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Historical Background (Dr. V V Srivatsa):  Raga Dhanyasi finds reference in medieval musicological texts. However, there came, in the course of time, some super-imposition and the ragas Dhanyasi and Suddhadhanyasi got mixed up. However, separation of identity was maintained to the extent that Dhanyasi was deemed as an Audava-Sampoorna raga while Suddhadhanyasi was an Audava-Audava raga. The scale of swaras sa-ga-ma-pa-ni-sa was considered the hallmark of Dhanyasi and several ragas with this Arohana pattern were deemed as Dhanyasi-genre ragas. Dhanyasi, as presently known, did exist in the period preceding the melakarta classification as evinced from some compositions of Bhadrachala Ramdas and Purandaradasa handed over from generation to generation. The nature of Rishabha and Dhaivata swaras and the Audava-Sampoorna structure did give this raga a distinct identity. Govindacharya deals with the lakshana of this raga and decides its classification under the 8th melakarta. Subbarama Dikshitar gives a lucid picture of this raga, reflective of its current nature. However, he deems it a Bhashanga raga derived from the 20th melakarta. At the same time, he expresses his unhappiness at such a classification. The compositions of the Trinity in this raga gave a boost to its popularity. It is a raga used widely nowadays with a vast repertoire. It is also one of the select 28 ragas with compositions of each member of the Trinity. It is also a raga used for mangalam and is an auspicious raga.

Manodharma (Dr. N Pattabhiraman): Manodharma is a magnificent aspect of Carnatic music. It evades measurement to some extent and can vary from artiste to artiste.   Manodharma can be stated to have many integral components or sectors - like alapana, kriti-rendition, kalpanaswara and so on. Some artistes excelled in a sector while being satisfactory in others. GNB was considered a master in raga rendition, while Madurai Mani Iyer was associated with swara-prastara. Infact, there can be even sub-sectors; like Aksheeptika, Vidari, Sanchari, Sthayi etc., in raga rendition. Carnatic music has intrinsic values of salient importance, which are not adequately appreciated. The presentation of manodharma should not be hyper-theoretical and should satisfy the audience, as well. It is not a mere barometer to gauge the artistes' caliber but is a medium to bring about aesthetic satisfaction and appreciation. With reference to Dhanyasi the above parameters holds good.

Allied Ragas (Tiruvengadu Jayaraman): Dhanyasi, by nature, musicological analysis and usage, belongs to the 8th mela. The first point to be noted is that there is no profusion of ragas derived from the 8th melakarta. Hence, the ragas allied to Dhanyasi are also limited.

The most proximate raga is Ghanta, with many phrases similar to passages found in Dhanyasi. However, there is enough difference. (This was demonstrated by Jayaraman through some prayogas). The rasanubhava between Dhanyasi and Ghanta or Dhanyasi and Todi is different. Dhanyasi has its own features, which are unique, and its closeness to Ghanta, does, in no way, mar its uniqueness.

The only other Raga that can be considered as an allied raga of Dhanyasi is Asaveri. The swara-structures of these ragas serve to point out, to a great extent, the difference rather than similarity - as can be seen from the use of Rishabha in Asaveri. Renditional purity will suffice to compare and or contrast two ragas. This can show the extent of proximity of raga Asaveri to Dhanyasi. Many compositions in these ragas highlight these facets and it is best seen in them.

Gamakas and Anuswaras (R S Jayalakshmi): Dhanyasi is a classical, yet folk-oriented raga. The swaras of this raga afford ample scope for the usage, prayoga of gamakas. Each constituent swara has its individual identity. Yet, there is a distinctive change, when linked to another swara, through gamakas. Gandhara appears different when linked to the Madhyama then when linked to the Rishabha. The Madhyama and Nishada swaras afford adequate scope for the use of gamakas and Anuswaras. Infact the embellishment is fine and distinct. The movement from one swara to another clearly demonstrates effective use.

(Jayalakshmi concurrently played on the Vina and gave a fine exposition of the points highlighted by her. The different kinds of gamakas used in Dhanyasi in different context were aptly demonstrated, which drew special attention).

Compositions (Dr. S Sundar): The repertoire is vast - Gitas, Tana Varnas, Prabandhas and of course, Kritis. (Dr. Sundar cited the example of Bhadrachala Ramdas composition ‘Rama daya joodave' and rendered a portion thereof. Delving on compositions by Tyagaraja, he cited ‘Ramabhirama', 'Sangita Gnanamu, ‘Dhyaname' and 'Syama Sundaranga'. He stressed the beauty of this raga as discernable from Dikshitar’s 'Mayuranatham' and 'Mangala Devataya'.). Syama Sastri’s solitary composition in this raga is a masterpiece, which tradition continued to Subbaraya Sastri, as well. Dhanyasi has been used in many Ragamalika compositions - like 'Bhavayami Raghuramam'. Papanasam Sivan’s 'Balakrishnan Paadamalar' is a fine composition. This raga gives scope to both vilamba and madhyama-kala compositions. Many post-Trinity compositions like 'Paruvam Parka' maintain the high standards set earlier. (Dr. Sundar prepared a detailed, but not exhaustive list of compositions in raga Dhanyasi and distributed copies to the audience).

Recorded Renditions: Some compositions rendered by maestros of the past, and some other aspects were highlighted through recorded renditions for a period of about 15 minutes.

Thematic concert: Nityasree Mahadevan gave a splendid thematic concert on Dhanyasi and for the first time, allied ragas were also included in the thematic concert. She was accompanied by M A Krishnaswami, I Siva Kumar and T H V Umashankar.


The antiquity of this raga is shrouded in mystery. Multiple nomenclatures and divergent classifications confuse the matter further. Known in days bygone as Dhanyasi and Dhanasi, we find that some musicologists name this raga as Dhanyasi (with a sa) and some name it Dhanyashi (with sha).

The name, Dhanyasi, can be found in medieval period works like Sangeeta Makaranda, Sangeeta Samaya Sara and Sangeeta Ratnakara. However, there is some confusion as to whether reference is made to the raga known in its present form, or to the raga Suddhadhanyasi. Sangeetha Sara Sangraha mentions raga Suddhadhanyasi as a derivative of Natabhairavi mela and Sindhudhanyasi as a derivative of Kharaharapriya mela, with similar swara-structure. This implies that Sindhudhanyasi is same as raga Suddhadhanyasi, as we know it nowadays.

Swara Mela Kalanidhi (1550 AD) mentions Dhanyasi as a janya of Sriraga mela, as an Arohana Rishabha-varja uttama Audava-Sampoorna raga. Nevertheless, this again leads you only to the current Suddhadhanyasi. Chaturdandi Prakasika (1635 AD) also refers to a raganga raga derived from Sriraga with Shadja swara for graha, nyasa and amsa, misleading us.

Thus, there is ground to construe that Dhanyasi fundamentally was a swara-scale, like Saveri and Mukhari, which can be effectively applied as a manadanda to many melakartas. It is a pentatonic ascent scale, complete in descent (viz.) audava-sampoorna in content.

There is enough evidence to believe that Dhanyasi, in audava-sampoorna form, with dvisruti-Rishaba and Dwisruti Dhaivata did exist much before the melakarta system came into vogue. Bhadrachala Ramdasa’s five compositions gathered a strong folk-base. The composition ‘Taaraka Mantramu', venerated in folk-tradition is rendered in Dhanyasi, as is known today. Similarly, Devaranamas of Purandaradasa, also with considerable folk background, like 'Isa beku' and 'Enna Paliso Toraviya Narasimha', have been and are being rendered in the Dhanyasi, as is in vogue nowadays. Dhanyasi is also referred to in the copper plates of Annamacharya Sankeertanas at Tirupati.

Shahji and Tulajaji are very brief in their treatment of Dhanyasi, ascribing it to the Bhairavi mela. They did provide a vital clue by emphasising the facts that Dhanyasi was a morning raga. Thus, Dhanyasi cannot be a derivative of the 22nd melakarta, which traditionally comprised ragas like Sriragam and Madhyamavati, suited for rendition when the sun was at the zenith - an Ucchakala raga.

Sangraha Choodamani of Govindacharya distinguishes adequately, between Dhanyasi and Suddhadhanyasi. Govindacharya differentiates also between ragas Udayaravichandrika and Suddhadhanyasi. However, the most subtle distinction is seen in the compositions of Muthuswami Dikshitar - "Mangala Devataya" (Dhanyasi), "Subrahmanyena" (Suddhadhanyasi) and "Sri Guruguha Moorte" (Udayaravichandrika). All three compositions have the respective raga-mudras. At this stage, we are constrained to marginally digress from the mainstream to emphasise duly, the fact that Suddhadhanyasi and Udayaravichandrika are different. Udayaravichandrika is an audava-audava raga with Kakali Nishada, as evidenced in Dikshitar’s composition. As the name suggests, Udaya-Ravi-chandrika is a morning raga. Hence, the morning raga called Dhanyasi should be proximate to Udayaravichandrika.

We now move on to Subbarama Dikshitar’s Sampradaya Pradarsini. Even congenital opponents of Venkatamakhi acknowledge that Subbarama Dikshitar’s notes on Dhanyasi throw considerable light on the current form of Dhanyasi.

However, Subbarama Dikshitar, a loyalist, sticks to the Venkatamakhi tradition of classification under the 20th melakarta, as a bhashanga raga. What is highly worthy of notice is that:

(a) Subbarama Dikshitar is personally unhappy about this classification and remarks that he is not able to detect compulsions that warranted Venkatamakhi to adopt such classification.

(b) Subbarama Dikshitar states unequivocally that raga Dhanyasi existed atleast 120 years prior to Venkatamakhi and prior to the concept of melakarta classification.

Our postulation is thus vindicated. Further, there is a popular Arati Devaranama, "Pankaja Mukhiyarellaru" rendered as a Mangala kriti. The 8th melakarta encompasses mangala ragas like Asaveri and Dhanyasi. The classification of Dhanyasi under the 8th mela is authenticated. Hanumatodi or Janatodi came later than Dhanyasi, perhaps like Poorvikalyani and Gamanasrama.

Dhanyasi is a rakti-laden elitist raga in which we have compositions by each member of Carnatic music Trinity. The audava-sampoorna raga Dhanyasi, with dvishruti-Rishabha and Dhaivata, took firm roots as a full-fledged rakti raga in the middle of the 17th century AD and blossomed to high eminence through composers like the Trinity and their successors. The repertoire available in this raga is vivante, variegated and substantial. Dhanyasi is a ‘Dhana Sri', a treasure to cherish forever.


Cassette no. Composition Composer Artiste Title Form
103 Himagiritanaya Unknown Janakirama Bhagavatar Vocal Nallur
841 Nallrinakkanum Unknown D K Jayaraman Vocal Viruttam
134 Syamasundaranga Tyagaraja K J Jose Ankamali Dilruba Kriti
906 Neechittamu Tyagaraja Lalgudi Jayaraman Violin Kriti
260 Viruttam Unknown Madurai Mani Iyer Vocal Viruttam
988 Mayuranatham Muthuswami Dikshitar Madurai Mani Iyer Vocal Kriti
44 Emaguva Mysore Sadasiva Rao Maithili Nageswaran Vocal Pada Varnam
97 Chakkani dayagalada Kshetragna Manchala Jagannatha Rao Vocal Padam
831 Varadavenkatesa Ramanuja Iyengar Sandhyavandanam Srinivasa Rao Vocal Pallavi
342 Niramaya Arunagirinathar T Sankaran & T Mukta Vocal Tiruppugazh
152 Nilalana Pattabhiramayya T Sankaran & Rama Ravi Vocal Javali
106 Niramaya Arunagirinathar T Sankaran Vocal Tiruppugazh
524 Namoralaginchi Patnam Subramanya Iyer S Srinivasan Vina Kriti
291 Neechittamu Tyagaraja Dr. Sripada Pinakapani Vocal Kriti
161 Dhyaname Tyagaraja Tanjavur Sankara Iyer Vocal Kriti
420 Talachinavaru Subbaraya Sastri Tanjavur Sankara Iyer Vocal Kriti
1000 Neeyepalikka Ramaswamy Sivan TMT Disciples Vocal Kriti
737 Neechittamu Tyagaraja M L Vasantakumari Vocal Kriti
769 Gopalalola Ponniah Pillai K N Shashikiran Vocal Swarajati
766 Gopalalola Ponniah Pillai T L Seetalakshmi Vocal Swarajati
963 Somachakkanudai R Venugopal R Venugopal Vocal Padam
263 Sangeeta gnanamu Tyagaraja K V Narayanaswamy Vocal Kriti
1177 Sriranganathaya Muthuswami Dikshitar P S Narayanaswamy Vocal Kriti
565 Anaimugattarase D Pattammal D Pattammal Vocal Kriti
568 Anaimugattarase D Pattammal D Pattammal Vocal Kriti
572 Samaitapandam D Pattammal D Pattammal Vocal Song
575 Munivargale D Pattammal D Pattammal & Subhasri Mani Vocal Song
52 Meenalochana Syama Sastri S Rajam Vocal Kriti
408 Meenalochana Syama Sastri Rama Ravi Vocal Kriti
958 Nilalana Pattabhiramayya Rama Ravi Vocal Javali
933 Dhyaname Tyagaraja B V Raman Vocal Kriti
120 Sangeetagnanamu Tyagaraja M D Ramanathan Vocal Kriti
215 Syamasundaranga Tyagaraja M D Ramanathan Vocal Kriti
1102 Dhyaname Tyagaraja Ramnad Krishnan Vocal Kriti
747 Nannubrova Unknown Alathur Brothers Vocal Kriti
109 Kizhvanam Andal Ariyakudi Ramanuja Iyengar Vocal Kriti
372 Talachinavaru Subbaraya Sastri Aruna Sayeeram Vocal Kriti
809 Bhajabhaja nityam Narasimhachari T Brinda Vocal Gitam
21 Kanjugamada Tayumanavar T Brinda Vocal Viruttam
1295 Meenalochana Syama Sastri T Brinda Vocal Kriti
1296 Mayura Mysore Sadasiva Rao T Brinda Vocal Varnam
133 Neechittamu Tyagaraja G Chanamma Vocal Kriti
103 Orunmanaipidittu Tirukadarasappa Kavirayar Kutralakuravanji, Kalakshetra dance music Song
103 Vasanta Ullasa Tirukadarasappa Kavirayar Kutralakuravanji, Kalakshetra dance music Viruttam

List compiled by Zeenat Queenie, R Vidya, R Nitya


  • Tyagaraja’s mother, Seethamma, is said to have rendered several Devaranamas at home, which left a profound and permanent impact on her son. Many compositions of Tyagaraja are modelled after Purandaradasa’s Devaranamas. In a Devaranama, Purandaradasa sang "Sakala theertha yatrava madidanta nikhala punyada phalavu, bhakti poorvakavagi bidadanu dindalli prakata Purandara Vitthalada naamada smarane onde saalade". This theme is echoed verbatim, in the composition "Dhyaaname varamaina Ganga snaaname" by Tyagaraja, in raga Dhanyasi.
  • Muthuswami Dikshitar’s wife nagged him to go and meet a rich patron, as she was desirous of acquiring several pieces of jewellery. Dikshitar did not oblige her, instead he sang the song "Mangaladevataya" in raga Dhanyasi. That night, Dikshitar's wife dreamt that Goddess Lakshmi came and decked her with so much jewellery that she collapsed under its weight. Realising her folly, she apologised. Such was the effect of Dikshitar’s kriti in Dhanyasi.
  • There is inadequate realisation of the fact that the composition "Meena Lochana" by Syama Sastri in Dhanyasi, belongs to the Navaratnamalika series dedicated to Devi Meenakshi.
  • Bidaram Krishnappa was requested to render this raga at a concert in a village in Hassan district. Commencing with an elaborate alapana, he rendered Tyagaraja’s "Ramabhirama" and followed it with swara-prastara. More than two hours passed in the rendition of this raga. The audience was so emotionally moved that they did not want to listen to anything else and the concert was terminated with raga Dhanyasi.
  • Tiruveezhimizhalai Brothers were engaged to play for a Janavasa procession, starting from the Katchaleeshwara temple in George town, to Springhaven Road (1955). They took up raga Dhanyasi and forgot themselves and the time factor. The procession patiently waited to permit the musicians to play at their peak. Such was the effect of Dhanyasi!
  • Many aficionados fondly remember renditions of "Kanulaara" by Alathur Brothers and "Sangeeta Gnanamu" by Dandapani Desikar. Both compositions are in Dhanyasi.

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