Nalinakanthi is a very popular rare raga; in the sense that the number of compositions are very limited, still almost all are sung in concerts. This raga is a janya of mela (27) ragam Sarasangi and the notes:
S G3 R2 M1 P N3 S // S N3 P M1 G3 R2 S
(It is a vakra – shadava shadava raga, without Dhaivatham)
This raga can also be derived from Sankarabharanam. The ragam Kedaram resembles Nalinakanthi in many respects. This is mainly used in the latter part of the concerts for short pieces and rarely there are detailed alapanas in this raga; same time, it is most suitable for singing in the first half of kutcheris to keep up the tempo and make the audience sit up and take notice. This ragam is beautiful, romantic and one of the most pleasant ragams in Carnatic Music. Some people consider the Hindustani raga Tilak Kamod to be the nearest equivalent; but some differ, saying Tilak kamod is more related to Desh raga.
While SSP does not mention anything about this raga; Ragapravaham gives two specs under mela (27) ragam Sarasangi:
S G R M P N S // S N P M G R S
S R M P N S // S N P M G R S
The name Nalinakanthi means as beautiful or as bright as Lotus. Nalinakanthi is a pleasant raga and ushers in happiness. It is derived from the major scale and its ascending and descending patterns are zig-zag and interesting. The delightful feature in Nalinakanthi is the fact that singing creative swara-korvais becomes very challenging and interesting.
Manavyalagincara - Thyagaraja
Natajanapalini - Tanjore Sankara Iyer
Nee padame gathi - GNB
Easane kotisurya - Muthu Thandavar
Nahire nahi - Sadasiva Bruhmendra
Evarunnaru (tv) - Mysore Vasudevacharya
Shri guru saravabhouma(tv) - Madurai T. Srinivasan
Sri bharati kalanidhi(tv) - T.M.Thyagarajan
Sakala jagannayaki (tv)- Tirupur R. Subramanian
Nive gatiyani niratamu (tv) – Lalgudi G.Jayaraman
Sri Venkatesam sharanam - Gurukripa
Janani sharanagatham – (?)
Nadir tanom tanom -Tillana - T. Chowdiah
DhImta dhIm dhImtatadhIm – Tillana – Lalgudi G.Jayaraman
Dhirana dhimtha – Tillana – Madurai R.Muralidharan, etc.
Now, we come to the discussion part; we take the Thyagaraja krithi, ‘Manavyalaginchara’. In this composition the Saint exhorts his mind to understand the secrets of the Lord. He says:
“Oh Mind! Why can't you listen to the request of one like myself who has known the noble Ramachandra's (Lord Rama's) compassionate heart? I shall tell you the whole secret.
There was a time when men guided by selfishness and avarice began to indulge in VEDIC sacrifices and rituals (karmakanda). They were entangled inextricably in the cycle of birth and death. It was then that SHRI RAMA condescended to incarnate as a human being with a view to demonstrate how one should conduct oneself in the path of righteousness leading to salvation.
Here is a very nice rendition of the Thyagaraja krithi, which includes a fairly detailed alapana also (which is not found usually), by Padmabhaushan T.N.Seshagopalan.