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Dasara of 2012 is just over. In the past few years, I’d written series of music-based articles in my web spaces, in English, and in Kannada. This year, I was planning out another thematic series along the same lines during the festival but it ended up just being a plan. Or if I look at the brighter side, yay! it’s an opportunity for next year’s Navaratri! Just the case of seeing the glass half-full or half-empty I guess :)
Last couple years, I also posted some of my musical compositions on my blog around the Navaratri time. You can visit those posts from 2009 (Nasamani), 2010 (Ranjani) and 2011 (Bindumalini) by clicking the hyperlinks.
This year, I’m not posting a brand new composition, but am posting an updated one! Earlier this year, I’d composed a swarajati in the rAga Kamavardhini (also called as Ramakriya and somewhat incorrectly as Pantuvarali). You can listen to the swarajati here, sung by my friend “IndianMusicFan“.
Thanks to the Samskirtam group on Facebook, I met Sri Mahesh Bhat, who recently wrote a very beautiful lyric for this swarajati, just in time for Dasara 2012. Here it goes:
तव मृदुलम् पदयुगलम् मम शरणम् शिवे जननि
तव मृदुलम् पदयुगलम् मम शरणम् परशिवे जननि
तव मृदुलम् पदयुगलम् मम शरणम् जय परशिवे जननि ॥ पल्लवि॥
कल्याणानाम् वितरणि पापे मयि ते करुणा भवतु ॥॥
ईशनायिके लोकपालिके इन्द्रवन्द्य पदसरसिज लसिते
दितिसुत गजगण विदलनचतुरे सदा निवस मम हृदि गुहजननि ॥१॥
कुवलय दलसम सुरुचिर नयने निरुपम परिमलयुत मधुचषके
अतिधवल – रजतगिरि – वरनिलये कलशजनुते मधुमथनसोदरि ॥२॥
पायसमुदिते मधुरहसिते जनिमृतिहरसुधे कलिमलहरणि ॥३॥
संसारे परमविषमे संतापो दहति हृदयम्
एहि त्वम् तुहिनगिरिजे तापम् मे शमय ललिते
नीरागमतिरायातु मयि वेदादिनय संस्तुत चरिते
नाकलोकशोकहारिसुबले चारुचंद्रभासमान चिकुरे! ॥४॥
If you are interested in the notation along with sAhitya, click this link: A Swarajati in Kamavardhini
Finally here is a video slideshow from the “Bombe Habba” at our home during Dasara 2012:
Although raagas are said to be infinite (ananta), the fact is that at any point in history of music, only a few scores of raagas are popular. Although composers like Tyagaraja and Muttuswami Dikshita composed in well known and less known raagas of their times, it is a fact that all compositions are not created equal, and all raagas are not inherently equal in their scope of treatment.
If you have visited some of the internet fora on Karnataka sangeetha, you might be familiar with the term “Big Five”. I don’t know the origin of this terminology but looks like it is in vogue at least for the last couple of decades when folks on Internet discussion boards starred discussing south Indian music.
“Big Five” refers to five important raagas of Karnataka Sangeeta: tODi, bhairavi, kAmbhOji, Shankarabharana and Kalyani. Although not a rule, almost every good concert has at least one (if not more) of these five raagasa treated in detail. The first of the “Big Five” is tODi – when we go along the order of their position in the 72 mELakartha scheme that is in vogue today.
Todi of Karnataka sangeetha is a very specialized melody which has no parallels either in hindustani music or in other melodic music systems of the world. The elongated oscillations (kampita) on gAndhara, and nishAda in this rAga are the key signatures of this raaga. Now it is considered a sampoorna raaga, taking all seven notes both in ascent and descent – but several special phrases skip shadja and/or panchama.
Interestingly enough, a century or two before, panchama was almost always skipped, and gandhara and nishada were rendered somewhat plain compared to their treatment today. Sometimes, this version of the raaga now goes by the name “shuddha tOdi”.
Now, here is a wonderful example of Todi – a geete that tells the story of Ramayana – sung by Sri Neyveli Santana Gopalan (Courtesy Sangeethapriya.org). Images and artwork – various Internet sources.
A geete is generally a beginner lesson, that is taught to students when they are being introduced to different raagas. Todi, being what it is, the geete is also sufficiently involved :), but a very good introduction to “the first of the Big Five” I’d say!
Today is 6th January. The day when Tyagaraja passed away. Or should I say the day he became contemporary with all music lovers of all times ?
Tyagaraja was named on the presiding diety of Tiruvarooru on the banks of river Kaveri, where he was born. Most of his life was spent at Tiruvaiyyaru, another town on the banks the same river upstream.
Tyagaraja is probably the most prolific of all the composers Karnataka Sangeeta has seen. I think he has been the greatest influence on the composers who came after him. About 700 of his compositions are available. He has composed songs that can be easily sung by novice singers, as well as such compositions that can be a challenge even to experienced performers.
Tyagaraja is my musical hero. He took the challenge of composing in rAgas unknown before him. He was not afraid to tread untrodden territories in music. What else can I call him other than a hero? A dheera?
At the mention of this word dheera ( = heroic person in Samskrta, and many othe Indian languages) I am reminded of a grand composition of Tyagraja in mAyAmALava gouLa – mEru samAna dhIra. As the majority of Tyagaraja’s compositions, this kriti also addresses lord Rama.
For those interested, here is the sAhitya of this composition.
mEru samAna dhIra varada raghu
vIra jUtAmu rArA mahA || mEru samAna dheera||
sAra sAra vaiyArapu naDalanu
nIrada kAnti nI ThIvini ||mEru samAna dheera||
alakala muddunu tilakapu tIrunu
taLupu chekkiLachE danaru nemmOmunu
gaLamuna shObhillu vanaja bhUShaNamulanu
daLita durmAnava tyAgarAjanuta || mEru samAna dheera||
You can listen to a befettingly grand rendition by none other than Dr.Balamuralikrishna in the following link:
If you are an instrumentophile ( Don’t ask me if such a word exists :-), listen to another equally great rendition on the violion by Mysore Nagaraj and Dr Mysore Manjunath.
I would like to end this post with a translation of this composition in Kannada:
ಮೇರು ಸಮಾನ ಧೀರ ಕೊಡುಗೈ ರಘು
ವೀರನ ನೋಡುವ ಬಾರಾ! ಮಹಾ || ಮೇರು ಸಮಾನ ಧೀರ ||
ತಿರುಳಿನ ಸಾರವೇ ವೈಯಾರದ ನಡೆಯಲಿ
ಮುಗಿಲ ಕಾಂತಿಯಾಂತು ಠೀವಿಲಿ ಬರುವ ||ಮೇರು ಸಮಾನ ಧೀರ||
ಕಲಕಲ ಮುಂಗುರುಳು ಸೊಗಸಿನ ತಿಲಕವು
ಹೊಳೆಯುವ ಗಲ್ಲವು ಮುದ್ದಿನ ಮೊಗವು! ಕೊ-
ರಳಲಿ ಮೆರುಗುವ ಬಂಗಾರದೊಡವೆಗಳು
ತುಳಿವ ಕೇಡಿಗರನು! ತ್ಯಾಗರಾಜ ಮಣಿದ ಆ ||ಮೇರು ಸಮಾನ ಧೀರ||
If you have come so far, then I suspect you might like to read the following post on Sampada – a kannada portal.
Once again, I salute Tyagaraja, my musical hero!