With only four notes in the arohanam and six notes in the avarohanam, Navarasa Kannada is one of the most beautiful one among the ‘Rare Ragas’ (?) In fact, how it became rare is an unanswered question. This raga, though rare, found a prominent place among musicians, mainly due to the Thyagaraja krithi, “Ninnuvina namadi endu”, though there are composers who used this raga before him. Even none of the other trinities have composed in this raga. It has to be noted that even during the time of Thyagaraja, any raga with less than 5 notes (oudava – pentatonic) was not considered (such ragas were called ‘Swaranthara ragas’), why musicians did not raise their brows when Thyagaraja composed in ragas like Phalamanjari, Vivardhani and Navarasa Kannada, having only 4 notes in their arohanam. Even, when Sri. GNB composed in his own created raga, ‘Sivashakthi’ with only four notes, they left it as such, till Dr. Balamuraleekrishna began to create ragas like Sarvasree, Lavangi etc. containing only three and four notes only. Anyhow, at present, it seems that all of these are accepted and carnatic music is moving to a wider scope.
Navarasa kannada is a melodious raga, evokes happiness; it is more interesting when sung in medium or medium-fast speeds; though there are renditions in slow speeds heard. The ragaswaroopa can be seen as:
S G3 M1 P S // S N2 D2 M1 G3 R2 S
Navarasa kannada is an asymmetric ragam that does not contain rishabham, dhaivatam or nishadam in the ascending scale, while it does not have panchamam in descending scale. This scale is well suited for instrumental music, especially with veena and flute. It is suited for orchestral music as well. Navarasa Kannada with only 4 swaras in its arohana is a prime example of how rules can inspire creative freedom.
While SSP does not mention about this raga, Ragapravaham gives the above specification, along with a couple of other, under the same mela ragam (28).
S G M P S // S N D M G R S
S G M P S D P S // S N D M G R S
S G M P D P S // S N D M G R S
Chumadi peridentre – Periyasami Tooran
Durgadevi – Dr. Muthaiah Bhagavathr
Ganake Sulabhavu - Prasanna Thirtha
Janani TripurasundarI – Oothukad Venkatakavi
Karuninchi nannu – Mysore Vasudevacharya
Lambodara – Dr. Muthaiah Bhagavathar
Nan oru vilayattu bommaiya – Papanasam Sivan
Nee padamule - Poocci Srinivasa Iyengar
Ninuvina namadi - Thyagaraja
Paluku kanda - Thyagaraja
Parashu hastaya – Dr. Muthaiah Bhagavathar
Shri Venkatashailapate - Lalita Dasar
Sundareshvara jaye – Oothukad Venkatakavi
Vande sada Padmanabham – Swthi Thirunal
Yaare Bandavaru Manage - Purandaradasa
Evarunnanura (v) – Mysore Vasudevacharya
Sami ninne koriyunnadira (v) – R.N.Doreswami
We come to the discussion part; we take the most commonly heard krithi, “Ninnuvina namadi endu”, by Thyagaraja. In this composition, the Saint sings his ecstasy of finding Lord everywhere. Since the lyrics are easily available, here is the meaning:
“Pallavi: Excepting you my mind rests on nothing else, Oh lord (Shri Hari)
Anupallavi: My eyes are filled with your beauty, because ...
Charanam 1: Your stories fill my ears, Rama. Your name is constantly being resonated in my mouth, because ...
Charanam 2: Wherever I look I see only you, Rama You are a descendant of the Sun, since I am known as your devotee.
Charanam 3: Even deceitful words have become sweet, you are the fruit of my tapasya (tapas) and yoga sadhana (meditation, efforts)”.