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Ragam Neethimathi, the 60th melakartha, has a few janya ragas; except Hamsanadam, all the others are very rare or only in theory. Kaikavashi is one such raga, which was used by Saint Thyagaraja and even now survives because of the lone composition, “Vachama gocharame”. This raga is sampoorna – shadava in nature and can be represented as:

S R2 G2 M2 P D3 N3 S // S N3 P M2 G2 R2 S

Sangraha Chudamani and Sangeetha Sara Sangrahamu assign Kaikavashi as a janya of mela 60, Neethimathi.

Both Ragapravaham by D.pattammal and Palai yazhi by T.A.Sambamoorthi provide specifications under different melas 21(Keeravani), 59(Dharmavathi) and 60(Neethimathi. Ragapravam shows:

S R G M P D N S // S N P M G R S (under mela 21, Keeravani)

S R G M P D N S //S N P M G R S (under mela 59, Dharmavathi)

S R G M P N S // S N P M G R S ( ,, )

S R G M P D N S // S N P M G R S (under mela 60, Neethimathi)

These differences are felt in the different renditions of this composition by great musicians like M.S.S. Amma or Dr. M.Balamuraleekrishna. While the former follows the shadava-shadava swaroopa under Dharmavathi, eschewing the Dhaivatham, hence shows similarity to Dharmavathi raga; the latter follows the normal one, using the Nishadam only slightly, mostly giving a flavor of Neethimathi raga only. Even it is found that some assign the Thyagaraja krithi to the janaka raga, Neethimathi.


Vachamagocharame - Thyagaraja

Shashimukhi Saraswathi – K. Ramaraj

As the only composition in the raga, we discuss the Thyagaraja krithi in detail. In this composition, the Saint relates two incidents to illustrate the greatness of Lord Rama.

“O My Mind!

Is it possible to describe the greatness of SrI rAma – Enjoyer of music - praised by this tyAgarAja?

It is indeed beyond words.

While He thrashed demon mArica, He slayed subAhu.

Consort of Lord mAdhava wanted to make a chowrie (of animal tail);

The Lord discharged a missile to sever the tail of the animal;

the animal, seeing the missile, projected its neck (in front of the missile) in order to die and save its honour rather than losing its hair;

seeing this, the Lord took pity and became reliever of the distress of the humble animal;

in order to grant its life back, He quickly destroyed the missile, then and there, which was already on its way to the target”.

In the charanam, the composer refers to “cAmara mauTa kastramu”; this episode is not found in the Ramayana. Chamara was used as a fan in temples and for kings . It is generally made from yak’s tail, particularly the silver hued tail. This is also known as chowrie – the tamizh equivalent of savuri. In Thamizh mythology, a deer by name ‘kavari mAn’ is mentioned which would not live if it happens to lose even a single hair from its body. Yak is found in himAlayA or Tibet only (nearest to India); also there is no such myth about yAk losing its life to save its honour. Therefore, the reference must be to kavari mAn.

The following verse from Thirukkural (tamizh) is relevant –

“mayir nIppin vAzhAk kavarimA annAr

uyir nIppar mAnaM varin (969)

“The deer ‘kavari’ would not live even if one hair is shed from its body (considering it to be a matter of honour); such like people, would cease to live if their honour is at stake.” (Re: Thyagaraja vaibhavam).

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