Music Despite their different origins, Anandabhairavi and Reethigowla share as many similarities as differences. Ranee Kumar

This pair — Anandabhairavi and Reethigowla — are perhaps the sweetest twins one can come across in the Carnatic idiom. They vie with each other in expressive, emotive and enchanting elements. Both create a soul-stirring artistic experience (rasanubhuti) in the singer and the listener as no other ragas do and what more, even a lay listener can tune in his ear and enjoy them.

The ascent-descent of Anandabhairavi goes as ‘sa, ga, ri ga, ma, pa dha pa Sa’ and ‘Sa, ni, dha, pa, ma, ga, ri, sa’. The positioning of notes (swara sthanam) is: shadjam, chatusruthi rishabham, sadharana gandharam, shuddha madhyamam, panchamam, chatusruthi daivatham and kaishika nishadam with anthara gandharam, shudda daivatham and kakali nishadam as anya (alien) swaras. Anandabhairavi’s unique character lies in its three alien notes: two gandhara, two daivatham and two nishadam. These very notes add to the captivating quality of this raga. The vakra (not straight) sanchara is evident in the twists it takes in the ascent and descent during alapana. The sequencing of swaras and anuswaras (notes and micro notes) lend ornamentation with an optimum use of the gamakam The dominance of the alien note in daivatham is so pronounced during rendition that it almost drowns the original daivatham.

Coming to the Reethigowla, the aarohana (ascent) runs as ‘sa, ga2, ri2, ga2, ma1, ni2, dha2, ma1, ni2, ni2, Sa while in the avarohana (descent) it is ‘Sa, ni, dha, ma, ga, ri, sa.’ The notes position is shadjam, chatusruti rishabam, sadharana gandharam, shudda madhyamam, chatusruthi daivatham and kaishika nishadam. The arterial swara of Reethigowla is the kaishika nishadam (ni2). Any composition comprises the usage of nishadam (ni2) in abundance and the alapana involves a lot of hovering around this nishadam (ni2). This note is also the anchor at times and is kept hitting at in succession to create a magical effect! The shudda madhyamam is also as vital as the nishadam especially since it plays the anchor in the lower half of the octave and has a consonant link with the nishadam.

There are as many similarities as differences between these twin ragas. For instance, both are vested with common notes and also identical mode of progression in the base (lower tetrachord to be exact) like for instance, ‘sa,ga,ri,Ga,ma-ga, ma, pa, ma,ga, ri, sa’. The use (prayoga) of ‘sa, ni, pa’ in lower octave is characteristic of the Reethigowla and differentiates it from it allied raga Anandabhairavi in which the sancharams below lower octave nishadam (Ni) are usually avoided. Let’s take a technical look at the way the swara (notes) are used or stressed in both the ragas. First the similarities: Either of them begin with sa,ga,ri, sa’ and both allow ‘pa, ma, ga, ri, ga’ and also the phrase ‘pa, dha, pa’. The usage of ‘ni, sa, ga, ri, sa’ is common to both. So too, the phrase ‘pa, dha, ni, dha’ occurs in both.

Yet, Anandabhairavi and Reethigowla are distinctly different ragas. Like, the panchamam (PA) in Anandabhairavi is its anchor note (emphasized) while for the Reethigowla it can be the graha swara (starting one), while the madhyamam (Ma1) serves as the anchor (not to mention nishadam). Any Reethigowla composition would be replete with the phrase ‘ni, ni, sa’ in tandem with ‘ga, ga, ma’ and the characteristic gamakam in delivering the ‘ga, ma,pa, ma, ga, ri, sa’ are not a part of Anandabhairavi. The raga Reethigowla derives its meaning in the Sanskrit root ‘rule/way’(as syntax in doing things) which denotes sense of direction; meaning ‘to direct.’ Its etymology claims the raga has the power to direct.

Anandabhairavi is said to be of ancient origin going by its existence in folk tunes. There is a controversy as to its parentage. Scholars place it as janya/offshoot of the 20th melakarta Natabhairavi but there are a few musicologists who attribute it to the 22nd melakarta Karaharapriya. Reethigowla however, is attributed to Karaharapriya. Both come under the ‘bhashanga raga’ nomenclature. Some popular kritis in Anandabhairavi include ‘Marivere dikkevaru’, ‘O, Jagadamba’ and ‘Himachala tanaye’ all by Shyama Sastri, ‘Manasa guruguha’ by Dikshitar and ‘Ksheerasagara vihara’ by Thyagaraja while in Reethigowla we have, ‘Janani ninnu vina’ ‘nannu vidachi’ and ‘Paripalayamaam’ to name a few.