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Desakshi is an ancient raga, used mostly in ‘Sopanam’ style of singing. It is a janya of Harikambhoji ragam and has the same notes as ragam Bilahari, except N2 in place of N3; but has no similarity at all. The raga swaroopam is:

S R2 G3 P D2 S // S N2 D2 P M1 G3 R2 S

Please listen to Chitraveena Sri. Ravikiran’s explanation of this raga,

(some people believe that Desakshi is a Janya of Kharaharapriya, while some others use the same notes of Bilahari, as can be noted from the renditions).

SSP does not mention about this raga; but Ragapravaham places it under melas 28, 29, 35 & 48.

under mela (28) Harikambhoji as:

S R G P D S // S N D P M G R S

Under mela (29) Sankarabharanam as:

S R M P D N S // S N D P M G R S

S R G P D S // S N D P M G R S ( same as bilahari)

Under mela (35), Shulini as:

S R G P D S // S N D P M G M R S

S R G P D S // S N D M G R S

S R G P D S // S N D P M G R S

S R G M D S // S N D P M G M R S

Under (48) Divyamani as:

S R G P D S // S N D P M G M R S

As mentioned earlier, this raga is mostly heard in Sopanam songs (Tyanis). Tyanis are short songs sung standing on the Sopana of a temple with the accompaniment of Idaikka. This is called Kottipadi seva or in general term Sopana Sangeetha. The word Tyani derived from the Sanskrit term Dhyanam. There are many Dhyana Slokas in Sanskrit associated to different Devi and Devas. Tyanis are composed in four couplets. There are Tyanis in praise of each and every important deities worshipped in the temples of Kerala. Tyanis usually don’t have the sections like Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charanam. From the lyrics of Tyanis one can make out to which place does the temple belong. Also there are tyanis for different manifestations of the deity and Tyanis based on the origin of the temple and also about the peculiarities of the presiding deity of the temple.Tyanis are usually composed in ragas. There are certain ragas prescribed for singing the Tyanis known as Nidana ragas. Time for singing these ragas are strictly followed. There are specific ragas for Tyanis that is to be sung for various Poojas. The main ragas in which the Tyanis are sung are Desakshi, Srikanti, Nalattha, Malahari, Ahiri, Bhupali, Samantha Malahari, Natta, Andhari, Puraniru and Andhali. During morning there is a waking up ceremony called Palliunarthal of the presiding deity of the temple. The tunes sung for this ritual is called as Palli Chinthukal. These songs are sung in the raga Puranir set to Chempata tala. Desakshi is the raga used for singing Tyanis for Usha Pooja. In Carnatic music also there is a raga called Desakshi. The Sancharas of the raga Desakshi are confined mostly to the Uttarangam of Madhya Sthayi and Purvangam of Tarasthayi. There is a Tyani starting with the lyrics

“Mathikala mudi tannil” commonly sung in almost all the temples of Kerala. This Tyani is in praise of Lord Ganapathy. This same Tyani is sung for other occasions also as this is an invocation of Lord Ganapathy. The sancharas of raga Desakshi as sung in the temples of

Kerala as well as the Tyani which is in Triputa tala.

This song below is written by Purandara Dasa, the opening line (pallavi) of one of his songs goes like this:

“Tutturu toorendu battisa raagagaLannu chittaja janaka tanna koLalallUdidanu”

(Krishna, the father of Manmatha, played 32 ragas on his flute with a sound of ‘thur-thur-thur’)

For a long time, Indian music was supposed to have 32 major ragas. This has showed up even prior to Purandaradasa. Basavanna, a social reformer from Karnataka (1134-1196 AD) has this in one of his vachanas (saying):

"enna kAyava daMDigeya mADayya

enna shirava sOreya mADayya

enna naragaLa tantiya mADayya

battIsa rAgava hADayya

uradalotti bArisu kUDalasangama dEva"

It is the same 32 ragas which Purandara dasa refers to in this song “tutturu toorendu’ too. “Krishna played 32 ragas” (battIs = 32). However, he does not list out all the 32 ragas in this song. Let us see what he says in one of the stanzas of tutturu toorendu:

"gouLa nATi AhEri gurjari mALavi sAranga rAga kELi ramaNiyarati dUradinda

phalamanjari gauLi dEshAkSi rAgangaLanu naLinanAbhanu tanna koLalalUdidanu"

(When the maidens from listening from afar, the one with a lotus in his navel, played raagas like

gouLa, nATi, AhEri, gurjari, mALavi, sAranga, phalamanjari, gouLi and dEshAkShi). If this is true, these ragas, including Desakshi was known at least 5,200 years ago !!! (It was on February 18, 3102 BC, at 14:27:30 hours, that Lord Krishna breathed his last on the banks of the river Hiran in Prabhas Patan (close to Somnath) after living for 125 years).


Bhayasamaya (geetam) - Purandara Daasar

Saraseeruhanabham udaram - Swathi Thirunal

Simha chalamuna –Dr. Balamuraleekrishna

Santhatham aham seve – Oothukad Venkatakavi

Coming to the Swathithirunal krithi, ‘Saraseeruha nabham’, here is the meaning which is self- explanatory.

“I worship the benevolent SARASIRUHANABHA!

He is the wish yielding tree to those who worship His feet. Oh Lord!

His feet are fondly carressed by the lotus like hands of goddess LAKSHMI; He burns to cinders the whole clan of cruel demons. He is the refuge for the most helpless. He is the ocean of limitless, spotless virtues. SIVA, BRAHMA,and INDRA adore Him. He relieved the elephant from misery.

The vision of His reclining on the king serpent is exquisitely beautiful. He holds a discus and a conch in His hands. He sports a pure and gentle smile. his face resembles moon and gives joy to His devotees. He is the projenitor of Cupid. He dwells in the hearts of honest ones.

He is very adept in speaking compassionately, the sweetness of which excells nector. his garment shines like gold. His legend decreases the burden of the earth and removes sorrows. he is adorned with pearl garlands that radiate like the sun”.

Let us listen to Prince Rama Varma from the composer’s lineage, singing this in the Desakshi raga, of Harikambhoji origin.

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(Please check the name of the Raga and search using the search button) Amrita behag Bhoga vasantha Budha manohari Chayanattai Chinthamani Chittharanjani Deepakam Deshakshi Devamruthavarshini Devaranji


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