Madhava manohari is a raga considered to be a janya of Mela (22) Shriragam of the Asampoorna system, followed by Sri. Dikshithar. Since in the normal system, mela (22) is Kharaharapriya, it is placed under the same now. It is a vakra-sampoorna shadava ragam, losing Panchamam in the avarohanam only; so that the ragaswaroopa can be written as:
S R2 G3 M1 P N2 D2 N2 S // S N2 D2 M1 G2 R2 S
Subbarama Dikshithar in his book Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini, describes Madhava manohari as a bhashanga sampoorna ragam, Dhaivatham vakra in arohanam, panchama-varja in avarohanam and can be sung all times. Except for prayogas (MpdmgrS), (P/dmgrS), it is Panchasruthi Dhaivatha for other prayogas. Venkatamakhi’s lakshana sloka also confirms the same:
"sampurna sagrahopeta arohe tu dhavakrita |
pavarjitavarohe ca syanmadhavamanohari ||"
Ragapravaham by Smt. D.Pattammal places it under mela (22) Kharaharapriya and mela (57) Simhendra madhyamam.
Under mela (22) ragam Kharaharapriya:
S G R G M N D N S // S N D M P D M G R S
S R G M P N D N S // S N D M G R S
(where M is Suddha madhyamam)
And under mela (57) ragam Simhendramadhyamam:
S G R G M P N D N S // S N D M G R S
S G R G M P N D N S // S N D M G M G S
S G R G M P N D N S // S N D P M G R S
(where M is Prathi madhyamam)
The exact version of the raga is as illustrated by Dikshitar’s composition ‘Mahalakshmi Karunarasalahari’.
The first mention of the raga in musical works, is encountered in the Sangita Saramruta (1735) of King Tulaja, where it is given as a janya of Sri raga mela. The next mention of this raga is in the Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini(SSP)¹of Subbarama Dikshitar(SD). Neither Thyagaraja nor Syama Shastri have composed in Madhavamanohari. (However 3 later day compositions are found in this raga). Tulaja’s mention as found in the Sangita Saramruta, according to him, Madhavamanohari is a sampurna raga with Dhaivata varja in the arohanam and the Panchama in the avarohanam. The Sangita Saramruta of Tulaja is the first of the musicological texts which offers a glimpse of the evolution of Madhava manohari as well as it sibling Sriranjani. The Sangita Sampradaya Pradarshini offers captures for us the swaroopa of the raga via the 3 extant notated compositions namely the geetham attributed to Venkatamakhi, the kriti “Mahalakshmi Karunarasa lahari” of Dikshitar and the sancari of Subbarama Dikshitar. In SSP, along with Sriranjani and Madhyamavathi ragas, Madhavamanohari is classified as a bhashanga janya of the Sriraga mela. Madhavamanohari is mentioned in the Sriraga raganga
geetham as a bhashanga janya. One must understand why ragas like these are labelled as “bhashanga” in SSP by Subbarama Dikshitar. The term as used by SD is meant to indicate the bhasha or regional origin of the raga in contrast to the modern connotation of the term. Lets now look back in time , probably the first half of the 18th century and in Tulaja’s time, as to how Madhava manohari was. The surviving earliest composition available to us is the geetham .
The salient features of Dikshitar’s Madhavamanohari are:
Arohana: S R2 G2 M1 P N2 D2 N2 S
Avarohana: S N2 D2 M1 P D1 M1 G2 R2 S
The credit of popularizing this composition on the concert platform goes to Sri. Semmangudi Srinivasa Iyer. Semmangudi’s version tracks to the notation in the SSP, except for the fact that he eschews usage of D1.
D2 is utilized by him throughout the composition. The measured gait in the 2 kalai adi tala is seen in his rendition. Second is the rendering of the composition by Sangita Kalanidhi R Vedavalli. Featuring the usage of D1. As one can observe the kalapramana of the rendition is slightly faster (1 kalai) than the Semmangudi version. Vid. Vedavalli adheres to the SSP notation in full.
Mahalakshmi Karunarasa lahari - Dikshithar
Kripasagaram shivam – Dr. Muthaiah Bhagavathar
Madhava Priya Mahima - Hari Nagabushanam
Manohari Matangi (manohari ragamalika) - Spencer Venugopal
As the only popular composition belongs to Sri Dikshithar, we take up the same for discussion. This composition is found in Dikshithar’s “Lakshmi Saptakriti Mala”, dedicated to Goddess Mahalakshmi. (The other krithis are Hariyuvatim Haimavatim – Hemavati or Desisimharava; Hiranmayeem Lakshmim – Lalitha; Mangala Devataya – Dhanyasi; Varalakshmim Bhajare – Saurashtra;Sri Varalakshmi - Shriragam and Sri Bhargavi bhadram – Mangalakaisiki). Dikshithar has included the raga-mudra in the second line of the pallavi itself, as “one who captivates the heart of Vishnu”. It is a full fledged composition, with Pallavi, Anupallavi and Charanam, where the madhyama kAla sahithyam also are found in the AP and Charanam. The composition is in the eighth vibhakthi (sambodhana prathama) and is beautified by prasams in every step.