A raga that is intense and brings forth the bhakthi rasa with verve is Poorvikalyani. A beautiful arrangement of notes makes this raga stand tall, rising above being a mere skeletal scale to something more complete and having personality. Poorvikalyani is derived from the 53rd Melakarta Gamanasrama and in Dikshitar’s nomenclature, Poorvikalyani is known as Gamakakriya. The Aarohana / Avarohana of this raga is a debatable issue but the widely accepted convention is SRGMPDPS / SNDPMGRS. It is a vakra raga, audava-sampoorna in scale (having six notes in ascent and all the seven in descent). The notes present in Poorvikalyani apart from the Sadja and Pancama include Suddha Rishabha, Antara Gandhara, Prati Madhyama, Chatusruti Dhaivata, and Kakali Nishada. This raga is suited for singing after dusk and makes the mind calm and meditative.
Tyagaraja’s compositions in this raga include ‘Paraloka Sadhaname’ and ‘Paripoornakama’. It is interesting to note that while ‘Gnanamosagarada’ is widely sung in Poorvikalyani today, it was originally said to have been composed in a raga Shatvidhamargini. Dikshitar has composed brilliant pieces such as ‘Meenakshi Memudamdehi’ and ‘Ekamranatham’ in Gamakakriya. When his disciples were singing the charanam of ‘Meenakshi…’ — ‘Meenalochani Pasha Mochani’, Dikshitar is said to have breathed his last. Shyama Sastri’s ‘Ninnuvina Gamari’, Papanasam Sivan's ‘Ksheera Sagara’ and ‘Paradeivam’, and Neelakanta Sivan’s ‘Ananda Natamaduvar’ are popularly sung in concerts.
One of the earliest appearances of Poorvikalyani on the silverscreen was in the film Meera. M.S. Subbulakshmi moved us to tears as she sang the viruttam ‘Udaluruga’ beginning in a splendid Poorvikalyani and later moving into other ragas.
In ‘...Kanavinile Ennai Manandha Kanna’, the phrase ‘DSRG / RSND / SRG…’ establishes the raga with aplomb.
M.S. Viswanathan conveys pathos and helplessness in Mridanga Chakravarthy through the song ‘Nadamayamana Iraiva’ by T.M. Soundararajan. This song mainly dwells in the higher octave and the Gandhara, a very powerful note in this raga, is showcased. In ‘Iraiva...’, the halt at the upper octave Gandhara is noteworthy.
In the film Koil Pura, Ilaiyaaraja has come up with a lilting melody ‘Amuthe Tamizhe’ in this raga. Although the Prati Madhyama is not given prominence in the first few lines, the line ‘Tamizhe Naalum Nee Paadu’ wholly establishes the identity of the raga. Sung by P. Suseela and Uma Ramanan, this piece is a classy one.
‘Sandhikka Thudithen’ from Vedam Puthithu in the music of Devendran is an aesthetically brilliant piece in Poorvikalyani. Opening with an alaap by S. Janaki, this song is an SPB number. The stress on the Pancama and the Gandhara in the opening phrase is very becoming of the raga, and the veena interludes are enchanting. The female response to the male’s opening phrase incorporates the Suddha Madhyama all of a sudden and gives a momentary tonal shift — an interesting digression.
Ilaiyaraaja has tuned ‘Edhilum Ingu’ in Poorvikalyani raga for the film Bharati. The phrase ‘DSRGRRSS’ that is very characteristic of the raga, is used in ‘Enakkul Avan Iruppan Arivaaro…’. This piece exudes devotion and calmness.
A piece structured like a classical kriti is ‘Padma Theerthame Unaroo’, from the film Gayatri. This Malayalam super-hit song won Yesudas a National Award.
‘Devi Kanyakumari’ from the film of the same name is yet another lilting Malayalam song in this raga, in the music of G. Devarajan. The opening phrase ‘DPS / SRGRSS’ is ample testimony to the classical knowledge of the composer.
This author was thrilled to note that ‘Amri Manabrach’, one of Khaled’s super-hits in Khaleejayah music, is a fine example of this raga.