Raga

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.

CompositionAppreciation, Raga, Repertoire

The Extinct Malavasri

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Prologue & A Prelude:

Ragas like Saranganatta, Desakshi, Samantha and Malavasri once upon time ruled the roost but today lie forgotten and unsung. Malavasri is a raga in which both Tyagaraja and Muthusvami Dikshita have composed. This blog post is to document the history of the raga in brief and introduce Dikshita’s composition to the reader of this blog.

But before that, is a prelude. The year was 1945, when the Second World War was winding down, with the day being March 25th, a Sunday. If one had tuned into the All India Radio Madras 1 Station at 10PM that day, after the rendering of  the popular “ Nee Inrangayenil” by the young and sprightly M S Subbulakshmi, the listener would have next heard the kriti of Tyagaraja in the raga Malavasri (“Evarunnaru brova”) played from the vinyl record rendered by the then 26 year old D K Pattammal in her inimitable style, followed by Dikshita’s “Manasa Guruguha rupam” in Anandabhairavi – vide the extract of the day’s broadcast schedule from the “Indian Listener” pinned as the header to this post.

The same recording made by her close to 90 years ago can be heard here:

Yet another is a dance piece for listening- Kubera Stuti- in tisra eka tala set in the raga Malavasri.

The raga Malavasri belongs to the 22nd Mela (Kharaharapriya/Sriraga) taking the following svaras/murrcanas in its ascent and descent, according to the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP).

Arohana: S G2 G2 M1 P N2 D2 N2 S

Arohana: S N2 N2 D2 P M1 P N2 D2 M1 M1 G2 S

Mark the emphasis on the gandhara, madhyama and nishadha notes in the progression. This raga is an oddity for more than one reason for it also incorporates a few now-lost 18th century raga architectural attributes. While Natta, Gaula, Arabhi, Varali and Sri were the traditional ghana ragas (pancakam) of the first category, the ragas Reetigaula, Narayanagaula, , Bhauli, Malavasri and Saranganatta are the constituents of the dviteeya ghana pancakam.

Historical Background to the Raga:

The raga right through history has been recorded by musicologists and with the advent of the mela scheme, Venkatamakhin (1620 CE) as well as Shaji (circa 1700 CE) and Tulaja (circa 1732 CE), placed the raga as a shadava raga skipping rishabha altogether under Sriraga mela. And the raga is documented as-is in the Ragalakshanam of Muddu Venkatamakhin (circa 1750). Older texts while helping in validating the broad lakshanas of ragas, do not provide us with the intricate details or compositions and we are left to rely on the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP) of Subbarama Dikshita which details this raga for our benefit.

The SSP’s narrative provides us with this nominal raga structure for us.

Arohana: S G2 G2 M1 P N2 N2 D2 N2 S

Arohana: S N2 N2 D2 P M1 P N2 D2 M1 M1 G2 S

Attention is invited to the vakra dhaivatha in the arohana and the SNDPM, SNDNPM, SNDNPM combinations that occur in the descent. Further Subbarama Dikshita asserts on the authority of the older texts that there are no sancaras beyond the madhya stayi. In fact, Muthusvami Dikshita’s kriti provided as an exemplar goes one step further as the raga is dealt with only between madhya gandhara and tara pancama, with no sancaras below.

The SSP documents the following compositions as exemplars of the raga, none of which are in currency on the modern concert stage.

  1. Mangalambayai Namaste” of Muthusvami Dikshita in misra jhampa tala
  2. Devi Sathatham” of Krishnasvami Ayya in Matya capu tala – the musical setting perhaps being done by Subbarama Dikshita himself
  3. Indha perumai” – a padam in Tamil by Mukkupulavar in misra eka tala – the sahitya being that of the Ettayapuram Court poet and the musical setting likely of Balasvami Dikshita

The SSP apart from documenting the lakshya gitam ascribing it to Venkatamakhin as authority for the raga’s grammar also documents a unique gitam commencing as “manmadha naLa” called as “mukta-pada-grastham” whereby the ending syllabic constituent unit of the previous sahitya section becomes the first syllabic constituent of the succeeding sahitya portion. (andhadhi). Much like the Narayanagaula gitam documented in the SSP, this gitam must have been in currency and must have been a popular composition. It must be emphasized that gitas or gita prabhandas were the concise repositories of a raga’s lakshanas, encapsulating pithily the set of all possible svara combinations or murrcanas of the raga, akin to how we treat the varna in modern days.

A perusal of the said gita offers us vital clues as to this raga’s lakshana:

  1. The raga delineated spans the madhya sadja to the tara madhyama. There are no mandhara stayi phrases in the gita.
  2. The gita is divided into two parts – the first one being the dhruvam – the so-called opening refrain or what we today call as the pallavi. The second is the javada or the so called anupallavi part which loops back to the dhruvam or the refrain.
  3. Nishadha followed by the madhyama is found greatly emphasized by their repeated usage both in the dheergha and janta varieties.
  4. The salient arohana and avarohana murrcanas found are as under:
    • Madhya stayi- ascent- SGGM-MMP-MPNNDN-NDNS
    • Madhya stayi – descent: -SNS-SNNDPMP- SNDP-SNDNPN-MNDMGS-SNDNPNDMGS-PMGS
    • Tara stayi – S,GS- MMGS-SMGS-MGSMGS-

Apart from the SSP two other documented sources of this raga from olden times even antecedent to the SSP are as under:

  1. manmadha nala” the gitam in Malavasri found in the SSP is also published in Pallavi Svara Kalpavalli (published in 1900 CE) by Tiruvottriyur Tyagier. There are a few variations here and there save for one crucial aspect which is that in one place the mandhara nishadha is touched.
  2. Sri Ramani kucakumkuma” – a ragamalika gitam of 32 ragas in Dhruva tala of which Malavsri is one is found published in “Sangeetha Sarvaartha Sara Sangrahamu” of Veena Ramanujacharya (1873 CE). The sahitya and the corresponding musical notation which runs for one avarta of tala is as under:
1 2 3 4 5 6
S , M M G S
gA . . . ya ka
N S N D    
pa . rA .    
N N D M    
ya nu rE .    

The notation in italics is the tara sancara notes of the raga. This brief snippet of  the raga encompasses madhya stayi madhyama to tara stayi madhyama, emphasizing   nishadha madhyama notes, corresponding to the treatment of the raga in  “Mangalambayai Namaste” as we will see shortly. And while dhaivatha is vakra in the arohana, it is more seen vakra in the avarohana as well though a lineal SNDP is not forbidden. Vakra sancaras are de rigueur in this raga, which by incorporating multiple flows of murccanas follows the classical 18th century raga architecture.

It has to be pointed out that the raga’s lakshana as embodied in the SSP fully accords with the musical history right from the times of Venkatamakhin staying under the Sri raga mela and omitting rishabha. Both Sahaji and Tulaja in their works reinforce the same lakshana for the raga. Even the Sangraha Cudamani, the lexicon of the ragas of compositions of Tyagaraja omits rishaba in its structure and provides roughly the same arohana-avarohana krama for the raga.

And off course all musical texts are unanimous as to the rishabha being omitted and the raga being a upanga raga under 22nd mela.

Mangalambayai Namaste” of Muthusvami Dikshita

Before we delve into the musical aspects of composition, let’s look at the sahitya and its meaning first:

Pallavi

namastE                        – Salutations to you,

SrI  mangaLAmbAyai              – to (you who are) Goddess Mangalamba!

SrI vAncha linga nija SaktE    – O personal, active power of Shiva (Vanchalinga)!

vilIna cit-SaktE               – O embodiment of the hidden mental power!

anupallavi

sangIta sAhitya sArajna sannutE – O one celebrated by those who know the essence of music and literature,

mangaLa-Alaya gupta gangA taTa sthitE – O one dwelling in the auspicious temple on the bank of (the tank) Gupta Ganga,

ananga-Adi-upAsitE              – O one worshipped by Manmatha and others!

SRngAra-Adi yutE                – O one possessed of the various sentiments (Rasas) beginning with love(Shrngara)!

caraNam

manda smita-AnanE               – O one with a gentle countenance

mALava SrI janE              – O one who has good people (as devotees) in the country of                                                        Malava!

indirA-AlOkanE                  – O one who blessed Lakshmi with your gaze!

ISvara-ArAdhanE                 – O one who worships Shiva!

indIvara-Asana-Adi-IDita      – O one acclaimed by the gods led by the lotus-seated Brahma!

Siva-anganE                     – O young wife of Shiva!

sindUra kastUri candana-AlEpanE – O one anointed with vermillion, musk and sandal paste!

kunda mukuLa radanE             – O one with teeth like small-jasmine buds,

guru guha hRtsadanE             – O one whose abode is the heart of Guruguha,

sundari                                           – O beautiful one!

mRdu gadanE                               – O soft-spoken one!

sukha-tara kara madanE         – O one who grants great joy to Manmatha!

  1. The raga name and the colophon of Dikshita are seamlessly woven into the lyrics referring to the Malava/Malwa region (modern Central India)
  2. The ksetra of the composition is Sri Vanchiyam and Goddess Mangalambika is the consort of Lord Vanchinatha who is the presiding deity.
  3. Sri Vanchiyam is a hoary ksetra and is rich in stala purana from a mythological standpoint. Refer: http://templesoftamilnadu.co.in/srivanchiyam/
  4. Dikshita has composed three kritis, on Lord Vanchinatha and Goddess Mangalambika, of this ksetra as documented in the SSP as under:
    • Mangalambayai Namaste – Malavsri – misra jhampa tala
    • Sri Mangalambike – Kalyani – Khanda Ata
    • Sri Vanchanatham – Surati – Adi

From a musical aspect, the setting of the composition is itself very interesting.

  1. Subbarama Dikshita in his commentary makes a number of pertinent points about the raga:
    • He says the raga is shadava with rishabha being dropped totally and dhaivatha varja. It has to be pointed out that in the lakshana sloka dhaivatha is said to dropped (varjitha) in the arohana.
    • Malavasri is a ghana raga of the dviteeya category.
    • Gandhara, nishadha and madhyama svara are the key life-giving notes
    • From a lakshya standpoint the raga spans madhya stayi sadja to tara stayi madhyama.
    • SGGMPNNS -NNDPMPNDMMGS is the arohana and avarohana krama
  2. In the kriti however, Dikshita implements the raga as under:
    • While rishabha is dropped, dhaivatha is vakra in the arohana and not varjya. Dhaivatha note occurs as MPNDNS in the arohana and SNDP or SNDMP or SNDNP in the avarohana krama.
    • The raga effectively spans madhya stayi madhyama to tara stayi madhyama, with two outliers/exceptions – in the tara stayi the pancama (“srng-ArAdhiyutE”)is touched in one place and in the madhya stayi gandhara (“vilInacit saktE)” is touched in another place.
    • In other words, there is no sancara below madhya stayi gandhara, while the tara pancama is the outermost svara in the upper register.
    • The madhyama kala sahitya portion appended to the carana commencing “kunda mukula radanE” captures the effective gamut of the raga as visualized by Dikshita in this composition.
    • The primacy of the tara madhyama with which the composition starts and the repeated emphasis on the nishadha note (at “mangalAlaya” for instance) are key aspects to be noted.
    • Kampita gamaka adorns nishadha and gandhara throughout the composition.
    • Given the madhya stayi gandhara to tara madhyama only scope as dealt with in the composition, the murcchanas occurring thereof can be noted as below:
      1. MPNNS; MPNNDNS; GMNNDNS and SNDP, SNDPMPG, MPNNDM, SNDMPM in the madhya stayi
      2. SGS, SGMGS, SMGS and PMGS in the tara stayi
  3. From a rendering perspective the following aspects has to be observed for this composition:
    • The song commences on the tara madhyama and therefore a vocalist should “park firmly” at the madhyama note in the upper register, without deviating in any manner, such as intoning the gandhara instead as the commencing note.
    • Keeping in line with the delineation in the composition, any sancara below madhya gandhara should advisedly be eschewed in any sangati or alapana or neraval or svara prastara, so as to ensure fidelity to the intent of the composer as he has kept to that as the gamut of the raga in this composition.

Discography:

In this section I present the my rendering of “Mangalambayai Namaste” to the best of abilities , keeping to my interpretation of the notation found in the SSP. I should hasten to add that errors and omissions are entirely mine.

In this context the following points are to be noted:

  1. A version of this composition is found in the public domain ascribed to Sangeeta Kalanidhi Smt. Aruna Sairam. It is most respectfully submitted that the said version does not conform to the notation as found in the SSP and much liberties has been taken with the same. Here is the recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHSmlUKZ1PI
  2. It is even more unfortunate that the composition is seen rendered in khanda capu tala as well inflicting even greater damage to the composition. As recorded in earlier blog posts, the Jhampa Tala compositions of Dikshita such as “Sri Venugopala” ( Kurinji), “Sri Kalahasteesa” ( Huseini) are seen rendered in khanda capu tala, doing incalculable harm both the intent of the composer and the rhythmic setting of the kriti.
  3. Notations as well narratives of the raga found in the public domain provides the arohana and avarohana krama of the raga wrongly. Rishabha is seen included in the descent. It has to be noted that the raga is entirely devoid of rishabha note. Students as well as performers need to stay wary of these obvious errors. Example: https://karnatik.com/c5787.shtml
  4. There is another composition “ Kanakasabapatim” passed off as a composition of Muthusvami Dikshita in the raga Malavasri. Again it is most respectfully submitted that this is a plain misattribution as the composition can neither be of Dikshita’s nor is it the Malavasri of the SSP as it does not in any way conform to the lakshana of the raga found in “Mangalambayai” and documented in the SSP. And therefore, the said composition is not considered in this blog post.

Malavasri as featured in Ramasvami Dikshita’s 108-Raga-Tala Malika

This magnum opus as published in the SSP, features the raga Malavasri as the 13th portion/khandika set in rAjacUdAmani tala. The notation shows traversal of Malavasri in the mandhara stayi upto the mandhara madhyama. And above all a considerable portion of the lyrics are notated in mandhara stayi in obvious discordance to Subbarama Dikshita’s own commentary that the raga does not permit sancaras below madhya sadja ! However the raga as delineated is otherwise in line with the stated lakshana of the raga being SGMPNNS/SNDPMGS.

Vidushi R S Jayalakshmi in Dec 2014 gave a lecture demonstration of this mammoth composition of Ramasvami Dikshita. In this Youtube Link she demonstrates the Malavasri portion starting 1:07:18 onwards.

Malavasri & the SSP and Tyagaraja’s Compositions:

Thus, Malavasri has always been a shadava raga of the Sriraga mela, omitting rishabha. And in the SSP as we see there are two other unique aspects:

  1. Dhaivatha is vakra in the arohana and
  2. Sancaras span only from madhya gandhara to tara pancama. And according the Subbarama Dikshita sancaras below madhya stayi sadja are not seen in the raga. This feature of the raga is akin to that of Surati where no sancaras are seen below the sadja of the middle register.

In this context we have to assess the melodic contours of the Malavasri found in Tyagaraja’s compositions “Evarunnaru” and “Ennalu tirigedi”. It is to be noted that this composition of Tyagaraja – “Evarunnaru” is only found listed in Rangaramanuja Iyengar’s publication and is not found documented in other publications or compendia of Tyagaraja’s compositions.

The lyrics of the composition can be found here: http://thyagaraja-vaibhavam.blogspot.com/2007/09/thyagaraja-kriti-evarunnaaru-brova-raga.html

While the rendering of Smt D K Pattammal was presented earlier, the other rendering being that of Sangita Kalanidhi T V Sankaranarayanan is given below:

https://wynk.in/music/song/evarunnaru/am_INM159200051?page=0

The following conclusions can be drawn from these renderings:

  1. The melody indeed involves the notes of Mela 22, duly eschewing the rishabha note.
  2. The composition as well as the renderings span the full middle register and up to tara madhyama.
  3. Dhaivatha is seen rendered vakra in the arohana krama.
  4. The carana section “manasAraga dhyanimpanu– manasu nilupu marmambu telipi” seems tinted with rishabha (perhaps due to an oscillated flatter gandhara) which is avoidable. It has to be mentioned that the tara sancaras are rendered with SMGS or its variants without any trace of rishabha.

A cleaner version devoid of even a faint suggestion of rishabha in the said places in the kriti along with a sharper sadharana gandhara intonation, is this rendering of Vidvan Dileepkumar which is presented below:

The other kriti of Tyagaraja “ennalu tirigedi” of Tyagaraja is rendered by Dr Ritha Rajan which can be heard here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UdvhTBoydpY

Conclusion:

The evaluation of the musical material available to us shows that for Malavsri, the gitam as well as the kritis of Muthusvami Dikshita and Tyagaraja present an unalloyed and complete picture of the raga, which is sufficient for one to comprehend, understand and assimilate the raga, from the point of view of both a student and a performer. Further the raga as well as the Dikshita’s composition “Mangalambayai Namaste” can not only be rendered with practice but can be dealt with along with alapana, neraval and svaraprastara. By properly imbuing the composition and the raga lakshana therein, with fidelity to the notation and the intent of the composer, the composition can be performed competently. It is earnestly hoped that this beautiful composition with its uttaranga and upper register centric pivot, will be encountered more frequently on the concert circuit in the days to come.

References:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) – “Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini” – Republished in Tamil by Madras Music Academy (2006) -Vol II- Sriraga Mela- Pages 489-496
  2. Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – “Ragalakshana Sangraha”- Collection of Raga Descriptions pp 816-828
  3. Prof S R Janakiraman & Subba Rao (1993)- “Ragas of the Saramrutha”- published by the Madras Music Academy -pp 34-35
  4. Savitri Rajan & Michael Nixon (1982)–“Sobhillu Saptasvara” – published by CBH Publications -pp 115 & 135
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

History, Raga, Repertoire

Sarasvati Manohari – A Conundrum?

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Prologue:

At the very outset before we deal with the raga Sarasvati Manohari as documented in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP) of Subbarama Dikshita in this blog post, the following disclaimers are in order:

  1. This raga as documented in the SSP, belongs to the 29th Mela and it has nothing to do with the melody as found in “Entha Veduko” of Tyagaraja, which is provided with the name of Sarasvati Manohari as well but is under the 28th Mela.
  2. The raga name “Sarasvati Manohari” has been assigned to the melody of “Entha Veduko” of Tyagaraja by all musical authorities post 1900 AD on the authority of the Sangraha Cudamani which is purportedly the lexicon of the ragas of the compositions of Tyagaraja. It has been reiterated in these blog posts that the “Sangraha Cudamani” is a musical text of a much later vintage (19th century, most probably second half) in comparison to the Anubandha of Muddu Venkatamakhin which is dateable at the latest to 1750AD. The views of the noted music critic K V Ramachandran, the man who discovered the Sangraha Cudamani in the Adayar Library, in this regard are recorded for posterity and in these blogs as well. ( See Reference section below)
  3. Therefore, in our discussion of this raga in this blog post we will not be referring at all to the raga as found in “Entha Veduko” or the treatment thereof under Sangraha Cudamani. All references are to the treatment of the raga as found in the SSP.
  4. The authority for the raga Sarasvati Manohari under Mela 29 as documented in the SSP, comes from the three unassailable 18th century authorities (the Triad as we refer to these three texts in unison in these blog posts) of the likes of Sahaji (circa 1700 AD) , Tulaja (circa 1832 AD) and Muddu Venkatamakhin (1750AD) and crystallized with the exemplar composition of Muthusvami Dikshita.
  5. It’s a folly to talk of the Sarasvati Manohari of Tyagaraja and the Sarasvati Manohari of Dikshita given the weight of historical evidence we have in this regard. In these blog posts it is simpliciter stated the raga names as found in the Anubandha and documented in the SSP, are much older and are of far greater antiquity and authority. The assignment of such older names of ragas to the melodies of the compositions of Tyagaraja (such as Sarasvati Manohari) without relevance as to the identicality, was a post 1850 AD development. In fact, it is on record that Tyagaraja never revealed the raga names when he taught the compositions to his disciples and only much later after his death with the advent of printing did the assignment of raga names to the melodies happen. The effect was that in quite many cases wrong names came to be assigned to the ragas arbitrarily without taking into account the textual history of the raga concerned. Sarasvati Manohari is one such victim of misnaming whereby the older raga name came to be assigned to the melody of “Enta Veduko” without effecting a check whether the melody found in the composition corresponded to the scale of the raga as per grammar.
  6. Ironically today so synonymous is the raga name “Sarasvati Manohari” with “Enta Veduko” so much so that the actual or true melodic identity which is found in Dikshita’s composition “Sarasvati Manohari” is looked upon with suspicion!
  7. And it has to be placed on record that this aberration which came to be inflicted on this raga cannot and should not be used to advance the proposition that the raga itself evolved by dropping N3 and acquiring N2, as we have musical history of spanning 1700 to 1906 AD recording the raga as a janya of Mela 29. The raga of “Enta veduko” should have been assigned another new name without any confusion whatsoever, leaving the older name of “Sarasvati Manohari” out of this entire controversy. This mis-assignment of name is a self-inflicted wound by us on our very known musical theory and musicological history without any justification whatsoever. The only way is to acknowledge this aberration ex facie, and safely navigate the study of ragas and raga lakshanas, rather than trying to justify the same needlessly.

With these disclaimers in place, in this blog post we will embark on dissecting this old raga which is hardly ever rendered in the modern concert stage, save for the occasional rendering of just the kriti of Dikshita, sans alapana, neraval or svaraprastara.

It is reiterated that the raga Sarasvati Manohari of Dikshita is under Mela 29 (Sankarabharanam with N3) as documented in his composition “Sarasvati Manohari”, beginning on the raga mudra itself and no attempt should be made to corrupt the same and attempt to render it under Mela 28 by replacing the N3 with N2. There is no authority for it whatsoever in either the textual or the oral traditions.

Contours of the raga as found in Dikshita’s Composition:

On an entirely different note it can be demonstrated that the kritis of Muthusvami Dikshita are best understood by triaging the lakshana as found in the composition with the stated grammar of the raga in the “Triad” of musical works which are Sahaji’s “Raga Lakshanamu” (circa 1700 AD), Tulaja’s “Saramruta” (circa 1832 AD) and the “Ragalakshanam” of Muddu Venkatamakhin ( circa 1750 AD) being the Anubandha to the original Caturdandi Prakashika of Venkatamakhin ( the main text which is dateable to circa 1620 AD).

The SSP records for us by way of a snapshot, the composition (being the notation) and the raga lakshana which is the sole basis for this blog post and the analysis thereof. In the instant case, the treatment of the raga Sarasvati Manohari by Dikshita will be investigated to derive a proper understanding by solely looking at:

  1. The documentation as found in the SSP and other ancillary sources which have a high-fidelity nexus to the musical heritage of Muthusvami Dikshita
  2. The details for the raga as found in the “Triad” of musical works
  3. The oral renderings of the compositions as passed on to us being authentic versions or pAtAntharams.

This blog post has to be read focussing only on the above and any other extraneous material outside of the above is patently irrelevant for the subject on hand and hence a discussion on those is safely avoided. And which is why the aforesaid disclaimers become important in the context of this discourse.

The raga according to Subbarama Dikshita:

The SSP records the lakshana of the raga strictly in line with the “Ragalakshanam” of Muddu Venkatamakhin (circa 1750 AD) along with Subbarama Dikshita’s commentary and does not record the lakshana as found in the works of Sahaji and Tulaja. According to the SSP the following are the features of the raga:

  1. The raga is a bashanga janya of Sankarabharanam according to the SSP. For us in modern parlance it can be safely concluded that the raga is an upanga janya and takes only the notes of the parent Mela 29 only. It has been pointed out earlier that the term upanga/bashanga as used in the SSP, connotes a very different attribute of the raga and not the modern meanings that are ascribed to the said terms. The unassailable point here is that from a modern musicological perspective, the raga is without doubt upanga and the native nishadha note of the raga is N3 or kAkali variety only.
  2. The raga is sampurna and carries all the 7 notes, taking the arohana and avarohana together.
  3. Pancama is varjya or dropped in the arohana. Therefore MPD prayoga should be eschewed.
  4. Rishabha is vakra or deviant in the descent.
  5. Dhaivatha is the jiva svara of the raga.
  6. Despite the nominal arohana and avarohana progression of the raga being SRGMDDNS/SNDPMGMRS (as seen in the Ragalakshanam anubandha), DNS prayoga is not seen in the compositions.
  7. Therefore, the operative arohana progression of the raga is more like SRGM-DP-MDS or SRGM-DNDS or SRGMDDS
  8. Similarly, the operative avarohana progression is SNDPMGMRS or SNDNP-MGMRS

The perusal of the SSP would reveal the following beyond Subbarama Dikshita’s narrative.

  1. The Sankarabharana lakshya gita, lists Sarasvati Manohari as a bhashanga janya of the raga.
  2. The lakshya gita of the raga eschews DNS in toto despite the fact that the nominal arohana states DNS occurring.
  3. Though the sloka as found in the Anubandha cited in the SSP refers to the raga name as “sarasvata manohari”, Subbarama Dikshita labels the raga as “sarasvatI manOhari” only.

Armed with the above details let us look at the evidence provided by Sahaji and Tulaja in their respective works as to this raga.

“Sarasvati Manohari” according to Sahaji and Tulaja:

  1. The raga is named only as Sarasvati Manohari.
  2. Both the royal authors are unanimous in their view that pancama and nishadha are skipped in the arohana and gandhara in the avarohana.
  3. In fact, SRGMDDS and GMDDNDPM are oft repeated murrcanas in the raga.
  4. In essence MPD, DNS and MGRS are forbidden murrcanas of the raga.

In fact amongst the Triad, Sahaji and Tulaja are completely ad idem on the lakshana while Muddu Venkatamakhin alone strikes the sole discordant note by allowing DNS prayoga. However, Subbarama Dikshita explains away this sole discordance stating that DNS is not seen in practice.

Summary of the raga lakshana according to the Triad:

From the foregoing the raga lakshana can be restated in the classical 18th century vernacular as under:

  1. Sankarabharana is the mela or the raganga under which Sarasvati Manohari is classed.
  2. The raga is sampurna and all the 7 notes occur in its body and the notes are S, R2, G3, M1, D2 and N3. No other variety of the notes occurs.
  3. Pancama and nishadha are dropped in the arohana.
  4. Gandhara is vakra in the avarohana.
  5. Dhaivatha is a prime note emphasized via the repeated/janta notes.
  6. PDNS, MPD and DNS are forbidden in the arohana krama; MGRS is forbidden in the avarohana krama.
  7. SRGM, GMDD, PMDD, SNDP, NDPM, SNDNP, GMRS are the permitted murrcanas which join together to form the skeletal structure of the raga.

Dikshita’s Implementation of Sarasvati Manohari:

The notation of the Dikshita composition which begins with the raga name itself as its refrain reveals the following:

  1. d/R and D/r being the jump from mandhara dhaivatha to madhya rishabha and madhya dhaivatha to tara rishabha is seen repeatedly used apart from d/G and D/g as well.
  2. GMDP, MGMDD, RG-GMR, SNDSN, SNPM, RGMND are seen used in the composition aligning to the 18th century definition of the raga as laid.
  3. In the arohana krama RGMP cannot be used while RGMDP is permissible.
  4. The two madhyama kala sahitya portions provide a pithy/concise delineation of the raga’s lakshana.
  5. And the kriti is littered with svaraksharas particularly of the rishabha and pancama notes.

Key take-ways from the analysis:

  1. It is thus seen that Dikshita has meticulously stuck to the early 18th century version of the raga as documented by Sahaji and Tulaja, keeping out the DNS prayoga as well. His novelty has been the employment of the d/R and D/r, which is seen in Purnachandrika as a leitmotif. Dikshita has also eschewed DDS and is consistently seen approaching the tara sadja via the tara rishabha and not directly from the madhya dhaivatha.
  2. The raga shines forth with its native progressions being SRGM, GMDD, PMDD, SNDP, NDPM, SNDNP, GMRS, GMDP, MGMDD, RGMR, SNDSN, SNPM and RGMND.
  3. The raga may be considered as melodically close to modern Kannada which is different from the Kannada as documented in the SSP. In contradistinction, the Kannada of the SSP sports N2 prominently and is classed under Mela 28. In this context care should be taken in rendering Sarasvati Manohari as the phrase SNS is likely to creep in. the phrases SNDP or SNDS alone are allowed in contradistinction to modern Kannada.
  4. Under the SSP the raga Suddha Vasantha (under Mela 29) is a close raga which shares a common melodic bonding with Sarasvati Manohari and unfortunately the SSP does not record any composition of Dikshita is this raga.
  5. The two ragas namely Kannada and Suddha Vasantha are also documented by Sahaji and Tulaji under Mela 28 and 29 respectively and thus it may not be of much help.
  6. In summary a simple compare of Sarasvati Manohari with modern Kannada can help us differentiate and understand the ragas better.
Attribute Sarasvati Manohari of SSP Modern Kannada
Mela 29 29
Type Upanga Upanga
Arohana purvanga SRGM SGM and SMGM
Arohana uttaranga DDS and DrS MDNS ;PMDNS
Arohana
krama
SRGMDDS SMGMPMDNS
Avarohana uttaranga SNDP and SNDNP SNSDPM
Avarohana purvanga PMGMRS PMGMRS
Arohana
krama
SNDP or SNDNP-PMGMRS SDPMGMRS
Differences inter se
-arohana
Pancama and nishadha are dropped; SRGM and GMDP are permitted Rishabha & Pancama are both dropped in the ascent
Differences inter se-avarohana SNDP and SNDNP are the permitted prayogas Nishada is dropped in the descent.

In summary the difference between the ragas is slender and the Dikshita composition does well to capture the difference and also emphasizing the d/R prayoga given that rishabha is a much muted svara in modern Kannada.

It has to be recorded that “Sri Matrubhutam” of Muthusvami Dikshita is today rendered only in modern Kannada, thoroughly eschewing the N2 note which is supposed to dominate the raga Kannada according to SSP, which classes the raga under Mela 28, with N3 being an anya svara ( a bashanga janya under Mela 28).

From a practical perspective Sarasvati Manohari can be distinguished by emphasizing SRGM and SNDP prayogas along with d/RR, D/rr so as to safely keep Kannada out of the ken of the raga delineation.

Some collateral data points:

The “Dikshitar Keertanai Prakashikai” (DKP) published by Tiruppamburam Natarajasundaram Pillai (a disciple of Satanur Panju Iyer of the Dikshita sisya parampara) records this composition only under Mela 29without any ambiguity whatsoever. In fact, this composition was taught both to Natarajasundaram Pillai and to Veena Dhanammal by Satanur Panju Iyer who was their guru and it can be seen that the version tallies if the notation in DKP is compared with the oral version of the composition as sung by Sangita Kalanidhi Smt T Brinda, the scion of the Dhanammal tradition.

Apart from this the version of the composition as rendered by Sangita Kalanidhi Smt D K Pattammal, who in turn traces her pAtham to Justice T L Venkatrama Iyer and on to Ambi Dikshita son of Subbarama Dikshita, is aligned to the version as seen in the SSP.

We will review these two oral versions in the discography section.

The Composition:

pallavi

sarasvatI manOhari             – O one who captivates the heart of Goddess Sarasvati!

Sankari                                      – O wife of Shiva (Shankara)!

sadA-Ananda lahari             – O eternal wave of bliss!

gauri                                             – O fair one!

Sankari                                       – O the beneficent One!

anupallavi

sarasI-ruha-akshi              – O lotus-eyed one!

sadASiva sAkshi                – O one always with Sadashiva

karuNA kaTAkshi                – O one with compassionate side-glances!

pAhi                                       – Protect (me)!

kAmAkshi                             – O Kamakshi!

mura hara sOdari               – O sister of Vishnu (slayer of the demon Mura)!

mukhya kaumAri                 – O eminent Kaumari!

mUka vAkpradAna-kari     – O giver of speech to the mute poet Mooka!

mOda-kari                            – O source of bliss!

caraNam

akAra-Adi-akshara svarUpiNi    – O embodiment of all the letters beginning with “a”!

antaH-karaNa rUpa-ikshu cApini – O one who has a sugarcane-bow that represents the mind!

prakASa parama-advaita rUpiNi – O shining embodiment of supreme non-dualism!

parE                                                        – O supreme one!

tripura sundari                                     – O Tripurasundari!

tApini                                                 – O glowing, effulgent one!

prakalpita prapanca prakASini  – O one who shines forth as this created universe!

prasiddha guru guha janani     – O mother of the renowned  Guruguha!

pASini                                            – O one holding a noose!

vikalpa jaTila viSva viSvAsini – O one who is reliable in this diverse, complicated universe!

vijaya kAncI nagara nivAsini   – O one dwelling in the victorious city of Kanchi!

Notes:

It can be seen from the composition that:

  1. The composition is on Goddess Kamakshi of Kancipuram as it is so stated unambiguously.
  2. The raga mudra occurs right at the beginning of the composition and has been used to mean that Goddess Kamakshi is one who captivates Goddess Sarasvati. The epithet is reminiscent of the opening lines of the Manji composition “Sri Sarasvati Hite” meaning “O the benefactress of Goddess Sarasvati”.
  3. The phrase “akArAdyA-kshara svarupini” reminds one of the similar phrase – “ahantA svarUpini” occurring in “Brihannayaki Varadayaki” in Andhali.
  4. The composer’s colophon “guruguha” occurs as well in the composition which is set in Adi tala.

Sarasvati Manohari featured in the ragamalika “pUrna candra bimba”

Apart from this solitaire, the raga is also found featured in the ragamalika which is found documented in the Anubandha to the SSP. There are those who argue that this ragamalika being bereft of Dikshita’s colophon “guruguha” is not his but that of Ramasvami Dikshita. Be that as it may, Subbarama Dikshita has assigned the same to Muthusvami Dikshita in the Anubandha. The said ragamalika features ragas which are only janyas of Mela 29 Sankarabharana and they being Purnchandrika, Narayani, Saravati Manohari, Suddha Vasantha, Hamsadhvani and Nagadhvani.

The lyrics “pUrna phala prada caranE sarasvati manoharI” being the second anupallavi section to the main pallavi section being “pUrnacandra bimba vijaya vadanE kamalAbikE”, is set in Sarasvati Manohari. The notation and lyrics in rupaka tala runs thus:

1 2 3 1 2 3
G, MD P, MD MG M,
pU rNaph ala prada cara nE
S/R ,S n, pd ,d R,
sara sva tI manO ,ha rE

As can be seen the motif d/R being Dikshita’s novelty or improvisation as to this raga is seen employed with the overall grammar of the raga being in accordance with what is seen in the kriti “Sarasvati Manohari”. This can perhaps be taken as a point of evidence that this composition is likely to be Dikshita’s given the employment of his novel leitmotif, which is not seen in the generic raga lakshana.

Discography:

Sangita Kalanidhi T Brinda renders the composition “Sarasvati Manohari” here:

http://www.sangeethamshare.org/tvg/UPLOADS-1201—1400/1376-T-Brinda-Muthuswamy_Dikshithar_Krithis/

Sangita Kalanidhi D K Pattammal sings the composition “Sarasvati Manohari” here:

http://www.sangeethamshare.org/ksj/D-K-Pattammal/DKP–004–Dikshitar-Day-/

(Google/Yahoo ID would be required. Hit the URL and scroll down the items listed in the page)

Sangita Kalanidhi M Balamuralikrishna renders “Purna candra bimba” in this recording. Saravati Manohari portion is featured between 3:36 -4:10. The said portion of the rendering accords with the notation found in the Anubandha for the composition.

Conclusion:

Musical history must be properly evaluated and understood and due regard must be had to the authentic versions of the compositions as passed on to us. The fact that raga name Sarasvati Manohari came to be wrongly assigned to the raga of “Entha Veduko” should be acknowledged which would help us in appreciating the creations of both Tyagaraja and Dikshita for their individual beauty, without any confusion whatsoever. Tyagaraja spun many nouveau ragas which weren’t in existence prior to his times and his kritis are the sole exemplars for those ragas. The raga of “Entha veduko” too is one such creation of his, which must have been assigned a new name, instead of repurposing an existing older raga name causing confusion for all concerned. Further no normalization should be inflicted by attempting to render Dikshita’s kriti with N2 or Tyagaraja’s with N3. Each kriti should be preserved and sung as documented. And if we do this Sarasvati Manohari is no conundrum for anyone.

It is indeed sad that discussions and lecture demonstrations are held, the subject being how the same raga has apparently been dealt with differently by Dikshita and Tyagaraja, without realizing the folly committed in the late 19th century and perpetuated into the 20th century and till date. It is humbly submitted and hoped that the Music Academy will  take the lead in documenting this anomaly formally and assign newer names to these ragas of Tyagaraja so that the same is not just recorded for posterity but also serves to illuminate students and  listeners alike, with the confusion being avoided once and for all.

References:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) – Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – Republished in Tamil by Madras Music Academy (1977) -Part IV- Mela 29 Pages 915-919
  2. Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – ‘Ragalakshana Sangraha’- Collection of Raga Descriptions pp 1261-1264
  3. Sangita Kalanidhi T V Subba Rao & Dr S R Janakiraman (1993)- “Ragas of the Sangita Saramruta” – Published by the Madras Music Academy – pp 113-118
  4. Dr R Sathyanarayana (2010)- “Ragalakshanam” of Sri Muddu Venkatamakhin- Published by IGNCA
  5. Ramachandran K.V. (1950) – “Carnatic Ragas and the Textual Tradition” – The Journal of the Music Academy XXI, pp. 99-106, Madras, India.
  6. Ramachandran K.V. (1950) – “Apurva ragas of Tyagaraja’s Songs” – The Journal of the Music Academy XXI, pp. 107-109, Madras, India.

Acknowledgement/Credits:

The Kamakshi icon painting, being the featured image in this blog post heading is by artist Shri Rajeshwar Nyalapalli and was sourced from his online webstore.

CompositionAppreciation, History, Raga

The Kurinji of the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini

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Prologue:

The raga Kurinji under Mela 29- Sankarabharana is a well-known dhaivatantya raga and popularly rendered in a lineal fashion in madhyama sruti. Along with its siblings Neelambari and Navaroz with which Kurinji shares the melodic fabric, it can be seen that these three melodies are used in compositions such as lullabies, lAlis, Oonjal and songs of similar genre. Being an old and hoary raga, without engendering a much broader discussion, this blog post just focusses on the raga dealt with in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradashini (SSP) of Subbarama Dikshita.

Kurinji’s Raga Lakshana:

Kurinji is a melodic scale under Mela 29 Sankarabharanam, taking only the notes from this scale, with the nominal arohana/avarohana krama as under:

                        n3 S R2 G3 M1 P D2 and D2 P M1 G3 R2 S n3

Given the lack of movement below N3 in the mandhara stayi and D2 in the madhya stayi, the raga for felicity of rendition is rendered in madhyama sruti, whereby the madhyama note of the octave becomes the tonic. There are no sancaras below mandhara nishadha or above the madhya dhaivatha.

From an antiquity perspective it may be noted that the composition “Jaya Jaya Gokula Bala” a tarangam of Narayana Teertha which was famous once upon a time, was originally set fully to Kurinji. It was later fully reset to Bhairavi (published by K V Srinivasa Iyengar) and much later the modern extant version came into being, with the lyrics being set as  a ragamalika to Bhairavi, Atana, Kalyani, Kambhoji and Surati, with the retuning being ascribed to Tiruvotriyur Tyagier.

The raga lakshana of Kurinji heavily overlaps with that of Navaroz and is compounded by the fact that both the ragas have octaval constraint imposed by grammar and both of them are rendered in madhyama sruti. Navaroz runs as pdnSRGMP-PMGRSndp, traversing the madhya stayi pancama to the mandhara pancama alone. DIkshita has also composed both in Kurinji – “Sri Venugopala” and Navaroz- “hastivadanaya namstubhyam” which again is a magnum opus in itself.

According to the SSP, Kurinji once upon a time possessed a different contour (while being under the same Mela 29 – Sankarabharanam). This archaic Kurinji is recorded by Subbarama Dikshita on the authority of the eka tala lakshya gita of Muddu Venkatamakhin “Srimad Gopi nathure” as the refrain or udgraha. According to Subbarama Dikshita archaic Kurinji had the following features:

  1. It had tristayi sancaras, progressions spanning all three octaves
  2. It lacked dhaivatha (varjya) in its ascent and dhaivatha being vakra in the descent.
  3. The nominal arohana/avarohana went as SRGMGMPMPNNS – SNPNDDPMGGRS, which is provided by Subbarama Dikshita on the authority of the raga lakshana sloka of Muddu Venkatamakhin (circa 1750 AD)
  4. Nishadha was its jiva svara

It has to be pointed out here that this archaic Kurinji does not exists today.

Subbarama Dikshitar proceeds to record that post Muddu Venkatamakhin’s times the raga got truncated and had the following features, which we can call as the modern or the extant Kurinji in contrast to the archaic version as delineated above.

  1. It became a madhyama sruti raga.
  2. The raga’s melodic progression was nSRGMPD, traversing mandhara nishadha to madhya dhaivatha only.
  3. It had an exceptional n\pSS  prayoga commencing on mandhara nishadha to the mandhara pancama and back to the madhya sadja.
  4. The raga cannot be lightly dismissed as a minor madhyama sruti raga, for the ancients had accorded it the highest importance by placing it as the first upanga raga janya under Mela 29 Sankarabharanam as seen in the Sankarabharana lakshana gitam “ripupala khandanure”.

Additionally, Prof S R Janakiraman points out that the dhaivatha note (of the madhya stayi) is seen to occur very sparingly in this raga, more as a foray from the pancama note and back.

Thus, what survives today is the modern Kurinji that we hear today and as authority for the same Subbarama Dikshita provides two compositions, apart from his sancari.

  1. Sri Venugopala” – Muthusvami Dikshita – Jhampa tala
  2. Siva deeksha paru” – Ghanam Seenayya – Adi

We shall look into both these compositions in this blog post. But before that we will evaluate the Kurinji as was recorded atleast a little prior to 1750 AD.

Kurinji according to Sahaji & Tulaja:

The raga Kurinji is found recorded in both Sahaji’s “Ragalakshanam” (circa 1700 AD) and Tulaja’s “Saramruta” (circa 1732 AD) and the commentary of these two author Kings of Tanjore on this raga Kurinji in their respective works resonate with the definition of the archaic Kurinji of the SSP and of Muddu Venkatamakhin. However, one assertion made by Sahaji and Tulaja in their respective treatises which is relevant to us, as we will see shortly, is that “SRGM and PDNS should not occur in the raga.”

As we saw in previous blog posts this is a key architectural construct of the 18th century. The raga definitions were provided (apart from being categorized under a particular mela or raganga) in the following ways:

  1. A particular note is to be repeatedly emphasized being the raga’s jiva svara
  2. Certain notes being the choice notes to begin or end a musical phrase – graha, nyasa svaras
  3. Certain notes which cannot be used as the take-off or ending note, but which should only be used as a transit note – amsa svara
  4. A particular note being varjya (dropped)
  5. A particular note being vakra (devious)
  6. A specified murrcana (motif) was to occur or was to be emphasized repeatedly (leitmotif) in the raga in its progression.
  7. A specified murrcana (motif) was not supposed to occur.

This “composite” way of specifying the lakshana of a raga is completely lost to us today where we simply proceed lineally based on a single arohana or avarohana krama under a given mela. This ancient, archaic and now extinct practice of the 18th century is expressly found recorded in the works of Sahaji and Tulaja.

In so far as Kurinji is considered in terms of the aforesaid rules, Rule 7 above, specified that SRGM shall not occur in the melodic body of the raga according to Sahaji and Tulaja. With this in mind let us take up the first exemplar composition from the SSP, which is “Sri Venugopala” of Muthusvami Dikshita.

 “Sri Venugopala” of Muthusvami Dikshita:

The lyrics and the meaning of the composition is as under:

Pallavi:

SrI vENu gOpAla     –  O Lord the Cowherd bearing the flute!

SrI rukmiNI lOla    – O one who frolics in the company of Goddess Rukmini!

dEva nAyaka         – O lord of all the gods!

SriyaM dEhi dEhi    – Give, give (me) wealth and auspiciousness!

madhu mura hara     – O vanquisher of the demons Madhu and Mura!

Anupallavi

dEvakI su-kumAra    – O illustrious son of Devaki!

dIna jana mandAra   – O wish-fulfilling celestial tree of the downtrodden!

gOvardhana-uddhAra  – O the one who lifted the Govardhana mountain!

gOpa yuvatI jAra    – O beloved of the young Gopi maidens!

caraNam

gOkula-ambudhi sOma – O moon to the ocean of Gokula!

gOvinda             – O friend of the cows!

nata bhauma         – O one saluted by Angaraka – son of Bhumi (Earth Goddess)!

SrI-ku-ranjita kAma – O one who delights Lakshmi (Sri) and Bhumi (Ku) with your love!

Srita satya bhAma   – O one who has embraced Satyabhama!

kOka nada pada      – O one with feet hued like red lotus!

sOma guru guha hita – O one congenial to Shiva (in the company of Uma) and Guruguha

SyAma               – O dark one!

SrI kara tapa hOma SrI jayantI nAma – O one well-known for the Sri Jayanti (birthday festivities) in which penance and sacrifices cause welfare and prosperity!

prAkaTya raNa bhIma – O one who is formidable in battle!

pAlita-arjuna bhIma – O protector of Arjuna and Bhima!

pAka ripu nuta nAma – O one whose name is glorified by Indra (the slayer of the demon Paka)!

bhakta yOga kshEma  – O one who bestows welfare to the devotees!

It appears to be a generic composition without any reference to any ksetra or its presiding deity. Based on the lyrics which occur which is “sri jayanthi nama” there are those who opine that much like “Sri Varalakshmi namastubhyam” and “Siddhi Vinayakam” which were purportedly created to propitiate Goddess Lakshmi on Varalakshmi Pooja day and Lord Ganesa on Vinayaka Caturthi day respectively , Dikshita composed this kriti for “Sri Jayanthi”/”Krishna Jayanthi” – Lord Krishna’s birth day. The raga mudra is seamlessly interwoven as:

“SrI-ku-ranjita kAma” meaning “O the one who delights Lakshmi (Sri) and Bhumi (Ku) with your love!

The colophon of Dikshita “guru-guha” as always occurs in the composition.

The Melodic structuring of the composition:

From a melodic standpoint it is noticed that the composition is in line with the “extant” or modern version of the Kurinji. From the notation provided therein, Dikshita’s raga conception in the composition conforms to the modern Kurinji:

  • The melody traverses between mandhara nishadha and madhya dhaivatha only
  • Uses the occasional nn\pSS prayoga- seen at the first occurrence of the lyric ‘dEhi’ in the pallavi itself

It was pointed out earlier that according to Sahaji and Tulaja, in the case of Kurinji “SRGM and PDNS should not occur in the raga”. This is however not seen expressly commented upon or recorded in the SSP.

In this context the occurrence of SRGM or PDNS phrase in “Sri Venugopala” can be evaluated thus:

  • It is seen that the SRGM prayoga is avoided in the melodic setting after duly taking into account the caesura (s)which occur in the composition.
  • Though superfluous, it has to be formally noted that PDNS has no occasion to arise as the raga’s truncated progression provides no room for the same.
  • The following portions/lyrics of the composition would reveal that:
    • The composition begins as RGMR (“sri vEnugOpAla”) and thus SRGM is avoided. Though SRGM is forbidden, RGM or RGMP is a permitted prayoga
    • Caesura occurs at “lOla” which ends on rishabha note and when “dEvanAyaka” begins with the phrase being GMP. Thus, the SRGM phrase has been avoided.
    • Pointedly the anupallavi lyric “Devaki sukumara” begins as SRSMGM RGMP, avoiding a direct SRGM phrase.
    • Both “govardhanO” and “gOpayuvati” use SM and SP phrases to the exclusion of SRGM phrase.
    • The lyrics “sri kurinjita” and “kokhanatha pada” are again SMGMP and not SRGMP
    • The madhyama kala sahitya lyrics “pAlita-arjuna bhIma” is notated as SMGRGM to the exclusion of SRGMP
    • Though the ending of the pallavi, anupallavi and the madhyama kala sahitya portions is on the sadja and the pallavi take off being rishabha, on account of the intervening caesura/conclusion of tala marking the logical ending of the musical phrase, the rule of avoidance of SRGM can be deemed as kept.
  • Thus, it can be seen, that subject to the one exception below, Dikshita has eschewed the use of SRGM and has instead used SMGMP in the composition, as the default ascent phrase.

Exception:

From the SSP notation of this composition one outlier that is noticed, without in anyway being disrespectful, is that the lyric “srikara tapO hOma” is notated as SnSRGMP.. It is likely that this phrase too ought to have been “SnSMGMP” in line with the rest of the composition, as nowhere else where an ascent phrase is warranted, is the phrase SRGMP used. It can be very well deuced that Dikshita being completely aware of this ancient practice having avoided the use of SRGM everywhere would not have deigned to use that just in one place and most likely the notation seen in the SSP is an aberration.

It is very likely that the notation SnSRGMP is a typographical error/printer’s devil at play in the SSP or an error in the pAtham itself as was transmitted, which begs for a correction. Therefore, it is most respectfully submitted that this phrase ought to be rendered as SnSMGMP and NOT as SnSRGMP as given, keeping in view of the fact that SRGM has been consciously avoided everywhere else and it was perhaps how it was composed.

Thus, subject to the above exception we can safely conclude that the Kurinji of Dikshita and which evolved post 1700 was actually an improvisation of the old archaic Kurinji with SRGM being eschewed as well. In the modern version of the Kurinji we have completely forgotten this aspect of SRGM to be avoided.

The prayogas dealt with in the Kurinji as found in “Sri venugopala” are:

  • nSRGR -RGMP- GMPD
  • DMPG-PMGR-MGRSn
  • n\pSS being the outlier prayoga at “dEhi”
  • The use of a dainty phrase MRG\S at “madhu murahara”, skipping the rishabha- in the pallavi.

 If SRGM is to be eschewed, SRGR and SMGMRGM can take its place and cannot be generically stated that rishabha and/or gandhara should be vakra. This rule can only be stated negatively as “SRGM cannot occur” and cannot be stated otherwise.

The madhyama kala sahitya perfectly, pithily and unambiguously captures Dikshita’s conception of Kurinji and is the perfect & complete authority for the Kurinji that had evolved post 1700’s, the version truly documented in the SSP, albeit implicitly.

S,S,n               –           SRS,n             –           S,MGMG,       –           RGM,M             ||

prAktaya       –           raNabhIma   –           pAlitA            –            rjunabhIma ||          

P,DPM           –           GMP,P           –          M,GR              –           GMGGRS            ||

pAkaripu      –           nutarAma     –           bhakta-yO     –           ga..ksEma         ||

It can be seen that Dikshita has skilfully avoided the SRGM phrase by resorting to SMGMRGMM-PDPM at the juncture of the two jhampa tala avartas.

Discography – “srI vEnugOpAlA”:

There are very many versions of this oft-rendered composition. The version that best tallies with the notation found in the SSP is the one by Vidushi Sumitra Vasudev and I present the same (courtesy Sangeethapriya):

And off-course if one were to learn from this rendering, care should be taken to correctly render “srikara tapO hOma”rendering as SnSMGMP to ensure the consistency ( avoid the inconsistency) that I pointed out earlier.

With this I move on to the next exemplar found in the SSP.

“Siva deeksha paru” – The forgotten oeuvre

The Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP) records a few pre-trinity compositions in its main work (excluding the Anubandha) and one such is “Sivadeekshaparu” in Kurinji composed by Ghanam Seenayya. This classic composition, a padam, was very popular a hundred years ago and today barring a few instances of it being performed in dance recitals, the composition is nowhere found rendered on concert platforms.

The composition is recorded in the SSP by Subbarama Dikshita as the second exemplar of Raga Kurinji. From a historical perspective this composition comes from era (early 18th Century AD) when the Saivite and Vaishnavite doctrines of Hindu worship vied with each other to be in royal favour and patronage and the song is reflective of this politico-religious undercurrent. We will evaluate the song in that context as well.

Before we address the composition proper, lets first look at the composer and his times.

Composer of “Sivadeeksha paru” – Ghanam Seenayya:

Subbarama Diksita in his “Vaggeyakara Caritamu” records that Ghanam Seenayya, the composer of this Kurinji composition, was a Vaishnavite and the Chief Minister in the Court of the Nayak King Vijayaranga Cokkanatha (1706-1732 AD). We did refer to this Nayak King of Madurai in the context of the Yamuna Kalyani blog post

Ghanam Seenayya was learned man, very proficient in Sanskrit, Telugu and in music and this is found recorded in Sasanka Vijayam (of Seshamu Venkatapati Kavi). In fact, Subbarama Dikshita quotes a couplet from the said work as authority to state that Ghanam Seenayya composed with the ankita/colophon “mannaru ranga”. According to C R Srinivasa Iyengar (in his book “Indian Dance”- Natya and Nritya) Ghanam Seenayya composed the following padas with the ankita being “mannaru ranga”.

  • Magavaadani” in Durbar
  • Magavadu Valaci” – Neelambari
  • Siva Deeksha paru” – Kurinji
  • Vadevvaro” – Sankarabharanam –https://karnatik.com/c18080.shtml

The same is also echoed in toto by Vidvan Vinjamuri Varaha Narasimha-chari in his article titled “Contribution to the Telugu region to the Dance Art” – JMA (Vol XLV – 1974) pp 200.

The prefix “Ghanam” especially appended to the name of a vocalist/ musician may perhaps be linked to the expertise the person had in the “ghanam” mode of vocalization/singing. In the recent past Ghanam Krishna Iyer is recorded by Dr U Ve Svaminatha Iyer as an exponent and past master in the art of “ghanam” singing though not much detail is know as to what it really meant. Be that as it may given that Subbarama Dikshita has recorded the musical capability of Seenayya, it may well be perhaps that he was adept in this quaint musical art form.

The ankita “mannaruranga” refers to Lord Rajagopala of Mannargudi who was the titular deity of some of the Royal Houses of the medieval Tamil history. During circa 1600-1700 time period, it is seen that the Saivite and Vaishnavite cults had been vying for exclusive royal patronage at the expense of the other. For instance, Venkatamakhin (1620 AD) is said to have composed the Reetigaula gitam “sanka chakkrAnka nAtya ca rE rE” appealing to Lord Mahalingasvami at Madhyarjunam as the King a Vaishnavite acolyte was persecuting followers of Saivism. Apparently, the King Vijayaraghava Nayak of Tanjore, Venkatamakhin’s Royal patron was a staunch Vaishnavite so much so that he exhorted all his subjects to wear the sanka-chakra and other Vaishnavite emblems. Later the King took to bed and suffered stomach pains. Legend has it that he soon thereafter realized his folly and made amends and which is attributed to Venkatamakin’s prayers to Lord Mahalingasvami.

Returning to the subject matter on hand, the times of Nayak King Vijayaranga Chokkanatha of Madurai is captured by Sathianatha Iyer in his classic work “Nayaks of Madura” and according to him during this Nayak’s reign the kingdom seem to have gone into terminal decline. Sathianatha Iyer records that the King was very religious and barring a grant to the temple of Lord Shiva at Tiruvanaikka (Lord Jambukesvara) he seems to have made grants munificently to Vaishnavite temples underlining the fact that he was very favourably disposed towards the Vaishnavite cult.

The setting of the padam “Siva Deeksha” runs thus. The nAyika/heroine is ordained to the worship of Lord Shiva and she happenstance encounters the nayaka/hero who is irresistible and leaves her smitten. The padam attempts to capture her predicament as she is caught between the obligations cast on her because of the ochre she has donned and the craving from her very heart and soul tugging her to the nayaka/hero being none other than “mannaru ranga” or Lord Rajagopala, a vaishnavite God. Should she continue with the rites & duties to be done by her as per the holy order of Shiva worship to which she has been initiated by her Gurus or should she succumb to the call of her heart and allow the nayaka to take her body and soul?

The piece has been a traditional composition much amenable to abhinaya and depiction of a variant of the khandita type of nayika.

From a raga lakshana perspective, the following aspects can be noted:

  1. The padam composed in the first quarter of the 16th century/early 1700’s is in the modern version of the raga, spanning from mandhara nishada to madhya dhaivatha only. We do not know if it was composed so in circa 1700 AD, for Sahaji (circa 1700 AD) and Tulaja (1732 AD) record Kurinji as being archaic as documented in the SSP.
  2. Leaving this point as to the originality of the melodic setting of the composition, the notation as provided by Subbarama Dikshita of this composition in the SSP reiterates the point made in “Sri Venugopala” above. The same is bereft of SRGM and only SMGMP or RGMP or SMGMRGMP occurs as the uttaranga ascent phrases.

Thus, given that “Siva Deeksha” too uses only SMGM and not SRGM, can be cited as proof and in support of the assertion that Dikshita too would have followed the same rule and could not have used SRGM at all. Therefore, the SRGM notated in the SSP in one place in the composition “Sri Venugopala” is perhaps an aberration that we need to correct and render as SMGM.

Discography – “siva deeksha”:

I present two renderings of this composition, which are not strictly in line with the SSP but are nevertheless within the confines of the notation provided in SSP and making only reasonable departures from the same.

  • I present the vocal rendering of the song by Vidushi Preethy Mahesh being the audio track of the accompaniment to the dance performance of this song by Smt Priyadarshini Govind, an excerpt of which is available in the public domain. Clip 1 and Clip 2

The second rendering above, made for a dance performance is much richer, slower and improvised reflecting the true content and spirit of the song.

Kurinji in Ramasvami Dikshita’s 108 Raga Tala Malika:

The Anubandha to the SSP also provides the said composition in notation and the 40th khandika or portion of the said composition commencing with the lyric “Sri Parthasarati” set in Kurinji, too does not bear SRGM in its melodic construct. This provides additional evidence that SRGM phrase was to be eschewed in toto in Kurinji.

Vidushi R S Jayalakshmi presented a lecture demonstration of this mammoth composition of Ramsvami Dikshita in the Dec 2014. Here is the Youtube link to the same. The Kurunji portion is demonstrated starting from 1:48:05 onwards.

Kurinji in Subbarama Dikshita’s compositions:

Subbarama Dikshita’s own sancari and his raga malika too feature Kurinji. However his sancari is modelled on the archaic Kurinji and it seems that he has stuck to the old version on the supposed authority of Muddu Venkatamakhin, whom he always mistook for Venkatamakhin himself. It has to be pointed out that Venkatamakhin’s Caturdandi Prakashika (CDP) does not talk about Kurinji and it is only the Anubandha or the compendium / appendix to the CDP authored by Muddu Venkatamakhin circa 1750 AD which talks about Kurinji.

Epilogue:

While compositions can be rendered ad nauseum as taught, it is important that we correctly assimilate and imbibe the true spirit, grammar and confines of the raga and the composition. The raga Kurinji is an example in this regard. If one were to go with the public material and not-properly appraised pAthams, the raga’s definition would be wrongly learnt/taught with the raga progression of Kurinji as  nSRGMPD/DPMGRSn, whereas as the two exemplar compositions demonstrate that the raga’s progression is nSMGMRGMPD/DPMGRSn, duly disallowing the SRGM as the ancients did in this melody. And hopefully students/learners would take notice of this and properly render these compositions in this raga. And given this rich history of more than 300 plus years Kurinji like its illustrious parent Sankarabharana has stood athwart for centuries!

And in parting I leave readers with a thought. Was and is this raga Kurinji synonymous with Lord Venugopala/Rajagopala/Krishna, for the “nayaka” or the subject/object of all the three compositions found in the SSP (“srimad gOpi nAturE” of Muddu Venkatamakhin, “Sri Venugopala” of Dikshita and “Siva Deeksha” of Ghanam Seenayya) are all coincidentally Lord Krishna?

References:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) – Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – Republished in Tamil by Madras Music Academy (1977) -Vol IV- Mela 29 Pages 837-842
  2. Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – ‘Ragalakshana Sangraha’- Collection of Raga Descriptions pp 742-746
  3. Sangita Kalanidhi T V Subba Rao & Dr S R Janakiraman (1993)- “ Ragas of the Sangita Saramruta” – Published by the Madras Music Academy – pp 134-139
  4. Dr R Sathyanarayana (2010)- “Ragalakshanam” of Sri Muddu Venkatamakhin- Published by IGNCA
  5. R. Sathianatha Iyer (1924) – “History of the Nayaks of Madura” -pages 223-231

Safe Harbour Statement:

  1. The renderings used or linked as above in the body of this blog has been made strictly for purposes of education and knowledge under fair use category. The intellectual property belongs to the respective artistes and the same cannot be shared or exploited without their consent.
  2. I place on record my gratitude to Smt Preethy Mahesh for permitting me to share the vocal rendering of the padam “siva deeksha” as was available in the public domain from where it was sourced.
History, Raga, Repertoire

“Balambike Pahi” – Manoranjani

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Prologue:

While the year 2000 was a sort of milestone for us, the year circa 1800 too was a momentous milestone in the modern history of Tanjore, the Eden of South India. It marked the end of political issues plaguing the region and the ascension of Prince Serfoji (AD 1798) as the King of Tanjore. The Kingdom of Tanjore was riven by internal strife and famine during the 1770-1800 period, so much so that many fled the region for the safety and security of Chennapatna or Madras which was under the rule of the British East India Company. It was after these tumultuous events that peace returned to Tanjore circa 1800 and the decade thereafter was marked by peace and prosperity, more particularly the first quarter of the 19th century.

Dikshita’s  Sojourn to Tanjore:

Accounts of Muthusvami Dikshita’s life talk of his sojourn to Tanjavur during this time period- during the first decade of the new century on the invite of his pupils, the Tanjore Quartet Ponnayya, Chinnayya, Sivanandam and Vadivelu. The Quartette by then had firmly ensconced themselves in the Tanjore Royal Court of King Serfoji and it was then they must have invited their master/guru Muthusvami Dikshita to Tanjore, who it seems stayed for a while in Tanjore.

Legend has it that at this point in time when the Quartet played host, they requested Dikshita to compose kritis in all the raganga ragas of the Venkatamakhin tradition so that these kritis would become shining exemplars of those melodies. Accordingly, Dikshita set about the task and this stay in Tanjore produced a number of kritis in these ragangas.

Subbarama Dikshita’s Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (“SSP”) catalogues all these compositions. It must be mentioned that the SSP does not feature Dikshita’s compositions for certain ragangas/melas such as Binna Sadjam (mela 9), Ramamanohari (Mela 52) and Chamaram (Mela 56).

Amongst those said to have been composed during Dikshita’s sojourn to Tanjore and catalogued in the SSP is the composition in the 5th Mela raga/raganga Manoranjani. Barring some of the main ragas, Dikshita seems to have composed kritis in his shorter format in these mela ragas. This shorter format lacks a full blown carana. Few exceptions to this observation are the following kritis in the raganga ragas ( not major ones) , from an SSP perspective, which are in the full blown format including a carana portion as well.

  1. Kanakambari Karunyamrutalahari” in Kanakambari – 1st mela
  2. Bakthavatsalam” in Vamsavati – Mela 54; But the other kriti “Vamsavati Sivayuvati” is in the shorter format.
  3. Kalavathi Kamalasana Yuvati” – Kalavathi – mela 31
  4. Sri Sulinim” – Sailadesakshi – mela 35

These shorter format kritis with just the pallavi and anupallavi is always appended with a cittasvara section.

In the case of the 5th Mela the composition of Dikshita recorded in the SSP is “Balambike Pahi” let us first  evaluate the raga first and then the composition, in this blog post.

Manoranjani – A Study:

The raga and the scale is obviously a post 1750 AD development arising as a part of the 72 mela scheme formulated by Muddu Venkatamakhin as the raganga of the 5th Mela taking the notes of R1, G2, M1, P, D2, N3 with the gandhara being dropped in the ascent because of the R1G2 combination being a vivadhi pair. The raga also came to be documented as a janya under the Kanakangi-Ratnangi Scheme catalogued by the Sangraha Cudamani, with Manoranjani being categorized as a janya under the 5th Mela, the heptatonic krama sampurna raga Manavati. Tyagaraja’s “Atukaradani” is an exemplar of the same.

According to the SSP, the following are the features of the raga:

  1. The operative arohana-avrohana krama is as under:
    • S R1 M1 P D2 N3 S
    • S N3 D2 P M1 R1 G1 R1 S
  2. In the footnote Subbarama Dikshita remarks that MGRS is seen used in the compositions.
  3. The vivadhi combination of R1G1 is worked-around by dropping the gandhara in the ascent.
  4. Apart from the lakshya gitam, gitams & tanams and the sancari of Subbarama Dikshita, the kriti “Balambike Pahi” of Muthusvami Dikshita in catusra matya tala is provided as the exemplar.

It has to be noted that though the lakshana sloka provides for gandhara being vakra in the avarohana, the kriti, as pointed by Subbarama Dikshita, sports MG1R1S as well.

Dikshita’s Kriti in Manoranjani:

Here is the kriti and the meaning of the lyrics:

pallavi

bAlA-ambikE                  – O Goddess Balambika!

pAhi                                  – Protect (me)!

dEhi dEhi                        – Give, give(me)

bhadraM                          – good fortune/auspiciousness/happiness.

Anupallavi

sAlOka-Adi mukti sAmrAjya dAyini – O the bestower of liberation, beginning with Saloka!

Sankara nArAyaNa manOranjani – O one delighting the heart of Lord Sankaranarayana!

dhanini                      – O repository of all riches!

nIla kaNTha guru guha nitya Suddha vidyE – O eternal pure knowledge of the blue-throated Shiva and Guruguha!

It is seen that Dikshita’s colophon “guruguha” and the raga mudra “manoranjani” are embedded in this composition segueing seamlessly with the lyrics, which is set in catusra matya tala (1 kalai). While the name of the Goddess as also her Consort’s name appears in the composition, there is no explicit reference to the ksetra name in the composition.

The Ksetra or Temple of this Kriti:

The kriti is on Goddess Balambika consort of Lord Sankaranarayana as is obvious from the lyrics. It has to be pointed out that Goddess Balambika is the name of the deity enshrined in Vaideesvarankovil ( vide the kriti “Bhajare Re Citta” – Kalyani – Misra Eka) with the presiding deity being Lord Vaidyanatha. And Lord Sankaranarayana is the presiding deity of the temple at Sankarankovil where his consort is Goddess Gomathi. As seen in one of the previous blogs, Veenai Sundaram Iyer has much later to the SSP published a kriti “Sankaranarayanam” in the raga Narayana Desakshi, attributing it to Dikshita,

On the contrary this kriti “Balambike Pahi” on Goddess Balambika and wherein Dikshita proclaims her as the consort of Lord Sankaranarayana and does not specify the ksetra or the temple or any reference to it in the body the kriti. There is no likelihood thus of the composition being sung on the deity at Sankaran Kovil or Vaideesvaran Kovil.

As pointed out in the prologue, we have reliable textual authorities who have recorded Muthusvami Dikshita visited Tanjore and composed on the various deities in around Tanjore, including Lord Brihadeesvara and Goddess Brihannayaki, in the ragangas of the Venkatamakhin tradition. Both Dr. V Raghavan and Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer in their works (see reference section below) have provided a narrative to this effect.

Dr V Raghavan in his famous NCPA Red Book asserts that Dikshita undertook the project to compose at least one composition in every one of the 72 raganga ragas of the Venkatamakin scheme. And he marks a number of kritis in the raganga ragas, of Dikshita and also provides the ksetra where the same was purportedly composed, based on the internal evidence. He asserts thus:

“This series ( i.e corpus of songs to illustrate the 72 ragas mela-janya scheme) is not completely available and I shall give here a list in so far as I have been able to compile it…..”

However, no reference is provided to this composition “Balambike Pahi” in his aforesaid listing in the NCPA Red Book.

Some individuals in the public domain assert that this composition is on Goddess Balambika at Vaideesvaran Kovil, without any authority whatsoever, merely on the strength of the name of the presiding Goddess which is plain misattribution. It is also seen that those who provide the meaning for the lyrics of this composition provide the meaning for the line ” Sankara nArAyaNa manOranjani” as ” O one delighting the hearts of Shiva and Vishnu! ” without realizing that the reference here is not the Lord Shiva or Lord Vishnu individually but to Lord Sankaranarayana. It is respectfully submitted that these reasonings do not hold water.

In the context of the raga of this composition being Manoranjani, the 5th mela we can surmise that:

  1. this kriti was likely composed when Dikshita visited Tanjore ;
  2. And as a part of his endeavor to compose a kriti on the mela ragas, he composed this one as well ( for Mela 5) while at Tanjore :
  3. And therefore Goddess Balambika, the subject matter of this kriti must be deity of a temple somewhere in or around Tanjore.

Fortuitously the perusal of an old publication titled “Siva-Vishnu Ksetra Vilakkam” (Tamil)-see below, provides a reference to a temple in the town of Tanjore where the presiding deity’s name is Lord Sankaranarayana and the name of the Goddess being Balambika.

Siva-Vishnu Ksetra Vilakkam” (Tamil)-Entry 53 on page 29

The book refers to the temple as being located in Tanjore mEla rAja veedhi at its southern end. Based on the said reference I have marked the same in the Google Maps below.

https://goo.gl/maps/CNVMb9SocHmnf4nL9

The said temple has also been covered in an article in a daily as well- refer the Reference section below. The temple also finds reference in the “Tanjapuri Mahatmiyam”. It is also recorded that during the reign of King Serfoji circa 1805, a consecration ( Kumbabishekam) for the temple was performed. Given that this coincides with the probable period of Dikshita’s visit, one wonders if he composed this kriti and paid his obeisance to Goddess Balambika during the festivities.

Thus, given the preponderance of probabilities and the data points agreeing, it can be deduced, that Dikshitar could have visited this particular temple during his Tanjore sojourn and composed this kriti in raga Manoranjani on Goddess Balambika enshrined there.

In so far as the history of this Temple of Lord Sankaranarayana is concerned, in his critical commentary to the work “Tanjapuri Mahatmiyam” part of the “Cola Campu” of Virupaksa, Dr V Raghavan records that the Tanjore King Bhima Chola’s wife hailed from lands of Tirunelveli and her family deity was Lord Sankaranarayana of Sankarankovil. And to fulfill his wife’s desire to worship the Lord in Tanjore itself Bhima Chola built the temple for Lord Sankaranarayana at what is today known as west Main Street, the subject matter of this blog post.

Discography:

Presented first is the rendering aligned to the notation found in the SSP by Vidvan G Ravi Kiran (The video upload wrongly mentions the name of the performing artiste).

Presented next is the rendering of the same composition, again close to the SSP notation, along with the rendering of the cittasvara section and preceded by a brief raga alapana by Vidushi T S Sathyavathi. This rendering is based on the SSP notation and has been embellished suitably as a concert platform piece, within the confines of the spirit of the notation.

Sangita Kala Acharya Smt Suguna Purushothaman renders the composition here:

Epilogue:

The kritis of Muthusvami Dikshita especially in the mela ragas, are pithy and are ideal to both learn and perform professionally. These compositions with brevity being their hallmark need not be be-labored upon and can be sung with a brief raga vinyasa and concluded with a couple of cycles of svaras. One fervently hopes that artistes include these compositions more in their performances in the days to come.

References:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) – Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – Republished in Tamil by Madras Music Academy (2006) -Vol 1- Mela 5 Pages 26-30
  2. Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – ‘Ragalakshana Sangraha’- Collection of Raga Descriptions pp 855-856
  3. Dr R Sathyanarayana (2010)- “Ragalakshanam” of Sri Muddu Venkatamakhin- Published by IGNCA
  4. Dr V Raghavan (1975) – NCPA Quarterly Journal Vol IV – Number 3- September 1975 -pp 10-11 – referred to as the NCPA Redbook
  5. T L Venkatrama Iyer (1968) – “Muthuswami Dikshitar” – National Biography Series published by National Book Trust of India -Chapter V – pp 46-53
  6. Srinivasa Iyer ( Unknown) – “Siva-Vishnu Ksetra Vilakkam” (Tamil)-Entry 53 on page 29
  7. News Article in Tamil – Malai Malar
  8. Dr V Raghavan (1951) – Commentary on “Cola Campu” of Virupaksa – TSMS No 55 – Edited by T Chandrasekaran

Safe Harbour Statement:

The renderings used or linked as above in the body of this blog has been made strictly for purposes of education and knowledge under fair use category. The intellectual property belongs to the respective artistes and the same cannot be shared or exploited without their consent.

CompositionAppreciation, Raga

O Mother! Embodiment of Auspiciousness! May there be prosperity

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Prelude:

In these trying and uncertain times, connecting or attempting to connect to the Supreme One through one’s inner self is perhaps the soothing balm. And what can be better than music, especially compositions of our Trinity. And personally as I ruminated over the compositions of Muthusvami Dikshita, the one that stuck most aptly in terms of its haunting melody, lyrics and its plaintive appeal was the solitaire “Mangaladevate” in the raga Margadesi, under Mela 15 Malavagaula, a long lost archaic melody, for which this composition is the sole exemplar.

First let us look at the lyrics, before we embark on dissecting the raga.

Sahitya & Meaning:

pallavi

mangaLa dEvatE                – O auspicious goddess!

para dEvatE                         – O supreme goddess!

mangaLaM bhavatu           – May there be prosperity!

nata dEvatE                          – O one saluted by the gods!

anupallavi

angaja pura kAla vairi sahitE – O one in the company, the One inimical to (vanquisher of) Manmatha, Tripura and Yama i.e. Lord Shiva

anAdi-avidyA prapanca rahitE ­ O one distinct, from this eternal universe pervaded by ignorance

pungava guru guha-Adi mahitE – O one venerated by the eminent/valorous Guruguha and others

satsanga mArga darSitE        – O one who shows the path to association with the good (men)

sura hitE                                    – O the benefactress of the Devas.

The sahitya as above would show that apart from his colophon, Dikshita has skilfully woven the raga mudra (indirectly– mArgadarsitE) in the composition, while keeping his date as always with the dviteeya akshara prasa (2nd letter consonance). The sahitya clearly is an appeal to the Mother Goddess (Devi), the consort of Lord Shiva seeking her to bestow prosperity and auspiciousness. From a compositional construct perspective, the composition lacks a carana segment but has a pithy and beautiful cittasvara section which we will see when we delve into the musical aspects. The kriti does not bear any stala/ksetra reference and is thus only a generic composition.

A brief note on the raga Margadesi:

It has to be mentioned that save for the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP) no other treatise prior to it mentions this raga. In other words, this raga finds place only in Muddu Venkatamakhin’s Ragalakshanam compendia (dateable to circa 1750 AD) and Dikshita’s kriti being the sole exemplar thereof – an eka-kriti raga. Thus, the SSP, by its commentary of the raga and documentation of Muthusvami Dikshita’s composition becomes the only repository for us in so far as this raga is concerned.

According to the SSP, the raga is placed under the 15th mela taking the notes of R1, G3. M1, P, D1 dropping nishadha altogether. And very oddly it takes M2 (prati madhayama) in its melodic body.

Normally it is seen that under mela 65 (Kalyani) for which M2 is the dominant note M1 is taken as a anya svara via the G3M1R2S motif. Under Mela 15, in SSP we do see that there are number of ragas documented therein, which take the M2 as an anya svara. Margadesi is one such which takes M2. But it is not that straight forward as there is an “interpretative” issue as to when M1 or M2 would occur in the melodic progression of raga. Lets us take up Subbarama Dikshita’s narrative of the raga:

  1. The raga is classified under Mela 15 on the authority of Muddu Venkatamakhin.
  2. The raga name occurs in the Malavagaula Raganga Lakshya Gita “ravikOti tEja” as a bashanga janya under malava gaula mela. Please note that the reference to the “bashanga” in the context of SSP bears no relevance to how we construe the expression today.
  3. As per the provided lakshana shloka:
    • The raga is shadava, lacking nishada (both in arohana and avarohana krama)
    • Madhyama note is vakra, both in arohana and avarohana
    • SRGRGDMPDS is the arohana and SDMPGRS is the avarohana krama, duly accommodating the vakra madhyama note
  4. While the lakshana shloka does not say anything about M2 or its equivalent cyuta pancama being used in the raga, Subbarama Dikshitar in his commentary makes two assertions, based on the prevalent convention:
    • Assertion 1: According to him RGD#MP, RGP#MGRG, DMPP, DSDMPG are the motifs of the raga. Mark #M being the sharper variety of the madhyama that is being singled out in the first two motifs (RGD#MP, RGP#MGRG) and which do not occur in the third and fourth (DMPP, DSDMPG) murccanas.
    • Assertion 2: Further according to him, intoning the madhyama of the raga as pratimadhyama (M2 or #M as notated) is the convention followed by the cognoscenti.
  5. The inescapable conclusion flowing from these 2 assertions is that M1 does not at all occur in the raga (despite being classed under Mela 15), safely ignoring the non-provision of the sharp sign for the madhyama that occurs in the third and fourth murrcana as above.
  6. And confusingly enough, in the notation proper for the composition of Dikshita “mangaladevatE” (and also the Lakshya gita and his own sancari) Subbarama Dikshita does not notate the madhyama with the sharp sign (#).
  7. Thus, we are left to infer that M1 does not occur in the raga and that in all places only M2 is intoned. However according to Prof S R Janakiraman the arohana krama has M1 while the descent SDM2P has the prati madhyama prayoga – see his lecture demonstration below.
  8. Viewing the notation from a madhyama note stand point the following murccanas occur in the composition including the cittasvaras.
    • RGD\MP
    • PDMPG
    • SDMPDMPG
  9. And thus, given the omnibus statement found in assertion 2, it can be said that in all these places, M2 is to be used. We will deal with this point further in the discography section as to when M1 and M2 are seen used, in the renderings.
  10.  Along with the cittasvara section, the composition spans the mandhara madhyama to the tara stayi gandhara of the raga.
  11. The raga mudra occurs with a svarakshara on the madhyama and dhaivatha note apart from other such instances.

The usage of madhyama note of the sharper variety imparts a haunting tinge to the raga that segues very well with the appeal to Her in the sahitya.

I have to note that this raga is dealt with in the Sangraha Cudamani as Margadesika (dropping madhyama in the ascent) and also further to the fact that there is no composition of Tyagaraja is either forms, I have not dealt with this, in this blog and I have confined myself only to the Margadesi of the SSP here.

Discography:

Presented first in the close to the SSP rendering sans any embellishment, rendering of the composition along with the cittasvara section, by Vidvan G Ravi Kiran.

Attention is invited to the places where m1 and m2 are rendered. Thus, he renders:

  • Mangaladevate” with M2 the prayoga being is G/DM2P
  • bhavathu nata tE” comes through with M1 as the prayoga is GPDM1PG.
  • angajapura” is sung as R,G/DM2P
  • “anAdyavidyA” is again sung as rsDM1P
  • guruguhAdi” employs G/DM1P
  • sat-sanga-mArga” is sung as s,sDM1P
  • The cittasvara section goes as under:
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
R,,S ,RRG D,,M2 ,PGR ,RSd m1pdS RRGR ,GRS
RG,G DDM2P ,DM2P ,Dsr Dg,r sDM1, PGRS ,RSd

NB: tara stayi svaras are denoted in italics, madhya stayi in upper case and mandhara stayi svaras in lower case.

It can be noticed that not all G/DMP combinations are intoned with the sharper prati madhyama, on this rendering. M1 and M2 are used “as needed” alternatingly as an ornamental device.  

Presented next is the rendering by the revered Prof S R Janakiraman who prefaces the composition with a raga vinyasa and also sings kalpana svaras, demonstrating the raga can well be delineated competently without any confusion whatsoever.

His erudite lecture demonstration of a raga is always revelatory and its indeed fortuitous that Margadesi was one such covered by him of which a recording is available. Here is a clipping from his Lec-Dem titled ‘Ragas Unique to the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini’ before the Experts Committee of the Music Academy in the year 2005.

Mark the vivaciousness with which he presents the raga for us, as always. Attention is invited to his point that he makes to the effect that when M1 occurs as an ascent (ascent only) and M2 (via DMP) occur in this raga.

Some reflections on this kriti:

The sangita and sahitya of the compositions, for me stands out in very many ways. When one looks at the sahitya one cannot but appreciate the apparently simple lyrics which actually enjoin a much broader and enigmatic meaning in its conception.

  1. The lyrics proclaim her as the very embodiment of auspiciousness at the outset. There are atleast two shrines in the Tamil lands, which Dikshita has visited, where the presiding Goddess of the temple is Mangalanayaki (in Tamil) or Mangalambika. One is Kumbakonam where She is the Consort of the Lord Adi Kumbeshvara. Dikshita eulogized her by composing the  rare Ghanta kriti “Sri Mangalambikam”, which we dealt with in an earlier blog. The deity at Srivanchiyam is also Goddess Mangalambika who has been invested another beauty of a kriti Mangalambayai namaste, this time in the rarer raga Malavasri. As pointed out this composition does not specify the ksetra and is a generic composition only.
  2. The kriti declares- “mangalam bhavatu” – let there be prosperity- as an ask. Dikshita does not seek the ambrosial bliss (amruta bOdham dEhi – as in “Jambupate Mampahi” – Yamuna Kalyani). Nor does he personally seek auspiciousness or fortune (“bhadram dEhi as in Sri Bhargavi in Mangalakaisiki). The kriti contemplates a prayer – “let there be auspiciousness or prosperity for all”. The kriti is therefore a benedictory hymn and is couched in a rare raga.
  3. The kriti, apart from being a benedictory invocation is full of epithets to the Mother. And as his wont will keeping his date with prAsA, Dikshita address Lord Shiva indirectly via the puranic references to Him having vanquished or subdued Kama, the God of Love (angaja), the impregnable City of Tripura (pura) and its denizens and Lord Yama (kAla). He further alludes to the philosophical precept of Her being devoid or being apart from the eternal maya prapancha, which is beginning-less and pervaded with ignorance.
  4.  The first anupallavi sahitya line commencing “angajapura” is structured with jumps in its progression as R,G/DM2PD,sD,/rsDs which is the arohana krama of the raga. Mark the jumps from gandhara to dhaivatha, back to madhyama, from dhaivatha to tara rishabha and the pendulum like movement between madhya dhaivatha and tara rishabha before settling at the tara sadja.
  5. The second line marks the achievement of the crescendo at tara gandhara before commencing the descent and settling down to the basal madhya sadja. The single avarta madhyama kala portion appended to the anupallavi succinctly traverses the entire gamut of the raga, concluding with a pithy cittasvara section.
  6. The usage of the prati madhyama in this raga or to be more precise, when it is to be used in contradistinction to M1 is sort of left open. It has to be said here that if Subbarama Dikshita’s second assertion is given effect to then, the raga is to be rendered wholly with M2 only. Though the raga is classed under Mela 15 and M2 is left unmarked yet like Gaulipantu, this raga should be rendered only with M2, going with Subbarama Dikshita’s second assertion. But yet as we will see in the renderings of the venerable Prof SRJ and Vidvan G Ravikiran, in the discography section the rendering is interspersed with both M1 and M2 with no standard rule as to “when” the M2 note is to be intoned. Thus, for instance all GDMP occurrences in the composition are not seen with M2 only, per Subbarama Dikshita’s first assertion.
  7. SDM2PDM1PGRS is a very elegant murccana incorporating both the madhyama notes in quick succession which can be employed in this raga.
  8. The case of Margadesi, the usage of M2 being recorded in the commentary but unmarked in the notation, reminds us of the case of Anandabhairavi as documented in the SSP where Subbarama Dikshita makes a reference to the usage of D2 in the raga in his commentary as a development seen in practice but yet he does not mark D2 in the notation in the compositions thereunder.
  9. Margadesi is not seen classed under the ghana, naya or desi raga listings either by Subbarama Dikshita or by others.
  10. Mela 15 seems to be the counterpart of Mela 65 (Kalyani) in admitting the use of the other madhyama note by its janya ragas. None of the other mela’s are seen with janyas with both varieties of madhyama being used, atleast as seen in the SSP or in practice.

Conclusion:

The composition “Mangaladevate” and the raga Margadesi are thus unique as they stand out in many aspects. We have long forgotten the feature of ragas which principally sport the suddha madhyama note and use the pratimadhyama as well, especially under Mela 15. These ragas perhaps had died out even by CE 1800. It was left to the sans egal composer Muthusvami Dikshita to resurrect these long-forgotten ragas which had gone out of vogue.

I have chosen to present this raga in this blog post as I stumbled upon this composition and found it to be both, from the melodic and lyrical perspective so apt and resonating with the present times. The Goddess symbolized by Dikshita in this composition as the very embodiment of auspiciousness ( Mangalam) and the fact that the raga is a long forgotten one, reminded me of the the dilapidated and desolate temple of Goddess Mangaladevi in remote Tamilnadu, though the composition on hand bears no nexus of any sort, with this temple. I have used the photograph of that in the panel above, details of which are in the hyperlink. The haunting use of M2 via the DM2P prayoga imparts an ethereal feel for the raga. Immersing oneself in the beauty of the composition and making the prayer out to Her by learning or rendering this composition will without doubt confer Her benign blessings to one and all.

References:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904) – Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – Republished in Tamil by Madras Music Academy (2006) -Vol 1- Mela 15 Pages 243-246
  2. Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – ‘Ragalakshana Sangraha’- Collection of Raga Descriptions pp 857-857
  3. Dr R Sathyanarayana (2010)- “Ragalakshanam” of Sri Muddu Venkatamakhin- Published by IGNCA
  4. Proceedings of the Meetings of the Advisory Committee of the Madras Music Academy ( 3rd Jan 2005)- Journal of the Madras Music Academy (JMA) Vol LXXVI 2005 page 160

Safe Harbour Statement:

The renderings used or linked as above in the body of this blog has been made strictly for purposes of education and knowledge under fair use category. The intellectual property therein belongs to the respective artistes and the same cannot be shared or exploited without their consen

Raga, Repertoire

The Alluring Bhogachayanata

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Introduction:

The raga name is just Chayanata as has been dealt with from yore, with the prefix “bhoga” being a later day addition, made in the “Ragalakshanam” of Muddu Venkatamakhin so as to yield the mela number of 34 under the katapayadhi samkhya system. And this Chayanata bears no melodic relation whatsoever to the Northern Chayanat ( a very popular raga) which is an altogether different melody, which goes as under:

Arohana krama: SR2G3M1PS or SR2G3M1N2D2PS

Arohana krama: SD2N2PR2G3M1R2S

with RG3M1N2D2PR2 being the salient murcchana (M1/N2 and P\R2 being the salient building block. Watch out for the occasional M2 which may also be used ( see video below for a primer on this interesting Northern melody)

Finding the Carnatic scalar equivalent albeit a close one for the Hindustani Chayanat is left as an exercise for the discerning listener.

The Carnatic heptatonic 34th melakartha “Vagadeeswari” (exemplified by Tyagaraja’s “Paramatmudu”) is a scalar equivalent. For this brief post I will be keeping focus on (Bhoga) Chayanata as dealt with by Muthusvami Dikshita only.

Historical Background:

Chayanata is an old raga but curiously has not been documented by both Govinda Dikshita and his son Venkatamakhin in their works. It has been documented by Sahaji in his Ragalakshanamu (Circa 1800 AD) and also by Tulaja in his Saramruta (1832 AD) and the same melodic contour being documented by Muddu Venkatamakhin (Circa 1850) which is available to us through the Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP).

Arohana : S R3 G3 R3 G3 M1 P N2 N2 S

Arohana: S N2 D2 N2 PM1R3 S

Anointed as the head of the mela No 34, Chayanata for all practical purposes has dhaivatha which is varjya (dropped) in the arohana both dhaivatha and gandhara are vakra (devious) in the avarohana krama, with janta nishadha and madhyama indicated to be the life-giving notes by Subbarama Dikshita. Along with its ilk, such as Desakshi and Samantha, Chayanata in its form has all but been forgotten by us.

The beauty of this raga is the purvanga murchanas employing R3G3M1P, PN2N2S and PM1R3 in combination with the SN2D2N2P which is leitmotif of the uttaranga, used by a number of ragas we have seen in this series of blog posts, such as Devamanohari and Malavi.

In sum in terms of the grammatical construct of 19th century raga architecture, in this raga Chayanata:

  1. SRGMP alone is permitted. PDNS, SNDP and PMGRS are to be eschewed.
  2. PNNS, SNDNP and PMRS are the vakra sancharas and motifs.
  3. Dhaivatha is varjya in the arohana (PDP should not be used) and both dhaivatha and gandhara are vakra in the avarohana krama. PNNS and PS occurs in profusion.

It has to be mentioned here that though the R3G3 may be a vivadhi combination, yet like Natta, this raga Chayanata permits SRGM in its ascent. A raga that we saw in a previous post Ragachudamani SM1R3G3MPN2N2S dropping the dhaivatha in the ascent is structurally similar to Chayanata from an ascent perspective.

Compositions:

The SSP apart from documenting the raganga lakshana gitam and a tanam, documents the sole kriti in this raga, being the one by Muthusvami Dikshitar apart from the sancari of Subbbarama Dikshitar.

pallavi

bhOga-chAyA nATaka priyE         – O one who takes pleasure in the enjoyable puppet-play (that is this universe)!

bOdhaM dEhi                       – Give me enlightenment!

bRhadISa jAyE                     – O wife of Lord Brihadeesvara !

Anupallavi

SrI guru guha janani              – O mother of Guruguha!

niranjani                                     – O the blemish-less one!

Srita jana rakshaNi            – O the protector of people who have sought refuge!

Siva santOshiNi                       – O the one who pleases Shiva!

bhOga mOksha vitaraNa nipuNa-tarE – O the great expert at bestowing (both) enjoyment and liberation!

bhU-sura-Adi sannuta         – Oh one well-extolled by all people, beginning with Brahmins ,

kamala karE                          – Oh the one with lotus-like hands!

The raga name as well the composer’s mudra (colophon) makes it appearance in the composition which is bereft of the carana but has a concise cittasvara passage appended to it. The composition is on Goddess Brihannayaki, the consort of Lord Brihadeesvara of Tanjore (Big Temple). Legend has it that during Dikshita’s sojourn to Tanjore (when the Tanjore Quartet were under his tutelage), he composed a number of kritis on the deities situated in an around Tanjore in the mela ragas tabulated by Muddu Venkatamakhin. This composition is one such and is sole exemplar of the 34th mela.

Discography:

Though there are quite a few renderings, I choose to present the one very close to the notation found in the SSP here:

The artiste is Vidvan Ravi Kiran who renders the composition true to the notation documented in the SSP.

Attention is invited to the following aspects:

  1. The pallavi commences with SG3SM1 and NOT SR3SM1. In many renderings it is heard only as SR3SM1, which is not what is notated in the SSP.
  2. Secondly the madhyama kala sahitya portion is to be ONLY sung with the notation as MGMP-RGMP-MPNNS; SSNN-SNDN-PMRPMR – (underline indicates portion is in second kalam) as is done in the exemplar above cited.

Much liberty is seen taken in other renderings, which is not in conformance with the notation as pointed above.

3. One other aspect to be noted is that in all ragas where the combination R3G3 occurs, the descent as employed by Dikshita in his compositions is almost as a rule PM1R3S and not PM1G3M1R3S. However, in the cittasvara section of this composition, GMRS is seen used.

Conclusion:

Its in very much in realm of possibility that a concise alapana, neraval and svaraprastara can be presented for this raga/composition by a performing musician. Yet neither this composition nor an exposition of the raga is encountered in the music circuit. It is hoped that the kriti and this raga is taken up for exposition and rendered frequently in the days to come in true fidelity to the notation found in the SSP.

References:

  1. Subbarama Dikshitar (1904)- Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini Part IV– Tamil Edition published by the Madras Music Academy in 1977 – pages 973-978
  2. Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – ‘Ragalakshana Sangraha’- Collection of Raga Descriptions- pages 300-308
  3. Dr S. Sita (1983) – “The Ragalakshana Manuscript of Sahaji Maharaja’ – Pages 140-182- JMA Vol LIV
  4. Prof S. R. Janakiraman & T V Subba Rao (1993)- ‘Ragas of the Sangita Saramrutha’ – Published by the Music Academy, Chennai, pages 298-299
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.