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October 8th, 2010 is the first day of Navaratri of this year. Navaratri signifies the conquest of the evil by the good.  In the old Mysore region of Karnataka,  Navaratri has been celebrated as a state festival for several centuries. Things such as the doll displays at homes, and  music concerts at temples make this festival make it more of a celebration than a mere ritual.

Thiruvananthapuram is another  city known for it’s special celebration of Navaratri. The  music festival at the Navartri Mandapam, next to the Padmanabhaswamy temple is unique, for its adherence to some traditional practices such as lighting up the place only with traditional oil lamps. During this festival, each night one composition from the Navaratri Kriti series of Maharaja Swathi Tirunal is rendered as the main item in the concert here at Navaratri Mandapam.

The kriti sung during the concert on first day of Navaratri at Navaratri Mandapam is “dEvi jagajjanani” in Shankarabharana rAga. Listen to this composition here:

Since various forms of dEvi are worshipped during Navaratri, listening to a composition or two that praise some form of dEvi each day, and writing a few lines about it during this Navaratri would not be a bad idea. So, here I go!

For the first day, my choice is Tyagaraja’s composition in Kalyani, “Sundari nee divya roopamunu”. Tyagaraja lived in Tiruvayyaru, near Tanjavoor in central part of today’s Tamizh Nadu. He visited Chennapattanam (today’s Chennai) on his desciple Veena Kuppaiyars invitation. During his stay at Chennapattinam, he visited the shrine of Tripurasundari at Tiruvottriyur (now in the northern part of Chennai). Tyagaraja composed five compositions on Goddess Tripurasundari at this shrine, which go by the name ‘Tiruvottriyur Pancharatna’.  This Kalyani composition is one of this set.

Goddess Tripura Sundari

Image source : )

Kalyani raga came into Karnataka sangeetha sometime during early 15th century, but somehow it did not make it’s deep mark felt for quite sometime. Haridasas of Karnataka (~1400 - ~1600 AD) have mentioned Kalyani raga by name in their compositions. However lakshanakAra Venkatamakhi (~1650 AD) says Kalyani is not fit for composing geeta or thaaya and says the rAga is liked by “Turushka”s indicating it’s relation with uttaraadi and Persian music.

However Kalyani took firm roots in Karnataka sangeetha and became the darling of many composers of later days. Tyagaraja has composed more than 30 kritis in Kalyani, of which Sundari nee is a very fine specimen. The composition is set to Adi tAla, and the sAhitya is in Telugu. Tyagaraja compares his opportunity to see Goddess Tripurasundari to a poor and distraught man begetting a fortune.

Now for a fabulous rendition of this composition, by none other than the mastero Balamuralikrishna:

Tomorrow, hopefully I’ll be back with some ramble about another composition!


Whoever named raaga Hamsadhwani probably did not pay attention to the facts that Swans do not have an attractive voice! Take a look at the following videos to hear how exactly swans sound! Not very melodious!

But one good thing about raga Hamsadhwani is that unlike many ragas, its history can be traced quite accurately.

Ramaswamy Dikshita (1735AD-1817AD), father of Muttuswamy Dikshita is credited with the creation of this pentatonic raaga. However, this may be partly true. The Ragalakshana appendix to Chaturdandi Prakashike mentions Hamsadwani. Although the main text of Chaturdandi was composed by Venkatamakhi (~1650 AD), the Ragalakshana appendix was added by is grand-nephew Muddu Venkatamuchi couple of generations after Venkatamakhi.  He describes Hamsadwhani as a pentatonic raga, born of Shankarabharana mEla omitting ma and da. (S R G P N S  – S N P G R S). The current form of Hamsadwani is exactly the same.

This brings the time when Hamsadhwani first appeared around the beginning of 18th century. It is likely that Ramaswamy Dikshita was one of the early composers who popularized it, and hence the credit that goes in his name.I wonder why it took as late as 18th century to come up with this very attractive pentatonic scale. However, once it became popular, there was no going back!

18th century composers Tyagaraja and Muttuswamy Dikshita, each comosed two compositions in this raga.  It can be safely said that the composition Vatapi Ganapatim Bhajesham of Muttuswamy Dikshita is the most famous composition in this raga. Listen to Dr M.Balamuralikrishna singing this compositon.

With this composition, Hamsadhwani raga became a natural associate of Ganapati, and there are a number of nice compositions in this raga with Ganapati as the theme.  Vandenishamaham of Mysore Vasudevacharya, Gam Ganapate of Muttaiyya Bhagavatar, Vara Vallabha Ramana of GNB, Gajavadana Beduve of Purandara Dasa – all these come to mind. Listen here to – Gam Ganapate of Muttaiah Bhagavatar – This is from a concert here in the bay area (Veena-Jyothi Chetan; Mridanga- Ramesh Srinivasan)

During the 20th century saw many raagas from Karnataka sangeetha were adapted to Hindustani. How could they leave out a very appealing raaga like Hamsadhwani?  Not only did they adapt the melody, but also the popular composition Vatapi Ganapatim Bhajeham!

Listen here to Rashid Khan, who sings a beautiful Alap followed by “laagi lagan”. You can’t miss the similarity to Vatapi Ganapatim Bhajeham.

For whatever reason, Hamsadhwani does not seem to have inspired kannada film music composers as much as some other raagas have. I can just think of a few Kannada film songs – ಇನ್ನು ಗ್ಯಾರಂಟಿ from ನಂಜುಂಡಿ ಕಲ್ಯಾಣ and   ಮೀನಾಕ್ಿ ನಿನ್ನ from ರಣಧೀರ. If you are aware of any other songs, post a comment.


I came across this notations site recently, and wanted to share it with other music lovers.

Swarasindhu Notations Site
It has notations to music lessons in several scripts.


It has become customary to remember Tyagaraja on his Aradhana day, the day commemorating his passing away at the age of 80 in 1847. It was the fifth day of the dark half of the month Pushya. This is the day when huge crowds descend to Tiruvaiyyaru, to sing in front of the composer’s samadhi.

As a a lover of Karnataka sangeeta, I would not probably go even a single day without humming or listening to some composition of Tyagaraja. But the aaraadhane is sure a special day, and I hope to sit and sing at least a few compositions of the great composer on 15th January 2009.

In addition, I thought it would be a great time to translate one of his compositions. Since last year, I had translated mEru samAna in mAyAmALavagouLa, the 15th mELa rAga, I thought it was apt to translate a composition in chakravAka, the 16th mELa rAga, and … – well let me come clean :) I chose it because it was easy to translate into kannaDa, and also because I could sing the song in the original meTTu without any hiccups! The translated version of mEru samAna made it’s way to a concert, so then I thought I should make a conscious effort to keep the sing-ability of the translation!

Here is the kriti , eTulA brOtuvO teliya. rAga chakravAka. miSra chApu tALa:


eTulA brOtuvO teliya EkAnta rAmayya ||


kaTa kaTa nA caritamu karNa kaThOramayya || eTula brOtuvO teliya ||


paTTu goDDU rIti bhakShinchi tirugItI
puTTu lObhulanu poTTakai pogaDiti
duShTulatOgUDi duShkRityamA salipi
raTTu jEsina tyAgarAjuni dayatO || eTulA brOtuvO teliya ||

And here is it’s translation in kannaDa:

ರಾಗ: ಚಕ್ರವಾಕ ಮಿಶ್ರ ಚಾಪು ತಾಳ.


ಎಂತು ಪೊರೆವೆಯೋ ಅರಿಯೆ
ಏಕಾಂತ ರಾಮನೆ!


ಕಟಪಟೆಯಾ ಎನ್ನ ಚರಿತೆ
ಗಡುಸಹುದು ಕೇಳಲಿಕೆ || ಎಂತು ಪೊರೆವೆಯೋ ಅರಿಯೆ ||


ಗೊಡ್ಡು ಹಸುವಿನಂತೆ ತಿನ್ನುತ್ತಾ ತಿರುಗಿದೆ
ಹುಟ್ಟು ಜಿಪುಣರನೇ ಹೊಟ್ಟೆಗಾಗಿ ಹೊಗಳಿದೆ
ದುಷ್ಟರ ಒಡಗೂಡಿ ಬಲು ಕೆಡುಕುಗಳ ಮಾಡಿ
ಕೆಟ್ಟು ಹೋಗಿಹ ತ್ಯಾಗರಾಜನಿಗೆ ದಯತೋರಿ || ಎಂತು ಪೊರೆವೆಯೋ ಅರಿಯೆ||

By the way, Tyagaraja was one of the very first composers to take a note of this rAga. Although vEgavAhini had a long history, its krama-sampoorNa counterpart chakravAka got its firm roots only because of compositions of Tyagaraja.



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My book “Hamsanada” for iPad, iPhone or iPod

A Collection of  Samskrta Subhashitas, translated to Kannada

My Book, on Google Play!

My Book Hamsanada, on Google Play

My Book Hamsanada, on Google Play

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Ramaprasad K V

Ramaprasad K V

ಕನ್ನಡಿಗ. Musicphile. Bibliophile. Astrophile. Blogophile. Twitterphile.



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