Kedaragowla and Surati are likened to Shiva-Shakti duo.
Another set of ragas whose shades (chayya) overlap each other, yet retain their exclusive domain are raga Kedaragowla and Surati which are likened to the universal Shiva-Shakti duo. The masculinity of Kedaragowla is like the mighty Shiva on the Himalayan heights while the graceful Surati flows downhill like a gentle stream springing from the lofty pinnacle. From an aesthetic point of view, in Carnatic music, Keadaragowla is one of the most elevated ragas.
Both the ragas originate from the same parent, viz. the 28th melakarta, Hari Kambhoji. While Kedaragowla is an ‘audava-sampoorna’ (pentatonic in the ascent), Surati is ‘ubhaya vakra shadava sampoorna’ raga. The moorchana (ascent-descent) of Kedaragowla is: ‘Sa, ri2, ma1, pa, ni2, SA and ‘SA, ni2, dha2, pa, ma1, ga2, ri2 Sa’ (Shadjam, Chatusruti Rishaba, Antara Gandhara, Shuddha Madhyama, Panchama, Chatusruti Daivatham and Kaishika Nishadam).
Surati’s structure in the arohana is ‘Sa-ri2, ma1, pa, ni3, Sa and in the avarohana: ‘Sa-ni3-dha2-pa-ma1-ga2-pa-ma-ri2-sa’.
The constituent swaras are similar to its ally, Chatusruti Rishabha, Antara Gandhara, Shuddha Madhyama, Chatusruti Daivata and Kaisika Nishada.
In Kedaragowla, the Gandhara and Dhaivata swaras are absent in the ascent. The swara/notes that lend a beauty are in order of priority: Rishabha, Madhyama, Nishada and Gandhara. The Rishabha and Nishada are the arterial notes (jeeva swara). In Surati, the Rishabha, Madhyama and Nishada are raga-chaya swaras. The Nishada is a kerb-stone to move on to the Shadja and elongation of nishada in the descent is not desirable.
Both in Kedaragowla and Surati, the Rishabha (ri) the chief aesthetic contributor. In Kedaragowla it is dominant and widely used as a Graha and Nyasa swara.
It appears in four forms in distinctly individualistic phrases but appears to be totally interlinked with the preceding or succeeding swara. In Surati, it is elongated in the arohana (ascent) yet with limited duration and this duration distinguished it from that of Kedaragowla.
The elongated Rishabha combined with Madhyama is a salient feature of Surati. Similarly the Madhyama plays a relatively sedate role in Surati than in Kedaragowla where it displays a dual nature - it is a deergha-kampita swara in the arohana and mrudu-kampita in the avarohana.
It also links in an ongoing manner with Gandhara and Panchama. Though profusely used, the Gandhara is a conjointed weak swara as also the feeble Dhaivata in Kedaragowla whereas a deergha-Daivatha is the highlight of Surati.
In Kedaragowla the Panchama has a presence but not potency, but in Surati, the Panchama gives a finite shape to the poorvanga of the raga; the uttaranga in arohana is truncated but it has a positive role in the avarohana (descent) scale.
The swara structure in Kedaragowla prayogas show chequered patterns. In Surati, the phrase ‘ma-ga-pa-ma-ri’ becomes the hallmark of the raga.
There is ample scope for improvisation in this raga. It has potential for dualistic usage of swaras. there are several other exceptional prayogas.
This raga admits repetitive swaras like ‘ni-ni-ni’and ‘ma-ma-ma’which do not cut on its aesthetic value. It is a shringara rasa oriented raga and hence Surati abounds in javalis, padams etc. not to talk of beautiful kritis by Dikshitar and Thyagaraja like the Angarakam… and Gitarthamu…, Verevvare.. Ramachandra ni daya… respectively.
In Kedaragowla, the Thyagaraja kriti. Venuganaloluni gana… spills honey, while Dikshitar’s Neelakantam is a veritable adornment of the raga. Swati Tirunal’s Tavaka namami is a dignified composition.