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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.


Bay area is a hub of activities – And more so for the musically inclined.

Next weekend, there is a special Gokulashtami concert coming up by visiting artists Roopa, and Deepa better known as Kasaravalli sisters @Sanatana Dharma Kendra, Sunnyvale.

This would be a good opportunity to go to the temple on an auspicious day, and listen to some very good music.


You forget what you are supposed to do. No matter what the earthquake safety drill taught you. Basic instincts come first. Look for the kids, and make sure they are safe and run outside.

Yes, it was a big one.  At least for me. 5.6 on the Ritcher scale is considered moderately large even in the earthquake prone bay area. In the last 10 years I have lived here, the earth has shaken several times.  But never this big.

Last night it was our dinner time. Around 8 pm. My son was as usual, dodging to finish his food, when the rattling sound started. I was about to tell him to stop rattling his chair and go on with his mosaranna. The hardwood floors are new, and I don’t want them to be spoiled so early on 🙂  It was a few seconds before I realised the sound was not his making, and it coincided with my wife shouting “Earthquake, earthquake!!”.  I looked up at the walls, and the whole house was violently shaking. The chandelier was swinging like a pendulam.

My wife ran to the garage, to see what my daughter who was playing there was safe.  I headed to the front door, calling every one to come outside. It was almost a minute of shaking before everything was back to normal. The lights kept swinging for a while though.

We did not have any broken frames or window shutters. We turned on the TV. No breaking news on any news channels yet. My wife ran to the car to turn on 1590 KLIV. They had already started a call-in program.  The earthquake was centered about 5 miles north- north-east of Alum Rock. That puts it about 5-6 miles east of  my house. No wonder it felt so strong.

Luckily no harm reported anywhere. Except may be some broken bottles and spilled liquids in supermarket isles. Life is back to normal.

I am reminded of a similar quake I experienced when I lived in Pune. It was the night of Ananta chaturdashi. The last day of Ganeshotsava in Maharashtra. A large quake hit central Maharashtra. The epicenter lay at least 250 miles away near Latur, near Karnataka border. It was so strong to wake us all from our deep sleep, and send us running out of our homes. When I went out that night, I saw almost the every one had stepped out of their homes. Some one had a window glass broken.

Next morning, we found out how deadly it was. Thousands lost their lives, and several thousands lost their homes.

I am so glad the last night’s quake was not damaging. And, it is good to have quakes of this size near a fault line, it seems. It releases the tension building under the earth, the geologists say. So, the fear of a big one striking soon is reduced by some extent.

What can I do now, except reciting this vacana of akkamahAdEvi (11th century AD)?

ಬೆಟ್ಟದ ಮೇಲೊಂದು ಮನೆಯ ಮಾಡಿ ಮೃಗಗಳಿಗಂಜಿದೊಡೆಂತಯ್ಯ?
ಸಮುದ್ರದ ತಡಿಯೊಳು ಮನೆಯ ಮಾಡಿ ನೊರೆತೆರೆಗಳಿಗಂಜಿದೊಡೆಂತಯ್ಯ?
ಸಂತೆಯೊಳಗೊಂದು ಮನೆಯ ಮಾಡಿ ಶಬ್ದಕೆ ನಾಚಿದೊಡೆಂತಯ್ಯ?
ಲೋಕದೊಳಗೆ ಹುಟ್ಟಿದ ಬಳಿಕ ಸ್ತುತಿನಿಂದೆಗಳು ಬಂದೊಡೆ
ಮನದಲಿ ಕೋಪವ ತಾಳದೆ ಸಮಾಧಾನಿಯಾಗಿರಬೇಕು
ಚೆನ್ನಮಲ್ಲಿಕಾರ್ಜುನಯ್ಯ, ಕೇಳಯ್ಯ!

Here is my attempt at translating this vacana. 

Can you be scared of wild beasts, when you live on a hill top?
How can you panic by the surf and the wind,
When your home is on a beach?
Having built your house at the market square,
Can you shy away from the noise?
You are born in this world; so give up your anxiety!
Take adulations and abuses
Wth a stable mind !!
Oh, listen to me, chennamallikArjuna!*

*Chennamallikarjuna : is the signature of akka mahAdEvi

I think I should add a line to her vachana:  

How could you be afraid of earthquakes, when you live in the bay area?



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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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"ಅಲ್ಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ…ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಬಂದೆ ಸುಮ್ಮನೆ… ಎಂಬ ಘೋಷ ವಾಕ್ಯದೊಂದಿಗೆ ಬ್ಲಾಗ್ ಮಂಡಲದಲ್ಲಿ ಕಾಣಿಸಿಕೊಂಡವರು ನೀಲಾಂಜನ. ಅಲ್ಲಿದೆ ನಮ್ಮ ಮನೆ ಕನ್ನಡದ ಪರಿಮಳವನ್ನು ಇಂಗ್ಲಿಷ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ಹರಡುತ್ತಾ ಇದೆ. ಕನ್ನಡದ ವಚನಗಳು, ಸಂಸ್ಕೃತ ಸುಭಾಷಿತಗಳು ಜೊತೆಯಲ್ಲೇ ಸಂಗೀತ ಹೀಗೆ ಹಲವು ಲೋಕವನ್ನು ಈ ಬ್ಲಾಗ್ ಪರಿಚಯಿಸಿದೆ." ಅವಧಿ, ಮೇ ೧೫, ೨೦೦೮

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