EKA-KRITHI RAGAS: KANNADA BANGALA – JANYA OF MELA (15) RAGAM MAYAMALAVAGOULA

Ragam Kannadabangala is an Eka-krithi raga, at least in concert platforms. But for the Dikshithar krithi, “Renuka Devi samrakshithoham”, no other compositions are heard sung in concerts. Even this composition is only very rarely heard.

Kannadabangala is a janya of mela (15) ragam mayamalavagoula, Nishada varja in both directions; the arohanam is vakra with dwimadhyama and dwidhaivatha notes as:

S R1 M1 G3 M1 D1 P D1 S // S D1 P M1 G3 R1 S

There is a quite similar janya of mela (15); ragam Malahari, with notes:

S R1 M1 P D1 S // S D1 P M1 G3 R1 S

It can be seen that the avarohanam being same, the arohanam lacks the Anthara Gandharam and the vakra prayogas. (Malahari is a far more popular raga than Kannadabangala; even the first geetham learnt by music students, ‘Sree Gananatha’ is in Malahari). Kannada Bangala is a very old raga with a long musical history to boot. It was known in olden times as Karnata Bangala or Karnataka Bangala as well signifying its hoary ancestry. In SSP by Subbarama Dikshithar, the lakshana sloka is given as:

rAgaH karnAtabangAlAH sAdavO ga grahAnvitAH

nI varja prAtaruth gEyO arOhE ga cyutah kvAchit ||

It shows that the raga is shadava, (6 notes with nishadha absent both in arohana and avarohana; Gandhara is the graha and in certain arohana/ascent phrases gandhara is dropped- cyuta, also it is an early morning raga. So, it is evident that according to SSP, this raga has same notes as Malahari. In the Sangaraha Cudamani (SC), which is for all practical purposes the compendia of the ragas of Tyagaraja’s compositions, we can find the raga lakshana as:

S R1 M1 G3 M1 D1 P D1 S // S D1 P M1 G3 R1 S

There are two versions of the Dikshithar krithi; by Sri. DKJ and Sri. TMT; in comparison to the notation of the kriti found in the SSP, two key aspects with the edition of this composition by both these are that the tala of the composition has been changed from misra jhampa to khanda capu, as also some of the key phrases such D\MP got deprecated. The consequence of this ‘melodic cleansing’ was that Kannada Bangala of this composition resembled Malahari. It is doubted that prolonged listening of this ragam can cause headaches and migraine; patients have to watch out for this ragam.

Ragapravaham by D.Pattammal gives various configurations for this raga under the same 15th mela:

S G M G M D N D S - S D P M G R S

S R M G M D P D S - S D P M G R S

S R M G P D M D S - S D P M G R S

S G M G M D N D S - S D P M G R S

S R M G M D N D S - S N D P M G R S

S R M P D S - S D P M G R S

S G M D N D S - S D P M G R S

Compositions:

Renukadevi samrakshithoham – Dikshithar

Ilalona niku - Tiruvettiyur Tyagayya

Sanchari - Subburama Dikshithar and

Lakshya geetham by Venkatamakhin

Now, coming to the Dikshithar krithi, ‘Renuka Devi’ song, Renukadevi is a Hindu goddess worshipped predominantly in the Indian states of Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Karanataka, and Tamil Nadu. Devi's temple at Mahur in Maharashtra is considered one of the shakti peethas.

The reference, “paraSu rAma janani” in the charanam points to the character in the epic Mahabharataha, who was the mother of Parashurama. Renuka originated out of the fire from the yaga her father was doing. Sage Agasthya advised her father to get her married to sage Jamadagni, son of Ruchik Muni and Satyavati. Renuka gave birth to five sons: Vasu, Viswa Vasu, Brihudyanu, Brutwakanwa and Rambhadra. Rambhadra was the youngest and most beloved, gaining the favour of Lord Shiva and Parvati and hence called Parashurama (the sixth incarnation of Vishnu, also called Bhargava Rama). Suspecting her infidelity as she harboured thoughts about a Gandharva she had seen, the Sage Jamadagni went into a rage and he ordered his sons to kill her. As they refused he burnt them down to ashes leaving out Parasurama who was away. When he returned he was ordered by his father to find his mother and kill her, which he promptly did. Legend has it that it pleased the Sage who then asked Parasurama what he wanted in return . Parasurama is supposed to have asked for his mother and his brothers to be revived. In that process the sage also seems to have realized his mistake in suspecting his wife and thus Renukadevi gets elevated to a iconic village goddess who stood for virtuousness and chastity. She is revered in the rural hinterlands of Southern India along with Yellama, Mariyamman and other village dieties. The story also has a number of local variants for very many Amman temples especially in Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamilnadu. There are quite a few temples dedicated to Renukadevi. One such temple is located in Vijayapuram at the outskirts of Tiruvarur, Tamilnadu and the kriti ‘rEnukA dEvI samrakshitOham’ in Kannada Bangala is an ode to the presiding deity of this temple.


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