Mela ragas Kharaharapriya and Harikambhoji share the top position in the number of janya ragas – we are going to discuss one of the rarest janyas of Harikambhoji, known as Suposhini. This is one of the rarest and very interesting raga; only the Thyagaraja krithi has been heard sung; it still holds the title of Eka-krithi raga, though there are very few krithis of other composers of later times, not heard in concerts at all. Suposhini is a vakra-shadava vakra-oudava, Gandhara-varjya raga, the structure of which can be represented as:
S R2 S M1 P N2 D2 S // S D2 P M1 R2 M1 S
Ragapravaham by D.Pattammal places it under two mela ragas, (16) Chakravakam and (28) Harikambhoji.
Under Chakravakam mela:
S D N S R G M P - M G R S N D N S
And under Harikambhoji mela:
S R S M P N D S - S D N P M R M S
S R S M P D N D S - S D N P M S
The story behind Muthuswami Dikshitar’s nottuswara sahityams is well known. The way the composer took western music tunes and set Sanskrit lyrics for them is a fascinating study. Two stalwarts of the Diskhitar lineage — Vadivelu and Baluswami Dikshitar — are accredited with transforming the violin into a Carnatic instrument and it is likely that the nottuswaras must have helped. But what of Thyagaraja? It is extremely unlikely that he could have been oblivious to the instruments used in western music or to tunes of that genre. By the time the composer was in his thirties, this was an art form to which patronage was being extended from the highest quarter. According to Dr. S Seetha’s Tanjore as a Seat of Music, as early as 1775, when Thyagaraja was just seven, notebooks containing western stuff notation and theory of music were being filled in for the benefit of ‘His Majesty the Raja of Tanjore.’ That was when Tulaja II was the ruler. Under his son Sarabhoji, this was to rise to greater heights. He set up the Tanjore Palace Band and to quote from Dr.Seetha again, “collected western musical instruments like violin, clarionet, dulcimer, piano, German flute, tambourine and harpsichord.” The king composed music for the band and also entered into extensive correspondence with foreigners on theory as well as practical aspects. Thyagaraja, of course, had little to do with the court. But considering that the ruler and his entourage spent much of the summer months in Tiruvaiyaru, it is quite likely that the composer had the opportunity to listen to some of the new music that was performed. And he could not have remained uninfluenced. At least three pieces of Thyagaraja demonstrate the impact of Western Music.
The first and the most popular is ‘Vara Lila Gana Lola,’ set to Sankarabharanam rather on the lines of Dikshitar’s nottuswarams. This being the same as the C Major scale in western music, it is perhaps not surprising that the composer took to this raga when he wanted to set a piece in the new idiom. It still remains a popular song, especially for students of the keyboard. The second, ‘Sarasa Netra’ is also in Sankarabharanam. The third, ‘Raminchuvarevarura’ is in Suposhini, a raga in which Thyagaraja was the first to compose. It is a janya of Harikambhoji, which too is in a way a creation of the composer, for while it did have an existence in Tamil panns, it acquired its present structure and form entirely due to Thyagaraja’s songs in it. The song has a martial gait, conjuring up visions of an army on the move. The chittaiswarams, which add much to the beauty of this small song, are however probably not Thyagaraja’s. All three songs have flat notes dominating, with minimum of gamakas or graces, a strong characteristic of orchestral western music.
Ramincu varevarura - Thyagaraja
Ganapati - Bangalore S.Mukund
Hara hara shiva hari hari - Shuddhananda Bharati
Meaning of the Thyagaraja krithi :
“Transcendent Lord! Abode of all six attributes! Who else is the one who delights in sporting in the heart of men all over the world, but you? The profound significance of the root "RAM" from which your name "Raama" is derived, is beyond the ken even of the effulgent celestials of the divine hierarchy as also the overwhelming Bliss the name Raama is capable of conferring”.