We are going to discuss on one of the rarest of the rare ragas, almost extinct from concert platforms. This raga is an Oudava – vakra sampoorna janya of mela (15) Mayamalavagoula; similar in arohanam, but with a slight difference in the vakra prayoga in avarohanam with another fairly popular raga, Gowlipanthu. Please see the notes:
Gundakriya : S R1 M1 P N3 S // S N3 P D1 P M1 G3 R1 S
Gowlipanthu : S R1 M1 P N3 S // S N3 D1 P M1 D1 M1 G3 R1 S
(while the Panchamam appears in vakra in Gundakriya, D1 & M1 are in vakra in Gowlipanthu).
Subburama Dikshithar, in SSP describes this as a sampoorna – vakra sampoorna raga, under same mela (15):
SRGMPDNS - SNPMGMDPMGRS
Ragapravaham also places it under same Mayamalavagoula mela ragam:
S R M P N S - S N P D P M G R S
S R G R M P N D N S - S N D P M G R R G R S
S R G R M N D N S - S N D P M G R G R S
S R G M P D N S - S N P M G M D P M G R S
S R M P N S - S N P D P G R S
S R G R M P N S - S N P D P M G R S
The raga name given as ‘Gunjakriya’ in Ashtapadi, is Gundakriya only. Sri Prasanna Venkatadasa (AD-1680-1752) informs that the ragas Namakriya & Gundakriya have originated from Samaveda. He wrote "SrI prasanna vEMkaTakRushNana nAmakriya, gunDakriya mEle pADi sAmagAnadi namO eMdAru." Invariably, this raga, then, should be the oldest of the lot. Also, this raga is said to be created by Lord Anjaneya, thus becoming the most divine raga; it was in this raga he sang about his Lord, Sri Rama.
The Legend is: Once celestial singers Narada & Tumburu got engaged in a dispute of "who is greatest singer?". They approached Lord Anjaneya who was singing Rama nama at Kimpurusha Khanda & requested to settle their dispute. Anjaneya agreed to be the judge & asked the singer-duo to exhibit their singing talents. Narada began by playing his mahati veena. Narada played on till he fatigued. He placed mahati on a boulder as a sign of withdrawal. Tumburu took his kalavati veena & began to sing. Tumburu too got fatigued & placed kalavati veena next to Narada's on the same boulder. Both prayed to Anjaneya to give the verdict. Hanuma said "You both performed well. Before I give judgment, I too wish to sing." Both the divine singers sat down to listen. The son of Anjana closed his eyes only to see the image of Shri Rama. And, lo! there started a stream of sweetness called Ramanama gana. After sometime, Anjaneya opened eyes & made the two gandharvas to come to senses. Asked them to take their veenas & be ready to hear the verdict. They laid hands on veenas but they were stuck to the boulder. They saw that the boulder is melted & their instruments got stuck to it. Unable to recover veenas, they looked at Anjaneya with folded arms. Lord Anjaneya started singing again to which sticky rock became solid. Their veenas got released from the boulder which morphed from a sticky substance to its original nature. Narada & Tumburu now realised who is the greatest singer in this creation. They prostrated before Vayuputhra & prayed for forgiveness. Anjaneya blessed them with karunya and on their request taught them the new raga that he just sung to release the veenas. That raga is "gunDakriya" raga which is now considered as janya raga of MayamaLavagaula which is mainly used for denoting Bhakti rasa. To commemorate this legend Sri. Vadiraja Theertha wrote a Kannada krithi titled "gunDakriye" having 40 stanzas & composed in Gundakriya. Anjaneya who is known for his Ramabhakthi, Bhujashakthi is little known for his Gandharvagana.
Sri Thyagaraja in his kriti 'Sangeetha jnAnamu' raga Dhanyasi, mentions the name of Anjaneya as 'nAdOpAsaka'. Under the heading பரத சேனாபதீயம் in the site, Tamilnation.org, there is a mention of rAga guNDaka kriyA;
அனுமன் விவாதிகள் கருவ மடங்க
அசல முருகக் குண்டகக் கிரியாவெனும்
இராகம் பாடி யடக்கி மேலும்
சன்னிய ராக மாறாயிரஞ் சமைத்ததற்
கனும கடக மெனும்பெய ரணிந்தனன்.
the treatise is called 'anuma katakam'. The meaning of the above : For sub-duing the pride of disputants, Hanuman, to the melting of mountain, sang a raga called 'guNDaga kriya', and quelled them; further, he created six thousand janya rAgas and named them as 'hanuma kataka' (or attained the name 'hanuma kataka') !!! This is why, in the beginning this raga was referred as the oldest and most divine raga. (The Thyagaraja kriti "Geetaarthamu" in Surati also extols Anjaneya; Thyagaraja pays homage to Anjaneya in Vidulaku mrokkeda (Mayamalavagowla) as well. It is indeed striking that these kritis (Sangeeta gnanamu included) deal with sangita sastra. Thyagaraja's "Pahi Ramadhootha" in Vasantha Varali, "Pavanaatmaja agachha" in Chalanattai and Pavanatmajam bhajare in Sankarabharanam by Dikshithar are really nice compositions as is "Anjaneya Raghuraama doota" of Swati Tirunal in Saveri. Purandara dasa sings of "Sundara mooruthi mukhya praana" in Senjurutti).
Nammina Dokate Naku - annamacharya
Kadupenta - Annamacharya
devaya havise - Muthaiah Bhagavathar
intanuchu varnimpa - Thyagaraja
rajarajendra sozha - Dikshithar
tharunamide nannu - Tiruvettiyur Thyagayya
We take the Thyagaraja krithi, “Intanuchu varnimpa” for discussion. There are hundreds of epithets and [vocatives laden] with Rama’s gunas with which Thyagaraja describes and addresses Rama in his songs. in all these, the personal qualities of Rama are extolled. Foremost among the qualities comes Rupa, the personal charm of Rama’s appearance. When Thyagaraja tells Rama "You are my Ishta Deiva", it is the surpassing beauty of this Shyama Sundara that made him prefer this form. In the krithi, Intanuchu Varnimpa Tharama (Gundakriya), he says even Brahma, Indra and other gods cannot describe the beauty of your benign look, your charming face, surpassing the moon in splendour.
Let us listen to Sangeetha kalanidhi Sri. Sanjay Subramanian singing the Thyagaraja krithi, with all its beauty and splendor.