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.
Before we embark into
analysis, let us first understand these rāga-s and the present version of this
Ābhēri find its first mention in Saṅgīta Sudhā of Govinda Dīkśitar . 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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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!
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
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
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The presently heard versions could be actually an abridged version of the original with many of its non-scale abiding phrases removed.
Getting a Vālājāpeṭṭai version definitely gives an added value.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Changes occurred to a rāga
can be of various types ranging from trivial to drastic. There are some rāga-s
wherein some phrases have disappeared over the period of years, there are a few
wherein a rāga was made to sport a svara which is not present in its derivative
scale and lastly there are some which were given a new form altogether. The
last change is most dangerous as we are deprived to understand its old and
original form. One such ‘extinct’ rāga is Balahamsa, a rāga that was much
popular during the period of Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ and his contemporaries. The
Balahamsa visualized by these composers was indeed a grand ‘rāga’ with lot of
fluid phrases traversing the scale.
Though we do hear Balahamsa
now and then with the same svara sthāna as that of Balahamsa of yore, the kṛti-s
heard are mostly modern considering the lakṣaṇa of this rāga. The contemporary
Balahamsa is much scalar which is essentially to be contrasted against the
Balahamsa used by the composers mentioned above.
The present form of Balahamsa,
in texts is seen only from the period of Śahaji. But the lakṣaṇa seen here has
not changed; Tulaja too records the same, though he was late by around a
century (See Footnote 1). This rāga, essentially in the same form was utilized by
Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar in his kṛti ‘guruguhādanyam’, belonging to the set of guruguha
vibhakti kṛti-s. This kṛti as notated by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his Saṅgīta
Sampradāya Pradarśini follows the same lakṣaṇa as given by Śahaji and Tulaja. Unfortunately,
the later versions of this kṛti resemble this Balahamsa remotely and were
structured to be in confirmation with the commonly heard Scalar Balahamsa. This
scalar version subdued the Scale-transcending Balahamsa in the Post – Trinity era
and live through many compositions.
We have mentioned in our
earlier articles that many of the Scale-transcending rāga-s have a Scalar
counterpart and Balahamsa can be best fitted into this. It is a rarity to hear
Balahamsa in the present day concert milieu and when it is heard, it is
invariably the Scalar Balahamsa that bemuse us.
Balahamsa takes the svara
that are assigned to the mēla 28 (present system), namely catuśruti ṛṣabham, antara
gāndhāram, suddha madhyamaṃ, catuśruti dhaivatam and kaiśiki niṣādham. It is an
upāṅga rāgaṃ and svara-s alien to mēla 28 are never seen here. All the
advocatory texts of the Scalar school like Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi, Saṅgīta Sarvārtha
Sāram etc., identify this rāga and assign the scale SRMPDS SNDPMRMGS to it (See
Footnote 2). The phrase RMGS has been given an undue importance (in the
Post-Trinity era) and this phrase has almost become synonymous with this rāga
which we feel, is mainly due to the influence of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi and the lakṣaṇa
gīta given there in. The lakṣaṇa gīta notated there does not have gāndhāra in ārōhaṇa
phrases, strictly confirming with the scale and RMGS is found aplenty. Glide
towards the ṣaḍja in avarōhaṇa phrases is always RMGS, excluding a single place
wherein MGRS is seen.
This grand rāga, as noted
by Śahaji and Tulaja cannot be reined in by a mere scale. Though the svara stanāna-s
it takes are exactly the same as that of scalar one, it has many unique phrases
which was well projected by the composers like Muddusvāmy Dīkśitar and Subbarāma
Dīkṣitar. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar explains its entire firmament in a single śloka,
attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhi:
balahamsākhyarāgōyam ārōhē ca nivarjitaḥ I sagrahassarvakālēṣu gīyatē gāyakōttamaihi II
The first part of this śloka
says ‘the svara niṣādha is varjya (absent) in the ārōhaṇa of the rāga balahamsa’. Though the śloka appears to be concise and at
times non-explanatory, the very essence of Balahamsa is communicated here
assiduously. This Balahamsa has ārohaṇa phrases, with the six svara-s used in
various permutations, excluding the niṣādha. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives various
illustrious phrases like SRGR, SRGM, SRMP, MPDP etc., and when they are studied
with the śloka mentioned above, gives an idea that these grantakāra-s are
willing to convey. Niṣādha is seen in the phrases like SNDP and DNDP. Beside
these standard phrases, this rāga has many unusual phrases like SRGMPMR, SRPMR,
PR and PDPS. There are two striking features in the above mentioned discussion
– the phrase RMGS is not mentioned anywhere (See Footnote 3) and the phrase
SRGMPMR, though mentioned by Dīkṣitar as very important, is seen nowhere in any
of the compositions notated by him. The point we wish to reiterate by this
discussion is that RMGS was an ignored phrase in this rāga (in the past), this
rāga can be placed in par with the rāga-s like Kāmbhōji or Rītigaula which has
very many special phrases outside the fixed scale and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar wishes
to educate us about a rāga by giving important phrases of a rāga, irrespective
of them being used in the compositions notated by him. It is thus imperative
for us to read each and every discussion or note that he gives to contemplate a
of Tyāgaraja Svāmigaḷ in the rāga Balahamsa
An astute reader will be
with a query on the svarūpa of Balahamsa seen in the compositions of Svāmigaḷ. In
the commonly heard versions, we hear only Scalar Balahamsa and the phrase RMGS
ornate each and every single composition. Also they also do not confirm with the
lakṣaṇa of the Scale-transcending Balahamsa as portrayed in the composition of
Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar or elsewhere. Does it mean both of them followed two different
schools? This puzzle can be resolved only by looking into the older versions of
the kṛti-s of Tyāgaraja Svāmigaḷ.
versions – a repository of lost tradition
We have insisted several
times in our previous posts regarding the importance of collecting and
analyzing the manuscripts preserved at various repositories. Analysis of
various versions prevalent during the early part of the last century and prior
reveal, the older form of Tyāgarāja kṛti-s too were in Scale-transcending
Balahamsa and the possibilities of them being the ‘original’ intent of the
composer is extremely high.
We have around eight
compositions of Svāmigaḷ in this rāga and we were able to identify the older version
for few of these compositions. A comparison across the versions will be done
for the kṛti-s which were able to get an old version, to draw a conclusion.
This is the rarest of the entire lot of the kṛti-s of Svāmigaḷ in Balahamsa. Surprisingly this could have been a popular kṛti in the past, getting mentioned by many musicians who had the habit of notating the kṛti-s that they have learnt. It can also be seen in published texts. Vālājāpēṭṭai version of this kṛti can be heard here. Though a small kṛti, it epitomize the Scale-transcending Balahamsa. The phrase SRGMPMR is heard in the caraṇam of this kṛti.
T M Vēṅkaṭa Śāstri was the first one to publish this kṛti in notation as early as in 1892. Though the version much resembles the Vālājāpeṭṭai version, there exist few minor differences. A prominent difference being observed is the absence of the phrase SRGMPMR and SNDNP. Instead this reads as SRMPPMR and SNDNDP respectively! (See Footnote 4)This trend gets continued in the Gāyaka Siddhānjanamu of Taccur brothers. P V Ponnammāl, a musician who lived around 1917 also recorded a similar version, but without the phrase SRGMPMR. Same is the case with Kumbakōṇam Visvanātha Ayyar, an Umayālpuram musician. There are two versions other than the Vālājāpeṭṭai version to have this phrase; one by Srinivāsa Rāghavan, a nephew of Tillaisthānam Rāma Ayyaṅgār and another one in a book published by Kākināda C S Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayyar. Srinivāsa Rāghavan has learnt from various sources including S A Rāmasvāmy Ayyar, a disciple of Vālājāpeṭṭai Kṛṣṇasvāmy Bhāgavatar and Umayālpuram Kṛṣṇa and Sundara Bhāgavatar and he could have learnt this from S A Rāmasvāmy Ayyar. The version published by Kākināda C S Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayyar is extraordinarily similar to Vālājāpeṭṭai version, but for the absence of the phrase SNDNP. Though few minor differences exist across the versions, the basic structure of this kṛti is almost similar. Strikingly, none of these versions use the phrase RMGS. The presently rendered concert version can be heard here.
Another common kṛti seen in
almost all the manuscripts written during the early part of the last century. The
lakṣaṇa of Balahamsa is similar to the other kṛti-s mentioned in the Vālājāpeṭṭai
manuscripts (‘ninnu basi’, ‘daṇdamu bettēnura’ and ‘ika gāvalasina’). We do not
find the phrase SRGMPMR here, though we find PMR and PR in plenty. Similar lakṣaṇa
is seen in the text Gānēnduśekaram of Taccur brothers. A similar version with
the complete absence of RMGS and plenty of DSR, SRGR,PMR,PDND etc., were seen
in the versions of Bālasubraḥmaṇya Ayyar, supposedly an Umayālpuram musician, PV
Ponnammāl and Srinivāsa Rāghavan. This again shows the older versions of the kṛti-s
of svāmigaḷ is much different from the presently heard versions.
This is perhaps one of the common kṛti heard in this rāga. The version that is commonly heard must have been probably sourced from Umayālpuram tradition as this version much resembles the version notated by B Kṛṣṇamūrti, as learnt from Umayālpuram Rājagōpāla Iyer, a descendant of Umayālpuram Svāminātha Iyer. This version has plenty of the phrase RMGS. This kṛti could have not been known to all (musicians of the past) is gleaned from the fact that this kṛti is very rarely encountered in the manuscripts examined by us. Fortunately, a Vālājāpēṭṭai version is available, but only in part; pallavi and the first line of anupallavi alone is notated in the transcripts available. This version is devoid of the phrase RMGS.
It can be seen the arterial phrase SRGMPMR occurs and this version is not even remotely identical with the common Umayālpuram version of this kṛti!
This is perhaps the most
popular kṛti in this rāga. Including the Vālājāpēṭṭai versions, none of the
older versions deviate from the structure of Scale-transcending Balahamsa
explained earlier. This is also applicable to the Umayālpuram version notated
by B Kṛṣṇamūrti.
Rāma ēva daivatam
This is another rare kṛti
in this rāga. Whereas the commonly heard version is replete with the phrase
RMGS and predominantly scalar, the version by Srinivāsa Rāghavan is in line
with the Scale-transcending Balahamsa. Like ‘ninnu bāsietla’, it can be
conjectured that this could have also been learnt from S A Rāmasvāmy Ayyar.
It can be seen the kṛti-s ‘daṇdamu
beṭṭēnura’, ‘taḷḷi tandrulu’ and ‘ninnu bāsietla’ were much known to the
musicians in the past and all the kṛti-s were structured only in the
Scale-transcending form. Of these versions, Vālājāpēṭṭai versions tend to
harbor more archaic, yet arterial phrase like SRGMPMR and SNDNP which has been
dropped off in the later versions. The emergence of Janarañjani with this
phrase (SRGMPMR) might be a reason that can be speculated.
This rāga was handled by
almost all the prominent Post-Trinity composers from Mysore Sadāśiva Rao to
Harikēśanallur Muttiah Bhāgavatar. Whereas the lakśaṇa of the rāga resembles
the Scale Balahamsa to a greater extent with a profuse use of the phrase RMGS,
few have also used some phrases outside the scale. SRGMPMR in the kṛti ‘dēvi dākśāyani’
of Muttiah Bhāgavatar, DM and MD in the kṛti ‘evarunnaru brōva’ of Sadāśiva Rao
can be cited as examples. This shows their acquaintance with Scale-transcending
Balahamsa and perhaps due to changes in the trend during their period, they have
composed in Scalar Balahamsa with few special phrases outside the scale to give
us an inkling about the past tradition.
As mentioned earlier,
Scalar Balahamsa rose to prominence in the Post-Trinity era mainly due to the
works of prominent composers who lived in the last century. Amongst this, we
have two composers who have made a mark by composing in the Scale-transcending
Balahamsa. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has composed a grand aṭa tāḷa varṇa ‘śri raja rāja’
demonstrating all the vital phrases of this rāga following the lines of Tyāgarāja
Svāmy and Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar. Tiruvottriyūr Tyāgayyar has composed a kriti ‘paluka
vādēla’ in this rāga belonging to the set ‘ Śri Vēṇugōpāla Aṣṭōttara Śata Kṛtis’.
Though he has not used the phrase RMGS, he has neither used the phrases like
SRGMPMR, SNP or PDPS, the definitive features of Scale-transcending Balahamsa. So
it is neither scalar nor having all the phrases of Scale-transcending
Vs Scale-transcending Balahamsa
Having discussed the two
types of Balahamsa and the compositions therein, we wish to give a reckoner to
identify and understand these two types. The Scalar Balahamsa follows the scale
exactly with no outliers. The avarōhaṇa phrases leads to ṣaḍja only through
RMGS or a phrase having the motif ‘GS’ like SRGS. But, none of the compositions
exist to serve as an example for this Scalar Balahamsa that is following only
the scale. The compositions by the Post-Trinity composers predominantly are
scalar with few phrases not confirming with the scale.
Balahamsa has the phrase MGRS in addition with the avarōhaṇa phrases mentioned
above. Phrases like SRGMPMR, PDPS and SDNP are inherently present. The
compositions of Tyāgaraja Svāmigaḷ, Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
come under this category. Though we do not find the phrase SRGMPMR in the
compositions of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, we do find a phrase
MRGMPMR in the mentioned varṇam by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.
equivalent of Balahamsa
There is no equivalent rāga
for Balahamsa in Hindustāni music. Subbā Rao gives four types of Baḍahamsa in
his book and none of them resemble our Balahamsa.
Analysis of older versions
reveal, Balahamsa was handled only in a Scale-transcending form earlier, at
least till the period of Tyāgarāja and Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar. Though we do not
have any recordings, this is clear form all the manuscripts and the early texts
examined. Since every other evidence points towards the same direction, it can
be very well concluded that the kṛti-s of Tyāgarāja Svāmy in the rāga Balahamsa
has been changed from Scale-transcending to Scalar form. The Balahamsa that is
heard today is definitely a Post-Trinity development.
The Vālājāpēṭṭai version of
the kṛti ‘ninnu bāsi etla’ represents an original authentic version, as every
other old version, representing various other schools confirm this.
Though it is not
technically wrong in having the phrase RMGS, for some unknown reasons,
composers like Tyāgarāja Svāmy and Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar has avoided that
There are many pockets
within the broader Umayālpuram school, with total disagreement in their
versions and they are to be studied separately.
being the oldest of all maintain many archaic, yet arterial phrases which are
must to understand this rāga. Any efforts to analyze the rāga-s handled by Tyāgarāja
Svāmy will be futile without examining them.
This analysis shows there
are no two different thoughts in approaching a rāga between Tyāgarāja and
Muddusvāmi Dīkṣitar and it is the change that has happened over the time has
created this illusion.
This analysis also
highlights the importance of analyzing manuscripts to understand the truth. We
request the readers to share information about any unpublished manuscripts that
they are aware of.
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 P V Ponnammal. I thank Sri V Sriram,
Secretary, The Music Academy for permitting me to access those valuable
I sincerely thank Sri B
Krishnamurti, Smt Nandhini Venkataraman, descendant of Kumbakonam Sri
Visvanatha Iyer and Dr Chandran, descendant of Dr Srinivasa Raghavan for
parting me with the manuscripts that they possess.
Subbā Rao. Rāganidhi – A comparative study of Hindustāni and Karnatik rāga-s, Volume
1, The Music Academy, 1980.
1 – Balahamsa can also be seen in the treatises like Saṅgīta Pārijāta and Hṛdaya
Kautuka. But the rāga lakṣaṇa is different and Balahamsa with the present svara
sthāna-s can be seen only from the text by Śahaji.
2 – Saṅgraha Cuḍāmaṇi gives the scale asSRMPD SNDPMRMGSRS. Rāga lakṣaṇa, a similar text of unknown authorship gives
us the scale SRMPDS SNDPDMGRS.
3 – The phrase RMGS occur as RMGGS only once in the rāgamālika ‘śivamōhana’ of
4 – Since this article predominantly deals with the rāga Balahamsa, the various
versions were not discussed in detail.
The rāga Rudrapriyā is mentioned twice by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in his treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśini; once under the rāgāṅga rāga Śri rāgaṃ and second time in the Anubandham. The first mention has 5 kṛti-s and a sañcari and in the Anubandham, two kṛti-s of Śri Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar –”gaṇanāyakam bhajēham” and “tyāgēśam bhajarē” were given. Analysis of the notations reveal a considerable difference in the lakṣaṇa of these two kṛti-s from other kṛti-s notated in the main section and also the svarūpa of Rudrapriyā differ considerably between these two kriti-s to an extent that they need a separate discussion. Hence these two kṛti-s will be covered separately and this article will cover the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’. It is advisable to read Part I for better understanding of this rāga. Before we embark into the kṛti, it is pertinent to know about the structure of rāga-s prevailed during 19th century and prior.
a rāga – concept prevailed during 17th and18th century
century or even prior to that, there could have been two school of thoughts in
approaching or handling a rāga. First one is to treat a rāga in such a way that
a definite scale (ārōhaṇam or avarōhaṇam) cannot explain the svarūpa of a rāgaṃ
as they transcend these scales (Scale-transcending rāga-s). Second thought is
to approach a rāgam in a scalar manner. Both could have enjoyed popularity and
there could have been proponents for both these systems; the exact time period
which saw the inflow of these systems cannot be framed with the available
Whereas the latter is
really a simple method to approach a rāga, only the former method gives an
adequate structure to the svara-s to be called as a rāga. Whereas the treatment
of a rāga in the latter approach can be compared with a small water canal,
which has only a single course with the water flowing through it monotonously,
the former approach can be compared with a river. A rāga has its own delineated
course and it is our duty to cruise through it and identify its tributaries and
distributaries, the area where it bifurcates, various ways through which it
reaches its destination etc.
Scale-transcending approach is seen with the treatises like Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śahāji
and Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulaja, to cite a few, the scalar approach is seen with
the treatises like Saṅgīta Sāra Saṅgrahamu of Tiruvēṅkaṭa Kavi and Saṅgraha Cūdāmaṇi.
So, if a composer is a follower of the first school, he handles a rāga as an
organic structure (Scale-transcending approach); whereas a composer who
believes in the latter thought handles a rāga exactly in concordance with the
scale prescribed for that rāga (Scalar approach). In due course, a scalar rāga
could have been developed as an equivalent to ‘scale transcending’ rāga and
used by the Scalar school. Pūrṇacandrika and Janarañjani can be cited as an
example to explain this. Whereas the former is limited to a scale now, it was actually
a rāga with a wider scope. The latter could have been developed to get a feel
of Pūrṇacandrika and at the same time making it simple to approach by making it
to abide a scale. Alternatively, many Scale-transcending rāga-s were converted
into scales. This concept can be easily understood by studying the rāga Gauḍamalhār.
Though we generally believe
Harikēśanaḷḷur Muttiah Bhāgavatar handled this for the first time, we do have
evidence to say this could have been handled by another composer preceding him.
‘Cinta dīrca’ is a kṛti of Tiruvoṭṭriyūr Tyāgayyar in this rāga and belongs to
the set “Śrī Vēṇugōpāla Svāmy Aṣṭottara Śata Kṛti-s” composed by Tyāgayyar.
Many rare scales feature in this set and this is one amongst them. Both Tyāgayyar
and Muttiah Bhāgavatar had strictly adhered to the scale SRMPDS SNDMGRS,
considering it as as janya of mēḷa 29, Dhīraśaṅkarābharaṇam. Interestingly, Saṅgraha
Cūḍāmaṇi gives the scale as SRMPDS SDNPMGRS
and the scale followed by them is seen only in the treatise Saṅgīta Sāra Saṅgrahamu
! This is again an instance showing, even 20th century composers
were not strict followers of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi.
The above discussion might
give an impression that this was a recently developed rāga. In reality, this is
an old rāga finding its presence for the first time in the Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śahāji
and Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulaja in its present form (as a janya of mēla 29). In
these treatise, this was more a rāga and we do find phrases outside the scale
Whereas Śrī Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
has followed the former method (though with few exceptions like the kṛti in the
rāga Navaratnavilāsa), Śrī Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ was a follower of both these
schools. The rāga-s handled by Svāmigaḷ can be divided into two types – rāga-s
which are seen in both the schools and the rāga-s which are unique to the
scalar school. In the former category, Svāmigaḷ has handled only a Scale-transcending
approach. An analysis of Vālājāpeṭṭai notations and other reliable sources
clearly indicate this.
Until the dawn of 20th
century, both schools were active and we can see the rāga repertoire being
built in by both the schools; but the second school dominated the scene from
the last century onwards. Though we find plenty of new rāga-s being developed
in the last century, they were mere scales and lack the skeleton inherently
present in the Scale-transcending approach.
This is a kṛti by Muddusvāmy
Dīkṣitar on Lord Vināyaka. This does not have any reference to a kṣētra or a
purāṇa and it is structured more like a hymn to the Lord. Structurally too, this
is much smaller with a paḷḷavi and anupaḷḷavi.1 This is not even
affixed with a ciṭṭa svara passage as seen with many other kṛtis composed in the
paḷḷavi-anupaḷḷavi format. Many doubt the authenticity of this kṛti as:
is not grouped with the other kṛti-s in the rāga Rudrapriyā (by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar).
is different from other kṛti-s notated in the rāga Rudrapriyā.
of this kṛti (more modelled like dēśādhi which is unusual for a kṛti of Muddusvāmy
of this kṛti is extraordinarily identical with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’
The points mentioned above
are overtly visible and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar himself could have been aware of
these facts. Considerable thought must have gone into his mind before including
this in Anubandham and labelling it as a kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Hence it
can be believed that this kṛti was a genuine construction of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
and having this in mind let us try to understand and solve the discrepancies.
In general, the kṛti-s of
Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar propagated through the printed texts in the early part of
the last century are very minimal. If we analyse the Dīkṣitar kṛti-s in the available
texts, the number might rarely cross 25-35, implying singing or hearing a kṛti
of Dīkṣitar was a rarity in those days. The same inference can be again drawn from
the available gramophone records. Whereas kṛti-s like bālagōpāla, śrī vēṇugōpāla
and ananta bālakṛṣṇam can be seen frequently either notated or otherwise, it is
surprising to see the absence of (presently) popular kṛti-s like raṅganāyakam,
saundararājam or jambupatē. It was at that juncture Pradarśini was releasedhaving around 230 kṛti-s of Dīkṣitar
notated. Needless to say the kṛti in hand is seen here for the first time.
A rāga can be visualised
and envisaged only from its phrases and each rāga has its own special phrases
and common phrases that it share with its allies. It can be redacted from a
simple examination of Pradarśini that this kṛti follows the scale SRGMNNS
SNPMGRS. This scale is now called by the name Pūrṇaṣadjam and we have two kṛti-s
of Svāmigal in this rāga, ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ and ‘lāvaṇya rāma’. But a
stringent examination will reveal the presence of a phrase PNS which cannot be fitted
into the mentioned scale. The readers are now requested to recollect our
discussion on the two schools of approaching a rāga. The Scalar rāga-s
generally are faithful to their scale and we cannot find even a single phrase
outside the prescribed scale. In that case, where do we place this rāga? This phrase
PNS is to be neglected (considering it as an error on the side of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar)
and calling it as Pūrṇaṣadjam or it is to be considered as an inkling that this
could have been a Scale-transcending rāga? In the latter case, is it advisable
to call it as Rudrapriya? Before trying to find out a solution for this
question, let us get introduced to the rāga Pūrṇaṣadjam.
It has been mentioned at various occasions that the lakṣaṇa and the nomenclature of the kṛti-s of Svāmigaḷ in the apūrva rāga-s always pose a problem and the readers are requested to understand the facts given here before proceeding further.
It was a general consensus
made in the last century that Svāmigaḷ followed Saṅgraha Chūḍāmaṇi, a text of
late origin and unknown authorship. Scholars date the period of this text to be
somewhere around late 18th century and in that case we are forced to
believe Svāmigaḷ followed this treatise leaving behind the tradition that was
extant for very many centuries. Strangely, no one focused or questioned this
aspect, excluding few lone voices like that of renowned musicologist Śrī K V Rāmacandran. A study of this rāga shows, we have much
deviated from the truth and it is pertinent, at least at this point of time to
search for the same.
Pūrṇaṣadjam appears to be a
rāga of recent origin with the present available evidences, as we do not get to
see this rāga in the treatises belonging to the medieval period, from Svaramēlakalānidhi
of Rāmamāṭya to Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulajā. This rāga is first seen in the text
Saṅgīta Sarvārtha Sārām attributed to Tiruvēṅkaṭakavi (See Footnote 1) and later,
we do find it in Saṅgraha Chūḍāmaṇi. This rāga is considered as a janya of mēla
20 in both the texts though with a different lakṣaṇa. Whereas the former treats
this as a rāga with the scale SRGMDS SDPMGRS, the latter consider SPMPDPS
SNDMGRS as the scale.2 In both cases this is a rāga with dhaivatam unlike
the rāga, that we now call it as Pūrṇaṣadjam.
Books on Tyāgarāja kīrtanā-s
published in the last century follow a dichotomous approach for labelling the kṛti-s
‘śrī mānini manōhara’ and ‘lāvaṇya rāma’ of Svāmigal. Few mention as Rudrapriyā
and few others as Pūrṇaṣadjam, but the lakṣaṇa remains the same. Any ways it
becomes clear that scale or the structure of the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ in
its present form (and also the commonly available version of the kṛti ‘lāvaṇya
rāma’ of Svāmigaḷ) cannot be fitted into the scale of Pūrṇaṣadjam mentioned in
these treatises. This again is an indication that the belief, Svāmigaḷ was a
follower of Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is a hoax.
Henceforth the discussion
will pertain only to the kṛti ‘śrī mānini
manōhara’ as this is related to the main topic and the other the kṛti ‘lāvaṇya
rāma’ will be covered at a later period of time. Though, the commonly available
version and the versions given in the majority of the texts follow the scale
SRGMNS SNPMGRS, few texts published in the last century and some unpublished
manuscripts harbour the phrase PNS! So, it is not the rāga name alone that has
been appropriated, an immaculate service had also been done by removing a
phrase which do not fit into the scale and this is definitely not a fate of
this kṛti alone. Be it as it may, it can be concluded that the rāga of this
scale cannot be called as Pūrṇaṣadjam and few versions in the past do had the
phrase PNS is emphasized.
Having reiterated the
problem seen with these apūrva kṛti-s and inclusion of the phrase PNS at least
in the few versions of the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’, it is essential for us
to turn into another related question – was the melody of these two kṛti-s (gaṇanāyakam
bhajēham andśrī mānini manōhara) were
same in the past? This will also give us a solution to the question on the rāga
of the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’.
The two kṛti-s
Unlike Dīkṣitar kṛti,
we lack an authentic source to study
this kṛti of Svāmigaḷ, as Vālājāpēṭṭai manuscripts, said to be written by his
direct disciple Vālājāpēṭṭai Śrī Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa Bhāgavatar do not give us this kṛti
in notation (in the corpus available to us).
From the recordings available to us and from the books and manuscripts
which give this kṛti in notation, it can be said that the currently heard
version could have been a common version in the past. Hand written manuscripts
written by Dr Śrīnivāsarāghavan, Śrī B Kṛṣṇamūrti (as learnt from Umayālpuram Śrī
Rājagōpāla Ayyar) and a musician by name Śrī Bālasubraḥmaṇya Ayyar (possibly a
student belonging to Umayālpuram lineage) too record the same, though with
minor differences. Śrī C R Śrīnivāsa Ayyaṅgār, too gives almost the same
version. In all these versions, the paḷḷavi starts with the svara ṛṣabham (see
Footnote 2). There is an exception to this common version which will be dealt
bhajēham in Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśini
The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ as given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be heard here. It can be seen that the kṛti starts with the svara gāndhāram (unlike ṛṣabham in most of the presently available versions). Paḷḷavi has only two lines in contrast with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’. Also, the line ‘vara bāla guruguham’ is rendered in a madhyama kālam (see Footnote 3). The sāhitya akṣara-s in the mentioned line is doubled when compared to other parts of the caraṇam, indicating this was the intent of the composer and not changed later. Though in some renditions we do hear the word ‘guruguham’ slightly rendered fast, and in some others, this was treated as a śabdam in the sama kālam. All these points not only convey us, the melodies of these two kṛti-s were not identical, but also add value to the authenticity of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in considering this composition as a genuine construct of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.
The structure of these two kṛti-s: are they identical?
We have seen that hearing a
kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar itself was a rarity in those days. When this kṛti
came into circulation, the similarity in the rāga lakṣaṇa between these two kṛti-s
could have made some musician to transpose the melody of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’
(to start with ṛṣabham) and made it to be identical with the kṛti ‘śrī mānini
manōhara’, either voluntarily or inadvertently!
We have seen, the way in which the original version of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ has been changed to resemble the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’. Now we will look into a lost version of ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ which resembles ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ as notated in Pradarśini. The rāga handled in this version is more like ‘Scale-transcending’. Incidentally, this version published by Tenmaṭam Brothers was the earliest published version and it starts with the svara gāndhāram, similar to ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ given in Pradarśini.3 Also, it has the phrases MGRG, RGS which out lie the prescribed scale! Though the tāḷam of this kṛti is given as dēśādhi in various texts, it is notated only in ādhi tāḷam starting from 1.5 idam in this text and can be heard here. This version can better be called as Rudrapriya (as it has all the phrases seen in the Rudrapriya mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in the main text).
It can be very well
observed that these kṛti-s are not exact copies of each other and the present
version of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ was modelled like the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’
in the last century. The original version of the former kṛti is quite different
from the latter (be it a common version or the version given by Tenmaṭam
Brothers) despite having few similarities. The similarities can be attributed
mainly to the key phrases highlighted in these compositions and handling of the
rāga, in general.
Irrespective of the rāga
nomenclature, it is clear that the rāga lakṣaṇa and handling of the phrases is
same with both the kṛti-s. This might be an indication that both the composers
might have had a common source of inspiration.
The cultural and social
canvas of Tanjāvūr was always inclusive. Though it had its own indigenous
culture, it always invited and incorporated the customs and practise from other
regions. This is much so with music. What we now call as Karnāṭaka Music is
actually a digestion and integration of all these cultures. Whereas we had
indigenous rāga-s and musical systems flourishing there, we also see Kings
patronising other forms of music. The pillars of Tanjāvūr Mahal had witnessed
the musicians playing God save the King and Marlbrook. The streets in Tanjāvūr
were reverberated with Mahārāṣtra Bhajans and Abhangs. Varāhapayyar, an eminent
musician in the court of Śerfoji was fined for not learning Hindustani music in
the stipulated time. Hence, melodies of various genres were prevalent during
the period of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Svāmigaḷ. These composers too never
restricted themselves from including these melodies into their repertoire. It
is like having multiple ‘maṅgaḷam’ and ‘tālāṭṭu’ set to a single tune differing
only in sāhityam, sung by household women of yester generation.
The basic melody or the
original tune seen in these two kṛti-s could have been a popular melody
belonging to any of these genres; these composers having inspired by that tune
could have shaped them in their own
imitable way. Hence, calling them as copies and believing one copying another
is going to be a futile and stale discussion.
Such tunes were a strong
source of inspiration even in the last century as can be seen from the work of Popley
and Stephen4, two Christian musicians, in the last century, has used
them to fit into their own sāhityam as a method to evangelise the natives,
though just mentioning as Mahārāṣtra meṭṭu and without mentioning the original
of these kṛti-s
Having established that it
is a vagary to consider ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ as to have been composed in Purṇaṣadjam
and this was not a copy of ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’, it is essential to discuss
the lakṣaṇa portrayed in these kṛti-s.
kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’
In the Part I of this
series, we have seen Rudrapriyā blossoms when G or N is used as a janṭa svara,
use of phrases like SNP, SNDN, SDNP and the use of dhāṭṭu prayōga-s. R,G,M and
N can be the jīva svara-s (starting notes) and nyāsa svara-s (ending notes). In
the kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ G,N and N,M were the jīva and nyāsa svara-s
respectively. The kṛti starts with the janṭa G and we do see a profuse use of
janṭa R and N throughout the kṛti. None of the phrases used here were outside
the realm of Rudrapriyā including MNN, though it is to be accepted that
Rudrapriyā is not shown in its full potential. For the matter of fact,
Rudrapriya was exploited to its full potential more by Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma
Dīkṣitar than Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar as discussed in Part I. The phrase GRR is
used frequently similar to the kṛti-s in the rāga Rudrapriyā (notated in the
main section of Pradarśini). These findings could have made Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
to name the rāga of this kṛti as Rudrapriyā and he is certainly not wrong in
We have mentioned in Part I
of this article that Rudrapriyā could have been called by several names in the
past and Karnātaka Kāpi was one amongst them. We hypothesized Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
could have been a single proponent in using the name Rudrapriyā. We also made a
point that the name Rudrapriyā could have also been shared by many rāga-s. We
can conjecture from these facts that the rāga that we see here in these two kṛti-s
could have been called as Rudrapriyā and the other 5 kṛti-s seen in the main
section of Pradarśini could have been called by the name Karnātaka Kāpi! This
statement gets more valid when we remember the rāga mudra is not seen in the kṛti
kṛti ‘rudra kōpa’ of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and the pada varṇam ‘suma sāyaka’ is
still called as Kāpi (provided the version that we hear is original) despite
resembling Rudrapriyā. We also have another evidence to support this.
We also like to place
another view. We were discussing the proponents of the Scalar approach tried to
have an equivalent for a Scale-transcending rāga. So, Rudrapriyā (seen in ‘gaṇanāyakam
bhajēham’) could have been invented by the proponents of the Scalar approach as
an alternate to Karnāṭaka Kāpi. Hence, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar who was well aware of
these facts placed the kṛti-s in Karnāṭaka Kāpi separately, naming it as
Rudrapriyā, thereby differentiating from the Scalar Rudrapriyā. A manuscript written by Mazhavarāyanēndal
Subbarāma Bhāgavathar names the scale SRGMNS SNPMGRS as Rudrapriyā and not Purṇaṣadjam.
But the problem in relying this manuscript is that it does not attest involving
the phrase PNS.5
Alternatively, we can also consider the rāga of this kṛti as Karnāṭaka Kāpi akin to the kṛtis given as Rudrapriyā in Pradarśini (main text). Going by this statement, a doubt arise on the authenticity of not using all/ majority of key phrases in a rāga. Though this question cannot be satisfactorily replied with the available evidences, it can be said that we do have examples to show ‘out of the box’ handling of a rāga. A beautiful exemplar to explain this is the kṛti ‘pāliñcu gōpāla’ of Vīṇa Kuppaier in the rāga Husēni. The rāga, in this kṛti is explored only from mandra niṣādham to madhya pañ chamam! Though it is unimaginable now to see such a handling of Husēni, this shows the inclusive nature of our music and the liberty enjoyed by our composers in the past.
kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’
Regarding the rāga of the kṛti
‘śrī mānini manōhara’, if we go by the common version, it can be called as (or
ought to be called as?) Rudrapriyā (the Scalar one) and if we go by the version
by Tenmaṭam Brothers, it can be considered to be close to Karnāṭaka Kāpi
(Rudrapriyā of the main section in Pradarśini). Any more observations will be
updated if we happen to get a Vālājāpeṭṭai version or a version from other
The following can be
concluded from the above discussion:
The kṛti ‘gaṇanāyakam bhajēham’ and ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ were not cast in the same mould. Both the composers could have been inspired from a single source, a popular melody of their times.
It is advisable to not label the kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ as Pūrṇaṣadjam; preferable to call it by the name Rudrapriyā.
Many details are unsaid explicitly in the treatise by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. It is up to us to reconcile with the available evidences rather dismissing his thoughts out rightly.
Though Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is much popular now, it might not have been the case in the past. Svāmigaḷ had his own lexicons of rāga-s and it is not wrong if it is said he was a creator many rare rāga-s.
Manuscripts serve as a living evidence to understand the past. It is pertinent for us to search all the available manuscripts and preserve them for posterity.
Stephen LI, Popley HA. Handbook of Musical Evangelism.
The Methodist Publishing House, 1914.
P.C Sitaraman : Mazhavai Subbarama Iyyarin nottupusthakalilulla
sangita vishayangal. Journal of Music Academy:106;1972.
– Though Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi is much popular in understanding the scalar rāga-s,
this is not a singular treatise dealing rāga-s like this. Saṅgīta Sarvārtha Sārām
was written earlier than Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi and we do have manuscripts just
having rāga name with their scales lying in various libraries. Many musicians
lived during the last century had a lexicon of these scalar rāga-s.
– The kṛti ‘śrī mānini manōhara’ too has many versions as with any other kṛti
of Svāmigaḷ. An in-depth analysis of these versions was not attempted. Though
we frequently hear MNNS in the renditions available, we do rarely hear
PNS/PNNS, especially in the mandra sthāyi.
– The name ‘madhyama kāla sāhityam’ itself is self-explanatory. It refers to
only the sāhityam and not the melody. For example, in any segment of a
composition in ādhi tāla, if the first two lines has 16 sāhitākṣara-s
(calculated by giving a value of 1 for short vowel/consonant and a value of 2
for long vowel/consonant) and the succeeding line has 32 sāhitākṣara-s, the
latter line is called as ‘madhyama kāla sāhityam’.
Kapi or Karnataka Kapi is an old raga. Sahaji’s Raga Lakshanamu, Tulaja’s Saramrutha,the Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika and the Sangraha Cudamani have documented this raga. We have compositions in it from the pre-trinity times which are available to us through the Sangeeta Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP). We have grounds to believe that Trinitarians have composed in this raga perhaps with different musical flavors. The northern raga Kafi is spoken of, more as an equivalent of Karaharapriya while Kapi is truly different and in terms of the Hindustani music scheme, it belongs to the Kanhra/Kanada family of ragas.
Kapi is a raga which has become extinct in its original form but survives today in a much metamorphosed version or versions. Apart from its evolutionary history, one additional aspect of this raga merits attention. It probably spawned or was at the epicenter of a family of ragas which shared a common melodic motif G2M1R2S. Each of the ragas in this family went on to transform itself in an evolutionary process and are today in our midst, each with their own distinct melodic identity and remarkably distinguishable from one another.
In this blog post , we would take a deep dive into this raga and also cover the aspects highlighted above. In a later blog post we will cover the comparison of this raga with a few other ragas with which it shares common melodic material.
KAPI – ITS CURRENT FORM:
Before we look at the history of Kapi, it would be appropriate to take stock of the current form of this raga.
Kapi (rather modern Kapi) is grouped as a bhashanga janya under the Kharaharapriya mela/Sriraga raganga with anatara gandhara, suddha dhaivatha and kakali nishada as anya svaras, depending on the version of the composition. There is no strict arohana or avarohana for the raga today².This modern day Kapi is encountered in renderings of Tyagaraja’s kritis such as “Meevalla Gunadosha”, Papanasam Sivan’s “Enna Tavam seidhanai”, the javali ‘Parulannamata’ and the tune melody of “Jagadodharana” of Purandaradasa.
With this brief introduction let us look at the antiquity of this raga and the transformation it had undergone to reach its present stage.
Sahaji’s Ragalakshanamu (Circa 1700):
Kapi is not encountered in older texts including that of Govinda Dikshitar and Venkatamakhi. The first person to record this raga in the post 1700 period was King Sahaji who had captured the ragas in currency during his lifetime in this work “Ragalakshanamu’. According to him, the raga is sampurna, desya and is under the Sriraga mela and in the avarohana sancaras sometimes madhyama and dhaivatha are eliminated.⁴
As regards the usage of the terminology ‘sampurna’, it is to be noted that in all old musicological texts a raga is treated as sampurna if the seven svaras occurred in the arohana and avarohana taken together.
Tulaja’s Saramrutha (circa 1736 AD) ⁶:
Next is the text “Saramrutha” which records the raga. According to Tulaja, this raga is under the Sriraga mela , sampurna with sadja as graham, amsa and nyasa with the svaragati of the raga being niraghata or unlimited. The murccanas that Tulaja gives for alapa and gita indicate a sequential progression of svaras, much like modern day Kharaharapriya! Also according to Tulaja this raga is auspicious and is to be rendered in the evenings.⁶
Raga Lakshana anubandha of Muddu Venkatamakhin³:
Venkatamakhin in his CDP does not deal with Kapi or any other raga which shares a similar melodic structure or with a different name. The Anubandha to the CDP which is most probably a work of his great grandson Muddu Venkatamakhin or his son Venkata Vaidyanatha Dikshitar who was the preceptor of Ramasvami Dikshitar, provides reference with a lakshana shloka for Kapi under mela 22 (Sriraga) as under:
Kapi ragascha sampurnah sagrahah sarvakalika
The shloka does not denote any anya svaras occurring or whether any svaras are vakra or varja in the arohana or avarohana.
Summary of the above:
The raga Kapi as documented by the three authors as above has one common theme. It was more or less modern Kharaharapriya in terms of its scalar structure. Additionally according to Sahaji, the dhaivatha and madhayama were sometimes skipped in the avarohana. Based on this observation one can postulate that Kapi probably featured prayogas like sNPMGRS or sNDNPMGRS (which are found in Karnataka Kapi of today) and madhyama varja prayogas such as NPG…R (which also do occur in Karnataka Kapi). With that we move on the Subbarama Dikshitar and his work the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini to take stock of what Kapi was.
KAPI OF THE SSP ¹:
Subbarama Dikshitar provides us with three sets of inputs in the Sampradaya Pradarsini:
Muddu Venkatamakhin’s raga lakshana shloka and his lakshana gitam
His own commentary on the raga lakshana and his sancari
Compositions of Muthusvami Dikshitar and that of three pre-trinity composers namely Margadarshi Sesha Iyengar, Srinivasayya and Bhadracala Ramadas
The Muddu Venkatamakhi gitam too offers us no further light in terms of raga lakshana. It is Subbarama Dikshitar’s commentary that provides us with some practical insight as to the Kapi of yore.
SUBBARAMA DIKSHITAR’S COMMENTARY:
According to Subbarama Dikshitar, the arohana and avarohana murccanas of Kapi under mela 22 ( Sriraga) are SRGMPDNs/NDPMGGRS. Attention is invited to the usage of the nishada without touching the tara sadja and the janta gandhara and the dirgha rishabha. Further according to him the gandhara and rishabha are the jiva & nyasa svaras. Subbarama Dikshitar also gives us a few choice phrases which he says are native to the raga:
Subbarama Dikshitar also observes that kakali nishada (N3) and antara gandhara (G3) occur in the phrases sNPMP DsNPMP, PMGMR and MPGMRS, though the same is not found notated in the compositions that he gives subsequently including his own sancari. So his observation is really a conundrum as we do not have a record of the said compositions or renderings incorporating the said prayogas.
For us the Kapi that Subbarama Dikshitar paints has one major feature which is the occurance of the anga/leitmotif “GMR” which is the hallmark of modern day Kanada. The melodic tinge of GMRS is so pronounced for example in the notation of the kriti “Rangapate Pahi” of Sesha Iyyengar that it sounds more as modern day Kanada for us and it should be remembered that the composition dates back to the pre-trinity era which did not have a raga called Kanada. In that sense, Karnataka Kapi can surely be called the precursor of modern Kanada.
ANGAS – A NOTE ON MUSICAL LEITMOTIFS
The murcchana or leitmotif ‘GMRS’ which occurs in profusion as a melodic signature is not just a property of Karnataka Kapi but also a host of other ragas and the notation in SSP is evidence of it. Beyond the raaganga-janya or Melakarta-janya relationship, in olden times in our music, ragas had a common melodic bond through a shared murrcana or anga. Even ancient texts like Anupa Sangeeta Ratnakara of Bhavabhatta give ragas which have been grouped / classified on such a premise. For example the Kanhra group consists of 14 ragas such as Suddha Karnat, Nayaki,Bageshri, Adana, Shahana, Mudrik, Gara, Huseini, Kafi Kanhra etc. The architect of modern Hindustani paddhati, Pandit Bhatkande, formalized the anga based classification of ragas and he codified a few types of angas in the process¹°:
Kafi ang – RRGGMMP is the motif and the ragas sharing it include Sindhura & Pilu
Kanhara ang – GMRS, NDNP and NPGM are the key motifs and ragas sharing it include Shahana, Adana, Durbari etc
Malhar ang – MRPm MPDs and DPM are the motifs with the ragas being Shuddha Malhar, Mian ki Malhar, Gaud Malhar etc
Sarang ang – NSR, MR, PR are the motifs and the ragas being Gaud Sarang, Madhmadh Sarang and Vrindavani sarang
Some of the other types include Dhanashree ang, Shree ang, Lalit ang and Gaud ang. Attention is invited to the motifs of the Kanhara/Kanada ang namely GMRS, MNDNP and NPGM which are seen in Kapi. Additionally the janta gandharas of the Kafi anga too merit attention in the context of our Kapi as it is seen as well.
Based on the raga lakshanas and notations that Subbarama Dikshitar gives in the SSP, one can see that this GMRS motif is shared by a host of ragas under the Sriraga mela namely Kapi, Durbar, Nayaki and Sahana. The raga Andhali though grouped under the Kedaragaula mela, shares a similar feature with the gandhara having morphed. The modern day Kanada and Phalamanjari ragas (though not featured in the SSP) sport the GMRS motif as well.
The anga as a musical aspect or a raga attribute has lost its relevance in modern Carnatic musicology. Emphasis on individual notes rather than murcchanas, sequential progression and alignment of the raga’s contour to its melakartha etc have taken roots at the expense of aesthetics and harmonics which were the only yardstick, one upon a time. The anga aspect though a deprecated concept at this point in time, is a useful tool for us to assess the musical contours of Kapi and also to understand the evolutionary path it went through with its sibling ragas such Kanada, Sahana, Durbar etc.
One other music text (older than the SSP) that features the raga Kapi is the Sangeetha Sarvatha Sara Sangrahamu of Vina Ramanujayya published in the years 1859 and 1885 . There is a ragamala gitam given in the work( 1885) starting with the words ‘Karnata konkana’ which is set to 36 ragas each having a line of sahitya in one tala avartha of 10 beats (misra jhampa or catushra matya). Here the Kapi raga portion ( svara and sahitya ) is as under:
P D N P M G , G , R
Two unique motifs are featured here namely the usage of PDNPM and janta gandhara which would give a Durbar effect to the Kapi.
SUMMARY of SSP’S RAGA LAKSHANA :
The melodic features of raga Kapi as featured in the SSP notation can be summarized as:
The sequential descent such as sNDP is rare and instead sNPM can be used. So avarohana phrases can be sNPMGMRS, NPGMRS, NDNPMGRS or NDPGMRS
Again PDNs is also rare and is dispensed with in favor of aroha phrases such as PDNPNs or PNDNs.
Thus a straight SRGM and PDNs can be avoided and GMRS used in profusion along with DNP (as in PDNP or MPDNP or MNDNP) to establish a unique melodic identity much in line with the northern Kanhra/Kanada ang
The dhirga gandhara, the janta gandhara or gandhara shaken with kampita gamaka and the nishada which is intoned uniquely as in NPG are hallmarks of this Kapi which again are the key components of the Kanhra/Kanada anga.
For Subbarama Dikshitar, the raga name is only Kapi. Given the evolution that it underwent and to identify its old form, the term Karnataka Kapi was probably coined during the early/mid 20th century to commonly denote all upanga versions.
The above summary provides us with some practical insights about this raga and also gives us clues as to why this form of Kapi has virtually become extinct. Before we look at that, let us look at what some experts/authorities had to say on the raga lakshana of Kapi.
THE COMMENTARY ON KAPI BY MUSICOLOGISTS/AUTHORITIES:
Four documented authorities pertaining to raga Kapi’s lakshana, one of Prof Sambamoorthi, on of Dr T S Ramakrishnan and two instances from the proceedings of the Music Academy discussions are available to us.
THE ACCOUNT OF PROF SAMBAMOORTHI⁷:
According to him, in the lakshya of Karnatic music, we have three varieties of Kapi.
First is the pure/old Kapi or Karnataka Kapi, immortalized by Kshetrayya in his padas, by Tyagaraja in his piece ‘Cuta murare (Nowka Caritram) and other songs and by Syama Sastri in ‘Akhilandesvari’. This Kapi, in modern day parlance is upanga, meaning it inherits only the svaras of its parent mela Kharaharapriya/Sriraga.
Apart from this upanga Kapi, there is another upanga Kapi which is evidenced by the tillana ‘udharana dhim’, which is a composition of Pallavi Sesha Iyer (1842-1909). This type of Kapi has srmpns-sndnpmgrs as its arohana/avarohana with Mmp as a visesha prayoga. The kriti ‘Manamohana syamala rama’ is another example of this upanga Kapi. These two type of Kapi’s do not take anya svaras namely antara gandhara, kakali nishada or suddha dhaivatha.
The third/last type is the bhashanga type made familiar to us by javalis like ‘Vaddani ne’. This bhashanga Kapi is also known today as Hindustani Kapi, Desya Kapi or Misra Kapi. Prof Sambamoorthi further adds that the current tunes (incorporating these anya svaras) of the compositions “Meevalla gunadosha” and ‘Intasoukya” are 20th century innovations.
Prof Sambamoorthi’s observations are exceedingly in line with the forms of Kapi that one encounters in practice. But he seems to have overlooked the version as documented in the SSP including the kriti of Muthusvami Dikshitar.
THE ACCOUNT OF DR T S RAMAKRISHNAN
Dr T S Ramakrishnan, a past member of the Experts Commitee of the Music Academy and acknowledged authority of the Venkatamakhi sampradaya and the SSP, in a lecture demonstration in the Music Academy had this to say when he discussed the position of Sriraga as the 22nd Mela in the Asampurna mela scheme.
The raga Kapi, a rakti raga, would have been perhaps more apt as the ragaanga raga for this 22nd mela, but it had the bashanga tinge and hence could not represent the mela. Even before Venkatamakhin’s days, this raga Kapi , being really the same as our present day popular and major raga Kharaharapriya, had migrated to the North, where it was considered as a ‘thaat’, in their system of music. Later it came back to us with its Northern hue as our modern day Kapi ( with an intermediate stage as our Rudrapriya- It may be noted that Rudrapriya is Harapriya) with pronounced bhashanga features. Venkatamakhin has a lakshya gita for this raga Kapi , which when rendered , sounds entirely like our present day mela raga Kharaharapriya, with no difference whatsoever in its raga picture. Venkatamakhin considered this Kapi as a bhashanga janya under the 22nd mela and has given its name accordingly in the bhashanga khanda of the lakshana gita for the ragaanga raga Sriraga.
THE ACCOUNT OF THE EXPERTS COMMITTEE OF THE MUSIC ACADEMY:
The Experts Committee of the Music Academy does not seem to have discussed individually the lakshana of this raga and its evolution in detail. We have two instances however where in relation to proceedings of related ragas or presentation of rare kritis, the ragas has been discussed.
First is the one when during the 1967 Music Academy session on 24th December of that year, Vidvan Salem D Chellam Iyengar presented 3 rare kritis of Tyagaraja as learnt by his father, the late Salem Doraisvami Iyengar from the legendary Pooci Srinivasa Iyengar. Vidvan Chellam Iyengar presented ‘Anyayamu Seyakura’ in Karnataka Kapi devoid of anya svara kakali nishada. Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer referred to the controversial nature of the raga of this composition and his own patham according to the Umayalpuram school which featured kakali nishada.
One can take note of the fact that the compositions of Tyagaraja in the raga Karnataka Kapi are today either rendered in Durbar or in the modern form of Kapi with anya svaras. The commentary of Subbarama Dikshitar and the assertion of Prof Sambamoorthi also substantiate this point.
EXPERTS COMMITTEE DISCUSSION ON THE RAGA KAPI⁵:
During the Expert Committee Meeting held during the Music Academy Session in the year 2008, the raga lakshanas of a set of allied ragas including that of Kapi had been discussed and the same has been collated & presented by Expert Committee member Dr N Ramanathan. The raga lakshana of four allied ragas Rudrapriya, Karnataka Kapi, Darbar and Kanada were discussed by the Experts panel consisting of Vidvan Chinglepet Ranganathan, Vidushi Suguna Purushothaman, Dr Ritha Rajan, Dr R S Jayalakshmi apart from Dr N Ramanathan. The Academy’s Expert Committee had in the past discussed the raga lakshana of all the other ragas in this set namely Rudrapriya, Durbar and Kanada and had also prescribed the arohana/avarohana of these ragas, but not of Kapi.
The following facts are available to us from the discussions as documented in the Academy’s Journal of the year 2009.
According to Dr Ramanathan, K V Srinivasa Iyengar has documented Kapi with the use of kakali nishada but use of antara gandhara has not been mentioned by him. According to him the song ‘Anyayamu seyakura’ is in this form of Kapi and he also observes that some render this composition in Durbar.
According to the Umayalpuram sishya parampara of Tyagaraja, the compositions ‘Anyayamu seyakura’, “edi ni bahubala’ and ‘cutamu rare’ have shades of both Kanada and Durbar without any resemblance of Hindustani Kapi.
According to Dr Ritha Rajan, the Tyagaraja composition ‘Nitya rupa’ was rendered by Vidvan Ramnad Krishnan in Durbar. Additionally Rangaramanuja Iyengar has documented two versions of the composition, one in raga Kapi and the other in Durbar. Further the compositions ‘Naradagurusvami’ and ‘Edi ni bahubala’ exists both in Kapi and Durbar.
The Nauka caritra composition “cutamu rare” when sung as notated, has shades of Durbar.
In general, the Dikshitar school version of Kapi had shades of Kanada with the usage of the phrase ‘sNPMGMRS’, while the compositions of Tyagaraja has shades of Durbar with usage of phrases such as ‘sNsD,PMP,G,MRS’
From a raga chaya perspective, the raga Rudrapriya is closer to Hindustani Kapi than Karnataka Kapi.
While Prof Sambamoorthi’s account ignored the Dikshitar treatment of the raga, the Academy Experts Committee in its deliberations do not seem to have considered the version of Kapi as envisaged in the Svati Tirunal composition ‘Sumasayaka’ and in the compositions of the Tanjore Quartet.
SUMMARY OF THE EVIDENCE THIS FAR:
Using these data sets to crystallize our understanding, one can divine at least four forms of Kapi, rather than the three forms that Prof Sambamoorthi documents in his account. The four such flavors of Kapi are:
1: This old version or Karnataka Kapi as it is now called profusely uses GMRS along with kampita gamaka ornamented gandhara.The Dikshitar manipravala classic “Venkatachalapate” found documented in the SSP is an example of this flavor. This form is more aligned to modern day Kanada which as a scale goes as SRGMDNs or SRPGMDNs/sNPMGMRS. This flavor of Kapi is completely extinct and the sole surviving example to us is the Dikshitar composition. Any other older kritis in this form of Kapi has been normalized to Kanada. In the context of this statement we need to evaluate the raga lakshana as found in the kritis attributed to Muthusvami Dikshitar, not found in the SSP but published subsequently by Vidvan Sundaram Iyer. See foot note 2.
One other kriti with this flavor which survives today may probably be Svati Tirunal’s composition ‘Sambho Satatam’. As we will see later the melodic fabric of this kriti is different from that of his other composition, the cauka varna ‘Sumasayaka’. The notation of ‘Sambo Satatam’ reveals a profusion of GMRS and a near sequential svara progression. It may be noted that we have Svati Tirunal’s compositions in 3 flavors of Kapi.
2: This flavor of Kapi has lot of janta gandhara with GGRS as leitmotif and features a near sequential svara progression. Flavor 2 Kapi shares nearly the same melodic structure as that of modern day Durbar. In fact, many modern musicologists believe that many of Tyagaraja’s Kapi compositions were normalized to be rendered in Durbar. An example is the composition ‘Nityarupa’. One can also surmise that the GMRS prayoga of flavor 1 Kapi morphed as GGRS to produce this flavor. The GMRS connection between Durbar and Kapi is also seen in the notation of the Dikshitar’s Durbar composition “Tyagarajad anyam najaneham” as found in the SSP. A version of the Syama Sastri composition ‘Akhilandesvari durusuga’ is rendered in this flavor . Tyagaraja’s Nauka Caritra composition is an other example of this flavor.
There is also a hybrid of flavor 1 and 2 as well, having both the GMRS and the GGRS giving both the Kanada and the Durbar effect. Versions of the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Anyayamu Seyakura’ is an example.
3: This flavor of Kapi is bereft of the prayogas GGRS or GMRS. Instead, it has a profusion of gandhara with an elongated kampita gamaka and characterized by the arohana/avarohana of SRMPNs/sNDNPMGRS. This Kapi is not much in currency and is rarely encountered in concert circuits. The pada varna “Sumasayaka”, the Quartet kriti ‘Sri Mahadevuni” and the Chinnayya tillana in this raga are excellent examples of this type of Kapi. The Music Academy Experts Committee Discussion of the year 2008, presented above had discussed flavor 1 and 2 in detail but not this flavor. This is the type of upanga Kapi that Prof Sambamoorthi has referred to in his commentary given above, with the Pallavi Sesha Iyer tillana as an example. It is indeed our loss that we hardly look upon the compositions of the Quartet as authority for raga lakshana. The Kapi in this flavor is found in the following Quartet compositions:
Kriti ‘Sri Mahadevuni’ – On Goddesses Brihannayaki of Tanjore
Javali ‘Elara Naapai’
Tillana ‘Dheem nadru dheem’ on King Camaraja Wodeyar of Mysore
Cauka varna ‘Sarasala ninnu’ on Lord Brihadeesvara ( the varna is almost similar to the Svati Tirunal pada varna ‘Sumasayaka’)
4: The Kapi which sports additionally the anya svaras namely antara gandhara and/or kakali nishada with or without suddha dhaivatha, which is the modern day Kapi. Examples are the javali Parulannamata and the the Purandara dasa composition Jagadhodharana.
Curiously we have compositions of Svati Tirunal notated⁸ in 3 of the above flavors and rendered so as well. They are:
Flavor 1 : The kriti ‘Sambo Satatam’
Flavor 3 : The pada varna ‘Sumasayaka’
Flavor 4 : The kriti ‘Vihara Manasa rame’
Though one cannot say with certainty if they were indeed composed so, but the fact we have compositions so rendered is relevant to further our understanding of this raga and the flavors in which it existed. Vihara Manasa sports N3, G3 and D1 as well with N3 occurring in the prayogas such as sN3s while G3 occurs in prayogas like MG3M, MG3S and suddha dhaivatha is found in prayogas like PMD1P⁸.
Subbarama Dikshitar’s commentary in the SSP as to usage of kakali nishada and antara gandhara merits a mention here. According to him sN3PMP and DsN3PMP features kakali nishada while PMG3MR and MPG3MRS feature antara gandhara. Its at variance with what one sees in modern usage. Usage of sN3P or MPG3MRS would cast a different melodic color to Kapi¹.
Amongst the four flavors above, only flavor 4 is the bashanga form and the one which is the most popular today. Flavor 2 does not exist today in practice as it has lost itself to the melodic structure of Durbar in essence. Again save for the Dikshitar composition ‘Venkatachalapate’, flavor 1 type compositions do not exist for they are grouped off under Kanada. From a naming convention perspective, flavors 1, 2 & 3 are called as Karnataka Kapi and flavor 4 alone is either referred to as Kapi or more specifically as Hindustani Kapi.
The cause of Karnataka Kapi’s demise in its old form, the melodic overlap it has with allied ragas or rather its siblings and the evolution of this group of ragas can all be seen in the above categorization ( see Foot Note 1). We next move over to review renderings of the different flavors of Kapi.
Kapi – Flavor 1 or Karnataka Kapi:
On the authority of Subbarama Dikshitar, one can state that this flavor should have been/was the Kapi of yore, the Kapi handled by Sesha Iyyengar, Virabadrayya and others. We do not have authentic oral patantharam of these pre-trinity compositions save for those who might have learnt it from the SSP notation. We can with the evidence of Dikshitar’s composition take it for granted that this version of Kapi was the oldest of the lot and was conforming to the then sampradaya. Presented first is the the kriti as rendered by Vidushi Kalpakam Svaminathan who learnt it first hand from Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer.
The version presented by the veteran faithfully follows the notation in the SSP. The profusion of GMRS and the kampita gamaka on the gandhara in this old version of Kapi needs to be highlighted here. Also this composition stands out in several counts.
This is probably Dikshitar’s only kriti with its sahitya being an admixture of Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil as documented in the SSP. We have two other kritis (one in Sriraga and the other again in Karnataka Kapi ) ‘Sri abhayambha’ brought out by Vidvan Sundaram Iyer and ‘Sri Maharajni’ brought out from the Tanjore Quartet manuscripts, being attributed to Muthusvami Dikshitar.
The raga name has been adroitly woven into the sahitya of the madhayama kala portion of the kriti as “dIna rakshakA pItAmbaraDhara deva deva guruguhan mAmanAna”, along with his own mudra.
This composition is on the Lord Venkatachalapathi at the kshetra of Pulivalam, a few miles from Tiruvarur.
The kriti ‘Rangapate Pahi’ as notated in the SSP has been rendered after being normalized to Kanada and as well as to Durbar. The clipping below is an excerpt, being a Kanada version:
As pointed out earlier Svati Tirunal’s composition ‘Sambho Satatam’ is documented with a profusion of GMRS prayoga⁸. Let’s look at a rendering of this composition. Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer in this Navaratri Mantapam Concert from the 1970’s renders this composition
One can notice that the GMRS is intoned with a muted madhyama in the prayoga and does not give the complete kAnadA effect that one will get with a strong intonation of the madhyama. Listeners may well compare this with the strong madhyama intonation in the GMRS prayoga of the Dikshitar composition particularly the sahitya line in the carana ‘seegramai vandhu’ which combines a kampita gamaka on the gandhara as well. Apart from the GMRS, another motif which is found in both the compositions is the phrase RP as in RPMP.
In this Music Academy concert of 1970, Sri Srinivasa Iyer renders this composition between 1:36: 40 and 1:41:06 I invite attention he makes at the fag end of his rendition at 1:41:07 – “This raga is called Karnataka Kapi and it is neither Durbar nor Kanada” in Tamil.
Here is another edition of the veteran, presenting the same composition, this time at the hallowed precincts of the Temple of Lord Padmanabha at Trivandrum from one of his innumerable Navaratri Mantapam Concerts
The Syama Sastri kriti ‘Akhilandesvari durusuga’ is rendered in both flavor 2 and flavor 4. The hybrid flavor having both Kanada and Durbar in Kapi is best exemplified by Vidvan Ramnad Krishnan’s presentation of the Tyagaraja kriti ‘Anyayamu Seyakura’. In this clipping below, the raga outline that he provides us ahead of the kriti conveys the melodic contours of the kriti to follow with the shades of both Kanada and Durbar.
The presentation is very neatly done in modern Durbar, bereft of any trace whatsoever of Kapi.
Kapi Flavor 3:
The pada varna of Svati Tirunal’s ‘Sumasayaka’ is one of the best versions of this type of Kapi, characterized by SRMPNs/sNDNPMGRS and a dirgha gandhara. We do have some oral versions of this composition where tints of modern Kapi (flavor 4) are thrown in. There is also an equivalent composition that is with the same melodic setting but with telugu lyrics which is a creation of the Quartet being ‘sArasAlanu’. This pada varna starting with the sahitya ‘Sarasalanu’ has a few differences with ‘Sumasayaka’:
The varna has sahitya for the muktayi svaras and for the ettugada svaras barring the last one , which like Sumasayaka is in a raga malika format. Sumasayaka does not have sahitya for the muktayi svaras and ettugada svaras.
In terms of ordering of the carana ettugada svaras there seems to be a small change. The 2nd & 3rd ettugada sequences of ‘sumasayaka’ are reversed in ‘Sarasalanu’.
While ‘Sumasayaka’ has Kalyani, Khamas, Vasanta and Mohanam as the ragamalika svaras for the last ettugada, the Quartet creation has Hamirkalyani, Chakravakam, Vasantha and Mohanam instead.
The varna mettu of the varna is exactly the same as that ‘Sumasayaka’.
While the ankita for Sumasayaka is ‘sarasijanabha’ in ‘Sarasala ninnu’ it is ‘brihadeesvara’
The essence of this type of Kapi is best encapsulated by the muktayi svara of Sumasayaka/Sarasalanu, which begins with the well oscillated gandhara.
Attention is invited to the oscillated gandhara which is the hallmark of this version and punctuated with prayogas such as PNDN, GRnS, PNsr and sNDNP. Attention is also invited to the intonation of the nishada as in the carana refrain where it appears as a svarakshara, “mAnInI hAtE hrt tApam”. As one can observe that the nishada is different from the one we find in Sriraga for example, to which clan, Kapi belongs to.
We next move over to the two other compositions of the Quartet namely the kriti ‘Sri Mahadevuni” composed on Goddess Brihannayaki of Tanjore and the tillana ‘Dheem Nadru dhim dhim” composed on King Chamarajendra of Mysore by Cinnayya of the Tanjore Quartet. Though we do not have renderings of these two compositions, the notations from the manuscripts have been published in the “Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai”⁹. The notations clearly bear out the fact that the Kapi is of flavor 3 with an operative arohana/avarohana SRMPNs/sNPMGRS with dhaivatha being vakra as in PNDNP, MNDNP and sNDNP. Gandhara is obviously kampita and is encountered in its dirgha variety. GMRS is not to be seen in this version. Sangita Kalanidhi Ponnayya Pillai while publishing the compositions has added the footnote that the composition has been structured skillfully avoiding the use of anya svara⁹.
In so far as flavor 4 of Kapi is concerned, the kritis pointed out elsewhere in this post features this form such as “Meevalla Guna dosha” or “Enna Tavam saidhanai” of Papanasam Sivan.
ALLIED RAGAS OF KAPI:
The ragas Sahana, Durbar, Nayaki and Kanada along with Phalamanjari share a close melodic relationship to Karnataka Kapi. But from the standpoint of modern Kapi, the ragas Saindhavi and perhaps Salaga Bhairavi share a close affinity. In a followup post we will look at the comparison of these ragas.
The raga Kapi and its evolution is an interesting study. The modern Kapi is most probably the final product of this long cycle of evolution. There does not seem to be any other raga with such different shades and implementations spanning centuries in our musical firmament. Interestingly in Hindustani Music, this raga/scale was considered the scale of suddha svaras and hence was given a pride of place and Rajan Parikkar’s take on the raga is a must read. One will find that his observation as to Kafi of Hindustani music would apply like a glove to Karnataka Kapi or pehaps to the fourth/modern Kapi and I quote him verbatim, to conclude this blog post:
“Kafi is accorded a great deal of latitude in the interest of ranjakatva. In all kshudra ragas, ‘contamination’ on account of swaras not part of their intrinsic makeup is par for the course. A ‘pure’ version of Kafi is seldom heard in performance; almost all instances fall to the Mishra Kafi lot. With this understanding, here and in the ragas to follow, the explicit Mishra qualifier shall be dispensed with altogether. Bear in mind that strict conformity to etiquette is not expected of kshudra ragas.”
Subbarama Dikshitar (1904)- Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini – Published by the Madras Music Academy
Prof S R Janakiraman(2002)-‘Ragas at a Glance’- Published by Srishiti’s Carnatica P Ltd, Chennai
Hema Ramanathan(2004)- ‘Raga Lakshana Sangraha’- Published by Dr N Ramanathan, Chennai, pages 662-665
Dr S Sita (1993) – “The Raga Lakshana Manuscript of Sahaji Maharaja” -Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol LIV, pp 140-181, Madras India
Dr N Ramanathan (2009)- “Ragas Rudrapriya, Karnataka Kapi, Kanada and Durbar- A Comparative Analysis”- Pages 103-114 Journal of the Madras Music Academy Vol 80, 2009
Subba Rao & S R Janakiraman(1993) – “Ragas of the Sangita Saramruta” published by the Music Academy, Chennai
Prof S Sambamoorthi(1970)- ‘Pallavi Sesha Iyer” – Article in ‘The Hindu’ dated 27th Jul 1970
Govinda Rao T K (2002)- ‘Compositions of Maharaja Svati Tirunal’ published by Ganamandir Publications, Chennai
K P Sivanandam(1964) – ‘Tanjai Peruvudaiyan Perisai’ – Compositions of the Tanjore Quartet, compiled by Sangita Kalanidhi T Ponnayya Pillai
Sobhana Nayar (1989)- ‘Bhatkande’s Contribution to Music’ – Published by Popular Prakashan P Ltd, India ISBN 0 86132 238X
Dr T S Ramakrishnan(1972) – ‘Venkatamakhin’s 72 Mela Scheme’ – Journal of the Music Academy Vol XLIV Pages 24-26, 61-83
FOOT NOTE 1: How did Kapi go extinct – A Hypothesis
During the period of 1600’s to late 1700’s, flavor 1 of Kapi held sway as evidenced by the kritis of Sesha Iyyengar, Virabadrayya and Srinivasayya. Flavor 2 perhaps coexisted into the late 1700’s. Despite being a famous sampurna raga then, it could not qualify as a raganga given the presence of Sriraga and it had to stay put under that clan.
Circa 1800- However with the onset of the 19th century, this Karnataka Kapi stood imperiled. Two new ragas were appearing on the horizon which proved life threatening. Probably by early 1800 – Kanada had started gaining ground. One can consider the evidence of the 2 Tyagaraja compositions namely Sukhi Evvaro and Sri Narada in Kanada. The period of 1800-1830 was perhaps marked by both the old Kapi and Kanada co-existing as evidenced by the kritis of Tyagaraja and of Dikshitar. Given Kanada’s dominance, flavor 1 Kapi probably cast off GMRS and morphed off into flavor 3 Kapi. The flavor 2 Kapi too went into oblivion as it could not sustain its melodic identity against the might of the Durbar. Durbar too sported GMRS and over the 1800’s, its GMRS morphed into GGRS, spelling the death knell for the flavor 2 Kapi.
In so far as the more traditional flavor 1 Kapi, Muthusvami Dikshitar or Svati Tirunal were perhaps the last to compose in this form of Kapi. One can even surmise that by that time (early 1800’s) it was on the verge of extinction and Dikshitar had attempted to resurrect it.
Flavor 3 Kapi derived out of the remnants of flavor 1 managed to survive between the 1800-1850 as evidenced by compositions of Svati Tirunal and the Quartet. The 1800’s also marked the rise of Kharaharapriya the full blown heptatonic melakartha, driven by the emergence of the Sangraha Cudamani and Tyagaraja’s prolific treatment of this raga through his kritis. And to Kharaharapriya, Kapi had to cede its scalar structure which resulted in Kapi losing almost all its melodic identity. Tyagaraja having composed in Kanada and Kharaharapriya might have composed in the old Kapi as well. We do have versions of kritis like Anyayamu Seyakura which is rendered both in Karnataka Kapi (flavor 1 or 3) and in modern Kapi or flavor 4.
The emergence of Kanada and Kharaharapriya meant that even the surviving flavor 3 Kapi had to go as it had little by way of melodic individuality to survive on its own. And so it went on to acquire 3 anya svaras namely kakali nishada followed by antara gandhara and suddha dhaivatha. The modern Kapi had now emerged ( by the latter half of the 19th century) from the skeletal remains of flavor 3 Kapi and today it exists ain a form much different to what it was once upon a time.
The life cycle that Karnataka Kapi underwent was probably also tied with the parallel evolution of the modern forms of the ragas Sahana, Durbar, Nayaki and Andhali. All of these ragas were at one point in time siblings along with Kapi under the Sriraga mela, sharing the motif GMRS and unique gandhara with kampita gamaka. They underwent a skeleton wracking transformation:
Sahana gave up its sadharana gandhara, acquired a full blown antara gandhara with the result that it moved from the Sriraga clan into the Harikambodi/Kedaragaula melakartha/clan. As evidenced by the SSP, one can see that Sahana as captured by Subbarama Dikshitar sported both the gandharas and given the dominance of sadharana gandhara it was placed under the Sriraga mela. The notation of the kritis “vasi vasi” of Ramasvami Dikshitar, ‘Sri Kamalabikayam” of Muthusvami Dikshitar and the tana varna “Varijakshi” of Subbarama Dikshitar can be cited as concrete examples of the older Sahana.
Durbar gave up its GMRS, acquired full ownership of the GGRS. The notation of the Dikshitar composition ‘Tyagarajad anyam najaneham” and that of Kuppusvami Ayya’s kriti ‘Sri venkatesvaruni’ found in the SSP and anubandha respectively can be cited as evidence for the older form of Durbar sporting GMRS.
Nayaki too gave up GMRS and in lieu acquired an exclusive RGRS. The notation of the Dikshitar composition “Ranganayakam” and that of Tyagaraja’s ‘Dayaleni’ as found in SSP are evidences to this effect.
Andhali which was during the times of Venkatamakhi under Sriraga mela, gave up its sadharana gandhara and moved to Kedaragaula mela. The notation of the Dikshitar kriti “Brihannayaki varadayaki” and the rendering of the kriti with sadharana gandhara by Smt T Brinda can be cited as authority for this. This has been discussed in an earlier blog post.
FOOT NOTE 2: Dikshitar’s 3 other kritis published by Sundaram Iyer
We have three more kritis in Kanada attributed to Dikshitar and published by Sundaram Iyer subsequently. They are ‘Veera Hanumate’, ‘Vishveshvaro’ and ‘Balambikaya param nahire’. This apart we have a kriti again in an admixture of Sanskrit, Telugu and Tamil starting as ‘Sri Maharajni’ which was discovered in the manuscripts of the Tanjore Quartet and published subsequently. The notations of the three compositions as published by Sundaram Iyer and their popular renderings seem to be aligned to modern Kanada rather than the Kapi documented in the SSP. It is indeed debatable whether Dikshitar composed in Kanada given that the raga is not found indexed in the Anubandha to the CDP and Subbarama Dikshitar too hasn’t given the raga in his SSP (though he mentions of a raga called Kanhra, which had gone out of vogue). Also in one of Sundaram Iyer’s publication it’s given that the raga name Kapi is synonymous with Kanada itself without any authority. A similar such reference is found in the Kritimanimalai of Rangaramanuja Iyengar.
In this section we take up just two of the kritis namely ‘Vishveshvaro Rakshatumam’ and ‘Balambikaya’.
The kriti “Vishveshvaro Rakshatumam” has most of its sahitya/lyric mirroring the Samavarali kriti of Dikshitar, “Brihadeesvaro’ documented in the SSP, making us look at this attribution with suspicion. Parking this issue aside ,we take a look at the presentation of this composition by Sangita Kalanidhi Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. In this undated concert he prefaces this so called samashti carana composition with an alapana and follows up with a few rounds of svaras. The interpretation in full has Kanada all over it.
Vidushi Raji Gopalakrishnan renders the composition, “bAlAmbikAyA param nahIrE” in an AIR Navaratri Concert broadcast from the year 2007, accompanied by Vid Usha Rajagopalan on the violin, Vid Tanjavur Kumar on the mridangam and Vid Raman on the morsing
I, SahajA offer my morning salutations to the Lord who took the (daughter of Mountain)
Parvati as the left part of His body; who lives in the heart of his devotees,
who destroyed Daksha’s sacrifice, who is worshipped by the sages and the one who
protects those devoted to Him)
the great musicologist King Sahaji of Tanjore belonging to the Royal House of
the Marathas pay obeisance to Lord Tyagaraja of Tiruvarur or Arur, in the first
of his set of 5 slokas titled ‘Tyagaraja Stotram”. King Sahaji ruled Tanjore
between circa 1690-1720 AD and without a child to succeed him, he abdicated the
throne in favour of his younger brother Tulaja I and retired to live in
Tiruvarur near his ishta-devata, Lord Tyagaraja. Sahaji left us the
‘Ragalakshanamu’ (circa 1710 AD) while Tulaja I gave us the ‘Saramrutha’ (circa
1736AD) both being compendia of ragas along with their lakshanas, as were in
vogue at that point in time when they were respectively written. These two
treatises together with the Anubandha to the Caturdandi Prakashika (CDP)
dateable to circa 1750 AD, form the triad of musicological sources with
which we can evaluate the music of the 18th century and particularly
that of Muthusvami Dikshitar.
quarters of a century after King Sahaji, towards the end of the 18th
century the Trinitarian Muthusvami Dikshitar a votary of his music paddhathi of
Venkatamakhin propitiated the Lord of Aroor with a series of 8 compositions
each of one being in a vibakthi/declension as his offering. Out of them, 7 are
found documented in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (SSP) of Subbarama
Dikshitar. This blog post is about one of those compositions which is, ‘Tyagarajena
samrakshitoham’ in the raga Salaga Bhairavi set in adi
at the outset I begin by exploring the raga’s history and how it was dealt with
by Muthusvami Dikshitar.
of the lakshana of Salagabhairavi:
outset readers are forewarned that the raga of “Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham” of Muthusvami
Dikshitar and the raga of ‘Padavini sadbaktiyu’ of Tyagaraja, as heard today
though called commonly as Salagabhairavi,, are melodically not the same. We
will deal with the difference at the end of the blog in the context of the raga
as defined in Sangraha Cudamani which is the lexicon of the ragas found utilized
evaluate the lakshana of the raga as found documented in the Triad and evaluate
where the lakshana of the Salagabhairavi as found
in ‘Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham’ sits in the context of the Triad and the
difference between the melodies of Tyagarajena
Samrakshitoham’ and ‘Padavini sadbaktiyu’ though both of them are called
Salagabhairavi in the context of Sangraha Cudamani.
Overview of the definitions of the raga Salagabhairavi as dealt with the Triad:
below summarizes the lakshana of the raga as dealt with in the treatises which
are dateable to different points in time during the 18th Century in
the run up to the times of the Trinity.
Sahaji’s Ragalakshanamu (Circa 1710 AD)
Tulaja’s Saramruta (Circa 1736 AD)
Anubandha to the CDP (Circa 1750) – as
provided in the SSP
varjya or vakra in arohana
vakra and ni is varjya; PDPS occurs along with SNS and SRGR; complete sex or
five note sequences do not occur
vakra and ni is varjya; PDPS occurs along with SNS and SRGR;complete sex or
five note sequences do not occur
and dhaivatha are varjya in arohana
varjya or vakra in avarohana
in the avarohana
in the avarohana
in the avarohana
the day it has to sung
watch of the day (tUri yAmE)
watch of the day (tUri yAmE)
watch of the day (caramE yAmE)
this is so, if one were to compare the above definitions with the lakshana as
found in the Dikshitar kriti “Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham” the chart below would
SSP/Muddu Venkatamakhin (circa 1750)
Muthusvami Dikshitar as evidenced by his
kriti ‘tyAgarAjEna samrakshitOham’
Remarks provided by way of commentary by
and dhaivatha are varjya in arohana
is vakra and nishadha is varjya in the arohana and thus the uttaranga becomes
alternated arohana krama is SRGRPMPDPS. Murccanas such as SRMGRPPDPS;
NSDPGGRS and SGRMPDPMGRS also occur
in the avarohana
in the avarohana
in the avarohana
following conclusions would flow forth from the SSP Commentary:
The raga lakshana as found in the kriti and so notated in the SSP completely deviates from the Anubandha definition as well as from the Subbarama Dikshitar commentary.
The Lakshana sloka and the arohana-avarohana murchanas are contradicting
The prayogas found notated in the three compositions thereunder are also in contradiction to the stated lakshana sloka
This contradiction within the SSP is reminiscent of the case of Gopikavasanta which we saw in an earlier blog post.
Further the lakshya gita provided in the SSP (“Sri Nanda tanu’) attributed by Subbarama Dikshitar to Venkatamakhin himself has the following prayogas:
SNSDP, SNDPS, PMGR, GGRS, SRMMGRPPDPS
SGR, SMGR, SRGS, PPNPM
Subbarama Dikshitar’s sancara sports the same prayogas found in the above said lakshya gita.
The lakshana shloka found in the SSP beginning ‘sampUrnO sagrahOpeta’ is obviously of AD 1750 vintage probably of Muddu Venkatamakhin and cannot be of Venkatamakhin. For, the original lakshana sloka found in the CDP for Salagabhairavi runs as under (and not as what the SSP says)
‘shrIrAga mEla sambhUthO ragaH
It is well possible that the raga definition had
perhaps changed again between AD 1736 (post Saramrutha) and AD 1750 (the time
Anubandha was probably compiled) resulting in the change in the lakshana
It is important to note that even the modern-day
contour of for Salagabhairavi – SR2M1PD1S/SN2D2PM1G2R2S is even different, to
which we will turn to once we analyse the kriti of Tyagaraja in this scale.
To state simply, Muthusvami Dikshitar’s
aligned more to Sahaji and Tulaja’s version.
Aligned also to a fair extent to the lakshya gita
‘Sri Nanda tanu’
sports only a sub-set of prayogas from those and eschews the rest. But the
conception does not conform to the lakshana shoka provided by Subbarama
Dikshitar in the SSP.
It is Subbarama Dikshitar in the SSP who attempts
to bridge the Dikshitar version of Salagabhairavi with the one of Muddu
Venkatamakhin by providing an alternate arohana/avarohana, as a part of his
of ‘Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham”:
With this high-level overview of the
theoretical definition of the raga let us move to the kriti. While that may be
so what may be of importance for us is to understand Sahaji’s definition and
look at the Dikshitar kriti for comparison. The following points would emerge:
Sahaji in his commentary says about complete or 7 note, six note or five note sequences or phrases do not occur. The implication here is that the phrase should not have sequentially svaras beyond 4 notes. Thus, SRGMGR would be how the phrase would flow to stay in conformance to this constraint. One can logically conclude that taking sadja as the starting note, SRGMPDN or SRGMPD or SRGMP phrases would not occur. Similarly taking rishabha next, RGMPDNS or RGMPDN or RGMPD would not occur. Quite oddly Dikshitar kriti lacks SRGM or RGMPD usage whereas we do find RGM usage via RGMGRS for example. As pointed out , the upshot of this would be that Dikshitar’s conception of Salagabhairavi would be closer to the Salagabhairavi of Sahaji rather than the one laid out in the Anubandha to the CDP, which version of the raga drops pancama and dhaivatha in its ascent. And this is a very curious way of raga construction and delineation, probably native to the 18th century or prior.
And both the pallavi as well as the carana of ‘Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham’ begins on the rishabha note. It has to be pointed out that for the ragas under Mela 22 under Sriraga, rishabha is a pivotal note and this raga is perhaps no exception. Thus Dikshitar, perhaps for this raga deemed that rishabha was the jiva svara and so he began the pallavi and the carana on the said note. And for good measure the kriti has the note pancama as svara akshara in a number of places.
In sum Dikshitar in this composition uses the following phrases:
Phrases such as SNSDP or SMGR found profusely in the lakshya gitam is not found in the kriti.
In the carana for the first two avartas /lines of sahitya he spans mandhara pancama to madhya pancama. And for the next two avartas/lines he spans madhya dhaivatha to tara gandhara and back to madhya sadja. The final madhyamakala sahitya of the carana, as always, he encompasses the entire melodic body of the raga.
Leaving out the 18th century construct of the raga – vide point 1 above- purely from a modern perspective, the perusal of the notation of the composition would show that the murccana arohana/avarohana krama of this raga as per Dikshitar’s conception under Mela 22 would be as under:
S R2 G2
M1 P D2 P S
S N2 D2 P
M1 G2 R2 S
The above would go with the
caveat that nishadha or madhyama or gandhara varjya prayogas such as SDPMGRS, RPMP, PGR and RGS can also occur
lyrics of the kriti together with the meaning can be had from here. And
with that we move on to hear the renderings of the composition.
version of a violinist:
this blog post, I seek to first present a version of this beautiful Dikshitar composition
as rendered on the violin by an unknown perhaps amateur artiste, and uploaded
on the Youtube, for I found it to be concise, complete, beautiful and a high-fidelity
rendering/ interpretation of the notation of this composition found in the SSP.
It has been rendered to the accompaniment of the tanpura sruti only. Here are
the Youtube and audio links to rendering.
now turn our attention to the notation of the composition as found in the SSP
and do a compare with the above rendering.
I invite attention first to the way in which the kAlapramAnam
of the composition has been pegged from start to end. Typically, in recitals,
the rendering of a given composition for varied reasons gets accelerated and it
will be noticeable towards the end of the composition’s rendering. In this case
one can notice that the pace in which the pallavi for example is rendered at
the beginning is the same when the song concludes at the end of the 6th
minute. The violinist was perhaps helped by the fact that there was no
percussion accompaniment. It is generally true that for many vocalists, more so
in the case of Dikshitar compositions, after singing the madhyamakala sahitya
rarely do they exactly land back to the original tempo/kalapramanam of the sama
kala pallavi segment of the composition. More so, this composition is likely to
get more than accelerated as it has sparser sahitya conforming to the ati citra
tama marga, that we saw in a previous blog post in the context of the Kannada
Bangala kriti ‘Renuka Devi Samrakshitoham’.
There are no blemishes, sruti/svara lapses or
staccato notes, anywhere in this rendering.
In the pallavi rendering while keeping to the
notation a few melodic extensions are done, for example for the sahitya
‘sAgarEna srI’ the violinist employs janta prayogas NNDDP MMGGRRS.
In the anupallavi, attention is invited to the
rendering of ‘yativarAdyupA-sitEna-bhavEna’ which goes as ndpSdp-GR.G-MP.P
which vocalists do not properly render (see editions below). The phrase “upA”
should land on the mandhara pancama and not on the madhya pancama. Moreover, vocalists
tend to take a breather/pause just after yativarAdyupA-. The jump from the
mandhara pancama(‘upA’) to the madhya gandhara(‘sitEna’) is the beauty here
which needs to be listened to. This motif pG repeats elsewhere as Pg, from the
madhya pancama to the tara gandhara, in the composition and needs to be
highlighted. The violinist does complete justice to the two samakAla lines of
the anupallavi, rendering it seamlessly providing us complete satisfaction.
I again invite attention to the continuous
playing/phrasing by the artiste of the carana lines each seamlessly segueing
into one other resulting in a continuous fluid flow of melody right through the
One would also find that the melodic extensions
with which the artiste ends the pallavi, anupallavi or the carana are very
aesthetic and in conformance with the lakshana delineated in the kriti proper.
Students of music aspiring to learn this composition ought to do so by hearing this version with the SSP notation in hand. It is complete, for I find it to be a very purposive and aesthetic interpretation of the notation. And thus one is indebted to him/her, for such a splendid rendering, sans any blemish whatsoever.
We next present other renderings of Dikshitar’s ‘tyAgarAjEna rakshitOham’. Below are the presentations by a couple of Sangita Kala Acharyas.
Suguna Varadacari renders the composition next and is from an AIR Concert of
And, the venerable Prof S R
Janakiraman renders the composition.
Kalpakam Svaminathan a scion of the Dikshitar sishya parampara, recorded the
Tyagaraja Vibakti kritis which includes this composition as well, as a
commercial album, details of which are here.
Salagabhairavi and the popular modern version of the raga as found in
Tyagaraja’s ‘padavini sadbaktiyu’:
modern version of the raga Salaga Bhairavi as available us through ‘padavini
sadbakti’ is documented in the Sangraha Cudamani as SRMPDS/SNDPMGRS under Mela
legendary vidvans, the Alathur Brothers render the composition in this link,
prefaced by a raga vinyasa.
is invited to the opening phrase of the pallavi which begins as SRMP itself. A quick
comparison between the raga as found in the composition of Dikshitar and
Tyagaraja would thus yield the following table for us:
Muthusvami Dikshitar as evidenced by his
kriti ‘tyAgarAjEna samrakshitOham’
Tyagaraja as evidenced by the modern day
mettu of ‘padavini sadbakthi’
is vakra and nishadha is varjya in the arohana
and nishadha are varjya in the arohana
in the avarohana
in the avarohana
conception is characterized by jumps and turns as well and more avarohana
pradhana/centricity of the raga.
straightforward progression of the raga.
question whether the scale found in ‘padavini’ being SRMPNS/SNDPMGRS was the
original one adopted by Saint Tyagaraja when he composed the same is
questionable & not beyond reasonable doubt for the following reasons:
When the raga of the composition ‘padavini’ was discussed in the Music Academy on 26-Dec-1942 (documented in pages 17-18 of JMA XIV, see reference section below) a personage no less than the great Vidvan Tiger Varadacariar, placed on record that he had heard the kriti being rendered with RGMP.
Another musical authority, Sri M S Ramasvami Iyer went on to sing a cittasvaram composed by Patnam Subramanya Iyer for ‘padavini sadbakti’ which incorporated RGM phrase as support /proof for the prayoga having been in vogue.
Prof Sambamoorthi & Dr T V Subba Rao too agreed with the proposition that SRGMP was in vogue and textual authorities too had recorded it.
Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer a votary of the so called Dikshitar school, put forth the case for SRGMPDPS on the authority of the Dikshitar kriti and the documentation in the SSP.
In fact, Sri
Tiger Varadacariar even suggested perhaps as a compromise that SRMRGMPDPS can
be the recommended arohana krama accommodating the RGMP prayoga. The records of
the JMA show that in that discussion that day, Tiger Varadacariar, M S
Ramasvami Iyer, Justice T L Venkatarama Iyer & T V Subba Rao were arrayed
on one side. However, the acolytes of the Sangraha Cudamani led by the
President of the Conference that year, Sangita Kalanidhi Mazhavarayanendal
Subbarama Bhagavathar had their way making SRMPDS/SNDPMGRS as the nominal arohana/avarohana
krama of the raga, based on the then contemporaneous version of ‘padavini’.
question thus we are left with is whether RGM and PDPS exists for
Salagabhairavi. For, Dikshitar uses RGM and PDPS while the same is not so in the
case of Tyagaraja based on the evidence of modern-day version of ‘padavini’ available
to us & the lakshana as documented in the Sangraha Cudamani. Also,
Dikshitar has utilized prayogas documented by all musicologists of yore right up
as it may, the discussion in the Academy clearly shows that ‘padavini’ was
rendered in the past with SRGMP and not SRMP, indicating the possibility that
the modern version/musical fabric of ‘padavini sadbakti’ is probably a “normalized”
or “truncated” version. It’s likely that perhaps the original version of the
composition was in line with the Salagabhairavi of Sahaji or Tulaja or of Muthusvami
Dikshitar which was perhaps the defacto standard during the1800’s. Meaning, Salagabhairavi
had vakra dhaivatha & nishadha varjya in the arohana and complete/sampurna
in the avarohana and perhaps admitting gandhara varjya phrases as well.
perhaps has the been the fate of ‘manavini vinuma’ a Tyagaraja composition, which
is assigned a raga name of ‘Jayanarayani’ not found in any musical record save
for Sangraha Cudamani which goes with the arohana/avarohana krama as
SRGMPDS/SNDPMGRS under mela 22. It may sound like a ‘conspiracy’ theory but
nevertheless it is a matter of great concern that the musical material of very
many Tyagaraja kritis especially in eka kriti ragas has been subject to
controversy and the available melody as on date/assigned, has not been beyond
the pale of controversy. If one were to consider the logic and arguments
advanced by the noted critic of the previous century Sri K V Ramachandran, one
can conclude or at the least suspect that the ragas of ‘padavini sadbaktiyu’
and ‘manavini vinuma’ were perhaps only Salagabhairavi as documented in Muthusvami
Dikshitar’s ‘tyAgarAjEna samrakshitOham’.
One is disconcerted by the fact that disciples or certain lineages have not properly transmitted the composition over the centuries, with the result today, we a corrupted version of what was originally composed. And we need not look far for one more proof, paart from what was placed on record by Tiger Varadachariar as in the case of ‘padavini’. It can be immediately demonstrated with this very Dikshitar composition, ’tyagarajena Samrakshitoham, how tradition can be turned on its head by musicians ignorant of both lakshya and lakshana.
Here is a modern-day performing musician, Vidushi
Shyamala Venkateshwaran who casts the Dikshitar composition ‘Tyagarajena
Samrakshitoham’ completely in the garb of the Salaga Bhairavi, not the one
expounded by Dikshitar but with SRMPDS/SNDPMGRS as found in the Tyagaraja kriti
‘padavini’) with total impunity and contempt of the authentic notation of the
composition found in the SSP.
( The photo used in the video upload is not of the artiste concerned but of Vidushi Rama Kausalya and readers ought to take note of the same)
Not just the kriti rendering, but we have a full suite of alapana and a svaraprastara to boot for this close to 20 min long presentation, providing ripe evidence for us as to how performers/sishyas/sishya paramparas could have and can misinterpret compositions/raga lakshana down the line, doing the greatest of disservice to a composer and his intent. Nothing can be farther from injustice when such musicians are called upon to adjudicate competitions on Dikshitar compositions !
indeed sad that this spurious version will most likely be taught to unknowing
students of music and will be perpetuated as an authentic edition of the kriti.
they say is the price of liberty and the foregoing is a warning to the discerning
listener of our music. Beware of peddlers of spurious music- would be an understatement.
However, it is comforting to note that as against these transgressions a non-descript
amateur musician is able to hold fort with an authentic interpretation of this
rare kriti of Dikshitar, Tyagarajena Samrakshitoham, which was presented first
in the discography. And one does wish & pray that known and popular
musicians & teachers emulate this worthy example in the days to come and
they in turn bequeath an authentic tradition true to the intent of the great
composers of the past.
Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (Telugu Original
1906) – Tamil edition published by the Madras Music Academy (1961) along with
the Anubandha – Pages 462-466 of the 2006 Edition of Vol II: Link
Ragalakshana Sangraha –Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) –
Published by Dr Ramanathan – pp 1173-1180
Ragas of the Sangita Saramruta (1993) – Edited by
Sangita Kalanidhi T V Subba Rao & Dr S R Janakiraman-Published by the
Madras Music Academy – pp 26-27
The Raga Lakshana Manuscript of Sahaji Maharaja of
Tanjavur (1983) -JMA Volume LVI Published by the Madras Music Academy-pp
Salagabhairavi Raga lakshana Discussion –
Proceedings of the Experts Committee of the Madras Music Academy on 26-Dec-1942
– 16th Music Conference – Published in JMA Volume XIV (1943)
Safe Harbour Statement
The recording of the renderings provided through YouTube or audio links as exemplars are the exclusive intellectual property of the artistes concerned. The same has been utilized here strictly on a non-commercial basis, under fair use for study & research, fully acknowledging their rights and no part of it may be copied, reproduced or otherwise dealt without the consent of the artistes or the concerned IP right holders.
The colourful nature of the bhāṣāṅga rāga-s, their ability to be used flexibly according to the intent of a composer were explained in an introductory article on these rāga-s. In this article, we will be venturing into Rudrapriyā, a representative of the bhāṣāṅga clan.
Rudrapriyā is not a very popular rāga though few can reconcile this rāga and relate it with the kṛti ‘amba paradēvatē’. But Rudrapriyā was very popular once and we do have a significant number of compositions to analyse this rāga.
– A bhāṣāṅga
treatise to elaborate this rāga is Saṅgita Saṃpradāya Pradarśini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
and Rudrapiyā is introduced as a dēśīya, bhāṣāṅga janya of the rāgāṅga rāga Śrī and takes the
svara-s therein. Though the given mūrcana is SRGMPDNS – SNPMGRS, this is really
a grand rāga and use various phrases outside the given mūrcana. In fact,
Rudrapiyā cannot be conceived with this scale alone and can be considered akin
to Kharaharapriyā. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar also says antara gāndhāra is employed in
some places where the phrase MGM occurs and this Rudrapriyā is called as
Hindustani Kāpi. We can infer two points from this valuable statement:
Antara gāndhāra do not or need not necessarily feature in all the places wherein the phrase MGM occurs. MGM with antara gāndhāra is used only by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, that too only once in his sañcāri. This was the hypothesis proposed in our previous article; use of a svara not seen in the parent scale in a bhāṣāṅga is an option!!
A rāga is given two different names based on the presence or absence of a svara. The necessity to employ two names for a single rāga is not known. Does Subbarāma Dīkṣitar mean to say Rudrapriyā (Rudrapriyā is a dēśīya rāga is to be remembered) was used in some other regions with antara gāndhāra, wherein it was called as Hindustani Kāpi ? Anyways this is a very clear indication that this rāga was called by more than one name. This point will be elaborated later.
nature of this rāga does not end only with its bhāsāṅga nature. The way it was
handed by various composers is equally intriguing. Before proceeding to analyse
the lakṣaṇa of this rāga, let us acquaint with the available compositions.
gives the following compositions notated in his treatise in addition to his own
Enduku rā rā – Rūpakam
– Subbarāma Dīkṣitar (occurs as a small segment in this rāgamālika)
For the kṛti ambā paradēvatē, both Śrī Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya and Śrī Subbarāma Dīkṣitar are to be given the credit. Whereas the former has written the lyrics, the latter tuned it. Since we are concerned with music, only Subbarāma Dīkṣitar will be associated with this kṛti henceforth.
anubandham of the same treatise, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives two more kṛti-s,
named as Rudrapriyā but with a different rāga lakṣaṇa:
Gaṇanāyakam – Catusra
Ēkam – Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
– Ādhi – Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
Since the last
two compositions differ considerably from the rest, they will be covered separately
in two subsequent articles. We will be analysing only the main Rudrapriyā here.
Apart from those
mentioned, three other compositions are attributed to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar:
bhakto bhavāmi – Misra capu / Triputa
bhajarē – Ādhi
These Non – Pradarśini kṛti-s require special attention and they too will not be covered here.
Only the Dīkṣitar tribe has handled this rāga is clearly fathomable from the above discussion (Eṭṭappa Mahārāja, the composer of Tamiz kṛti was also a disciple of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar). Apart from the kṛti-s, we do not find any gīta in this rāga (gīta–s are usually given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar to demonstrate old phrases in a rāga). Also, there is a conspicuous absence of a kṛti by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar. This rāga was not even included by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar in any of his rāgamālika-s. These, along with the fact of not seeing this rāga in any of the earlier lakṣana grantha-s might make us to surmise this is a relatively a new rāga which must have come into circulation around 18th century. But, what is the reality?
It is to be remembered, absence of a rāga in the lakṣana grantha-s do not demote antiquity of a rāga. These treatises are not comprehensive in cataloging the rāga-s prevalent when they were written (also see the related discussion here). The information given in these treatises are to be conjunctively analysed with the available compositions to date a rāga. The following evidence show the perspicuous presence of this rāga even before the arrival of the mentioned kṛti-s.
Dakśiṇāśāsyam gurum vandē
This is a composition of Śrī Bhadrācalam Rāmadāsu (1620-1680) in the rāga Rudrapriyā. It is very surprising to see a composition on Dakśiṇāmūrti by Rāmadāsu. But worshiping Dakśiṇāmūrti is an integral part of Bhajana saṃpradāya and this kṛti could have been used to invoke Him in his daily bhajana. This kṛti, to the best knowledge of this author is not in circulation and this is the only version available.
This is more like a divyanama kīrtanam with a pallavi and multiple caraṇā-s. All the caraṇā-s have the same melodic structure. The melodic structure is much simple and devoid of any decorative saṅgati-s, characteristic of any old version. Rudrapriyā portrayed here highly confirms with the mūrcana mentioned earlier excluding two significant signature phrases, SDNP and SNDNP which transgress the mūrcana mentioned proving it a non-scalar rāga.
Jagannatha Rao, who gave us this version make a note that this is also called
as Śuddha Kāpi. We request to reiterate the point mentioned earlier; this rāga
had multiple names !!
two evidences additionally prove the existence of this rāga during 18th
This is a composition of Śrī Mazavai Cidambara Bhārathi who lived in early part of the19th century. He is said to be a contemporary of Kavikuñjara Bhārathi, whose period is said to be between 1810 and 1896.
This kṛti can be seen in the book published by The Music Academy, but labelled as a different raga – Karnāṭaka Kāpi !! Perhaps, this name could have been in common use and a variant of this rāga with antara gāndharam was called as Hindustani Kāpi. Subbarāma Dikṣitar having been aware of this polyonymy (especially Karnāṭaka Kāpi) gives us the variant name alone. This is extremely possible, as Subbarāma Dīkṣitar was proud of his heritage and he must have felt this rāga is to be named as Rudrapriyā as Vēṅkaṭamakhī followed this nomenclature (in the treatise that was available to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar). Our doubt gets more validated if we observe the fact that the kṛti ‘rudra kōpa’ by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar lacks the rāga mudra Rudrapriyā!!
portrayed here is exactly like Rudrapriyā sans two phrases – SNDNM and SDP. The
phrase SNDNM occur in the beginning of this kṛti as seen below:
da n m
m ga r
ri s r
g I m ; ; r g I s ri m
pa ni ri II
krupai.. tan..dhu..rak.shi yiyam yo…ga ga na..yi..ke..jaga
Svara-s in bold denote tāra sthāyi
SNDNM is replaced by SNDPM in the second saṅgati. This phrase was an original construction or a printing error is not to be identified. Though SNDNM appears odd, a similar phrase PDNM is there in the Rudrapriyā segment, seen in the rāgamālika of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. The phrase SDP is found nowhere in the compositions notated by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar; rather, it is seen in the kṛti by Rāmadāsu. This is an allowed phrase and not used by Dīkṣitar Quartette or is a corrupt phrase that occurred due to the passage of time or a printing error cannot be ascertained.
This is a
hitherto unknown svarajati composed in the rāgam Karnāṭaka Kāpi. It is seen in a manuscript whose
authorship too is not traceable. This is composed in the style of Svarajati-s
composed by Śrī Śyāma Śāstri. This has a pallavi and four caraṇā-s. Predominant
phrases seen include ṠNDNP, ṠNPM, NGR and ṠNPṠNPM. It very well corresponds
with the rāga lakṣaṇa described above excluding a single phrase MNDPM.
From the above discussion it is unquestionable that Rudrapriyā was indeed a very old rāga. More importantly, it must have been called by various names at different part of this country.
structure of Rudrapriyā and its possible relationship with Karnāṭaka Kāpi
lineage is same for all the Dīkṣitar members, each one has carved their own
style in approaching a rāga. This is explicitly seen in the rāga-s which are
bestowed with a composition from more than one Dīkṣitar. Rudrapriyā is one such
and this heterogeneity is seen its full glory here. The main feature of
Rudrapriyā will be described in brief, which will be followed by a discussion
on their individual style.
features of Rudrapriyā
earlier, a broad picture about this rāga is given only by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
and the compositions therein are lexicons to understand this rāga in its full
grandeur. This rāga has many unique features to distinguish it from its saṃpūrṇa
allies like Kharaharapriya and Kāpi (the old one) which can be grasped by
learning and analysing these compositions.
Subbarāma Dīkṣitar says niṣādha, gāndhāra, madhyamaṃ and riṣabha are the pivotal svara-s. Compositions start or end only with one of these svara-s. There is a profuse use of janṭa niṣādha and gāndhāra. With this idea let us analyse the individual compositions. When the compositions are analysed, there are some important prayōga-s which traduce the mūrcana given, like SDNP, SNDNP, DNDNP, SRM and SMGM. Apart from this, plenty of dhāṭṭu prayōga-s like MGNPGR, GDGN can be seen. All these prayōga-s, are unanimously used in all the sthāyi-s, unlike Rītigaula wherein the phrase NPNNS is used only in the mandra sthāyi.
kōpa of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
follows the lakṣana mentioned above. The āvarta-s start only with the above
mentioned four pivotal svara-s apart from sadja and pañcama. Janṭa ṛṣabha as GRR
is more commonly used other janta niṣādha and gāndhāra. We see dhāṭṭu prayōga-s
like MGNPGR. In all these aspects, we see similar handling of this rāga among the
seen are as below:
use of janṭa svara is much less than that used by Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar. Also, the
gamakam used for these janṭa svara-s are different. Apart from spuritam, we
also find kampitam and nokku for these janṭa svara-s.
predominant avarōhaṇa phrase in this kṛti is SDNP and SNP. We never get to see
the phrase SNDNP. Though a composer is not expected to use all the phrases to
visualise his rāga, certain phrases become important as either they define a rāga
or has been by all the composers whomsoever has handled that rāga. SNDNP, being
such an important phrase can be in the kṛti-s of Rāmadāsu, Cidambara Bharati, Bālasvāmy
and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. It is surprising that this was not used in this kṛti.
compensate for the phrase SNDNP, we find a new phrase seen in this kṛti – MN(N)G.
This occur twice, first in bhadrakāli and second in mālikā, both in anupallavi.
This phrase is not seen in any of the compositions mentioned above, inclusive
of the kṛti-s of Rāmadāsu and Cidambara Bharati. This phrase reminisce the composition
‘suma sāyaka’ of Svāti Tirunāḷ. The first text to publish this Kṛti with
notation is Bālāmṛtam by S Raṅganātha Ayyar. He mention the rāga of this varṇam
as Kāpi. The present version has plenty of ṠNP, ṠNDNP, NRG which all feature in
Rudrapriyā. On the other hand, these are not found in the old Kāpi. The old Kāpi
is now living through the compositions of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and other
Pre-Trinity composers notated in Pradarśini. We too have Vālājapeṭṭai
manuscripts giving the compositions of Tyāgarāja Svāmigaḷ in this rāgaṃ (the kṛti-s
of Svāmigaḷ that we commonly hear in the rāga Kāpi were all mutated and
mutilated in the last century). Interestingly this phrase MNG is not seen in
any of the old Kāpi compositions. All these might make us to surmise Rudrapriyā
could have been alternatively called as Karṇāṭaka Kāpi in the past (along with
its other known and unknown names). We are now left with another question – the
reason for not seeing this phrase in the composition of other composers. We can
exclude the compositions of Rāmadāsu and Cidambara Bharati, as they are small kṛti-s.
But, not seeing even in magnificent edifices of Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
dēvasēnāpati and Nīvē raśikhāmaṇi of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar
The kṛti ‘nīvē raśikhāmaṇi’ could have been one of the initial compositions of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar on Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Maharāja. The kṛti ‘vaḷḷī dēvasēnāpati’ is unique in that it is one of the three compositions composed by Bālasvāmy on Kazugumalai Subraḥmaṇya Svāmi. Rest of his compositions were all on various Maharāja-s of Eṭṭayapuram.
These two kṛti-s
are better exemplars, even more than the ‘rudra kōpa’ of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.
Plenty of janṭa gāndhāra and niṣadha can be seen in these kṛti-s. Here the janṭa
svara-s are handled predominantly with the spurita gamakam. The predominant
avarōhaṇa phrases are PDNDP, PDNDNDP, ṠDNP, ṠNDNP and ṠNDNṠ (the last two
phrases are absent in ‘rudra kōpa’). We also find phrases SMGM, GRR, NG and NR,
PDNS (in mandra sthāyi). All these phrases give a wholesome structure covering
an entire gamut of this rāga. Rudrapriyā flows through the dhāṭṭu prayōga-s and
the ciṭṭa svaram affixed to the kṛti ‘nīvē raśikhāmaṇi’ is captivating. The
third āvarta goes as NṠṘN GNDN MGNP GR with plenty of three-s. Also, ṠṘĠṀ can
The kṛti nīvē raśikhāmaṇi interpreted from the treatise of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be heard here.
nambinēn of Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Mahārāja
This is much in
line with the other kṛti-s and uses some special phrases used like ṘDD. Also,
extreme importance is given to riṣabham as a jīva svaram. This was composed by
Jagadvīra Rāma Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭappa Mahārāja who ruled between 1853 and 1858.
paradēvatē and Enduku rā rā of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
The rāga approach
by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar can be considered as a combination of both Muddusvāmy and
Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar. Whereas we find almost all the prayōga-s used by Bālasvāmy
in these two compositions, we also find some phrases like PDP, PNṠ, ṘDD and
PDNM which are not seen in the compositions of Bālasvāmy. Though the janṭa
svara prayōga-s are more seen in this kṛti when compared to that of Muddusvāmy
Dīkṣitar, it is certainly lesser than what is seen in the works of Bālasvāmy Dīkṣitar.
The ciṭṭa svara
segment attached to this kṛti is very unique and displays the craftsmanship of Subbarāma
Dīkṣitar. It runs for 32 āvarta-s and every āvarta starts with ṛṣabham. This 32
āvarta svara segment composed by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is much different from the
abridged version that we hear today and it is a question to ponder on the
composer of this abridged version. Also, the manōdharma that we hear frequently
only display the scalar Rudrapriyā. Though we enjoy the modern versions and are
equally pleasant to hear, these old tunes conceived by the composer are to be
at least archived as they not only serve as an example to understand the rāga
conceived by the composer, they also teach us the svarūpa of the rāga extant
during their times. Here, the various ways in which the jīva svara ṛṣabham can
be employed in various ways is demonstrated. These can be adopted by us to
resurrect the rāga Rudrapriya,
rather than following the scale.
The presence of
the phrase ṘDD along with an importance given to ṛṣabham makes us to understand
the influence of Vēṅkaṭēśvara Eṭṭapa Mahārāja on Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.
grand rāga of the past is mainly characterised by janṭa and dhāṭṭu prayōga-s. This
rāga has very many phrases outside the prescribed mūrcana and only an untainted
version of the kṛti-s preserved by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and from other older/original
versions help us to understand this rāga. The kṛti-s of Bālasvāmy and Subbarāma
Dīkṣitar epitomize this rāga more than even the mentioned kṛti of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.
Sadly, the rāga portrayed in majority of the versions that we hear today is
mainly scalar and fail to project the beauty of this rāga in its full capacity.
Unlike Rītigaula, the phrases in this rāga are not sthāyi specific – all the phrases occur in all the octaves.The name Rudrapriyā could have been in circulation only with the family of Dīkṣitar and this rāga could have been called by multiple names in the past. Perhaps, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar could have been the single person endorsing this name. The rāga Kārnāṭaka Kāpi mentioned in various texts could be this Rudrapriyā and we need to search for original versions to get a clear picture.
This also highlight the importance of collecting the manuscripts preserved at various places to understand rāga-s of the past.
Footnote 1 – Whereas the Tamiz edition of Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī read as ‘anuvadana’ in anupallavi, the original Telugu version read as ‘ajavadana’. This difference was overlooked by this author in his rendition. This is a mistake and is deeply regretted.
This raga Rudrapriya as listed in
the Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini (“SSP”) which we take up in this
blog post along with the compositions available to us, would confound any
student or practitioner of music when viewed against the available
musicological texts and musicological history. The objective of this blog post
is to evaluate the material available to us and seek a plausible explanation
for the confusing or contradictory aspects. This raga belonging to the mela
varga or the clan of ragas under Mela 22 Sriraga, is a raga of late 18th
century vintage (post 1750 AD), as it is not seen in the prior musicological
texts, such as those of Shahaji or Tulaja.
Overview of Rudrapriya:
In the modern musical parlance, the raga
Rudrapriya is an upanga janya under Mela 22 Sriraga, taking all the 7 notes in
the arohana lineally while dropping the dhaivata note in the avarohana.
Arohana krama/murcchana: S R2
G2 M1 P D2 N2 S
Avarohana krama/murcchana: S N2 P M1 G2 R2 S
Simple as the definition may sound, yet the
raga plays hosts to a number of unique features beyond what is conveyed by the
above skeletal definition, which is also the source of confusion for us. We
will start the exercise of dissecting the raga, from the commentary provided by
Subbarama Dikshitar in the SSP and the exemplar compositions provided
The SSP’s take on Rudrapriya:
According to Subbarama Dikshitar:
raga is bhashanga
sampurna with dhaivatha being varjya in the avarohana
is the graha svara of the raga
a desya raga
raga can be sung at all times
is a key note of the raga, identified by the dheergha note in the arohana krama
and the Janta combination with which it occurs in the avarohana
and gandhara are the other jiva and nyasa svaras
A brief evaluation of the above commentary
in the modern context is required for us to understand the raga and let us
taken them up seriatim.
Subbarama Dikshitar says that the raga is bhashanga, it is not so in the modern
sense. As pointed out earlier in our other blog posts, such as the one on
Gopikavasanta raga, a proper reading of the SSP as a whole would show that
Subbarama Dikshitar has presented the term “bhashanga” in its older sense, when
ragas were classified as upanga, bhashanga and kriyanga ragas on an entirely
different aspect. The perusal of the Lakshya Gitam of Sriraga, the parent raga
of the 22nd Mela varga in the SSP would show that Sriranjani,
Madhyamavati and Devamanohari are also shown as bhashanga janya ragas of the
mela (22), which we know, they are not, in the modern sense. Today we call a
raga bhashanga if it takes a note which is foreign to the parent scale. Rudrapriya
does not take any note from outside the notes of Mela 22 so is upanga in the
context of the SSP, it has to be pointed out that Rudrapriya is not mentioned
in the Sriraga lakshya gitam either as a upanga or a bhashanga janya
thereunder. Suffice to state that the
raga must have been inducted into the Anubandha listing (to the Catur Dandi
Prakashika probably authored by Muddu Venkatamakhin) much later in time.
as a foot note at the very end of the last composition provided as the
exemplar, Subbarama Dikshitar makes a mention that the prayoga M1G2M1
in certain places is rendered as M1G3M1 which is called as
Hindustani Kapi. Without wading into this controversial point at this juncture
as to the usage of G3/antara gandhara alluded to by Subbarama Dikshitar and
confining ourselves to Rudrapriya alone, we can safely conclude the following
none of the exemplar compositions that Subbarama Dikshitar cites in the SSP,
does MG3M occur or is so notated.
usage of G3 may have been seen by Subbarama Dikshitar during his times but was
not an intrinsic part of the sastraic definition of Rudrapriya.
for us today therefore is a upanga janya under Mela 22 taking no foreign notes.
Subbarama Dikshitar says that the raga is sampurna. What it meant in the older
context was that taking together both arohana and avarohana krama all the seven
notes occurred in the raga. And given that dhaivatha was varjya in the
avarohana, Subbarama Dikshitar rightly provides his summary so. From a
practical perspective thus the musical motif SN2P becomes
defining to mark out this raga. Further since D2 is said to be varjya, or
avoided in the avarohana, the phrase SN2D2N3P should not occur in the raga.
Dikshitar’s reference to sadja being the graha svara of the raga is superfluous
for us today, for even by the late 18th Century ragas had adopted
the sadja note only as the graha svara. The erstwhile architectural construct
of svaras other than sadja, being graha or the commencement/basal note had long
to Subbarama Dikshitar, Rudrapriya is a desya raga. The concept of desi/desya
ragas as referred to by him relates to the aspect of the origin of the raga.
Ragas were classed as Ghana, Naya and Desi right from the days of Shahaji
(circa 1700). A century before Shahaji, Venkatamakhin (circa 1620 AD) in his
trail blazing ‘Caturdandi Prakashika’ is seen using the term ‘desi raga’ and identifies
Kalyani and Pantuvarali/Ramakriya as desi. Venkatamakhin uses the term
“turuska”, meaning Turkish or a Moslem import into Indian music. Though the
practice of classifying ragas as ghana, naya and desya had gone out of vogue,
still in the SSP, Subbarama Dikshitar has in his commentary of the ragas called
out certain ragas as desya ragas- for example Pharaz, Nayaki etc. These so
called ‘auttara’ or foreign origin ragas probably imported into our Music from
the North were nevertheless seen as ranjaka or pleasing to the ear and hence
came to be accepted along with the other established and ordained ragas, by the
Subbarama Dikshitar’s description that Rudrapriya is a raga which can be sung
at all times of the day, relates to a concept which has long since died out in
our system of music. As we saw in prior blog posts, SSP still latches on to this
concept of ragas and the time of the day in which they are to be rendered, for
instance the raga Ahiri is supposed to be sung in the first quarter of the
night ( bhANa yAmE pragIyatE). Again, suffice to say that this concept of
singing a raga at the anointed time has long since gone out of vogue.
according to Subbarama Dikshitar, the janta nishadha is a unique feature of the
raga which is reinforced in the arohana/avarohana murchana krama that he
provides. It is janta in the arohana krama and dheergha in the avarohana krama.
apart Subbarama Dikshitar also identifies gandhara (dhirgha) and rishabha as
preferred jeeva and nyasa svaras. We can see the import of these when we
discuss the exemplar kritis in the sections to follow.
In sum, the Rudpriya of the SSP goes as
an upanga janya raga under mela 22.
It is sampurna
in the arohana and devoid of dhaivatha in the avarohana krama.
Nishadha, dirgha nishadha and gandhara are the hallmarks of this raga with
rishabha figuring as a preferred jiva and nyasa note.
Though Subbarama Dikshitar does not specify
unique motifs for the raga, nevertheless we will endeavour to identify them
when we study some of the exemplar kritis later on in this blog post.
Kritis in the SSP:
Apart from providing the lakshana of the
raga, Subbarama Dikshitar lists out the following compositions for us in the
SSP as illustrating Rudrapriya:
Kopa Jaatha Veerabadhram Ashyraye” of Muthusvami Dikshitar in rupaka tala,
composed on Lord Veerabadhra, the Lord of the Shiva Ganas and considered an
aspect of Lord Shiva Himself in the Hindu mythology.
Senapathi” of Balasvami Dikshitar in Rupaka tala, a composition in Telugu
propitiating Lord Subramanya at Kazhugumalai (or Kazhugachalam or Grudhra Giri)
wherein he seeks the Lord’s benign blessings for his Royal patron Kumara
Ettendra. It may be pointed out here that the Lord at Kazhughachalam/Kazhughumalai
was the presiding deity of the Ettayapuram Royals who were the patrons of the Dikshitars.
rasikashikamani” a daru (ode) again of Balasvami Dikshitar in Adi tala on his
Royal patron Venkatesvara Ettappa, the then Ruler of Ettayapuram.
paradevate” of Krishnasvami Ayya in matya capu tala
Unnai nambinen ayya” a composition by Venkatesvara Ettappa, again on the Lord
own sancari in matya tala.
While this is the listing from the main
SSP, in the Anubandha, Subbarama Dikshitar lists out two more compositions in
this raga attributing the same to Muthusvami Dikshitar:
first being a kriti on Lord Ganesha, “Gananayakam Bhajeham” in Adi tala. It is
the notation of this kriti and the extant versions of the same which causes
considerable confusion to a discerning listener of music, which we will deal
with in the relevant discography section.
second is “Tyagesam Bhajare” again in
Outside the ken of the SSP, from amongst
the lot of kritis which came to be published by Veenai Sundaram Iyer
purportedly from out of the palm leaf manuscripts of Ambi Dikshitar, the son of
Subbarama Dikshitar, we have three kritis attributed to Muthusvami Dikshitar,
available to us:
Bhaktobhavami” (misra capu tala) as part of the set of vibakti kritis on Lord
Tyagaraja of Tiruvarur
in Rupaka tala
in Adi tala
While we take up a few key individual
compositions for analysis, we will also briefly look at the other collateral
aspects of the composition and its subject matter to bolster our understanding
and also enhance our appreciation of the raga and the composition, in unison.
Kopa Jaatha” of Muthusvami Dikshitar:
This kriti is on Lord Veerabadhra,
considered by some as a form of Lord Shiva himself, but yet the popular
mythology places the deity as having been born out of Lord Shiva’s wrath as Muthusvami
Dikshitar very neatly encapsulates it in the opening pallavi of the
composition. Let’s first look at the lyrics and the meaning of the composition.
sadA – Always,
hRdaye – in (my) heart,
AshrayE – I surrender to
vIrabadhram – Lord Virabhadra,
rudra-kOpa-jAta – He whose arose from Shiva’s
– the Consort of Bhadrakali,
bhava-haraNam – the remover of (the sorrows
of) worldly existence,
the one whose feet are adroit in granting prosperity,
one ornamented with garland strung of Rudraksha beads,
preventer of petty or cruel effects,
bhakta-bharaNam – the supporter of devotees,
vijita-vidhi-hari-hari-hayam – the one who subdued Brahma, Vishnu and
Indra (who has golden horses),
vira-adhi-vIram – the bravest of the brave,
abhayam – the fearless one,
rajata-parvata-Ashayam – the one residing in the silver hued mountain,
ravi-vidhu-tEjOmayam – the one who embodies the sun, moon
gaja-mukha-gaNEsha raksham – the protector of the elephant-faced
aja-vadana-daksha-shiksham– the one who taught a lesson to the goat-faced Daksha,
nija-rUpa-dAna-daksham – the adept at granting knowledge of
one’s real self,
nija-guruguha-svapakShststayiam – the one who has his preceptor Guruguha on
The composition encapsulates the portion of the story of Sati or Dakshayani, Daksha’s (son of Lord Brahma) daughter who married Lord Shiva, much against Daksha’s objections. When She attempted to seek the rightful share of the sacrificial offering (haavis) in the yajna that her father conducted, without duly inviting Lord Shiva, Daksha insulted her & Lord Shiva and thereupon Sati immolated herself. It was at this juncture Lord Shiva upon hearing the fate of Sati, was subsumed by anger at Daksha. And in wrath he plucked the locks of his matted hair and split them into two. From one rose Lord Veerabadhra or Aghora Veerabadhra and from the other, his consort Goddess Mahakali appeared. Lord Shiva bade them to go and destroy Daksha’s sacrifice in divine retribution for the sacrilege that he had committed. When Lord Veerabadhra leading Shiva’s bhutaganas, descended on the place where Daksha was conducting his yajna, a great war ensued between them and the Gods including Lord Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Indra on Daksha’s side. Lord Veerabadhra defeated the Gods and exacted revenge by slaying Daksha. When Lord Shiva was thereafter duly propitiated by the Gods, he condescended and revived Daksha by fixing a goat’s head on his decapitated torso. Sati was thereafter reborn as Parvati (daughter of Himavan) and she duly reunited with Lord Shiva. The esoteric worship of Lord Veerabadhra and the related mantras propitiating him can be accessed here.
Muthusvami Dikshitar adroitly weaves this
puranic lore dealing with Lord Veerabadhra in this composition by the following
rudra kOpa jAta, – Veerabadhra
being born out of Lord Shiva’s wrath
Veerabadhra being the consort of Bhadra Kali.
Vijita-vidhi-hari-hari hayam – In the war that
took place between Veerabadhra and Daksha’s forces, Veerbadhra vanquishing Lord
Brahma, Lord Vishnu and Indra
Rajata-parvata-Ashryam – As a
Commander of Lord Shiva’s Ganas, Veerabadhra being a resident of Mount Kailasa,
referred to as a silver hued mountain
Veerabadhra by slaying Daksha for his act of sacrilege thus teaching him a
As is his wont, in the body of the composition,
Dikshitar weaves in part, the raga mudra and his colophon ‘guruguha’ in the
lyrics, even while keeping his date with prasa concordance. It has to be
mentioned that the lyrics provides no specific stala/ksetra reference as the
abode of the deity.
The notation of the composition in the SSP
would show the following for us:
SGRS (especially in tara stayi) forms the alternative progression of the raga
on the purvanga. Actually, SRG is not seen in tara stayi and almost as a rule
only SGR is seen.
uttaranga, PDNS in the madhya stayi and MPNS in the mandhara stayi, (for
example the notation of the lyric “abhayam” in the caranam) are the prayogas
seen. It has to be noted that both PDNS and PNS are thus used in the
composition with the caveat that PDNS figures in the madhya stayi and PNS in
the mandhara stayi.
foregoing would clearly show that the raga conforms to the 18th
Century raga architecture whereby different/multiple progressions in
purvanga-uttaranga are taken in the madhya and mandhara stayi.
NgrsNP and sgrsNP along with MGM are recurring motifs with rishabha being a
preferred phrase ending note.
nishadha and kampita gandhara are seen used. In fact,the NNsNPM can be anointed
as the leitmotif of the raga (the lower case sadja being the tara sadja note).
However, this specific murccana is not found explicitly in this composition,
terms of octaval traversal, the kriti stretches from mandhara madhyama to tara
always Dikshitar unveils his conception of the raga with its delectable turns
and twists, in the madhyama kala sahitya section starting “gajamukha”. The
musical notation of this segment of the composition being the finale goes thus:
Note: Notes in lower case is mandhara
stayi, upper case is madhya stayi and italics is tara stayi.
For this composition, presented is a
compact and almost close to the SSP notation, rendering of the composition by
the Rudrapatnam Brothers in this Youtube audio recording with a raga vinyasa,
kriti rendering followed by a few avarta of svaras.
However, the following points merit
attention in the context of the rendering above:
raga vinyasa could have been structured with more janta nishadhas and by ending
the musical phrases with rishabha note so as to remove any traces suggestive of
lyrical portions of the caranam being “harihayam” and “abhayam” ought to have
been rendered as per SSP with the notation as RnRGM and npmpns respectively.
Instead it is heard as SRGM and npdns. To that extent the fidelity to the
notation of the SSP is not seen in the rendering barring which the rendering otherwise
closely aligns to the SSP.
madhyama kala carana portion is brought out satisfactorily in accordance with
the SSP notation.
There are other renderings of this
composition but they do not meet the benchmark set by SSP and are at best left alone.
With this we move on the next kriti.
Before we embark on dissecting this
composition, a brief note on some aspects of this composition merit our
This composition was published as a part of the Anubandha to the SSP by Subbarama Dikshitar attributing the same to Muthusvami Dikshitar. Some scholars cite this as an infirmity, in a sense, whether the composition was indeed Dikshitar’s and why was it that Subbarama Dikshitar made it part of the Anubandha rather than making it part of the SSP itself.
Further in support of this point of view it is argued that:
The eduppu or the take-off of “Gananayakam” (½ edam of the second beat of the adi tala) and it overall rhythmic format is reminiscent of the style of Tyagaraja. This feature is not seen in any kriti of Muthusvami Dikshitar and thus is stylistically alien to him.
The melody or musical setting/mettu of this composition is uncannily similar or exactly the same as that of “Sri Manini Manohara” a composition of Tyagaraja which goes with the raga name of Poornasadjam. It has to be pointed out that the Anubandha to the SSP states that raga of ‘Gananayakam” as Rudrapriya and not Poornasadjam.
Thus, we are left holding with an issue as
to the antecedents of this composition which can boiled down into the following
a composition of Muthusvami Dikshitar?
is the raga lakshana of Rudrapriya found documented for this composition in the
Anubandha to the SSP?
Rudrapriya and Poornasadjam same or similar, or are they different?
We will proceed to find a satisfactory
explanation for these vexing questions by adopting the following methodology:
the composition from a lyrical and musical perspective (both with the notation
found in the Anubandha and the extant renderings of the composition)
the composition from a musical perspective with “Rudrakopa Jaata” and ‘Sri
the take of musicologists on these questions, if any and summarize our
The notation of the composition:
The Anubandha to the SSP documents the
notation of “Gananayakam” ( catusra eka tala). The perusal would show a number
of distinctive aspects:
is completely avoided both in the arohana and avarohana
kriti itself is architected with the nominal arohana/avarohana murchanas as
S G R G M N
N S / S N P M G R S
to emphasize the core raga lakshana of Rudrapriya, Nishadha note is made the
pivot of the composition both the dheergha and the janta variety littering this
short and exquisite piece.
is invited to stark contrast between the musical texture of “Rudra Kopa Jaatha”
and “Gananayakam” especially the dropping of the dhaivatha note in both arohana
& avarohana and pancama in the ascent.
When we examine the available recordings of
this composition, we have two main varieties of rendering:
1 -Rendering strictly based on the Anubandha notation eschewing dhaivatha
completely in both the arohana and avrohana while pancama in avoided in the
2- Rendering of the composition by normalizing the phrases to incorporate PDNS
wherever MNNS occurs, throughout the composition. This would make the raga
lakshana of the composition to accord with the version laid out in the main SSP
of which ‘Rudrakopa Jaatha” is the exemplar.
In this I present the mellifluous vocalist Sangita
Kalanidhi Dr M L Vasanthakumari rendering the composition fully in accordance
with the Anubandha to the SSP notation. Attention is invited to the musical
notes of the lyrics “dayakam” in the anupallavi, “viradham” in the carana and
the svara kalpana sally on the pallavi wherein the MNNS (not PDNS) figures as
the building block for her. Both “dayakam” and “viradham” are notated as MNNS
in the anubandha to the SSP and she sings the same in strict accordance with
Sangita Kalanidhi D K Jayaraman of the Ambi
Dikshitar sishya parampara sings in accordance with the notation found in the
If we surmise that this was the Ambi
Dikshitar version was this how it was taught?
I present the rendering of the legendary
Sangita Kalanidhi Dr M S Subbulakshmi who begins one of her innumerable
concerts with ‘Gananayakam Bhajeham”. Attention is invited to the musical notes
of the lyrics “dayakam” in the anupallavi, “viradham” in the carana and the
svara kalpana sally on the pallavi wherein the PDNS figures as the building
block for her. Both “dayakam” and “viradham” are notated as MNNS in the Anubandha
to the SSP and NOT as PDNS as she sings.
I next present a detailed exposition by
Sangita Kalacharya Dr S Rajam who too traced his patham to Ambi Dikshitar.
Attention is invited to the introduction he
provides to the raga before commencing his recital. Again, if he too had learnt
it from Ambi Dikshitar, why is the version of the composition is different as
between him and Sri D K Jayaraman? Food for thought, one should say.
Dichotomy in the Raga Lakshana:
The discography above as evidenced by the
two versions poses us with the further question whether the raga of Gananayakam
is Rudrapriya, as exemplified by “Rudra Kopa Jaatha”. The raga seen in ‘Gananayakam’,
being totally devoid of dhaivatha and eschewing panchama in the ascent, cannot
be melodically equated to the Rudrapriya of “Rudra Kopa jaatha”. Yet Subbarama
Dikshitar in his wisdom calls the raga of both the compositions as Rudrapriya.
It is in this context that the raga
lakshana found in ‘Gananayakam” came to be found as being exactly like the one
in Tyagaraja’s “Sri Manini” and similar to the famous ‘Lavanya Rama” which are
labelled in all musical texts as being in the raga by name Poornasadjam.
Without wading into the two Tyagaraja kritis, lest we deviate away from the
subject matter Dikshitar kritis on hand, I refer the reader to the rendering of
the two compositions by the late Vidvan Ramnad Krishnan, available in the public
Which now leaves us with the question as to
the difference between Rudrapriya and Poornasadjam.
two ragas can be compared with the available musicological records as
is found mentioned only in Muddu Venkatamakhin’s Ragalakshanam and in
Subbarama Dikshitar’s SSP. No other prior musicological text talks about this
is found documented only in Sangraha Cudamani and the later Ragalakshanamu.
As reiterated in these blog posts the Sangraha Cudamani (SC) is found to be documenting
the ragas of the compositions of Tyagaraja.
of the raga
22 – Sri Raga or the
equivalent heptatonic mela Karaharapriya
20 – Natabhairavi or
Narabhairavi, as SC calls the Mela, the raga is seen documented in SC.
S R G M P
D N S
S N P M G
S P M P D
P S and
S N D M G
varjya or vakra
omitted in the descent
and Ni omitted in ascent and Pa being omitted in the descent. The sloka in
the SC as well as the Ragalakshanamu are individually as well as mutually,
noticed to be inconsistent
Compositions we hear today
Kopa Jaatha” of Muthuswami Dikshitar and “Amba Paradevate” by Krishnaswami
composition exists in this scale
The very perusal of the authoritative
musicological texts would show that the ragas going by the names of Rudrapriya (found
only in Muddu Venkatamakhin’s raga compendium and the SSP) and Poornasadjam (found
only in the Sangraha Cudamani and its related text called Ragalakshanamu) are
so dissimilar originating in different melas and having different scales. And
further there is no raga similar to Rudrapriya (of SSP) documented in the
Sangraha Cudamani. The facts as above would lead us to only one conclusion:
raga of “Sri Manini Manohara” is not Poornasadjam as the notes found in the
composition belong to the 22 Mela, given that Purnasadjam is a janya of the 20th
mela, on the authority of the Sangraha Cudamani.
assignment of the name Poornasadjam as the raga of “Sri Manini” is most
possibly a misattribution, borne out of ignorance of musicological history, a
phenomenon we have seen repeatedly in the case of a number of instances as
documented in these blog posts, by which some name has been randomly been
assigned to the raga.
the raga of “Sri Manini Manohara” is therefore not Poornasadjam as defined by
The above table for the raga that we today call
as Poornasadjam will be thus:
raga that we today call as Poornasadjam
textual or musicological authority exists for the raga. Only Post 1906 AD
publications talk about this raga.
of the raga
S R G M N
(N) S /S N P M G R S
varjya or vakra
completely omitted in the raga and pancama is omitted in the ascent
Compositions we hear today
Manini Manohara” and “Lavanya Rama”
the raga of certain oral versions of “Gananayakam” (as we saw by Dr M S
Subbulakshmi) and the notation that is given in the Anubandha to the SSP
conform to this scale, we still call the raga of “Gananayakam” as Rudrapriya
only and NOT as Poornasadjam.
Therefore, the question that survives for
our consideration is given the similarity of the tonal material of “Sri Manini”
with “Gananayakam” and on the authority of the Anubandha to the SSP, can the
raga of “Sri Manini” also be Rudrapriya?
Amba Paradevate of Krishnasvami Ayya:
But before we embark to find the answer to
this question, we should look at the other compositions, renderings of which
are available for us. In the same breath we have to note that the other
compositions in the SSP, being the two compositions of Balasvami Dikshitar, the
kriti of Venkatsvara Ettappa and the sancari are aligned to the Rudrapriya
described by Subbarama Dikshitar and delineated in “Rudra Kopa Jaata”. All
these compositions go with the SRGMPDNS/SNPMGRS as the common murccana arohana/avarohana,
whereas “Gananayakam” goes with the melodic structure of SRGMNNS/SNPMGRS in
Leaving this at this point, we take up the
exposition of Rudrapriya by the renowned Sangita Kalanidhi Flute T Visvanathan
who prefaces his demonstration of Krishnasvami Ayya’s “Amba Paradevate” with
his commentary of the raga and its lakshana.
Here is the audio of the rendering: Link (requires Yahoo or Gmail sign in credentials)
is a live video of his rendering (excerpt) of the same: Link
It has to be said that though the doyen’s
presentation of the composition is par excellent, it is tinted much with Karaharapriya,
with no distinguishing features in place. The rendering may be immaculate from
a scalar grammar perspective duly avoiding the dhaivatha in the descent but
does it convey the melodic idea of Rudrapriya as a scale distinctive in itself?
I leave the answer to a discerning listener to decide for himself. One can
however say with certainty that the musical texture and conception of
Rudrapriya as seen in “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” is nowhere seen in ‘Amba Paradevate”
atleast from this popular rendering of the composition.
And to conclude our exploration of
Rudrapriya we move over to the final piece of this discography section.
“Sri Tyagarajasya Bakthobhavami” of
We move on next to this composition which
is not found in the SSP. This composition is identified by certain
musicologists as being part of a set of compositions being the Vibakti
set/series of kritis on Lord Tyagaraja at Tiruvarur. While in the SSP,
Subbarama Dikshitar clearly identifies such sets of compositions (example the
Vaara kritis and the Navavarana Kritis on Goddess Kamalamba) by way of his foot
notes, no such reference is made by him in so far as this set of compositions
go. Be that as it may I first take up the rendering of the composition by Vidushi
The evaluation of this rendering assuming
it is as per the published notation of this composition would yield us the
Vidushi embarks first on an alapana embellishing it liberally with PDNP and
phrases ending with rishabha. Every time she fleshes out a musical phrase, she
keeps the DNP or SNP as a refrain so as to keep any trace of Karaharapriya at
same time quite controversially, she repeatedly uses PDNPGR in the madhya stayi
descent phrases, while it ought to be PDNPMGR. These madhyama varjya
sancaras bring a different texture to the raga (tinting it with the feel of
Rathipatipriya – Mela 22- SRGPNS/SNPGRS). The madhyama has a solid pride of place
in the raga Rudrapriay both in the ascent and descent and hence while a casual
or one-off rendering of madhyama varjya phrases could be artistically
supported, repeatedly or only using the phrase PDNPGR almost as a rule is
certainly unwarranted. Similar is her usage of the MGS in the tara sancaras which
conveys a very different feel to the raga.
her rendering of the composition too seems to carrying these phrases as well
lending a different feel to the raga, in contradistinction to the one
delineated in the SSP and ‘Rudra Kopa Jaatha”.
perusal of the notation of the composition as published by Veeni Sundaram Iyer
reveals a few puzzling aspects. In more than one place the phrase PMNDN and DND
figure prominently. Further phrases such SNDS, PNDNS too occur. Grammatically
speaking these phrases do not conform to the laid down lakshana and if the
composition is so notated with these non-kosher phrases not seen in the SSP, it
certainly needs further explanation and authority. And it would be yet another
flavour or variant of the Rudrapriya apart from the versions found in “Rudra
Kopa Jaatha” and “Gananayakam”
Thus, neither does the musical setting of
the composition strictly conform to the lakshana of the raga as found in “Rudra
kopa jaatha” or SSP nor does it sound stylistically aligned to how Dikshitar
would set the melody of the composition. It must have been perhaps for this
reason that Subbarama Dikshitar in his wisdom decided to keep the composition
out of the SSP (assuming that he had the lyrics with him). Given this problem I
keep this composition out from further discussion in this blog post.
It must be pointed out that from a lyrical content
perspective the kriti is replete with references to the hoary traditions and mythologies
surrounding the Tyagaraja Temple. To conclude this section, it is observed that
this kriti too does not take us any further in resolving the dichotomy that we
see in the raga’s lakshana.
The foregoing thus shows that:
kriti “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” is the benchmark or standard or exemplar which
conforms to the laid down lakshana of Rudrapriya and evidenced by Subbarama
Dikshitar’s commentary of the same in the SSP.
raga as conceptualized by Muthusvami Dikshitar in the said composition is
unique like Reetigaula ( different prayogas in the different registers) by
sporting PNS and not PDNS in the mandhara stayi (and) PDNS and not PNS in
madhya stayi and again sporting SRGM in madhya stayi while its equivalent tara
stayi prayoga being SGRS, reinforcing the 19th Century raga
architecture tenet that multiple progressions for a raga are permissible in its
purvanga and or uttaranga and/or in the mandhara/madhya/tara registers/octaves.
mettu of ‘Gananayakam” and ‘Sri Manini” being the same/similar, the raga of the
composition is certainly not Poornasadjam (as defined under Sangraha Cudamani)
the scale SGRGMNNS/SNPMGRS found in these two kritis should probably be treated
as a form/variant or a truncated version of Rudrapriya.
One could possibly reconcile
the foregoing and conclude that this variant of Rudrapriya (SGMNNS/SNPMGRS as seen
in “Sri Manini Manohara”/”Gananayakam”) was perhaps an offshoot of the original
Rudrapriya whereby primacy was given to janta nishadha by dropping dhaivatha
altogether. Hence the Rudrapriya found in “Gananayakam”/”Sri Manini” represents
yet another interpretation of the raga. Harmonically speaking it can be
reasoned that only when dhaivatha is absent will dheergatva and janta prayoga
on the nishadha note make musical sense.
Compositions in Rudrapriya by other
Leaving aside the case of the kritis “Lavanya Rama” or ‘Sri Manini Manohara” of Tyagaraja which are obviously not in the same musical mould as the Rudrapriya found in “Rudra Kopa Jaatha”, there are no other available compositions in the raga. The only known composition from the post Trinity composers in this Rudrapriya, seems to be the kriti “Nee Dasudani” of Veena Varadayya (AD1877-1952). A recording of the same is available on the web –Link.
Is the composition “Gananayakam” really
Muthusvami Dikshitar’s, given the points as to the stylistic aspects which has
been raised? In this regard we should take notice of the following factors:
Anubandha to the SSP also documents a few other compositions of Muthusvami
Dikshitar including the famous Caturdasa Ragamalika. On the strength of
Subbarama Dikshitar’s assertion we have to go with this attribution. Further
along with “Gananayakam”, Subbarama Dikshitar also provides ‘Ananta
Balakrishnam” in Isamanohari, ascribing it to Muthusvami Dikshitar. And again,
he provides ‘Ananta Balakrishnam’ in the Prathamabyasa Pustakamu as well.
Considerable thought must have gone into his decision to make these kritis part
of the SSP Compendium attributing authorship to Muthusvami Dikshitar and
therefore it would be in the fitness of things to acknowledge his call at face
value and accept that the kriti is indeed of Muthusvami Dikshitar despite the
stylistic reservations as aforesaid.
respected music critic of the last century Sri K V Ramachandran in his erudite
Music Academy lecture demonstration, published in the Journal titled “Apurva
Ragas of Tyagaraja’s Songs” (The Journal of the Music Academy XXI, pp. 107-109,
Madras) has this to say:
the two composers (Tyagaraja and Dikshitar) have composed several songs with
the same dhatu as though in friendly rivalry: –
Sri Venugopala and sri Rama in Kurinji, Kamakshi Mampahi and Sri Rama
padama (Suddha Desi), Syamale Meenakshi and Pahi Ramachandra (
Sankarabharanam), Gananayakam and Sri Manini (Rudrapriya), Gatamoha and
Gurumurte ( Sankarabharanam),Ananta Balakrishnam and Dinamani vamsa (
Isamanohari); and Eramuni of Tyagaraja resembles a Dikshitar song in
Vasantabhairavi. If a diligent search is made, we could find many other songs
with the same musical idea…………..”
And rightly so in olden days,
composers used to conjure lyrics for a popular captivating tune and that was
never frowned upon as plagiarism. It may be pointed out that the famous
Svarajati of Melattur Virabhadrayya in Huseini spawned many a copy. As it is
said imitation is the best form of flattery. In this instant case of
“Gananayakam” and “Sri Manini”, who imitated whom, will never be known. Yet
here are these compositions for us to hear, learn and relish with the full
knowledge of all these contradictions and confusions. With passage of time,
none of this will ever be resolved.
In so far as the question of what is
Rudrapriya and what is Poornsadjam, the following points merit our attention.
The Music Academy Experts Committee in the year 1955 (JMA Volume 27 1956 pp 27-28) took up the detailed discussion on the raga Rudrapriya. After discussing the lakshana laid down in the SSP and the musical setting of “Lavanya Rama” and the identical progression of the raga in “Gananayakam” the Committee reiterated the position that we see today: Rudrapriya is SRGMPDNS/SNPMGRS under Mela 22 and the other being Purnsadjam with SRGMNS/SNPMGRS under mela 22 as well.
Unfortunately, the Committee never went into issue of the textual authority supporting the parent mela of raga Purnasadjam as Mela 20 nor did they get into the other aspects of Rudrapriya such as the janta/dheergha nishadha and the usage of MPNS, PDNS and SGR as some motifs as found in ‘Rudra Kopa”. Nobody seems to have even come forward to sing “Rudra Kopa”. Further the kriti “Sri Manini” and its melodic closeness with “Gananayakam” is not even mentioned in the said discussion. It can be noted from the discussion, that the divergence between the stated SSP lakshana and the melodic progression in “Gananayakam” seem to have troubled the veteran Sangita Kalanidhi Mudicondan Venkatarama Iyer, who has ventured to explain it away by suggesting that with passage of time the raga’s structure might have changed.
The Music Academy Experts Committee again in the year 2009 (JMA Volume 80 2009 pp 103-114) discussed the raga Rudrapriya along with its allied ragas without any definitive conclusion as to its individual lakshana. According Dr N Ramanathan, who has summarized the said discussion as an article in the JMA:
The original musical setting of the kriti “Gananayakam” must have been lost and therefore the composition possibly must have come to be rendered in the tune of “Sri Manini”. Subbarama Dikshitar wary of this therefore relegated it to Part B of the Anubandha and not presenting it in the main SSP.
The phrase ‘MPNS’ seen in “Rudrakopa Jaatha” is reminiscent of Hindustani Kapi but there the nishadha is kakali. The phrases RMP too occurs in profusion along with NPMGR and NPGR in “Rudrakopa” and “Sri Tyagarajasaya”
K V Srinivasa Iyengar mentions the raga of “Sri Manini” as Purnasadja and “Lavanya Rama” as Rudrapriya. In the absence of a reliable notation of these two Tyagaraja compositions it is difficult to determine what the melodic forms of these compositions.
It is respectfully noted that this discussion of the Committee of Experts of the Music Academy in 2009 seems to have taken no notice of the earlier discussion made in the year 1955, cited above. The 2009 discussion too seems to have completely ignored the fact that the raga Purnasadja as documented by Sangraha Cudamani belonged to Mela 20. Further the analysis of the raga has been done mainly with reference to Hindustani Kapi and the sibling ragas Kanada, Durbar and Karnataka Kapi, without getting in depth into the raga Rudrapriya’s contours on a standalone basis.
For us, the raga name ascribed to “Lavanya Rama” as Rudrapriya by Sri K V Srinivasa Iyengar adds yet another twist to the tale, making us doubt whether the raga of that composition too has been normalized by dropping dhaivatha completely and aligning it to the nominal structure of SRGMNNS/SNPMGRS. Could it have been that “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” and “Lavanya Rama” were in one bucket while “Gananayakam” and “Sri Manini” were in another? One would never know.
Be that as it may, right or wrong, one silver lining in this entire controversy is the final conclusion drawn by the 1955 Music Academy Experts Committee Meeting supra, which for us today resolves the naming convention of the raga found in the compositions so that students of music of today aren’t confused as to the raga and it name in the context of these compositions. Thus, if the scale used is SRGMPDNS/SNPMGRS then it is Rudrapriya and if it is SRGMNNS/SNPMGRS it is Poornasadja, both under Mela 22, notwithstanding the assignment of the raga name as Rudrapriya to “Gananayakam” in the Anubandha to the SSP. Despite this, today we still see Dikshitar’s compositions being called only as Rudrapriya and the Tyagaraja compositions being called as Poornsadjam.
In this blog post I have consciously
avoided discussing the raga Rudrapriya in the context of its allied ragas as
well as its melodic affinity if any to the Northern Kafi. Instead I have
focussed only on the determination or examination of Rudrapriya’s core musical
form as available to us through the SSP.
At this juncture it must be reiterated that
any work of art must always be represented with utmost fidelity to the intent
of the composer, of which we have cognizance based on appropriate facts and
circumstances. In the instant case on hand one therefore ought to conclude
kriti “Gananayakam” ought to be sung as notated in the Anubandha to the
SSP (vide the rendering of Sangita Kalanidhi Dr M L Vasanthakumari) and should
not be normalized to the nominal arohana/avarohana krama given in the main SSP.
There is no need to apply our judgement in this matter in the light of the
proper notation as provided by Subbarama Dikshitar for “Gananayakam” in the
the kriti “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” ought to be sung duly emphasizing the MPNS &
avoiding PDNS in the mandhara stayi and by using only PDNS in the madhya stayi
and SGRS in the tara stayi. Again, there is no need to normalize the prayogas by
replacing the MPNS with the PDNS and rendering the same, based on our defective
belief that ragas must have octaval symmetry or that it can be only of one
Thus, in sum, compositions ought to be
rendered with complete adherence to the composer’s intent as found in the
composition and any transgression from the same ought to be eschewed
completely. Similarly attempting to morph raga lakshanas by standardizing the
svaras/combinations is a pernicious tendency which we must get rid of. Under
the garb of normalization, we have mauled or mutilated the compositions of the
Trinity, which we have repeatedly been seeing this these blog posts. We must
accept and acknowledge that two or more variants of a raga can be there
(musical isomerism) and no harm will be caused by rendering the kriti properly
in accordance with the raga lakshana found therein.
It is sincerely hoped that students as well
as professional performers of our music would respect these aspects as to
lakshya, lakshana and the adherence or fidelity to the laid down lakshana in
the composition are kept in mind, to the best of ability, while learning and rendering
compositions of the great vaggeyakaras.
Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini (Telugu Original 1906) – Tamil edition published by the Madras Music Academy (1961) along with the Anubandha – Pages 556-567 of the 2006 Edition of Vol III and Pages 1359-1361 of the 2006 Edition of Vol V and the English version available online here: Link
Ragalakshana Sangraha – PhD Dissertation of Dr Hema Ramanathan (2004) – Published by Dr Ramanathan – pp 1084 and 1158
Dr V Premalatha – Note on Ghana Naya Desya Ragas – Link
Journal of the Music Academy Madras (2009) – JMA Volume 80 – Editor Pappu Venugopala Rao – pp 103-114
Journal of the Music Academy Madras (1956) -JMA Volume 27 – Editor T V Subba Rao & Dr V Raghavan- pp 27-28
Journal of the Music Academy Madras (1950) -JMA Volume 21– Editor T V Subba Rao & Dr V Raghavan- pp 107-109
The proof of the pudding always lies in eating it. And with that note & on this Vijayadasami Day I present my amateur interpretation of Dikshitar’s “Rudra Kopa Jaatha” duly prefaced with a brief raga vinyasa just to highlight that indeed a very professional and thoroughly delectable presentation of the raga is in the realm of possibility.
I learnt this SSP interpretation from the revered Prof C S Seshadri, a guru of sorts for me. However, all errors and omissions in this rendering are entirely mine and I have also further improvised the version I learnt from him. As can be noticed, in the rendering, my first sangati for a line of lyric will always be completely aligned to the SSP while the second/additional sangatis if any thereafter shall be fully in consonance with the laid down lakshana seen in the composition.
The term ‘bhāṣāṅga’ connoted different meaning at different point of time in the history of Karnāṭaka Music. During the period when the “grāma-mūrcana” system was in use, the term bhāṣāṅga denote the rāga-s that reflect other bhāṣā-s. In other words, this term denote the rāga-s that came from other regions. After the development of “mēla-janya” system, many terms which were used in the “grāma-mūrcana” era were used with a different connotation. Bhāṣāṅgā is one such.
term Bhāṣāṅgā in the post “grāma-mūrcana” era appears first in the treatise “Rāga
lakṣaṇam” appended to Caturdaṇḍīprakāṣikā of Vēṅkaṭamakhī. Author of this small
treatise is uncertain and is attributed to Vēṅkaṭamakhī or Muḍḍu Vēṅkaṭamakhī
by different musicologists. Though the mentioned text mentions this term,
proper definition of this term can be learnt only from Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya
Pradarśini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.
Dīkṣitar in his treatise defines bhāṣāṅgā rāga-s are those that take svarā-s
from other rāgāṅga rāga-s (mēla-s) according to its character.1 This
is referred as anya svara in today’s parlance. Though, this is a commonly
accepted terminology now and used unanimously, this term was used differently
by different musicians in the past. One such example is seen in the book by
Bhatkhande. He interviewed various musicians of the South and one such
prominent musician who registered his views to Bhatkhande was Rāmanāthapuram Śrinivasa
Ayyaṅgār (see Footnote 1). He gives a different percept on these rāga-s. He
says these rāga-s do not confirm with the classification given by the śāstrā-s
completely; have folk influences and are usually named after the region from
where they originate. It will be clear from the above discussion that this
term, though now denote the rāga-s which carry one or two anya svarā-s, was
used conveying varied ideas in the past. Hence, 19th century saw not
only a new platform to exhibit the musical talents of artists, it was also a
watershed period in the pages of modern musicology. This heterogeneity of these
bhāṣāṅgā-s and its implications are addressed to in this post.
many texts published during the last century give us a valid information about
the presence of anya svarā-s in these bhāṣāṅgā-s. Though the series of texts by
K V Śrinivāsa Ayyaṅgār and later by Raṅgarāmānuja Ayyaṅgār clearly mention the
presence of these anya svara-s, they fail to mark these svarā-s in notation. Though,
the rāga lakṣaṇa section describes succinctly about the presence of these anya
svāra-s and the phrases in which they appear, this cannot be considered as a
comprehensive guide to know the real svarūpa of these rāga-s as the notation
lack signs to know their presence or absence. To understand this problem and
its ramifications, let us first look into the treatise by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
and the procedure he followed to introduce these bhāṣāṅgā-s, as this is the
first text to include the symbols for anya svarā-s along with an explanation
for all the rāga-s employed in the treatise.
Saṅgīta Saṃpradāya Pradarśini of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
In this treatise, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has classified the rāga-s into three categories: rāgāṅga rāga-s (which may be considered as an equivalent to mēla-s), upāṅga and bhāṣāṅga rāga-s. Under each rāgāṅga rāga-s, he gives a list of janya-s: upāṅga and bhāṣāṅga rāga-s. He then proceeds to explain each rāga in detail. Under each bhāṣāṅga rāga, its mūrcana, a description about its arterial phrases, anya svarā-s, if present were given. Anya svara-s when present were marked with a symbol, both in the text and notated sections. The readers are requested to pay attention here to observe a valuable finding that anya svarā-s were not given for all bhāṣāṅga-s. To make it simpler, rāga-s like Śrī rañjani, Dēvamanōhari etc., though mentioned as a bhāṣāṅga rāga, no anya svaram can be seen either in the rāga lakṣaṇa section or in the notated section. This discrepancy does not end with this! The lakṣaṇa segment given before each rāga does not necessarily supplement the lakṣaṇa portrayed in the kṛti-s. There is a discrepancy in the occurrence of anya svara-s between the lakṣaṇa section and the lakṣya section. For instance, he considers Saurāṣtram as a bhāṣāṅga janya of Māyāmāḷavagaula and says śuddha dhaivatam occurs in the prayōga-s PDP and PDDP in the lakṣaṇa section. Whereas this is strictly observed in the kṛti Sūryamūrte, in the kṛti Varalakṣmīm the phrase PDP uses both the dhaivatam; PDP with pañcaśruti (catuśruti) is seen at the beginning of the kṛti and the same phrase with śuddha dhaivatam occurs in the beginning of caraṇam of the same kṛti!! Another interesting rāga is Pūrṇacandrika wherein he says the anya svaram kaiṣiki niṣādham can be seen in the phrases PNS and SDNP. Strangely, none of the notated compositions show the presence of this svaram in the mentioned phrases !!
some other bhāṣāṅga-s like Śahāna, same phrase sports svakīya (its default
svara) and anya svara at different occasions. Śahāna is placed under the rāgāṅga
rāga Śri and the preponderant gāndharam, by default is of sādhāraṇa variety.
Antara gāndharam features only in selected phrases. The point here is, a
prescription on the use of antara gāndharam is not clear both in lakṣya and lakṣaṇa
section. For example, the phrase RGMP uses both the gāndhara-s, though at
different locations. How these discrepancies are to be reconciled? Do they have
to be considered as printing errors and be self-corrected or it is an inkling
given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar on the colorful nature of bhāṣāṅga-s ?
Let us revisit the bhāṣāṅga-s mentioned in Pradarśini and try to classify them to make this discussion more comprehensible. There are totally 55 bhāṣāṅga rāga-s mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. The distribution of these rāga-s is not uniform across the rāgāṅga rāga-s. Whereas the rāgāṅga rāga-s like Māyāmāḷavagaula and Śaṅkarābharaṇam are flooded with a multitude of bhāṣāṅga rāga-s, no janya rāga-s can be seen for the rāgāṅga rāga-s like Saurasēna or Kiraṇāvaḷi. In between are the rāgāṅga rāga-s Kanakāmbari and Kāśirāmakriya which have only upāṅga janya-s.
These 55 bhāṣāṅga rāga-s can be classified into three types for easy understanding:
Bhāṣāṅga rāga-s with anya svara marked – Rāga-s like Aṭāṇa, Pūrṇacandrika, Śahāna, etc.,
fall under this category.
Bhāṣāṅga rāga-s with anya svara not marked – Madhyamāvati,
Devamanōhari, Nāyaki, etc., come under this category.
Third category rāga-s are those in which the lakṣaṇa śloka
given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar also mention the presence of anya svara, in
addition to being marked by Dīkṣitar. There are three rāga-s in this category –
Saurāṣtram, Bhairavi, Kāmbhōji.
this preliminary discussion, it can be inferred that, the presence of anya
svara might not have been the single criteria to label a rāga as bhāṣāṅga, with
a special reference to the rāga-s classified as type two. There might have been
some other reasons which is not visible from presently available evidences. This
thought is further supported by the finding that, none of the other treatises,
including Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi, considered to be written around or prior to 18 CE
mention the term bhāṣāṅga rāga-s (excluding the treatise Rāga Lakṣaṇa cited
initially). More importantly, these treatises don’t even mention about the
presence or absence of anya svaram (see Footnote 2). This raises a doubt
whether these anya svara-s are an integral part of the rāga architecture that
is essential to carve a rāga svarūpa or they are like optional entities that
came into practice later.
us proceed further to dissect the other two types to understand the multiple
hues reflected by these bhāṣāṅga-s. We have mentioned earlier that there are
some exceptions, wherein the presence of anya svara in the bhāṣāṅga rāga-s have
been mentioned across the treatises. Only three rāga-s can be located to have
this unique distinction – Saurāṣtram, Bhairavi and Kāmbhōji. The anya svara
featuring in these rāga-s, pañcaśruti (catuśruti) dhaivatam in Saurāṣtram and Bhairavi
and kākali niṣādham in Kāmbhōji were mentioned in the lakṣaṇa śloka-s in the Pradarśini
of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and the Rāga Lakṣaṇa treatise of disputable authorship. Few
references can also be seen in earlier treatises (see Footnote 3).
It can be now inferred that, at least from the period in which Rāga Lakṣaṇa was written (first quarter of 18th century or a 17 century work, if proved to be a work of Vēṅkaṭamakhī), use of anya svaram in these three rāga-s were prevalent. But, in the case of Saurāṣtram, only the presence of pañcaśruti dhaivatam was hinted and not about the other anya svaram kaiśiki niṣādham. So we are left with no clue as on the period from which this came into practice.
us move into the other discrepancy, on the use of these anya svara-s in these bhāṣāṅga-s
especially those belonging to the first type. As mentioned earlier, a lot of
discrepancy is noted in handling these anya svara-s between lakṣya and lakṣaṇa
section in the Pradarśini. As they are noticeable in almost all the bhāṣāṅga-s
placed under type one in our classification, it is better to look in for a tangible rationale prevailed during those old
days rather to repudiate it calling it as printing errors. Analyzing the
notations of all the compositions provided for these rāga-s, it can be
hypothesized that the phrases involving these anya svara-s can be grouped into
Phrases that take only svakīya svara-s
Phrases that take only anya svara-s
Fluid phrases that might take either of these svara-s
depending on the choice of the vaggēyakāra.
This will be explained by taking Śahāna as an example.
Śahāna, as mentioned earlier is considered as a janya of Śri. Hence, sādhāraṇa gāndharam is the svakīya svara (its default svaram) and antara gāndharam becomes anya svaram. It is to be remembered here that Śahāna is now considered as a janya of Harikāmbōji, implying antara gāndharam is the svakīya svaram to be employed and the use of sādhāraṇa gāndharam is not in practice.
the notations given by Subbārama Dīkṣitar were analyzed, the phrases involving
the gāndharam can be placed into the above-mentioned categories:
Phrases that take only svakīya svara (sādhāraṇa) like GG,
Phrases that take only anya svara (antara) like SRGMPDN,
Fluid phrases that take either of these svara-s
depending on the choice of the vaggēyakāra – RGMPM, MGMR
phrases mentioned above are only explanatory and not comprehensive by any means).
So, a vaggēyakāra has an option of using any gāndhara, when he employs the fluid phrases. This hypothesis also help us to dispel the problem in placing a rāga like this under a particular mēla. For example, if a vaggēyakāra uses profuse (or only) sādhāraṇa gāndharam in these fluid phrases and uses antara variety sparsely, this rāga sounds like a janya of Śri. Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar has followed this in his kṛti “vāśi vāśi” which can be heard here.
the other hand, if a vaggēyakāra uses profuse (or only) antara gāndharam in
these fluid phrases and uses sādhāraṇa variety sparsely, this sounds like a
janya of Harikāmbhōji. Perhaps, this could have been followed by Paiḍāla Gurumūrti
Śāstri, as he considers this as a janya of Kāmbhōji in his gītam. Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
was relatively more generous in using these anya svara-s when compared to Rāmasvāmy
Dīkṣitar. We have no idea about the stand of Tyagarāja Svāmigal, as the oldest
notations that give his kṛti-s in notation, written by Vālājāpeṭṭai Vēṅkaṭaramaṇa
Bhāgavatar does not specify the svara sthāna-s.
This versatility of using these anya svara-s give multiple colors to these bhāṣāṅga-s. Also, it can be very well guessed, a rāga could have been handled without using these anya svara-s. Pūrṇacandrika is an example of this type. None of the compositions notated in this rāgam sport the anya svaram kaiṣiki niṣādham though we have a mention about this svaram by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in the lakṣaṇa section of Pūrṇacandrika. This flexibility in handling of these anya svaram is applicable only to selected rāga-s like Pūrṇacandrika or all the bhāṣāṅga is not clear. But, this is a common finding in almost all the rāgamālika-s involving these bhāṣāṅga-s. This heterogeneity and versatility gets multifold when a bhāṣāṅga has more than one anya svara. This is so with the case of Āhiri, which uses all the svara-s sans prati madhyamaṃ. So, a vaggēyakāra can manipulate these rāga-s in his own imitable form to paint multiple colors, in order to serve his need of bringing the bhāva that he wishes. Unfortunately, Āhiri, who was once decorated with a colorful raiment is now seen, always wearing a white sāri. It is also unfortunate to know that the original tunes in these rāga-s were lost forever, as we cannot judge the side taken by the vaggēyakāra when composing in these rāga-s, unless we get a notation as in Pradarśini, which denotes the svara variety too. A detailed discussion about individual bhāṣāṅga-s, anya svara featuring in these rāga-s, the fluid phrases seen, details about them in various musicological texts with an analysis will be covered separately.
findings can also be seen in a book by Popley (see Footnote 4). Several
Christian poems tuned to classical rāga-s can be seen in this book. Several bhāṣāṅga-s
feature there and the anya svara was also marked in notation. This book too
serve to support our hypothesis about these bhāṣāṅga-s, especially those
belonging to type 1. For instance, Bhairavi was handled by him without a trace
of anya svara – catuśruti dhaivatam (the author was well aware of Naṭabhairavi
and has tuned one poem to the latter) !!
to Stephen and Popley, Bhairavi was handled like an upāṅga in the kṛti ‘rāma
lokābhirāma’ of Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya (tuned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar). Whereas this kṛti
totally eschews the phrase NDNS, wherein the anya svara catuśruti dhaivatham
occurs, Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar has used this phrase, eschewing the anya svaram in
the rāgamālika ‘śivamōhana’.
are indebted to Subbarāma Dīkṣitar for giving us, at least the kṛti-s known to
him in notation with a svara and gamaka symbol, as we not only can imagine the structure
of these bhāṣāṅga-s, but also get an idea about the colorful architecture of
Though we were made to believe from the available evidences that the presence of anya svara is a requisite to label a rāga as bhāṣāṅgā, it is clear that this was not the only criteria used in the past. Rāga-s like Śrī rañjani, Madhyamāvati which do not use any anya svara serves as an example to prove this statement. We also have evidences to consider the bhāṣānga-s could have been in use without anya svara. When present, the vaggēyakāra could have had the liberty to use or not to use these anya svara-s. Similarly, there could have flexibility in using svakīya svara or anya svara in a phrase. This versatility makes them colorful which was used to its maximum by a vaggēyakāra. Much more research into this field might prove or disprove this hypothesis.
Foote note 1: Vishnu
Narayan Bhatkhande’s memoirs of south India: “Meri Dakshin Bharat ki
Sangeet Yatra” is a Hindi work recording his experiences with various musicians
of South India flourished during his period. Vidvān Śri Navaneethakrishnan is
into the task of translating this monumental work. This information on bhāgāṅga
rāga-s as given by Rāmanāthapuram Śrinivasa Ayyaṅgār to by Bhatkhande
was gracefully shared to me by the mentioned vidvān.
Treatises like Saṅgraha Cūḍāmaṇi do not even mention about the presence or
absence of anya svara-s. We really do not know this lack of mentioning is due
to ignorance of the author or the lack of usage of these svara-s during their
Śahaji in his treatise Rāga lakṣaṇamu describes saurāṣtram as a rāga that uses śuddha
niṣādham (kvaccitu śuddha niṣādham vaccunu). Dr Hema Ramanathan opines this
could be a reference to the use of pañcaśruti dhaivatham in her
gargantuan work “Rāga Lakṣaṇa Saṅgrahamu”.2
note 4: Stephen
and Popley in the year 1914 published a book containing Christian poems set to
classical rāga-s in notation. The book was published to create an awareness
about Christian truth and spread evangelism to Hindu audiences, says the
author. It is a comprehensive book
containing all the basic information about our system – rāga, tāḷa, gamaka and
notation system. Various poems explaining various fables were set to music. A
wide array of rāga-s were employed involving mēla-s, upāṅga and bhāṣāṅga rāga-s.3
1. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Saṅgītasampradāyapradarśinī (English edition). The Music Academy, Madras, pg 79.
2. Hema Ramanathan (2004) – Rāgalakṣaṇa Saṅgraha (collection of Rāga descriptions) from Treatises on Music of the Mēla Period with translations and notes, 2004.
LI, Popley HA. Handbook of Musical Evangelism. The Methodist Publishing House, 1914.
Let us go to the next segment in this series, on the authority of using prati madhyamam in this rāgam, being a janyam of Māyāmālavagaula. It will not be incongruous if the history of this rāgam is explained, before taking up the main question.
Rāmakali was relatively a popular rāga during 16-17 CE and we can see the treatises like Rāgamañjari of Paṇdarika Viṭṭala, Hṛudayakautuka and Hṛdayaprakāśa of Hṛdayanārāyaṇadeva and Anūpasaṅgītaratnākara of Bhāvabhaṭṭa mentioning about this rāgam. It is a general opinion that these treatises represent the Hindustāni tradition of our Classical music, indicating a rāga with this name was common in the Northern territory.
Circumstantial phrases delineating the rāgam was not given and we are left with a simple description – GPDS NDPGMGRS, credits to Hṛdayanārāyaṇadēva. It is to be remembered here that many of the earlier treatises belonging to16-17 CE do not describe a rāga with illustrative phrases. Hence, we are clueless about the melodic structure of Rāmakali of 16-17 CE excluding the remark that this rāgam drops madhyamam and niṣādam in the ascent and has the above mentioned phrase. In the treatises mentioned, this is considered as a sampūrṇa janyam of a melam, equivalent to our present day Māyāmālavagaula, mēla 15 (See Footnote 1). This rāga was not catalogued by the musicologists of the Southern territory like Gōvinda Dīkṣita, Śāhāji or Tulajā.
Appendix to Caturdaṇdi Prakāśikā, published by Music Academy mention this rāgam. This is mentioned as a dēsīya rāgam and a bhāṣāṅga janyam of Māyāmālavagaula, the mela 15. Subbarāma Dīkśitar further elaborates and illustrate the various phrases used in this rāgam. Hence, a complete picture of this rāgam as we see today in the uruppaḍi-s mentioned is obtained only from Subbarāma Dīkṣitar’s treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī. Here, he gives a hitherto unknown points, that it is customary to use prati madhyamam, also called by the name Pibhās and a rāgam imported from North of this country.
From the above discussion it is clear that Rāmakali was a sampūrṇa rāgam popular in the Northern territory of this country. Description of this rāgam is very scanty in the earlier treatises. As we move down the timeline, we can see this was described by a single phrase GPDS NDPGMGRS. This rāgam was totally unnoticed by the major musicologists of the Southern territory and a complete description of this rāgam is seen for the first time only in the year 1904, credits to Subbarāma Dīkśitar.
Bibhās could have been much more popular rāga than Rāmakali, both in both the territories, North and South. Almost every other book seems to mention this rāgam. When the raga structure with the available phrases were analyzed, there seem to be two Bibhās, one as a janyam of the mēla corresponding to the present day Kāmavardhani, mela 51 and the other one corresponding to the present day mela 15.
Bibhās as a janyam of mela 51
Bibhās aka Bibhāsu aka Vibhās aka Vibhāsa is mentioned in Rāga mañjari and Rāga mālā (both by Paṇḍarīka Viṭṭhala), Saṅgīta Pārijāta, Rāga Tattva Vibhōdha, and Anūpa Saṅgīta Vilāsa. Of these, descriptive elements are seen given in Rāga Tattva Vibhōdha and Saṅgīta Pārijāta. The phrase MGRGRS is stressed in Rāga Tattva Vibhōdha, whereas this is not seen in the description available in Pārijāta. Excluding these small differences, over all visualization of Bibhās is similar in both the treatises. In both the treatises, SRGPDS and the phrases involving GPD were given more prominence. Though DND is seen, the phrase DNS is avoided completely. Needless to say, madhyamam employed here is of tīvra variety and can be called as ‘prati madhyama Bibhās’.
Bibhās as a janyam of mela 15
Texts like Hṛudayakautuka and Hṛdayaprakāśa of Hṛdayanārāyaṇadeva, Rāga lakṣaṇamu of Śāhāji and Saṅgīta Sārāmṛta of Tulajā consider Bibhās as a janya of mēla 15 (śuddha madhyama Bibhās). Considerable difference exist in the descriptions across these treatises to the extent that they deserve an individual treatment. Also, all these treatises give just one or two phrases to illustrate this rāgam.
Bibhās in Hṛudayakautuka, Rāga lakṣaṇamu and Saṣgīta Sārāmṛta has the phrase DNS and is considerably different from the Bibhās seen in the earlier section. Hence, Bibhās mentioned by later lakṣaṇakāra-s like Śāhāji and Tulajā is totally different from the Bibhās prevalent during late 16 CE and early 17 CE (prati madhyama Bibhās).
Bibhās in Hṛdayaprakāśa omits gāndhāram and madhyamam and is different from both the varieties mentioned.
Appendix to Caturdaṇdi Prakāśikā mentions both Rāmakali and Bibhās and places both under the mela 15. Whereas the former was credited with a ślokam and the latter was not even described.
Rāmakali as described in Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī
More descriptive image of this rāgam comes only from Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. As mentioned earlier, despite being a janyam of mela 15, traditionally this uses prati madhyamam says Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. We don’t have adequate evidences from textual or oral tradition either to understand the melodic structure of Rāmakali extant during the days of Subbarāma Dīkśitar nor to compare this Rāmakali with the one described in the treatises. If we consider the single available phrase GPDS NDPGMGRS (refer to the description of Rāmakali mentioned in earlier treatises mentioned elsewhere in this article), GPDS is the recurrent motif seen in all the compositions. We do not find NDPGM; we do find NDPmG at one place where madhyamam occurs more like an anusvaram. Though we are unable to conclusively say that Rāmakali mentioned here is same as the one mentioned by Hṛdayanārāyaṇadēva, we can say at least the phrase given there very well fits into the description given by Hṛdayanārāyaṇadēva.
More importantly, Rāmakali of Dīkṣitar goes very well with the Bibhāsu of the first type (the type employing prati madhyamam), provided we accept the madhyamam as tīvra.
Presumptions from the above discussion
The following presumptions can be made regarding Rāmakali – Bibhās:
Rāmakali is a rāgam of great antiquity and must have been popular in the Northern part of our country as few treatises make a note of this rāgam . It should have been a suddha madhyama rāgam. It is very difficult to understand the melodic structure of this rāgam with the single phrase available. At the same time, there existed Bibhās, almost with a similar structure but featuring prati madhyamam. This should have been much more popular than Rāmakali, as every other treatise make a note of this rāgam. The melodic structure of the prati madhyama Bibhās is almost similar to Rāmakali mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. This prati madhyama Bibhās could have been alluded to in the Rāmakali section by Subbarāma Dīkśitar. It is emphasized here that the Rāmakali and the prati madhyama Bibhās were only mentioned in the treatises treating Hindustāni rāgā-s and the first Karnāṭaka Music text referring these rāga-s is the Anubandham or Appendix to Caturdaṇdi Prakāśikā published by Music Academy. This could have a been period when all the three rāga-s co-existed; Rāmakali, a janyam of mēla 15 and the two Bibhās. It can be hypothesized here, Rāmakali was only practiced in North India and the prati madhyama Bibhās could have been referred as Rāmakali by Vēṅkaṭamakhin in the South (he is specifically mentioned considering the link given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar) in the South. Considering the old nomenclature, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives an additional information that Rāmakali is also called as Bibhās (See Footnote 2). Subbarāma Dīkśitar mentions more than a time that Vēṅkaṭamakhin has authored another text dealing with the rāga lakṣaṇa. If we go by his words, that missing text could have been composed in the second half of 17 CE, the time when majority of the texts mentioning prati madhyama Bibhās were composed. Either Rāmakali or prati madhyama Bibhās or both of them could have been mentioned there. Śuddha madhyama Bibhās could have flourished earlier or more popular than its prati madhyama counterpart in the South. This tradition later continues to Śāhāji and Tulajā wherein they have made a mention only about śuddha madhyama Bibhās. Not all the lakṣaṇa granthā-s are comprehensive in cataloguing the rāga-s prevalent during their time; hence Rāmakali could have been missed by Śāhāji and Tulajā (See Footnote 3). Having seen the history and lakṣaṇa of Rāmakali and its ally Bibhās with its variations, an attempt will be made now to address the question on the use of prati madhyamam in this rāgam. As mentioned, the only evidence of using prati madhyamam comes from Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. The problem in use of this svaram arise not because of this rāgam being considered as a janyam of mēla 15, but only due to lack of a symbol denoting this svaram in the notation provided.
Rāmakali, being a janyam of mela 15 has śuddha madhyamam as a default svaram, and the anya svaram prati madhyamam is to be denoted with a symbol. This is the system followed by Dīkṣitar in his treatise for every other rāgam having an anya svaram. Strangely, despite using a symbol to denote this anya svaram (prati madhyamam) in the section wherein this rāgam is described, the notation system totally lacks this symbol. A question arises on the use of prati madhyamam and we are left with three interpretations – either to use śuddha madhyamam completely as this is a janya of Māyāmālavagaula (which takes only śuddha madhyamam) or to use prati madhyamam alone as he says it is customary to use only prati madhyamam or to use prati madhyamam only in the phrases DMPG, DPMG, MGDPMG and DPMG, as he has inserted the symbol to denote prati madhyamam for these phrases under the section explaining rāga lakṣaṇam.
To get an answer to this question we need to look into two aspects – history of this rāgam and the observations and interpretations we get it by analyzing this same text. History of this rāgam was explained and it will be recalled at a later period. Now, we will look in for the evidences/observations from this text.
This kind of discrepancy between the lakṣaṇa section (section explaining rāga lakṣaṇam) and the lakṣya segment (section giving the kṛti-s in notation) exist at various other places too in this same text at various other places. When a discrepancy is seen between any two segments, for example, difference in the assignment of foreign notes between the lakṣaṇa segment and the lakṣya section, do we have to take it as a printing error (or) considering the painful scrutinizing procedures followed and the various methods adopted to overcome these errors, these are to be taken as the actual ideas of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar himself? (Readers are requested to refer tappōppalu and porabāṭalu section explained elsewhere in this article).
Considering the above discussion, a student who tries to interpret this treatise is thus left with two options – first one is to believe these discrepancies as an inadvertent errors and tries to reconcile the errors with his level of knowledge and understanding. Second one is to accept as it is, confidently believing in Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and his sagacious grasp over the subject. Both the options are acceptable as any research is open to interpretations. For this author, second approach appears to suit well as we are totally blind about the traditions that prevailed in the past, say around 200 years ago, and by following this approach, the individual fancies and inclinations of the researcher are kept to a bare minimum; it is more like an untainted aural reproduction of the visual representation. The second approach is also followed as this author believes the complete text is protected by the two sections mentioned. errors could have crept in, but they are unfathomable to us.
When interpreting the notations given by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, it is not only required to understand the context, but also develop an ability to relate other segments or rāgam-s given in this text. Now, let us go away from Rāmakali for a while and try to understand the lakṣaṇa of the rāga-s Ghanṭa and Sāvēri. Let us see an unseen similarity between these three rāga-s and how this can be used to solve the problem related to the madhyamam. Ghanṭa, now is a bhāṣāṅga janyam of mēla 8 and uses two varieties of ṛṣabham – śuddha and catuśruti (pañcaśruti). Subbarāma Dīkṣitar consider this as an upāṅga janyam of mela 20 and recommends the use of catuśruti ṛṣabham only. He clearly says the use of śuddha ṛṣabham came into practice only after the demise of Vēṅkaṭamakhin. Though he give phrases in the lakṣaṇa section wherein śuddha ṛṣabham is used, he never gives the symbol to denote the use of śuddha ṛṣabham in the notation (lakṣya section). This is exactly similar to Rāmakali, wherein he says only prati madhyamam is used as per the tradition in the lakṣaṇa section but fail to use the symbol for prati madhyamam in notation. This is clearly an indication that this text is filled with many abstruse details and these disparateness cannot be dismissed or neglected as a printing error for the lack of understanding on our side. To understand more, let us see the rāgam Sāvēri. Sāvēri is placed under the mēla 15, as a bhāṣāṅga janyam, implying it takes some anya svaram. Going by the normal rules, this should take antara gāndhāram and kākali niṣādham. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar says the common gāndhāram and niṣādham seen in this rāgam are sādharaṇa and kaiśiki respectively and he will give the symbols only for antara gāndhāram and kākali niṣādham whenever they occur (svagīya svaram or default svaram in this rāgam). This is the only rāgam in the entire treatise, wherein symbols are given for the default svaram (See Footnote 4). This pattern is followed since, if we need to mark the anya svaram in this ragam, namely sādharaṇa gāndhāram and kaiśiki niṣādham, the entire notation will be filled with these symbols as the default antara gāndhāram and kākali niṣādham occur very very rarely. This looks not only cumbersome but also could have been posed difficulties while printing.
Let us go back to Ghanṭā and Rāmakali. Though the discrepancies seen between the lakṣaṇa and lakṣya section is similar in both the rāga-s as pointed out earlier, they are introduced differently by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and this is very vital for understanding any rāgam and employing a particular svaram – dhaivatam and madhyamam respectively in these rāgam. Whereas Ghanṭā is introduced as an upāṅga rāgam, Rāmakali is introduced as a bhāṣāṅga rāgam. If Rāmakali is to be used only with śuddha madhyamam and the use of prati madhyamam was introduced later, he could have tagged it as an upāṅga rāgam like Ghanṭā.
Hence we can surmise, either prati madhyamam alone can be used or a combination of śuddha and prati madhyamam can be used. Rāmakali share similarities with Sāveri and the method adopted for the latter is followed with the former for marking the anya svaram. Though the default svaram is śuddha madhyamam, it was a tradition to use only prati madhyamam is reminded again. If this rāga had both the madhyamam and the anya svaram prati madhyamam is the preponderant svaram, he would have marked the default svaram śuddha madhyamam with a symbol and given us a note (compare this with Sāvēri). But this rāgam, unlike Sāvēri, does not use its svagīya svaram – śuddha madhyamam and hence he didn’t mark madhyamam with any symbol in the lakṣya section allowing us to interpret this rāgam can be/to be sung with prati madhyamam only.
This finding can now be related with the history of this rāgam. We have seen Rāmakali was popular in the North and being recorded only in few treatises, indicate its limited popularity. We have also seen that the Rāmakali given in Sangīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī resembles more like prati madhyama Bibhās. This Bibhās could have been called as Rāmakali in the South. So, the Rāmakali of the North, a śuddha madhyamam rāgam, though similar to prati madhyama Bibhās, is different from the Rāmakali mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. The Rāmakali described by Subbarāma Dikṣitar is similar or could have been the same as the prati madhyama Bibhās. Hence, Subbarāma Dīkṣitar gives a disclaimer it is customary to sing this with prati madhyamam.
Now an explanation is invited for placing this rāgam under mēla 15. No conclusive explanations can be given until we get the treatise referred by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. However, this can be a rāgam similar to Dhanyāsi, getting allocated to a different mēla than where it ought to be.
Rāgamālika passages in the anubandham of Sangīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī
Apart from the kṛti discussed, we see this rāgam in two rāgamālika-s, “sāmaja gamana” and “nātakādi vidyāla” composed by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar. We face a different problem with the Rāmakali lakṣya in these rāgamālika passages. In both the rāgamālika segments, prati madhyamam symbol is inserted, but at only one place.
Rāmakali passage in the rāgamālika “nātakādi vidyāla”
This rāgam comes at the end of this composition. Madhyamam is utilized in the following phrases – DPMG,DPPMG, MGPD and GMGRS. First phrase is the most common of all. The madhyamam in all these phrases are of śuddha variety only. Prati madhyamam is seen once in the phrase DPMG. Interestingly, we see a new phrase SNSRS. This phrase SNS is not at all seen in the uruppaḍi-s featured under Rāmakali section. Also, the glide from avarōhaṇam to ārōhaṇam is always through the phrase DPMG in this rāgamālika. Phrases like PDM DMPG were not used (which are there in the Rāmakali section given in the main text). Now, can we hypothesize the Rāmakali seen in this rāgamālika is different from the Rāmakali described in the main text? If that is so, can this be the Rāmakali of the North, a janya of mēla 15 ?
We have seen before the Rāmakali of the North much resembles the prati madhyama Bibhās except in having a śuddha madhyamam (as a dominant svaram). So, the difference between these two rāga-s could have been the presence of the phrase SNS and the absence of the phrases PDM and DMPG in the Rāmakali of the North. This Rāmakali might also have had prati madhyamam as an anya svaram. To distinguish this Rāmakali (of North) from another Rāmakali (prati madhyama Bibhās), Subbarāma Dīkṣitar might have given an additional information that the Rāmakali given by him is also called as Bibhās. This hypothesis can be confirmed only if we get the text referred by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar or any other treatise or references taking us to the period between 16-17 CE.
Rāmakali passage in the rāgamālika “sāmaja gamana”
Rāmakali passage in this rāgamālika is very short to make any conclusions. The passage starts with the phrase MGGP, where the madhyamam is of tīvra variety. Madhyamam occur in two other phrases – DPMG and DPPMG, wherein it is of śuddha variety.
Though the phrase SNS is not seen, DPMG is the only linking phrase between avarōhaṇam and ārōhaṇam is to be noted.
With the present level of understanding, these are recondite findings and we need to search for more evidence.
But, Rāmakali employing only prati madhyamam can be very well applied for the kṛti “rāma rāma kali kaluṣa” as both the laskṣaṇa segment and this kṛti was authored by Subbarāma Dīkśitar. Regarding the use of prati madhyamam in the rāgam Rāmakali before the time of Subbarāma Dikṣitar and our hypothesis, we allow the readers to make their own interpretations and this post will be updated, if any valuable evidence surface out.
Regarding the use of prati madhyamam, though we cannot say about the system that was in existence before the period of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, it can be clearly inferred that Subbarāma Dīkṣitar must have had some authentic references to use only prati madhyamam and he must have used the same in his kṛti “rāma rāma kali kaluṣa”. We also hypothesized the Rāmakali handled by Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar could have been Rāmakali of the North and differs from the Rāmakali mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in the main text.
This kṛti rendered with only prati madhyamam can be heard here.
From the days of Rāmamāṭya (or Vidhyāraṇyā), mēla system is in use and the number of mēlā-s vary across the treatise. Also varies the name of the head representing each clan. Hence, in this post, whenever the older mēla-s are mentioned, they are not mentioned by their names or number, but are just equated with the present mēlakarta number for easier understanding.
Subbarāma Dīkṣitar mentions Vēṅkaṭamakhin authored a separate text on rāga lakṣaṇam. We have no clue about that work and musicologists are of the opinion that the Anubandham to Caturdanḍi Prakāśikā might be the work, as it contains the same rāga lakṣaṇa śloka-s mentioned by Dīkśitar in his treatise. Also, they believe Dīkśitar could have referred to Muddu Vēṅkaṭamakhin, a descendant of Vēṅkaṭamakhin whenever he mentions about a text on rāga lakśaṇam. This author has a different opinion and follows the idea of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar; will be uploaded as a separate post.
Not all the treatises are comprehensive in cataloguing the rāga-s of their period. We do have evidence that the rāga-s like Bēgaḍa, Aṭāṇa and Suraṭi were used by Śāhāji; but they are not mentioned in his treatise !!
When a rāgam takes a svaram which is foreign to its parent scale, that foreign svaram is considered as ‘anya’. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, always mentions this anya svaram with a symbol. Only for the rāgam Sāvēri, the svara-s inherent to that rāgam are denoted with a symbol.
Tanjāvūr during 16-19 CE saw an influx of exotic rāgā-s from North and the other parts of this country. The rāgā-s which had their origin somewhere else and absorbed into our system of music are called as dēśīya rāga-s and one such dēśīya rāgam to be discussed here is Rāmakali.
Today, Rāmakali is survived only with a single kṛti “rāma rāma kali kaluṣa” and a small passage in the rāgamālika-s “sāmaja gamana” and “nāṭakādi vidyāla” composed by Rāmasvāmy Dīkśitar. It is believed Muddusvāmy Dīkśitar was the first composer to employ these dēśīya rāga-s due to his stay in Kāśi. In reality, this composer eclipsed the achievements of his father Rāmasvāmy Dīkśitar. The latter is to be credited for using these rāga-s for the first time in our music. One can find plenty of rāga-s rāgā-s like Rāmakali, Hamvīr, Māruva, in his compositions. Though we find gītam-s in the rāga-s like Hamvīr and Māruva which can be dated to the period of Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar or slightly anterior to him, credits for including them in a kṛti must go only to Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar.
A discussion on Rāmakali gains importance due to its elusive description across the treatises, disputable authorship of the only kṛti available and the authority of using prati madhyamamm in this rāgam. This post tries to address these issues.
“Rāma rāma kali kaluṣa” and its disputable authorship
Rāmakali owes its gratitude to the family of Dīkṣitar, as Rāmasvāmy Dīkṣitar and one of his successor gave a commendable shape to this rāgam. Going by the textual history, the first text to record this kṛti is Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Disputes on the authorship raised when this kṛti was included under Rāma navāvarṇa or Rāma vibhakti set of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar in the texts published in the latter half of the last century. Interestingly, this kṛti has the mudra ‘guruguha’ and the rāga mudra ‘Rāmakali’ in the first line itself. These mudra-s along with the language in which this kṛti was composed, perhaps made the musicians to attribute this composition to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Today, excluding Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī, no other evidence exist to proclaim that this is a kṛti of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.
Let us take two set of evidences to fix the author of this kṛti: the first are those evidences that might have helped the musicians to attribute this kṛti to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and the second are those from the treatise Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī itself.
Evidences that helped in assigning the authorship to Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar
Vāggeyakārā-s in our music sign their composition with an insignia and Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar used the śabdam ‘guruguha’. Though, it is a routine to see his compositions with this signature, we do have a couple of genuine compositions which do not feature this mudra. Contrarily, we also see some other vāggeyakārā-s using this signature. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar and his son Ambi Dīkṣitar fall under this category. Out of 33 compositions of Subbarāma Dīkśitar, 10 has this mudra. The mudrā ‘guruguha’ was not only adopted by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar, but also by some of his family members is to be learnt.
It is the practice of Muddusvāmy Dīkśitar to lace the sāhityam with a rāga mudrā. This was followed by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar too, though not in all of his compositions. Punnāgagāndhārī in the Nāgagāndhārī kṛti can be cited as an example.
Language of the composition
Though Muddusvāmy Dīkśitar has primarily composed in Sanskrit, we have two of his compositions in Telugu. The reverse suits for Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, though we have only one Sanskrit composition of Subbarāma Dīksitar, Śaṅkarācāryam in Śaṅkarābharaṇam
It is clear from the above discussion that based on mudra-s or the language used in a composition, authorship of this kṛti cannot be ascertained.
Evidences from Saṅgīta Sampradāya Pradarśinī
Author mentioned by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar
Being the author of this text, his words have the final say in arriving at a conclusion. Let us analyze this text in detail before proceeding further. Authorship of any particular composition is mentioned at two places in this treatise. First time in the beginning of this book as a table enlisting all the compositions in alphabetical order. Here, he marks the compositions of all the composers, except that of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar by a star symbol. It implies any kṛti without this symbol can be taken as a composition of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Second time it is mentioned under the respective rāga section when a kṛti is given in notation.
Under the Rāmakali rāgam, “rāma rāma kali kaluṣha” is the only one notated kṛti and the author is mentioned as Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. This kṛti is also enlisted in the initial list mentioned above and here, no star symbol is given. Can this kṛti be taken as that of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar?
It is always to be remembered that this text was written by an astute musician and musicologist, whose thoughts were always clear, unbiased and genuine and it is up to the researcher to interpret, from the material available. Hence, this text opens up a discussion at multiple layers and results in more than an opinion several times. Many times, it requires a careful study of an entire segment under consideration and if necessary, other parts of this text and/or older treatises to get a solution for the question in hand.
Subbarāma Dīkṣitar has taken efforts to avoid mistakes, advertently or inadvertently to the best of his abilities. He must have scrutinized the manuscript and corrected the errors more than once before the publication of this text. Resultant errors or the errors which cannot be corrected are taken note by giving two sections ‘tappōppalu’ and ‘porabātalu’. Whereas the first section deals with a mistake and its corresponding correction that has to be applied, the second section deals with the ways by which a mistake, that has crept in even after unfeigned preparation of the manuscript can be identified and negotiated.
Hence, to decide the authorship we need to analyze the list, Rāmakali section and the section ‘tappōppalu’. Now, we have contradictory findings between the segments: the list mention this kṛti as a composition of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar by not having the star symbol and in the segment under the rāgam Rāmakali, this is mentioned as a work of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Either list or the text under Rāmakali must suffer from a printing error and it is up to us to identify the same.
When the list was carefully analyzed, one another finding glare us. A kṛti in Kāpi ‘raṅgapate’, also lacks this symbol and this too to be taken as a composition of Muddusvāmy Dīkśitar if we consider the symbol identification system followed by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. We know this is a composition of Mārgadarśi Śeśayyaṅgār, a pre trinity composer and similar to “rāma rāma kali kaluṣha”, the authorship gets corrected to Śeśayyaṅgār under the Kāpi section. This denotes the list given in the beginning is not free of mistakes. Also the section ‘tappōppalu’ covers the main text only and does not include the list. This is evident as we don’t find any corrections (‘tappōppalu’) for the content printed in this list.
All sort of corrections can be seen in the segment ‘tappōppalu’. Corrections pertaining to the use of a particular svaram or its variety, use of gamakam, errors in the sāhityam and the errors pertaining to authorship of a kṛti. For instance, author of the kṛti Śri dakśiṇāmūrtim in the rāgam Phēnadyuti is given as Subbarāma Dīkṣitar under the rāgam section; this is corrected as Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar in the section ‘tappōppalu’. Hence it, is advised to see this section before interpreting a composition given under the respective rāga section. We can consider the content given under Rāmakali section completely reflects the idea of Dīkṣitar as no changes / corrections were given for the entire segment. Relying only the main text after superimposing with ‘tappōppalu’ section, as followed here is recommended as it might help solving many debatable issues.
Apart from using rāga and ‘guruguha’ mudra, the composing style of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar resembles that of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar in some other aspects too. We can see madhyama kāla passages almost in all the kṛti-s and svara passages in many kṛti-s. Some of the kṛti-s were also composed in the pallavi – anupallavi format.
The kṛti “rāma rāma kali kaluṣha” is composed in the pallavi-anupallavi format with a svara segment. This also has a madhyama kāla sāhityam. Though, at the outset the compositional style is much similar, significant difference can be seen in the pattern used in the svara segment. Before going to the Rāmakali svara segment, svara section in Māruva is explained as we have a composition by both of the composers in this rāgam.
Māruva is a bhāṣāṅga janyam of Māyamālavagaula. Both the kṛti-s Māruvakādi mālini of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar and Ēmamma of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar are composed in the pallavi-anupallavi-svaram format. Both have madhyamakāla sāhityam and both are set to ādi tāḷam.
The svara patterns used by these composers can be easily understood from this table.
For both the kṛti-s, tāḷam is divided as 16+8+8 accounting for laghu + drutam + drutam. This svara segment run for two āvartanam.
Segment in ādi tāḷaṃ
First 8 segment
Second 8 segment
First 8 segment
Second 8 segment
When we compare the svara patterns in these two kṛti-s, symmetrical svara pattern, profuse use of laghu svara-s are more seen in ēmamma. Also attractive patterns like MGRsRND MGRsRGM are seen (small case indicates elongation of that particular svaram as a kārvai).
Attractive svara patterns are seen in almost all the kṛti-s of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar. Few examples that can cited are DdDPMG, MmPMGR, GgMGRS in the Nādarāmakriyā kṛti of Kṛṣṇasvāmy Ayya (tuned by Subbarāma Dīkśitar) and PmMgGrRs, RmMgGrRSR in a daru in Naṭanārāyaṇi. Contrastingly, complicated laya patterns are more common and is very rare to find rhythmic pattern in the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar.
The number 4 and 8 are also handled differently by these composers:
In the kṛti “māruvakādi mālini”, 8 is split as 2+1+2+2+1 in the first āvartanam and 1+1+1+2+1+1+1 in the second āvartanam. Whereas in the kṛti ēmamma, it is split as 1+1+1+1 x 2 in the first and 1+1+1+2+1+1+1 in the second āvartanam. 4s are always treated as 1+1+1+1 by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar in this kṛti (See Footnote 1).
These patterns can be easily discerned from the audio links.
The kriti “māruvakādi mālini” can be heard in full here.
Having seen the basic pattern handled by these two composers, let us now compare these passages with the svara passage seen in the Rāmakali kṛti.
Svara passage seen in the kṛti “rāma rāma kali kaluṣa”
This is set to rūpaka tāḷam and has two āvartanam. 4 complete tāla cycles makes one āvartanam. Rūpaka tāḷam is reckoned as drutam + laghu, the way by which we render a rūpaka tāḷa alaṅkāram. This is divided as 4+8 units in each tāḷa cycle so that the count becomes 12. We see the following svara arrangement:
Tala cycle 1
(3+1) + (4+4)
Tala cycle 2
(2+2) + (2+2+2+2)
Tala cycle 3
(4) + (2+2+2+2)
Tala cycle 4
(2+2) + (2+2+4)
Tala cycle 1
(2+2) + (2+2+4)
Tala cycle 2
(2+2) + (2+2+4)
Tala cycle 3
(2+2) + (2+4+2)
Tala cycle 4
(2+2) + (4+4)
Svara segment in the kṛti “rāma rāma kali kaluṣa”
We can see an overall symmetry and use of lot of laghu svarā-s and a svara pattern arranged in even numbers. The first āvartanam itself is weaved with a beautiful pattern. Taken together, this svara segment resemble the svara pattern seen in the kṛti-s of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.
Svara segment in the kṛti “rāma rāma kali kaluṣa”
The most common tāḷam handled by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar is rūpakam followed by tisra ēkam. When his compositions, other than varṇā-s are taken into consideration, rūpaka tāḷa compositions outnumber others. 6 out of 12 were in rūpaka tāḷam. Among his nine rāgamālika-s, five were in rūpakam. It is reminded here, “rāma rāma kali kaluṣa” is also set to the tālam rūpakam !!
A careful analysis of this text, patterns observed in the svara segment and this kṛti being set in rūpaka tāḷam make us to consider Subbarāma Dīkṣitar could have composed this kṛti.
Note on the method of rendering the kṛti “rāma rāma kali kaluṣha”
Various renditions of this kṛti are easily available in various public domains. We frequently hear this kṛti rendered in Hindustāni style, perhaps due to the roots of this rāgam in the Hindustāni syatem and a popular belief that it was composed by Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Having revisited these thoughts and arriving at a conclusion which is contrary to the belief, at least, few of us will be interested to know the rāgam as conceptualized by Subbarāma Dīkśitar. Analysis of the notations reveal, almost all the variety of gamaka-s were used – kaṃpitam, nokku, ōrika and jāru. The preponderance of jāru is not seen, making us to believe this can be sung in our style. Also, no instruction regarding the style for this kṛti was attached. Subbarāma Dīkṣitar, being precise in his views would have mentioned the same if his intent was to render it in Hindustāni style . Hence, a humble attempt was made to render this composition in our style.
Research in any field allows multiple interpretations and every researcher is allowed to put forward his findings for the growth of any field. These views are not proposed to controvert with the prevalent notions; rather to give a different interpretation based on the available evidences.
We started with two queries – disputes regarding the author of the kṛti “rāma rāma kali kaluṣa” and the authority of using prati madhyamam in the rāgam Rāmakali.
Available evidences make us to believe this kṛti was composed by Subbarāma Dīkṣitar.
In general, we can find 1+2+1, 2+1+1 or 1+1+2 pattern more commonly than all laghu svarā-s while handling 4s in the kṛti-s of Muddusvāmy Dīkṣitar. Odd numbers are commonly used giving them a complicated and asymmetric appearance. We do have few kṛti-s wherein the pattern is simple, like the one we see in the kṛti śrī mātaḥ in Bēgaḍā; they are only exceptions. On the other kind, kṛti-s of Subbarāma Dīkṣitar are flooded with all 4 laghu svarā-s and most of the svara passages sound simple.