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Today is the eighth day of Navaratri. Durgashtami is celebrated on this day. The Swathi Tirunal composition that would be elaborated at Navaratri Mandapam is ‘Pahi janani santatam’ in raga Natakuranji. Listen to this composition sung by Amrutha Venkatesh, sung at the Navaratri Mandapam in 2008. Till quite recently, women did not perform in the Navaratri Mandapam concerts. Thankfully, that has changed now!

Here is another rendition of the same composition, by K V Narayanaswamy.

Thanks to my post yesterday, I am in a ‘ranjani’ mood! The raga ranjani is a contribution of Tyagaraja. It is one of the many ragas that sprang to life with his compositions. There are a number of ragas with end with the suffix ‘ranjani’. They are not related musically, though.

But how about making creating a garland of such ragas? The composition you are going to listen to is indeed a garland – a ragamalilke in four ragas – Ranjani, Sriranjani, Megharanjani and Janaranjani. Interestingly, each section also includes the name of the raga in the sahitya. This is a composition of Tanjavoor Sankara Iyer, and quite well known as ‘Ranjani Mala’ because that is what it is – A garland made of Ranjanis.

Tanjavoor Sankara Iyear, born in 1924, is a well known composer, and known as ‘Musician of musicians’. Ranjani Mala is one of his famous compositions.

If you can read Kannada, here is the composition in Kannada script. The song is in simple Samskrta, and there are nice chitte svaras after each raga.

ರಂಜನಿ ಮೃದು ಪಂಕಜ ಲೋಚನಿ

ಮಂಜು ಭಾಷಿಣಿ ಮನೋಲ್ಲಾಸಿನಿ ಮಂದಗಮನಿ ಶ್ರೀರಂಜನಿ

ಸಾಮಗಾನ ವಿನೋದಿನಿ ಶಶಾಂಕವದನಿ ಮೇಘರಂಜನಿ

ಪಾಮರಜನ ಪಾಲಿನಿ ಶೂಲಿನಿ ಪಾಪವಿಮೋಚನಿ ಜನರಂಜನಿ

Listen to Dr Nagavalli Nagaraj and Ranjani Nagaraj singing Ranjani Mala here:

Happy Durgashtami to all!


Today is the third day of Navaratri. During the 17th and 18th centuries,  Mysooru and Tanjavoor were two main cultural centers in south India. Even today, we can see two distinct “Mysore style” and “Tanjavoor style” of veena playing, traditional paintings and Bharatanatya. Tyagaraja, Mudduswamy Dikshita and Shama Sastry, who are well known as the ‘Trinity’ of Karnataka sangeetha lived in the state of Tanajavoor. Out of these three people, Shama Sastry lived in Tanjavoor city.

Shama Sastry’s real name was Venkatakrishna, but is is better known by his assumed name. His compositions bear his signature  as ‘Shamakrishna’. He was the priest of Bangaru Kamakshi temple in Tanjavoor, and often addresses his favorite deity as  “Shamakrishna sodari” – the sister of Shamakrishna (Vishnu).  Although numerically his compositions are lesser than those of Tyagaraja or Muttuswamy Dikshita, each of his compositions is indeed a gem.

When king  Sharabhoji (1777 AD – 1832AD) was the ruler of Tanjavoor,  once Bobbili Keshavayya, a musician from Andhra came to his court. He was well known for challenging musicians wherever he went. None of the musicians in Tanjavoor court were ready to face Keshavayya, who was adept at singing pallavis involving extremely complicated rhythmic structures.  So, the responsibility fell on Syama Sastry.

When they faced each other, Keshavayya sang a pallavi in Simha nandana tALa, which Shama Sastry comprehended and reproduced. Now, it was Shama Sastry’s turn to challenge Keshavayya next day.

That night while Shama Sastry prayed to Goddess Kamakshi, he sang a new composition in a brand new raga – Chintamani, asking her to protect him at this critical moment.

Devi brova samayamide – in Chintamani raga & Adi tAla, sung by M S Subbulakshmi:

The next day, Shama Sastry sang a pallavi in  Sharabhanandana tALa, which Keshavayya could not reproduce. Accepting his defeat, he gave all the honors he had received till then to Shama Sastry, and left Tanjavoor.

On the third day, the Navaratri kriti of Swathi Tirunal that is sung at Navaratri Mandapam in Thiruvanathapuram is  dEvi pAvani, in sAveri raga. Click here to listen to this composition.


The year 2007 got us a new set of Seven Wonders of the World. And, by a large vote, India’s Taj Mahal  became one of the new Seven Wonders of the New World on 07-07-2007. 

But I was surprised to see a news report that said as per the public opinion in India based on SMS polls for  Seven Wonders of India, Taj Mahal fared so badly, making it a distant Third! 

Here is a list of the 7 Wonders of India that this report mentioned. The numbers indicate the votes each place got.

 1.The statue of Bahubali at Sravana Belgola, Karnataka (49%)

2. The Golden temple at Amritsar, Puanjab (24%)

3.  Taj Mahal at Agra, Uttar Pradesh (8%)

4. The monuments at Hampe, Karnataka

5. The Sun Temple at Konarak, Orissa

6. The monunents of Nalanda, Bihar

7. Temples of Khajuraho, Madhyapradesh.

I am indeed glad to see two of the wonderful sevel to be from Karnataka. And even more, because I come from the viscinity of the #1  in the list.

After I saw this list, I made it a point to update the image on the top of this blog. Now it shows the lotus feet of Lord Bahubali atop the Vindhyagiri hill in Sravana Belagola.

For those interested in statistics, this monolith is 57 ft tall (who does not know that?), it was completed in the year 983 AD (well, many may know that too).

The letters you see in the picture on either side of the statue are proclaiming that the statue was made on the orders of Chavunda Raya, a General of Ganga Kings in no less than 3 languages ( Kannnada, Tamizh, Marathi – Some claim it is Konkani).

And this happens to be the oldest written record in Marathi language (or Konkani, if you belive those two languages had seperated out in 10th century AD). Now this may be some trivia that not many people know 😉

The other two scripts you see in the picture (Kannada, and Tamizh) have had a written records from much earlier times. So this edict at the feet of Bahubali, are not as significant to the history of these languages as it is to Marathi, and Konkani, and end up as just another number in Epigraphia Carnatica.

I have not seen many of these 7 seven wonders. So I thought why not make up my own list of Seven Wonders of India 🙂 among the places I have seen?

Here is my list of Seven Wonders of India:

1. The caves and frescoes at Ajanta, Maharashtra (1st – 7th century AD)

2. The Chalukya monuments at Badami, Aihole and Pattadakallu , Karnataka (5th – 8th century AD)

3. The Kailasa (Cave) temple at Ellora, Maharashtra (850 AD)

4. Monuments at Sravana Belagola, including the statue of Bahubali, Karnataka (3rd – 12th century AD)

5. Brihadeeshwara temple, Tanjavoor, Tamil Nadu (11th century AD)

6. Hoysaleswara-Shantaleshwara twin temple at Halebeedu, Karnataka (1117  AD)

7. The monuments (including the Stupa) at Saranath, Uttar Pradesh (3rd century BC – 3rd century AD)

No wonder you see more places from Karnataka than any other part of India – Because that is what I have seen most. There are still other places which I have seen, that could have made it to the list; like Hampe, which is in the list from the SMS opinion  poll.  But IMO, the art in cave temples in Badami, and temples of Aihole, and Pattadakallu rank much higher than that of the monuments in Hampi!



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My book “Hamsanada” for iPad, iPhone or iPod

A Collection of  Samskrta Subhashitas, translated to Kannada

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My Book Hamsanada, on Google Play

My Book Hamsanada, on Google Play

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