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Today, 9/25/2014 is the second day of Navaratri. In the post I wrote yesterday for the first day of Navaratri, I was talking about how the term Veena was a generic term to any string instrument. But now, the term refers to the species of the instrument which is sometimes called “Saraswati Veena“.
In older texts we find references to Veenas with fixed and movable frets. The north Indian Sitar, is indeed a “Veena” with movable frets. Also, the position of how the Sitar is held is typically how Veenas were played in the past. That is the reason why you see most of the sculptures of Saraswati, who is often shown as holding a Veena in the same position.
In the painting of Saraswati by Raja Ravivarma, what you see is a Saraswati Veena, which came into vogue during the early 17th century. This Veena was the handiwork of Govinda Dikshita, who was a minister at the Tanjavur court. He named the Veena after the King who ruled Tanjavur at that time (Raghunatha Veena), but the name has morphed into Saraswati Veena later on.
Today, the composition I am writing about is of the vainika-gayaka composer – Muttuswamy Dikshita.
Muttuswamy Dikshita was a strict follower of the school of Govinda Dikshita (unrelated to him though!) and composed in all ragas that were described by Venkatamakhi ( Govinda Dikshita’s son) and Muddu Venkatamakhi ( Grand nephew of Venkatamakhi) in their texts such as Chaturdandi Prakashika and Ragalakshana. In this process, he resurrected some of the previously well-known ragas that were becoming somewhat rarely performed during his time, and also created compositions for some of the new ragas that were considered “new” at his time. Ragas waxing and waning in popularity is a known phenomenon in Indian music.
But the raga of the composition I am sharing has great antiquity, and still going strong – Varaali. It has been mentioned music text more than a millenia old. Purandara Dasa also lists it as one of the popular ragas of his time. It is considered a “ghana” raga – a raga which shines with tAna playing. And take it from me – No other instrument can match a well played tAna!
Now listen to about half an hour of bliss! Maamava Meenakshi, praising the deity Meenakshi at the Madurai temple. The composition is in Raga Varali, mishra chapu tALa. The composition is played by well known Vainika from Andrhra, Veena Srinivas (www,veenasrinivas.com), and is preceded by a wonderful Alapane and tAna.
Enjoy this musical feast on the second day of Navaratri!
Today is Ganesha Chaturthi. On this occasion, I am posting links to some of the less-heard compositions Muttuswamy Dikshita on Ganesha.
First one is “Sri Ganeshaatparam” in raga Ardra dEshi, sung by G Ravikiran -A composition of Muttuswamy Deekshita. There is a soochita ragamudre in the charaNa, in the line “umA rudra darshita”
Next one is “Hasti Vadanaaya Namastubhyam” in rAga navarOj, played on the Veena by Kalpakam Swaminathan. The rAga mudre occurs in charaNa – “guruguha samAnavarOjasE mahasE”
The third composition is “Mahaganapate Palayaashumam” in Nata Narayani. The ragamudre occurs in the anupallavi line – mahA naTanArAyanI nandana pAlita dEva dEVakI nandana. The artist is Aravind Bhargav.
Now listen to “Gananaayakam Bhaje”, played on the mandolin by U Srinivas.. Although it was composed in the rAga Rudrapriya, it has morphed into another raga Poornashadja by some musical lineages.
The last composition is the magnificent “Panchamaatanga mukha ganapatinA” played on the Veena by R K Suryanarayana. This composition also has the raga indicated in the last line as “kali malaharNa kaENa”.
Today is the fifth day of Navaratri. The composition of Swati Tirunal, sung at Navaratri Mandapam tonight is ‘janani mAmava mEyE’ in the stately Bhairavi raga. This raga is somewhat special in the sense it is to be found only in Karnataka sangeetha, and no similar counterpart in the Hindustani, or in other melodic music systems of the world.
Here is a YouTube clip of this composition:
Today you’ll listen to a rare composition of Muttuswamy Dikshita on Saraswati. The youngest of the trinity, Muttuswamy Dikshita (1775 AD – 1835AD) is known for his strict adherence to traditions. Thanks to him, today we have compositions in many ragas which would have been mere names found in texts.
Muttuswamy Dikshita is also known for weaving the name of the raga into his compositions very neatly. And today’s example is one such.
Listen to ‘kalaavati kamalaasana yuvati’ in , need less to say I guess, raaga ‘kalaavati’
The composition is in Samskrta, and is in praise of Goddess Saraswati. Click here to see the saahitya of this song.
This raga, in my opinion, has one of the toughest swara intervals making it a tight rope walk. So there is no wonder not many composers have tried to compose in this raga. As a side note, there are two other ragas that go by the same name Kalavati – one in hindustani, and the other in karnataka sangeetha; but either of these have nothing to do with the raga in which ‘kalaavati kamalaasana yuvati’ is set. So much for naming in Indian music!
Tomorrow is Krishna Janmashtmi – the day Krishna was born. What else is better than listening to a composition on Krishna,the embodiment of music – Gaanamoorti? This is a composition of Tyagaraja, in which he also includes the rAga signature at the very beginning.
Next is a composition in tODi. A composition of Muttuswamy Dikshita – although some scholars are of the opinion that it is a mis-attribution. Anyway, I like this composition and so here it is.
A somewhat rare composition of Muttuswamy Dikshita, in an aptly named rAga called ‘jaganmOhana’ – “the one who mesmerized the whole world”!
A gem of a song in praise of the cowherd flautist who flirts around the girls in Gokula A majestic composition of Muttuswamy Dikshita in rAga kuranji.
Here is a song from a Kannada movie ಕೃಷ್ಣನಾ ಕೊಳಲಿನಾ ಕರೆ that describes the effect of Krishna’s flute on the folks of Gokula. Originally from the play – Gokula Nirgamana written by Pu Ti Narasimhachar.
Any musical discussion about Krishna would be incomplete without the song of VyasarAya about the Krishna in Udupi – krishnA nee bEgane bArO!
The first name that comes to mind when I hear the phrase ‘Vivaadi Raga’ it is that of Sri S Rajam who passed away last week. He was best known for very aesthetic renditions of ‘vivaadi ragas’ (so-called dissonant melodies) which need a very balanced and delicate handling- making him no doubt the ‘King of Vivaadi’.
Sri S Rajam will be remembered for his mastery over paintings. In fact, we can surely say he was the one who ‘brought to life’ composers like Tyagaraja by his paintings!
Here is a slide show I put together – with some of his paintings (all taken from the internet) and in the background, listen to a rendering Muttuswami Dikshita‘s composition ‘kalAvati kamalAsana yuvati’ in rAga kalAvati, (One of the vivAdi-est of vivAdi ragas, so to say!) by, who else, Sri S Rajam.
Thanks to the good folks of http://www.guruguha.org from where I got this beautiful rendition several years ago.
Click here for the sAhitya of the song. Notice how Muttuswamy Dikshita refers Saraswathi as ‘murAri snushA’ – daughter-in-law of Vishnu. Reminds me of Purandara Dasa’s composition on Saraswathi- SharaNembe vANi poreye kalyANi where he refers to Saraswati in a similar way. Now, these comparisons could be the topic for another post, and I’ll stop right here!