Perspective Music

Raga stamp — Dikshitar way

Muthuswami Dikshitar

Muthuswami Dikshitar   | Photo Credit: M_SRINATH

It is not always explicit, the composer using more than one method

Dikshitar inserted the raga mudra in many (but not all) of his compositions whereas Tyagaraja and Syama Sastri did not insert it at all. Two of Tyagaraja’s compositions have a raga mudra — ‘Ganamurthe’ (Ganamurthy ragam ) and ‘Sarasiruha Nayane’ (Amruthavarshini ragam) but the authenticity of these compositions is doubted by many musicologists. In the Bhairavi Swarajati of Syama Sastri, the word ‘Bhairavi’ occurs but it appears to be more a part of a flowing text than a deliberately introduced raga mudra, because in his other two swarajatis there is no raga mudra.

Raga mudra is of two types — pratyaksha (actual) and soochitha (suggestive). In the former case, the actual name of the raga is used and in the latter, a similar-sounding word which suggests the raga name is used. Both types are used by Dikshitar. Whenever the raga name is a meaningful word, it is relatively easy to insert it into the text. Even here, when the word has more than one meaning, Dikshitar chooses the appropriate meaning so as to fit into the overall context of the lyric.

Creating a relevance

When the raga’s name is not a meaningful word or when its meaning does not fit into the meaning or context of the text (like Geyahejjajji), he simply says “one who is worshipped by so-and-so raga “ or “one who enjoys so-and-so raga.” Sometimes, even words which prima facie look irrelevant to the lyric or difficult to insert, are ingeniously split and made relevant to the lyric by Dikshitar. Some examples:

(a) Simply adding ‘nutham’ (praised by) or ‘priyakaram’ (to be pleased) to the raga name:

“Sanmarga Hindola raga nutham” (praised by beautiful Marga Hindola ragam) – ‘Chandra sekharam sada bhajami,’ Marga Hindola

“Nagagandhari raga nuthe” (praised by Nagagandhari raga) ‘Naga gandhari raga nuthe,’ Nagagandhari

“Hejjajji raga prithikaram” (one who likes Geyahejjajji ragam), ‘Ramachandra bhakthum,’ Geyahejjajji

(b) Using raga name in its natural meaning: “Kanaka kalashasu shankha ghantadi poojopakaranam” (with all the puja accessories such as kalasam, sankham, bell, etc.) ‘Sri Mangalambikam,’ Ghanta ragam

“Kalavathi kamalasana yuvathi” (the source of all arts, seated on a lotus) ‘Kalavathi kamalasana yuvathi,’ ‘Kalavathi raga

“Gowri girirajakumari” (Gowri, daughter of the mountain king) ‘Gowri, Girirajakumari,’ Gowri

(c) Splitting the raga name and/or using it innovatively:

“Rama kali kalusha nivaarana” (Rama, the remover of the evil of kali) ‘Rama kali kalushanivarna,’ Ramakali

“Brindavana sarangendra varada” (one who saved the elephant Gajendra in Brindavanam)

“Bhogachaya nataka priye” (one who likes entertaining plays) ‘Bhogachaya nataka priye,’ Bhogachayanata ragam.

Using alternative meanings of the raga name to suit the context: “Viraga chudamanim” (master of detachment) ‘Swetha Ganapathim,’ Ragachudamani ragam

“Nijaroopajitha pavakendu bhanumathi” (one who has excelled the sun, the moon and agni by his beauty ) ‘Guruguhaswamini,’ Bhanumati ragam

“Sharavathi thatavasini” (one who lives on the banks of the Sharavathi river) Sharavathithatavasini, Sharavathi

Using soochitha raga mudra - “Palitha Devagandharva Brrundam” (one who protected the group of gandharvas) ‘Vatanyeswaram,’ Devagandhari ragam

“Kruthikasutha shuddha dhanyena” (the son of Kruthika with a pure swaroopa) Subrahmanyena rakshithoham, Suddha Dhanyasi ragam.

“Ramayana parayana muditham Narayanam” (one who enjoys listening to the recitation of Ramayanam and is the embodiment of Vishnu) ‘Sri Ramam Raghukulabdhi somam ,’ Naryanagowla

(The writer is a retired IAS personnel)

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Printable version | Aug 1, 2020 7:00:15 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/music/raga-stamp-dikshitar-way/article25840862.ece

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