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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.

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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.

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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.

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  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.

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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.

Mandala777

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

flordeloto

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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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

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[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) ]

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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  based on the Sutra.]

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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,.

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

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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.

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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. ]

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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 .

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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

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And, Four of the Kritis have a structure of Pallavi; Anupallavi; and, Four Carana

Four Caranas

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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. 

Vajra 2

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

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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.

*

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.

*

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

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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.

*

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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Sri Shyama Shastry (1763-1827) – Part Six

Continued from Part Five

Sri Shyama Shastry – Music-Continued

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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.

*

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.

*

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.

*

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.

*

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.

**

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.

kamatchi3

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).

*

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

*

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.

*

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

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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.

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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]

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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.

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 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’.

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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.

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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.

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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.

*

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.

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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’.

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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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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.]

Vajra

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)

Talaprastara 1Talaprastara 2

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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The Meaning of ‘MEANING’ – Part Eight

Continued from Part Seven

 

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SPHOTA

Two Aspects of the Word

As mentioned earlier in the series, the first two khandas of the Vakyapadiya cover subjects such as grammar as also the philosophy of grammar and linguistics, focusing on the word (Sabda) and meaning (Artha).

The first Khanda (Brahma-khanda) of Vakyapadiya introduces the concept of Sadba-sphota and gives the outline of its general philosophy; and, its distinction from sound (Dhvani, Nada). By Sabda Sphota, Bhartrhari refers to that inner unity of Sabda (word or sentence) which conveys the meaning (Artha).

The text explains a complete sentence as the intent of the speaker, which is unerringly grasped, directly and immediately, by the listener (Sphota). And, that it is not the same as Nada (non-linguistic sound or that which expresses) or Dhvani (intonation) which act as a carrier to convey the intended meaning.  Here, in Grammar (in contrast to Tantra and to the classical theories of Indian music), Nada signifies the gross sound which results from a collection of subtle Dhvani-s.

***

After establishing , in the opening Karika-s (Shastra-aramba), that Sabda–tattva (Word-principle) is verily the Brahman, the ultimate truth which is beyond space or time; and declaring that Sabda Brahman (Supreme word principle) is One (ekam eva), is imperishable (Akshara)  and is identical with the highest Reality –Para Brahman, Bhartrhari takes up the question of language and  meaning.

(Anadi-nidhanam Brahma sabda-tattvam yad-aksharam / vivartate artha-bhavena prakriya jagato yatah – VP. 1.1)

Bhartrhari begins his discussion on words and meaning (VP: 1.44-49) by stating that in the words which are expressive, Grammarians see two aspects :  one, the cause of all words, and another, the kind of words used to convey a meaning.  These two , though appearing to be separate, are ,in fact, not distant from each other; they, in truth, are one. The Supreme Word principle and the spoken word are in a similar relationship – as that between the fire which is inherent in the firewood, and that which is made manifest through rubbing fire-sticks together.

dvāv upādānaśabdeṣu śabdau śabdavido viduḥ /
eko nimittaṃ śabdānām aparo ‘rthe prayujyate -VP:1.44
avibhakto vibhaktebhyo jāyate ‘rthasya vācakaḥ /
śabdas tatrārtharūpātmā saṃbandham upagacchati – VP: 1.45
ātmabhedaṃ tayoḥ ke cid astīty āhuḥ purāṇagāḥ /
buddhibhedād abhinnasya bhedam eke pracakṣate –  VP:1.46
araṇisthaṃ yathā jyotiḥ prakāśāntarakāraṇam /
tadvac chabdo ‘pi buddhisthaḥ śrutīnāṃ kāraṇaṃ pṛthak – VP: 1.47
vitarkitaḥ purā buddhyā kva cid arthe niveśitaḥ /
karaṇebhyo vivṛttena dhvaninā so ‘nugṛhyate – VP: 1.48
nādasya kramajātatvān na pūrvo na paraś ca saḥ /
akramaḥ kramarūpeṇa bhedavān iva jāyate – VP:1.49

[Translation of Shri K Raghavan Pillai

Words are of two kinds — one, the cause of all words, and another, the kind of words used to convey a meaning.  Some consider that there is an intrinsic difference between them, according to others, the second type is only a manifested form of the first the Supreme Word principle and the spoken word are in a relationship similar to that between the fire which is inherent in the firewood, and that which is made manifest through rubbing fire-sticks together. The potential fire in the kindling wood, once inflamed, illuminates itself as well as other objects. Like the light concealed in the piece of kindling wood is the cause of the manifestation (prakāśa) of another [light].  It is the same way in which the mental word is the cause of every audible word.

The nada or the uttered sound is only the Sphota or the Word-principle in manifest form. But the manifested word has characteristics of its own which are not – of the Sphota (44-49)

In the next kārikās it is claimed that although the distinction between the mental and the audible words may be useful for the description of a verbal communication, from the ontological point of view it is invalid. It is the indivisible word that acquires succession in the phonemes (Varna) as if being differentiated. Modifications, which the mental word is subject to in the course of audible manifestation, have the same character as the changes which the reflection of an object undergoes because of the movement of water.

pratibimbaṃ yathānyatra sthitaṃ toyakriyāvaśāt / tatpravṛttim ivānveti sa dharmaḥ sphoṭanādayoḥ // VP:1.50 //]

**

Here, Bhartrhari, just as Patanjali, begins with the observation that the words or sentences (Sabda) can be viewed in two ways or as having two aspects (upādāna-śabdesu): One; as sound patterns (Dhvani); and, the other as its cause and essence (Artha).

[Patanjali had said:  Sphota is both internal and external. The internal form of Sphota is the innate essence of the word-meaning. The external aspect of Sphota is the uttered sound which is perceived by the sense organs. It merely serves to manifest the inner Sphota with its inherent word-meaning. But, for Patanjali, Sphota could be a letter (Varna) or a fixed pattern of letters (Pada).]

 (i) The gross sound pattern, Dhvani or Nada, is a sequence of sounds. Those sounds are employed to convey or to give an audible form to the intent of the speaker.  Those audible sounds through their divisions and time sequence, produced one after another by the speech organs, act as means (upaya) or as vehicles to transport the intent of the speaker. Such quanta of sound-sequences (words) might create an impression as though they are independent; and, the meaning intended to be conveyed by them (Sphota) comprises several parts. But, in truth, the individual words have no separate existence; and, both the sentence and its meaning (Sphota) are part-less.

.[pade na varna vidyante varnesva avayaya na cha / vakyat padanam atyantam pravibhago na kascha na // VP 174]

According to Bhartrhari, the letter-sounds have a limited range. Each sound helps in gaining a better understanding of its next. The first one could be vague ; and , the next one little more clear and so on, until the last one, aided by the accumulated  impression created by all the preceding perceptions, finally reveals the complete meaning (Sphota)  with precision and distinctness, as the light does.

 ātmarūpaṃ yathā jñāne jñeyarūpaṃ ca dṛśyate / artharūpaṃ tathā śabde svarūpaṃ ca prakāśate 1.51

(ii) The second; the essence or the meaning-bearing aspect of the language is called the Sphota. It is through that Sphota the meaning (Artha) of the sentence, as a whole, flashes forth.

Bhartrhari envisages Sphota “as that internal aspect, which is a timeless and part-less (avibhakta) linguistic symbol, to which meaning is attached”. Here, Sphota represents the true intent, purpose of the sentence (Sabda), while Dhvani the articulated sound-pattern, in its physical aspect, acts as a carrier to manifest the Sphota.

(ii) These two – Dhvani and Sphota – though appearing to be separate are, in fact, intimately related through a natural process (Yogyata). The former (Dhvani), acts as the outer garment or as an instrument in order to convey the inner essence of the word (Sphota).

Thus, a word has a dual power; one to indicate itself and the other to indicate the thing symbolized by it. It is like the power of fire:  to   reveal itself and at the same time to reveal other things.It is both the revealer and the revealed  (prakasha and prakasyatvam).

[Earlier, Panini had also mentioned that it is through conveying the own form first, the word conveys its meaning svaṃ rūpaṃ śabdasyā śabda saṃjñā – 1.01.068 ]

**

Though the Sphota is revealed in stages by each succeeding sound; it is, by itself, ‘one and indivisible’. The sounds uttered (words) are merely parts of a sentence that aid to reveal this Sphota. Bhartrhari asserts that it is the cognition of the Sphota in its entirety that is important in understanding the complete and true meaning of a sentence.

While the audible noise may vary depending on the speaker’s mode of utterance, Sphota as the meaning-unit of speech is not subject to such variations.

[ For instance; the sound of the word Ghata (gh, a, t and a) can be produced in any number of ways, either naturally (prakrta) or in a modified manner (vikruta). That word can be uttered slowly (vilambita), a little more quickly (madhyama) or even very quickly (druta).The variations in speed or in the mode of utterance are called vritti. The vritti might vary the form in which the word is uttered (Dhvani); but , it does not alter the content and the sense (Sphota) of the word.

Again; a pot in bright light can be seen clearly. The pot could be seen for a longer time if clear light continues to fall on it. The visibility of the pot depends on the quality of light that falls on it. The variation in the quality of light does not alter the very nature or the status of the pot.

Similarly, the change in speed or accent or mode of uttering a word (vritti) does not alter its Sphota. The physical aspect of the word that is the quality of its sound (Dhvani) might vary ; but , its Sphota remains unchanged.]

Obviously, Sphota is viewed here as a changeless element of speech, the inner unity which holds together the meaning. But, Bhartrhari does not define the term precisely.

[The commentators surmise that the ancient concept of Pranava (Om-kara) might have provided the inspiration to come up with the Sphota concept. In fact, Sphota is often identified with Pranava; and is taken as the imperishable Vak, the speech-principle (Vak-tattva).]

**

Bhartrhari explains the relation between the Sphota and Nada through an analogy of reflection of the moon on the surface of water. The relation between the object (moon) and its image (reflection) is because of the reflective surface (water). And the movement of the reflection might not necessarily be because of the movement of the object (moon). He says; just as the reflection on the water might give an impression as though the moon  (object) is rippling and moving, similarly the Sphota takes on the properties of uttered speech (sequence, loudness or softness and so on) in which it is manifested. According to this view, the reflection acquires the qualities of the object.

nādasya kramajātatvān na pūrvo na paraś ca saḥ / akramaḥ kramarūpeṇa bhedavān iva jāyate // 1.49 // pratibimbaṃ yathānyatra sthitaṃ toyakriyāvaśāt / tatpravṛttim ivānveti sa dharmaḥ sphoṭa-nādayoḥ // 1.50 // ātmarūpaṃ yathā jñāne jñeyarūpaṃ ca dṛśyate / artharūpaṃ tathā śabde svarūpaṃ ca prakāśate / / 1.51 //

According to Bhartrhari, the perfect perception is that in which there is identity between the essence or the thought (Sphota) and the form of its manifestation (Nada or Dhvani  – the letters or sounds). They are the two halves of one entity; and, are not distinct and separable (asyaiv-ātmano bhedau śabdā-arthāv apṛtha -ksthitau VP.2.31) The  realization of this special kind of relation arises  due to the function of mind, rather than of the external senses.

[Some scholars have pointed out that Bhartrhari’s position is closer to the notion of reflection (Abhasa) formulated by the Trika philosophers of Kashmir. In this viewpoint, the Shaktis and their material forms as words are identical with the Absolute. The relationship between the two is described as that between the mirror and its reflection. That is; the latter can have no independent existence without the former. And, yet the latter also has a reality which is somehow identical with the former.]

[Bhartrhari at another place clarifies (VP.1.59): ‘Two aspects of a word (upādānaśabda), distinguished artificially and perceived as separate, indicate different activities, without contradiction’.  It means that all the elements extracted from the word in the course of linguistic analysis are ultimately unreal. But they are valid in their own context. The elements that are relevant in the context of one activity may not be valid in the context of another. That is to say; each kind of activity, i.e. each kind of communicative situation, has its own reality which in some way might differ from the realities of other situations.

bhedenāvagṛhītau dvau śabdadharmāv apoddhṛtau/ bhedakāryeṣu hetutvam avirodhena gacchataḥ  (VP.1.59)  ]

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Sphota:

The technical term Sphota does not easily translate into English. Sometimes, the term ‘symbol’ is used for Sphota in the sense of its function as a linguistic sign. Some scholars have tried to equate Sphota with the Greek concept of Logos, which stands for an Idea as well as for word. But such explanations too seem rather inadequate.

The term Sphota is derived from the Sanskrit root ‘Sphut’ which means ‘to burst forth’; but, it also describes what ’is revealed’ or ’is made explicit’. Sphota can also refer to the abstract or conceptual form of an audible word. Say, as when the idea or the meaning bursts or flashes on the mind after one hears /grasps the sounds that are uttered.

[Harsha V. Dehejia remarks : translated wrongly as ‘explosion’; Sphota could ideally be understood as ‘blossoming’]

In Grammar and in Indian linguistic theory, the term Sphota is of prime importance. Nageshabhatta in his Sphota-vada describes Sphota as an entity which is manifested by spoken letters or sounds;  and, through which meaning is expressed (sphutati prakashate artho asmad iti sphotah, Vacaka iti yavat, Sphotavada).

In a similar manner, Sri Madhava in his Sarva-darshana-samgraha, defines Sphota as that which is manifested or revealed by the Varna (phonemes): sphutyate vyajyate varnairiti sphotah’.  Sri Madhava describes Sphota in two ways. The first as: that from which the meaning bursts forth or shines forth. And, the second as: an entity that is manifested by the spoken letters and sounds.

To put it in another way; Sphota, in its linguistic sense, refers to that element which expresses a meaning (word). In its second sense, it is something that is made explicit by letters or sounds (meaning). Thus, the Sphota may be thought of as a kind of two-sided coin. On the one side, it is manifested by the word sound; and on the other side, it simultaneously reveals the word meaning. It is both the word and its meaning.

Bhartrhari also deals with Sphota at two levels: one on the metaphysical plane and the other on the empirical plane. The Sphota here is more than a theory of language.  The principle that is involved here is: the Brahman first manifested itself as Sound and then as form. The Sphota, Sabda-Brahman, the manifester as Logos or Word, is the power through which the Lord manifests in the universe. Liberation is achieved when one attains unity with that ‘supreme word principle’. Within this theory, consciousness and thought are intertwined; and Grammar becomes a path to liberation. This metaphysical Sphota-vada is a monistic philosophy based in Sanskrit grammar.

At the empirical level, Bhartrhari is concerned with the process of communicating meaning. He deals with the word and the sound distinctions; the word meaning; the unitary nature of the whole sentence; the word-object connection; and the levels of speech, etc. His focus is on cognition and on language.

Bhartrhari also says that Sphota is both external (bahya) and internal (abhayantara). And again, in understanding Sphota as an external entity we have to understand it in the form of universal (Jati) and individual or specific (Vyakti).

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Communication of thought

If the letters  float away and disappear the instant we utter them and if each sound is replaced by another in quick succession, then one can hardly perceive the sentence as a whole. And the question that comes up is – how does one grasp  a sentence and its meaning in full?

Bhartrhari explains, at first, the sentence exists in the mind of the speaker as a unity or Sphota. In the process of giving a form to a thought, he produces a series of different sounds in a sequence where one sound follows its previous one. It might look as though those word-sounds are separated in time and space. But, they are indeed part and parcel of one and the same single entity – the sentence. The communication of a sentence and its meaning is not complete until the last word is uttered. Thus, though the word-sounds reach the listener in a sequence, eventually they all merge into one ; and, are grasped by the listener as a single unit. The same Sphota which originated in speaker’s mind re-manifests in listener’s mind, conveying the intended meaning.

The listener grasps the intent of the speaker as a whole; and the understanding is like an instantaneous flash of insight (prathibha). Just as the sentence (the symbol – Sphota) is an integral unit, the meaning signified by it is also unitary. That is; the sentence is an integral unit; and, its meaning which is grasped through intuition (pratibha) is also a single unit (Vakya-sphota)). According to Bhartrhari, Sphota is an auditory image of the sentence.  It is indivisible and without inner-sequence.

This, rather crudely put, is the concept called Sphota – the sentence just as its meaning being taken as an integral symbol; and its meaning bursting forth in a flash of understanding.

Bhartrhari held the view that the sentence is not a mere collection (Sabda-samghatah) or an ordered series of words. The sentence with its words is to be taken as single part-less linguistic unit (eko’navayavah s’abdah); and, not as a jumble of fragments. A sentence is a sequence-less, part-less unity that gets expressed or manifested in a sequential and temporal utterance. He maintained that the primary function of the words is to combine into a sentence, in its complete utterance, to give forth a meaning – (Arthah sahabhuteshu vartate – VP.2.115). Ultimately, the meaning of the words depend upon the overall meaning of the sentence (rupam sarva-pada-artham vakyartha nibamdhanamVP.2.325)

[At another place, Bhartrhari observes: All differences presuppose a unity (abheda-purvaka hi bhedah); and, where there are differences and parts, there is an underlying unity. Otherwise the one would not be related to the other; and, each would constitute a world by itself.

Abheda-pūrvakā bhedāḥ kalpitā vākya-vādibhiḥ / bheda-pūrvān abhedāṃs tu manyante pada-darśinaḥ // VP. 2.57// ]

Just as a root or a suffix by itself has no meaning, so also the meanings of individual words have no independent existence. Bhartrhari asserts that a word consisting letters and syllables cannot, on its own, directly convey the meaning/ intent of the speaker. The words are somewhat like intermediate steps to arrive at the meaning of the sentences.

[That does not mean that Bhartrhari denies the validity of individual words or their meaning; but, what is in question is their significance. They are secondary in relation to the Sphota, which is the real object of cognition.

Bhartrhari accepts the fact that a word is vital in a sentence; and, can have multiple meanings. The role and the particular desired meaning of the word depend on the intent of the speaker and the context in which it is employed. He explains this through an analogy: the human eye which has the natural power of seeing many things at a time, but it can see a particular object, clearly,  only when the individual decides and focuses his attention to see that object.]

Bhartrhari argues; in a linguistic analysis, artificial extraction of parts from an integral unit (apoddhāra) – splitting up of a sentence into word and then on into roots, suffixes and syllables, syntaxes etc – might be a useful exercise for study of a language and its grammar; but, such fragmented approach serves hardly any purpose; and, surely it is not suitable in the real world where men and women live, transact (vyāpāra) and communicate verbally (Vyavahara). He says that in a   speech situation, where the speaker communicates her/his ideas and the listener grasps the uttered speech, the communication is always through complete statement. The speaker thinks; communicates; and, the listener grasps and understands those series of word- sounds as a single unit.

Bhartrhari says, those who know the language well, do listen to the sentence. And those who do not know the language may hear words only as sound bites.  Sphota, in essence, is the real experience of listening to a sentence as a whole and grasping its meaning through perception.  It is said; meaning is not something that can be inferred; but, it is actually being perceived.

Bhartrhari compares the communication through language (by use of sentences) to creation of a painting. Bhartrhari describes the painter as going through three stages when he paints a picture : “ when an artist wishes to paint a figure of a man , he first visualizes the object and its spirit as a composite unit  ; then , as of a figure having parts; and, thereafter, gradually, in a sequence , he paints it on the surface of a cloth or whatever”.

Mandana Misra in his Sphota-siddhi (a Vritti, commentary, on Bhatrhari’s Vakyapadiya) offers the example of the viewing-experience of a painting, in order to illustrate the relation that exists between a sentence and its words. He points out that when we view a picture, it is conceived as a whole, over and above its various parts. Similarly, he says, the composite image presented by a piece of cloth is a whole; and, it is quite distinct from the particular threads and colours that have gone into making of it.

That is to say; a painter conceives a picture in his mind; and, thereafter gives its parts a substance on the canvass by using variety of strokes, different colours, varying shades etc. Which means; an artist paints the picture in parts though he visualizes it as a single image. The viewer of the painting, rightly, also takes in, absorbs the picture and its spirit as a whole, as an integral unit; and , he  does not look for individual strokes, shades etc or the permutation of such details that went into making the picture.  

Similar is the case with the sentence and individual words employed to compose it.

*

For Bhartrhari, Sphota is the real substratum, proper linguistic unit, which is identical with its meaning. Language is not merely the vehicle of meaning or of thought. Thought anchors language; and, the language anchors thought. According to Bhartrhari, the speech and thought are two aspects of the same principle (Vak). In this way, he says, there are no essential differences between a linguistic unit and its meaning or the thought it conveys. That is to say; the perfect communication is when there is complete identity between sentence (or word) and its meaning.

Sphota refers to that ‘non-differentiated language principle’; and, that later gave rise to the theory of Sabda-advaita (word monism).

[Bhartrhari in his Vakyapadiya recognized and gave credence only to the sentence-Sphota (Vakya-Sphota). But, the latter Grammarians split up the concept into various divisions; and, came up with various sorts of Sphota-s. For instance; Nagesabhatta in his Parama-laghu-manjusha enumerates as many as eight varieties of Sphota, such as: Varna-sphota; Pada-sphota; Vakya-sphota; Varna-jati-sphota; Pada-jati-sphota; Vakya-jati-sphota; Akhanda-pada-sphota; and Akhanda-vakya-sphota.

Of those eight fold varieties of Sphota-s, it is only the last mentioned, the Akhanda-vakya-sphota (sentence as the undivided linguistic unit, the conveyer of meaning), that corresponds to the essential nature of Sphota doctrine as envisioned by Bhartrhari. The rest are mere classroom-exercises. It is said; though the other seven divisions have no real merit of their own, they still serve some practical purpose. They enable the beginner to learn and to know the true nature of Akhanda-vakya-sphota.]

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Process of cognition and theories of error

In the traditional Schools of Indian philosophy (say; as in Samkhya, Advaita or even in Buddhism) there is a sharp distinction between the states of ignorance (A-vidya) and enlightenment (kaivalya, Moksha or Nirvana). A person is either bound or is liberated; but, there is no intermediate stage. Similarly, in the Schools of Logic (Nyaya) also, the valid means of knowledge (Pramana) either reveal the object completely or do not reveal at all.

The approach adopted by Bhartrhari in explaining the process of true cognition is significantly different from that of the other Schools. Bhartrhari argues that perception need not always be an ‘all–or-nothing process’. It could very well be a graded one. There could be vagueness initially; but, the perception could improve as one tries to gain clarity of the object. That is to say; the process of revelation could start from the indeterminate stage and progress, in steps, to the determinate stage. At each successive step, it gains increasing clarity. It begins from complete ignorance, passes through partial knowledge and ends up in a complete knowledge.

Thus, the position of Bhartrhari is that the overcoming of error is a perceptual process by progressing through degrees of positive approximations. Even invalid cognitions can sometimes lead to valid knowledge ( say , as in trial-and-error). Initial errors or vagueness could gradually and positively be overcome by an increasingly clearer cognition of the word form or Sphota. That is to say; the true cognition, established by direct perception, could take place , initially, through a series of possible errors; but, finally leading to the truth.

And, that also takes care of the objections raised by the Mimamasa School which accused the Sphota of being a mere guesswork.

[In Advaita, the true–final cognition is achieved through a process of reasoning and inference; and, not by perception. The Grammarians, in contrast, hold the view that the final cognition of Sphota is by perfect perception Prathibha; and, not through inference. Mandana explaining the Sphota point of view says: the revelation of an object clearly or vaguely is by direct perception. In the case of the other means of knowledge there is either apprehension of the object or not at all.]

Mandana in his Sphotasiddhi agrees with Bhartrhari’s stand   that the final and the clear perception of the Sphota could possibly be achieved after rectifying  a series of probable errors.

Bhartrhari’s position is in stark contrast to that of Sri Sankara wherein the overcoming of the error (A-vidya) is a process of inference in which there are no approximations or degrees of errors. In Advaita Vedanta, there can only be a ‘True’ or ‘False’ cognition, with no gradation in between. Here, error is overcome by a single negation. According to Sri Sankara, the error, if it is to be overcome, must be completely and effectively replaced at once by true knowledge.

Thus, Bhartrhari’s stand marks a significant departure from the Vedanta School where the validity of a means of cognition (Pramana) is judged by its ability or otherwise either to provide for a clear apprehension of the object or not at all. And, there is no room for vagueness or for improving upon an error in stages.

That is to say; Advaita usually describes the error in terms of negation (such as when it is said it is not a snake). The Grammarians, on the other hand, explain the error (vagueness of perception), positively, as a step that , if overcome by increasingly clear cognition, could finally lead to true and complete understanding (Sphota).

The nature and process of comprehension of Sphota   is illustrated by Bhartrhari and other grammarians by means of various analogies.

: – A jeweler, examining a jewel or precious stone, has to look it steadily for some time, to enable him to gain a familiarity with its genuineness, its details  and as also its probable value. With his first reading he acquires a knowledge of the general features of the gem. Each subsequent examination thereafter helps him to ascertain the true nature and quality of the gem.  And the final assessment, aided by the results gained through the previous ones, will enable him to evaluate and to determine, with certainty, the true quality and the exact value of the gem, completely and clearly.

: – Bhartrhari   gives the example of a student attempting to learn by-heart a verse or an anuvaka (a passage of a text) by repeated reading/recitation. Each such attempt helps him to retain the text or a part of it in his memory, to an extent.  It is the last reading aided by the impressions left behind by the previous attempts that helps him to commit to his memory the verse or the passage correctly and fully.

: – Bhartrhari offers another example of a tree which when viewed from a distance might appear like an elephant. But, that apparent mistake would be eliminated if one keeps gazing at the object intensely. And, one would eventually recognize it as a tree, which is its true form. In this instance also, the valid cognition is achieved by erasing a series of errors.

Mandana Misra, in his commentary, remarks that such correction – moving from error to the true – might not necessarily be explained away by factors such as change in distance. That is because, he says, even by standing at the same spot and looking at the object intensely one would be able to gain the right perspective of the object. He explains   : ‘it is the previous cognitions (in this case an elephant) leaving progressively clearer residual impressions, which become the cause of clear perception of the tree’.

Similarly, in Bhartrhari’s theory of language, the object of cognition (sentence), at first, is heard in the form of a word. But finally, through further cognitions ; with the subsequent words providing increased clarity; and , with the utterance of the last word, the total import of the sentence is grasped clearly (Sphota).

It is said; the Sphota theory was developed by Bhartrhari as a foil to the Mimamsa. In contrast to Mimamsa, Bhartrhari asserts that ‘primary linguistic unit is the undivided sentence (Vakya-Sphota). The individual words are merely hints or stepping stones to the complete meaning of sentence (Vakya).

: – And there is the much battered case of a coil of rope being mistaken for a snake. The perception of a rope as a snake is an error. But, the true perception results by negating that error through a series of increasingly clearer perceptions (Sphota) – (as in the case of elephant-tree analogy) . 

:- And, Sesa Krsna, a philosopher and commentator belonging to the early part of the sixteenth century, in his Sphota-tattva-nirupana, a treatise on the Sphota doctrine, offers another illustration.

He says that when a person utters a sound ka with the intention of saying Kamalam (a lotus), we know that he is trying to say a word beginning with Ka. And, when he utters the next syllable Ma, we have another clue; and, we can guess the word a little more clearly. Now, that eliminates the possibility of all the words not beginning with Kama.  Still, the word is not quite clear. We do not know whether he is going to say Kamanam or Kamalam. It is only when the last sound lam is uttered that we come to know the word fully and clearly. It is by the perception of the last letter; we reach at a valid cognition. Thus, the function of the letters is to build up the higher unit (in this case, the word).

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Pratibha

Bhartrhari in the Karikas (2.143-152) of his Vakyapadiya discusses his concept of Prathibha – intuition or flash of understanding.

The basic principle of Bhartrhari’s theory of language is that the complete utterance of the sentence, as a whole, is a unit of speech; and, it should be considered as a single unity. The words, though meaningful, are fractional parts of a sentence. The complete sentence-meaning might be produced by the combination of such parts; but, the whole is simply not the sum of the parts. The sentence and its meaning is essentially an indivisible unit.

We understand the full meaning of a sentence immediately, only, after the speaker finishes the sentence. Thereafter, the complete meaning of the sentence is grasped, as a unity, instantly (pratyaksha), in a flash of insight (Prathibha).

Viccheda grahane arthanam prathibhanyaiva jayate I vakyartha iti tam aahuh padarthair upapaditam IIVP.2.143

That Prathibha or flash is not a mere piece of knowledge. It is the wisdom or flash of understanding which guides a person to right understanding (prajnya) and right conduct (iti-kartavyata). Such instinctive awareness is in everyone’s experience. Even the birds and animals have that basic instinct, acquired directly or through recollection of it (samskara or Vasana).  All beings act upon and depend on that inborn intuition (Prathibha).  Even the language-competence and performance is also an inborn virtue (Pratibha) in Man. It is through the power (Shakthi) of that Pratibha the total meaning of the part-less (avibhakta) sentence (AkhandaVakya-sphota) flashes forth.

And yet, that innate instinctive awareness (Prathibha) possessed by all beings cannot be precisely defined in words (anakhyena); pinpointing ‘this is that’- (idam tad iti sanyesam anakyena katham cha na).

[ Mammatacharya ( Kāvyaprakāśa, 11th century) while dealing with poetics , observes  :  the mere knowledge of the word alone is not enough to understand and enjoy the poetic import or the essence of the Kavya;  it needs intuition or Prathibha.  He calls Prathibha as – nava-navaonvesha-shalini prajna – the ever inventive and resourceful intellect. Prathibha is also called, at times, as Vasana.  Only those endowed with Prathibha can truly enjoy the essence and beauty of Kavya. ]

That intuitive wisdom which reveals the dynamic inter-relatedness of all things comes to a person through maturity, experience (anubhava), reasoning (yukthi) and learning ( from Shastras and Grammar). At another place, Bhartrhari remarks: “insight attains clarity through  diverse traditional views (prajna vivekam labhate bhinnair Agama-darshanin -VP: 2.484). Such wisdom, it is said, is derived from six sources (sadvidhā): nature (Svabhava); action (acharana); practice (abhyasa); meditation or contemplation (yoga); invisible causes (adrsta); and, instructions handed down by the wise (upapāditām)

Svabhāva-acharaṇā-abhyāsa- yogā-adṛṣṭa-upapāditām / viśiṣṭopahitāṃ ceti pratibhāṃ ṣaḍvidhāṃ viduḥ (VP : 2.152)

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For and against the Sphota-vada

Over the centuries, the Sphota concept was hotly debated among  various Schools of thought. There were those who supported the Sphota-vada; and, there were many others who criticized and opposed it bitterly.

Among the former (Sphotavadins), the more prominent were: Yaska; Patanjali; Mandana Misra; Nagesabhatta; scholars of the Kashmir-Shaiva School; some Yoga-commentators; and, of course Bhartrhari who was the champion of the Sphota-vada. But, somehow, those who opposed the Sphota-vada not only outnumbered its supporters but also were more influential. The anti-Sphotavadins included such eminent philosophers as: Upavarsha; scholars of Samkhya, Nyaya and Vaiseshika Schools; scholars of Shaiva siddantha; Mimamsakas – Sabaraswamin, Kumarila Bhatta and Prabhakara; Sri Ramanuja; Sri Madhva; Sri Jiva Goswami; Vachaspathi Misra; and, most notably Sri Sankara.

The early Mimamsa School which strongly defended Varna-vada argued that the individual word or the letter (Varna) is the prime substance of Vak (speech). The School of the Grammarians, on the other hand, advocated Sphota-vada to explain the mysterious manner by which the sentence-meaning is conveyed. They put forward Sphota as a process of cognition which culminates in the intuitive perception (Prathibha) of the Absolute as Sabda –Brahman.

In the later periods, these two points of view became the major platforms for debates and discussion among the various Schools of Indian philosophy as also among the Schools of Grammar and language.

 *

In the earlier part of this series we have seen the objections raised against the Sphota concept  by the Samkhya and the Mimamsa scholars prior to the time of Bhartrhari. Let’s now see few major observations made by both the pro and anti Sphotavadins after the time of Bhartrhari (Ca.450 CE).

:- Sabaraswamin (Ca. first century BCE) the celebrated Mimamsaka in his comments on Mimamsa sutra (1.1.5) dismisses Sphota-vada, since it is not consistent with the Mimamsa faith in reality of Vedic words. According to Sabara, a word is nothing more than a combination of phonemes (Varna) and the syllables are independent units. The syllables, by themselves, might not convey the meaning; but when they combine they do convey a meaning –autpattikaḥ śabdasya-ārthena saṃbandhas. He did not see a need for a Sphota –  pratyakṣādibhir anavagatasya / – katham? .

 : – Following Sabara , Kaumarila Bhatta, a noted Mimamsa Scholar (7th -8th century) also attacked the manner in which the Sphota phenomenon was supposed to reveal the meaning of word-sounds (Sabda). Kaumarila argued that the word (Sabda), whether be it individual or be it a part of sentence, is nothing more than a collection of articulated-sounds or spoken words. And, it is with this collection of sounds alone that the meaning is associated. The listener grasps the sounds of the words and their meaning. There is nothing else here, he said, one need not, without reason, assume a mystical process of Sphota etc.

: – Mandana Misra, a contemporary of Kaumarila Bhatta, however, refuted the stand of his senior Mimamsaka; and, said that Kaumarila’s stand was rather frivolous. Mandana, in support of the Sphota doctrine, wrote a brilliant commentary (Sphota-siddhi) based Bhartrhari’s Vakyapadiya. He supported Bhartrhari’s presumption of the whole being prior to the parts; as also the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. He agreed with Bhartrhari that it is not the individual words but the complete thought of the sentence that ultimately matters.

As mentioned earlier, Mandana also offered the example of a painting conceived as a whole, over and above its various parts. And, also of the appreciation of a piece of cloth, as whole; and, not as mere collection of threads and colours that are woven into it. He says: This aspect is brought out clearly by Bhartrhari.

:- The Jain philosopher Prabhachandra in his Prameya-kamala-marthanda attempted  to reconcile the two opposing views; and, came up with his own doctrine of ‘Interminacy’ (syavada, anekantavada), which, essentially, was a principle that encouraged acceptance of multiple or plural views on a given issue as being multiple dimensions of one and the same object.

:- As regards the Buddhists , while Dharmakirti attacked Bhartrhari, another Buddhist scholar Dignaga seemed to be highly influenced by Bhartrhari ; and quoted verses from Vakyapadiya in support of his own arguments concerning grammatical distinctions between two words having different nominal endings and those with identical endings. Finally, Dignaga agreed with Bhartrhari that meaning of a sentence (vakyartha) is grasped through intuition (prathibha

: – Sri Sankara in his commentary on Brahma Sutra (1.3.28) argued against the stand of the Sphotavadins. He adopted the view taken by the highly revered ancient philosopher Upavarsha (Ca.500 BCE) who had earlier rejected the Sphota-vada. While brushing aside the Sphota concept, Upavarsha had remarked: ‘that all this talk of unity of meaning etc. is largely an illusion, for it is the words, it’s articulated elements (Varna) alone that make the unity’.  Upavarsha had in turn come up with his theory of   Varna-vada; according to which, the smallest phonetic units that can carry the meaning (phoneme = Varna) alone are real constituents of a word. He said sounds are only Varnas; and, there is no need for assuming a Sphota.

Sri Sankara adopted the statement of Upavarsha “words are none other than various letter-sounds (Varnas)”. He agreed with Upavarsha; and, supported Varna-vada, while rejecting the Sphota-vada .

Sri Sankara did not approve the concept of Sphota-vada; and, said the meaning of a word can be known from its constituent letters, sounds and the context.  Here, he remarks: Bhagavad Upavarsha says ‘but, the words are none other than various letter-sounds (Varna)- varna eva tu sabddh id bhagavan Upavarsah (Brahmasutra, Adhyaya 1 with  Samkara’s  Sariraka mimamsa bhasya: 1.3.28).). And, therefore, he said , there is no need to bring in the concept of Sphota to decide upon the meaning of the word when it can be derived directly from the Varna-s that form the word.

And then, Sri Sankara went on to build his own arguments to oppose the Sphota vada, based on what he called ‘the tradition of the Masters’- (Acharya –sampradayokti-purvakam siddantam aaha varna iti).

According to him, only the individual letters are perceived; and, they are combined through inference of the mind into word aggregate. Because the psychological process is one of inference and not of perception, there can be no degrees of cognition. According to Sri Sankara, the inference Pramana is an all–or-nothing process. The error, if it is to be overcome, must be completely replaced, all at once, by a new inferential construction of mind or by a super-conscious intuition of Brahman.

:-  The other Acharyas and commentators also toed the line of Bhagavan Upavarsha and Sri Sankara; and, supported Varna- vada as against Sphota-vada. Vacaspati Misra, who commented on Sri Sankara’s Vedanta Sutra Bhashya, also rejected the Sphota theory. He came up with his own theory of Abhihitanvaya-vada; and, said the understanding of the meaning of a whole sentence is reached by inferring to it, in a separate act of lakshana or implication, from the individual meanings of the constituent words.

In the recent times, the Sphota doctrine has received much attention from the scholars of linguistics – both in the West and in the East. It has been duly recognized as one of the significant contributions of India to the philosophy of Grammar. As the noted scholar Bimal K. Matilal observes: “Even today this theory is widely recognized among modern linguists as the most complete investigation into the profundities of language, making a considerable contribution to the Philosophy of Language, the Psychology of Speech, and especially Semiotics”.

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Bhartrhari, while discussing about Sphota, put forth his theory to explain the process and the stages through which the thought in the speaker’s mind gets transformed into audible speech.

In the next part let’s look at those levels of Language

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Continued in

Next Part

References and Sources

  1. The Philosophy of the Grammarians, Volume 5 – edited by Harold G. Coward, Karl H. Potter, K. Kunjunni Raja
  2. Of Many Heroes: An Indian Essay in Literary Historiographyby G. N. Devy
  3. Time in Hinduismby Harold Coward
  4. Bhartṛhari, the Grammarianby Mulakaluri Srimannarayana Murti
  5. The Study of Vakyapadiya– Dr. K Raghavan Piliai Volume I (Motilal Banarsidas; 1971)
  6. Being and Meaning: Reality and Language in Bhartṛhari and Heideggerby Sebastian Alackapally
  7. Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Soundby Guy L. Beck
  8. Bhartrhari (ca. 450-510)by Madhav Deshpande
  9. Bhartrihariby Stephanie Theodorou
  10. The Sphota Theory of Language: A Philosophical Analysisby Harold G. Coward
  11. Speech versus Writing” In Derrida and Bhartahariby Harold G. Coward
  12. Sequence from Patanjali to Post _modernityby  V. Ashok.
  13. The Vedic Conception of Sound in Four Features
  14. Sphota theory of Bhartrhari
  15. Word and Sentence, Two Perspectives: Bhartrhari and Wittgensteinedited by Sibajiban Bhattacharyya
  16. Hermeneutical Essays on Vedāntic Topicsby John Geeverghese Arapura
  17. Culture and Consciousness: Literature Regainedby William S. Haney
  18. The Advaita Vedānta of Brahma-siddhiby Allen Wright Thrasher
  19. Bhartr̥hari, Philosopher and Grammarian: Proceedings of the First… Edited by Saroja Bhate, Johannes Bronkhorst
  20. Bhartṛhari – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  21. Sri Venkateswara Univrsity Oriental Journal Volumes XXX-XXXi 1987 – 1988
  22. Studies in the Kāśikāvṛtti: The Section on Pratyāhāras: Critical Edition …edited by Pascale Haag, Vincenzo Vergiani
  23. Proceedings of the Lecture Series on Våkyapadiya and Indian Philosophy of Languages- (31.1.08 to 2.2.08)
  24. Encyclopaedia for the world psychologists 1. A – D ; Edited by H. L. Kalia
  25. Linguistic philosophy of Yaska- Sodhganga
  26. https://archive.org/stream/Vakyapadiya/vakyapadiya#page/n105/mode/1up
  27. http://shodhganga.inflibnet.ac.in/bitstream/10603/31822/8/08_chapter%202.pdf
  28. ALL IMAGES ARE FROM INTERNET
 
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The Meaning of ‘MEANING’ – Part Seven

Continued from Part Six

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The Word and the Sentence

Grammar and the philosophy of language

Grammar (Vyakarana) was recognized  in India , even from the earliest times , as a distinct science; a field of knowledge with its own parameters, which distinguished it from other branches of learning / persuasions. It was regarded as the means to secure release from the bondage of ignorance, cluttered or muddled thinking : Vag-yoga ; Sabda-yoga; or Sabdapurva-yoga.

The overall aim of Sanskrit Grammar was not to list out the rules and to standardize the language; but, it was to clearly bring out the apt and the intended meaning of the structure of words. As Yaska puts it in his Nirukta (the oldest available Indian treatise on etymology, philology and semantics) the aim was to understand the real significance of the word; and, to bring out the meaning of the uttered word (artha nityah parikseta – Nir: 2.1).

Nirukta is the systematic creation of a glossary; and, it discusses how to understand archaic, uncommon words used mainly in the Rig-Veda . The field grew probably because almost a quarter of words in the Vedic texts composed in the 2nd-millennium BCE appear just once; and, their meaning and intent had, over a period, become unclear.

The texts of the Nirukta field of study are also called Nirvacana shastra. The Nirukta belongs to a class of texts that are designed to explore and present the precise meaning of the Vedic mantras. There were such Niruktas (Nirvachana Shastra) even prior to the time of Yaska (Ca. 6th century B C E). In his Nirukta, Yaska refers to about twelve Nirukta-karas prior to his time ; and, to their views: Aupamanyava; Aurnanabha; Agrayana; Varshyayani; Sakapuni; Gargya; Talava; Kaitiki; Kaushtuki; Sthaulashtivi; and, Katthayaka.

But, the works of all those savants are lost. It is only the Nirukta of Yascacharya that has stood the test of time for over two thousand seven hundred years; and , is acclaimed , for its excellence, as the most authoritative text in its class.

Yaska’s Nirukta, essentially, is a commentary on the Nighantu, which mostly lists the words occurring in the Rig-Veda; and, it is also meant to functions as a compliment to Vyakarana (Grammar. In addition, it also served a practical purpose; which was to help and guide the Yajnaka, the one who performs the Yajnas, in unerringly identifying the Devata of a mantra, so that the Yajna is performed well and its objective is achieved successfully.

The study of Nirukta has been closely related to a Vedanga (an ancillary Vedic science) viz., Vyakarana (Grammar); but, it has a different focus. Vyakarana deals with linguistic analysis to establish the exact form of words to properly express ideas, while Nirukta focuses on linguistic analysis to help establish the proper meaning of the words, given the context they are used in the Vedic texts. Yaska asserts that the prerequisite to the study of Nirukta is the study of Vyakarana

And, Vyakarana , the Sanskrit Grammar essentially aimed to purify (samskruta), to discipline and to explain the behavior of the spoken language, so that the inner meaning could shine forth unhindered.

During the periods following the three Great Sages (Munitraya) – Panini, Katyayana and Patanjali – the question of perceiving the intended meaning of the spoken word engaged the attention of the Grammarians and the philosophers of the language. The more significant of such Scholar-Grammarians, among others, were: Mandana Misra, Kaumarila Bhatta, Kunda Bhatta, Abhinavagupta and Bhartrhari. In particular, Bharthari’s major work, Vakyapadiya, discusses the ways in which the outer word-form could unite with its inner meaning. 

Each of those giants, in his own manner, addressed the question about ‘’the meaning of ‘meaning’ ‘’; debated vigorously on various theories of meaning as being fundamental to linguistic studies.

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In the Grammar-traditions of ancient India, protracted debates were carried out on the question: ’what is the basic unit of the language that gives forth a meaning (Artha)?  Is it the alphabet (Varna) or the word (Pada) or the sentence (Vakya)?’

Though the discussions took several routes, it ultimately arrived on the fact that the letters constitute a word; and, the words come together to form a sentence. It was pointed out that just as a word has no separate entity without its constituent letters; similarly, a sentence has no separate entity without words that give it a structure.

It was also said; though the words are parts of a sentence, the meaning of the sentence does not independently arise out of them. Meaning is the function of the sentence as a whole. Though the distinction between a sentence and its parts (words and letters) was recognized, it was said to be mainly, for day-to-day purposes (loka-vyavahara) and for analytical studies undertaken by the grammarians.

This position was, in a way, formalized when Yaska mentioned that ‘from the Vedic mantras we come to know that ‘language started with sentences and not with individual words’. He described the sentence as the entity that manifests meaning (vak punah prakasayaty-arthanNir.9.l9); and, as a fixed combination of words (niyata-vacoyukti) which is unchangeable (niyata-vacoyuktayo niyata-anupurvya bhavanti – Nir.I.l5).The meaning of a sentence remains un-altered even with a shift in the position of the words.

The Next question was whether the words have an independent existence of their own or whether they are merely segments of a sentence which, in truth, is an indivisible entity producing a definite meaning.

There was a line of argument (Pada-vadin) which asserted that a word though being a part or a segment (Khanda) of a sentence is, indeed, an independent unit of thought and meaning; it enjoys its own existence and characteristics; and, it is only the harmonious unity of such meaning-bearing words that lends a purpose to the sentence. The School which supported this line of argument, upholding the independent nature of the word, came to be known as Khanda-paksha.

The other School , which opposed the above standpoint, emphasized that the sentence is the fundamental, indivisible (A-khanda) linguistic unit; words are just the components of a sentence; and, mere words without reference to a sentence are abstractions and unreal; and do not convey a definite meaning. The thrust of this argument  (Vakya-vadin) was that a sentence is an indivisible, integrated unit; and, in the absence of a structured sentence, the individual words, by themselves, do not communicate a sense or the intent of the speaker. It asserted; the meaning of a sentence, as a whole, is an indivisible entity. The School which advocated this argument   was known as the A-khanda-paksha.

Thus, even at the very early stages in the development of Vyakarana (Grammar) we find two fundamental approaches to the study of the problem of meaning: the khanda-paksha and the A-khanda-paksha.

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Khanda-paksha

The Khanda-Paksha is about the primacy of the word (Pada or Sabda). Khanda-paksha treats the word as an autonomous unit of thought and meaning.  Here, the language study is primarily based on words; and the sentence is taken to be an assembly of such words. The Khanda-paksha confined its inquiry to the meaning of the words by treating words as self-contained and self-explaining units. It did not pay much attention to the sentence, its structure and its overall meaning. It simply said that a sentence is nothing more than a group of words; and its meaning is just the sum of the meanings carried by its words.

Sabaraswamin , the great Mimamsaka , also argues  that the sentences cannot have any separate meaning apart form the meanings of the words composing it. The meaning of a sentence is comprehended only on the comprehension of the meanings of the component words. The sentence can have no independent meaning apart from the meanings of the words composing it. This theory, known as Abhihitanvaya vada , is believed to have been based upon the views of the Grammarian Vajapyayana. who had said that meaning of a sentence is the Samsarga  or  the mutual relation of the individual word-meanings expressed by the words . The Abhihitanvaya vada  was also supported  by the Mimamsakas of the Bhatta School and by some scholars of the Nyaya School. 

Kumarila Bhatta , another Mimamsaka , said that the meaning of a sentence is always conveyed by the meanings of words obtained from the word itself. Unlike the words, the sentence does not have a meaning of its own independently. 

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In the context of the Vedas, the Pada or Sabda is just not the pronounced or uttered word; it is indeed the Vac the eternal speech itself, existing before creation of the worlds.

Though the riks of the Rig-Veda were expressed in the form of sentences, great importance was paid to its constituent words. It is said; Sakalya (Nir. 6. 28), the earliest known historical figure who dealt with linguistic studies, therefore, took up the task of compiling the Pada-paatha of Rig-Veda, where the sentences of the Samhita Paatha (the original text, as it is) were broken down into words (pada) and arranged in sequential order; and, the process also involved breaking up compound words into their elements.  The intention was to clearly bring forth the meaning (Artha) and the denotive power (Shakthi) of individual words in the sentence. Sakalya’s service to the study of Vedic text is acknowledged by Panini the Great Grammarian. 

Yaska-charya (earlier to 5th century BCE), the great etymologist of the ancient India, believed that every Vedic word has an expressive power to denote a certain sense. And, as a signifier (vacaka), every word is eternal (vyaptimattvat tu sabdasya – Nir.I.2); and, is critical in arriving at an unerring meaning of a statement. Thus, the word, the meaning and their mutual relations are eternal. 

In his remarkable work Nirukta (Nir+Ukta = to explain clearly; Nirukti or  Nirvacana shastra, meaning etymology – derivation and semantic explanation of words) ;  which is also a commentary on Nighantuka, a sort of glossary –  Yaska attempts to establish the proper meaning of certain selected Vedic words (including their prepositions and the particles), in the context of ‘how, where, when and why’ it is stated in the text . For the purpose of his study, Yaska chose about 600 stanzas from the Rig-Veda; and created a well organized glossary to understand and to interpret, particularly, the archaic, uncommon words used in the Vedic texts.

His study also included a system of rules for forming words from roots and affixes. According to Yaska, every word is derived from a root; and by analyzing the root, its tendency and the suffix, it is possible to establish the relation between word and meaning.

[According to Prof. Jan E.M. Houben; on the methodology of the Nirukta as a discipline, Yäska has the following to say:

With reference to this, the words, the accent and the grammatical form of which are regular and accompanied by a radical modification which gives a hint, should be derived in the ordinary manner. But, If the meaning Is not perspicuous; and, if there is no radical modification which gives a hint, one should investigate [the word to be explained], taking one’s stand on the meaning, according to a similarity (of a verbal root with a suitable meaning) to the derived from (i.e., to the word to be explained). Even If no similar [verbal root] is found, one should explain [the word] according to a similarity in syllable or phoneme. But , never should one abstain from explaining [by deriving it from some root], one should not be attached to the grammatical form [too much], for the derived forms (i.e., the words to be explained) are full of uncertainties

2,1: atha.nirvacanam : tad.yeu.padeu.svara.saskārau.samarthau.prādeśikena.vikārea.(guena.Bh).anvitau.syātām.tathā.tāni.nirbrūyād;atha.ananvite.arthe.aprādeśike.vikāre.artha.nityaparīketa.kenacid.vtti.sāmānyena;avidyamāne.sāmānye.apy.akara.vara.sāmānyān.nirbrūyān.na.tv.eva.na.nirbrūyāt;na.saskāram.ādriyeta.viśayavatyo.(hi.Bh).vttayo.bhavanti ]

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In the Nirukta, Yaska has tried to explain those selected Vedic words from the perspective of the various linguistic aspects, four parts of speech (Catvari padajatani) such as:  noun (naman), verb (akyata), preposition (upasarga), and particle (nipata)  –

(catvāri.pada.jātāni.nāma.ākhyāte.ca.upasarga.nipātāś.ca.tāni.imāni.bhavanti ...Nir .l.l) .

kriyavacakam akhyatam; upasapgo visesakrt / sattva-abhidhayakam  namah ; nipatah padapuranah //

In addition, Yaska takes up the up  general definitions, special definitions, synonyms, homonyms (words that share the same pronunciation but convey different meanings), common and obscure grammatical forms, words and their meanings, and the etymology of these words. Yaska terms such analytical method as samaskara (treatment) or sastrakrto yogah (grammatical combination)

[Of the four parts of speech (chatvari padajatani) Yaska gives greater importance to nouns and verbs (naman, akyata), which are employed independently , than to prepositions (upasarga) and particles (nipata), which cannot present a clear meaning when detached from nouns or verbs – na nirbaddha upasarga arthannirahuriti Sakatayanah – • Nir.I.3.

According to Yaska; Sakatayana held the view that the prepositions are indicative  (dyotaka) rather than denotative (vacaka) — (nama-akahyatayostu karmopasamyoga-dyotaka bhavanti~ Nir.I.3)

When that logic is extended, it leads to say:  the phonemes and syllables are not independent entities conveying their own meaning; nevertheless they are parts of the word; but, the meaning of the word does not solely arise out of them. Meaning is the function of the word as a whole.

Between the noun and the verb, Yaska treats the verb as the nucleus of a sentence. The logic behind this appears to be that it enables one to explain ‘Why something is called what it is called’ by linking it to some activity; thereby establishing its relation to a verb or verbal-root.

In this context , Yaska also mentions that Gargya  did not agree with the views of Sakatayana ; and, that Gargya had pointed out that the prepositions do have a meaning .

ucca.avacāḥ.pada.arthā.bhavanti.iti.Gārgyas / tad.ya.eṣu.pada.arthaḥ.prāhur.ime. tam.nāma.ākhyātayor.artha.vikaraṇam/ ā.ity.arvāg.arthe.pra.parā.ity.etasya.prātilomyam – Nir.1.3 .

Yaska seems to have gone along with Gargya;  for, he enumerates twenty prepositions , along with their meanings.

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According to Yaska, Verb (Akhyata) is the vital unit of language through which we express our intentions and actions; and, a sentence without a verb serves no purpose (tad.yatra.ubhe.bhāva.pradhāne.bhavataḥNir. l. l).]

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It is interesting to note that the ancient Grammarians did not devote as much attention to sentence and its structure as they did to the word. The noted Grammarians like Panini, Katyayana and Patanjali were mainly concerned with the derivation of the correct form of words. Yaska and other etymologists were occupied  with word-meanings. Even the Nyaya-sutras of Vatsayana discuss the nature of individual words.

Though the later texts of Nyaya – Vaisesika School  bring in the factors necessary for understanding a sentence; it was only the Mimamsa school that started detailed study of sentence ; and developed sets of rules for understanding word-meaning and its relationship with the sentence (one of its alternate names is Vakyashastra). But, yet the relationship between word-meaning (Pada-artha) and sentence-meaning  (vakya-artha) continued to be a major problem of concern.

Among the ancient writers, neither Panini nor Gautama defined the sentence and its essential characteristics. Jayanta Bhatta of Nyaya School (in his Nyayamanjari, Ca.10th century) remarks that the absence of such discussion might be because that Mimamsa and Nyaya Schools considered the sentence to be merely a combination or a sequence of words ; the word as  nothing more than a combination of phonemes (Varna) ; and , the syllables as independent units. The syllables (having a vowel)   by themselves may not convey meaning;  but, they are capable of conveying meaning when they combine.

[Generally, the ancient Indian Grammarians and Logicians took a word as the unit of speech and considered a sentence as a combination of words for the purpose of communicating a meaning.

According to abhihita-anvaya-vada (of Bhatta Mimamsa), each word in a sentence conveys its primary and individual meaning by virtue  of primary denotation (abhidha). And then the meaning of the sentence arises from the combined construed (anvaya) meanings of its words. The meaning of a sentence is thus is just a synthesis of the separate meanings of its words. 

Another view anvita-abhidhana-vada (of Prabhakara Mimamsa), instead, says that individual words do not convey meaning except when they are associated (anvita) with or indicate an action (kriya). And, no word can be understood as having independent meaning when it is isolated from a sentence.

According to the monist view, the meaning of the sentence is grasped by the listener as a whole, in a flash. The individual word-meanings appear as parts of a sentence; but, the whole is simply not the sum of parts. It is something more. The unified sentence-meaning is referred to by different terms , such as : Vakyartha; Samsarga ; or, Tatparyartha. It is also called as the power of the sentence to assimilate and to convey a connected sense – Vakyashakthi. 

The  relation between the words and the sentence (bheda or samsarga) ; and, specifically , the question: how could a series of isolated words uttered one after another could together produce a unity that makes meaning – continued to engage various schools of Grammarians and philosophers alike.

The later Grammarians such as Mukulabhatta and others tried to bring together these varied concepts ; and, form a unified theory – Samucchaya  vada (evam caitayah samucchaya iti) . ]

Among the Grammarians, Katyayana was perhaps the first to define a sentence (Akhyatam savyaya-karaka-visesham vakyam). In his Vartika, he called a sentence (Vakya) as an eka-tin-vakyam; meaning: a cluster of words having a single finite verb , a karaka (= a factor of action), together with a noun and a qualifier. Panini, however, seems to have accepted the possibility of a sentence having more than one finite verb (tinn atinah – 8.1.28).  Mimamsa tried to explain the difference between the two positions as that of Akanksha, the intention (Artha) of the speaker (Arthaikyad vakyam ekam vakyam sakanksam ched vibhage syat – Jaimini Sutra: 2.1.46).

According to Dr. Kunjunni Rajah (Indian Theories of Meaning – chapter Four) : Mimamsa put forward their theory of understanding the clear meaning of synthetic units of a sentence mainly based on three norms: Akanksa, Yogyata and Samnidhi.

Akanksa or the mutual expectancy of the words consists in a word not being able to convey a complete sense in the absence of another word. Literally, it is the desire on the part of the listeners to know the other words or their meaning to complete the sense. A word is said to have Akanksa for another, if it cannot, without the latter produces knowledge of its inter-connection in an utterancen.

In a sentence, every word necessarily requires another word to complete the sense. To convey the meaning of noun in a sentence, a verb is always needed.

Yogyata is the logical compatibility of consistency of the words in a sentence for mutual association; and, whether it makes sense. When we utter a sentence, if the meaning of a sentence is not contradicted by experience, there is a Yogyata or consistency between the words.

If the words in a sentence should be contiguous in time, it is known as Samnidhi or asatti of a sentence. It is the immediate recollection of the words through their expressive power (lakshana). Words uttered at long intervals cannot produce the knowledge of any interrelation among them even if Akanksa and Yogyata are present there. If a man utters a word a long interval after the first word, then the connection of the meaning cannot be understood.

To these three , some  scholars of the Nyaya School have added the fourth criteria, the Tatparya  or Tatparya-jnana , the knowledge of the intention of the speaker ; or  the comprehension of  the general purport of the sentence. later, Abhinavagupta and others , following Jayantabhatta of Nyaya school, recognized  Tatparya-vrtti, as a specific function which  forges a relationship among various word-meanings. 

[The Mimamasa employs the term Tatparya to indicate the substance or the intent of the statement , even without reference to the speaker or his intent. It says ; it would suffice if the predicate or the active part or  Sadhya , that which is about to happen (Videya) is known. 

As regards Akanksha, the Mimamasa  said that a group of words serving a single purpose (artha) forms a sentence, if on analysis the separate words are found to have mutual expectancy (akanksha). It says : “ so long as a single purpose is served by a number of words , which on being separated , are found to be wanting and incapable of effecting the said purpose , they form one syntactical unit – one complete Yajus-mantra”.

Prabhakara explains that in this sentence, ‘artha’ stands both for meaning and purpose; and the two are related. Kaumarila Bhatta says that it is possible to take artha as meaning in order to allow a wider scope to the principle.

[The distinction between Katyayana’s definition and Mimamsa’s explanation was discussed by Bhartrhari in his Vakyapadia (2. 3-4).]

Source: The Encyclopaedia of Indian Philosophies, Volume 5: The Philosophy of the Grammarians By Harold G. Coward, K. Kunjunni Raja-page 25]

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The later Grammarians accepted Panini’s view. But, from Katyayana’s point of view, such a sentence may be considered as a complex sentence made up of two or more sentences; but, fundamentally, forming one single sentence.

The  main concern of Panini the Grammarian (Ca.500 BCE) – who might have been a junior contemporary of Yaska or might have lived within a century after Yaska – was not the sentences but words (Sabda), His celebrated work Astadhyayi (the eight chapters)- also called  Astaka , Sabda-anushasana  and Vrittisutra –  sought to ensure  correct usage of words by  purifying  (Samskrita)  the  language (bhasha)  – literary and spoken ( vaidika – laukika) –  that  was in use during his days.

Panini’s  goal (lakshya) was  building up of Sanskrit words (pada) from their root forms (dhatu prakara), affixes (pratyaya), verbal roots; pre-verbs (upasarga); primary and secondary suffixes; nominal and verbal terminations ; and , their function (karya) in a sentence. The underlying principle of Panini’s work is that nouns are derived from verbs.

[ Patanjali has also explained  Akhyata in the sense of kriya (action) . And, verb (kriya pada) plays a very important part in constituting a sentence. A sentence in fact, cannot be framed without a verb.

He explains Kriya as Vyapara.  Following the view of Patanjali, Bhartrhari  defined kriya as “made up of all actions, whether accomplished or unaccomplished, which are expressed as being accomplished because  they have a definite sequence.”]

Patanjali, who in the Grammar-tradition (Vyakarana parampara) is regarded as next only to Panini, also focussed on words.  According to him, the basic linguistic unit is a word – provided it generates a meaning. However, Mimamsa opposes this view; and asserts   that any aggregation of letters with or without meaning could be a word.

Patanjali’s Mahabhashya, a commentary on Panini’s Ashtadhyayi, commences with the statement ‘atho sabda-anu-shasanam’:  here begins the instruction on words (or, let us now discuss the rule governing the words). The three important subjects that Patanjali deals with are also concerned with words: formation of words; determination of meaning; and, the rela­tion between a word (speech sounds –Sabda) and its meaning. He also stresses about the need to learn Grammar and to use correct words; to understand the nature of words  whether or not the words have fixed or floating meanings and so on.

[In contrast , Apoha the Buddhist theory does not give any credence to the words. It believes that the essence of meaning is negative in character and that words have no direct reference to objective realities. They are purely subjective construction of the mind (Vikalpa); and, therefore there can be no real connection between words and the external objects. The word ‘cow’ doesn’t actually mean the animal with dewlap, horns etc. It means only the exclusion of all objects that are not cow.]

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The Astadhyayi of Panini, as per its working scheme, attempts to produce words and sentences based on their verbal roots (dhatu), nominal themes (prathipadika) and suffixes (pratyaya). These constituent elements are invested with meaning. Derived from these elements, in their various combinations, words and sentences are formed to express collection of meanings as held by these elements.

But, according to Mahabhashya of Patanjali, the basic purpose of a grammar is to account for the words; not by enumerating them; but, by writing a set of general (samanya) rules (lakshana) that govern them and by pointing out to exceptions (visesha).These general rules, according to him, must be derived from the usage, for which the language of the ‘learned’ (shista) is taken as the norm.

Katyayana , in his Vartika , had also said that the way to understand the relation between the word and the meaning is through its popular usage (siddhe sabda-artha-sambandhe lokath).

Gautama , in his Nyaya sutra, held similar views ; and, said that it is by convention that the meaning of a word is understood (samayikatavak sabda-artha-sampratyayasya – NS.4.18)

[Though both Panini and Patanjali discussed about words and their relevance in Grammar, their approach differed significantly.

For Patanjali, it is the words themselves and not its constituents that produce a meaning.  According to him, the Grammar analyzes the words, thereby arriving at their constituent elements, though such parts may not be the true bearers of the meaning. This perhaps is the reason that many understand Grammar as Vyakarana, in the sense of analysis.

For Panini, on the other hand, Grammar proceeds differently. It is a way of synthesis. His Grammar does not divide the words into stems and suffixes. On the contrary, it combines the constituent elements with a view to form words. So, Grammar here is understood as ‘the word formation’ or as an ‘instrument by which forms are created in various ways’ (vividhena prakarena akrtayah kriyante yena).]

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A-khanda-paksha

The A-khanda-paksha on the other hand, argued that the sentence is one fundamental linguistic unit (samvit). The sentence is indivisible (A-khanda); and, as a whole expresses a certain meaning; and, its meaning is not reducible to its parts. Thus, the meaning is not in the individual words which are mere parts; but, is in the sentence as a whole, in its entirety (A-khanda). That is to say; the sentence employs certain units in order to arrive at a definite meaning. The meaning so arrived at is because of the unity or integral nature of the sentence; but, not because those units are meaningful in themselves.  The meaning of a sentence remains un-altered even if the positions of the words within it are altered.

According to Anvitabhidhana theory of Prabhakara, the isolated words are not helpful in the communication of ideas. He said; the  implied meaning of words can be known only when they occur in a sentence. But,  Prabhakara regarded  the words as real and actual constituents of the language.  According to him, in language, each word has definite meaning/s. Thus, his theory , though it does not deny the importance of the meaning of the words and their  indicative  power (Abhidha); yet,  it asserts  that the purpose of the  of words is  only  to serve the sentence, as its part.

As mentioned earlier, the thrust of this argument was that a sentence is an indivisible, integrated unit; and, in the absence of a structured sentence, the individual words, by themselves, do not communicate a sense or the intent of the speaker. Mere words without reference to a sentence are abstractions and unreal; and do not convey a definite meaning. It asserted; the sentence and its meaning, as a whole, is an indivisible entity (A-khanda). The sentence, though it is indivisible (A-khanda), it has the power o£ manifestation through various letters and words.

Bhartrhari’s contribution

The champion of the A-khanda Paksha Vada was none other than Bhartrhari. He assigned a greater priority to sentence. Bhartrhari regarded the sentence as a single ‘integral symbol’(eko anavayah sabdah); an indivisible unit of communication ; an integral sentence the meaning of which is grasped by an instantaneous flash of understanding or perception through of intuition (Prathibha). The complete and true meaning of a sentence is achieved only by means of such ‘intuitive perception’ (VakyaSphota). That according to Bhartrhari is the true and complete communication.

“there is no phonemes (Varna)  in the word; and, nor are there any parts of the phonemes.  It is entirely not possible to separate words from the sentence”.

pade na varṇā vidyante varṇeṣv avayavā na ca / vākyāt padānām atyantaṃ pravibhāgo na kaś cana // VP:1.74 //

That is to say; a sentence alone is the unit of utterance; a single indivisible entity with a single undivided meaning that is grasped as a whole in a flash of insight (Prathibha).

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According to Bhartrhari,  the gross sound patternDhvani or Nada, is a sequence of sounds. Those sounds are employed to convey or to give an audible form to the intent of the speaker.  Those audible sounds through their divisions and time sequence, produced one after another by the speech organs, act as means (upaya) or as vehicles to transport the intent of the speaker. Such quanta of sound-sequences (words) might create an impression as though they are independent; and, the meaning intended to be conveyed by them (Sphota) comprises several parts. But, in truth, the individual words have no separate existence; and, both the sentence and its meaning (Sphota) are part-less.

[pade na varna vidyante varnesva avayaya na cha / vakyat padanam atyantam pravibhago na kascha na // VP 1.74]

According to Bhartrhari, the letter-sounds have a limited range. Each sound helps in gaining a better understanding of its next. The first one could be vague ; and , the next one little more clear and so on, until the last one, aided by the accumulated  impression created by all the preceding perceptions, finally reveals the complete meaning (Sphota)  with precision and distinctness.

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Sphota in the ordinary conversation, according to Bhartrhari refers to a spontaneous process where a latent idea or thought arising out of the consciousness or the mind of the speaker is manifested by the sounds (Dhvani) of the spoken words employed in the sentence; and, it is directly grasped, through intuition (Prathibha), by the mind (Buddhi) of the listener.

Bharthari’s position has come to be known as Sphota-vada, the doctrine of Sphota. The term Sphota derived from the root Shput conveys the meaning of:  ‘to burst forth’ or in the context of Bhartrhari’s text to suggest ‘bursting forth of light or a flash of insight’. For Bhartrhari, the Sphota is an indivisible and changeless unity.

The Sphota concept was developed over long periods; but, it was fully put forward by Bharthrhari. He gave it a substantial credible form; and, provided it a philosophical basis. He maintained that the primary function of the words was to combine into a sentence, in its complete utterance, to give forth a meaning. We understand the meaning of a sentence wholly immediately only after the speaker utters the sentence. And, therefore, the sentence is the primary meaningful unit; and, the words extracted from the sentence analytically are only its component parts. Bhartrhari does not decry the value or the validity of words; but, only points out their status of being a part and never a whole. 

Thus, Bharthrhari emphasized that the fundamental linguistic unit is indeed the complete utterance of a sentence. Just as a letter or a syllable has no parts, so also the sentence is to be taken as complete integral unit (Vakya-sphota); and, not as a collection of smaller elements.

Dr.Kunjunni Raja remarks : Bhartrhari’s theory of the ‘non reality‘ of the words is accepted only by the Grammarians in India. But, the importance of  the linguistic principle underlying his Sphota theory is very great. 

Bharthrhari argued that for the purpose of linguistic analysis, study of language and its grammar it might be fine to split the sentence into abstracted pieces, such as: the words, then into the roots and suffixes of the words, syntax’s etc;  and discuss about their position in the sentence. Such analytical splitting is artificial (Vikalpa); does, not have much significance. He said; “it is only those who do not know the language thoroughly that analyze it into words, in order to get a connected meaning.” But, such fragmented approach is surely not suitable in the real world where men and women live, communicate and transact. In a speech-situation where the speaker communicates ones ideas and the listener grasps his/her speech, it is necessary that the utterance has to be complete.  The speaker communicates and the listener understands his/her utterance as a single unit.

Bhartrhari explained that, initially, the thought exists in the mind of the speaker as a unity – Sabda or Sphota – intending a certain meaning. When uttered, ( in an effort to convey that thought through a sequence of sounds (Dhvani) that follow one after the other) , it produces certain specific sound-patterns (Nada). It might look as though the articulated word-sounds are separated in time and space. However, though the word-sounds reach the listener in a sequence, the listener eventually grasps the completed sentence as a single unit, as its meaning bursts forth (Sphota) in a flash of understanding or insight (prathibha). The same Sphota which originated in speaker’s mind re-manifests in listener’s mind, transmitting the meaning. Understanding of the meaning must be the immediate and intuitive grasp of the sentence as a whole. Thus, while the articulated sounds (Dhvani, Nada), apparently having divisions and sequence, are the external forms; Sphota is the inner unity conveying the meaning.

Various other scholars have offered their own interpretations of the Sphota theory in the light of Bhartrhari’s elucidation. The concept of Sphota is one of the significant contributions of India to the philosophy of Grammar. As the noted scholar Bimal K. Matilal observes:

”It is rather remarkable that Bhartrihari’s recognition of the theoretical indivisibility of the sentence resonates with the contemporary linguistic view of learning sentences as wholes “;

 “In modern terms Sphoa can be understood as having constant distinctive phonetic features, whereas Dhavni is of a phonic nature. Sphoa is that which is to be manifested (vyagya), and the Dhvani is manifesting (vyañjaka). Sphoa is not uttered but it is perceived by the hearer”;

“The word does not generate the meaning; the word itself is transformed (Vivartate) into meaning. The relation between the word and its meaning is not that of ‘generator – generated’; but, that of ‘signifier-signified’. The word and its meaning, in essence, are identical;

“The Sphoa can be seen as a communication-device based on recognition of the truth of existence through a word/text in the hearer speaker, (sattā). It therefore is of a psychological nature, as any human speech is, for the recognition of the meaning of the text is perceived by a consciousness which lies beyond the analytic capacity of the external mind, and carries in itself all meanings; and as such, its proper understanding requires a psychological experience”;

“Even today this theory is widely recognized among modern linguists as the most complete investigation into the profundities of language, making a considerable contribution to the Philosophy of Language, the Psychology of Speech, and especially Semiotics”.

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Development of the concept

It is acknowledged that it was Bharthrhari who fully developed the doctrine of Sphota in all the fields of Grammar, philosophy of Grammar and philosophy. But, it was not his invention – as he himself candidly clarified. The idea had been mentioned in various texts, much before the time of Bhartrhari, though not precisely or technically defined. It is said; Bhartrhari’s theory of Sphota in the culmination of many such attempts in the past that were grappling with linguistic problems. For instance:

: – Panini mentions one Sphotayana, who spoke about the word and its meaning (avaṅ sphoṭāyanasyaPS_6,1.123), as the one who originally came up with Sphota concept.

: – Another sage Sakatayana (a grammarian who perhaps was a contemporary of Panini – ?) is also mentioned by some as the author of the Sphota–theory. Sakatayana is mentioned three times in the Astadhyayi (PS_3,4.111; PS_8,3.18 ; &  PS_8,4.50) . And, Sakatayana is also said to have held the view that all words must be derived from verbal roots (atha. ananvite. arthe. aprādeśike .vikāre. padebhyaḥ. pada.itara.ardhānt.sañcaskāra.śākaṭāyanaḥ – Nir.1.13).

Some scholars recognize Sakatayana as the author of Unadi Sutra (a supplement to Panini’s Grammar, providing additional set of rules to derive nouns from their verbal roots; and, saying that all words can be analysed by the addition of affixes to verbal roots) . Though, at the same time, Gargya (descendant of Sage Garga, as mentioned in the Nirukta 1.3.12-13); and, others are said to have remarked that all nouns cannot be traced to verbal roots.

nāma.ākhyātayos.tu.karma.upasamyoga.dyotakā.bhavanty ucca. avacāḥ . pada . arthā. bhavanti .iti.gārgyas – Nr.1,3:

[The other ancient Grammarians such as Vyadi (author of the lost text Samgraha Sutra; and a contemporary of Panini) as also  Patanjali, the author of Mahabhashya (Ca. 2nd century BCE,) had all developed certain ideas regarding the concept of Sphota.]

:- Before Panini, Yaska  , the etymologist (earlier to 500 BCE), had  incidentally mentioned that another ancient authority – Audumbarayana, had put forward a theory which basically said that a sentence or an utterance is a primary and an indivisible unit of language; and,  reaches the faculty of the listener as a whole (Nirukta: 1-2)  . Audumbarayana, it appears, had also not agreed with the four-fold classification of words into: noun (naman), verb (akyata), prepositions (upasarga) and particles (nipata) – (indriyanityam vacanam Audumbarayanah tatra chatustam no papayate Nir.1.1-2). 

[But, apparently, Yaska himself had not agreed with Audumbarayana’s view of a sentence being  a primary and an indivisible unit; and, had gone on to talk about a totally different concept, Bhava – the being and becoming (Bhu) of verbs from their roots. Yaska, in that context, mentions six modes or forms of transformations (Sad bhava vikarah) of Bhava-s from the indistinct (A-vyakta) to explicit (Vyakta) and then to disappearance (vinasa). These phases are: coming into existence (jayate); existence (Asti); transformation (viparinamate); growth (vardate); decay or wane (apaksiyate); and, ceasing to exist (vinasyati).

These are the six phases of changes (parinama) do occur in all forms of life or of any entity.

Yaska further explains that a Verb (Akhyata) is mainly concerned with Bhava (action), whereas the Nouns (Naman) have Sattva (substance or existence – Asti) as the chief element in their meaning (Bhava-pradhanam akhyatam; sattva-pradhanani namani – Nir. l.l). Here, Sattva is the static aspect of the meaning (as it exists); and, Bhava, the dynamic aspect, is action (Kriya) as it takes place in temporal sequence – (bhavah karma kriya dhatvartha ity anarthantaram).

bhāva.pradhānam.ākhyātam.sattva.pradhānāni.nāmāni / tad yatra ubhe bhāva pradhāne bhavataḥ / pūrva.aparī.bhūtam.bhāvam.ākhyātena.ācaṣṭe.vrajati.pacati.iti /
upakrama.prabhṛty.apavarga.paryantam.mūrtam.sattva.bhūtam.sattva.nāmabhir.vrajyā.paktir.iti/  ada.iti.sattvānām.upadeśo.gaur.aśvaḥ.puruṣo.hastī.iti/bhavati.iti.bhāvasya.āste.śete.vrajati.tiṣṭhati.iti –  Nir. l.l

[About five hundred years after Yaska, the Grammarian Durga rendered Yaska’s views more specific. According to Durga : In a sentence, the Verb is the essential element; because, it is very necessary for the sentence; while the noun is a secondary member  needed for the production of the Bhava

Vakye hy akhytam pradanam ; tad arthavat gunabhutam nama , tad arthasya bhavani-spattva anga-bhutavat , evam tadvad akhyatam vakye pradanam / ]

Thus, Sattva and Bhava are two aspects of the same existence seen from the static and dynamic points of view. It is said; the six modes of Sattva (static) and Bhava (dynamic) are found in every aspect of creation.

Yaska credits the entire doctrine of Bhava and its classification to a certain Varsayani, another ancient Vedic scholar (Nirukta.1.2). But, nothing much is known to us about this Varsayani [He or She could have been a descendant of Varsa, an adept in Varsa Saman (chant), referred to as : parivrājakā.varṣa (2,8) ].

Sad bhava – vikara bhavantiti varsayanih- Jayate-asti-viparinamate- vardhate- apaksiyate- vinasyatiti – Nir.1.2]

: – But, Bhartrhari, in turn, cites Yaska as saying that Audumbarayana outlined the Sphota theory. And, asserts that Audumbarayana and also Vartakas held views similar to his Sphota-vada; and claims that their views support his theory.

: – The later eminent grammarians, such as Nageshabhatta (7th century), the author of Manjusha and Shpota-vada; as also Haradatta the commentator (10th century), however, attribute Sphota-vada to the sage Sphotayana, as mentioned by Panini.

: – Now, going back in time, Patanjali also talked about Sphota-like concept. He said; even though the words uttered follow one after the other and do not co exist in time or space, they do converge in the mind of the listener conveying a meaning. Sphota, he says, is a permanent element in the word; and, in fact is the essence of the word. The permanent unchanging Sphota is manifested by changing sounds (Dhvani). Here, Dhvani is the uttered sound heard by the listener; and, is but an aspect of Sphota. Thus, according to Patanjali, Sphota has an internal and an external aspect. The inner aspect is the innate expression of the word-meaning; while the external aspect is a vehicle to manifest the internal aspect; and is perceived by the sense organs of the listener.

But, for Patanjali, Sphota may be a single letter or structured pattern of letters; not necessarily sentence as a whole (in contrast to the stand taken by Bhartrhari).

:- Much before all these ;  Sage Kapila of the Samkhya School after discussing the concept of Sphota (described as single, indivisible; as distinct from individual letters, existing in the form of words, and constituting a whole) dismisses it  totally : ‘What necessity is there for this superfluous Sphota? If, on the contrary, it does not appear, and is elusive; then , that unknown Sphota can have no power of disclosing a meaning, and consequently it is useless to suppose that any such thing as Sphota exists’(Sutra .57). All this talk of unity of meaning etc is largely an illusion; for it is the word, its articulated elements (Varna) that make the unity.

Antye tv ajniata-spkotasga nasti artha- pratydyana-saktir iti vyartha sphota-kalpana ity arthah / Pur- vam vedanam nityatvam pratisMddham / idanlffi varna-nityat- vam api pratishedati

: – Similarly, the Mimamsa School had also discussed the Sphota concept; and, had rejected it. Sabaraswamin (Ca. first century BCE) the celebrated Mimamsaka in his comments on Mimamsa sutra (1.1.5) dismisses Sphota-vada, since it is not consistent with the Mimamsa faith in reality of Vedic words. According to Sabara, a word is nothing more than a combination of phonemes (Varna) and the syllables are independent units. The syllables, by themselves, might not convey the meaning; but when they combine they do convey a meaning – autpattikaḥ śabdasya-ārthena saṃbandhas. He did not see a need for a Sphota – pratyakṣādibhir anavagatasya / – katham? .

Jaim_1,1.5: autpattikas tu śabdasyārthena saṃbandhas tasya jñānam upadeśo ‘vyatirekaś ca arthe ‘nupalabdhe, tat pramāṇaṃ bādarāyaṇasya, anapekṣatvāt //

: – The renowned philosopher Upavarsha (a senor contemporary of Panini – Ca. 500 BCE) had also rejected the Sphota-vada; and, had remarked: all this talk of unity of meaning etc. is largely an illusion, for it is the words, its articulated elements (Varna) that make the unity.

Upavarsha, in turn, had come up with his theory of   Varna-vada; according to which the smallest phonetic units that can carry the meaning (phonemes =Varna-s) alone are real constituents of a word.  He said: what is called as a ‘word’ (Sabda) is its individual letters – (for instance the word ‘gauh’ – cow is made of ‘g’, ’au’ and ‘h’). He decaled sounds are only Varna -s; and, there is no need for a Sphota.

[We shall talk more about Upavarsha and of Sri Sankara who followed Upavarsha, later in the series]

rose-sg

In any case, all this was just to   show that even in the ancient Vedic and in little later times the concept of Shpota was widely debated and various types of its interpretations were offered. Some orthodox Schools which recognized Vak or speech as a manifestation of the all – pervading Brahman, and Pranava (Aum) as the primordial speech sound from which all forms of Vak were deemed to have evolved, acknowledged the need to perceive the sentence as a whole and not merely as a collection of words.

At the same time there were also many others who dismissed the idea of Sphota as being far-fetched, superfluous and useless; and, remarked that such unreal, Sphota can have no power of disclosing a meaning.

**

In the next part let’s discuss about the Sphota doctrine as expounded by Bhartrhari in his Vakyapadiya; as also the views of its critics and supporters.

lotus-flower-buddha

Continued in

Next Part

References and Sources

  1. The Philosophy of the Grammarians, Volume 5 – edited by Harold G. Coward, Karl H. Potter, K. Kunjunni Raja
  2. Of Many Heroes: An Indian Essay in Literary Historiographyby G. N. Devy
  3. Time in Hinduismby Harold Coward
  4. Bhartṛhari, the Grammarianby Mulakaluri Srimannarayana Murti
  5. The Study of Vakyapadiya– Dr. K Raghavan Piliai Volume I (Motilal Banarsidas; 1971)
  6. Being and Meaning: Reality and Language in Bhartṛhari and Heideggerby Sebastian Alackapally
  7. Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Soundby Guy L. Beck
  8. Bhartrhari (ca. 450-510)by Madhav Deshpande
  9. Bhartrihariby Stephanie Theodorou
  10. The Sphota Theory of Language: A Philosophical Analysisby Harold G. Coward
  11. Speech versus Writing” In Derrida and Bhartahariby Harold G. Coward
  12. Sequence from Patanjali to Post _modernityby  V. Ashok.
  13. The Vedic Conception of Sound in Four Features
  14. Sphota theory of Bhartrhari
  15. Word and Sentence, Two Perspectives: Bhartrhari and Wittgensteinedited by Sibajiban Bhattacharyya
  16. Hermeneutical Essays on Vedāntic Topicsby John Geeverghese Arapura
  17. Culture and Consciousness: Literature Regainedby William S. Haney
  18. The Advaita Vedānta of Brahma-siddhiby Allen Wright Thrasher
  19. Bhartr̥hari, Philosopher and Grammarian: Proceedings of the First… Edited by Saroja Bhate, Johannes Bronkhorst
  20. Bhartṛhari – from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  21. Sri Venkateswara Univrsity Oriental Journal Volumes XXX-XXXi 1987 – 1988
  22. Studies in the Kāśikāvṛtti: The Section on Pratyāhāras: Critical Edition …edited by Pascale Haag, Vincenzo Vergiani
  23. Proceedings of the Lecture Series on Våkyapadiya and Indian Philosophy of Languages- (31.1.08 to 2.2.08)
  24. Encyclopaedia for the world psychologists 1. A – D ; Edited by H. L. Kalia
  25. Linguistic philosophy of Yaska- Sodhganga
  26. Indian theories of Meaning by Dr.kunjunni Raja
  27. ALL IMAGES ARE FROM INTERNET
 
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Posted by on January 30, 2017 in Artha-Meaning, Bhartrhari, Sanskrit

 

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