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

(We had a discussion on ragam 'Kamala Manohari'; there I had mentioned about ragam 'Manohari' and the possible disputes related to both. Here, I am trying to concentrate only on the latter).

Ragam Manohari is a Nishada-varja janya of Kharaharapriya; hence represented by a basic scale of SR2G2M1PD2S // SD2PM1G2R2S. But in practice, the arohanam is given a vakra pryoga like SGRGM, which is quite similar to the purvanga of Reethigoula and Anandabhairavi, so that the common scale can be represented as: S G2 R2 G2 M1 P D2 S // S D2 P M1 G2 R2 S So, the name Manohari (one which is beautiful) is an apt name given to this raga. Then, the question is, why this became a rare raga? Both Thyagaraja and Dikshithar schools have their own interpretation about this raga. But, before that let us see what the books say about this raga. In her book, Ragapravaham, D.Pattammal shows the same ragaswaroopa as above; in addition, she gives three more lakshanas, as: S G2 R2 G2 M1 P D2 S // S N2 D2 M1 G2 R2 G2 S S G2 R2 G2 M1 P D2 S // D2 D2 P M1 G2 R2 G2 S S R2 G2 M1 P D2 S // S D2 P M1 G2 R2 S (same as the basic structure) Also, she places it under mela (28) Harikambhoji and mela (33) Gangeyabhushani also, as: S G3 M1 P D2 N2 S // S N2 D2 P M1 G3 S (28) S G3 M1 P N3 S // S N3 D1 P M1 G3 S (33) Sangeetha Sampradaya Pradarshini by Subburama Dikshithar uses the Gangeyabhushani janya only.

Coming to the Thyagaraja school, it is the common scale (janya of Kharaharapriya) is being used. Now, what is intriguing is that Muthuswami Dikshithar used the raga mudra "kamalamanohari" in kanjadaLAyatAkShi, but "manoharam" in Sankaram abhirAmi. Does this suggest that there may be technical differences between MD’s own interpretation of the two ragas? Given that Thyagaraja composed “paritapamu” on the last day of his life, (or somewhere around that time), the other (Kamalamanohari) might be the older raga. Also MD has at several places indicated the raga name from the other school when possible (eg: hari yuvatIM haimavatIM) - So he may have intentionally introduced the word “kamala” in kanjadaLAyatAkShi. Again, does it mean that in “SankaraM abhirAmI manOharaM”, did Dikshithar follow the same raga as followed by Thyagaraja ? This composition of MD is on Lord Amritaghateswarar of Tirukkadavur; a description about this shrine says: “Muthuswamy Dikshitar's kriti ‘Sankaram Abhirami Manoharam’ in Kamalamanohari praises this shrine”. So, does it mean that Dikshithar composed this krithi in Manohari, which was later interpreted as Kamalamanohari; or the raga mudra is “Manoharam”, as he used Devagandharam in place of Karnataka Devagandhari (cf: pancASatpITha rUpiNi) is still not solved undoubtedly. So, in this article, we are combining both the ragas in one episode, due to the reasons above. Let musicologists and experts working on Sri. Dikshithar’s compositions clear the same.

Compositions: Parithapamu ganiyadina - Thyagaraja Sathiyame vellum - Periyasami Tooran Sada unadu thiruvadi - V.V.Sadagopan Sri kamalamba sada (v) - Ramaswami Dikshithar Samiga natho (v) - Ponnaiah Pillai Sankaram abhirami (?) - Dikshithar

Now we come to the last part of this; the discussion of the Thyagaraja krithi, ‘Parithapamu’. Saint Thyagaraja, after living for so many years, composing songs on his favourite deity, Lord Rama, was getting ready to reach His Lotus Feet and attain Moksha. Sometime before he attained this One-ness with Godhead, the Saint had taken to the saffron robes and became Sanyasi. Moved by the deep anguish of this devotee, Lord Ramachandra appeared before Him and assured Him of Moksha within a few days. The Saint himself tells us of these in two of his last pieces. "Giripai nela Konna" in the Raga Sahana and "Parithapamu" in the Raga Manohari. In the Manohari Kriti, Swami asks the Lord "Have you forgotten the words of assurance which you, seeing my anguish, lovingly expressed when you were on the golden boat on the river Sarayu in the company of the incomparable Sita, the assurance that you take me to you in another 5 days."

(Saint Thyagaraja attained Samadhi on the 6th of January,1847 on the auspicious Pushya Bahula Panchami day in the month of Prabhava. On the morning of the siddhi, he sang the two famous songs "Paramatmudu", in Vagadeeshwari raga and "Paritapamu' in Manohari raga. After that he sat on in the pose of Yogasamadhi. As the predicted moment approached all singing there gradually stopped and the crowd assembled there just heard a mysterious nadam emanating from the Saint's head. Soon they saw a bright flash of light flying off from his head and proceeding skywards in a northerly direction).


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