EKA-KRITHI RAGAS: DEVAMRUTHAVARSHINI – JANYA OF MELA (22) RAGAM KHARAHARAPRIYA

A raga which is still alive only because of the Thyagaraja krithi, “Evarani nirnayinchirira”; before or after this composition, there is no popular composition found in this raga. Even if there is any unknown composition in this raga, it is not heard anywhere. So, this is the only source for us to learn and understand the raga, the sancharas, the several aspects of raga such as graha swara, arohana avarohana prayoga and the prayoga of raga identifying phrase etc.

Devamruthavarshini is a janya of the mela ragam (22) Kharaharapriya; Panchama – varja and Nishada appearing vakra in arohanam only, keeps the notes of the janaka ragam in avarohanam. This raga is also known as NAdachintamani.

S R2 G2 M1 N2 D2 N2 S // S N2 D2 P M1 G2 R2 S

This is one of the very rarely heard raga; in concerts, this is generally played in the second half . This ragam was made very popular by the Late SG Kittappa, the most popular singer cum drama artist of yesteryears from Tamilnadu. People used to throng the drama programmes of SGK, solely to hear his songs like Evarani, Saint Thyagaraja's krithi. There are experts who felt that SGK diluted the songs solely for the purpose of getting mass popularity. He was compared to Mysore BS Raja Iyengar for his unique style of singing. He used Harmonium in his stage programmes, unlike the normal concert artists using Violin as the supporting instrument. There was a question as to why Kittappa used the harmonium as an accompaniment as against the violin. The reason was that a violin in the absence of amplification was completely drowned out by the human voice. The harmonium used in the record is of the pedal variety which gave a larger volume and was a standard drama accompaniment those days. Kittappa’s version was drama music. It must be remembered that an anecdote has it that Dr.Muthiah Bhagavatar withdrew his recorded version of Evarani after hearing Kittappa’s. Was it out of respect for the authenticity of the latter version or else…?

A recording of DK Pattammal’s rendition of ‘Evarani’ shows that in actual usage, the P appears on the ascent and there are phrases that go P D N S R G and also N D P D. Early versions of this song were sung with shades of kharaharapriya dominating; but in the Musiri and the Mudicondan traditions, Devamruthavarshini did not use P at all, even in sangatis.

Devamruthavarshini is a raga which does not give scope for elaborate alapana. Sancharas are very limitted, so Thyagaraja composed only one kriti, and he has included all the raga sancharas of Devamruthavarshini in that kriti. This is a tough kriti. Its music and sahithya possess high standard. Thyagaraja begins the kriti by using the characteristic phrase "n d n s" and also special attention was made not to use the phrase "p d n s" throughout the kriti, which begins with madhyasthayi nishada and ends with madhyasthayi madhyama. Sancharas in this kriti ranges from mandrasthayi nishada to tarasthayi madhyama.

There is no other raga specification found in any other references.

As there is only one composition known, we shall discuss the same; Sadguru Thyagaraja’s ‘Evarani’; in this krithi, the composer describes the meaning of the name ‘Rama’.

Gist

“O Munificient Lord, praised by this tyAgarAja!

What did the most Eminent people determine as to who You are, and how did they worship You? – whether Lord Siva or Lord

vishNu or brahmA or the Supreme Lord?

For the Siva mantra (OM namaSSivAya), ‘ma’ is the soul; for the vishNu mantra (OM namO nArAyanAya), ‘rA’ is the soul; I

salute the great personages who understand this detail”.

We shall listen to the most famous rendition of this composition by Sri. S.G.Kittappa.


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