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Monday, 22 June 2009

My Carnatic Favorites

21st of June is celebrated every year as "World Music Day", ever since it was first conceptualized in France in 1982. You can refer to more information about the significance of the day here.

Carnatic music has been one of the most ancient genres of music, and I have been a follower of it for quite a while now (just as an avid listener, not as a performer, though). In this post, I will try to list down a few of my favorite ragas and renditions, and the corresponding observations I have made.

The raga that first drew me towards Carnatic music was a rare raga called "Jingala", and Smt. Nityashree Mahadevan's rendition of "Anathudanu Ganu" composed by Saint Tyagaraja. You can have a listen to it here. This then paved way to more exploration and I soon became a die hard fan of Raga "Revati", with one of the most popular songs in this Raga, "Nanati Baduku", composed by Annamacharya, making an early impact, thanks to the soulful renditions of Smt. M. S. Subbulakshmi and Mandolin U. Srinivas. Here is a YouTube link to MSS singing this meaningful song:

Soon, I was looking for other compositions of the same raga, and stumbled upon this soulful rendition by Bombay Jayashree, of "Yadava Nee Baa", composed by Saint Purandara Dasa:

After a while, I got attracted to Raga "Jonpuri", with "Eppo Varuvaro", "Rama Mantrava Japiso" and "Hari Chitta Satya" grabbing a lot of attention. Here is a scintillating rendition of the latter composition of Purandara Dasa by the Bombay Sisters. This was followed by the Raga "Ratipatipriya", and here is Ms. Raji Gopalakrishnan with the famous "Jagajjanani Shukapani Kalyani".

Then came the trio of Saramati, Nagagandhari and Natabhairavi. First thing I noticed about these three ragas was that they were so similar, and so heavenly. Only later did I realize that both Saramati and Nagagandhari were "janya ragas" of the "melakarta" raga Natabhairavi, and that explained the similarity. First rendition of Saramati I stumbled upon was the violin extravaganza by V. S. Narasimhan and Co.:

"Mokshamu Galada", composed by Saint Tyagaraja and rendered here by Ms. Dhanya Subramanian is another soul stirring kriti in Saramati:

Here is Ms. Dhanya Subramanian's another rendition, this time, in Raga Nagagandhari:

As for Raga Natabhairavi, here is "Srivalli Devasenapate" by Maharajapuram brothers, Santhanam and Ramachandran, composed by Sri. Papanasam Sivan. As a digression, I have just one curious doubt here. The kriti goes like this:

Srivalli Devasenapate |
Sri Subrahmanya Namostu te ||

But as far as I have studied, in Sanskrit grammar, any salutation must be in Chaturthee Vibhakti (dative case). That means, the second line should ideally have been "Sri Subrahmanyaya Namostu te". Can we classify this as poetic or artistic license?

Anyway, coming back to the topic, let me finish off with my other favorite ragas. Dhenuka and Jayantasri certainly make it to the list, and here are a couple of very famous compositions of these two ragas:

One thing I did notice recently was that most of my favorite ragas, Jayantasri, Jingala, Jonpuri, Nagagandhari, Saramati, and of course Hindola and Darbari Kanada, are all janyas of Natabhairavi. Does it signify anything? Has it got to do anything with human psychology? Does it mirror the state of mind of the listener? A study towards why certain people like certain kind of ragas can be a very worthy exercise indeed.