The word ‘Kalavathi’ refers to ‘the one adorned with the arts. This is a name usually confusing people; since there are three forms of Kalavathi raga available. Kalavati belonging to the older Ragaganga raga system of Muddu Venkatamakhi that the Dikshitar clan tenaciously followed in all their creations, is none other than the 31st mela ragam Yagapriya, with notes:
S R3 G3 M1 P D1 N1 S // S N1 D1 P M1 G3 R3 S
Muthuswami Dikshithar followed this and has composed his ‘Kalavathi kamalasana yuvathi’ in this raga (Yagapriya). Kalavati here is none other than sarasvati the Goddess of Knowledge / Wisdom. Kalavati here is a modern 18th century raga derived from theory. Dikshitar paints Sarasvati with epithets such as Kalavati, Bharati, vAg vANi, vINA pANi and Sharada. He refers to Sharada as ‘Kashmira Vihara’.
The second varity of Kalavathi is the Hindustani raga, which is quite similar to the carnatic raga, Valaji, a Chakravakam janya (also from Harikambhoji), with notes:
S G3 P D2 N2 S // S N2 D2 P G3 S
The Hindustani classical and light songs in Kalavathi are set in this scale.
Now, we come to the Kalavathi, janya of Chakravakam and followed by the Thyagaraja school. The scale is:
S R1 M1 P D2 S // S D2 P M1 G3 R1 S; which is normally found, though there is another scale which is followed by musicians:
S R1 M1 P D2 S // S D2 P M1 G3 S R1 D2 S
Ragapravaham by vid. D.Pattammal shows three more scales;
S R G M P D N S // S N D N P M G R S
S R G M P D P S // S N D N P M G R S
S R G M P D N P S // S N D N P M G R S
Ennadu jutuno – Thyagaraja
Okapari judaga – Thyagaraja
Govinda ninna – Purandaradasar
Bhalira Vairagyamentho – Bhadrachala Ramadas
We shall take the first Thyagaraja krithi for discussion : The context of this song, in popular legend, is Thyagaraja's desperate search for the missing idol of Rama. The idol of Rama with Sita, Lakshmana and Hanuman, that was part of his daily worship, went missing one day in his middle age. In common legend, this is held to be the handiwork of his jealous brother, Panchanada. Thyagaraja lapsed into a state of shock, fearing that he had been deserted by his beloved Rama as punishment for some unknown trespass. In the months that followed, before he retrieved the idol from the banks of the Cauvery, came an outpouring of many of his most moving songs, as he pleaded with Rama to reveal Himself and not torture his devotee so. This song is one of the finest from that period and among the most moving of all of Thyagaraja's lyric poetry. The simple familiarity with which he begins, "When ever will I see You?", is most direct and most touching. It clearly conveys the theme that he was once one with Rama, and though
removed from Him now, shall some day reunite with Him; there is neither doubt nor distance, only hope held for some remote day. Cf. with the notion in the hymn, Amazing Grace:
"I once was lost but now am found.
Was Blind but now I see."
It is true that great many questions are raised about the historicity of many of the events popularly attributed to Thyagaraja. This song however, due to its power, seems to be, by itself, proof that Thyagaraja might well have lost his Rama,agonized long and eventually found Him again. The slow and soft plaintive notes to which he has set the underlying melody, most naturally fit the lyrics and its situation.
“When ever will I see You, when?
Finest of the sun-kings! When?
Reclined on the great snake,
You tend to Your flock's sake.
The bright full moon's wake,
Your visage shall soon atake.
In Your retinue, each sings
Of all that Your grace brings,
As kindly You draw each to Your side,
My worshipful Lord, glory betide!”
Let us listen to a very detailed rendition, including raga alapana (which is normally not available in case of very rare ragas) and beautiful swaras, from Dr.M.Balamuraleekrishna.