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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.
Last weekend, there was a program called Vasudeva Sankeerthana at our local temple ( Sanatana Dharma Kendra, Sunnyvale) .
Several music schools presented compositions of Mysore Vasudevacharya. It was a 4 hour long program and I was present for most of it. I was listening to many of the kritis for the first time and that made it more interesting.
Here is a list of compositions sung/played during the program:
I knew these compositions before:
vandE anisham aham – hamsadhwani – Adi
praNamAmyaham Sri prANanAtham – ranjani – miSra tripuTa
marchitivEmO nannu – pUrvikalyANi – Adi
ninnE nammitinayya – SimhEndra madhyama – miSra chApu
SrI chAmunDEswari pAlaya mAm – bilahari – Adi
dEvAdidEva – sunAdavinOdini – Adi
mahAtmulE teliyalEru – riShabhapriya – Adi
lambOdaram avalambE – kAmbhOdi – rUpaka
rArA rAjIvalOchana – mOhana – Adi
brOchEvArevarurA – khamAch – Adi
rAmAbhirAma – darbAr – miSra chApu
I heard the following compositions for the first time:
SrI kESava mAm pAlaya – bhairavi – rUpaka
manasA vachasA – bEgaDe -Adi
dayalEka bratuki phalamEmi – Sriranjani – Adi
nannu brOchuTaku evarunnAru – SankarAbharaNa – Adi
bAlam gOpAlam – bhairavi – Adi
rArA eni pilacite – kharaharapriya – Adi
bhAvayEham raghuvIram – bEhAg – Adi
gAnasudhArasa pAnamu – kharaharapriya – Adi
Of these, the SankarAbharaNa kriti had a very catchy, and unusual chiTTe swara with the viSESha prayOga “snpmpgrs”. The bhairavi kriti (bAlam gOpAlam) and the Sriranjani kritis were also very impressive. The bEhAg kriti, had a distinctive feel different from other bEhags I have heard.
I had to miss out a few renditions at the end, and am typing these from the list:
mari mari vacchuna – kAmbhOdi – Adi
Sankari ninnE – kAmavardhini – miSra chApu
bhAvaya achutam vAsudEvam – pUrvikalyANi – Adi
nE pilicitE – kamAch – rUpaka
tillAna – mOhana kalyAni – Adi
(I suspect the kamAch composition in the list above might be a jAvaLi. However the kamAch jAvali in the list of Vasudevacharya compositions does not begin with ‘nE pilicitE’. It could be that the jAvali was sung starting from the anupallavi, as it often is. I’m not too sure on this.)
Overall, a very impressive program and enjoyed it very much. Just shows how many compositions of our composers is yet to be explored! And a look at the talent of some kids tells me that we don’t have to worry about future of Karnataka Sangeeta
Purandara Dasa wrote a pada saying “vAsudEvana nAmAvaLiya klptiyanu”. In that composition, he says he has chanted Vasudeva’s name in several ways- in suLadis, padas and other composition which came to a grand total of 479000 compositions. But this is a different kind of Vasudeva Smarana altogether.
May 28th is Mysore Vasudevacharya’s birthday (May 28th, 1865 AD- May 21, 1961 AD). Vasudevacharya is one of the most important composers from Karnataka. If I remember correctly, the first kriti I learnt formally was praNamAmyaham Sri gourI sutam of Mysore Vasudevacharya.
picture courtesy: http://www.vikramsampath.com
You can listen to last Maharaja of Mysore, Sri Jayachamarajendra Odeyaru – Speaking about Vasudevacharya during the centenary celebration of the composer:
On this day, I thought of listing, and giving links for some of my favourite renditions of compositions of Sri Vasudevacharya. Thanks to Sangeethapriya for all the links!
Happy listening. And, if you know Kannada, you might like to read this article on my kannaDa blog too.