Shrimani (or Srimani) is one of the rarest of the rare ragas; listed commonly under ‘vinta ragas’. Vinta ragas (or vichitra ragas) are ragas Sadguru Thyagaraja has given us. There is no evidence of existence of these before Sri Thyagaraja’s times. Either he created them or he got a clue about them from Swararnava or raga lexicons like Vyasakatakam or Hanumathkatakam. There are about 82 such ragas; the list begins with Shrimani, followed by Rasali, Vardhani etc. Even if we have the scale of a raga, it is not easy to compose songs that will stay on for generations. Sri Thyagaraja’s greatness lies in composing songs in all these ragas and making them immortal. He gives the special sancharam of a raga in the opening lines of many of the songs. Names like Kunthalavarati, Prathapavarati, Chakravaki exist in earlier works but we do not have any evidence of their being similar to the corresponding ragas we know today. Sadguru’s compositions in vinta ragas created a stir in his days. Many of them are popular even today. Vinta ragas are janya ragas (There are also melakartha ragas in which Thyagaraja was arguably the first to compose, to show the melodic richness and possibilities and to give the raga itself an identity, like Dhenuka, Vakulabharanam, Kharaharapriya, Vagadeeswari etc.).
The Saint himself gives the name “vinta ragas” to these ragas in his songs “mitri bhAgyamE” in Kharaharapriya and “muccaTa brahmAdulaku” in Madhyamavathi. He says “vinta rAgamulanAlApamu sEyaga mEnu pulakarincaga” and “bhAgavatulu hari nAma kIrtanamu bAguga susvaramulatO vinta rAgamulanu AlApamu cEyu“. He doesn’t even ask us to sing his songs in vinta ragas but to just do Alapana in these.
Raga Shrimani is janya of mela ragam Ratnangi and is a Madhyama – varja ragam; also it loses Nishadam in arohanam only, as:
S R1 G1 P D1 S // S N2 D1 P G1 R1 S
Ragapravaham by D.Pattammal also places it under the same mela, but with different structures, the first being the same as above:
S R G P D S // S N D P G R S
S R G M P D N S // S N D P G R S
In addition, she is referring to a raga by similar name, Srimathi, with a similar configuration.
As mentioned already, there is only one composition known (not sure whether any unknown or unsung ones do exist), this is the Thyagaraja krithi – “Emandune vichitramunu”.
In this composition, the Saint criticises those who speak of ‘Rama mantra’ without knowing its value.
“O Lord praised by this tyAgarAja!
What can I say to You about the strange behaviour of people in this World?
Without understanding the greatness of Your mantra, they speak as if it is very ordinary.
Talking philosophy while still groping in dark,
remaining slaves of lust,
having no compassion in the mind,
roaming about the World filling their stomach, and
lo! they say they alone are great!
What can I say about the strange behaviour of people in this World?”