We received the following feedback to our new column “A Raga's Journey”.
Sumathi Krishnan writes:
It is good that MetroPlus is carrying interesting articles about music, but I wish to point out some errors in the article titled “Aspects of Abheri”:
“Devagandharam” is not a name used affectionately by Dikshitar for Abheri. In the Dikshitar school we have a raga named “Devagandhari” (a janya of the 22nd raganga raga Sriraga) and another “Devagandhari” (a janya of the 29th raganga raga Dhirasankarabharam).
The first Devagandhari, popularly known today as Karnataka Devagandhari, takes chatusruti dhaivatam in stark contrast to the Abheri that takes only suddha dhaivatam. Karnataka Devagandhari may be equated to Bhimplas in Hindustani music. The examples of film songs given in the article resemble Karnataka Devagandhari / Bhimplas and not Abheri. No treatise identifies Abheri and Karnataka Devagandhari as identical ragas.
The version of Sri Tyagaraja's Nagumomu that is in vogue today is rendered in Karnataka Devagandhari though it is listed as an Abheri kriti. Muttuswami Dikshitar has composed ‘Veenabheri' in the raga Abheri with the usage of suddha dhaivatam.
Charulatha Mani responds:
Over the years, the scale shadjam, sadharana gandharam, suddha madhyamam, pancama, and kaishiki nishadam (in ascent) / s n d p m g r s (in descent; the dhaivata being chatusruti dhaivata, rishabha being chatusruti rishabha) has been deemed Abheri.
‘Veenaabheri' of Dikshitar is indeed in the ancient Abheri featuring the suddha dhaivata in the descent. And yes, those days THAT was Abheri. But down the years the name Abheri has been attributed to the Bhimplas scale in Classical Music.
The purpose of this column is to help people understand the similarities between ragas in classical and film music. And even greatest of vidwans say that the kriti ‘Bhajare Manasa' is in Abheri raga and that ‘Eppadi Padinaro' is sung in Abheri.
The intent is to convey that when one refers to Dikshitar's Devagandharam, Karnataka Devagandhari, Bhimplas or Abheri, one is “roughly” referring to the same raga i.e. as likely to be perceived by the lay listener. To the lay listener, these ragas are similar and often indistinguishable. Details are deliberately glossed over for readability, rather than splitting hairs by entering into detailed distinctions between these similar ragas.