RARE RAGA SERIES: KARNARANJANI – JANYA OF MELA (22) RAGAM KHARAHARAPRIYA

Unlike in the previous discussions, where we have dealt with many janya ragas; even the names of which were quite unpopular. But today, we discuss a very prominent raga, only in name, not in practice. Some ragas are very unique, and the pieces composed in them are very few. Yet, due to their beauty and striking features, these ragas have a special place in the hearts of music lovers. Such ragas are intriguing, and a very special and well-loved raga is Karnaranjani. This raga is a rare flower in the garden of ragas. It is tough to master, tougher to deliver, but surprisingly easy for a clever music lover to identify, taking into account its very distinctive features. This raga is considered to be a creation by Dr. Harikeshanallur Muthaiah Bhagavathar, also mentioned in many references as: “The ragam was a creation of Harikesanallur Muthiah Bhagavathar, and he has aptly named it Karnaranjani which literally means "pleasant to the ears”… But some sites like Wiki say, “He is responsible for popularising some of the rare ragams like Karnaranjani, Niroshta …..” However, as we can see that the earliest composition in the raga is by the legend. The ragaswaroopa can be found as:

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

The same can be found in Ragapravaham by Smt. D.pattammal also. Sri. K. Ramaraj gives a slightly different scale, including N2 also in the arohanam, as:

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

Also he says: “The beauty of the Vakraprayogam (ie) GA MA GA PA DA NI DA SA , it has altogether transformed the Kharahapriya Janya Raga into yet another Alluring Beauty !! Jaya hO Carnatic Music! and HATS OFF TO HMB! WHO INVENTED THIS RAGA !”. Anyhow, one thing is clear from this, that this raga is a creation of the genius.

For all practical purposes, we follow the general scale given (Nishada – varja).

Compositions :

Vancha thonuna - Dr. Muthaiah bhagavathar

Sthanum bhajamyaham - -do-

Om namo narayanaya - Ambujam Krishna

Deena sharanyane - Nila Ramamurthy

Nee daya koriti - K. Ramaraj

Niranjaneem karunaranjaneem – Ashok Madhav

Enagu Aale Ranga – Purandaradasar

Yamunai Nadiye - Appadurai

Thillana - Lalgudi G. Jayaraman

Tom dhru tanata dhIm (thillana) – K.S.Raghunathan

The most popular and commonly sung is the HMB composition, “Vancha thonu”; a plea to Goddess Sri Valli, consort of Lord Murugan. The meaning:

“Mother! Please ask your consort a boon. Plead to him to get rid of my grievances.

Sri Valli! The giver of boons. Melt murugan's heart with your plea.

Respected Woman! Your caretaker should protect my honor and exhibit affection towards me. Who is better than you in protecting humans in the kali yuga? You're one who blesses equally the good and the bad”.


We shall listen to an instrumental recital of this, since this may better suit the raga. Here is an unparalleled recital by Saxophone Chakravarthy Dr. Kadri Gopalnath; wonderfully accompanied by Sangeetha kalanidhi A. Kanyakumari on violin, Trichy B.Harikumar on mridangam and Rajendra Nagod on tabla. Dr. Gopalnath gives a very beautiful alapana; the swarakalpana is unimaginable !!


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