Sri Shyama Shastry – Music
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.
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.
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.
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-varṇaṃ, 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.
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)
– Mangalam– Jaya Mangalam – Shubha 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.
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.
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]
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).
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 Mela 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).
‘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-Dha–Pa 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.
For his Kritis, Sri Shyama Shastry used only four of the Pratimadhyama–Ragas (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.
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.
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
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).
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.
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.
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)
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.
Another site dedicated to the Music of Sri Shyama Shastry lists as many as 75 compositions of the Master.
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).
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.
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-Māyamālava Gaula); 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)
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, Śaṅkarābharana, 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 be 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.
And again, it is not the mere numbers that truly matter; but, what is of interest here is 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’, ‘Kaṇdippu’ blend well with this Raga. The Raga-Bhava is fully brought out when it is sung in Viḷamba 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.
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.
The Kṛiti ‘Marivēre-gati’, set to Chapu-Taaḷa with a Viḷamba-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.
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.
The Kiṛtis ‘Mahilo-amba’; ‘Pahi-Sri-Girirājasute’; and, ‘Aa dinamuṇiṇchi’ show different types of Alamkaras provided by the Raga Anandabhairavi. The Kṛiti ‘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.
As regards Raga Saveri (15th Melakarta Mayamalavagaula Janya); it is a Rakthi Raga;and, was once a Bhashanga-Raga, having Anya Svaras like Triśruthi -Gaṇdhāra and Niṣhāda; 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, Shaṇtha 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 Kuruḷa 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.
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-Ġa’; ‘’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)
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.
Durusuga – g R s n d – r S n d P – g r n; para kusalu – parâdiyani – vipudu
Marivere – n 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.
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 Kṛiti can be sung both in Rupaka and Ādi (Trishra -Gati) Taaḷas. The well-known phrase of Saveri ‘Dha-Ma-Ga-Ri-Sa’ featuring the ‘Jāru’ is , here brings out the grace. Also the Prasa ‘sāmagānalōlepāle-sadārthibhaṇjana 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.
- 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-Dha—Ri-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 Kṛiti ‘Sripathi mukha…’ begins on the elongated Tara-Sthayi note ‘Ri’ for ‘Śri’
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).
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.
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
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.
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.
In the Next Part we shall talk about the Kshetra Kritis and Nava-ratna-malika Kritis of Sri Shyama Shastry
Sources and References
- Indian Culture, Art and Heritage by Dr. P. K. Agrawal
- Shodhganga chapter Six
- Shodhganga Chapter Seven
- Shodhganga Chapter VI
- Shodhganga Chapter VII
- Shodhganga handle
- A Voyage through Dēśa and Kāla
- Compositions of Shyama Shastri (1762-1827)
- Origin and development of Indian music
- Prof. P. Sambamoorthy
All images are taken from Internet