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

Swarabhushani is a shadava – shadava raga, unsymmetrical in structure. It is a janya of mela (22) ragam Kharaharapriya, losing Gandharam (G2) in arohanam and Rishabham (R2) in avarohanam; the structure can be shown as:

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

Neither Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini nor Ragapravaham gives details about this ragam; Ragapravaham gives details about 'Surabhushani' (as janya of mela (4) Vanaspathi, which is entirely a different raga.

While assessing the correct melody of a Thyagaraja composition, though we can rely on the oral traditions – such as the primary sishya paramparas- we still have two important problems.

1.It is very much discernible from history that Thyagaraja did not assign or disclose the name of the raga of a composition, when he taught it to his students. Therefore, in quite a few instances the different sishya paramparas held different raga names and/or different melodic contour for the same composition.

2.The second issue is that outside of the sishya paramparas, early publishers of Thyagaraja’s compositions (1870-1920) gave the raga name/description simply as ‘apuroopam’ meaning rare for melodies which were uncommon or not discernible with certainty by them/at that point in time for quite a few of his compositions.

Though Thyagaraja was apparently not an itinerant composer in the mould of Muthuswami Dikshitar, he reportedly did undertake a few journeys/pilgrimages to places away from Tiruvaiyyaru during his life time. His biographers including Prof Samba moorthi and others based on his compositions/internal evidence, accounts of his disciples and such other collateral information, aver that he visited places like Srirangam, Nagapattinam, Tiruvottiyur, Kovur, Tirupati & Kancipuram. In fact, musical historians based on the kritis also advance the view that the following four deities, have been sung upon by every member of our Trinity:

Lord Varadaraja at Kanchipuram

Goddess Kamakshi at Kanchipuram

Goddess Nilayathaksi at Nagapattinam

Goddess Dharmasamvardhini at Tiruvaiyyaru

Thyagaraja is said to have composed two compositions on Lord Varadaraja at Kanchipuram;

‘varadarAja nine kOri’ in raga Swarabhushani

‘varada navanItAsha’ in raga Ragapanjaram

Dr. V Raghavan’s Index of Thyagaraja’s compositions has an entry for this piece based on its availability in the records of Chinnasvami Mudaliar/Walajapet manuscripts and that of Rangaramanuja Ayyangar. The raga name is given as Swarabhushani. As pointed out earlier none of the lexicons of Thyagaraja’s songs namely Sangraha Chudamani or the Andhra text of the Ragalakshanam or the Tamil text Mahabharata Chudamani makes a mention of a raga by this name or the scale under the 22 mela. This name is first documented in Nadamuni Panditar’s Swaraprastara Sagaram, (about 1914). And modern publications assign this raga name to the composition as Swarabhushani / Swarabhushini under mela 22 with SGMPDNS/SNDPMRS as the nominal arohana / avarohana.

The only composition is the Thyagaraja krithi as above; still holding the Eka-raga krithi status. This raga gives a very close resemblance to Devamanohari when listening.

We can listen to an excellent rendition of this krithi with explanation of the raga, by Sri. S.Rajam .


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