Janaranjani – a very pleasant raga; the name itself is ‘pleasing to the people (rasikas)’ – still it is a mystery why this remains a Rare Raga. There are about a dozen compositions and four varnams in this raga, but most of these are not heard in concerts. The most widely heard is the Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer composition, “PAhimAm sri RAjarAjeswari”; Saint Thyagaraja has composed three, out of which two are heard sometimes, Shyama Sastri’s “nannu brova rada” is fairly popular – it is a wonder that Muthuswami Dikshithar did not compose in this raga, though he composed in an allied raga, ‘Poornachandrika’ (Shyama Sastri did not compose in Poornachandrika !). Other composers like Dr. Muthaiah Bhagavathar and Mysore Vasudevachar also have composed in this raga. The ragaswaroopa is:
S R2 G3 M1 P D2 P N3 S // S D2 P M1 R2 S
This is a vakra-sampoorna oudava raga; janya of mela (29) Sankarabharanam, with an additional Panchamam coming in vakra in the arohanam, while the avarohanam is same as Suddha Saveri. Janaranjani is very similar to Poornachandrika and these Ragas are known as twin Ragas. Unless sung with perfect sangathis, it is highly difficult to differentiate between the two. It retains a distinct melodic individuality from Poornachandrika due to the PDPNS in the arohanam, as well as the SDPM in the avarohanam. It also seems to lend itself a trifle more to slower tempo exploration as compared to Poornachandrika. Also, while RGMRS is an identifiable usage in Poornachandrika, Janaranjini uses PMRS (though in the chittaswaram of the Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer composition, RGMRS is found in the upper sthayi).
While SSP does not mention about this raga, Ragapravaham places it under mela (29) as:
S R G M P D P N S // S D P M R S
S R G M P N S // S D P M R S
It also places the raga under mela (63) Lathangi:
S G R M P D N S // S N D P M R S
Ganapathe sugunanidhe - Dr. Muthaiah Bhagavathar
Shree chakra varada - Dr. Muthaiah Bhagavathar
Kamakshi pahimam – H.H.J.C.Wodeyar
Nadadina mata - Thyagaraja
Smarane sukhamu - Thyagaraja
Vidajaladura - Thyagaraja
Nannu brova rada - Shyama Sastry
Pahimam shree - Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer
Paada yugamu - M.D.Ramanathan
Paripahimam para - Mysore Vasudevachar
Shritajana ranjani - Lalitha Dasar
Vel vangu - Periyasami Tooran
Namida dayayunchi nannela (V) - Calcutta K.S.krishnamurthy
Saraseeruha lochani (V) - M.D.Ramanathan
Shrngara janaranjana nivegada (V) - Madhuranandadasa
Vanajakshi kamakshi (V) - R.Venugopal
(In addition to the above, the fourth raga in Ranjini Maala is Janaranjani)
Let us discuss the most popular composition in this raga, “Pahimam sree Rajarajeswari”, by Maha Vaidyanatha Iyer. This composition is on the Goddess, consort of Lord Shiva. The meaning of this very compact krithi is:
“Protect me , Sri raja Rajeswari,
Who does merciful acts and is the wife of Sankara.
Grant me unsurpassed pleasure,Oh rider on the lion,
In whom mercy flows like a tide and who is very pretty.
Killer of Chanda, Munda and Bhandasura,
Killer of Mahisha, attractive goddess,
The spotless one who encourages the learned Guhadasa,
The Goddess who can speak sweetly,
Who is fearsome to her enemies and decorates us with boons”.
Now, please listen to Sangeetha Pithamaha, Semmangudi Swami, rendering this composition (a very old recording – has slight disturbances in recording).