RARE RAGA SERIES: RAVICHANDRIKA – JANYA OF MELA (28) RAGAM HARIKAMBHOJI

Ravichandrika is an extremely beautiful raga, very pleasing to listen especially when sung at medium to medium-fast pace. It is a very refreshing and energizing ragam; same time, with limited scope for elaboration (?) – mainly used for short pieces, sung in between heavy ones or towards the end of a concert. This raga is mostly live due to the Two compositions of Saint Thyagaraja, both of which are popular and sung widely. This is a very rare raga, which is very popular, though the available compositions are only very few. The raga is a panchama-varja janya of mela (28) Harikambhoji, with slight vakra in arohanam only. The ragaswaroopa can be shown as:

S R2 G3 M1 D2 N2 D2 S // S N2 D2 M1 G3 R2 S

There is another specification also available, without Nishadam in arohanam, as:

S R2 G3 M1 D2 S // S N2 D2 M1 G3 R2 S

Ragapravaham by D.Pattammal places it under mela (28) Harikambhoji :

S R G M D N D S // S N D M G R S (same as the conventional)

S R G M P D N D N D S // S N D M G R S

S R G M D S // S N D M G R S

And also under the prathimadhyama mela (57) ragam Simhendramadhyamam:

S R M P N D N S // S N D P M G R S

The raga is sometimes mistaken to another raga, Nattaikurinji. In Hindustani music, the raga Ragesri is considered to be the closest to Ravichandrika. Still, there is another school of thought, considering Ragesri as the closest equivalent to Nattaikurinji.

Compositions:

Makelara vicharamu - Thyagaraja

Niravadhii sukhada - Thyagaraja

Sarvajna samba - Dr. Muthaiah Bhagavathar

Chevadi Malarveda - Periasami Tooran

Manamirangada - G.N.Balasubramaniam

Weshall take the Thyagaraja krithi, ‘Makelara vicharamu’ for discussion. The composition begins with the ‘swarakshara prayoga’, as the Ma in the pallavi begins with the same note; similarly the anupallavi, ‘sAkEta rAjakumArA’ begins with the note Sa.

In this composition, Saint Thyagaraja expresses his total dependence on Sree Rama.

The Meaning:

“O Ramachandra! What should we worry about? Father of Cupid! Prince of the King of Ayodhya! O Mandaara tree of devotees! All the world is a stage wherein you hold the strings with which you control and direct the activities and destinies of all with unerring dexterity. We are puppets in your hands marveling at your display. O the one worshipped by Siva!”.

This song was composed during the last years of Thyagaraja's life. This composition illustrates ‘Atma nivedana’, the very important form of Bhakthi. Bhakthi is described in ‘Bhagavatham’, to be of Nine major forms or classifications, as:

“Sravanam keerthanam vishnoho Smaranam Paadasevanam

Archanam vandanam Dasyam Sakyam Atma Nivedanam”

‘Atma Nivedanam is to surrender of one’s self to the Lord as the Lord’s own. Rama is the incarnation par excellence the supreme (exemplar) of protection of those that surrender unto the Lord. Saint Thyagaraja does not fail to make express mentions of this special feature. When the devotee declares himself as the complete ‘sharanagatha’, he used to have no more anxiety for anything; all his burdens have been laid on the Lord and it is for the Lord to come and help and save the refugee. Sadguru asks Rama in the Krithi Makelara Vicharamu, "Why should I feel any concern? The anxiety is His." Similar sentiments are revealed in another krithi, “Nee chittamu Naa Bhagyamayya” (in ragam Vijaya Vasantham).

Now, let us listen to the a marvellous rendition of the Thyagaraja krithi by vid. Gayathri Venkataraghavan.


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