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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827)- Part Eleven

Continued from Part Ten

Sri  Shyama Shastry – Music-continued

Varnas

bangaru kamaksi

Varna is a short, crisp and tightly knit composition that aims to encapsulate the main features and requirements of a Raga. These are finely crafted exquisite works of art. The creation of a Varna calls for delicate craftsmanship, thorough knowledge of the Raga, its sanchara (movements) in various Kaala (tempos) ; and, a  grasp over Taala and an overall sense of beauty and balance.

Varna is unique to Karnataka Samgita. The Hindustani Music does not seem to have its counterpart

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During the course of training in Music, after the Gitas, the Svarajatis with their rather complicated arrangement of Svaras and Sahitya are taught. Then comes the Varna; rich in textual expressions of Raga-Svarupa, displaying the vigour, the tenderness and the graces of the Raga.

Now, the student is at a more difficult level. She/he will have to gain an understanding of the subtleties involved in the  rendering of a Raga in all its gaits  and rhythms (Laya) through its ascending and descending notes, in Vilamba-kala (slow speed), in Madhyamā-kala (normal) and in Druta-kala (fast tempo) movements.

While doing so, the student learns to appreciate the unique characteristics of the dominant notes; and, the way they are used to delineate the Raga in its various shades and colours.

For students, the Varnas that are taught at the intermediary level are useful for learning the Svaras of various Ragas, singing in multiple speeds fluently; as well as learning the appropriate Gamakas. 

Further, learning to sing effortlessly in three degrees of speed strengthens ones Laya-Jnana (sense of rhythm); while the profusion of vowels helps one to render Gamakas in smooth, seamless  curves , oscillations, glides and turns.

Varna- rendering also helps to develop voice culture and in learning to maintain proper pitch and control over rhythm. The instrumentalists too can gain control over playing -techniques

Therefore, among the Music-curriculum, practicing Varna, understating its structure and its implications is of much importance. A diligent student, of both the vocal and the instrumental music, learns with great care and assiduity the various components (Anga) of the Raga structure and its nature.

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Although the Varna precedes the Kriti, in the teaching-schedule, the student continues to practice Varnas along with the Kritis, because of its inherent merit as an Abhyasa-gana

Therefore, in order to gain a convincing hold over a Raga and the Laya, a Varna in which its Raga-svarupa is crystallized in a systematic manner, the advanced students also practice Varnas in multiple Ragas or Taalas. It also helps to inculcate in them the discipline that is needed for singing complicated combinations of Svaras and Sahitya.

A Varna, therefore, is a very important component of both the Abhyasa-gana (compositions forming a part of initial training) and the Sadhana-gana (performance of the compositions);

In the concerts, a Varna is most often the first or the second piece to be rendered. Though some consider it as a warm-up exercise, the correct rendering of Varna requires complete knowledge of the Raga. It is thus of great value to beginner as also to and an experienced performer.

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In the Karnataka Samgita, all types of compositions are Raga-specific. Among the many such verities, in particular, the Varna and the Kriti aim to bring out and display artistically, the nature and the tendencies of a Raga.

But, in a Kriti which is steeped in its own emotional content and in the intricacies of Prosody (Chhandas), Prasa, and Anuprasa etc., only certain aspects and shades of a Raga are portrayed, keeping in view the overall context of the Kriti.

The Varna, in contrast, is an independent and a methodically structured work having the sole aim to present efficiently and objectively all the significant characteristics of a Raga. Encapsulating and preserving the essentials, within a tight knit work of art, is the sole objective of a Varna. Apart from that, it has no other theme.

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A Varna is composite musical form. According to one definition; it is said to include in itself the elements of Raga-Bhava; Raga-viseha-sancharas; and, several Apurupa- prayogas (use of unusual phrases in a Raga). Analysing and understanding these aspects are the initial steps in Manodharma Samgita. 

Varna lays out the Grammar of a Raga. That is to say, it specifies the features and the rules regarding the movement of the Raga (Raga-sanchara); its scale; how each note of the Raga should be stressed and so on. A Varna is therefore a fundamental form in Karnataka Samgita.

Learning a Varna is the process of getting to know intimately a Raga, which is beautified by the tonal excellence of its Svaras. Each Raga has its own peculiar features; it is a living and a throbbing dynamic entity finding its own flow, rhythm and gait. Each one has its own preferred ways of movements, turns, slides and glides etc.

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In a Varna, the starting note of its Pallavi is said to be significant; because, it captures the flavour of the Raga, and establishes its identity. It is also said; the identity of a Raga is better established in the Avaroha (descent), especially in the Madhya-Sthayi.

A Varna attempts to project the total picture of a Raga, drawing attention to its parentage (Mela), its Murchanas (the ascending and descending movement of the seven notes in successive order)  , pointing out to its Graha-Svara (initiating Svara), its Amsa Svara – the important notes ,which should be prolonged; the Hrasva-Nyasa, the shortened delicate notes at the conclusion of a phase; and so on.

The Varna also tries to demonstrate the enterprising Ranjaka-Prayogas, Viseha-Sancharas, permissible Apurva-Prayogas; Dhathu-Varisha-Prayogas and the Alpa-Prayogas– the skipping of certain notes etc.

In short, a Varna captures the total physiology of a Raga within a well designed work of Art.

*

A Varna does include Sahitya (lyrics); but, its role is rather secondary; mostly supporting the music-content of the Varna. It provides the Lakshya and Laksana of a Raga. The focus of a Varna is on the Raga, its individual Svaras and Svara phases of various lengths and speeds. It is said; a Varna does not need the distraction of Sahitya.

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Usually, there will be two Avartas (cycles) each for Pallavi and Anupallavi; and, two to four Avartas for the Muktayi-Svaras. The length of the Ettugada Svaras increases progressively; and, the last Svara will be the longest one. This will have four or five Ettugada Svaras.

The movement of a Varna is strictly controlled; and, it’s rendering demands discipline.  Its focus is on the Graha Svara (initial note of the Raga), the Gamakas, the Sanchara (movement) of the Raga according to the prescribed format.

The Pallavi of a Varna starts on the lower end of the scale, stressing on the most important Svara (Jiva Svara) in the opening phase of the Pallavi. The Anupallavi deals with the higher end of the scale. And, the Mukthayi Svara and Chittasvara – consist of meandering (Sanchari) chains of Svaras that explore both the upper and lower reaches of the Raga.

The rendering of a Varna employs all the three tempos. The first Carana-Svara is rendered in Vilamba-kaala (slow tempo); where, each Jiva Svara must be highlighted.

After which, the rest is sung in Madhyamā-kaala (half-time). Some musicians insert their own kalpana-svara passages.

 In the third Carana-Svara, the Svaras are short and made into groups (Avartana) of four.

Thus in Carana, there are two or three Svaras of one Avartana, one Svara of two Avartanas; and, finally one Svara of four Avartanas.

*

The Varnas are mainly of three types: Daru-Varna, Pada-Varna and Taana-Varna. The theme of these Varnas is usually Bhakthi (devotion) or Srngara (love).

The major types of Varnas are, however, two: Taana-Varna and Pada-Varna.

The Taana-Varna, with Svara and Sahitya passages, is essentially for concert Music. The Pada-Varna, with its rhythmic patterns, is mainly for Dance.

[There is also a mention of Raga-maalika-Varnas, with a string of stanzas, composed in compatible Ragas that blend well with each other. This type could be either Taana-Varna or Pada-Varna.

The other is the Nakshatra-malika-Varna, set in twenty-seven Ragas (each representing a star in the Indian Almanac) . In each Avartana, the first half is set in one Raga; and, the second half in another Raga; which makes two Ragas in, one Avartana.]

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Daru-Varnas are a special type of Varnas, wherein its Mukthayi-Svaras start with the Svara passages, followed by the Jatis, which are then followed by the Sahitya. The Daru Varnas are structured with Ettugada-Pallavi and Ettugada-Svara-passages.  They are similar to the Pada-Varnas; and, are well suited for Dance.

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 Pada-Varna (Ata-Varnam): As its name indicates, has a greater element of Sahitya (Pada or words). Pada-Varnas with elaborate Sahitya are hard to grasp; especially, when set to difficult Ragas and Taala.

But, the Pada-Varnas rendered in Vilambita-laya, offer greater scope for Abhinaya to interpret the Sahitya, interspersed with appropriate Sollulkottus, Tirmanas and stances. Hence, they are in greater use in Bharatanatya; where, it’s Sahitya, its expressions and its Svaras, in moderately slow pace, are said to be suitable for choreography.

[Pada Varnas used for dance choreography are also called as Chowka Varnas or Ata Varnas. They usually are set in slower tempo (Chowka-kala); and, have longer lines and pauses, enabling the apt portrayal of the Bhava of the Varnam. All its Svaras are accompanied by Sahitya (lyrics) and Sollukattus which are made up of rhythmic syllables. The dancer performs the Sahitya in Abhinaya and the Sollukattus in Nrtta. Thus, the Chowka Varnas are well suited to dance. 

Further, learning to sing Chowka Varnas is considered a part of developing a good voice cultureThe Chowka kala rendering helps one to explore the Raga, in depth. It also helps the learner to balance the Taala; to adjust the Gamakas; and, to pay greater attention to pauses.]

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[When adopted into Dance-form, Varnam is transformed into the richest composition in Bharatanatya. The Varnam, either in music or dance, is a finely crafted exquisite works of art; and, it gives full scope to the musician and also to the dancer to display ones knowledge, skill and expertise.

And , in Dance , its alternating passages of Sahitya (lyrics) and Svaras (notes of the melody) gives scope to the dancer to perform both the Nrtya (dance with Abhinaya) and Nrtta (pure dance movements) aspects. In its performance, a Varnam employs all the three tempos. The movement of a Varnam, which is crisp and tightly knit, is strictly controlled; and, it’s rendering demands discipline and skill. It also calls for complete understanding between the singer and the dancer; and also for the dancer’s ability to interpret not only the words (Sahitya) but also the musical notes (Svaras) as per the requisite time units (Taala). The dancer presents, in varied ways, through Angika-abhinaya the dance elements, which the singer brings forth through the rendering of the Svaras]

sarasvathi-tanjore

The Taana-Varna perhaps derived its name on account of its brisk Laya and Svara arrangements with pulsating movements in even tempo, as in the Taanam. It usually is of fast tempo (Druta and Tisra Gati). But, they sound best in Madhyama-kala, when the Taana sequences have to be executed.

Taana-Varnas do not have Sahitya for Svaras. It is the sort of Varna that is meant as pure music, without the intervention of words. It, therefore, has fewer words than the Pada-Varna.

The characteristic Svara-Prayogas, emphasising on Graha, Nyasa, Amsha; as well as Hrsva, DeerghaPrayogas are very frequently employed in Taana-Varna.

The difficult Taana-Varnas are commonly chosen for rending in the concerts; and, they provide the base for Mano-dharma-samgita. The artists enjoy greater elaborations of Taana-Varnas studded with Kalpana-Svaras to enhance to beauty of the Raga; and, to entertain the listeners.

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A typical structure of a Taana-Varna has Pallavi, Anupallavi, Mukthayi Svara, Carana, Carana-Svara and an optional Anubandha.

A Varna is structured in two Angas (sections):

The Purvanga (first section) comprises Pallavi, Anu-pallavi, Mukthayi-Svara (a passage of Svara syllables, usually of two Avartas, succeeding the Anupallavi).

And, the Uttaranga (the latter section) comprises a Carana that acts as a refrain for the latter part of the Varna and Carana-Svaras (Chittasvara) that are alternated with the Carana. 

Each section of a Varna elaborates an aspect of the Raga (raga-svarupa).

Thus, the Taana-Varnas are basically Svara and Sahitya exercises; and, help the student to gain a greater degree of control while venturing into the finer Prayogas in the Raga.

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Gana-krama 

Although the Varna has the structural divisions of Pallavi, Anupallavi (with Muktayi Svara) and Carana; while singing, the Pallavi is not treated as an independent Anga. There is continuity in singing.

The Purvanga starts with the Pallavi; and, is continued through Anupallavi and Mukthayi Svara; and, then it reverts to the opening words of the Pallavi.

The first movement of the Pallavi ends in Mukthayi-Svara. After this, the Ettugada Pallavi, made of the Sahitya lines of the Carana, is sung. This is followed by the Svara-passages in sequence. After each Svara passage, the Carana line is sung again, as refrain

[It is said; in the olden days, the Purvanga was sung in all the three speeds followed by Uttaranga, alternating between two speeds for each Carana. Nowadays many other rendition styles have come into being.]

[Sometimes a Taana-Varna is adapted for dance (Say, like Viriboni, Bhairavi, Ata). In such cases, the Taana Varna is expanded by repeating the Sahitya many times, with Sangatis. Additional Sahitya and Jati patterns are added. And, even though the words are meagre, the dancer has to interpret them with Abhinaya, so that the meaning is brought out clearly. ]

Shyama Shastry by S Rajam

The Varnas composed by Sri Shyama Shastry

According to most of the versions that are now in circulation, Sri Shyama Shastry is credited with four Varnas, which are highly musical in their structure. They are:

(1) Na-manavi-vinu (Saurastra-Chatursra-Ata); (2) Samini-ramm-anave (Anandabhairavi, Khanda-Ata); (3) Dayanidhe (Begada, Adi); and, (4) Nive-gatiyeni (Kalyani, Tisra-Mathya).

Varnas of Sri Shyama Shastry 2

[Though most of the sources mention these four Varnas as the works of Sri Shyama Shastry, Smt. Sharadambal recognized only two Varnas (not four) as that of Sri Shyama Shastry.

She says: ’There are two Varnas of Sri Shyama Shastry found in the early publications’. And, throughout her book, she talks of only about his two Varnas; Samini-rammanave (Anandabhairavi, Khanda-Ata) and Dayanidhe (Begada, Adi).

She also mentions that the detailed notations have been worked out for the Varna ‘Samini…’ (Anandabhairavi) in the Sangita-Sampradaya-Pradarshini of Sri Subbarama Dikshitar at  B.50 on pages 1540-1545.

This and the Hand Written Note Book of Shyama Shastry II are said to be her sources.

According to Smt. Sharadambal, both these Varnas are Taana Varnas. Yet, in the Varna ‘Samini-rammanave’ (Anandabhairavi), the Sahitya resembles Pada-Varna. This is sung by the Nayaki to her Sakhi, to describe her plight to Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram, who is the Nayaka of the Varna.]

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These four Varnas, though similar to Svarajati (pertaining to the realm of Dance), in structure; they are composed of a separate Pallavi, Anupallavi and Mukthayi- Svara, collectively known as Purvanga. The Uttaranga part consists of Carana, Carana-Svaras and Sahitya.

These Varnas are above the level of the usual Abhyasa-ganaVarnas. They are set in more difficult Taalas, like Chaturasra Ata and Tisra Mathya. The Varnas here, are characterized by many peculiar features, such as: the introduction of Svara-Sahitya (each Svara syllable having a corresponding syllable of text of identical duration) in the Mukthayi-Svara (in ‘Na-manavi’ and ‘Dayanidhe’); and, the unusual length of the Carana-Sahitya (four Avartas in ‘Nive-gatiyani ‘, Kalyani)’

The Varnas in Kalyani and Anandabhairavi are recommended even for the practitioners at a slightly higher level.

design rangoli

  1. The Varna Na manavini vinu in Raga Saurastra is set in Chatursra Ata Taala.

[Raga Saurashtra is a Janya of the 17th on the Melakarta Suryakanta 

Arohana (Ascending): S R1 G3 M1 P M1 D2 N3 S’ / Avarohana (Descending) : S’ N3 D2 N2 D2 P M1 G3 R1 S.

Saurastra is an auspicious Raga. Sri Thyagaraja’s opera ‘Prahlada Bhakthi Vijayam’ opens with ‘Sri Ganapathi’ and concludes with the Mangalam’ Nee Nama Rupamalu’ both of which were set in Raga Saurastra.]

The Varna is structured with a Pallavi, Anupallavi followed by a Svara-Sahitya passage; and ends with a short Carana of just two lines.

Na Manavi Vinu yi vela brovu Kanchi Kamakshamma / Pamara-palini O Janani, krupa judamma is a poignant prayer submitted to Kanchi Kamakshi , beseeching her, repeatedly, to kindly show mercy  and to pardon  him for all his wrong-doings committed knowingly or otherwise  (telisi-telitaka-jesina-aparadhamulanu-manninchi); to protect him (brovu) ; and ,to grant him salvation (Mukthi ni eeyave). O Mother, I have the deepest faith in you; I trust you, I trust you and have ever trusted you (nammiti nammiti nammitin-amma).

The slower tempo (Chowka-kala) and Chatursra-Taala are eminently suited for the Raga-Bhava of Karuna Rasa.  Usually, such Varnas in Chowka-kala will have longer lines and pauses, enabling the apt portrayal of the Bhava of the Varnam.  

This Varna has two Avartas (Taala-cycles) each, in the Pallavi and the Anupallavi. The Svara-Sahitya passage is appended to the Muktayi Svara. The introduction of the Tisra, Chatursra and Khanda groups in patterns can be seen in this Varna.

design rangoli

  1. The Varna Samini-ramm-anave Saraskshi is set in Raga Anandabhairavi, Ata Taala

[Anandabhairavi is a Janya of the 22nd Mela Kharaharapriya. Arohana: S G₂ R₂ G₂ M₁ P D₂ P Ṡ / Avarohaṇa: Ṡ N₂ D₂ P M₁ G₂ R₂ S.

Svara-sthanas: Chathusruthi-Rshabha, Sadharana-Gandhara, Shuddha-Madhyamā, Chatusruthi-Daivatha, Kaisiki-Nishada; apart from Shadja and Panchama.

Anandabhairavi is said to be one of the favourite Ragas of Sri Shyama Shastry.]

Saminirammanave  (Anandabhairavi) is an Ata-Taala, Taana-Varna, starting in the Laghu after a pause of eight  Akshara-kala duration.

But, here, the Svarasahitya passages are suffixed to the Muktayi-Svara, first, fourth and fifth Ettugada-Svaras. There are five Ettugada Svaras in all. Few syllables are there in the Pallavi and Anupallavi, with more vowel extensions.

This Varna is marked by a number of distinct features.

This is a fairly lengthy Varna with Pallavi, Anupallavi and two Caranas, with four Svarasahithya passages interposed between the Anupallavi and the last Carana.

Though it is listed under Taana-Varnas, its Sahitya resembles Pada-Varna.

We find the Kshetra-mudra ‘Kanchi-vasudina-Sri Varadarajuni’ in the Anupallavi.

The Telugu language used in this Varna is different from the one found in his Kritis. The use of the complex words of  archaic poetic nature resemble the Svarajatis; and gives a complex form to the language, as against the simple colloquial style of the Kritis.  In fact, the Telugu Sahitya here makes a difficult reading.

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And, to say the least, this is a rather unusual Varna; and, therefore, has been much discussed.

This is one of the two compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry that is not dedicated to praise the Mother Goddess in her various forms.

This Varna is the only single instance among the body of the works of Sri Shyama Shastry portraying Madhura-bhakthi.*

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Sri Shyama Shastry was a true Bhaktha of the Devi in the classical mould. He worshiped his Ishta-Devatha Bangaru Kamakshi with intense devotion (Archana); serving her and praying at her feet (Pada-sevana, Vandana and Dasya); thinking of her all the time (Smarana); listening to the legends of her magnificence (Srvavana); singing of her beauty, glory and splendour in countless manners (Kirtana); submitting himself to the will of the Mother and seeking refuge in her with absolute faith (Atma-nivedana) .

Thus, Sri Shyama Shastry was indeed a true icon of a devotee, a Sadhaka who constantly served his Devata with utmost devotion in all its modes (Nava-vidha-Bhakthi) as extolled in the Srimad Bhagavatha Purana.

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Sri Shyama Shastry adopted the Apatya-bhava*, an intense sense of proximity, looking upon Devi Kamakshi as his own Mother, who is always with him. It is the guileless (Akritrima) natural love; the purest of the attitudes that one can cultivate towards God.

[* The term Apatya is related to the child; and, to its attitude towards its parents. Yaska, in his Nirukta 3.1 :, explains it as: apatya kasmāt apatata bhavati pitu sakāśādetya pthagiva tata bhavati. ]

He was a child (Bidda, Sutudu) to his mother (Talli, Mayamma) with whom he talked, confided his fears, argued with her, cajoled her,  persistently sought her protection ; and , above all,  he never was willing to be weaned away from her. He loved her with all his heart, as only an innocent child can. He devoted his entire adult life in serving her, thinking of her,  being ever dedicated to her,  and loving her till his very last moment on this earth.

[Sri Shyama Shastry could foresee the end of his time on this Earth.

On the morning of the that appointed auspicious day, the Dashami, Tuesday (Cevvai), Shukla-paksha Makara (Magha) Masa , Shishira-Rtu – Uttarayana – Vyaya – Samvatsara – 1748 – Kaliyuga – 4927,  February 7th, 1827Sri Shyama Shastry meditated upon his Ishta Devata Mother Kamakshi; and, a little later he laid his head on the laps of his son Subbaraya Shastri; and, asked him to softly recite the Karna-mantra into his ears.

He was fully conscious till the very last moment. He peacefully, serenely journeyed to Sripuram; the heavenly abode of Devi Kamakshi, as if a child goes home to his Dear Mother.

That was how a noble soul came to pass.]

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The other notable Sadhaka who adopted such Apatya-bhava was Sri Ramakrishna Paramahamsa (18 Feb 1836 – 16 Aug 1886), who was born about nine years after the passing away of Sri Shyama Shastry (1827).

Sri Ramakrishna, just as Sri Shyama Shastry, was a priest. He worshipped Goddess kali at the Dakshineshvar temple. And, he too regarded Kali as a living Goddess (Pratyaksha Devata); he felt her presence everywhere, talked to her, fed her, and argued with her just as a child does with its loving Mother.

[The other Sadhakas who sang of Kali with a flaming devotional fervour that quickly come to my mind are Ramprasad Sen (1718-75) and Kamalakanta Bhattacharya (c. 1769–1821)]

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Sri Ramakrishna all through his Sadhana-kala practiced Apatya-bhava. But, for a very brief time, he tried, Madhura-bhakthi-bhava, the sweet love-filled attitude (Mahabhava) of Radha, the highly idealized personification Love and Beauty, towards Krishna the eternal Lover.

But, very soon he came back to Santa-Apatya-Bhava, the child-attitude, of peaceful adoration. 

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 In all the known compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry that have come down to us, it is the Apatya-bhava, the love and affection binding the child and the Mother that shines forth and overwhelmingly dominates. His child-like love, looking up to  Devi Kamakshi as his own Mother; as also the Bhakthi and Karuna Rasa appealing to her for  love and care at every moment and every turn of his life are the recurrent themes of all his compositions. It is truly very touching.  And, when that purest emotion is rendered through soulful Vilamba kala, it is then the Bhakthi Samgita of the highest order.

The Varna in Anandabhairavi is the sole instance of Madhura Bhakthi among all his compositions.

This could be considered as a very brief phase along the course of his Sadhana, which was essentially rooted in the Apatya-bhava, the purest of all. Just as Sri Ramakrishna did later, Sri Shyama Shastry had quickly come back to his  own natural aptitude. You can perhaps say; Apatya, truly, was Sri Shyama Shastry’s Sthayi-Bhava; while Madhurya was a fleeing Sanchari-Bhava.

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The Varna Samini-ramm-anave (Anandabhairavi), for all purposes can be treated as a Pada Varna. 

This is sung by the lovelorn (Virahini) Nayaki, asking her maid (Sakhi), to convey a message (Sandesha) to her Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram, the Nayaka, describing her plight, suffering pangs of separation; and, hasten to come to her.

Here, in this Varna, there are descriptions of the Lord as ‘Kamini Kanna’, who gave birth to Manmatha; and as Gunavanthudaina (meritorious one) Sarasa-nayana (with eyes like lotus), Samaja-gamana (with gait like that of an elephant).

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Some have pointed out that considering the overall nature of Bhakthi and Karuna Rasa, that pervades the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry, the Varna ‘Samini..,’  surely does appear to be out of character; and, it stands out oddly. Therefore, they have expressed reservations about the authorship of this Varna; and, have even pondered over the possibility that it might have been, at a later stage, interpolated (prakshepa) by someone else into the body of the works of Sri Shyama Shastry.

That is a fairly plausible way of looking at this Varna, in the context of Sri Shyama Shastry’s compositions taken as a whole.

But, the scholars such as Prof. Sambamoorthy (1930), Dr. Vidya Shankar and Dr. Sharadambal, who have studied deeply into the works of Sri Shyama Shastry, have all accepted this Varna as being a composition of Sri Shyama Shastry.

This Varna is also featured at Number 32  in Dr. T K Govinda Rao ’s book ‘ Compositions of Shyama Shastri..’ , published in 1997

Dr. Sharadambal also mentions that the Varna is included in the Hand Written Note Book of Shyama Shastry II (the great grandson of Sri Shyama Shastry).

Further, Sri Subbarama Dikshitar, in his Sangita-Sampradaya-Pradarshini (published in the year 1904), has included this Varna among the works of Sri Shyama Shastry. He has also worked out, in great detail, the Notations , spread over five pages, for the Taana Varna ‘Samini...’ pages 1540 to 1545  in the Appendix-Anubandha

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Considering the fact that many scholars had gone into the issue; and had, after due consideration, admitted this Varna into the list of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry, we may perhaps follow suit.

But, we may, for a limited purpose,  treat it as  the sole representation of Madhura Bhakthi in his compositions , which came about  at a very brief passing phase along the arduous course of his Sadhana; as it happened , later, in the life of Sri Ramakrishna.

**

This is a typical Ata-Taala-Varna, starting in the Laghu after a pause of eight Akshara-kala duration. The only difference being the Svarasahitya passages suffixed to the Muktayi Svara, first, fourth and fifth Ettugada-Svaras. There are five Ettugada Svaras in all. Few syllables are there in the Pallavi and Anupallavi with more vowel extensions

*

According to Smt. Sharadambal, who has made a detailed study of this Varna:

This Varna ‘Samini-ramm-anave’, though similar to Svarajati (pertaining to Dance) in structure has evolved with a separate Pallavi, Anupallavi and Mukthayi-Svara, collectively known as Purvanga.  The Utaranga part consists of Carana, Carana-Svaras and Sahitya.

In the complete version of the Varna ‘Samini-ramm-anave’ (Anandabhairavi) as seen in the Note Book of Shyama Shastry II, there is no Sahitya for the Ettugada-Svara. The Carana and the Carana-Svaras are also missing.

But, in other books, the Sahitya is found for Ettugada-Svara and some Carana-Svaras.

Among the Carana-Svaras, the first, fourth and the fifth alone have Sahitya portions. The four Carana-Svaras have one Avarta; while, the last one has two Avartas. There is no Anubandha or the continuing portion after the Carana-Svara. After singing the last Carana-Svara and the Sahitya, the Ettugada-Pallavi is sung. Then, the Anubandha is sung; and, finally, the Varna is concluded with the singing of Pallavi.

*

The Graha-Svaras for the various Angas of this Varna ’Samini….’ (Anandabhairavi)  are : Shadja for the Pallavi, Anupallavi and the Mukthayi Svara. The Carana starts as:  ’ mg-Ma-ga-ma-Pa’, after ending the phase ‘Pa-dha-pa-ma-ga-ga’. The Carana is taken as ‘ga-ga-Ma’

While the first and second Ettugada-Svaras start on Pa; the third and fourth Svaras on Madhyamā; and, the fifth Svara on Nishada. The ending phases of the Svaras have natural link with Carana.

We can find different Svaras as the ending Notes. While the first and last Svaras end as  ’ Sa-ga-ri-Ga-ga’ ; the second ends as’ Pa-Ma-Ga-Ri-Ni’; third as ‘Sa-Ni-Dha-Pa’; and, the fourth as ‘ Ma-Pa-Sa-Ni-Dha’. And, the Graha-SvaraMa’ is sung with a glide (Jaru) from ‘Ga-Ni-Pa and Dha’.

*

As regards the Gamakas, the Varna ‘Samini..’ opens with the key phrase of Anandabhairavi Raga i.e., the ‘Erra-jaru’ prayoga as ‘ Sa/Sa Dha-Pa-Ma-Ga-Ma’ in the Pallavi and also in the Anupallavi, as ‘ Sa/Sa Dha-Pa-Ma’ as published in the Samgita-Sampradaya –Pradarshini of Sri Subbarama Dikshitar.

The Jaru-Prayoga is found not only as the opening phrase ; but also in the other parts of the composition.

*

We find Svaraksharas in many places in the Varnas of Sri Shyama Shastry; as also in the Svarajatis.

In the two Varnas, Svarakshara syllables are found in the beginning as well as in some places. Both the Shuddha and Suchita Svaraksharas are found in them

In the Varna in Anandabhairavi Raga, Svaraksharas are found in the beginning of the Pallavi, Anupallavi and Carana.

[ I am reproducing here a rather lengthy observation  / comment receive by mail from Vasudeva Anand.

I have been watching the ongoing debate concerning the Varna ‘Samini rammanave’ by Sri Shyama Shastry.

These are my tuppence, for whatever it is worth.

The revered Trinity of the Carnatic Music are all basically rooted in Bhakthi-Bhava. The Music for them was a means for expressing their devotion; and their Kritis were their offerings, like flowers, to their deities.

These composers of long-lasting   musical careers also try to have in their repertoire other kinds of Rasas and Rasa-anubhavas. While their own essential attitudes stay firmly as bedrock, they might occasionally try other Bhavas as well. In other words; while Bhakthi is their Sthayi-Bhava, its variants like Madhura-Bhakthi would be its Sanchari-Bhava.

*

In the case of Sri Shyama Shastry ; all his compositions are in submission to the Mother Goddess praying for her Love and protection. All his Kritis are steeped in child-like devotion to its Mother. Perhaps his only composition depicting Madhura Bhakthi is the Varna ‘Samini rammanave.’

But the two of the Trinity – Sri Thyagaraja and Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar – have composed many Kritis (apart from those in Karuna and Bhakthi Rasas)  , which  portray different Rasas and Rasanu-bhava . Some of their songs do have Srngara Rasa.

 For instance:

Sri Thyagaraja’s Nauka Charitam depicts the Nayaki-Bhava and has shades of Srngara Rasa. All the Gopis are Anya-nayikas depicting proua and swādhina-pathika nāyikā-bhāva.

He describes the colourful scenes of the Gopis , dressing themselves , adorning themselves with lovely looking fragrant  flowers  to dance with Krishna : Shringārinchukoni-vedaliri-Sri-Krishnunithōnu…..-Puvvulumudugusunokathe….. Ravvajeyusu-nokathevētkaka

One of the Gopis is offering exotic flowers to Krishna, while another is offering him Tambūla. Some others are combing his hair, teasing him and making fun of him. While some are looking coyly at Krishna, someone suddenly hugs him overcome with love, some put Tilaka on his forehead, laughing and enjoying, calling him to sit beside them. All these lines in the song explain the essence of Srngara of the Madhura Bhakthi.

*

Further, some of his songs resemble Javalis. The songs of this genre describe the intimate relationship between the Nayaka and the Nayaki. Take, for instance, his songs Entha Muddhu and Chinna Natane, based in Nayika-Nayaka-bhedha. The song Chinna Natane, in particular, alludes to the relation between the Nayaka and the Nayaki.

In Entha Muddhu,

Sri Thyagaraja says : How charming and how elegant is He! Whoever is capable of describing! No matter how great people are, they became besieged by thoughts of lust. Being slaves to lust, they fear their mothers-in-law; yet, they pretend as true devotees of the Lord. Much like jug knowing the taste of milk! How charming and how elegant is He – praised by this Thyagaraja – who bears burden of the Universe! Whoever is capable of describing!

 In Chinna Natane,

 He says:  Have you not taken me, clasping my hand from my childhood and accepted with grace numerous services from me? You had assured me of your care and protection to the last. Now it looks as if you are in two minds, unable to decide if you should accept me or abandon me to my fate. Please help me to uphold my self-respect at least as a devotee of yours. Oh Ocean of virtues! Transcendent Lord!

**

As regards Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar his two Kritis- Kadambari Priyayai and Arunacha natham– do definitely differ from his other well known compositions steeped in Bhakthi and Vairagya Bhavas.

The Kriti Kadambari Priyayai is beautifully suited for an elaboration as a Padam in a Bharatha-natya recital. It brings nature and Srngara Rasa together beautifully.  Its  Kala pramana is eminently  suited for Abhinaya.

In his other Kriti – Arunacha natham- Arunachala-Natham-smarami-anisamapeeta kuchamba- is based on Srngara. Sri Dikshitar brings out the Nayaka-Nayika-bedha in its all its expressions.

The sheer beauty of this piece lies in the fact the Nayaka-Nayika-bedha is ensconced within a larger Bhava of Madura Bhakti, wherein the Jeevatma and Paramatma are in union.

**

Here in all these cases, Srngara should be viewed as an aspect of Madhura Bhakthi; and , should not be taken as  something that is improper .]

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  1. Dayanidhe Mamava sadaa – Begada (29) Adi Taala

[Raga Begada is the Janya of the 9th Mela Dhira Shankarabharana

Arohana: s g r g m p d p S; Avarohana: S Nd p Mg r s

Svara-Sthanas: Shadja, Chatussruthi-Rshabha-, Antara-Gandhara-, Suddha-Madhyama, Panchama, Chatussruthi Daivata, Kakali Nishada]

The Dayanidhe (Begada, Adi Taala), comparatively, is a short Varna. Its Pallavi, Anupallavi and Carana, have just one line each.  The Svarasahitya that follows the Carana has four lines.

The Vaggeyakara Mudra or Sva-nama, unusually, appears right at the beginning of the Varna in the Pallavi as:  Dayanidhe mamava sadaa Shyama Krishna pujite.

This Varna in Sanskrit is a simple prayer, composed in easy flowing beautifully worded lines; very pleasant on the ears. 

The Varna calls out to the Mother, citing her various names and forms (Nama-Rupa).It describes the beauty of Devi as having soft and delicate feet; and a very graceful neck.

Lalita-pada-yugale; kamaniya-kandhare

Sri Shyama Shastry sings the magnificence of the Mother, praising her as the protector of the people of the world, the Sages and all the celestial beings.  And, as one who mitigates the sins of all beings; and, protects the virtuous

Parama-Pavani; Bhavani; Paratpari; Shiva-shankari / Palita-Jana-Munigana- Sura-samude / Paapa-shamani, Sahrudaya-sammodini/

He adores the Mother as the Ocean of mercy and compassion; the abode of all illustrious virtues, which bring delight to pious people. And, he prays to her to grant him the sublime virtue of devotion

Mahaniye-Sugunalaye -Vitara –Bhakthim me

This is a very pious, delightful and a happy song, praying to the Mother to protect, redeem and uplift all beings including the Munis (Sages) and Devas.

*

This is a Varna with vowel extensions in the Pallavi and Anupallavi, lending scope for Madhyamā Kala singing.

A Svarasahitya passage is appended to the Mukthayi Svara.

There are four Ettugada-Svaras in the Uttaranga.

There is no Sanchara below Madhya-Sthayi-Shadja in this Varna; but, there are many Tara-sthayi phrases.

The Svarakshara beauties can be seen in the Pallavi, Svarasahitya and the Carana.

[There is also another version of this Varna, which is generally sung with slight variations.

 For more on this, please check page 251 0f Dr. Manju Gopal’s work under Appendix.]

*

Smt. Sharadambal , in her book, talks about this Varna

The Varna ‘Dayanidhe’ in Begada Raga is not found in the Hand-Written Note Book of Shyama Shastry II. This Varna as found in the book of Sri A Sundaram Ayyar is in the regular structure of Taana-Varna with Pallavi, Anupallavi and Mukthayi-Svara, in the Purvanga. And, the Uttaranga consists of a Carana and four Ettugada-Svaras.

Yet, we find the Sahitya for the Muktayi Svara, and the second Avarta for the Carana to be sung after the last Ettugada-Svaras in the book of Smt. Vidya Shankar

*

The Varna ‘Dayanidhe ‘ in Begada Raga of Sri Shyama Shastry , in praise of Goddess Raja-rajeshvari is in simple diction. In the Pallavi of the Varna itself, we find the Mudra of the composer, in the second Avarta.

 The actual words start as Atita-Eduppu from the first Avarta as: ‘Sa //Dha Shyamakrishna’. Usually, the Mudra of the Vaggeyakara will figure in the Anupallavi of the Varna.

*

Both the Nishadas are used in the Begada Varna ‘Dayanidhe’. The Anya-Svara Kaishiki Nishada is used only in the opening phase: ’Dha-Pa-Ma-Pa-Dha-Ni-Dha-Pa’.

[The noted scholar Dr. V V Srivatsa in his ‘Introduction and historical background of the Begada ‘presented at the Raganubhava session on Begada Raga held on 16 January 2000, while referring to the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry in that Raga mentions :

Begada is a Raga with unique, if not exclusive, Madhyama and Nishada Svaras. The Madhyama is of Pratyantara-Madhyama level. Nishada appears to be between the Kaishiki and Kakali-Nishada Svaras. This Raga also permits, on a selective basis, Kaisika and Kakali-Nishada. Begada is of the genre of Sahana, Saveri and Anandabhairavi, liked primarily for the Ranjakatva. The dual-vakra-sanchara in the Arohana is the main characteristic of this raga. The glide from the Purvanga to the Uttaranga is harmonious.

Begada belongs to a select group of Ragas in which we have at least one composition by each member of the Trinity. This is a raga which provides Hasya, Srngara and Adbhuta Rasas. The present version of this raga conforms to that given in the Sangraha Choodamani.

Earlier,  in the Adi tala Varnam by Syama Sastri,  we can find often, the permutation “pa-ma-ga-ri”. Syama-Sastri’s “Kamakshi-Nato-Vada” has several pristine sancharas now virtually lost to posterity.]

The Pallavi alone starts with ‘Dha’, while the Anupallavi and Ettugada –Svara start on Ma ; the Ettugada-Pallavi and the first two Svaras start on ’Pa’; third one on ‘Ga’; and, the last on Tara ‘Sa’.

Though in many Varnas we find similarity in the opening Svaras of the Pallavi and the Ettugada Svara here is missing.

*

We find Svaraksharas in many places in the Varnas of Sri Shyama Shastry; as also in the Svarajatis.

In the two Varnas, Svarakshara syllables are found in the beginning as well as in some places. Both the Shuddha and Suchita Svaraksharas are found in them

The Varna ‘Dayanidhe’ in Begada Raga also starts with Shuddha Svarakshara in all the three Angas.

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  1. Nive gatiyeni namminanu Jagadamba– Kalyani (65) –Tisra Mathya

[Raga Kalyani is the 65th Melakarta Raga; Sampurna Raga It is also called as ‘Mecha Kalyani’ based on Katapayadi Sutram

Arohana: s r g m p d n S; Avarohana: S n d p m g r s

Svarasthanas: Shadja, Chatussruti Rshabha, Antara Gandhara, Prati Madhyama, Pachama, Chatussruti Daivata, Kakali Nishada]

In this Varna, Sri Shyama Shastry prays to the mother to listen to his pleas (manavi vinu); to make haste and come to him (vegame); and, to rescue him, since she is the only resort and there is none else to protect him.

He addresses the Mother Kanchi Kamakshi seated in Kama-Koti as Raja-Rajeshvari; Anatha-rakshaki (one who protects the orphaned)

O Jagadamba (mother of all this existence) I have been listening to your awe-inspiring legends (Charitamu-vini-vini); and have been constantly singing your glory (pogadi-pogadi). O Bangaru Kamakshi I have absolute faith in you (nere namminanu) and take refuge in your lotus feet (paada-kamala). You are my only saviour. Please do protect me.

The Raga Mudra and Vaggeyakara Mudra are in the phrase: Kalyani Shyamakrishna Sodari Devi.

The Telugu Sahitya is in simple words. It is the Music of the Varna that is more impressive.

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What better way could there be to conclude the Series than with the  auspicious , most pleasing and lovely Mangala-Kriti (Shankari-Shankari, Kalyani, Adi) recited  by Sri Shyama Shastry as a benediction (Svasthi-vachana) – a prayer entreating the divine blessings of  his Mother, the Supreme Goddess Raja-Rajeshvari, who is the very embodiment of  all the spiritual knowledge  (Tattva-jnana-rupini) and one who enlightens  all (Sarva-chitta-bohini)  to bless  and grant (Disa)  all of this existence (Sarva-Lokaya) health, happiness , prosperity (Jaya) and well-being  in  all its forms (Shubha)

 – Mangalam– Jaya Mangalam – Shubha Mangalam

श्याम कृष्ण सोदरि शिशुं मां परिपालय शङ्करि
करि मुख कुमार जननि कात्यायनि कल्याणि
सर्व चित्त बोधिनि तत्त्व ज्ञान रूपिणि
सर्व लोकाय दिश मङ्गळं जय मङ्गळं
शुभ मङ्गळं (शङ्करि)

rajeshi

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Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet

 
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Posted by on August 5, 2020 in Music, Sangita, Shyama Shastri

 

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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Ten

Continued from Part Nine

Sri Shyama Shastry – Music-Continued

Devi Kamakshi

Svarajati

Svarajati, as the name suggests, is a combination of Svaras (notes) and Jati (rhythmic pattern represented by a vocal ‘Sol’).

The Svarajati is said to have been developed in two ways – one type with Jatis to suit dance movements; and, the other, a simple type for beginners in music.

Thus, the Svarajati could be rendered as a song, with all the Alamkaras; and, it could also be a musical composition adorned with graceful and flowing stream of rhythms, to which a Dancer performs with apt Nrtta (rhythmic-body-movements) and present the interpretation of its words through Abhinaya (meaningful expressions).

The main features of the Svarajatis are (1) presence of a number of Svara-Sahitya passages in the Carana ;( 2) the absence of Anupallavi; and, (3) preponderance of Jatis

The first two features can be seen in beginner’s Svarajatis. And, in the Dance-Svarajatis, the third factor is important.

*

As regards the Svarajatis, which belonged to the sphere of Abhyasa-gana; they were mainly intended to be learnt by students of music. These were simpler types, without the Jatis.

On account of the simple, yet qualitative music, and good rhythmic flow, many Svarajatis are taught to the students of music, after they learnt Gitas; but, before the Varnas.  The Svarajatis are, therefore, normally treated as Abhyasa-gana class of practical compositions.

[Simpler Svarajatis, without Jatis and the Anga of Muktayi Svara, were composed for the benefit of students of art music and dance. These are pieces to be learnt after a course in Alankara, Gita and Jatisvara; but, before learning to sing Varnas.

The purpose of learning Jatisvara and Svarajati is to get a good grasp of the rhythm, which would prepare the student for the next difficult piece, the Varna.

Thus, there is some logic behind the graded method of teaching the musical forms.

The Sahitya of a Svarajati has more words than the Sahitya of a Gita.

To enable the student to get familiar with a Sahitya consisting of more number of words; to train her/him to sing properly, following the time-units precisely is perhaps the intention behind the gradation of  these technical forms.]

This Abhyasa-gana type of Svarajatis is quite different from the Pada-Varna.  It has a different structure. It has no Anupallavi; but, there is coordination between the Svaras and the syllables of the Sahitya. The Sahitya and the melody take priority.

Perhaps, the only common point it has with the Pada-Varna is the fact that the beginning Svara sahitya passages are simpler; and, there is a gradual increase in the length and complexity of the lines.

*

As regards the Svarajatis that are specially designed for Dance; they have rhythmic syllables or Sollukottus in its musical structure. In this type, there are Jatis and Sahitya for all the Svara-passages. The Svara and Sahitya lines which follow each other alternatively, lend themselves well to the Abhinaya and Nrtta sequences in a dance.

Here, the Nrtta (rhythmic-body-movements) and Adavus (basic steps in Dance) are performed to the Svaras and Sollokottu; whereas, the Abhinaya is performed to the Sahitya.

The early version of the Dance-Svarajatis resembled the Pada-Varnas. It had a short Pallavi, Anupallavi and a fairly long Carana portion, consisting of Carana-Sahitya, Svara passages and a Jati section.

*

The third type of Svarajati, which has no Jati or Sollukottu in its structure; which has the refinement to project the Raga-svarupa; and, which can be rendered in music concerts, was the one that was developed by Sri Shyama Shastry.

The Svarajatis developed by Sri Shyama Shastry were far more advanced and sophisticated than the simple Abhyasa-gana Svarajatis. And, at the same time, they are different from the Dance Svarajatis.

The Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastry form a separate class of compositions, which do not resemble Dance-Svarajatis. They do not have a Mukthayi-Svara section with Sahitya and Jati. They also do not, generally, form a part of the repertoire of Dance-Music. They are largely rendered in Art-musical-concerts.

In their structure, these types of Svarajatis are made of Pallavi, and many Caranas in the form of Svara-Sahityas (Svara syllable having a corresponding syllable of text of identical duration).

A number of Svara-Sahitya passages in the Carana and the absence of Anupallavi are the other characteristic features of this type of Svarajati.

The Svarakshara beauty, where the syllable of the text is identical or similar to the correspondent Svara syllable, is a noteworthy feature in most of the Svarajatis.

Svara-Sahitya is a combination of Svara (Sol-fa) passages with appropriate Sahitya passages that match the Svaras. The Svara-part should steadily maintain continuity with the Music of the Sahitya of the Carana; and, should methodically lead to the Pallavi. Again, the Sahitya-portion of the Svara-Sahitya should blend with the Sahitya of the Carana; and, later with the Carana.

That is to say; the Svarajatis are compositions made of Pallavi, Anupallavi and Caranas in the form of Svara-sahitya. Now, while rendering the Carana, its Svaras are sung first; and, then its corresponding Sahitya is presented. After the final Carana, the Pallavi is again rendered as  the conclusion.

By increasing the numbers of Svara letters and the Sahitya letters, according to the time-units of the Taala-aksharas, the Carana-Svaras are sung as if in Madhyama-kala. The number of Avartas (one Avarta is a complete cycle of a Taala) for the Carana-Svaras is also increased gradually.

When one tries to explain in words, it does sound very complicated. But, when an erudite artist sings, seamlessly weaving the Svara-Sahitya passages with consummate skill and artistry, it is truly delightful.

Vajra

Almost running parallel to what I said above:

Dr. Ritha Rajan, in her articleJatisvaram/Svarajati’ published in the Journal of the Music Academy Madras (Vol. LXXV- 2002) mentions that Sri Subbarama Dikshitar, in his Sangita-Sampradaya-Pradarshini, described two types of Svarajatis.

The first type of Svarajatis are those, which are more suitable for Dance-Dramas , like Bhagavatha-Mela-Natakas, wherein the brisk Madhyama–Kala could be executed , with all its vigour and gusto, by the male dancers.

This is said to be the older form or type of Svarajati; with Madhyama-kala as its characteristic feature. Many of them are set in Tisra-Eka-Taala (each unit of Taala being three melodic pulses) or in Rupaka-Taala (one Dhruta followed by one Laghu).

The Mukthayi (a passage of Svara syllables that succeeds an Anupallavi, usually of two Avartas) was composed with the first phase,  with only long Svaras; the second phase in Madhyama-kala; and, the third phase in Durita-Kala, ending with the Jati phrase : ‘ taddin ginata tom’. The Carana was sung in a faster tempo as Svarajati.

[It is said; this older type of Svarajati-s fell into disuse; because the Pada-Varnam, which resembled it, gained more popularity.]

The other type of Svarajatis that Sri Subbarama Dikshitar mentioned is that, where the Jati-groups (rhythmic patterns composed of vocal ‘Sols’) form the central core of the composition. The Jati-groups are presented in the form of Svaras, along with the Sahitya.

The Graha-Svaras (Svara on which a Raga or a song commences) of the Svara-Sahityas will be in the Arohana-Krama (ascending order), in accordance with the Murchanas (the ascending and descending movement of the seven notes in successive order) of the Raga. Sometimes, the Krama or the sequential order of the Graha-Svaras of the Svara-Sahitya will be in Avarohana-Krama (descending order). The Mathu or the text will be of devotional nature. The Mathu of the first section of the Svarajati will be like a Pallavi.

*

Viewed in the light of these explanations, you find that the Svarajati-s of Sri Shyama Shastri in the Ragas Bhairavi and Yadukula-kambhoji in Misra-Chapu-Taala, alone come under the second category of Svarajatis.

These Svarajatis have a Jati based format, which is presented as Svaras with appropriate Sahitya. The Graha Svaras of the Svara-Sahityas are in the Arohana- Krama. The Mathu is devotional, in its nature. The first section is complete like the Pallavi section of a Kriti, in terms of both Dhatu and Mathu.

Dr. N. Ramanathan points out that the Todi Svarajati of Sri Shyama Shastry seems to be the odd one out; because, certain important features found with the other two Svarajatis are absent here. There is no proper ascending order (Arohana)   for the Graha-Svaras in the Svara-Sahityas of the Svarajati in Todi Raga; and, a planned gradual musical development is also missing in its Svara-Sahityas.

*

As regards the Svarajatis in Ragas Bhairavi and Yadukula-Kambhoji, Dr. Ramanathan mentions:

The Pallavis of the Bhairavi and Yadukula-kambhoji Svarajatis have almost identical rhythmic structure; and, also have architectonic order and proportion. Further, certain Svara-Sahityas have similar structure in both the forms. In the Bhairavi Svarajati, out of the Eight Svara-Sahityas, from the 5th Svara-sahitya onwards the numbers of melodic pauses considerably increase.  There are also sub divisions of melody within the sections.

Vadi-Samvadi-Svara combinations, Svara-aksharas, Atita and Anahata-Eduppus and prolonged Svaras with Karvai for five or seven Aksaras also figure in the Svarajatis

*

Further, Dr. N. Ramanathan says that the Svarajati form created by Sri Shyama Shastry is almost similar to the Carana part of the old Svarajati, with modifications. These made the composition into an Art-musical form. With revision of the Kala-pramana into a slower one; and, by concentrating more on melodic richness; and, with a plain Bhakthi text, the new form of Svarajati came into vogue.

Vajra

Sri Shyama Shastry revised the form of the Svarajatis by eliminating the Jatis from their musical structure and, letting the Svaras to arrange themselves into Jati-patterns. And, he converted them into a refined form, which can even be sung in concerts.

Though the Jatis are eliminated, there are enormous other rhythmic beauties and complexities in the structure of his Svarajatis; without interfering the Bhava aspect; and, at the same time, adding more richness to these compositions. Sri Shyama Shastry, elsewhere, referred to this musical form in his Natta Raga Kriti ‘Pahimam’ as ‘Sarasa-pada-yugale Svarajati kalpita sangeeta-rasike’.

Sri Shyama Shastry’s contribution in reforming the Svarajatis is indeed exceptional. He was probably the first to compose Svarajatis in a new form of musical genre, where the compositions can be rendered in vocal or in instrumental form, with all the embellishments. Prior to this, the Svarajati was primarily a dance-song, resembling the Pada-vara, in its structure.

The Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastry are different from the rest; they are more advanced; and by themselves, they form a separate category of Art Music.

The beauty of the Svarajatis composed by Sri Shyama Shastry is in its natural flow of the Taala, Laya and Svaras.

He seemed to have found the Svara-Sahitya feature most fascinating and challenging, as well.

Here, in the Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastry, the elegant Svara passages blend naturally with the emotionally rich Sahitya. What you experience here is the harmony that binds together in one entity, the soulful Ragas; the lyrical elegant Sahitya; and, the innovative Taala patterns; all into a rare joyful aesthetic delight.

As regards their structure; his Svarajati compositions commence with a Pallavi, which is followed by Carana/s. While rendering the Carana, the Svaras are sung first; and, then its corresponding Sahitya is presented.

*

It is often said that the earlier form of Svarajati was primarily a dance-song, resembling the Pada-Varna in its structure; and, Sri Shyama Shastry transformed it into a more Musical form.

However, Dr. Ramanathan observes:

I think that in Shyama Shastri’s compositions the dance rhythms may not be explicit; but, they are still very much there. His Guru Samgita Swami was a Natyacharya; and , learning from this Guru at a young age had probably left certain deep impressions and ideas in the disciple’s mind, based on which, he would later mould his compositions.

It is also possible that in making modifications to the earlier Svarajati forms, Sri Shyama Shastry was influenced by the songs like ‘ēmandayānrā’ in Husēni Raga of Paccimiriyam Ādippayya (with whom he spent quite some time).

*

Sri Subbarama Dikshitar also says that the compositions of Shyama Shastri have an under-current of Jati-patterns in the melodic structure; and, should be sung with a proper grip and assertiveness.

That is because; his techniques have created unique rhythmic patterns and movements. For instance; in the application of Chapu Taala, he very effectively used the khanda phrases (i.e. phrases with 5 pulses), by way of starting the composition after the lapse of 5 counts and by providing apt Misra and Sankirna pauses of duration of 5 counts. This extraordinary use of khanda-Karvais, in effect, made the Taala gain an altogether different dimension.

[Dr. N. Ramanathan says that there is another variety of Svarajatis, which is modelled in the structure of a Pada-varna, with Pallavi, Anupallavi, Muktayi-Svara, Carana and Carana-Svaras.

In this type, the Muktayi-Svara passage consists of two parts i.e. Paata syllables and Svaras. It ends with the Jati ‘ta-dingina-tôm’ before returning to Pallavi.

He mentions that the Graha-Svaras of the Carana-Svaras are in the ascending order; in this type it is observed only in the Svarajati ‘Emandayanara’ in Huseni Raga composed jointly   by Paccimiriam Adiyappa and Melattur Venkatarama Shastri

In these Svarajatis we find the Sahitya of the Pallavi and Anupallavi is spread over a number of Svaras; and, only in the Carana Svaras we find the Svara letters and Sahitya letters are identical either long or short (Dheerga or Hrasva).

 Moeover, the Kala-pramana also differs between the Purva-part and Uttara -part in some Svarajatis.  The Purva-part is in slow tempo while the Uttara-part is in Madhyama-kala.]

devi 

Sri Shyama Shastry has composed three Svarajatis which are aptly called ‘Ratna-traya’ i.e. three gems.

His three Svarajatis are: (1) Rave Himagiri Kumari (8-Todi, Adi Taala); (2) Kamakshi anudinamuna (20-Bhairavi, Misra-Chapu Taala); and, (3) Kamakshi nee padayugamu (28-Yadukula-Kambhoji, Misra-Chapu Taala).

All the three are composed in Telugu; and, consist of Pallavi and multiple Caranas, which are sung as Svara-Sahityas.

And, all the three Svarajatis are dedicated to Devi Sri Kamakshi of Kanchipuram.

 Each Svarajati extols the beauty, the magnificence and splendid virtues of the Devi. And, through these gems, Sri Shyama Shastry prays to the Devi, seeking her blessings, her protection and her Motherly Love; and, refuge at her Lotus-feet.

All the three Svarajatis, singing the beauty and glory of the Mother Goddess Kamakshi, resemble the Kriti in their form. However, they differ from the Kriti in that they have no Anupallavi; and, have a number of Svara-sahitya passages with an entirely different Dhatu. 

All the three Svarajatis are structured with a gradual sequence of music that ends in a climax.  With the steady ascendance of the tempo, it looks as if Sri Shyama Shastry adopted here the sequential progression of the Alapana-Paddathi.

The Todi-Svarajati ‘Rave-Himagiri-Kumari-Kanchi-Kamakshi‘in Adi-Taala is the shortest, with six Svara-sahitya; each of which begins with the Raga-Chaya-SvarasDha, Ga and Ma. The Svara-kashara syllables are dexterously woven into the texture of the Sahitya.

*

The Bhairavi-Svarajati ‘Kamakshi-Amba-anudinamu-maravakane’ is set to Chapu Taala; and, has the unique structure with eight Caranas  each beginning with a successively a higher note in the scale of   the eight Svaras ‘Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa’ in that order (krama). And, the last Carana begins with tara-sthayi shadja. And, the Pallavi starts in the Mandra-sthayi; and, has a rare Prayoga of Shudha-Dhaivata, sung as a prolonged note. This is perhaps is the most popular Svarajati of Sri Shyama Shastri.

*

The Yadukula-Kambhoji Svarajati ‘Kamakshi-ni-paada-yugamu’ is set to Misra-Chapu. And, here again, the different sections commence on the Raga-Chaya- Svaras of the Raga- Sa,-Ri,-Pa,-Dha. This Svarajati is mostly in Mandra and Madhya Sthayi; but, some lines, towards the end, ascend (Makuta) to the Tara-Sthayi.

Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastri

The Ragas selected, in each case, is very apt. All the three Ragas are Shuddha-Madhyamā Ragas; of which one (Raga Todi) is a Melakarta.  Of the two Janya Ragas, Bhairavi, which is a major Raga, provides abundant scope for elaboration. And, at the same time, the third one, Yadukula-Kambhoji is very rarely elaborated. But, Sri Shyama Shastry has deftly handled all the three Ragas, exploring their subtleties and their individual characteristics.

All the three Svarajatis, which are addressed to the Devi Kamakshi, have many common features; such as: similarity in thematic content of the Sahitya couched in sweet-sounding rhythmic passages; in the arrangement of the Music starting from the slow meditative expansive elaboration, gradually raising to higher pitch and faster pace towards the end portions.

The prime feature of the music of Sri Shyama Shastry is his deep-rooted faith and his ardent devotion to the Mother Goddess. He approaches her as a child that longs for the Love of his Mother.  The Laya patterns, in tandem with the soulful (Bhava-purita) Sahitya, portray his approach.

Most of his compositions commence in calm, slow-paced (Vilamba-kala) meditative Music, lovingly conversing with the Mother Kamakshi. As the composition progresses, he is overtaken by a feeling of urgency and eagerness of a Sadhaka in securing assurance and protection from his Ishta-Devata. And, that is reflected in the contemplative mood giving place to the increased pace of the Laya in the latter parts of his Svarajatis.

 *

The sparkling Svarakshara beauty, which blends amicably well with the Sahitya, is another noteworthy feature shared by his three Svarajatis, which are often rendered at the Musical concerts.

Generally in all the three Svarajatis the Mandra Sthayi is used in the Pallavi, which paves way for the elaborate delineation of the Raga ; and , a gradual rise in the Sthayis as well as number or Avartas are found in the subsequent Caranas.

**

Before we go into the individual Svarajatis, it would be truly rewarding to briefly read through the general observations made by Dr. Sharadambal in her Doctoral Thesis.

[Her comments are highly technical. I have included here, hopefully, for the benefit of the serious students, just a few extracts from some of the details she provided.]

*

Structure of Svarajatis

The three Svarajatis are in the Ragas Todi, Bhairavi and Yadukula-kambhoji.

The Svarajatis   in Bhairavi and Yadukula-kambhoji are set in Misra-Chapu Taala; while the Svarajati in Todi is set in Adi-Taala (two Kalai).

Of the three Svarajatis, the Todi Svarajati ‘Rave Himagiri Kumari’ in Adi-Taala is with Six Caranas; while the Bhairavi and Yadukula-kambhoji Svarajatis in Misra-Chapu Taala are with Eight and Eleven Caranas, respectively.

The Graha-Svaras for the Caranas are in the ascending order in the Bhairavi and in the Yadukula-kambhoji Svarajatis.

In the Todi-Svarajati, a slight change is found; the second Carana starts in the note ‘Ma’, while the 3rd, 4th and 5th Caranas on ‘Ga’.

In the earlier books which published the Svarajatis of Shyama Shastri, it is mentioned that the Svara of the Pallavi should be sung after the Svara portion of the Carana; and, the Sahitya of the Pallavi after the Sahitya portion of the Caranas.

As seen in the book Gayaka-siddha-anjanamu (of Singaracharulu Brothers, 1905), finishing portions of the Pallavi and Caranas of the Bhairavi Svarajati are marked as follows:

 Pallavi (last Avarta) : M G, R s (N) /  (nammiti) ni Sri kan ci (ka)

 1st Carana-Svara (last Avarta) :  D N S r (N) / (tal) li ra ksin cu (ka)

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Sahitya

The language employed in the Svarajatis is a high-flown pedantic scholarly Telugu, admixed with Sanskrit terms, as compared to the simple colloquial style adopted in the Kritis. The speech idiom is also interspersed with the poetical description of the Goddess.

For instance, to indicate that the Devi is the protector of the universe, he says:

Sarasijasana-harisa vinuta pada-kamalasambava-sura-muni-drulace tanu ninu-pogadutaku (Svarajati-Kamakshi-ni-pada- in Yadukula-kambhoji

To indicate that the Devi protects   her devotees, he uses a very long phrase:

Dalacinajana-dulaku-bahu-sampadalanu-sadadalacina-manavula-kella phala mosage – (Svarajati Kamakshi ni pada- in Yadukula-kambhoji).

The greatness of the Goddess as exhibited in the Vedas is mentioned in the three Svarajatis as: ‘srtutulu-moralidaga’; `vedamulu moralidagana’; and, `dorayanucu vedamulu moralidaga’.

Devi as destroyer of sins is hailed as: pataka-mulanu vâdiga; and pataka-mulanu-dircci

Devi as the destroyer of demons is praised as: Madamatta-mahisa-danava-mardani; and, madadanuja- varana-mrgendra-rcita kalusa-dahana.

*

At the same time he uses he uses, at times, even in the Svarajatis, informal, colloquial expressions, calling himself as her son, ‘Sutudamma’. He requests her to guard him against trials and tribulations. For instance:

Abhimanâmuledâ-nâpai Devi / parâkelane brôvave ippudu / cintalu vevega dircchamma / mora vinada parâkela-namma

**

Svarakshara

A remarkable feature of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry is the perfect synchronization of the Mathu and Dathu; blending the Sahitya with its corresponding Svara-structure. He also manages to establish harmony between the syllabic duration with the melodic duration of the phrases (Kala-pramana).

Svarajatis with many Caranas functioning as Svara-Sahityas give plenty of scope for introducing Svaraksharas. A perfect dovetailing is also found between the Svara letters and Sahitya letters in his Svarajatis.

Both the Shuddha and the Suchita Svaraksharas are found in the three Svarajatis, as the Svara and Sahitya are sung one by one; we are able to understand the Svarakshara well in the Svara -Sahityas of the Svarajati.

The Svaraksharas syllables occur in between other letters as a single letter in many places and also as combined with two or three letters.

The Svara syllables ‘Ma’, ‘Ni’, ‘Pa’, ‘Sa’ are frequently used as single syllables as the Svarakshara syllables  while the grouping of two or three are found by combining ‘Ga-Ma’ ‘Ga-Ma-Pa’, ‘Ga-Ma-Dha’, ‘Sa-Ri-Ma’, ‘Ri-Sa’ and ‘Sa-Ri’.

*

Examples of single letters: In the last Carana of the Todi Svarajati, the Svaras’ Ni ‘and’ Pa’ fit in as Svarakshara.

R s n s P, D, N, P m G
cinta nuve kalyâ ni pâ da me

*

Svaraksharas used in Yadukula-Kambhoji Svarajati

svarakshara syllable2s

Some Examples of Svaraksharas in the three Svarajatis

Svarakshara Svarajati2

Vajra

  1. Rave Himagiri Kumari (8-Todi, Adi Taala)

[Todi (also called as Hanuma-Todi) is the 8th Mela

      • Arohana:s r g m p d n S
      • Avarohana:S n d p m g r s

Svarasthana: Shadja, Shuddha-Rshabha, Sadharana-Gandhara, Shuddha-Madhyama, Panchama, Shuddha-Daivata and Kaisiki-Nishada/]

The Svarajati in Raga Todi, the shortest of the three, consists a Pallavi followed by Six Caranas as Svara-Sahitya Passages.

Of the Six Carana, the first four are of the magnitude of one Avarta; and, the last two Caranas consist of two Avartas. 

*

The different sections commence on the Raga-chaya-Svaras namely Dha and Ga. The Pallavi, the first Svara-Sahitya Section; and, the Mudra section begin on Dhaivata, while the 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sections on Gandhara.

*

The music of the Pallavi begins in the Mandra-Sthayi-Dhaivata; and, revolves around the same; occasionally touching the Madhya-Sthayi ‘Ga’.

The first Svara-Sahitya passage is beautifully conceived, without resorting to Panchama note. The phrases succeed in a highly attractive manner. The 3rd, 4th and 5th Svara Sahitya sections begin in the Gandhara-Svara, bringing out the essence of the Raga through powerful and appealing phrases.

Each of these Svara-Sahitya-Caranas begins with the Raga-chayaSvaras capably woven into the texture of the Sahitya as, for instance: Ga-ma-Pa-ma-ga-ma-Dha / (Ka)- (mi)-(tartha)-(pha)-(la)-(da).

Todi Svarasahitya

 The essence of the Raga (Raga-bhava) is evoked through appealing phrases and the use of Panchama (Pa) in Alpa-Prayogas (very rare application or usage mostly when concluding the Raga-Alapana). This lends a special charm to the Music of the Svarajati.

 [Please check here for its rendering by Smt. M S Subbulakshmi. Thanks to Sri RSR)]

The Svarajati is addressed to his Mother (Mayamma) Kanchi Kamakshi, the daughter of the King of Himalaya (Himagiri Kumari). And, the Pallavi commences with a request submitted to her to listen to his plea (Naa manavi vinavamma); and, to bless him (Shubha mi-mma).

In the string of Six Svara-Sahitya passages, Sri Shyama Shastry praises the beauty, magnificence and the kindness of the Mother Kamakshi, by using the Sanskrit terms. And, while requesting (Koriti) her to dispel his worries quickly (Naa chintalanu vega deerchi) for protection (Abhaya-miyamma) since he has nowhere else to go but her feet (Nee paadamule dikku), he uses the Telugu terms and verbs.

 He describes the power and the kindness of the Mother in Sanskrit phrases as:

Mada-matta-Mahisha-danava-mardhini; Nata-jana-paripalini; Kamapalini; and, Kamita-artha-phala-dayike

In the fifth Carana, Sri Shyama Shastry sings of the beauty of the features and of the stately gait of the Mother Goddess through poetic phrases, such as:

Kamala-mukhi;Dhara-ghana-neela-kacha-bhara-vilochane;Mani-radana; and Gaja-gamana.

*

The Pallavi commences in Mandra-Sthayi-Dheerga-Dhaivata, rendered with Kampita Gamaka.

The Raga-bhava of the Todi is brought out by the proper application of the Prayogas along with the Raga-chayaSvaras (Gandhara and Daivata). The Panchama-Varja-Prayoga (skipping of notes) adds beauty to the composition. A special feature of Todi Raga is said to the Varja-Prayoga or phrases where Svaras are skipped. This, in Todi in particular, enhances the beauty and Rakthi of the Raga.

*

The Dvitiya-akshara-Prasa the rhyming with identical consonants or similar sounding vowels, in the second position in a line can be seen in the Caranas 3 to 5: Kamapalini; Kamitaphala; Kamalamukhi; and, Syamakrishna.

The Svara-phrases and words corresponding to groups of Tisra and Khanda can be seen in the 5th Carana

Khandam

Smt. Sharadambal comments:

The Pallavi of the Todi Svarajati ‘Rave’ begins in the Mandra Sthayi, Dheerga Dhaivata, which is sung with Kampita -Gamaka.

The Caranas either end in Mandra-Sthayi-Nisada or Madhya-Sthayi-Shadja, with a natural lead to the Pallavi as: n (D) or s (D).

The range of the Svaras increases gradually in Sthayi. 

In the first and second Carana- Svaras, the lower limit is ‘Mandra Dha’ and upper limit is ‘Madhya Ma’

In the second and third Carana Svaras , the lower limit is Mandra ‘Ni’;  and upper limit is Madhya ‘ni’;  while the fifth Svara touches ‘Tara-Ga’ in the finishing phrase as  :

 Dha-ga-ri-ni-Dha, pa |, ma-Ga- Ri-sa ||

The second Carana Svaras start with Madhyamā, while the other three Carana-Svaras start on ‘Madhya Ga’. The first Carana- Svara start on ‘Mandra Dha’; and, the last on ‘Madhya Dha’.

The melodic movement of the last Svara also centres between ‘Madhya Ma’ and ‘Tara Ri’, only in the final phrase comes down to Mandra-Sthayi-Svaras as ‘Pa-Ma-Ga, Ri-Sa’

In the third, fourth and fifth Svaras that start on the Svara ‘Ga’, stress and shake is given to the Svara in different ways. ‘Ga-Ma-Pa’, ‘Ga-Ma-Dha-Ma’ in these Prayogas. the Dheerga KampitaGa’ is sung. 

Flattened ‘Ga’ is found in the Prayogas: ‘Ga-Ri-Sa’, ‘Ri-Ga-Sa,’ ‘Ni-Dha-Ma-Ga’ and ‘Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa’. ‘Ga’ is sung as Erra- jaru in both Mandra-Sthayi to Madhya Sthayi and Tara- Sthayi in the fifth Svara as:   ‘Dha/Ga-Sa-Ri-Ni-Sa’ and ‘Dha/Ga-Ri-Ni-Dha’.

*

We find Shadja, Panchama Varja Prayogas in the Todi Svarajati.

They are Varja and also Dathu Prayogas [Ga-Ma-Ni-Dha-Ma, Ga-Ma-Dha-Ma, Ni-Dha-Ma-Ga, Ma-Ga-Ri-Ni-Dha, Ri-Ni-Dha] – Varja, [Dh-Ga-Ri-Ni-Dha Ga-Dha-Ma-Ga-Ri-Ni] – Dathu.

In the first Svara it is a combination of a Misra and a Tisra as [dha-ni-sa-ri-G-] [-Ri-ni] , while it is simply a Misra in the second Svara as [dha-ni-sa-ri-g-ri-ni]

Vajra

  1. Kamakshi anudinamu (20-Bhairavi, Misra-Chapu Taala)

[Bhairavi is the Janya of the 20th Melakarta Nata-Bhairavi

    • Arohana: s r g m p *d n S
    • Avarohana: S n d p m g r s

Svarasthana: Shadja, Panchama, Chatussruti-Rishabha, Sadharana-Gandhara, Shuddha-Madhyamā, Shuddha-Diatom, Chatussruthi-Daivata.and Kaisiki-Nishada]

The Svarajati ‘Kamakshi anudinamunu maravakane nee paadamule dikkenuchu nammitini Sri Kanchi, Kamakshi’ in Bhairavi Raga, Misra-Chapu Taala, is a very highly popular composition of Sri Shyama Shastry; and, it is very often rendered at the Music concerts.

[Please check here for its rendering by Smt. M S Subbulakshmi Thanks to Sri RSR)]

Its Pallavi is followed by eight Svara-Sahitya-Caranas. Each of these Eight Caranas begins in a regular order of Svaras: Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni, Sa.

The Pallavi commences in Mandra-Sthayi; and, the tempo picks up progressively in the later Angas of the Svarajati, to match the emotional appeal of each Carana.

Sri Shyama Shastry seemed to have treated each Svara as a Graha Svara; and has delineated the Bhairavi Raga most beautifully.

[Please check here for the Dance-rendering of the Bhairavi Svarajati]

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Apart from its very pleasing Sahitya, the Raga-bhava of Bhairavi is brought out wonderfully well in a methodical progression, traversing through all the Sthayis, ranging from Mandra-Sthayi-Madhyamā on to the Tara-Sthayi-Madhyama.

The Pallavi has a rare Prayoga of Shuddha-Daivata (Dha); and, is sung as an extended prolonged note.

The commencing notes of the Caranas are in the ascending order (Arohana-Krama) of the Saptha (Seven) Svaras; and, the last Carana takes off from Tara-Sthayi-Shadja.

The Vggeyakara-mudra, the signature of the composer is set in in a lengthy phrase, which is taken up by the performers on the stage for Neraval and Kalpana-Svara improvised elaborations: Shyamakrishna-sahodari-Shive-Shankari-Parameshvari.

And, the Raga-mudra, indication of its Raga, is in the last line of the last Svara-Sahitya-Carana, as: Paraku-yelane brovave ippudu Sri Bhairavi.

As in the other compositions, here too, the Vilamba-kala tempo gradually raises up along with Sri Shyama Shastry’s anxiety and impatience to stimulate the Devi to grant him protection. And, beginning from Mandra-Sthayi-Nishada, it reaches Tara-Sthayi in the last two lines, impatiently questioning and pleading with Mother Kamakshi- Abhimanamu leda naapai Devi? (Don’t you have any affection towards me?); Paraku yelane? (Why are you delaying so much?); Brovave ippudu (Protect me right now) Sri Bhairavi –Kamakshi.

Very enterprising Gamaka Prayogas are built into the rendering style of this Bhairavi Svarajati. The third Carana starts on ‘Ga’ rendered in Kampita Gamaka ; and, that is followed by exploration of the varied shades of the Madhyama , ranging from the delicate  throbbing Gamaka for the words ‘Padma-bhava’ (Ma-Pa-Ga, Ri)  leading up to a higher Gamaka ending in ‘Pa’ for the words ‘Hari’(Ga Ma) and ‘Shambhu-nuta’ (Pa; Dha-Ma-Ga).

In the next Carana also there is a charming Jaru-Gamaka (sliding) that links the higher Svara Sa to Pa, when the words ‘Taamasamu seyaka’ (Pa; Dha-Ni-Sa-Pa) are rendered.

*

The profusion of enchanting Svara-Sahitya lends richness and sparkling rhythmic brilliance to this sublime Svarajati.

[This Svarajati, in its structure and musical content resembles the famous Ata-Taala-Varna ‘Viriboni’ composed by Sri Pachimiriyam Adiappiah, the noted composer and singer of his times, under whose tutelage the young Shyama Shastry spent a brief time.

Some scholars have tried noticing in this Svarajati of Sri Shyama Shastry, the traces of the influence of Sri Adiyappa.]

*

Smt. Vidya Subramanian has made a very good study of the Svara-sahitya in the Bhairavi Svarajati Kamakshi anudinamu. I have tried to summarize her observations, here:

The first Carana ends with the words ‘Talli rakshinchu’. The Svara for these words are Pa-Dha (Talli) and Ni-Sa-Ri (Rakshimpuu). The Svaras ‘Pa and Dha’ leisurely take four Akshara-kala; while ‘Ni’ takes three; Sa takes two; and, Ri takes one Akshara-kala.

The second Carana concludes with the word ‘Mayamma’. The Svaras used for this word are ‘Ni, Ga, Ri’, a typical Bhairavi Prayoga, to which Gamakas  are applied,  to heighten the  emotion of Bhakthi (devotion).

In the third Carana , which commences with the Svara ‘Ga’, many shades of delicate Gamakas are applied to the words ‘Padma-bhava’ (Ma; Pa-Ga-Ri) taking up to higher Gamaka , ending in ‘Pa’ for the words ‘Hari’(Ga Ma) and ‘Shambhu-nuta’ (Pa; Dha-Ma-Ga).

In the fourth Carana, the Jaru-Gamaka on ‘Sa’ links the higher Svara ‘Sa’ to ‘Pa’, when the words ‘ Taamasamu seyaka’ (Pa; Dha-Ni-Sa-Pa) are rendered.

The fifth Carana also commences on a Svarakshara. The words ‘Paataka mulanu’ match the Svaras ‘Pa; Dha-Pa-Ma-Ga-Ri’. And, his question ‘Pavani-gaada?’ is matched by the Svaras ‘Ga; Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa) ; and,  ‘Moravinadaa?’ with (Pa-Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa).

In the sixth Carana, here is an unusual link from the Svara ‘Sa’ in the Madhyamā-Sthayi to the higher Svara ’Ga’ in the Tara-Sthayi , matching with the word ‘Vedamu’ (Sa-Ga-Ri)

The seventh Carana also has many Svarakshara Prayogas; like Nee Pavana (Ni; Ri-Sa-Ri) and Mada Danuja (Ma-Pa-Sa-Ni-Dha). There are also some charming Sancharas like (Ga-Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa) which bring out the beauty of Bhairavi raga in the higher notes.

The Eighth and the concluding Carana ,is adorned with a series of inspired and lovely phrases addressing the Mother Kamakshi . Among these, the Music for the words ‘Abhimanamu-leda-naapai?’ seamlessly escalates from Madhyamā-Sthayi to Tara-Sthayi, with the Svaras (Sa-Ni-Sa; Pa-Ma-Pa; Dha-Ni; Sa-Ri; Ga)

*

Smt. Sharadambal comments:

In this Svarajati the eight Carana-Svaras start on the Saptha-Svaras in the ascending order as:  Sa, Ri, Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha, Ni and Sa.

The Svaras end mostly or Rsabha-svara; and, the Pallavi is taken as :  Ga Ri \ Ni or Sa Ri \ Ni.

Only the third and fourth Caranas end Shadja as:  Ga Ri Sa and Ma Ga Ri  Sa

The number of the Avartas as well as the range of Svaras increases gradually from the first Carana passage to the last Carana passage. 

The first Carana has four Avartas and the last Carana Svara has sixteen Avartas. The melodic range in the first Carana-Svara is from the Mandra Madhyama to Madhya Rsabha; gradual increase in the Sthayi is noticed in the subsequent Carana Svaras.

In the second Carana Svara the lower limit raises to ‘Mandra Dha’ and the Svara Sancharas are framed up to ‘Madhya Ma’.

 In the next two Carana-Svaras the Sancharas does not go below Mandra-‘Ni’;
while the upper limit is increased to ‘Tara Ri’ and ‘Tara Ga’.

The seventh and eighth Carana-Svaras touch ‘Tara Ma’; while the Svara-Sancharas cover Madhya and Tara- Sthayi in many places, occasionally touch Mandra –Sthayi-Svaras also.

*

We find a number of Svara patterns in the Bhairavi Svarajati also. Though the composition is in regular Misra-Chapu Taala, we find patterns of Svaras in the Viloma-krama (i.e. reverse order 4+3). 

The third Carana ends with this pattern as ‘Ni-Ni-Dha-Pa | Pa-Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa||’

In the seventh Carana we find the ending as (Ni Dha Pa G Ri] [; Sa Ni Dha Pa] [; Ga Ri (Ni)]

The eighth Carana ends in a combination of ‘Misra’ as:  Ma Ga Ri Ra Ri|| Sa Ri Ni Dha Pa || Ma Ga Ri Ga Ri||.

Vajra

  1. Kamakshi nee padayugamu (28-Yadukula Kambhoji, Misra Chapu Taala)

Raga Yadukula Kambhoji is a Janya of the 28th Melakarta Harikambhodi

  • Arohana:S R₂ M₁ P D₂ Ṡ / Avarohaṇa: Ṡ N₂ D₂ P M₁ G₃ R₂ S
  • Svara-shtana: Shadja, Chathusruthi-Rshabha, Antara-Gandhara, Shuddha Madhyamā, Panchama, Chathusruthi- Dhaivata and Kaisiki-Nishada.]

The Svarajati in Yadukula-Kambhoji, in its commencing lines of Pallavi, is a poignant submission to the Devi, requesting her to drive away all his worries. Sri Shyama Shastry, here again, asserts his deep-rooted immense faith in his Mother (Amma); and pleads with her to rescue and to protect him.

Kamakshi nee padayugamu sthiramani ne namm-iyunnanu; naa chinta-lellanu deerch-amma

This is the longest of the three Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastry, with the Pallavi followed by as many as eleven Svara-Sahitya-Caranas.

Addressing the Mother Kamakshi as :  Pavani Manini; Parvathi-Sakala-Janani; and, Sura-vrnda-Vinuta; Sri Shyama Shastry recites the beauty of Devi Kamakshi with a series of elegant Sanskrit phrases; Kamala-dala-sama-nayana; Kacha-jita-ghana-Sashidhara-vibha-vadana; Baala-kisa-laya-carana; and, Kunda-mukula-radaa.

Yadukula-Kambhoji, usually, is not much elaborated in the Raga-alapana. But, Sri Shyama Shastri makes a deft Prastara of it.

Moving away from the usual mode of singing this Raga only in the Mandra and Madhya Sthayis, Sri Shyama Shastry attempted introducing the Tisra-Sthayi up to Madhyamā.

Here, again, the different sections of the Svarajati commence on its Raga-Chaya-Svaras: Sa, Ri, Pa, Dha and Tara Sa. The Music of the Svarajati is mostly in Mandra-Sthayi and Madhya-Sthayi; and, some lines, towards the end, go up to Tara-Sthayi.

The Caranas are systematically arranged in the raising order of the pitch, keeping in tune with the emotional content of the Carana. This progression simulates the Alapana-Paddathi, moving from low to high

The first two Caranas are set in Madhya-Sthayi-Shadja. The next three Caranas commence with the Svaras ‘Ri’, ‘Ga’ and ‘Ma’.

The three Caranas that follow begin with ‘Pa’.

The ninth and the tenth Caranas start with the Svara ‘Dha’.

And, the eleventh and the last Carana commences with Tara-Sthayi-Shadja.

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The Yadukula-Kambhoji Svarajati has many instances of Jaru-Gamakas (slides) as well as the graceful Pratyahata- Gamaka, which is a characteristic of the Raga

[Please check here for its rendering by Smt. M S Subbulakshmi Thanks to Sri RSR)]

Smt. Sharadambal comments

This Svarajati is a lengthy one with eleven Caranas in all the versions of the published books; and also in the HW of Shyama Shastri II; but in SSP of Subbarama Diksitar there are only 10 Caranas.

In this Svarajati also the starting Svaras of the Caranas are in the ascending order. This Raga has only five Svaras in the Arohana [Sa Ri Ma Pa  Dha], so more than one Caranas start on the same Svara

There are two Caranas starting on the Svaras Shadja Rsabha and Dhaivata; and three on Panchama

There is only one Carana each starting on the Svara Madhyamā and Tara Shadja. The Nyasa Svaras of the Caranas are mostly ‘Ga’ and ‘Ri’ and the Caranas either end as `Sa-Ri-Ga’, `Ri-Ma-Ga’, `Dha-Pa-Ma-ga’, `Pa-Ma-ga-Ri’, `Ga-Ri,-Ma-Ga-Ga-Ri’ and `Dha-Pa/Ga-Ri’

Only one Carana i.e. the 9th one ends on the Svara Dha as `Ni-Dha –Pa-Dha

In the first seven Carana Svaras  the melodic movement in the Mandra Sthayi touches ‘Mandra Pa’ and the upper limit only increases gradually as `Ma’, `Dha’, `Ni’ and `Sa’.

In the eighth Carana alone the lower limit happens to be `Madhya Sa‘ ; and in the next three Carana Svaras also `Mandra Pa’ is included in the Svara Sancharas.

The last Carana Svara gives the climax of the Raga.

*

In the Svarajati in Yadukula-kambhôji Raga, Svaras are sung in two octaves.

Here is an instance in the fifth Svara ‘PaPaDhaDhaSa /PaPaDhaDhaSa’.

We see the Erra-jaru-Gamaka also in this Svara combination.

In a similar way, different patterns of Svaras are also sung in two octaves with an upward glide.

There are Svaras sung in two octaves with a downward glide also.

Here both the Jarus are found: p d r S | \ ; m p d P || – 8th Svara

Prathyahaþa Gamaka, which is another characteristic Gamaka of Yadukula-kambhôji raga, is found in some places.

The finishing Svaras of the Carana- Svaras before taking up the Pallavi is interesting to note.

In many Svaras we find Svaras in all the three octaves occurring as finishing Svaras.

The sixth Svara finishes as – P | Dha-Sa-R-iMa-Pa-Dha-Dha | Sa, Pa|| Ri Sa Ni Dha Pa Ma Ga||.

In the eighth Svara we find the ending as: [ p d | r S ; ] [ m p | d p ; ] [ m g || + [S , ]

In the ninth Caranas the last two Avartas cover the three octave Svaras as ‘Ga-Ri-Sa-Ni-Dha-Pa-Ma | Ga-Ri-Sa-Ni-Dha-Pa-Dha ||

Lalita Parameshvari

lotus

In the Next Part we shall talk about

The Varnas composed by Sri Shyama Shastry

Continued

In

The Next Part

Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet

 
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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Nine

Continued from Part Eight

Sri Shyama Shastry – Music-Continued

Sarasvati by Dr. Bks Varma

 

Language

Most of the works of Sri Shyama Shastry are composed in Telugu. Apart from Telugu, he chose Sanskrit and Tamil.

Of the known number of his compositions (72), those in Sanskrit are 15 (10 Kritis +4 Gitas+1 Varnam); and, those in Tamil are 5 (4 Kritis +1 Gita). The rest 52 compositions are in Telugu.

Sanskrit Composition

***

Sri Shyama Shastry’s compositions in Tamil include four Krits and One Lakshya Gita

Tamil Compositions

**

The Telugu used in the Kritis is simple, direct spoken-Telugu, as commonly used in the day-to-day conversations. It is not pedantic or too bookish.

The language here is marked by tenderness, affection and Love of a child towards its Mother. He calls out to the Mother Goddess repeatedly as Talli, Mayamma, earnestly imploring her to come to his rescue (Nannu brovu) and relieve him of the earthly agonies. He affirms his deep-rooted abundant  faith in the Mother over and over again, exclaiming: nammiti; Ninne Nammiti; Nammiti-namma Mayamma, Talli ninnu nera namminanu, Brovave; Krupajudu and so on.

Though the spoken language is employed, Sri Shyama Shastry adopted the traditional poetic idioms that came into use prior to the beginning of the eighteenth century. Similar modes of poetic expressions were adopted by other composers of his period.

The Telugu words, as used by Sri Shyama Shastry, though often are informal and colloquial expressions nevertheless are infused with emotion trying to express the natural feelings of tenderness, love and affection of a child reaching out to its Mother. Many of his songs are a sort of conversations, pleading with the Mother, questioning her why she is not paying attention to him, not responding to his desperate appeals and so on.

And, in such Kritis, though he has mostly employed the spoken form of Telugu language, either as verbs (Akhyata) – say like brovu, vinu, matladu etc. or for addressing the Mother Deity (Sambhodana) as Talli, Mayamma etc., the string of sweet-sounding names and eloquent, picturesque adjectives he uses for describing the beauty, splendour and the countless virtues of the Supreme Mother Goddess are all in delightful Sanskrit phrases.

And, he addresses her spontaneously with varied epithets as: Amba, Janani, Jagadamba Triloka-matha, Meenakshi, Manini, Bhavani, Bhamini, Bhairavi, Shambhavi, Shiva Shankari , Himagiri-sute, Kumara Janani and so on.

Thus, in his Kritis, which technically, are classified as Telugu works, the essential and the prime body of the lyrics of his Kritis are in chaste, refined classical Sanskrit-based terms.

*

The Telugu-Sahitya of his Svarajatis, when compared to the simple colloquial style adopted in the Kritis, is more poetic; scholarly and, is often interspersed with philosophical expressions.

Here in Svarajatis, at many places he employs a high-flown classical Telugu admixed with Sanskrit terms.

For instance, to indicate that the Devi is the protector of the universe, he says:

Sarasijasana-harisa vinuta pada-kamalasambava—sura-muni-drulace tanu ninu- pogadutaku (Svarajati- Kamakshi nI pada- in Yadukula-kambhoji

To indicate that the Devi protects   her devotees, he uses a very lengthy  phrase:

Dalacinajana dulaku bahu-sampadalanu sadadalacina- manavulakella phala mosage – (Svarajati Kamakshi nI pada- in Yadukula-kambhoji).

The greatness of the Goddess as exhibited in the Vedas is mentioned in the three Svarajatis as: ‘srtutulu-moralidaga’; `vedamulu moralidagana’; and, `dorayanucu vedamulu moralidaga’.

Devi as destroyer of sins is hailed as: pataka-mulanu vâdiga; and pataka-mulanu-dircci

Devi as the destroyer of demons is praised as: Madamatta-mahisa-danava-mardani; and, madadanuja- varana-mrgendra-rcita kalusa-dahana.

*

At the same time he uses, at times, even in the Svarajatis, informal, colloquial expressions, calling himself as her son, ‘Sutudamma’. He requests her to guard him against trials and tribulations. For instance:

Abhimanâmuledâ-nâpai Devi / parâkelane brôvave ipudu / cintalu vevega dircchamma / mora vinada parâkela-namma

**

The Sanskrit that is used for his about fifteen compositions is lyrical, refined and elegant.

Many of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry are adorned with Sabda-Alamkaras, such as Anuprasa and Antya-prasa. And, Mahuna, as also Prasa-Yati are used.

In his Svarajatis also he uses delightful Sanskrit terms to describe the beauty of the Mother Goddess. For instance; for her eyes (Kuvalaya-dala-nayana; Kamala-dala-samana; Sarasijaksi); her gait (Gaja-gamana; mada-matta-gaja-gamana; Mada-Gaja-gamana); her neck (Dara-gala; Kambu-gala); her teeth (Mani-radana; Kunda-radana); and, her face (Vidu-vadana; Sasadhara-nibha-vadana) so on

His Kritis in Sanskrit have the fragrance of poetry with prosodic beauties of alliteration, prasa, delightful adjectives, varied names and descriptions of the Devi.  It is excellent poetry. It is exuberant and joyous celebration of the beauty and countless virtues of the Supreme Goddess Devi Kamakshi.

Himadrisute-pahimam (65-Kalyani, Rupaka Taala)

Himadrisute-Pahimam/Varade-Paradevate/

Sumeru-madhya-vasini/ Shri Kamakshi /

Hemagatri/ Pankaja-netri/Matanga-atmaje/ Saroja-bhava-Harisha-sura –munindra-nute/

Ambujari-nibha-vadane/Maukti-kamani-haara-shobhamana-gale/ Bhaktha-kalpa late/ Shyama-Krishna sodari/ Gauri / Parameshvari /Giri-jaala-Nilaveni / Kiravani/ Shri Lalite/

पल्लवि
हिम-अद्रि सुते पाहि मां वरदे पर देवते

अनुपल्लवि
सुमेरु मध्य वासिनि श्री कामाक्षि (हिमाद्रि)

चरणम् 1
हेम गात्रि पङ्कज नेत्रि मतङ्ग-आत्मजे
सरोज भव हरि-ईश सुर मुनि-इन्द्र नुते (हिमाद्रि)

चरणम् 2
अम्बुज-अरि निभ वदने मौक्तिक मणि
हार शोभमान गळे भक्त कल्प लते (हिमाद्रि)

चरणम् 3
श्याम कृष्ण सोदरि गौरि परम-ईश्वरि

*

Shripatimukha viracita (15-Saveri, Adi)

Shripati-mukha-viracita-pujye /Shri Parvati/ Mam-pahi-Devi/

Ni-pavananilaye/Niramaye/Nitila-nayana-jaye/Mama-hrdaya-taapa-harini / Navaratna-alaye/ Taapasa-vara Narada-mudite- Devi / 

Taruni/ Lata-pallava-mrdu-carane/ Tapana-vidhu-vilocane / Aruna- koti –sama-kantiyuta-sharire/Kaladhrta-kalape/Suru-cira-mani–khanta  lasanmani -hare / Suguna-sheele/ Satatam-samudam /Karunaya-avadinam –para-devate / Kama-koti- pitha-gate/  Lalite /

Karimukha-Kartikeya-Janani/Svara-palini/Pavani/Hari-sahodari/ Vidalita / Daityari – gane/ Sadaa- purne/ Paramesha-vinute/ Shrtajana- palite/ Pritiha- vasatu-vimale/ Purahara-priye/ Shashi-bhanane/ Purna-kame/ Sama-gana-lole/

Bhuvaneshvari-jula-vani/Sakala-bhaya-nivarini/He-Maheshvari-Madhu-pasadrsha-veni/Kameshvari-Gauri-Shyama-Krishna-sodari Bhuvaneshvari  – Shambhavi -Maha Tripura Sundari/Himagiri-kumari / Kavi -kula-kamade-kanksita-phaladayike

पल्लवि
श्री-पति मुख विरचित पूज्ये
श्री पार्वति माम् पाहि देवि

अनुपल्लवि
नीप वन निलये निरामये
निटिल नयन जाये मम हृदय
ताप हारिणि नव रत्न-आलये
तापस वर नारद मुदिते देवि (श्री-पति)

चरणम् 1
तरुणि लता पल्लव मृदु चरणे
तपन विधु विलोचने
अरुण कोटि सम कान्ति युत
शरीरे कल धृत कलापे
सुरुचिर मणि कण्ठ लसत्-मणि हारे
सुगुण-शीले सततम् समुदम्
करुणया अव दीनम् पर देवते
काम कोटि पीठ गते ललिते (श्री-पति)

चरणम् 2
करि मुख कार्तिकेय जननि
स्वर पालिनि पावनि
हरि सहोदरि विदळित
दैत्य-अरि गणे सदा पूर्णे
परमेश विनुते श्रित जन पालिते
प्रीतिः-इह वसतु विमले
पुर हर प्रिये शशि निभ-आनने
पूर्ण कामे साम गान लोले (श्री-पति)

चरणम् 3
श्यामळ-अङ्गि मञ्जुळ वाणि
सकल भय निवारिणि
हे महा-ईश्वरि मधुप सदृश
वेणि काम-ईश्वरि गौरि
श्याम कृष्ण सोदरि भुवन-ईश्वरि
शाम्भवि महा त्रिपुर सुन्दरि
हिम गिरि कुमारि कवि कुल
कामदे काङ्क्षित फल दायिके (श्री-पति)

Devi Yantra by Pieter Weltevrede

Raga-mudra

The Raga-mudra, the phrase containing the name of the Raga in which the composition is set, is at times, indicated in some of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry (But, not as regularly as in the Kritis of Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar). The following are few such instances:

1.In the Kriti Nannu brova Lalita (15-Lalita, Misra Chapu) the name of its Raga Lalita appears in the opening line of the Pallavi

2.In Nive-gati yeni (65-Kalyani, Misra Matyam), the Raga-mudra is in the Carana, as the extension of a phrase: Kama-koti pitha-nivasni Kalyani.

3.In Sari evvaramma (20-Bhairavi, Khanda Jhampa), the Raga-mudra is built into the long-extended phrase in first Carana of the Kriti – Madhava-sodari Gauri Amba Maha-Bhairavi Shambhavi.

4.In the Svarajati, Kamakshi anudinamu (20-Bhairavi, Misra Chapu), the Raga-mudra appears in the last Carana in the phrase: Brovave ippudu Sri Bhairavi.

Devi Yantra by Pieter Weltevrede

Vaggeyakara-mudra

The Ankita Mudra is the signature of the Vaggeyakara, in order to let know he is the composer of the song in question. When a composer uses his own name for the Ankita, it is called Sva-nama-mudra-akshara.

Since Sri Shyama Shastry used his own name ‘Shyama-Krishna’, his Vaggeyakara Mudra is classified under Sva-nama-mudra-akshara.

But, in fact, though he uses his pet-name as his Ankita, it is, most of the times, employed to refer to the Devi as the sister of Krishna as ‘Shyama-Krishna-Sahodari or Sodari’; and, as the Devi who grants boons as ‘Shyama-Krishna-Satvarade’.

And, in some of his compositions, he uses the Ankita to refer to himself as the devotee, the child or as one who is protected by the Devi as

Shyama-Krishna-Pujite;Shyama-Krishna-vinuta;Shyama-Krishna-nuta ; Shyama-Krishna-Palini;Shyama-Krishna-paripalini;Shyama-Krishna-pari-palita-Janani etc.

Sri Shyama Shastry’s adopted Mudra, ‘Shyama-Krishna’ followed by various suffixes, such as: Sahodari; Paripalini; Pujite; Janani; Pari-palita-Janani; Vinuta; Hrudaya-nilaya and so on, is featured in the 68 of his songs; except in four cases.

[The four compositions that do not carry the Vaggeyakara-Mudra are: (1) Janani-natajana-palini (Saveri); (2) Samini-rammanave (Anandabhairavi); (3) Palimpa-vamma (Mukhari); and, (4) Ninne-nammiti (Kedaragaula).]

The most common form of his Vaggeyakara-mudra that appears in about thirty-three of his compositions is ’Shyamakrishna Sodari/Sahodari’. But, there are some other variations as well.

In the Kriti Brova samayamide (Punnagavarali) his Mudra appears as ‘Shyamakrishna-hrudayabja-nilayaa’; as ‘Shyamakrishna-jesina-bhagyame’ in Karuna judavamma (Varali); as ‘Shyamakrishna-vandite’ in O Jagadamba (Anandabhairavi); and ,as ‘Shyamakrishna –sadavarada’ in Pahi-Sri Giriraja-sute (Anandabhairavi)

His Vaggeyakara-mudra, usually, appears in the last Carana (Birudu) of his compositions.  But, in his Varnam- Dayanidhe mamava (Begada, Adi) –his Mudra ‘Shyamakrishna-pujite’ occurs in the Pallavi itself.

And, he did not split his Vaggeyakara-mudra into two lines.

It is also said;  that his ‘Shyama-Krishna’ Mudra might have been  inserted into some of his works, at a later time, by his disciples or descendents, perhaps to keep in tune  with the practice that was then in vogue.

Vaggeyakara Mudra

Devi Yantra by Pieter Weltevrede

The Other Compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry

Apart from the Kritis, Sri Shyama Shastry is credited with Five Gitas (4 in Sanskrit; and 1 in Tamil) ; Four Varnas (1 in Sanskrit; and 3 in Telugu) ; and , Three  Svarajatis (all the three are in Telugu).

For his five Gitas, he used four Ragas that fall under three Melakartas: 15-MāyamālavaGaula (Pharaju and Saveri); 20-Natabhairavi (Bhairavi); 22-Kharahara priya (Madhyamavathi).

The Ragas for Four the Varnas are under the Melas: 17-Suryakantam (Saurastra); 20-Natabhairavi (Anandabhairavi); 22-Kharaharapriya (Begada); and, Meccha-Kalyani (Kalyani)

And, the Ragas for the three Svarajatis are under: 8-Hanuma-Todi (Todi); 20-Natabhairavi (Bhairavi); and, Harikambhoji (Yadukulakambhoji)

Other types of Compositions

Let’s take a brief look at these forms of creations by Sri Shyama Shastry.

Devi Yantra by Pieter Weltevrede

Gitas

Gita, as the name indicates, is a song. In Karnataka Samgita, Gita is commonly understood as simple musical form that is taught to the students after they learnt to sing Varise-s (Svara exercises) and Alamkaras. Here, Gita, as Abhaysa-gana, is a part of the curriculum for teaching music to the learners. Gitas are usually composed in Sanskrit and Kannada.

Having said that let me mention that Gitas are broadly of two classes: Lakshya-Gitas and Lakshana-Gitas.

*

The Lakshya Gitas are also called as Sadharana or Sanchari Gitas. Such Sadharana Gitas are simple melodies, rendering a song set to a particular Raga, in uniform Madhyama-kala tempo, in praise of a god or a goddess. There are Gitas set in all the Sapta (seven) Taalas and their varieties.

The Gita, in such cases, is a continuous verse (without being broken into segments such as Pallavi, Anupallavi or Carana). A  Gita is sung from its beginning till its end, without repetition or improvisation or elaboration by way of intricate Sancharas or Sangathis etc.

As regards the order of its presentation (Gana-krama), in case a Gita consists two sections (Khandika), the second should follow, in sequence, after singing the first.

The Lakshya Gitas aim to precisely present, in a concise form, the substance or the picture of a Raga (Raga Svarupa), with each Svara of its Dhatu corresponding to a syllable of its Sahitya. In short; it is a simple but efficient melodic extension of the Raga in which it is composed.

In a Gita, the number of Svaras present in an Avarta is equal to the number of Aksharas forming the Avarta. Their size and their time-unit (Kala-pramana) have also to match. The Dheerga (elongated) Svaras, reckoned as two, will correspond with two Aksharas in the Sahitya; and so on.

Sometimes, you find Gitas that are inserted with decorative phrases called Gita-Alamkara or Matrika-padas. They are meant to provide ornamental flourish to the Sahitya.

There are different kinds of Sadharana Gitas: Pillari-Gitas (preliminary  lessons sung in praise of gods like Ganapathi, Maheshvara and Vishnu); Ghana-raga-Gitas ( composed in Ghana – the major Ragas like Nata, Gaula, Arabhi, Sri and Varali); Rakthi-raga Gitas ( composed in popular and pleasing melodious Ragas like  Kalyani and Mohana); and Raga malika Gitas (set to a sequential varieties of Ragas).

The notable Composers who wrote Gitas were: Sri Purandara Dasa (c. 1484- c. 1565); Pydala Gurumurthy Shastry (18th Century); Rama Amatya(16th century); Venkatamakhin (17th century); and, Govindacharya (17th century);

**

The Lakshana Gitas are of a more scholarly type, encasing the precise nature of a Raga (Raga Lakshana).  They are word-pictures of a Raga, defining its profile and enumerating its components within it. They illustrate the characteristic features of the structure and nature of the Janaka and Janya Ragas, specifying the Varjya, Vakra, Graha, Nyasa,  Amsa Svaras and so on .

The Lakshana Gita of a particular Raga will be set in its own Raga ; and ,will enumerate  musically , building into it , the Lakshana of that Raga , providing such specific details ,  as its  : Mela-Janya (whether it is a Melakarta or a Janya , a derivative) ; whether it is Bhashanga or Upanga Raga; whether it is a Audava, Shadava or Sampurna Raga; the ordered structure of its Arohana and Avarohana sequences; whether there are Vakra or Varijta Svaras in the Arohana and Avarohana of the Raga; and, specify the Graha (starting note), the Jiva ( soul of the Raga) and Nyasa (the end notes) Svaras .

Thus, the Lakshana Gitas could also be called as the Raga-grammar. Apart from picturising the nature and the content of the Raga, they also lay down the rules for exercising it, like the permitted prayogas (usages) and Gamakas (ornamentation or movements of the Svaras).

The Raganga-Raga-Lakshana -Gitas are a class by themselves; and, are of immense value to ardent students of Music and to the performers in concerts, in practically learning, understanding and grasping the very essence, the Lakshana of a given Raga.

Pydala Gurumurthy Shastry (18th Century); was a prolific composer of Gitas. He is referred to as ‘Veyyi Geethala’ Pydala Gurumurthy Sastry. Rama Amatya (16th Century), the author of Svara-Mela-Kalanidhi’ has also composed Gitas. Govinda Dikshitar and Venkatamakhin (17th Century)  are credited with many Lakshana Gitas.

Now, the composing new Lakshana Gitas has virtually disappeared.

Mandala777

Sri Shyama Shastry has composed five Gitas. Though they are routinely listed under Sadharana Lakshya Gitas, they truly, are, much more advanced; and, are far better structured than the Abhaysa-gana Gitas taught to the learners in the initial stages of their training.

The Ragas employed are the Janya (derivatives) of the Melas 15 (Maya-malava-gaula); 20 (Nata-bhairavi); and, 22 (Khara-hara-priya). The Raga-bhava flows fluently, portraying the essential sentiments of Bhakthi and Karuna Rasas.

Of the five, the Gita ‘Kamakshi-Karuna-katakshi’ in Raga Pharaju is submitted to Bangaru Kamakshi of Thanjavur; and, the rest to Kanchi Kamaksi.

Lakshya Gitas

[Smt. Vidya Shankar mentions in her book ‘Shyama Shastri’, that Gitas were meant to be sung while performing Pujas.

And, of the five Gitas that are now listed, only the Tamil Gita ‘Santatam’ is found in the collection of the Sri Shyama Shastry’s works, as possessed by his descendants.

But, according to their list, the song ‘Santatam’ is mentioned as a Kriti; and not as a Gita.]

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[ Smt. Sharadambal mentions : According to S Rajah , a descendant of Sri Shyama Shastry,  the Gitas are not found in the collection of songs possessed by the family, excepting the one in Tamil (Santatam , in Raga Pharaju ) , which is listed as a Kriti.

The five Gitas have sections or Khandika that are of the same length; and, are sung to the same Music.

In all the five sections of the Gita ‘Santatam’ we find Atita Eduppu.

In the Gitas – Kamakshi-Loka-sakshini (Madhyamavathi) and Sarasakshi (Saveri) – the three sections end in Madhyama Kala Sahitya, which is unusual in the Gitas.

Normally, in the Gitas the tempos are not varied

The tempo of the Gitas here is slower than the other Gitas sung as Samanya Gitas. That is, there are two Svaras per beat, instead of one Svara.

The Sahitya here (excepting the Tamil composition) is in the nature of a short hymn of praises to gods.

There are possibilities of considering these compositions as Kirtanas rather than Gitas.]

Kamakshi Thanjavur

1.Gita ‘Kamakshi-karuna-katakshi’ (Raga Pharaju, Triputa Taala)

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The Gita Kamakshi-karuna-katakshi’ in Raga Pharaju (Triputa Taala), addressed to Bangaru Kamakshi at Thanjavur, has four sections (Khandika); each section is set to a different Music.

The first section is set in six Avartas; and the rest three sections have four Avartas each.

The Gits composed in easy flowing Sanskrit requesting the Mother Shyamala for protection (Shyamale Mam pahi), is richly adorned with Sabda-alamkaras and Prasa (rhyming) beauties, like: KamakshiKaruna-katakshi; Pankaja-dala-lochane-Sankata-bhaya-mochane.

The lotus-eyed (Pankaja-dala-lochane) Devi sporting a parrot (Shuka-shyamale), delighting in Music (Sama-gana-vinodini), driving away everyone’s miseries and fears (Sankata-bhaya-mochane) and granting the wishes of all (Kamita-phala-dayike) is addressed with sweet-sounding epithets as: Kama-koti-pitha-gathe; Karuna-katakshi; and, Loka-sakshini  (very embodiment of all this existence).

The term Loka-sakshini here, resembles ‘Vishva-sakshini ‘in Lalita-sahara-nama

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2. Gita ‘Santatam Ennai’ (Raga Pharaju Adi Taala)

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The Gita ‘Santatam Ennai rakshippay’ again in Raga Pharaju (Adi Taala) is said to be a rare example of a Gita composed in Tamil. This Gita is made of five sections of varying lengths; and, each is set to a different Music.

The Gita commences after a pause of two Akshara-kalas.  The Atita Eduppu is applied in all its five sections; for instance, Vandippen … Anudinam sindippen; barama – kadaikkan paramma

Sri Shyama Shastry, here, is virtually talking to Devi Kamakshi who is playing on Veena (Veena-vinodini) saying: I worship your lotus feet everyday (Vandippen anudinam); I meditate on your lotus feet constantly (Chindippen anudinam pada – aravindatte)) and yet do you find it difficult (migumum bharama) to relieve me of my miseries. Could there be another God on the Earth like You (Unnai-pol vere Daivam undo)? What is the reason for even fools, lacking honour, to worship you (Manam-ariya mudarum-tane tudikka karanam)? Please show mercy and protect me- Nada-rupini, Veena-vinodini, Kamakshi ennai aadari.

The style of this Gita ‘Santatam’ differs noticeably from the other Gitas, which are like hymns or prayers submitted to the Goddess; they are more poetic in their diction; and, are not in the spoken language.

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3. Gita Sarasakshi-sadaa-pahimam’ (Saveri , Triputa Taala)

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The Gita ‘ Sarasakshi-sadaa-pahimam’ in one of his favourite Ragas , the Saveri (Triputa Taala) , has three sections of equal length. The first and the third sections have the same Music.

This Gita too is ornamented with Prasas (rhetoric beauty) such as; Baale-Susheele-Saleele; Sarasahrudaye-Apara mahima- Spurthi Shive-Sushobhe etc.

The beauty of the lotus-eyed (Sarasakshi) Mother of Kumara (Kumara Janani) famed as the virtuous radiant Uma (Suguna-prakashaUme) adorned with a girdle of sweet-sounding bells (kati-druta-kanche), is sung in varied pleasant phrases:  golden hued (Kanaka-sadrushe) of delicate loveliness (Komale) glowing with the brilliance of millions of suns (Koti-Surya-prabhe) , most auspicious (Shive) Devi of limitless splendour and glory (Apara-mahima-Spurte-Shive)

Sri Shastry submits to the large-hearted auspicious Goddess (Vishala-hrudaya-murte- Shubhe) resident in Kama-koti-pitha enjoying the Music (Sama-gana-lole). And, he requests her to protect him always (Sadaa pahi-mam).

There is a brief reference to Sri Chakra in the phrase Tri-kona-nilaye.

Here, in this Gita, there is not much pleading requesting the Kind-hearted Mother to rescue him from the encircling gloom and miseries.

This is a joyous rendering, singing the beauty and magnificence of the Mother Para-Shakthi, in exuberance, with lovely string of phrases.

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4. Gita ‘Parvathi Janani Bhavani Sri Rajarajeshvari’ (Bhairavi, Khanda Mathya taala)

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The Gita Parvathi Janani Bhavani Sri Rajarajeshvari’ in the Raga Bhairavi (Khanda Mathya Taala) has three sections of equal length; and, all having the same Music. The Raga-svarupa of Bhairavi is very well brought out here in this Lakshya Gita.

In the Music spread over six Avartas, the Sancharas ranges from Mandra –Panchama, reaching up to Tara-sthayi-Gandhara.

His usual Telugu way of addressing his Mother Shyamalambike as ‘Mayamma’ appears here as ‘Mamava Amba’, at the end of each of the three sections.

This again is a joyous Gita blissfully singing  , in charming rhythmic Sanskrit, the eternal  glory (Niranjani)  of the doe-eyed (Harinakshi)  Divine Mother  – the most sacred (Parama pavani)  Devi Kamakshi, the protector of all the worlds  as  ‘Sarvaloka –palini-manini-Devi-Nirajakshi-Parama Pavani –Niranjani -Shyamal-ambike- Sharvari‘.

The Adi prasa is employed in the second Khandika with three of its lines commencing with Sri followed by a suffix ‘Ka’, as in: Sri Karijanani; Sri Kanchipura; and Sri Kameshvari.

There are references here also to the Sri Vidya lore. And, the Mother Kamakshi is addressed in the typical Sri Vidya terms: Sri Rajarajeshvari, Hrinkara-rupini and Kameshvari

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5. Gita ‘Kamakshi-Loka-Sakshini’ Madhyamavathi, Triputa Taala)

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The fifth Gita ‘Kamakshi-Loka-Sakshini’ is set in the auspicious (Mangala-kara) Madhyamavathi Raga (Triputa Taala), a Janya of the 22nd Mela Kharaharapriya.

 This Gita is structured in four sections, set in the same Music. In its construction, this Gita is similar to the one in Raga Pharaju ‘Kamakshi-karuna-katakshi’.

[Smt. Sharadambal observes: In the Gita ‘Kamakshi Loka Sakshini’ (Madhyamavathi) and in the Gita ‘Saraskshi’ (Saveri), all the three sections end in Madhyama-kala phrase, which is unusual in Gitas. Normally in the Gitas, the tempos are not varied]

Many similar sounding phrases (Prasa) describing the most enchanting (Mano-harini) Mother Kamakshi occur in both the Gitas:’ Pankaja-dala-lochane–Sankata-bhaya-mochane’;’Kunjara-sama-gamane-ramane’ ‘Manjula-tama-nayane’,’Kamita (Artha)-phala-daike’; ’Kama-koti-pitha- Vasini (gathe)’; and ‘Sama-gana- vinodini (srute) ‘

The Gita has many Alamkaras and Prasas. This Gita is a fine example of Dvithiya-akshara Prasa, where the same letter or similar sounding letters occur in the second position in each line of each section. For instance; the Akshara मा in the first section; ङ्क in the second section; ण्ड in the third section; and,  is in the fourth section.

गीतम् 1
कामाक्षि लोक साक्षिणी
काम-अरि मनो-हारिणी
कामाक्षि कञ्चि कामाक्षि
पाहि माम् पाहि माम् (बङ्गारु) पाहि

गीतम् 2
पङ्कज दळ लोचने उमे
सङ्कट भय मोचने शिवे
कुञ्जर सम गमने रमणे
मञ्जुळ तम नयने हरिणि

गीतम् 3
भण्ड दैत्य खण्डन पण्डिते
अण्डज हरि गिरि-ईश मण्डिते
पुण्डरीक मृदु पद युगळे
मण्डल स्थिते ललिते वरदे

गीतम् 4
काम कोटि पीठ वासिनी
कामित-अर्थ शुभ फल दायिके
साम गान श्रुति सम्मोदिनि
श्याम कृष्ण पालित जननि

There are also Anuprasas, where similar sounding words follow in succession. For instance; Bhanda daitya-Khandana Pandithe- Andaja Hari Girisha Mandithe -Pundarika Mrudhu pada yugale; Mandalasthitha Lalithe varade

There is again a reference to the Goddess Lalita who resides in Sri Chakra (Mandala-sthita Lalithe)

This Gita is a happy song; praying to the Mother in the pleasing auspicious Madhyamavathi Raga; aptly concluding the Gita-series.

Sri Raja-Rajeshwari by Shipi Sri Siddalingaswamy of Mysore

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In the next Part we shall talk about

The Varnas and Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastry

Continued

In The

Next Part

Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2020 in Music, Sangita, Shyama Shastri

 

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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Eight

Continued from Part Seven

Sri Shyama Shastry – Music-Continued

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The Kriti is a composite Art form. A good Kriti is the sublime blend of the Mathu (Sahitya) and Dhathu, the Music and its rhythm. All the constituent elements (Angas) – the sentiment, the diction, the music and the  rhythm– that combine to form a Kriti, have to be in harmony, supporting each other; each helping the others to shine forth and to manifest in their best form. The Kriti is indeed a living, fluid, organic entity.

In the Karnataka Samgita, Mathu or Sahitya and the prosody (Kavya-lakshana) assume great importance. Raga, essentially, is a representation or an outpouring of the emotional content (Raga-bhava) of the Kriti, evoking a distinct feeling of happiness, sweetness (Madhurya) or poignancy (Karuna-rasa). But, Raga, by its very nature; is rather amorphous; and, truly having no physical or material existence. It does need a medium to articulate in a tangible form that draws the listener into the music; and to communicate with her/ him. It is only then there will be fulfillment (Dhanyata-bhava); and, music becomes a shared experience between the composer, performer and the listener.

And, even otherwise, the lyrics of a Kriti has its own importance. A composition is known and recognized by its Sahitya; particularly by it’s opening lines (Pallavi), than by the mere name of the Raga, which attires its lyrical appeal. There might be numerous Kritis in a particular Raga; but, it is its Sahitya that lends an identity to a given composition.

A well composed , expressive , lyrical beauty that blends amicably with melody and rhythm is a distinctly bright feature of the Karnataka Samgita. Perhaps no other system of music, anywhere in the world, can boast of such a wealth of exquisitely structured compositions set to music.

If an erudite composer also happens to be a gifted poet, endowed with innate poetic genius (Kavya-Prathibha), which is nurtured and developed through training Utpatti (detailed study of Grammar, the literary works and scriptures); and Abhyasa, Abhiyoga, Prayatna (constant practice) of composing poetry set to Music, then his Kriti will blossom into most delectable poetic presentation  adorned with enjoyable music and pulsating rhythm.

It creates an idyllic ambiance that is shared by the creator, the performer and the Rasika (enjoyer). It, somehow, touches the very core of our being. And, as Abhinavagupta says, it is a Chamatkara, which bestows on all an Alaukika Ananda, an out-of-the-world wondrous aesthetic joy. Thus, at the end, very little would separate the composer, the singer and the Sahrudaya, the well informed connoisseur.

In the traditional kritis, composing a Sahitya that conforms to the laws of the prosody (Kavya Agama) is very vital. All the renowned composers of the Karnataka Samgita were well learned in Vyakarana, Chhandas and other Prayogas of Padya Sahithya. Their Kritis show the remarkable mastery they had gained over the Alamkaras – literary embellishments—such as: Prasa, Yati, Yamaka, Gamaka, Svarakshara patterns and others.

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Prasa

Prasa is a type of Sabda-alamkara, a literary ornamentation.  The term Prasa refers to the sound or the phonetic sequence. In a composition; similar sounds (Prasa) could be employed either at the commencement of each Paada (line) of the composition (Adi or Adyakshara-prasa); or as ‘Anu-prasa’ , where similar letters or sounds  recur repeatedly in the same Paada; or in the second syllables of each Paada (Dvitiyakshara-prasa); or in the concluding line where the rhyming occurs towards the ending (Antyakshara-prasa).  

And, Adi or Adyakshara-prasa, mainly, involves rhyming, where each Paada (line) starts with the same Akshara; or, where the first letter is repeated between the Avartas.   

Anu prasa is where similar letters recur repeatedly in the same Paada.

Dvitiya-kshara-prasa is the repetition of the second letter (Jiva-akshara) of the first Avarta in the same position in the subsequent Avartas, as well. This is concerned only with consonants, not vowels.   Such a Prasa can be for a single letter and also for a group of letters.

Antya-prasa is the repetition of a letter or group of letters at the end of the Avartas. It differs from Prasa; because, while the Prasa is confined to consonants, here the vowels are also included.   For instance, a word like Netram can have Antyaprasa only with words like Gatram, Sutram, etc., and not with words like Satrum, Atrim etc.

The Muhana is the repetition of the first letter between the Avartas. The Antya-prasa is the repetition of a letter or group of letters at the end of the Avarta.

Muhana is a type of Sabdalankara, in which the same letter as in the beginning of an Avarta or any of its substitutes should occur in the beginning of the second Avarta. For example,‘ Dinakara Kula dipa / Dhrita divya sara chapa!’

The term Antar+ukti, literally means the ‘in-between utterance’. The method of Antarukti is by way of inserting one or more syllables between two words.  It is done mostly for the sake of maintaining the flow of the Taala.

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In his Kritis, many of which are technically classified as Telugu works, the essential and the prime body of the lyrics is in chaste, refined classical Sanskrit-based terms.

His Telugu words, though often are informal and colloquial expressions, are infused with emotion trying to express the natural feelings of tenderness, love and affection of a child reaching out to its Mother. Many of these songs are a sort of conversations, pleading with the Mother, questioning her why she is not paying attention to him, not responding to his desperate appeals and so on.

And, in such Kritis, though he has mostly employed the spoken form of Telugu language, either as verbs (Akhyata) – say like brovu, vinu, matladu etc. or for addressing (Sambhodana) the Mother Deity as Talli, Mayamma etc., the string of sweet-sounding names and eloquent, picturesque adjectives he uses for describing the beauty, splendour and the countless virtues of the Supreme Mother Goddess are all in delightful Sanskrit phrases.

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Further, the nature of the Telugu- Sahitya of his Kritis markedly differs from the Sahitya of the Svarajatis.

The Telugu-Sahitya of his Svarajatis, in contrast, is more poetic; orderly and, is often  interspersed with philosophical expressions.

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Sri Shyama Shastry has adopted the time-honored (Sampradaya-baddha) poetic traditions (Kavya-agama) followed in the ancient Prabandhas as also in the Kirtanas and   Kritis that came into being during the seventeenth and the eighteenth . Such essential poetic virtues (Kavya-guna) are found in the Kritis of the other Masters also.

Many of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry are adorned with the metaphors of Kavya-Alamkara and Sabda-Alamkaras, such as Anuprasa and Antya-prasa. And, Muhana (the first letter repetition between the Avartas) and Prasa (the second letter repetition) are also used. But, more Kritis are found with the Prasa-Yati. Sri Shyama Shastri used the method of splitting up the words i.e. Antarukti for introducing Prasa- Yati

Smt. Sharadambal explains :   with regard to the occurrence of the Prasa-aksharas in the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry, they can be divided into four categories,.

  1. Dhirgha (long) syllables preceding the Prasa-akshara in the Carana alone.
  2. Dhirgha (long) syllable proceeds in the all the three Angas.
  3. Hrasva (short) letter is found throughout the composition.
  4. 4. Dhirgha (long) syllable is found in Pallavi and Anupallavi; and, the Hrasva (short) syllable is used in the Carana.

This KritiDevi nee paada sarasamule’ (Khambhoji); and, Mayamma (Ahiri) are cited as instances, where both the long and the short syllable are used in the Kriti

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Sri Shyama Shastry used the Prasas like Adi-Prasa; Anu-prasa; Dvitiya-kshara-Prasa and Antya-Prasa.

For instance; the Sambhodana-vibhakthi, as an Adyakshara-prasa is used in Sri Shyama Shastry’s KritiEmani Migula’ (Todi).

Here, every Paada (line) of the second Carana commences with similar sounds, calling out to the Divine Mother:  O Janani Karuni….  Om Anina JanmaO Moha- vratulai O Rajadhi-rajendra.

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Examples of alliteration of the first letter

Saroja-dala-netri (Shankarabharanam)

Saroja dala-netri Himagiri-putri nipada-mbujamule

 Sada nammina-namma subhamimma Sri Minakshamma

Mariveregati (Anandabhairavi)

 Madhura-puri nilaya vani rama sevita pada kamala

Madhu kaitabha bhanjani katyani marala-gamana

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Sri Shyama Shastry has employed Anu-prasa (repetition of a vowel or consonant or both), in some of his Kritis. For instance; in the Kriti ‘Kanaka-shaila’ (Punnagavarali), the syllable ‘da’ is repeatedly used in the second Carana as follows:

Chanda-munda-kandana-panditesu;danda-kodanda-mandita-pani; pundarika  -nayana-archita-paade

In the Kriti Parvati Ninnu (Kalkada) the Anuprasa is seen in many places such as:

Anupallavi: Sangita-lole, Suguna-jale, and Jala- mele

Carana-1:Banda-daitya-Khandana-Khandala-vinuta-Mârthand-Neeraja-kshi Nikhila-sakshi

Carana(2):Indu-vadana-Kunda-radana-Sindura-gamana-makaranda-vâni,Nila megha-veni Girvani.

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In the First Carana of the Kriti O Jagadamba (Anandabhairavi), the Dvitiya-kshara Prasa for the sound ‘Inna’ occurs in all the four Avartas, till the last line:

Kanna-talli;- Kannada-salupaga ;- Ninnu-ne; –  Anni-bhuvana ; – Prasanna-murti; -Vinna-pambu; Vipanna-bhaya

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And , in the Kriti Meenalochana (Dhanyasi) the Dvitiya-kshara ’Na’ has been maintained in the Anupallavi and in  the First Carana as ; Meena; Gana; Kanna; Panna etc.

In the Anupallavi of the Kriti Saroja-dala-netri (Shankarabharanam), the letter ‘ra’ occurs as the second (Dvitiya) letter (Akshara) of its lines.

Paraku seyaka varadayaki nivale daivamu-lokamulo-galada

 Purani sukapani Madhukara veni Sadasivuniki rani

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Sri Shyama Shastry  used the device of Antarukti for splitting up the words, for introducing Prasa-yati, in some cases.

In the Kriti O Jagadamba (Anandabhairavi), the Antarukti is used to bring the Prasa Yati.

Pallavi:  O Jagadamba nannu (Na…..- Antarukti Vujavamuna) brovumu …..
Anupallavi: Rajamukhi ……. (Suguna –Antarukti Rajarajita) Kamakshi

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Antya-prasa is found in all the three Angas of Sri Shyama Shastry’s Kriti   Shankari Shamkaru (Saveri), where the Pallavi reads: ‘Akhilandeshwari–Vandite Gauri’.

That is followed by Anupallavi: Kalyani–Jagatjanani; and, First Carana: Jagadavanollasini—Kapaladarini sulini

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Another type of Antya-prasa used by him was to repeat the same word at the end of all the Caranas.

For instance; the word ‘birana’ is repeated at the end of the Pallavi and at the end of the last line of all the three Caranas of the Kriti Brovavamma (Manji).

Similar is the case with the word ‘Na-talli’ in Devi brova samayamide’ (Chintamani) ; and , the word  ‘Brochutaku’ in the Kriti Ninnu-vinaga (Purvikalyani)

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Yati

Yati is a generic term, having different connotations in Kavya, Taala (Mrdanga) and in Music. In regard to the Kritis in Karnataka samgita, Yati is a Dhatu-Mathu-Samyukta Alamkara. This Anga is meant to decorate the texture of the compositions. Yati could also control the arrangement of various tempos.  It is, thus, an ornamentation that enhances the beauty of the Sahitya and the flow of the Musical presentation of the Kriti.

If the Yati is taken to mean the arrangement of Sahitya phrases along with its Dhatu, there would be different types of Yatis in music. Here the Sahitya phrases would be ingeniously arranged to form varied patterns, such as: Sama Yati, Gopuchcha Yati, Srotovaha Yati, Damaru Yati, Mridanga Yati and Vishama Yati.

Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar, in particular was a Master in crafting such various patterns of Yatis. And, some Yati-prayogas are also seen in the Kritis of Sri Thyagaraja.  But, Sri Shyama Shastry did not seem to have attempted Yati-prasa to that extent; except perhaps the Sama Yati, which is an even flow of the Sahitya phrases; and, follows a uniform length of lines (Sama). If two letters of Yati and Prasa are of one and the same character and magnitude, it is called as Sama-yati -Prasa.

According to Prof. Sambamurthy, alliterating the initial syllables or their sequence in Avartas could be taken as Yati. The purpose of the Yati is to create a pleasant musical resonance.

In Sri Shyama Shastri Kritis, the Dhatu as well as its rhythm are arranged; for example; in the Kriti Palainchu-Kamakshi (Madhyamavathi),  the phrase ‘Paalinchu Kamakshi pavani …..Paapa-shamanee‘, the appearance of the second Pa is called Sama-yati-Prasa.

In the Kriti Mayamma (Ahiri), the Yatis that occur are of the same character and magnitude.

Sarasija

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Yamaka

This is a literary beauty, where in the same word, will be repeated but with different meaning and sense. For instance; In the Anupallavi of the Kriti Mayamma (Natakuranji), the word ‘Ananda‘ is applied in many ways so as to give different layers of meaning (True bliss -Happy one – Eternally blissful -Blissful):

Saty(A)nandA – SAnandA – Nity(A)nandA AnandA

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Gamaka

The term Gamaka derived from the root ’gam’ suggests movement (Gamana, Gamya). Gamakas are graces or ornamented flourishes of the Svaras which characterize the gait of a Raga (Raga-sanchara); and, establish the melodic nature of the Dhathu of a musical composition (Raga-svarupa). They are the varied musical effects (Alamkaras) that can transform a plain note into something that is attractive, charming and pleasant on the ears (Gamakau–srotra-sukhadai-lalithair-asthu).

Gamakas  are executed in varied forms, such as: graceful turn, curve or sliding touch given to a single note or a group of notes, which animates Svaras to bring out the melodic character and expression (bhava) of a Raga. Gamaka-rendering is a highly individualistic and a specialized skill. Gamakas are very vital factors of Karnataka Samgita. I am not sure if any other system of music has a worthy equivalent to Gamaka of Karnataka Samgita.

Gamaka (ornamented note) is thus any graceful turn, curve or cornering touch given to a single note or a group of notes, which adds emphasis to each Raga’s unique character. Gamaka, in short, is the movement of Svaras which bounce, slide, glide, shivers, rapidly oscillates or skips. It provides movement and animates Svaras to bring out the melodic character and expression (bhava) of a Raga. Each Raga has specific rules on the types of Gamakas that might be applied to specific notes, and the types that may not. Every Raga has, therefore, to be necessarily rendered with the appropriate Gamakas. They depend on the manner of quivering, oscillations or shaking that the Svaras can be endowed with.

Sarangadeva (11th Century) in his Sangita-ratnakara , enumerates fifteen (pancha-dasha) varieties of Gamakas – Tiripa, Sphurita, Kampita, Leena, Andolita, Vali, Tribhinna, Kurula, Ahata, Ullasita, Humpita, Plavita, Mudrita, Namita and Misrita

And, while describing the   virtues and the desired qualities of a highly accomplished singer (Uttama Gayaka) who belongs to a good tradition (Su-sampradayo) , Sarangadeva says, such a one should have the intelligence to improvise the Gamakas in all their movements (Sarva-sthanao-ttha-Gamake-sarva-kaku-vishesha-vit,-aneka-sthai- sancharah); and, in all the three registers (Sthanas)

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The Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry are remarkable for their Gamaka Prayogas. His Kritis, set in leisurely Vilamba laya, excelling in Chowka kala, are ideal for illuminating and  elaborately bringing out the varied nuances of a Raga through the application of many improvised  Gamaka movements like Kampita, Jaru etc..

As a composer of great merit, Sri Shyama Shastry creatively transformed the traditional concept and application of the Gamakas. In his Prayogas, the Gamaka is not a mere ornamentation of a Svara; but, it is also a soulful means of expressing anguish, devotion, joy  and such other emotions. It lends a new color and a new dimension to both the Dhatu (Music) and the Mathu (Sahitya) of his Kritis. Sri Shyama Shastry was indeed a pioneer in delineating the Raga-bhava through Gamaka Prayoga.

Any number of instances could be cited in this regard. But, just to mention a few:

His different compositions in Anandabhairavi bring out diverse shades and aspects of the Raga. It could be either a simple delineation of the Raga as in his Kriti ‘Himaachala-tanaya’; or the Jaru Gamakas (glides) in the Madhyama-kala tempo in Rupaka Taala as in the Kriti ‘Pahi Sri’; or it could also be the Jaru Gamakas in Vilamba-kala set to Misra –Chapu-Taala as in the Kriti ‘Marivere’; and, finally, it could be an elaborate Raga portrayal in the Adi Taala , Madhyama gati,  in  the Kriti ‘O Jagadamba’.

The two varieties of Kampita -Gamaka are applied to the same phrase ‘Amba ni’ in the Kriti ‘Sari-evvaramma’ (Bhairavi) to express two different emotions. Similar features can be seen in his other Kritis also.

In the Kriti ‘O Jagadamba’ (Anandabhairavi), the opening exclamation ‘Oh’ is repeated thrice, with three different Gamakas. Initially, it is in a lower Svara, as an Etra-jaru (a glide from a lower Svara-sthana to a higher one). The second ‘Oh‘ is expressed through oscillations (Kampita) in higher notes, in a circling movement. And, the third ‘Oh’ is an Erakka-jaru (a slide from a higher Svara-sthana to a lower one).

In the Svarasahitya of the Kriti Kamakshi Bangaru (36-Varali, Misra Chapu), where the word ‘Mayamma’ starts with a Jaru (glide) from the Daivata; and, reaches Tara-shadja in the passage ‘Mayamma Vegame Karuna-judavamma’

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Many examples of Gamakas can also be found in Sri Shyama Shastry’s Svarajatis. His Todi-Svarajati ‘Raave’ begins with a Mandra-sthayi-Dheergha-Dhaivata, which is sung with Kampita Gamaka (oscillations).

His very famous Bhairavi Svarajati ‘Kamakshi’ has eight Caranas starting in the ascending order, the Arohana, as ‘Sa RI Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa’. In the opening lines of the Pallavi, which are in Mandara Sthayi, in a contemplative mood, the Kampita (oscillation) and Jaru (glides) Gamakas follow in succession.

The Yadhukula-kambodhi Svarajati has many instances of Jaru Gamakas as well as the Pratyahata Gamaka (Sphurita in the descent, a Samabandha Gamaka produced from the higher note in a Janta svara prayoga), which is a characteristic of the Raga.

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Even in his Varnas, there are many Gamaka-prayogas.

For instance; the Varna in Anandabhairavi, ‘Sami ninne’ not only begins with a characteristic Jaru Gamaka (s/s-d-p-m-g-m); but , it also appears at many other parts of the composition.

[For a detailed discussion on the Gamakas, please do read the Chapter 5 – Concept of Gamaka in the compositions of Syamasastriof Dr.Manju Gopal’s research paper.]

 [** Svarajati, as the name suggests, is a combination of Svaras (notes) and Jati (rhythmical sol-fa passages). Sri Shyama Shastry revised the form of the Svarajatis by eliminating the Jatis; and, letting the Svaras to arrange themselves into Jati-patterns. The Svarajati composition commences with a Pallavi; and, is followed by Carana/s. While rendering the Carana, the Svaras are sung first; and, then its corresponding Sahitya is presented.

The beauty of the Svarajatis composed by Sri Shyama Shastry is in its natural flow of the Taala, Laya and Svaras. ]

Taala

Taala and Laya

Taala and Laya, over which Sri Shyama Shastry had gained mastery, and their dexterous combination with the Sahitya are among the outstanding features of his compositions.

He had experimented with altering the sequence of Matras in the Misra Chapu, transforming it into its reverse, the Viloma Chapau.

He had employed various Grahas or Eduppus (starting Points) in his Misra Chapu Kritis

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Sri Subbarama Dikshitar (on page 15 of the segment Vaggeyakara Caritam  included in his monumental work  Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini),  while writing a biographical note about Sri Shyama Shastry says;

Since his compositions are like ‘narikela-paka’ ”(as tough as breaking a coconut), with rich poetry, containing  Atita, Anagata Grahas , with beautiful words, some lazy musicians, who could neither comprehend nor had the mettle to sing them in the manner that pleased the audience, called them tough.

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Sri Shyama Shastry’s expertise in Taala and Laya is very evident from his treatment of the Misra Chapu Taala.

[In regard to the Taala; Graha or Eduppu denotes the point within the Āvartanam of a Taala, when a composition or stanza in a composition begins.  Graha (Eduppu) can be two ways. One is Sama; and, the other is Vishama.

When a song begins at the first beat of a Taala it is Sama. And, when song begins either before or after the stroke of Taala it is Vishama.

Vishama is classified into two, as: (a) Athitha Graha: When the song begins first; and, it is then followed by Taala beat; and, (b) Anagata Graha is when a Taala begins first; and, the song follows it later.]

The Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry (like those of Sri Dikshitar) do not start on Athitha-Graha. But, this feature occurs within the body of the Kriti, perhaps to satisfy the requirements of prosody. Usually, the Pallavi and, at times, Anu Pallavi of his Kritis commence in Anagata-Graha; while the Anu-Pallavi and Carana begin with Sama-Graha.

For instance; the Kriti ‘Devi nee padasarasa ‘(Kambhoji) commences in Anagata Graha with ‘Pa’ as the Graha-Svara; while, its Carana begins in Sama Graha.

[ It is mentioned that in Patantara – the texts of the Kritis- that came into use after 1930, the construction of the musical elements; especially of the Eduppus changed much ; and the 4+3 format was not maintained throughout.

For instance; in the Kriti ‘Ninnu vina’, the Pallavi is framed as 2+2+3; the Anupallavi ‘Pannaga-bhushannudaina’ and the Carana ‘Parama-lobu-lanu’ are of the usual 2+7 Eduppu; not consistent with the 4+3 formation of the Pallavi.

For more on this issue, please see the extracts from the work of Smt. Sharadambal, given in later in this post]

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An excellent feature of his Kritis is that the Sahitya is arranged in concordance (Samanvaya) with the Taalajatis (beats of the rhythm cycles).

Sri Shyama Shastri has used the different combinations of Svara syllables as well as Sahitya syllables to weave new patterns, within the framework of the Taala.

In his compositions, we find many words constituting of five syllables corresponding to the tâd-in-gina-tom in a natural way.

In the compositions as well as in Svara-Sahithya we find words as ‘Anu-dina-mu, Tarunamidi, durusu-ganu, kamala.mukhi, samayamidi and so on.

His compositions have plenty of Sahitya syllables, which are in the same time-units as the Dirgha-svaras and Hrasva-Svarâs, forming different patterns within the Taala structure

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Another versatile feature in the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastri, with regard to Taala, is that he has composed Kritis in Taalas and Gatis (sub-divisions of a beat in a composition) that are interchangeable.

He has composed a few Kritis suggestive of two rhythms. Here, one is the inherent rhythm (Sthapita-Taala); and, the other is the suggested rhythm (Suchita-Taala).

For instance; in the Kriti Shankari-Shamkuru (Saveri), Rupaka (1+1) is the Sthapita Taala; and Adi Taala (Tisra-gati, 3) would be the Suchita-Taala. The Pallavi and Anu-Pallavi, at the outset, are in Rupaka Taala; and, the Carana follows the Adi Taala (Tisra-gati).

And, similar is the case with another Kriti, Birana-varalichi’ (Kalyani) , which can be rendered in both Rupaka Taala (Chatursra- gati, 2+4) and also in Adi Taala (Tisra gati-3).

sarasvathi tanjore

Laya, Taala, Sruti and Kala are intricate concepts in Karnataka Samgita. They are as nebulous as one often flows into another.

Laya is commonly translated as tempo; which is inseparable from rhythm. And, rhythm is the ordered movement in time and space

 It is also said; Laya is the pulse of the rhythm, which has three major speeds: Vilamba (slow), Madhyama (medium or normal) and Dhruta (fast).

Thus, Laya is said to include both rhythm and tempo; which are measured by the uniform flow of the time-duration (Kala). With that, Laya is the ordered movement of rhythm in time.

Suffice it to say that Laya could be taken as rhythm.

And, rhythm in our music is two-dimensional; the one that is related to the pitch is termed Shruti-Laya; and, the other related to the time-units is called Taala-Laya.

[Dr S A K Durga explains ‘The Laya stands for the interval of time between the beats and movement in time. Thus the term “Laya” means both rhythm and tempo created by the even measured flow of the uniform duration of Kala (time).

Prof .P.S. Narayanaswami: Rhythm gives stability and form to music. It can be described as the tangible gait of any musical movement. In Carnatic music, this is referred to as Laya. The common fallacy is that rhythm or laya is confined to percussion instruments and the rhythmic patterns produced therein. But laya is not limited to just that. It is present not only in melodic compositions, which usually have a rhythmic metre in an apparent manner but also in the creative aspects, sometimes conspicuously (like in Neraval or Kalpana-svara) and subtly at others (Raga Alapana and Tanam)]

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Laya, for all its beauty, is abstract. You need a device, which measures and monitors this abstract time-flow. And, that function is performed by Taala.

If Laya is the rhythmical movement, Taala is that which measures the tempo of that movement. So, Laya implies movement; and, it can be perceived when there is a motion.

Taala (derived from the root tada or tadana) signifies a ‘beat’. The time-interval between the beats and its movement could also be taken as Laya, the rhythm.

Taala is the measurement of time-units in our music. And, the degree of speed with which the time-units, in each division of a Taala-cycle, follow each other is termed as Kala.

{But, Kala is also used to indicate Laya; say, as in: Madhyama Kala, Chowka Kala etc.]

The structural units of a Taala are called Angas.  Such Angas are of different kinds.

Here, Anu-Dhruta (One Aksharakala) consists only the beat with palm. Dhruta (2 Aksharakala) is a beat followed a waving of hand. Laghu-Dhruta (4+2 Aksharakala) consists beat and finger counts (Laghu+Dhruta). And, Guru-Dhruta (8+2 Aksharakala) is rendered in Dhruva-kala and Patita-(Guru+Dhruta) wave to left and right or circle with thumb-up + beat with palm + turn (wave).

Anudruta Drutha Sankeerna Laghu

Taala, in turn, is reckoned by the finger counts, beats and wave of the hand. This manner of counting and keeping time is termed as Kriya. And, Kriya is the action of fingers, palms, hands, in order to keep track of the Taala-units.

And, when it is done without making audible sounds, it is called Ni-shabda-Kriya. And, when the beats are counted and played on cymbals etc., it is Sa-shabda-Kriya.

In the execution of a Taala, between two successive Kriyas, there is a period of rest or pause; and, that has to be maintained consistently.

The action of Kriya (manifesting as Taala sequence) and the interval between two elements of Kriya are interrelated. Further, each Kriya is an extension of its previous one. Here, the duration of such time-lag between two Kriyas assumes importance; and, with its increase or decrease, the Laya becomes faster or slower.

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In Dhruta-Laya (fast), the Kriyas follow each other in quick succession, as the time-lag between them is very short. In Madhya- Laya or medium tempo, the Laya gets doubled; and, a further doubling of laya results in Vilambita laya.

This suggests; an increase in Laya results in decrease of the speed, i.e., the speed or tempo of a piece is inversely proportional to its laya.

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The tempo of the musical composition in Indian Music is not marked by the composers as Indian music is learnt through oral tradition; and, the composers did not write their compositions with notation, unlike the composers of Western music. In Indian music , the compositions are performed in the tempo according to the Rasa and Bhava of the Raga and Sahitya, besides the performer’s own decision according to her/his  concept of aesthetics,  in the presentation

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 Kala-pramana 

 Smt. Sharadambal observes  : regarding the tempo or Kala-pramana of the Compositions:

Though, most of the songs of Shyama Shastry are in slow medium tempo in Adi-Taala, there are some songs in fast and medium tempo.

The songs in Misra-Chapu and Triputa-Taalas also are mostly sung in slow medium tempo. The long drawn out rhythm with many pauses is seen in Chapu-Taala compositions with less number of words; and, with pauses here and there in these Kritis.

Some of his compositions in Adi-Taala have a tight knit relation between the Taala–Aksharas and the Sahitya letters. Almost all the Svara-letters have Sahitya-letters; and ,  Hrasva letters found in profusion.

For example; songs like’ Sarojadala-netri’ in Shankarabharana Raga; and in ‘Devi Brova’ in Chintamani Raga, though are set in Adi-Taala, the tempo seems to be increased and gives the impression that the song is set in Madhyama-kala. We do not find extensive pauses in these songs. The pauses are limited; and, words are many; and, this makes it appear as though the tempo is increased.

The songs set in Adi, Rupaka and other Taalas are in fast medium tempo. ‘Parvati-ninnu’ in Kalkada, ‘BiranaVaralicci’ in Kalyani can be cited as examples. Thus we find three different tempos such as slow, slow medium and fast medium tempos among the compositions of Shyama Shastri.

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Pada-garbha / Arudi

Arudi or Pada-garbha is a pause that occurs in between the Taala- Avartas. Usually it occurs at the middle of the two Kalai Adi Taala or in the beginning of the next Avarta; or in the beginning of the third Avarta; or in Rupaka Taala or Chapu Taala.

The Kritis:  ‘Kanaka-shaila’ (Punnagavarali); ‘Mayamma’ (Ahiri), ‘Emani-migula’ (Todi), ‘Palinchu Kamakshi ‘ (Madhyamavathi); ‘Devi-ni-padasarasa’ (Kambhoji); ‘Devi-mina-netri’ (Shankarabharana );  ‘Devi brova’ (Chintamani ), in Adi Taala  two Kalai, all have the Pada-garbha exactly at the middle of the Avarta;  that is, on the first Druta.

Here, the pause occurs dividing the Avarta into two; and, after a pause for two or four or three Aksharas, the song proceeds further.

In the songs having two Avartas in the Pallavi, the Arudi occurs in both the Avartas. For instance; we find Pada-garghas in the two Avartas in the kriti ‘Mayamma’ (Natakuranji); one in the first Avarta; and, the second in the second Avarta.

Mayam | ma nannu | Brova vam || ma+ ma ha ma | ya …u | ma … ||

Similarly in the song ‘Saroja-dala-netri’ in Shankarabharana Raga, we find two Pada-garbhas for the pallavi

Saroja dala netri Himagiripu | tri … ni | padam
Sada nammina namma subhamim | ma …O Sri 

In    Adi Taala, this pause occurs at the beginning of the next Avarta as in the song ‘Karuna judu’ in Sri Raga

Karuna judu ninnu | nammina | va-duga ||
da …in ta | parake | lanamma ||

The kriti ‘Karuna-judu’ as rendered in Misra Chapu Taala, in the 4 + 3 gait, has the Pada-garbham at the beginning of the fifth Avarta in the word ‘ga’ 

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The Kritis in Rupaka Taala and Chapu Taala have the Pada-garbham at the commencement of the third Avarta.

Ninne’ in Todi Raga and Chapu Taala’ has two lines of Sahitya; and; had pause for the two lines at the beginning of the third Avarta

Ninnenam || mi na ……… || nu ……… sa || da ……… ne ||
Vin na pa || mu vi ni || nan …… nu || bro ……vumu ||

The other examples are :Mina-locana’ in Dhanyasi Raga in Chapu-Taala and  ‘Nannu-brovu’ in Lalita Raga are in Chapu Taala; ‘Pahi Sri’ in Ânandabhairavi Raga  in Rupaka Taala;  ‘Karuna juda’ in Varali Raga in Chapu Taala; ‘Birana vara’ in Kalyani Raga in Rupaka Taala;  ‘Ninnuvina’ in Ritigaula Raga in Rupaka Taala

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Pauses found in different places

There are some kritis, in which pauses occur in different places i.e. at the end of the pallavi; or  at the end of the first Avarta and so on.

There are kritis which do not have pauses in between the Avartas; but, pause occurs only after finishing the Pallavi at the end of the second Avarta.

For example; in the kriti ‘Durusuga’ in Saveri Raga, we find pause only at the end of the Pallavi, whereas in the kriti ‘Marivere’ in Anandabhairavi Raga, we find a pause at the end of the first Avarta itself in both the lines as

Marive ……| ……………re | ga ti ye vva | ram … ma ||
Mahilo ……| …………….I. | mahilo ….. | brocu taku ||

Similarly in the kriti ‘Janani’ in Saveri Raga  we find a pause in the beginning, but after that words follow without any pause up to the end and the pause occurs after the words as :

Janani ………… Nata | jana pari | pa lini …
pahivambhava | ni ……….| …………

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In some kritis, pauses occur in the beginning; at the end of the Avartas in some; and,  in many places in some kritis ; whereas there is no pause at all in some kritis.

The kritis in Chapu Taala are found with fewer words; with more pauses occurring in different places.

In the kriti ‘Talli-ninnu’ in Kalyani Raga in Chapu Taala, a pause occurs at the end of the second Avarta;  and,  it is continued in the beginning of the third Avarta.

Talli | Ninnu nera | …………… nammi | na nu vino | ve ..

In the kriti ‘Ninnu-vinaga’ in Purvikalyani Raga in Viloma Chapu Taala, we find karvai at the end of the first and third Avarta. The karvai is found in the second line also.

Ninnu vina …… | …… ga mari | dikk-evarun ……| na ……ru ||

In the kriti ‘Brôvavamma’ in Manji Raga ,in Chapu Taala, pauses occur in many ; and, not at specified places.

Brova vam ……|……ma …… ta … | masa me ……| le … ………………| ………….
bi ……..| ra …………na …… || ……
Devita ………|…… la le ………| ne …………bi | ra …… na ……

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Similar type of kriti is ‘Nilayata-kshi’ in Pharaz Raga. We can find pause here and there controlling the flow of the rhythm.

Ni …… la …… ya || ta ………kshi || ni …… ve …||
jagatsa ……kshi ||

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In order to control the less number of words employed in an Avarta in the above mentioned kritis in Chapu Taala; Shyama Shastri might have used these pauses wherever necessary.

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Aspect of Laya

The advent of the Trinity with their compositions paved the way for a new era in the growth of Kriti. They gave importance not only to melody but also to the temporal aspect or laya.

Eduppu or Graha is the place where in the song starts in the Taala.  This plays an important role in the construction of a composition.

There are songs which start on Sama Eduppu; that is, the Taala as well as music start at the same time from the beginning of the Taala count.

There are some songs which start after the Taala begins. This is called Anagata Eduppu.

Some songs start before the Taala Avarta, that is in the previous Avarta itself; and, that is called Atitha Eduppu.

Usually in songs, the Eduppu will uniformly be the same in all the three Angas, either Sama or Anagata

We also find different Eduppus among the different sections within a song of Shyama Shastri.

There are some songs in which two Angas start on the same Eduppu; and, the other Anga has a different Eduppu. They are as follows:

1.Birana – Kalyani – Rupaka
2. Shankari – Saveri – Rupaka
3. Himadrisute – Kalyani – Rupaka
4. Devi-mina-netri – Shankarabharana – Adi
5. Devi-neepada – Khambhoji – Adi
6. Enneramum – Punnagavarali – Adi
7. Mayamma – Natakuranji – Adi
8. Karuna-juda – Varali – Chapu
9. Shankari – Kalyani – Ata

 The song ‘Birana Varâlicci’ in Kalyani Raga and the song `Himadrisute’ are with the same structure, but in Sanskrit, a special Eduppu is found in Rupaka Taala

The Pallavi and Anupallavi start after the first beat; that is, in the second beat or after four Akshra kaalas. The Carana of the song start after two Akshara Kaalas.

In this song, the Pada-garbham (Arudi) falls on the sixth beat; and, again the words start after a karvai of eight Aksharas.  This gives a grip to the song over the Taala.

Another song in which the Carana alone starts after two Aksharas, while the Pallavi and Anupallavi start on some Eduppu is ‘Shankari’ in Saveri Raga. These two Kritis belong to the group of Kritis prevailing since early thirties.

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There are some Kritis, which figure only after 1930.

Among them, the two Kritis each in the Ragas Shankarabharana and Kambhoji alone figure in the notation of Shyama Shastri II; and, the rest figure in the books of others of the same period.

In the four Kritis in Adi Taala, mentioned above, either Sama or Anagata Eduppu is kept for one Anga; and, the other two Angas have different ones.

For example, in the song ‘Devi ni pada’ in Kambhoji, the pallavi starts after two Aksharas; while Anupallavi and Carana have Sama Eduppu.

In the kriti ‘Mayamma’ in Natakuranji Raga, this is reversed. Pallavi has Sama Eduppu; and the Anupallavi and Carana start after two Aksharas.

In the Kritis ‘Devi-mina-netri’ in Shankarabharana Raga and ‘Ennçramum’ in Punnagavarali Raga, the Pallavi and Carana start after four Aksharas; while the Anupallavi start on Sama.

In the kriti ‘Karuna juda’ in Varali Raga, Chapu Taala, the Anupallavi alone starts after one Akshara; and, the other two Angas start on Sama

 In the kriti ‘Shankari’ in Kalyani raga, Chatushra Atta Taala, the Carana alone start after one Akshara and the others on Sama.

There are some songs set in Misra Chapu Taala in the Krama order as 3+4; but, the Eduppu gives the impression as if the songs are sung in Viloma Chapu.

 The songs start in the last beat of the Taala; and so the structure is formed as 2 + 3 + 2. The Kritis ‘Nannu-brovu’ in Lalita Raga and ‘Talli-ninnu’ in Kalyani Raga and ‘Mina-locana’ in Dhanyasi Raga can be cited as examples.

The song ‘Ninnu-vinaga’ in Purvikalyani Raga  is the only song set in regular Viloma Chapu , which starts in the place Taka-dimi and then taki-ta follows as in HW of Shyama Shastri II, says S.Rajah.

In the HW of Shyama Shastri II , all the songs are written only in the form 4+3; but, the Eduppu alone is denoted either as 4+3 or 3+4 or 2+3+2 by an asterisk mark.

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The Taalas handled by Sri Shyama Shastry

Sri Shyama Shastri has composed Kritis and other compositions in various types of Taalas;  such as:  Adi, Rupaka, Misra Chapu, Mathya, Triputa, Jhampa and Ata Taala. All the Taalas come under the Sapta- Taala group.

[In the Karnataka Samgita concerts, the four Taalas that are commonly used are – Adi, Rupaka, Misra-Chapu and Khanda-Chapu.  And, most number of songs is in Adi Taala.

Popular Taalas

Adi Taala has several compositions, each in a different tempo and gait. These could be effectively used to bring out contrast within the concert. Variety can also be brought out by singing compositions with different starting points. For example, a composition can start at the very first beat of the Taala. Or it can start at the next beat or after a few counts within the beats. The starting point is known as Eduppu or Graha. – Dr. P S. Narayanaswamy]

As regards the number of compositions in each type of Taala:

each type

 (Source: Dr. Manju Gopal)

Adi Taala

Of the thirty compositions set in Adi Taala, as many as twenty-seven are the Kritis. And the rest three are: a Gita (Santatam-Pharaju); a Varna (Dayanidhe –Begada); and, a Svarajati (Rave Himagiri –Todi).

All the Kritis are of the Eka Kala and Dvi Kala type.  The Laya is Vilambita in most cases. Sometimes the Madhya Laya is also used.

Of the thirty compositions in Adi Taala, as many as twenty-three start on Sama Graha; and , seven on Anagata Graha (half Eduppu).

 For the three Kritis: Karuna-nidhi-ilalo (Todi); Shankari Shamakuru (Saveri) and Parvathi ninnu ne (Kalgada), the Tisra Gati is employed.  In Tisra -Gati, each unit of the Taala will be counted as ‘ta-ki-ta’ (a unit of three Aksharas)

The variation in the Akshara-kala of each count of a Taala (Gati-bedha) is another feature here.

It is said; the compositions in Tisra Gati –Adi- Taala (with a total Akshara kala duration of 24) could also be rendered in Rupaka Taala (12  Akshara kala duration).

Following that; the Tisra Gati Kritis in Todi and Saveri Ragas are sometimes sung to Rupaka Taala.

And in the other way; the Rupaka-Taala-Kritis – Ninnu-vina (Ritigaula) ; Birana Varalichi (Kalyani) ; and , Himadrisute (Kalyani) can also be sung to Tisra-Gati-Adi -Taala.

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Chapu Taala

It is a very common saying that among the Ragas, the Anandabhairavi; and, among the Taala, the Misra Chapu Taala are the favorites of Sri Shyama Shastry. He did, indeed, pay special attention to these two; and, transformed their modes of presentation.

The Chapu Taala is believed to have originated from the folk tradition; and, it was much used in the Bhagavatamela plays, which Sri Shastry as a youngster loved to watch while his family was Thiruvarur.

The beat (ghata) is the only kind of Kriya used in the Chapu Taala; and, there are no other Angas here such as Dhruta or Laghu etc. And, its Kriyas are not of uniform duration.

The Chapu Taala (which is said to be an abbreviated form of Tisra-Jati-Triputa-Taala) has four variations:  Tisra-Chapu (1+2=3) ; Khanda-Chapu (2+3=5); Misra Chapu (3+4=7) ; and, Sankirna-Chapu (4+5=9).

Of these variations, Sri Shyama Shastry adopted the Misra Chapu of seven Akshara kala duration  for many of his compositions.

As said; Misra Chapu has two parts. The first part (3) is three-fourths the duration of the second (4). In sum, it would be reckoned as having two beats (3 and 4). But, in practice, it is played in two beats. And, sometimes, instead of the first beat, the Taala would commence with a wave-motion (Visarjita).

Sri Shyama Shastry revised the mode of rendering the Chapu Taala ( 3+4) by reversing the  sequence of its beats and transforming it into Viloma Chapu Taala (4+3). And, this became a hallmark of his preferred Taala structures.

The following are the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry set to Misra Chapu and  to Viloma Chapu

Misra Chapu

Among the eleven compositions in Misra Chapu Taala, five compositions viz.,   the two Svarajatis; the two Kritis in Varali; and one Kriti in Anandabhairavi, all start with Sama Graha . And, the rest six, start in Anagata Graha.

Viloma Chapu

Of the seven Kritis in Viloma Chapu Taala, the two Kritis Trilokamata (Pharaju) and Ninnu-vinaga-mari (Purvikalyani) start on the Sama Graha. And, the other five Kritis start on Anagata Graha, on the second beat. [The Kriti Karuna-judu (Sri) is sung by some in Adi Taala.]

**

Triputa Taala

There are nine compositions set in Triputa Taala; and, these include three Gitas.

Of these nine compositions: three Gitas – Kamakshi (Pharaju); Kamakshi (Madhyamavathi); and Sarasakshi (Saveri); as also the three Kritis – Paramukha-melanamma (Kalyani); Palayasumam (Arabhi) and Nilayatakshi (Pharaju) – all start Sama Graha (Eduppu).

The other three Kritis in this group: Nannubrova (Janaranjani); Adinamu-ninchi (Ananadabhairavi) ; and, Ennerum (Punnagavarali) – start on Anagata Graha (half Eduppu).

**

Other Taalas

As regards the compositions in other Taalas

other Taalas

In the case of the Taalas of the twenty compositions, the Akshara value, in each case, amounts to 7 or to multiples of 7.

The Taalas that are involved here are: Tisra-Jati-Triputa (7 Aksharas); Misra Chapu (7 Aksharas); Khanda-Jati-Ata (14 Aksharas); and, Viloma Chapu (7 Aksharas).

Of such twenty compositions, 9 are in Tisra Triputa; 12 in Misra Chapu; 7 in Viloma Chapu; and 2 in Khanda Ata. (Source: Dr. Manju Gopal)

*

Of the 72 known compositions of Sri Shyama Shastri, 47 start with Sama Eduppu; and , 25 compositions with Anagata Eduppu.

Examples of Sama Eduppu are: Emani migula (Todi, Adi Taala); Palayasumam (Arabhi, Triputa Taala); Sari evvaramma (Bhairavi, Khanda Jhampa Taala); and Shankari-Shankari (Kalyani, Khanda Ata Taala).

Examples of Anagata Eduppu are: Palimpavamma (Mukhari , Adi Taala , half Eduppu); Birana Varalichi (Kalyani,  Rupaka Taala,  Eduppu in the second beat); Nannubrova (Janaranjani, Triputa Taala, half Eduppu); Talli-ninnu (Kalyani, Viloma Chapu- Eduppu on the second beat)

*

Though there are no compositions among Sri Shyama Shastry’s creations, that explicitly commence with Atitha Eduppu, shades of this feature can be noticed in some of his verses. For example, in Mayamma (Ahiri, Adi Taala), the Carana of which reads:

Sarasija-bhava Hari-Hara-nuta sulaita nee/ Pada-pankaja-mula-sthira-mani Nammiti -Nammiti -Nammiti ni

Here, the portion from ‘pada pankaja’ is said to start with the last count of the previous Avarta. This could be taken as Atitha Eduppu.

*

A unique feature of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry is the modulation of the rhythm (bigu-sugu), which emphasizes certain notes and stretches them.

Another noticeable feature is the rhythmical improvisations (Laya, Taala) do not in any manner hamper the melody (Dhathu) and the consistency of the Sahitya.

In the Kritis and Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastri, the Sahitya phrases and the sequence of rhythmic patterns (Taala Jati) blend harmoniously.  The long Sahitya syllables are matched by long (Dheerga) Svaras; and the short ones are in tune with the short (Hrasva) Svaras.

 For instance; the sequence of the units of Akshara kala (of three different kinds- 5, 7 and 9) combines well, in each case, with the corresponding flow of the Sahitya.

In each case, the Sahitya segment is broken up into the number of units of its Taala.

 Aksharakala

devi

 We shall talk about the Languages of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry

as also about his other types of Compositions

Continued

In

The Next Part

Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet

 
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Posted by on July 25, 2020 in Music, Sangita, Shyama Shastri

 

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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Seven

Continued from Part Six

Sri Shyama Shastry – Music-Continued

sarasvathi tanjore

 STRUCTURE

Kriti, which is the most highly evolved form of musical composition in Karnataka Samgita, is a descendant of Prabandha, a Musical format, which was in vogue for about a thousand years, till the Seventeenth Century.

 To put it briefly, without much discussion:  

Prabandha

The Prabhandha is a well structured (Prabhadyate iti Prabandhah), strictly regulated (Nibaddha) Samgita, which is made up of Six Angas (shadbhir-angaisca) and Four Dhatus (chaturbhi-dhaturbh-ischayah).

The Six Anga-s or elements of a musical Prabandha-s are: Pada; Svara; Taala; Paata; Tenaka, ; and Birudu.

And, the four Dhatus are: Udgraha, Melapaka, Dhruva and Abhoga.- The term Dhatu, in this context, stands for  an element or a section or sections of a Prabandha composition

– Chaturbhir-dhatubhih shadbhishcha-angairyah syat prarbandhate tasmat prabandhah

*

[Here in this definition, the Six Angas (elements) were: 

Pada (passage of meaningful words); 

Svara (notes or sol-fa passage);

Taala (musical meter or the cyclic time units;

Paata (vocalized drum syllables or beats of the percussion and other musical instruments); 

Tenaka (vocal syllables, meaningless and musical in sound with many repetitions of   the syllables like Te and Tna conveying a sense of   auspiciousness  (mangala-artha-prakashaka); And,   

Birudu (words of praise, extolling the subject of the song and also including the name of the singer or the patron) ]

*

Of the  six Angas, it was said :  Tena and Pada, reflecting auspiciousness and meaning respectively are its two eyes; Paata and Birudu are the two hands, because they are produced by the hands, the cause  (Kaarana) being figuratively taken for effect (Kriya) ; Taala and Svara are  like the   two feet as they cause the movement of the Prabandha-purusha.

*

As regards the Dhatus :

The Kalyana Chalukya King Somesvara III (1127-1139 AD) in his Manasollasa  explains  the four Dhatu-s :

: – Udgraha is the commencing section of the song. Here the song is first grasped (udgrahyate), hence the name Udgraha.

Udgraha is said to consist a pair of rhymed lines, followed by an ornamental passage; and, then by a passage of text describing the subject of the song. Thus there should be pair of lines in the Udgraha and in the third section as well.

: – Melapaka is the bridge, the link that unites the Udgraha and Dhruva.

The Melapaka should be rendered adorned with ornamentation (Alamkara).

: – Dhruva is the main body of the song; and, is that which is repeated. Dhruva is so called because it is rendered again and again (refrain); and, because it is obligatory or constant (dhruvatvat).  [It is also said ’the Dhruva is in the Udgraha itself – Udgraha eva yatra-syad Dhruvah]; and,

: –Abhoga is the conclusion of the song. Abhoga gets its name because it completes (Abhoga) the Dhruva. It should mention the name of the singer.

And, once the Abhoga has been sung, Dhruva should be repeated.

**

A Prabandha was categorized (Prabandha-Jaati) depending on the number and type of Dhatus (sections) that constituted its structure: Dvi-dhatu (Udgraha and Dhruva); Tri-dhatu (Udgraha, Dhruva and Abogha); and, Chatur-dhatu (Udgraha, Melapaka, Dhruva and Abogha).

*

Among the four Dhatus, the two – Udgraha and Dhruva – are essential and indispensable. And the other two, Melapaka and Abhoga are optional.

;-The rendering of the Prabandha composition of the type Medini Jaati Prabandha (having all the Six Angas); and, having four Dhatus (Chatur-dhatu) would commence with Udgraha (that which is grasped- Udgrahyate).

Here, each Dhatu (section) is set in a different Raga and Taala. 

The opening Udgraha will begin with a couplet set to mater (Chhandas), in meaningful words (Pada- pada prayoga) setting out the main theme of the song and continuing with elaboration of the melodic syllables (Svaras).

:-Then, in the interlude, which functions as the bridge (Melapaka), one may or may not have passages of Tena.

:-Then comes the main section Dhruva set in meaningful words (pada) and meter (Chhandas) with appropriate Taala cycles. Here, the rhythmic element of the song gets more intense. Then, one could have an optional section (Antara) perhaps with rapidly recited Paata syllables – before coming to the concluding section.

:-For the concluding section (Abogha), the Anga-Birudu is required as the signature (Mudra) of the composer or singer or as a dedication to the patron. The performance could conclude with repletion (refrain) of main lines from Dhruva.

*

During the Seventeenth Century, the Golden period of Karnataka Samgita, the Prabandha format was revised and recast, paving way for the introduction of a more elegant form of musical composition – the Kriti.

Certain changes were effected, in regard to the Angas and to the Dhatus as well.

*

As regards the Angas, the basic components; Pada, Svara and Taala were retained, almost as they were in the Prabandhas. But, certain changes were brought in with regard to the status of the other three Angas: Paata; Tenaka; and Birudu.

Paata:

Paata, the percussion syllables (Paata),which was  once a characteristic feature of the Bandha–karana of the ancient Shuddha-SudaPrabandhas, led to the creation of new forms such as the Tillanas. This became an independent musical format; and, got associated more with Dance.

And, under the revised scheme, the Paata, the vocalized Mrdanga syllables, was taken out from the main body of the repertoire of the stage performances (Sabha-gana); such as the singing of Kirtanas, Kritis etc.

But, its corresponding Svaras, when coordinated with the Sahitya passages, re-appeared as Chitte Svara in the Kritis.

*

Tena or Tenaka

In the Prabhanda rendering, the vocal syllables – meaningless and musical in sound – with many repetitions of   the syllables or sounds like tenna-tena-tom, conveying a sense of auspiciousness (mangala-artha-prakashaka), used to be sung after rendering Ragalapiti; but, before the main section of the Prabandha i.e. the Dhruva.

Tena, an A-nibaddha-Samgita (an unstructured, improvised, meaningless, non-verbal music), was taken out of the main body of the structured (Nibaddha) format; and, was treated as a separate segment to be rendered after Alapana (Ragaalapi); but, before taking up the Pallavi or the Kriti. Tena was re-named as Taanam. But, singing Tanam was optional. Every Kriti that was sung need not have to be preceded by Taanam rendering.

Tena, which was originally used in the Tena-karana of the Prabandha, gained greater importance in the playing of the Veena. The Tanam rendering on the Veena, was derived from the Tena-karana , which was meant to be played on the Veena in the Nanda type of songs of the Viprakirna class of Prabandha. The Taanam (played soon after the latter part of the Alapana) is a particularly endearing segment of the Veena-play of the Karnataka Sangita.

*

Birudu

The Birudu, which was an independent Anga of a Prabandha, was taken out and integrated into the Carana of a composition (usually in the concluding Mudra-Carana). And, it appeared in the Kritis, as Vaggeyakara-mudra; Raga-mudra; or Kshetra mudra

*

Udgraha and Melapaka

Now, as regards the Udgraha , the couplet with which the composition started  and which introduced the textual and the musical theme of the Prabandha, it was now assigned the name of Pallavi;  suggesting that which is blossoming or is about to bloom-Pallava .

And, the second section, Melapaka, the bridge that connected the Udgraha and Dhruva, now came to be known as Anu-pallavi (that which follows the Pallavi). And the Music here is in a higher register (Svara-sthana); and, its flow is natural.

Now, in the Kriti, the theme introduced in the Pallavi is continued further. The Anupallavi acts as a connecting link between  the Pallavi and the Carana. The length of these Dhatus (sections of the song) can be extended, if need be (optional), by introducing, the Antara, as the second theme into Anu-pallavi.

Although the Anupallavi performs a very useful role; it, nevertheless, is not mandatory. In the Samasti-Carana type of Kritis, the composer can straight away proceed from Pallavi to Carana, circumventing the Anupallavi.

*

Abhoga

And, Abhoga, which was the concluding section of the Prabandha, now became a part of the last Carana of the Kriti, accommodating the Vaggeyakara-Mudra (signature) of the composer.

*

Dhruva

At the same time, the number of stanzas in the Dhruva section was reduced.

Dhruva was the main body of a Prabandha-song; and, that which was repeated. It was called Dhruva, because it was rendered again and again (refrain); and, because it was an essential and a constant Anga (dhruvatvat).  

Dhruva was renamed as Carana, the feet which takes the Kriti forward; and, also enables it to gain movements. The Carana, at the same time, is the cream, the substance or the body of the Kriti.

Here, in the Pallavi, the theme of the song is briefly initiated. And it is slightly more expanded in the Anu-pallavi; mainly, in order to bridge the Pallavi with the Carana.

But, it is in the Carana, the theme is extensively elaborated in various ways; and, it is here that the composition finds its fulfillment. In the process, there might be slight variations of the contents, depending upon the creativity of the composers, who strive to bring more variety and richness into their compositions.

The third Dhatu Carana, generally, has twice the number of the cycles (Avartanas) of Anupallavi. The melody of the first half of Carana is set in the middle register (Madhyama-kala), closer to the main theme of the Pallavi. And, it also amplifies the theme further.

The second part of the Carana is closer or is similar to the Anupallavi in its music-content; and, finally it leads back to the Pallavi.  The entire composition is a unity of several elements and segments, all of which coming together harmoniously, to present a wholesome performance. The Carana is the sum total; the aggregate.

Thus, the Kriti effectively uses the three Dhatus in developing its theme, progressively– in stages.  Some scholars, employing the textual analogy, have described the Pallavi as Sutra; Anu-pallavi as Vritti; and Caranas as Bhashya

[In the traditional texts , the term Sutra denotes a collection  highly condensed pellets of references ; Vritti attempts to slightly expand on the Sutra to bring some clarity; and Bhashya is a detailed  commentary  on the subjects dealt with by  the Sutra and the Vritti. ; and, primarily,  it continues to be based on the Sutra.]

*

Thus the four Dhatus (Chatur-dhatu) of the Prabandha were remodelled and adopted into the Kriti of three Dhatus (Tri-dhatu). And, the Tri-dhatu format is now established; and, perhaps it will continue to be so for a very long time.

[Although, Prabandha, as a genre, has disappeared, its influence has been long-lasting, pervading most parts, elements and idioms of Indian Music. The structures , internal divisions, the elements of Meter (Chhandas), Raga, Taala and Rasa , as also the musical terms that are prevalent in the Music of today are all derived from Prabandha and its traditions. Many well-known musical forms have emerged from the bygone Prabandha.  Thus, Prabandha is, truly, the ancestor of the entire gamut of varieties of patterns of sacred-songs, art-songs, Dance-songs and other musical forms created since 17-18th century till this day.]

Vajra 2

Kriti

In Karnataka Samgita, Kriti is an icon of Nibaddha Samgita, a structured composition.  A Kriti is explained as that which is constructed (yat krtam tat kritih). It is primarily a pre-composed music (kalpitha Samgita), which aims to delineate the true nature of a Raga in all its vibrant colours. And, at the same time, it tries to harmonize the four essential components of the Kriti: the words of the song (Sahitya); its emotional content (Mano-bhava); its Music (Raga-bhava) and, the rhythm (Laya and Taala).   All these elements have to be crafted into a well organized,  crystalline, articulate and a very well designed structure, as per the tradition (Sampradaya), satisfying all the requirements prescribed in the Lakshana-Granthas.

A Kriti comprising the three segments (Tri-Dhatu) Pallavi, Anu-pallavi and Caranas, honouring the disciplines of Grammar and Chhandas, and set to appropriate Taala, is the most advanced form of musical composition in Karnataka Samgita.

Generally, the Pallavi is the shortest section of a Kriti. And, Aupallavi could be either be equal in length to the Pallavi or be double  that. The Carana  will have more number of Avartanas , as also more number of words, as compared to the Pallavi and Anupallavi. Usually, the ratio of Pallavi, Anupallavi and Carana , in terms of their Avartanas and their lengths, is 1 : 2 : 4.However, this is not mandatory.

There could be variations in its structure. In Samasti Carana type of Kritis the Anupallavi and Carana is fused into one segment. It will have just two segments (Dvi-Dathu): the Pallavi, which introduces the musical theme; and the Carana, which expands on that.

In either case, in these Kritis, the Mathu (be it Sahitya, Pada, Svrakshara (sol-fa syllables) or the rhythmic syllables of Taala); and, the Dhatu (Musical content, Nadadthmaka) need to be in perfect harmony:

Dhatu-Matu samayuktam Gitam-ityuchyate budhaih: Tatrah Nadatmako Dhatu Matur-akshara sambhavat

A Kriti might also have a single Carana or multiple Caranas. The lengths and Music-content (Dhatu) of the Caranas could also vary.

A Kriti could be Laya-pradhana or Bhava-pradhana. In the former case, the Laya, the rhythm, is more dominant (say, as in the Raghuvamsa Sudha of Sri Pattanam Iyyer , and the Pancha-ratna Kritis of Sri Thyagaraja). In the latter, the sentiment and emotion that the Kriti depicts would get greater importance (as in Mokshamu-galada (Saramathi ) of Sri Thyagaraja and in the slow-paced (Vilamba-kala) kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry).

*

Despite the importance that has been now accorded to the Kriti, it took a considerable time for it to be called by that name. Even in the Sangita-Sampradaya-Pradarshini of Sri Subbarama Dikshitar, this form of compositions was referred to as Kirtana, although there are some subtle differences between the two formats. Now, hopefully, the term Kriti has come to stay.

*

Although the Kriti as a preeminent musical format was perfected by the Trinity of Karnataka Samgita, the process of its formation had stared much earlier. And, a number of compositions of that nature were written by some eminent musicologists.

The most noted among such scholars was Sri Margadarshi Sesha Iyengar,  (17th century), whose Vaggeyakara-mudra was ‘Kosala’. He  is  also known by the name Pallavi Sesha Ayyangar

His compositions were set in the Tri-Dhatu format of Pallavi, Anupallavi and Three Caranas. He was also the earliest to use the Ragas Begada and Brindavan.a-saranga.

Sadly, all his compositions were said to have been lost. However, the Sarasvathi Mahal Library, Thanjavur, I understand, has brought out a collection of about thirty-one Krits ascribed to Sri Sesha Ayyangar. It is said; the songs therein were culled out of a bunch of manuscripts bundled as ‘Seshayyangaru -Kirtanalu’. And, the collection ended with the phrase ‘Kosalam Kirtanalu Sampurnam’. All the songs are set in chaste Sanskrit.

[ Please click here , for the list of those thirty-one songs.]

Sri Sesha Ayyangar seemed to have influenced Sri Swati Tirunal Maharaja, who in his treatise concerning the Sabda-alamkaraPrasa, the ‘Muhanaprasa- antyaprasa-vyavastha’   often cites from the compositions of Sri Sesha Iyengar, as illustrations of the Prasa-phrases.

It said; Sri Sesha Ayyangar was the first to introduce the rhetorical beauties like, Dvitiya-kshara-prasa, Muhana, Antarukti, etc into musical compositions. The Muhana-prasa, the subject of Sri Swati Tirunal Maharaja’s treaties, refers the rhyming patterns, wherein the same or similar syllable or phrase occurring at the commencement of the first Avarta of a section of a musical composition, is featured also in the second Avarta of the same section.

[The three Sabdalankaras used in composing Sahitya for music are :  Muhana, Prasa and Antyaprasa.

Muhana is a type of Sabdalankara, in which the same letter as in the beginning of an Avarta or any of its substitutes occurs in the beginning of the second Avarta. For example, ‘Dinakara Kula dipa / Dhrita divya sara chapa!’

As regards the substitution; if the letter (Akshara) at the beginning of the Avarta is ‘a’, then its substitute in the Muhana will be : ‘Aa,Ai,Au, y,h’. Similarly the if the first letter in the Avarta is ‘i (ee)’ its substitute would be ‘I,e,r’. And , for the letter ‘u’, it would be ‘U, O’.

Prasa is the repetition of the second letter in the first Avarta in the same position in the subsequent Avarta in the same position in the subsequent Avartas. This is concerned only with consonants, not vowels. Prasa can be for a single letter or for a group of letters.

Its example from Sri Sesha lyengar’s Kriti is:

Tanuja sarana pa- Vanaja mukha pari- jana / jagadahita-danuja madahara /  manuja tanu dhara / vanaja dala nayana /

Antyaprasa is the repetition of a letter or group of letters at the end of the Avartas. . It differs from Prasa; because, while the Prasa is confined to consonants, here the vowels are also included.    For instance, a word like Netram can have Antyaprasa only with words like  Gatram, Sutram, etc.; and, not with words like satrum, atrim etc. ]

*

Sri Sesha Ayyangar was also the earliest composer to use the Antarukti, the method of splitting the words, in order to maintain a Prasa.  The term Antar +ukti, literally means the ‘in-between utterance’.  

The method of Antarukti is by way of inserting one or more syllables between two words.  It is done mostly for the sake of maintaining the flow of the Taala. Sri Sesha Ayyangar employed the Antarukti between two words which are in Muhana Prasa. For instance; in the line ‘Hanumantam Chintayeham paVana’, the word ‘Pavana’ was split to render ‘Vana’ as a Prasa to the sound ‘Hanu’. The syllable ‘pa’, here, is said to an Antarukti.

*

Later, Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar, in particular, as also Sri Shyama Shastry and Sri Thyagaraja employed such types of Prasas quite often.

 [For more on these, please do read an extensive Doctoral thesis prepared by Dr. Manjula Sriram, under the guidance of Professor Smt. Gowri Kuppuswamy.]

Bangaru Kamakshi

Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry

Most of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry, as per the usual norms, follow the then accepted format of Tri-dhatu, comprising three clear segments of Pallavi, Anu-pallavi and Carana.

At the same time, in a few cases, he deviated from the normal; and, in some of them he also brought in variations by way of building into the structure of the Caranas, the innovative feature of Svarasahitya.

And, of the sixty Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry, in eight of the Kritis the decorative Anga (element) of Svara-sahitya is ingeniously structured into the Carana. The group of these eight Kritis comprise those having One Carana (1); Two Caranas (1); and Three Caranas (6).

Svarasahitya21

Of the sixty known Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry, 1 Kriti has no Carana; 8 (7+1) Kritis have one Carana;   5   (4+1) Kritis have two Caranas; 4 Kritis have four Caranas; and, the rest 42 (36+6) Kritis have three Caranas.

structute

Of these, Sri Shyama Shastry’s very famous Kriti ‘Devi brova samayamide’ in Raga Chintamani, having a Pallavi and three Caranas is classified as a Dvi-Dathu-Kriti type; meaning, it has only two elements (Dathu):  Pallavi and Carana, but has no Anu-pallavi. It is a Samasti-Carana type of Kriti.

*

Eight of his Kritis have each only one Carana; of which in one Kriti – ‘Mayamma nannu brova ‘(28-Nattakuranji, Adi) has a Pallavi; Anupallavi; and One Carana followed by Svarasahitya passage as an Upanga (an auxiliary element).

single carana *with Svarasahitya

The shorter Krits are simple, with a string of names describing glory of the goddess (Namavali); and praying for protection. In these Kritis, the Pallavi is followed by a short Caranas. And, while singing,  the Pallavi line is repeated after the Carana .

*

Four of the Kritis , have a structure of Pallavi; Anupallavi; and, Two Caranas. Of these four Kritis, one Kriti ‘Sri Kamakshi Kavave’ (65-Kalyani-Adi) has a Pallavi; Anupallavi; and Two Caranas and a Svarasahitya passage.

Two Caranas

*with Svarasahitya

*

And, Four of the Kritis have a structure of Pallavi; Anupallavi; and, Four Carana

Four Caranas

*

Thus, apart from the 8 (1+7) Kritis, the rest 52 Kritis have multiple Caranas.  Of those 52 Kritis, as many as 43 (37+6) Kritis have three Caranas each.  It could therefore be said about two-thirds of his Kritis consist of three Caranas.

Generally, in the case of Kritis having multiple Caranas, the Pallavi and Anupallavi would of the same length; and, the Carana would be double in length.  

But, in the case of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry, rarely do the Pallavi, Anupallavi and Carana have a uniform/ proportionate length. They do vary.

In the case of Kritis having multiple Caranas, the Music of the Caranas would, usually, be consistent, until the final Carana, with the Vaggeyakara Mudra, is taken up. So is the case with most of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry, which carry multiple Caranas.

But, while singing,  few Kritis – like Mayamma-yeni (Ahiri, Adi) and Saroja-dala-netri (Shankarabharanam, Adi) – the Pallavi is sung and elaborated repeatedly , as a refrain, after the Anupallavi and also after each of the three Caranas. And, the singing concludes with the rendering of the Pallavi again.

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Among the other Kritis having the structure of Tridhatu (Pallavi, Anupallavi and Carana); and having multiple Caranas; in the following cases, the Dhatu (Music) of the Anupallavi is repeated at the second half (Uttarardha) of each Carana.

Dhatu repeated

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And, in some of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry, each of the three sections of the Kriti – Pallavi, Anu- Pallavi and Carana – are set to different Ragas and different Taalas.

The following Kritis have different Dathu-s for its different Caranas (Dhatu-vyatyaya) . The term Dhatu indicates the Musical content-Nadatmaka which is enriched by varied Laya patterns, Gamakas, Sangatis and other innovative embellishments.

Different Dhathu

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Smt. Sharadambal observes:

The Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry are normally found with three Caranas. Yet, the Kriti Nannu-brovu in Lalita Raga is found with four Caranas; and, the Kriti Devi-brova-samaya-mide in Raga Chintamani is found without the Anupallavi section.

Normally, the duration of Avartas in Adi-Taala-Kritis is 2-2-4 for the Pallavi, Anupallavi and Carana respectively.  With the addition of Chittasvara or Svarasahitya, the number of Avartas of the Anupallavi or Carana will each be increased by another 2 Avartas.

The organisation of the duration of Avartas in Rupaka Taala is 4-4-8 or 8-8-8

 The Kriti Marivere, in Ânandabhairavi Raga in Misra Chapu Taala, is found with 8-8-16 ; and with another 8 Avartas for Chittasvara.

The Kriti, Shankari in Saveri Raga is seen with the format of 8+8+8; and, a Chittasvara for 8 Avartas.

Most of the Kritis in Misra-Laghu or Misra-Chapu-Taala are found with the pattern of 8+8+16; and, only in some Kritis, the additional element of Svarasahitya is found with another 8 Avartas, reckoning  the Svara part and the Sahitya part as a single unit.

The music settings of the three Angas are separate; and, all the Caranas are sung to the same Dhatu in the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastri.

Only in rare cases –for example, in the kriti Marivere (Ânandabhairavi) and in Brôvavamma ( Manji Raga)  – the last two lines of the Carana are sung to the same Dhatu as that of the Anupallavi.

Normally slow medium tempo is employed in the Kritis set in Adi Taala (Irandu) two Kaalai, with profusion of words without any intermediary ending of the words. All the Angas will be set in the same tempo. But in two Kritis we find the number of words is increased in the Angas – Anupallavi and Carana – in Kanaka-shaila in Punnnagavarali; and, in the Carana of the Kriti Mayamma in Ahiri. This increases the tempo of the Angas , as if they are in madhyama-kâla, though in fact they are not. 

saraswati_1

Angas- Alamkara- decorative features

Sri Shyama Shastry was indeed very proficient in introducing into the Kritis the aesthetic delights, devises or the adornments (Alamkara).These decorative Angas were applied in order to enrich the Dhatu, Mathu and the combination of the both.

His Kritis are rich in the Angas, such as beautiful Svaraksharas, Chittasvaras, Svara-sahitya, as also the intricate Gamakas and variations of the Taala patterns etc.

The Laya-soukhya, the comfort and ease in the rhythmic flow is one of the endearing aspects of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry. The other related feature is his dexterous use of the Misra Chapu Taala; and, its reversed sequences in Viloma Chapu.

Smt. Vidya Shankar writes:

The beauty of the melodic structure of Sri Shyama Shastry’s  compositions lies in the various artistic stresses and strains given to the Musical phrases (Bigu-Sugu). This is the key note of the rhythmic richness found in the works of Sri Shastry. It leaves the impression that every spot is transformed with special charm and grandeur by the infusion of this quality of Laya (change in the tempo) – Shyama Sastry by Smt. Vidya Shankar – Page 55)

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But, the delight of his compositions is in the Vilamba-kaala, like the spacious, calmly spreading, gently flowing river; which immerses the singer and the listener in tranquil joy.

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Sri Shyama Shastry also brought into his Kritis, several of the decorative Angas that are generally applied to embellish the Sahitya or Mathu, such as: Prasa; Yati; Madhyama-kala-Sahitya, Vaggeyakara-mudra; Kshetra-mudra etc.

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Apart from the Alamkara of Dhatu (Nadatmaka) the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry are also rich in the element of Mathu, the literary and rhetorical beauties like Svaraksharas, Madhyama-kala Sahitya, Chittasvaras, Gamakas and varieties of Prasas etc., in addition to various adaptations in coining his Vaggeyakara-Mudras.

Sri Shyama Shastry was an adept in introducing into the Kritis, the aesthetic devises or the adornments (Alamkara) such as beautiful Svara-sahitya, Svaraksharas, as also intricate Gamakas and variations of the Taalas etc.

Sri Shyama Shastry had also used varied patterns in the structure of the Kritis, like appending the Svarasahitya to the Carana;  and, employing the Dhatu of the Anupallavi in the Carana again, as in the Kritis ‘Marivegati’ (Anandabhairavi); ‘Sari evvaramma’ (Bhairavi); and, ‘Ninne namminanu’ (Todi).

[In wielding of the Alamkaras such as, the Svarasahitya, Svaraksharas and Chittasvaras, Sri Shyama Shastry was indeed an expert and, the foremost.

But, his use of certain other Alamkaras, such as: Sangathis; Madhyama-kala-Sahitya; Yati-prasa; and, Raga-mudra, etc., were rather limited. There are also no noticeable instances of Taala-mudra. Some of the Sangathis that are now applied to his Kritis are believed to have been inserted by the musicians of later generations.]  

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Let’s, briefly, try to go over some these features, with special reference to the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry.

Sangathi

The Sangathi, the melodic variations, is a process of embellishing a particular passage of a musical composition, with varied improvisations to bring out the different shades of the Sahitya and also of the Raga, without, however, altering the Mathu (Sahitya or words) of that segment

The Sangathis are, generally, improvised while rendering the Pallavi or Anupallavi (rarely in Carana); and at the same time, retaining the words of the text (Sahitya). Though they are sung to the same Sahitya, each Sangati is a logical progression from the previous one.

In certain cases, with the recurrence of the musical phrases, the Sahitya gets hidden under the melodic variations.  And, in certain others, in the Sahitya-bhava-Sangatis, the meaning of the Sahitya gets emphasised, to stimulate its effect.

The Sangathis are not developed from the opening phrase; but, only in the later portions. But, the Sthayi and tempo may be varied; and, increased gradually from Sama-kala, to Madhyama-kala and to Durita-kala. Or else, they may be rendered at the tempo assigned for that segment of the Kriti.  With the increase in the tempo; and, with variations, the length and time of the Pallavi or Anupallavi get elongated.

And, in either case, the Sangathis contribute in bringing out the various shades of the Raga; and also the complex layers of the emotional aspects and meaning of that particular Sahitya. Hence, the Sangathis being endowed with the potential to bring forth varied possibilities are used as creative ornamentations at various places.

In some Kritis, the Sangatis are applied only to the Pallavi and Anupallavi. In certain other cases, the Sangathis are applied either at the commencing part of Pallavi; or at a particular part of the Kriti; or, it is applied with variations in other parts as well.

Sangathi is a much used Anga in the Kritis of Sri Thyagaraja. But, Sangathi is not a major issue in the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry; but, still there are some instances of Sangathi prayoga.

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In the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry, the Sangatis are developed gradually and extended to successive Avartas, heightening the Raga-bhava and the Sahitya-bhava; and, the final Sangathis spread over the full line.

But, While singing the Kriti Saroja-dala-netri’ (Shankarabharanam) , we find that the Sangathis are developed by the performers and extended over the whole Avarta in the second line of the Pallavi. The First Sangati is developed from the place ‘Sri Meenaksamma’; while the second is developed from the beginning with slight changes occurring here and there.

And, while singing the Kriti Durusuga (Saveri) the Sangathis, as developed by the performers, fill in the gaps that are without Sahitya, at the end of first Avarta of the Anupallavi. Here, the Sangathis are executed with a series of ’Aaa-karas’ (or non-verbal sounds); and, no words are added even after the ‘Aaa-karas’.

The second and Third Sangathis are developed to fill in the gaps, by breaking up the Sahitya phrase and elaborating its component-words in a variety of ways. And, by the gradual increase of the Svaras in two speeds (Druta), the Sangathis are progressed. 

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Svrakshara

The device (Anga), which adds lustre and delight to both Dhatu and Mathu are the Svaraksharas. It is a variety of Sabda-alamkara; and, is described as Dhatu-Mathu-Samyukta-Alamkara, in which the Sahitya syllable (Mathu) and the Svara syllable (Dhatu) are identical or sounding similar.  

This structural beauty, termed as Dhatu-Mathu-Alamkara, is a happy confluence of both the types of decorative elements:  Svara (sol-fa-notes); and, the identical or similar sounding syllable (Akshara) of the Sahitya (lyrics). Here, the Svaras are rendered in the proper Svara-sthana assigned to them (order or Krama).

They figure in almost all the musical forms like:  Kritis, Varnas,, Raga-malikas, Svarajatis, Tillanas etc. The Svarakshara can be Hrasva (short) or Dheerga (long) depending on the nature of the syllables. E.g.: Pa- Da- Sa- Roja (Dheerga Svaraksharas)  in ‘Pada saroja-muna nammi ‘the Carana of the Navaragamalika Varna.

The Svaraksharas occurring in his Kritis blend harmoniously and naturally with the Sahitya; and, give forth a pleasant feeling. These are generally found in the beginning of Pallavi, Anupallavi or Carana.

But, Svarakshara is an Alamkara that can be noticed and enjoyed only in vocal music; since, in the instrumental music, the Sahitya cannot be explicitly brought out.

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The art of composing Svarakshara is often compared to Chitra-Kavya or ornamental poetry, where the syllables and words are graphically presented as patterns or images. Creating the right type of beautiful sounding Svaraksharas; and, introducing them at appropriate places in the Kritis is an art, a precious gift; and, it is also a measure of the musical and literary capabilities of the composer.

Sri Shyama Shastry excelled in structuring into his compositions delightful Svarakshara passages, in all their forms.

In the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastri, we find the extensive use of Svaraksharas of both the varieties:  Shuddha and Suchita Svaraksharas. They occur more often as a two or three lettered word, than as single syllable.

The Svaraksharas could be either direct (Shuddha), where the literary (Sahitya) syllables are exactly like the Sol-fa notes; or, they could be mere suggestive (Suchita), where the Sahitya-syllables (Akshara) might sound slightly different from the Svara-syllables, because of the vowel-changes (Svara-vyatyaya) in the Sahitya syllables

In any case; it is said; the Svaraksharas should convey some meaning by themselves or when combined with other non-Svarakshara syllables.

The Sahitya-(Sari) evvaramma (Bhairavi-Adi) is an instance of Shuddha- Svarakshara indicating the notes Sa and Ri. And, in the Kriti ‘Devi brova samaya’ (Punnagavarali), the term ‘Sama’ is set to Svaras ‘Sa-Ma’. And, in the Kriti Kamakshi Bangaru (Varali), the Svaraksharas are Ga-Ma.

The combinations like ‘Sa-Ma’; ‘Pa-Ri; ‘Sa-Ri’; ‘Ga-Ma’; ‘Ni-Dha’; ‘Dha-Ri-Sa; and, ‘Pa-Dha-Sa’, are some such Svaraksharas found in the Kritis.

And in his other Kriti, the phrase in ‘Du –ru-su’ ga krupa’ (Saveri-Adi) suggests the sounds Du-Da, ru-ra , su-sa. And, in his another Kriti (Mi) nalochana brova (Dhanyasi-Chapu) the Sahitya-syllable ‘Mi’ suggests (Suchita) the Svara Ma.

Sri Shyama Shastry has also employed a combination (Misra) of Shuddha-Suchita Svarakshara, as in the line: Ri-Ga-Ma-Pa-Dha-Ni , corresponding to ‘Sri- Ka –Makshi – Ni’.

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In some of his Kritis, the Pallavi, Anupallavi and Carana begin with Svaraksharas. For instance; (Sa-ri) evvaramma;   (Pa) rama-pavani – Anupallavi; and, (Ma) dhava Sodari – Carana, are Svaraksharas.

And, his other Kritis in Yadukula-kambhoji, Mukhari, Kalyani and Ritigaula, the Svarasahitya commence with Svaraksharas.

Similarly, in the Kriti ‘Marivere-gati’ (Anandabhairavi) the Svarasahitya ‘(Pa da) yu-ga’; and, ‘Janani Ninnu vina ‘have some Shuddha Svaraksharas.: Pa-Dha-Pa-Ma / Pa-da-yu-ga.

And, in one more instance of the Kriti Ninne-namminanu (Todi) the Svaraksharas appear in the Svarasahitya in the line ‘kamala bhava danuja ripu nuta pada’-

  • (Ga Ma) Ga Ri Sa (Dha) Ma Ga Ri Sa (Ni Dha) Ma Ga(Ga) Ri
  • (Kama) la bhava; (da)nu ja ri pu (nu ta) pa da (Ka) ma

There are many Svaraksharas here, throughout the Svara Sahitya

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The three Svarajatis have numerous examples of both Shuddha and Suchita Svaraksharas in the Svarasahitya.  

And, similarly, his Varnam ‘Dayanidhe mamava’ (29-Begada, Adi) starts with a Suddha Svarakshara in all its three Angas.

Vajra 2

Chittasvaras

Chittasvara, an Alamkara-Anga, is a series of Svara phrases (Sol-fa passages) set in order to enhance the beauty and the musical appeal of a composition. And, in a Kriti, the Chittasvaras are, usually, rendered at the end of the Anupallavi; or towards the conclusion of the Carana; or at the end of each section in Raga-malika-Kritis.

They may be in the Sama-kaala (same tempo) or in the Madhyama Kaala. But, generally, the Chittasvaras are sung in Madhyama-kaala at the end of the Carana, even if they were rendered in Sama-Kaala after the Anupallavi.

In Sri Shyama Shastry’s Kriti Marivere (Anandabhairavi), the Chittasvara is sung in Dhuritha (two speeds) after the Anupallavi; and, the Chittasvara-Sahitya– is sung after the Carana, in the corresponding Svara.

Where the Svara-sanchara of the Chittasvaras is integrated by the composer himself; it might even be considered as pre-composed Kalpana-svaras.  And, in addition, the performer on the stage, the singer, could also improvise in all artistry to illuminate the Raga-bhava.

Generally, the Chittasvaras are composed by the Vaggeyakara himself, as passages of few Avartas of Svara-sanchara. But, there are many instances, where they were inserted at a later time by his disciples or descendents.

This decorative Anga comprising of Svara passages of 2 or 4 Avartas (cycles) would be set to the tempo (Kaala) of the Kriti.  The Avartas may vary in accordance with the kaala to which the segment of the Kriti is set. For instance; if the Anupallavi is to be rendered in Vilamba-kaala, then it would be Vilambita Kala Chittasvara; and, it would be Dhruta-laya-Chittasvara after the Carana.

The Laya or the rhythm of the Chittasvara also varies with the Taala.  For instance; in the Adi Taala, the recurrence (Avarta) will be 2 to 4; and, in the Rupaka Taala, it will be 8 to 16 Avartas.

Based on the tempo, the Chittasvaras are classified either as Sama-kala-Chittasvara or as Madhyama-kala-Chittasvara.

[In the Kritis, ‘Devi mina- netri’ and ‘Mariveregati’, the Chittasvaras are being sung also in the Madhyama-kala (second degree of the speed).]

The Chittasvaras could again be classified as those that end evenly (Sama) or as those with Muktayi patterns or MakutaSvaras, peaking to a higher note towards the conclusion. The Makutas are structured with short, crisp and attractive Svara phrases. And, the Makuta could again be short (Hrsva) or Dheerga (elongated). In either case, the Muktayi should be proportionate to the length of the Chittasvara.

A further innovation is brought into the rendering of the Chittasvaras.

 Normally, it is sung as a straight or a linier phrase (Anuloma). But, they can even be rendered in the reverse (Viloma) order of its set Svaras. However, the Viloma type of Chittasvaras can be introduced only in the case of those Kritis, which are set to Ragas having symmetrical Arohana (ascent) and Avarohana (descent) in their Svara structure. Such Ragas could be Sampurna (having all the seven Svaras), Shadava (having six of the seven Svaras in its scale) or Oudava (having only five of the seven Svaras in its scale).

In certain other instances, a corresponding Sahitya, known as the Chittasvara-Sahitya would also be inserted.

Another variety is the admixture of Svara-phrases with the Jati or the Pata-ksharas – (Sollukattu). These are known as ‘Sollkattu Svaras’. And, in the songs, specially meant for Dance, the Sollukattu syllables would be mingled with Sahitya (Sollukattu-Sahitya).

[Sollukattu -(or Pataksharas– vocalized Mrdangam syllables or beats of other percussion instruments or cymbals)- is said to be a variety of Chittasvara, indicating the arrangement of rhythmic beats in a time sequence (Taala-pramana).

Here, the Svara passages are interspersed by Jatis (sequence of drum-syllables measuring the time-units). Its Dhatu will be the same as that of the Chittasvara, which in turn will be in the tempo of the Kriti. The Sollukattu in the Anupallavi will be sung in Vilamba -kala (first degree of speed); and in the Carana, it will be sung in Madhyama-kala (second degree of speed)

As the section is sung, one will hear the Svaras and Jatis alternately, providing the Kriti some variety and depth.

A variation of Sollukattu is Sollukattu-Svara-Sahitya, where, in addition to Svaras and Jatis, suitable Sahitya would also be composed for the passage.

Sollukattu-Svaras are commonly used in the compositions that are dedicated to those gods who are associated with Dance, such as,  Ganapthi, Nataraja or Krishna.

Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar is believed to be the first to use this Anga in a Kriti. ]

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It appears that the Chittasvara-prayoga was not in much use before the time of the Trinity. Even among the Trinity, it was only Sri Shyama Shastry who experimented with Chittasvaras; and was also the first to introduce the Svarasahitya into the Kritis.

He used the Chittasvaras in quite a number of his Kritis.

Chittasvara

Vajra 2

Svarasahitya

Svarasahitya refers to Chittasvara passages (Dhathu) adorned with appropriate Sahitya (Mathu) ingeniously structured into the Carana. And, Chittasvara are a set of Svaras (sol-fa passages) integrated into a composition, to enrich its beauty. It is sung at the end of the Anupallavi or the Carana.

The Svarasahitya is a musical passage, where every letter of the Sahitya line corresponds to a Svara note. If the letter (Akshara) in a word is elongated (Dheerga) the corresponding the Svara is also elongated – according to the degree (Dheerga) long, or Hrsva (short) letters; and, the Svaras will have their corresponding duration..

The Svarasahitya could perhaps be called as musical notations that trace the progression in the process of noting the Svaras and Sahitya elements of the composition.

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The Svara-line of the Svarasahitya passage is affixed to the Anupallavi; and, the corresponding Sahitya line is appended to Carana; before the Pallavi is rendered again as refrain, in each case.

That is to say; the Svarasahitya, is an Alamkara, which contains both the Dhatu and Mathu elements; and, it is built into a Kriti.  And, while rendering the Kriti, the Dathu portion of the Svarasahitya will be sung after the Anupallavi; and, its Mathu portion after the Carana. Thus, the theme and the content of the Svarasahitya will be apportioned between the Anupallavi and the Carana.

The presentation of this passage enhances the beauty of the rendering of the composition.

The rendering of the Chittasvara and Svarasahitya passages in the middle of a composition helps to establish the unique nature of the Raga; particularly ,in the case of rare and Vakra Ragas.

It also facilitates the displaying rare Prayogas, leading to Kalpana-Svaras; thus, lending variety and attractiveness to the performance, particularly when skilfully supported by the accompanying musicians. The audience in the concert too love such engaging passages .

The Svarasahitya must be in conformity with the Sahitya of the Anupallavi and of the Carana. The syllables of the Mathu have to be in accordance with the Svaras or the Dhatu syllables.

Though prosodic beauties are not strictly complied with, as required for the Svarasahitya, some literary ornamentation like Yati and Prasa do occur in few cases.  Here, the Prasa-akshara is independent of the Anupallavi and Carana. And, the Sangathi or such other repetitive improvisations are not included.

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According to Vidushi Smt. Vidya Shankar, the Svarashitya is a miniature form of Svarajati, the speciality of Sri Shyama Shastry. And she further illustrates a Svarasahitya passage, with reference to a Kriti of Sri Shyama Shastry.

A remarkable feature of Sri Shastry’s compositions is the matching of the Mathu and Dathu i.e. the Sahitya with its corresponding Svara-structure. With absolute ease, he establishes a perfect harmony with the syllabic duration with the melodic duration of the phrases.

Sri Shastry’s dexterity in expressing this pattern of rhythmic structures has won him the prime place among the composers of Svarajatis.

In its miniature form, the structure of the Svarajati is transformed to a Svarasahitya-arga in most of his Kritis. This technique was adopted and followed by his son and disciple. I shall wind up this by the illustration of a Svarasahitya of Shyama Shastry’s Varali-Raga-kriti ‘Kamakshi Bangaru’ in Chapu Taala:

Na maanvini vinu Devi / Nive gatiyeni namminanu / Mayamma vegame karuna judavamma / Bangaru Bomma (Kamakshi)

Kamakshi Bangaru

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Sri Shyama Shastry might have found the Svarasahitya very fascinating; and, challenging too. This Anga, which presents a melodic line, projected by Svara syllables, to which meaningful text (Sahitya) is appended, is creatively woven into his Kritis as also into his Svarajatis. This indeed is a magnificent achievement.

This element of ornamentation (Alamkara Anga), the Svarasahitya, is said to be an original contribution of Sri Shyama Shastry to the development and the beautification of the Karnataka Samgita. He was the first composer to introduce this decorative Anga into the Kritis. He did extremely well in this aspect; and, used Svarasahitya extensively in his Kritis and other types of compositions, such as Varnas and Svarajatis.

The Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry contain many enchanting Svarasahitya passages, with independent Prasa, so that they can be sung at the end of the Anupallavi and also at the end of each Carana.

He seemed to be fond of the latter part (Upanga) of the Svarasahitya, where a Svara-passage comes in the Anupallavi; and, its corresponding Sahitya-passage comes in the Carana

 Since then, the general practice has been to sing the Dhathu part of the Svarasahitya at the end of the Pallavi; and, the Mathu part at the end of the Carana.

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Sri Shyama Shastry does not seem to have composed any Svarasahitya, in the Madhyama Kala, per se. Generally they follow of the tempo of the Anupallavi or the Carana, as the case may be.

 For instance; in his Kriti ‘Durusuga’ (Saveri) the number of syllables per beat is the same both in the Music (Dhatu) and in the Svarasahitya. But, in his another Kriti ‘Marivere’ (Anandabhairavi) there is an apparent stepping up of the tempo of the Svarasahitya. Here, in this Kriti, its main body, the Pallavi, Anupallavi and the Carana are built to a cycle of 4 to 5 syllables per beat; whereas, the Svarasahitya which follows the Carana, has around 6 to 7 syllables per beat.

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In some of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry, the Svarasahitya was added at a later time by his descendants or by his disciples.

For instance; it is said, the Svarasahitya for the ‘Palinchu Kamakshi’ (Madhyamavathi) was composed and inserted by Annaswamy Shastry, the grandson of Sri Shyama Shastry. And for the Kriti ‘O Jagadamba’ (Anandabhairavi), the Svarasahitya was submitted as Guru-dakshina, by Sangita Swamy, a Sanyasin and the long lost first disciple (Prathama-sishya) of Sri Shyama Shastry.

The Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry adorned with many beautiful Svarasahityas, with independent Prasa-aksharas.

Svarasahitya

*Varana

Vajra 2

Madhyama-kala Sahitya

Madhyama-kala Sahitya, one of the optional sections in a Kriti, usually follows the Anupallavi or Carana or both. It will usually be half the Avarta of the Pallavi or Anupallavi, having a proportionate relationship with the length of the Carana.

This Anga is found mainly in the Kritis of Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar. And, in his Kritis, this section also occurs after the Samasti-Carana.

The Madhyama-kala-Sahitya passage will, usually, be set in the same tempo as of the Kriti. This will be usually in 2 or 4 Avartas. But, in case of Kritis having Samasti-Carana, the tempo would be doubled. There is no scope here of Sangatis or other elaborations.

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Sri Shyama Shastry used this Anga rather sparingly. But, in his Kriti O Jagadamba (Anandabhairavi) the entire Anupallavi is in the Madhyama-kala; besides, the Madhyama-kala-sahitya is in the Carana and in Svarasahitya.

Kamakshi

In the next Part we shall take a look at the other Angas such as Prasas, Gamakas,

Taala etc.,; and, also at the Language of the Kritis

Continued

In

The Next Part

Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2020 in Music, Sangita, Shyama Shastri

 

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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Six

Continued from Part Five

Sri Shyama Shastry – Music-Continued

bangaru kamakshi 3

Kshetra Kritis

The collection (Samucchaya) or the series of compositions that are dedicated to a common theme or to a particular Deity or Deities are known as Kriti-Samucchaya-Srinkhala.

And, the group of the Kritis (Kriti-Samucchaya) that relate to Kshetras (places sanctified by the presence of renowned temples or sacred rivers) are termed as Kshetra Kritis.

It was a tradition in those days for the musical composers of merit to compose and sing songs in honor of the presiding deities, whenever they visited a prominent temple-town. Such compositions were classified as Kshetra Kritis. Sri Thyagaraja as also Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar followed that time-honored tradition –Sampradaya  . So did Sri Shyama Shastry.

Such Kritis that primarily sing the glory, splendor and the adorable nature of the god or the goddess presiding over the Kshetra; have also built into their Caranas few details concerning the temple, its architecture etc., as also references to the Parivara-Devathas surrounding the principal Deity; the greatness (Mahima) of the sacred (Punya) Kshetra; and, the magnificence of the god residing there.

Sometimes, the name of the place/ temple-town (Sthala- Kshetra) where the musical-work was actually composed is built into it. The indications to that effect are called Sthala-mudra or Kshetra Mudra.

The Kshetra-Kritis are musical gemsremarkable for their soulful music, inspired rich lyrics and complex structure. Each of the compositions here is remarkable for the beauty of expression, devotional fervor and literary excellence.

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There are numerous instances of such series or group of compositions , as : the Pancha-ratna Kritis composed by Sri Thyagaraja at each of the pilgrimage centers he visited, in submission to the gods and goddesses   residing in the temples there , like : Varadaraja Swamy (Sri Rangam); Kamakshi (Kanchipuram); Venkateshwara (Tirupathi); Sundareshwara (Kovur); and, Saptha-risheeswara and  Devi Srimathi  (Lalgudi ).

The series of Kritis such as: Panchalinga Kshetra Kritis; Tiruvaruru Pancalinga Kritis; Navagraha-Kritis; Abhayambavibhakti-Kritis; Madhurambavibhakti-Kritis and similar others composed by Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar are well known. And, his Kamalamba-navavarna and Nilotpalamba-vibhakti Kritis are indeed marvelous and matchless.

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The only time that Sri Thyagaraja went out of Thiruvarur was at his age of seventy-two in order to honour an invitation extended by his Guru-samana Sri Upanishad Brahmendra of Kanchipuram. He hesitated much; and, set out of his home only after he was assured and promised by his family and disciples that they would unfailingly offer worship (Rama-panchayatana) to his beloved deity Sri Rama, regularly at all the tree times of the day. During that fairly long sojourn lasting for about six months or a little more (from April to October 1839) he visited several places and temples. The farthest place that Sri Thyagaraja visited was Tirumala, the abode of Sri Venkatesvara, atop the Tirupathi hills.

Among the Trinity, Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar was the foremost in this regard. He was a pilgrim virtually all his life. He visited a large number of shrines and sang about them and the deities enshrined there.

He composed soulful songs in praise of a number of gods and goddesses. About 74 of such temples are featured in his Kritis; and there are references to about 150 gods and goddesses. The most number of his Kritis (176) were in praise of Devi the Mother principle, followed by (131) Kritis on Shiva. Dikshitar was the only major composer who sang in praise of Chaturmukha Brahma.

In addition to submitting his prayers and praising (Stuti) the Devi or Devatha, Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar artistically built into his Kritis the details such as: the brief references to the temple; its architecture; its rituals; and, its deity. Amidst all these details he skillfully wove the name of the Raga (Raga-mudra) and his own VaggeyakaraMudra, signature. All these were structured into well-knit short Kritis composed in grand music, glowing with tranquil joy, embodied in delightfully chaste Sanskrit.

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Sri Shyama Shastry, unlike Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar, did not travel much; nor did he visit many temples. He was a rather reclusive person by nature; and, was greatly devoted to his own Mother Goddess – Bangaru Kamakshi, whom he regarded as if she were a living Goddess (Sakshat-pratyaksha-Devata) ; and, whom he worshiped, without fail, each morning, noon and evening (Tri-kaala-puja). He would scarcely be away from his Mother; and, hardly took out time to travel to other places

Apart from the place at which he  was born (Thiruvarur) and Kanchipuram, a place of special significance to him, as being the  home of his beloved deity Devi Kamakshi, Sri Shyama Shastry is said to have visited only four other places: Thiruvanaikal/ Jambukeswaram, Pudukottai, Nagapattinam and Madurai.

Of these places, Kanchipuram was the farthest from Thanjavur (say 190 miles).And; the next distant places were Madurai (120 miles); Nagapattinam (60 miles); and, Pudukkottai (60 miles).

He did not seem to have undertaken temple-tour (Thirtha-yatra) to visit these towns. He might have gone there as and when needed, perhaps, on invitation, to participate in certain occasions.

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While on the visit to those places, outside of Thanjavur, Sri Shyama Shastry prayed at some temples; and composed a few Kritis praising the presiding deity of those temples.

About twenty-two of his Kritis are addressed to Devi Kamakshi of Kanchi. Although he did visit the temple of Sri Kamakshi, situated in the city of Kanchipuram, all of those Kritis in praise of Kamakshi were surely not composed while he was at Kanchipuram.

His Kshetra-Kritis, apart from, at times, mentioning the name of the deity, do not give out much details of the temple, Deity or the Kshetra.

Perhaps, the few instances of Kshetra Mudra / Sthala-mudra that appear in his Kritis pertain to two or three Kritis out of the Nine he composed in praise of Devi Meenakshi of Madurai, while he visited her temple there.

In the Kriti ‘Devi nee Pada-sarasa’ (28-Kambhoji, Adi) the Sthala-mudra appears in the Anu-Pallavi, as: Sri Velayu Madhura nelakonna Chidrupini

In the Kriti Mariveregati (20-Anaandabhairavi, Misra Chapu) the Sthala-mudra appears in the first Carana as: Madhurapura-nilaya Vani.

Kadamba-kanana or Kadamba-vana usually refers to Madurai. The phrase Kadamba-kanana-mayuri appears in the opening line of the Pallavi in the Kriti Devi nee-paada-sarasamule (Khambhoji, Adi), which was sung by Sri Shyama Shastry at the Meenakshi temple in Madurai.

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Apart from the Varnam ‘Samini rammanave’ (Ananadabhairavi-Ata Taala), a Sandesha, where the Nayika sends a message, through her maid (Sakhi) to her beloved  Lord Varadaraja; and, the Kriti ‘Sami nine nammiti’ (Begada Adi Taala) praying to Muthukumaraswami of Vaitheeswaran-koil, all the other songs of Sri Shyama Shastry are dedicated to the Mother Goddess in her various forms and names; as:

Kanchi-Kamakshi; Bangaru-Kamakshi; Brihannayaki; Akhilandeshwari; Brihadamba ; Meenakshi;  Dharma-samvardhini; and Nilayatakshi  – enshrined in  various  Kshetras (temple-towns).

As many as of his 35 compositions are dedicated the Goddess Kamakshi – either as Kanchi-Kamakshi (16 Kritis); Kamakshi (8 Kritis); Kamakoti (6 Kritis); or as Bangaru Kamakshi (5 Kritis).

There are also Kritis addressed to the other forms (Rupa) and names (Nama or Abhidana) of the Mother Goddess as: Madura Meenakshi (8 +1 Kritis); Akhilandeshvari (5 Kritis); Brihannayaki (5 Kritis) ; Brihadamba (4 Kritis); Dharma-samvardhini (3 Kritis); and, Nilayathakshi  ( 2 Kritis)

various deities

Brihannayaki shrine

Thanjavur

Sri Shyama Shastry was entirely devoted to the Mother Goddess in her various forms.  Even while he lived in Thanjavur for about 44 years, he did not seem to have composed any songs in praise of the presiding deity of the Great Temple of Brhadishvara.

He did, of course, compose five Kritis calling out to the Goddess of that temple – Devi Brhannayaki. Perhaps, if one so chooses, the group of these Kritis might be called ‘Brhannayaki-pancha-ratna-Kritis’.

Brhannayaki

Tiruvavuru 2

Thiruvarur

 Sri Shyama Shastry did of course visit Thiruvarur the place where he was born; and where he spent about twenty years of his early life during his childhood and adolescence. The holy Kshetra of Thiruvarur is the home of Lord Pancha-nadi-shvara and Goddess Dharmasamvardhini.  Sri Shyama Shastry has composed three Kritis praising the Devi Dharmasamvardhini, specifically.

Dharmasamvardhini

This,  he did, of course, after he, along with his family, had moved out of Thiruvarur in order to settle at Thanjavur  during the year 1783-84. In fact, the musical career of Sri Shyama Shastry commenced only after he left Thiruvarur.

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Kanchipuram

Kanchipuram had a special significance to Sri Shyama Shastry. It is the seat of Kanchi Kamakshi, his Ishta Devatha; and, was the original abode of Bangaru Kamakshi, the deity he worshipped every day with utmost devotion.

However, most of his compositions dedicated to Kamakshi were composed by him while he was at Thanjavur. The scholarly opinion is that perhaps the Varna in Ananadabhairavi ‘Samini rammanave’ was dedicated to Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram. This Varnam is unique in another way too.  Almost all of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry exude Bhakthi and Karuna Rasa. The Varnam ‘Samini rammanave’ is a rare instance of Madhura Bhakthi, where the Nayaki sends out a message (Sandesha) through her maid to her beloved Nayaka Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram beseeching him to come to her.

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Other Kshetras

A few other places that Sri Shyama Shastry visited and composed songs in praise of the presiding deities of the temples there are said to be: Vaitheeswarankoil (Muthukumaraswami); Thiruvanaikal (Akhilandeshvari); Pudukottai (Brihadamba) ; Nagapattinam (Nilayatakshi); and Madurai (Meenakshi).

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Thiruvanaikal / Jambukeswaram

In Thiruvanaikal / Jambukeswaram (near Tiruchirapalli) is the famous temple dedicated to Shiva where he manifests as Appu-Linga, the principle of the water-element (Appu or Jala). The Goddess of this Kshetra is Devi Akhilandeshvari, who is adorned with Sri Chakra inscribed in her earrings.

Sri Shyama Shastry composed five Kritis praising the glory of Devi Akhilandeshvari. The set of these five Kritis could perhaps be regarded as the Akhilandeshvari -Pancha-ratna of Sri Shyama Shastry.

Akhilandeshvari

Of these, the Kriti dedicated to Devi Akhilandeshvari– ‘Shankari Shamkuru-Chandra mukhi- Akhilandeshvar-Shambhavi- Sarasijabhava vandite- Gauri-Amba’(15- Saveri , Adi-Tisra-gati)- is indeed a masterpiece, a magnificent work of Art, which is very often sung in the Musical concerts.

The Kriti composed in highly lyrical Sanskrit is adorned with most delightful phrases for describing the beauty, virtues and splendor of the loveliest Devi; and, for addressing her with a range of suggestive names: Kalyani; Hara-nayike; Jagaj-janani; Bhavani; Bale; and Sundari etc.

The Kriti also praises the Devi through her countless virtues and powers, as: Sankata-harini; Ripu-vidarini; Sada-nata-phaladayike; Jagad-avanollasini; Angaja-ripu-toshini; Akhila-bhuvana-poshini; Mangala prade; Mardani; Marala-sannibha gamani; Sama-gana-lole;  and, Sadarti- bhanjana-shile

It is a simple prayer followed by many phrases, invoking the blessings of the Goddess.  There is joy, compassion, eagerness (Uthsukatha) and a sense of fulfilment (Dhanyata-bhava) in the Sahitya and in the Music as well. Unlike in some other Kritis, there is here neither sadness; nor pleading to the Mother to protect and rescue him from the miseries of life. He is requesting the Devi to grant happiness and wellbeing to all (Shamkuru).

Anupallavi

Sankata-harini; Ripu-vidarini; kalyani / Sada-nata-phala-dayike; Hara-nayike; Jagaj-janani

Carana (1, 2 and 3)

Jambu-pati-vilasini; Jagad-avanollasini; Kambu kandhare; Bhavani; Kapala-dharini; Shulini

Angaja-ripu-toshini; Akhila-bhuvana-poshini; Mangala prade; Mardani; Marala-sannibha gamani

Syamakrshra sodari; Shyamale; Satodari; Sama-gana-lole; Bale; Sadarti- bhanjana-shile

(Please check here for a rendering of the Kriti)

akhilandeswari

Pudukottai

The Seventh Century rock-cut cave temple of the Goddess Brihadamba is located near Pudukottai. Four compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry, all in Telugu, are said to be in praise of Brihadamba of Pudukottai. In all these Kritis, Sri Shyama Shastry prays to the Mother to protect him (Devi-nannu-brovavamma); to rid him of all sins (papamella pariharinci); and to show him love, compassion and mercy (Daya-chudu, Dayachesi varamiyamma Mayamma).

Brhadamba

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Nagapattinam

The ancient (6th century) shrine of Shiva as Kaya-rohana-swami and his consort Nilayathakshi is located in Nagapattinam, a coastal town. Sri Shyama Shastry two Kritis, in Telugu, in tribute to Devi Nilayathakshi.

Nilayatakshi

* In some versions the Raga of this Kriti is indicated as Mayamalavagaula

Here, Sri Shyama Shastry again praises the Mother by an array of names: Adishakthi; Maheshvari; Kumari; Nilayathaksi-Jagathsaksi; Palita-sruta-sreni; Sama-gana-lole; Komala-mrudu-vani; Kalyani; Omkari; Shambhavi; and, Dhrama-Artha-Kama-Moksha micchedi . And, he requests the Mother to please protect him (nannu brovarada O Jagadamba dayaceyave) .

The epithet ‘Nada-rupini’ appearing in the last lime of the Third Carana of the Kriti Nannu-brovarada (Janaranjani) – Shambhavi O Janani Nada-rupini Nilayathakshi, reflects the term Nada-rupini  (299) and Nada-rupa (901) of Lalita-sahasra-nama .

It is said; the Kriti Nannu-brovarada (Janaranjani) when it is rendered in Triputa-Tisra, its Chittasvaras and Svarasahitya are rendered in Madhyama-kala (?). The general practice appears to be sing Chittasvaras and Svarasahitya in Vilamba-kala.

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Nava-ratna-malika

While on a Visit to Pudukottai, an unknown person is said to have suggested to Sri Shyama Shastry to have a Darshan of Devi Meenakshi of Madurai; to compose and sing songs celebrating her matchless (Aprathima) glory (Mahima) and splendour (Vaibhava).

Accordingly, Sri Shastry went to Madurai; sat in front of Meenakshi Amman ; and , is said to have composed a garland (malika) of gem-like (ratna-samana) nine excellent (Bhavya, Divya) Kritis  exuding  Bhakthi-rasa, mostly in  Rakthi-ragas, set to attractive    rhythmic structures; and, adorned with ornamental  Angas  like Gamaka, Chittasvara, Svara-sahitya and rhetorical beauties like Yati, Prasa etc.

Navaratna malika

Although this set of Kritis is titled as Nava-ratna-malika; meaning that it comprises nine splendid Kritis, there is much debate about composition of the group. Nevertheless, it has, customarily come to be celebrated as Nava-ratna-malika, the garland of nine gems.

In the early references, only the first seven Kritis were included under the series. And, the remaining two slots were left undecided. But, it was surmised that the other two Kritis might be in the Ragas Nattakuranji and Sri; without, however, specifying the lyrics of the Kritis.

Since, the only two Kritis composed by Sri Shyama Shastry in those two Ragas were ‘Mayamma nannu brova’ and ‘Karuna-judavamma’, they have been provisionally included in the list, despite the fact their lyrics do not mention either the name of the deity as Meenakshi or its Sthala-mudra as Madhura.

[In some of the versions, the Kriti ‘Rave Parvatha-raja-kumari’ in the Raga Kalyani is reckoned as the eighth Kriti in the series.]

[Please click here for the Text of the Nava-ratna-Malika Kritis in Sanskrit.]

Madurai Meenakshi

  1. Mayamma Yani (8-Ahiri, Adi)

The Raga Ahiri, an ancient melodic type, a Janya of Hanuma-todi, is said to be a difficult Raga; but, highly rewarding. It is a Raga with Sampurna Svaras, both in the Arohana and the Avarohana, with Vakra-Sanchara.

Ahiri is very well suited for portraying Karuna Rasa, seeking for compassion. It is an early morning Raga, giving out a sense of devotion and pathos; and, is deeply meditative.

The nature of the Raga Ahiri (Raga-bhava) is very apt for the Sahitya of this Kriti.

The Kriti, starts with an emotionally charged  call to the Mother , pleading with her  ‘ Oh Amba, why do you not respond and talk to me even when I call out to you several time as  My Mother’  (Mayamma Yeni pilichte, nato matadarada , Amba).

Sri Shyama Shastry, the devotee, who calls himself a child (Bidda, Biddayani), affirms his unflinching faith in his Mother Goddess. The Raga, the emotive content and the lyrics set in simple, childlike, innocent appeals to the Mother, are all in harmony.

The Kriti follows the Tri-Dhatu format; and, has Pallavi-Anupallavi followed by three Caranas.  The first two Caranas have six lines (Paada) each; and the Third Carana has seven lines.

The Pallavi is in Vilamba-kala; but, the First Carana – Sarasija bhava Kari Hara-nuta Su-Lalita- commences as if in Madhya-gati.

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Normally his Kritis set in Adi-Taala commence in Vilamba-kala; and, all its Angas (Pallavi, Anupallavi and Carana) will be set in the same tempo.

But, in the case of this Kriti (Mayamma Yani), because of the increase in the number of words used in the Carana, the tempo of the Carana is made to pick up. And, the Carana commences as if it is in Madhyama-kala

That goes along with the Mano-bhava of the Sahitya. The Pallavi commences with the pleading in Vilamba-kala, imploring the Mother to talk to him. ’ Is it fair on your part Meenakshamma not to respond even when I call you as my Mother? You are my only resort; who else is there for me?(Ninnuvina vere gati yavarunnaaru)

Then, after a while, he seems to get impatient; and, starts to protest, as a child does. The tempo of the music in the Carana quickens with the line ‘Sarasija-bhava-Hari-Hara- nuta-su-lalita’; and, moves up to Madhyama-gati. And, pelts the Goddess with questions: Are you not generous (nera datavu gada)? Don’t have compassion for your child (bidda-pai goppa-ga daya-rada)?

A remarkable feature of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastri is the coordinated movement of its Mathu and Dhatu along with emotional content  (Bhava) of the Sahitya and its corresponding Svara structure.

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2 .Meenalochana -brova (8-Dhanyasi, Misra Chapu)

The Raga Dhanyasi is again a Janya of Hanuma-Todi. It again is a Raga apt for making an emotional appeal.

Sri Shastry pleads with the Devi Meenakshi (Meenalochana): why are you hesitating to protect me? And, he cajoles her by praising her in many ways, saying: Oh Devi, the one who rejoices in music, there is no one who is equal to you in this world.

And, he pleases the Mother by describing and admiring her beauty and splendour through many evocative phrases and epithets such as   Gana-vinodinI, Minalochana, Kundaradana, and Niradaveni etc.

The Carana with lyrical rhythmic (Prasa-baddha) words describes the beauty of Devi Meenakshi: Kunda-mukunda-radana; Himagiri-Kumari; kaumari-Parameshvari; Kama paalini; Bhavani; Chandra-kala-dharini; neerada-veni.

The Kriti has Pallavi and Anupallavi of equal length/ duration having 8 Avartas each; followed by three Caranas, having uniform Dhatu (Music). The Carana is of 16 Avaratas duration.

[Normally, the duration of Avartas in the Adi-Taala Kritis is 2-2-4 for the Pallavi, Anupallavi and Carana, respectively. But, in the case of the Kritis set to Misra-Chapu-Taala, they follow the pattern of 8+8+16 for the Pallavi, Anupallavi and the Carana, respectively.  And, if Svarasahitya is appended to the Carana, it would then mean another eight Avartas, by taking the Svara and Sahitya parts together as a single unit.]

The Kriti is sung either with the Misra Chapu or the Viloma Chapu. The application of the complicated rhythmic cycle of Viloma Chapu would seem lend greater clarity to the Raga-svarupa of the Dhanyasi.

[It is said; after Sri Shyama Shastri rendered this song sitting in presence of Devi Madura Meenakshi, the temple authorities awarded him the highest honour that the temple could confer on any devotee. He was presented the Pattu-saree worn by the Goddess as Devi-prasadam. He was also gifted with a Tambura, with the figure of Yali facing upright.]

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  1. Nannu brova Lalita (15-Lalita, Misra Chapu)

The Raga Lalita is a Janya of the 15th Melakarta – Maya-malava-gaula; and, shares many characteristic Prayogas with Raga Vasantha, having similar scales. It suits the import of the Kriti which pulsates with emotions imploring Devi, Bhakta Kalpalata (the legendary wish-fulfilling creeper) to protect him quickly (vegame). As the Kriti progresses, the pitch of the notes also ascend, implying the increasing eagerness (Utsukatha) or anxiety (Cinta) of the devotee.

The Kriti is structured in Pallavi, Anupallavi and Four Caranas. The Caranas are sung to the same Dhathu.

This is one of the four Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry (among the sixty) that has Four Caranas.

Vilōma Chāpu (4+3) can be seen in the Pallavi, where the Kṛiti starts in viṣhama graha

The Raga-mudra is in the opening line ‘Nannu brova Lalita‘.

The phrase ‘ Nannu brovu , Ninnu vina‘ is an instance of Sharaba prasa.

In the second Caraṇa, the Devi is addressed  with  prāsa or rhyming words like ‘purāni vāni indrāni rāni‘.

The second Carana has a string of phrases of literary beauty, praising the Mother Goddess Lalita, the Queen (Rani): Purani-Vani-Indrani- Vandita Rani- Ahibhushana – nuni Rani.

One of the terms used in the Fourth Carana, like – ‘Sumhendra-madhya-nilaye ‘and ‘Maha-rajni’ resemble the phrase occurring in the Lalita-sahasra-nama  as ‘ Sumeru-madhya-shrungastha’.

There are several such instances in his other Kritis as well; such as: Maha-Tripurasundari; Kadamba-vanavasini; Kadamba-kanana-mayuri; Kadamba-kusuma-priya; Nadarupini; Raja-Rajeshvari; Samagana-priya (Vinodini); and, Vishalakshi so on.

This Kriti, again, is sung with Misra Chapu or with Viloma-chapu Taala

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  1. Mariveregati (20- Anandabhairavi, Misra Chapu)

Raga Anandabhairavi, a Janya of the 20th Melakarta Nata-Bhairavi, is a traditional Raga, which evokes Karuna Rasa. Sri Shyama Shastry is particularly associated with the  Raga Anandabhairavi; and, two of his compositions in this Raga – Marivere and O Jagadamba – which are adorned with Chittasvara-Sahitya , are often sung in the Musical concerts.

Here again, in this Kriti, Sri Shyama Shastry pleads and appeals to the mercy of the dark hued-like-a rain-bearing-cloud (Ghana-shyamala)- the infinitely compassionate  (Apara-krupa-nidhi) Mother Goddess : Oh Mother, who else is there in this world to protect me, but for you? You are my sole redeemer; I trust you implicitly; do rescue me (rakshimpa) – Marivere gati evvaramma mahilo nannu brochutaku.

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The Kiti ‘Marivēre-gati’, set to Chapu-Taaa with a Viamba-Laya, is another splendid example for Sri Shyama Shastry’s genius. It explores the Raga Anandabhairavi in depth.

The Kriti is adorned with many Jaru-Gamakas, like ‘Sa-Sa/Sa’ and ‘Sa/Ma’ for the Sahitya- phrase ‘Saranagatha’ and ‘Rakshaki’. The Svarakshara pattern ‘Pa-Dha-Pa-Ma’ for the word ‘Padayuga’ in the Chittasvara-Sahitya in Vilamba-kala provides much depth to the emotional content of the Kriti.

The phrase ‘Nammiti’ occurring twice over in succession shows the depth of trust he has in the Mother Goddess.

And, a slow ‘Janta’ phrase ‘Ni-Ni—Sa-Sa—Ga -Ga—Ma-Ma’ for the Sahitya ‘Niratamu ninnu’ in the Chittasvara is another feature highlighting the Mano-Dharma of the Anandabhairavi Raga.

In the phrase ‘Pa-Ma-Ga3-Ga3-Ma’, the Anya-Svara Ga3 is well demonstrated.

The Gamaka for the phrase ‘Ma—Ma-Ga-Pa-Ma—Ga-Ri’ blending very well with the words Shyamala’ is another instance of a good coordination between Svara and Sahitya.

The phrase ‘ R—Sa-Ni-Dha-Pa—Dha-Pa-Ma-Ga-Ri—Ga—Ma’ in the Chittasvara is graced by the flavour of the Raga Anandabhairavi.

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This Kriti described as a Chowka-kala-Kriti has, in its structure, Pallavi, Anupallavi, Chittasvara, Svarasahitya and Three Caranas.

Normally, in the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry, the Music setting (Dhatu) of the three Angas are separate. And, all the Caranas are sung in the Dhatu that is set for them.

But, here, in this Kriti, the last two lines of the Carana are sung to the Dhatu that was set for the Anupallavi.

Smt. Sharadambal writes :

The Kriti Marivere in Anandabhairavi Raga in Misra-Chapu Taala is found with 8-8-16 Avartas; and, also with a Chittasvara for another eight Avartas

Most of the Kritis in Misra-Laghu or Misra-Chapu are found with the pattern 8+8+16; and, only in some Kritis , the additional element Svarasahitya is found for another eight Avartas , taking into consideration the Svara part and Sahitya part as a single unit.

The music settings of the three Angas are separate and all the Caranas are sung to the same Dhatu in the compositions of Shyama Shastri. Only in rare cases, for example, in the Kriti ‘Marivere’ in Ânandabhairavi and ‘Brôvavamma’ in Manji Raga, the last two lines of the Carana are sung to the same Dhatu as that of the Anupallavi. 

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There are some Kritis in which pauses occur in different places i.e. at the end of the Pallavi; at the end of the first Avarta; and so on. There are Kritis which do not have pauses in between the Avartas; but, pause occurs only after finishing the Pallavi at the end of the second Avarta.

For example, in the Kriti ‘Durusuga’ in Saveri Raga, we find pause only at the end of the Pallavi, whereas In the Kriti ‘Marivere’ in Ânandabhairavi Raga, we find a pause at the end of the first Avarta itself in both the lines as : Marive ……| ……re | ga ti ye vva | ram … ma ||Mahilo ……| …….I. | mahilo ….. | brocu taku ||

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The Kriti is set in Misra Chapu Taala

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The Kriti abounds in rhythmic beauties like Chittasvaras, Samvadi Svaras flowing in succession; and, often linked by the Jaru-Gamakas. Four to five Sangatis are also sung to the Pallavi.

According to Smt. Sharadambal: The Svarasahitya here starts in Shuddha Svarakshara as:  P; ; ; D P M | Pa da yu ga … There are many Svaraksharas here and there, throughout the Svarasahitya

Regarding the tempo of the Svarasahitya, Sri Shyama Shastri has not introduced Madhyama-kala through this element.

In the Kriti’ Marivere’ in Anandabhairvai, there is an appearance of an increase in the tempo.  In the Pallavi, Anupallavi or Carana of this Kriti, we find the numbers of Sahitya syllables are four or five in one Avarta while they are six or seven in an Avarta in the Svarasahitya passage. For example; here the number of Sahitya letters are as follows:
Pallavi – Marivere || . . . . . re || gati Evva || ram ma ||

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Smt. Sharadambal explains: In the Svarasahityas of the two Kritis ‘Durusuga’ and ‘Marivere’ of Sri Shyama Shastri, we also find patterns in the organisation of the Svaras.

In the Svarasahitya in Saveri Raga Kriti Durusuga, the Svaras are formed in Tisra (npd- srs) and Khaòda patterns (mpmdp- sndrs).

 In the Ânandabhairavi Kriti ‘Marivere’, the Janta-svaras and the Dhatu-svaras figure (nnssggmm- janta) (psnd, pndp, dpd – datu).

 In both these Svarasahityas we find a pattern of svara at the end.

  • Durusugag R s n d – r S n d P – g r n; para kusalu – parâdiyani – vipudu
  • Mariveren s n r S – n d p P – m g r G m; dharalonata – vanakutu – htaïa…..ni vega

*

The Svarasahitya of this Kriti is said to be an example for Gaja-tana, where the grouping of the Svaras resemble the gait of a majestically slow moving elephant. The text of the Svarasahitya, which follows the Third Carana, in fact, compares the leisurely walk of the Devi to that of an elephant in Musth (mada gaja gamana)

paada yugamu madilo dalaci koriti vinumu mada gaja gamana / parula nutimpaganE varam(o)sagu  satatamu ninu madi maravakane / madana ripu sati ninu hRdayamulo gati(y)ani dalaci stuti salipite / mudamuto phalam(o)sagutaku dharalo nat(A)vana kutUhala nIvEga (mari)

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  1. Devi nee paada sarasamule (28 Kambhoji, Adi)

Kambhoji, an ancient and a popular Raga, is a Janya of the 28th Melakarta Harikambhoji.  It is classified as a Ragini (female); and is said to be suitable for conveying the sentiments of Srngara (romantic), Hasya (humorous) and Karuna (pathos).

Here, again, Sri Shyama Shastry surrenders at the feet of the Devi who embodies the supreme consciousness (Chidrupini) who resides in Madhura; and, entreats her saying that there is nowhere else he can go. You are my one and the only shelter;

Devi-nidu-paada-sarasmule-dikku.Vere-gati-evaramma-Madhuralo-nelakonna  Chidrupini Sri Meenaksha-amma?

The epithet Chidrupini here, resembles the term Chidakarasa rupini in the Lalita-sahasra-nama

This is a fairly lengthy Kriti having Pallavi, Anupallavi and Three Caranas; each Carana having seven lines (Paada). The Pallavi and Anupallavi have two Avartas each.  And, each Carana, having eight Avartas each, is almost four times the length of the Pallavi.

The Kriti is set in slow moving Chowka-kala. The Music (Dhatu) of the Caranas is uniform.

The Taala is Adi Taala.

*

Prasa is a type of Sabda-alamkara, a literary embellishment. It mainly involves rhyming, where the first letter or the second letter is repeated between the Avartas. The Antya-prasa is the repetition of a letter or group of letters at the end of the Avarta.

It is said; with regard to the occurrence of the Prasa-aksharas in the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry, they can be divided into four categories,.

  1. Dhirgha (long) syllables preceding the Prasa-akshara in the Carana alone.
  2. Dhirgha (long) syllable precedes in the all the three Angas.
  3. Hrasva (short) letter is found throughout the composition.
  4. Dhirgha (long) syllable is found in Pallavi and Anupallavi; and, the Hrasva (short) syllable is used in the Carana.

This Kriti Devi nee paada sarasamule’ (Khambhoji) is cited as an instance where the both the long and the short syllable are used in the Kriti. 

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[The Kriti in Shankarabharanam (Devi Mina netri) and the Kriti in Kambhoji (Devi nee pada) commence with similar Sahitya and Svara (Pa, ma magagagaa; De-vee). But, the manner in which the Svaras are treated and rendered brings out the difference in the Raga-svarupa of the two Ragas. Only the deft handling of such Ragas can ensure maintaining their individual characteristics.]

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6..Devi Mina netri (29- Shankarabharanam, Adi)

Dhīra-śankarābharaa, commonly known as Śankarābharaa, is the 29th Melakarta.  Since this Raga has many Gamakas (ornamentations), it is also called as Sarva-Gamaka Maika-Rakthi-Raga.

The nature of this Raga is mellifluous and smooth; spreading a feeling of joy and exhilaration.

In this Kriti- Devi Meena-netri brovarave dayacheyave, brovaravamma; Sevinchevari-kellanu Cintamaniyaiy-unna ra – Sri Shyama Shastry again requests the Mother Goddess to protect him. He praises her as Chintamani, the most precious magical gem that spreads joy and dispels darkness and sorrow. She indeed is the Chintamani (the wish-fulfilling gem) for all those who seek her protection.

The Kriti Devi-meena-netri consists of Pallavi, Anupallavi, Chittasvara and three Caranas, which are lengthy and are adorned with literary beauties like Varna-alamkara, Prasas etc.

This is a Chowka- kala composition with two Avartas for the Pallavi and Anupallavi; and, with eight Avartas for the Carana. The Chittasvara is sung in two degrees of speed. [His other Kriti in Shankarabharanam is in the Madhyama-kaala]

*

The Prasa prayoga can be seen in the array of words  : Baala-Chaala-meeḷa-kaalasheela-leela

Chittasvara  here is  very attractive .

The Kriti is set to Adi Taala.

*

 Vidushi Smt. Vidya Shankar explains in her article Tala-anubhava of the Music Trinity

It is said; In an Avarta or elongation of the last syllable creates a pause for a few seconds. This silence itself is music. This enriches and enhances the atmosphere of melody by giving emphasis on the phrase that follows, with the expressions through Bhava and Raga.

The Carana of the Vilambita- Kriti, ‘Devi Meena-netri ‘(Shankarabharanam), is often cited as an illustration of this aspect.

The Raga-svarupa is captured in the very commencement of the composition, within the first half-Avarta, crowning with Arudi on the dot of the Druta.

The other Kriti of Sri Shyama Shastry ‘Devi-nee-paada-sarasa’(Kambhoji) , which starts with similar Mathu (Sahitya) and Dhatu (Svaras) , in a similar manner, with its Svarakasharas  ‘pa da saa’ establish the  Raga-lakshana.

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Smt. Sharadambal offers expert comments as: The kriti Devi-meena-netri centres round Madhya-sthâyi, with occasional touches of Mandra-sthâyi and Tara-sthâyi. The Graha-svaras of the various Angns are: Ma, Ga, Ma (Pallavi); Sa, Pa, Ma, Pa (Anupallavi); and Ga, Ma, Pa (Carana).

Though the words are relatively less in this Kriti, use of Dhirgha- Svaras is limited;  and , the Tara- pulse is filled with more ‘Aaa-karas’.

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  1. Saroja-dala-netri (29-Shankarabharana-Adi)

This Kriti is again in Raga Shankarabharanam.  This, along with the Kriti Devi Meena-netri, is considered as twin Yugala-Kritis. Both are in Raga Shankara- bharanam; and, have similar notations (Svara-sthana).And, both are in Telugu.

The Kriti, commencing with asvarakṣara sāhitya  in the PallaviSaroja-dala-netri-Himagiripurti-nee-padambuja-mulane-sadaa-nammi-nanamma-shubhamimma-Sree Meenakshamma – is a highly popular Kriti; and, is very often sung in the Musical concerts.

In this Kriti, Sri Shyama Shastry sings of the beauty, glory and the noble virtues; and, of the boundless compassion and generosity of the most enchanting Goddess Devi Meenakshi. He calls her as the treasure-house of all the noble virtues (Gunadhama); and as one who delights in Music of Sama (Sama-gana-vinodini). And, requests her to bless him and wish him well (Shubha).

Sri Shastry compares the enchanting beauty of her eyes to the lotus petals (Saroja-dala) ; and her face to the radiant moon (Indu-mukhi) .

The Kriti consists of Pallavi, Anupallavi and three Caranas. All the segments of the Kriti are set to the same Music (Dhatu).

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The Sabda-alamkaras are introduced in the Anupallavi through a string of lyrical phrases (Sahitya) – Purani-Shukapani-Madhukaraveni-Sadashivuniki-Rani.

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The Kriti is set to Adi Taala.

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Smt. Sharadambal observes regarding the tempo or Kala-pramana of the Compositions:

Though, most of the songs of Shyama Shastri are in slow medium tempo in Adi-Taala, here are some songs in fast medium tempo.

The songs in Misra-Chapu and Triputa-Taalas also are mostly sung in slow medium tempo. The long drawn out rhythm with many pauses is seen in Chapu-Taala compositions with less number of words; and, with pauses here and there are found in these Kritis.

Some of his compositions in Adi-Taala have a tight knit relation between the Taala–Aksharas and the Sahitya letters. Almost all the Svara-letters have Sahitya-letters; and , Hrasva letters found in profusion.

For example, songs like’ Sarojadala-netri’ in Shankarabharana Raga; and in ‘Devi Brova’ in Chintamani Raga, though are set in Adi-Taala, the tempo seems to be increased and gives the impression that the song is set in Madhyama-kala. We do not find extensive pauses in these songs. The pauses are limited ;and, words are many and this appears that the tempo is increased.

The songs set in Adi-Taala, Rupaka and other Taalas are set in fast medium tempo. ‘Parvati-ninnu’ in Kalkada, ‘BiranaVaralicci’ in Kalyani can be cited as examples. Thus we find three different tempos such as slow, slow medium and fast medium tempos among the compositions of Shyama Shastri.

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The Kriti ‘Saroja-dala-netri’ starts from Tara Sa ; and , comes down to Madhyasthâyi in the Pallavi , ending with a Prayoga in the descending order as ‘s-n-d-p-m-g-r-s’. Both Anupallavi and Carana centre round Tara-sthâyi, after starting from the note as ‘s-Ss’ and ‘P- pppm’, respectively. The upper limit is only Tara ‘Ga’. The ‘Sn-P’ and ’sd-P ‘are the viseshaprayogas found in this kriti. The Jaru prayogas are found in the Anupallavi as  ‘s-Ss/Sss’ and ‘mP/sdP’.

*

The Sangathi, the melodic variations that are improvised while rendering the Pallavi or Anupallavi (rarely in Carana), without, however, altering the Sahitya is a much used Anga in the Kritis of Sri Thyagaraja. But, Sangathi is not a major issue in the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry.

But, now while singing the Kriti Saroja-dala-netri’ (Shankarabharanam) the Sangathis are developed by the performers and extended over the whole Avarta in the second line of the Pallavi. The First Sangati is developed from the place ‘Sri Meenaksamma’; while the second is developed from the beginning with slight changes occurring here and there.

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  1. Mayamma nannu brova (28-Nattakuranji- Adi)

Nattakuranji is described as an Audava Janya Raga of 28th Melakarta Harikambhoji.  It is an asymmetric Raga, having three types of ascending (Arohana) and descending scales (Avarohana).All the three types, as well as other Prayogas are in use.

In this Kriti commencing with the Pallavi – Mayamma nannu brovavamma Mahamaya Uma – Sri Shyama Shastry pleads with the Mother; and, questions her ‘ O Mother  of Shyamakrishna (ShyamakrishnaJanani) why (ela) are you delaying (tamasamela) , please come and protect me (Nannu brovu).

This is a relatively short Kriti; having Pallavi and Anupallavi of one Paada (line) each; and, a Carana of two lines. The Carana is followed by Svarasahitya structured in two lines (Paadas).

With a series of vowel extensions, the Kriti is better suited for Vilamba-laya rendering

The Pallavi starts on Madhya-sthayi-madhyama (M;) – the Jiva-svara of the Raga with Svarakshara (Ma-yam-Ma).

The Anupallavi, with a series of lyrical sounding terms ending with the vowel Aa () Satyananda-Sananda-Nitya-Ananda-Ananda-Amba, describes the cosmic nature of the Mother as being the very embodiment of eternal (Nitya) bliss (Ananda). This line is extended by a series of Svaras.

The Svarasahitya is appended to the Carana addressing the Mother in a series of beautiful names as: Sarasijakshi; Kanchi Kamakshi; Himachalasute; Suphale; Marakatangi; and, Maha-Tripura-Sundari

mAdhavAdi vinuta sarasijAkSi Kanci-KAmAkSi tAmasamu sEyakarammA / marakatAngi mahA tripurasundari ninnE hrdayamupaTTukoni

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The Kriti is set to Adi Taala

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  1. Karuna judavamma (22-Sri, Viloma Chapu)

The ancient Raga Sri is described as the A-sampurna-Melakarta equivalent of the 22nd Melakarta Kharaharapriya. It is one of the Ghana-Ragas of the Karnataka Samgita; and, is regarded as a very auspicious Raga.

And, it is apt to conclude the splendid series of Nava-ratna-malika with this Mangala-kara Raga submitted to Devi Brhannayaki.

The kriti is structured into Pallavi, Anupallavi and three Caranas. And, the Carana ends with the line: Tamasambu itu-seyaka naa paritapa-mulanu pariharinchi-nanivu; please, without any further delay, relieve me (pariharincu) of my miseries (paritapa-mulanu).

As regards the Taala, there are two practices; either to sing in Viloma Chapu Taala; or in the Adi Taala. Both seem acceptable.

Technically, this composition could be said to be set in Telugu. But, except for the verbs and the appeals made to the Mother all the other terms either describing the beauty of the Goddess or addressing her through a a string of melodious names are in chaste Sanskrit

The most graceful Devi, who delights in Music (Gana-vinodini) is lovely to look at, having a beautiful face (Sunda-radana); her complexion glowing like gold (Hemangi); her hair dark as the rain-clouds (Ghana-nibha-veni); and, her stately walk, as the gait of an elephant (Samaj-gamana).

Sri Shyama Shastry with great Love and admiration calls his Mother with a variety of names: Sarasija-asana; Madhava-sannuta, Brhannayaki; Lalita; Hima-giri-putri; Maheshvari; Girisha-ramani; and , Shulini. 

kanchikamakshi

In some of the versions, the Kriti Rave Parvatha-raja-kumari’ in the Raga Kalyani is reckoned as the eighth Kriti in the series.

The Kriti Rave Parvata Rajakumari’, is set in the familiar Raga Kalyani; and, in Taala Jhampa.( This, somehow, is labelled  as a ‘rare-kriti’)

This Kriti is dedicated to Devi Meenakshi. It has the Pallavi, Anupallavi and Two Caranas.

In the Pallavi and Anupallavi, Sri Shyama Shastry again requests the Mother to listen to him; to protect him; and to come quickly to him- Rave Parvata Rajakumari, Devi nannu brochutaku vegame. He pleads:  O Mother have I not been trusting you; have I not regarded you as my sole refuge- Neeve gatiyeni nammiyunti-gada; Neeve gatiyani nammiyunti Amma.

The two Caranas sing the greatness of the beautiful (Nirada-veni) Mother of all the three worlds (Tri-Loka-janani) , who is worshipped by all the gods; whose glory , auspicious legends and victories are sung and extolled by many sages; and, who protects (rakshaki) and brings delight (toshini)to the virtuous world of gods.

O Mother Meena-locani, the princess, the daughter of Parvatha-raja (Parvata-Rajakumari) the benevolent (Udaara-gunavati) ancient Goddess (Purani), kindly (krupu-judu) rid us of all fears (Abhaya) and protect us all (brovu).

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In all the nine compositions, the Sri Shyama Shastry seeks Devi’s help and protection, praising her glory, splendour and her countless virtues. The beauty and loveliness of the Devi is depicted in every Kriti   . There is a child-like innocence, admiration and Love for his Mother (Mayamma), pleading with her   repeatedly, with an open-hearted affection, to protect him and rescue him from the surrounding mundane existence. These Kritis exude a sense of tenderness, optimism and immense faith in the Mother.

 Overall in these Kritis, the verbs and the appeals made to or the conversation with the Mother is in the day-to-day commonly spoken Telugu, with informal colloquial expressions. Though they do not possess philosophical ideas in profusion, they do express the natural filial  affection and tenderness of the child trying to reach the Mother.

But, the descriptions of Devi’s beauty , splendour and her infinite powers and virtues; as also her varied names are all recited in  graceful, refined, lyrical Sanskrit. These passages are pure poetry; they are simple and elegant. There are many passages with a string of adorable phrases with prosodic beauties in harmony with the Music.

The Kriti mainly appeals to the beautiful Goddess of lotus-petal-like radiant eyes (Pankaja-dala netri) by addressing her through a variety of sweet-sounding names; Shankari; Karunakari; Raja-rajeshvari; Sundari; Paratpari; Gauri; Giri-raja-kumari; Parama-pavani; Bhavani; Katyayani and Kalyani  so on.

Both the familiar major Ragas and the minor Ragas like Ahiri and Lalita have been skilfully employed. The introduction of brilliantly crafted Chittasvaras, Svarasahitya etc, excelling in poetic beauty, have added sparkle and lustre to these Kritis.

Similarly, the application of the Misra Chapu Taala and Viloma Chapu Taala ;  as also the Gamaka Prayogas of tender  oscillations and glide, have lent depth as also  amazing agility  to the movement of the Musical phrases in the progression of the latter parts (Carana) of the  Kritis. This comes out vividly in contrast to the Vilamba-kala elaboration of the Pallavi and Anupallavi passages.

For instance; in the Kriti Mayamma (28-Nattakuranji, Adi) the Pallavi commences in Vilamba-kala, with straight notes pleading for affection and understanding. Later, with the Kampita (Oscillations) of the Gamaka-prayoga, the same set of Svaras gathers momentum to express the urgency of his pleas. A sense of loveliness, joy and abundant faith in the Love of the Mother permeates this Kriti.

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At the conclusion of the Nava-ratna-malika  it is customary to sing the most pleasing and lovely Mangala-Kriti (Shankari-Shankari, Kalyani, Adi) , a benediction (Svasthi-vachana)-a prayer entreating for divine blessings , the good- hearted Vidwan, the child (Shishu) of Shankari,  humbly appeals to his Mother, the Supreme Goddess Raja-Rajeshvari ,  who is the very embodiment of  all the spiritual knowledge  (Tattva-jnana-rupini) and one who enlightens  all (Sarva-chitta-bohini )  to bless  and grant (Disa)  all of this existence   (Sarva-Lokaya) happiness , prosperity (Jaya) and wellbeing  (Shubha)

 MangalamJaya MangalamShubha Mangalam

Kamakshi Thanjavur

In the next Part we shall discuss about the structure, the language  and other elements of the Kritis composed by Sri Shyama Shastry

Continued

In the

Next Part

Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2020 in Music, Sangita, Shyama Shastri

 

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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Five

Continued from Part Four

Sri Shyama Shastry – Music

shyama shastry

Introduction

The Music of Sri Shyama Shastry is universally acclaimed as a sublime and soulful melody. His Kritis, which exude pure Love for the Divine Mother, pleading with her, as a child does, through simple and pleasing words; and, in poignant Ragas rendered in Vilamba-kala have gained the admiration of all Music lovers and Devi-Upasakas.   It is the serene delight, devotion, absolute faith and the yearning, the eagerness (Utsukatha) for the affection of Devi Kamakshi, which permeates his earnest compositions, that has captured the hearts of the listeners over the generations.

At the same time; the intricate rhythmic phrases combining Taala, Laya and also Gamaka, which is an essential aspect of Mano-dharma-Sangita; and, adorned with varieties of decorative Angas like, Chittasvara, Svara-sahitya, Madhyama-kala-sahitya and Sabda-alamkaras and such other rhythmic beauties (Dhatu-Mathu-Samyukta-Alamkara) like Svarakshara are structured into the Music of his Kritis. And, in some places, he has also used patterns like employing the Dhatu of the Anupallavi in the Carana.

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Apart from his compositions in the familiar Ragas, his Kritis in Apurva-Ragas like Chintamani, Manji, Kalagada, and Karnataka-kapi; as also  the transformations he be brought about to the Raga Anandabhairavi ; to the  Svarajatis; and to the Chapu Taala are a testimony to his unique genius and creativity in discovering  new modes of expression, which the others had not attempted.

Taala and Laya, over which Sri Shyama Shastry had gained mastery; and  his way of dexterously combining them with the Sahitya are among the special features of his compositions. He has excelled in the handling of the different patterns of the Chapu Taala.  He had experimented with altering the sequence of Matras in the Misra Chapu; and crafting the innovative Viloma Chapu.

And, he had also extensively employed various Grahas or Eduppus (the points within the Āvartanam or cycle of a Taala when a composition or stanza in a composition begins) in his Misra Chapu Kritis.

Another versatile feature of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry, with regard to Taala, is that he has composed Kritis in Taalas and Gatis (sub-divisions of a beat in a composition) that are interchangeable. For instance; his Kriti ‘Shankari Shamkuru’ (Saveri) and ‘Birana varalichi’ (Kalyani) can be rendered in both Rupaka Taala (Chatursra- gati) and also in Adi Taala (Tisra gati).

Gamaka, as its very name indicates, provides movement (gamana, gati)  to the sequence of Svaras along their progression. The Gamakas–the graces which adorn and transform the Svaras through oscillations, glides, and curves etc,; and, the other devices that artistically combine together the literary  (Mathu) and Musical (Dhatu) features  are among the many virtues that distinguish the excellence of Sri Shyama Shastry’s art.

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And, therefore, only the musicians who have attained a high degree of proficiency in their art can do justice to the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry, where devotion,  verse  and Musical elements  amicably come together to provide an elevating experience.

Having said that let me add that though the musical structure of his Kritis might look intricate, it is neither laboured nor artificial. There is a natural flow to his Kritis. There is Laya-soukhya, the ease and comfort in its rhythmic movement. It takes some discipline and certain understanding to follow the Mano-dharma of their Samgita.

It is always considered a rare accomplishment for a performer to render the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry in the spirit they were envisioned and composed by him during the moments of ecstasy while in presence of Bangaru Kamakshi.

Quite often, one comes across remarks about his comparatively lower output in terms of the numbers. As Dr. N Ramanathan observed; it would be rather unjust to merely go by the number than by the merit of his compositions.

And, it would be more prudent to view and appreciate Sri Shyama Shastry’s well-crafted musical compositions from the point of view of what he has achieved, rather than from what he did not attempt.

One has to recognize that Sri Shyama Shastry was an erudite composer, in every sense of the term. He was an inspired artist who had a distinct style of his own.

It could be said that it was Sri Shyama Shastry who revolutionized  some aspects of the music of his times by introducing certain innovations that stemmed from inside of the musical tradition, rather than being imposed on it from outside.

Vajra

Just to summarize after discussing with my friend; and, again:

The Music of Sri Shyama Shastry is indeed a Tri-veni-sangama; an icon of the sublime confluence of mutually responsive Mano-bhava, Raga-bhava and Artha-bhava. And, it is graceful and leisurely, like a gentle flowing river. It spreads a sense of calm disposition; Visranthi or peace. In his Music, his emotional state, the longing for the Love of the Mother Goddess Kamakshi, appealing to her childlike, in simple words set in blissful Ragas, spread over in Vilamba-kala; all gracefully combine to provide a rare kind of aesthetic pleasurable experience.

Apart from creating Kritis of sheer delight and soothing-flow in their progression, Sri Shyama Shastry enriched the Karnataka Samgita by introducing several innovative features, extending the variety and depth of its Music and Sahitya (Mathu –Dhathu).

The Raga Chintamani was the innovation of Sri Shyama Shastry. The rare Ragas like Kalgada and Manji that had almost faded out of memory were revived by him. The old-folk melody Anandabhairavi was creatively transformed and reinvented through his Kritis, endowing it with flexibility to express varied shades of its Raga-bhava. And, the repertoire of the Ragas like Gaulipanthu and Pharaju was enlarged through his Kritis.

Sri Shyama Shastry was the first composer to use Svarasahitya, the Dhathu-Mathu-Alamkara, gracefully and elegantly bridging the Sahitya and the Samgita.

He was also the first to introduce rhetorical beauties like Prasa and Svaraksharas into the Gitas that were till then treated as simple melodic songs.

His three Svarajatis have numerous examples of both Shuddha and Suchita- Svaraksharas in the Svarasahitya; as do the Varnams he composed.

Sri Shyama Shastry’s contribution in reforming the Svarajatis is indeed unique. He was probably the first to compose Svarajatis in a new form of musical genre, where the compositions can be rendered in vocal or in instrumental form, with all the embellishments. Prior to this, the Svarajati was primarily a dance-song, resembling the Pada-vara, in its structure.

Here, in the Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastry, the elegant Svara passages blend naturally with the emotionally rich Sahitya. What you experience here is the harmony that binds the soulful Ragas; the lyrical elegant Sahitya; and, the innovative Taala patterns.

The Varnas composed by Sri Shyama Shastry, adorned with Chittasvara passages, are also of a high order, lending scope for varied musical expressions. 

Sri Shyama Shastry was an adept in the aspects of Taala, Laya and Gamakas.

He had worked out, in detail, and wrote down the charts of the Svara-Prastara – the elaboration of rhythmic patterns for a given Taala.

The Prastara of Taala-Anga (the structural units of a Taala) denotes splitting up the Anga into its possible components or subsidiary units, from out the six Angas (Shad-anga) such as: Anudruta; Druta, Laghu, Guru; Pluta; and, Kakapada. And, the resultant possible varieties are presented in the performances; and , are also and preserved in tabular forms or charts, for the benefit of the posterity .

Such charts prepared by Sri Shyama Shastry are said to be now in possession of his descendants.

Among the Trinity, Sri Shyama Shastry was the only one to have used the Tisra Ata and Tisra Matya Taalas. He was also the only one to have rendered a Pallavi set to the complicated Sharabha-nandana Taala of 79 Aksharas.

Gifted with an extraordinary sense of timing, Sri Shyama Shastry had gained mastery over the complex rhythms and tempos of Musical rendering. He lent a creative dimension to his favorite Misra-Chapu-Taala, by reversing the sequence of its Matras. His compositions are ever distinguished by their rhythmic brilliance.

The Gamakas he built into Vilamba-kala and Madhyama-kala phrases set to different Taalas bring out the varied shades and hues of the Raga. Many Gamakas can also be found in his Svarajatis. It is these Gamakas that transform an otherwise an ordinary Svara into one of great charm; and, elevates the Musical experience.

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Apart from selfless Love and devotion to the Goddess Kamakshi and to his Music, which, in fact, was the medium through which he conversed with the Mother, nothing else in life seemed to truly matter to him.

That is perhaps is the reason Dr. Raghavan calls Sri Shyama Shastry as an absolute Musician; and, his Music sparkling with spontaneity and effortless ease as the absolute Music.

Thus, it is the excellence of the Music and the richness of its expressive outpouring emotions, in a highly creative manner,  that lend a distinct character to the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry. They radiate a sense of devotion (Bhakthi), submission (Prapatthi) and tranquil joy (Ananda) of being in the presence of the Mother.

When you look at the Mano-bhava, Sahitya and Samgita of his Kritis, what you witness here is Atma-nivedana (absolute surrender to the will of Ista-devatha) with unwavering faith in his Deity; Karuna-rasa poignant appeals to the Goddess; and Vatsalya-bhava pure love and affection of a child towards its Dear Mother.

In his most pleasing and lovely Mangala-Kriti (Shankari-Shankari, Kalyani, Adi), a benediction (Svasthi-vachana)-a prayer entreating for divine blessings, the good-hearted Vidwan, the child (Shishu) of Shankari,  humbly appeals to his Mother, the Supreme Goddess Raja-Rajeshvari ,  who is the very embodiment of  all the spiritual knowledge  (Tattva-jnana-rupini) and one who enlightens  all (Sarva-chitta-bohini)  to bless  and grant (Disa)  all of this existence (Sarva-Lokaya) health, happiness , prosperity (Jaya) and well-being  in  all its forms (Shubha)

 MangalamJaya MangalamShubha Mangalam

How I wish all the performers of Karnataka Samgita bring into practice the rendering this auspicious Kriti before the final Mangalam.

Genius and goodness of the heart are not measured by mere numbers.

deepavali lamps

Outline

Just to take an overview of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry, before we get to analyze their specific aspects:

Depending upon the source, the number of compositions credited to Sri Shyama Shastry range between 65 and 75.   However, the number of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry that are presently available could perhaps be taken to be about Seventy-two (72) , for the limited purpose of this article.

These include: 60 Kritis; 5 Gitas; 4 Varnas; and, 3 Svarajatis.

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Most of the compositions are in the Telugu language.

Of the total 72 compositions, as many as 52 are in Telugu; 15 are in Sanskrit (4 Gitas + 1 Varna+10 Kritis); and the rest 5 are in Tamil (1 Gita + 4 Kritis). The Telugu here is simple and direct; but, the Sanskrit is delightfully rhythmic, elegant and very pleasing.

    • [Among the 60 Kritis: 10 are in Sanskrit; 4 are in Tamil; and the rest 56 are in Telugu.
    • Among the 5 Gitas: 4 are in Sanskrit; and 1 is in Tamil
    • Among the 4 Varnas: 1 is in Sanskrit; and 3 in Telugu
    • Svarajatis: All the 4 Svarajatis are in Telugu]

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As regards the Ragas, Sri Shyama Shastry, in all, employed about 33 Ragas. And these include Five Mela-ragas (Todi, Shankarabharanam, Nata, Varali and Kalyani); and 28 Janya-ragas.

Altogether, his compositions cover the Ragas that fall under 13 Melas (Mela Numbers: 8, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 28, 29, 36, 39, 53, 56 and 65).

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And, although he seemed to have avoided Vivadi-Melas, he did compose Kritis in the Janya-ragas of the Vivadi-Melas, such as Kalkada; Nata and Varali.  The Raga Kalkada is  a Janya of the 13th Mela Gāyakapriya; Raga Nata is the Janya of the 36th Mala Chalanata;  and, Varali is the Janya of the 39th Mela Jhālavarāli. Of these three Vivadi-Ragas, Nata and Varali are classed under Ghana-Ragas.

[Dattilam says Svaras are seven, starting with Shadja ( Svarah shadjadyah sapta gramo shadja madhyamo – Dattilam .11) ; and they are of four types:  Vadi (sonant); Samvadi (consonant); Anuvadi (assonant) and Vivadi (dissonant). Vadin is the note that produces the melody. As Vadin is repeated often, the other notes are used in relation to it.  For instance; the two Svaras with an interval of eight or twelve Sruti-s between them are called Samvadi of each other. Ni and Ga are Vivadi (discordant) to other Svaras. The Svara following a Vadi Svara is called Anuvadi.

The Vadi and Samvadi are Mitra Svaras; and, have a harmonious relationship with each other like the Shadja and Panchama; or Shadja and Shuddha-madhyama. In contrast, Vivadi is defined as one which is unmelodic in nature; and, is differentiated by an interval of two Srutis; for example, Shuddha-Rshabha and Shuddha-Gandhara or Chatshruthi-Dhaivata and Kakali-Nishada.]

Sri Shyama Shastry composed four Kritis in three Vivadi Ragas: Kalkada, Nata and Varali; all which are Janya-Ragas; and, two of which are Ghana-Ragas (Nata and Varali).

Vivadi Ragars of Sri Shyama Shastry

Parvathi Ninnu’ is a very melodious Composition, in which the Raga-Bhava of Kalkada, a rare Vivadi-Raga is delicately portrayed. The Vivadi-Sancharas such as, Pa-Dha-Ni-DhaPa and Sa-Sa-Sa-Pa-Dha-Ni—Dha-Pa etc., both in the Pallavi and in the Caranas; as also  the Jaru -Gamakas from Sa to Pa in the Pallavi are enchanting.

Pahimam Sri Rajarajeshvari’ in the Nata Raga , has an  unique structure with multiple (Bahu-dhatu) Caranas in Madhyama-kala , with  vibrant Raga-Sancharas. In the Anupallavi, the lyric ‘Simhasana-rudhe’, starts with the Vivadi-Svara ‘Chatshruti Rshabha’; that is, ||Ri-Ri-Sa|Ni-Sa-Ri-Sa-Ri||; and, brings out the  Sahithya-bhava very well.

Both the compositions in Nata and Kalkada begin from Svarakshara; that is, ‘Pahimam ‘and ‘Parvathi ninnu’ on the note Panchama (Pa).

Both ‘Karuna judavamma’ and ‘Kamakshi Bangaru’ in Raga Varali, commence with the Vivadi-Svara-Sancharas such as ||…Sa-Ni|Ga-Ri-Sa|| and ||Ga-Ma|Ga-Ga-Ri|| ||Sa..|…|| with Shuddha-Gandhara. They vividly express his devotion (Bhakthi-bhava) to the Goddess  Sri Kamakshi.

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For his Kritis, Sri Shyama Shastry used only four of the PratimadhyamaRagas (Varali, Purvikalyani, Chintamani and Kalyani). There is predominance of Janya-ragas and Shuddha-madhyama Ragas.

Although Sri Shyama Shastry mostly used the familiar Ragas, some of his Kritis are composed in rare Ragas, like: Chintamani, Kalagada, Manji and Karnataka-kapi.  The other two of the Trinity have not composed in Chintamani or in Kalagada. 

The Raga Anandabhairavi, said to be a favourite of Sri Shyama Shastry, has Seven compositions (Six Kritis and One Varna); and, Saveri has five compositions (4 Kritis and One Gita).

But, there are Eight Kritis and a Varna composed in the 65th Melakarta, Kalyani, which employs Parti-Madhyama.

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In regard to the structure of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry, as many as 36 of them have Pallavi, Anupallavi followed by three Caranas; 8 have Pallavi, Anupallavi and two Caranas;  6 have Pallavi, Anupallavi and three Caranas  followed by  Svara-sahitya; and, 4 have Pallavi, Anupallavi and a single Carana.

As many as four Kritis have only Pallavi and Caranas (no Anupallavi).The number of Caranas, in these four cases is: 3, 6, 8 and 11.

While one Kriti is structured in Pallavi, Anu-Pallavi, Muktayi Carana, and Svara-sahitya; another one has the sequence of Pallavi, Anu-Pallavi, Svara-sahitya followed by Carana.

As regards the five Gitas, one has five segments; two have four segments; and, the other two have three segments.

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The three Svarajatis created by Sri Shyama Shastry are much admired, comparing them to Gems (Rathna).

The Gita Santatam (in Raga Pharaju) is a rather rare instance of a Gita composed in Tamil

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One of the special features of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry is the artistic use of Taala, the tempo and the rhythm. The Misra-Chapu was the often used Taala in his compositions.

As regards the application of Taalas in the 72 compositions, the break up is: Adi (30); Misra-Chapu (18); Triputa (10); Ata (3); Rupaka (5); Jhanmpa (3); and, Mathya (3).

Sri Shyama Shastry was the earliest to introduce the Viloma-Chapu-Taala (4+3), which is the reversed sequence of the Krama-Chapu or normal Chapu (3+4).

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Gamakas are the ornamental flourishes that help to bring out unique nature of the Raga (Raga-svarupa) in diverse modes of Raga-sanchara by altering the plain character of the Svaras into delightful sound patterns.

Gamaka (ornamented note) is any graceful turn, curve or cornering touch given to a single note or a group of notes, which adds emphasis to each Raga’s unique character. Gamaka, in short, is the movement of Svaras which bounce, slide, glide, shivers, rapidly oscillates or skips. It provides movement and animates Svaras to bring out the melodic character and expression (bhava) of a Raga. Each Raga has specific rules on the types of Gamakas that might be applied to specific notes, and the types that may not. Every Raga has, therefore, to be necessarily rendered with the appropriate Gamakas. They depend on the manner of quivering, oscillations or shaking that the Svaras can be endowed with.

Gamaka-rendering is a highly individualistic and a specialized skill. Not merely that the Gamakas are designed specifically for vocal music and for instrumental music, but also that each performer would, in due course, develop her/his own Gamaka-improvisations. And therefore, two Ragas with identical ascending (Aroha) and descending (Avaroha) Svaras and born out of the same parent (Janaka) Raga might sound totally different in character and expression, mainly because of the Gamakas that are employed. [In Hindustani Music , Meend  and Andolan  are similar to Gamakas.]

The Gamaka-prayogas or the decoration of the Raga-phrases, which are aesthetically pleasing in slow tempo; and Laya (rhythm) are said to be the special features of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry. His compositions set in Vilamba-kala are apt for use of Gamakas, excelling in the long-drawn Chowka-kala like Kampita (oscillations) and Jaru (glides) which animate and provide a lively movement to the Svaras.

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All his compositions are addressed to the Mother Goddess in her various forms; excepting the two , of which one is in praise of Kanchi Varadaraja-swami , and the other in praise of Mutthukumara-swami.

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The numbers

Considering the rather limited number of compositions that are available and are credited to Sri Shyama Shastry, their listing has been highly inconsistent. It ranges between 65 and 75.  

Sri T K Govinda Rao mentions 71 as the total number of compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry. Smt. Vidya Shankar takes it as 70 by excluding the Kriti Parakelanamma in Natakuranji.

Dr. Y Saradhambal adds back to the list of Sri T K Govinda Rao, the Kriti Nannu-karuninci (29-Shankarabharana-Rupaka). Thus, Sri T K Govinda Rao’s list, effectively, comes back to 72. However, Dr. Y Saradhambal added a word of caution saying, the authenticity of the Seven compositions that are ascribed by some to Sri Shyama Shastry needs to be verified. The Six Kritis and one Varna mentioned by her in that regard are:

(1) Rave-Mayamma-Bangaru (15-Saveri- Adi); (2) Nannu Brova (15-Lalita /Vasantha-m/Eka);(3) Sarasaksi-Ee-vela (20-Anandabhairavi-Ata); (4) Brovumu-Maanini (Kiravani-Jampha); (5) Bangaru-Kamakshi (20 Anandabhairavi -Adi); (6) Ninnu Vina (Bilahari-Jampha); and, (7) Ninnu -namminanu (Pada Varna- 20 -Anandabhairavi-Adi)

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A Doctoral thesis submitted to the University of Kerala by Dr.  Manju Gopal adopts  72 as the total number of the known compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry.

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Another site dedicated to the Music of Sri Shyama Shastry lists as many as 75 compositions of the Master.

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Here, I have , for the limited purpose, taken the total number of works of Sri Shyama Shastry as 72 (60 Kritis+5 Gitas+4 Varnams+ 3 Svarajatis).

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Melas and Ragas

The total number of Melas employed Sri Shyama Shastry for all his compositions are 13 (namely: 8, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 28, 29, 36, 39, 53, 56 and 65). These are:

(1) 8-Todi (Hanuma-todi); (2) 13– Gayakapriya; (3) 15– Mayamalavagaula; (4) 17 – Suryakantam;(5)20-Natabhairavi;(6)22-Kharaharapriya;(7) 28 -Harikhambhoji;  (8) 29 -Dhira-Shankarabharanam; (9) 36- Chala-Nata ; (10) 39 – Jhalavarali ; (11) 53 – Gamanashrama ; (12) 56 -Shanmukhapriya ; and,  (13) 65- Mechakalyani.

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The number of Ragas employed by Sri Shyama Shastry is comparatively fewer in number. He made use of just 33 Ragas in all, comprising 5 Melakartas and 28 Janya Ragas.

The Five Mela-Ragas used by Sri Shyama Shastry for all his compositions are:   Todi  (4); Shankarabharanam (2); Nata (1); Varali (2) and, Kalyani (9)

– a total of 18 compositions; including 1 Svarajati in Todi and 1 Varna in Kalyani.

For his five Gitas, he used four Ragas that fall under three Melakartas:

Pharaju and Saveri (15-MāyamālavaGaula); Bhairavi (20-Natabhairavi); Madhyamavathi  (22-Kharaharapriya).

The Four Varnas are in: 

Saurastra (17); Anandabhairavi (20/22); Begada (22); and, Kalyani (65).

The Three Svarajatis are in

Todi (8); Bhairavi (20) and, in Yadukulakanbhoji (28)

Mela Ragas

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Janya Ragas

As regards the rest 44 compositions (34 Kritis +5 Gitas +3 Varnas+2 Svarajatis), they are set in 28 Janya Ragas of the other 8 Mela Ragas.

Sri Shyama Shastry mainly used Rakthi Ragas (meaning  pleasing, lovely or charming Ragas) and familiar Ragas. Such Rakthi Ragas, which evoke a particular Rasa, are Gamaka-Pradhana-Ragas; and, are mainly dependent on their Raga-svarupa. Each Raga elicits certain Rasa, which shines forth upon the application of right Gamaka.  The Rakthi Ragas can either be Mela or Janya Ragas. The ragas like Sāvēri, Kāmbōji, Śakarābharana, Bēgada, Tōdi, and Ānandabhairavi etc. come under this category.

Sri Shyama Shastry used Rakthi-Ragas like Anandabhairavi, Saveri,  Madhyamavathi , Purvikalyani, Bhairavi and Kedaragaula  etc., (apart from Todi, Shankara-bharanam and Kalyani, the Mela Ragas) for his Kritis, Gitas, Varnas and  Svarajatis.

There is a predominance of Shudda-Madhyama Ragas and Janya Ragas; and, the Prathi-Madhyama Ragas are only four in number (Varali, Purvikalyani, Chintamani and Kalyani).

And, Chintamani (56) among the Prathi Madhyama Ragas has the distinction of creating an Eka-Raga-Kriti (Devi brova samayamide-Adi Taala); meaning a sole or the prominent representative of that Raga.

Anandabhairavi is said to a favorite of Sri Shyama Shastry; but, in terms of numbers there are more number of songs in Raga Kalyani (8 Kritis and 1 Varna) than in Anandabhairavi (6 Kritis and 1 Varna).

It is said; Sri Shyama Shastry lent a distinct character to Raga Kalyani by using Tissruti-Rshabha (a minor tone from Shadja) at the start of the four Kritis: Birana-varalichi; Himadri-sute; Talli-ninnu-nera-nammiti; and Shankari-Shankari. The resulting Raga-bhava creates a sense of calm and serenity.

Kalyani

Raga Anandabhairavi

And again, it is not the mere numbers that truly matter; but, what is of interest here the intense involvement of the composer; and, the aesthetic joy that his creations radiate, naturally.

Sri Shyama Shastry must have found the poignant and malleable flow of the soulful and emotionally charged Ragas – Anandabhairavi and Saveri more suitable for submitting his fervent appeals to the Mother Goddess. It is in these two Ragas, particularly, the radiance of his Bhakthi and the sense of absolute surrender (Prapatthi) to the will of Devi Kamakshi shine forth.

Anandabhairavi, a Bhashanga Raga of the 20th Mela Natabhairavi , is structured with Antara-Gandhara (G3), Chatusruthi-Daivatha (D2) ; and, Kakili-Nishada (N3) being the Anya Svara. This is an ancient Rakthi Raga that evokes Karuna, Srngara and Bhakti Rasas. The Gamakas ‘jāru’, ‘tiripa’, ‘rava’, ‘Kadippu’ blend well with this Raga. The Raga-Bhava is fully brought out when it is sung in Viamba Kala.

Further, Anandabhairavi has a special association with Sri Shyama Shastry. The old Raga Anandabhairavi is said to have originated from the folk-tradition. Sri Shyama Shastry provided it with a new rendition (Raga-svarupa), bringing out the varied shades and colors of Anandabhairavi.

[Dr. V V Srivatsa,  in his Note on the Raga Ananadabhairavi , included in the Raganubhava session on Raga Ananadabhairavi held on 15 November 1999, says :

Raga Anandabhairavi is of indeterminate origin and has existed from medieval periods in the folk-tradition. This Raga is not referred to in texts like Sangeeta Makaranda, Sangeeta Ratnakara, Swaramela Kalanidhi or Raga Vibhoda. There is no reference in the main text of Chaturdandi Prakasika but a reference is found in the supplementary passage, the anubandha. In “Raga Lakshana”, Shahji states that Bhairavi is the Mela for Anandabhairavi ; and not that Anandabhairavi is a derivative of Bhairavi. This, perhaps, is indicative of the fact that Anandabhairavi was very much in vogue in folklore and that the observation by Shahji was an offshoot of an attempt to classify this raga in the classical system.

Though structural variances can be discerned in the views expressed by musicologists, it is obvious that this Raga underwent manifold changes in course of time. There was no uniformity, in conceptual terms, even among the members of the Carnatic music Trinity. Originally, the Tyagaraja tradition avoided the Antara-Gandhara Svara, though nowadays this Svara is used in his kritis. The Dikshitar school strictly avoids the swara.

The presence of Antara Gandhara in Syama Sastri’s compositions is profound in most schools.

Anandabhairavi is well known and accepted to such an extent that some call this raga as “Kuttagai” or exclusive to Syama Sastri. “Marivere”, “O Jagadamba” and “Himachala-Tanaya” are very popular and frequently rendered; “Pahi-Srigiriraja-sute” is occasionally rendered. The Varnam in Ata tala “Saminni-rammanave”, the kritis “Mahilo-Amba” and “Aa-dinamuni” are unheard of.

Marivere Gati” by Syama Sastri is a masterpiece . in the hands of Syama Sastri, the Raga which is obviously very dear to him, shines in all its luster due to the introduction of the two Anya Svaras – Antara Ga and Kakali Ni.

In his five songs inclusive of the Varnam ‘Samini rammanave’, the several idiomatic expressions and the characteristic phrases that the Raga admits of, are profusely used. No doubt to him the Raga became the most suitable medium for expressing the surging emotions of the devout heart to the divine Mother.]

Smt. Vidya Shankar writes:

The fact that Anandabhairavi has accommodated special Prayogas with Antara-Gandhara and Kakili-Nishada indicates that it was mainly used for devotional purposes in the first instance; and, thereafter included in systematic classification of the Ragas.

In all his compositions, Sri Shyama Shastry has revealed calmness of mind, expanse of knowledge and keenness of his intellect.

Anandabhairavi was indeed his favorite Raga. He has composed Ata-Taala-Varna in praise of Kanchi Varadaraja Swami and many other Kritis.

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Further, Ānandabhairavi and Saveri, owe their characteristic form to his  master-pieces in the concert repertoire

Some of his splendid Kritis like O Jagadamba; Pahi-Sri-Giri-Raja-Sute; Mariveregati; Himachala -tanaya-Brochuta; and, the Varna Samini-rammanave, Sarasakshi ye vela (Ata Taala) are in the Raga Anandabhairavi.

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The Kiti ‘Marivēre-gati’, set to Chapu-Taaa with a Viamba-Laya, is another splendid example for Sri Shyama Shastry’s genius. It explores the Raga Anandabhairavi in depth.

The Kriti is adorned with many Jaru-Gamakas, like ‘Sa-Sa/Sa’ and ‘Sa/Ma’ for the Sahitya- phrase ‘Saranagatha’ and ‘Rakshaki’. The Svarakshara pattern ‘Pa-Dha-Pa-Ma’ for the word ‘Padayuga’ in the Chittasvara-Sahitya in Vilamba-kala provides much depth to the emotional content of the Kriti.

The phrase ‘Nammiti’ occurring twice over in succession shows the depth of trust he has in the Mother Goddess.

The repetition of certain words in different musical phrases is said to be one of the unique features of his Kritis.

And, a slow ‘Janta’ phrase ‘Ni-Ni—Sa-Sa—Ga -Ga—Ma-Ma’ for the Sahitya ‘Niratamu ninnu’ in the Chittasvara is another feature highlighting the Mano-Dharma of the Anandabhairavi Raga.

In the phrase ‘Pa-Ma-Ga3-Ga3-Ma’, the Anya-Svara Ga3 is well demonstrated.

The Gamaka for the phrase ‘Ma—Ma-Ga-Pa-Ma—Ga-Ri’ blending very well with the words Shyamala’ is another instance of a good coordination between Svara and Sahitya.

The phrase ‘ R—Sa-Ni-Dha-Pa—Dha-Pa-Ma-Ga-Ri—Ga—Ma’ in the Chittasvara is graced by the flavour of the Raga Anandabhairavi.

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The Kriti ‘O Jagadamba’ (Anandabhairavi -Adi Taala) is another of Sri Shyama Shastry’s great creations.  Here, he calls out to the Mother of all this existence ‘Jagadamba’ to come to his rescue and protect him. His intense feeling is expressed through the elongated phrase ‘O—‘ . The Jaru -Gamaka in the Anupallavi and the Chittasvara again intensify  the depth of his emotions. The Svaras ‘Pa-Dha-Dha-Pa—Ma-Pa—Pa-Ma-Ga’ for the Sahitya ‘Rajamukhi’ brings out the majesty of the Goddess.  The Carana phrase ‘Ga-Ma-Pa—Pa-Dha-Pa —Ma-Pa-ma—Ga-Ri-Sa..’  for the word ‘Brochutaka’ with the Gamakas ‘Vali’ and ‘Rava’ highlight the essence of the raga Anandabhairavi.

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The Kitis ‘Mahilo-amba’; ‘Pahi-Sri-Girirājasute’; and, ‘Aa dinamuichi’ show different types of Alamkaras provided by the Raga Anandabhairavi. The Kiti ‘Himāchala-tanaya’ is a reflection of his genius. The Svara patterns set to the descriptive Prasa -phrases like ‘Uma-hamsa-gāmana-taamasama’ blend with the flow of  the Raga.

Anandabhairavi

Raga Saveri

As regards Raga Saveri (15th Melakarta Mayamalavagaula Janya); it is a Rakthi Raga;and, was once a Bhashanga-Raga, having Anya Svaras like Triśruthi -Gadhāra and Nihāda; but, presently it is classified as a Upanga Raga.

[ Dr V V Srivatsa in his note on the Raganubhava session on Raga Saveri , held on 20 October 1999 says:

Saveri is an ancient raga with many textual references. This raga is classified as a Bhashanga raga in Sangeeta Ratnakara, albeit with the name Savari. This raga has a place of pride in Carnatic music, as can be also seen in the proverb, “Kaveri snaanam, Saveri Gaanam”

Each Svara has a significant role. Gandhara and Nishada, at Trisruti levels, render this raga as Bhashanga. Rishabha, Madhyama and Nishada are Raga-chhayya Svaras, which bring out the nuances of this raga. Madhyama is unique, often called Saveri-Madhyama.

It is one of the select Ragas with compositions by all members of the Carnatic Trinity. There is a marked conceptual similarity between Dikshitar and Syama Sastri. Some rare sancharas can be found in “Karmame Balavanta”, a Tyagaraja kriti. There is considerable esoteric significance in some passages of the kriti “Sri Rajagopala” by Dikshitar. Syama Sastri’s first composition was in this Raga. Many post-Trinity composers have used this raga, unto recent times. A great legacy.

“Durusuga” by Syama Sastri has structural and rendition elegance, “Sankari Sankuru” is also a popular composition]

This Raga evokes Karuna, Shatha and Bhakti Rasas. As its name suggests, the Ri almost lies in the Sa  ; in other words it is the lowest frequency of Ri  that we can have. The ‘jāru’     from a higher note on Ri and Da ; ‘līna’ on Ri; ‘Vali’ on the note Ma and Kurua are the Gamakas that are suitable to  this Raga.

Sri Shyama Shastry’s first composition  (Janani-natajana-paripalini-pahi-mam-Bhavani) was in this Raga Saveri . There are, in all, four Kritis and one Gita composed by Sri Shyama Shastry in the Raga Saveri.

Saveri

The Kriti ‘Durusuga krpa juci santatam’ has a Pallavi; Anu-Pallavi; Three Caranas; followed by a Svarashitya passage (a combination of sol-fa passage with appropriate Sahitya passages for the Svaras).  

In this Kriti, Sri Shyama Shastry prays to the Mother to quickly (Durusuga) grant him good health (Arogya) ; and, make him  strong (Druda).O Devi Dharmasamvardhini, O  Queen of Pranatharthihara, O  Tripurasundari , please pay more (bahu) attention (paraku) to me.

Please listen, I do not know what my fate is (Niyati). O Kamakshi, I am mentally (manasuna) agitated (kalata jendi). I have heard much about your greatness. I am convinced that you alone are the great (baha) expert (nipuna); and, there is none else (verevaru-kadu) in this Universe (jagambulanu). Please listen (vinu) to my (na) appeal (manavini).Do not remain unconcerned.

Again, in the Svarasahitya that follows the Third Carana, Sri Shyama Shastry appeals to the kindness of the lotus-eyed (Saroja-nayana) Mother saying that even the Vedas proclaim that you indeed are the only one who protects (palini) those who submit to you and seek protection. Please show mercy (Krupa) quickly and make me always healthy and strong.

During the course of his submission, Sri Shyama Shastry, tries to please his Mother praising by a string of names, describing her beauty, virtues and power.

ParamaPavani;Krupa-vani; Amala-guna-Tripurasundari; Sakala-papa-shamani; Omkari; Kamakshi; Dhara-dharavi-Neela-kesha-lasita; Saras-Kavita-nichita; Sara –ghana; Sara-sita; Dhara-hasita; Vari-ruha-vari vadana-ruchita; Narayani; Saroja-nayana; and, Nata-jana-palini.

*

The Kriti ‘Durusuga’ in Adi-Taala is regarded as a classic composition. Its Pallavi starts with a Svarakshara pattern of ‘Dha, Ri, Sa’. In one of the Sangathis, while returning to the Pallavi, there is a Svara phrase ‘’Dha-Dha-Pa-Ma’ in a higher Gati (tempo), indicating his restlessness and urge (Durusu). There is a repetition of the word ‘salupu nanu’ indicating the intensity of his emotions.  And, the Dhatu for this features the classic Saveri Svara patterns like ‘Sa-Ri-Ga-Sa-Ri,’. A Similar repetition occurs in the Carana for the describing word ’dhara-hasitha’ (smiling on the lips), which is characterized by beautiful Gamakas. Also with the usage of certain inherent phrases of Saveri like, ‘Ṡa-Ṙi-Ṗa-Ṁa-a’; ‘’Ma-Pa-Dha-Dha-Pa-Ma-Ga ’ etc. this Kriti brings out  the essence of  the Raga Saveri.

*

The Svarasahitya, which follows the Third Carana, is in the same tempo as the Pallavi, Anupallavi and the Caranas that precede it.

Saroja-nayana; Nata-jana palini-Vani / Vedamulu -moralida / itarulevaru –manavi -vinu -krpa salupa- paraku salupa-radika; nIvipudu (duru)

It continues to be in the Vilamba-kala, without increase in the number of syllables per beat; and, Sri Shyama Shastry has not introduced Madhyama kala through this element (Anga).

*

This Kriti (Durusuga) is much discussed citing its treatment of the Laya , Svarasahitya and for maintaining the same tempo in the Svarashitya without  much increasing the number of syllables (Akshara)  per beat (Matra): Pallavi – Durusugakrpajuci santatam -(15 letters in the Laghu); Svarasahitya – Saroja nayana nata Jana paliniva | ni . (16 letters in the Laghu)

Smt. Sharadambal explains :

In the Svarasahityas of the two Kritis ‘Durusuga’ and ‘Marivere’ of Sri Shyama Shastri, we also find patterns in the organisation of the Svaras.

In the Svarasahitya of  Saveri Raga Durusuga , the Svaras are formed in Tisra (npd- srs) and Khaòda patterns (mpmdp- sndrs).

 In the Ânandabhairavi Kriti ‘Marivere’, the Janta-svaras and the Dhatu-svaras figure (nnssggmm – janta) (psnd, pndp, dpd – datu).

 In both these Svarasahityas, we find a pattern of Svaras at the end.

Durusugag R s n d – r S n d P – g r n; para kusalu – parâdiyani – vipudu

Mariveren s n r S – n d p P – m g r G m; dharalonata – vanakutu – htaïa…..ni vega

**

The Sangathi, the melodic variations that are improvised while rendering the Pallavi or Anupallavi (rarely in Carana), without, however, altering the Sahitya is a much used Anga in the Kritis of Sri Thyagaraja. But, Sangathi is not a major issue in the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry.

But, now while singing the Kriti Durusuga (Saveri) the Sangathis are developed by the performers to fill in the gaps that are without Sahitya, at the end of first Avarta of the Anupallavi. Here, the Sangathis are executed with a series of ’Aaa-karas’ (or non-verbal sounds); and, no words are added even after the ‘Aaa-karas’.

The second and Third Sangathis are developed to fill in the gaps, by breaking up the Sahitya phrase and elaborating its component-words in a variety of ways. And, by the gradual increase of the Svaras in two speeds (Druta), the Sangathis are progressed.  

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And, the Kriti dedicated to Devi Akhilandeshvari– ‘Shankari Shamkuru-Chandra mukhi- Akhilandeshvar-Shambhavi- Sarasijabhava vandite- Gauri-Amba’(Adi-Tisra-gati)- is indeed a masterpiece, a magnificent work of Art. The Kriti composed in highly lyrical Sanskrit is adorned most delightful phrases for describing the beauty, virtues and splendor of the Devi; and, for addressing her with a range of suggestive names.  

Sri Shyama Shastry ‘s classic Kriti ‘Shankari Shamkuru’ is an example of  his proficiency in Raga and Laya. This Kiti can be sung both in Rupaka and Ādi (Trishra -Gati) Taaas. The well-known phrase of Saveri ‘Dha-Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa’ featuring the ‘Jāru’ is , here brings out the grace. Also the Prasa ‘sāmagānalōlepāle-sadārthibhajana shīle’ adds to the lyrical beauty.

*

It is a simple prayer followed by many phrases, invoking the blessings of the Goddess.  There is joy, compassion and a sense of fulfillment (Dhanyata-bhava) in the Sahitya and in the Music as well. Unlike in some other Kritis, there is here neither sadness; nor pleading to the Mother to protect and rescue him from the miseries of life. He is requesting the Devi to grant happiness and well-being to all (Shamkuru). The sentiments of Utsukata (eagerness) and Vatsalya (filial affection towards  ones mother) are main here.

It is no surprise; this Kriti is very often sung in the Musical concerts.

  • Anupallavi
  • Sankata-harini; Ripu-vidarini; kalyani / Sada-nata-phala-dayike; Hara-nayike; Jagaj-janani
  • Carana (1, 2 and 3)
  • Jambu-pati-vilasini; Jagad-avanollasini; Kambu kandhare; Bhavani; Kapala-dharini; Shulini
  • Angaja-ripu-toshini; Akhila-bhuvana-poshini; Mangala prade; Mardani; Marala-sannibha gamani
  •  Syamakrshra sodari; Syamale; Satodari; Sama-gana-lole; Bale; Sadarti- bhanjana-shile

*

The Kriti ‘Janani natajana-paripalini’ (Saveri , Adi-Taala) is graced  with many upward  Gamaka-slides (Jaru) like ‘Dha-Pa-Dha / Ga-Ri-Sa’ ; ‘Sa-Sa-Sa/Ni-Dha-Pa’ ; and, the signature phrase ‘Dha-Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa’. The smooth flowing phrase ‘Dha-Dha-Dha-DhaRi-Ri-Ri-Ri’ adds to the beauty of the Kriti. The term ‘Bhavani’ is repeated twice in the Pallavi, as in many of his Kritis.

The Kiti ‘Sripathi mukha…’ begins on the elongated Tara-Sthayi note ‘Ri’ for ‘Śri

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Familiar Ragas

Sri Shyama Shastry has created compositions in the familiar and popular Ragas (apart from Kalyani, Anandabhairavi and Saveri); and, in the rare and rather unfamiliar Ragas as well.

Some of the popular Ragas he employed are Punnagavarali (3 Kritis); Gaulipantu (3 Kritis); Pharaju (2 Kritis and 2 Gitas); Madhyamavathi (2 Kritis and 1 Gita); Kedaragaula (2 Kritis); Shankarabharanam (2 Kritis); Begada (2 Kritis and 1 Varna); and, Purvikalyani (2 Kritis).

In each of these familiar Janya Ragas there is more than one composition; and, together they almost amount to 22 (18Kritis +3 Gitas+ 1Varnam).

Punnagavarali** Gaulipanthu                 Pharaju**Madhyamavathi

Kedaragaula**Shankarabharana

Begada**Purvikalyani

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 Ragas – each having a single composition

In addition to the familiar Janya Ragas, as mentioned above, Sri Shyama Shastry used 18 other such Ragas. But, he composed only one Kriti in each of these 18 Ragas.

Ragas each having a single Kriti

Note: (1) Figures in brackets indicate Mela number; (2) * indicates the composition is in Sanskrit; the rest of the compositions’ are in Telugu; (3) As regards Bhairavi, there is a Varnam besides the single Kriti

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Rare Ragas

Apart from the Mela-ragas and the familiar Janya Ragas, Sri Shyama Shastry has attempted a few rare Ragas, such as: Kalgada; Manji; and, Chintamani.

The notable feature of these Ragas is that they are eminently suitable for elaborations in the Chowka-kala rendering of the Kriti. And, Sri Shyama Shastry, of course, loved Vilamba-laya – the spacious, leisurely and gracious movements.

The Kritis composed by Sri Shyama Shastry in the Ragas Kalgada, Manji and in Karnataka-kapi are regarded as Eka-Raga-Kritis. That is so say, these are either the sole or the only noticeable Kritis in that particular Raga.

The Raga Kalgada has a long, but an obscure history. During the time of Sri Vidyaranya (14th century- Sangita-Sudha) Hejjuji was considered a Mela. In the A-sampuna Mela-paddathi, the 13th Mela was named as Gaya-Hejjali. And, later during the 17th century, when the Mela-kartha system came into being, the Sampurna-Hejjuji was transformed into the 13 Mela -Gayakapriya, which has all the Shuddha-svaras, except Antara-Gandhara (Ga). Sri Subbarama Dikshitar mentions this Hejjuji-raga, as a Janya of the Gayakapriya.

In most of the references, the Raga Kalgada (or Kalkada) is classified as a Janya of the 13th Mela Gayakapriya, with the Arohana (ascending scale) S -R1-G3-P-D1-N1-S; and with the Avarohana (descending scale) S-N1-D1-P-G3 –R1-S. But, some prefer to treat Kalgada as a derivative of the 16th Mela– Chakravaka.

In Western mode, the Raga Kalagada is described as a Hexatone; please click here for a demonstration.

The Kriti ‘Parvathi ninnu’ in the Raga Kalgada is very rarely heard in the concerts. Here, in this Kriti, the Svarakshara Pa-Da-Sa is emphasized in the Aroha (ascent of the note). And, the Shuddha –Nishada is also extended.

And, even while it is rendered, some sing the Kriti in a very slow tempo, by treating Kalgada as a Vivadi-raga. But, some others render the Non-Vivadi version, in a lively tempo, by treating Kalgada as a Janya of 16th Mela – Chakravaka.

*

The Kriti ‘Brovavamma’ set to Misra-Chapu-Taala is often cited to illustrate the Lakshanas (characteristics) of the Raga Manji.

[Sri Thyagaraja is said to have composed a Kriti ‘Samayamu-emarake-manasa’ in Raga Kalagada; and, Sri Dikshitar a Kriti ‘Ramachandram-pahimam’ in Raga Manji.]

*

As regards the Raga Chintamani, which is deemed as a Janya of the 56th Mela Shanmukhapriya, it is an original contribution of Sri Shyama Shastry. The context in which he created this Raga is, of course, legendary; and is much cited in all his biographies.

Raga Chintamani evokes Karuna-Rasa, pleading with the Mother Goddess to come to his rescue at a testing and difficult juncture in his life. Perhaps the only well known Kriti in the Raga Chintamani’ Devi brova samayamide’, is usually rendered in slow well measured phrases with clear diction.

But, I am given to understand, presently this Kriti is sung in different styles, with different Svara-sanchara (notations) by various Vidwans.

In any case, the Raga and its Kriti need to be handled deftly; because, Dhatu-svara-prayogas and Vakra-svara-prayogas (zigzag movements) are built into its structure.

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One of the reasons adduced to explain the relatively lesser number of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry that are rendered during the popular music concerts is that the performer should truly be an adept in the presentation of the Sahitya with appropriate Mano-dharma and in Vilamba-kala, structured around intricate patterns of Gamakas, Laya and Taala, as also adorned with varied Angas (elements) such as Svara-sahitya, Chittasvaras and Madhyama-kala-sahitya.

Some his Ragas like Kalkada and Manji, which are very close to other Ragas, need to be handled carefully if their true personality (Raga-svarupa) is to be preserved and brought out aptly. In all these cases, the authentic shade of a Raga (Raga-chaya) can be presented only if its Svaras are sung with appropriate Gamakas.

And, the listeners in the auditorium (Sahrudaya) also need to have adequate knowledge, to be able to appreciate the Music that is being presented.

shyama shastry first day cover

In the Next Part we shall talk about the Kshetra Kritis and Nava-ratna-malika Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry

Continued

In the

Next Part

Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet

 
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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Four

Continued from Part Three

Continued in Part Five

Sri Shyama Shastry – Life

Bangaru Kamkshi

Name

The person who is celebrated as Sri Shyama Shastry was named, on his birth, as Venkatasubrahmanya; and, was fondly called Shyama Krishna by his parents Visvanatha Iyer (Visvanathayya, Viswanatha Sastry) and Venkalekshmi (Vengu-Lakshmi). The ‘Venkata’ in his name referred to his grandfather Venkatadri Iyer; and, ‘Subrahmanya’ was because he was born under Krittika Nakshatra, presided over by Lord Kartikeya (Subrahmanya). Since the baby was dark in complexion; but, lovely to look at like Krishna, he was affectionately called Shyama Krishna.

And, later in his life, after he gained fame as an Uttama Vaggeyakara, composer par excellence, he came to be recognized and addressed as Sri Shyama Shastry. And, Shyama Krishna was his Ankita-Mudra (signature) built into the concluding lines (Birudu) of the Charana of his Kritis and other compositions, either by himself or by his disciples, at a later stage, perhaps to conform to the practice that had then into vogue, as Sri S Raja, his descendant remarked.

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Birth

In most of the books and the other forms of writing, the date of birth of Sri Shyama Shastry is mentioned as 26 April 1762 C E. In terms of the Panchanga for that date, it works out to Salivahana-Shaka-Chitrabhanu-Samvathsara-1684, Vaishakha-masa, Shukla-paksha, Dwitiya/Akshaya-Tritiya, Indu-vara (Monday), with Krittika Nakshatra up to 11.06 A.M.

However, Sri Subbarama Dikshitar, in his monumental work Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini, under the segment  Vaggeyakara Caritam (pages 14/15) mentions that Sri Shyama Shastry was born on in the year 1763 C E, in the Saka-Savathsara Chitrabanu, under Krittika Nakshatra, Mesha Rasi on Ravi-vara (Sunday). This almost corresponds to 20 February 1763 Saka-Savathsara-1684-Chitrabanu; Phalguna-masa, Shukla-paksha-Sapthami- Krittika Nakshatra up to 5.30 A.M. next day-Mesha Rasi – Sunday.

Prof. Sambamoorthy has also accepted and adopted 1763 as the year of birth of Sri Shyama Shastry.

shyama sastry old house 2

Shyama shastri birth place

Sri Shyama Shastry’s birth took place at the sacred town of Tiruvarur, also known as Sripuram and Kamalaalaya-khsetra (the abode of the Goddess kamalamba), in the Kaveri delta through which the Odambokki River flows.

Tiruvarur has the unique distinction and honor of being the birthplace of Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar and of Sri Shyama Shastry – the Grand Trinity – the Samgita Trimurthi of Karnataka music tradition.

Tiruvavuru 2

The forefathers

The forefathers of Sri Shyama Shastry were described as Auttara-Vada –Deshastha-Vadamal (Northern) Smartha Brahmins. They belonged to Gautama Gotra; Bodhayana-Sutra.

It is said; they originally belonged to a place called Cumbam (Kambham) in the Karnool District of Andhra Pradesh; and, were hence called Cumbattar, the priests (Bhattar) from Cumbam. Later, they migrated to Kâñchipuram, located on the Vegavathy River, in Chingleput District.  Here, they were appointed as the priests (Archakas) at the Sri Kamakshi temple; wherein was placed the most precious idol, Bangaru Kamakshi (Svarna Kamakshi), made largely out of gold.

*

Bangaru Kamakshi

This most pleasing and lovely looking Bangaru Kamakshi , the golden UtsavaVigraha of Kanchi Kamakshi, very dear to the devotees, was praised with many epithets, such as: Svarnangi, swarnambika Shukahastha, Suthlinga-vallabha and Dharma-Devi, etc.

The Devi is depicted as holding a parrot in her right hand (Shukahastha), while her left hand is slightly over her hip, is standing (Sthanaka) gracefully assuming a Tri-bhanga posture with her right leg turned slightly inward.

Bangaru Kamakshi 2

But, with the fall of the Vijayanagar Empire in 1565, Kanchipuram suffered severe unrest, political turmoil and anarchy for a period of over two decades. By about 1640, the town fell to the Muslim sultanate of Golconda; but, three years later, they lost it to the Shaws of Bijapur. The Golconda Sultanate regained Kanchipuram in 1676, mainly due to the intervention of Shivaji Maharaj. And again, with the conquest of the Mughals led by Aurangzeb in October 1687, the Golconda rulers were driven out. And, anarchy prevailed , pestering the region for a long time; causing considerable damage to the city of Kanchipuram.

Fearing rampage , damage and destruction to the temple and to the idols by the Muslim hordes, the Archakas buried the temple-treasures, concealed in the temple Drums (Udal) ; and, left Kanchipuram, in the year 1566,  along with their families , in groups, carrying with them the most valuable and sacred image of Bangaru Kamakshi and the Chaturbhuja  Utsava-vigraha..

 *

It seems the idol of Bangaru Kamakshi was virtually smuggled out of the Kanchi-temple by a set of priests. The image was wrapped in layers of cloth; and the shiny surface of the image was smeared with Punugu (Civet-oil-cream), an aromatic substance, which is black in colour. And, the image, rendered dark; made to look like a sick child affected with small pox, was placed in a covered palanquin; and, was taken out ,  as if for medical treatment.

[Even to this day, the idol is regularly smeared with Punugu paste; and made to appear dark.]

After the Bangaru Kamakshi was shifted out, a replica of her feet (Paduka) was symbolically installed at the temple.

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Migration and wandering

Over the next several decades spread over a couple of centuries, the generations after generations of the KanchiArchaka-families wandered, almost like nomads, fleeing from forest to forest, from town to town protecting, safeguarding and worshiping Bangaru Kamakshi, with great devotion and care.

*

After leaving Kanchipuram, the Archaka-families for some time stayed hidden in the forests out of sheer fear; and, wandered through several forests thereafter, over a period of twenty-eight years, before they reached and settled down at the Gingee Fort (Chenge-Kota), in 1594, at the invitation of its ruler Santana Maharajah.

After a stay of fifteen years at the Gingee fortress, the Archaka-families moved southwards (1609); and, stayed in the nearby forests for another fifteen years (1624).

Thereafter, in 1624, the Archaka-families settled in Wodeyara-palya, situated in the heart of the forest adjoining Gingee. The area was then under the rule of Thanjavur Maharaja Sri Pratapah Simha.

Here, at Wodeyara-palya (Udiyar-Pallayam), the community of the Archakas stayed for as long a period as seventy years, till 1694.  

And, after staying in Anakkudy (near Kumbakonam) for a period of 15 years (1709), they moved along with Bangaru Kamakshi to the town of Vijayapuram, where they spent another fifteen years (1724). From Vijayapuram they passed through Nagore, Madapuram and Sikkil, staying in each place for a period of five years (till about 1739).

Their primary objective was to safeguard Bangaru Kamakshi; and, ultimately, somehow, to take her back to her original abode in Kanchipuram, safely; and establish her there.

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At Tiruvarur

Thereafter, the then generation of Kanchi-Archakas moved in to Tiruvarur, where they stayed for a long period of forty-five years (till about 1784). And, at Tiruvarur, the idol of Bangaru Kamakshi was kept in a specially arranged Mantapa, within the complex of Sri Thyagaraja-swami temple.

It was here while in Tiruvarur, Sri Visvanatha Shastry, the then head of the Archaka-family, and his wife Venkalekshmi (Vengu-Lakshmi), were blessed with a son in about the year 1763. They were at that time, 25 years and 20 years of age. And, the boy born at Tiruvavur later gained great fame as Sri Shyama Shastry.  Sri Visvanatha Shastri couple later got a daughter; and, named her as Meenakshi.

By about the year 1781, the Kaveri delta again came under the threat of impending invasion; and, this time by Hyder Ali and his allies. Sensing danger that might harm Bangaru Kamakshi, Sri Visvanatha Shastry approached Tulaja Raja II Saheb Bhosle (1765-1787) the then ruler of Thanjavur, with a request to provide safety and protection to Bangaru Kamakshi within the walls of his fortress.  Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati Swamigal – V (1746-1783 AD) also approved the request.

[Those were stressful times. Because of the uncertain political conditions and the impending threat of invasion by the Muslims, Kanchipuram was not deemed safe. Hence, the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham had moved out of Kancipuram. And, after prolonged camps at several places, by about 1760, it moved to Thanjavur at the invitation of its ruler Raja Pratapa Simha. But, shortly thereafter, the Acharya Sri Chandrasekharendra Saraswati-V decided to relocate the Peetham at Kumbhakonam , far down South, on the banks of the Kaveri.

By about 1781, Kanchipuram was again under the threat of invasion. During that time, Thanjavur under the Maratha rule was relatively a safer place. Hence, many scholars, musicians, artists and others who felt threatened by persecution migrated to Thanjavur from Mysore, Andhra, Maharashtra and other regions of South India.]

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At Thanjavur

After the King acceded to Sri Visvanatha Shastry’s request, the family shifted from Tiruvarur to Thanjavur in about the year 1783/84. By then, Shyama Shastry (born 1763) had grown into a bright young man of about twenty years; and, was on the threshold of his life. And, his Upanayanam had earlier been conducted in Tiruvarur while he was a boy of seven years of age.

At Thanjavur, the idol of Bangaru Kamakshi was initially housed in the Nataraja Mantapa of Konkanisvara-Svami Temple. And, later for about three years it was kept in the Pratapa-Veera-Hanumar temple (Moolai Hanumar Kovil).

During the time of Raja Tulaja II a new temple for Bangaru Kamakshi was built in about 1786/7. Later, a Raja-gopura was caused to be constructed by his successor Serfoji II in 1788.

Bangaru Kamakshi temple

On the occasion of the Kumbha-abhishekam of the newly built temple, the Raja honoured Sri Visvanatha Shastry; and gifted him with a Jahgir (free leasehold over a large extent of land) including an Agraharam and cultivable lands He also granted the temple an endowment of thirty-two Velis (acres) of land as Sarvamanyam.

*

Thus, Bangaru Kamakshi, the Uthsava-Vigraha of Kanchi Kamakshi,  after having moved out of Kanchipuram in the year 1566, wandered over hills, dales, forests, towns and villages for  nearly over two hundred and twenty years , before she could have a permanent temple of her own  at Thanjavur in 1786 .  But, even after a very long and hazardous journey, she could not get back to her original home in Kanchipuram.

Nevertheless, the devotion, dedication and the sacrifices made by several generations of Kanchi Archakas in safeguarding their Dearest Goddess is truly admirable and astounding. I doubt if there is a parallel anywhere and at any time in this world.

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Early Years

Sri Shyama Shastry had his initial training in Telugu and Sanskrit from his father. His Upanayana was performed at the age of seven. He got his preliminary lessons in music from his maternal uncle; and, starting from Sarali-svaras he gained familiarity with Svaras (Svara-jnana). He was a bright young lad; quick to grasp; and good at retaining what he had learnt. He was also gifted with a sonorous voice. Though he did not come a family of musicians; his parents did not discourage his study and practice of music.

Sri Shyama Shastry, even in his boyhood, was of pious nature. At home, he and his sister Meenakshi together decorated and rendered Puja to a Pancha-loha image of Krishna. It appears the siblings, who grew up together, were very close and affectionate to each other. The sister died rather early in her life. Sri Shyama Shastry often recalls her lovingly, tagging her along with his AnkitaMudra Shyama-Krishna, with expressions such as ‘Shyama-Krishna-sodari’ and ‘Shyama-Krishna-sahodari’.

*

Sri Shyama Shastry, later in his life, gained fame as an eminent musician, scholar and Sri Vidya Upasaka; but, his formal training in these fields began rather late.

It was only after his family moved to Thanjavur (in about 1783-84) that the life and career of Sri Shyama Shastry began to blossom and flower. It all started after he was about twenty years of age.

As his father was the Archaka at the Bangaru Kamakshi temple, he began to associate himself with the Devi Puja and other temple-rituals. And, he also did develop a sort of a bond with the Goddess, regarding her as his Ista-devatha and his Mother. Sometimes he used to sing to her in sheer joy with his impromptu songs of playfulness and attractive Laya patterns.

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Sangita Swamin

The momentous turning point in Sri Shyama Shastry’s life came about with the very fortunate and blessed entry of Sangita Swamin .This Swamin was an adept in Samgita-shastra and Bharatha-shastra. He was also an ardent Sri Vidya Upasaka.

Sangita Swamin, who came from the Northern regions, was said to be a Telugu speaking Brahmin itinerant (Parivrajaka) Sanyasin. During the year 1784, for the purpose of his annual Chaturmasya-Deeksha period of retreat, he had camped in Thanjavur. And, it was here that he came upon the bright looking youth – Shyama Shastry; and, was instantly impressed with his demeanour, his pious nature, guileless devotion to the Mother Goddess, and his innate musical talent of a very rare kind. He took upon himself the task of training and guiding the young Shyama Shastry.

[Sri Subbarama Dikshitar mentions that the training period lasted for three years. However, according to Prof. Sambamoorthy, Sangita Swamin was with his pupil only for four months of Chaturmasya period.]

According to Sri Subbarama Dikshitar, Sri Shyama Shastry was under the tutelage of Sangita Swamin for a period of about three years. During this intense, invigorating and highly charged phase of his life, Sri Shyama Shastry was initiated by Sangita Swamin into the mysteries of Sri Vidya and the worship of Sri Chakra.

Sangita Swamin also taught his disciple all the intricacies of the Lakshana (theoretical principles) and in-depth understanding of the elements of the Lakshya (practice) of the Samgita-shastra, such as the prastara-krama, the appropriate manners of rendering of Sahitya, Raga and Taala.

At the conclusion of the teaching-period; and, before departing for Varanasi, Sangita Swamin, highly pleased with his disciple, while gifting him some very valuable Lakshana-granthas – the texts concerning music (Gandharva-vidya) – blessed him; and, predicted that he was destined to become a very illustrious noble person, blessed by Sri Kamakshi Devi.

Pachchi-mirium Adi-Appaiah

Further, Sangita Swamin also advised his pupil saying: that you have learnt enough of the Lakshanas as per the Samgita-shastra (theoretical aspects of Music); and, it is now the right time to listen to as many of the fine musicians of the area as possible. And, the Swamin suggested that he might cultivate the friendship of the musician (Asthana-Vidwan) of the Thanjavur Royal Court (Samsthanam), Sri Pachchi-mirium Adi-Appaiah; and, carefully listen to his scholarly music as often as possible.

[Sri Pachchi Mirium Adi Appaiah (1740-1833), a Kannada MadhwaBrahmin, was a scholar and composer of great repute. He was consulted on various aspects of musicology by none other than Sri Thyagaraja himself. Sri Adi Appaiah followed the great musician Melathur Veerabhadriah; and composed several Kritis in many Rakthi-ragas. His Aknita-Mudra was ‘Sri Venkataramana’.

It is said; the Raga-alapana and Madhyama-kala-Pallavi rendering (paddhati) were standardized and gained greater importance mainly because of him. He was also well versed in Taala-prakaranam and in analyzing complicated Gamaka patterns.  His Bhairavi Ata-taala Varnam Viriboni is, of course, a classic.

Though Sri Shyama Shastry did not directly study under Sri Adi Appaiah, some point out that he analysed the compositions of Adi Appaiah; and this greatly influenced his style, as  could be seen in his famous Svarajati in the Raga Bhairavi, ‘Kamakshi-amba’.]

[It is said; Sri Shyama Shastry learnt playing on the Veena and the elements of Bharata-shastra from Mahadeva Annavi, a reputed Natyacharya in the Royal Court of King Tulaja II of Thanjavur. This Mahadeva Annavi was, in fact, none other than Subbarayan, the father of the famed Tanjore-Quartet – Chinnaya; Ponnayya; Sivanandam; and, Vadivelu. ]

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As instructed by his Guru, Sri Shyama Shastry did meet Sri Adi Appaiah. And the two became great friends, despite the difference in their age, their standing in the society; and, in the field of Music.

In the year 1784, Sri Adi Appaiah was about 45 years of age; and, Sri Shastry was a young man of about 20 years. And, at that stage, Sri Adi Appaiah was a highly acclaimed scholar and an authority on Lakshana aspects of Music; and, was also a well-known composer. While, at that time, Sri Shastry was a young person with hardly any background of music; and, who was just  then gingerly stepping into the main arena of Music. And yet, there was a great mutual respect and admiration between the two.

Sri Shyama Shastry also made friendship with Vina Krishnayya, the son of Sri Adi Appaiah. And, the two used to spend a lot of time together singing and analyzing music. Vina Krishnayya was also a famous composer and an accomplished Veena player. Sri Shyama Shastry appreciated a composition of Krishnayya, which was set in 30 Avartas of Dhruva-taala, but could be rendered in six other Taalas.

In that regard Sri Subbarama Dikshitar mentions that Vina Krishnayya had composed three Prabandhas of the type Saptalesvarm. The unique feature of this composition was that though it was set in Dhruva-taala, it was in conformity with the six other Taalas. And, when the commencing part of the Prabandha is sung, the fist beat (Matra) of all the Taalas coincide.

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As Archaka and musician

In due course, Sri Shyama Shastry succeeded his father as the principal (Pradhana) Archaka of the Bangaru Kamakshi temple; and, was quite successful in managing the temple affairs.

By then, he was fairly well settled in life; and, had a steady income from the large tracts of lands endowed to his family by the Kings of Thanjavur. He seems to have enjoyed a contented peaceful life with his family. Sri Shyama Shastry’s wife was a very caring and a devoted person. She was also a Devi-Upasaki; and observed the same discipline and principles that her husband followed.

Shyama shastry house 1 Shyama Shastri house 2

He had a house of his own. And also  had enough income to take care of his family and other needs; and, was not caught up in the mesh of financial and such other problems. That might perhaps be one of the reasons why he did not go after seeking patronage, honors and gifts etc.  He was also not in need of using his expertise in Music as a means for earning a living. He was also rather reluctant to accept many disciples, for other reasons.

Over the years, Sri Shyama Shastry became a well-known and a highly appreciated musician, scholar and a composer. He was admired and respected by the King as also by his worthy contemporaries like Sri Thyagaraja and Sri Dikshitar.  He did maintain contacts with the other two of the Trinity; and often discussed about their latest compositions.

Bangaru Kamakshi 9

Intense devotion

At the same time, with the growing association with the deity, Sri Shyama Shastry developed a uniquely profound mystical bond with his Ista-devata, the Bangaru Kamakshi, treating her like a person, a living goddess (Pratyaksha-devata) in whom he could confide as a child does with its loving Mother.  He was charged with intense devotion and a poignant longing for the Mother

It is said; he would spend much time with the deity, talking to her; pouring his heart out in guileless love through songs, spontaneously; imploring (karuna-bhava) her repeatedly to protect him – Kamakshi Bangaru Kamakshi nannu brovave, O Kamakshi Bangaru Kamakshi. At times he would, oblivious to the outside world, converse with his Divine Mother, pleading with her, and cajoling her with sweet-sounding songs.

He called out to Her in ecstasy through countless other epithets, as : Amba; Jagadamba; Talli, Katyayani; Kaumari; Kalyani; Himadrisute; Akilandeswari ; Lokasakshini ; Brihannayaki; Indumukhi;  Kunda-mukundaradana; Bangaru-bomma; Bimbadhara; Niradaveni; Saroja-dala-netri; Meenanetri;Meena-lochana; Sarasija-bhava-hari-hara-nuta; Mavani-sevita; Dharma-samvardhini; and, Ahi-bhushana-pannaga-bhushana and so on.

On Fridays and on other occasions specially associated with the Mother Goddess, he would sit in front on the Deity, immersed in Sri Vidya Upasana, meditating on her sublime and supreme Divine form, with tears rolling down his cheeks. During those intense moments of transcendental experience, he sang many melodious songs in sheer ecstasy. Thus, over a period, Sri Shyama Shastry was transformed almost into a spiritual personage.

Kanchi Kamakshi 3

Person

Sri Shyama Shastry was a dark, tall, well-built, handsome, serious looking person, rather absorbed in himself. And, he had a slight rotund around his waist. He was indeed a very impressive personality. His very presence commanded respect.

Sri Shyama Shastry was a Devi Upasaka; and was a deeply religious person who adhered to the prescriptions of the scriptures.  He always had a dash of vermilion (Devi-prasada) right between his eye brows and stripes of Vibhuthi across his broad forehead. He sported a tuft (Kudumi); and, appeared with stubble on his chin, because he shaved only once in a fortnight, just as an orthodox Brahmin would do.

He was always dressed in a gold-laced (zari) white dhoti; and, a bright red shawl as the upper garment (uttariya). He habitually wore sparkling diamond karna-kundalas on his ear lobes; gold studded Rudraksha-mala around his neck; and, wore rings on his fingers. He carried a cane with a silver handle.

He was fond of chewing betel leaf (paan); and, his lips were dark red. He, therefore, is usually shown in his portraits along with a paan petti, a small box to hold leaves and nuts, by his side

Sri Shyama Shastry’s Tambura had a yali-mukham; not usually found in other Tambura depictions.

shyama shastry 23kf4v8

The portraits of the Karnataka Samgita Trinity created by Shri S Rajam, a celebrated Musicologist and painter, are universally acclaimed archetype iconic figures; and, are even worshiped.  He studied and researched into his subjects thoroughly; and, grasped the essence of their character and achievements. His portraits therefore bring out not mere the physical resemblance of the subjects, but more importantly the essence of their very inner being.

His portrait of Sri Shyama Shastry was based upon an old sketch that had almost worn-out. Shri Rajam’s portrayal is the best among its genre. It brings out the colorful personality of Sri Shastry brilliantly.  His portrait of Sri Shyama Shastry eventually turned into an Indian postal stamp.

shyamashastri

Sri S Raja, a descendent of Sri Shyama Shastry, narrates, about the old and original portrait of Sri Shyama Shastry that was in his family.

There is the story of the portrait of Shyama Sastri. Its original portrait is in my possession; and, it is the only original from which all published portraits have been derived.

On the 7th February, 1827, seven days after his wife had dies, he knew through his knowledge of Astrology that he had reached the last day of his life. This prompted him earlier that day to send for a friend of his who was a good painter, and asked him to draw a portrait of himself.

His friend agreed and commenced the portrait. But after drawing Shyama Shastri’s face, his friend decided to complete the portrait another day.

Little did he realize that this was not to be, as Shyama Shastry would pass away later that day, and the picture would have to be completed from memory later.

The original portrait so completed is reproduced here, and has suffered fading and erasure in parts in the centuries that have since gone by.

syama-sastri-original-portrait

But what is of interest here is that the small original drawing of the face has been stuck on a larger sheet on which the rest of the detail has been added. The original drawing can be seen clearly demarcated as a rectangle on the portrait so completed.

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Association with his contemporaries

Sri Shyama Shastry maintained close contact with Sri Thyagaraja as also with Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar. 

He often used to call on Sri Thyagaraja at his home in Tiruvaruru; and, spend much time with him, discussing about Music and related issues.

Sri Thyagaraja was also familiar with the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry. It is said; some disciples of Sri Shyama Shastry while on a visit to Tiruvarur rendered the compositions their teacher before Sri Thyagaraja.

Sri Subbaraya Shastry, the second son of Sri Shyama Shastry also used to meet Sri Thygaraja; and sang before him one of his newly composed kritis – Ninnu-vinagatigana (Kalyani). Sri Thyagaraja appreciated the young man’s talent.

Then, for some time, Sri Subbaraya Shastry was a student of Sri Thyagaraja; before he associated with Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar.

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Sri Shyama Shastry and Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar had much in common. They were both Sri-Vidya-Upaskas; and, by nature, both were rather recluse and reserved.  Most of their compositions were in praise of the Devi, the Mother Goddess.

Sri Shyama Shastry was familiar with the compositions of Sri Dikshitar; and, admired them for their structural elegance, beauty of the Sahitya and their intensely close association with Sri Vidya.

And, Sri Shyama Shastry liked the compositions of Sri Dikshitar so much, as he put his son Subbaraya Shastry under him for training in Music.

Thus, Subbaraya Shastry gained fame as a composer of superb Kritis that reflect the rhythmic beauties of Sri Shyama Shastry as also the Raga richness of Sri Dikshitar.

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Justice T L Venkatarama Aiyar mentions that Chinnaswami and Baluswami often used to visit their elder brother Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar at Thanjavur. And, and on such occasions all of them and Sri Shyama Shastry used to associate themselves in Music recitals.

He mentions that on one such occasion, all of them combined to restructure and complete a Chowka-varnamSami Ninne Kori – in Raga Sriranjani, that was earlier composed by Sri Ramaswami Dikshitar.

[The Chowka-varnams are usually set in slower tempo (Chowka-kalam); and, have longer lines and pauses, enabling  apt portrayal of the Bhava of the Varnam . All its Svaras are accompanied by Sahitya (lyrics) and Sollukattus which are made up of rhythmic syllables.]

The Carana of that Chowka-varnam had only one Svara passage as composed by Sri Ramaswami Dikshitar; while its others Caranas seemed to have been lost. Sri Shyama Shastry felt that as good piece as that should not be allowed to die   merely because it is incomplete.  And, therefore, he himself composed the second passage of Svaras; and, then called upon Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar and his brother Chinnaswami to duly complete the Varna. Thereafter, Chinnaswami composed the third passage; while Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar composed the fourth and the last passage; and, perfected the composition that was initially created by his father.

This association of Sri Shyama Shastry and Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar in Thanjavur is one of the most fascinating episodes in the history of South Indian Music.

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Anecdotes

There are numerous anecdotes associated with Sri Shyama Shastry. And, just to recount a few, in brief:

Once, Kesavayya, a famous musician from Bobbili (who had arrogated to himself the pompous   title – Bhoolaka-chapa-chutti – the one who rolled the world into a common mat) challenged the Thanjavur Court musicians in the handling intricate Taalas. He was known to be an expert in that field.

Sri Shyama Shastry was requested by the King to face Kesavayya and to defeat him; saving the prestige and honour of the Thanjavur Court.

Before facing him, on the night previous to the contest,  Sri Shyama Shastry shut himself in the temple, meditated, prayed devotedly to Bangaru Kamakshi pleading with the Mother come to his rescue; and, sang  the now-famous “Devi-brova-samayamide’  (Chintamani Raga, Adi Taala),    “Devi ! Now it is the time for you to protect me”.

The contest ended with Sri Shyama Shastry winning it handsomely, when he outclassed the challenger by displaying his virtuosity and creativity in rendering varied types of rare Tanas with great ease and delight.

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And again at Nagapattinam, Sri Shyama Shastry is said to have defeated the challenger Appukutti Nattuvanar who was proficient in Music and Dance.

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While on a Visit to Pudukottai, an unknown person suggested to Sri Shyama Shastry to have a Darshan of Devi Meenakshi of Madurai; compose and sing songs celebrating her glory and splendour.

Accordingly, Sri Shastry went to Madurai, sat in front of Meenakshi Amman and composed a garland of gem-like nine splendid Kritis – the Nava-ratna-malika, exuding Bhakthi-rasa, composed mostly in Rakthi-ragas , set to alluring  rhythmic structures and adorned with ornamental Angas like Gamaka, Chittasvara, Svara-sahitya and rhetorical beauties like Yati, Prasa etc.

These include most delightful Kritis dedicated to Devi Meenakshi, such as:

Saroja-dala-netri (Shankarabharanam), Mariveregati (Anandabhairavi), Devi-Meenanetri (Shankarabharanam), Nannu-brovu-Lalita (Lalita), Devi-ni-pada-sarasa (Kambhoji), Mayamma (Natakuranji), Mayamma (Ahiri) , Meena lochana-brova  (Dhanyasi) and Karuna-chupavamma (Sri).

*Madurai Meenakshi amman

Descendents

Sri Shyama Shastri   had two sons:  Panju Shastri and Subbaraya Shastri.  Each, in a way, continued the legacy of Sri Shyama Shastri.

After the demise his father, Panju Shastri was appointed as the Archaka of the Bangaru Kamakshi Temple; while Subbaraya Shastri pursued Musical career on the lines of his father.  

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Family Tree 10004

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Panju Shastri had two wives and six sons. By the first wife, he had three sons: Ramakrishana Shastri, Sambasiva Shastri and Annaswami Shastri.

Ramakrishna Shastri’s son Natesha Shastri succeeded his father as the Archaka of the Bangaru Kamakshi temple. Natesha Shastri is said to have safeguarded several valuable and rare manuscripts prepared by Sri Shyama Shastri on the theory and practice of Karnataka Samgita. These related particularly to Taala-prastara, illustrated with the help of diagrams, the sixteen elements (Shodasanga) of the Prastara Krama.

The second son Sambasiva Shastri was a reputed scholar, well versed in Vedanta.

The third son, Annaswami Shastri., was given in adoption to Subbaraya Shastri, since he was childless.

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As regards the sons from the second wife of Panju Shastri, they also were three in number.  The eldest Annaswami Shastry and the youngest Arunachala Shastri died rather young and childless. And, the middle-son, Subrahmanya Shastri and his son Ganapathi Shastri lived in Thanjavur.

Subbaraya shastri

Subbaraya Shastri

Shastri (1803-1862), the second son of Sri Shyama Shastri, followed the footsteps of his father; and, developed into a renowned composer and scholar.

He indeed had the great fortunate and unique distinction of having been trained in Samgita-Shastra by all three Grand Masters of the Karnataka Samgita: his father Sri Shyama Shastri, Sri Thyagaraja and Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar. His compositions are often described as the Tri-veni-sangama, the confluence of the unique features of the Kritis his three Gurus, the Trinity. ‘Kumara’ was his Ankita-Mudra.

Subbaraya Shastri has composed more than 40 Krtis. But only a few Krtis are available now. And, most of those  Krtis  are in praise of the Mother Goddess.

His krtis are also adorned with  decorative Angas like Svara-sahitya, Madhyamakala Sahitya etc,;  and with literary devices like Dvitlyakshara and Antyakshara Prasa.

[For a short life-sketch of Subbaraya Shastri, please click here. And, for a detailed analysis of his Kritis , please click here.]

It is said; in his two Kritis – Venkata-saila-vihara (Hamirkalyani) and Ninnu-sevinchina (Yadukulakambhoji) – in the long drawn out Vilamba-kala – Sri Subbaraya Shastry combined the styles of his father (Svara-sahitya and Svarakshara) and of his Guru Sri Thyagaraja (Sangathis).

And his Janani Ninnuvina  (Reethigowla) and Sankari-Neeve (Begada) are highly acclaimed for the delightful harmony of Raga-bhava and Sahitya.

He was versatile in other forms of Music as well. He learnt to play violin from a musician at the East India Company; and, is said to have become quite proficient in it.

He also gained familiarity with the Hindustani Music from the Maratha musicians Kokilakanta Meruswami and Ramadasa Swami, who were then the Vidvans at the Thanjavur Samsthanam. The traces of its influence can be seen in his Kritis Venkata-Shaila-Vihara (Hamir Kalyani) and Kamalamba (Desiya-Todi).

Since Subbaraya Shastri-couple had no children, they adopted Annaswami Shastri, the third son of Panju Shastri, as their own son.

After the demise of his father, by about 1834, Subbaraya Shastri along with his wife and son moved to Kanchipuram, where he stayed for about ten years or more. And, thereafter, they shifted to Triplicane in Madras; and, stayed there for only one year. It was while he was in Triplicane; Subbaraya Shastri composed the Kriti Ninnu-sevinchina (Yadukula-kambhoji), in praise of Sri Parthasarathy, the presiding Deity of the temple there.

He visited Madurai several times; and performed in the Meenakshi Amman temple.

Subbaraya Shastry taught violin to his son Annaswami Shastri; the two often used to gave duet performances.

It appears, Subbaraya Shastri also taught vocal music to Thanjavur Kamakshi Amma (c. 1810–90), the grandmother of Veena Dhanammal; and, Kanchi Kachiappa Sastri, the guru of Dhanakoti Ammal.

Among his other disciples were : Chandragiri Rangacharulu, also known as fiddle Rangacharulu;  and,Tachur Singarcharulu – the cousin of Fiddle Rangacharulu

Then, Subbaraya Shastry was appointed as the Samasthana Vidwan in the Udayar-palayam Zamin; where he was till his death in 1862.

Just as his grandfather Shyama Shastri did, Subbaraya Shastri could foresee his end. After performing the morning Sandhya-vandanam, he poured water on the floor saying ‘Dattam’; and, said that he would live only for two more hours. The Zamin and other pleaded with him; but, failed to persuade him to change his decision.

When asked about his last wish, Sri Subbaraya Shastri said:’ I have nothing to ask. The Ambal-anugraham has always been there on me; what more can I ask? ‘

A few minutes after that, he breathed his last at 8.00 AM on Dashami of Krishna-paksha of Chapa (Magha) masa of the Durmathi-nama-samvathsara 1783 (which nearly works out to 23 February 1862).

[ For a detailed  study  of Sri Subbaraya Shastri’s compositions, please do read An analytical study of the Kritis of  Sri Subbaraya Sastri, a Doctoral thesis by Dr. Smt. V. Veena Lakshmi]

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Annaswami Shastri (1827-1900)

Annaswami Shastri, the son of Panju Shastri was born just a couple of months after the demise of his grandfather Sri Shyama Shastry. He was initially named as Shyama Krishna, in memory of his grandfather.  But, later he came to be known as Annaswami Shastri.

He was given in adoption to his uncle Subbaraya Shastri, who educated him in Kavya, Vyakarana, Alamkara and in Samgita (Music). He was also taught to sing and also to play on violin. At times, he and Subbaraya Shastri used to perform violin duets.

Annaswami Shastri  began to compose Tana-varnas right from his youth. Among his compositions, the Daru Varna ‘Kaminchi-yunnadira’ (Kedaragaula, Rupaka-taala); and the Kriti ‘Inkevaru’ (Sahana) are well known.

The Svara-sahitya for the Kriti ‘Palinchu-Kamakshi Pavani’ (Madhyamavathi); and, ‘Pahi Girija-sute’ (Anandabhairavi) are said to be his contributions.

Annaswami Shastri used to sing the Svara-Sahitya of the Kriti in the manner of a duo, where one sings the Svaras and the other the Sahitya, in succession.

After the demise of his father, Annaswami Shastri was appointed as the Asthana Vidwan of the Udayar-palayam Zamin.

As a teacher; he taught violin and vocal to his son Shyama Shastri II, Sundârambâl, mother of Veena Dhanammâl; and Tacchur Chinna Singaracharulu.

Annaswami Shastri passed away in 1900, leaving his son Shyama Shastri II

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Disciples

Sri Shyama Shastry, comparatively, had a lesser number of disciples.

His principal disciple was his son – Subbaraya Shastri . Besides, he had three other disciples: Alasur Krishnayya; Sangita Swamy; Dasari, Tarangampadi Panchanada Iyer; and, Porambur Krishnayya.

Alasur Krishna Iyer:

Alasur Krishna Iyer was for some time the Samasthana Vidvan of Royal Court of Mysore. He was an expert in presenting intricate Pallavis. He had the privilege of being with Sri Shyama Shastry while he was at Madurai. He named his son as Subbaraya Shastri, in honour of his Guru. This boy, in turn, also grew up to become an accomplished musician.

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Sangita Swamy

Sangita Swamy was a Sanyasin and a brilliant musician.

It is said; one day while Sri Shyama Shastry was walking along the street, he came upon a Sanyasin; and, as per the custom, greeted him with respect. But, to his surprise, the Sanyasin fell at the feet of Sri Shyama Shastry ; and, burst into a song ‘ O Jagadamba’.

Then, Sri Shyama Shastry could recognize him as his earliest student (Prathama-sishya), who had vanished mysteriously. It was only to this student that Sri Shyama Shastry had taught his Kriti ‘O Jagadamba’ in Anandabhairavi. With the sudden disappearance of his first student, Sri Shyama Shastry had grown rather cautious or even reluctant to accept any student.

On accidentally meeting his long-lost student, Sri Shyama Shastry burst into tears. The Sanyasin, in turn, contributed a Svara-sahitya to that Kriti, as his Guru-dakshina.  

A little later, Sri Shyama Shastry sat before Bangaru Kamakshi and sang the Kriti ‘Adinamunci pogadi -pogadi’ in Anandabhairavi (Triputa-Taala); meaning: since that day, I have been praying to you praising you repeatedly in myriad ways; O my Mother do assure me and protect me.

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Dasari

He was an expert Nagasvaram player. It is said; on a festival occasion in the Tiruvaruru temple, Dasari rendered on his instrument a delightful Alapana of the Shudda-Saveri-Raga; and followed it up by the Pallavi, improvised with several attractive Sangathis. Sri Thyagaraja, who was raptly listening to the music from his house, which was close by, was greatly pleased with Dasri’s  elaboration of the Raga and the artistic rendering of his Kriti ’Daarini telusukonti’ rushed up to the temple and heartily congratulated Dasari on his splendid performance.

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Porambur Krishnayya was another disciple of Shri Shyama Shastri; but, not much is known about him.

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Tharangampadi Panchanada Iyer, a composer of high merit, was also said to be a student of Sri Shyama Shastri.  His Kriti ‘Birana brova idi manchi samayamu’ (Kalyani) was quite popular. His Raga-malika, composed in 16 Ragas; and, beginning with the words ‘Arabhimanam‘ is a beautiful composition, which is widely sung in concerts. (? – I need to verify again whether he was he disciple of  Shyama Shastri )

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The Last week

Sri Shyama Shastri, just as Sri Thyagaraja and Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar, could foresee the day and time of his death. When his wife, a very pious lady, came to know of this prediction, she was thoroughly shaken; and, she prayed to Devi Kamakshi to take her away before that very sad day would come to pass. The merciful Mother Goddess granted her request; and, she peacefully passed away on February 1st 1827.

On the passing away of his wife, Sri Shyama Shastry is said to have remarked: “sAga anjunAL, seththu ArunAL”, which perhaps was meant to say: “five days to go (for me) to die; six days would have passed (since her death)’.

Just six days after his wife’s death, on February 7th, 1827,  Sri Shyama Shastri decided to give up his earthly coils. He was at that time about sixty-four years of age.  It was at Thanjavur, the Dashami, Tuesday (Cevvai), Shukla-paksha Makara (Magha) Masa, Shishira Ritu, Uttarayana, Vyaya-Samvatsara 1748. Kaliyugam 4927.

On that auspicious morning, Sri Shyama Shastri meditated upon his Ista-devata, the Mother Goddess Kamakshi for one last time. He laid his head on the laps of his son Subbaraya Shastri; and, asked him to softly recite the Karna-mantra into his ears. He was fully conscious till the very last moment. He peacefully, serenely journeyed to Sripuram, the heavenly abode, to join his Mother Devi Kamakshi.

Thus, passed away an immortal composer of the Karnataka Samgita.

Kamakshiamman

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In the Next part we shall take a brief at the structure and other details of the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry.

 

Continued in Part Five

Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet

 
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Posted by on June 27, 2020 in Music, Sangita, Shyama Shastri

 

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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Three

Continued from Part Two

THE GOLDEN AGE – CONTINUED

Trinity

The Trinity – Samgita Trimurthi

It is remarkable that all the three Grand Masters of Karnataka Samgita Sri Shyama Shastry (1762-1827), Sri Thyagaraja (1767-1847) and Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar (1776-1835) – were born within a short span of about fourteen years, in the Smartha Bramhin community, in the temple town of Tiruvavur in the Kaveri delta, which had emerged as a religious and cultural haven.

All the three composers lived and flourished at a time when the South Indian classical music, prospered under royal patronage of the Maratha Kings in the Thanjavur.

All the three were initiated into Sang1ta Shastra by an extra ordinary Guru, a spiritual Master.

They all were proficient in more than one language; and, had their initial training in Telugu and Sanskrit.

Each one was a highly devoted and inspired spiritual seeker; and, regarded Music as a means (Upaya) to worship the divinity (Nadopasana) and to attain liberation (Moksha-sadhana). While Sri Thyagaraja was immersed in Rama-bhakthi; Sri Dikshitar was an adept in Sri Vidya; and, Sri Shyama Shastry was a Devi-Upasaka.

All the three shunned Nara-sthuti, praising the mortals; and, refused to be bound or supported by royal patronage; as also by the honours and favours offered by others.

Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Dikshitar and Sri Shyama Shastry were not performing musicians. There is no record that they performed publicly. They sang, practiced and taught music in their home. They perhaps sang while on a visit to a temple or a Kshetra, in honour of the presiding deity, in accordance with the then prevailing practice.

They were men of great learning, intense devotion and prodigious skill; and, each of them developed a particular technique and style in the structure and presentation of his creations.

Even though each had a distinct style of his own, the Musical Trinity accepted and adopted the kriti, the most important musical form in Karnataka music, as his principal medium for conveying the musical ideas and his varied emotions.

Though they were essentially rooted in the tradition; they did improvise, innovate and introduce fresh and sparkling ideas and modes of expression in their musical compositions, to heighten their aesthetic beauty.

Amazingly, all the three could intuitionally foresee the time of their death; and accepted it willingly, calmly, fully conscious as if they were merging into their chosen deity (Ista Devatha).

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They were also different in many other ways

And, each was a virtuoso, having a unique virtue of his own. If Sri Thyagaraja might be said to have emphasized on the happy blending of Raga (melody) and Bhava (emotional content); and Sri Dikshitar on portrayal of Raga; Sri Shastry displayed a fascination for the charm of intricate rhythmic phases combining Taala, Laya and Gamaka.

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Sri Thyagaraja

Sri Thyagaraja was a prolific composer ; believed to have created a thousand or more compositions (of which about 700 have survived)  of varied structures and formats such as Kritis; Utsava-sampradaya-kirtanas and Divya-nama-samkirtanas meant for Bhajans and Utsavas; Namavaliis; Stotras; musical-plays  and so on . His contribution to the repertoire of Karnataka Samgita is indeed immense. Most of his songs, permeated with spiritual awareness, are devotedly submitted in praise of his chosen deity Lord Sri Rama. He was revered as a saint (Santa).

Sri Thyagaraja adopted the Sampurna-Mela-Paddathi of Govindacharya-(Kanakangi-Rantnangi).   

Sri Thyagaraja’s compositions were often the spontaneous outpouring of his emotions and spiritual ecstasy. He would burst into a song to express his joy, devotion or sorrow; and, even his frustrations in his daily life.

The compositions of Sri Thyagaraja reveal, as in a mirror, his personality; his family circumstances; his problems in life; his varying moods; his pains and pleasures; his spiritual yearning; and, his intimate mystic experiences.

Many of his compositions set in commonly spoken Telugu, are virtual conversations with his Lord Rama. And, often he would take Rama to task (Ninda-sthuti); for not taking adequate care to protect and guard him against the jibes from his fellow beings.

Mutthuswamy Dishitar

Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar

Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar was also prolific; about 479 of his compositions have now been identified, spread over 193 ragas. These include four Raga-malikas; and about forty Nottuswara sahithya verses, based on Western tunes.

Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar followed Venkatamahin’s scheme – A-sampurna Mela Paddathi- (Kanakambari-Phenadyuti)

He achieved what Venkatamakhin, at one time, thought was not possible; he gave form and substance to all the 72 Melakarta-ragas.

As many as 157 of his creations are Samasti-charanams; carrying no Anupallavi or the Anupallavi itself acting as Charanam.

Except for one Kriti in Telugu and three Mani-pravala-kritis (Sanskrit + Telugu + Tamil), all his other compositions are in delightfully captivating Sanskrit. The technical sophistication, intellectual brilliance is the hallmark of his music.

Sri Dikshitar, all his life, was virtually a pilgrim, visiting a number of temples; and composing kritis in honour of the deities he visited.

Although he was essentially a Sri Vidya Upasaka, Sri Dikshitar composed songs praising numerous gods and goddesses.

Each of his compositions is unique, brilliantly crafted and well chiselled work of intricate art. He builds into his tight-knit kritis a wealth of information about the temple he visited (Sthala-Mahatmya), its deity, its architecture and its rituals; and about Jyothisha, Tantra, Mantra, Sri Vidya, Vedanta etc. He also skilfully builds into the lyrics, the name of the Raga (Raga-mudra) and his own Mudra, signature.

Unlike in the Kritis of Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Dikshitar’s compositions are remarkably free from personal elements. We may admire the beauty and excellence of his superbly artistic creations; but, we do not get to peep into his family circumstances, his personal likes, dislikes, pains and pleasures in his life. He hardly brings into his works, the personal elements or factors; or, his reactions or views on the life around him. There is a sense of detachment; a tranquil joy; and, Yogic poise that permeates his compositions.

Sri Dikshitar’s Kritis generally commence in Vilamba Kaala, as in the Vainika-paddathi. giving enough scope for the expression of Gamakas in their pristine purity and clarity; but, brisk and enlivening passages are built into the Kriti towards the end.

The influence of the Dhrupad form of Music can be seen in his portrayal of the Ragas in general; and, in transforming the Hindustani Ragas into their Carnatic form, in particular.

sastry

Sri Shyama Shastry

Sri Shyama Shastry, the eldest of the three, is renowned for the peaceful delight, devotion and the yearning for Love of the Divine Mother that permeate his compositions set in Vilamba Kala.

[It is not as if all his Kritis are in Vilamba-kala. He has used Madhyama-kala Sahitya in some of his Kritis; for instance, the entire Anu-pallavi and Carana of the Kriti ‘O Jagadamba’ (Anandabhairavi) is in Madhyama-kala

In some of his Kritis the repetition of Anu-pallavi’s musical structure in the second half of the Charana can be seen. Graded Sangatis have also been introduced to some Kritis.]

The structure as also the Sahitya of his compositions is simpler, direct and filled with intense emotional appeal to the Goddess Kamakshi of Kanchi, to whom most of his compositions are addressed. He repeatedly calls out, as a child,  to his Mother Goddess, in whom he has absolute faith, as Janani, Talli, Amma, and Jagadamba; and, pleads with her to come to his rescue and protect him  –  Shyama Krishna -paripalini , Ninnuvina Gati evaru, Namminanu and so on.

Though Sri Shyama Shastry was  a devoted Sri-Vidya-Upasaka , he did not  bring in to his compositions the elements and other details of Sri Vidya or Sri Chakra (as Sri Dikshitar did). What characterize the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry are the virtues of their ‘absolute-music’, the spontaneity, effortless-ease and the intensity of the yearning for the Love of his Mother.

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Except for two compositions: A Varna (Samini rammanave – Anandabhairavi – Ata Taala) in praise of Lord Varadaraja of Kanchipuram; and a Kriti (Sami nine nammitira-Begada-Adi-Taala) in praise of Lord Mutthu-kumara-swami of Vaitheeswaran Koil, all the other compositions are addressed to the Mother Goddesses in her various forms  with varied epithets as:

Kanchi-Kamakshi;Bangaru-Kamakshi;Kamakshi-Karunakatakshi;Brihan-nayaki; Rajarjeshvari; Akhilandeshwari; Amba; Jagadamba; Trilokamata; Brihadamba; Dharmasamvardhini; Nilayatakshi; and, Meenakshi   enshrined in  various Kshetras (temple-towns).

And, also as Himadrisute; Himagirikumari; Himacalatanaya; Girirajasute; Parvata-raja-kumari; Parvathi; Mınanetrı, Saroja-dalanetri, Sarasakshi; and, Natajanapalini,  

Kamakshi was his Ista-Devatha. And, Kanchipuram, of course, was of special significance to Sri Shyama Shastry. It was the holy town of the Mother Goddess; and, it was also the original abode of Bangaru Lakshmi.

Most of his Kritis are addressed to Kamakshi – either as Kanchi-Kamakshi (16 Kritis); Kamakshi (8 Kritis); Kamakoti (6 Kritis); or as Bangaru Kamakshi (5 Kritis).

There are  also Kritis addressed to the other forms of the Mother Goddess  as : Madura-Meenakshi (8 Kritis); Akhilandeshvari (5 Kritis); Dharma-samvardhini (3 Kritis); and, Nilayathakshi ( 2 Kritis).

His Nava-ratna-malika (garland of nine gems), a group of nine Kritis, singing the glory and splendor of Devi Meenakshi of Madurai is indeed a marvel. It includes some sublime Kritis, such as: Saroja-dala-netri (Shankarabharanam); Mayamma (Ahiri); Meena-lochana-brovava (Dhanyasi); Nannu-brova-lalita (Lalita) and others.

There are about Seven Kritis in praise of Devi (in general) ; and there is a Mangala Kriti on Devi – Shankari-Shankari ( 65 -Kalyani – Ata).

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Most of his Kritis came out spontaneously during the course of his daily Puja and prayers. As Sri S Raja observed, perhaps he did not intended it to be a composition. And, at a later time, his disciples perhaps to conform to the convention of affixing the mudra at the end of most of the  composition inserted his ‘Syama-Krishna’ Mudra into some of his worksExcept for about four compositions, all remaining 67 songs feature his Vaggeyakara-mudra , with the term Shyamakrishna  followed by various suffixes , such as : Sahodari; Paripalini; Pujite; Janani; Pari-palita-Janani; Vinuta; Hrudaya-nilaya and so on.

[The four compositions that do not carry the Vaggeyakara-Mudra are: (1) Janani-natajana-palini (Saveri); (2) Samini-rammanave (Anandabhairavi); (3) Palimpa-vamma (Mukhari); and, (4) Ninne-nammiti (Kedaragaula).]

With regard to the ease or comfort of rendering, Sri Shyama Shastry’s diction is classed as Kadali-paka; in between the Draksha-paka of Sri Thyagaraja; and, Narikela-paka of Sri Dikshitar; illustrating the felicity, comfort or otherwise involved in tasting a grape, a plantain and a coconut.

Even though the Sahitya of his Kritis is apparently simple, outpouring his childlike love and fervent appeals to the Mother Goddess, what makes it truly interesting is the hidden complexities of rhythm and tempo that are built into it, without in any way interfering with the melody .

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Output

In terms of the output, he was not as prolific as the other two members of The Trinity;  perhaps only about 72 compositions including about 60 Kritis  (including the 9 Kritis under the Nava-ratna-malika) ; 4 Tāna-varnams; 3 Svarajatis (hailed as Ratna-traya – three diamonds or gems) ; and , 5 Samanya Gitas are available to us.

[Depending the source, the total number of compositions that are available; and, are ascribed to Sri Shyama Shastry , vary between 65 and 75.]

He has contributed equally well to Abhyasa-gana and to Sabha-gana through his Gitas, Varnas and Svarajatis along with the Kritis of great merit.

Of the 60 Kritis, ten are in Sanskrit; four in Tamil; and, the rest in Telugu. They are veritable musical gems full of Bhakthi-rasa; adorned with decorative Angas like Gamaka, Chitta-svara, Svara-sahitya and rhetorical beauties like Yati, Prasa etc.

Sri Shyama Shastry is hailed as the composer of Kritis, Svarajatis and Tana –varnams, imbued with magical lyrical beauty, poetic felicity and Gamaka, Taala intricacy. Here again, the Artha-bhava of the Sahitya pleasantly   goes hand-in-hand with the Raga-bhava.

[The Kriti, in Sanskrit, ‘Janani-natajana-paripalini-pahi-mam-Bhavani’ (Saveri) is believed to be the first Kriti composed by Sri Shyama Shastry. He is said to have written down the words of the  song, in his own hand**, on a palm-leaf. It was an impulsive creation; perhaps not intended to be a Kriti per se. It does not carry his usual Ankita-mudra ‘Shyama Krishna’.

Shyama sastry first Kriti -Janani

A descendant of Sri Shyama Shastry, Sri S Raja, fortunately, has preserved that palm-leaf-manuscript; and, has published it.   The above is its scanned copy of the MSS.  

 Please click here for a rendering of the Kriti.]

[** There is also a view that Sri Shyama Shastry might not have himself written down those songs. And it is likely that he might have dictated the lyrics for someone else to script them on palm-leaves.]

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Commenting on the relatively lesser number of Sri Shyama Shastry’s Kritis, Dr. Raghavan  remarks : Sri Shastry was not weighed down by the concerns that Sri Thyagaraja had for elaborating on spiritual experiences or moral endeavors ; and nor was he anxious to summarize the principles of Sri Vidya or to depict the  nature and attributes of several deities as did Sri Dikshitar. Sri Shyama Shastry, on the other hand, was an absolute musician; and his songs absolute music.

His Kritis exemplify spontaneity, effortless ease and poignant expressions of guileless love and faith. He did not seem to have been weighed down by the concern to produce a large number of compositions. That is reason why Dr. V. Raghavan calls him ‘an absolute musician’; and, his songs as ‘absolute music’.

Therefore, even though the numbers might appear rather small; his creations, nonetheless, endowed with serene Raga-bhava and blissful Sahitya-bhava are among the best-known and most widely featured songs in the Karnataka Samgita concert repertoire.

In South India today, no musical performance is complete without a rendering of one of his compositions, where devotion, melody and verse combine to provide an elevating experience.

It is said; only the adept and well disciplined performers can do justice in rendering of Sri Shyama Shastry’s expressive and moving Kritis.

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Mela and Raga

Just as Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Shyama Shastry followed the Kanakangi-Ratnangi scheme of Melakartas.

The number of Ragas employed by Sri Shyama Shastry is comparatively fewer in number. He made use of just 33 Ragas in all, comprising 5 Melakartas and 28 Janya Ragas.

Though he handled lesser number of Ragas, about 33, (mostly Rakti-ragas), the portrayal of Raga-bhava to embody his· emotional upsurge; and, his soulful melodic rendering are indeed unique.  He chose common as well as rare Rāgas for his compositions, most of which portray their essence in a rather slow tempo.

He used only five Melakarts  for his Kritis. The Mela-Ragas used by Sri  Shyama Shastry are : Todi (4), Shankarabharanam (2), Nata (1), Varali (2) and Kalyani (8) – a total of 17 compositions ; including 1 Srarajati in Todi and 1 Varna in Kalyani.

The total number of Melas employed Sri Shyama Shastri for all his compositions are 13  (namely, Mela Numbers :  8, 13, 15, 17, 20, 22, 28, 29, 36, 39, 53, 56 and 65). These cover 5 Mela-Ragas and 28 Janya-Ragas

And, although he seemed to have avoided Vivadi-Melas, he did compose Kritis in the Janya-ragas of the Vivadi-Melas, such as Kalkada and Varali. The Raga Kalkada is a Janya of the 13th Mela Gāyakapriya; and, Varali is the Janya of the 39th Mela Jhālavarāli. Both these Ragas have Svaras in Vakra-gati (zigzag use of notes in the phrases of the scale) – vivadi svara .

For his five Gitas he used four Ragas that fall under three Melakartas: Pharaju and Saveri (15-MāyamālavaGowla); Bhairavi (20-Natabhairavi); Madhyamavathi (22-Kharaharapriya).

 The  Four Varnas are in : Saurastra (17); Anandabhairavi (20/22); Begada (22); and, Kalyani (65).

The three Svarajatis are in : Todi (8); Bhairavi (20) and, in Yadukulakanbhoji (28)

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The familiar type of Ragas that Sri Shyama Shastry used were  Todi, Dhanyasi, Kambhoji, Yadukulakambhoji, Shankarabharanam  and Kalyani.

Sri Shyama Shastry also tried many rare (Apurva) Ragas, like Manji, Ahiri, Kalgada Chintamani and Karnataka-Kapi. Of these, the Raga Chintamani, said to have been innovated by him, is classed with the other Rare Ragas introduced by his contemporaries.

Ānandabhairavi and Saveri, two of the soulful and emotionally charged Rāgas, owe their characteristic form to his masterpieces in the concert repertoire. The old Raga Anandabhairavi is said to have originated from the folk-tradition. Sri Shyama Shastry provided it with a new rendition (Raga-svarupa), bringing out the varied shades and colors of Anandabhairavi.

[He has composed Seven Kritis in Ananadabhairavi , said to be his favorite. But, Eight  Kritis are in Kalyani.]

Some of his splendid Kritis like O Jagadamba; Pahi-Sri-Giri-Raja-Sute; Mariveregati; Himachala-tanaya-Brochuta; and, the Varna Samini-rammanave, Sarasakshi ye vela (Ata taala) are in Anandabhairavi.

[Similarly, he had a special attraction for the Chapu-taala, which also was rooted in the folk-tradition. It is said; Sri Shyama Shastry in his childhood was fond of watching ‘Bhagavatha-mela’ performances conducted in the temple premises at Tiruvarur. The songs in these Melas were set mostly in Chapu-taala. Some say it is because of those happy memories Sri Shastry developed a fascination for Chapu-taala; and, lent varied forms.]

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Gita

The Gitas are essentially a part of the curriculum (Abhyasanga) of Music. Therefore, they need to be composed in a simpler form.  The Mathu (Sahitya , words) of the Gitas are usually in Sanskrit or in Kannada; and, are sung in Madhyama-kala (medium-tempo), without elaboration, repetition or improvisation . The segments like Pallavi, Anu-pallavi and Carana are not usually found in the Gitas; but, some are divided into two or three sections.

Sri Shyama Shastry has composed five Lakshya Gitas of the Samanya class. They are: Kamakshi (Pharaju or Paras, Triputa); Parvathi-janani (Bhairavi, Khanda-matya); Kamakshi (Madhyamavathi, Triputa), Santatam (Paraju, Adi); and, Sarasakshi (Saveri, Triputa)

Of these, four Gitas are in Sanskrit; while the Gita Santatam (Pharaju) is a rare example of a Gita in Tamil. It is divided into five sections of varying lengths and varying Ragas.

All the five Gitas are addressed to Goddess Kamakshi of Kanchi, the Sama-gana vinodini.

The four Ragas he used for his five Gitas are the Janya or derivatives of the three Melakartas: Pharaju and Saveri (15-MāyamālavaGowla); Bhairavi (20 Natabhairavi) ; Madhyamavathi (22-Kharaharapriya)

Although his Gitas are classed under Abhyasa-gana they far above the other Gitas, which are primarily meant to teach music in the initial stages. Each of the Gitas of Sri Shyama Shastry is rich in Raga-bhava, adorned with aesthetically pleasant Sabda-alankaras like Prasa, Svaraksharas and so on.

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Varna

Varnam is a short, crisp and tightly knit music-piece that aims to encapsulate the main features and requirements of a Raga. These are finely crafted exquisite works of art. The creation of a Varna calls for delicate craftsmanship, thorough knowledge of the Raga, its sanchara (movements) in various Kaala (tempos) , grasp over Taala and an overall sense of beauty and balance.

A Varnam is structured in two Angas (sections) : The Purvanga (first section) comprises  Pallavi, Anu-pallavi, Muktayi-svara; and The Uttaranga (the latter section)   comprises a Carana that acts as a refrain for the latter part of the Varnam and Carana-svaras (Chittasvara) that are alternated with the Carana.  Each section of a Varnam elaborates an aspect of the Raga (raga-svarupa).

The rendering of a Varna employs all the three tempos. The first Carana-Svara is rendered in Vilamba kaala (slow tempo) and each Jiva-Svara must be highlighted. After which, the rest is sung in Madhyama kaala (half-time). Some musicians insert their own kalpana-svara passages. In the third Carana-svara, the Svaras are short and made into groups (avartanam) of four. Thus, in Carana, there are two or three Svaras of one avartanam, one Svara of two avartanams and finally one Svara of four avartanams

Practicing Varna is much required for the student as also for the experienced performer. For students, the Varnams that are taught at the intermediary level are useful for learning the Svaras of various Ragas, singing in multiple speeds rapidly; as well as learning the appropriate Gamakas.

Advanced students are taught Varnas in multiple Ragas or Taalas. They introduce the student to the proper combinations of Svaras for each Raga and inculcate discipline that is needed for singing

Varna- rendering also helps to develop voice culture; and, in learning to maintain proper pitch and control over rhythm. The instrumentalists too can gain control over playing -techniques.

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Sri Shyama Sastri is said to have composed four Varnas: one each in Anandabhairavi (Saminiremmanave-Ata taala); Begada (Dayanidhe-Adi taala); Saurashtram (Namanavini-Chatursra-ata); and Kalyani (Nivegatiyani-Tisra Matyam).

The Begada Varna Daya-nidhe (Adi-taala) is in Sanskrit; while the rest are in Telugu.

The Varnas in Begada, Saurashtram and Kalyani are recommended for practice even for the experienced singers.

These Varnas are set in varied and difficult Taalas, like Tisra-matya and Chatushra-ata are said to be ideal for improving ones Laya-jnana. There are also certain unusual features to these Varnas; such as, the introduction of Savara-sahitya into the Mukthayi-svara (in Namanavini and in Dayanidhe) ; and extending the length of the Carana-sahitya (four Avartas in Nevegatiyeni –Kalyani)

The Kalyani Varna (Nivegatiyani), in addition to the usual Pallavi, Anu-pallavi and Carana, carries the fourth and a concluding line (Anubandham) – ‘Kama-koti peeta vasini’.

The Varna Namanavini (Saurashtram), is a Chowka-kala-Varna set in Chaturasra -atataala. It has two Avartas each in Pallavi and Anu-pallavi. Here also, a Svara-sahitya passage is appended to the Mukthayi-svara.

Samini-rammanave in Anandabhairavi is a Tana-varnam (Ata-taala), in which the heroine sends a message through her maid to her hero Kanchi Varada Raja Swami. It commences with the laghu, after a pause of eight Akshara-kala durations. The Svara-sahitya acts as a suffix to the Mukthayi-svara. There are eight ettugada Svaras in all.

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Svarajati

He also developed the Svarajati, an instructive musical form for which he provided three most impressive examples in the Rāgas Bhairavi, Tōdi, and Yadukula-kāmbhōji.

In regard to Svarajatis, Sri Shyama Shastry was the architect who converted a Dance form into an attractive musical delight by eliminating passages of Jatis (or Bols). It is said; the Svarajati was, earlier, primarily in a format suitable for dance; resembling in its structure to the Pada-varnam.

His three Svarajatis (a) Rave-Himagiri-kumari (Todi-Adi-taala); (b) Kamakshi-Anudinamu (Bhairavi-Chapu-taala; and (c) Kamakshini-Padayugame (Yadukula-kambhoji – Chapu-taala), are indeed matchless both for the delineation of the Raga-bhava as also for the richness of the musical content.

All the three, are dedicated to Goddess Kamakshi; and, resemble the Kriti in  their form. However, they differ from the Kriti in that they have a number of Svara-sahitya passages with an entirely different Dhatu. All the three Svarajatis are structured with a gradual sequence of music that ends in a climax.

The Todi Svarajati ‘Rave-himagiri-kumari-kanchi-Kamakshi‘ in Adi-taala is the smallest, with six Svara-sahitya; each of which begins with the Raga-Chaya-Svaras: Dha, Ga and Ma. The Svara-kashara syllables are dexterously woven into the texture of the Sahitya.

The Bhairavi Svarajati ‘Kamakshi-amba-anudinamu-maravakane’ is set to Chapu Taala; and, has the unique structure with eight Caranas  each beginning with a successively a higher note in the scale of   the eight Svaras ‘Sa Ri Ga Ma Pa Dha Ni Sa’ in that order (krama). And, the last Carana begins with tara-sthayi shadja. And, the Pallavi starts in the Mandra-sthayi; and , has a rare Prayoga of Shudha-Dhaivata, sung as a prolonged note. This is perhaps is the most popular Svarajati of Sri Shyama Shastri.

The Yadukula-Kambodhi Svarajati ‘Kamakshi-ni-padayugame’ is set to Misra-Chapu. And, here again, the different sections commence on the Raga-Chaya- Svaras of the Raga – Sa, Ri, Pa, Dha. This Svarajati is mostly in Mandra and Madhya Sthayi; but, some lines ascend (Makuta) to the Tara-Sthayi.

[I have tried to summarize here the observations made by Dr. N. Ramanathan in his article: Shyama Shastry and Svarajati .

Shyāma Śhāstry lived at a time in history when public recital of art music meant the performance of Pallavi that included the forms, Alāpana, Tānam; and, the rendering of Neraval and Kalpana-svaram to a Pallavi theme. He is associated with the school of Paccimiriyam Ādiappayya, which specialised in Pallavi.

And, Śhyāma Śhāstry too was a Pallavi-Vidvān.

In this respect he differed from his contemporaries Tyāgarāja, Muttusvāmi Dīkitar and Gōpālakṛṣṇa Bhāratī, who are not known to have cultivated the Pallavi style.

Śhyāma Śhāstry also took to composing songs in various musical forms; and developed a style of his own, which was later adopted by his descendants and disciples

It would be more prudent to view and appreciate Shyama Shastry’s musical compositions from the point of view of what he has achieved, rather than from what he did not attempt.

For instance; the Svarajati was a form, which many of his contemporaries did not handle. And, in a similar manner, Shyama Shastry did not court Mela-based Ragas; Aroha-Avaroha based Ragas, or the contemporary Hindustani Ragas. And, he did not also try Suladi-Taalas, in which the other composers revelled. Each Master excelled in his preferred areas of interest. And, that is what makes Karnataka samgita fabulously rich with its varied delightful forms.

The transformation that Shyama Shastry provided to the Svarajati format was remarkable. And, the three Svarajatis he created were the first of their kind in the Karnataka samgita.

The earlier Svarajati had a form – not dissimilar to that of the Pada-varam -having a Pallavi-Anupallavi-Pallavi-Caraa-Pallavi structure. And the Anupallavi had appended to it a Svara-jati-sāhitya passage; and, it was because of which, it was given the name ‘Svarajati’.

Further, in the earlier Svarajati, the Carana had a number of lines (kaṇḍikā), again with a number of Svara-sāhitya passages, occurring in the beginning of Caraa, with the first kaṇḍikā serving as the refrain.

Shyama Shastry found the Svara-sahitya as the most fascinating and challenging feature of the Svarajatis. Here, the Svara-sahitya phrases present an engaging melodic-line projected by the Sargam-syllables, to which meaningful text (Sahitya) is appended. Now, the syllables of the Sahitya need to exactly match the duration of Sargam-syllables.

It is this feature that characterizes the Svara-sāhitya passages interspersed in the Kīrtanas of Śhyāma Śhāstry, like ‘Durusuga’ (Sāvērī).

It could be said that it was Śhyāma Shastry who revolutionized the music of his times introducing the innovations that stemmed from inside of the musical tradition, rather than being imposed on it from outside.]

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The techniques

As regards to the techniques, Sri Shyama Shastri’s compositions are known for their rhythmic excellence and the poetic beauty; and, for dexterous display of the twin aspects of Laya and Gamaka. He delighted in introducing into his creations the Atita-anagata complexities, intricate Taala-pramana (units of time-measure) and rhythmic beauties (Taala-prasthara)

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He is also said to have recorded, with great care, in his own hand, in the Grantha script, on a palm leaf manuscript, his workings of the different Prastaras in the Taala-system (Paddhathi).

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Another unique feature of Sri Shyama Shastri’s composition is the deft weaving in of the Svara-aksharas (Sā, Ri, Gā, Mā, Pā, Dhā, or Ni) with the Chitta-svara passages of the Sahitya (lyrics). Often, the lyrics containing five syllables (e.g., Anudinamu) articulated through rhythmic syllables (Jati), reproduce a pattern commonly employed by the Mrdangam players (Ta dhim gi na Tom), a phrase of the magnitude of five Akshara-kala.

At times, his compositions allow scope for applying two different Taalas. For instance; his Kriti Sankari-samkuru (Saveri) has the natural rhythm (Stapitha taala) of Rupaka-taala and the suggestive rhythm (Suchita-taala) of Adi-taala. The Pallavi and Anupallavi, prima facie, conform to the Rupaka-taala; while the Charana suggests the Adi-taala (Tisra Gati).

He was also the first to employ the Viloma-chapu-Taala (4+3), which is the reversed sequence of the Krama-Chapu or normal Chapu (3+4) – (for instance in Ninnuvinaga-mari in Purvikalyani).

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We have earlier, dealt with the life and works of Sri Thyagaraja and Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar, in fair detail.

In the installments to follow this post, let’s take a look at the life, events and the compositions of Sri Shyama Shastry.

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Continued in Part Four

Sources and References

All images are taken from Internet

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2020 in Music, Sangita, Shyama Shastri

 

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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Two

Continued from Part One

OVERVIEW – CONTINUED

Samgita Devi

Intro

Before we get to the specifics of the ‘Golden Age’, let us digress for a while; and, talk about Karnataka Samgita, in general, till date.

Karnataka-Samgita, One of the world’s greatest musical traditions, enjoys a long and a hoary textual tradition going back to Matanga (Brhaddeshi, Ca.5th century), Sarangadeva  (Sangita-ratnakara , 13th century) and Rama-amatya  (Svara-mela-kalanidhi, 16th century)  followed by Govinda Dikshitar (Sangita-sudha, mid 16th century).

Govinda Dikshtar’s son Venkatamakhin’s work Chatur-Dandi-Prakashika (Ca.1660) is relevant today mainly because of its Anubandha (Appendix), which suggested a system for classifying the then known Ragas. However, the descriptions of the features (Lakshana) of those Ragas are not of much importance today; because, much of it has undergone revisions.

Venkatamakhin also experienced a similar difficulty with regard to the Lakshanas of the Ragas mentioned in Sarangadeva’s text, written about three hundred years prior to his time.

Venkatamakhin remarks: Sarangadeva claims to have described the Lakshanas of about two hundred and sixty-four Ragas.  But, all those Ragas have disappeared today. My venerable Guru could lay down the Lakshanas for only fifty Ragas.

Strangely, many of the Ragas described by Venkatamakin also suffered a similar fate. Therefore, what has tangibly come down to us from the Chatur-Dandi-Prakashika is only the initial scheme of 72 Melakartas.

It is here, the Golden age of Karnataka-Samgita of the early and the middle of the Eighteenth Century enters as a life-saver. The traditions of Karnataka Samgita found a new lease of life during this period, when the Lakshana and Lakshya of the Ragas were clearly defined, preserved and passed on to the succeeding generations.

The Karnataka-Samgita of today, I reckon, can be said to be primarily rooted in the practices that were prevalent and developed during the Golden Age of the early and mid Eighteenth Century.

The scholars opine that  the main reason  for such a successful phenomenon  is the unbroken lines of Guru-Shishya-Paramapara that has come down to us till this day, preserving and bringing along the Ragas, the compositions and the distinct practices of each School or tradition of Music.

Here, one has to necessarily appreciate the value of the Oral Traditions, which has enabled and ensured to pass on the Lakshana and Lakshya of the Karnataka-Samgita from generation to generation over the past two and a half centuries, without incurring much damage.

It was perhaps the lack or the absence of such a chain of Guru-Shishya oral tradition that led to the loss of Music compositions and the Raga-Lakshanas during the long and hazy period of three centuries that separated Sarangadeva and Venkatamakhin.

As compared to that, the Music traditions-of Sri Thyagaraja, Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar and Sri Shyama Shastry – in the following three centuries have survived and propagated remarkably well, principally due to the continuing Oral Tradition through the unbroken lines of the Gurus and the Shihyas.

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Another factor that truly has served to proliferate the Karnataka Samgita, over the couple of centuries, among the various sectors of the community is its ’openness’.

Unlike in the medieval times or in the earlier phase of the Hindustani Samgita, the Karnataka-Samgita was never treated as a family-heirloom or as a well guarded preserve of a particular School (Gharana). It was open to the community as a whole. Here, the Bhajana-Sampradaya, Divyanama and Utsava -Sampradaya -Kirtanas played a very significant part. The Bhaktas at the Bhajana Mandalis sang the devotional Kirtanas, which, in fact, were not mere simple songs.

Take for instance; the Divya-nama-Kirtanas of Sri Thyagaraja such as Hariyanuvaari (Todi); Sri Rama-dasa (Dhanyasi); Nammakane (Asaveri); Naatha-Brovavve (Bhairavi) ; Rama –Rama (Huseni) and Sita-Nayaka (Ritigaula) and so on,  do have a certain degree of sophistication in their structure, in the spread of their Ragas and in the choice of their Taalas.  Such Kirtanas of great merit were practiced and sung in a group even by the ‘un-initiated’ lay singers. These did help in spreading a ‘Music-culture’ among the members of the community.

Even prior to the Golden Age, the Padas of Sri Purandara Dasa who had adopted Unch-vrtti  (walking along the village streets, going from house to house singing and collecting grains etc., needed for the day) meant that the community in which he lived was exposed to and gained familiarity with chaste Music, almost every day of their lives. Sri Thyagaraja also followed such Uncha-Vrtti. And, when he went around the village, from house to house singing his Divyanama and Utsava-Sampradaya-Kirtanas, perhaps many would have joined him and sung along with him.

These practices, to a large extent, helped to build up and maintain a widespread, healthy music fraternity. It also ensured that the Karnataka-Samgita is not restricted to being a mere ‘chamber-music’ confined within a limited space for the pleasure of a few. Thus, Karnataka-Samgita is more than a mere performing Art. It is indeed a cognitive Art that is appreciated and enjoyed by the varied sections of the Society. That has also helped in bringing about a greater degree of interaction between the performers and listeners; and, perhaps, between the performers too, particularly of those living within a small distance of one another.

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Apart from such interaction between the performer and the listener, another significant feature of the Golden Age was the remarkable variety in the musical content of the vast output.

Till about the mid-eighteenth century, the Sahitya was the dominant factor. Generally, a renowned great poetry, the Namavalis or the Stotras etc., extolling the virtues and powers of the gods and goddesses were set to music, largely as an offering to the deities, as also to benefit the devotees.  Music here was a vehicle to convey pious ideas and sentiments.

With advent of the Golden Age and of the Celebrated Trinity, the Music did gain some ascendancy, although the Sahitya continued to be very important. The body of the Musical compositions of this period is distinguished by  the sheer variety, modes of structure, the prolific  and large  output of classic Kritis, Varnas,  Svarajatis  and the Gitas etc. Here the Music came into its own exuberant form, in its multiplicity and glory. And, the Dhathu took over the Mathu. The range of musical rhythmic phrases was improvised in varied patterns with great ingenuity, and creative imagination.

The salient features of the Kritis of the Golden Age coul said to be :  the well structured Kritis , having a judicious balance of Raga and Sahitya; of Kalpita and Manodharma Samgita ; of carrying forward the Music tradition in its essential purity.

The rendering of the Kritis and other types of compositions gained boundless array and depth with the introduction of the Manodharma Samgita, the rhythmic variations in the Kalpana-Svaras, Neravals and Sangathis. The other Mathu-Dhatu-Samkykta- Alamkaras like Svarashitya, verities of Gamakas, Prasas and Yatis came in to adore the Kritis.

These decorative features also facilitated greater freedom to a gifted performer to display her/his musical genius, virtuosity and originality in giving musical expressions to a wide range of ideas and emotions.  Thus, Karnataka-Samgita, emerging from the shadows, was no longer confined to or bound to a fixed uninspired regimen.  It gained more range, depth and immense reach.

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And, for an ardent student of Music, the best way to learn the idioms and phrases that define Grammar (Lakshana) of a Raga is through diligent repetitive practice of the Varnas and Kritis composed in that Raga.

 In the early stages of her/his learning, the student tries to faithfully reproduce what he is taught.

And, once she/he attains a certain level of proficiency, an amazing thing happens. She/ he will try to improvise upon her/his earlier experience; the initially internalized compositions that she/he was taught to sing are now turned into well formed segments of varying Gatis and Layas. She/he will strive to gain freedom to communicate her/ his musical ideas, through the set composition. One will try to innovate, search for more enterprising,   venturous, expressions; and, assert ones individuality.

The student progresses from simple regimented replications to complex creative musical forms within the ambit of the finite fundamental rules of Karnataka-Samgita. That facility is aided by the fact Karnataka-Samgita is an open ended system; it provides scope for creating new Ragas by permutations of the Svaras. And, a Raga could be rendered in more than one ways.

 Creativity is at the core of any Art-form. And, there are several layers of creativity.

Karnataka-Samgita is such a Symbolic System as it ties together the Classic and the free flowing music with natural grace and felicity; and, at the same time recognizing each one’s potential, its ability as also its context-sensitive limitations.

This is similar to learning a language. Once the student grasps the vocabulary of Raga, she/he will try to extract the finer and the more appealing aspects of the Raga; and, present it as a fluent, delightfully enterprising rendering. It is the aesthetic beauty of such creative Music that truly matters. It is perhaps such creativity and diversity that has kept the Karnataka Samgita alive and thriving.

A kriti-rendering, indeed, is quite flexible. It can be elaborated, expanded, and stretched out exploring its full potential through innovative strings of Sangathis, Neravals and Kalpana-Svaras. On the other hand, it can also be rendered without much elaboration. But, what is of essence is that the rendering should be pure and aesthetically pleasing.

Apart from the performer, the followers and admirers of Music also have enjoyed greater freedom. Once a Kriti was composed and was sung, it no longer remained the sole property of the composer. There are numerous instances where Svarashitya and Svarakshara were inserted in to the compositions at a later time either by the disciples or the admirers of the Composer. The performers also gained the liberty to offer varied interpretations to the musical phrases of the Kriti; sometimes slightly altering the lines of the Kriti (Patantara); adding adornments such as Sangathis and Chitta-Svaras and so on.

[ The Kritis of Sri Thyagaraja have come down to us through the lines of his major disciples: Tillaisthanam Rama Iyengar, Walajapet Venkataramana Iyer and Umayalpuram brothers.  Each of those traditions has its own version (Patantara) of the Kritis composed by Sri Thyagaraja. 

Each  performer, in turn, opts for the version, which according to her/him,  is aesthetically pleasing . And, there is no ostensible finality in these matters.]

There are also instances where the Raga of a Kriti , as set by the composer, was at a later time altered by  knowledgeable musicologists for certain valid reasons. For instance; Kumbakonam Sri Rajamanickam Pillai re-set Sri Thyagaraja’s Kriti Jnana-mosaga-raada in Raga Purvi Kalyani, since the Raga originally suggested in the text – Shadvidha Margini– was virtually unknown to most performers.

Sri Semmangudi Sreenivasa Ayyangar re-tuned the popular Kriti Bhavayami Raghuramam of Maharaja Swati Tirunal set originally in Raga Saveri. He converted the Kriti into a Ragamalika , a delightful garland of Ragas ; setting its various sections in Natakuranji, Dhanyasi , Mahanam, Mukhari, Purvi Kalyani, and Madhyamavathi. This Ragamalika  is now hugely popular.

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One might perhaps say the noticeable factors that differentiate the Music of the Golden Age from that that of the present-day are mainly: (1) The contribution of Vac-geya-karas; the output of new Kritis; and the creation of new Ragas; (2) the quality of interaction between the composer-performer and the listener; and (3) the application of Music for varieties of purposes.

As regards the composers; the Kritis of the Uttama-Vac-geya-karas of great merit, such as Sri Pallavi Gopala Ayyar; Sri Thyagaraja; Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar; or Sri Shyama Shastry are endowed with rich, distinct characteristics and unique individuality. They differ not only in their approach to Music in general; but also in regard to the phasing of their structure, application of Alamkaras and in the Mathu and Dhatu phrases. They created new Ragas; brought to life rare and forgotten Ragas; composed a great number of compositions; experimented with different Sancharas, Gamakas and Taala patterns. Their Music was marked by freshness and a remarkable sense of enterprise.

Such a tremendous musical activity both in terms of quality and quantity perhaps became possible mainly because of their inspired and intimate involvement, the relations that existed among the music community as also between the composers and the listeners of those days. And, their Music took on its own enchanted life.

Perhaps it is difficult in any field of activity to sustain such a high degree of intensity for over a long period.  Following the ebb and flow phenomenon of fluctuations, a lean period was bound to occur.

 It appears that the Karnataka Samgita is presently passing through such a lean phase.

In regard to the Vac-geya-karas, Sri Mutthayya Bhagavatar and Sri Mysore Vasudevacharya were perhaps the last in the line of Classic Master Composers of Karnataka-Samgita. Since nearly about the last one hundred years no other composer of equaling merit has appeared on our Music scene; although there have been great many fabulous stage-performers. That is to say; we are thriving on the past glory.

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In regard to the interaction between the performer and the listener, owing to numerous reasons and limiting factors, the type and its quality have undergone a sea change, a profound or notable transformation. Such proximity as that existed between the two is no longer possible.

What we now have, mostly, is the faceless-interaction. Even the attendance at the Music-Sabhas, I understand, is either stagnated or is dwindling. The TV Channel too hardly set apart a slot for Classical Music. Although a plethora of music-pieces are posted over the net, there is no meaningful dialogue between the listeners and the performers. The appreciation or otherwise is restricted to posting minions, thumbs-up or down. Many a times, the present-day singers of the Karnataka-Samgita feel they exist in a vacuum or as if they are walking through an uninhabited tunnel.

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The rare and rather difficult Varnams, Svarajatis of Sri Shyama Shastry or the Kritis of Sri Dikshitar are neither much attempted on the stage nor or they sought for. The preference seems to be for the Ragas and Kritis that are light, easy and pleasant on the ears.

The teaching methods and practices also seem to tread along similar path.  It is a fait accompli. The learners seem to have no option.

But, the simplified Karnataka-Samgita, in its wake, has in a way has helped it reach a wider audience; say, by way of film-music or light-songs based on classical Ragas. These at times re-define the Grammar of the Karnataka Samgita.

These developments underline the fact that each variety or style of Karnataka-Samgita, in its own context, undergoes changes, giving rise to revaluation of the earlier styles of rendering. It is this inventive diversity, I believe, that has ensured Karnataka Samgita is not stagnant; bringing in fresh ideas and reshaping its Grammar; and, enlarging its Music-community.

These factors might not exactly be peripheral.

Having said that, let me also mention that  what truly is the need of the day is the applications of the cognitive general principles of Karnataka -Samgita as  are relevant  in the present context; preserving its purity; and, carrying it forward for greater acceptance , beauty and splendor .

[One could gainfully employ ones time and learn a lot reading the highly articulate and analytical study in tandem of Language and Karnataka-samgita: The Grammar of Carnatic Music by K G Vijayakrishnan (phonology and Phonetics, 2007)]

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The Golden Age

The decades spread over the Seventeenth and the Eighteenth centuries are aptly lauded as the Golden Age, the brightest epoch, of Karnataka Samgita. That period of great and innovative activity not merely gave birth to significant texts that re-defined Music theories (Lakshana); but it also witnessed the flowering of various Music forms in abundance; as also, the creation of new formats of compositions of sparkling beauty and charm, such as : Kirtana, Kriti, Daru, Varna, Padam , Javali, Thillana,   Naamavali  and so on.

And, as regards the performance and practice of Music (Lakshya), it was indeed the most sublime period when the Grand Masters, the highly inspired meritorious composers (Uttama-vac-geyakaras) flourished.

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Lakshana-grantha

Venkatamakhin (son of Govindacharya, a Kannada speaking scholar and musicologist who migrated from Mysore to Thanjavur), in his landmark work Chaturdandi-Prakasika (ca. 1650) gathered various music-forms under a four-fold system (Chatur-dandi); comprising Gita, Prabandha, Thaya and Alapa.

Here, the term Prabandha denotes a composition having specific characteristics; and, that which is well composed – ‘prabandhayeti Prabandha’. However, the definition was narrowed down to include only those compositions which were made up of Six Angas (Birudu, Pada, Tenaka, Pāta and Taala); and, Four Dhatus (Udgrāha, Melāpaka, Dhruva and Abhoga).

It appears that by about the time that the Chatur-dandi came to be composed, Prabandha as a class of Music was almost on its way out. And, in its later stages, the term Prabandha came to be understood as the final component of a four-fold system (Chatur-dandi) devised by Venkatamakhin: Raga; Thaya; Gita; and Prabandha.

Although, Prabandha, as a genre, has now disappeared, it needs to be said that the Prabandha did serve, for a long time, as a very  versatile, resourceful musical format allowing scope for many of the regional variations to model their structure as per their special needs in the context of their culture.  Prabandha was the dominant form of Music, Dance and other poetical works for more than a thousand years ending by 1700 AD or a little later.

The influence of the Prabandha has been long-lasting, pervading most parts, elements and idioms of Indian Music – both of the North and of the South. The structures, internal divisions, the elements of Meter (Chhandas), Raga, Taala and Rasa,  as also the musical terms that are prevalent in the Music of today are all derived from Prabandha and its traditions. Many well-known musical forms that are in practice today have all emerged from Prabandha

Apart from the Kritis, the other diverse musical forms, such as: Svarajati, Varna, Pada, Tillana, Jawali, Raga-malika etc., derived their fundamentals from the ancient Prabandhas. Only their musical-content and lyrics were attuned to suit the context of the occasions and times.

It could be said; the Prabandha helped the Karnataka Samgita, enormously, in defining its concepts and terms, specifying the structures of its songs, refining its Grammar; and, in ensuring continuity of our ancient tradition.

Thus, Prabandha is, truly, the ancestor of the entire gamut of varieties of patterns of sacred-songs, art-songs, Dance-songs and other musical forms created since 17-18th century till this day.

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The more significant contribution of Venkatamakhin’s work is the Appendix (Anubandha) attached to the main body of the text.

The Chatur-dandi-prakashika is known and recognized today mainly because of the 72 Mela-Scheme it introduced; and, the great influence it exercised over the attempts to reorganize the Ragas and the Music structure in Karnataka Samgita. 

The Appendix (Anubandha) to his Chatur-dandi-prakashika suggested the possibility  of classifying Ragas, built on 12 Svara-Sthanas , under a 72 Mela scheme, made into two groups of 36 each (Shuddha-Madhyama and Prathi Madhyama) . It was, at this time, only a theoretical possibility, since most of those 72 Melas were yet unknown.

Out of such 72 Melas, Venkatamakhin was able to identify the Ragas of only 19 Melas. The rest (53) he considered as mere theoretical possibilities; and, non-functional, since no known Ragas could fit in to his scheme of these Melas. Therefore, he could name only 19 Melas; the rest (53) were not assigned any names.

Venkatamakhin went by recognizing a Mela-Raga if all the seven Svaras occurred in it, either in the Aroha or in the Avaroha. He did not insist that a Mela Raga should be a Sampurna Raga, with all the seven Svaras in both the Aroha and Avaroha

In Venkatamakhin’s grandson Muddu Venkatamakhin’s Ragalakshana a drastic shift takes place in the Mela-concept. He synthetically creates Janya Ragas for the remaining 53 Melas that were earlier considered non-functional.

Here, for the first time, the Raga-description is based purely on its Svara-sthanas. It is also at this stage that the Raga Grammar or its characteristic is described in terms of its  Aroha and Avaroha Svaras.

He uses the terms Raganga-Raga (equivalent term to Mela-kartha) and Janya Raga; and, adopts the norm that the Raganga-Raga needs to be Sampurna in Arohana or Avaroha; not necessarily in both the orders. It is a non-linear (A-sampurna) system.

It is believed that it was Muddu Venkatamakhin, who gave the nomenclature for the Mela Ragas, (Kanakambari and Phenadhyuti etc) in his Gitam called Raganga-Raga-Anukramanika-Gitam; and, wrote Lakshanas for the Raganga (Mela) ragas and their Janyas.

Again, it was during late 17th – early 18th century, a person called Govindacharya the author of the  Samgraha-chudamani , changed the names of some Melas of Venkatamakhin, by assigning the nomenclature Kanakangi, Ratnangi etc. to the 72 Mela kartha Ragas.

The long-drawn process spread over the centuries  to identify the number of Melas  ended during the Golden Age ; and,  it settled down at 72 .

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Govindacharya expanded on Venkatamakhin’s Mela concept   by introducing the Sampoorna-Meladhikara (a term equivalent to Melakarta) scheme, which has a complete (Sampoorna)-Saptaka: both in its ascent (Arohana) and descent (Avarohana) structure; and, importantly it has the Svaras in the linear order (Krama). In this scheme, the Mela-kartas arise out of systematic permutation of the seven Svaras into the twelve Svara-sthanas

This scheme is not merely of academic interest; but, is also of immense practical value to all musicians, musicologists and students.

Govindacharya is also said to written Lakshana-gitas and Lakshana-slokas (numbering in all 366) covering 294 Janya Ragas. And, it is believed, he refined the Katyapadi prefixes by linking the Mela Ragas to their first two syllables of their names. Govindacharya’s Sampurna Arohana–Avarohana profile lent the Mela-kartha a sort of elegance.  This system of 72 Mela is the Karnataka Mela system of the present day.

Sri Mutthuswamy Dikshitar followed Venkatamahin’s scheme – A-sampurna Mela Paddathi- (Kanakambari-Phenadyuti); while, Sri Thyagaraja and Sri Shyama Shastry gave forms to most of the Ragas in the other scheme – Sampurna Mela Paddathi of Govindacharya-(Kanakangi-Rantnangi).   The subtle but main difference between the two schemes appears to be the importance given to the linearity and non-linearity of the Svaras in Arohana and Avarohana.

[But, in the later period, the distinction between the Mela and the Raganga-Raga gradually faded away; and, the two concepts merged into one system of Janaka-raga and Janya-raga.]

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Uttama Vac-geyakaras

The Uttama Vac-geyakara, the best among the highest class of composers is described as the Dhatu-Mathu-Kriyakari – as the one who writes the lyrics (Mathu), sets them to music (Dhatu) and ably presents (Kriyakari) his compositions.

The peak of the Golden Age was the phase that was adorned by extraordinarily brilliant music composers, musicologists and singers – the Uttama Vac-geyakaras. These Masters were endowed with proficiency and scholarship in Vyakarana (Grammar), Kavya-shastra (prosody), Alamkara-shastra (rhetoric), thorough knowledge  of the languages and their dexterous use, and a refined aesthetic sense (Rasa-bhava), Suti-laya-jnana, besides an  depth knowledge of Raga , Taala and Gamakas.

The wealth of the musical genius of Karnataka music flowered and bloomed during this period, when every branch of music and music related art-forms got enriched.

The most fortuitous occurrence or the heavenly blessing of this period was the sublime Music created by the Trinity of Karnataka Samgita (Samgita-Trimurthi), who flourished around the same time. 

It was an invigorating phase that ushered in innovation and elaboration of fresh Ragas, just as the 72 Melakarta scheme was beginning to take root.

It was also during this period, the Kriti format of Nibaddha-Samgita musical compositions, developed over a long period of time; and, was evolving out of the shadows of the older Prabandha and its immediate predecessor Kirtana or Pada, reached its definitive form. Though several composers of repute prior to 17th century, such as Muthu Tandavar and Margadarsi Sesha Ayyangar, had experimented with the Kriti format, it was the celebrated Trinity of Karnataka Samgita that perfected it during the 18th century. 

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During this period , the importance of the aspects of harmony (Laya) in Music was brought to fore. It was said; Laya, the rhythmical movement in time and space, governs every process in the universe; every aspect of life; and, even the functioning of body and mind. And, Laya is vital to the Music as well.

Here, in Music, the Laya is said to have two aspects or dimensions: one is the Sruti-laya, which determines the pitch of the Svara; and, the other is the Taala-laya, which relates to the measurement of time-units and its divisions. In a musical phrase, Laya signifies rhythm or rhythmical movement; and, Taala is that which measures the tempo of this movement.  Though technically, the terms Laya and Taala are defined differently; Taala cannot exist without Laya.

However, both Sruti and Taala are essentially abstract in their nature.

Sruti is understood as the distinct interval between two Svaras; But, it is not a precise mathematical or physical measure. The listening acumen of the musician is the sole guide to measure the rise or fall in Sruti. And, this is achieved only by diligent practice (Sad-abhyasa), as Abhinavagupta says:  Sruteh Sabdasya Srotragr-Abhyasya utka.

Similarly, Taala the time involved in a musical context is also abstract; and, it cannot be physically measured. One has to maintain Taala instinctively. One tries to keep track of it through Kriya, the action of hand, palm or cymbal for reckoning the Taala units (Matras).

The innate Laya-jnana (awareness) is as essential as the Sruti-jnana for a performing artist, whether she/he be a singer or a player on an instrument.

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It was during this period that besides the essential Angas (Pallavi, Anu-pallavi and Charana) many ornamental features were introduced into the Kriti format, by the musical Trinity.

Sri Thyagaraja is credited with introducing the practice of singing Sangathi (lit. putting together– a set of melodic variations to expand on the various shades of a theme in all its angles, gradually unfolding the melodic (Raga-bhava) potential of a phrase (Sahitya) in combination with Svaras. Some say that Sri Thyagaraja adopted Sangathi-rendering from dance-music, where variations are done for display of Abhinaya and for articulating the different shades and interpretations of the basic emotion (Bhava).

The other decorative Angas integrated into the Kriti as embellishment in order to heighten its aesthetic beauty were:

(a) Chitta-svara or a set of Svara passages sung at the end of the Anu-pallavi and Charana; and, compared to a bunch of flowers of a beautiful creeper. Usually the Chitta-svaras are in the same Laya (rhythm) as of the Kriti. But, one may try to improvise in Druta, increasing the Laya or speed by two degrees. In some Kritis which may carry Viloma-Chitta-svaras, the same set of Svara-passages can be in the reverse order as well, but sounding the same.

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(b) Svara-sahitya – where the  Svaras (Notes) flow briskly, as if riding a wave, at even pace, in Madhyama-Kala, weaving melody (Raga), rhythm (Taala) and words (Mathu) into grand patterns of beauty and delight (e.g. Sri Thyagaraja’s Ghanaraga-Pancharatna-kriti Jagadananda-karaka in Nata Raga, Adi Taala, contains some of the most beautiful Svara-sahitya-Chittasvaras in the Charanas.)

The Svara-sahitya can be in the Kritis as also in the Pada-varanas and Svarajatis.

In the Kritis having Svara-sahitya, the Svara-passage is sung at the end of Anu-pallavi; and, the related Sahitya-passage will be sung at the end of the Carana.

In the Pada-varna, the Svara-sahitya is applied for the Muktayi-svara and ettugada-svaras. Here, the Sahitya is sung just after the Svara-passage.

And in Svarajati, the Svara-sahitya is appended to the Caranas.

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 (c) Madhyama-kala-sahitya – a decorative Anga is an integral part of the Kriti; and has two or three Avartas, occurring towards the end of Anupallavi, Charana or Samasti-charana. In some of the Kritis of Sri Thyagaraja, the Madhyama-kala-sahitya comes after the Anu-pallavi (as in Manasu-Svadheena in Sankarabharana); and, in some others, they occur after the Charana (as in Sadhimchane in Arabhi, and Entaro-mahanu-bhavulu in Sri-raga)

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(d) Solkattu are regular Chitta-svaras, where in some portions, instead of Svaras, appropriate Jatis or bunch of syllables or spoken rhythms and patterns are added. Jatis are sung to the music of the displaced Svaras after the Charana; often Solkattu Svaras are sung after Anu-pallavi in Vilamba-kala and after Charana in Druta-kala,

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(e) Gamakas (the ornamented flourishes of the Note) are the graces or embellishments added for enhancing the melodic beauty of the Kritis. Gamakas are the very vital factors of Karnataka Samgita. They bring out the unique nature of the Raga (Raga-svarupa) in diverse modes of Raga-sanchara, by altering the plain character of the Svaras into delightful sound patterns. The Gamakas help to draw out the beauty that is inherent in Svaras. It also seamlessly and aesthetically bridges two adjacent Svaras in a Raga-phrase.

These are executed in varied forms, such as: graceful turn, curve or sliding touch given to a single note or a group of notes, which animates Svaras to bring out the melodic character and expression (bhava) of a Raga. Gamaka-rendering is a highly individualistic and a specialized skill. The Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry are remarkable for their Gamka-prayoga.

The Gamakas are said to be one of the special features of the Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry. His compositions set in Vilamba-kala are apt for use of Gamakas excelling in Chowka-kala like Kampita (oscillations) and Jaru (glides)

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(f) Svarakshara-Dhatu-Mathu-Samyukta-Alamkara is a variety of Sabda-lankara, a structural as well as a musical beauty, created by the confluence of the Svara syllable and the identical or like-sounding syllable in the Sahitya of a Kritis, Varanas, Raga-malikas, Padas, and Javalis etc. This is to say; a Svara-akshara and Svara-sthana-varna is one wherein Solfa letters figuring in the Sahitya of a passage are sung to the music signified by those letters.

Many of the compositions of Thyagaraja start with a Svarakshara. For instance; Marubalka in Sriranjani begins on the Svara ‘Ma’; and ‘Nee bhakti bhagyasudha‘ in Jayamanohari begins on the Svara ‘Ni’. In the Kriti Sri Rama Padama’ in Amritavahini, the word ‘pa-da -ma ‘ is a Svarakshara phrase.

Sri Dikshitar, at times, used Svaraksharas i.e., the words matching with the syllables of the notes. For instance; Sadasrita (in Akshayalinga-Vibho) could be tuned as Sa-Da-Pa-Ma; and, Pashankushsa-Dharam (in Siddhi Vinayakam)   could be tuned as Pa- SA- Ga- RI- Ni- SA.

Sri Shyama Shastry was indeed an adept in building Svarakshara-sahitya passages in to the Chitta-svaras of a Kriti; for instance, the identical sounding syllables such as ‘Padasarara‘ correspond to the Svaras: Pa-Dha-Sa in the Kriti, Devi-ni (Kambodhi).

Sri Shyama Shastry is remarkable for the rhythmic beauties that adorn his kritis.  For instance; we find in his compositions many words constituted of the five syllables, like Anudinamu, Durusuganu, Gatiyanuchu, Mahimalanu, Sarasamukhi, Vara-mosagu, Padayugamu, Kamalayuga and Kamalamukhi etc. corresponding to the spoken rhythmic pattern “ta dhim gi na thom”.

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(g) Mani-pravala (Mani=gem; Pravala=coral) is a type of beauty, where words of two or more languages figure in the Sahitya of a Kriti.

Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar brings in the Telugu and Tamil words amidst Sanskrit terms in three of his Kritis: Shri-Abhayamba-ninnu – chinthinchina-variki (Raga Sri); Venkatacalapate (Karnataka Kapi); and, Sri-maharajni (Karnataka Kapi).

The Travancore Maharaja Sri Swati Tirunal had composed 15 Mani-pravala kritis using Malayalam and Sanskrit as Mani and Pravala

sarasvathi

The Sangita-Kavitvam (creative music) reached its peak during this epoch. In addition to the musical embellishments, the composers of this period brought in verities of Sabda-alamkaras (figures of speech) as in the Sanskrit prosody (Kavya-shastra) such as: Prasa, Anuprasa, Yati and Yamaka etc., in order to enhance the charm and poetic beauty of the Sahitya (lyrics) of the Kriti, in enterprising manners.

Prasa, generally, stands for rhyme, the repetition of the second letter (Dvitiya-akshara-prasa) in the first Avarta and in the same position in the subsequent Avartas. It may also occur in the first letter (Adi-prasa) and also in the end syllable (Antya-prasa).

The Prasa can be for a single letter or for groups of two or more letters. The length of the syllable preceding the Prasa letter should be the same throughout. Different types of Prasas were employed. Such Sabda-alamkaras of like-sounding pleasant words or phrases are meant to heighten the poetic elegance.

Anu-prasa is the repetition of similar letters, syllables or words.

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Yatis are the Dhatu-Mathu-Samyukta-Alamkara, where the rhyming words are musically set in different patterns; The structures and the lengths of certain lines in the compositions of a Kriti, as also in the playing of the Mrdanga, are said to follow certain rhythmic patterns (Yati-s).

Different varieties of Yatis used by the composers are Sama-yati or Pipilika yati; Gopuccha-yati; Srotovaha-yati; Mrudanga, and Damaru etc.

In Sama-yati, where the lines are of uniform length (Sama), the same letter or sound is repeated at the beginning of adjacent or closely connected words.

In regard to the length of the lines in other Yatis: (1) Srotovaha-yati is broadening or increasing like the flow of a river; (2) Gopuccha-yati is tapering or decreasing like a cow s tail; (3) Mrdanga-yati is broadening towards the middle like the contours of a drum; and, (4) Damaru-yati is where the length of the lines first decrease and then increase; narrowing towards the middle, as the contours of an hourglass-shaped drum.

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Sri Mutthuswami Dikshitar was a skillful expert in the application of the Yati-Prasa-sabda-alamkara.

In his Sri Varalakshmi (Sri) and in MayeTwam-Yahi (Sudha-Tarangini), he used the tapering pattern of Gopuccha.

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Sarasa Pade,

Rasapade,

Sapade,

Pade.

de

Sarasa Kaye

Rasakaye

Sakaye

Aye

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And, in his kriti Tyagarajayoga Vaibhavam (Anandabhairav) , Sri Dikshitar uses both the Yatis : Gopuccha Yati and Srotovaha.

The phrases are:  Gopuccha Yati (like a cow’s tail):

Tyagaraja Yoga Vaibhavam

Agaraja Yoga Vaibhavam

Rajayoga Vaibhavam

Yoga Vaibhavam

Vaibhavam

Bhavam

Vam

 

 And Srotovaha Yeti (flowing or expanding like a river )

Sam

Prakasham

Svarupa Prakasham

Tatva svarupa Prakasham

Sakala Tatva svarupa Prakasham

Shivashaktyadi Sakala Tatva svarupa Prakasham

design rangoli

Another literary decorative Anga, an exercise of words, often used in the Kritis is the Yamaka, a Sabda-alamkara, is a well-known device, where the same word or a repetition of vowels and consonants in the same order, give forth different meanings. That is; repeating words similar in sound; but, in different sense.

For instance; Sri Thyagaraja has used Yamaka-alamkara in the Kriti ‘Telisi-Rama-chintanato‘ (Purnachandrika), the words Rama, Arka and Aja are good examples of Suddha-Yamaka. Here, the word ‘Rama‘ is used in the sense of lady and in the sense of Brahman or the Absolute Being. The word ‘Aja‘ is used in the ·sense of goat and in the sense of Brahma or the creator; and the word ‘Arka‘ in the sense of sun and the plant caltrop 

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Amazingly, Sri Thyagaraja as also Sri Dikshitar and Sri Shyama Shastry, perhaps independent of each other, all contributed to the development of Kriti form, although they did not seem to have particularly corresponded or coordinated their efforts in this regard.

And, that was the turning point (Parva-kala) that gave a new sense of direction, vigour and identity to the music of South India. Their Kritis glowing like pure gems adorned with captivating fragrance (Sauganghika-svarna-pushpa) of sublime Ragas set in most fascinatingly elegant Sahitya are indeed matchless.

It is, fundamentally, the contribution of these brilliant and prolific composers that has enriched the art; given a definite form, substance and identity to the Karnataka Samgita and all the other related art-forms as are being practiced today. We all owe those Great Masters a deep debt of gratitude.

Lotouses three

Continued in Part Three

 
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Posted by on June 25, 2020 in Music, Sangita, Shyama Shastri

 

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