Around this time every year, I have made a post about Tyagaraja. He was born in the town of Tiruvaroor on May 4th, 1767 and after a very musical life, he passed away on January 6th 1847.

Tyagaraja is known for his more than 800 compositions, many of which are in ragas he created. It is sufficient to state that there are very few composers who can match him in the variety and scope. Therefore you can say there is a composition of Tyagaraja for any level of musical maturity – they range from very simple to very complex.

As a homage to this composer, I composed  Varna, set in 9 ragas that Tyagaraja brought to life. A Ragamalika (ರಾಗಮಾಲಿಕಾ, ರಾಗಮಾಲಿಕೆ) – is a type of composition that is quite popular in South Indian classical music. As the name suggests, such a composition is composed in multiple ragas, and so the name Ragamalika, i.e. “garland of ragas”.

As a composition type, they seem to gained popularity from the early 18th century. Muttuswami Dikshita’s father Ramaswamy Dikshita, and his guru Veerabhadrayya are some of the earliest Ragamalika composers.

Then a question may arise about various Purandara Dasa compositions that are sung as Ragamalikas – Unfortunately we have lost most of original structure of haridasa compositions from the 15-18th centuries. And their ragamalika form is more than likely to be of recent origin. But there is some food for thought. Why didn’t Haridasa’s who composed suLAdis , which are compositions in multiple tALas (tALamAlike), think of composing in multiple ragas? They my indeed have, but we can’t prove that beyond doubt/

There are several ragamalika varnas that are very popular on the concert circuit. Valaci Vachci ( in 9 ragas, and hence mostly called ‘the’ Navaraga Malika varna) , and the Ghanaraga Malika Varna are very well known. There have been other ragamalika Varnas as well. And I hope this composition of mine will be a good addition to those.

The sahitya of this AditALa varNa is as follows:

Pallavi : namastE shAraDE dEvI kAShmIra puravAsinI (rAga vAgadhIshwari)
Anupallavi : tvAmahaM prArthayE nityam vidyA budhim cha dEhimE ( rAga bindumAlini)

The Chitte swara is in : rAgas Andolika and Rasaali

Charana: saraswatI sahitE tyAgarAjApte ( rAga saraswati)

The ettugade swaras are set in rAgas jayantashrI , saraswatI manohari , chandra jyOti and ranjani.

As you may see, the pUrvanga of the varna takes from a traditional stuti of Goddess Sarawathi. The Charana describes her as one who is dear to Tyagaraja.

Here is a renditions of the varna, by Benagluru based artist Uma Kumar:

Another rendition by New Hampshire based artist Ragini Sanath:

Your feedback on the composition is welcome!

-neelanjana