Thursday, April 5, 2012

Sankarabharanam; raga that resembles Western music

Sankarabharanam is a join of ‘Sankara’ plus ‘Abharanam’ which literally means the ornaments of Lord Siva. Each ‘Swara’ denotes the ornaments ‘Sarpa’, ‘Rudraksha’, ‘Ganga’,’Mruga’, ‘Pushpa’, ‘Damaruka’ and ‘Nishkara’. At one time, if it brings the powerful mood of greatness, the next time Raga Sankarabharanam can elaborate a particular situation. This raga is related to several music systems of the world and so, the seven swaras of this raga resemble the seven notes of Western music.
The Arohana and Avarohana of this 29th Melakartha is:

S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N2 S
S N2 D2 P M1 G2 R2 S

Raga Sankarabharanam has several janya ragas in which Bilahari, Aarabhi, Durbar and Begada are four among them. ‘Swara raga sudha’ by Sri Thyagaraja Swamigal is a pageant creation which elaborates the beauty of ‘swara’ and ‘raga’ and ensures mind that it’s a great way to get emancipated worshipping God along-with music. 


This majestic composition also points out that Sri Thyagaraja was aware of the secrets of the treatise “Svararnava” which Lord Siva has explained to Parvati. 

Muthuswami Diskhitar has composed around 40 songs in Sankarabharanam. ShyamaShastri's "Sarojadala netri himagiri putri" is often chosen by Carnatic Vidwans to perform “niravals”. ‘Vara leela gana lola’ is another lilting composition of Thyagaraja in raga Sankarabharanam. Sri Unnikrishnan has vocalized this song in the album “Scintillating Experience” in his boy-like voice that makes merry in the hearts.

Again, the most esteemed and humble Smt.M.S.Subbulakshmi’s ‘Swara raga sudha’ is another example of her devotion to Carnatic music. 

The English hymn “May the lord forgive our sins” composed by Sri C. Rajagopalachari got life and classical touch when she sung it in U.N.Concert in 1966 in the majestic raga Sankarabharanam equivalent to C Major in Western music.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Vasantha; raga of spring

As the name suggests, Vasantha(spring) raga brings spring to our minds. Get rid of fear, gloominess, sorrows, worries and enjoy the elegance by listening to this raga. This is another evening raga usually sung in auspicious occasions. It is said that Vasantha is an old raga that existed about 1000 years ago. Derived from the 17th Mela Suryakantham, this raga is best suited for describing a particular thing or situation lavishly. The Arohana and Avarohana of Vasantha is

S M G2 M D1 N2 S
S N2 D1 M G2 R S

There are several compositions being sung in Vasantha. Sitamma Mayamma and Etla Dorikithivo are two eminent compositions of Sri Thyagaraja. The lyrical aspects of the song “Sitamma Mayamma” seems to be highly related to his own family. His mother’s name was Sitamma and father’s name was Ramabrahmam. Sri Thyagaraja rejoices himself in devotion to Lord Rama singing “Sita is my own mother and Rama is my own father.
Anjaneya (Vaatatmaja), Lakshmana (Saumitri), Garuda (Vainateya), Satrugna (Ripumardhana), Jambavaan (Dhaata), Bharata and others are my brothers. O Mind!”

If Muthuswami Dikshitar's "Maragathalingam", "Brihadambikayai" and "Hariharaputram" are verbally rich, Papanasam Sivan's "Maal Maruga" and "Maa Dayai" are all invaluable compositions in this refreshing and rejoicing raga. Gopalakrishna Bharati’s “Natanam adinar” is often a dancer’s selective for the performance. “Paramapurusha jagadeeswara” by Swathi thirunal is another exemplary piece in raga Vasantha.

The nightingale Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi’s vibrant singing of “Seethamma Mayamma” unknowingly brings spring to everyone’s minds.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Khamas; raga of patriotic love

Khamas is termed a ‘desiya’ raga which is perfect to accord patriotic songs. It is also a ‘Rakti’ raga as it enables minds to engage joyfully, bringing tenderness and to rejoice. The Arohana and Avarohana of this raga is 

S M G2 M P D1 N1 S
S N1 D1 P M G2 R1 S

Derived from the 28th Mela Harikamboji, this raga’s characteristic phrase ‘S M G2 M’ is what makes it a raga of rejoice. The swarajati set in this raga is “Sambhasivayanave”.

The popular composition “Brocheva revarura” of Sri Mysore Vasudevacharyar fondle everyone with its cool and heartfelt bends in the ascending and descending modes. This immortal song illustrates the several wishes and desires that need to be granted with the blessings of Lord Rama. The several titles used to describe Sri Rama are highly enchanting and spellbinding. 

Oh! Descendent of Raghu…treasure of mercy…..lord of Sita……

Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi has rendered ‘Brocheva revarura’ in her nectarous voice.

Several compositions exist in raga Khamas. Sri Thyagaraja’s ‘Sita pati na manasuna’ is another creative song which treats Lord Rama’s words as his final doctrine.  The words “Why do you fear anything in this world?” were uttered by Sri Rama to Sri Anjaneya.  Anjaneya was a true devotee of Lord Rama who loved to do anything for him.

‘Jayati jayati Bharatha Matha’ by Sri Mayuram Viswanatha Sastri is a patriotic song in Sanskrit that elicits the pure and sincere love that every Indian has to his mother nation.

The great patron of Carnatic music, Sri G.N. Balasubrahmaniam popularized this song which was broadcast by All India Radio on India’s first Independence Day. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Bilahari; Raga of bravery

This raga brings a mood to behave bravely. At the same time, it can be heart-touching; inspire the listeners to do something courageously for a noble cause.  Usually rendered during the half part of a concert, raga Bilahari derived from 29th Mela Sankarabharanam, resembles the ragas Mohanam, Mohanakalyani and Garudadhwani. The Arohana and Avarohana of this melody is

S R1 G2 P D1 S
S N2 D1 P M G2 R1 S

Arohana is similar to that of raga Mohanam. The usage of the external note ‘kaisiki’ Nishadam(N1) in the Avarohana  makes raga Bilahari a Bhashanga ragam. This note is not included in the parent scale. It is also a morning raga.
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If the famous swarajathi in the raga Bilahari “Ra ra Venu Gopabala” can make you ecstatic, another majestic composition “Paridana michi deva” can give you a soulful satisfaction. There are several compositions set in this raga and “Doraguna ithuvanti seva” is the immaculate one of Sri Thyagaraja. Here Sri Thyagaraja Swamigal asks Lord Vishnu, the Supreme of Gods, whether he has been blessed to serve him. Also he pleads the Lord to show him the way of liberation to climb and reach his lotus feet.

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 ‘Kamakshi Varalakshmi’ composition by Sri Muthuswami Dikshitar is a splendid one devoted to Goddess Lakshmi. The great legend of Carnatic music, Smt. D.K.Pattammal has vocalized this song in her much strong deep voice. ‘Kanukontini’ by Sri Thyagaraja sung by Sri T.N. Seshagopal and ‘Paridanamichite’ by Sri Patnam Subrahmania Iyer sung by Sri T.M.Krishna are great repertoire in the raga Bilahari.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Arabhi; raga to begin a concert

Arabhi, usually sung in auspicious occasions, is a mild raga that remains close to the hearts once heard. Sung in the beginning of a concert, this raga is best for elaborating ‘tanam’. The Arohana and Avarohana of this raga is 

S R1 M P D1 S
S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R1 S
Born from 29th Mela Sankarabharanam, this raga resemble closely to Syama and Devagandhari. In Tamil Music raga Arabhi is known as Pazham takka ragam. ‘Re re Sri Rama Chandra’  is a popular geetham of this raga.

The 3rd of Pancharatna Kritis(five gems of compositions) , Sadinchanae by Sri Thyagaraja Swamigal is set in Arabhi raga. In this gem, Sri Thyagaraja compares God Sri Krishna to that of an opportunist. Though Devaki and Vasudeva gave birth to him, they were not given the opportunity to pamper and bring up Lord Krishna. Yashoda also is going to be disappointed with the mischievous smile he has for her, when he would separate from her. Gopikas also were cheated. Despite these facts, Saint Thyagaraja ascertains that the Lord has not done anything wrong with him as he has overjoyed himself keeping him in his memory and heart.

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Maragada mani song is a touching one of Smt. Aruna Sairam in Arabhi raga.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Kalyani; raga for auspicious occasions

Kalyani is a complete, emotional and mild raga that has all the classical style incorporated into it. Kalyani is the name of a woman who is believed to be the cause for auspicious and divine occasions. Being the 65th Melakartha, this raga is mostly chosen for the main 'kriti' to elaborate on a concert. The arohana and avarohana of this raga is:

S R1 G2 M1 P D1 N2 S
S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R1 S

"Prathimadhyamam' is the main characteristic of Kalyani that differentiates it from others. There are several ragas born from this Melakartha. Hamir Kalyani, Yamuna Kalyani, Mohana Kalyani and Saranga are popular 'janyams'.

Enumerable compositions have been created in Kalyani which reveals its significance in Carnatic music. Here too, Thyagaraja Swamigal has showcased his creative talent of praising Lord Rama. Once the King of Thanjavur invited Thyagaraja to his court to sing praising him. Soon Thyagaraja vocalized the song 'Nidhichala Sukhama' in which he asked Lord Rama whether possessing wealth would give him pleasure or to be in the presence of his God would give him great pleasure. The emphasis on spiritual life rather than leading a wealthy worldly life is depicted very well in this song of raga Kalyani. 


Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi has rendered this song in the festival of India held at Moscow in 1987. There was an overwhelming response from the audience on her elaboration of raga Kalyani. 'Ethavunara' is another popular composition of  Thyagaraja in this raga.

'Enaduyir Nee Muruga' Tamil song was sung by Smt. Aruna Sairam in Kalyani during Margazhi Maha Utsavam 2007 held in Chennai. She not only enjoyed herself singing it, but also could entertain the audience in her usual lively style.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Kamboji; raga of kindness, humor, beauty and love

Kamboji raga can be best described as the soul of Carnatic music as it incorporates most of the sentiments of life. Evening time best describe this raga of ‘sarva gamaka’. ‘Ragalapana’ or elaboration of the tune brings tenderness and spiritual enlightenment. The Arohana and Avarohana of Kamboji is 

S R1 G3 M P D1 S
S N3 D1 P M G3 R1 S

Born from 28th Mela Harikamboji, this raga is apt for featuring the beauty of a maid. ‘Mandara dharare’ is the geetham in Kamboji. ‘Sarasijanabha’ by Swathi Thirunal is a popular varnam sung by many artists.


Thyagaraja Swamigal is supposed to be the ardent lover and appreciator of Lord Rama. But in ‘Maa Janaki’ he gives the entire credit to Seetha saying that Rama became famous because of her. This aesthetic composition in Kamboji beautifies Seetha pointing to each and every aspect of the ideal life she led.  Vijay Siva, in his soothing voice, sang ‘Maa Janaki’ in Margazhi Maha Utsavam 2010 and created an ethereal world of contentment.

‘Evari Mata’ is another composition by Thyagara which the duo Smt. M.S. Subbulakshmi and the great contributor to Carnatic music, Sri Shemmangudi Srinivasa Iyer sang. As usual, the great maestro of Carnatic music, Sri T.V. Sankaranarayanan also has showcased his brilliant ragalapana and kalpanaswaram in ‘Lambodharam Bhavaye’ by Tulasivanam.