We can define this raga in a broad manner – as ragam Lalitha with Panchamam. Ragam Lalitha is considered to be a janya of mela (15) ragam Mayamalavagoula, with notes:
S R1 G3 M1 D1 N3 S // S N3 D1 M1 G3 R1 S
And that of Lalitha panchamam is:
S R1 G3 M1 D1 N3 S // S N3 D1 M1 P M1 G3 R1 S
It can be seen that the Panchamam appears only in the avarohanam; same time it uses an additional M1 in vakara.
There are two ragas with same name and same configuration; except that the Nishadam is different; in the above, it is Kakali Nishadam (N3) used, while in the other type, it is Kaishiki Nishadam (N2) – so that it becomes janya of mela (14) ragam Vakulabharanam. Both these versions are known to exist. Ragapravaham by vid. D.Pattammal gives different configurations for the MMG janya as shown:
S R G M D N S // S N D M P M G R S
S G M D N S // S N D P M G M R S
S R G M P M D N S // S N D M G R S
S R G M P D N S // S N D P M G R S
S R G M P D N S // S N D M P M G R S
only the first one tallying with the accepted specification; while there is only one spec given for the mela (14) janya, which has no similarity at all. While the specification for the MMG janya is in use commonly, the Dikshithar school follows the Vakulabharanam janya scale; as given in SSP :
R S G M D N S // S N D P M G R S (which is almost similar to the second spec as above, except the Nishadam).
There are very few krithis in this ragam and there is a belief that this ragam has migrated from
Hindustani Music where there is a ragam with the same name with minor variations in notes. It is believed that it was Maharaja Swathithirunal, who introduced this raga to carnatic music. We can listen in the video clip of Prince Rama Varma, mentioning that this ragam was created by Swathi Thirunal Maharaja; he also described/sang Pancama vakra avarohanam. Actually, the ragam Lalithapancamam was not created by Swathi Thirunal; there is a geetham of Venkatamakhi in this ragam and a krithi 'BrihadiswarIm' attributed to Mutthuswamy Dikshithar.
Paramapurusham – Swathithirunal
Brihadeeswarim – Muthuswami Dikshithar
We shall discuss the Swathithirunal composition in detail. This seems to be one of the very rare compositions in which the maharaja has included the ‘raga mudra’, found in anupallavi:
P: parama puruSam hrdaya bhAvaya tam
A: muraLI nAda vivrta tarapara "lalita pancamam"
C1: dEvakI vasudEvAdi divya puNya nicayam amarAvana niratama jitamambudAkrtim
pAvana taraNi tanayOparanta viracita lIlam sEvakAbhISTa dAyakam sitadashana bhAsuram
2: kOpA vantitA hrdaya tApahara mati madhura-lApamavanI bhAra bhUpa mardanam
shrIpatimamala yOgi cintaya pAda yugaLam akhilAlApadud-dharaNa paramabja bhava vanditam
3: sama rajita dAnavam sakala lOkanatam akhila shamalahati sarasa caritamam akSayam
kamala daLa nibha nayana kalita karuNArasam kamalanAbham amita bhava gata shamana kAraNam
Meaning: OH My heart! Contemplate on PARAMAPURUSHA-the supreme being.
The one who creates varieties of musical nuances of the RAGA LALITAPANCHAMA through His flute.
You took birth as man because of the desire and virtuous deeds of DEVAKI, VASUDEVA and others. One who protected the celestials and he is unconquerable; one with the hue of clouds. You protected the dignity of DRAUPADI-born out of fire, One who grants the boons to those who worship You and you glitter with spotless teeth.
You are nectar which removes the desires from the heart of cowherd maidens; sing sweetly and the destroyer of those who are a burden to mother earth. SRIPATI! Your feet are meditated upon by sages with pure mind. Your glorious lotus feet redeems people from all miseries. You are worshipped by BRAHMA.
One who won over the demons in this battle; worshipped by everyone in the world; having a history of being adept in destroying all the sins of the world; an everlasting supreme being; having your lotus-petal-like eyes brim with compassion. Oh KAMALANABHA! You remove the root cause of this endless worldly life.
Now, let us listen to rendition, including a brief detailing about the raga, from Prince Rama Varma, disciple of Dr. BMK and a descendant of the Maharaja.