better tribute to show that He has bequeathed his wisdom to them.

As the name indicates, this set comprises of nine compositions set to nine different ragas:

Sri guruguha murthiki – Dhunibinnasadjam – Rupakam – Raganga raga 9

Mayatheetha svarupini – Mayamalavagowla – Rupakam – Raganga raga 15

Sri karambu – Kambhoji – Kantachapu

Sarasakshi – Sailadesakshi – Adhi – Raganga raga 35

Paramapavani – Varali – Rupakam – Raganga raga 39

Needu padame – Pantuvarali – Rupakam – Raganga ragam 45

Sri rajarajeswari – Ramamanohari – Adhi – Raganga ragam 52

Saatileni guruguhamurthini – Purvikalyani – Misrachapu – Raganga ragam 53

Sarekuni padamule – Chamaram – Rupakam – Raganga ragam 56

The kriti Mayateetha svarupini, as interpreted from Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini can be viewed here.

It is surprising to see that all of them are raganga ragas (another term used to refer melakarta) except the kriti in Kambhoji. To approach it more academically, even Kambhoji can be considered as a raganga raga as it was considered as a mela by few composers in the past. A gitam by Paidala Gurumurthy Sastri, who was an elder contemporary of Quartette can be cited as an example.

A close observation reveals another interesting finding; four of the nine ragas take the svaras suddha dhaivatam and kakali nishadham (raganga ragas 9,15,39 and 45). Is this merely a coincidence?

The parallelism between Navaratnamalika and the kritis of Dikshitar

As mentioned above, the compositional style unexceptionally resembles that of Dikshitar. This gets more visible by the following discussion.

Raga mudra is seen in all except the kritis in Kambhoji and Purvikalyani.

Five out of these nine compositions are set in pallavi-anupallavi format, a common feature seen in the kritis of Diksitar (these are now called as samasti charana kritis).

Madhyamakala sahityam is seen in all the kritis excluding the kritis in Sailadesakshi and Purvikalyani.

A chittasvaram is affixed to many kritis in this set.

Has a graha svaram segment (only in the Dhunibinnasadjam kriti).

The raga structure portrayed in these kritis correspond exactly with the lakshana seen in the kritis of Diksitar as notated by Subbarama Diksitar.

All these kritis bear the mudra ‘guruguha’.

Guruguha mudra

Though this mudra has become synonymous with Diksitar, we do see this mudra being used by other composers. This mudra can be seen in some compositions of Subbarama Diksitar and Ambi Diksitar, other than the Quartette. In these nine kritis, this mudra is suffixed with phrases like ‘daasudaithi’, bhaktudani and sadhbhaktudani.

Only two kritis use a different form of this mudra and they give an internal reference regarding their relationship with Diksitar. The kriti in Binnasadjam begins as ‘sri guruguhamurtiki ne sishyudai yunnanura’, wherein the composer declares he was a disciple of Diksitar. Another personal reference is seen in the kriti ‘saatileni guruguhamurti’ wherein he says he is acquainted with his Guru for a considerable period of time (aa naatanundi).

Sources

We have three sources to study and analyse these kritis. The primary one is the text “Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai” published by the descendants of Quartette. To the limited knowledge of this author, this is the first text to give these kritis in notation and name them as Navaratnamalika. Second is “Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini” of Subbarama Diksitar and the third is the manuscripts believed to have been written by Quartette and now in the possession of Sri Sivakumar, a descendant of Quartette who graciously shared to do this analysis.

The notated version of all these nine kritis can be seen in the first source and only four kritis are notated in the text by Subbarama Diksitar. Subbarama Diksitar, in his treatise, has explained 72 raganga ragas and their janyas, practically by illustrating with the kritis of Muthuswamy Diksitar. Strangely for 4 raganga ragas (Dhunibinnasadjam, Siva Pantuvarali, Ramamanohari and Chamaram), no kriti of Diksitar was affixed. Instead, he has given the kritis of Ponniah as an authority to understand the ragas Dhunibinnasadjam, Ramamanohari and Chamaram (though Quartette in general were given the credit as the composer of these nine kritis, Subbarama Diksitar specifically mention the three kritis given by him as the creations of Ponniah).  Siva pantuvarali is devoid of any kriti.

At the outset, no significant differences can be seen between these two texts with respect to the raga lakshana excluding the kriti in Ramamanohari. The raga lakshana seen in the kriti ‘sri raja rajeswari’, in the version given by Subbarama Diksitar is more in line with the Ramamanohari gitam seen in Samparadaya Pradarshini. Also, only Subbarama Diksitar has given a chittasvaram for Ramamanohari and Chamaram kritis. The graha svaram segment seen in the Dhunibinnasadajam kriti too is given only by Subbarama Diksitar.

Two inferences can be drawn from these findings – the descendants of Quartette have taken diligent efforts to preserve the compositions of their ancestors and Subbarama Diksitar, though belong to a different lineage has given the versions learnt and / or known to him earnestly.

Manuscripts

Versions seen in the manuscripts too correspond extraordinarily well with the other sources. Few striking differences are seen:

  1. Pantuvarali is mentioned as the raga taking sadharana gandhara corresponding to the raganga raga 45 (this is given as the raga taking antara gandhara corresponding to melam 51 in the text ‘Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai’).
  2. The kriti ‘sri raja rajeswari’ has few special phrases that are seen in the gitam given in Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini.
  3. The manuscript gives different versions for two kritis – sri karambu and saatileni guruguha murti. ‘Sri karambu’ is mentioned as the raga taking the svaras of Kanakambari, raganga raga 1 and the raga for ‘saatileni guruguhamurti’ is given as Nata, which also serves as a raga mudra. Sivakumar opines that this is a common pattern observed with the Quartette; to tune a single sahityam to two different ragas and to fix two different sahityam into a single tune.

Summary

Rather than praising their Guru, Quartette has followed a different technique of paying tribute to their Guru. They have incorporated the special elements (like raga mudra, graha svaram segment and madhyamakala sahityam) of Diksitar kritis in these nine compositions to show His influence on them.

These nine kritis are an important source to understand the raga laskshana prevailed in the Diksitar family and their disciples. Having kritis in nine raganga ragas might be an indication that Quartette might have composed in other raganga ragas too and are to be identified.

Acknowledgement

I profusely thank Sri Sivakumar for allowing me to peruse the manuscripts said to be written by Tanjavur Quartette.  

This article appeared in Sruti, April 2020 issue.

CompositionAppreciation, Notation, Sahitya

“vadAnyEsvaram bhajEham” – A Critical Appraisal

Prologue:

One key aspect in our assessment of the authenticity of Muthusvami Dikshita’s compositions is the reliance we place on the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (“SSP”) of Subbarama Dikshita. The SSP published in 1904 AD is the numero uno in this aspect as Subbarama Dikshita had evaluated both the lyric as well as the melody of every composition and presented it in an almost original form. Rare are the instances of a composition in the SSP being doubted for authenticity, though some questions have arisen especially in the case of kritis documented in its Anubandha.

Apart from the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (“SSP”) which was published in 1904 AD, chronologically the next publication that merits our attention is the Dikshita Kirtanai Prakashikai (“DKP”) of Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai (in the lineage from Tambiappan Pillai and Sathanur Pancanada Iyer). This publication made in the year 1936 AD was a compilation of 50 kritis of Dikshita, of which 49 kritis found herein was also found in the SSP. And it had one which was not in the SSP being “Mahaganapatim Vande” in Todi which was covered in an earlier blog post.

Post this during the 1940’s after the death of Ambi Dikshita, the son of Subbarama Dikshita, a large number of compositions from outside of the SSP bearing the colophon “guruguha” came to be published by the disciples of Ambi Dikshita, which have been attributed to Muthusvami Dikshita. All these compositions are documented by Veena Sundaram Iyer who published the same during 1940’s & 50’s as the “Dikshitar Keertanai Mala” (“DKM”).

In so far as compositions not found in the SSP and those which came to published as above and seen in DKM, many questions arise as to whether these compositions not found in the SSP are truly Dikshita’s compositions.

In this blog we will take up one such composition, not found in the SSP but which came to be published in the 1940’s as above. The kriti is “vadAnyEsvaram bhajEham” in the raga Devagandhari under Mela 29, in Adi tala. The said composition is not found listed in the SSP or in the DKP. We will look at the kriti and also its antecedents along with renderings of the same to develop a point of view as to its attribution to Muthusvami Dikshita.

In this blog it will be argued that this composition too, much like “Mahaganapatim Vande” in Todi has all the hallmarks of a true composition of Muthusvami Dikshita and based on available extrinsic and intrinsic evidence can be attributed to him, notwithstanding the fact that it is not notated in the SSP.

But first let us take up the composition text for our consideration.

The Composition:

pallavi

bhajE-ahaM                  – I worship

sadA                        – forever

vadAnyESvaraM               – Vadanyeshvara (the great benefactor).

tyajE-ahaM                  – I renounce

mada-Adi vRttiM             – tendencies such as arrogance,

mudA                        – joyfully

anupallavi

pada-aravindaM              – (I worship) the one whose feet are (lovely) as lotuses,

Ananda kandaM              – the root-source of bliss,

pAlita dEva gAndhArava bRndaM – the protector of the multitudes of Devas and Gandharvas,

sadA-arcitaM                – the perennially worshipped one,

vinata vidhi mukundaM       – the one saluted by Brahma and Vishnu,

sadguru guha cidAnandaM     – the bliss of consciousness of the noble Guruguha,

sadA                        – always.

caraNam

paSu pASa mOcanaM           – (I worship) the one who liberates creatures from bondage,

tri-lOcanaM                 – the three-eyed one,

panca-AnanaM                – the five-faced one,

praNata gaja-AnanaM         – the one saluted by the elephant-faced – Ganesha

SiSu bAla gOpa viditaM      – the one well-known even to infants, children and cowherds,

muditaM                     – the joyous one,

SivaM                       – the auspicious one,

bilva vana vaibhavaM        – the splendorous one in the Bilva forest,

bhavam                      – the one who has become everything in this universe,

viSuddhi-Adi nilayaM        – the one residing in Visuddhi and other Chakras,

maNi valayaM                – the one wearing bejewelled bracelets,

vigata vikalpakaM           – the one in whom variations have ceased,

Srita kalpakaM              – the wish-fulfilling divine tree to those who seek refuge,

paSu patiM                  – the master of all creatures,

jnAnAmbikA patiM            – the Consort of Goddess Jnanambika,

paraSu mRga dharaM          – the bearer of the axe and deer,

nIla kandharaM              – the blue-throated one,

aSubha kshaya karaM         – the annihilator of the inauspicious,

abhaya vara karaM         – the one whose hands gesture freedom from fear and granting boons,

anAdi-avidyA haraM          – the remover of primordial ignorance,

Sankaram                    – the causer of welfare and good fortune.

Notes:

  1. The kriti is on the Lord Siva enshrined at Vallalar Kovil in Mayuram / Mayavaram / Mayiladuthurai, Lord Vadanyesvara and whose consort is Goddess Gnanambika
  2. The raga mudra is indirectly embedded in the composition in a slightly truncated fashion in “dEvagandharva brindham”
  3. The composer’s colophon is also found in the composition in “sadguruguha cidAnandam”.
  4. The kriti is a paean to Lord Shiva with epithets in his glory strung together as a composition.

The Provenance of this Composition:

What sets this composition apart in our analysis is the very source of the pAtham of this composition. As pointed out this composition is not found in the SSP (1904). Nor is it notated in the “Dikshitar Kirtanai Prakashikai” (1934) of Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai, which was the next authoritative publication of Dikshita’s compositions. Up and until 1940, these two publications were the most authoritative compilations of the compositions of Muthusvami Dikshita.

The composition “Vadanyesvaram” crops up from an unexpected source in the year 1943, when it was published in the Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol XIV (1943)- pages 147-149 (“JMA“) -see header to this blog post.

As the notes to the composition make it clear, it is obvious that:

  1. The kriti has been edited by Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer.
  2. The source of this pAtham is attributed to Vidvan Keeranur Subramanya Iyer.
  3. The text as well as the notation of the composition is provided therein. It is in the regular SRGM notation, with 1st and 2nd kala markings and does not carry any other gamaka signs or such other embellishments/ ornamentations.

Unfortunately, nothing is known as to the identity of this Vidvan Keeranur Subramanya Iyer and if ever he belonged to the sisya parampara of Muthusvami Dikshita. It can be safely concluded that outside of the regular sources of Dikshita compositions, this source is an odd/unique and yet refreshing fount. And it was only later that this composition figured firstly in Veenai Sundaram Iyer’s “Dikshitar Kirtanai Mala -Volume 2- Song No 21” and then in Rangaramanuja Iyengar ‘s Kritimanimalai Vol 5 – Song No 142.

Suffice to state that this source is ex-facie of unimpeachable fidelity and we will examine the notation further to confirm the same.

Key structural aspects of the composition:

It can be seen from a stylistic perspective, the composition is Dikshitar’esque in its form.

  1. The language and style of the lyrics, the prAsA concordance, the gait of the composition, the construct of the pallavi-anupallavi- carana as well as the colophon and the ‘sUcita” raga mudra embedded in the composition all point to this conclusion.
  2. The melodic material is expanded in an organized manner first in the pallavi, then in the anupallavi and finally in the carana section.
  3. Akin to quite a few compositions, the lyrics commencing “pasupatim jnanambika patim” and ending with “…anadya vidya haram sankaram” appended to the final carana section seemingly looks to be a madhyama kala sahitya section, but is not. It has to be pointed out that to qualify as a madhyamakala sahitya section the lyrics in question must be set to exactly half the duration of the immediately preceding carana/anupallavi sahitya section.
  4. The raga “Devagandhari” of Mela 29 is kept musically beautiful in this composition.

Notation of the Composition:

Given below is the notation as published in the aforesaid JMA.

  1. The composition is replete with svaraksharas on the
    1. dhaivatha note as in “madAdi”,”mudA” in the pallavi
    2. pancama note as in “padhAravindam” and “pasupAsa mOcanam
  2. Jumps are seen at “sisupAla” going directly to pancama from sadja note with R/P MP prayoga. The S/D and S\d prayogas, launched from the madhya sadja note are also found in the composition. The said jumps are reminiscent of the prayogas found in the cittasvara section of the Dikshita composition “ksitijAramanam” which is found documented in the SSP.
  3. The sama kAla and dhruta kAla sections are marked as plain and line-on-top respectively with 2 kalai caukam as the rendering mode of the composition.

The overall musical setting, the way the raga progresses in the individual sections and the usage of adulatory paeans on Lord Siva as seen in the composition all of them attests to the fact that the composition should have been composed by Muthusvami Dikshita. It has to be pointed out that Dikshita has visited the ksetra as evidenced authoritatively ( vide the kriti “Abhayambayah anyam na janEham” in Kedaragaula on the Goddess enshrined in Lord Mayuranathasvami Temple) in the SSP and it is therefore very well possible that he visited the nearby temple of Vallalar Kovil as well, which is the subject matter of the composition on hand. As an aside it can be noted that one of Dikshita’s disciples was Vallalar Kovil Ammani which is recorded by Subbarama Dikshita in his biography of Dikshita, who likely hailed from this place.

Thus viewed from multiple angles including the sangita, sahitya, likelihood of his visiting the ksetra and the stylistic aspects and further given the independent source of this composition coming to us through the patham of Vidvan Keeranur Subramanya Iyer ( outside of the known lineages or sisya parampara of Dikshita), all of them attest to the fact that this composition is not a spurious one and an overwhelming body of evidence exists to accept this as an authentic composition of Muthusvami Dikshita himself.

From a ksetra perspective, today the place is famous for its shrine of “medha dakshinamurti” which is located within the precincts of this Temple.

Discography:

Arguably one of the finest renderings of this composition is that of the legendary Vidvan Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. I present the composition sung by him in his 1966 Music Academy recital accompanied by Vidvans Lalgudi Jayaraman on the violin, Umayalpuram Sivaraman on the mrudangam and Narayanasvami on the ghata.

Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer renders “vadAnyEsvaram bhajEham” in Devagandhari of Muthusvami Dikshita

In this recording, the veteran embarks first on an alapana of the raga and then proceeds to the kriti. It’s a trifle unfortunate that the recording is truncated in a few places. Nevertheless the recording is complete in itself. It can be noted that the pAtham as sung, sticks closely to the notation as published by Mudicondan Venkatrama Iyer (supra). The veteran sings it in the sedate cauka kalam bringing out the essence of Devagandhari so distilled by Dikshita in this composition.

From the past, Veena Vidvan K S Narayanasvami too is recorded to have brilliantly rendered this composition. Here is his rendering of the composition excerpted from his 1972 Music Academy Concert accompanied by Vidvan Vellore Ramabadran on the mrudanga.

Veena Vidvan K S Narayanasvami renders “vadAnyEsvaram

Hark at the sowkhyam with which plays the carana beginning with “pasupAsa mOcanam” and his rendering of the finale “pasupatim jnanambika patim“.

And presented finally is the full suite of alapana-kriti-svaraprastara for the composition by Vidusi Seetha Rajan from a chamber recital to complete our understanding and how the composition can be melodically extended and exploited to its fullest potential to maximize ranjakatva. Attention is invited to the 2nd kala svaras sung for the composition for the pallavi line at the fag end of the svaraprastara, skillfully avoiding Arabhi in its wake, lest the color of Devagandhari is lost.

Vidushi Seetha Rajan renders “vadAnyEsvaram” with alapana and svaraprastara

Conclusion:

Thus, for all these aforesaid reasons, the composition “vadAnyEsvaram” in Devagandhari can be attributed to the authorship of Muthusvami Dikshita, beyond reasonable doubt. However it is indeed a puzzle why it was left out of the SSP. And as always one hopes that modern day performers will keep this kriti alive on the concert circuit by singing it frequently.

Update History:

19-Aug-2020: Since the first posting, I have updated the post to include the rendering of the composition by Vidvan K S Narayanasvami and Vidushi Seetha Rajan.

Composers, History, Manuscripts, Notation, Raga

Intriguing ragas – Gopikavasanta

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We get to know the structure of many rāga-s only through Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. This text has both musical and musicological importance, as the rāga-s are not only explained by their phrases, but also through compositions. One such rāga whose svarūpa can be grasped well by analyzing this text is Gōpikāvasanta. A detailed analysis of this rāga has been done, wherein the author has concluded that Gōpikāvasanta is actually a name given to an old rāga by name Induganṭāravam. The conclusion was made based on the similarities between the two rāga-s and by considering the musicological treatises. Let us revisit this hypothesis in the light of some fresh evidences.

Gōpikāvasanta  – Lakṣaṇa

Perhaps Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and Anubanda to Caturdanḍīprakāśikā attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhi were the only teatises that describe this raga (See Footnote 1). Gōpikāvasanta is a bhāṣāṅga, vakra sampūrṇa janya of mēla 20 (Nārīrītigaula or Naṭabhairavi). He gives a śloka and mūrcana and few phrases to explain the rāga and then proceeds to give a kṛti of Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar and his own sañcāri. We have mentioned in our post on Kamās that interpreting the mūrcana verbatim will not only lead to confusion, but also an incomplete understanding of a rāga and it is always to be combined with the notated compositions. Likewise, in this case we do find some discrepancies between the lakṣaṇa given in the śloka and the prayōga-s seen in the kṛti. Let us first look into the lakṣaṇa ślōka given in Pradarṣini:

                                syāt gōpikāvasantākhyaḥ pūrṇaṣṣaḍjagrahānvitaḥ I

                                       ārōhē ca dhavakraśca avarōhē rivakritaḥ II

The gṛha of this sampūrṇa rāga is ṣaḍjam and the svara-s dhaivata and ṛṣbha are vakra in ārōhaṇa and avarōhaṇa respectively are the maximum possible details that can be gathered from this lakṣaṇa śloka.1 Mūrcana given by Dīkṣitar is RSRGMPDPNNS SNDPMGRMGS which gives a slightly clear picture. It can be observed that the possible phrase that lead us to tāra ṣaḍja is PNNS and to that of madya ṣaḍja is RMGS. More detail can be gathered by studying the salient phrases delineated by Dīkṣitar (See Footnote 2). By this exercise, few details not mentioned in the śloka and mūrcana can be learnt. Also we come to know the additional phrase to reach tāra ṣaḍja is PS. Similarly madya ṣaḍja can also be touched by the phrase RGS. There are special phrases like NDM and RM which is usually suffixed with RG or GS.

The above elucidation clearly shows the importance of reading the rāga as a whole rather than analyzing the mūrcana alone. Our learning further enhances and is completed when the kṛti-s in this rāga notated by Dīkṣitar are analyzed.

Gōpikāvasanta – Consensus

Gōpikāvasanta was taken up by a conclave of musicians in The Music Academy conference as a part of rāga lakṣaṇa discussion. A reference to the mūrcana given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has been made and an utsava sampradāya kīrtanam of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal was sung by Māṅgudi Cidambara Bgāgavatar. A consensus was made and this rāga was considered as a janya of mēla 20 with the presence of antara gāndhāra, catuśruti dhaivata and kākali niṣādha. This rāga followed the scale SRGMPNS  SNDPMGS. This lead us nowhere and we don’t know whether that was a different rāga or a variant (aberrant form?) existed at that time.2

Kṛti-s in Gōpikāvasanta

There are two kṛti-s notated by Dīkṣitar in this rāga. The first one is the well-known ‘bālakṛṣṇam bhāvayāmi’ of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and the second one is ‘gōvindarājam’, a very rare one by Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar tuned the compositions of the latter composer and this is no exception. Though many of the compositions of Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya can be seen in Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini, this composition is seen only in the lesser known and perhaps the last publication of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar ‘Samskṛta ānḍra drāviḍa kīrtanālu’ published in the year 1906 (See Footnote 3).3 There is supposed to be a kṛti of Tyāgarāja Svamigal in this rāga which will be taken up soon.

Bālakṛṣṇam bhāvayāmi of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar

This is a kṛti on Śrī Kṛṣṇa. No reference to any specific kṣetra is seen in this kṛti. As mentioned earlier, this has many prayōga-s, not mentioned in the mūrcana or in the specific phrases listed like PMPG, P(mandra sthāyi)R, SGR,SMMS and RGMGS. Analysis of this kṛti can be read in the article cited above.

Gōvindarājam of Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya – Subbarāma Dīkṣitar

Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya is an underrated composer who has composed many kṛti-s in Sanskrit, Tamiz and Telugu. It is much unfortunate that many of his kṛti-s are not presented on stage. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar’s musical inception can be studied by analyzing these tunes and are definitely useful in understanding the musical style of Dīkṣitar family. This kṛti is on Kṛṣṇa incarnated as Gōvindarājā.

This is set in pallavi-anupallavi-caraṇam format with a muktāyi svara at the end. Many of the key phrases seen in the kṛti ‘bālakṛṣṇam bhāvayāmi’ and the phrases elucidated while describing the rāga can be seen here. Even before we cross the first line of the sāhitya, the phrase P(mandra sthāyi)S is highlighted and this phrases repeats. Similarly, PS too recur often. We do see some new phrases like SRS, PNDNDM, and DNDDM. Phrases used by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar like RGMGS, SMMS are not seen here. Whereas the svara-s ṣaḍja and gāndhāra were used as gṛha svara by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, it is pañcama and gāndhāra by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. This kṛti by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has many repetitive phrases like GRGS, DNDNDM and SPS which is not the case with the other kṛti. It is very clear that Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has tried to give us a very different picture of this rāga. It is to be remembered here that Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar has extracted this rāga to its maximum possible limit without compromising the melody. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, understanding this limitation and being aware of the restricted scope of this rāga has shown us the lesser exposed side of this rāga, thereby giving a different, yet complete picture. This kṛti also serves as an exemplar to understand Dīkṣitar’s musical acumen in the realm of tāla. This kṛti can be heard here.

Sañcāri of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar

In the treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini, whether a particular rāga is furnished with a kṛti or not, it invariably has a sañcāri composed by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Sañcāri in this rāga forms an important role as it is not just an encapsulation of the kṛti ‘bālakṛṣṇam bhāvayāmi’ or the phrases he elucidated while introducing this rāga. Neither is it a replica of the phrases seen in the kṛti ‘gōvindarājam’. It is unique in its own way as it gives us a more complete picture of this rāga. New phrases found here help us to understand this rāga further, which includes PDM,NS, SNS  and GGPP. The phrase SPS is again stressed and also we get to see other phrases in mandra sthāyi like PR and NS (P and N are in mandra sthāyi).

From the above discussion it could be well perceived that Dīkṣitar has not explained all the phrases in his introductory remarks (to this rāga); mūrcana given by him is not comprehensive in explaining a rāga. When we see the phrases which cannot be redacted from the mūrcana and also when older forms like gīta or prabandha were not furnished (in his Pradarṣini), how and from where Dīkṣitar extracted these places?

Following hypotheses can be proposed:

  1. Dīkṣitar (Muddusvāmy and/or Subbarāma) could have had unpublished gīta-prabandha-s with them (See Footnote 4).
  2. Rāga lakṣana said to be written by Vēṅkaṭamakhi, which was in the possession of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar could have an explanatory phrases to understand rāga-s like this. The book what we call it as ‘anubandha’ appears to be an incomplete work. A lakṣaṇa granta tries to explain a rāga with its phrases or more detailed ślōka-s. The ślōka-s in the ‘anubandha’ are totally redundant in understanding a rāga and they more appear to be a part of a main treatise which is yet to be discovered.

Gōpikāvasanta and Indughanṭārava – Two names for a single rāga?

We have reiterated several times that the compositions handed over to us by oral tradition or through the printed texts and the rāga lakṣaṇa therein is not comprehensive in any manner. We need to look into unpublished manuscripts lying untouched at various repositories. Analysis without considering the data given in the manuscripts will be superfluous and will not give us an exact solution.

A manuscript in Tanjāvūr Mahārāja Śerfoji Sarasvati Mahāl Library (TMSSML)

TMSSML is a veritable source to understand the cultural history of Tanjāvūr as it preserves manuscripts related to our culture and many of them are yet to be explored. Many of these manuscripts are believed to be of Nāyak period.3 One among this is a manuscript having a collection of gīta-s and sūlādi-s in notation. This manuscript also has a notation for āyittam in the rāga Gōpikāvasanta (See Footnote 5). Gōpikāvasanta is also mentioned as (a janya of) Bhairavi mēla. This shows the existence of this rāga during or even before the period of Śāhāji and Tulaja. The phrases there in, though much less elaborative that what is seen in the compositions mentioned above, is much suggestive of Gōpikāvasanta. Excluding two phrases, other prayōga-s can be seen in the compositions mentioned above. The unique prayōga-s seen only in this āyittam are GRS and PDNS! How can we reconcile this? This rāga also has the phrases PDND (also seen in the āyittam) and SNS.

Technically, this rāga could have had these phrases (GRS and PDNS) and these composers could have avoided using this phrase. Not necessarily, a composer is expected to exhaust all the phrases in his composition. Secondly, Dīkṣitar has mentioned several phrases in many rāga-s that they are used only in gīta-s or prabandha-s and not in kīrtana-s. Even in this case, Dīkṣitar remarks, the phrase PNS or SNS is seen only in the tānam. GRS and PDNS could have been such unique phrases used only in those genres and not used in kṛti-s.

An old rāga

Based on these evidences, we can clearly say this is definitely an old rāga, existent even before the time of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and due to some unknown reasons, was not catalogued in the treatises like Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śahāji or Saṅgīta Sāramṛta of Tulaja. Having said this, we will now analyze Indughaṇṭārava and see how it differs from Gōpikāvasanta.

Indughaṇṭārava – Lakṣaṇa

This is a janya of Bhairavi mēla says Śahāji and Tulaja. This could correspond to Nārīrītigaula mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. They have given some illustrative phrases and stressed PDNS and MGRS will not occur in this rāga.5

Though it appears much similar to Gōpikāvasanta, certain vital differences can be seen on careful introspection of the phrases given by them. First is the appearance of the phrases PDNS and GRS. This cannot occur in Indughaṇṭārava, but seen in Gōpikāvasanta. Second is the phrase SRGMGS. This is seen only in Indughaṇṭārava and not in the āyittam or any of the available compositions in Gōpikāvasanta. The common avarōhaṇa phrase in Indughaṇṭārava is SNDPM, which is certainly not permissible in Gōpikāvasanta (See Footnote 6).

Based on the available evidences, we can clearly conclude both are old rāga-s and are much allied to each other. We had many gīta-s and tāna-s in both these rāga-s, implying both could have been popular. As mentioned earlier, due to some unknown reasons, some musicologists failed to catalogue Gōpikāvasanta (See Footnote 7). We get to know Indughaṇṭārava is a ghana and naya rāga. Can Gōpikāvasanta be a dēśīya rāga and hence got missed to be catalogued like many other dēśīya rāga-s?

A kṛti of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal

We have mentioned about Māṅgudi Cidambara Bāgavatar singing an utsava sampradāya in the rāga Gōpikāvasanta. Though we have no clue on the kṛti, we can narrow down our search based on an information given by Taccur brothers.

Taccur brothers had published a series of books in the earlier part of the last century. One among them is Śrī Bhagavad Sārāmṛtam, published in the year 1916.6 This has a kṛti of Svāmigal in the rāgaṃ Gōpikāvasanta.

Śri rāma rāma rāma is an utsava sampradāya kṛti, now sung in Nīlāmbari. Almost all the texts mention the rāga of this kṛti as Nīlāmbari, but mentioned as Gōpikāvasanta by Taccur brothers. Another significant observation here is the tāla of this kṛti is not specified. It should be sung like an ālāpana, without reckoning tāla says the author. We were unable to find any living tradition singing this kṛti like this.

The melody of this sounds much different from the Gōpikāvasanta that we were discussing. Many phrases like PMR and RGMDP, which are not seen in the compositions mentioned earlier can be seen. The svarūpa seen here does not even seem to match the scale given by them (in the ‘rāga lakṣaṇa proceedings’ happened in The Music Academy); Gōpikāvasanta mentioned by them is devoid of ṛṣbham, but this version has. Combining these evidences with the points mentioned in The Music Academy conference, this could have been some other rāga disguised in the name of Gōpikāvasanta.

Conclusion

Based on the presently available evidences, we can conclude Gōpikāvasanta was a separate entity from Indughaṇṭārava though they share very many similarities. Many rāga-s have not been catalogued by the lakṣaṇa granthakāra-s and it is only by examination of gīta-prabandha manuscripts preserved at various repositories and texts like Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini we get to know the mere existence of these rāga-s. The Dīkṣitar family had done a great service by providing these abstract rāga-s in the form of kṛti-s which are more palatable than any other form and we are indebted to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar for cataloguing rāga-s like Gōpikāvasanta which do not have any textual reference. This also shows Dīkṣitar was much aware of his tradition and assiduously bequeathed to us.

Acknowledgement

I thank Dr Ārati Rao, Research Scholar for providing me a copy of TMSSML manuscript.

References

1. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. 1904. Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini, Vidyā Vilāsini Press, Eṭṭayapuraṃ Samasthānaṃ.

2. Proceedings of the Experts Committee of the Madras Music Academy. 1938. The Journal of  Music Academy, Volume IX, p 17-18.

3. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. 1906. Samskṛta ānḍra drāviḍa kīrtanālu. Eṭṭayyapuram Vidyā Vilāsini Mudrākṣaraśala, p 42-43.  

4. Sīta, S. 1976. Dīkṣitar and Vēṅkaṭamakhin’s tradition. The Journal of Music Academy, p 129.

5. Hema Ramanathan. 2004. Ragalakshana Sangraha – Collection of Raga Descriptions, p 565-567.

6. Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu. 1916. Gāyaka siddhāṅjanamu. Cennapuri Śaśilēkhā Mudrākśaraśālā, p 45-46.

Footnotes

Footnote 1

Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi and its allied texts do make a note of this rāga. But the scale given there lacks ṛṣbham completely and is much different from the Gōpikāvasanta described here.

Footnote 2

RgmrG, RmrG, Rggs, RgM, PdpM, GmP, rgmP, ndM, grmgS, rmrgS, PsPPs, GRmgS, Pnns, psns were few of the phrases mentioned by Dīkṣitar (P is in mandra sthāyi).

Footnote 3

Raṅga Rāmānuja Ayyaṅgār has notated this composition in his book ‘kṛti maṇi mālai’. We find a completely different version there. This version is not taken for comparison, as we have an authentic version given by the composer himself and the version by Ayyaṅgār is definitely a retuned one irrespective of his source. The tāla intricacies seen in the composer’s version is not maintained here and this version also lacks the citta svaram.

Footnote 4

Dīkṣitar, at many places in Pradarṣini proclaims he has supplementary material in the form of tāna-s and gīta-s and not publishing them because of space restraint. One such example that might be of relevance here is the note that he gives in the Ābhērī rāga lakṣana. He clearly mentions he has tāna-s to support the statement given by him regarding the lakṣaṇa and not publishing them. For the same reason, he could have refrained himself from publishing tāna-s in the rāga Gōpikāvasanta.

Footnote 5

Rāga ālāpana was also referred as ‘āyitam’.

Footnote 6

It is to be accepted that the phrases available to us are very limited and we need to see the compositions in full to understand the rāga Indughaṇṭārava.

Footnote 7

In this regard, Gōpikāvasanta alone is not a solitary exclusion. Many dēśi rāga-s like Bhairavam, Aṭhāṇa, Bēgaḍa etc., were not catalogued by Śāhāji and Tulaja.

Composers, CompositionAppreciation, History, Manuscripts, Notation, Pathantara, Raga

Colourful Bhashanga-s – Rudrapriya III

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We have seen about the rāga Rudrapriyā, its gṛha, amsa, nyāsa svarā-s and salient phrases in the two earlier posts. It was established that Rudrapriyā was mentioned by various names, the most common one being Karnāṭaka Kāpi. It was also illustrated the name Rudrapriyā was used to denote different scales in the past.

We have been mentioning in our earlier posts that Rudrapriyā elucidated in the main body of Saṅgīta Samprādaya Pradarśini is much different from the two kṛtis, ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ and ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’, notated in the ‘anubandham’ of the same text. The lakṣaṇa of these two kṛti-s too does not confirm with each other. The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ was covered in an earlier post and the second kṛti will be the subject of discussion in this post.  

Tyāgēśam bhajarē in Saṅgīta Samprādaya Pradarśini

This is a very small kṛti constructed in a pallavi-anupallavi format. This is not even suffixed with a ciṭṭa svara passage. This is an ode to Tyāgēśa of Tiruvārur. Despite being a small kṛti, it has a reference to an important attribute associated with the deity Tyāgēśa. The relics of Tyāgeśa like his swords and throne are equally famous and much venerated as the Lord himself in this shrine. He is the sovereign, rules the world and his throne is said to be made of precious gems (Ratna simhāsanam). Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar has referred to His throne in many of his compositions,  ‘kanaka ratna simhāsanābharaṇa’ in the Vīravasanta kṛti ‘vīravasanta tyāgarāja’, ‘simhāsanapatē’ in this kṛti and in ‘tyāgarājaya namaste’, a kṛti in Bēgaḍa. There is a ślokam ‘Tyāgarāja aṣṭakam’ attributed to Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar.1 As the name indicates, this has eight verses and each verse ends with the line ‘śri tyāgarāya namo namaḥ’. The second verse here again refers to this throne as ‘samśobhi simhāsana samsthithāya’ (one who sits on a greatly shining throne).

Musically, the rāga lakṣaṇa portrayed here is much different from others kṛti-s notated in Rudrapriyā. Excluding a single phrase MGMGGR, the lakṣaṇa followed here more confirms with the scale SRMPDS SNDPMGRS, which can be heard here. This is one of the few kṛti-s, wherein Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar strictly follows a scale. The gṛha svara used here includes gāndhāra, pañcama and niṣādha and the nyāsa svara is always madhyama. We do find a plenty of janṭa gāndhāra, dhaivata and niṣādha prayōga-s.  Excluding the use of janṭa phrases, we do not find any similarity with the rāga Rudrapriyā. More about the rāga Rudrapriyā can be read here. We now get a question, can a kṛti with this lakṣaṇa can be called as Rudrapriyā ?

Consensus on Rudrapriyā

We have not seen the opinion of other musicians/musicologists on this rāga in our earlier posts and that will be taken now. The documentations of the rāga lakṣaṇa discussions happened during the annual conference organized by The Madras Music Academy always provides a valuable reference to understand a rāga. These discussions were attended by legion of musicians and they were not restrained in expressing their thoughts on a rāga, its versions or the kṛti-s known to them. These discussions not only enable us to know about a particular rāga, but also make us aware of its variants. Fortunately, they were also recorded for the posterity.

Rudrapriyā finds a place in two of such discussions. The first one happened in the year 1956.2 Two distinctive types of Rudrapriyā were mentioned by the musicians participated in this discussion; first is with the scale SRGMPDNNS  SNPMGRS and the second with the scale SRGMNS SNPMGRS. They were also of the opinion that the second one is to be called as Pūrṇaṣaḍjam. A note has been made that Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has given six kṛti-s in notation including ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ and ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’. Whereas Musiri Subraḥmaṇya Ayyar had recorded the lakṣaṇa of the former kṛti, no discussion happened on the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’.

The second discussion happened in the year 2009.3 Here this rāga was discussed with its allied rāga-s like Kānaḍā and Durbār. This was a much-detailed discussion wherein many eminent musicologists participated and shared their views. Here Rudrapriyā compositions in the main section differed from the two kṛti-s in anubandham and difference between these two kṛti-s were taken note of. The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ was analyzed in detail and its resemblance with ‘śrī mānini’ of Svāmigal was also discussed. Again no reference to the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’ can be seen.

It can be seen from the above discussion, though a note has been made about this kṛti and the different lakṣaṇa seen here, no detailed analysis has been attempted; possibly due to unpopularity of this kṛti.  

A kṛti of Tyāgarāja Svāmigal

When we discuss the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ or render the kṛti, it is inevitable for us to think about the kṛti ‘śrī mānini’. We have analyzed these two kṛti-s in detail in the second part of this article which can be read here. Lesser-known fact is the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’ also have a complementary kṛti, composed by Svāmigal. Contrary to the first pair, this pair is similar only with respect to their rāga lakṣaṇa-s and not with the melody.

We have mentioned earlier that the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’ follows the scale SRMPDS SNDPMGRS. This rāga is now called as Sālagabhairavi. But the complementary kṛti that we will be seeing is not the commonly heard ‘padavini sadbhakthi’. Though this is the kṛti which epitomizes the rāga Sālagabhairavi today, the older version of this kṛti is much different, perhaps composed in a different rāga and we also find references to support this view.4 An analysis of this older version and the differences between this and the old Sālagabhairavi is to be covered separately.

We have a kṛti which could have been composed in the present Sālagabhairavi (the scale that corresponds to the lakṣaṇa in ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’), but now commonly sung in Mukhāri (See footnote 1). This kṛti ‘ēlāvatāra’ is mentioned as Sālagabhairavi in the text ‘Oriental Music in European Notation’ by A M Chinnasāmy Bhāgavatar (See footnote 2).

Though this kṛti is a personal dialogue between the composer and his iṣta dēvata Śrī Rāmacandra, this kṛti has an important reference about the musical contribution of the composer. This is one of the kṛti-s which reveals he has composed in 100 rāga-s and grouped it as rāgamālika, referred to as ‘śata rāgaratna mālikalu rasiñcina’ in this kṛti. Though we have no idea about this rāgamālika, C R Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār gives a fleeting reference in one of his article published in Sudēsamitran (See footnote 3).5

Vālājāpeṭṭai manuscripts mention the rāga of this kṛti as Sālagabhairavi. The version here exactly follows the scale SRMPDS SNDPMGRS. Gāndhāra and pañcama were the gṛha svara-s used and madhyama acts as a nyāsa svara apart from ṣaḍja (can be compared with the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’). The svara-s ṛṣbha and gāndhāra do occur as janṭa, but as pratyāgata gamaka (janṭa occurring in avarōhaṇa krama) and in catusra phrases. So it is common to find phrases like MGG and GRR, in this kṛti. This confirms with the typical style of Svāmigal, as seen in Vālājāpeṭṭai versions. This can be compared with the janṭa phrases seen in the kṛti ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’ wherein the janṭa svara-s occur as pratyāgata gamaka (but not as catusra phrases). This stylistic difference in the handling of svara-s give a different gait to the kṛti, despite being composed in the same rāga. The only difference that can be seen between these two kṛti-s is the presence of prayōga-s MGMGGR and PDND, but only in the latter kṛti. Though the first phrase is a deviation from the scale, the latter one is very much within the scale. There is a kṛti of Vīṇa Kuppaier in this rāga, ‘sāmagāna lolanē on Śrī Kālahastīśa. This kṛti too follows the mentioned scale, excluding the presence of the phrase SRGR. This special phrase is seen in the lakṣaṇa gītaṃ notated in Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi.

Gītaṃ in Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi

Many believe Tyāgarāja Svāmigal followed the treatise Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi, selected apūrva rāga-s and composed in them. But analysis of many old, defunct versions like that from Vālājāpeṭṭai transcripts disprove this hypothesis (Readers can refer to Apūrva rāga-s series of this author placed in this site to know more). This rāga, Sālagabhairavi, as we call it today, is seen in this treatise and it also gives a lakṣaṇa gītaṃ for better understanding of this rāga.6 Many phrases outside this scale can be seen here like SRGR, SPM, RGRS, RPM, GSR, GRPM, GDP, MMGMGR and PDMGR.

As mentioned earlier, none of these outliers can be seen in the kṛti ‘ēlāvatāra, whereas these outliers can be seen in the kṛti-s ‘tyāgēśam bhajarē’ and ‘sāmagāna lolanē’ – MGMGR and SRGR respectively. Can we say Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar and Vīṇa Kuppaier were conversant with Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi?

Though we cannot give a definite answer, these phrases cannot be taken lightly and ignored as a mere coincidence. It is a well-known fact that Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar was equally conversant with Kanakāṅgi – Rasikapriyā nomenclature (See footnote 4). This possibility can be conceived if we feel the present mēla system was a later development. Rather if we consider Kanakāṅgi – Rasikapriyā and Kanakāmbari – Rasamañjari system were coeval, it can be taken that he had good acquaintance with both these systems.

It seems Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi was much popular among the disciples of Svāmigal and Vīṇa Kuppaier too could have accessed the same.Hence it is actually not impossible to find the use of the phrases seen in Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi in the works of these composers who were shrewd and able to incorporate the changes happening around them.

Sindhūra or (Hindustāni) Saindhavi

Though we were able to locate the phrases used in these kṛti-s, in the lakṣaṇa gītaṃ notated in Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi, this hypothesis is not infallible when we consider the cultural milieu of Tanjāvūr between 17-19 CE. In the second part of this article, we have speculated the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ and ‘śrī mānini’ were not identical twins, but actually an inspiration from a common melody heard in that area. We can apply this hypothesis to this kṛti too. Tanjāvūr during the mentioned period was very active musically and there was not only an amalgamation of various genres of music, but also effective incorporation and thereby adaptation of these genres into our music. The composers mentioned in this article were much inclusive to various musical thoughts and they did not restrain themselves from incorporating these ideas into their creations. Dīkṣitar’s nōṭṭusvara sāhitya-s, Svāmigal’s ‘ramiñcuva’ all come under this category wherein they have adopted Western music into their creations. This rāga under discussion could be an adaptation from Hindustāni music. There is a Hindustāni rāga by the name Sindhūra or (Hindustāni) Saindhavi (emphasis is mine) and with the same scale.7 This rāga could have influenced these two composers to create a composition in their own commendable style.  Both these composers were adept in ancient treatises and it is very unlikely that they would have labelled this kṛti as Sālagabhairavi. For our reference, Sindhūra could be a better option as it will not lead to any more confusion.

Rudrapriyā and this kti

The above discussion clearly shows the rāga of this kṛti cannot be fitted into the realm of Rudrapriyā. Atleast the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ has some elements that made us to speculate, this kṛti could be a different interpretation of the rāga Rudrapriyā. But that cannot be applied for this kṛti. In such a case, the reason for Dīkṣitar labelling it as Rudrapriyā is mysterious. We did not want to make a hasty conclusion saying Dīkṣitar was wrong in naming it as Rudrapriyā. We just want to make a point that we are unable to find a reason for this labelling. Even Dīkṣitar could have been puzzled by seeing the lakṣaṇa of this kṛti, strikingly different from the Rudrapriyā of the main text. But the reason for him to tag Rudrapriyā with this melody is even really intriguing. Perhaps he must have had a lexicon in his possession, which label this scale as Rudrapriyā. Our statement ‘Rudrapriyā had many names and many different scales were called as Rudrapriyā’ can be remembered here.

We will stop at this point and leave this discussion open. We believe Dīkṣitar will show us the way to crack this secret by opening some unknown avenues in the near future.

Conclusion

Rudrapriyā visualized by Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar in this kṛti is distinctly different from the Rudrapriyā mentioned elsewhere. Analysis of the lakṣaṇa clearly shows the name Rudrapriyā is actually a misattribution, based on the present level of understanding. Considering the acumen of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, it can be very well presumed that he must have had his own reasons to label this as Rudrapriyā.

It is better to call the scale SRMPDS SNDPMGRS as Sindhūra or Hindustāni Saindhavi. The rāga Sālagabhairavi is an old rāga mentioned in various treatises and was much popular. Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar and Svāmigaḷ were much conversant with these rāga-s and they would have not called this rāga as Sālagabhairavi. This also proves our oft-quoted hypothesis that evanescence of old versions made us to believe Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar and Svāmigaḷ were followers of two different schools. 

It is much surprising to see a phrase seen in Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi finding a place in a kṛti of Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar. This makes us to presume Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar too was aware of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi.

Footnotes

Footnote 1 – The present scalar Sālagabhairavi is actually an abridged version of Mukhāri, but with only one variety of dhaivatam.

Footnote 2 – Interestingly, this kṛti was not  mentioned by Narasiṃha Bhāgavatar and S A Rāmasvāmy Bhāgavatar in their texts.

Footnote 3 – Rāmasvāmy Bhāgavatar, grandson of Vālājāpeṭṭai Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar has averred to Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār that he had collected the individual kṛti-s in this rāgamālika and had plans to publish it soon. Unfortunately, we are now clueless on the condition of the manuscript in the possession of Rāmasvāmy Bhāgavatar.

Footnote 4 – Using mēla names current in Kanakāṅgi – Rasikapriyā nomenclature like ‘haimavatīm’ and ‘śūlinīm’ in his kṛti-s attest this fact.

References

1. Śrī Tyāgarāja Aṣtakam – http://www.hindupedia.com/en/Sri_Thyagaraja_ashtakam

2. Proceedings of the Experts Committee of the Madras Music Academy. 1956. The Journal of  Music  Academy, Volume XXVII, p 27-28.

3. Rāmanāthan N. 2009. Rāga-s: Rudrapriyā, Karnāṭaka Kāpi, Darbār and Kānaḍā – A   Comparative Analysis. The Journal of Music Academy, , Volume LXXX, p 103-114. http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/show/2359

4. Proceedings of the Experts Committee of the Madras Music Academy. 1943. The Journal of  Music Academy, Volume XIV, p 17-18.

5. Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgar C.V. 1935. Sudēsamitran. http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/show/1638, p 10.

6. Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi. 1938. Sālagabhairavi lakṣaṇa gītaṃ – p 111-112. The Adyar Library.

7. Subbā Rao T.V. 1996. Rāganidhi. A Comparative Study Of Hindustāni and Karnātik Rāgas.  The Music Academy, p 46-47.

Composers, Manuscripts, Notation, Pathantara, Raga

Apurva raga-s handled by Tyagaraja Svamigal – Karnataka Kamas

Dr Aravindh T Ranganathan

This article is a continuation of the previous one on the rāga Kamās. It is advisable to get acquainted with that article before proceeding further as the mentioned article will be quoted often.

Like K V Rāmachandran has mentioned in one of his article, Tyāgarāja Svāmigal is like Prajāpati in creating his own rāga-s.1 Many of these rāga-s were hitherto unknown and many have only his compositions. This uniqueness had posed a problem for the musicians, compilers and researchers in the last century. Many rāga-s were given more than one name, some had scale-lakṣaṇa discrepancies, that is the rāga name does not match with the rāga svarūpa portrayed in the rāga and some were corrected to the nearest scale. The basic reason for such a discrepancy is the name of these rāgas-s remained anonymousand the compilers adopted their own indigenous ways to name these rāga-s (See Footnote 1).Frequently Taccur brothers were impeached for adopting the names from the text by name Saṅgraha Cūdāmani.2 Rāga-s handled by Tyāgarāja and Dīkṣitar with varied lakṣaṇa were given a single name and in this process a theory was devised to behold this glaring anomaly, Tyāgarāja and Dīkṣitar followed two different schools and a same rāga was handled differently depending on the school to which they belong to. Whereas Dīkṣitar’s musical ancestry was traced back to Vēṅkaṭamakhi, sincere thanks to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, Svāmigal’s ancestry was traced back to the text Saṅgraha Cūdāmani whose authorship is unknown. But this theory was questioned by Chērmadevi Subraḥmaṇya Sāstrigal as early as in 1936, a Veena vidvan belonging to Dīkṣitar school (See Footnote 2).3 This thought was later echoed in many of the articles by K V Ramachandran.1,2 Their reasoning and querying the authenticity of this theory is genuine, when we see a similar handling of ghana, rakti and dēśīya rāga-s, how or why should these contemporary composers follow different schools while handling apūrva rāga-s? This question remains open even now; but we still believe they propagated two different schools. This author tries to supplement the thoughts put forward by these musicians/musicologists, by analyzing Vālājāpeṭṭai manuscripts and other older versions and articles in this series can be accessed in this site.

K V Rāmachandran also made two valid observations which help us to understand these apūrva rāga-s better and help us to continue his quest in identifying the original tunes and the original rāga names. First, he mentions, in the event of identifying or tagging a rāga name to a composition, the original tune has been vitiated. Secondly, Vālajāpet Rāmasvāmy Bhāgavatar (grandson of Vālajāpet Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar) has admitted to him that many rāga names has been assigned to the kṛti-s without proper scrutiny.2 The latter point becomes more important as the names that we see today for many of these apūrva rāga-s appear for the first time in the book “Oriental Music in European Notation” by A M Chinnasāmy Mudaliyar published in the year 1893. The main source for this publication is Kṛṣṇasvāmy Bhāgavatar, along with some other prominent musician whose identity is anonymous. However Rāmachandran and Sāmbamūrti expounded the genuineness of Vālajāpeṭṭai notations and Rāmachandran even advises that these notations are to be analyzed to know the true svarūpa of the compositions of Svāmigal.2,4

With this introduction, let us move to the kṛti ‘sītāpate nā manasuna’. Nowhere else the rāga of this kṛti is disputed and this is such an innocuous kṛti always sung in the rāga Kamās. But our understanding on the Kamās made us to revisit all the available versions for this kṛti – both oral and textual and we are here to report an unusual misattribution; a kṛti composed in an apūrva rāga could have been attributed to the rāga Kamās!

Sītāpatē nā manasuna

We had mentioned several times that the popularity enjoyed by a kṛti too vary and is much time dependent. We have seen such instances in the rāga-s Balahamsa and Kamās. This is one another instance, a kṛti which was not common in the early part of the last century, gained prominence in the later half. Very few texts give this kṛti in notation and this is the same trend seen in the manuscripts examined.

Oral renditions

We hear almost a similar version with the sparse use of ṛṣbham. It is one of the fortunate kṛti-s wherein the basic structure of the kṛti is fairly similar across the renditions. As seen in the article on Kamās, none of the renditions are devoid of the svara ṛṣbham (See footnote 3).

Textual versions – An analysis

As mentioned earlier, very few texts give this kṛti in notation; three texts and three manuscripts in our collection gives us this kṛti. The first text to give this kṛti is ‘saṅgīta kalānidhi’ of Taccur brothers.5 This version is totally devoid of ṛṣbham, has Kamās phrases like SGMS, MNDN and PNDP and set to ādi tāla. To make it more precise, it represents the variant Kamās mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar with unfeigned adherence to the scale SGMPDNS  SNDPMGS, yet maintaining other important phrases of Kamās. If we include the svara ṛṣbham, this version will be much closer to the version that we hear commonly.

Saṅgītānandaratnākaram is the next text to make a note of this kṛti.6 The version given here is also devoid of ṛṣbham, but more closer to the one given in Vālājāpeṭṭai version which will be described soon. The pallavi has five saṅgati-s, of which four show its presence in Vālājāpeṭṭai version. One saṅgati here sports the phrase MNDN, which occur only once in this kṛti. This phrase is absent in Vālājāpeṭṭai version. Similarly the first line of anupallavi has a saṅgati which has the phrase SGMSN. This phrase is again not seen in Vālājāpeṭṭai version. It can be concluded that the basic Vālājāpeṭṭai version could have been followed in this text with few additional saṅgati-s. Whether this version has a Vālājāpeṭṭai source or this was the musical tune of this kṛti prevalent among all the disciples, directly learnt from Svāmigal cannot be ascertained.

Dākṣinātyagānam is the third text to take a note of this kṛti (See footnote 4).7 In contrast with the other two versions mentioned above, this has ṛṣbham. Also, tāla of this kṛti is given as dēśādhi. The svara ṛṣbham occurs in the phrases like SRS, RSNDN and RGM; but phrases like SMGM or MNDN are not seen. Can we then call it as Kamās, when its integral phrases are not present? It is acceptable that a composer need not use all phrases in a rāga. But is he entitled to envisage a rāga with none of its integral phrases?

Coming to manuscripts, this is seen in Vālājāpeṭṭai transcripts and a manuscript written by Śrīnivāsarāghavan and Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar. Śrīnivāsarāghavan has collected manuscripts from various sources and we cannot point it to any particular source. This has ṛṣbham in the phrases SRGM and NRS, but only in two or three places. This version corresponds to SGMPDNS  SNDPMGS with occasional SRGM. Again, no other vital phrases of Kamās can be seen.  

The version by Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar8 does not have ṛṣbham (See footnote 5). The version given here strictly adheres to the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS. He was a disciple of Umayālpuram Svāminātha Iyer and consider to represent late Umayālpuram lineage.

Vālājāpeṭṭai transcripts give a version which is different from the commonly heard version, yet identical with the rāga Kamās. The version strictly adheres to the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS, a variant of Kamās mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, totally devoid of ṛṣbham. This is set to the tāla dēśādhi and the melody when sung in this tāla gives a different feel. In the article on Kamās we have seen the scale mentioned can be a variant and with the occasional presence of ṛṣbham can be considered as Kamās as seen in the kṛti ‘sujana jīvana’. Now a doubt can arise for an astute observer, the reason for us to discuss this kṛti separately when we have seen a Kamās variant.

The Vālājāpeṭṭai version of this kṛti, though appears much similar to the kṛti ‘sujana jīvana’, has much pertinent differences. First, this lacks ṛṣbham completely. Nowhere in the literature, have we come across an evidence to consider Kamās as a ṣādava rāga. Hence calling this kṛti as Kamās is debatable. We had raised this query in the article on Kamās too. Second, the kṛti strictly follows the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS, excluding the presence of DNP. Whereas the kṛti ‘sujana jīvana’ had many outliers like SMGS, GPM which can be seen in any old composition composed in the rāga Kamās. Third, the gṛha and nyāsa svara-s used in this kṛti are ṣadjam and pancamam. If we contrast this kṛti with ‘sujana jīvana’, this point can be understood well. The latter kṛti starts with madyamam and almost every āvarta ends with madyamam. Lastly, dhaivatam, though we didn’t see it as a gṛha svara in the latter kṛti, can be considered as an amsa svara. Madhyama and dhaivata are the important svara-s that form a base for Kamās. This cannot be applied for this kṛti in hand. Niṣādha is actually a prominent nyasa svara in this kṛti. Madhyama and dhaivata were not given a prominent place. Considering all these differences, it can be very well precluded that this kṛti could have been composed in some apūrva rāga, having a lakṣaṇa much similar to Kamās. Vālājāpēṭṭai version can be heard here.

When other old versions were compared, it can be seen that all except one follow this variant scale.  Of these versions, the version in Saṅgītānandaratnākaram is almost a reproduction of Vālājāpeṭṭai version. The version by Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar also supports the scale and though the version is not a verbatim reproduction of Vālājāpeṭṭai version, it is melodically much similar with the latter version. It can very well be considered as a modification of Vālājāpeṭṭai version. Śrīnivāsarāghavan too follows this scale but has ṛṣbham. Going by these versions, can we speculate the basic melody could have been in some rāga with the scale SGMPDNS SNDPMGS. Texts could have mentioned it as Kamās due to its inherent similarity with the latter rāga. In that case, phrases suggestive of Kamās were added later? This name confusion and mixing up of rāga-s is not uncommon. We had discussed earlier about this in the rāga Rudrapriya and how Rudrapriya mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can very well be called as Karnāṭaka Kāpi by many others.

This hypothesis becomes stronger when we consider the version given in Dākṣinātyagānam. That version too has some melodic similarities with Vālājāpeṭṭai verion, especially in the pallavi segment. But the presence of ṛṣbham makes the melody sound different. C R Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār, author of this text has mentioned that the kṛti-s were procured from his personal collection and from Flute Śarabha Śāstrigal. But the source of individual kṛti was not given. In this version, excluding the presence of SRGM and SRS, no other phrase typical to Kamās can be seen. In such a case, is it acceptable to call it as Kamās? We leave this question to musicologists.  

Name of the rāga

Having seen these versions, it is necessary to name the scale seen in this kṛti. Our idea is not to obfuscate the readers by giving some obscure names; rather this an attempt to create an image in the mind of readers that this could have been composed in a rare rāga. Ideally kṛti-s like this are to be discussed in music conferences and consensus has to be made. But to begin with, an attempt is being made here to name this scale. The text Rāga Pravāham gives three different names for this single rāga culled from three different sources – Bilaval, Dhivyamavathi and Karnāṭaka Kamās.9 Of these the last one suits better than the other two, as the this scale represents Kamās in many aspects.

Conclusion

This kṛti, like many kṛti-s of Svāmigal display heterogeneity, across the versions with respect to rāga lakṣaṇam. Though every other version label it as Kamās, the lakṣaṇa given therein differ considerably. From our analysis, it can be seen the lakṣaṇa seen in the majority of the examined versions do not correspond with the lakṣaṇa of Kamās or its variant.

Though this kṛti and ‘sujana jīvana’ were considered to be set in the same rāga, there exist differences between these two as it is evident from our analysis. But all these differences testimony the past and we nowhere can hear those differences, either now or in future.

The rāga handled here could be a scale much resembling Kamās and somewhere down in the line Kamās phrases could have been added. This ṣādava scale has many other names and the one that is much closer to Kamās, less confusing and also which can be taken by us easily is Karnāṭaka Kamās.

Footnotes

Footnote 1 – From Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, several musicians had made a note that Svāmigal didn’t reveal the name of the apūrva rāga-s to his disciples. Someone, perhaps after the beatitude of Svāmigal has named by referring to some lexicon available to them.

Footnote 2 – Cermādēvi Subraḥmaṇya Śāstrigal represents the disciple lineage Śrī Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, being a disciple of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and Ambi Dīkṣitar. He also had his training from Vīna Śēṣaṇṇaof Mysore. In a series of articles in the magazine The Saṅgīta Abhimāni, he expressed his views on the rāga variations seen in the compositions of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Svāmigaḷ. He raises the same query, how or why the changes are seen only in these apūrva rāga-s of these composers when we have the same lakṣaṇa for rāga-s like Kāmbhōji or Tōḍi? He also mentions both of them belonged to the śiṣya parampara of Vēṅkaṭamakhin.

Footnote 3 – This author was told by Dr Rājaśrī Srīpati, Vaiṇika, that she has learnt this kṛti completely devoid of ṛṣbham from Viduṣi Smt Suguṇa Varadācāri.

Footnote 4 – The exact year of publication of this text cannot be identified. Based on the introductory notes given by Ayyaṅgār, it can be speculated that this text must have been published before 1917.

Footnote 5 – At one place in the anupallavi, we were unable to ascertain the exact svara he has written. Though it appears like ṛṣbham, its complementary part that occurs in caraṇam does not read as ṛṣbham. 

Acknowledgements

I sincerely thank Smt Nandhini Venkataraman, descendant of Kumbakonam Sri Visvanatha Iyer and Dr Chandran, descendant of Dr Srinivasa Raghavan for parting me with the manuscripts in their possession.

My sincere thanks to Dr Rājaśrī Srīpati for educating me about the rare version of this composition.

References

  1. K.V. Rāmacandran. The mēlakartā – A critique. The Journal of Music Academy, pg 31-33, 1938.
  2. K.V. Rāmacandran. Karnatic rāga-s from a new angle. The Journal of Music Academy, pg 105-127,1996.
  3. Cermādēvi Subraḥmaṇya Śāstrigal. Vaiṇīka, gāyaka samvādam. Sila janya rāgaṅgalin kuzappam. The Saṅgīta Abhimāni, pg 101-103,1936.
  4. P. Sāmbamūrti. The Wālājāhpet manuscripts. The Journal of Music Academy, pg 114-129, 1938.
  5. Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu . Saṅgīta Kalānidhi, pg . Kalā Ratnākara, Mudrākśara Śālā, Cennapuri, 1912 
  6. Tenmaṭam Vēṅkaṭācāryulu, Tenmaṭam Varadācāryulu. Saṅgītānanda ratnākaramu, pg 51-52. Śrīnikētana mudrāyantramu, Madras, 1917.
  7. C.R. Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār. Dākṣinātyagānam, pg 156-157.
  8. Kumbakōṇam Viśvanātha Ayyar. http://musicresearchlibrary.net/omeka/items/browse?collection=1&sort_field=Dublin+Core%2CTitle&page=2

9. M.N. Danḍapāṇi, D. Paṭṭammal. Rāga Pravāham. The Trinity Book Publishers, 2007.

History, Manuscripts, Notation, Pathantara, Raga, Sahitya

Intriguing raga-s – Kamas

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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) [1]. 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.

Kamās as 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.

Kamās in treatises

This rāga has not been catalogued by Śahaji, Tulajā or other musicologists before their period [2]. 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 [3]. 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.

Kamās in other texts

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 [4]. 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 [5]. 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 [6]. Though we are able to get a clear definition of this rāga, our question on the scale without ṛṣbham, mentioned by Dīkṣitar remains unanswered.

Mūrcana in Pradarṣini

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.

Compositions

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.

Sujana jīvana

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’ [7], ‘saṅgītānanda ratnākaramu’ [8], ‘saṅgīta raja raṅgōm’ [9] and ‘gandarva gāna kalpavalli’ [10] 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 svara.

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’.

Anupallavi

                        bhujaka bhūṣanār  II cita budha janāvanāt II

               maja vandita śruta candana II daśa turaṅga māmava  II

                                                        Caraṇam

                          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.

Conclusion

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 maximum extent.

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.

Footnotes

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.

References

1. Subbarāma Dīkṣitulu. Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarṣini. Vidyā Vilāsini Press, Eṭṭayapuraṃ  Samasthānaṃ, 1904.

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

3. Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi – Kamās lakṣaṇa gītaṃ – Pg 164. The Adyar Library, 1938.

4. Pazamanēri Svāminātha Ayyar: Rāga Vibhōdini, 1901.

5. Rāmanāthan S : Desi rāga-s in Karnātik music. Journal of Music Academy, pg 24-25, 1966.

6. S R Janakiraman. Rāga lakṣaṇaṅgal – Part 1, pg 128. The Music Academy, Madras, 1995.

7. Taccur Śingarācāryulu, Cinna Śankarācāryulu. Gāyaka siddhāṅjanamu, Part 1, pg 137. Kalā Ratnākara, Mudrākśara Śālā, Cennapuri, 1905.  

8. Tenmaṭam Vēṅkaṭācāryulu, Tenmaṭam Varadācāryulu. Saṅgītānanda ratnākaramu, pg 53. Śrīnikētana mudrāyantramu, Madras, 1917.

9. Reṅganātha Ayyar. Saṅgīta raja raṅgōm, pg 289, 1928.  

10. Rāmulu Ceṭṭi. Gandarva gāna kalpavalli, pg 56. Śrī ‘Rāma’ Mudrākṣaraśāla,1929.

Composers, CompositionAppreciation, Manuscripts, Notation, Pathantara, Raga

Apurva raga-s handled by Tyagaraja Svamigal – Phalaranjani

Dr Aravindh T Ranganathan

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

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

Vālājāpet notations

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

‘Srī nārasiṃha māṃ pāhi’ in earlier texts

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

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

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

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

Rāga lakṣaṇaṃ

Phalaranjani

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

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

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

Phalamanjari

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

Notated versions of ‘Srī nārasiṃha māṃ pāhi’

Version by Taccur brothers

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

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

Tillaisthānaṃ version

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

‘Srī nārasiṃha māṃ pāhi’ in unpublished manuscripts

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

Vālājāpet notations                                                           

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

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

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

Manuscript of SA Rāmasvāmy Ayyar

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

Umayāḷpuraṃ version

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

Manuscript in the possession Srīvañchiyaṃ Rāmachandra Ayyar

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

Comparison between Vālājāpet notations and the version by Taccur brothers

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

‘Srī nārasiṃha māṃ pāhi’ in oral tradition

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

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

Conclusion

The following conclusions can be drawn from the above discussion:

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

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

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

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

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

Acknowledgements

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

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

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

References

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

Composers, History, Notation, Personalities

“Svarakalanidhi” Narayanasvami Iyer – A titan from an age bygone

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Prologue:

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:

  1. The cittasvara section ( GRSN SRPN SRNRS ….) for “mamava satatam” in Jaganmohini was composed by Walajapet Krishnasvami Bagavathar
  2. 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:

  1. The popular cittasvara to the Malavi kriti “Nenaruchi naanu” was composed by Tirukkodikaval Krishna Iyer.
  2. Cittasvaras were composed by Mazhavarayanendal Subbarama Bagavathar as found recorded in his notebooks.

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.

English Translation of the Varna
(mandhara stayi notes are in lower case; madhya stayi notes in upper case and ; tara stayi notes in upper case italics)

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:

  1. Firstly, 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.
  2. The composition features these vakara sancaras to the tee.
  3. The sahitya, akin to “Viribhoni” and “Sri Rajagopala” hails the ksetra as “Dakshina dvaraka”.
  4. The carana portion is exquisitely structured with the jiva svara patterns of Durbar.
  5. Interestingly the notation itself provides 2 variations/sangathis for the carana sahitya section beginning “nIrajAkshi”
  6.  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?

Michael 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”

https://www.muziekweb.nl/en/Link/KJX3705/Indian-talking-machine-78-rpm-record-and-gramophone-collecting-on-the-sub-continent?TrackID=KJX3705-0021

(hit the URL and browse down to entry 21 which is Tiruvasanallur Narayanasami Iyer – Sanskrit Song Part -1)

One is not sure as to the identity of the person, but yet here is something for us to chew upon.

Conclusion:

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.

References:

  1. “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
  2. “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)
  3. “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
  4. “The Gramaphone Company’s First Indian Recordings -1899-1908” -By Michael Kinnear (1994) Sangam Book – pp 157-158

Epilogue:

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:

sApashyat kausalyA viSNum sApashyat kausalyA (sApashyat) 
prasava sadana gatha mEnam pUSpAyudha shata kOTi samAnam viSNum (sApashyat) 
jaladhara shyAmaLa gAtram pankEruhadaLa sannibha nEtram viSNum (sApashyat) 
kaustubha shobhita kaNTam rAkA candra nibham vaikuNTham  viSNum  (sApashyat)

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.

Composers, CompositionAppreciation, Manuscripts, Notation, Pathantara, Raga

The mysterious ‘nagumomu ganaleni’ of Tyagaraja Svamigaḷ

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

Ābhēri

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

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

Types

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

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

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

Popular version of the kṛti ‘nagumōmu ganalēni’

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

Nagumōmu ganalēni – old versions

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

Renditions

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

Texts

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

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

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

Version by Kākināḍa Kṛṣṇa Ayyar

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

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

Dēvagāndhāri or Dēvagāndhāra

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

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

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

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

Manuscripts

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

Manuscript by Bharatam Natēśa Ayyar

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

Manuscript by Śrīnivāsarāghavan

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

Vālājāpeṭṭai version

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

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

Ninnuvinā marigalada

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

What is the rāga of this kṛti?

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

Acknowledgements

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

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

References

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

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

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

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

Footnote 1

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