Meditative Marwa

The ninth parent raag in the Hindustani scale, thaat Marwa, as enumerated by Pandit Vishnu Narayan Bhatkande, corresponds with the 53rd melakarta (parent raga) Gamanashrama of the Carnatic music scale. Despite the mandatory seven notes in the thaat, raag Marwa’s swara pattern omits the pancham (Pa) altogether and is therefore termed a hexatonic raag. The madhyam (Ma) is teevr (sharp), the rishabh (ri) is komal (flat note) while all other notes are shudh (full). The king note (Vadi) is of course the rishabh while the queen note (Samvadi) is the shudh daivath.

There is a bit of controversy among the traditionalists on this issue though. In Marwa, the nishaad (Ni) and gandhaar (Ga) are sharp, Sa is the grah and amsh swar and Ri and Dha are the nyasa swar. In a nutshell, Marwa comprises ‘khada swar’ where the link (lagav) is direct and unwavering, shorn of delicacies.

In the Western notation, the scale is set as: C, Db, E, Gb, G, A, and B.

Marwa has a history of its own. According to 18th century scholars Marwa is the same as the ancient Mâlavâ, and shares a similar melodic outline. Not just this, but for all practical purposes it may have originated in the Malwa region too. This raag is a female one and falls in the Sandhiprakash raag (dusk) category and is rendered typically at ‘junctures’ like during the equinox, seasonal changes and in this case during twilight (godhooli sandhya). Just as the setting sun evokes feeling of solemn expectation so too the mood conveyed by this raag is often reflective and introspective, contemplative, representing gentle love as some of the raagmala paintings depict. The more popular derivative of Marwa thaat are Puriya, Sohini, Maligaura, Purvkalyan and Purba.

A famous bandish in raag Marwa is Bhimsen Joshi’s Bangari mori. Some notable film songs, though not many, based on Marwa are: Payaliya banwari bhaje ( Saaz aur awaaz), Saathi re bhool na jaana ( Kotwal Saab), Kanha re kanh' ( Truck Driver) to name a few.

The Carnatic melakartha Gamanashrama is a pratimadhyama ragam which finds itself in the fifth place of the Brahma chakram (nine or nava brahma as per Katapayadi theory). Muthuswami Dikshitar's school calls its Gamanashrama. The ascent-descent takes Sa (shadjam), Ri1 (shuddha rishabam), Ga3 (antara gandharam), Ma2 (prati madhyamam), Pa (panchamam), Dha2 (chatusruti daivatham), Ni3 (kakali nishadham) and Sa'(higher note) and vice-versa. It is the counterpart of shuddha madhyama ragam Suryakanthi (17 melakarta). It is essentially a bhakti-pradhana ragam evoking meditative mood leading to shanta rasa or tranquility.

The janya ragams of Gamanashrama are few of which the more popular are Hamsanandi and Poorvikalyani. Some well-known compositions this melakarta ragam are Harikesinallur Muthaiah Bhagavatar’s Sri chakrapuravasini', Idi neeku nyayama (Mysore Vasudevachar) and Ubhaya kaveri by Veena Seshanna. There are no known film music adaptations to this particular melakarta.

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Printable version | Apr 16, 2021 7:38:44 AM |

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