Understanding Ragas: Sublime catalyst

Going by its nomenclature, one would think the 45 melakarta which is placed in the Vasu chakra (wheel connoting ashtavasus or eight deities operating in Nature) in the third number, is an auspicious ragam since it is called Shubapanthuvarali. Quite contrarily, this ragam sounds forlorn and more suited to denote grief, pathos or melancholy. However, it does not generate these feelings, instead it helps to alleviate the mind that is drowned in such an emotion. Classicists who relate music to spiritual awakening opine that this ragam helps to activate the Swadishthana chakra that governs our attention which is crucial for effective meditation. The ragam also acts as a catalyst in trauma or tragedy, say music therapists. In Dikshitar's parlance it is called ‘Sivapanthuvarali'.

The countours of the Shubhapanthuvarali comprise the shadjam (Sa), shudda rishabham (R1), saadharana gandharam (Ga2), prati madhyamam (Ma2), panchamam (Pa), shuddha daivatam (Dha1) and kakali nishadam (Ni3). That makes for the aarohana-avarohana structure of Sa, Ri1, Ga2, Ma2, Pa, Dha1, Ni3 and Sa' The ‘mandra sthayi' (base) play of swara patterns (sancharam) are pivotal and denote the emotion of pathos. Also the ‘sadharana gandharam (Ga2) note sounds prominent and gliding through this is what lends that sorrowful appeal to this ragam. What is referred to as the ‘modi' (serpent music) pattern falls under the Shubhapanthuvarali swara boundary. The ragam offers boundless scope for expansion. Dikshitar's kriti, ‘ Sri Satyanarayanam upasmahe' and Thyagaraja's ‘ Ennalu oorake..' are well-known in this melakarta. The offshoot/ janya ragams aren't all that popular in concerts. But the ragam has been extensively used in films to score nostalgic or dejected mood or sad situations, by the south Indian music director Ilayaraja.

The counterpart to the Shubhapanthuvarali in the Hindustani school of music is the Todi (not to be mistaken as Carnatic Todi/Hanumathodi). The seventh thaat (parent raag) of the scale, Todi falls into the sublime raag category with its innate intensity, its philosophical and dignified sweep. Hence it is titled as Din ki darbari. Though some historians attribute a Greek origin to this raag, Todi actually finds a mention in the ancient texts, some of which refer to it as raag Bhairav's wife (raagini/female raa

Todi connotes three entities: raag, raagang and thaat that converge in the raag proper. From ecstasy to enjoyment, from serene to pensive – every conceivable human emotion is refracted through the Todi prism. “This raagang is so fundamental that it would not be absurd to speak of a Todi gene in the musico-cultural biology of India,” say musicologists. Raga Todi goes by the names of Miyan ki Todi, Shuddha Todi and Darbari Todi, Bhoopal Todi (chief pentatonic Todi derivative). For instance, the Bilaskhani Todi (named after one of Tansen's son Bilas Khan) .Todi is ennobling, both to the singer and the listener. It is considered to be a music minefield which is difficult to tread (reminds one of Carnatic Thodi). Being profound, a dedicated musician can revel in the empire of Todi, visualize splendorous locales and explore as the universe of this raag offers the music aficionados as well as the music seeker lifelong spiritual nourishment. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi mastered Todi like few others have. Todi revels in drupad. Quite a few film songs have been based on Todi and its derivatives like ‘ Main toh ek khwab hoon' (Himalay ki godh mey), Jaago re jaago prabhat aaye and Raina bheeti jaaye shyaam na aaye (Amar Prem) to name a few.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2021 6:09:29 AM |

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