EKA-KRITHI RAGAS: DEEPAKAM – JANYA OF MELA (51) RAGAM KAMAVARDHANI (PANTHUVARALI)

Deepakam is one of the rarest of the rare ragas, surviving because of the lone composition by Saint Thyagaraja. Deepakam is an old raga belonging to 51st mela Kamavardhani. It is mentioned in Ramamathya's ‘Swaramelakalanidhi’ as a janya of Ramakriya (Kashi Ramakriya / Panthuvarali) ragam. It also mentioned in ‘Ragatarangini’ of Lochanakavi as a janya of Chithrambari, 66th mela. Swaras used are Shadja, Sudha rishabha , Anthara gandhara, Prathi madhyama, Panchama, Sudha dhaivatha, and Kakali nishada. It is an audava sampoorna raga. Rishabha and Nishada are varjya in the arohana. Sancharas of the raga extends from mandra sthayi nishada to tharasthayi panchama. Thyagaraja was the first to compose in this raga; krithi is 'Kalalanerchina' set to Desadi tala. This is the only krithi in this raga. The ragaswaroopa can be defined as:

S G3 M2 P D1 P S // S N3 D1 N3 P M2 G3 R1 S

Some of the internet sites show the arohanam as S R2 M2 P D1 P S, which is wrong.

SSP by Subburama Dikshithar gives a reference to this raga, but no details available.

Ragapravaham by D.Pattammal places it under mela (10) Natakapriya, as

S R1 G2 M1 P D2 N2 S // S N2 D2 D2 P M1 G2 R1 S,

Also, under mela (51) Kamavardhani, as:

S G3 M2 P D1 P S // S N3 D1 N3 P M2 G3 R1 S

S G3 M2 P D1 P S // S N3 D1 N3 P G3 P M2 G3 R1 S

S G3 M2 P D1 P S // S N3 D1 P M2 G3 R1 S

S R1 G3 P D1 S // S N3 D1 P M2 G3 R1 S

The word ‘Deepakam’ indicates ‘that which promotes (combustion or any such)’; the nearest raga in Hindustani is ‘Deepak’ belonging to the Purvi that (corresponding to Kamavardhani).

(Deepak raga hindustani: Aroh: S G M’ P d N S* Avroh: S* d P M G r S)

Raag Deepak is one of the six primal ragas of Indian Classical Music. It is believed to be created by Lord Shiva and there is a myth that singing it creates fire. There are 5 types of Raag Deepak. One belongs to Poorvi Thaat, second to Bilawal Thaat, third to Kalyan Thaat, fourth to Kafi Thaat and fifth to Khaamaj Thaat. Apart from that, there is another raag in Kalyan Thaat whose name is Raag Deepak Kedar. So taking it in the list, there are 6 types of Raag Deepak. Mian Tansen is the only singer seem to be connected with this raga. According to Pandit Jasraj ( in an interview in 1998 ), no one after Tansen had sung real Deepak raga and whatever was marketed under that label, were all imitations! Among the legends about Tansen are stories of his bringing down the rains with Raga Megh Malhar and lighting lamps by performing Raga Deepak. Raga Megh Malhar is still in the mainstream repertoire, but raga Deepak is no longer known. It is not clear which, if any, corresponds to the Deepak of Tansen's time. Other legends tell of his ability to bring wild animals to listen with attention (or to talk their language). Once, a wild white elephant was captured, but it was fierce and could not be tamed. Finally, Tansen sang to the elephant who calmed down and the emperor was able to ride him.

Mian Tansen was said to have been very reluctant to sing this as this would raise the temperature of the immediate environment and fire might result. It is said that the great singer could perform many miracles with his singing. A popular legend has it that when Akbar’s ministers decided to deliberately bring shame to Tansen, they devised a plan. The ministers approached the emperor and requested him to convince Tansen into singing the Raga Deepak, a raga which was supposed to create fire! Akbar, who was curious to witness the miracle, ordered his servants to place a number of lamps and Tansen was asked to light up those lamps, just by singing. Tansen sung Raga Deepak and all the lamps were lit, all at once! Other miracles of Tansen include his ability to bring rain by singing Raga Megh Malhar. It is said that Tansen used this particular raga soon after the usage of Raga Deepak. That is because Raga Megh Malhar would cool things down as Raga Deepak would enhance the temperature of the surroundings. While Raga Megh Malhar still exists today, Raga Deepak has been lost in the course of time. Though it is said that Tansen passed away in the year 1586, there are no clear references about the cause of his death. A few legends have it that he was consumed by the flames that he created himself while experimenting with Raga Deepak. However, there are no proofs backing this claim.

Now, we come to the last section; discussion on the only available krithi, ‘Kalalanerchina’ by Saint Thyagaraja, in which the composer states that man’s efforts do not always pay in the face of destiny, the ways of which is inscrutable.

pallavi

kaLala nErcina munu jEsinadi gAka Emi? aravai nAlugu

anupallavi

kalimi lEmulaku kAraNambu nIvE karuNa jUDavE kaDupu kOrakE

caraNam

kOri nUla koNDa dIsi singali muni kUrmi bhujincenA vairi tammuDu

sAramaina rangani illu jErcina sarasa tyAgarAja vinuta brOvavE

(Gist) “O Sweet Lord, praised by this tyAgarAja!

For the sake of livelihood, even if one learnt all the sixty four (fine) arts, what else (can happen) other than (the result of) what one did in the past?

You are the cause for riches and penury.

Could sage singari, having sought and obtained a mountain (or sweet-ball) of sesame seeds, eat it happily?

Could vibhIshaNa reach home the excellent Lord SrI ranganAtha?

Please show mercy. Please protect me”.


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