A raga which evokes the feel of Karuna rasa, pleading, Bhakthi etc abundantly is this rare raga, Nagagandhari. We have to accept the fact that though there are about a couple of dozens of compositions available in this raga, it survives mainly because of the two compositions of Sri. Muthuswami Dikshithar (though Thyagaraja has composed in this raga, the krithi is not popular). Nagagandhari is represented by the notes:
S R2 M1 G2 M1 P D1 N2 S // S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S
(SSP by Subburama Dikshithar describes it as Gandhara varja in arohanam and sampoorna avarohanam; janya of NAririthigoula, Mela – 20 in the Dikshithar system; but phrases used show Gandharam also, supporting the above specification)
We can see that except the additional Suddha Madhyamam appearing in vakra in the arohanam, there is no change in the other notes of the parent raga; it is this particular note, which gives the flavor to the raga. Ragapravaham by D.Pattammal also confirms the same specification; but she also gives two other configurations as:
S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N2 // N2 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S N2
S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N2 // D1 P M1 G2 S
She has classified this under mela (22) ragam Kharaharapriya as:
N2 S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N2 // N2 D2 P M1 G2 R2 S N2
S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N2 // S N2 D2 P M1 G2 R2 S
S R2 G2 M1 P D2 N2 // D2 P M1 G2 R2
And also under mela (23) raga Gowrimanohari,
S R2 M1 P D2 N3 S // S N3 D2 P M1 G2 R2 S
S R2 G2 R2 M1 P D2 N3 S // S N3 D2 P M1 G2 R2 G2 S
(There are other experts who have proved that it could be derived from Gowrimanohari or Kharaharapriya. But for all practical purposes, it is considered to be janya of NaTabhairavi, having the configuration stated first).
Nagagandhari is very close to another raga, Jonpuri, and many get even confused between the two. Jonpuri has three different versions of configurations;
S R2 M1 P D1 N2 S // S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S
S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N2 D1 P S // S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S
S R2 G2 M1 P D1 N2 P S // S N2 D1 P M1 G2 R2 S
(out of which the first one is the most popular and accepted).
According to Sri. K. Ramaraj, “In all the versions the uttarangam is one and the same (as of NaTabhairavi); that is the reason why it tends present a Nagagandhari tinge and that too due to the fact that one of the versions (as per Sangeetha Ragak kadal of Mahadevan) the uttarangam for Nagagandhari is nothing but NaTabhairavi”.
Andariki- -Sriramachandra Murti Sistla
Are yadukula tilaka (lng)-Triputa-Govindacharya
Bhajamyaham avyayam parvatisham-Adi-Muttiah Bhagavatar
Bhakta samrakshaname- -Sriramachandra Murti Sistla
Enna bhagyam sheiden- -Rajalakshmi Parameshvaran
Enta manninchene nannu nitadu nedu vintalu-Rupaka-Annamacharya
Idivo ni mahimalu emani pogadevayya-Rupaka-Annamacharya
Indira ramana govinda - gopaldasa (Atchutanna GopalaSarma)
Jagadisha shri ramana mamava jalajanabha-Adi-Svati Tirunal
Jati kulam pirappennum shuzhipattu (tvc)-Rupaka-Manikkavachakar
Mannaru ranga deva shriman-Rupaka-Subbarama Dikshitar
(*) Nagandhari raganute nagaja nandite mamava-Adi-Muttusvami Dikshitar
Ni vishala svarupamulone sthiramuga na manasu- -Sriramachandra Murti Sistla
O rama rama sarvonnata nikipudora vanchana-Triputa-Tyagaraja
Paninden undan padame-Rupaka-R.Shrinivasan (Nadopasana)
Rebhummimmajha rinamnam (lkg)-Dhruva-Venkatamakhi
Samasta jivula- -Sriramachandra Murti Sistla
(*) Sarasijanabha sodari shankari pahi mam-Rupaka-Muttusvami Dikshitar
Sundareswara Kailasanatha - madurai somu
Tanakai chinta shayaledu tarachuga o cheliya-Adi-Shahji Maharaja
Vandeham te nadasudha- -Bangalore S.Mukund
Vara vendum vara vendum taye oru varam tara vendum-Adi-?
(*) are the Dikshithar krithis, only because of which this raga survises !!!
Now, let us discuss the most famous krithi in this raga, “Sarasijanabha sodari” by Dikshithar. This is a composition in the eighth vibhakthi (sambodhana prathama), addressing Goddess Parvathi with different names mainly found in the Lalitha Sahasranama; and praying her to protect (pahi mam). The Raga Mudra is very carefully infused as “nAgagAndhAri pUjitAbja padE”, meaning, one whose lotus-feet are worshipped by Nagagandhari Raga.